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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 1/15/2016

Guests: Larry Paros

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: January 15, 2016 Guest: Larry Paros

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Have an excellent weekend, my friend.

HAYES: You too. You too.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday.

The numbers are in on the Republican debate last night. Turns out it was the least viewed Republican debate yet, which kind of surprises me. I mean, in the big picture there`s still nothing to complain about. The numbers are still giant, but fewer people watched last night`s Republican debate than any of the others this past year.

The first one you`ll remember was giant 24 million viewers. The second one, 23 million viewers. The third one was 14 million. The fourth was 13 million.

The fifth one went up a little bit. That was the Las Vegas one on CNN. That went up to 18 million viewers. Kind of looked like maybe viewership had gone down but it was coming back up. But, no, last night, it was back down to the lowest yet. It was 11 million people watching the main stage seven-kidnap Republican debate last night in South Carolina.

And if you want to see how that stacks up against the Democratic debates, even with the Republican numbers dropping, the Republicans are still sitting pretty in terms of the size of the audiences they`re reaching. The Democrats of course this year have decided to hide their light under a Bushel.

So, the Republicans have done six debates so far. The Republicans have only done three. The last two Democratic debates with viewership down there in the 8 million range, those were both held on weekend evenings. Not a great time to get big audiences.

That scheduling plan is also true of the next Democratic debate, which will be this weekend on NBC, 9:00 on Sunday, on the Sunday of a three-day weekend.

It`s kind of amazing. The Democratic Party has done everything it can to ensure the smallest possible audiences for their candidates` debates this year. But in terms of this next one, the race right now is so tight and it`s so increasingly snippy between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, I don`t think anybody really knows what kind of numbers they`re going to get on Sunday night. Sunday night of a holiday weekend is a weird time to do it.

But with what`s going on in the race right now and the anticipation about Iowa and New Hampshire might be a bigger crowd than the Democrats are expecting. So, that`ll be one really interesting thing to see about Sunday.

Here`s the truly amazing thing, though, about the Democrats` debate schedule. This Sunday night debate for the Democrats, this is it. They`re not holding any more Democratic debates before Iowa or before New Hampshire.

Contrast that with the Republicans. The Republicans debated last night. That was their sixth debate. They`ve still got another one scheduled before Iowa. And then they`ve still got another one scheduled after that between Iowa and New Hampshire.

But for the Democrats, no. It`s just this Sunday night of MLK Day weekend. And that`s it until mid February. It`s just amazing.

But we`ve got these new viewership numbers today for the Republican debate last night. We also got some very intriguing news from the closed-door Republican Party winter meeting that they held at the site of their debate last night in South Carolina.

Turns out at that meeting a member of the RNC, a man named Holland Redfield, great political name, Holland Redfield got up at that RNC meeting and made an impassioned speech to the rest of the National Republican Party and reportedly to Reince Priebus himself, the party chairman. He was apparently in the room when this happened. He was sort of the person to whom this speech was directed.

But this RNC official, Holland Redfield, got up and in impromptu remarks said that the Republican presidential candidates this year were saying things on the debate stage and saying things in the media that, quote, "If your child was doing that you would put that child over your knee and spank them." He lamented with a lot of passion how Republican candidates this year in his words were showing "disrespect for ethnic minorities and religious factions in the United States." He said, quote, "We have to draw the line on that because sooner or later somebody has to pick up the pieces."

But then he closed with this very emotional plea, that this crop of Republican presidential candidates is basically destroying his Republican Party.


HOLLAND REDFIELD, GOP PARTY COMMITTEEMAN, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS: A good politician is pragmatic. They have to be to succeed. Otherwise, you get this energy in the nation, right now, that is angry, frustrated, and they want to hit anybody. So, we have certain candidates that are sucking that up and changing our label.

As a party, we owe it to ourselves to speak out and not have the tail wag the dog and not have somebody say all of a sudden, if you don`t play my game, then I`m running as an independent or I`m doing this. I`ll see and I`ll judge you.

Good God, many of you have been in this room for year after year after year, working the trenches. And all of a sudden somebody`s going to tell you any one of them?

This is our party. It`s the people`s party. Not the candidates. I`ve had it. Thank you.


MADDOW: That`s a member of the Republican National Committee. He represents the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is an obscure part of the American polity, right? In terms of influence.

But was sent that tape of him today from what was supposed to be a closed-door private meeting. And even though this is just one RNC committee man from the Virgin Islands, this tape of him making this impassioned plea about what happened to his party because of this presidential campaign, this got front-page play all day long at It got huge attention in the beltway press today.

And it`s interesting because it`s no secret that the Republican Party establishment is worried about Donald Trump, right? They`re worried about what Donald Trump is doing to the Republican Party as an constitution, what his front-running candidacy is doing to the whole idea of what it means to be a Republican.

It`s one thing, though, to know that in the abstract. It`s another thing to see it, right? It`s another thing to know what that sounds like word for word behind closed doors when the Republican establishment thinks they`re alone trying to figure out how they`re going to do something about it. Just fascinating.

That was kind of the front page of the beltway press today. The home town press, though, was probably even worse today for Chris Christie. Worse today for Chris Christie than I think it was for any of the other Republican presidential candidates who made it onto that main debate stage last night.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let`s set the facts straight. First of all, I didn`t support Sonia Sotomayor. Secondly, I never wrote a check to Planned Parenthood.


MADDOW: Survey says?


Everybody gets fact checked after the debates. That`s one of the things we do in the political media now. Every newspaper does that, every wire does that.

They run fact checks of how closely the candidates hue to the truth at big events like this and it has no impact whatsoever.

But the Chris Christie fact checks from last night`s debate are so blunt and so outrageous that they`re actually -- I think they`re actually funny. So, for example, Chris Christie said last night, let`s set the facts straight. First of all, I didn`t support Sonia Sotomayor.

The "Star Ledger" in New Jersey gleefully posted Chris Christie`s official statement on Sonia Sotomayor from when she was nominated in 2009. Quote, "I support her appointment to the Supreme Court and urge the Senate to confirm her nomination."


CHRISTIE: I didn`t support Sonia Sotomayor.


MADDOW: Yes. Yes, you did. And what was the other thing he wanted to get the facts straight on there?


CHRISTIE: Secondly, I never wrote a check to Planned Parenthood.


MADDOW: Again, back to the hometown press, back to the "Star Ledger" in New Jersey. They gleefully today go to their own archives from September 30th, 1994, which in a news article from that date quotes Chris Christie directly. "I support Planned Parenthood privately with my personal contribution."


CHRISTIE: I never wrote a check to Planned Parenthood.


MADDOW: I would say yes -- you know, to be fair, "I never wrote a check to Planned Parenthood." His personal contribution could have been not in the form of a check. He could have brought them a bucket full of nickels or something. Maybe it was cash. Maybe he gave them a gold Kruger and. I don`t know.

Maybe it wasn`t a check and that`s what he means, even though he was previously directly quoted saying he gave them a personal contribution.

In an editorial about this Planned Parenthood thing, an editorial the "Star-Ledger" titles "Another day, another lie," Chris Christie`s hometown paper notes that if the governor is denying the accuracy of that direct quote he gave to that paper in 1994, saying he gave money to Planned Parenthood, if he`s now saying that quote is incorrect he can very easily take it up with the reporter who quoted him saying that back in the day because the reporter who wrote that article in 1994 and quoted Chris Christie directly where he said "I gave money to Planned Parenthood," that reporter is now Chris Christie`s official spokesman in the New Jersey governor`s office.

So, if he`s denying now all these years later that that quote was accurate, you can take it up with the guy who has to tell that to the press on the governor`s behalf. So, that`s awkward.

And you know, every politician has trouble with the press to some degree from time to time. But Chris Christie`s dogged hometown press corps is just stuck to him like a rash. A few months ago it was the "Star Ledger" editorial board that said that Chris Christie, quote, "lies like the rest of us brush our teeth, as a matter of routine."

No matter how well Chris Christie does in his presidential campaign, no matter how many main stages he makes of the debates now, honestly, his hometown press is never going to let go of him. But the worst press of the day actually happened to old Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush I think had really wanted and expected this to be a good news day for him.

It started off with Lindsey Graham endorsing him in South Carolina. They did an event together. They even shared a funny joke about people who do not eat meat.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The thing I like most about Jeb is he`s not overselling. He`s embracing the fact that we`re a diverse country, we have to sit down and work with Democrats and independents, libertarians, and vegetarians, to get immigration right --

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to work with vegetarians?

GRAHAM: Yes, you do. There are not many in South Carolina but we`re going to win the vegetarian vote.


MADDOW: It`s funny, right? All started great for Jeb Bush today. If they kept that patter going, they probably would have gotten around to a hilarious joke about Bill Clinton being a vegan or something. Like you see where this is going. This is good post-debate momentum.

But instead what broke is this story, also at, which is just devastating for Jeb Bush. Look at the headline. "Bush donors await green light to jump ship." And that is a terrible headline not just because it`s a mixed metaphor. Is the bear Catholic?

The reason this is terrible is because "Politico" got blind quotes from members of the Republican donor class who for some reason are willing to tell reporters what they really think about Jeb Bush even though at least nominally they are still supporting him and giving him money.

Quote, "Politico talked to nearly two dozen major donors. Most say they are waiting for what veteran Republican described as the family hall pass to jump to another campaign after the New Hampshire primary."

One top Bush Wall Street donor tells "Politico," quote, "I`m resigned to it being over, frankly. It`s really disappointing. I`d urge him to get out after New Hampshire if he doesn`t do well, but he probably won`t."

Just think about -- if these folks really are Bush supporters, Bush donors, why do they talk to the press about him this way? The worst things that have been said about Jeb Bush in the press this year have been said by people who are supposedly supporting him.

And then the next quote they`ve got, and this is even worse. This is a direct quote. A Bush fund-raiser has told donors recently, quote, "Hey, I need you to throw away money on Jeb out of loyalty."

The only -- if that`s what`s being said, the only people who presumably heard that said were either the fund-raiser who said it or the donors to whom the fund-raiser was talking. These are all high-level Jeb Bush supporters, but they`re willing to give a deadly quote like that to the press about Jeb. With friends like these, who needs far more skilled and attractive competitors?

"The Washington Post`s" Robert Costa has been reporting today and tonight on the dawning realization in Republican circles that none of the establishment candidates might make it and it really might be Donald Trump or even Ted Cruz as the party`s nominee.

Joining us now is Robert Costa from "The Washington Post." He`s also an MSNBC contributor.

Robert, I know your piece on this just posted within the last hour at "The Post". Thanks very much for joining us. I know you`re busy.


MADDOW: So, your lead is as the presidential primary moves into a more urgent and combative phase, there is growing acceptance among Republicans, including the Washington and financial elite that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the two most likely to become the party`s nominee.

What are the signs of that growing acceptance? What does that mean?

COSTA: Some stunning signs tonight. My colleague Phil Rucker and I were calling around the Republican establishment to top donors in the party and post this last debate we said, where is the donor class moving?

And they said there`s a new realization within this group, the billionaires and the millionaires that have funded the party for decades, that is in essence a two-person race, Trump versus Cruz, and there`s an inclination now that Trump could be the nominee, and there are people right now reaching out to Trump to try to get meetings, to try to get in his inner circle and that was said on the record by Romney`s former finance chairman.

MADDOW: So, the implication there is that establishment donors, establishment sort of big ticket Republicans in looking at Trump versus Cruz, they`re going to side with Trump?

COSTA: There`s an inclination toward Trump over Cruz. And not so much because they know Trump well but it seems to be more of their ilk. He`s someone who has a lot of friends on Wall Street.

Cruz does as well, but Cruz is a hard-liner. He`s ideological. The GOP donor class is not so much driven by ideology but by power.

MADDOW: One of the complications here, at least in terms of understanding this as normal politics or something we might be able to extrapolate from past experience, is that Mr. Trump is not really accepting donations. I mean, there are small dollar donation that`s are being made to him but the way that big ticket Republican donors are used to being courted and used to having influence and used to making their decisions is who`s going to take their money and what kind of access that`s going to give them.

If Donald Trump is going to continue to not take a lot of money, then what sort of dynamic is going to exist between him and this donor class?

COSTA: That`s the central important question. Donors right now in the Republican Party are recalibrating how they think through their relationships with candidates. They know Trump doesn`t want to accept major checks in the primary race. So, they`re thinking ahead to a possible general election.

And the way they gamed it out to "The Washington Post" tonight, they said we`ll have to donate to the party committee, we`ll have to prove if Trump`s the nominee that we`re supporting him by supporting the RNC and different Senate and House committees. They`re just rethinking the whole way they would handle a general election to try to make sure the nominee, should it be Trump, liked them and would perhaps bring them in should there be a new Republican administration.

MADDOW: Robert, from the conversations you and Phillip are having with these folks, is it a dead end for Ted Cruz? Are these -- I think it may be frustrating for those donors as they try to approach Trump if Trump hues to his plan that he`s been on thus far. Does Ted Cruz really have nowhere to go with them?

COSTA: No, I wouldn`t say that at all because while there is a consensus this is becoming a two-man race among the donors, the top donors in the party, there`s also a lot of hesitation still about Trump. People are covering their bets. They`re getting ready for Trump should he be the nominee.

At the same time, Cruz is a Texas senator. He`s someone who`s part of an institution, even if he`s not popular there, and he makes a lot of people - - some people more comfortable in the donor class.

So, there is a split between Trump and Cruz. It seems to be a little more leaning toward Trump because he`s not ideological and a hard-liner.

MADDOW: This is an amazing turn of events. It seems weird as an observer. But if you`re a Republican establishment figure used to the way Republican politics goes, this must be a total acid trip.

Robert Costa from "The Washington Post", MSNBC contributor. Robert, thanks. Fascinating reporting. Thank you.

COSTA: Thank you.

MADDOW: I will say going back to the vegetarian theme of the Jeb Bush/Lindsey Graham joke will this really is like there`s some sort of vegan convention, right? There`s some sort of vegetarian convention and they`ve decided the choice they`re going to give people for dinner is two different varieties of barbecue. It`s like do you want ribs or do you want brisket? And people are just like no, but I`m hungry. The Republican donor class deciding to treat Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: Correction. On the show last night I said something wrong. Last night on the show, I said that in the Democratic presidential debate that`s happening this Sunday on NBC, Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell would be helping to ask questions. That`s what I thought was happening. But I was wrong.

And so I said it wrong on TV and I`m sorry. What is going to happen is that, as I explained, Lester Holt is going to be the moderator of the debate -- Lester Holt from NBC "Nightly News." It is Andrea Mitchell who will be helping ask questions.

What Chuck Todd is actually going to be doing is hosting the pregame right here on MSNBC.

So, the pregame for the debate is at 8:00 here on MSNBC with Chuck Todd. The debate is at 9:00 on NBC, Lester Holt with Andrea Mitchell contributing some questions.

It`s going to be great. I`m sorry I was confusing. We will see you there Sunday night.


MADDOW: So, there have been a few stories over the years that we have zeroed in on on this show before anybody else in the national media really focused on them. Stories that ended up ultimately becoming really big important national consequence stories.

One of them was the Chris Christie bridge scandal. There were great New Jersey reporters covering that story but we were the first national press to give it any sustained attention before that story blew up nationally the way it did.

I think the Flint water story sadly is another one. Great local reporting by Michigan Public Radio and the "Flint Journal" and the "Detroit Free Press" and other local publications. Great activism locally.

But we were the first national press to give it sustained attention before that story blew up the way it`s still blowing up nationally right now.

But there is another one of these kinds of stories, another one that we were basically first to in the national press. We covered the heck out of for months, which is now coming back.

It`s the story of Virginia`s Republican governor Bob McDonnell. His multiple felony corruption charges. That story appeared to be over. Once the good governor got convicted on multiple felonies and sentenced to years in federal prison, it felt like it was over. Then it really felt like it was over when he lost his appeals.

But now, all of a sudden, it`s back. And it`s back in a way that could potentially bring a lot of other public corruption cases back from the dead with it. It`s a fairly shocking turn of events here. It broke late today. And that story`s next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: March 2013, "Washington Post" ran a strange article about who had really paid for the wedding of the governor of Virginia`s daughter. The governor said that he had paid for the wedding, but it turns out he didn`t.

It turns out a businessman paid for it and the businessman who paid for the wedding also had showered Governor McDonnell and his family with hundreds of thousands of dollars of gifts and loans and vacations and golf games and white Ferrari the government got to drive for a while and all the rest of it. It all came out.

In 2014, Governor McDonnell and his wife were all convict on multiple felony corruption charges, not just for taking those gifts but because federal prosecutors proved in court that in exchange for those gifts the governor helped the businessman out. He arranged meetings for him with state officials, he let him host events at the governor`s mansion, he even pushed the businessman`s request that the guy`s dietary supplement should be studied by Virginia`s public university researchers.

He was convicted, sentenced to prison. Well, now, today, a year and a half after that conviction and almost a year exactly since the governor was sentenced to years of federal prison time, today, the United States Supreme Court said they`re going to hear Bob McDonnell`s case. The Supreme Court is taking this back up. Whoo! What does this mean?

Joining us now is Ari Melber, MSNBC`s chief legal correspondent.

Ari, that`s my very erudite way of expressing the key question here. What does this mean?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: What it means anytime the Supreme Court grants search to review a case is at least four members think something is up, something that`s worth their very limited time and valuable attention. Either they want to consider overturning this conviction or they think it raises important broader issues that they want to deal with.

MADDOW: And the broader issues would be that they don`t like the federal statutes that resulted in the conviction, that there`s something wrong with the law?

MELBER: Something that is in their view either wrong with the law or that prosecutors have done to stretch the law. As you know, this big issue in this case is what is an official act, right? What does it mean if the governor takes money and then goes to do something about it? What does it mean if he does something that is official using his power versus whatever else might be a part of his job or unimportant part?

So, there may be a concern here that this Supreme Court, which we know is skeptical of what we might call regulating politics, that it`s concerned that the prosecutorial theory here that what basically the federal government did was expand the notion of what unofficial acts are, which might make it easier for them to convict people who take bribes, gifts, money, whatever, and try to do things with it.

MADDOW: So, the appeal -- the case on appeal from Bob McDonnell`s lawyers has been, listen, he took these gifts and you may think it`s ugly and he may be really tacky, but it`s not illegal under Virginia law or federal law for him to take these things, what`s illegal is for him to do stuff in his official capacity as governor in exchange for them, it`s the quid pro quo.

And what they`re saying is what he did was just normal political stuff he would have done for anybody, when you arrange a meeting for somebody, that`s not an act, that`s just a thing you do that doesn`t depend on you being governor, I guess?


MADDOW: Is this a theory that people push broadly because they don`t like public corruption prosecutions or is this going to be a Bob McDonnell- specific ruling?

MELBER: That`s a great question. I think it can be broader. I mean, there aren`t many states where you can just take this much in gifts and not be in trouble under state law to begin with. So, it`s not going to necessarily hit everywhere.

But the idea here, Rachel, is essentially maybe we were a little corrupt and a little briby but we weren`t very effective, so don`t worry about it because the only thing we did was we did a photo op or we had a meeting. No one, for example, contests that a staffer did go to a meeting. What they`re saying is, hey, that doesn`t rise all the way to the level of pulling this off.

Of course, the government is responding here going all the way up to the Supreme Court. So, it`s the Obama administration`s lawyer is responding saying no, this was an official attempt to help the person bribing you. How effective your attempts were aren`t the test. The test --

MADDOW: Yes, if you were bad at paying somebody the quo in the quid pro quo doesn`t mean you weren`t engaged in a bribery transaction.

MELBER: Exactly.

MADDOW: Fascinating. Ari Melber, MSNBC chief legal correspondent -- when this goes further along and they`re going to hear this case and rule on it eventually we`re going to have you back to explain that too.

MELBER: I would love to. I think the oral arguments are going to be fascinating.

MADDOW: I wonder if they`ll let me in.

Much more to come this busy Friday night. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Learning new details tonight about that horrible accident involving two U.S. Marine Corps helicopters which collided in mid-air apparently off the coast of Hawaii today.

We do get news about training accidents from time to time in the U.S. military. This one stands out specifically because the human toll in this one may be really high. It was 12 U.S. Marines who were on board these two heavy lift cargo helicopters.

They`re CH-53 helicopters. They`re usually called Sea Stallions. They`re really big. They`re really powerful. These two aircraft took off from the local marine corps base sometime last night. Officials say the Marines were on a routine nighttime training mission.

But at around 11:30 p.m. last night local time in Hawaii, Coast Guard says they were contacted by someone who had been walking on the beach. That person reported seeing a fireball in the air. Minutes later, the Coast Guard says they got another call, this one from somebody reporting a flare in the sky.

Officials now believe that what those two separate witnesses saw was a helicopter accident, what appears to have been a collision between the two choppers. Tonight, a search and rescue operation is still under way. The Coast Guard is leading this effort. They`re getting help from local authorities. The Navy has dispatched two destroyers to help search for any survivors.

The search area is really big. And it`s about seven miles offshore. The whole area they`re searching stretches about 20 miles. Officials say debris has been found across that entire area.

The weather has also been making the search difficult. They say it`s very choppy waters. There are waves in that area as high as 40 feet.

Very bad news is that as of tonight, none of the marines on board those two helicopters have been found. Officials say the search efforts could last for several more days.

But this is 12 U.S. Marines we`re talking about. It`s just terrible news so far. We`ll keep you posted if and when we learn more.



MADDOW: What is your view of what`s wrong there? If you were president now, would you do something in terms of the response that isn`t already being done?

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now, as best I can understand, the governor, the Republican governor, Governor Snyder, is refusing to ask for the triggering of the federal help that he needs in order to take care of the people who are his constituents.

I am just outraged by this. I would pull out every stop. And I think I would look for any provision in the law that would permit me to override the lack of request from the governor if he refuses to still ask for what I think his people deserve to have.


MADDOW: Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on this show last night, saying if she were president, she`d be doing everything in her power to help Flint, Michigan, with its lead-poisoned water crisis.

Within two hours of her saying that, Governor Rick Snyder officially asked the federal government for help in Flint. He is now asking President Obama for both an emergency declaration and a major disaster declaration for Flint. He`s now requesting nearly $100 million in federal help, both for water distribution and for repairing Flint`s ruined water pipes.

According to the governor`s office, quote, "The expense of replacing infrastructure and keeping the community supplied with safe drinking water is more than the state can bear."

FEMA is going to make a recommendation on this request to President Obama, and then President Obama will decide what aid to provide. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said today that this decision about Flint from the federal government could come as early as this weekend and none too soon.

That said, it does remain to be seen how much help the federal government will provide for a disaster that was manmade, that the state, the Snyder administration inflicted on its own city. But again, that federal decision could come as soon as this weekend. Signs indicate that it probably will. So watch for that over the course of the weekend.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: This was a Republican presidential candidates events this past November. Fair warning here. This is a little bit intense.


PASTOR KEVIN SWANSON: There are families whose -- we`re talking Christian families, pastors` families, elders` families, and 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 would 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 pussy and gross and 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 pussy 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.


MADDOW: Oh, yes, we are. That was Pastor Kevin Swanson at a religious liberties conference that he hosted in November in Des Moines, Iowa.

The pretty major theme of that event, both in terms of literature that was available at the event and the way the host of the conference spoke from the stage of that conference, pretty major theme was the issue of basically the practical challenges and the timing of how exactly and when exactly the United States should start rounding up gay people in this country in order to execute them, because according to this pastor, it`s really just a matter of implementation and timing.

He says it is absolutely settled as a moral matter and a judicial matter that the appropriate punishment for the crime of being gay ought to be that the government should have you killed.


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, ought 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 both -- in fact Romans Chapter 1, Paul affirms that this particular sin is worthy of death, in Romans Chapter 1.


MADDOW: What made that event more than just interesting, what made it politically important on a national scale is that at that event Pastor Kevin Swanson, that guy, was issuing his call for the death penalty for homosexuality in America from the same stage where he welcomed not one, not two, but three Republican candidates for president of the United States.

Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Mike Huckabee all came to that event and shook the hand of the "kill the gays" guy. Shared the stage with him and took questions from him.

When we asked those three candidates about sharing the stage with this pastor who on that stage at that same event explicitly called for the death penalty for gay people, we heard back only from the Ted Cruz campaign, which sent us this amazing two-word response. They sent us this, quote, "not explicit." As in we did not think Pastor Swanson`s repeated calls to kill gay people were explicit enough to require any sort of explanation from us about why Ted Cruz was comfortable doing this guy`s event.

Of those three Republican presidential candidates who shared the stage with Kevin Swanson, two of them are still in the presidential race now. Bobby Jindal`s out. But Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee are still in. And they are both headed to another charming shindig this weekend. And this time they`ll have even more company.

People for the American Way now reports that even more Republican presidential candidates, we think as many as seven, are going to be joining an event this weekend hosted by this guy.


PASTOR RICK SCARBOROUGH: The reason Satan`s trying to destroy this country right now is because we send more missionaries, do more good than any nation in history. But that`s all at stake right now because they`ve now by the act of five unelected judges, mandated something upon this country that for the first time can kill it!

Abortion is a horrible thing. But you and I can opt out of abortion. We just don`t have them. If we have them, we then ask God to forgive us and those babies that have been slain are deposited in heaven for the next life.

But when homosexuals begin lining up to adopt those children, they will -- they will literally disciple them into an early grave called hell!


MADDOW: That charming man is Pastor Rick Scarborough. This is the guy who seven Republican presidential candidates have decided to share their weekend with this weekend.

The Family Research Council says they`re going to appear in a special broadcast with the guy who says he is so opposed to homosexuality that he once said he was ready to burn to death rather than accept gay marriage as legal.

After the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, some media outlets contacted Pastor Rick Scarborough to see if he was going to self-immolate because of the ruling. Pastor Rick was forced to clarify he would not actually be setting himself on fire despite his earlier promises.

But where Pastor Rick Scarborough really stands out is in his continued propagation of a theory that AIDS is a disease sent by God to punish gay people. Which at this point is kind of an old-fashioned assertion, right, even for the religious right.

Rick Scarborough is so old-fashioned about this he even still refers to AIDS by one name that was used for a hot second in the early `80s -- GRID. Remember that? It meant gay related immune deficiency. That misnomer really only existed for a little while in the early `80s before they figured out what AIDS and later HIV actually were.

But Pastor Scarborough still use that`s term. Except he gets it wrong and he calls it GRIDs instead of GRID.


SCARBOROUGH: I believe that GRIDs was God`s judgment on a sinful generation. I mean, I don`t apologize for that. Is it an unforgivable sin? Of course not.

In fact, I believe God would probably give us the cure for AIDS today if we put our foot down and said we no longer tolerate this, we`re not going to fund it with health care, we`re going to hold you accountable. I believe when we start repenting across this country, some sharp probably Christian or Jewish researcher would find the AIDS cure.


MADDOW: See, if we would just hold the gays accountable by refusing to give them health care for their gay disease, then God would just give the cure for AIDS to some researchers. But only a Christian or Jewish researcher because I mean, God has standards, right?

According to Pastor Rick Scarborough, God has visited many horrors on this country because of our immoral ways. He said the Aurora movie theater massacre in college happened because god lowered his protection because of the number of children born without of wedlock in this country and the fact abortion is legal.

Also, Benghazi also turns out not Hillary Clinton`s fault. Or only partly her fault. Pastor Scarborough says God allowed the Benghazi attack because, quote, "America is mired in sin." So mired are we in sin in fact that god might just nuke us all into oblivion any day now and he would be justified to do it.


SCARBOROUGH: We may not conceive America -- every day I`m amazed that we live another day, that God gives us grace. This thing could all come crashing down either economically or with a series of dirty bombs going off in our major cities or one major nuclear bomb that would destroy half the country and contaminate the rest.

And if that happens, God is perfectly just and vindicated, because we have squandered our grace in this country.


MADDOW: So, this weekend, that guy, Pastor Rick Scarborough, is hosting a political event with these candidates. Again, at least that`s proclaimed by the Family Research Council in their press release about the event. They say they`re expecting Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum.

I should note the Family Research Council also said they were expecting Donald Trump to participate in this thing, but the Trump campaign told us tonight they are not.

So, maybe it`s all a bluff. Maybe none of these candidates will show up. But we have asked them all. The Family Research Council says all these candidates will be guest of Pastor Rick Scarborough this weekend. A live broadcast that will be beamed into conservative churches around the country, all these candidates along with their friends, Mr. AIDS is a gay plague sent by an angry God.

We reached out to all the candidates` campaigns for comment on this event, we`ll let you know if we hear back.


MADDOW: Hey. Hey, what is that?

It`s Friday Night News Dump.

Nick Tuths, who`s tonight`s lucky player?

NICK TUTHS, TRMS PRODUCER: Tonight, we`ve got Larry Paros. He`s from Kirkland, Washington. He`s 81 years old. He`s a teacher and education innovator and he writes about language and politics.

Rachel, meet Larry.

MADDOW: Mr. Paros, Larry, welcome. It`s nice to meet you.

LARRY PAROS, KIRKLAND, WASHINGTON: Hey, Rachel, love to see you. Good to see you. You`re a favorite of mine. Always have been.

MADDOW: Thank you. I`ve only just met you now, but I can tell you`re already becoming a favorite of mine as well.

I think this is going to go great.

PAROS: Love it.

MADDOW: It`s a pretty simple game, as you know. You`re going to get three questions. If you get at least two of them right, you will win a small piece of junk that Nick will show you. It`s a teeny tiny cocktail shaker. We`re not very proud of this, but we will send it to you.

We also have a bonus prize this week which is something random that we found in our office. It`s more random than usual. Nick will tell us what it is.

TUTHS: This right here is a "for sale Barack Obama`s Senate seat call Rob Blagojevich" t-shirt.

MADDOW: So we think this dates back to, like, 2009 to the Rob Blagojevich controversy. It was just shoved behind a desk in our office. It`s dirty. We will launder it before we send it to you.

PAROS: Just what I need.

MADDOW: Perfect. All right, Larry. We also need to bring in the disembodied voice of Steve Benen from Maddow Blog. He`ll determine whether or not you got the right answer in tonight`s question.

Steve, meet Larry. Larry, meet Steve.

STEVE BENEN, MADDOW BLOG: Good evening to you both.

MADDOW: All right.

PAROS: Hi, disembodied voice.

MADDOW: All right. Here we go, Larry, first question is from Monday`s show.

On Monday show, we reported that Michigan`s largest newspaper, which had twice endorsed Rick Snyder for governor had nevertheless just run a blistering editorial criticizing Governor Rick Snyder for his handling of the led poisoning in the city of Flint. What was the very provocative title of that "Detroit Free Press" editorial?

Was it A, "Snyder to city: Drop dead"; B, "Yes, Virginia, there is a water crisis"; C, "Heck of a job, Governor", or D, "Lansing, we`ve got a problem"?

PAROS: Well, I think it`s shades of Brownie, so I`ll go with C, "Heck of a job, Governor".

MADDOW: Steve, did Larry get that right?

BENEN: Let`s check Monday`s show.


MADDOW: That same editorial board endorsed Snyder for governor. Now, they`re calling his actions, shameful and maddening. They castigating him for heaping misery on the people to Flint. They`re entitled their op-ed, "Heck of a job, Governor."


BENEN: Heck of a job, Larry. The correct answer is C. Larry is one for one.

MADDOW: Except, when you did a heck of a job, it didn`t have that -- it doesn`t have the other entendre. You actually -- anyway, you know what I mean.

OK. Second one is from Wednesday show. On Wednesday show, we reported on the release of one of the more effective Republican political ads of this whole presidential cycle. At least I thought that was one of the best ones I`ve seen this year. The ad features a reality show star who has become a very influential figure in conservative politics.

Who is that TV star and which candidate is that star endorsing in the ad? Is it, A, Snooki for "The Jersey Shore" endorsing Chris Christie? Is it, B, Phil Robertson from "Duck Dynasty" endorsing Ted Cruz? Is it C, Bristol Palin from "Dancing with the Stars" endorsing Carly Fiorina? Or is it D, Donald Trump from "The Apprentice" endorsing Donald Trump?

PAROS: Well, let`s go with a little bit of quackery and go with B.

MADDOW: Steve, B is Larry`s guess. What`s the right answer?

BENEN: Let`s check Wednesday`s segment.


PHIL ROBERTSON, DUCK DYNASTY: He`s godly. He loves us, he`s the man for the job and he will go duck hunting, because today we`re going.

Ted Cruz is my man. I`m voting for him.



BENEN: Yes. The correct answer is B, and Larry is right again.

MADDOW: Larry, well done. One more question for you.


MADDOW: This is from last night`s show. And last night`s show was a little different than most night`s shows. I have this long interview with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. One of the things I asked her about was whether gender politics would be a major consideration for her if she gets a chance to pick a vice presidential running mate? Secretary Clinton answered that she would be happy picking a woman or a man for the job if she gets to pick a running mate. She also then floated one celebrity possibility.

Which celebrity did Secretary Clinton bring up in that discussion on who she might pick as a running mate? Was it A, Phil Robertson of "Duck Dynasty", B, Beyonce, c, Oprah Winfrey, or D, Leonardo DiCaprio?

PAROS: I -- seeing that he`s the hottest thing going right now, let`s go with D, Leonardo DiCaprio.

MADDOW: Steve, do you have the correct answer for us?

BENEN: Let`s check last night`s show.


MADDOW: You don`t have to choose some Grizzly Adams mountain man in order to like comfort the people who`d be so freaked out by a woman president?

CLINTON: Yes, I`m going to -- I`m going to look at a lot of different people.

MADDOW: Grizzly Adams --

CLINTON: I`m not sure Leo DiCaprio is available, but we`ll see, right? I think what is --

MADDOW: You have to ask the bear.

CLINTON: Yes, ask the bear.


BENEN: Yes, the correct answer is Leonardo DiCaprio and Larry is right once again.

MADDOW: Larry, spectacular. Spectacular.

Nick, obviously he won everything?

TUTHS: He did.

MADDOW: All right. Larry, we`re going to give you the cocktail shaker. We`re going to launder the t-shirt and then send it to you. It was really nice to meet you tonight. Congratulations. Thank you for playing.

PAROS: Likewise, great. Thanks a lot. Really appreciate it, Rachel.

MADDOW: And if you want to play the Friday Night News Dump, all you have to do is e-mail us, Operators are standing by. Actually, operators are standing by.

Before you do that, though, you do have to meet your new cell mates. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END