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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/15/15

Guests: Seth Moulton, Nick Confessore

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That`s "ALL IN" for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You have a nice group of people you work with, Chris. Who did you sentence on your staff to reading all those books? HAYES: No, we brought in an outside ringer for this. Stay tuned. MADDOW: Somebody`s either been really bad or you better have outsourced that. Well done, my friend. And thanks to you at home as well for joining us this half hour. We have to start tonight actually by correcting the record. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LINCOLN CHAFEE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know how to get legislation passed through Congress because I did it as a senator. I know how to turn around a state because I did it as governor of Rhode Island. But what I`m most proud of is that in 30 years of public service, I have had no scandals. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee saying in the Democratic debate this week that in his 30 years of public service, quote, "I have had no scandals." I can report tonight that that is not true. Lincoln Chafee, when he was Rhode Island governor, he did in fact have exactly one giant scandal. And it involved a tree. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: As you may know, the governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, refuses to acknowledge that the huge tree the state of Rhode Island puts up at Christmas time is indeed a Christmas tree. The governor believes it is a holiday tree. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Now, that is a scandal. That is a scandal. Every year our friends across the street at the FOX News Channel have to find a combatant to wage what they annually declare is a war on Christmas. And in 2011, the FOX News Channel decided that good old Lincoln Chafee was carpet-bombing Christmas and mining its harbors. FOX News was so all over the great Lincoln Chafee holiday tree scandal of 2011, they actually ambushed him in the halls of the Rhode Island state house to demand an answer about why he was not using the FOX News Channel preferred term for that tree. Why was he not calling it a Christmas tree? That scandal went on for years. Literally, FOX News kept on about it for years, as a national news story, until Governor Lincoln Chafee finally relented under their onslaught in 2013 and said, OK, fine it`s a Christmas tree. It`s a Christmas tree, fine. Uncle. Scandal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHAFEE: What I`m most proud of is that in 30 years of public service, I have had no scandals. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mm-hmm. Would that it were so. And you know, I sort of feel like in a Democratic debate you ought to actually get points, you ought to get credit for being the subject of a totally made up FOX News Channel scandal. But Lincoln Chafee did not claim that credit at the Democratic debate, and I must ding him for that. And honestly, even though I think the Democratic debate this week was good for the Democratic party in general and it was definitely good for the two leading candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and I think it was good for Martin O`Malley as well, there really is no way you can say it was good for Lincoln Chafee. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR/DEBATE MODERATOR: Governor Chafee, you`ve attacked Secretary Clinton for being too close to Wall Street banks. In 1999, you voted for the very bill that made banks bigger. CHAFEE: The Glass-Steagall was my very first vote, I`d just arrived, my dad had died in office, I was appointed to the office. It was my very first vote. COOPER: Are you saying you didn`t know what you were voting for? CHAFEE: I`d just arrived at the Senate. I think we`d get some takeovers, and that was one. It was my very first vote, and it was 92-5. It was the -- COOPER: Well, with all due respect, Governor -- CHAFEE: But let me just say -- COOPER: -- what does that say about you that you`re casting a vote for something you weren`t really sure about? CHAFEE: I think you`re being a little rough. I`d just arrived at the United States Senate. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It was his first vote on his first day. He didn`t even know where the bathrooms were yet. But then CNN followed that up, followed up their own debate with an interview with Lincoln Chafee that honestly I thought about playing some of tonight but I feel like it is too mean to replay, in which one of CNN`s hosts tells Lincoln Chafee to his face on the air that he is an embarrassment and basically demands Lincoln Chafee gets out of the race. So, Lincoln Chafee is having a tough time. We have not seen his fund-raising numbers tonight although they are due to be released tonight sometime before midnight. Basically, the hope for those numbers for Lincoln Chafee is that the number he raised will be big enough to require a comma in the number somewhere. But with all of that here is my case for old Lincoln Chafee. Seriously. My case for Lincoln Chafee and the mitzvah that he has done for us as a country and for our politics as a country, and it`s something that he did specifically at that Democratic debate. It was this debate otherwise dominated by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. And Lincoln Chafee from the very edge of the debate stage, from the very edge of relevance, he did something that because of today`s news ends up being crucially important to the news cycle and to our politics and broadly speaking for us as a country. And he did it when he pounced on this issue. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Governor Chafee, you were the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the Iraq war. You say Secretary Clinton should be disqualified from the presidency because she voted in favor of using force in Iraq. She has since said that her vote was a mistake. Why isn`t that good enough? CHAFEE: Well, we just heard Senator Sanders say that it`s the worst decision in American history. That`s very significant, the worst decision in American history. If you`re looking ahead, and you`re looking at someone who made that poor decision in 2002 to go into Iraq when there was no real evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- I know because I did my homework, and, so, that`s an indication of how someone will perform in the future. And that`s what`s important. (APPLAUSE) BASH: Secretary Clinton, he`s questioning your judgment. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I recall very well being on a debate stage, I think, about 25 times with then-Senator Obama, debating this very issue. After the election, he asked me to become Secretary of State. He valued my judgment, and I spent a lot of time with him in the Situation Room, going over some very difficult issues. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did vote for the Iraq war when she was a senator 13 years ago. She obviously paid a steep political price for that vote. It was probably the single issue that Barack Obama exploited the most against her during that bruising 2008 Democratic presidential primary. This year, of course, the primary dynamics are very, very different on the Democratic side. But when Secretary Clinton gets up on the debate stage now, she is there alongside Lincoln Chafee, who for everything else you know about him, he really was the one Republican U.S. senator at the time who voted against the Iraq war, and she stands alongside Bernie Sanders, who was a member of the House at the time and who as a member of the house voted against the Iraq war. And she stands alongside Jim Webb, who wasn`t even in Congress at the time but as a public figure and a former secretary of the navy, he was on the record at the time opposing the Iraq war. To be fair, I`m not sure anybody thought to ask Martin O`Malley, who was mayor of Baltimore at the time, but at least he certainly didn`t vote for the war the way then Senator Clinton did. And so, now, Hillary Clinton has come up with a way to talk about that vote and apologize for that vote in a way that honestly pretty much settles it. At least for the Democratic debate audience, it did. It brought -- her answer on that question brought Democratic voters in that audience to their feet, cheering for her on that answer. So Lincoln Chafee of all people jumping on that issue, reminding voters of that war and peace issue, testing whether or not that war issue will still be kryptonite for her politically the way it was in the past, giving her that chance which she took to try to put that issue to rest and to try to turn it to her advantage finally -- well, thank you, Lincoln Chafee. Putting the war back into our national politics in the way you did. Because honestly, without you, Lincoln Chafee, I`m not sure the war issue would be in our national politics right now. And it turns out we really need it to be in our national politics right now because this is what happened today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To the American people, I know that many of you have grown weary of this conflict. As you are well aware, I do not support the idea of endless war, and I have repeatedly argued against marching into open-ended military conflicts that do not serve our core security interests. Yet, given what`s at stake in Afghanistan and the opportunity for a stable and committed ally that can partner with us in preventing the emergence of future threats and the fact that we have an international coalition, I am firmly convinced that we should make this extra effort. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This extra effort. After announcing today from the Oval Office that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would be extended yet again, President Obama had not apparently planned to take any questions from the press. But even though he hadn`t planned on taking questions, he did end up changing his mind and taking one. And his answer to that one impromptu question I think is going to echo for a very long time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: So, here you have a situation where we have clarity about what our mission is, we`ve got a partner who wants to work with us, we`re going to continually make adjustments to ensure that we give the best possibilities for success, and I suspect that we will continue to evaluate this going forward as will the next president. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: As will the next president. President Obama wanted U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq to be over by the time he left office. Today, President Obama said bluntly that actually the next president is going to inherit this too, just like he did when he took office. At least when he was sworn in as president, though, we knew what he wanted to do about the wars, right? He had campaigned on it over and over and over again. Twenty-five times in the same debate stage with Hillary Clinton. In fact, if the presidential primary contest was about one thing in 2008, it was about who had had the better judgment on the issue of our ongoing wars at the time that had been started by George W. Bush. It`s no secret that wars are a lot easier to start than they are to end. But now that President Obama has officially announced as of today that he will not end the war in Afghanistan, and the next president is going to inherit thousands of American troops there on large military bases in that country, well, now, all of a sudden, it newly becomes really important to know what the candidates who want to be the next president plan to do about that war if they`re elected. I mean, this really wasn`t on their next president to-do list before today, but it is now. And as a country we`re great at covering the war on Christmas every year like it`s a newly breaking out international nuclear conflagration that we discover every December. But the actual war in which U.S. service members by the thousands are deployed in what is the longest war ever in U.S. history, that is something that does not end up on TV, it does not end up having a particularly visible political or partisan dimension anymore because it just doesn`t get discussed as if it is an issue that derives from politics. It is discussed as, if anything, a technocratic issue, not a political issue. The last time the Republican Party picked a presidential nominee he gave his speech accepting the nomination with no mention of the ongoing wars he would potentially be leading as commander in chief. This time around when the heir apparent Republican nominee this year kicked off his campaign with a major foreign policy address at the Reagan library, the word "Afghanistan" never came up in that whole speech, 10,000 Americans deployed there at the time and still now. At the first Republican presidential debate, the Afghanistan war did not come up. At the second Republican presidential debate, Marco Rubio did raise the issue once in passing. It was a third of a sentence. At the Democratic debate Lincoln Chafee -- yes, jumped on the issue of the Iraq war, that initial vote, to make Hillary Clinton answer for that again, 13 years down the road. And we`ll say to his credit, CNN`s moderator at the Democratic debate, Anderson Cooper, he tried to follow that up with a question for Lincoln Chafee about whether that meant a President Lincoln Chafee would extend the war in Afghanistan? Yes, it got asked. Mr. Cooper asked that question. But that question never got answered. And we moved on. And in terms of who else is in Washington, Congress is so distant from making political decisions about the wars that we`ve actually started a new hugely controversial major war effort in the past year in Syria without Congress ever even taking a vote on it. When our political system and all that entails, when our political system no longer tries to even address questions about war even while we are at war, wars don`t just become hard to end. They may become impossible to end. And whether or not you think the key to success in Afghanistan is adding a 15th year and a 16th year and a 17th year to the 14 years of effort already spent there -- whether or not you think extending the war even further creates a greater likelihood of success than we`ve had before, this announcement from President Obama today that he will not be the one, he will not be the president to end America`s Afghanistan war, that throws down a gauntlet for us civilians to figure out through our political system such as it is whether any of these people who are trying to become the next president would be the president to end it. We don`t know. So far, it`s not really getting asked. When it`s getting asked it`s definitely not getting answered. But now, as of today, we really truly need to find out. Joining us now is Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. He`s a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He`s also a former Marine Corps officer who served four tours in Iraq. He has twice been to Afghanistan. Congressman, thanks very much for your time tonight. It`s nice to have you here. REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thanks for having me back, Rachel. MADDOW: So, ending the war in Afghanistan is something President Obama obviously hoped to achieve before he left office. He did not want this to be on the next president`s to-do list. Now, he said today the next president will inherit this war. Was that always an inevitability or does this announcement from the president today surprise or concern you? MOULTON: I don`t think it was always an inevitability but the conditions are such in Afghanistan, and I saw this when I visited in February, that I think he`s made a difficult but correct decision. You know, after four tours in Iraq, a war that I think was a mistake, I want to bring the troops home as much as all the rest of us. But the problem is that we can`t bring the troops home too soon so that we have to send them back just like we`ve done in Iraq. I mean, the president who promised to get us out of Iraq has had to send troops back in just five years later. We can`t repeat that same mistake in Afghanistan. MADDOW: Having served four tours in Iraq and having such close ties to other veterans you served with but also the veterans community, can I just ask you as a vet how this resonates? What you think this is going to mean and how this is going to sound not just to those still serving in Afghanistan and their families but to the people who have served there over this incredibly long, historically long period of time that we`ve been at war in that country. MOULTON: It`s the long yet war in our nation`s history, and we all want to see if come to an end. But I think the troops also want to know their effort hasn`t gone to waste. That`s what I saw when I went back to Iraq this February as a member of the House Armed Services Committee. I saw so much that we had fought for and frankly achieved during the surge just completely squandered by our policy since then. And it`s not just about bringing the troops out too quickly. It`s about not having a serious long-term political and diplomatic plan to ensure the peace, because what we left in Iraq was a political vacuum. And ISIS came in and filled that political vacuum. And now you see the chaos we have today. A political vacuum is what we had in Afghanistan prior to September 11th, and it led to the attacks on our homeland right here. So, what we`ve got to do is ensure that we have a plan to ensure the peace, to ensure the stability and success of the Afghan government so that we never have to send troops back there again. And that`s -- you know, I think that`s something we have to ask the president about as well. It`s not just about keeping the troops there. What is your plan to ensure that the Afghan government will be politically successful and there won`t be another political vacuum left after we leave? MADDOW: Do we have our own kind of political vacuum on this topic in this country? I mean, it is not a matter of political confrontation. It is not a partisan touchstone. And maybe that`s good because our partisan politics are reductive and gross and occasionally entertaining for the wrong reasons. But the other side of that is we don`t much have a political debate in this country about the war in Syria, about the war in Iraq, about the war in Afghanistan. Even now with this extension of the -- as you say the longest war ever, it`s not something we fight about politically, it`s not something Congress weighs in on. Do you wish we had a better political debate about this? Would it help? MOULTON: I sure do. And I think you hit the nail on the head when you talked about the fact that most Americans don`t even seem to realize that there are young Americans fighting and dying in Afghanistan all the time, every single day, every single night. And we`ve got to talk about that. We`ve got to talk about these issues. We can`t forget that the longest war in our history is still going on. We`ve got to have a reasoned debate. And you know, we also have to talk about what happens when veterans come home because V.A. health care is a disaster, and yet that hasn`t even come up. The Republicans didn`t even talk about it in the Republican debate. So, we have young veterans risking their lives, some of them losing their lives overseas. They come home. They can`t get the health care that they need. And yet, Congress isn`t even addressing the issue. So, I`ll tell you, this is something that I`m working on in Congress. I have four bills to work on reforming health care at the V.A. that currently have bipartisan co-sponsors and they`re working their way through the House. This is my top domestic priority. It`s something that I work on every single day. But it`s frightening how little conversation there is about this in the rest of the Congress. MADDOW: Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, Iraq war combat veteran, thanks for your time tonight. I know you had a really busy night tonight and you made time for us to be here. Thanks for being here, sir. MOULTON: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. It is remarkable that what is happening right now, even if you just only talk about presidential politics, is that President Obama has said now officially I received this baton from George W. Bush and I wanted to end this, I cannot end it, I`m therefore going to be handing this baton to the next president. And we really have absolutely no idea what any of the presidential candidates would do with it, what their priorities are, what they think of how things have gone so far, and if they have a plan to end it. It just hasn`t come up. It must come up as of today. As of today, this changes what we need to be talking about in presidential politics. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: For all that is not getting discussed in our national politics, one of the things that did happen today is we got everybody`s numbers in terms of how much money they are raising in their various presidential campaigns. Some very, very interesting stories there. A lot of those figures still breaking late tonight into this hour. We`re going to be rounding up some of that in just a moment. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Midnight tonight is the deadline by which all the 2016 presidential candidates have to disclose their fund-raising numbers for this quarter that just ended, the third quarter. So, we`ve been getting a big flurry of information throughout the day today from the campaigns. And yes, it`s just money. It`s just numbers. But it does give us a really interesting quantitative snapshot of who`s doing well and also who`s doing shockingly unexpectedly badly. We are going to have more on that coming up throughout the show tonight. But one of the things that is proving to be really interesting about this race this year, even for the candidates who are doing relatively well, is that they all seem kind of bummed about having to campaign for president. There`s a lot of woe is me. I mean, in June, it was Ted Cruz who sent this woe is me fund-raising e-mail. Do you remember this one? Quote, "I`m sacrificing even more sleep with long nights and constant travel. The pizza diet is a staple. The cost of campaigning is increasingly expensive. My days are no longer my own. Days start before dawn and many times don`t end until early the next morning. There`s almost no personal time when you run for president." Also, please send me money to keep running for president because it`s terrible. Just this week, it was Rand Paul, who could barely contain his own misery about how much he hates running for president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They also tell me because I`m just doing what I`m told, riding around Iowa, looking at corn fields and answering silly questions, that I`m now supposed to answer the top Googled questions about me. The next question is how old is Rand Paul? The answer is -- or the real answer I guess is 52, but I sometimes feel about 10 to 20 to maybe 30 to 40 to 50 years older after a day of this. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Fifty? I feel like I`m 102. Why are they all campaigning like this this year? Even the guy who`s winning, who`s been winning solidly now in 30 straight national polls, Donald Trump, who generally seems to be kind of a fun-loving guy, he is having his woe is me complaining moments as well, particularly following the last debate, the one that was hosted by CNN. Apparently, Donald Trump also fought that was just a miserable experience. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: What have you learned after tonight? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I`ve learned that I have no trouble standing for three hours. And you know, that`s -- I mean, literally it must be a record. I hope that the audience is OK because I actually think it`s a little bit too long. One complaint would be it was a long debate. You know, to be three hours has got to be a record. So I would say the one thing, it was very, very long. Three hours. It was a very long debate. Can you believe this? That debate was three hours. It felt like more than that. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Donald Trump was so tired after that debate. It was so long. Are there even movies that are three -- there are movies that are three hours, actually. You know, being president is hard. Anyway. Well, now, today`s news is that Donald Trump, presidential front- runner, is threatening to not participate in the next Republican debate unless CNBC and the Republican Party accede to his demand that the debate not take so long, that it be shorter. And that is a weird thing to demand. It`s a weird hill to die on in terms of participating in the presidential debates. But that`s his demand. And what is even weirder about it is that he has joined forces with one of the other top candidates. He`s joined forces with the guy who`s running second to him, Ben Carson. So, the Trump and Carson campaigns are making this case collectively. The Trump and Carson campaigns wrote this joint letter to the folks at CNBC, our sister network, demanding that those two candidates get a say in the debate format or else they will not show up for that next debate. Quote, "Neither Mr. Trump nor Dr. Carson will participate in your debate if it`s longer than 120 minutes, including commercials and does not include opening and closing statements." Now, whatever you think about the length of the debate complaint, this fight over opening and closing statements is also a little hard to understand. I mean, strategically for these guys, they don`t really need that guaranteed extra time talking before and after the questioning part of the debate since they`re the number one and number two front-runners, they`re pretty much guaranteed the most air time during the debate. The opening and closing statements, wanting to defend those and make sure those happen, you would think that would be more important to the candidates who are not doing as well, who will probably not get as much air time, the candidates who aren`t running first and second in all the polls. So, why would Donald Trump and Ben Carson be picking this fight? It`s strange. It`s strange. But for all the strange things about this news, this fight today, their threat is now out there. Ben Carson and Donald Trump say they won`t participate unless they get what they want. And now, there`s a lot more at stake because the two top leading Republican candidates for president are saying that if this isn`t resolved to their satisfaction, if their demands are not met by tonight, they not only won`t participate, they want and expect the Republican party to unsanction that CNBC debate. RNC rules say that any candidate who participates in an unsanctioned debate is barred from participating in any future sanctioned debate. So, if Ben Carson and Donald Trump insist that the Republican Party unsanction this CNBC debate because they don`t agree to the terms -- well, that would pretty much guarantee that no other candidate would show up for the debate either. It would essentially cancel the whole thing. And that would be a very dramatic development. It would also give these guys a chance to get to bed early that night, though, get some down time. Maybe a nutritious meal. Could be exactly what they`re after, after all. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Chart imitates life. Today, we learned that the U.S. budget deficit is the smallest it has been in eight years. Mazel tov. The great Steve Benen put this graph together at Maddow blog. You can see we`re back to where we were under President Bush at the start of the Great Recession. Feel free to clip and save this for the holidays when your crazy uncle who watches FOX News all day tries to tell you that the deficit is spiraling out of control. That is a myth. The deficit is shrinking. Very, very fast. So there. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. Myth number one in American presidential politics. Myth number one: the reason the candidates with the most money tend to win is because you have to spend a lot of money in order to win. TV ads are expensive. TV ads are how you win. Turns out that`s not true. Not this year. The candidate who was clearly winning the Republican nomination for president, clearly, clearly, clearly winning for months now, he has spent precisely zero dinero buying TV ads this whole year. That`s myth number one. Myth number two. Myth number two is that the reason candidates drop out of races like this is because they have run out of money. Turns out that is also not true. Scott Walker quit the Republican race last month, but today he turned in his fund-raising numbers for the third quarter anyway and those numbers still put him ahead of half the Republican field. Even though he spent a lot, he had twice as much left over as Bobby Jindal has raised in total. And Bobby Jindal`s still in the race. Myth number three: having this giant a candidate field is inherently unsustainable. Having 15 major candidates competing for the Republican nomination, it can`t last. There`s just not enough resources, there`s not enough voter support and interest to divide by this many people so the herd by necessity will have to thin. Nope. Not this year. The first candidate to drop out of the race was former Texas Governor Rick Perry. He quit on September 11th. The next candidate to quit was Scott Walker, who quit ten days later. But now, nobody`s quit for 25 days. And nobody appears to be planning to get out anytime soon. The idea that this unsustainable herd must thin, that apparently is also a myth. But there`s a reason these myths exist. These myths were not just made up out of nothing. The reason we expect those things to be true about presidential campaigns is because they always are true about all the other presidential campaigns. Why are they not true this year? Turns out it`s a very specific thing about money. Hold that thought. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we need to be more aspirational again. I mean, I remember -- this will sound kind of odd, but four years ago in one of the debates Gingrich, Speaker Gingrich talked about colonizing the moon. And it was one of those big raucous crowds, you know, 4,000, 5,000 Republicans. Those crowds get, you know, rowdy. Let`s just leave it at that. And people started laughing. In the other debate, people running for president kind of laughed at him as well. I`m thinking, really? I think it`s pretty cool. I mean, what`s wrong about having big lofty aspirational goals? REPORTER: Governor, when you colonize the moon, who would you put as governor? Marco Rubio? Donald Trump? BUSH: There`s lots of people who could be effective leaders on the moon. Let me think about it. I`ll get back to you on that in the next millennium. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Republican candidate Jeb Bush in New Hampshire today throwing his weight behind Newt Gingrich`s 2012 plan to put a permanent colony on the moon by the end of his second term as President Gingrich. Newt Gingrich, you will remember, didn`t want to just make the moon a colony. He wanted to make it a specifically American colony. He said once we figure out how to get a few thousand Americans up there, it could be our 51st state. Newt Gingrich might now be president of the moon. But it didn`t work out for his campaign here on earth. It`s possible that the moon colony plan can be revived enough to work for Mr. Bush, though, this year. Could do, might do. At least we know what is not working for Jeb Bush this year. It`s his plan to saturate the airwaves in early states like New Hampshire with TV ads promoting the idea of him as president. Governor Bush and super PACs supporting him have spent nearly $5 million on TV and radio ads since early September in New Hampshire. reports today that in the last three weeks, pro Jeb Bush spots have occupied about 60 percent of the political ad air time in New Hampshire. The net result of all those pro Jeb Bush ads, though, is that Mr. Bush`s numbers have actually gone down in that state, not up. One of the truisms of electoral politics in general, and presidential politicking in particular is that spending money, particularly in the early states, is not just something you ought to, it`s something you have to do. That`s the way you get your poll numbers up. For some reason, that truism is not working this year for Jeb Bush. And then there`s this larger issue. Jeb Bush`s viability, his perceived stature as a top-tier candidate. That`s premised in large part on this idea that money is what makes him viable even if nothing else does. If he does have a lot of money, super PAC or campaign or otherwise, if that`s what`s supposed to make him available, but then it turns out his spending that money doesn`t actually boost his poll numbers, doesn`t help him get support from real people, then should Jeb Bush be seen as a top- tier candidate? What happens to his candidacy? There`s been a lot of anticipation, specifically for that reason, about what Jeb Bush was going to turn in for his fund-raising numbers today. Part of the anticipation was because his whole viability is premised on that. Part of it is because there`s a little drama. He pushed his announcement about his numbers to be very, very late. Then when he did announce those numbers, though, the campaign decided to put out the fund-raising numbers amid a whole bunch of other data. Almost felt like they were trying to sort of hide the fund-raising numbers in some other muddy water. They put out his health status, they put out his bundler names, they put out his tax returns. Everything`s coming out all at once. Turns out the fund-raising numbers are kind of fine in context, I guess. He brought in more than $13 million in the third quarter. That`s more than most of his rivals. But honestly, the money game doesn`t feel all that obvious anymore. We don`t know what $13 million means for Jeb Bush anymore. Is that terribly bad for him? Is that sort of OK for him? It sort of seems fine for me. That said, when you see a bad number, you really know when it`s a really bad number. Jim Gilmore raised $105,000 this quarter. And part of raising that money means that he raised $43,000 of that total from himself through a personal loan. George Pataki raised $153,000 this quarter. Again, that includes a loan from himself. Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, he did a little better. He brought in about a half million dollars this quarter. And Chris Christie`s case today, the fund-raising numbers were not that bad. He did OK in the fundraising numbers. He raised more than $4 million. But the numbers he got today that were truly terrible were his polling numbers. There`s a new New Jersey Republican primary poll that came out today that puts Chris Christie, the current governor of that state, at 5 percent in his home state. That actually puts him below the margin of error in that poll. In August, he was second only to Donald Trump in his home state of New Jersey. He was at 12 percent. Now he`s down to 5 percent. He`s tied with Carly Fiorina for fifth place. He has seen his percentage nearly halved to 5 percent at home. Not only is he not polling well, in that same poll of Republican voters in New Jersey, 54 percent of New Jersey Republicans say they believe Chris Christie should quit the presidential campaign. Those are his home state Republicans. Despite that, though, despite that bad home state news even those languishing at 1 percent in the national polls right now, it doesn`t look like Chris Christie`s going to drop out. And again, his fund-raising numbers today are sort of fine. Better than Rand Paul at least. The Rand Paul campaign put out a statement also saying that Rand Paul should not be expected to drop out anytime soon. There`s also no sign that Bobby Jindal or Jim Gilmore is dropping out anytime soon. George Pataki is definitely not dropping out anytime soon. He was on "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes tonight. He wouldn`t do that if he was dropping out. Nobody`s dropping out. We`re going to have a kids` table at every debate all the way into Iowa and beyond apparently. What makes a candidate viable or not anymore? I mean, anything that happened in previous elections to guide our thoughts about what money meant for campaigns, apparently it`s no guide this year, either for who`s going to win or for who`s going to quit. It`s weird. Joining us now is somebody who can hopefully make some sense of this. Nicholas Confessore is a political reporter for "The New York Times" who focuses on these issues for "The Times." Nick, it`s nice to have you here. NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Great. Good to be here. MADDOW: Is there any one thing about money that is functioning differently in this election as compared to previous elections that makes it make sense that all of our previous understanding of how these things go just don`t seem to apply? CONFESSORE: Well, partly it`s the guy who has free money, which is Donald Trump. If you`re getting free TV all the time, you know, it is a massive subsidy for your campaign for Donald Trump. There`s also small donors. Finally, we`re seeing conservatives actually master online small donor fund-raising, efficient small fund-raising and that means you can get gas in the tank and keep going for a long, long time. And then, finally, it`s super PACs, right? There`s a huge amount of cash stockpiled in these campaigns but outside the campaigns in the super PACs. So, your ad budget can be outsourced to these super PACs in a big way. And it scrambles everything. It really does. MADDOW: Is there something qualitatively different going on across the board, not just for an individual candidate this year but across the board in terms of whether or not political ad spending redounds to poll numbers. I mean, we`ve seen Donald Trump run zero ads. You`ve said he`s getting free TV. We`ve seen Jeb Bush run a ton of ads. It seems to not to be having an effect in a state like New Hampshire. John Kasich seems like his ads in New Hampshire pumped up his numbers for a bit and then it went right back down as he kept his ads on the air. What`s going on there? CONFESSORE: Look, it could be finally we`re at that point where people have stopped responding to political ads on television -- MADDOW: More than an ad a year before the election. CONFESSORE: It`s crazy, right? MADDOW: Yes. CONFESSORE: There`s negative ads. But this is actually all positive advertising we`re seeing so far. It`s almost all positive ads except for the growth for growth from Donald Trump. People are getting news, following candidates on Twitter. Folks can reach out to their followers on their own for their Twitter feeds. It`s like a post-modern campaign. It`s not through TV all the time anymore. So, it changes everything, how the campaign is experienced and fought and won. MADDOW: Is there a populist silver lining here that implies that if you ever had a candidate who could capture people`s attention the way that Donald Trump has in either party, even if they couldn`t self-fund the way that he can, they could potentially be viable without coursing a lot of money through their campaign? CONFESSORE: Well, yes. It`s possible. But look, small donors are very different from large donors, right? So, Sanders on the left and Ted Cruz on the right are candidates who are not beloved by the donor establishment and their parties. They`re not raking in huge amounts of money in Beverly Hills and Washington, right? It`s almost all small donors. And there is something pleasant about that or beneficial to voters. MADDOW: Democratic. CONFESSORE: It is money that does come with strings from interest groups, and that I think is healthy to see that model succeed in both parties. Whoever wins, that is probably healthy for the country. MADDOW: You`re the only person I think might be able to answer this in a way that I will understand. CONFESSORE: OK. MADDOW: Which is Ben Carson made this announcement today that he is -- well, it may not have been an announcement. But it was reported today that Ben Carson is essentially stopping his campaign, not doing campaign events between now and the next event, and instead he`s going to do book touring, and money he raises selling books just goes to him as a person rather than his campaign. Financially, is that surprise to you? Does that something that`s going to impair his campaign abilities at all? CONFESSORE: It is strange decision when you`re on top right to hit the pause button. MADDOW: Yes. CONFESSORE: On the other hand, I suspect the book tour will be a campaign tour by a different name. MADDOW: Sure. CONFESSORE: It`s going to be hitting a lot of different places. It will excite his supporters. It will be covered in local places. So I say good function either way. Look, I think Carson is operating by his own rules, he makes a lot of rule books for campaigns. He is not a great debater, not a big fire- breather, but he`s very conservative. I think he has his own thing going on, and I can`t see the logic in it by conventional standards, but he is winning in a lot of states, or he`s in second place. MADDOW: If you are in any physical heat at any point in your life, feel free to burn all the rule books about politics for this campaign, because none of them apply this year, which makes it a lot of fun to cover. Nicholas Confessore, political reporter for "The New York Times", thanks for being here. MADDOW: Thanks. We`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, we have some breaking news out of Los Angeles tonight. This is what the I-5 freeway in the mountains north of Los Angeles looks like at this time. This is the main freeway connecting L.A. to the Central Valley and the cars you see stuck there are stuck in mud on the freeway. The I-5 is shut down, and may be shut down for as much as 24 hours. This is all as a result of some dramatic flash flooding and some very large mudslides. Fire department has dispatched helicopters to search for truck drivers all over north L.A. The L.A. area has been hit with massive thunderstorms dropping four to five inches an hour. And in some places, golf-ball sized hail. So, just crazy apocalyptic weather in Southern California tonight. Fortunately, we`ve got no reports so far of injuries, but we will keep an eye on this and keep you updated. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: You will thank me. First, there was the poop fairy. That is right, the poop fairy, with a long nose and blonde hair, and her seemingly awkward scooping mechanism. The poop fairy was part of a PSA created by the sheriff`s department of Jefferson County, Colorado, to encourage people to pick up by their dogs. Quote, "The fabled poop fairy has been the stuff of legend, flying undetected in parks, neighborhoods and schoolyards. She follows close behind dogs and their owners picking up what the dog left behind before flying off to the next canine creation." The poop fairy is an awesome, memorable, maybe a little disturbing mascot, invented and designed to get you to do one very specific civic thing. A very civic thing, (INAUDIBLE) with the poop fairy. Then, there was Johnny the running toilet, who works for the Raleigh public utilities department in North Carolina. His favorite activity is reminding people to get his toilets fixed, because a leaky toilet is a wasteful toilet, and a wasteful toilet costs everybody water and costs you money. So, even everybody loves Johnny and his contagious smile, don`t say contagious, discovering that your home has a running toilet may cause you to frown. You hear that, people? Johnny wants you to check your toilets and know this is not the beginning of a prank phone call, this is serious. Of course, these bursts of civic creativity are not always about going potty, there is Smokey the Bear, the iconic and inspiring and oddly hunky bear reminding you that you are the one who can stop forest fires. Smokey is timeless, classic, yes, he keeps changing his look over time, but nobody cares because he gets better with age. People love Smokey the Bear more now than they did 30 years. Your grandparents love him, your grandkids will love him. Smokey the Bear, irresistible. When it comes to PSAs, Smokey the Bear is what kids these days would call the GOAT, the greatest of all time. The GOAT, only Smokey the Bear can`t be the GOAT, because this is the GOAT. This is Totes McGoats. Totes McGoats, yes, the new recycling and refuse mascot of Niagara Falls, New York. Totes McGoats unveiled this week, I`m not making this up, I`m not making this up, I`m not making this up. Totes McGoats unveiled this week to get children more involved in recycling. This is how Niagara Falls is targeting children. Now, Niagara Falls, we get it. Obviously, on one level, this is awesome. And if the point is to get attention to this issue, I never lived near Niagara Falls, I`ve never been there. But, boy, am I interested in this part of your civic aspirations. So, you have succeeded there, but Totes McGoats is really scary! I mean, does he have to look like something that was so disturbing for the first season of "True Detective"? I mean, all the flavors in the world that you guys sprinkled with nightmare fuel. I mean, listen, I don`t have a crystal ball, maybe some day Totes McGoats and Smokey the Bear will be next to each other on Mount Rushmore on civic duties and PSAs, but meantime, think of the children. Look at that thing. It looks like the satanic sculpture they were going to put up at the Oklahoma state capital. Remember that? Totes McGoats. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. 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