IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/13/13

Guests: Jason Horowitz

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: And that is "THE ED SHOW". I`m Ed Schultz. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. I love you, man. And hearing you say it that way and knowing you are going to be putting up a flag on the weekends in the way that you are makes me really happy for MSNBC, that we`ve got you for the long haul. And God love you, man. Thank you. SCHULTZ: I appreciate that. It`s work I want to do. It`s something I think that needs to be done. There`s a lot of stories that are in my wheelhouse that I want to tell and getting that to people is a big part of this. And I`m going to be here for a long time. I appreciate the opportunity to do this kind of work. And it`s been great working with you. And guess what? I`m going to be bugging you to be on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW quite often. I`m not going anywhere. MADDOW: And you will be here and I will be on "THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW". Great, great job tonight, man. Congratulations. SCHULTZ: Thank you, Rachel. You bet. MADDOW: Thank you. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Wow. Well, the big news in the world today, obviously is the important story not just for the world`s more than 1 billion Catholics. It`s a big story for everyone and everything in the world that is influenced by the Catholic Church. Today, we learned that the new pope will be the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He`s an Argentinean. He was the archbishop of Buenos Aires. And as of today, he is Pope Francis, Francis I. This is different this time around not only because this is the first South American pope and the first Jesuit pope, this is also different this time around because of the very special circumstances that ended the reign of the last pope. The last pope is still around. Pope Benedict is now Pope Emeritus Benedict. Because his papacy ended in resignation and not in his death, and that has not happened in roughly 600 years, the former pope will be around and living on the grounds of the Vatican as the new pope takes over. So, we still have the retired pope, Pope Benedict, and now, we have the new pope, Pope Francis. We`re going to have much more on the new pope and what we know of his history and what this might mean for the church and for the politics of the church all coming up this hour. That, of course, is the big world news story today. Domestically, the big news story is the big political news that just happened here on this network. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SCHULTZ: What is your name? And what are you all about? SCOTT PROUTY, 47 PERCENT VIDEOGRAPHER: My name is Scott Prouty. I`m a regular guy, middle class, hardworking guy. You know, I think I would like to think I have a good moral compass and a core, and I think I have a little bit of empathy. I think I have more empathy than Mitt Romney had. I don`t know how to describe myself, but I was behind this whole thing. I was bartending that night for the Romney fund-raiser. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: My colleague, Ed Schultz just broke the news tonight of the biggest unanswered question. The biggest remaining unknown of the presidential election cycle that we just had. The Romney fund-raiser that Scott Prouty was talking about there was, of course, the fundraiser where Mitt Romney made his infamous remarks that shook the campaign to its he core and ended up greatly affecting not just the course of the campaign, but maybe even the course of the whole election. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. And so, my job is not to worry about those people. I`ll never convince them that they should take personal responsible and care for their lives. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Before tonight, we did not know how we got that tape. We did not know the identity of the person who made the recording. Now, we know it was a man named Scott Prouty, who was bartending at that event that night. Before tonight, we did not know his motivation. We didn`t know why he did what he did. We didn`t know whether he acted alone. Now, we know all of those things and what he thinks today of his actions. Tonight, on "THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW", we learned that Scott Prouty is a registered independent. He is not a Democrat or a Republican. We learned that he is not somebody who was politically active before this. We learned that he acted alone. And, in fact, he acted without malice aforethought. He took a camera with him to that night -- he took a camera with him that night to work for two reasons. The first reason was that nobody told him that he shouldn`t. Nobody told him he was not allowed to bring a camera into the room. The second reason he brought the camera that night when he went to work is a man named Bill Clinton. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SCHULTZ: Did you know you were going to record him? PROUTY: You know, yes. You know, I did -- I had brought the camera and a lot of other people brought cameras, you know, like I said for thinking that he would come back and take pictures. Clinton in the past did come back with the staff and taking pictures. That was, you know, really my thought. I hadn`t really made up my mind. I was willing to listen to what he had to say. I was interested in what he had to say. But I hadn`t -- I didn`t go there with a grudge, you know, against Romney. I was more interested as a voter. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mr. Prouty had worked at a previous political fund-raiser where Bill Clinton was the speaker, because Bill Clinton at that fund- raiser came back after the fund-raiser and met the staff and talked to people and shaken hands and took pictures of people, he had his camera on hand in case that might happened with Mitt Romney. That did not happen again with Mitt Romney. But having the camera there resulted that a different outcome that night. One of the fascinating things we learned in this interview tonight is that it was not actually the 47 percent remarks that motivated Scott Prouty to go public with the recording. It was something Mr. Romney said earlier before he got to the 47 percent thing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: When I was back in my private equity days, we went to China to buy a factory there that employed 20,000 people, and they were almost all young women between the ages of about 18 and 22 or 23. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It was that anecdote, that sort of casual anecdotal reference to buying a factory in China that Scott Prouty said made him sit up and take notice. That this recording that he was making just for himself, just maybe for a souvenir of the evening might end up being a politically important thing. That the way Mitt Romney was talking on the campaign trail, he realized was not at all the way Romney was talking at private events like these. Scott Prouty told Ed Schultz tonight that he never could have imagined Mitt Romney telling the public these stories about shopping for factories in China with horrible work environments. And he said, so, ultimately, what this guy was doing, what this guy was doing in private was not the same thing as what this guy was doing in public. And so, this otherwise every day guy, a political bartender, heard that and decided this recording he was making was important, that he had to go public with it, because he thought everybody should know what Mitt Romney really thought about issues like this. Not just what he said in public but what he thought when he was talking behind closed doors, when he was talking behind closed doors to people who could afford to get into a fund-raiser like that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PROUTY: The people there that night, they paid $50,000 per person for dinner. And, you know, I grew up in a blue collar area in Boston and nobody I know can pay, can afford to pay $50,000 for dinner. I just don`t know anybody that can do that. And in a way, I felt like, you know, whether you are a Republican or an independent or -- there`s a lot of people who can`t afford to pay $50,000 for one night for dinner. And I felt an obligation, in a way, to release it. I felt an obligation for all the people who can`t afford to be there. You shouldn`t have to be able to afford $50,000 to hear what the candidate actually thinks. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: For all the people who can`t afford to be there, you shouldn`t have to be able to afford $50,000 to hear what the candidate actually thinks. We learn tonight in Ed`s exclusive interview with Scott Prouty that despite being shocked at what he saw and despite feeling that obligation that it needed to be shared with others, so only $50,000 donors -- so $50,000 weren`t the only people who knew this stuff. Despite those feelings, he was also worried about the consequences of taking this information. He was worried about being found out, particularly, he was worried about getting his co-workers or the company that he worked for in trouble. He considered not putting the video out. He considered just keeping it in the drawer where he stashed it after the fund-raiser and where it had stayed for a couple weeks until he finally decided that he really had no choice. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PROUTY: There were times I went back and forth a little bit. And, I -- you know, I woke up in the middle of the night one night and I was, you know, in the darkness of my house just kind of -- just looking out the window and thinking about it. I walked into the bathroom and I just looked into the mirror and the words, you coward, came out of my mouth. And just looked in the mirror and just said, you are a coward. You are an absolute coward, because I was leaning toward not putting it out. It just kind of came out of my mouth. I, you know, I went back to bed. I said that`s not going to work. You know, I`m going to put it out. I`m going to be proud I did it. I`m going to do it, I`m going to do it to the best of my ability and I will make sure as many people as possible hear it. And that`s, you know, then I -- at least when I turned the corner, I felt good about it and like I was doing the right thing. I went down the path and never looked back. MADDOW: I went down the path and never looked back. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I went down the path and never looked back. Mitt Romney has called his 47 percent remarks unfortunate. After initially standing by the remarks, he`s talked about them a number of ways since. He told FOX News earlier this month that what he said that night hurt his campaign. What he said that night is not what he actually believes. It is difficult to say if this was the deciding factor in the election. There`s a lot of polling on that question. But it`s hard to say for sure. But what we now know is that the man who made the recording agonized over the decision of whether or not to release it. We know he did not walk into the room politically motivated. We know he got politically motivated by what he heard in that room. That is how something he recorded for himself, something to be recorded a souvenir to maybe show his girlfriend, something he recorded with a camera he brought to have on hand in case he got to met Romney and shake his hand. That ended up being a very important factor in the question of who would be the leader of the most powerful nation on earth -- an unaffiliated guy, acting on his own, driven by conscience. It`s a remarkable story. Joining us now is David Corn, Washington bureau chief of "Mother Jones" and journalist who broke this story back in September, for which he won a George Polk Award just last month. Scott Prouty told Ed Schultz tonight that he went to David Corn with the story because he had read and respected David`s reporting. And he knew that he would do right by the job. David, thank you so much for being here tonight. This is a kind of a big day in the story. DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: It`s great to share this evening with you, Rachel. I was on your show the night the story broke. And I think it`s great people out there, millions who wondered who recorded the video could see Scott really present himself in his own words about what he did. You know, the great thing about the video itself, and I have been doing journalism many years, is that this was sort of unimpeachable fact. People can watch the video and decide for themselves what they made of it. It required no analysis. It was reality, it was a slice of reality. And now, we see Scott on "THE ED SHOW" talking about why he did that, another slice of reality. You can have the full story of what led to this video. No secrets here, no tricks. And I`m glad that he`s able to get the credit he deserves now. MADDOW: David, what can you tell us about the decision to go public? Because Scott Prouty decided to go public now and say who he is. He decided not to do that at the time the tape came out and not to do it anytime before the election. Did you engage with him at all during that time, talking about -- did you have any insight into the sort of angst do you felt about that decision? CORN: There was a lot of angst. We spoke about extensively, I have a story up on the "Mother Jones" site that goes into that, a little bit. I mean, this is more his story to tell than mine. But during the campaign, before the campaign was over, you know, media folks were coming to me, trying to reach him or reaching him directly, making all sorts of offers if he would go public, some involving money or other benefits. And he time and time again said he didn`t want to make himself the story. He didn`t want to distract from Mitt Romney`s own words. He realized also that if became public, if he went public, he would be a bulls eye on his target, whether Rush Limbaughs of the world and others who would try to make him the story, try to dig up some dirt on him, I don`t know if there`s dirt on him, didn`t seem that way tonight. And, you know, but I think it`s also hard to stay in the shadows. When everyone is talking about this -- imagine the conversations you must have in this situation with people around you who said, God, did you hear about the tape? Did you see it on the news? You have to say yes, I`m kind of familiar with that -- when you want to say that was me. So, I think it was very hard decision for him. Also, he described he was not in the best financial straits. He`s a working class, college educated bartender. And he put his job on the line. He had to worry about his own future. He was living month-to-month in terms of paying for his apartment. And so, he had lots of real concerns about his future. I also think in the thrust of all this, he and I wondered whether there would be recriminations that he more than I that we would have to worry about. There was one night I said -- you know, there`s a sedan parked in front of my house that I have never seen before. I said it half jokingly. He said, well, there`s a suspicious car outside my house, too. There was a lot going on in his life. It was a big event and he couldn`t share it with a lot of people. That makes it more difficult. MADDOW: Learning tonight it was him acting alone, he didn`t go in with any intention of doing this, that he planned on having the camera there essentially in case there was an opportunity for a souvenir. He didn`t work with strategists on this. He wasn`t working with any campaign. CORN: That`s what`s kind of thrilling about this story. How much money was spent to try to elect Mitt Romney president? I don`t know, somewhere between half a billion and a billion dollars? And what happened? A guy, a working class bartender who was driven ultimately by his passions, and his values and his beliefs because of a 67 clip on a longer tape, really, I don`t know if it totally brought Romney down, but it made it much more difficult for him to win the election. You can have all the money in the world, but one guy -- one guy with a video camera, you know, standing up for the principle of sacrifice and putting himself in the line of fire at some risk. Well, look at the impact he had. It`s hard to find a corollary to this. MADDOW: Yes, the impact from his perspective. And also, a lot of people who are political pros say that in a campaign, Steve Schmidt actually talks about this, having worked with John McCain. He said a presidential campaign is like an MRI, everything that needs to be known about you. And if you try to have conversations with people behind closed doors that are different than the conversations that you have out in public, eventually those doors open because somebody follows their conscience in this case. CORN: Steve is partly right. Had it not been for Scott, then Steve would have been wrong. MADDOW: Yes. CORN: Mitt Romney would have gone through the whole campaign telling things privately to people that he did not believe and telling something different to the voters. So, it was a close call. MADDOW: Yes, a close call driven by a man -- a man alone -- making a decision of conscience in the middle of the night looking in the mirror, figuring out what he needed to do for his values. Incredible story, David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and the man trusted because of his reporting to break this story by a man who thought very hard about who he could trust in the world, congratulations again -- David, thank you. CORN: Well, congratulations to Scott. MADDOW: Yes, obviously. All right. Obviously, that`s really big news today in American politics. And really big news in the world today is white smoke. The Catholic Church with great pomp and ceremony electing a new pope. We`re going to have more on that ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In Washington, it was Groundhog Day today -- not in the sense of looking for a shadow to figure out how much more winter we`re going to have. But rather as in Bill Murray -- Bill Murray waking up in the same Pennsylvania town with the same series of events that are on auto repeat day after day. And for the love of Andie MacDowell, we cannot break out and get back to present day. That`s what it was like today in Washington, where the calendar says it is March 13th and that means it`s two months in President Obama`s second term, because he got reelected. But the headlines make it seem like it`s not March 13th and, in fact, we are stuck in the middle of the last campaign, living it out over and over again like it never happened in the first place. This is one of the pieces of nonsense that happened during the last campaign. And at the time, I really felt like oh, God, this is so stupid. It can only happen during a campaign. Can`t wait until this campaign is over, so this kind of nonsense will disappear. This, in particular could have been from anywhere. This is from the Heritage Foundation. The headline from Heritage, Heritage used to be a think tank that did policy now, they basically just functioned as an extension of the Republican Party. But you can see the headline here -- Obama guts welfare reform. Not true, actually. What happened is actually the opposite of that. A bunch of governors asked to have some flexibility in implementing the existing welfare law. The administration said, sure, as long as the changes you want to make don`t weaken the old rules on welfare and work. It was Republican governors asking, Republican Governors and Democratic governors and the Obama administration says, yes, provided we protect the welfare and work requirements. And then Republicans decided to lie about it and say the president and the administration did exactly the opposite of what they actually did. He took the work requirements out of welfare. He just wants a free ride for everybody. He`s buying votes with the free welfare, Obama money. It was not true at all. It was, in fact, the opposite of what the administration had done. But the Republicans thought they had something. Mitt Romney made a campaign ad out of it. A few days before the election, Romney made another campaign ad out of the same untrue thing. It was a lie. It was utterly, completely, totally, debunked. It was one of the brighter, more obvious campaigns of a campaign filled with lies. It was the kind of bright, obvious lie that you only try in the hottest heat of an election year when you are really desperate because nothing else is working. But now, bizarrely, in cold, cold March, it is back. Republicans are pushing a bill right now in this Congress to stop the thing that only existed in Mitt Romney`s campaign ads and was never actually real. And it`s not just one wing nut congressman who thinks it`s October of last year and campaign lies are true. This week, they are acting on that bill in the House of Representatives over the yelling/laughing/yelling/ laughing from the White House that this thing they are trying to stop is not happening and it never happened and was, in fact, just a campaign season lie by their own side. Nevertheless, Republicans, today, voted to block this thing that never existed. They voted overwhelming, 246-181 on a naturally, almost entirely party line vote. It`s absolutely ridiculous. What could be more ridiculous than legislating against your own lie about welfare that you made up for the last election? Actually, there`s an answer for that. Because it is the other thing they are doing - -the Obama phone. Remember? A 2012 campaign season lie closely related to the free welfare for everyone lie in which President Obama is supposedly buying votes, not just by free, you don`t have to work welfare checks but also by giving out free phones. Free Obama phones. What this is actually about to the extent it`s anything other than race is a program called Lifeline. It`s a program started by Ronald Reagan. It was expanded in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton. It was morphed by the Republicans in the last election to be an invention of President Obama to buy votes. President Obama`s welfare phones, Obama phones. And as went the Obama free welfare lie so went the Obama phone lie in the 2012 campaign. Now, in 2013, this week, for some reason, both of these lies are back at the same time. They voted today on the welfare lie and Republicans are acting now to ban the dreaded Ronald Reagan phone -- I mean, the Obama phone. Get rid of the program that existed since the 1980s to subsidize phone service for the very poor and that was never controversial before they decided to call it the Obama phone. So, if you missed the campaign, now you go the return at least of the lying part of it -- the free welfare lie and the return of the Obama phone lie, because apparently, they were too much fun to leave in the last year. And in addition to that, the big thing they are fighting about in Washington is the Paul Ryan budget. It`s the same budget Paul Ryan and Romney ran on in the election when they lost with all of the weaknesses that caused them to lose on that issue, like taking a hatchet to health care and the generous tax cut to the rich that magically somehow pays for itself. What -- you want details? You know better than to expect details. It`s the same thing we saw last time. This is Groundhog Day in Republican politics. Pretty soon, they are going to start floating that Hillary Clinton is going to replace Joe Biden as vice president again. All of this stuff, the welfare lie, the Obama phone lie, the kill Medicare budget that we don`t have to explain, trust us. It`s Republicans trying to get traction on stuff they did not get traction on before when they were busy trying not to lose in the November elections and they lost anyway. In that election, it was actually the Democrats who really did get traction on part of that issue. It was Democrats who actually did get traction when this tape showed the Republicans real argument on this stuff and all the naked behind closed doors glory. The Republican`s presidential candidate Mitt Romney saying that 47 percent of the country was so accustomed to freeloading on the government that they would never vote for a Republican like him. Mr. Romney saying 47 percent of the country, never mind them, this president has bought their votes with all the free Obama welfare stuff he has been giving them. That tape is now back in the news in part because we know now -- thanks to Ed Schultz tonight -- who got that tape and how he came to release it to the rest of the world. But, are we condemned to groundhog this day thing -- this thing forever? Are we going to Groundhog Day this thing forever? Is this still the terms on which the Republicans and White House, the Republicans and the Democrats are fighting in Washington? Not just on the petty stuff, but on the big issues, too. Is this what every day in politics is like now? Joining us now is Steve Kornacki. He`s co-host of "THE CYCLE" on MSNBC. He`s a senior writer for Steve, it`s good to see you. Thanks for being here. STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC`S "THE CYCLE": Good to see you, too, Rachel. MADDOW: So, the man behind the 47 percent video did not ever have to reveal himself, ever. He did tonight to Ed Schultz. That`s the spotlight back on that moment and its effect on the campaign. Do you think the Republican Party is still struggling with the meaning of those comments, even with Mitt Romney personally now out of the picture? KORNACKI: Absolutely. I mean, we have seen several signs of this all along. If you remember, when it first broke -- I remember, there was a school of thought that maybe, if you want to give Mitt Romney the benefit of the doubt in the tape, he didn`t think there were tape recorders, obviously. He didn`t think there were any video cameras and he was talking to a group of, you know, elite, super affluent donors and he was sort of telling them what they want to hear. And maybe, maybe this isn`t the real Mitt Romney. This isn`t what he really thinks. I think that theory kind of went out the window when he had a conference call trying to explain his defeat and he talked about all of the free gifts that Obama had showered on different constituencies. And I think you listen to that and said, no, you know what? The Mitt Romney from the 47 percent tape is the real Mitt Romney. And you look at the Paul Ryan side of it, you know, Paul Ryan, of course, you know, had the makers versus takers rhetoric before and you look at his budget he`s introducing today and like you said, this is a budget line item by line item that is consistent with the message Romney was delivering in that 47 percent tape. I mean, this is all about basically, radically fitting the social safety net in this country, voucherizing Medicare, shipping back, you know, all sorts of aid to the poor programs to help the poor to the states, block-granting them back to the states, massive tax cuts for the wealthy, the very sort of thing that was supposed to be the dividing line, you know, between Obama and between the Republicans in the election last year. And the thing with the election was supposed to settle. As you say, this is basically, you know, with a few sort of cynical accounting tweaks, this is basically the same thing that Paul Ryan put out in 2011 and 2012. MADDOW: What about the smaller bore stuff that`s surfacing sort at the same time? What do you make of the resurfacing of the Obama free welfare lie and this legislation that actually passed in the House today, the free Obama phone lie. This other particularly racially charged elements of the whole Republican thesis from the campaign that Democratic voters are just moochers. Why do you think those things are coming up right now? KORNACKI: I think one of the things that kind of came out of 2012 election is if you look at the map, if you look at it nationally, there are enough votes for sort of the Democratic coalition to win a national election, to win the popular vote fairly comfortably in a national election. And there are enough votes in sort of the big states that decide presidential elections for the Democrats to win those big states and to win, you know, big Senate races. But when you break the country down into 435 House districts, what you find is the Democratic vote is so concentrated in metropolitan areas and the Republican vote so spread out over, you know, suburban areas, that you basically create absent a huge Democratic wave you created for the next decade, a permanent Republican House. And the demographics of the districts in all of these, you know, sort of Republican House districts across the country, they do not match the demographics nationally. They are not evolving the way the rest of the country is. They are much older and they are much, much whiter. And, really, it`s the Republican primary, and not the general election that determines who is going to represent these districts in the House. And so, all of these messages, you know, the people who represent the districts and go to Washington, in a lot of ways were immune to what happened in November, because it`s not going to happen in their district. It`s certainly not going to happen in their district anytime soon. And so, the battle is playing out in hundreds of districts across the country is to put that kind of garbage out there and preserve yourself and insulate yourself from Republican primary challenge. MADDOW: It`s the kind of thing that makes you feel like maybe the president and congressional Republicans needing to talk face-to-face is not going to be the key to resolving these sort of dilemmas. KORNACKI: No. MADDOW: Steve, co-host of "THE CYCLE" on MSNBC and senior writer for "Salon" -- Steve, thank you very much for being here tonight. KORNACKI: Thanks for having me, sure. MADDOW: The thing that makes me crazy and everybody gets so excited about the president meeting with congressional Republicans in the House today and the Senate tomorrow -- oh, that will make everything better. No, it probably won`t. Really probably won`t. If you wonder why having a Jesuit pope from Argentina from Francis means in practical terms, and who doesn`t, turns out there are some answers to be had on that one. At least we think so. Hold on. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The entire world got photo bombed today. And the perpetrator was this guy, a seagull just looking for a place to rest his weary wings before a second -- before heading out to presumably look for more fish. But his perch, that piece of pipe is the Catholic Church`s special vessel of mass communication. He`s perched on the bat signal. That`s really important piece of real estate. And while that bird sat there oblivious, hundreds of millions of people watched that bird while they waited to see what kind of smoke, if any, was going to come out of that Sistine Chapel chimney. And yes, there`s a commemorative Twitter hashtag, papal seagull. And, yes, naturally, there are even fake Twitter accounts created in the seagull`s honor. Of course, public interest in the birds was dashed when the smoke changed color. Habemus Papam! And so, in the end, flock of seagulls ended up being a novelty. Notable for its brevity to find features and very entertaining, but soon to be forgotten. We`ll have much more on the headliner, Pope Francis I, with the man who was there to see it all happened today, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In papal history, there have been Johns, there have been Pauls, there have been John Pauls, there have been Leos and Pius and Innocents and Alexanders and Gregorys and Urbans and Nicholases and Martins and Adrians. There have even been a couple of Bonifaces. But there has never, ever been a Francis. There`s never been a Pope Francis until today. Today, after almost two weeks of not having a pope at all, and after just five rounds of voting and then burning the papers with their votes recorded on them, today, the conclave of 115 cardinals elects under the age of 80 elected one of their own to be the pope. They picked 76-year-old Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He`s a Jesuit from Argentina. And he`s now the new pope. He`s the first Jesuit pope. He`s now the new first pope to hail from South America. He`s the first non-European pope in more than 1,000 years. But if you are detecting a bit of a European flourish in the name Bergoglio, you are right. The former Cardinal Bergoglio was born to Italian immigrant parents in the 1930s in Argentina. When he was a young man, he got a respiratory infection that resulted in doctors having to remove one of his lungs. He`s had one lung most of his adult life. His original plans were to become a chemist. But then at the surprisingly age of 32, Mario Bergoglio decided to become a priest. He ended becoming a ranking Jesuit in his country, in Argentina, by the time of his country`s so-called Dirty War in the 1970s, the time of dictatorship, when some Jesuit and Catholic leadership were complicit with the military dictatorship in both words and deeds. Bishops in Argentina apologized publicly last year for not doing more during the dirty war to save lives. Although they did deny having anything to do with human rights violations in their country. In the late 1990s, Mario Bergoglio was promoted from priest to archbishop of Buenos Aires, which was a serious promotion, a big leap up in the ranks in the church. By the time he was Cardinal Bergoglio taking part in the conclave to elect the last pope after the death of John Paul II, Cardinal Bergoglio was considered a serious candidate for the job himself. He`s reported to have finished second in the balloting to Cardinal Ratzinger back in 2005. Back in Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio is known for his ascetic lifestyle, he lives simply. He lives in a small apartment in downtown Buenos Aires. Heated by just one stove, he has a right to live in the archbishop`s palace, but he does not live there. Instead, he lives simply and cooks for himself. He takes the bus rather than the chauffeured car that comes with his position. He has spoken passionately and often about income inequality and the exploitative impact of globalization. Last year, he made headlines by rather furiously calling out priests in Latin America who would not baptize kids born to unmarried parents. At the same time, the "National Catholic Reporter" describes him as unwaveringly orthodox on matters of sexual morality, staunchly opposing abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception. In 2010, when the Argentinean government was backing a gay marriage bill, Mr. Bergoglio wrote a letter to the government saying this, "Let`s not be naive. This is not a simple political fight, it`s an attempt to destroy God`s plan." He`s also denounced gay people being able to adopt children as discriminatory to the children. So, there`s that. New pope today was described by some as a moderate, but he`s more frequently described as a conservative. At least somebody who is appealing to the conservative forces within the church, as somebody who`s hewing to a conservative line in his country was seen as particularly important in Latin America at a time when it was important for the church to resist the leftist siren song of liberation theology. The installation mass for the new pope will be on Tuesday. Vice President Joe Biden, who is a vocal and devout Catholic, will be there on behalf of the United States government, along with a delegation of other American officials. And then in a few weeks or maybe a couple of months, we`re not sure, the old pope will come back. The old pope will return from his vacation home. Yes, this is the first Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope and the first pope from South America. But nothing about this whole situation makes the jaw drop as much as the fact that there will be two popes at the Vatican compound from hereon out. The ex-pope and the new pope sharing the earth, sharing the Vatican, even sharing this papal secretary. This very famous, very handsome papal secretary. History was made today, for sure. But as long as the pope emeritus is around, living right near the new pope, history will keep getting made as long as that arrangement is maintained. Hold on, there`s more. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I announce to you news of great joy. We have a new pope. (CHEERS) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: We have a new pope. Joining us now from Rome is Jason Horowitz. He`s a staff writer with "The Washington Post." Mr. Horowitz, thank you for staying up so late to be with us tonight. I really appreciate it. JASON HOROWITZ, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: Here is the first very, I guess practical question that I have. The church went through something unprecedented, something that hasn`t happened in 600 years. Pope Benedict stepping down, he said for reasons of age and infirmity. He was chosen at age 78. Pope Francis today was chosen at age 76. Was his age not a factor or does it tell us of the contours of the choice by the church? HOROWITZ: I mean, the short answer is we have no idea what the factors are right now because it`s a conclave and we have no idea what the kind of political things were. But we can look at his age and kind of get a sense that they weren`t looking for somebody they want to be pope for maybe 25 or 30 years. With Benedict, there was also the idea that it was somebody who people would call (INAUDIBLE), a place to hold their pope, somebody (INAUDIBLE) this wasn`t going to be the big shift in the church. But there are parts of Bergoglio or Francis I that makes you think that actually this is a big a shift. MADDOW: As the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio has spoken out a lot about the issues of poverty, globalization, has talked about the church`s need to not to be hypercritical, and to serve the poor and not afraid of interacting with those on the lowest socioeconomic end of the spectrum. He`s also been outspoken sort of vituperatously spoken against same sex marriage and gay rights and contraception and abortion. HOROWITZ: Right. MADDOW: Do we know anything about from his time as a cardinal abut what he`s likely to prioritize among those various social issues? HOROWITZ: I think that -- you know, so he does walk the walk, right, when it comes to the vow of poverty, right? That`s probably why he took the name Francis. It`s St. Francis of Assisi, who took the vow of poverty. But he also walks the walk when it comes to his orthodoxy. He`s not - - you know, he`s stylistically different. When it comes to ideology, he`s kind of an echo of Benedict. You`re not going to see much change there. I think his priorities are kind of going to be more about Rome, is my guess and that he`s away from Rome. He`s an outsider. When we think in American politics, we think about reformers or left to right. It almost doesn`t relate here. The way they are looking at things as an outsider versus an insider, because it`s also about kind of the bureaucracy and management and who can change things. Maybe you need somebody from the outside, and also maybe you need to kind of attract people from the outside. So, that`s why I think, they went with him. MADDOW: Do we know about his relationship with Benedict, which, of course, is in this one usual situation, Benedict will be around and we don`t know how the pope emeritus will be involved if at all. But do we know how they have known each other in the past or worked together in the past? HOROWITZ: I mean, the most interesting thing about their relationship is that Bergoglio, when he was Bergoglio, there were reports that he was actually the kind of second in the running in 2005 in the conclave and was actually the choice of the kind of the more progressive -- and I use that word very loosely -- in the conclave for, you know, the alternative to Ratzinger. And he had a decent amount of support, but it clearly wasn`t enough and Ratzinger kind of steamrolled him. But that`s kind of the most interesting part about their relationship. We do know right after he was elected, he gave the former Benedict or Emeritus Benedict a call and he`s going to meet him tomorrow. So, but you are right. I mean, the amazing thing is going to be you have two popes in the same Vatican. MADDOW: Just incredible, 600 years. So, longer than any of us have been talking about this. It`s unprecedented isn`t the word, even. Jason Horowitz of "The Washington Post" -- thanks for helping us understand this tonight. I really appreciate your time tonight. HOROWITZ: Thanks. MADDOW: All right. On the topic of gun violence, there are reports in the news today or a potential important shift by the unlikeliest power player possible. And we`ve got that story just ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: At around 9:30 this morning, officials in the Upstate New York town of Mohawk, about three hours north of New York City, responded to a report of a fire at a local residence. When they arrived on scene, they found this two-story home engulfed in flames. The individual who lives at the house was not around when officials got there though. He had driven to a local barbershop in town armed with a gun. And after a brief altercation with those inside, he opened fire, killing two customers inside the barbershop and wounding two more. The suspect then left that barbershop, his house on fire and headed to his next destination -- a car wash, to an oil change shop called Gaffy`s (ph) Fast Lube in a nearby town of Herkimer, New York. He got out of his car there. He entered the shop with a shotgun and then he started firing. When the smoke cleared, two more people were dead. After shooting up the fast lube, he holed up in this abandon building across town. He left his car parked outside. When police officers discovered it, he started shooting at them from inside the building. This is the man that police believe went on that mass shooting spree today, a 64-year-old resident of the town of Mohawk, New York. He`s described as a loner by a number of people in town who knew him. Tonight, police remain in a stand off with that suspect who is still holed up in that building. This multiple shooting in Herkimer County today happened just a short distance from another recent mass shooting in Upstate New York, in the town of Webster. That shooting was Christmas Eve. A 62- year-old gunman set fire to his house in Webster and then ambushed the firefighters who arrived on scene to respond. He killed two and he injured four others. Yesterday, one of the firefighters who was injured in the shooting, firefighter Ted Scardino (ph) testified before a congressional gun violence forum in Washington. Today in Washington, the group Moms Demand Action for gun sense in America descended on Capitol Hill to add their voices to the debate as well. So, there`s political pressure for Congress to act on guns, all this pressure coming from pro-reform groups and from recent victims of gun violence. Simultaneously, there are these continuing incidents every day of shootings across the country. Herkimer, New York, today is just the latest. Almost every day now, a columnist at "The New York Times" name Joe Nocera does something he calls the day in gun violence. In today`s installation, today in Florida, a woman was arrested for allegedly shooting and killing her ex-boyfriend who she just happened to run into at a local post office. In Washington state, a 14-year-old boy upset over being grounded by his parents pulled out a revolver that his parents kept in the house. He approached them and emptied the chambers. Both of his parents suffered gun shot wounds to the head. Oregon, a convicted felon captured by police after allegedly gunning down his grandparents. The grandparents had thrown him a welcome home party to celebrate his release from prison. Authorities say they believe he shot and killed both his grandparents after that party. Listen to this part, quote, "Detectives learned from a search of computer data that the suspect had researched gun shows in Washington and Nevada either just before or just after his grandparents were killed. At some gun shows, of course, some sellers are not required to conduct background checks or main sale records as gun shop purchases do. That specific loophole, not requiring a background check to buy a gun at a gun show, that is what Congress has its sights on right now, a bill to require universal background checks on all gun purchases. It passed the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. It`s now headed to a full vote in the Senate. That bill, importantly, didn`t get one vote from Republicans on the committee. It passed with only Democratic support. But there`s news tonight there may be a political breakthrough coming on that issue. NBC News is reporting tonight that the NRA, which long stood in the way of universal background checks, will not oppose universal background checks as long as private dealers are not mandated to maintain records of those checks. Democrats and gun reform groups are balking at that demand by the NRA, but the fact that the NRA now appears to be giving ground on the background check issue, that could be a very big deal. That is the first real glimmer of something happening on this issue as a result of the days and weeks and months of mounting political pressure. And as we saw today in Upstate New York, real world pressure as well. This story which everybody tells us cannot move appears to be moving as well tonight. But stay tuned. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Thanks for being with us tonight. Have a great night. END