The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/15/14

Guests: Jose Diaz-Balart, Tammy Baldwin, Dave Helling

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Getting a lot of comments on the suit these days, Chris. Thanks for -- (CROSSTALK) HAYES: Looking sharp, my man. Looking sharp. KORNACKI: I`ll take it. Thank you for that. Thank you, Chris Hayes. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Rachel has the night off. This is San Francisco, California back in March of 1900. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI (voice-over): There it is, San Francisco, California, in 1900 and to be specific, this is Chinatown in San Francisco. If you look closely at this picture, you can see that there`s a barbed wire that stretched down the street. It`s like a fence, a barbed wire fence that`s essentially separating those storefronts and those homes from the main street. And the reason that that barbed wire fence is there is because, back then, Chinatown was quarantined, it was cut off from the rest of the city. It was isolated from the rest of the city. The rest of San Francisco didn`t want anything to do with the immigrants who lived there. So they didn`t have anything to do with the immigrants who lived there. And even before Chinatown was quarantined, there was already a huge backlash going on against the Chinese people who were emigrating to the United States. There was the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which basically ended Chinese immigration for 10 years. It prohibited Chinese people from becoming U.S. citizens. That was passed by Congress; that was signed into law by then- president Chester Alan Arthur. There was a general sentiment back then that Chinese Americans were taking over the country. There were too many of them and there was also a strong sense that they were the source of terrible diseases, diseases like leprosy and smallpox, you name it. When a Chinese man was suspected of maybe having died of the bubonic plague in Chinatown, in San Francisco, well, then that took everything to a whole different level. That was when they decided to cordon off Chinatown from the rest of the city. No Chinese-Americans were allowed to leave that area. They were locked in. Of course, that only fueled the idea that Chinese Americans, as a whole, as an immigrant group, were carriers of disease. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: That was back in the early 1900s. That was back over 100 years ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI (voice-over): In 1918, Spanish flu started to break out. And that pandemic just happened to coincide with another huge wave of immigration into this country. So as the incidence of Spanish flu increased, so did the growing belief that the immigrants coming to the U.S. were responsible for it, the Irish, the Germans, you name it. In Colorado the KKK even said that Italians were responsible for it. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: And now here we are, almost 100 years later and some things are still the same. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I wanted to ask you about letter you sent to the CDC about the children from Central America possibly carrying Ebola. Where is your evidence on that? REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GA.: The Border Patrol gave us a list of the diseases that they`re concerned about and Ebola was one of those. I can`t tell you specifically that there were any case of Ebola. I don`t think there were, but, of course, tuberculosis, Chagas disease, many of -- smallpox, some of the infectious diseases of children. All of these are concerns and, of course, the letter to the CDC in my great home state of Georgia, hometown of Atlanta, was just to tell the director of the CDC to make sure that the people, the public is aware that you guys are on top of this and you`re advising -- RUSSERT: But the Border Patrol told you that there is Ebola, a threat of Ebola at the border? GINGREY: Said they were concerned about that, yes. RUSSERT: At the Mexico-U.S. border? GINGREY: They did say that. They absolutely did. RUSSERT: So the Border Patrol said that to you? GINGREY: To my staff. RUSSERT: OK. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: That`s Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia. And by the way, he`s a doctor. He`s an ob-gyn. He told NBC`s Luke Russert just today, yes, we are under threat from a slew of infectious diseases coming from children across the border, including Ebola. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI (voice-over): We should probably point out that Ebola is only found in Africa, not in Mexico, not in Central America, in Africa. And Gingrey isn`t alone. A couple weeks ago, it was in Riverside County, California, in the small town of Murrieta, where anti-immigrant protesters got together to protest the arrival of three buses that were filled with immigrants. While many people held signs about things like stopping illegal immigration or telling the world that Murrieta is not a dumping ground, other signs read, "Protect your kids from diseases." (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Immigrants and diseases. And the thing is, those protesters from Murrieta have inspired a slew of Murrieta-like protests all over the place. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI (voice-over): In Vasser, Michigan, about 50 people turned up to protest proposed housing plans for immigrant children from Central America. Protesters showed up with signs, with U.S. flags and, of course, with rifles and handguns, because if children are coming to town, I guess, maybe you need to stop them with rifles and handguns? A resident in the area who helped to organize that protest told "The Detroit News," quote, "We must act. We must save America and stand up against this invasion." (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: An invasion. Remember, these are children we`re talking about. And Vasser, Michigan, isn`t alone here. Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa said he doesn`t want any of the children being sent to his state, to Iowa. And today in a small town near Tucson, Arizona, Oracle, Arizona, it`s called, in that town, anti-immigrant protesters congregated together, waiting for a busload of immigrant children, about 40 to 60 children. It was heading for a boys` ranch that houses at-risk kids. Protesters carried signs that read, "Return to sender" and "No amnesty," among many others. People in their cars blockaded the road. They were waiting for that busload of kids. And then a strange thing happened while they were waiting. I`m going to play it out for you. It`s hard to hear, but it is this weird, confusing moment. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Here`s the bus. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: YMCA bus. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh. They are tricking us. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: YMCA? YMCA? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will, but this is YMCA. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a bus. Hopefully it`s just. (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will, but this is YMCA. (INAUDIBLE). UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re going to freak these kids out. KORNACKI (voice-over): So what basically happened right there is the school bus full of kids, American kids in this case, was heading to a YMCA day camp that`s taking place in the area. It`s right on the north side of the Catalina Mountains. The bus was making its way to the camp when it was met by the anti- immigrant protesters. And of course, those protesters initially thought, well, it`s a bus full of kids, so it must be a bus full of immigrant kids. And if it`s a bus full of immigrant kids, well, we better stop it. For a quick moment, they thought it was the bus that they were meant to blockade. When they realized -- it was then that they realized it was actually a bus full of American kids. And then a handful of people reportedly told reporters who were on the scene, quote, "Well, how do we know it`s the YMCA?" So we tried to answer that question for them. We called the YMCA in Oracle tonight. And they were able to confirm to us that, yes, School Bus Number 267 is their bus, the YMCA`s bus. It is not a bus full of immigrant children that are trying to sneak through. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: That moment did cause a bit of a stir. An editor for "The Arizona Republic" tweeted, quote, "Arizona District 1 Candidate Kwasman" -- that`s Adam Kwasman -- "tells `The Arizona Republic` editorial board that he was among the Oracle protesters who stopped the YMCA bus, thinking it was a migrant bus." Now Kwasman is a Tea Party candidate, who right now is running for Congress against Congresswoman Ann Patrick. He was out there today with that YMCA bus. And he proceeded to tweet this about the buses, though, if you read this, it`s clear that he deleted a tweet. He says, quote, "Last tweet not the bus of illegal immigrant children. Thank God." He continues, quote, "I apologize for the confusion. That was my error." Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva did say today that those buses set to bring the immigrant children did not arrive in Oracle today. It`s unclear if and when they are going to get there. Should also be noted that at about three miles down the road from the anti-immigrant protest, about three miles away from where that YMCA bus incident happened, there was also a pro-immigrant rally that was going on. That`s where people stood on the side of the road with signs that were meant to welcome the children. While these protests are happening on the heels of the introduction of a new bipartisan, bicameral border bill. It was introduced by a Republican senator from Texas, John Cornyn, and by Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar, also from Texas. The bill would essentially rewrite the current 2008 George W. Bush law so that minors from Central America can be treated like those from Mexico and Canada, meaning that they can be deported much more quickly. It appears the administration isn`t totally against this bill. Now, they haven`t officially endorsed it, but they have been sending some pretty strong signals that they`re open to it or at least that they`re open to something like it. The border bill is being met, though, with a bit of disdain from the president`s own party. Steny Hoyer, he`s the second ranking Democrat in the House, he told reporters today, quote, "To now consider it or make it a condition for doing what we need to do as a country from a humanitarian perspective, we think, is inappropriate." And Steny Hoyer is not alone. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) QUESTION: Senator, what is it about the Cornyn-Cuellar plan that you disagree with? SEN. HARRY REID, MAJORITY LEADER: I think that it`s too broad. It addresses more than just the border problem. QUESTION: Republicans have said they`re not going to try and move a package forward without changes to the 2008 law to treat the children coming in the same as they would treat immigrants coming from Mexico. Is that a nonstarter for your caucus, to have the combination of the changing the law and the funding combined? REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIF.: I think most Democrats would tell you that what we don`t want to see is to reduce due process rights. We don`t want to find ourselves returning children to persecution, human smuggling, human sex trafficking, perhaps death. And so what we want to do is make sure that due process is followed. Anything that undermines due process I think would concern most of our Democratic colleagues. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: The Senate majority leader and the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus coming out against the Cornyn-Cuellar bill. While that was happening, House Speaker John Boehner said today that the House Appropriations Committee is set to have final recommendations on the president`s request for $3.7 billion to deal with the border crisis and that those recommendations are due to come out at the end of this week. So maybe we`ll have some answers soon on how that might go and whether or not those appropriations and that proposed Cornyn-Cuellar bill are going to get caught up in the do-nothing Congress as well. Well, joining us now to make some sense of this is Jose Diaz-Balart. He`s a news anchor for Telemundo and, as of this week, host of his own show here, weekdays on MSNBC. So, Jose, thanks for taking a few minutes tonight. Let`s start by trying to figure out the status of this Cornyn-Cuellar bill right now because it is on the surface, this is a bipartisan bill. Republican in the Senate, Democrat in the House and the White House has been sending signals that it would like to see or at least wouldn`t mind seeing that 2008 law about how to deal with children coming across the border. It wouldn`t mind seeing that changed. Am I right to read this as the White House seeing an opportunity here to get Republican buy-in on this $3.7 billion that the White House wants and to get that buy-in by basically saying we`re going to give you this on border security? They won`t say it officially, but is that what`s going on here? JOSE DIAZ-BALART, MSNBC HOST: I think it is, Steve. You know, there`s a lot of nebulous territory here in Washington these days because you really aren`t getting people to just come forward and say this is how I think we need to be acting and that goes for the Republicans in the House; it goes for the White House. We`re not seeing if they are indeed willing to say that this proposal -- and, by the way, there`s still no language, specific language on that proposal that I know of. I`d love to see it. What exactly -- and when Senator Reid said it`s too broad, well, I haven`t seen any of the language, I don`t know if any of the legislators have seen any of the language. So right now it seems as though gray area is where all of the political fish like to be swimming these days. But, you know, Steve, let me bring you back to these busloads of kids that are going to different parts of the country to be processed. And, you know, you can`t blame people in a town that don`t have any information and really don`t even know where these kids come from, who they are. Very little information and it`s easy to misinform people or simply not to inform them. And, you know, that bus full of American kids that wasn`t, thank God, filled with illegal aliens, as you quoted that tweet, well, unless they were Native Americans, they were immigrants, those kids, in the bus because, you know, a lot of people in this country come originally from another country, some legally, most legally, and some at the time when their legal status was not questioned. But what I find, Steve, odd, is why aren`t we as a country really looking at this as what it is? It`s a crisis. And crisis demands immediate action and, that is, inform the people of the United States of America what exactly we`re dealing with. Let`s know who these kids are. Let`s know where they`re being transferred to. Let`s know how many. And let`s also know what the positions are of Republicans and of Democrats and of the White House on how we deal with this issue. You can`t just by wish it away make it disappear. And you know what, the violence in Central America is not going away anytime soon. The cartels in Mexico aren`t going anytime soon. American drug consumption in this country is not going away anytime soon. The cartels then continue to prosper and to grow and to look for new markets. KORNACKI: Let me ask you, because obviously this now -- to act on this, to treat this as a crisis and to respond, we would need Washington to act, we would need a Republican Congress and a Democratic president to reach some kind of conclusion. So looking at -- and we don`t have the language here on the Cornyn- Cuellar bill as of yet. But I thinking looking at it, it does raise a question to me where it was like I look at this from a humanitarian perspective. I look at these kids, I look at that history we stitched together there about these charges fly around all the time when there are waves of immigrants coming into the country. I look at the conditions; you had somebody on your show the other day from Honduras. I listened to the story and I said, my goodness, from a humanitarian standpoint, how can we do anything but make a home for these children at least temporarily? Because to send them back means to send them back to death. It does raise the question, though, from a policy standpoint, and I wonder what you make of this. If you say to tens of thousands of these children right now, come in, we`re going to spare you from that. What happens then to other children down there? Do their parents say, do they decide, it`s worth making this treacherous journey through Mexico, maybe ending up dead on the way? Do we suddenly have hundreds, thousands of kids dying to try to get here to get the same treatment? DIAZ-BALART: Absolutely. It`s not an easy issue. I had Senator Menendez on the morning show, which I invite you on. It`s at 10:00 am, 7:00 am Pacific time. Senator Menendez said we as a country will take positions, we will say to the Dominican Republic, you`re having people from Haiti cross over your border. Treat them with dignity. Let`s deal with that issue. In countries in Africa where people from another country reach another country fleeing oppression, fleeing violence, fleeing warfare, the United States of America takes a position. Well, where is the United Nations and where is the United States saying maybe this is a problem that needs to be dealt with on America as a continent? Do we have refugee camps set up on the border so that we can process these children, find their cases? You know, Steve, it breaks my heart when I talk to Maria that we had on on the Monday show. She`s a 17-year-old girl. Her brother was shot in front of her by the gangs in Honduras. And then a couple of years later when she turned of age, they came to her and they said, you`re going to be our property sometime in the near future or you can run your brother`s fate. So what do you do? And then she comes through Mexico and they did to her what no human being could ever think of doing to another human being on that route to the United States of America. They just violated that young lady`s integrity to no end. And she got here on her own. She has a sister in the United States of America. Shouldn`t she at least be listened to? And if we as a country decide that we as a country do not want to accept people like her because whatever, then let`s make that determination after we hear her story, after we decide as a country what we`re going to do with these people. And that leads me to how I started talking to you this evening. It`s information, Steve. It`s information. It`s compassion. And it`s understanding of the world. That`s why we need to hear voices, other voices. And we need to sit as human beings and say, well, what`s best for us as Americans and how do we deal with this human crisis? KORNACKI: Jose Diaz-Balart, Telemundo news anchor and host of his own show here on weekday mornings, here at 10:00 am Eastern time on MSNBC. Jose, that story you just told, that story you brought to us the other day is one of the reasons truly I would say this about any MSNBC host, because it`s my colleague, but I really, really mean it, your show is must- see television. Great job so far. Good luck on it. Thanks for doing this tonight. Lots more ahead, including news from two bright red states where conservative governance is triggering some serious buyer`s remorse. And next, the exact wrong thing to say to potential women voters. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: In 2012, when President Obama won a second term over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, he did so with the help of a whole lot of women voters, who provided a gender gap that you could drive a truck through. President Obama did 10 points better among women in 2012 than he did among men. That is one of the largest gender gaps ever recorded in a presidential election. Gender gap was so big and so decisive in 2012 that it caught the attention of Republican leaders. Those leaders pledged to be better about talking to and talking about women in the future. This, of course, was after a 2012 campaign season in which several prominent Republican candidates made inflammatory and politically suicidal comments that involved women, most infamously, Todd Akin`s "legitimate rape" remark. So Republicans created tutorials for their candidates on how to better communicate with women. There were even multiple sessions supposedly to train Republicans on how to avoid their own Todd Akin moments. The ultimate goal, of course, to bring a few more women voters along for 2014 and for beyond. So how`s it going for them? Well, the short answer is it looks like it`s a work in progress. On Sunday the conservative newspaper, "The Washington Examiner," checked in on the process with a report on one of those recent messaging sessions, this one led by female members of the House. Below the headline, "The Republican plan to change the war on women narrative needs work." The story provided some details on something called the Conservative Women`s Panel Discussion. This was a closed-door event that was held last Friday and highlighted in the story were comments made at that event by Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of North Carolina. Renee Ellmers is in recent years been a go-to Republican on issues about messaging and about female voters. By the here`s what Ellmers said at that event on Friday, quote, "Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level," Ellmers said. "Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they`ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they`re talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, how the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that." Now Ellmers wasn`t happy with that reporting. A written response declared that, quote, "The quote in question was taken completely out of context." And so late this afternoon, "The Washington Examiner" posted the audio of Ellmers` comments in full. And here`s a bigger part of what she said. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) REP. RENEE ELLMERS (R), N.C.: Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level. You know, one of the things that has always been one of my frustrations and I speak about this all the time, many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they`ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they`re talking about trillions of dollars and, you know, how the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that. But by starting off that discussion that way, we`ve already turned people away. Because it`s like "that doesn`t affect my life. I don`t understand how that affects my life." So one of the things that we have worked with our male colleagues and I have seen a difference, is to, again, engaging individuals on their level. Talking about them on a personal level first. We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman`s level and what everything she is balancing in her life, that`s the way to go. (END AUDIO CLIP) KORNACKI: So there`s some more context on that. Now, whether that changes the impact of the words that were initially reported, well, you can be the judge of that. But the Democratic advantage among women voters is a very real thing. And it`s rearing its head as the midterm campaign in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate now heats up. In Colorado, it`s where Republican Congressman Corey Gardner is trying to unseat Democratic Senator Mark Udall. Well, in Colorado, gender is playing a defining role in that race. The Udall campaign has gone to great lengths to highlight Gardner`s record on issues relating to women. That record includes past support for several personhood measures that would have banned all abortion and arguably would have also banned the most commonly used form of birth control. The issue of contraception was amplified by the Supreme Court`s recent decision in the Hobby Lobby case. But Udall has been focusing on the issue since the early days of this campaign. And now new polling just out today shows Gardner trailing Udall by seven points overall in Colorado and by 12 points among women voters. So just like for President Obama in 2012, women right now are making the difference for Mark Udall and they could make the difference for other Democrats in other critical Senate races this year, too. And now in light of that, Democrats are upping the ante. Today on Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats held a hearing on a new piece of legislation. It`s a bill crafted by Senators Tammy Baldwin and Richard Blumenthal that attempts to counteract the slew of antiabortion laws that have been successfully pushed by Republicans at the state level in recent years. The Senate proposal would place limits on so-called trap laws, which have been used to effectively shut down abortion clinics around the country. Given the political realities of Washington these days, the future of the Baldwin-Blumenthal proposal is uncertain at best. But bringing women`s reproductive health into the spotlight may have its intended electoral effect, anyway. Well, joining us now is Senator Tammy Baldwin. She is coauthor of the Women`s Health Protection Act. Senator Baldwin, appreciate you taking a few minutes tonight. So let me ask you about the proposal. Obviously, you know, we`ve seen the headlines in recent years about an initiative in this state, an initiative in that state. So specifically, what are the laws, what are the restrictions, what are the things you are trying to undo with this bill? SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D), WIS.: Well, it`s been incredible to watch what the states have done just in recent years. In the last three years alone, over 200 laws have been passed that are serving to restrict women`s access to full reproductive care, to abortion services and other services and these laws do nothing to further a woman`s health or safety. And so the measure that we`ve introduced, the Women`s Health Protection Act, would basically say that if the underlying law has nothing to do to further women`s health, women`s safety, it`s presumed invalid, because this is a constitutional right that we`re talking about. And as we have in the past, it is Congress` role to protect those fundamental constitutional rights when states are enacting legislation intended to interfere with them. And so this is just a critical function of Congress and something that`s screaming for attention right now across this country. KORNACKI: So -- and I certainly take the point that the intent behind a lot of these laws, these are laws drawn up by people who oppose abortion, who are looking for ways to limit it, to restrict it, to outlaw it in some cases. I certainly take that point. But when you talk about basically banning laws that don`t have a purpose of furthering, I think you said they`re furthering women`s health and safety, how do you draw that line? Because, for instance, I know some of these laws require that doctors who perform the procedures have admitting privileges at local hospitals. And you can certainly make the argument, right, that, you know, all things being equal, wouldn`t it be better to have a doctor who has admitting privileges at the local hospital? Where do you draw that line exactly? BALDWIN: Well, first of all, I don`t think you can make that argument and we`re seeing in federal courts those cases go on trial and judges concluding that it is absolutely unnecessary. And in fact, I have a lot of firsthand exposure to this issue because Wisconsin recently passed such a law. It was admitting privileges combined with an invasive ultrasound procedure that was required of anyone seeking abortion care. And a federal judge has put a stay on this during the pendency of a trial, but it really doesn`t. But in terms of the precedent for this, I mean, think about the Voting Rights Act around which this Women`s Health Protection Act was modeled. The idea is a fundamental constitutional right at stake here, in this case, as decided in the Roe versus Wade case by our highest court. And states are trying to whittle this away. The law that I`m talking about in Wisconsin would have closed half the clinics in the state. KORNACKI: So let me ask you from this direction, though, when you look at all the laws that have been passed, are there any that would meet your criteria? Are there laws that have been passed that you say do further the health limit, do advance the health of women and, therefore, would be OK? BALDWIN: I certainly think there are and those all conform to and are consistent with the Roe versus Wade decision. But one of the things you`ll find in this debate in particular is that rather than passing laws that apply to all medical procedures of similar complexity, et cetera, they target this. And in these hundreds of laws that have passed in recent years there, it seems for almost the sole intent of restricting access, in many cases resulting in the closure of clinics, we have states where there are, you know, 95 percent of the counties, including my own, where there is no reproductive health services of any -- available. And this is clearly the intent of these laws. And it is Congress` role to step forward and protect constitutional rights. And that`s what we`ve done through this bill. KORNACKI: All right. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, really appreciate the time tonight. Thank you for that. BALDWIN: Thank you. KORNACKI: Backlash, the likes of which seemed unimaginable not too long ago against a once popular governor and what has become the reddest of red state governments. We will tell you who he is and tell you all about that backlash, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: So you`ve heard a lot of stories in the last two years about extremely conservative governors and extremely conservative state legislators. You`ve probably heard of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and maybe you`re even familiar with some of the extremely conservative lawmaking he and his legislature have achieved. But you might not have heard what happened to Governor Brownback in Kansas today. Lots of people have seen enough and many of those people are Republicans. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: There`s a race for governor of Kansas this year. And today in that state, more than 100 Republican politicians and activists officially threw their support behind the Democrat. His name is Paul Davis. You heard that right. In Kansas, reddest of the red states, Kansas, there is now a major movement underway within the Republican Party to support the Democrat, who`s running against the state`s Republican governor, Sam Brownback. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re saying to Republicans who are concerned, I don`t know that I can support a Democrat. We`re saying, let`s have some courage for Kansas` sake. KORNACKI (voice-over): And to put things in perspective and how big a deal this is, just take a minute to think of how staunchly a Republican state Kansas actually is. A Democratic presidential candidate hasn`t won Kansas since Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964, and LBJ is the only Democrat to win Kansas in the last 19 presidential elections. Before him, you have to go all the way back to FDR. And this man, George McGill is his name, he is the last Democrat to be elected to the Senate from Kansas and he pulled that off back in 1930. That`s 84 years ago. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: So you`d think the last thing a conservative like Sam Brownback would ever have to worry about would be getting elected in a state like Kansas. But you have to look a little bit closer here because, as Republican a state as Kansas is, it`s actually made up of two different Republican parties. There`s the old school, pragmatic, moderate Kansas Republican Party. That`s the party that, for instance, Bob Dole comes from. And there`s also the more hyperconservative Kansas Republican Party and this is the one that Sam Brownback is from and this is the one that`s been ascendant in Kansas for the last few decades now. It really has become the dominant wing of the Republican Party in Kansas. And under Brownback, it`s basically tried to snuff out what`s left of the moderate wing. Just two years ago, Brownback led an effort to purge moderate Republican state legislators in primaries to drive them out of the statehouse to replace them with right-wingers. And he got his way. 2012 was also the same year he signed a controversial tax slashing law into effect. That law combined three tax brackets into two, cut state income tax rates and it also chopped taxes for business owners. Brownback said at the time that the cuts would create tens of thousands of new jobs and help make Kansas the best place in America to start and grow a small business. But two years later, it hasn`t quite worked out that way. So far, it`s cost Kansas a ton of revenue without really jump-starting the economy. Moody`s, for example, recently downgraded the state`s credit rating. In the last year, alone, the state brought in $338 million less than expected in revenue. Now the state is locked in with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities equates to, quote, "a mid-sized recession." Brownback`s tax slashing has also affected public schools and colleges and it hasn`t spurred the job growth he promised. All of this is the backdrop for what is one of the biggest surprises we have seen anywhere this year, a dead heat in the race for Kansas governor. Just last week, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report moved this race from its lean Republican category to tossup and now, today, we have dozens and dozens of prominent Republicans publicly turning on Brownback, their own party`s governor and declaring their support for a Democrat. So on one hand, the governor`s dealing with the fallout from the tax cuts he championed. And on the other, he`s dealing with backlash from the moderates he`s tried to stamp out. Even for a native Kansan, that`s a lot of chickens coming home to roost. Well, joining us now is Dave Helling, he`s a political columnist for the "Kansas City Star." Dave, thanks for being here tonight. So help us interpret this nationally. We do the story about the taxes, the tax cuts and the fallout from that and also this effort to sort of purge the Republican Party of the old moderate wing. What`s driving what we saw today? Are these Republicans who are just mad at Sam Brownback personally? Or are these Republicans who don`t like what he`s done policy wise? DAVE HELLING, "KANSAS CITY STAR": Well, Steve, a little bit of both, as you might imagine. A lot of the people who endorsed Paul Davis today against Sam Brownback were people that lost in 2012, state senators, state representatives who were purged, as you pointed out. But they`re also -- many of the people who were there today who are genuinely concerned about the outcome of the Kansas Experiment, as Sam Brownback once called it; they`re particularly worried, I must say, about education in the state of Kansas, particularly in the Kansas City area. That`s very, very important. And anything that appears to be threatening that educational system in this area gets a lot of people`s attention and they did today. They made the statement they made. We`ve been writing, local press has been writing about the Brownback- Davis race as a tossup for several months. And now I do think that national reporters are seeing the same phenomenon. KORNACKI: Yes, I think people are definitely now -- this is on the radar now, definitely. Governor Brownback was actually on our airwaves, he was on Chuck Todd`s show last week. And Chuck asked him about the promises he made about the tax cut plan two years ago versus what`s actually happened. I want to play his response and talk to you about it. Let`s play that. HELLING: You bet. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHUCK TODD, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Any regrets on your plan, the size of it, the scope, any regrets at all? GOV. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANS.: I don`t have any regrets. It`s really stimulated investment. It`s stimulated people coming into this state. We`ve got a record number of new businesses. We`ve got a record number of people working in the state of Kansas. It`s working overall. It`s just these things do take some time and it`s moving us on forward. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: So, Dave, are people in Kansas buying that? HELLING: No. No, not here and not across the country. You may have noticed "The New York Times" put out an editorial today, "The Wall Street Journal." Moody`s didn`t downgrade the state`s debt because the economy in Kansas is exploding. The opposite appears to be the case. Now, let`s be fair to Sam Brownback. There are a record number of jobs in the state. The state`s unemployment rate is low, it`s about 4.8 percent, 4.9 percent. But when you compare the Kansas economy to other economies that did not cut their taxes, other states, Kansas still lags behind. And I think virtually everyone in Kansas who takes an objective look at those numbers has come to that conclusion. Sam Brownback, I must say, doesn`t like it. He called out our newspaper by name yesterday because I think all of us are trying our best to sort of measure what has happened in the state. And we`re just trying to objectively report what`s going on and most of the people in the state have concluded, as of now, anyway, that the Brownback experiment hasn`t worked. KORNACKI: So what do you expect? I mean, the news today is 100 Republicans. There`s some prominent Republican names in Kansas who are part of this group today. Is this something you expect to see more of as the campaign goes on? Do you think the Democrats have other big-name Republicans they`re going to be rolling out and really pressing that theme of Republicans against Brownback? HELLING: Yes, they really pushed this one hard. They called us, said, hey, come on down to this news conference. And there were some fairly recognizable names among the people who were at the news conference today; former congresswoman Jan Myers, for example, has endorsed Paul Davis. But you can expect Sam Brownback to fight back with the tools at his disposal. Yesterday Rick Santorum came to Kansas to campaign on Brownback`s behalf. Now, whether that helps him in the general election or not isn`t clear. Most of the people, Steve, who support Rick Santorum are already voting for Sam Brownback. What he has to do is figure out a way to reach out to those moderates, those who are concerned about education. And in that sense, you might expect, for example, Jeb Bush to come to Kansas. He`s come to Kansas for Sam Brownback before. He would give Sam Brownback some credibility with those moderates, those independents, those people in the middle. So I think you`re going to see both sides trying to use surrogates, trying to make their case, trying to work on endorsements, that type of thing. We`ve got a real, real close race and while, as you pointed out in your intro, Democrats don`t do very well at all at the presidential level or the Senate level, the state does have some history of electing Democrats -- Kathleen Sebelius, John Carlen, Joan Finney. Democrats have a shot at the governorship and they really believe they have a chance in the state in 2014. KORNACKI: Yes, and you look at the midterm climate nationally for Democrats. This really could be -- I`m sure this is a victory they would enjoy more than most if he`d get it. Dave Helling, columnist for the "Kansas City Star," thanks for taking the time talking to us tonight. Really appreciate it. If it`s your dream to be inducted into somebody`s hall of fame, well, hang on. There is a new hall of fame. It`s about to open. So far, the only members are politicians. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After your comments about the president, do you feel that voters are owed a better explanation than just "I misspoke"? REP. MIKE KAUFMAN (R), COLO.: I think that, as I stand by my statement, that I misspoke and I apologize. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And who are you apologizing to? KAUFMAN: I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: That indelible, incredible piece of video came courtesy of Colorado Republican Congressman Mike Kaufman, who set a standard that may never be matched for unresponsive responses. And again, maybe it will. A politician well familiar to our viewers tried his hand at it just yesterday. And so tonight, while Rachel`s away, we`re going to have an unauthorized christening. It`s going to be the grand opening of a brand new Hall of Fame, all of the greats in one place for you to compare, to enjoy, the behold. It`s kind of a big deal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KAUFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Congressman. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: All right. Now, normally the fine producers here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW do not encourage breaking creative ground while Rachel is away. But today`s news left us no choice. Ground must be broken. To begin at the beginning, there was Republican Congressman Mike Kaufman of Colorado. In 2012, Kaufman gave remarks to a group of donors and said that President Obama, quote, "is just not an American." And he later apologized but a local NBC affiliate in Denver decided to follow up. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After your comments about the president, do you feel that voters are owed a better explanation than just "I misspoke"? KAUFMAN: I think that -- as I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And who are you apologizing to? KAUFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I apologize." We talk to you all the time. You`re a very forthcoming guy. Who is telling you not to talk and to handle it like this? KAUFMAN: I stand by my statement that I wrote, as you have, and I misspoke and I apologize. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it that you thought it would go over well in Elbert (ph) County, where folks are very conservative and you would never say something like that in the suburbs? KAUFMAN: I stand by my statement. I misspoke and I apologize. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there anything that I can ask you that you`ll answer differently? KAUFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Congressman. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. KORNACKI (voice-over): No matter the question, Kaufman wanted everyone to know that he misspoke and that he apologizes. And so a certain kind of standard was set right there for America`s question-dodging politicians. Then came Jesse Kelly of Arizona. While he was running for Congress in 2012, an anti-immigrant group decided to endorse him. An ABC reporter asked him whether he planned to accept that endorsement. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you plan on accepting that endorsement this time? JESSE KELLY (R), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Our campaign is going to stay focused on lower gas prices, using American energy, lower taxes and creating jobs. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you plan on accepting their endorsement? KELLY: Our campaign is going to stay focused on lower taxes, lowering gas prices, using American energy and creating jobs. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a yes or a no? KELLY: Our campaign is going to stay focused on lowering gas prices, creating jobs and lowering gas prices using American energy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. So no comment? KELLY: Our campaign is going to stay focused on lowering gas prices, creating jobs and lowering taxes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Thanks, Jesse. KELLY: Thank you. KORNACKI (voice-over): Then this past May, it was Speaker John Boehner`s turn when the national Republican Congressional Committee decided to fundraise off the new House Select Committee on Benghazi. NBC`s Luke Russert asked Speaker Boehner about his party`s decision to fundraise off of what was billed as a serious and fact-based inquiry. LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Speaker Boehner, four Americans died in Benghazi. Should the NRCC fundraise off of your efforts at the select committee? JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our focus is on getting the answers to those families who lost their loved ones, period. RUSSERT: But should the NRCC, their fundraising off of it right now, is that -- is that a -- BOEHNER: Our focus -- our focus is getting the truth to these four families and for the American people. JAKE SHERMAN, POLITICO: But the campaign committee, which you are very involved in, is fundraising off of this. Why is that happening? BOEHNER: Our focus is on getting the truth for the American people and these four families. KORNACKI (voice-over): So once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a trend. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: But four times? Four times makes a Hall of Fame. And so tonight, with only an assumed blessing from Rachel Maddow herself, we break ground on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. We`re going to have -- we`re calling it The Canned Response Repetition Hall of Fame. Congressman Mike Kaufman, Jesse Kelly, Speaker John Boehner, they were simply canned response repeaters. But tonight, they`re now Hall of Famers, thanks to the fourth charter member of this prestigious club and he is Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI (voice-over): Last week a police unit official in Florida filed a complaint, stating that Scott coerced on-duty police officers into attending a campaign event which is illegal in Florida. So when he was asked about the allegations yesterday, here is what the governor had to say. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some controversy with your visit to Tampa last week, with the law enforcement who were there are with you, did you really think that all of those deputies were off duty? GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLA.: I`m very proud that last week we got a police chief`s endorsed me and I`m very proud that 40 sheriffs have endorsed me. I`m very proud of all of the support from the law enforcement. We`re at a 43-year low in our crime rate. So we invite them to our campaign events and I`m very appreciative of the ones that came. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But did you think it was a problem to have on- duty law enforcement there? SCOTT: I`m very appreciative of both their support and those that come to my events. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn`t answer that question. Should there be discipline? SCOTT: Look, I`m appreciative of everybody that comes to my events. And, gosh, we, for the 43-year low in our crime rate, we should be very supportive of our law enforcement. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So do you think it`s OK for them to be there on duty? SCOTT: I`m very appreciative of the police chief`s endorsement last week, the association, 40 sheriffs did. We have law enforcement that come to a variety of events and others. And I`m very appreciative of anybody that comes to an event and supports my race. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Governor Rick Scott, congratulations. Here is your totally unofficial plaque, your award for stick-to-it-tive-ness and your proven ability to memorize a single talking point and then to repeat it over and over again in under 60 seconds. And to all our charter members, our hearty thanks and mazel tov. Your achievements in this very specific area of questioning will live forever. That does it for us tonight. We`re going to see you again tomorrow night. Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END