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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/19/15

Guests: Sherrod Brown, Mark Schauer

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. HAYES: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We think of Texas as a deep red state, where Republicans are totally dominant. But like the rest of the South, Texas was 100 percent blue not all that long ago. In the 1960s, when the Democratic Party embraced the cause of the civil rights movement, Texas and other states in the Deep South went through this whiplash, right, where they had been lockstep Democratic states, but their party loyalty was no match for their hatred for civil rights. And so, Texas and all these other states started flipping from the solid blue they used to be, to the red that we know them to be today. And the guy who led all of that at the statewide level in Texas was a senator tamed John Tower. And he led that in the sense that he -- in the sense of his election in 1961. John Tower was the first Republican elected to be a U.S. senator from Texas since the Reconstruction era after the Civil War. John tower served as a Republican in the Senate for more than 20 years. He ended up making history after his time in the Senate, when he became the only nominee for secretary of defense who has ever been rejected by the United States Senate. George H.W. Bush, Poppy Bush, nominated John Tower to be defense secretary in January 1989, and the Senate, remarkably, said, no. His nomination was basically doomed by multiple reports of alleged inappropriate behavior by him toward both women and alcohol. He told "The New York Times" when the Senate rejected him, quote, "Have I ever drunk to excess? Yes. Am I alcohol dependent? No. Have I always been a good boy? Of course not." But had it not been for that history-making failed nomination to be defense secretary, the Senate has only ever rejected nine cabinet nominees in the history of the country, and he is one of them. Had it not been for that, what John Tower would be most remembered for is what Ronald Reagan asked him to do after his retirement from the Senate, in 1986. In late 1986, this was the front page news all over the country. President Reagan, president Reagan secretly selling missiles to Iran, in a bungled effort to trade American missiles for American hostages. It was a complete screw-up. Iran actually ended up getting the missiles. We ended up getting none of the hostages. The whole thing was really quite flagrantly illegal and they got caught for it. More than a dozen Reagan administration officials ended up getting indicted. And as this was all first coming to light, in late 1986, on December 1st, 1986, Ronald Reagan appointed John Tower to lead a commission to investigate this scandal in his own administration. Two days later, the vice president of the United States at that time, the man who everybody knew wanted to run to succeed President Reagan in the next presidential election, two days after Reagan appointed John Tower to head up the Tower Commission to look into the Iran Contra scandal, two days after that commission was formed, Vice President George H.W. Bush spoke about it for the first time. He emerged from the cocoon of silence he had sealed himself into on this scandal, on this issue, and he made his first-ever public remarks about Iran-Contra. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE H.W. BUSH, THEN-VICE PRESIDENT: I can tell you that the president is absolutely convinced that he did not swap arms for hostages. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Reagan absolutely did swap arms for hostages, even though Vice President Poppy Bush said he did not. For whatever reason, we have decided as a country that we`re just going to let the whole Iran-Contra scandal thing go. We`ve just decided to forget about it. Forget that about the Reagan presidency. In the end, that speech, the Poppy Bush Iran-Contra speech where he said Ronald Reagan had no idea that happened and that was plainly untrue, in the end, what that Iran-Contra speech was ultimately remembered for is not what Poppy Bush is talking about in that speech, which is Iran-Contra. What he is remembered for in that speech is how he was doing the talking about Iran-Contra, the turn of phrase that he used when he was deflecting responsibility. That speech forever will always be the "mistakes were made" speech. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE H.W. BUSH: The matter was further clouded by the way in which the president`s goals were executed, specifically allegations about certain activities of the national security council staff. Clearly, mistakes were made. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It was that great moment, right? Mistakes were -- mistakes were -- was that an apology? It was an acknowledgement that there had been mistakes. But who made those mistakes? Mistakes just happened out there anonymously? Who knows who did it? That is perhaps the most famous thing that George H.W. Bush said while he had the job of being vice president of the United States. Because of that, when his son became president, George W. Bush, it was almost like an historic alarm bell rang every time he used that same awkward, passive voice, that it wasn`t me, non-apology phrasing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: It`s also important for the people of Iraq to know that in a democracy, everything is not perfect, that mistakes are made. And he`s right, mistakes were made. And I`m frankly not happy about it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s not to say I had anything to do with them. These mistakes just keep passively being made. It`s almost like they`re making themselves. Nearby, but inconclusively, in terms of their relationships to any nearby humans. It must be very frustrating to members of the Bush family that these mistakes keep being made near them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you establish a dialogue with such a phenomenon? JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Well, it -- let`s go to Iraq. There were mistakes made in Iraq for sure. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: "There were mistakes made." who made these mistakes? Who can say? Passive voice. Jeb Bush has been off the national stage for a long time. He has not been a candidate for any elected office in 13 years. But Jeb Bush now is back, sounding very much like his brother and his dad. And he now is going full tilt right now, making the case to the country that not only should the country pick a Republican president in 2016, but the country should pick three Republican presidents in a row who are all from the same family. And so far, at this point in the race, at least, he is winning. He`s winning both in terms of media coverage and buzz on the Republican primary side. Most importantly, though, he`s winning in terms of money. It was reported with some shock last week that Jeb Bush raised $4 million in a single night at one New York City dinner fund-raiser -- 4 million bucks, for like an hour of his time. That was a shock last week when he did it in New York. Well, he did it again yesterday in Chicago. And next week he`s expected to not make $4 million, but $5 million at one dinner in Coral Gables, Florida. Nobody else has fund-raising numbers anything like this right now. And it is designed to be intimidating to the other candidates or the other would-be candidates in the race. This is the same playbook his brother used in 2000, when a year out from the election, he raised so much more money than anybody ever had before, that the most viable candidates who might have run against him never even got into the race. They were so scared by how much money George W. Bush had piled up early on. That is what George W. Bush did to win the nomination in 2000, and that is what his brother, Jeb, is doing to try to win the nomination right now. reported earlier this week that this juggernaut of Jeb Bush fund-raising, him raising seven figures every single day, a year out from Iowa, that is what pushed Mitt Romney out of the race for 2016. Remember, just a few weeks ago, there was this proud little squawk from Mitt Romney, telling people in New York that he was going to make a run for it and they should tell all their friends. That squawk lasted about a week, and then he packed it in and said, uh, no, actually, never mind, I`m not going to run. What happened between that squawk and Mitt Romney taking it back, according to, is that when he was dialing for dollars, talking to the people who he expected to be ponying up to fund yet another Mitt Romney for president campaign, he realized that actually he`d been beaten to it. Jeb Bush had already tapped all his donors and starting sucking up all the money in the room. Mitt Romney was too late to try to make another run in 2016. And so now, with anybody who might have been a Mitt Romney donor, and with the huge network of donors to his father and donors to his brother, Jeb Bush is building himself a money mountain that nobody else can scale. I mean, financially, he is almost the prohibitive favorite at this point, unless something dramatically changes in the fund-raising on the Republican side. And with that happening sort of slightly underneath the surface, now in an increasingly public way, he`s starting to do the things that are expected of a top tier presidential candidate. This week, for example, Jeb Bush decided to do what the last successful candidate for president did when he was running in 2007. Just like Barack Obama did before him, Jeb Bush, this week, went to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, to give his big I`m running for president foreign policy speech. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH: President Obama called ISIS the junior varsity. Four days after, they took Fallujah, and when they comprised a fighting force of more than 200,000 battle-tested men. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Jeb Bush yesterday condemning President Obama for not realizing that ISIS had 200,000 fighters. ISIS does not have 200,000 fighters. After the speech, Jeb Bush`s staff had to clarify to reporters that he didn`t mean that. Actually, what he meant to say was 20,000, not 200,000. He was off by a factor of 10. It happens. There was a lot of stuff like that in this speech. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH: The problem is perhaps best demonstrated by this administration`s approach to Iraq. We`ve had 35 years of experience with Iran -- excuse me, Iran -- 35 years experience with Iran`s rulers. And, so, look, this is a -- the more I get into this stuff, there`s some things you just go, you know, holy schnikes. The second thing I would say as it relates to Putin, and the president did this. I don`t know what the effect has been because, you know, it`s really kind of hard to be on the road and I`m just a gladiator these days so I don`t follow every little -- every little detail. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the dissolution of sovereign states in the Middle East and a return to tribalism? JEB BUSH: I don`t have a solution. I`ve read articles about, whatever, you know, the 1915 kind of breakout of the Middle East and how that is no longer a viable deal. As we grow our presence by growing our ability to produce oil and gas, we also make it possible to lessen the dependency that Russia now has on top of Europe. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The dependency that Russia now has on top of Europe. On top of Europe -- also on top of old smokey. Also, beware the buku. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH: We see the rise of non-state terror organizations, like ISIS, Boko Haram. (END VIDEOI CLIP) MADDOW: Jeb Bush`s big debut policy speech had its awkward moments. This was the daily beast report on his speech, quote, "Jeb Bush delivered a nervous, uncertain speech on national security on Wednesday, full of errors and confusion. Jeb bungles facts and pronunciation in his big national security speech, trying to sound presidential. Bush, instead, came off as a confused former governor." Vox rounded up the top cringe-worthy moments from Jeb Bush`s foreign policy speech. At "The Washington Post," Dana Milbank wrote that Governor Bush combined his father`s awkward oratory with his brother`s mangled syntax. Because he`s never been involved in foreign policy at all, you know, the awkwardness, and the flubs, the mispronunciation and the, I haven`t read the articles about this stuff, it is sort of to be expected at this point in his candidacy. The main thrust of the speech, though, and the thing that got all the headlines about his speech, by design, the thing he wanted people to take away from this speech was clearly a much simpler thing than some idea that he`d mastered all the details. It was not about his ability to pronounce Boko Haram and or to know it was Ukraine and not the Ukraine, I mean, yes, he screwed all that up. But the one thing he was sure to get across, the one big idea was this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH: As you might know, I`ve also been fortunate to have a father and a brother who helped shape America`s foreign policy from the Oval Office. I recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs. I love my brother, I love my dad. I actually love my mother as well. Hope that`s OK. And I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions that they had to make. But I`m my own man, and my views are shaped by my own thinking and my own experiences. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I`m my own man. Whatever else he asserted, whatever else he got right or got wrong in his debut foreign policy speech -- I mean, this was the main point. Yes, I want to be the third Republican president in a row from my family. Right, yes. I want to be the third president bush in a generation. But I`m my own man. I`m not my father, I`m not my brother, I love them, but I`m not them. I`m Jeb Bush. I`m a different kind of Bush. Don`t see me as an outgrowth of the other two members of my family who have recently been president, I am my own man. And here is what went wrong. Here`s what went wrong about that, as a campaigning for president screw-up, right? While the press was absorbing the Jeb Bush foreign policy address and his declaration that he is his own man and he`s different from his father and his brother, they were also given by the Jeb Bush for president folks a handout, a list of foreign policy advisers that Jeb Bush was taking council from or had endorsements from in his soon-to-be run for the presidency. They gave out a list of 21 names. Of those 21 names, 13 of those people worked on foreign policy issues for Jeb Bush`s brother, George W. Bush. Two of them worked on foreign policy issues for his father, Poppy Bush. And four of them worked on foreign policy for both his brother and his dad in their administrations. And then one of them is George Schultz, who`s now 94. He was secretary of state when his -- Jeb Bush`s father was vice president. So, of the 21 names that Jeb Bush released to the press as his foreign policy advisers, as he was trying to make the case that he is his own man and he should not be conflated with his dad or his brother, of those 21 names, 20 of them worked for his dad or his brother. "The Washington Post" put it together in this handy Venn diagram, showing the overlap between the Poppy Bush names and the George W. Bush names. The other circle in the upper right is the Reagan administration, to encompass George Schultz. And whatever you think of the prospect of continuing the foreign policy of the other Bush presidencies, mostly the George W. Bush presidency, whatever you think of that substantively, and whether that`s a good idea for the nation to go back to the George W. Bush foreign policy, this is also just a gaffe. This is a running for president screw-up. I mean, you can`t put out this list saying, this is who`s going to advise Jeb Bush on foreign policy, and you can have Jeb Bush giving a speech saying, I`m not the same as my father and my brother, I`m my own man. Don`t conflate me with them, particularly on foreign policy. But you cannot do both of those things on the same day. It`s like the scheduler was tasked with rolling things out for Jeb Bush`s campaign, right? And decided, oh, well, you know, Wednesday`s going to be foreign policy day. So, everything on foreign policy, let`s truck it out there. Everything on foreign policy, including the directly contradictory things, let`s put them all out on the same day, without anybody noticing that those contradictory things would be the headlines right next to each other. I`m my own man! Foreign policy team, eerily familiar. This is a screw-up. But this is also a time, as a country, when we desperately need to start having a smarter debate about real challenges and foreign policy. ISIS, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Russia, Iran, Boko Haram, even the big reset with Cuba -- I mean, holy schnikes is kind of right, right? There`s a lot going on. The last presidential campaign in 2012 basically completely ignored foreign policy on the Republican side, neither the Republican presidential candidate or the vice presidential candidate had really anything to say on foreign policy. Mitt Romney gave his acceptance speech for the nomination in 2012 without even mentioning that we were actively at war, not even a platitude in that direction, never occurred to him. Not his forte. Presidential elections, for all their nonsense, they really are a great big quadrennial occasion for having the fights we need to have as a country and about our country`s role in the world. I mean, we`ve got an undeclared air war raging in the middle of a civil war in Syria. We`ve got a war that will not end in Afghanistan. Egypt wants us to be back in another war with them and Libya. Diplomacy and the cease-fire agreements are not working with Russia and Ukraine. There`s a lot going on in the world that deserves a great debate between at least two great sides, right? Two sides that are both making good, solid arguments, among people who know what they`re talking about and who are taking it seriously. Instead, on the right, the tenor on foreign policy is this kind of stuff, right? Scott Walker, sitting there last night in New York, while Rudy Giuliani gets up and says what you need to know about foreign policy right now is that President Obama doesn`t love America. Scott Walker sitting right there, today refusing to say whether he agreed with that or not. Another 2016 candidate, Bobby Jindal, volunteering today before anyone asked, volunteering today that he did agree with Rudy Giuliani about that. And that`s what he believes is wrong with our foreign policy right now. President Obama doesn`t love America. On the right-wing blog world, they have uncovered the scandal, evidenced in this damning photo that you see on the left here. See what President Obama is doing there with the finger raised. The right-wing blog world, they have discovered that he is there in that picture giving a secret Muslim gang sign. He`s not just pointing, wagging his finger at somebody. No, he`s giving a secret Muslim gang sign, and that`s why those other guys, those other leaders from Africa are smiling at him in that picture, because he`s telling them, he`s in the secret Muslim gang with them. Every other leader who has also ever been seen pointing in the course of their lifetimes, don`t know if they`re in the secret Muslim gang too, but, obviously, we`re checking. I mean, this is what it`s all about on the right, right now. Look, he`s a Muslim, he pointed. In the Bush/Cheney era, their foreign policy was what brought us the Iraq war and all the rest of us, right? Widely seen as the worst foreign policy disaster since Vietnam and maybe even worse than that. What the country needs substantively is a good fight, a quality fight, a serious argument, well fought, between two competing, good ideas on foreign policy. It`s been seven years now since Bush and Cheney left office that we`ve been waiting to find out what the post-Bush/Cheney Republican idea is going to be on foreign policy. What they`re going to contribute to the debate. So far, it`s President Obama`s a Muslim! He doesn`t love the country! Awesome! Or if you prefer, it`s Jeb Bush running away with the nomination at this point and promising that we aren`t going to get a post-Bush/Cheney idea from the Republican Party. We`ll just go back to that one, bring back the old one. A presidential election year is a really important opportunity to have constructive national arguments about America`s role in the world. As this presidential is shaping up so far, the prospect of that happening does not seem bright. Mistakes will be made. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Update: we got word late this evening that the president`s nominee to be the next attorney general of the United States, Loretta Lynch, will finally be getting a vote. She has been President Obama`s pick for attorney general since November. She sailed through her confirmation hearings, nary a peep against her. Inexplicably, after those confirmation hearings, the Republicans decided to delay a vote. Now they have scheduled a vote on her, it will be a week from today. Thursday, February 26th. That`s the day Loretta Lynch will get a vote. That had seemed like smooth sailing from the beginning, then the Republicans sort of inexplicably got a little wobbly on her. There`s still no clear indication that she has enough Republican votes to be confirmed, but now at least we know when the vote will be -- a week from today. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We finally have a date now for a vote on President Obama`s nominee to be attorney general, Loretta Lynch. No substantive objections have been raised about her or her record or anything raised in her confirmation hearings. Nevertheless, it is no longer clear that she has enough support from Republicans in the Senate to be confirmed. But at least we`ve got a date for a vote. Also, we don`t yet have a date, but we do finally have some noise about some day, maybe starting to have a debate about the war U.S. troops are already waging against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. They`ve been waging that war for more than six months now, without really any political noise about it from Washington whatsoever. That may change, soon. Might not, but might. We also now have the debut foreign policy speech for the guy who appears to be the front-runner for the Republican nomination, at least when it comes to dollars cast and checks written. He`s proposing to bring back basically the entire foreign policy Iraq war hive mind from the presidency of George W. Bush. The Homeland Security Department is due to run out of money this time next week. As yet, there`s apparently no plan to find a way to keep it from shutting down this time next week. Our politics was kind of a freaking mess, even before we started in on the 2016 presidential race. But now that we have started in on the 2016 presidential race, does that make it more likely or less likely that the stuff that needs getting done in Washington is actually going to get done? Now that the Republicans have started their presidential primary process and the Democrats have not -- is our political and policy making dysfunction as a country about to get worse or could it get better? Joining us now is a man who, in theory, seems like he really should be in the Democratic presidential primary race right now, if such a thing existed. He`s the Democratic senator from swing state, Ohio, who Karl Rove`s Crossroads group spent $6 million trying to unseat in 2012, without success. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, so nice to have you here. SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Rachel, good to be back. MADDOW: Does it annoy you to raise the presidential prospect -- (CROSSTALK) BROWN: It doesn`t annoy me, it just doesn`t affect me. I have zero interest. My wife is in the studio. She doesn`t like the idea, I don`t like the idea. I love being in the Senate. That`s what I`m going to keep doing. MADDOW: Connie, is that true? You don`t want him to run? CONNIE SCHULTZ: Yes! MADDOW: You concur, you don`t want him to run? SCHULTZ: Yes. BROWN: I`m not lying. MADDOW: If he did want to run, would you veto it? (INAUDIBLE) MADDOW: Yes! BROWN: Of course, she doesn`t want to run. There`s an old Republican senator from Vermont a few years ago said the only cure for the presidential virus in the United States Senate is embalming fluid. So, once you get that feeling, you can`t get rid of it. So I don`t have that feel. But thank you, Rachel, for your comment. MADDOW: Well, the reason that I asked is because there are some people who think that running for president is not necessarily a great way to get elected president, but a great way to get ideas out there. And that the ideas being discussed in a presidential year, in a presidential primary context end up sort of shaping the agenda and shaping the conversation for the country in a way that is constructive. As a progressive, as somebody who people in left particularly like in the Senate, somebody who`s shown the ability to win in swing state Ohio and all the different things you`ve done, are you optimistic right now in terms of the conversations that we`re having as a country? Are we doing anything constructive? BROWN: I`m optimistic that Democrats will do better in 2016. That`s not your question, I understand. I`m not optimistic that we`re going to solve some of the problems, but I am optimistic that the debate will be joined. I think the way you laid it out tonight, that these candidates, whoever they are, and both sides need to have discussions about big issues, and that doesn`t mean bringing back old advisers from former races and doesn`t mean winning the money race or the money chase, it means talking about big issues. It means -- I think the president gave his best State of the Union Address he`d given this past January, when he talked about building the economy from the middle class out. He talked about middle class economics, understanding the trickle-down economics brought us no job growth during the Bush years, building the middle class, building the economy from the middle out in the Clinton years, brought us 20 million private sector jobs. A job net increase, and during the -- since the auto rescue, we`ve had job growth for 58, 59 months in a row, since 2010. So, we know what works, we know what doesn`t. We need to make that contrast much more strongly than we have and when Republicans accuse Democrats of class warfare, we should just continue to talk, because it`s so important that that`s the way -- because that`s the way the economy grows. MADDOW: So, do you -- if the economic strength we`re seeing right now continues throughout this year, as presidential politics heats up, if we end up having a national domestic political fight that`s essentially a referendum on Obama economics and a referendum on what we`ve done as a country since the Great Recession, to try to come back, you think that would be a healthy thing in terms of us defining the right way to grow? BROWN: Yes, I think it will empower Democrats who are generally too timid, generally shy away from making strong contrasts on economic issues, generally not afraid -- Democrats who are not afraid to take strong positions on these issues, I think it will embolden them. I think it will embolden Hillary Clinton, if she`s, as expected, the nominee, so that she does make these contrasts and show that, here`s what Democrats stood for in building an economy. Here`s what Republicans have stood for. It`s still -- we still haven`t answered very well the questions of -- the question of stagnant wages. That to me is -- it`s so important for people`s lives, now. It`s so important for building their retirement security. We`re not doing either very well, but I think that this growing economy now gives us an opportunity to do it. MADDOW: On that wage issue, obviously, that is, it sounds like a really specific economic concern. It`s everything in terms of the -- working families, and in terms of economic inequality that we`ve got that`s so unprecedented right now. There`s news today that Walmart is raising wages in a very small way for its very large number of private sector employees. They`re doing that for their own private sector concerns. President Obama has not been able to get a federal wage increase. Republicans don`t seem like they`re going to bend on that at all. At least it doesn`t seem that way to me. Do you think that he`s been effective and that Democrats have been effective at basically making the case to the private sector that businesses ought to raise wages on their own, that it`s good business, it`s good for the country, it`s actually a patriotic move. BROWN: I don`t think any of us have made the case strongly enough and well enough. We`re off -- but there have been a few companies that have done that. Aetna insurance is raising its lowest paid -- I`m not sure of these numbers, I believe, from $12 to $15 or $16 an hour, its lowest wage workers, which also means people slightly above that will get raises. And don`t forget that on the minimum wage. If we can raise the minimum wage $3 an hour, it means people making right above the minimum wage will get pushed up, too, and it will mean significant wage increases. We also need to do things like expanding the earned income tax credit, which rewards people for work. If you`re making $40,000 a year, you have a couple of children, you can get $2,000 or $3,000 tax credit, real dollars, refundable tax credit, real dollars in a check in the mail in February or march when you file your taxes. So all of those things we should do, in addition to just generally pro-growth policies aimed at the middle. MADDOW: I feel -- I feel a little more depressed about the prospect of what can get done. You talking in such specific terms about what not only ought to be done, but could be done makes me feel a little better. BROWN: It`s why I came tonight. Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: My personal antidepressant in the form of Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio -- thank you so much for being here. BROWN: Thanks. It`s good to be back. MADDOW: Nice to see you, Connie. Thanks for coming. See you soon. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. If anybody`s keeping track at home, here`s my track record so far on figuring out Democrats may be giving Hillary Clinton a primary for the 2016 presidential run. Elizabeth Warren told me no, just like she told everybody else no. Sherrod Brown, right here, just told me no, and his wife, Connie Schultz also said no and said even if he wanted to, she would veto that decision in their family. Senator Amy Klobuchar told me no, but honestly, she seemed persuadable. And Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri didn`t even exactly say no. She said if Hillary Clinton didn`t run, then she probably wouldn`t consider running either, but she phrased it like that. She seemed persuadable too. I know nobody apparently believes there`s going to be a Democratic presidential primary. I don`t, either. But if there is going to be one, I think we might have started it right here on this show. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In 2012, Republicans pulled off a neat trick. Less than half of voters chose a Republican to represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives. And yet, Republicans came out of that election with a 33- seat majority in that chamber. Democrats got over 1.7 million more votes nationwide, but Republicans won 33 more seats. How`d they do that? A big part of it was something called red map. Every 10 years, states redraw their election districts based on the latest census data, and in most states, that re-drawing of districts is done by the legislature. And in general, the party in power in the legislature draws those districts in the way that is most electorally advantageous to them. So, if you`re a Republican, for example, you want as many Republican-safe districts drawn as possible, and you want to cram all the Democratic voters in your state into as few districts as possible. So, red map aimed for Republicans to control as much of the redistricting as possible after the 2010 census, and it was a hugely successful effort. Republicans took over 20 legislative chambers in 2010. And then, in 2011, those Republican legislatures got to work redistricting. And the results for those states` congressional delegations were staggering. In Michigan last year, only 49 percent of voters chose a Republican to represent them in the U.S. house. And yet, the state`s house delegation is 2-1 Republican. In Pennsylvania, Republicans got 56 percent of the vote, but with that vote, they got nearly 75 percent of the seats in the U.S. House. In Ohio, Republicans won 60 percent of the votes for the U.S. House and well done to them, but they sent three times as many members of Congress to Washington as the Democrats did. North Carolina has more than three times as many Republican representatives as Democrats in the U.S. House, even though a full 44 percent of that state`s voters opted for a Democrat. The redistricting of Republican gains in 2010 and 2012 and 2014 created a very steep hill for Democrats to climb. The only way for Democrats to turn winning vote totals into actual control of the House is to level the playing field. They`ve got to take state legislatures back by the end of the 2020 census, in order to do some redistricting of their own. Well, the Democrats actually created an operation to do just that. It`s called Advantage 2020. They created it last summer. And 2020 is very different than 2010 was. 2020 will be a presidential election year. And presidential election years, more Democrats to turn out to vote -- tend to turn out to vote than in midterm election years like in 2010. Today, the Democrats announced that they`re gearing up to put real money behind this 2020 effort, launching a super PAC that aims to raise $70 million to spend over the next three elections. Their goal is to flip some of those state legislatures back to the Democratic column. The group`s new director is former Michigan Congressman, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, who knows a little something about redistricting. He lost his congressional seat in 2010 after just one term when he saw his district redrawn without his home county in it. Joining us now is former Michigan Congressman Mark Schauer. He`s director of the DLCC`s SuperPAC Advantage 2020. Congressman Schauer, thanks for joining us tonight. FORMER REP. MARK SCHAUER (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you, Rachel. It`s great to be with you. MADDOW: So, you have experienced gerrymandering in your own political career. SCHAUER: Yes. MADDOW: It sort of kind of felt like a knife, I imagine. What happened in Michigan? What do you think has been the effect on the state - - of the way gerrymandering worked in your state? SCHAUER: Well, as a member of the legislature in 2001, the Republicans controlled the state house, the state Senate and the government`s offices and saw the consequences. The kind of numbers you just showed are exactly what we`ve seen in Michigan and key states around the country where voters choose Democrats, but end up with Republican majorities in the state legislatures and in the state capitals. And we`ve seen the associated policy attacks on women`s health, on voting rights, on collective bargaining and workers` rights, immigrants and minorities, and they are playing their agendas out in state capitals, but also, as you noted, in 36 states, the legislatures draw congressional maps. And those 36 states draw districts for 300 in 36 congressional seats. These key states you mentioned are early targets for us in Advantage 2020. And what`s unique is the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is taking a long-term three-cycle view, starting actually in 2015 in Virginia and in the 2016 election cycle. But in short, legislatures matter. And that is our focus. And we`re going to do what the DLCC has done incredibly well, and that`s win and create fair districts and the better policy outcomes that result from that. MADDOW: So, what does a national political party effort look like to win legislative seats? I mean, state rep seats tend to be, you know, districts that are small, that are -- have very local concerns, that tend to be pretty low-profile races. How do you avoid bigfooting that in a way that makes you effective? SCHAUER: Well, the DLCC is a strategic partner with state legislative leaders. I`ve experienced it firsthand in Michigan. They work in looking at demographic trends, data, the kind of analysis that sets the stage for winning elections, candidate recruitment, and providing financial support to win elections. In 2012, again, after a Republican wave election, the Democratic legislative campaign committee helped eight states win back legislative chambers. We know how to do this work, and it will be an all hands on deck strategy, where we engage state leaders, other Democratic committees that share a vested interest, progressive groups, labor and environmental groups, to develop specific state-by-state strategies to win over the next three election cycles, so come 2021, when the redistricting pins are out, Democrats control that pin or a substantial portion of that, so we draw fair districts. But we know how to win, and this is about that level playing field you talked about, and all Democrats need are fair districts and we`re providing the important national leadership to make this happen. MADDOW: Former Congressman Mark Schauer, Director of DLCC`s SuperPAC Advantage 2020, trying to turn around to the Democrats` advantage what the Republicans did so effectively in 2010 -- thanks for helping us to understand it tonight, sir. Appreciate it. SCHAUER: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. We have a story tonight at the end of the show that is both so shocking and so entertaining that you will think I made it up. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It`s a two-step process. Step one, male legislator tells female legislator that women are lesser cuts of meat. Step two -- step two is really good. That story is ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Quick calendar note for you. Tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, proceedings will begin in the sentencing of Maureen McDonnell, Virginia`s former first lady. She was convicted last year on multiple counts of public corruption. Prosecutors are asking that she`d get 18 months in federal prison. Her defense team has filed a memo is asking for instead of 4,000 hours of community service and no jail time at all. Just over a month ago, her husband, former Virginia governor, Bob McDonnell, he was in the courtroom facing sentencing for his multiple felony corruption convictions. Prosecutors had asked for the former governor to get 10 to 12 years in prison, but the lead up to his sentencing included more than 400 public letters of support sent to the court on Bob McDonnell`s behalf, 11 character witnesses took the stand in his defense. In the end, Bob McDonnell didn`t get 10 or 12 years, he got two years, and prosecutors looked furious that his sentence was so light. For his wife Maureen, there has not been the same kind of uplifting of support, at least publicly. We know there were letters that had been sent to the court on her behalf, before she`s sentenced. But those letters, unlike her husband, those letters for her are not being made public the way they were for Bob. We don`t know yet if Maureen McDonnell will speak on her own behalf. She has not spoken at all during proceedings so far. Ten character witnesses are scheduled to take the stand on her behalf tomorrow. Bob McDonnell himself is expected to be in the courtroom. But we`ll find out for sure tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Meet Katrina Shealy. Katrina Shealy is a state legislator in the great state of South Carolina. She`s a Republican in the South Carolina state senator from the Lexington area. And even though she`s only been on the state senate for a years, he has earned sort of an odd distinction. This is a list of all the member of the South Carolina state senate. You may notice something going on here. Thomas, Alexander, Carl, Sean, Lee, Kevin, Paul, George, Raymond, Creighton, Tom -- they`re all men. They`re all men except for Katrina Shealy. There are 46 members of the South Carolina state senate, and she is the only woman. Now, I know what you`re thinking. You`re thinking, what about Nikki Setzler right above her? It turns out Nikki is a guy. There`s the Nikki who`s the governor of South Carolina. She is a woman. In this case, Nikki, the state senator, is a dude. So, yes, Katrina Shealy is it. She is the only woman in the whole South Carolina state senate. She`s even fictitiously named herself the chair of the South Carolina senate women`s caucus. She`s the whole caucus, so of course she gets to run it. And all votes are unanimous. South Carolina`s one woman senator, Katrina Shealy, found herself in the middle of a local firestorm this week when -- this past week, when one of the Republican senators, the guy you see on the right here, made comments to her and about her that made news. See? South Carolina senator: women are "a lesser cut of meat". This Republican state senator said this to his only female colleague, that women, like, for example, her, are a lesser cut of meat. That`s nice. Katrina Shealy told the local press that the comments went too far, that women deserve respect. And then, she went on the Senate floor in South Carolina and she made like a superhero. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STATE SEN. KATRINA SHEALY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: To the women and young ladies in this chamber today and all of those who may be listening -- you will experience roadblocks and challenges. Don`t be discouraged and don`t give up. And don`t you dare let anyone tell you that you`re less than what you are. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, yes. The guy who called her a lesser cut of meat, he apologized. And because he`s classy, he said he was also sorry that she chose to be offended and make such a big deal out of all this. And maybe the lesson in all of this is that South Carolina should maybe have more than one female state senator out of 46. Not only because it might cut down on the lesser cuts of meat jokes, but also because it turns out women make better legislators. Don`t take it from me. This is a website called Quorum, which is run by a pair of Harvard students that basically crunch all sorts of data about Congress. Votes, bills, floor speeches, they crunch all that data about legislators` legislative activity and they come out with reports about what they find. And what they found this time has to do with the women in the United States Senate. There are currently 21 women in the Senate. The number is varied a little bit over the years, but this data-crunching Web site went back and looked at Senate productivity over the last seven years and they found, to their surprise, that the women of the Senate are, in quantitative terms, just better at their jobs in terms of the sheer number of bills introduced in the Senate, the women on average were more productive, they introduced more bills on average than the men did. Of those bills introduced, women senators had a greater percentage of their bills passed out of committee. Of those bills passed out of committee, they also had a greater percentage of those bills enacted into law. So, just in terms of turning bills into law, women, over the last seven years, have done it better than men in Washington. Women, according to the data, are also better at cutting bipartisan deals. The average female senator cosponsored 171 bills with a member of the opposite party, which is a much higher number than the average number for men. And, oh, and by the way, women are also better at convincing their fellow senators to sponsor their bills as well. And, you know, you often hear women in the Senate say, you know, if there were only more of us around, something might actually get done around here. That appears quantitatively to now be provably true -- lesser cut of meat or not. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow. 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