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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/24/14

Guests: Sam Hall, John Garamendi

RACHEL MADDOW, MSBNC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy election night. If you live in the middle of a state somewhere, if you live far from any other state`s border, this might be a little hard for you to visualize, but there`s a part of Kentucky that is basically suburban Ohio. Part of the greater metropolitan area of Cincinnati -- Cincinnati, Ohio, is across the state line in the northern part of the state of Kentucky. Lots of people live in Kentucky and commute back and forth every day across the Ohio River. But in order to do so, they have to cross state jurisdictions. And, of course, even though these places are very geographically close to each other, in politics, state jurisdictions really matter. On this side of the river, House Speaker John Boehner is basically the top political dog. He`s not only the top Republican in the House of Representatives, third in line to the presidency, he`s also the preeminent elected official in Ohio, dean of the Ohio congressional delegation. And his district is not far from where the bridge from Kentucky over the Ohio River touches down on the Ohio side. On the other side of that bridge, on the Kentucky side, the political boss over there is obviously Senator Mitch McConnell. The top ranking Republican in the United States Senate. So, you have two of the top Republican leaders in Congress, the top Republican in the House and the top Republican in the Senate, you have them parked at either end of one specific bridge. The Brent Spence Bridge it`s called, between Ohio and Kentucky. And that makes that bridge, itself, a very unusual corner of American politics. It also makes it an opportune place if you want to make a point about American politics, particularly about Republican American politics. A few years ago, President Obama went to that exact bridge and he made that point. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Behind us stands the Brent Spence Bridge. It`s located on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America. It sees about 150,000 vehicles every single day. And it`s in such poor condition that it`s been labeled functionally obsolete. Think about that. Functionally obsolete. That doesn`t sound good, does it? Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. Help us rebuild America. Help us put construction workers back to work. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Obama speaking at that bridge between Ohio and Kentucky almost three years ago now. The replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge has still never been built. Engineers say it is safe to drive on, but really it`s kind of a mess. I mean, it`s getting old for a bridge. It carries twice as much traffic every day as it was designed for. It is functionally obsolete. And so officials in Ohio and Kentucky are still trying to figure out some way to build a new bridge. To replace this old one that is functionally obsolete. And that kind of project is the kind of thing that Senator Mitch McConnell in Kentucky he really used to specialize in that. Bringing home federal money to Kentucky for projects like that. You can basically walk all across the state of Kentucky and never not be standing on something that`s named for Mitch McConnell because he brought the money to the state to pay for it. Senator Mitch McConnell built his whole career on making sure that Kentucky got its share or more than its share of federal money. He took care of the earmarks. He took care of the state at home. But you know what? Under the new ever-evolving principles of the Republican Party, Republicans are not allowed to do that anymore. And so, even though Senator McConnell built his career on this, Senator McConnell does not do earmarks anymore. And, unfortunately, that bridge still needs building. And without an earmark, nobody`s quite sure how it`s going to get done. And so now, in the midst of a re-election effort, senator McConnell has proposed a new way to pay for the bridge. He has proposed instead of just bringing in federal money like he used to, he has instead proposed paying for the bridge by a trick, in which the federal government would change its rules around so that it could pay people less to build the bridge, to build the new one. People who would work on building the new bridge would not get paid a prevailing wage. Right now, prevailing wage laws determine what construction workers get paid when they work on a big federally funded construction project like that. Senator McConnell wants Congress to repeal that federal prevailing wage law so construction workers would get paid less to work on federally funded construction projects like that bridge. And that`s how he thinks it can be paid for. And you know what, that is not a good way to win the votes of construction workers. Hey, you want to be paid less? It`s also not a good way to win the votes of anybody who likes construction workers. It`s not a good way to win the votes of anybody who counts on construction workers having money to spend for their own livelihood. And frankly, it`s not even a way to get that bridge actually built because in real politic, trying to repeal the prevailing wage law for construction workers on federal projects, that`s never going to happen. Never, ever. You have a Democrat-controlled Senate. You have a Democrat in White House who is not at the stroke of a pen going to lower wages for hundreds of thousands of workers across the country. But that`s apparently Mitch McConnell`s plan now. He unveiled this plan on Friday and it very clearly is going nowhere. And that means that bridge is going nowhere. And so, Kentucky commuters and Ohio commuters, they are stuck because of where Senator McConnell has gone ideologically, because of his newly discovered allergy to bringing federal dollars home for the people of his state and for projects that matter to them. In the Mississippi Senate race, where polls close tonight at 8:00 Eastern, the Mississippi senate race that the whole country is watching tonight, that is that story of that bridge times 100 million. Except in this Mississippi race, incumbent Republican Senator Thad Cochran is not running away from his history of bringing money home to his state. In fact, that has ended up being what Thad Cochran is running on to try to hold on to his Senate seat now in what is turning out to be the race of his life. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AD NARRATOR: Mississippi gets $1.5 billion in federal education funding. Chris McDaniel says he`s end that because education is not in the Constitution. How do we make up the gap? Your property taxes go up. McDaniel opposes the highway bill. We lose half our road budget. Result? Higher gas taxes, worse roads. No wonder every statewide elected official opposes Chris McDaniel. SEN. THAD COCHRAN (R), MISSISSIPPI: I`m Thad Cochran and I approve this message because Mississippi is worth fighting for. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Do not adjust your TV set. You really did just hear a conservative Republican elected official campaigning on the idea that government spending is good for you. And we need it. And it`s important for the stuff that we want and need and that drives our economy. That would be an unexpected message in most states. But Mississippi, it might as well snowing on the Fourth of July. Mississippi. A Democratic pollster in Mississippi tells "The Washington Post" today, quote, "Democrats are sitting here scratching our heads. Thad Cochran spent $2 million in the campaign reminding voters that there is a central role for government in our state. There`s been no money spent on the Democratic side of that message since Jimmy Carter ran for president." Incidentally, when Jimmy Carter ran for president, that`s the last time Democrats won a presidential election in Mississippi, 1976. Every other time since then, the state has voted Republican. But now, Republican Senator Thad Cochran has trotted out basically the Democratic playbook from 1976 as he faces this challenge from Tea Party Republican Chris McDaniel. Mr. McDaniel has built himself as the guy who will turn off the federal spigot to Mississippi. In February, he told a Mississippi college crowd "I`m not going to do anything for you. I`m going to get the government off your back then I`m going to let you do it for yourself." Mississippi has had some fairly recent experience with calling for and getting government help. In 2005, hurricane Katrina erased whole swaths, whole towns off the state`s Gulf Coast. And state Republicans did everything they could to get federal disaster relief in motion. They have campaigned on how much help they got for the state ever since. But this year, when asked Chris McDaniel whether he would have voted for that funding after Katrina to help Mississippi, he said he could not say for certain. He said, quote, "I would have to see the details of it. I really would." That`s not an easy vote to cast. Chris McDaniel campaigned for Senate for Mississippi on the idea that disaster relief after something like Hurricane Katrina, that would not be an easy vote to cast. It does, however, lead to an easy campaign ad to make for his opponent. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AD NARRATOR: Chris McDaniel asked if he would have supported Mississippi disaster relief after Katrina. His first response, "I don`t know." That`s the same Chris McDaniel who`s promising Mississippi voters that "I`m not going to do anything for you." Sounds crazy, but Chris McDaniel is backed by powerful interests that Governor Haley Barbour calls out of state phonies. If Chris McDaniel won`t do anything for Mississippi, why should Mississippians do anything for Chris McDaniel? (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: If the Tea Party candidate will not help you, why should you help him? Just ask. This fight in Mississippi of all places, this fight about whether or not the government should do stuff like help out after Hurricane Katrina, or help states build and maintain their roads, that is usually the kind of fight that happens between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. But in Mississippi right now, what they`ve got is a Republican Party. And the fight is happening inside the Republican primary. And the Jimmy Carter side of the argument isn`t a Democrat in this fight. It`s the old school incumbent Republican. But in this fight, he has got the support of the state`s Republican governor. The state`s Republican lieutenant governor. The de facto head of the Republican Party in state, Haley Barbour. Also Haley Barbour`s whole family dynasty which controls the Republican Party in the state, plus the whole Republican congressional delegation from the state, plus the National Republican Senatorial Committee, plus the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, plus Republican household names like John McCain who was down there yesterday and today campaigning for Senator Thad Cochran. And what nobody knew before today was whether or not that sort of institutional, in-state, organic homegrown support from the machine that is Mississippi Republican politics, whether that was going to be able to make a difference on the ground in the state. I mean, we`ve seen Tea Party upstarts in other states, right, that have lots of loud national support from outside groups that get a lot of press, they get a lot of face time on FOX News and stuff. But we`ve seen them not be able to deliver on election day. You may remember, for example, that we saw that in Nevada when Sharron Angle beat the Republican establishment to get the Republican nomination for Senate in Nevada, looked like she was doing great in the polls. She was getting a ton of press, national press, national attention, national endorsements about how she was going to beat Harry Reid. She had a lot of money to do it. But then she just did not have a get-out-the-vote operation when it came to actual voting day. She didn`t actually have the machinery in the state that she needed to get people out of their houses to their polling places and voting for her. A lot of national buzz doesn`t get people in the state into the voting booth. Heading into today`s voting in this race in Mississippi, that dynamic about getting people out to polls, actually knowing who they are and knowing how to motivate them and motivating them and getting them there, that process, the fact that he`s got the Mississippi machine on his side, that was one of Thad Cochran`s two great hopes for trying to hold on to his seat today. That was one of his life rings basically heading into this vote today. The other one was that he decided to start reaching out to people who do not usually vote for Republicans, including typically Democratic voters who, because it is an open primary, would be eligible to vote for Thad Cochran today if he could persuade them to do so. Those were the two ways that Thad Cochran was going to try to salvage a win today and was going to try today to avoid being the first United States senator to lose a battle for re-election this year. Well, the polls in Mississippi closed just over an hour ago. Here are the latest results that we have at this hour. At this point, we`ve got 20 percent of precincts reporting in Mississippi in this runoff. Again, there`s no threshold issue here. It`s who gets the most votes. There are only two people on the ballot. Thad Cochran, and Chris McDaniel. These are the results of 20 percent in. Thad Cochran with 54.5 percent of the vote, McDaniel nine points behind him. But again, be wary of extrapolating from these results. This is only 1/5 of the vote total so far. Joining us from Jackson, Mississippi, is Sam Hall, political columnist for the "Clarion Ledger" newspaper, which has been an absolute must-read every day as we`ve all been covering this. Mr. Hall, thanks very much for being with us. SAM HALL, THE CLARION-LEDGER: Thank you. Glad to be here. MADDOW: Obviously, we`ve only got early returns at this point. But in terms of where you know the vote is in from and what you were anecdotally able to see and report on today, do you have any sense of in terms of how this race ended up going today with all this national attention, these three weeks of furious campaigning, how did it come down today? HALL: Well, based on the results right now, it actually looks very much like it did three weeks ago, which was the early results especially down on the coast, and south, most of south Mississippi with Cochran leading -- leading all the northeast Mississippi except for a few pockets. So, there are still some key areas that we`re looking at to see what they do. Still haven`t gotten anything out of Jones County which is McDaniel`s home. He just absolutely swamped Cochran there and pulled out more votes from that county than I think they`ve ever had come out. So, that`s going to be a telltale sign. And then here in the metro area, we`ve still got a lot of boxes out there waiting to see which way they go. But based on turnout, both camps are looking to be right at where we were in the primaries, so they`re looking at over 300,000 votes coming out which would be astonishing. And it looks like favorable for Cochran and ironically not in traditionally Democratic boxes, but in traditionally Republican precincts. We got very anecdotal stuff out of the delta where most of the African-American outreach happened, so we`re still waiting to hear more about that. It looks more like Barbour`s machine. (CROSSTALK) MADDOW: I`m sorry for interrupting you there. That`s exactly the point that I was going to, which is a reason not to interrupt. That issue about the Cochran campaign trying to reach out to voters who don`t traditionally vote Republican, specifically reaching out to black Democratic voters. Is something like the Haley Barbour machine, the Mississippi Republican Party get-out-the-vote effort, is it applicable to that kind of effort? I mean, they`ve never really been trying to woo black voters or get them out on their behalf ever before. HALL: No, you know, there was two different tracks going at the same time, and really and truly talking with some of the Cochran folks just right before, a couple days before the primary, and then, of course, right after it, they didn`t feel like they really got their ground game going until about two weeks out which is really not enough time to go. So, now, you`re looking at maybe five weeks` worth of their ground game and that`s what they think is going to make the difference today. As far as the African-American voter outreach, a lot of that was done with traditionally Democratic operatives in the Capital City area, and then up through the delta. MADDOW: Sam Hall, political columnist for "The Clarion-Ledger" -- we`re on the edge of our seats watching this happen tonight. Thanks for helping us cover it, Sam. It`s nice to see you. Thank you. HALL: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. And now, let`s bring in NBC News political reporter Kasie Hunt. She`s actually at Chris McDaniel campaign headquarters in Jackson. Kasie, this is a tense part of the night where we`re watching the first results come in. Obviously, in the early results Thad Cochran has a lead, but they are very early results at this point. What kind of reaction, what kind of spin are you hearing from the McDaniel campaign over the course of today and into tonight? KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: I have to say, it`s a pretty subdued vibe here at the McDaniel headquarters. I think that the mood of both of these campaigns has really changed over the course of the last three weeks. I was here three weeks ago, and the Cochran campaign, in particular, at that point was privately saying they thought they were going to lose that election. And honestly, it`s done a complete 180 since that time. And I think they clearly have a sense that at the very least, they are very much in this. And to Sam`s point that, you know, we saw early results last time that were in Cochran`s favor and we do have to be careful to watch, there are some early signs that, you know, turnout may be up in the areas where Cochran is expected to do well. And, you know, I think what you really saw was the Barbour family as you mentioned coming here these last three weeks and really focus on the ground game. I mean, they put over $1 million in on the ground, both the campaign and other outside entities like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to really try to refocus. While there`s been a lot of focus on the African-American Democratic vote, potentially, I think there`s also an element of Republicans who weren`t concerned that Senator Cochran might lose coming out and saying, hey, we`ve now woken up to this reality that he could and we`re going to come out and vote for him. So, I think those two forces are at work, and I think Cochran`s team is much more optimistic that they can pull this out than they were three weeks ago. MADDOW: Kasie, one of the things that got a lot of national attention was this announcement by outside the state conservative groups that they were going to send conservative poll watchers in, specifically into Democratic districts to try to watch polls and ensure the integrity of the election. It got a lot of attention I think in part because this is the 50-year anniversary of Freedom Summer and it I think rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, the idea of having outsiders go into black districts to try to police their polling. Did you see anything in terms of anecdotal information about that today, or how that went or whether that was a significant effort? HUNT: We didn`t see any signs of that at the polling place where we were today. I spoke to a McDaniel campaign spokesman. He said there were about 300 or so poll watchers from various groups either in or outside the state who came in. I did see one news report that we, of course, haven`t verified yet out of Madison that suggested there may been a poll watcher who irritated some poll workers. That story didn`t seem to point to any sort of broad issue. So, I think that`s really something we`re going to have to keep an eye on as these results and as information from these precincts and counties starts to trickle back in. MADDOW: Kasie Hunt, NBC News political reporter with us from the Chris McDaniel headquarters in Mississippi. It`s going to be a fun night watching this happen, Kasie. Thanks very much for being with us. In terms of the results right now, in terms of what we`ve got, can we put that board back up? Watching the results come in in the Cochran/McDaniel runoff today in Mississippi. Right now, it`s 34 percent of precincts in, 53.3 percent for Thad Cochran to 46.7 percent for Chris McDaniel. So, just since we`ve been on the air, we`ve gone from 20 percent to 34 percent of precincts reporting. We`ve seen that Thad Cochran tightened some. But again, with only a third of the vote in, don`t extrapolate. But this is going to be a fun one to watch tonight. > There`s important primary election results all over the country tonight. We`re going to have a report on those. Plus, the U.S. Congress is making some unexpectedly constructive noises about something important. I know, weird, right? It`s all ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: For the last three weeks in American politics, we have known that Mississippi tonight was going to be the race to watch. This showdown tonight in Mississippi right now we`re at 38 percent in, 53.5 percent for the vote for Thad Cochran, 46.5 percent for Chris McDaniel. This showdown tonight in Mississippi, this runoff between the incumbent Republican Thad Cochran and the Tea Party guy Chris McDaniel, this was set in motion three weeks ago in Mississippi when neither man was able to clear 50 percent in that state`s Republican Senate primary. But these past three weeks of that campaign, these past three weeks of the national press being very, very focused on Mississippi and the prospect of an incumbent Republican senator losing his seat, these three weeks of all the national reporters flying down there and all the magazine stories and all the beltway press handicapping the Mississippi race, and the Sunday shows weighing in on it and everything else -- these past three weeks of intense coverage of Mississippi have had a cost, elsewhere in the country, because had we not been talking about Mississippi all of this time, what we might have been talking about instead was another big deal Tea Party versus Republican establishment showdown in the great state of Oklahoma. This is T.W. Shannon, the man on your left there, former speaker of the House of Oklahoma, the first African-American speaker of the Oklahoma House ever. He`s also Native American. He`s a member of the Chickasaw Nation. And T.W. Shannon is also a Tea Partier. He has national support in his Senate race, from Sarah Palin and from Ted Cruz, from the group FreedomWorks, from the Senate conservatives fund. Sound familiar? His opponent in the Senate race, his main opponent, Congressman James Lankford. Congressman James Lankford is not a moderate. He`s a hardcore Oklahoma Republican conservative congressman. But he`s already a congressman. And he has the support of the whole Republican Oklahoma establishment, and having the support of the whole Oklahoma Republican establishment is a great way to win a Republican primary, particularly for a seat that`s been held forever and a day by Republican Tom Coburn who is, himself, an Oklahoma institution. I mean, the machine is there. The machine is in place to slide Congressman James Lankford into Tom Coburn`s seat where Oklahoma is red enough he could probably hold on to it for life if he wanted to -- which is why it theoretically mattered so much to this Senate race whether or not anyone was paying attention to it outside the state, because, frankly, nobody`s been paying attention to it outside the state. I mean, if you want to beat the establishment, if you want to beat an entrenched establishment like that in Oklahoma, you really need to be able to make some noise. You need some forced multipliers. You need national attention. But no noise has been heard from this Oklahoma Senate race because of the deafening din coming out of Mississippi that started up three weeks ago. Had it been different, had the Mississippi Senate race been settled, had Thad Cochran held on to his seat or Chris McDaniel beat him cleanly and there was no runoff tonight, we would have been talking about the Oklahoma Senate race that would have put so much more attention on the Tea Party challenger that he might have had a really excellent shot. Well, it`s not over. Polls in Oklahoma closed at 88:00 p.m. Eastern tonight. Look, it is over. "The A.P." has just called the race for Congressman James Lankford. Now, 55.2 percent means he not only has Shannon who again had support from Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, FreedomWorks, Senate Conservatives Fund. He`s not only beaten him but he has avoided a runoff in this case. Had they had to go to a runoff, neither had 50 percent of the vote, there would have been a runoff on August 26th. The other ripple effect or ramification of Tom Coburn`s retirement in the United States Senate, now that Jim Lankford is the nominee for Tom Coburn`s Senate seat, James Lankford`s congressional seat in the fifth district in Oklahoma is open, and I mean, wide open. There`s a gang of candidates seeking the James Lankford congressional seat. Six candidates on the Republican side, alone, tonight. In that race, again, because a candidate has to get 50 percent of the vote to be declared the winner, in that one with six different people running, we can only put four of them on the screen at once. It`s very likely we will see a runoff in the fifth district. Very likely as in I feel very comfortable saying that`s what`s going to happen. Runoff for the James Lankford seat August 26th, but the Republican running to replace Tom Coburn in the Senate will be James Lankford. That might have been a very different outcome had all the national attention in this race and all of the conservative attention nationwide in the country not been on Mississippi for the past three weeks. Lots more ahead tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We`re keeping an eye on the Mississippi Senate race right now. Incumbent Republican Senator Thad Cochran trying to hold on to his seat in the Senate against Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel. The results have sort of slowed down coming from Mississippi on the last few minutes but what we`ve got right now is 38 percent of precincts in. Thad Cochran at 53 .5 percent of the vote, Chris McDaniel behind him by seven points. But we are keeping a close eye on this tonight. This very closely watched seat. If Thad Cochran goes down tonight, he will be the first incumbent senator this year to lose his effort at re-election. Chris McDaniel`s camp was very confident going into this race tonight, but Thad Cochran, thus far, still ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said that he got one of the best briefings he has ever had. He said it was just great. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It was one of the best briefings we`ve had. I thought it was well done. Ambassador Patterson and her team did a really good job of laying out what`s going on. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Ta-da. Let the record show that a Republican senator just said that someone at the Obama administration State Department did a good job. Ambassador Anne Patterson, assistant secretary of state tasked today with conducting an Iraq briefing for the entire United States Senate. And Lindsey Graham liked it. Behold. That said, Senator Graham`s best friend, John McCain, he also went to the briefing. John McCain has a habit of usually leaving briefings early. So he can complain about them on television. But perhaps because he had faced some criticism for doing that recently, today, Senator McCain had the decency to actually go to the briefing and sit there through it before he went on TV to complain about it. And Lindsey Graham may have loved this briefing that he got today, but John McCain naturally hated it. He said it was worthless. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: What did you learn? SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Nothing that isn`t published information as is the case with every briefing I`ve ever attended. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Stupid briefings. Senator John McCain, the Republican voice of god on foreign policy, says he has never learned anything from any congressional briefing ever in the history of him going to congressional briefings. But despite their differences about whether or not having the State Department brief the Senate today on Iraq, despite their differences about whether that was a stupid waste of time or the best briefing ever, Senator John McCain and best friend forever, Senator Lindsey Graham and also Senator Marco Rubio who also spoke about this today at the same event, they all apparently do agree on one thing, which is that whatever the United States is going to do militarily in Iraq, it`s not their responsibility. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) REPORTER: When the president asked -- GRAHAM: I think the president doesn`t need our approval to make these decisions. REPORTER: Senator, do you believe that the president has the authority he needs to act alone, or do you believe that -- SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I believe the president has the authority to act on -- especially on issues of this nature that require rapid reaction. REPORTER: What did you learn? MCCAIN: Nothing that isn`t published information as is the case with every briefing I`ve ever attended. REPORTER: So, what should Obama do that he`s not doing now? MCCAIN: Airstrikes. REPORTER: What happened now? You guys go off to holiday and nothing? President doesn`t act? MCCAIN: Apparently -- apparently. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Senator John McCain, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Lindsey Graham all have strong feelings about what the United States should do militarily in Iraq, but none of them believe it is their own responsibility to actually make any binding decisions about that, or to really do anything officially about that. Except to go on TV to talk about it. They are all wrong about that as a constitutional matter. Presidents have the ability to conduct wars and to command the armed forces, but it`s Congress who`s supposed to decide when and whether we actually have wars. In the Senate, that may or may not be clear on that, but in the House, they haven`t yet add their full Iraq briefing for all the members of the House the way the Senate did today. But the House Democratic Caucus met today and apparently talked about Iraq and their caucus chairman, Xavier Becerra, emerged from that meeting today on the House side and said on the House side at least, on the Democratic side of the House side, they are not only worried about a third Iraq war, it sounds like they`re starting to realize and starting to talk about the fact that it`s actually their call as Congress, as to whether or not such a war happens. Not just to complain about it publicly or worry about it on TV, but to actually make the decision about what to do the way the Constitution says the Congress must. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: I know there`s a lot of concern in getting embroiled in another Vietnam and the concern about sending American troops once again to fight someone else`s war. Same time I believe the president`s trying to do not just the right thing but something that will help the Iraqis get themselves in a place where they will be prepared to defend their own country and their own people rather than have to have other forces, American forces or NATO forces have to do this for them. So, my sense is that members want to hear more. The president did end the Iraq war. And, again, I`m not sure in what capacity the president would propose that American forces or American interests be involved in Iraq, but depending on what the president is proposing, that would probably help trigger a response as to whether or not we need another declaration of war in order for the U.S. to get further involved. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra speaking today. If Congress did take up its responsibility to vote on a declaration of yet another war in Iraq, if they all had to take a binding vote on that, where their names were attached to that vote forever, what do you think the prospects are we actually would have another third war in Iraq? Today, the Pentagon announced that special operations teams have started to deploy into Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq. These are the several hundred troops that President Obama announced he would be sending last week. And that he notified Congress he would be sending last week. That notification, which is a formal thing, it looks like this, that notification from the president to Congress last week, that started the clock ticking on a 60-day window in which the president can send forces into hostilities or into what looks like imminent hostilities without permission from congress. After 60 days, though, the War Powers Resolution says that Congress has to cut bait, right? Congress needs to authorize that use of military force, even if they don`t want the decision. Even if they would prefer to throw it in the president`s lap and make him deal with it while they complain on TV. It is Congress` call to make. And now, here`s the surprising bit -- Democratic members of Congress just introduced and passed through the House language that makes it official and overt that Congress won`t advocate the responsibility on this, even if the Senate says they want to. This language was introduced by two Democratic members of the House, Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii and John Garamendi. They are both Democrats. The House is controlled by Republicans. But their language on this thing passed. Congressman Garamendi said thereafter, "Today, the House of Representatives stood unified we will not rush into a Third Gulf War. The Constitution gives Congress the right and obligation to give advice and consent before waging war. I have serious doubts about waging any military campaign in Iraq, and clearly", he says, "I am not alone." Joining us now for the interview is Congressman John Garamendi of California, member of the Armed Services Committee and one of the two members of Congress who got this language passed through the House. Congressman, thank you very much for being with us. I appreciate your time. REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: Always a pleasure. MADDOW: So, what does this language do? And how did you get it passed through a Republican-controlled House where no Democratic measures ever get passed? GARAMENDI: Well, this one did get passed because I think there`s real serious concern, real serious concern among both Democrats and Republicans about Iraq 3.0. We`ve been there. We`ve done that. This is a very, very complex and a very dangerous situation. We should be very slow to war. And that resolution that is now over in the Senate side says unless the president comes back to us as required by the War Powers Act, money is cut off. There will be no money. Hopefully that will become the law. The Senate is going to take it up in this next month of July. If it becomes the law, then that will be it. We will have to carry out our constitutional responsibilities. We were elected to obey the Constitution, to carry out the responsibilities. We must do so. MADDOW: So to be clear, this is language that`s attached to Pentagon spending bill. It would apply to all defense spending and would say that none of that money, no Pentagon money could be spent on new hostilities, new U.S. military involvement in Iraq other than defending the embassy, unless the president got overt permission from Congress? GARAMENDI: That`s correct. That`s exactly what it does. We`ve had the War Powers Act around for a long time since the Vietnam War, and all too often it`s ignored by the president and Congress. But this one, should this become law, I hope the Senate will follow our lead on this, it has real teeth. There`s a hammer here and the hammer will come down unless the president comes back, gets congressional approval to conduct a long-scale war in Iraq. MADDOW: You heard the clips that I played there at the part of the introduction just because I wanted to get them on the record saying it. And it`s not only Republicans that have said it. A lot of members of Congress, both in the House and the Senate, Republican and Democratic, have said that they think the president has the ability to do this unilaterally. You obviously disagree. Your language that you got passed obviously makes clear that you disagree. I think constitutionally you`re right here and they`re plainly wrong. But what`s the sort of pulse in Congress? Is it -- do people widely agree or have one position or another on whether or not it`s Congress` responsibility here? GARAMENDI: Well, we will ultimately see. But right now, there`s clearly probably around 180 firm votes about not going to war in Iraq once again. That was shown in the various amendments that were in the House Appropriation Bill for the Department of Defense. We`ll see what happens. A lot will depend upon the circumstances, but I think it`s very clear to me, and I hope increasingly clear to the American public, that this is a major religious war that`s been going on for 1,400 years, and we`re going to find ourselves right smack in the middle of it. And on whose side? You`ve got Iran, you`ve got Iraq involved. You`ve got Syria. You`ve got all of these factions going back and forth. Exactly whose side will we be on? Well, the side we`ll be on is right smack in the middle of a very complex, difficult, and very dangerous sectarian war, religious war between two factions of the Muslim religion. MADDOW: Which is why everybody`s always very happy to pass the sort of hot potato on this and not be stuck making their own decision on it. You`re trying to stop that from happening. Congressman John Garamendi -- GARAMENDI: Well, we can`t dodge -- we can`t dodge this. This is our responsibility. We all took the oath. The Constitution`s quite clear. It`s up to Congress to either go to war or not. MADDOW: Congressman John Garamendi of California, member of the House Armed Services Committee -- thank you for helping us understand this, sir. I appreciate your time. GARAMENDI: Thank you. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. A lot still ahead tonight including more election results as they come in. Also, a bizarre outbreak of biting in an unexpected place. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Here`s a headline for the ages, tree bites man. Quote, "A tree bit a man yesterday afternoon in the Boston garden. A tree seven feet high, curled its trunks around a man in little white shorts and gouged out the man`s middle finger." That was the headline and the lead after the first round of the NBA playoffs in 1983 when the seven foot tall Atlanta Hawks basketball player Wayne "Tree" Rollins chomped down on the Boston Celtics` Danny Ainge`s third digit, leaving a wound that needed five stitches and a tetanus shot. Classically, as far back as Greco Roman wrestling days, biting has been off-limits in sports, arguably in life, but certainly in sports. And for that simple fact of life, the biggest news in the whole wide world today is what happened at the World Cup, because today, in the middle of a match between Uruguay and Italy, a player from Uruguay beared his teeth and sunk his incisors into the Italian`s shoulder, leaving what seemed to be visible teeth marks on the players` skin. Look at this guy, this is the biter holding his teeth after doing it. People say, oh, your face hurt my fist -- well, your shoulder hurt my teeth. Not a sympathetic card to play, right? The biter, Luis Suarez, is a soccer god, a striker with very large teeth for the English Premier League`s Liverpool Club. Look how big his teeth are. Liverpool is a good soccer team, he`s one of the team`s stars. So, Luis Suarez bit a guy. Try to give him the benefit of the doubt. It`s the World Cup. It`s very exciting. This is as big a sports get worldwide. He got carried away, snapped into the glare of international spotlight, he would do anything to win the World Cup, right? The problem in this case is that with Luis Suarez, there is no doubt of which to give the benefit. He does this all the time. He`s a serial biter. This is his thing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He ran towards Suarez. What is he doing? He sunk his teeth in there. That`s what it looks like. Any way, it looks like he`s sunk his gnashes in there. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The guy with the giant teeth, yes, that was just last year in a Liverpool versus Chelsea game. Luis Suarez just went for it, he just gnawed down on the other guy`s forearm. Look, the victim here is shocked. He`s trying to get the ref`s attention, miming, look, he bit, he bit. For that one, Luis Suarez got fined and suspended for 10 games, but he also scored the tying goal that night. That turns out to have been his second suspension for biting in a game, because in 2010, he also bit another player in the neck when he was ma playing for a Dutch team. He bit him in the neck. This actually makes the Mississippi Senate runoff normal, almost. More ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So far this year, there have been two strong ads, standout powerful good ads run by male Democratic senators on the issue of women`s rights. The first one was in Montana Senate race where the incumbent Democrat John Walsh is running against the Republican Congressman Steve Daines. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STATE SEN. JOHN WALSH (D), MONTANA: I`m John Walsh and I approve this message. MELISSA: I was raped when I was 14 years old. I know the pain it caused me. That`s why it`s so insulting that Congressman Steve Daines sponsored a bill to make abortion illegal for victims of sexual assault. He`s even proposed making women criminals for having an abortion. Ultimately, I got the support I need to live again. But if politicians like Congressman Daines have their way, other women will be left with no options at all. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That is a rather devastating ad from Montana Senator John Walsh, but as a devastating ad, it now has competition. In Colorado, incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall is running against Republican Congressman Corey Gardner. Mr. Gardner has supported personhood measures that would ban all abortion and arguably would also ban the most commonly used form of birth control. It would ban the pill. Since Corey Gardner decided he would run statewide in Colorado against Senator Udall, he has disavowed his earlier support for personhood, but he hasn`t taken his name off federal personhood legislation of which he is a co-sponsor. And Mark Udall is now running this effectively ad to stick Corey Gardner with the consequences. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: Because this really matters, it`s important you hear this directly from me. My opponent, Congressman Gardner, led a crusade that would make birth control illegal. He sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony, even in cases of rape and incest. His record is beyond troubling. It`s wrong. We`re talking about your rights as women, as families, as Coloradans. I`m Mark Udall. You have the right to live life on your own terms and make your own choices. That`s why I approve this message. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Democrats are getting much better at articulating the case against Republicans on these kinds of policy issues, and Republicans keep nominating people for statewide races who have these policy positions, who are opposed to birth control and who want to force rape victims to give birth against their will. Well, heading into today`s voting in Colorado, Republicans have been worried about whether Cory Gardner`s already tough race against Senator Mark Udall might be further jeopardized by what else the Republican Party decides to do to their ballot today. Colorado Republicans have been worried they might screw up their chances at trying to get that Senate seat by choosing a name that would go at the top of the ticket this fall in the Republican primary today for governor, which might alienate people all the way down the ticket. The four Republican candidates for governor include a former congressman, current secretary of state, a former state senator, but the fourth Republican candidate, who was apparently the frontrunner heading into the voting today, he`s the one who had Republicans worried that if he wins the Republican nomination for governor, he won`t just lose the governor`s race himself, he has the potential to make all the other Republicans on the ballot lose, too. Tom Tancredo, how are you doing? The prospect of Tom Tancredo becoming the Republican nominee for governor in Colorado had Democrats so excited that a liberal PAC started running ads designed to make Tom Tancredo more attractive to Republican primary voters. Pick this guy, pick this guy, please? And in Colorado tonight, here are the results for that Republican gubernatorial primary thus far, 60 percent in right now. Tom Tancredo running second to former Congressman Bob Beauprez, again 60 percent of the precincts in. Polls close in Colorado almost an hour ago. The stakes would be high enough, it were just about the governor`s race in November, but they may be just much higher than that tonight. It`s going to be exciting to watch the rest of the results come in tonight. That does it for our hour right now. We`ll see you again tomorrow night. But now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END