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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/9/15

Guests: Claire McCaskill

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much, Chris. It was nice of you to have me on your show and thank you for the giant tease. I appreciate it. CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: You bet. MADDOW: Thanks, my friend. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. I do want to say thank you to everybody who tuned in on Friday night to watch our big First in the South Democratic Candidates Forum with the three Democratic candidates for president. As Chris said, we do have some data in terms of how that went, its impact. We know first off that we had a really big audience on Friday night for this event, which is just heartening. We also got a lot of really good feedback in terms of people finding it to be a useful source of information about the Democratic candidates and the differences between them and what they stand for. We had a lot of really good feedback particularly from people in South Carolina itself, which is great, which is a big part of what we were aiming for. But as of tonight, exclusively, we`ve also got brand new polling on who won -- to the extent that there is a winner of events like this. We`ve got brand new polling exclusive here tonight from Public Policy Polling in South Carolina. This is a poll of Democratic voters in South Carolina, and we now know what South Carolina voters thought about the three candidates in that event, what they thought of Martin O`Malley and Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. This was a question that public policy polling asked. In this event on Friday night if you watched the forum did the forum give you a more or less positive opinion of each of those candidates or did it not make a difference? First up, Hillary Clinton. Voters were very impressed with her performance at the forum. Among people who watched the proportion of people whose perception of Hillary Clinton improved based on what they saw in the forum was 61 percent -- 61 percent of people felt more positive about her after seeing her on Friday night. The percentage of people who watched the forum and had the opposite impression, it worsened their impression, that was just 14 percent. And a quarter of people said it made no difference, 25 percent. The numbers were sort of similar for Bernie Sanders, a little different but sort of the same idea. Most people, a majority of people, 51 percent of people who watched the forum said that Bernie Sanders`s performance in the forum gave them a more positive impression of him. Only 11 percent felt the opposite, felt their impression of them get more negative based on the forum. It`s interesting, though, compared to Hillary Clinton, a slightly larger percentage of people say what they saw in the forum really didn`t change their opinion of Bernie Sanders one way or another. Now, here`s the super interesting unpredictable and I think in the end maybe the slightly sad trombone news of the forum. The candidate who obviously had the most to gain from just being in that forum on Friday night is the man who is at the low single digits in South Carolina and across the country, has really had a hard time getting traction. Former Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley. He`s basically -- especially in comparative terms he`s basically unknown to the Democratic electorate nation and in a state like South Carolina. So, this is kind of the biggest moment he`s had so far. A lot of time on screen, people having a chance to hear from him at length about who he is and what he believes, what sets him apart from the other candidates. Despite all of that, despite the fact that voters were kind of meeting him for the first time, this was his first chance to make a first impression, at least from the polling it looks like he did not make much of an impression. A whopping 43 percent of voters say that seeing martin O`Malley in the forum in South Carolina on Friday night did not make them feel positively about him or negatively about him, it didn`t make them feel anything. Forty-three percent said it didn`t change their opinion of him either way, 18 percent of voters say his performance in the forum made them feel worse about him, 38 percent said it made them feel better. So, you know, on paper, when you count the minutes of TV time he just got before a pretty big audience, this could have been a pretty big breakthrough moment for Governor O`Malley. It does not look like it was Martin O`Malley`s breakthrough moment, at least not in South Carolina, at least not in the initial polling. Longer-term effects may prove to be better for him. We don`t know. But here`s sort of the bottom line, or one of the bottom lines from the public policy polling after the forum. When Public Policy Polling asked directly who do you think won, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Martin O`Malley, a whopping 67 percent of South Carolina voters thought that Hillary Clinton won on Friday night. Bernie Sanders in second at 16 percent, Martin O`Malley at 6 percent, 11 percent of people say they`re not sure. The other bottom line, which is probably the more important bottom line in this new exclusive polling that we`ve got for South Carolina and the Democratic race, shows that the overall standing among the candidates staying pretty much where it was. Hillary Clinton in South Carolina in terms of how many Democratic voters want her as the Democratic nominee or planning on voting for her, Hillary Clinton at 72 percent. She`s got a whopping 54 percent lead over Bernie Sanders, and Martin O`Malley is way back in the single digits. Again, this new PPP polling just out tonight. PPP is going to release the full results of this poll tomorrow including some really interesting numbers about how the candidates are doing among black voters in particular. That is an absolutely key metric not just for South Carolina but for lots of Democratic primaries in tons of states. So, the numbers on the preferences of African-American voters on the rest of those poll results from that PPP poll in South Carolina, those will come out tomorrow, but those are just the exclusive highlights from that poll tonight. We also do have one piece of unfinished business from the forum on Friday, which had to do with those envelopes from which I asked the presidential candidates less serious or at least much shorter questions. There`s a little unfinished business involving the remaining envelope. That will be coming up later on in the show tonight. Honestly, though, from my perspective, it was just personally a real honor to be part of that. And the Democrats are going to have their next formal debate on November 14th, this upcoming Saturday. But in terms of the Democratic race I`m very proud of how this went off and I think this event we did in South Carolina was the biggest thing that happened in the Democratic race this weekend. And while that event was under way this weekend, simultaneously, the Republican candidates for president were also having their big event of the weekend. I don`t know if anybody`s polled on the impact of this one yet. But what the Republican candidates did this weekend while we were in South Carolina, it had a significantly different vibe. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KEVIN SWANSON, NATIONAL RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES CONFERENCE: There are families whose -- we`re talking Christian families, pastors` families, elders` families in good godly churches -- their sons are rebelling, hanging out with homosexuals and getting married. And the parents are invited. What would you do if that was the case? Here`s what I would do. Sack cloth and ashes at the entrance to the church. And I`d sit in cow manure and I`d spread it all over my body. That`s what I`d do. And I`m not kidding. I`m not laughing. I`m grieving. I`m mourning. I`m pointing out the problem! It`s not a gay time! These are the people with the sores, the gaping sores. The sores that are pusy and gross and people are coming in and carving happy faces on pusy sores. That`s not a nice thing to do. Don`t you dare carve happy faces on open, pusy sores. Don`t you ever do that. Don`t you ever do that. I tell you don`t do it. Sack cloth and ashes. This is what America needs. America needs to hear the message. We are messed up. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Oh, yes, we are. Well, we had three Democratic presidential candidates in South Carolina this weekend. This is where three Republican presidential candidates were this weekend, in Iowa. That`s a pastor named Kevin Swanson. He hosted an event this weekend in Des Moines, Iowa. They called it the National Religious Liberties Conference. Over 1,700 people attended. And a pretty major theme of the event both in terms of the literature that was available at the event and the way the host of the conference spoke from the stage. A significant theme was the practical challenges and the timing of how exactly and when exactly the United States of America should start rounding up gay people in this country in order to execute them, because the appropriate punishment for the crime of being gay is that the government should have you killed. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SWANSON: Yes. Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. Yes. Romans Chapter 1 Verse 32 the Apostle Paul does say that homosexuals are worthy of death. His words, not mine! And I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ! And I am not ashamed of the truth of the word of God. And I am willing to go to jail for standing on the truth of the word of God. And I know I`ve taken the counsel, many have told me this weekend, you be careful, you choose your words carefully, we have presidentials coming down to this conference this weekend. I understand that. But I am not ashamed of the truth of the word of God! And I`m willing to go to jail for it. And they asked me, yes, but do you advocate for our civil leaders to do this today? And my answer is -- no. But why? Here`s why, because that`s not such a big deal. We are not to fear those who can kill the body. Yes, Jesus says, fear rather those, the ones who can cast body and soul in hell forever. The discussion concerning the capital punishment of homosexuals is nothing, is not all that important when contrasted with hellfire forever. You say why wouldn`t you call for it? I say it`s because we need some time for homosexuals to repent, that`s why. They need time to repent. Do you understand? America needs time to repent! You say why don`t you call for it? America needs time to repent! Of their homosexuality, their adultery, and their porn addiction. America is steeped in a destructive homosexuality and, friends, they`re bound for hell! Do you understand? It`s not so much an issue of the death penalty. It`s an issue of God`s judgment that`s hanging upon this nation today. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So this is a political event. This is a Republican presidential candidates` event. This is an event in Des Moines, Iowa this weekend at which three Republican presidential candidates made appearances. And what I just showed you there, those are not like the kill the gays ravings of the guy who was hosting this event from some time in his past. This is not something that we dug up that he said a long time ago that maybe these presidential candidates didn`t know about. This was actually the host of the event speaking this weekend. This was him speaking this weekend at the event where these three Republican presidential candidates were also present and speaking with him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SWANSON: He`s a humble man. He`s a Christian man. And he joins us now. Governor mike Huckabee, running for president of the United States. Come on up here. (APPLAUSE) I would like to introduce to you a candidate for the president of the United States. Ladies and gentlemen, the governor of Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal. Please come up. (APPLAUSE) Jesus Christ is king of kings and lord of lords. He is king of the president of the United States, whether he will admit it or not. And that president should submit to his rule and to his law. Amen? Amen. Now, my friends, let me introduce to you the next candidate for the office of president of the office of the United States. Folks, please make welcome, Senator Ted Cruz. (APPPLAUSE) OK. Senator Cruz, I`ve got a few questions for you. Then I`d like to open it up so you can share your ideas with the audience today. And the first question is this. SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Fire away. But you`re not going to ask about fantasy football, are you? SWANSON: No, I`m not. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hook `em horns! SWANSON: No, I`m not. I`m going to go much tougher than that. This is an important question. In fact, this is the most important question that I ask any candidate who`s running for political office. And that is this: How important for the president of the United States to fear god? And what does that mean to you? CRUZ: Any president who doesn`t begin every day on his knees isn`t fit to be commander in chief. SWANSON: Amen. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, all appeared this weekend at this anti-gay confab in Des Moines, Iowa. And I don`t think it can be said these candidates didn`t know what they were getting themselves into. On Thursday, the day before he went to this event, Ted Cruz was interviewed on CNN and was asked on CNN if it was appropriate for him to be going to this event with this pastor given the stated views of this pastor about gay people. Senator Cruz responded to those questions on CNN by saying, quote, "I don`t know what this gentleman has said and what he hasn`t said." Whether or not he knew it in advance, even after -- even once he`d been questioned about it on CNN before he went, once the event started in Iowa a significant portion of what they talked about at that conference was the exact contours, the exact language of what they believe is a biblical commandment that gay people in the United States should be rounded up and executed. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SWANSON: This is the highest level, the very highest level of clarity where the word of god has spoken both Old Testament and New Testament, not to be any debate whatsoever about it. And you know what that sin is -- it`s the sin of homosexuality. Romans 1, First Corinthians chapter 6, First Timothy I think it`s chapter 4. And, of course, Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20. The word of god speaks there. In fact, the Romans chapter 1, Paul affirms that this particular sin is worthy of death, In Romans chapter 1. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So some of what happened at this Republican presidential candidates event in Iowa was more run-of-the-mill culture war, religious right, fire and brimstone stuff. There were denunciations of Harry Potter. There was a big long soliloquy about the evils of a movie called "How to Train Your Dragon." There was a big screaming denunciation of how country music radio stations need to repent, repent, repent because they`ve gone over to the gay side too. But it really was, and I`m not -- I`m not rounding up to the nearest scary thing -- it really was a kill the gays call to arms. This was a conference about the necessity of the death penalty as a punishment for homosexuality. This religious liberties conference in Iowa this weekend. And there were pamphlets about why gay people should be executed. There were multiple discussions about it from the stage. There were at least two other speakers besides the host of the event who have publicly called for gay people to be executed. There was discussion at the event in print about whether or not -- there was discussion at the event by people who have described the finite differences between the different methods of execution that should be used to kill people should they be thrown off cliffs, should they be stoned to death? Apparently both of those are sanctions means of execution for the crime of being gay. And again, this host of the event who interviewed three Republican presidential candidates on stage, who convened the entire event, he has spoken in the past about the need to execute gay people in order to live in a properly Christian society. He did not hide that light under bushel once the candidates were there. He talked about that repeatedly at this event from the same stage that these candidates appeared. And Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are going to be at the kids` table at the next Republican debate, which is tomorrow night in Milwaukee. Ted Cruz will be on the main stage because Ted Cruz is now polling third in a number of polls nationwide. But part of the way he is campaigning for president, part of the way all three of them are campaigning for president is by attending a "kill the gays" rally convened this weekend at the Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, Iowa. I don`t know if that is considered to be a scandal anymore in Republican politics. I mean, it will be interesting to see if it comes up in tomorrow night`s debate, right? I don`t know if our friends over at the Fox Business Channel will feel comfortable raising this issue with Senator Cruz or with any of the other candidates who went to the "kill the gays" event this weekend. But you know there are ways you could do it. You could maybe just have a little tableau of gay people being stoned to death or thrown off cliffs, tuck one into the envelope, surprise one of the candidates with it, ask them how it makes them feel, good thing or bad thing. Listen, I know the envelope thing might be a glib little device but sometimes it helps you get right to the heart of the matter. We`ll be right back. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SWANSON: People are coming in and carving happy faces on the sores! That`s not a nice thing to do. Don`t you dare carve happy faces on open pusy sores. Don`t you ever do that. Don`t you ever do that. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So there`s big news out of the state of Missouri today. The president of the University of Missouri resigned over racial tensions at Mizzou. The chancellor of the whole university system also says that he will resign over the controversy. Here tonight in studio for the interview is a University of Missouri alum who also happens to be one of that state`s highest-profile politicians. That`s ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This right here, this is a great photo. This is a sitting U.S. senator shot gunning a beer for the first time in her life while wearing her pajamas. Clearly, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill was very happy on the night these photos were taken in 2012. But she was not happy because she had won an election that night. She was happy because her opponent had won an election. This guy, Congressman Todd Akin, had just won the Republican primary that night, setting him up to challenge Claire McCaskill for her U.S. Senate seat in the general. And Claire McCaskill was thrilled with that Republican primary result because honestly, Todd Akin was the general election opponent that she really wanted. She really wanted to run against Todd Akin if she had to run against anyone. She wanted to run against Todd Akin so bad she promised her daughters that if he won the Republican primary, she would shotgun a beer with them. And so she did. She was partly celebrating because Todd Akin was the opponent she wanted in a general election, but she was also over the moon shotgun a beer happy because her strategy for making that happen, her strategy for getting unelectable Todd Akin picked by the Missouri Republican primary voters, that strategy of hers had been so awesomely successful. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I`m Claire McCaskill, and I approve this message. AD NARRATOR: The most conservative congressman in Missouri as our senator, Todd Akin, a crusader against bigger government. Akin would completely eliminate the Departments of Education and Energy and privatize Social Security. Todd`s pro-family agenda would outlaw many forms of contraception. And Akin alone says President Obama is a complete menace to our civilization. Todd Akin, Missouri`s true conservative, is just too conservative. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Missouri`s true conservative. Claire McCaskill ran that ad during the Republican primary. And it`s brilliant, right? Senator McCaskill, she puts her name on it at the top. It is ostensibly an attack ad by Claire McCaskill against Todd Akin. But really it`s just a list of things that Republican primary voters would love, right? A crusader against bigger government, pro-family, anti- Obama, the true conservative. In her new book, Senator McCaskill reveals that ad was part of an almost $2 million operation by her campaign to help get Todd Akin the Republican nomination for that Senate race. Quote, "We came up with the idea for a dog whistle ad, a message that was pitched in a certain way that would only be heard by a group of people. I told my group they needed to put Akin`s uber-conservative bona fides in an ad, and then using reverse psychology we would tell voters not to vote from him and we needed to run the H-E double hockey sticks out of that ad. As it turns out we spent more money for Todd Akin in the last two weeks of the primary than he spent in his whole primary campaign." And it worked. Not only did Todd Akin win the Republican nomination, he, of course, went on to make his infamous legitimate rape comment. Just the sort of thing Claire McCaskill was sort of banking on him to say on the campaign trail. And she went on to win that election by more than 15 points. And that was in a state that went for Mitt Romney by almost ten points on the same night. Since her reelection, Missouri has had some trying times including a lot of national attention. Last summer when the police killing of Michael Brown touched off protests in Ferguson, Missouri Senator McCaskill was there listening to the protests, calling Attorney General Eric Holder, pushing for a federal investigation. When she got back to Washington, D.C., she held a Senate hearing on the militarization of local police forces. This past week, there have been ongoing protests at the University of Missouri, which activists there say are the culmination of tensions, racial tensions that have been simmering at Mizzou since Ferguson if not before. African-American students at the University of Missouri have been raising concerns for months about incidents in which racial epithets were hurled at them. There was another incident recently where a swastika was drawn in feces on a dormitory wall. Activists at the school say the university has not been responsive to their complaints on these and other matters. And then a week ago, a grad student at the school went on a very public hunger strike demanding the resignation of the University of Missouri president, Tim Wolfe. This weekend African-American players on the very good University of Missouri football team said they would not play any games until the president resigns. This morning, Senator Claire McCaskill, a University of Missouri alum, she made clear she was with those players. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCASKILL: Well, certainly, I want to say how proud I am of the young people on that campus that have decided that they are going to make a stand. And I`m proud of our football team, frankly. If you remember, this is the same football team that -- where Michael Sam came from. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: Yes. MCCASKILL: One of the first athletes to go through the NFL draft as - - CUOMO: Openly gay. MCCASKILL: Openly gay. So I really believe that good things are going to come from this, because of the passion and commitment of these young people. Obviously, it`s not their fault. It`s not their perception. There is systemic racism. And it`s important we look at it from top to bottom on university campuses, in the criminal justice system, in the workplace. And I believe that the university is going to turn the page today and we`re going to see some changes that I hope will allow us to go forward and fix this issue, at least do a much better job than we have done. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You heard her say there, "I believe the university is going to turn the page today, we`re going to see some changes." That was Senator McCaskill speaking this morning. Just a few hours after those remarks, the president of the University of Missouri resigned. And the chancellor of the announced he will leave his post too at the end of the year. The university also says it`s implementing a series of initiatives to address the racial climate on its campuses. So, a remarkable accomplishment of those activists in a relatively short amount of time. But what happens next? Joining us now for the interview is Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. She has a new memoir out called "Plenty Lady-Like." Senator, it`s great to have you here with us. Thanks for being here. MCCASKILL: Thanks. And by the way -- MADDOW: Yes? MCCASKILL: -- you know you`ve made it when, when you are parodied on "Saturday Night Live." MADDOW: Oh, well -- MCCASKILL: Congratulations. That was pretty cool. MADDOW: You know the weird thing? It looks like she was wearing my exact clothes. I keep my clothes in the building. Like I don`t wear like a suit when I go home. MCCASKILL: They probably figured out a way to get them. MADDOW: I think it`s quite possible I need to send the dry cleaning bill to them. But thank you for that. MCCASKILL: You bet. MADDOW: So in that interview this morning you sounded like you maybe knew these resignations were coming today. Is that true? MCCASKILL: Well, I certainly have been in contact with the administration and frankly been in contact with Jonathan Butler`s family over the weekend. MADDOW: The hunger striker. MCCASKILL: Yes. I mean, I found that sometimes you can do better work when you are quietly reaching out and talking and trying to move the needle. But the credit goes to these kids. The credit goes to these kids who took a stand and to the football players who went to visit the young man who had gone days without food. And they were motivated and moved by his commitment. And then I was proud that -- it wasn`t just the black players that were in that picture. It was the team and the coach. That all kind of came together and said, you know, we`re one here too. And something needs to happen. There needs to be a reprioritization of how important this problem is on campus. And I`m proud that I think today, the university really took a meaningful step toward that. MADDOW: Admiring the accomplishments and the sort of tenacity and dedication of those activists is sort of one lane here, but the other issue is the veracity of their complaints and their concerns that there`s not just been random racially tinged incidents at the University of Missouri, but that there is a problem with race relations and the way that racially biased and racially inflected incidents are happened -- are dealt with when they happen at that campus. You think the substance of their complaint is fair? MCCASKILL: I do think on several issues. I think the substance of how diverse the faculty is. And this is a problem all over America. And, by the way, in fairness to the University of Missouri, I bet you there`s a lot of college administrations that over the next week are going to be checking to see what they`re doing. Checking to see how much effort they`ve put in to retain students who come in in some way marginalized because of socioeconomic status or because of minority status. I think this will be impetus all over the country across higher education to really do a hard look in the mirror about their commitment to making sure that their campuses are tolerant and inclusive and doing the best job they can to make sure that all students are welcome and feel safe. MADDOW: One of the things that feels very relevant to me about your book is that a lot of the book, everything, including the title, "Plenty Lady-Like" is the title, a lot of the book is about things you have faced as the first woman this and first woman that and as a lonely woman in a prosecutor`s office or a lonely woman in the legislature, a lot of things you`ve done where you were in mostly male environments and the kind of sexism that you experienced and the way that you dealt with it. I wonder looking at the situation of the university of Missouri, looking at the resignation of the president and the chancellor now, if you feel like you have learned things about the way to demonstrate leadership in the face of low-level intolerance that`s otherwise passed over, otherwise seen as the normal way of doing business. MCCASKILL: Well, one of the things I say in the book and one of the things I`m fearful of is I confess I`m not sure I handled right when I was a young woman and I faced some fairly blatant and ugly sexism in the Missouri legislature in the early `80s, but I really believed that if I would have publicly confronted it, it would have minimized my effectiveness as a legislator. So, I kind of internalized all that and said I`m going to show them. I used it as fuel. I`m going to -- I`m better at this than you are. I`m going to work harder at this than you do. I`m going to go farther than you. And the speaker of the House, which I talk about in there, who is the one who told me when I asked him if he could help me get my bill out of committee as a freshman legislator in 1983, he said did you bring your knee pads? I ended up in the United States Senate and he ended up in prison. So, the plan to try to go farther kind of worked. I`m not sure that was the right way to do it. I think young women today I hope have more information and more confidence to do a better job of confronting -- and these young people are a great example. This was a bold thing for this young man to do. And then he was a leader and got others to follow him and he impacted real change that I think will make a difference for many other students of color at the University of Missouri. MADDOW: Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, you are on the Armed Services Committee. You`re on the Homeland Security Committee. I have a few very serious questions for you on those matters as well as something else. Will you stay? MCCASKILL: Sure. MADDOW: Very good. Senator Claire McCaskill`s with us. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Governor, we`re going to take a very quick break. We`re going to come back, and I`m going to talk with you about foreign policy and a few other things. But first here`s the stump (ph). MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Uh-oh. MADDOW: I promise it won`t hurt. Pick one. I don`t know what`s in it. There`s four here. O`MALLEY: This is like -- MADDOW: Go ahead. I won`t hurt you. I won`t hurt you. O`MALLEY: Johnny Carson and the swami thing. I go like this? MADDOW: These are not policy questions. They`re also not questions that will make you look or feel dumb. I promise you I will do it to the other candidates as well. Are you ready? O`MALLEY: Sure. MADDOW: When we come back, I have a lot of very serious questions for you. But first you have to do this stupid thing. This is to try to make you hate me as much as you hate the rest of the media. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I`d never hate you. MADDOW: These are not about policy. Like I said, but they`re not designed to make you look or feel dumb. SANDERS: How many pair of underwear do I have? (APPLAUSE) MADDOW: I would never -- if you care to volunteer the information -- SANDERS: Am I really Larry David? OK. MADDOW: Here we go. SANDERS: Watch, it`s the underwear question. MADDOW: No, I swear. Have had there been any underwear questions I`d be too embarrassed to ask them. I`d get all red, and I`d break out in hives. The questions here are not policy questions. They`re also not designed to make you look or feel dumb. So don`t hate me for making you do this. Everybody else did it. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: OK. MADDOW: Pick one. CLINTON: The Academy Award goes to. MADDOW: Yes. Except opposite. Because it`s no reward. All right. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: If you were watching the Democratic candidates forum closely on Friday night, you might have noticed we had three candidates but we did not just have three envelopes. There were four envelopes. And that`s because I didn`t want to be unfair to Secretary Clinton. I wanted her to have a choice as well. So, even though there were three candidates there were four envelopes. You want to know what was in the fourth envelope? There`s a person here for the interview. A person who I`ve always said would be a pretty spectacularly formidable candidate for president herself if and when she ever decides to run herself. The fourth envelope for Senator Claire McCaskill here next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There`s a lot of things to talk with, with Senator Claire McCaskill about, including a lot of very serious stuff. She`s involved in very serious things. But before that, I need to ask you if you would help me out. I`ve always said, and it has always embarrassed you, that I thought that if you ever wanted to run for president, you`d be a very good candidate for president. I know you are supporting Hillary Clinton and you are not running. That said, because I think you would be one of the most formidable candidates for president if you ever ran, I want you to open my fourth question, fourth envelope full of dumb questions. Would you mind? MCCASKILL: No, I think it would be fun. MADDOW: OK, you don`t get a choice. It`s the last one. MCCASKILL: OK. MADDOW: But I don`t know what`s in here. MCCASKILL: That`s OK. MADDOW: Are you ready? MCCASKILL: I`m ready. MADDOW: What were you most afraid of as a kid? MCCASKILL: Failing at sports in front of other people. MADDOW: At sports. Specifically. MCCASKILL: Like getting up to bat and not being able to hit the ball. So I avoided organized sports because I didn`t want to fail in front of people. MADDOW: OK. Country you have most liked to visit outside the United States. MCCASKILL: You know, I`ve got to tell you, I had never been to Paris until like a year ago. And the bread -- just the bread. I mean, I know I`m at an age and a woman, you`re not supposed to eat all those carbohydrates. But there`s something about the carbohydrates in France that just makes them irresistible. MADDOW: Bread eaten abroad has no carbohydrates. MCCASKILL: There you go. There you go. MADDOW: That`s the rule. I need a good book to read. Can you recommend one? MCCASKILL: You know, I have read a series of books that were historical novels about Josephine Bonaparte that were fantastic. They are historical fiction but it`s accurate. And I love the series of books because you saw the strength of this woman and how incredibly smart she was and how important she was to Napoleon. MADDOW: Yes. MCCASKILL: And so I`m not going to be able to tell you the author right off the top of my head. MADDOW: A series of historical books about -- MCCASKILL: Three -- one is dancing something -- she started a woman who was born in the Caribbean and then who came to France and ended up being Napoleon`s wife and was quite a woman. They were really something. I`ve read them twice, I liked them so much. And I very rarely do that. MADDOW: You`re always into the story of women`s leadership. All right. Last question. And this -- remember, I wrote these questions for the Democratic presidential candidates. So, this one, you`re going to have to modify. What I wrote was will you run again if you don`t win the Democratic presidential nomination this time? MCCASKILL: Oh, definitely. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: So, we`ll take it again. Since you are not going to win the Democratic presidential nomination this time, will you ever run for president? MCCASKILL: I do not believe I will. I don`t think so. I`m at the point -- if you look at -- I mean, I`m pragmatic and realistic about this. If you look at where I am in my career and my age and Hillary Clinton is going to be president and she`s going to be president for eight years, and then I`m of an age where I really need to be spending some time with these amazing nine grandchildren I have. I can top Bernie by two. MADDOW: So that`s the way that people need to lobby you when they`re ready to lobby you. Is how happy your grandchildren would be if you ran for president. I hear you. I hear you. Let me ask you one serious question about -- and I know you`re on the Armed Services Committee and Homeland Security Committee. There is increasing not conclusion, right? We have not yet arrived at a conclusion but there`s a lot of talk about a potential ISIS successful bomb on that Russian plane that came down in Egypt. If ISIS did that and they were successfully able to bring down a commercial passenger jet and they committed a new level of international murder with this attack, do we as a country need to be doing something toward ISIS that we are not doing now? What could we scale up to if we wanted to scale up the fight against ISIS? MCCASKILL: Well, first of all, if we could scale up in an effective way, we should be doing it regardless of whether or not they had a bomb on that plane. The problem is, how do you do that? With -- and get the outcome that we would want in a way that is thoughtful and that there`s some end. We tried going into a country thinking we were going to change that country, and we lost billions and billions of dollars and more importantly hundreds and thousands of lives. So, the most luxurious Monday morning quarterbacking that goes on in our country is the Monday morning quarterbacking that goes on about what we should do about ISIS. I have yet to hear anyone come up with a better plan. A no-fly zone, there are some problems with that, especially now with Russia flying in there. It would take our aircraft away from other important targets they are currently hitting with surgical precision. Bringing in massive amounts of troops on the ground is very hard because this is not a unilateral opponent in Syria. There are so many different factions. And you`ve got the rebels and you`ve got Assad and you`ve got Russia and you`ve got ISIS. So, I really think what the president is doing, he`s shown flexibility in terms of changing strategy. We`ve abandoned the training program. It wasn`t working. I think the Special Forces limited is important -- MADDOW: You support that? MCCASKILL: I do. But I also think it`s important the work we`re doing with 65 different countries, keeping them united against ISIS. That`s a formidable power in the world. You know, the Arab countries and the European countries, all these countries that are committed to combating ISIS in every way we can that makes sense. But just saying what we`re doing isn`t working. I listen to these Republican candidates, I`ve not heard one of them come up with a reasonable strategy that the military leaders say you know, that would work. MADDOW: Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, author of the new book "Plenty Lady-Like," which is both a good read and a good insight into who you are as a leader -- thank you for being here. It`s nice to see you. MCCASKILL: Thank you, Rachel. It`s really fun. MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Senator Rick Santorum, you have my every sympathy. Former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, of course, has been stuck at the kids table for this entire Republican presidential season including being back there again tomorrow night. But now, he has lost his voice. Rick Santorum`s campaign manager posted today just like Michael Jordan had his finals flu game, Senator Santorum is, quote, "about to have his laryngitis debate night." Game on. So, Rick Santorum may be communicating in just guttural noise and gestures at tomorrow night`s kid table debate. That will be interesting. Good luck, Senator. Here`s one other thing to watch though: for a couple of months, we`ve been covering the really important but. Often unpredictable random and last-minute decisions by TV networks for determining which Republican candidates get into the debates. It has just been a guessing game and a mess all season long through the Republican primary contests so far. Well, today, we got news that Republican Party leaders are trying to do something about it. The conservative "National Review" magazine reports that Republican Party leaders are upset that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is going to be sent to the kids table for tomorrow night`s debate even though he did fairly well on the main stage last night. And since then, he`s been on the rise in New Hampshire. The Republican Party and its leadership will now reportedly advocate to the TV networks that the networks should start using polling from the early states instead of just national polling to qualify candidates for the debates from here on out. And that would be good for somebody like Chris Christie or Bobby Jindal for that matter. However, the party also reportedly wants to raise the threshold number for qualifying for the main debate. Currently, it`s a cutoff of roughly 3 percent. You have to be polling at an average of 3 percent or above in order to get into the debates. "National Review" reports wants want to raise it to more like 5 percent. And that higher cutoff would kill off a whole bunch of candidates from the main stage. It would make for a much bigger kids table, if Republican leaders can get the networks to go along. So, tomorrow night`s debate is going to be a little bit nuts. Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie at the kids table. Lindsey Graham is not even allowed to be at the kids table. Presumably, he will be holding court at a bar nearby or something. Or Senator Graham, come here. I would love to talk with you. But then the morning after the debate, Wednesday morning, the Republican Party leadership is reportedly going to have a meeting to try to throw out all of these weird and evolving and unpredictable eligibility rules in favor of a whole bunch of new eligibility rules that would also have an unpredictable effect, all change. Next stop, new and different chaos. We`ll keep you posted. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Chris Christie may be at the kids table tomorrow night but he`s still in charge in New Jersey. Chris Christie is still the boss of you, New Jersey. There are some things that are just not going to fly around here anymore. For starters, New Jersey, quit looking at the dog funny. Governor Christie today signed a ban on bestiality in New Jersey. You can no longer legally have sex with animals in the Garden State. Now, I do not think this is an attempt to outflank Rick Santorum in the race since he`s going to be sitting next to him at the kids table tomorrow, but wherever he`s doing now, whatever this is for, New Jersey, (INAUDIBLE) Chris Christie signed a ban on that today. No bestiality in his state anymore. Also, New Jersey, by order of Chris Christie you absolutely cannot do this. You cannot expand early voting, register to vote online, or automatically register people to vote when they get a driver`s license. Today, Governor Christie vetoed a bill that would have made voting easier in his state all of those ways. I don`t know why he vetoed this bill, whether it`s because Republicans do better when fewer people vote. I just know this is the way it`s going to be in New Jersey. No expanded vote rights and also hands off the turtle tank. Have some decency, you guys. Seriously. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Two things: first of all, we just bought Governor Christie, if you want for your campaign, to celebrate the new bestiality ban you just signed in New York, at the same time you were vetoing a voting rights bill, just let me know, because you did get that bestiality done. I own it. You can have it free of charge. You just have to come on the show. Second of all, here`s the thing about tomorrow night. Tomorrow night`s Republican debate is at 9:00 eastern. This show will also be live at 9:00. So, if you don`t have an appetite for watching the Republicans fight it out, come here. We will be here live. After the debate is over at 11:00 there will, of course, be live MSNBC recap, a live special edition of "HARDBALL", which is the best post-debate recap anywhere on television. 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. Welcome back. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END