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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/03/14

Guests: Patrick Murphy

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. The invasion of Iraq started on March 20th, 2003. March 20th. On March 23rd, 2003, so still during the very first few days of the initial invasion period, on March 23rd, a long column of vehicles from the 3rd Infantry Division was driving from southern Iraq toward Baghdad, when a maintenance company that was part of that big drive to Baghdad got hit by an ambush. And with the nation riveted to the start of that war, to what was supposed to be the shock-and-awe application of overwhelming force to what would be a short and triumphant war in Iraq, that ambush on the third day of the war gave the United States of America our first made-for-TV Iraq household name. The name was Jessica Lynch. She was diminutive 19-year-old blonde white female, West Virginia soldier. But apparently beneath it all, she was a Rambo. On April 3rd, 2003, "The Washington Post" ran this front page story and photo of Jessica Lynch and told the story of her unbelievable heroism after the ambush on that day three of the Iraq war. "Private Jessica Lynch rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital, fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army`s 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, U.S. official said yesterday. Lynch, a 19-year-old supply clerk, continued firing even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds. She was fighting to the death, the official said. She did not want to be taken alive." Lynch was also stabbed when Iraqi forces closed in on her position, said "The Washington Post." Sources also told the paper that after her rescue and her medevac, she was being treated for gunshot wounds and stab wounds. The Pentagon even managed to obtain night vision video footage of American Special Forces rushing into an Iraqi hospital to rescue her. The coverage of that rescue was unbelievably intense. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: One of the most dramatic moments of this war occurred early Wednesday morning Iraqi time in the dark in Nasiriyah. The rescue of Private First Class Jessica Lynch of West Virginia. NBC`s Kerry Sanders was with the 8th Marines when the first tip came in. KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS: The rescue operation began with a fierce barrage from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, firing on Baath party headquarters to draw out Iraqi soldiers. That diversion providing cover so special operations forces could drop into Saddam hospital just hours before a handwritten note had been smuggled out of the hospital and handed to a marine with the words, "she`s alive." The note gave the hospital room number where Jessica Lynch was being held. Within hours, Army Rangers, Navy SEALs and Air Force pilots were executing a rescue operation. Inside, the U.S. Forces found the Army private first class wounded, a gunshot to her leg. Military sources tell NBC News Jessica Lynch had been for several days at another hospital in this room, her bloody uniform was found. It was torn, her name tag ripped off. Tonight, Jessica Lynch is in Germany where she will receive medical treatment before heading home. Kerry Sanders, NBC News, Nasiriyah. BROKAW: Later in this broadcast, we`ll take you to PFC Lynch`s hometown in West Virginia where the celebrations still are going on. MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Now to the heroic story of Private First Class Jessica Lynch. The POW rescued earlier this week. According to "The Washington Post," Jessica fought fiercely before she was captured, even after she was shot in an ambush and some of her comrades died around her, she kept firing until she ran out of ammunition. One official describes her as fighting to the death. NBC`s Dawn Fratangelo was at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany where Private Lynch is being treated. Dawn, good morning to you. DAWN FRATANGELO, NBC NEWS: Matt, good morning. Private Lynch is one of the most celebrated patients here at Landstuhl Medical Center. Lynch and 14 other members of 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company disappeared after being ambushed near Nasiriyah. Military officials say she fought, even while hurt, until she ran out of ammunition. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: It was the first rescue of an American prisoner of war since World War II. And she was a hero. I mean, there was even talk of giving Jessica Lynch the Medal of Honor. Members of Congress from her home state of West Virginia put her up for the Medal of Honor, for the military`s highest honor because of her heroism as a POW. She was a mega watt hero. She was brought home safe. Her rescue was all captured on film. It could not have been scripted better by Hollywood for what they wanted day three of the Iraq war to end up like. But it turns out it may not have been scripted by Hollywood but it was in fact scripted. The ambush did happen. Private First Class Jessica Lynch was injured. She did spent nine days in an Iraqi hospital and she was rescued by American Special Forces. But the back story of her heroics -- emptying her weapon, fighting to the death, fighting through gunshot wounds and stab wounds, all of that was made up, as she herself said insistently from the very beginning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PFC JESSICA LYNCH, U.S. ARMY: When I remember those difficult days, I remember the fear. I remember the strength. I remember that hand of that fellow American soldier reassuring me that I was going to be OK. At the same time, tales of agree heroism were being told. At my parent`s home in Wirt County, West Virginia, it was the media repeating the story of the little girl Rambo from the hills of West Virginia who went down fighting. It was not true. I have repeatedly said when asked if the stories about me helped inspire our troops, and rally a nation, perhaps there was some good. However, I`m still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend. DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: Did you fire your weapon back and did you kill any Iraqis? LYNCH: No, no. My weapon did jam and I did not shoot, not a -- not a round, nothing. SAWYER: You could have just let it go and said nothing. LYNCH: I could have, but I`m not about to take credit for something that I didn`t do. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Jessica lynch was the first American prisoner of war rescued since World War II. She was grievously injured in that ambush. Eleven members of her company died in that ambush and the vehicle crashes that it caused, including Jessica Lynch`s best friend, who died next to her in that Iraqi hospital in the next bed over. But Jessica Lynch did not go down shooting. There was not a bloody firefight and stabbing. She was not fighting to the death like that headline said in "The Washington Post." Incidentally, that article has disappeared from the online archives of "The Washington Post" now. You can`t find it anywhere. It turns out that the group of vehicles that Jessica lynch and her company were in, they were supposed to take a detour around the city of Nasiriyah, but they didn`t. They took a wrong turn or more likely a few wrong turns. And they ended up right in the city center. They were supposed to go around the city and not go through it at all. They ended up wrong turn after wrong turn, right in the city center, undefended, in territory where the U.S. Army knew they were likely to be attacks or ambushes, and they just drove right into it. It was day three of the war. Should that rescue not have happened? Should Jessica Lynch have been left there? Seriously, is that what we think about these things now? Private First Class Jessica Lynch, star of the show of that rescue. If the heroics that the Pentagon made up about her didn`t really happen, and they didn`t, maybe the U.S. Special Forces who rescued her, maybe they shouldn`t have bothered. After all, maybe it was their own screw-up that got them ambushed and hurt and captured in the first place. Is that how we think about these things now? Is that how we think now about that rescue in hindsight knowing what we know now? Because that kind of a case, that obscenity of a case that maybe some Americans might deserve to be left behind, that is new cause celebre on the American right, right now, that the American prisoner of war, the last American prisoner of war, the last and only one still held from either the Iraq war or the Afghanistan war, the American prisoner of war, Bowe Bergdahl, he did not deserve to be freed -- that the U.S. government working to free him, succeeding to free him, that was a shame somehow, because yes, sure, he was an American soldier, but he was a bad one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Questions this morning of whether Sergeant Bergdahl was a deserter or potentially a collaborator with the Taliban even. Pentagon sources confirming to FOX that many in the intelligence community have had serious concerns that he not only had deserted his post, but that he may have indeed been working in some way with the enemy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s pretty clear that he was -- looks to me like a deserter or a traitor or both. And why the Obama administration would give away five terrorists to get him back is kind of beyond me. Again, five Americans were killed looking for him at least, and I think if anybody needs a phone call or some reassurance or some condolences, it`s those five families, listen, we`re really sorry we sent your sons out to get killed looking for this traitor. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The one that we traded five hardened terrorists for himself deserted, got six Americans killed. Why are we doing anything to get this guy back? He`s ashamed to be an American. He calls America disgusting. He wanted to leave. So he left. He got what he wanted. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That is the timber of the American right today. As the country celebrated the return of America`s only prisoner of war from the war in Afghanistan, the right decided to condemn the president for getting the soldier freed, and then to condemn the soldier himself. And now, in a special show of class with the K, they have moved on to attacking the soldier`s family. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: This Robert Bergdahl, the father, who is also engendering some controversy. He has learned to speak Pashto, the language of the Taliban, and looks like a Muslim. He`s also somewhat sympathetic to Islam, actually thanking Allah right in front of the president. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those sources tell FOX News in the executive branch, that they are quite baffled by the White House decision to allow the president to stand alongside Sergeant Bergdahl`s father. He said he was growing his beard because his son was in captivity. Well, your son`s out now. So, if you really don`t want to no longer look like a member of the Taliban, you don`t have to like a member of the Taliban. Are you out of razors? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: On the American right, in Republican politics and conservative media, there apparently is nothing to celebrate in an American prisoner of war coming home after five years, because look at his dad. He looks like a Muslim. The administration`s response and the U.S. military`s response to all of this has so far been fairly calm, but also pretty forceful. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last night issued a statement saying, quote, "The questions about this particular soldier`s conduct are separate from any effort, from our effort, excuse me, to recover any U.S. service member in enemy captivity." And he wrote the word "any" in all caps. President Obama spoke to the issue today as well on the first leg of his European trip in Poland. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has always had a pretty sacred rule, and that is we don`t leave our men or women in uniform behind. And that dates back to the earliest days of our revolution. With respect to the circumstances of sergeant Bergdahl`s capture by the Taliban, we obviously have not been interrogating Sergeant Bergdahl. He`s recovering from five years of captivity, with the Taliban. But let me just make a very simple point here, and that is, regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he`s held in captivity, period, full stop. We don`t condition that. And that`s what every mom and dad who sees a son or daughter sent over into a war theater should expect from not just their commander-in- chief but the United States of America. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Should we try to get soldiers home when they are held prisoner or should we subject those prisoners and their worthiness for rescue to some sort of test about how they got captured and whether they were negligent or they left their post and they were incompetent somehow, or maybe they made a wrong turn or maybe they went down fighting, but maybe their dad has too long a beard? Do we leave no soldier behind in captivity? Is that an American value and an American military principle? Or do we leave some of them behind because some of them frankly aren`t worth it, according to the FOX News Channel? Yesterday and today, a political strategist who worked for the George W. Bush administration as a staffer and who for a time was Mitt Romney`s foreign policy spokesman during his presidential campaign, that political operative has been organizing a media strategy for a couple days now to try to stoke criticism of this soldier, who has just spent five years in enemy hands and is now on his way home. It`s an organized effort now to try to organize opposition and condemnation of this man who is getting out after five years of captivity. Before this happened, you could not invent a hypothetical scenario in which this is the way it would play out. Before this happened, you would have laughed out of the room a would-be screen writer who tried to sell you a plot about the freeing of an American prisoner of war being treated as bad news in the United States of America. But incredibly, that really is where we are now. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) REPORTER: The heroic saga of Private Jessica Lynch, captured after bravely fighting until she ran out of bullets, shot and stabbed, rescued in a daring midnight raid that boosted morale in a country discouraged by a war bogged down in its third week. BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: She`s been retrieved and some brave souls put their lives on the line to make this happen. REPORTER: But NBC News found the story of Private Lynch was not all it was built up to be. The ambush, "The Washington Post" initially quoted an unnamed single source identified only as a U.S. official, claiming Lynch fought fiercely, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, and then was shot and stabbed. No one from the Pentagon ever said on the record that Jessica had fired her weapon or had been shot. But a steady stream of leaks built a dramatic and false impression. An erroneous report often repeated. LAUER: According to a report in "The Washington Post", Jessica fought fiercely she was captured. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is reported to have suffered gun shot wounds and broken bones during her ordeal. REPORTER: But doctors say private lynch suffered a head injury and broken bones in her leg and back when her supply truck flipped. She was unconscious when Iraqi soldiers and the Fedayeen brought her to the hospital. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was in a bad medical conditions. In medicine, we call it a shock. REPORTER: Dr. Annar Adi (ph) said it was clear in the emergency room Jessica had neither bullet nor stab wounds. OBAMA: With respect to the circumstances of sergeant Bergdahl`s capture by the Taliban, we obviously have not been interrogating Sergeant Bergdahl. He`s recovering from five years of captivity with the Taliban. He`s having to undergo a whole battery of tests and he`s going to have to undergo a significant transition back into a life. He has not even met with his family yet, which indicates I think the degree to which we take this transition process seriously, something that we learned from the Vietnam era. But let me just make a very simple point here, and that is regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back after being held in captivity, period, full stop. We don`t condition that. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: Private Jessica Lynch was the first American POW rescued after World War II. The initial story that the Pentagon told about Jessica Lynch about her actions surrounding how she ended up in captivity turned out to be a maid for TV super hero story that Jessica Lynch herself was the loudest in pointing out that it wasn`t true. None of that ever tempered the happiness that greeted the return home of Private First Class Jessica Lynch and the gratefulness that she was rescued and that she made it. This week, there has been a remarkable return home of an American prisoner of war from the war in Afghanistan. It is now a deafening chorus on the right that bringing that American prisoner of war home was some sort of mistake. That the president should not have made the deal he made, and the soldier himself under the circumstances which he was captured mean that the president and the country basically should have left him behind. It would have been better if he had never been rescued. I thought honestly from personal perspective, I thought that there might be one ugly hour of this kind of thing in the comment sections of the lesser blogs of the world when this story first broke. But this has now turned into a full-on three-day uproar on the right that appears to be an official Republican action on this subject. This appears to be their new political cause celebre. It is an issue growing larger as we speak. I`m flummoxed by this. Joining us now is Patrick Murray. He served in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 with the 82nd Airborne. He earned the Bronze Star for his service. He`s a former congressman from Pennsylvania, and he`s now the host of "TAKING THE HILL" here on MSNBC. Patrick Murphy, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here. PATRICK MURPHY, TAKING THE HILL: You, too, Rachel. MADDOW: Patrick, let me ask you what you make of the criticism on the right, not just of Bowe Bergdahl and the circumstances under which he was captured, but criticism of President Obama for arranging his rescue. MURPHY: It`s pretty disheartening, Rachel, because they`re purposefully conflating two issues. The one issue of bringing home a missing soldier back to America is clear. We have one standard in the military, no one is left behind. No one. And to have them criticize the commander in chief for following the military standard, which is very clear. Now, they`re conflating the fact that the sergeant may have been a deserter. I`ll give you that. Let`s get him healed up. Let`s investigate it. And if that`s the case, let`s court-martial him. But the fact is this -- let`s court-martial him here in America where he belongs. We don`t outsource our justice to the Taliban. MADDOW: Did the president fulfill his obligations in terms of the way he handled the prisoner exchange? One of the remarks the president made today when he discussed this matter is he said, this is part of what happens when wars end and he cited a number of previous presidents going all the way back to Lincoln in terms of the way that other prisoners have arranged prisoner exchanges particularly at the end of long conflicts. Is the president -- is the way the president approached this in keeping with that history, as well? MURPHY: It`s keeping with the finest military tradition of our commander in chief, Rachel, because -- you know, the Republicans` disingenuous criticism, saying that Barack Obama`s negotiating with terrorists, let`s be very clear. He was negotiating and talking through our allies in the country of Qatar and the Qataris. Secondly, they want to have selective amnesia, when the fact is the Bush administration literally, not just negotiated, but paid the sons of Iraq in the Anbar province, ones who are responsible for killing American soldiers, to get a stranglehold and force al Qaeda in Iraq. So, that is what`s so infuriating here. Let`s bring this American G.I. home. Let`s heal him up, and let`s -- if he deserted, if that`s the facts are, if there`s testimony, squad leader, if that`s the case, let`s court-martial him and bring him to justice. But to say that the commander in chief did the wrong thing and to attack him this way is conflating the issues -- like they did, by the way, as you know, as you pointed out, with Jessica Lynch. Jessica lynch, great soldier, not a Rambo. She never lied. She had the moral courage and fortitude, though, Rachel, to come forward and let people know that they are lying about her record. And I give her credit for that. MADDOW: Patrick, let me ask you one last question, it is a political question. As you say, there isn`t a reason to conflate the actions of Sergeant Bergdahl and the wisdom and the ethics of whether or not he should have been brought home as an American soldier in captivity. On the former question, though, the military does say it`s going to open a new round of investigation, a new investigation into the circumstances under which he was taken. Is that the sort of thing at this point, which is now necessarily going to be infected with the sort of politics, that have attended this decision to free him from Afghanistan or do you have any concerns that that can actually be fairly adjudicated given the way this has turned into a huge firestorm on the right now? MURPHY: Yes. I mean, the fact that they`re bringing such a big deal that we`re bringing an American G.I. home. And if the facts come out that he may have been aiding the Taliban, potentially, because no one knows what the case is. Of course, that trial is going to be very political charged. Now, I have confidence in the military justice system. You know, they`ll select a jury, all that stuff. But I can only imagine. Luckily, Barack Obama, President Obama does not make the decision whether he`s tried or court-martialed or not, that`s in the chain of command of the sergeant. MADDOW: Patrick Murphy, Iraq war vet, former congressman, host of "TAKING THE HILL" here on MSNBC, the next new installment airs on Sunday, June 22nd. Patrick, thank you for being with us and helping us through this and I really appreciate it, man. MURPHY: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Not every Senate primary campaign results in four arrests, actual arrests by the police and mug shots before the voting happens. But that means this year is just a little special. That story is ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you have bet on the favorites so far in this primary election season in 2014, you are way ahead with your betting buddies, or your bookie or whoever. In every Republican contest for a nomination to the U.S. Senate so far, the incumbent or the more mainstream establishment Republican candidate has prevailed. But then along came Mississippi, when the primary was today, where polls have just closed. And there, things could turn out differently and that news is next. You may want to call your bookie. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: Today, we renew a bill that would help bring a community back into the margins of American democracy. My administration will vigorous enforce the provisions of this law and we will defend it in court. (APPLAUSE) I am proud to sign the Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendment Acts of 2006. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: When Congress renewed the Voting Rights Act in 2006, the House vote was 390-33 in favor. Those 33 no`s were all Republican members of Congress, but, honestly, 192 Republicans voted for the Voting Rights Act, including the top two Republicans in the House today, John Boehner and Eric Cantor both voted for it. And as you saw there, George W. Bush, President George W. Bush signing it proudly and said we will defend it in court. When that was voted on in the Senate in 2006, the vote was unanimous to keep the Voting Rights Act. Zero senators voted against reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act in 2006. That signing ceremony was one big bipartisan garden party. The consensus for it was clear. The particular question of the civil rights era had been decided. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. In the course of the debate, Justice Scalia said using the law to protect voting rights in places that had a history of denying those rights on the basis of race, Justice Scalia said that had become racial entitlement in this country. So, in a 5-4 vote, where all the Republican appointed justices voted in the majority, all the Democratic appointed justices voted in the minority, the court voted last year to gut the Voting Rights Act. It opened the way for new restrictions on voting, even in places that had a history of trying to block access to the polls for minorities. Immediately, immediately, that same day, states that had been stymied by the Voting Rights Act in the past, when it was whole, right, those states announced that they would put into place the restrictions they had been waiting for. Texas, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, they all moved immediately to put in place restrictions on voting rights they had always wanted but they had always been blocked from implementing because the policies were too racist for the Voting Rights Act to allow. Policies like requiring ID that black and Hispanic voters were less likely to have than white voters, or cutting the days for early voting that were favored by black churches. But something else happened after that Supreme Court decision that was really interesting to watch. No mainstream Republicans wanted to be seen as cheering too hard for what the court had done, even though it was the five Republican appointed justices who made up the majority in that decision. A few key Republicans in Congress, in fact, said they wanted to put some of the Voting Rights Act back into place. On the House side, Majority Leader Eric Cantor had begun joining Congressman John Lewis on his annual civil rights pilgrimage to Alabama. As a young man, of course, John Lewis had marched for voting rights in the 1960s. He was beaten so badly he was nearly killed trying to cross the bridge in Selma, Alabama for voting rights. Congressman Cantor joined John Lewis on his annual pilgrimage back to Selma, Alabama, in 2013 and again in 2014. The night the Supreme Court ruled against the Voting Rights Act, Eric Cantor issued a statement citing his, quote, "profound experience" with John Lewis in Alabama. He said, "I`m hopeful Congress will put politics aside as we did on that trip and find a reasonable path forward that ensures that the sacred obligation of voting in this country remains protected." House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he was on board for finding some sort of reasonable path forward from day one. Then, in January, a bipartisan group of lawmakers put forward actual legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act. The bill made a big exception for state laws that require voters to show new forms of ID. The bill sponsors reportedly did that to attract support from Eric Cantor. They even left Congressman Cantor`s home state of Virginia off the list of states that need special attention. This bill was a valentine to Eric Cantor, trying to get him on board, since he`s the guy who decides basically what the House votes on and what they don`t. For all of their courtship of Eric Cantor, what they got was nothing. The bipartisan bill to shore up the Voting Rights Act has been referred to committee and there it languishes, while that committee chairman seems to be in no particular hurry to do anything with it. And Congressman Cantor says he`s continuing to have conversations about the bill. So, with the old protections gone and no new ones in place, today, two of the states that went ahead with new voting restrictions once the Voting Rights Act was gone, so they could get away with it, two of those states sent people to the polls today for the first time under those new restrictions that they couldn`t get away with before. In Alabama, this maiden voyage occasioned a $1,000 bounty offered by the Alabama Republican Party for tips leading to convictions of voter fraud. They also promised to have Republican poll watchers at all the precincts so voters could enjoy that cozy feeling of driving with the police officer in the rearview mirror. Meanwhile, a 93-year-old man in coastal Alabama is reported to have been turned away because he did not have the kind of ID you now need to vote in that state, even though he has happily voted in previous elections. Next door in Mississippi, voters went to the polls for the first time with new requirements. And Mississippi might be the most important race in the nation right now in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Chris McDaniel represents the Tea Party`s last best chance this year to unseat a Republican senator. Over the closing days of the race, Chris McDaniel has shared the stump with Republican leading lights, like Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum. Mr. McDaniel is challenging eternal senator, Thad Cochran, in the Republican primary and the polling heading into this race today showed, Mr. McDaniel and Senator Cochran separated by only a few points. It`s just been a crazy race in Mississippi. Four people were arrested last month in connection with a bizarre alleged gross scheme to sneak into a nursing home and take pictures of Thad Cochran`s infirmed wife, apparently to use those pictures in some short of hit piece connected to the senator`s travel with a staffer. Four people arrested, all of them supporters of Chris McDaniel, including Mr. McDaniel`s former radio show co-host. This week, Mississippians have been wondering which mystery group placed an ad calling for Democratic voters to cross over and vote for Senator Thad Cochran. Voters can decide at the polls in Mississippi which primary they want to vote in. You don`t have to be a Democrat or Republican primary voter specifically. You show up and say which one you want to vote in. It`s an open primary. Also, it`s just kind of open season in Mississippi right now. Right wing Tea Party outside groups have spent more than $5 million on this primary trying to unseat Thad Cochran, trying to prove that the Tea Party still can win elections, still can claim the scalp of long-time incumbent Republicans. The polls closed in Mississippi at 7:00 p.m. local time, so just over an hour ago. You have to cross the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff for this race. Just 29 percent of the precincts reporting so far, Chris McDaniel is leading Senator Thad Cochran by just five votes as you see here. They got 49.2 percent of the vote each. And when it`s that close it`s important to note there`s a third person in the race as well, a man named Thomas Carey right now polling 1.6 percent. But again, the threshold to avoid the runoff is 50 percent.] Joining us now is Kasie Hunt, NBC`s political reporter. She joins us from Thad Cochran`s campaign headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi. Kasie, thank you for your time tonight. Right now, we are reporting this as neck and neck as it gets. What`s the mood there among the senator`s campaign? KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS: Among Cochran`s campaign, the mood here is nervous, but cautiously optimistic. I think there`s acknowledgement that the senator could lose this race, and we`re picking up a few early indications there might be some finger pointing starting to go on about what exactly happened here. The Cochran campaign has sort of had a difficult road all along. He wasn`t sure initially if he was going to run or not. He announced somewhat unexpectedly and at that point the establishment in Mississippi, specifically the Barbour family, sort of rose up around him to try and push him through to the finish line. But it may have within too little too late. As you pointed out, this is a real test for these outside groups. They`ve lost almost everywhere else. If they were to loss here, it would be a major blow. It would sort of send them retreating back to their foxholes, if you will. But if they pull this out and it`s looking like they very well might, that`s going to shift the dynamics of this race. In particular, Democrats are looking at Travis Childress, a former congressman, and I don`t think it`s out of the question that national Democrats would go all in for him and try to put this seat in play in the fall. MADDOW: In terms of the outside groups that have been involved here, I just mentioned that figure -- kind of remarkable figure for the Senate primary, in a state like Mississippi, $5 million alone spent by outside groups on behalf of Chris McDaniel l trying to unseat Thad Cochran. More than $8 million spent overall on this race so far. Those outside groups, obviously this does have national implications for them, in terms of what they`re capable of pulling off. Are they trying to spin tonight`s results? Are they reacting or positioning themselves in terms of what they think the results are going to be like? HUNT: At this point, neither side, and I`ve talked to supporters of McDaniel, I talked to the outside groups, I talked to Cochran supporters. No one at this point has any idea how this race is going to come out. And as you pointed out, it could go to a runoff. I will say, on the outside groups, while there are a lot of Tea Party groups in this race, the most significant player on the outside side has been the Club for Growth. So, this is going to be a real test for them in particular. I wouldn`t necessarily they say line up with all of the other Tea Party groups. While they are sort of anti-spending, they`ve been around a little bit longer, they pick their spots a little more carefully. And their track record has been fairly good in past election cycles. They in particular have a lot riding on this race. MADDOW: Kasie Hunt, NBC political reporter joining us from Jackson, Mississippi. This is going to be a fun one to watch tonight. Kasie, thanks for helping us to understand it. Appreciate it. HUNT: That it is. Thanks, Rachel. Great to see you. MADDOW: All right. We got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us and keep an eye on those election results. We`ll be sticking with it until the end. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In 2005, Rick Santorum undertook that unavoidable right of all presidential aspirants. He wrote a book. His book was called "It Takes a Family." Get it? Because Hillary Clinton had famously written her screed against everything good and right, that was titled "It Takes a Village." So, Rick Santorum wanting to be the anti-Hillary Clinton, he turned "It Takes a Village" into "It Takes a Family", and the book explains Mr. Santorum`s take on the evils and the disease-ridden nature of sex outside of marriage. He explains how feminism undermines the traditional family. Mr. Santorum`s book was hailed by people like televangelist Pat Robertson. It was reviewed widely on the right as a triumph of family- friendly public policy. One particularly slobbery viewer said this, quote, "Pleasantly departing from Bill Clinton`s my life genre of political writing, Santorum barely mentioned his personal history, accomplishments and aspirations. Instead, `It Takes a Family` is a thoughtful articulation of conservative vision in public policy, leaven with real life example and practical solutions", so wrote Rick Santorum`s own lawyer, who had the honor of authoring that book review for a Christian magazine. Rick Santorum`s lawyer and personal book reviewer is a man named David Porter. The Pennsylvania attorney went on to defend Mr. Santorum in a residency dispute that cropped up during senator`s re-election bid in 2006. That was the reelection effort that Rick Santorum lost by a staggering 18 points. A defeat that Mr. Santorum still amazedly parlayed into what is now an apparently permanent career for him of being a guy who is always kind of running for president of the United States. Vote for me, the last time people elected me, the same group kicked me out by 18 points the next time they got a chance at me. Meanwhile, Mr. Santorum`s lawyer, David Porter, he went on to bigger and better things as well including being reported as a legitimate candidate for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. David Porter, same guy, has been mentioned as part of a package deal with a group of judges to be appointed by President Obama to fill one of the many, many judicial vacancies which remain after 5 1/2 years of the president trying to appoint people as judges and the Republicans in the Senate never letting anybody come up for a vote. Mr. Porter`s potential nomination is part of the package deal. It drew very concerned attention from liberal groups in Pennsylvania, who reacted negatively to news that a Democratic president might be appointing this conservative activist to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. They highlighted his background as a social conservative activist, as leader of the Pittsburgh lawyer`s chapter of the Federalist Society, as a trustee of a conservative group called the Center for Vision and Values. Liberal groups in Pennsylvania gathered 40,000 signatures in opposition to the nomination of the guy who had yet to actually to be nominated to anything. Well, today, "The Huffington Post" reported David Porter will not be nominated to the federal bench as part of a package deal of conservative, not conservative nominees to try to get them through the Senate. Chock one up for the Pennsylvania liberals on this one. But this package deal thing isn`t happening just in Pennsylvania. It is happening all over the place. And David Porter isn`t the only potential nominee in the scenario who has come under fire from the left side of the political spectrum. Georgia Appeals Court Judge Michael Boggs is also one of President Obama`s picks for the federal court. But he too is not a conventional choice for President Obama or for any Democratic president. When Michael Boggs was a Georgia state legislator, he voted for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. He also voted against changing Georgia`s state flag to drop its confederate imagery. He was also in the Georgia house in 2001 when a bill was brought to the floor that would have created a public registry of all abortion providers in Georgia, posting the names of doctors who have done abortions and the abortions they have performed. At the time, there was intense debate about whether or not this was a safe thing to do for those doctors. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STATE REP. LARRY WALKER (D), GEORGIA: You heard about these, these, clinics being bombed and these people being shot and if word goes out, this very well could cause -- in fact I had a leading Republican say, we have a right to life, not this kind of thing. STATE REP. JAMES MILLS (R), GEORGIA: Well, I guess, I guess that`s - - I mean if we took that kind of approach in everything -- then, then we would have difficulty in passing everything, there are some radical folks out there, and I agree with that. WALKER: How many appendectomy doctors do you know, clinics have been bombed. A baby -- a pediatricians, or heart specialists, Mr. Mills, let`s be realistic about it. I mean -- WILLS: I am. WALKER: If you take the approach, this is a real thing. If you put out on the Internet that these people have performed abortions, next thing you know, some of the radicals will want to shoot them and kill them and bomb them. It`s going on. It`s the real world. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It`s going on. It`s the real world. That`s audio from the 2001 Georgia House debate about that public registry of abortion providers. That was put up at "Huffington Post" last week because it is now, newly relevant to Michael Boggs` potential nomination as a federal judge. When that bill which would have created an online registry of addresses and names of abortion providers in the state, when that bill was voted down, Michael Boggs, a Democratic state legislator at the time, he was among those in favor of it. He voted in favor of creating the public registry of abortion doctors. And when he was asked about that vote, during his nomination hearings, a couple of weeks ago in the Senate, Mr. Boggs pretty much pleaded ignorance. He said he hadn`t realized that anybody had targeted abortion doctors with violence. He never heard of that, when he voted to publish a registry of their names. But we have heard the debate now. We know that he has heard about that violence. He heard about it at the time he cast the vote. And he voted the way he did anyway. He now says he has heard about that violence against doctors and so, he`s changed his mind on the issue. That idea, that vote he took to make an online registry of abortion doctors names. That idea is not just a Georgia thing, that is haunting one judicial nominee who now says he changed his mind on the subject a few years down the road. It`s not just him. It`s not just Georgia, because in the great state of Louisiana, the state government there has just overwhelmingly voted to do the same thing, to form essentially a public registry of abortion providers. And this isn`t a decade ago like it was in Georgia. This is now. The new Louisiana legislation specifically forces some doctors in private practice who do abortions to register with the state as abortion providers. So, their names and their locations literally, the addresses where they work and where they can be found, that would all be publicly posted information by order of the state. Yes, hey, I wonder what people use that list for. That bill passed the Louisiana Senate. Then it sailed through the Louisiana House last week. It passed by a margin of 88-5, with zero debate. Same bill also expected to close three if not four of the state`s five remaining abortion clinics, using the same kind of targeted regulation that has shut down clinic all across the country. The bill, that omnibus anti-abortion bill is now sitting on Governor Bobby Jindal`s desk. Right after the legislation passed, the governor was looking forward to sign it and a signing ceremony expected sometime soon. This idea of making lists of abortion providers, making public details about where they work, their phone numbers, posting photos of who they are and how they can be found, is not a new idea. It has long been a tactic of anti-abortion extremist groups, people who wish to do harm to doctors who perform abortions or at lest to intimidate and scare them. These lists were frequently made in the form of old-fashioned wanted posters. This for example is the wanted poster for Wichita doctor, George Tiller, giving his home and office address where he could be found. This wanted poster was distributed right before Dr. Tiller was shot by an anti- abortion activist the first time, in 1993. Dr. Tiller survived that assassination attempt. He went back to work one day later, bandages and all. But ultimately another anti-abortion activist, stalked Dr. Tiller at his church. On a Sunday morning went into the church and shot and killed Dr. Tiller inside the church. That was May 31st, 2009, five years ago this week. It is arguable that Dr. Tiller was the most visible abortion provider in the country. His name and face was on every anti-abortion extremist`s personal list, and now, sitting on Governor Bobby Jindal`s desk is a new, would-be public state sanctioned list of the doctors still willing to provide abortions in the state even as the state rid itself of almost all of its clinics. And now, simultaneously sitting before the Senate is a federal judicial nominee who fried to do the same thing for his home state when he had a vote on the matter. Will that nomination survive? Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END