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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/08/12

Guests: Barney Frank

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you very much. ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. One of the things that is going to happen now in Washington is that we are going to start learning which senior members of the Obama administration really only wanted to serve one term. Is Hillary Clinton going to leave as secretary of state? Is Eric Holder going to leave as attorney general? Mr. Geithner going to leave as secretary of treasury? The speculation is officially hot and heavy in Washington as to who will stay on, who will leave and, of course, who will get the jobs of the people who do leave. Everybody in Washington is also now figuring out how they are going to work with President Obama for another four years, how the politics of him earning a second term affects what he wants to do and how likely it is he is going to be able to do it. It probably was not an auspicious sign for that process when the president, right after his victory speech on Tuesday night, right after he was done speak, as soon as he was done speaking, the night he wins a second term, after he gave that speech, he got on the phone and he tried to call the Republican leader in the House and the Republican leader in the Senate. He tried to call John Boehner and Mitch McConnell but he was told they were asleep. Quote, "After his speech, Mr. Obama tried to call both Mr. Boehner and the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, but was told they were asleep." I realized it was late night and everything, but if the president calls you and you are asleep, do you not get woken up? Isn`t that sort of a standing order? One of the things we can all agree on the sort of thing you get out of bed for? The presidents an on the phone, OK, I`ll wake up and take the call no matter who you are? But, no, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell stayed asleep. Nobody woke them up. So, those conversations did not happen that night. Since then, both Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell have made statements about what they see happening in this next year, indicating that maybe they also slept through the part of the night when the results of the election came in. Mr. McConnell put out a statement saying that what`s clear to him about this election is that the voters have not endorsed President Obama`s first term. The fact that the president won the election is not an endorsement of the president? Filling in a little bubble next to the man`s name on a piece of paper is technically how we endorse a person in America. But Mitch McConnell does not see it that way. Taegan Goddard at "Political Wire" was able to find online today the Romney campaign`s would have/could have/should have transition Web site today. Surely, this was not supposed to go live until Mr. Romney actually won the election. The campaign did not wait. They presumably accidentally put it up, a transition Web site for President-elect Romney, how to apply for a job with the new Romney administration and all this stuff. And it looks like because they screen shot it before they finally did take it down, it looks like the Romney folks had a transition motto all ready to go, a slogan, repeated slogan on the Web site is smaller, simpler, smarter. When Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner gave his first post- election press conference what he thought should happen in this country given the results of the election, it`s almost like he thought he was speaking in the context of a President-elect Romney and President-elect Romney`s smaller simpler smaller branded transition. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: By working together and creating a fairer, simpler, cleaner tax code, moving to fairer, simpler system energized by a simpler, cleaner, fairer tax code -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Simpler, fairer, simpler -- John Boehner at that press conference congratulated President Obama for beating Mitt Romney said, as a consequence of this election and to reflect the will of the country, I suggest what we do now is enact Mitt Romney`s tax plan. He said what he wants the president to do now, what he expects the property to do is now to cut income tax rates and pay for it by closing unspecified loopholes in the tax code. If that sounds familiar, it`s because that was what Mitt Romney proposed -- Mitt Romney who just lost the election after proposing that very thing, people said no. If you lose the election, you do not get to implement your ideas what the country said no to. That`s what losing means. That`s the whole point of a loser. We`re not going to get a Mitt Romney tax policy now because Mitt Romney lost the election, John Boehner, while you were sleeping through the Republican`s phone call. But this is how Republicans have been handling the news of this election this week, at least so far. This is handwriting -- this is my -- that`s my actual handwriting. That`s how bad my handwriting is on the printout of a newspaper article that I read when I first got into work today. When I went back to look for the article this afternoon, I realized that is what I had written in the margin of the article not paying attention to the fact I was doing it. I just wrote the word "ha" five times and then an exclamation point and star. Here`s why I did that without noticing I was doing it. It`s a quote in this "New York Times" article today from Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole. What does Tom Cole -- Congressman Tom Cole think about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan losing this election? His take away is this: "The Paul Ryan budget passed a pretty big test. We had to run around the country and defend it. The Ryan budget proved itself a viable platform on which to run and be reelected." Wow. Just to reiterate, this is what happened on election night. How does this constitute the Ryan budget passing a big test? The Ryan budget took a big test but it did not pass that test. Those are two very different things. The lesson of this election for Republicans appears to be -- hey, all that stuff we ran on, it totally worked. Think about what determines what the Republican Party does next, what determines how they fix their political problems. The question of who is going to be the new face of the Republican Party and how they will course correct after this disastrously bad election for them. It all depends how they assess what just went wrong, right, and why it went so wrong. What do they think their problem is that caused the country to reject them so emphatically in 2012? The signs how their self-assessment is going so far are not promising. On Wednesday, the day after the election, yesterday, Mr. Romney had breakfast with some of his richest donors. What does he think happened in the election, why does he think he lost? Well, he told his donors, quote, "Romney told the donors he believed hurricane Sandy stunted his momentum in the final week of the campaign." Karl Rove wrote in "The Wall Street Journal" yesterday that President Obama was lucky that hurricane Sandy happened because it, quote, "interrupted Mr. Romney`s momentum." This began for Republicans even before Election Day, Republicans explaining how Mitt Romney`s loss in the election would not be a reflection on anything about Mitt Romney or his policies or campaign or the Republican Party. They were explaining that before Mr. Romney even lost. On October 31st, campaign sources told CBS News, quote, "Superstorm Sandy stalled Romney`s momentum." A few days before the election, Karl Rove, again, quote, "If you hadn`t had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the Romney campaign to talk about the deficit." The blame the storm line has continued all through today especially with former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour speaking on the "Today" show. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HALEY BARBOUR (R), FORMER MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR: Hurricane Sandy saved Barack Obama`s presidency. It broke the momentum Romney had coming in at the end of October. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This is a narrative Republicans are telling themselves, that the Beltway media is also now starting to tell itself because they keep hearing Republicans say it. It is not a theory born from reality. I mean, this is a checkable thing, right? This is an empirical idea. Their theory is that Mitt Romney was on track to win this thing if it weren`t for that blasted storm. This is something we can check. I mean, it`s easy, right? OK. Let`s start with this. We`re all in agreement that the polls were correct, right, despite all the nonsense ahead of the election about how the polls seemed so wrong before the election, now that the election has happened, it has been proven and we can all agree that the polls reflected math and not some an nefarious agenda to make conservatives feel bad, right? So, the polls were right, we can all agree. Out of all the polls, let`s look at the one we know now mathematically was the most accurate daily tracking poll. The one that was most accurately reflected what was really going on in the race. That would be the IPSOS-Reuters poll. Did hurricane Sandy blunt Mr. Romney`s momentum? Was he on track to win if it weren`t for that storm? Well, hurricane Sandy made landfall October 29th. Here`s how Obama and Romney were running against each other in the most accurate poll in the country on the day before the hurricane. On the day of the hurricane, October 29th, President Obama is up 48, Mitt Romney is up 47 percent. And look at the five days after the storm hit. Hey, again, President Obama ahead by the exact same 1 percent. So, before hurricane Sandy, President Obama ahead one or two points. After hurricane Sandy, President Obama ahead by one or two points. Remember, this is the poll that we know in retrospect was totally right. So, if we believe the polls, which we all do now in America and the IPSOS-Reuters poll was the most accurate one of all the polls in this presidential election, then, really, probably, there was no Romney momentum going into hurricane Sandy that was ruined by the storm. It just didn`t happen and it`s checkable. And I`m not saying this to make conservatives feel bad. I`m saying this to welcome you out of the bubble of denial that has proven so dangerous to your political prospects of late. I think Haley Barbour is a smart guy. This is not a smart idea. I mean, liberals probably shouldn`t disabuse conservatives of this notion. Think about it, if the Republicans take as their lesson from this election that a hurricane is the only reason they didn`t win, Democrats are probably be psyched about that delusion, because that means the Republicans next time will go on the next election campaigning with the same kind of candidates on the same kind of policies, but just planning on not having a hurricane. Is that going to be their plan? No storm and then, we`ll win. I understand why a guy like Karl Rove would tell his donors this, right? He wants to tell his donors, I didn`t waste your hundreds of millions of dollars. Your hundreds of millions of dollars would have bought you a shiny new president definitely if it weren`t for that darned storm. You definitely need to give me your hundreds of millions of dollars again because this time there won`t be a hurricane. And everything else we did was fine and I should do it all again. That makes sense for charlatans who make their living separating gullible rich conservatives from their money. It makes sense why a guy like Karl Rove would do that. But is going to be the Republican Party`s assessment of what happened here? It is factually untrue. You did not lose because of the storm, and this election really was an endorsement of Barack Obama and this election did not prove the political viability of the Paul Ryan kill Medicare budget, it proved the opposite. What the Republican Party does in response to this information, whether they prove capable of absorbing this difficult information is the next great question in the amazing politics of the American right. Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Barney Frank. He represents Massachusetts` fourth district. He`s the ranking member of the Financial Services Committee. Mr. Chairman, thank you for being here. REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Since Tuesday, John Boehner has suggested what we need to do fiscally for the country and what we should expect to happen in Washington is Mitt Romney`s tax plan. FRANK: Well, the problem with that is, I don`t know what it is because there`s a third question, it would be a mistake to assume Mitt Romney having said it a month ago still supports it. You know, his public policy positions came with "not good after 30 days". But Romney himself didn`t tell us what it was, except he floated it out too much. He said in of the debates, this is incredible. We`ll limit deductions. Pick a number. What an extraordinary thing for a presidential candidate to say, pick a number. And then he said $25,000, we would limit reductions to $25,000. Well, in our home state of Massachusetts, Rachel, if you buy a house, you`re paying more than that in your mortgage interest the first year -- $2,500 is not excessive mortgage in Massachusetts given, even today with house prices. So, that takes away any middle class deductions for homeownership, for education and health care. But we literally don`t know what the Romney plan is. The other thing we ought to say when they say this is an endorsement of their principles, remember too that the Romney plan was only about a month that plan. It was before that to reduce taxes for the rich. And when we talk about who did what, to the extent that Romney started to make some gains and he did make some gains from the dismal position he was in, he did it by abandoning his positions. One other point that -- by the way, I did want to note, you and I have this interest, I did want to ask the Romney people smaller, simpler, smarter except the military. MADDOW: Right. FRANK: The biggest single area of expenditure in the federal government, smaller, simpler smarter, we have to have more World War I ships. I don`t know how that fits with smaller -- but it was simpler. It weren`t smaller and smarter. MADDOW: Right. FRANK: But the other thing is this and we look at the election, we didn`t just elect a president, we elected a Senate and a House. The Democrats, despite all predictions, picked up seats in the Senate, and the way they work, they drew more Republican senators (ph). Were people voting for Democrats in Montana and Indiana and Wisconsin and elsewhere because of the storm? I mean, did the people of those Midwestern states say -- well, you know what, Obama did a good job in the storm, let`s re-elect our senator. And, by the way, in the House, we gained House seats. Unfortunately, the Republicans were able to gerrymander the House badly because they won the 2010 election. If we had run this House election by the same districts that had existed in 2010, we`d have a Democratic House now. We did very well in the Democratic Senate. So, this was a very big victory. Nearly 3 million in the popular vote, the fifth time in the last six Democrats have won the popular vote. And as far as Mitt Romney`s tax plan, one, we don`t know what it is, he was afraid to tell us what it is because it would have brutal effect and the public did repudiate it. MADDOW: The president has been quiet since mostly his victory speech. He gives victory speech, the campaign today released tape of him speaking to his volunteers. We know he`s going to speak on the economy tomorrow. But even in that little bit that we heard from the president, we heard some gesturing at least towards stuff he might want to get done in his second term and might want to get started with in his second term. Obviously, we`re expecting something in terms of economic policy, immigration, climate change, maybe something in terms of election -- the conduct of elections and reforming that process. With more Democrats in the Senate and with -- I think Democrats picking up seats in the House, too, despite all the things you just side, what do you think is going to be possible? FRANK: Well, that`s a good point. But you say one other thing you reminded me of when you mentioned climate change. Yes, the storm did help the president. The man did his job very well, much better than his Republican predecessor. And, oh, that`s cheating. That shouldn`t be counted. But climate change -- it brought on the endorsement of Mike Bloomberg, because one of the things the storm did was to bring climate change to the fore. So, to that extent, if Republicans got hurt because of the storm, it was because of the abysmal stupidity of their position denying climate change. And yes, so the storm did remind people how wrong they were. I think this question -- the Senate I hope and president will come up with a balanced plan, substantial cuts in the military. That`s one we won. Romney tried to make that an issue. For the first time a president campaigned on less military spending in my memory, maybe in my lifetime and it was successful. MADDOW: He won Virginia with that message -- a military state, right. FRANK: And secondly, you get some tax increases on the very wealthy, which showed to be popular. And Romney ran away from cut their taxes. Yes. There`ll be some domestic spending restraints. Not raising the retirement age. One of the reasons I`m glad I`m not running again, when I tell people, I don`t think a woman who started waiting on tables at 18 and still carrying heavy dishes in and out of a hot kitchen when she`s 66, I don`t think she ought to have to work another five years. I`m not saying that just because I`m a politician, because I ain`t one anymore. I think it depends. There were clearly some Republicans with a sense of survival and who understand you have to have some revenue increases on the wealthy, military cuts and spending restraints elsewhere. And the question is will any of them break with the party? That`s really have (INAUDIBLE). What we have to say to Republicans, do you now not understand what happens when you let crazy people win your primaries? I mean, I don`t know if I ever showed you my bumper sticker which I actually made up, because I know some of our friends, ourselves, we think the president could do a little more in some areas. But I made a bumper that said vote Democratic, we`re not perfect but they`re nuts. And maybe now the answer is will the Dick Lugars, the ones remain in the Republican Party, not left. Mainstream conservatives finally say, you know what? This is crazy. We`re going to vote for a balanced (INAUDIBLE). And I think that`s the issue. They understand the right wing got repudiated this time and Democratic position won in the Senate and White House and even in the House given the gerrymander. So, I don`t know the answer. It is possible you have mainstream Republicans with some common sense and survival instinct to abate with the crazies. MADDOW: It`s going to be amazing to watch that dialogue happen, given what didn`t happen after the McCain -- FRANK: Oh, I have enjoyed watching FOX News for the first time. MADDOW: Let me a brief question about your future. You said you`re psyched you`re not running again for your House seat. If John Kerry, senator from Massachusetts or Deval Patrick the state`s governor, takes a cabinet job in this administration, would you make yourself available for the governorship or Senate seat in Massachusetts? FRANK: No. It`s flattering people mentioned it. The Senate seat, I`m 72 years old, Rachel. I don`t think at 72 you commit yourself to a six year term. I mean, I hope I`ll be healthy and Jim keeps me healthy. But, no. I want to write. I want to be involved in the debate without having to march in parades, to be honest and without having people scream what I say through this, oh, you`re just a politician. I`m very happy splitting my time between Jim and my house in Maine and probably get and do some teaching. I want to be a participant in the public debate with a little less responsibility. MADDOW: Well, I expect to be talking to you at this table when you`re 150. Barney Frank, thank you very much for being here, sir. FRANK: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. The things we learn this week: women voters have their own ideas. That`s coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, as you know, Nevada casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson spent something like $100 million of his own money on this year`s election, with that money, he elected no one. None of the candidates he supported ended up winning. But you know who else spent $100 million of her own money and nothing show for it, Linda McMahon. Linda McMahon spent almost $100 million of her own money trying to get a Senate seat for herself in Connecticut, trying over two elections and she lost both times. This time, Linda McMahon tried to make it look like she was running on the same ticket as President Obama which was a very nice try but Connecticut apparently knew that Linda McMahon really is a Republican and she lost. She lost the Senate race in blue state Connecticut by 12 points. But look at this, Linda McMahon lost the women`s vote by nearly twice that margin. She lost overall by 12 but she lost women by 21. Linda McMahon, despite being herself a woman running against man had a gender gap problem that was among the worst of all the Republican candidates this year. And, boy, did Republican candidates this year have a gender gap problem. Look at this. In Florida Senate race, Republican Connie Mack lost to Democrat Bill Nelson by 13 points overall but he lost by 20 among women. In Missouri, Republican Todd Akin lost to Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill by 16 points. He lost among women by 22 points. In Pennsylvania, Republican Tom Smith by nine overall. He lost by 18 among women. In Indiana, Republican Richard Mourdock lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly by six points overall. He lost by twice that, by 12 points among women. And in Virginia, Republican George Allen lost to Democrat Tim Kaine by six points overall and again, by twice that margin among women, lost the women`s vote by 12 points. In Wisconsin, Republican Tommie Thompson lost to Tammy Baldwin, the Democrat, by five points. But his margin by women, admirably enormous by triple that, he lost women by triple that, he lost women by 15 points. In Massachusetts, Scott Brown, the Republican incumbent, lost to Democrat Elizabeth Warren by eight points overall and by more than twice that, by 18 points among women. In the great state of Ohio, Republican Josh Mandel lost to Sherrod Brown by five points overall. His margin of defeat among women was 14 points. In Montana, Republican Denny Rehberg lost to Jon Tester in a close overall, by about four points, but among women, he lost by nine. Look at this now. In Nevada Senate race -- now, in this race, the Republican, Congressman Dean Heller, won this Senate race. He won overall by one point, but he did it no thanks to women. He actually lost the women`s vote by six points. So women voters in Nevada did not support the guy who won. They picked his opponent, Democrat Shelley Berkley. Same thing happen in the Arizona Senate race, where Republican Jeff Flake won by five points. But if you look at how women voted, he actually lost the women`s vote. The preference of women voters in Arizona is not the guy who won the election. Arizona women picked the Democrat. They picked Richard Carmona. The governor`s race in Indiana. Republican Mike Pence was elected. He won by four points. But if you asked women, they did not pick him. He lost the women`s voice by five points. If Indiana had their way, Mike Pence would not be the governor of that state. They chose the Democrat. They chose -- women chose the Democrat John Gregg. Now, look at this in the presidential race. North Carolina was one of two states President Obama won in `08 and didn`t win this time around. Mitt Romney ended up winning North Carolina by three points this year. But if you asked North Carolina women, they prefer Barack Obama, thank you very much. Romney barely won the state overall because he had big enough numbers with men to make up for it, but he lost among North Carolina women. They did not change their preference from 2008. They voted for President Obama again this year. This might have happened in other races, too, I should say. We only had it for 31 states, not from 50 states, which I think was a decided I think for financial reasons. They just decided not to do exit polling in all states. So, we don`t know what happened to the other states, it`s sort of a tragedy because we mine this data for many deficit reasons and we won`t ever have complete exit polling data for the who country this year, just 31 states. But what is clear from the data we do have, Republicans really, really lost women and lost them badly. Where Republicans are losing elections, their losses are built on extraordinarily poor performance with women voters. Even when where Republicans are winning elections, their weakness with women was a major vulnerability. If Republicans want to fix what went wrong for them in this election, isn`t this a place to start? President Obama didn`t win among women voters by nearly six times his overall margin victory because President Obama is a lady. He is not a lady. I mean, Linda McMahon is a lady, but that did not help her either. This is not a matter of chromosome. It`s a matter of policy. When women voters in Connecticut rejected Linda McMahon by almost twice the margin the state as a whole rejected her, that was not because she`s a woman, right? It was because of policy. It is not about the wrong person in a particular race. It is not about a candidate here and there making an unfortunate remark about rape. The problem Republicans are having with women voters is a policy problem. It is a big sweeping party-wide, nationwide pattern for Republicans. It`s what the Republican Party stands for. Republicans are telling American voters a story about their vision for the country that is making women voters say no, that`s making women voters vote for whoever is not the Republican, no matter who the Republican candidate is. This pattern is consistent all across the country. How are Republicans going to fix that problem? Because this is a demographic problem that is not going to get better -- I mean, unless the Republicans in the swing states can figure out some way to reverse women suffrage, this is not going to get better for them over time. In America, women consistently vote in higher numbers than men do. And that is as much a problem for the Republican Party as the wholesale rejection of their party by African-Americans and Latinos. If the average voter in America is female -- and that is true, more women are voting than men in basically every election, then the Republican Party is going to need to figure out how to stop repulsing that average American voter as much as they evidently repulse women now. Running Republican women candidates is not going to solve this problem. Ask Linda McMahon. This is a policy problem. How are you guys going to fix that? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: You can deliver a presidency that results in the most misguided and tragic foreign policy in two generations. You can engineer the politics of an administration that results in a financial crisis almost as bad as the Great Depression. You can become a two word metaphor meaning Machiavellian and dishonest to at least half the country. That is all A-OK with the people who finance Republican politics and politicians. But if you blow a couple hundred million dollars of their own personal dollars, then there`s some explaining to do. Karl Rove explains himself to the people whose money he flushed down the toilet this year and it turns out a story worth hearing. That`s coming up. In America today we`re running out of a vital resource we need to compete on the global stage. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Underappreciated news about this election, they are still counting ballots in Arizona tonight and nowhere near done. Look at this. They have more than 630,000 ballots to count in Arizona, more even than they thought they had when they started reckoning with this mess yesterday. In Maricopa County in Arizona, which is basically Phoenix, there are 340,000 early votes not counted as of tonight. In Pima County, which is basically Tucson, they`ve got more than 50,000. The real problem in Arizona is with the provisional ballots, which is what you have to use when there`s a hiccup with your registration. You vote now and you`re supposed to go back later and try to prove that your provisional ballot shouldn`t count. It`s a crazy system. More than half of the voters in some Latino neighborhoods got pushed into voting using a provisional ballot with this crazy system. But that means that Arizona has a lot of provisional ballots still left to count. In greater Phoenix alone, 115,000 provisional ballots are waiting to be counted. Around Tucson, they`ve more than 25,000, still tonight. Counting these special ballots can take as many as 45 minutes apiece. Think about that, 45 minutes for 172,000 ballots. That`s really bad math, 45 minutes, 172,000. That`s going to take forever. Unless, of course, you just throw a large portion of them out, which is what happened in 2008 in Pima County, Arizona. The ACLU that year named Pima County the worst offending place in the nation for disenfranchising voters. That was because Pima County decided in 2008 that they were just going to throw out nearly one in five provisional ballots, just not count them. That makes everything go faster. People are marching in the streets of Arizona over this, this year. Look at that. Protesters now stationed at the Maricopa County Elections Bureau around the clock. They say they will stay there until the counting stops, whenever that is. There are enough uncounted ballots in Arizona to swing the race for Congressman Gabby Gifford`s old seat and conceivably the race that Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick is projected to win. And conceivably, the one that Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is leading. For all of these races, Arizona is not decided, nowhere near decided and nobody knows when it will be. They`re also still counting ballots in Florida. In Florida, the counties have until Saturday to report their results to the secretary of state. They will have even longer to figure out what in the name of Ponce de Leon went so terribly wrong in Florida this year. People ended up standing in line eight hours in order to cast a ballot. Isn`t there something wrong with that? Official explanations from what went wrong range from it`s really long ballots that run up to 12 pages and caused jams at the scanners. Some precincts were too big. Some precincts didn`t have enough scanners. Also, there were some power outages. Maybe that was the problem. My favorite explanation for what went wrong in Florida comes from Broward County where the election supervisor tells the "Miami Herald", quote, "All of us who watch elections know when voters are interested in candidates and issues, we are going to have long lines." So the reason things went so wrong is because people wanted to vote? We are not prepared for that? That was the November surprise in Florida this year that screwed up Florida`s election so badly. It turns out people wanted to vote. Nobody saw that coming. They were not prepared. In Pinellas County, Florida, around St. Petersburg, robocalls went out on Tuesday telling voters that they had until Wednesday to vote. You did not have until Wednesday to vote. They`re still arguing how this robocall thing happened. The Pinellas County elections chief at first blamed the robocall company. The company says, no, it`s not their fault. The boss of the company says somebody actually in the Pinellas elections office controlled the calls and when they went out. Today, the Pinellas elections office sent over a new message about the debacle, saying they didn`t realize the calls were going out. They`re saying they did not want those calls going out on Election Day telling people that they could vote the day after Election Day. It doesn`t help that election supervisors in Florida, as in much of the country, are partisan elected officials who have an R or a D after their name. The Pinellas clerk, the Republican Pinellas County clerk is a political actor in a political caldron. If those robocalls telling people they should vote on Wednesday, if those robocalls were sent out by mistake, that is a really serious mistake. If it`s not a mistake, that happened on purpose, that, of course, is a scandal. In either case, maybe it needs fixing. Today, a former mayor of Tampa announced that she was ready to work on reform in Florida. Her name is Pam Iorio. She`s considered a possible candidate for governor in 2014. Ms. Iorio says she will convene a nonpartisan state task force to study the problems and propose some non-partisan solutions for the Republican legislature and the Republican governor. Things like limiting the length of the ballot maybe and expanding early voting, which Republicans cut last year. She says about undertaking reform, quote, "I think the governor should do it. But if he doesn`t, I`m going to do it." So, that`s a start. Our nation has problems running elections for complicated reasons. Some of that is that it`s partisan election administration, that`s why you see Republicans cutting early voting in swing states, right? But some of our problems are just problems. It`s just that we don`t have qualified professionals running these things or we have antiquated machines that break down or fancy new ones that break down and nobody knows how to fix them. It`s a tangled mess. But after this debacle of an election, do we have any choice but to try to untangle this mess? Isn`t this as good time to start working on this as a country? Joining us is E.J. Dionne. He`s "Washington Post" columnist, senior fellow of the Brookings Institution. And he`s the author of "Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Ideal in an Age of Discontent." E.J., it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here. E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Great to be with you. I`m really glad you`re on this and I hope you stay on this until we do something about it. MADDOW: Well, you know, the thing that has emerged that I didn`t expect since the election is a little bit of, I guess, lessening of the partisan discussion around this and heightening of the technocratic discussion about this. I sort of feel like we might be getting close to a bipartisan consensus that it shouldn`t take you eight or nine hours to vote in this country and that it ought to be fixed. Do I have rose-colored glasses on about this or are you seeing that, too? DIONNE: I think you`re seeing a little bit of it. But I think that the whole election administration has been politicized to a degree it hasn`t been since probably way back in the days of machines when, you know, cheating used to be in New York, put a rubber band around the lever so you can pull it down but it doesn`t register the vote. That was old-fashioned fraud. Now you got to kind of systemic by trying to keep people from voting. But I was thinking of that Romney slogan you cited at the beginning, was it smaller, simpler, smarter, or something like that? MADDOW: Yes. DIONNE: This is an area all the conservatives slogans and even legitimate complaints come into play. They say, where you don`t need multiple levels of administration. Look what happened in Ohio, you had those guys on your show some months ago in the county where they want to make it easy for people to vote early, the secretary of state steps in and says, oh, no, you can`t do that. They talk about excessive regulation that costs people unnecessary money. Well, that`s what voter ID laws do. Why would you want that? Or making people`s dealings with government more difficult? That`s what the long lines do. And so, there are all kinds of traditional conservative reasons to streamline this system. And you`d like to think after this brief, we hope, period, of passing all these crazy laws to limit voting, Republicans could go back to their own tradition. These are the guys who fought for the Voting Rights Bill? Why would they want to walk away from that tradition? MADDOW: Is there a sense of embarrassment on the right about the voter ID stuff, about getting rid of early voting stuff? Is there a sense of embarrassment that this is a plainly partisan thing and that maybe it`s unseemly for the party going forward? Now, I don`t ask that to get a definite no. I don`t think Republicans are so craven they`re incapable of shame. I sort of feel like principled conservatives haves to look at Rick Scott getting rid of early voting and the result in eight hour lines and think, you know what, it`s not a kosher way to play this game. DIONNE: You know, until you try to go in the right direction, I was going to give you a cynical no, because I really don`t see a whole lot of shame yet. But when you see the effect of it -- I mean, there are principal conservatives out there who have to look at this and say, this isn`t the right thing to do. And that`s when you heard that mayor talk about a task force. I mean, commissions are often a dodge. But this might be a case you could pull together some Republicans and Democrats and say, look, no matter how you slice it, what`s going on in Arizona, the long lines, this doesn`t work. And the federal government does have the power to do something. I`d like to see -- you know, they passed the motor voter law, they passed the Help America Vote Act, I`d like to see some real help from the federal government from local election administration so you don`t throw this all on localities where you can have two weeks of guaranteed early voting everywhere in the country. Why should you have more rights to vote in one state than another where you might beef up the number of people at the polls on Election Day? It`s not always easy to hire people for that. You make sure that all the machinery works. And I even have a way to pay for this, which is -- the Supreme Court says we have to live with these super PACs. Let`s tax the super PACs to pay for an election system. They can have their super PACs, but let them kick in to make the elections -- MADDOW: That is an excellent, to tie some sort of transactional tax to every ad that`s used for -- every donation that`s used for and ad and say some of that is going to go into the administration of elections, the fair and nonpartisan administration of elections. I love that idea! E.J. Dionne, "Washington Post" columnist, senior fellow at Brookings, MSNBC contributor -- E.J., thank you very much for this. Appreciate it. DIONNE: Thank you so much. MADDOW: I got to say, you know, after elections, I get all civically tingling, you know, you get my civic geek thing on. But I really feel like elections administration is one of those things that we`ve talked about as a partisan problems, a partisan standoff for so long. But I believe this kind of thing is possible. I believe that people -- fair-minded people on both sides of the aisle believe that elections should not be administered in a partisan fashion. I think that is an American viewpoint, not left or right viewpoint. And I think that there actually is way more middle ground here than maybe we`ve been willing to concede before. I think progress on this could happen. I know, call me naive. I think it could happen. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It is a long way, in every single last way from the 2010 elections to what happened two nights ago in America. I mean, 2010 was an opportunity for Republicans to gleefully use every synonym in the book for victory. It was Republican rout, a shellacking, a pummeling, a landslide, a relentless kicking of Democratic posterior regions. Yes, the Republicans gained in the Senate and took a whopping margin in the House of Representatives. But the biggest practical effect of the 2010 elections was in the states. Republicans taking control of state legislatures. Purple states like Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin and Ohio and Florida and Iowa went deep red in their statehouses and legislatures and the result was nearly unilateral and very aggressive conservative law-making in those states, on abortion rights, on union rights, on voting right. Ultimately, the states were where Republicans took over governing in the most measurable way. But two years is a long time in politics. And two days after this happened, it is becoming clear that Democrats bounce back in the places that they got hurt so badly in 2010. So, for example, in addition to electing an entirely female U.S. congressional delegation up in New Hampshire, New Hampshire voters flipped the New Hampshire House from Republican control to Democratic control. Same with the statehouse in Oregon. It had been Republican. It is now Democratic. And the presidential swing state of Colorado. Colorado didn`t just back Barack Obama for president. They also gave Democrats control of the Colorado House. Remember how close the gay marriage vote was last year behind the scenes in the Republican controlled New York Senate. It now looks that the Democrats are going to control the New York state Senate. It`s not a done deal yet, but that`s how it looks. In Maine, where Republicans took the legislature and the governorship in 2010, Maine voters returned both the statehouse and state Senate to the Democrats. That`s in addition to legalizing same sex marriage. How psyched is Republican Governor Paul LePage that he was not on that ballot? Imagine what would happen. Same reversal in both chambers in Minnesota, where voters also rejected a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage and another that would have required voters to show ID in future elections. Voters in Florida not only likely to award that state`s 29 electoral votes to reelect President Obama, they also put an end to the Republican Party`s super majority in the state legislature. The Republicans still do have control of the House in Florida, but they are no longer impervious to the Democratic opposition. Their margin got cut way down. The same goes for the Senate and the House in Arizona, which you will remember the "papers please" law. They got their margin cut deeply. And no more super majority for the statehouse in Texas either -- in Texas. Democrats gained their own super majorities in both chambers in California and in Illinois. In the state of Carolina, which voted for Mitt Romney Tuesday after voting for Barack Obama in the last election, the state of North Carolina, they gained a Republican super majority in the House and they kept one in the Senate. The House and Senate also with super majorities in Tennessee. And in Georgia, Republicans have the super majorities in the House and they appear one independent away from having one in the Senate. But with Mitt Romney winning 24 states on Wednesday, red states which he was largely expected to win, with the exception of maybe North Carolina for one hot minute, no one really expected President Obama`s coattails to turn any part of the electorate in those places blue. Republican gains in the deep, red south is kind of just like running up the score. And what we have witnessed this week down ballot, all the way down the ballot has less to do with coattails than with parkas, with big downy parks with the hoods. Tens of thousands of them worn day after day against the bitter cold that defines February and March in Madison, Wisconsin, or Columbus, Ohio, or the relatively balmy sidewalks outside the Virginia state capitol in Richmond. Voters recognize they are not just electing somebody with good penmanship, who photographs well, who comes across well in 10-second sound bites. Voters are looking for leadership, for good governance at all levels of governance. And when they find good governance lacking, they vote in changes. Voters are not stupid no matter how dumb lowest common denominator political advertising may dismiss our intelligence. Elections have consequences and those consequences go both ways. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Back in 2001, when Karl Rove helped Governor George W. Bush become President Bush, it was almost impossible to overstate the adulation heaped upon that senior strategist for his supposed political acumen on the campaign trail. Mr. Rove`s campaign strategy wasn`t perfect. For example, he kept Mr. Bush in California before Election Day for some reason, he did not win California and never was going to. Florida recount ended up being brutal for the country. But the Bush-Cheney did technically win that year. Then this previously obscure-ish guy Karl Rove became part of the Bush administration and a very famous part of it. He moved into the White House as a senior adviser. And then once Mr. Bush was reelected in 2004, Karl Rove was promoted to deputy chief of staff to the president. Two years after that, Mr. Rove decided in 2006 that he would be running the midterm election campaign for the Republican Party. Mr. Rove`s job would be to get Republicans elected to the House and Senate in 2006. Just before that election, when al the polls reporting to a big win for the Democrats in the `06 election, Karl Rove picked this fight with Robert Siegel of NPR. He told Mr. Siegel, "You may end up with the different math, but you`re entitled to your math. I`m entitled to the math." Karl Rove`s the math that year was very, very bad math. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: It has been an extraordinary 24 hours in American political history, starting with the polls where Democrats were the big winners, gaining control of the House of Representatives. In the end, they won far more seats that they needed to take the majority. The U.S. Senate is a different story. You know the math. They needed the six. The Democrats have gained at this hour five seats. That one race in Virginia for U.S. Senate is still undecided. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Democrats ended up getting six. They won that seat. They got their majority in the Senate, making sure that didn`t happen was Karl Rove`s job in 2006. You know what else is going on around that time. Of course, this scandal surrounding the outing of a covert CIA officer whose name was made public purportedly for Republican political gain. Karl Rove was hip deep in the Valerie Plame scandal. He was very nearly indicted in connection with the case. And then there`s this year, 2012. Karl Rove has these outside groups, Crossroads America and Crossroads GPS. They raised and spent nearly $400 million of other people`s money to affect this election. What do they get for it? One Republican operative put it this way today, quote, "There is some holy hell to pay. Karl Rove has a lot of explaining to do. I don`t know how you tell your donors that we spent $390 million and got nothing." One of John McCain`s former senior staffer put the blame squarely on Mr. Rove. Quote, "Rove spends more for Republican candidates than the NRSC and the NRCC." Those are the Republican Party campaign arms for the House and Senate. "He is running things. Rove is a problem." Heck, Rove even managed to make Donald Trump angry. "Congrats to Karl Rove on blowing $400 million this cycle. What a waste of money." Karl Rove wanted to be not to be wrong so badly, he wanted to have one big race so badly on election night as things were slipping away from him, he became borderline incoherent on FOX News saying what was happening was not happening. I realize the Karl Rove is a very powerful figure in Republican politics. But at what point in his legacy, at what point in Karl Rove`s life do people stop trusting him with their money on election time. That does it for us tonight. Thanks for joining us. Now, "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END