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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 1/7/2016

Guests: Chris Murphy

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: January 7, 2016 Guest: Chris Murphy

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: Thank you to the folks here at the Vermont Pub and Brewery for hosting us. To the fine citizens of Burlington and Vermont, thank you all. Wonderful being in your state.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBCH HOST: Chris Hayes, if you bring me back some delicious Vermont brewed IPA, I will pay you triple whatever you paid for it.

HAYES: You got it. It`s a deal.

MADDOW: Arbitrage, America. Thanks, my friend.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. It is not that New England politics doesn`t get weird. I mean, New England doesn`t have a reputation, necessarily, for weird politics or weirdness in general.

But New England, trust me, I`ve lived in Massachusetts since 1998. New England is just as weird as the rest of the country and sometimes even weirder. Even in its politics.

Por ejemplo, this was the governor of the great state of Maine, Paul LePage, speaking last night at an event discussing substance abuse at Bridgeton, Maine.


GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R), MAINE: Number one, I`ve got a bill in to the legislature right now to take the traffickers. Now, the traffickers, these aren`t people that take drugs. These are guys that are named D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty, these type of guys that come from Connecticut and New York. They come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time, they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because now we have another issue that we`ve got to deal with down the road.


MADDOW: Republican governor of the great state of Maine, Paul LePage, speaking last night in comments that were just clipped and circulated widely in Maine tonight. The governor saying part of the problem with these D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty guys from New York and Connecticut who come up to Maine to sell drugs is that, quote, "half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave" -- which the governor thinks is a real sad thing because you know what that leads to down the road.

After that led to some nationwide headlines tonight about the governor`s racially charged remarks, not to mention this headline from the local "Bangor Daily News," LePage" -- do we have that other one? "LePage`s alleged racist remarks are bonkers." They`re not alleged. We`ve got them.

After earning himself a round of headlines like that, the governor did put out a statement tonight saying everyone just completely misunderstood what happened here. Quote, "The governor is not making comments about race. Race is irrelevant."

Yes, how dare you terrible journalists bring up the issue of race? Governor Paul LePage was not talking about race. He never mentioned race. Just as a refresher, what exactly did the governor say again?


LEPAGE: Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave.


MADDOW: The governor of the great state of Maine. On days like this Paul LePage serves as a walking, breathing reminder that there is nothing inherently genteel, low-key, or even necessarily rational about politics in the great American Northeast.

At this point Paul LePage -- for the last -- we started covering Paul LePage when he first got elected. His time in office has not changed anything about what was so interesting about him from the first place.

But at this point, he does stand as a singular reminder that New England can be just as nutty as everywhere else.


LEPAGE: The only thing that I`ve heard is if you take a plastic ball, you put it in the microwave, and you heat it up it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. And so worst case, some woman might have little beards. But we don`t want to do that.

REPORTER: What would you like to do?

LEPAGE: I want to find the Press Herald building and blow it up.

TV ANCHOR: We`re about to put on screen what the governor said in response, and some of our viewers who may find it distasteful may want to hit the mute button and turn away for the next 20 seconds or so.

The governor told the reporters, "Senator Jackson claims to be for the people but he`s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline." When he was asked if he realized some people might find that comment offensive, he`s reported to have said, "Good. It ought to, because I`ve been taking it for two years."


MADDOW: Maine`s Republican Governor Paul LePage, who incidentally is facing potential impeachment proceedings as we speak in his home state. Paul LePage, you also might remember him for once honoring Martin Luther King Day in his state by telling the Maine chapter of the NAACP that they should in his words kiss his butt.


REPORTER: And what`s your response to them saying it`s more than just one instance but rather a pattern?

LEPAGE: Tell them to kiss my butt.


MADDOW: See? New England politics can be totally offensive. New England politicians added whoopee cushions and scribbled racist caricatures to all those Norman Rockwell paintings a very long time ago.

For some reason, New England still has a reputation for having real nice politics. But you know, guys like Paul LePage in Maine are I think still the outer edge of it, but New England politics can be very edgy, can be very interesting, can be very weird. And every state is a little different. In Maine they`ve got Paul LePage.

In New Hampshire, they recently had to deal with an influx of libertarian secessionists who are trying to move into New Hampshire in sufficient numbers so that they could secede from the rest of the country and the rest of the state and create a New Hampshire libertarian utopia. It hasn`t happened yet but one of the unexpected ways the New Hampshire free state movement has had impact in that state is in one New Hampshire town, the libertarians decided that they would stick it to the man, they would starve the beast of government by feeding everybody`s parking meters all day long, so that nobody ever got a parking ticket in that town ever again. And the town would thereby be starved of parking ticket revenue. Mwa, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Next door in Vermont, we`ve been covering the very, very seedy story in that state of a long-time Republican state senator who`s about to go on trial on multiple lurid sexual assault charges. The state senator was arrested at the state capitol last year and the Vermont state legislature has had this dilemma ever since about what they want to do with their indicted state senator who kept coming to work after he was out on bail.

Finally this week, just yesterday the Vermont state Senate voted to suspend him as a senator. He`s the first Vermont legislator ever stripped of his powers in that state. But the litany of sex assault charges against this guy from multiple women, some of whom were girls and not women during the alleged events of which he is accused, those have been rattling around behind the Vermont state legislature like cans tied to its bumper for almost a year now.

And everybody thinks of I think new England in general, Vermont in particular as hippie-dippy, liberal, low-key, very blue states. But you look closely, and politics there are not only more rough and tumble than you might think, they`re more scandalous than you might think and they are more bipartisan than you might think. That state senator who just got thrown out of his seat while facing these lurid charges in Vermont, he`s a Republican and he`s had a long-time seat in the Vermont state Senate.

The Vermont governor`s race was unexpectedly close. In 2014, you might remember the Democratic incumbent did not cleanly win that election and had to go to the state legislature before Vermont got its governor in 2014. The lieutenant government in the state of Vermont is a Republican.

Vermont Republicans have also been getting some interesting national attention this year because Vermont`s holding its primary very early on. March 1st, they`re on Supper Tuesday this year. And so, Vermont has had presidential visits from John Kasich and from Rand Paul and both of those visits the Republican Party in Vermont went out of its way to be very welcoming too, very excited about when they`ve got these national candidates coming to Vermont of all places.

I should mention, though, that the Vermont Republican Party was not as welcoming when they learned this month of Donald Trump`s plans to make an appearance tonight in Vermont`s largest city.

When the Burlington, Vermont Donald Trump event was first announced, the Vermont Republican Party did not put out the kind of excited welcoming statement that they did about John Kasich or Rand Paul. Instead, they put out this statement which said, "We learned late today through media reports that Donald Trump will be making a brief campaign stop in Vermont. The Vermont Republican Party did not invite Mr. Trump and has no role in this event."

As we reported last night, the Trump campaign also managed to infuriate local officials in Burlington, specifically the police department, when they distributed roughly 20,000 tickets for this event they were holding tonight in Burlington despite the fact that the venue for the event seats only 1,400 people.

The local police chief in Burlington told the Burlington free press that had a rock band -- actually, I should be specific, had Phish, an excellent jam band, done something similar in the city, the police would not have hesitated to cancel the event on public safety grounds. If they had overbooked a 1,400-seat venue to the tune of 20,000 tickets, they would have shut that down for public safety reasons had it been anything other than a political event.

Because this was a political event, though, they did not want to shut down Donald Trump in Burlington tonight. That said, the police made no bones about the fact that they were fairly furious about how this all went down. The police chief said today that yesterday, they started raising concerns with the Trump campaign when they realized how much the campaign had oversold the event. They started trying to engage with the campaign about what this would mean in terms of public safety, the kind of problems this would create for the town and the city.

The Trump campaign apparently simply stopped returning calls from the police chief once he started asking them those questions. So, with the police department furious and incommunicado with the Trump campaign and with 20,000 tickets distributed for a venue that can only hold 1,400 people, nobody quite knew what was going to happen today in the town that had Bernie Sanders as its mayor for a long time.

Nobody knew how it would turn out. Nobody knew how many of the people who turned out actually would be Donald Trump supporters. And particularly for the national media, I think nobody quite knew what Donald Trump supporters from Vermont might actually be like.


REPORTER: So where are you from? Are you from Vermont?


REPORTER: Vermont. Are you a Republican? Democrat?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a Republican.





REPORTER: What`s he said that attracted you to him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s not a career politician. He can`t be bought. He says what everybody else wants to say and they`re afraid to say.

And that`s what we need. This political correctness is for the birds. You know, it`s destroying this country. And he`ll make it better again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to see what he has to offer and see if he seems sincere about it.

REPORTER: So, are you here as a supporter? Someone who`s open minded? Or --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m independent. I`m real open-minded.

REPORTER: OK. Are you from Vermont?


REPORTER: So what`s your reaction when you hear he`s getting potentially 20,000 people who RSVP`ed to come today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never know how many people are not going to show or -- I mean, that is a little bit crazy. And that`s why I`m here so early.

But you don`t know in this day and age if they`ve been bombed with, you know, people just trying to make it look like there`s 20,000 people. So I just have no real statement on that. It`s kind of crazy, but --

REPORTER: So you`re out here as a supporter, then?


REPORTER: And there are obviously reports about how this venue only fits 1,400 people, the campaign has 20,000 people theoretically that RSVP`ed. What`s your response to all of the frenzy here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At first I thought how can that be? We went online, we got our tickets early. I think it`s a good thing. I think this shows Trump is stirring up emotions within the people of the United States. And I think it`s good.

There are some people here who are for Trump, I have no doubt, and there are people here who are not for Trump. But I think Trump is scaring people, maybe those that aren`t for him. As to, you know, people are supporting him. And there is maybe going to be a change. And I hope that there is.

REPORTER: And so what`s your reaction when you see that there`s possibly 20,000 people in a place like Burlington, which is Bernie Sanders` backyard -- front yard. His campaign headquarters is right there in the square. I mean, what`s your reaction when you hear this big outpouring for a Republican in an otherwise pretty liberal --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I came across the lake. We call it across the pond. I`m from the state of New York. And I understand that maybe this is Bernie`s stomping grounds. But at the same time this is the United States of America. This is a free country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A country that the freedom that we always had in the past has been taken away. And you feel that it`s our duty, obligation to support someone that we feel will bring our country back to freedom again. I think that`s the main reason.

REPORTER: You think that man`s Donald Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not necessarily. I really haven`t quite decided. I do like -- I do like Chris Christie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see him. I was within driving distance. I drove 200 miles, roughly, from Kingston, New York.

REPORTER: So what does it mean to you that he would come to a place that`s within driving distance here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It means a lot. That`s why I`m here standing in line waiting for four hours, to see him and support him.

REPORTER: It`s pretty cold out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not cold. This is the great northeast. No cold.

REPORTER: It`s cold for me.

So, if the election were tomorrow you`d vote for him?


REPORTER: And is there anything he could say that would make you change your mind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, my mind is made up.

REPORTER: So, are you a Democrat, Republican, independent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like my friend was telling that guy over at CNN, actually in Vermont, you don`t have to be registered. So, we like to say we`re registered independents. But, yes, so I`d say, I would like to say I`m a social liberal and kind of a I guess -- when it comes to financial things I`m a little bit more conservative.



REPORTER: So, is there anything Trump could say that would attract you to him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he said let`s go play golf and I`ll fly you down and if he could do my hair up like his, I`m all for it. Let`s do it. Golf with Brady and Trump and maybe Samuel L. Jackson. We`ll see. I think they`re on the outs right now. But yes, I`d like to have to go play golf with the guy sometime. That would get my vote.

REPORTER: And are you from Vermont?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am indeed. Born and raised.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re here to supervise all these people here to make sure that they behave.


REPORTER: So, is there any -- what`s the political reason you`re out here today? Or is there one?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I heard the GOP committee in Bangor County has -- and we`re here to support Trump and support the GOP ticket in general, both national and Vermont. We brought our chairs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re having a great time. That`s what it`s about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People like that I have to watch out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, I told you I was going to go get us cold drinks later.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I take that back.

REPORTER: So, if the election were tomorrow, would you vote for Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I really haven`t pinpointed anybody down really. I`m interested in the guy but I haven`t really pinpointed who I would vote for at this moment.

REPORTER: So there anyone else? You said you`re interested in Mr. Trump of course. Is there anyone else in the Republican Party that`s on your radar?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I did like -- I don`t think he`s going to make it. But I did kind of like him.


MADDOW: Brilliant footage. Brilliant. I love that lady and that kid sitting next to each other making plans to have cold beverages later.

Did you notice the pot leaf dotting the I on his Bernie shirt?

Some of the people who turned out for the Donald Trump event in Burlington, Vermont today -- and it`s interesting to see that a lot of people who turned up, whether or not they were Republicans, and a lot of them were, a lot of people turned up not necessarily already committed to supporting the Trump campaign. I mean, that`s part of why you turn out to a campaign event, right? To see if you like the candidate, see the candidate in person. See how the candidate strikes you.

But the Trump campaign made a remarkable decision tonight that they would turn away anybody who would not profess to them or prove to them that they were already committed supporters of Mr. Trump. They turned away people who could not pledge that they were Trump supporters. It was a private event. Nobody who didn`t already support Trump would be allowed in. What a weird freaking day.

You know, I mean, people think that Vermont and New England are weird in their own New England hippy dippy blue state ways. They`re really not. They are more complicated than that. They`re just as gloriously weird as the relative of the country. But even with that, today in Burlington it was kind of weird.


REPORTER: So if the election were tomorrow would you vote for Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I certainly would.

REPORTER: And is there anything he could say today that would make you rethink that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, ISIS is a huge problem. And these people we have in there now, they don`t have a clue. They`re letting them get more powerful, more powerful. And they`re here in the United States. And we`re going to be fighting them here. Then they want to take our guns away from us and we can`t defend ourselves. I`ve got news for them. They ain`t getting mine.



MADDOW: Got a great big crowded show for you tonight including a very interesting report from an NBC "Nightly News" team which went looking for water in one American city today. You will be surprised what they found and what they did not find. That story is next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: This is fascinating. For the past two days, NBC "Nightly News" has had a team reporting from Flint, Michigan. They`re there reporting on the lead poisoning of the city of Flint, which is a disaster created by the state government in Michigan. Federal prosecutors are now investigating that.

Today, that NBC "Nightly News" team decided to see that if you lived in Flint and you wanted to find clean safe not poisoned water, what would you do? How would you get it? How would you get water, which after all you literally cannot live without as a human being? You can`t get it from the tap. Where could you get it?

City officials in Flint told NBC`s Stephanie Gosk that as of right now, there is no daily government-run water distribution of any kind for the roughly 100,000 people who live in Flint. The tap water is still unsafe there. But there`s no other distribution of water there other than the unsafe tap water. No other distribution of water that`s been arranged by the city or the state on a daily basis.

Local officials did tell Stephanie Gosk that if she wanted to get her hands on some clean water in Flint today, maybe she could try the local food bank or maybe she could try Pastor Bobby Jackson at the Mission of Hope shelter.


STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC NEWS: So how many bottles of water are you giving out a day?


GOSK: That`s a lot.

JACKSON: That`s a lot of water. It`s a lot of water.

And what we do is we take the cases and we actually break them down because in the poor neighborhoods a lot of people, they ride their bicycle here to get water or they walk here to get water.

GOSK: So, they physically can`t carry a lot.

JACKSON: They physically can`t carry it. If they drive up and they have four and their family we`ll give it to them. But we`re doing this on an emergency basis. Not to fill their cupboards. It`s to hydrate them with good clean healthy water.

GOSK: This is very basic. This is drinking water. You`re just trying to get drinking water to people.

JACKSON: Exactly.

GOSK: And they don`t have it. But pastor, you`ve run out of water.

JACKSON: Yes. Again, being a man of God, I have to have faith and I have to know that more is coming from somewhere.

GOSK: Have you ever gotten it from the city?


GOSK: Have you ever gotten it from the state?


GOSK: Who`s giving you the water?

JACKSON: Actually, it`s all come from donations. It`s amazing. Coca-Cola has been outstanding. They`re the biggest supplier so far.

Walmart has helped us. We just received -- we`ve gone three times to the food bank of eastern Michigan. They gave us 30 cases at a time. But we run through that in a day.

And then the procedure of putting the filters on, people that don`t do it right, I`ve heard a lot of them come down and they want one of our volunteers maybe to go to their house and help them put the filter on right because the way it`s on it`s not working properly.

Also, after the filter is used for a certain period of time, it has to be replaced. The filter in the filter has to be replaced. You know --

GOSK: Are they easy to get their hands on, the filters? Do you have any here?



MADDOW: Stephanie Gosk of NBC "Nightly News" in Flint, Michigan, today at a local shelter called the Mission of Hope where people have been going for water, because no other safe options have been provided for them.

The cupboards there, however, are now bare. Pastor Bobby Jackson is the one trying to meet that basic need in Flint. But as of today he was out, out of donations, out of water for his neighbors.

And this is today. In the middle of what is supposedly widely recognized as a crisis now, right? What "Nightly News" identified in this interview, what they uncovered as a problem in Flint when they just went very basically looking to get some water today, what they uncovered right now is that this problem is not getting fixed just because people are talking about it and there`s news stories about it now.

For all the sudden interest, for all the talk now in Michigan government and politicians apologizing and the media covering the situation in Flint, all this talk about helping Flint, people in Flint still literally do not have water that is safe to drink. They don`t have water filters.

And so, it is regular people on the ground in Flint who are beginning to realize that even with all the attention if they don`t do something about this problem nobody`s going to. Today, starting at 7:00 this morning, that included the local sheriff.

Technically, the county sheriff, Robert Pickell, he does not have a particular role in this emergency. He`s a law enforcement guy, right? But he assigned himself a role in trying fix this problem today. He just decided on his own that he might be able to take on some of this problem on his own.

The sheriff tells us today he picked up 1,000 water filters from a government office where they have been sitting. He also picked up bottled water from a local food bank. He got a truck donated from a local towing company to haul everything.

And then he put together a work crew, which he can do because he`s a sheriff, right? They had reserve deputies who are basically volunteers. They had a few police officers. And I kid you not, they used people who had been sentenced to community service, because nothing says community service like responding to an official emergency in your own town when no one else will.


SHERIFF ROBERT PICKELL, GENESEE COUNTY, MICHIGAN: They`ll be unloading the pallets and handing it to the reserve deputies, who will be going in. We`re going to chart who has not had a filter, who had a filter in the past, who needs water, how much water, and we`re going to take care of -- we`re going to do this until we get every person in the city of Flint with a filter.


MADDOW: The sheriff started doing this today on his own. Sheriff Pickell tells us that he and his crew, they picked a neighborhood of older homes to start with because everybody knows older homes are a higher risk in this crisis because of lead pipes.

With the sheriff`s early start today he says he and his crew made it to a couple hundred homes by afternoon. This is a city of 100,000 people. He says he thinks they can ramp up to maybe 300 homes tomorrow on their second day.

But so far, of the homes they have visited, they found that two out of three of them didn`t have water filters already, two out of three, 2/3, no filters, zero protection from the lead in the water, which the state definitely knows about now, right? And is supposedly responding to on an emergency basis with lots of happy talk.

And we know from this "Nightly News" reporting today that not only do people in Flint just not have water filters, even now, they don`t have other sources of safe water either right now, in Flint. This morning, this afternoon, tonight.

So, yes, the story of the lead poisoning of Flint, Michigan, is now national news, which is great. But it is absolutely ongoing and live and not a solved problem. This is like -- the only analogy I can come up with here is like this is a mugging that is under way right this second, a mugging that is happening.

That is not the time to convene a meeting on getting better street lighting and how to ramp up our policing in high-crime areas. This is the time to stop the mugging that is under way on the street right now where an actual person is getting beaten up and robbed. Flint right now does need long- term help and planning. It also needs an emergency response right now, like it needs a FEMA-style response if not a FEMA response. Flint needs like the Red Cross, National Guard, trucks full of water, tonight.

Governor Rick Snyder met with the mayor of Flint today, Karen Weaver. Interestingly, the governor did not get off his tuchus and take himself to Flint. He made the mayor come to him in Lansing.

And yes, they`re talking about all kinds of things they want to plan to do in Flint as this emergency response rolls out. But right now, the water is not safe in Flint right now, and the way people are dealing with this manmade disaster in Flint, both in getting water and in helping their neighbors, is amazingly catch as catch can, voluntary and just local people doing it for themselves on their own initiative with whatever they can scrape together with no help from the city or the state. Awesome.

Joining us now, Stephanie Gosk of NBC "Nightly News" who has been reporting with her team from Flint.

Stephanie, thank you very much for being here. Thanks for doing this reporting today.

GOSK: Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: So when you set out today in Flint to find water, what was your first stop? How did you start? And where did it go from there?

GOSK: Well, we did what every TV news crew does at the beginning of the day. We thought to ourselves, OK, what`s our picture going to be of the day? And we thought, well, the low-hanging fruit`s got to be grabbing video of people handing out bottles of water.

So, I started to make some calls, checked in with a couple of activists, and they called me back and one of them was on the phone with me. I said, all right, so where are the spots today that we`re going to go see bottled water handed out? And she was silent and she says, well, it happened over the weekend -- hang on, let me check. You know what? I don`t actually know if anything`s happening official today handing out water.

Now, keep in mind this is a city, 40 percent poverty. These are people that were already struggling to get by before the water went bad. And they don`t have the money to buy water. They really don`t.

So, we said to her, well, there`s got to be someone helping out. She said, well, actually, there`s this one place. It`s called the Mission of Hope. It`s in the north end of town, which is a dicey area. And Pastor Bobby every single day has been handing out water. And you know, you can give him a call and go check it out.

So, we roll up there, there`s a big sign Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., we`re handing out water. And he comes out big smile on his face, we`re chatting with him. So where is everybody? Where`s the water? And he said, "I ran out."


GOSK: "Completely ran out."

And we said, well, when`s it coming? It must be coming later on today.

No. It`s not coming for three or four days.

He`s not getting it.

People are showing up asking him about the water. We walked around town. We talked to some of the neighbors, talked to this one woman who was on her way down to the Mission of Hope. And I asked her what are you doing today? How are you going to get your water? She said I`m on my way to Pastor Bobby, he always gives me water.

She wasn`t going to get it. And we talked to someone else who said yeah, I get my drinking water from pastor Bobby, but you know, otherwise, I have really no choice, we have to cook with it, we have to shower with it.

And you think about in a neighborhood like that and in parts of it, it almost looks like a war zone, Rachel. This is a really run-down place.

What about babies? What about formula? If there`s no safe drinking water, what are they getting? It was really -- it was really shocking. And you come away from it just thinking they need some help. Pretty quickly.

MADDOW: Yes. And talking about helping them is not actually the same thing as helping them. And you documenting that today is invaluable.

Stephanie Gosk, thank you. And thank you for staying there late tonight for us. I really appreciate this.

And I look forward to working with you ahead on this.

GOSK: You`re welcome.

MADDOW: Stephanie Gosk of NBC "Nightly News" reporting this week from Flint, Michigan. And you know, this story has now become a national story. That`s why people like Stephanie are there.

And it could not have happened without the local reporting in Flint, which could not have happened without the local activism in Flint.

But still, all the attention is not a cure. I can`t believe they still haven`t figured out a way how to get people even bottled water. I almost cannot believe it. I wouldn`t have believed it if I hadn`t seen it today. Just incredible.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: Here`s a quick uh-oh update, from one of the presidential contenders this year. This is not good news. You might have heard that Democratic presidential candidate Martin O`Malley recently failed to qualify to get on the ballot in Ohio for the Democratic primary this year. His campaign needed 1,000 signatures to get onto that ballot but fewer than 800 of his signatures were deemed valid. So, we knew already that Democratic voters wouldn`t see Martin O`Malley`s name on the ballot when they go to vote in the Democratic primary in Ohio this year on March 15th. We knew that before.

What we just learned tonight is that Martin O`Malley also will not even make it onto the Ohio Democratic primary as a write-in candidate. To qualify as a write-in candidate, a candidate would need to have filed a declaration of intent with the state of Ohio by this past Monday. The Ohio secretary of state`s office said they didn`t receive that declaration of intent until the next day, until Tuesday.

So, not on the ballot, not a write-in candidate either. Whether or not Martin O`Malley ever hopes to be competitive in the Democratic presidential race this year, in at least one crucial state, he literally will not even be allowed to compete at all.

Like I said, this is an uh-oh moment for the O`Malley campaign such as it is.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: At this time last night I got on the air and we had a fancy breaking news banner because there was a stock market going on -- a stock market crash going on in China. Last night, Chinese officials in fact had to halt all trading for the day for the second time this week after the Chinese market basically dropped through the floor.

The Chinese market sank 7 percent in the span of less than 30 minutes at the open around this time last night. So, we said last night that that development could be a very ominous sign for the markets in the U.S. today.

And sure enough, today, the U.S. markets got absolutely rocked. The Dow fell nearly 400 points today. All three major indices here in the U.S. were down big. The Dow and the S&P 500 are now both off to their worst ever starts to the year.

And apparently, it is mostly because of what`s happening in China. Well, it`s that time again. Beijing is 13 hours ahead of the American East Coast. And so, the markets in China have just now opened for the day for Friday. And hey, hey. At least for now, they`re still open which I couldn`t say last night. That`s a good sign.

Yesterday, they only made it literally less than 30 minutes before they pulled the plug on the entire market. Today in China, the markets opened even slightly up. Then they went way down but now they`re back up again.

At this point, the fact that trading is still going on at all, that`s an encouraging sign, better than yesterday at least. No promises from here on out, though.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: It was early in the morning. It was 6:46 a.m. and local reporter Alison Parker was out with her colleague her cameraman, Adam Ward, near Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. Alison was doing a live interview with the executive director of the local Chamber of Commerce for her TV station WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia.

During that interview she and her cameraman were ambushed. They were shot and killed while doing that live interview live on the air. The woman Alison Parker was interviewing that day was also injured in the ambush. It all happened on camera. It happened during a live interview. This is this past summer, past August.

I am not going to show you the footage of their murder, but it is what happened and it was televised live.

The gunman who killed those two people, who we`re also not going to show you, thank you very much, he was actually a former employee of that Roanoke TV station. He`d been dismissed from his job for past incidents of volatile behavior. Alison Parker was 24 years old. Adam Ward was 27 years old.

And after that shooting, after that absolutely terrible tragedy, the father of reporter Alison Parker, he vowed to do whatever he could to try to stop American gun violence. He started pressing Congress to expand background checks for all gun sales.

Part of doing that meant that he would reach out to his own member of Congress in Virginia. His own member of Congress was Bob Goodlatte. He happens to be a very powerful member of Congress. He`s the chairman of the judiciary committee in the House. It`s his committee that basically decides what gun measures the House is or isn`t going to take up.

Alison Parker`s father, Andy, started reaching out to Congressman Bob Goodlatte less than a month after his daughter`s televised murder. It was outreach that did not get very far.


ANDY PARKER, FATHER OF SLAIN REPORTER: Let`s take a look at Representative Bob Goodlatte, whose congressional district includes the TV station where my daughter worked. Mr. Goodlatte has failed to even bring up background checks. He has the power to do so. Fails to do that. Fails to bring it up for a hearing. And I thought it was ironic.

Late yesterday afternoon, his staff reached out to me and left a message asking me if I would be available to meet with Representative Goodlatte at the very time that I`m meeting with you all here.


MADDOW: He went on to say, "If you, Congressman Goodlatte, won`t support background checks, we will find someone else who will."

Congressman Bob Goodlatte is up for re-election. He`s a 12-term House incumbent. And there is now talk that one of the people who might challenge him for his seat this year is Alison parker`s boyfriend, who is also an employee at the TV station where she worked and where she was killed.

His name is Chris Hurst. He has not said he will run but he has reportedly met with officials from the Democratic House Campaign Committee about possibly running against Bob Goodlatte to try to take his seat.

Since Republicans have blocked any action at all on guns in Congress, including importantly in Bob Goodlatte`s committee, President Obama this week just announced actions that he figured he could take without Congress. Earlier tonight the president did a big town hall event in Virginia on this issue.

The president also tonight wrote this op-ed for the "New York Times," just posted tonight, about how we all have a responsibility to reduce gun violence. And in advance of these new provisions he`s rolled out and the op-ed and the town hall tonight, the administration also put out the -- basically the highest-level surrogates they`ve got in the form of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and also Vice President Biden, specifically to go to places that have been the sites of high-profile egregious acts of gun violence in this country and talk about this issue.

And that included Vice President Biden going not just to Virginia but to Roanoke, Virginia and specifically to WDBJ, to do an interview with Alison and Adam`s station. The station where reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward worked. Watch.


TV ANCHOR: Today, WDBJ 7`s Justin Ward sat down with Vice President Joe Biden and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. He is live now from the White House.

JUSTIN WARD, WDBJ 7: Valerie Jarrett says all of these measures depend on people following the law and that law is becoming more strict for gun buyers and dealers. Jarrett and the vice president say new resources will ensure that the people who need mental health treatment get it.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The law that is on the books and has been declared constitutional by the courts, Supreme Court of the United States, that law should be able to function. And the way to make it function better is to make sure the people with a mental illness adjudicated shouldn`t be able to have a gun, make sure that people who are felons shouldn`t have a gun, make sure people who are abusers shouldn`t have a gun.


MADDOW: Vice President Biden speaking with WDBJ from Roanoke, Virginia tonight. One of the other stations he spoke to in advance of tonight`s town hall meeting was the local NBC station in Hartford, Connecticut, the station right outside Newtown, where we all know what happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary School three years ago.

The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary happened December 14th, 2012. The congressman representing that district at the time of the shooting was Chris Murphy. Chris Murphy was serving in the House at the time. But he had just been elected that year to be the next U.S. senator for Connecticut.

Less than a month before the shooting happened, he had been elected senator. He had not even been sworn in yet when gun violence hit home right in his district and became the North Star for his time in the United States Senate.

Senator Chris Murphy joins us now.

Senator Murphy, thanks very much for being with us tonight. I appreciate your time.


MADDOW: What do you think of the president`s town hall tonight on guns, the new policies he`s just announced, this new initiative really driven by the White House to try to make progress here? What`s your reaction?

MURPHY: I think this is really exceptional that the president of the United States has taken the entire first week of his last year in office dedicated to one issue. I think this will go down as a seminal week in the history of the anti-gun violence movement, not just because something happened, not just because the movement resulted in a change of policy that I think is going to save lives.

I really think you`re going to have tens of thousands more background checks conducted because of this executive order and lives will be saved because of it. But also because the president and his advisers have laid down a marker that he`s going to spend the rest of this year continuing to challenge Congress, continuing to build up the political infrastructure around anti-gun violence movements. And as he said in his op-ed today in his post presidency, he`s only going to be supporting candidates who are in line with his and my views on the future of American gun laws.

And so, at a moment when I think the movement needed to galvanize, needed to be shown that there was reason to continue to come out year after year, even without congressional action, this delivered a punch that I think is going to have long-lasting effects.

MADDOW: I`m glad you mentioned that about the president`s op-ed tonight. In that op-ed, he promises he will not campaign for any other politicians. Anybody who wants him to campaign, he won`t do it unless they are in favor of gun reforms.

The president investing basically in the process, trying to bend the arc in terms of what the incentives are in terms of our political process on guns.

And to that point, I want to ask you to elaborate a little bit on something else you just mentioned there, about the president trying to help build up the infrastructure for the anti-gun violence movement. What do you mean by that?

MURPHY: So, what I mean, recognition that a lot of us have come to, that, you know, we couldn`t beat the NRA in 2013 because they had 20 years of political power. And the modern anti-gun violence movement really does date to Sandy Hook.

I don`t want to take 20 years, not even 10, but we need to have more foot soldiers out there on the street. We need to have more money, and we have to have more voters who come to the polls with issues of background checks, higher on their list of priorities. And so, the president made a commitment that this is going to be one of his main issues he is works on post presidency. You see it playing out in real time in this presidential election.

I think it`s exceptional at some level that the Democratic Party which four years ago was split on guns, today is a party in which it`s essentially a litmus test, if you`re running for president, to have a strong position on at least background checks and many other gun measures.

So, I think this is a sign the president is committed for the long haul to help us build this movement.

MADDOW: And it`s a sign of what he`s been able to do already in terms of changing those incentives by saying it ought to be a litmus test.

Senator Murphy, fascinating, thank you. I know you`re a big part of what`s happened thus far. So, congratulations on your work thus far. And thanks for talking with us.

MURPHY: Thanks a lot, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Programming note. On Tuesday night`s show this week, we made some noise when we covered, using historical tape, some eerie similarities between the current Donald Trump for president campaign and the 1968 campaign for president by former Alabama Governor George Wallace.

Since then, a lot of people are mad at us for doing that. But some people who were closest to George Wallace, including his daughter and two of his top former staffers have come forward to say that actually, yes, Donald Trump is running a very Wallace-esque campaign.

Well, tonight, on "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL", a gentleman named Tom Turnipseed, who is executive director of George Wallace`s 1968 presidential campaign and his wife Judy, who is a top staffer on that campaign, they`re going to be guests of Lawrence`s on "THE LAST WORD" to talk about whether or not, in fact, Donald Trump is, in fact, the second coming of George Wallace. Everybody freak out!

That`s coming up next on "THE LAST WORD." Stay with us here, though. There`s more here first.


MADDOW: To reiterate, Lawrence O`Donnell is about to talk to the executive director of the George Wallace for president campaign of 1968, about why that man thinks Donald Trump is basically the second coming of George Wallace 1968. That`s going to be amazing and that`s in just a minute.

But before that, I just have one last thing for you to keep an eye on for tomorrow`s news. It`s a Supreme Court thing.

September 2014, Governor Bob McDonald of Virginia and his wife were convicted on nearly a dozen felony corruption charges for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts in exchange for promoting a businessman`s dietary supplement company. He was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

His conviction was unanimously upheld by an appeals court. Now, his lawyers have taken the case to the United States Supreme Court. It`s officially on the docket for tomorrow. What this means specifically is that when the Supreme Court gets the case tomorrow, Governor McDonald needs four members of the Supreme Court to agree to hear his case. If that doesn`t happen, if he doesn`t get four Supreme Court justices saying they want to hear his case as a Supreme Court case, then, Governor Bob McDonald is going to prison. This is his last chance.

That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.