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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/12/15

Guests: Annie Linskey, Anne Gearan, Roberta Kaplan

ARI MELBER, MSNBC GUEST HOST: It`s all love, Chris. And thanks all of you at home for staying with us for the next hour. We begin with big news for two unusual presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. A new poll showing Trump maintaining his lead among Iowa Republicans, 22 percent there. And that`s a poll conducted after the GOP debate -- meaning Iowa voters who, of course, have more experience assessing presidential candidates -- well, they are still giving Trump some serious consideration. And they must be basing that on Trump`s message, because in Iowa, he doesn`t have much of a campaign to speak of. He spent the last few months mostly doing phone interviews from New York on TV. Not exactly town halls in Des Moines. That has been Donald Trump`s strategy here all along. He has been conducting an air war, making his case basically from afar and leaving all that retail politicking to others. And it appears to be working, although it is certainly early. Another strategy though is waging a ground war. That is, of course, where Democratic presidential candidate and socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is excelling. He is in the field, meeting with voters, gathering with crowds, even in red states. In fact, one of his biggest crowds was out in Phoenix, Arizona. That`s a state that Mitt Romney won by 9 points. Many political insiders initially underestimated Bernie. We know that now. Though, if you watch this show, however, you may recall Rachel reporting on Bernie`s early crowds in the beginning of the summer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST: Just days after he had his big campaign rally kickoff in Burlington, Vermont, Bernie Sanders ended up in Iowa speaking to a packed house in Davenport, Iowa. The organizers had to open a wall to make room for the crowd. "The New York Times" is describing that crowd in Davenport as the largest crowd attracted by any candidate from either party in Iowa all year, Bernie Sanders. This was the scene in Keen, New Hampshire, on Saturday, where a crowd of almost a thousand people crammed into a tiny local rec hall to see -- to hear Bernie Sanders speak. This is the one candidate on the trail right now who can turn out, I kid you not, 5,000 people with a Facebook post. A huge overflow crowd at the drop of a hat, thrilling his supporters and bewildering the national political class. Bernie Sanders turned out 11,000 people to see him in conservative Phoenix, Arizona. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: Now, that is not nothing. A few big crowds, however, can still be dismissed as flukes, especially when lined up against the big polling deficits he was facing. And plenty of experts note huge campaign rallies don`t always translate into actual votes. When people have talked about his appeal and momentum, they`re mostly citing those crowds. Not voters, certainly not polls until now. Iowa and New Hampshire are crucial contests for this race, the first caucus and the first primary. Clinton won New Hampshire in 2008 and had been looking good there. The Bernie momentum had been rooted mostly in the crowds. He`s drawn less on the number of potential votes and polling that he might have. New Hampshire polling, for example, look at this, showed Clinton was beating Sanders, 47-8 in March. In May, he inched up. By last week, he was within striking distance of Hillary Clinton. Now, today, this self- proclaimed Democratic socialist who is largely seen as a protest challenge, that guy -- well, that guy is now in first place. He is 7 points ahead of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire in this new poll. Maybe Hillary Clinton will continue to allow this Bernie-mentum to play out without directly acknowledging it until she hopes it may eventually die down. But Bernie`s ground game is so strong, he drew the most special compliment you can get from Donald Trump. Trump is now comparing his appeal to Bernie`s. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Would you give up your microphone a protester, like Bernie Sanders? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would never give up my microphone. I thought that was disgusting. You know what? He is getting the biggest crowds and I`m getting the biggest crowds. We`re the two getting the crowds. But believe me, that`s not going to happen to Trump. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: The truth is that Sanders has repeatedly drawn actually far larger crowds than Donald Trump and he is doing it with an explicit grassroots ground game. We spoke to the Sanders campaign today about their resources. They`ve deployed now 39 paid staff members and 11 field offices in Iowa alone. They`re opening more offices, they tell us, this weekend. We also asked Trump about his numbers in Iowa. While his campaign didn`t provide new numbers, the count last month showed ten staffers in Iowa and no field offices at all. One Iowa co-chair of that campaign does tell NBC News there is an office somewhere in Des Moines. Also, "Politico" reporting that Donald Trump will start building a ground game in the early states, and it`s possible his unconventional approach could work -- some kind of early air raid followed by a late game to turn buzz into volunteers, precinct captains and votes. For all of his supposed radicalism, however, Bernie Sanders is using the more conventional old school approach here -- a bottom up, grassroots field effort that slowly but surely turns excitement into those crowds. And then grows those crowds into measurable support. And then tries to turn that support into a lead and maybe, just maybe turn that lead into voter turnout for those primaries. Maybe the newest story in the 2016 race is a very, very old one. Joining us now is Annie Linskey, a national political reporter for "The Boston Globe", who`s been on this story. Good evening to you. ANNIE LINSKEY, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Hi there. MELBER: What do you think Bernie is doing right and is this more about what he stands for or what he`s doing on the ground in the field? LINSKEY: Well, there`s one thing that he is doing right and that`s authenticity. I mean, it comes down to his appeal is entirely based I believe, on -- I mean, on the thing about him that seems so unusual, which is that he is a socialist with this hair flapping around. And -- but he comes across to voters and to, you know, even to moderate Democrats as a very authentic person who has stood for what -- who isn`t going on change his beliefs with the tide. I think that`s just what America is looking for right now. I mean, he has -- the polling that you mentioned in New Hampshire, you know, I found quite stunning. MELBER: Yes. LINSKEY: If you look at it a little more deeply, you know, he -- Sanders is beating Clinton among liberals, no big surprise there, but Sanders is also beating Clinton among moderate Democrats. Self-described moderate Democrats are flocking to Sanders. And so, that says that something more than just his socialist message, but it`s the messenger that they`re falling in love with. MELBER: Yes. I mean, we can put that opt screen. You`re talking about the breakdown as people self-identified moderates in New Hampshire which is a very active political class there, going for Sanders, so not just that liberalism. Yet, you also put your finger on the other port thing about him. Yes, he is authentic but he is authentically socialist, that`s his term. The chairman of the Democratic Party was recently asked by our own Chris Matthews, and struggled to deal with something if he remains a serious candidate, Bernie Sanders, some Democrats are going to worry about, which is, can you elect a socialist in the United States of America? Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC`S "HARDBALL" HOST: What`s the difference between a Democrat and a socialist? I used to think there`s a big difference. What do you think it is? REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIR: The difference between -- MATTHEWS: A Democrat like Hillary Clinton and a socialist like Bernie Sanders. SCHULTZ: What`s the difference between being a Democrat and being a Republican. MATTHEWS: What`s the difference between being a Democrat and a socialist? You`re chairman of the Democratic Party, tell me the difference between you and the socialist. SCHULTZ: The relevant debate we`ll be having over the course of this campaign is, what`s the difference between a Democrat and a Republican? MATTHEWS: I think there`s a huge difference. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: So, I understand the struggle there. But sometimes the non- answer is telling. Go ahead. LINSKEY: Absolutely. I mean, that is the absolute concern that the Democratic elites have, is that playing out in a general election. To me, that leaves the door wide open for a man who is sitting in South Carolina right now on vacation with his family, sitting Vice President Joe Biden. I mean, if there is anything that is going to tempt him to get into the race, it`s looking -- is seeing that weakness in Hillary Clinton`s polling numbers. MELBER: Is it a weakness for her or is it a real enthusiasm about someone where some Democrats and some, clearly as we say, moderates and liberals in New Hampshire, may feel, too, for a chance to express something exciting about this guy without worrying that he is really going on eclipse Clinton? Because that poll and many others show, even his supporter don`t think he`s going to be a nominee, sort of an inverse of the way people feel about her as a front runner. LINSKEY: Right. I mean, that is the best number for Hillary Clinton, her electability number. The people who are support her because she is electable, and people generally believe that she`s electable. But to me, that`s like, that -- you know, if you vote from a place of emotion which many people do, you know, that`s a place of logic. It`s sort of like marrying the person who your parents really want to you marry. I mean, it`s like, are people really going to make that choice in this day and age? And you know, I see what Sanders` success, getting success with him, where people are like, he is rising in the polls. So, wait, maybe he is -- maybe he could be the nominee. So -- MELBER: So, finally, Annie, before we go, I want to ask you. Is there something that Hillary Clinton or others in the Democratic Party need to do to engage with his ideas? Not necessarily attack him. But have that conversation that the party chair didn`t want to, that there is a way to advance equality without government control of the economy, without the type of socialism that he`s associated with, or is that something that she has to bleed into her policy platform? LINSKEY: I think she needs to start talking about the issues that he is talking about, absolutely. You know, I wrote about that today on the front page of the "Boston Globe." This sort of file, this lengthy list of issues that liberals care about, that Hillary Clinton hasn`t even addressed in any meaningful way. And I don`t know that she has to, like, come down on their side on each one to generate some excitement, but I think the fact that she`s just not even talking about them. And is punting again and again and saying, "I want to talk about the issues. I will be talking about the issues." Meanwhile, they have Bernie Sanders out there, you know, stating a case. And many of them probably don`t agree with everything he has to say, but it`s just so wonderful and refreshing to have somebody saying some of these things. I think that that`s the lesson the Clinton team really needs to learn from this. MELBER: Annie Linskey, national political reporter for the "Boston Globe" -- thanks for joining us tonight. LINSKEY: Thank you. MELBER: There`s a lot more ahead, including what Donald Trump had to say about Planned Parenthood. Something no other major Republican candidate is saying. And you don`t want to miss this. We actually have a preview of Rachel`s exclusive election year special right here that`s going to air tomorrow on MSNBC. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MELBER: We`ll have much more tonight on the race for president on the Democratic side and the Republican side. But there`s also some news to report tonight about our nation`s 39th president, Jimmy Carter. President Carter announced in a statement this evening that he has been diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer. The former president underwent elective surgery last week to remove a small mass from his liver. That surgery was said to be successful time. But President Carter revealed late today that during that surgery, his doctors discovered that cancer has now spread to other parts of his body. President Carter did not disclose what type of cancer he`s been diagnosed with. He says he will be providing more details next week. And he`ll be rearranging his schedule so he can be treated at Emory Hospital in Atlanta. Jimmy Carter will turn 91 in October. President Obama spoke to him from his vacation on Martha`s Vineyard tonight saying in a statement that the former president is, quote, "as resilient as they come." Again, the news tonight is that former President Jimmy Carter diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer. And we will bring you more on this story as it develops. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MELBER: Trump`s campaign has been nothing if not colorful. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I`m using my own money. I`m not using the lobbyists. I`m not using donors. I don`t care. I`m really rich. I share in a second. INTERVIEWER: Marco Rubio. TRUMP: I think he is highly overrated. I think he is an overrated person. I look at him. They say as he young Ronald Reagan. I said, I don`t think he`s a young Ronald Reagan. And besides that, I have far better hair than he does. We have losers. We have losers. We have people that don`t have it. Sadly, the American Dream is dead. I have an absolute way of defeating ISIS and it would be decisive and quick and very, very -- it would be very beautiful. MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS MODERATOR: You`ve called women you don`t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account -- TRUMP: Only Rosie O`Donnell. I am the most fabulous whiner. I do whine because I want to win. And I`m not happy -- INTERVIEWER: Are whiners winners? TRUMP: And I am a whiner. And I`m a whiner. And I keep whining and whining until I win. (END VIDEO CLIPS) MELBER: So, Donald Trump has made his mark by saying outlandish things. We know that. The more outlandish often for him, it seems, the better. But in an interview last night, Trump had something surprising to say when it came to this big political debate over Planned Parenthood. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Let`s say there is two planned parenthoods in a way. You have it as an abortion clinic. Now, that`s actually a fairly small part of what they do, but it`s a brutal part. And I`m totally against it. And I wouldn`t do that. They also, however, service women. We have to help women. A lot of women are helped, so we have to look at the positives also of Planned Parenthood. I`m totally against the abortion aspect of Planned Parenthood, but I`ve had many women, I`ve had many Republican conservative women come up and say, Planned Parenthood serve as good function other than that one aspect. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: Do you know who took that seriously? Planned Parenthood. After the interview, the organization released this statement saying, "Donald Trump seems to realize that banning all abortions, shutting down the government, and defunding Planned Parenthood are extreme positions that are way too far outside the mainstream for even him to take." Now, that laundry list of non-Trump position isn`t a set of hypotheticals to make Republicans look bad. It`s a list of things Republican candidates have called for. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We did defund Planned Parenthood when I was governor. You could take dollar for dollar, although I`m not sure we need a half billion dollars for women`s health issues. INTERVIEWER: Defunding Planned Parenthood is one thing. What about this idea which had been trotted out there, shut down the federal government? CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, honestly, if it came to that, I would. I hope it doesn`t come to that. If we are not prepared to stand up and fight over this, what are we prepared to stand up and fight over? SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should prosecute Planned Parenthood. And it is really striking that the Democrats are willing to embrace your and my taxpayer funds going to fund this organization, an ongoing criminal enterprise. SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I have advocated is that we pass a law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection. KELLY: Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion? And with 83 percent of the American public in favor of a life exception, are you too out of the mainstream on this issue to win the general election? GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R-WI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I`m pro- life. I`ve always been pro-life. Unlike Hillary Clinton who has a radical position in terms of support for Planned Parenthood, I defunded Planned Parenthood more than four years ago. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: So, that`s what`s going on in the field. And the talk about cutting down Planned Parenthood is often referred to as some kind of abortion politics. That`s not really accurate, while the organization does provide some abortions, the federal government already bars it from using federal funds for any abortions. That was further solidified with a compromise struck under the Hyde Amendment named after pro-life Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde. As Planned Parenthood explains, this is on their Web site right now for anyone who wants to see. Quote, "Planned Parenthood participates in a federal funneling program called Title X. This program doesn`t pay for abortion care." Planned Parenthood is already legally barred from using its federal funding for those abortion services. So, Republicans claim they want to defund group over abortion, which is as a practical issue sort of moot. And yet, at the same time, all this misleading politicking is having a substantive impact on women in some states. Three states have recently said they will block hundreds of dollars in Medicaid and state funding for Planned Parenthood even though they`ve warned that may actually be in conflict with federal law, according to a report there in "The Wall Street Journal". So, on a substantive statewide level, there is a very real crusade against Planned Parenthood. On a policy level, the issue isn`t going anywhere, and it`s going to be brought up time and time again even if Donald drops out of the race. CLINTON: The Republicans are putting forth some very radical and offensive positions when it comes to women`s lives, women`s reproductive health, women`s employment, women`s opportunities. So, I think -- we`ll let the Republicans, you know, go back and forth with each other, but I want to point out, there`s really not that much difference in the policy that they are proposing when it comes to American women. MELBER: Trump and the rest of the GOP field may be weighing in on Planned Parenthood now. But so is the Democratic candidate who would like to face them and who has been putting women`s health issues front and center for a very long time. Joining us now on these evolving politics is Anne Gearan, political reporter for "The Washington Post." Good evening to you. ANNE GEARAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi. Nice to talk to you. MELBER: Does Donald Trump make a difference here for the way Republicans come down? GEARAN: It`s really interesting. I mean, what Trump said today, or last night, rather, it is actually right. He is not very detailed in many of his policy proposals and many of the things he talks about. But he`s right there. Abortion is only part of what Planned Parenthood does, and most Republicans support the idea that there is an organization, a place where women can go, low income women, young people who need health services, and that that is a separate thing than an abortion clinic. And the position he articulated is actually pretty mainstream moderate Republican orthodoxy, that you can oppose abortion on many or most counts. But still want exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother, or not go so far as to say that Planned Parenthood shouldn`t exist or should be denied all federal funds. It was interesting to hear him articulate that and he is really staking a moderate Republican position there which means he is not catering to the very conservative parts of the Republican Party that are supporting him now. So, that`s interesting. MELBER: Right. And that would suggest that somehow his style or this, whatever momentary buzz he has in the polls, gives him a kind of an ability to avoid pandering on certain issues, although he`s certainly pandering in sorts of other ways. Can you help us understand, though, why the abortion politics have migrated over to focusing on one organization? I mean, in the old days of looking at the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade have given way to this sort of obsession with folks like we just showed. Yes, defund the whole government over this. GEARAN: Well, I mean, certainly the journal cover videos from last month, opened the door to this. Whatever you believe those videos show, it is not good news for Planned Parenthood. And it is difficult to defend the organization when you have the disturbing idea that they could be participating in any way, shape or form in the bartering or trade or sale of parts of an aborted fetus. I mean, that`s a difficult thing to talk about. It`s a difficult thing for defenders and supporters of Planned Parenthood and the services they provide to separate out and try to describe what`s actually happening here. And it allowed the -- as I say, it opened the door to this part of the debate. And certainly, it allowed the Marco Rubios and the Scott Walkers in that debate -- in the Republican debate last week to have something to point to. MELBER: And what does Hillary Clinton get to do with all this? GEARAN: Well, she said on the specifics of the Planned Parenthood video, she has called that aspect disturbing. But she moved very quickly to try to capitalize on what Rubio and Walker said during the debate, and to say really? I mean, a very small percentage of Republicans think that there should, that you shouldn`t have exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. And, you know, what kind of, where is the Republican Party going here, was her point. And certainly, the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, leading the PAC, are trying to show, hey, we`re back to a Republican war on women. Whether or not that`s really the case, they didn`t have a lot of fresh evidence to point to in this cycle. And this entire episode has given them that ammunition. MELBER: Anne Gearan, political reporter for "The Washington Post" -- thank you for joining us. GEARAN: Thank you. MELBER: And still ahead tonight, a programming note for tomorrow that you will not want to miss -- no way, no how. Plus, the early front-runner for a campaign ad of the year, maybe the decade, actually maybe ever. We`re going to see how it stacks up to our most reason favorites. Stay with us for that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, the first matter that I would like to report to the committee on this morning is the progress of the investigation. We have received almost 100 percent of the materials which the Senate Select Committee has collected and analyzed in connection with its investigation. I would estimate that there are, we`ve received over 100,000 pages of printed material. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: Did you spot her there? In 1974, a recent law school graduate named Hillary Rodham was one of the attorneys working on Congress`s impeachment investigation of President Nixon. This was before she was the first lady of anything. She was a young, ambitious staffer. This footage is pretty incredible to see and it features some truly, well, let`s just say, Madmen-esque behavior on the parts of members of Congress. It is remarkable. And tomorrow night here on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, there is more from where that came from. For months, Rachel and her producers here have been doing a really deep dive into the NBC archives to find the tape and the interviews and the best stories about the presidential candidates that you`ve probably never seen before. It is called "The Tale of the Tape". Naturally. And Rachel will be right here tomorrow night to bring you a very special first episode. They have found some amazing footage that tells a unique story about these presidential candidates. How they got their start. How they became who they are today, and the battles they`ve been fighting along the way. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Hillary Rodham Clinton is a twofer. She`s first lady and captain of the president`s effort to get health care reform through Congress. Today on Capitol Hill, those two titles commanded a great deal of attention and a little tension. NBC`s Lisa Myers reports on the first lady`s day as first witness. HILLARY CLINTON (D), THEN-FIRST LADY: You`re going to blind me. LISA MYERS, NBC: It was a sellout crowd with 200 more lining the halls for a peek of the star witness. Hillary Clinton was succinct and to the point. CLINTON: Americans can no longer wait for health care reform. As we sit here today, literally hundreds and hundreds of Americans will lose their health care insurance. MYERS: Two other first ladies have testified before Congress, Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosalynn Carter. But Hillary Clinton is unique in her political power and her broad policy influence. CLINTON: First of all, there is no free lunch in this health care plan. It is not going to be free. Everybody is going to be paying something. MYERS: Later before another committee, she rejected suggestions that benefits for the uninsured be postponed until savings are achieved to pay for them. CLINTON: Until we get everybody into the health care system, we cannot control costs. MYERS: Hillary Clinton recently told Senate Democrats that she would soon fade into the background and leave the limelight to her husband. The senators objected, saying Hillary, not the president, is the most effective and most credible salesman. (END VIDEOTAPE) MELBER: It is and not about just about Hillary Clinton. There are some fascinating Republican candidate stories, including a visit with the Bush brothers in 1985. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) REPORTER: Given your dad`s loyalty to President Reagan this time around, particularly, would you expect the president to support your dad if he wanted to make a run for in it `88? GEORGE W. BUSH: Don`t touch it. JEB BUSH: I don`t think so. I don`t know, I don`t think he should as president. But it would be a nice surprise. REPORTER: You said don`t touch it. G.W. BUSH: Well, because -- J. BUSH: You`re assuming he`s running, first of all, by that question. REPORTER: Would you like to see him run? J. BUSH: I would. G.W. BUSH: I would too. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: Not only did they get to see their dad run. They had both gotten to do it themselves. There is an incredible George W. Bush moment that you will not want to miss that. And of course, we had to. There will be lots and lots of vintage Donald Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: To relax, this high roller doesn`t just buy a ticket for the game. He buys the entire team. Yes, the New Jersey Generals football team. TRUMP: I just very much enjoy sports. And it`s just a very small thing. It`s a hobby. It`s nothing else. NARRATOR: Not surprisingly, Trump has big plans. TRUMP: I like the idea of buying this, competing against, directly against the NFL for a number of years, creating the same thing. Fighting them, going to war with them and see what happens. (END VIDEOI CLIP) MELBER: The tale of the tape. It is a very special edition of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. Tomorrow night, Rachel will be back for it. She`s been at work on it for a long time and she is, I can tell you, very excited about sharing with it all of you. That is tomorrow night right here. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MELBER: Take a look at this tape. This was the scene earlier tonight in the northeastern Chinese port city of Tianjin. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MELBER: Hundreds of people have been injured and at least 17 killed after a series of huge explosions went off in a warehouse storing hazardous goods there in Tianjin. That is east of Beijing. Close to 300 people have been admitted to hospitals in the city. Local police saying an unidentified number of people were trapped in the wreckage there. Local state-run news outlets reporting the initial explosion triggered another blasts at nearby businesses. The explosion took place at a warehouse for a company that was there in the port area. Now, it is still unclear exactly the nature of the material that caused that huge explosion. We do know, though, that the explosions happened within about 30 seconds of each other and shortly before midnight local time. These explosions also were so large the China earthquake network center reported that the first blast strength was equal to that of threaten tons of TNT. In the second blast, the equivalent of get this, 21 tons of TNT. Just a really harrowing and terrifying scene. Again, 17 people reported killed at this point, hundreds injured and China`s president tonight calling for a massive effort to rescue those who may still be trapped. More ahead on our show tonight. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MELBER: It was a joyous scene for so many when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage this summer. The arguments in the case were fascinating because the judges were basically asked to grapple with a deep question. What`s the point of marriage? What is it for? What is its purpose? Opponents of same-sex marriage found themselves on the defensive in the courtroom, trying to offer logical, sane sounding explanations for why marriage had to be restricted to only straight couples. One of the reasons was that marriage`s goal, they argued, was physical procreation which only straight people can do, they said. Of course, not all straight people, by the way, and not straight people of all ages. Opponents argued that expanding marriage`s definition would ruin that, however. Ruin procreation as the goal and also harm children. Now, the court didn`t simply protect same-sex marriage when it ruled against those opponents in that historic opinion. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was born in 1936, he wrote in his ruling that same-sex marriages are affirmatively good for children. Many same-sex couples provide loving and nurturing homes to their children, whether biological or adopted, he wrote. Hundreds of thousands of children are presently being raised by such couples, excluding same sex couples from marriage, thus conflicts with the central premise of the right to marry, he wrote. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. The marriage laws at issue here he wrote, thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples. And with that reasoning, the court struck down the state laws banning gay marriage in part because in the court`s opinion, those laws, far from protecting children, as they were originally sold, they actually harmed them. Now, last week a federal judge in Nebraska struck down that state`s ban on gay couple`s adopting or fostering children. Citing the Supreme Court marriage decision and in that ruling, almost every ban in the country on same-sex couples adopting children is now out of the picture. But there is one left. And this morning, four Mississippi gay couples challenged their state`s ban in federal court and they`ve picked an icon to represent them. Attorney Roberta Kaplan who took Edie Windsor`s case to the Supreme Court two years ago. She argued the justices should overturn the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, you may remember, and she won. And then, right after winning that case, she went to Mississippi where she argued in federal court that Mississippi`s ban on same-sex marriage itself was unconstitutional. Roberta Kaplan made that case in Mississippi of all places and she won that. Now, she is returning to Mississippi, we can report, for this next battle, maybe a final battle over the state`s gay adoption ban. The fact it is the only such ban left in the country and that gay marriage is now legal nationwide shows how much and how quickly the nation is changing. In another sign of all the evolution on these issues, we want to tell you the very governor who signed this Mississippi ban into law in 2000, Ronnie Musgrove, well, he`s recanted. His explanation strikes a note tracks with Justice Kennedy`s logic. The governor writing, quote, "There are far too many children in America in need of a loving home who are shuttled between temporary homes and group shelters that fail on provide the stable nurturing environment all children deserve. I came to understand that a person`s sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with their ability to be a good parent," he wrote. Now, the current governor of Mississippi, that is a pretty different story. Governor Phil Bryant provided us here with a statement today, saying, "The current statutory law in Mississippi prohibits adoption by couples of the same gender. This prohibition was added by the legislature in 2000. I hope the attorney general will vigorously defend the state against this lawsuit." We reached out to the attorney general but have not heard back yet. If he does plan to vigorously defend this law, he will be up a pretty seasoned opponent. Joining us now is that seasoned attorney the Mississippi attorney general might find himself facing off against, Roberta Kaplan. And we want to mention her book, "Then Comes Marriage: U.S. Versus Windsor and The Defeat of DOMA", is going to be out in paperback in October. An honor to have you back here on Rachel`s table. ROBERTA KAPLAN, ATTORNEY: Thank you. It`s a pleasure to be here, Ari. Thanks for the seasoned. I like the seasoned. MELBER: Well, I think seasoned, it is just facts at this point. You`ve done so many of these cases. You are optimistic about this one. KAPLAN: I am. MELBER: Why? KAPLAN: Well, you know, what the governor said in his statement is factually correct. It is factually correct that the law in Mississippi prohibits gay couples from adopting in Mississippi. It is factually correct that that law was passed in 2000, but it`s legally, totally impermissible today for a law like that to exist on the books and to treat married gay couples differently than married straight couples, and their children, not to mention. MELBER: The people you`re representing. What is their current situation under this law and how would they benefit if you win? KAPLAN: Yes. So, it`s really -- these are really compelling stories. We have two couples who have children. One is a 14-year-old boy. One is an 8-year-old girl. They only -- even though they have two parents, two mommies who have been their mommies since birth, only one of those is their mommy legally. As the 8-year-old girl said, I want both my mommies to be my mommies on my birth certificate. And every kid is entitled to have their parents be their legal parents. MELBER: We`ve discussed this before and you`ve discussed effectively in court. Why is it that the opponents to marriage equality got so stuck on the adoption issue? Because as a matter of law, before it was a matter of politics, it actually set them backwards. KAPLAN: Yes. I think because as the arguments developed over time, the only difference that they could come up with between a gay married couple and a straight married couple was this possibility that some straight couples accidentally procreate. In other words, they get pregnant by accident. And what`s gong to happen to those kids? That was the only distinction they could come up with. And so, that distinction became the central part of their argument for why gay people shouldn`t be treated equally under the law. It makes no sense. The court concluded it makes no sense, and I`m convinced the court of Mississippi is going to conclude it makes sense. MELBER: And if you win that case, then you`re in a position where as many people have pointed out, the civil rights, these family issues seem settled. And yet employment discrimination and other types of discrimination can still exist against gay Americans. That`s not the order of progress that many people expected. KAPLAN: Yes. You know, it is somewhat surprising. I think, on one sense it is surprising. It is ridiculous that in many states like Mississippi, you can be married as a gay person but you can be fired from your job for being gay. That`s obviously nutso and we need to fix that. On the other hand, if you think about how our society and how our government recognizes the relationship between two people, the loving committed relationship between two people, it is through marriage. And what distinguishes gay people from everyone else is who we love. So, it makes sense the key to establishing our equality under the law is through marriage and through being parents. If you think about it, it actually makes sense. MELBER: Let me ask you a straight political question beyond the courtroom. KAPLAN: I`m just a country lawyer but I`ll try. MELBER: Do you think 2016 may be the first race in a while where Republicans aren`t running against your cases and clients? KAPLAN: I think it is. I think none of them really want to run against our cases and clients. I think they realize against a Democratic opponent, hopefully Hillary Clinton, they`re going to have a tough time running on these issues. I think they have no desire to -- some of them mouth the words but I don`t think any of them including the governor of the state of Mississippi really means it anymore. MELBER: All right. Attorney Roberta Kaplan, busy with these cases - - thank you for being here. KAPLAN: Thank you. It`s great seeing you, Ari. MELBER: For the purposes of cable news hosts, the worst political ads are in our view, kind of the best. Now, tonight, we have one that makes you want to stand up and cheer or fight a robot or something. We`ll explain. Just stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MELBER: OK, chart imitates life. We are in the middle of another election season, which mean that Republicans, as they have for the last three elections in a row, have been busy going after their favorite target. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DANA BASH, CNN REPORTER: So you are in the Oval Office. You are saying Obamacare. TRUMP: It`s got to go. BASH: It`s got to go. TRUMP: Repeal and replace with something terrific. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: It`s got to go. Stamping out Obamacare is, of course, a GOP obsession. It`s talking point number one on the campaign trail. But perhaps we don`t need to replace it with something terrific quite yet. Every day seems to bring in more evidence that Obamacare is working, as a factual matter of national policy. The latest data to come out on that today, well, the year after President Obama took office in 2010, the number of uninsured across the country was around 49 million. When Obamacare started to kick in 2013, the number -- well, it started to go down to 45 million. Now, that`s not a huge change, but it was an early indication many people thought this was working. Now, after Obamacare`s been in effect for two years, look at what`s happened. The uninsured number is down to 29 million. The number of people without health insurance has been cut by 116 million or one-third since the beginning of Obamacare can. Now, all of this success may not be reflected in the day-to-day political sparring. These numbers really don`t lie. This law is working as intended. So, yes, chart imitates life. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AD NARRATOR: Tom Campbell, is he what he tells us or what he has become over the years, an FCINO, fiscal conservative in name only, a wolf in sheep`s clothing, a man who literally helped to put the state of California on the path to bankruptcy and higher taxes? Fiscal conservative, or just another same-old tale of tax-and-spend authored by career politician who helped to guide us in to this fiscal mess in the first place? (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: That ad, the demon sheep ad run by Carly Fiorina, in 2010, remains one of the most bizarre and really wonderful campaign ads in recent elections. I mean, from that guy`s preview voice, to those red glowing eyes that were supposed to represent, we`re not sure, we think a wolf to the demon sheep man crawling away, showing off the human boots. A master class in political theater, and we can`t believe her campaign lost the academy award to "King`s Speech" that year. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Oscar goes to "King`s Speech", David Seidler. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: You know, that is a stunning turn of events. Who can forget that? Anyway, demon sheep is not the only campaign ad that stands out in recent years for its insanity. In fact, one of the best parts of covering the election is seeing all the various insane ways that candidates and PACs spend their money. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS O`DONNELL: I`m not a witch. I`m nothing you have heard. I`m you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can take this country back. (MUSIC) AD NARRATOR: For insurance executives, John Klein is music to their ears. Because if Congress repeals Obamacare, insurance companies will go back to charging whatever they want. AD NARRATOR: Connected to a lone shark ring, run by an international gangster, who also contributed to Peter`s campaign. (SINGING) AD NARRATOR: For more than 20 years, Joe Manchin has gotten his hair cut by the same barber, his wife Gayle. CHARACTER 1: Remember when we chilling down by Bruce Braley`s vacation home. CHARACTER 2: Yes, down by the lake, the guy running for senator. CHARACTER 1: Yes, he threatened to sue over that. CHARACTER 2: Because he walked on his property? CHARACTER 1: Uh-huh. He wants to be an Iowa senator and threatens to sue us over us, over chickens. (MUSIC) JONI ERNST (R), THEN-SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on a farm. When I get to Washington I will know how to cut pork. (INAUDIBLE) (END VIDEO CLIPS) MELBER: Each of those ads is special in their own way. But one candidate has upped the ante for the coming elections and his name is Wyatt Scott. If you don`t recognize him as one of the 2016 presidential candidates, that`s because he`s not running for president. He is running for parliament in Canada. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WYATT SCOTT: Hey. I`m Wyatt Scott and I`m running for parliament for the new riding a mission, Frazier Canyon. I`m an independent candidate and I`m here to fight for Canada! University is too damn expensive. Services like health care and social programs should be expanded, not cut. The indigenous people aren`t even protected by their own government. Change is coming to Canada. I`m here to lead that charge. Are you ready for the shift? I am. My name is Wyatt Scott and I`m running for parliament! (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: Slaying dragons, making friends with aliens, taking down robots with laser beams, 2016 hopefuls, the bar has officially been raised. All right. That does it for us tonight. I am Ari Melber, sitting in for Rachel. You can always find me on You can find Rachel back here tomorrow night. And now, it is 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