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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 1/19/2016

Guests: Bernie Sanders

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: January 19, 2016 Guest: Bernie Sanders

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: There are a lot of fascinating revelations in this book.

Jane Mayer, a phenomenal reporter, "Dark Money", thank you for being here.

JANE MAYER, "DARK MONEY" AUTHOR: Glad to be with you.

HAYES: All right. That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.

And thanks to you at home for joining this hour.

This year, this summer, summer of 2016, the Republicans are going to have their presidential nominating convention in the middle of July. And then the Democrats are going to go after that.

The conventions are unusually early this year which means the parties will pick their nominees sooner than they usually do. That means in effect that the general election will last longer than it usually does.

But in terms of nominating a presidential candidate, technically peeking the Republicans are going to go first this year. And every cycle it`s done a little differently. In 2008, not only were the conventions much later that year, they didn`t happen till it August and September, but the order was reversed from this year in 2008, the Democrats went first.

Democrats held their big nominating convention for Barack Obama and Joe Biden in Denver. You might remember it culminated with that big speech in that huge arena in Denver where Barack Obama spoke on that set with the big theatrical columns. It was very dramatic.

The Republicans that year in 2008, they made a bold decision that they would take advantage of the fact that the Democrats were going first and they would take advantage of the fact that the conventions were so late that year. So the momentum coming out of the conventions was going to be really important for the general election. Because of those two factors, they decided to do something very bold. They decided in 2008 that one day after the Democratic convention was over, the very next day, John McCain would name his vice presidential running mate.

They didn`t name the person who was going to run with McCain until after the Democrats had their convention. It`s kinds of a genius move, right? It meant the biggest move who John McCain was going to pick as his running mate was this is distracting parlor game that everybody was nattering about all through the Democratic Convention when they should have been talking about Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

It also meant when John McCain made his announcement, it by necessity would completely take over the political news cycle, so it would squash all of the Democrats` momentum from their convention. The day after that convention was over, it was over. It turned the whole narrative of the race on its head.

In that tiny little window between the Democratic Convention and the Republican Convention in `08, the John McCain campaign basically just decided that they were going to defibrillate the election that year. And boom, they did.

One day after the Denver of convention was over in Fairborn, Ohio, John McCain basically yelled "clear" and then shocked everybody by picking Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. And the American people`s initial reaction was, I`m sorry, who now?

Gallup released this polling data the day after Sarah Palin was announce. Look at the headline, quote, "Palin unknown to most Americans."

But she quickly became very, very, very famous. And she initially became very popular. She gave that rollicking well-received speech at the Republican Convention, that was the lipstick on a pig speech. Remember?

She was in huge demand at Republican campaign events. She was all over magazine covers at the time. There was this huge clamor and tons of interest in her. Everything was going great and then she started doing interviews.


INTERVIEWER: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?


INTERVIEWER: The Bush -- what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view?

INTERVIEWER: No, the Bush doctrine enunciated in September, 2002, before the Iraq war.


MADDOW: That was Governor Palin`s first interview as a vice presidential candidate. Didn`t go well.

She would do OK when she was interviewed in friendly territory like right wing talk radio or the FOX News Channel, but anytime they would let her out of that bubble, it went badly.


INTERVIEWER: I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand --

PALIN: I`ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

INTERVIEWER: Like what ones specifically I`m curious.

PALIN: All of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

INTERVIEWER: Can you name a few?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news. Alaska isn`t a foreign country.


MADDOW: The Sarah Palin choice both its timing and the fact that it was her, it was really an audacious strategic move by the McCain campaign to try to change the trajectory of the 2008 presidential race and the initial launch was very successful. She didn`t withstand the scrutiny very well though and the close questioning.

And in the end, between that Republican convention speech that was so successful and ultimately Election Day, the overall trajectory of her impact on the McCain campaign was downward. By October 30th, by just a couple of days before the election, whatever help she might have been early on had very clearly evaporated. She had become a hindrance, not a help.

A "New York Times"/CBS poll found 59 percent of the country didn`t think Sarah Palin was prepare for the job that John McCain had picked her for. That number was going up and up and up the longer the campaign went on. Quote, "Nearly a third of voters polled say the vice presidential selection would be a major factor influencing their votes and those voters broadly favor Senator Barack Obama."

A couple of days later, of course, Senator Barack Obama and Joe Biden went on to win that presidential election and they won by a lot.

But then in the political life of Governor Palin, thereafter, things just continued to go weirdly. Within a matter of months after that election, Governor Palin had decided to inexplicably and without warning quit her job as governor of Alaska. She was still in the middle of her first term as governor but she quit because she said she had other political desires that she could not quite explain but she insisted those other political things she wanted to do insisted she would have to leave her job as governor.

She then got news jobs on the Fox News Channel for a while and on various reality shows. Eventually she starred what was basically an Internet channel called Sarah Palin TV, Sarah Palin Channel. That`s over now too, I think. Although how would we know?

In 2011, she briefly flirted with running for president herself. You might remember at one point in the summer of 2011, her exploration of a possible Sarah Palin presidential run produced a Palin family bus tour. Remember that? In which she and an entourage of relatives and assistants, staffers set off across the country. They said they just wanted to be tourists and sight see memorably in New York City, the Sarah Palin is maybe running for president bus tour also involved Governor Palin eating pizza in Midtown Manhattan with Donald Trump and his wife that is where Donald Trump famously ate pizza with a knife and fork.

Ultimately though, Governor Palin decided she would not run for president in 2012. Although again, her quitting announcement, her announcement why she was not going to run for president like the time she quit running for governor, it was a just little hard to understand. Just in terms of her choice of language and how she was trying to explain herself, it was just hard to get.


PALIN: You know, there was that is sense through my own personal internal deliberations in making this decision, I would go back and forth about whether now is the time and if I say no to the opportunity that`s in front of me via running for office now will politically speaking will I die, will I be ineffective? But no, after making the decision today and making the announcement, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt after great confirmation today too, Greta, personally speaking.


MADDOW: I don`t know. I mean, I can tell because of the questions that Greta asked her that night because of what it said in terms of the words at the bottom of the screen. I could tell them what was going on there was she was announcing she was not running for president in 2012 but just listening to her it was very hard to get. That tends to be a theme with Governor Palin.

But she has not had a job in politics since she quit as Alaska`s governor in 2009. She is mostly a conservative media celebrity now. She`s not a particularly prolific one though.

The only major appearance she has made in the last six months was at that the Washington, D.C. rally against the Iran deal last September. That was the rally where the crowd seemed very happy she was there. It seemed almost news worthy she had flown all way from Alaska to Washington to be there.

But again, once she started talking, it was hard to follow exactly what she meant.


PALIN: Remember, the enemy comes to kill still and destroy. But now they`re going to inspect themselves? Oh, what could go wrong with that? Yes, don`t call us. We`ll call you, they say. And that`s really good because Obama is standing by with his mighty phone and his mighty pen in case they stretch the truth a little. And they start dropping bombs.

No, only in an Orwellian Obama world full of sprinkly fairy dust broken from atop his unicorn as he`s peeking through a really pretty pink kaleidoscope would he ever see victory or safety for America or Israel in this treaty. This treaty will not bring peace. You don`t reward terrorism. You kill it!


MADDOW: It is sometimes hard to know what Sarah Palin means, just on a day to day basis. Sometimes it is hard to follow what she is talking about. But it is also hard to know what she means in Republican politics anymore. And that is newly relevant because today, she is backing in be to Republican presidential politics in a big way with a big high profile endorsement decision.

That is, I think, probably going to cause a lot of upset in one particular part of the Republican establishment. And it`s not about Sarah Palin`s popularity with the conservative base. It`s not about how much pull she`s got with her, I don`t know, Facebook followers or wherever people follow her now.

It is about something personal and specific, because when the John McCain campaign in 2008 decided to elevate Sarah Palin from total obscurity to make her his vice presidential running mate, they knew they were making a big strategic gamble, right? They knew they were taking a big risk and it turned out in the end to be a bad choice. It hurt John McCain`s chances, right? I mean, who knows if John McCain could have won that presidential campaign in any circumstances when George W. Bush the outgoing Republican president had a 22 percent approval rating, right?

But picking Sarah Palin we now know did not help. It hurt his chances in the end. And John McCain has there ever been asked about that bad decision he made concerning Sarah Palin. He`s been asked about it over and over and over and over again.

And John McCain from the very beginning has been unflinchingly loyal to her. He has never thrown her under the bus. He has never conceded it was a bad decision to pick her. He has never ever said a bad word against her.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I have the greatest appreciation for Governor Palin and her family. There`s great joy to know them. She invigorated our campaign. I have no doubt of my admiration and respect for her.

I have great respect and admiration for her and her family.

INTERVIEWER: That was your choice, you`re proud of it.

MCCAIN: I`m very proud.

INTERVIEWER: Think she could be president one day?

MCCAIN: Sure, sure.


MADDOW: After John McCain and Sarah Palin lost that election in 2008, a friendly interviewer`s, confrontational interviewers everybody interviewing John McCain would basically ask him about that decision more or less trying to goad him into saying that yes, Sarah Palin that choice was a bad mistake. He would never ever concede that. He would never say it.

Even later in 2009, when Governor Palin inexplicably quit as governor of Alaska, and I mean, literally inexplicable, nobody understood her explanation for why she was doing it, he still would not criticize her.


MCCAIN: I respect Sarah Palin. I appreciate her and her husband enormously. I think she will continue to play a major role in the future of the Republican Party. And I have to respect the decision she made.


MADDOW: Even after she quit in the middle of her first term as Alaska governor. That was John McCain refusing to criticize her for that. The following year, in 2010, he had her to come to Arizona to campaign for him in his Senate re-election bid that year.

By 2012, when the Republican Party was once again confronting this choice of who their nominee in 2012, Mitt Romney would pick as his running mate, at that point when Romney was considering who he would with, a lot of people came out of the woodwork in that discussion to talk about once again how terrible John McCain`s choice had been. How devastating it had been for his campaign. What a terrible choice she was.

Even then, he refused to criticize her. He never would.


INTERVIEWER: Senator McCain, I want you to hear a sound bite from one of the Sunday shows. Dick Cheney sits down, talks about your selection of vice president candidate, Governor Palin. Listen.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I like Governor Palin. I`ve met her. I know her. She`s an attractive candidate, but based on her background, she only was governor for what, two years. I don`t think she passed that test.

INTERVIEWER: Being ready?

CHENEY: Being ready to take over. I think that was a mistake.


INTERVIEWER: Do you agree, disagree?

MCCAIN: Well, I`m always glad to get comments four years later. Look, I respect the vice president. But the fact is that I`m proud of Sarah Palin. I`m proud of the job she did. I`m proud of the job she continues to do.

I love Sarah. I think she is still the best decision that I have ever made.


MADDOW: The best decision I have ever made.

That actually that last comment from the radio show was John McCain on the day of the New Hampshire primary in 2012. He has steadfastly stood by her. He has refused to ever criticize her, to ever admit there was anything wrong about her choice. He has been capital "L" loyal to her in such an unwavering way, even has his entire party has turned against this is decision that he made for obvious reasons. He has been unflinchingly loyal to her.

And today as a thank you for that in response to everything John McCain has done for her and the way he today by her for all of these difficult years, today in thanks, Sarah Palin issued her endorsement for the 2016 presidential race. She endorsed this guy.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I supported him for president. I raised a million dollars for him. Still a lot of money. I supported him. He lost. He let us down. But, you know, he lost.

So I never liked him as much after that because I don`t like losers but, Frank, let me get to it. He hit me -- he`s not a war hero.

FRANK LUNTZ: He`s a war hero. Five and a half years --

TRUMP: He`s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren`t captured, OK?


MADDOW: He`s not a war hero.

John McCain`s running mate from 2008 today endorsed Donald Trump. What does this do to the race? What does this do to the Republican Party?

We`ve actually got somebody on deck next who may know better than anybody what impact this is actually going to have. Stay with us. That`s next.


MADDOW: We still have a lot of political news to get to tonight including a live one-on-one interview with Bernie Sanders. That I`m very much looking forward to, that`s still ahead.

But the political world came to a halt tonight with some very sad news out of Iowa. We had heard earlier in the day this had been a serious car crash involving campaign workers for Dr. Ben Carson.

Now, we have the very sad news tonight that a Ben Carson campaign volunteer who was seriously injured in that crash earlier today, he has now died. There were four Carson staffers and volunteers who were involved in this crash. Three of them were treated and released at a hospital after their van went off the road in icy conditions and flipped over and was hit by another car.

But one of those campaign staffers was taken to the nearest trauma center because his injuries are much more serious. The nearest trauma center was just over the Iowa border in Nebraska, at the University of Nebraska in Omaha. He was 25-year-old Carson campaign volunteer Braden Joplin.

And again, we got word tonight that he has died because of his injuries in this crash. Very, very sad news, especially a 25-year-old kid, you know? It`s a reminder for all of the rollicking pitch and catch and crazy competition and crazy personals of the presidential campaign, it`s real human beings who are involved. It`s just very sad news.

The Carson campaign suspended work today when they heard about the accident. Dr. Carson says he plans to meet with Braden Joplin`s family once he arrives in Omaha later this evening.

Before we got news that Mr. Joplin passed away, the Carson`s campaign plan had been to suspend their campaign today and tomorrow but restart on Thursday. Now that the circumstances have changed and Mr. Joplin has died, we don`t know if that`s still the plan that the Carson campaign will basically unsuspend the day after tomorrow. But we`ll let you know as we learn more.

Again, just very sad news tonight for the Ben Carson campaign and for everybody involved in politics.

Tonight, though, we`ve got more ahead with Robert Costa. We`ve also got that live one on one interview with Bernie Sanders coming up later this hour.

Please stay with us.



PALIN: Look what`s happening today. Our own GOP machine, the establishment, they who would assemble the political landscape, they`re attacking their own front-runner. Now, would the left ever, would the DNC ever come after their front-runner and her supporters? No, because they don`t eat their own. They don`t self-destruct.

But for the GOP establishment to be coming after Donald Trump`s supporters even with accusations that are so false, they are so busted the way that this thing works. We, you, a diverse dynamic needed support base that they would attack, and now some of them even whispering they`re ready to throw in for Hillary over Trump because they can`t afford to see the status quo go. Otherwise, they won`t be able to be slurping off the gravy train that`s been feeding them all these years. They don`t want that to end.

Well, and then funny, ha, ha, not funny. But now what they`re doing is wailing, well, Trump and his Trumpeteers, well, they`re not conservative enough. Oh, my goodness gracious. What the heck would the establishment know about conservatism?

And now though --


MADDOW: Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin speaking earlier tonight in Iowa endorsing Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. Mr. Trump famously refused to apologize early in his campaign for insisting publicly that Governor`s Palin running mate from 2008, Senator John McCain was in Donald Trump`s words, quote, "not a war hero". Now, Governor Palin has endorsed Mr. Trump.

What impact is this going to have on the race and on the Republican Party? What effect is this going to have on John McCain?

Joining us now is Robert Costa from "The Washington Post", a story about Sarah Palin will be on "The Post`s" front page on A1 as of tomorrow.

Robert, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here.


MADDOW: First, let me just ask the baseline calculation, is the Sarah Palin endorsement expected to be politically important in Iowa or more broadly?

COSTA: Yes. What we`re watching, Rachel, is a paradigm shift in real-time because this is a party dominated by the outsiders. The anti-establishment voices, they are now the establishment.

So, following the traditional rules an endorsement like this can wouldn`t rock the boat and wouldn`t have that much impact. But in a race 13 days before Iowa, where the two leading candidates have not been endorsed by a senator or a governor, a voice like Palin thus matters.

MADDOW: In terms of the -- what I`m starting to think of as the mythical beast of the Republican establishment, which is the sort of inchoate idea that we keep talking about what they`re going to do and it never seems to have much impact or be manifest in very visible ways, obviously, it is one thing for Donald Trump to have taken a shot like he did early in his campaign at John McCain, calling him not a war hero. John McCain famously has been incredibly loyal to Sarah Palin ever since he picked her as his running mate.

Does that hurt sort of dissing John McCain this way, by signing up with Donald Trump, does that cleave the Republican Party at all? What sort of impact is that going to have?

COSTA: They have a long-standing personal relationship. But I think what you`re going to see from Senator McCain is a move toward a more mainstream Republican hawk. He will likely not follow Governor Palin`s move toward Donald Trump.

But whether McCain could really lift someone, let`s say, in New Hampshire, where he`s won twice in 2000, 2008, it probably will have the same impact as someone like Governor Palin. So, a voice like McCain still matters in a state like New Hampshire. But in this race, it`s all conservative. It`s all about the fear of "Duck Dynasty" stars and Sarah Palin and all these different voices who are not elected leaders. They`re the power players.

MADDOW: Robert, the last time we spoke, you had just reported that Republican big dollar donors were starting to look at the rise of Ted Cruz and the sort of top tier the -- emerging firm top tier of doesn`t Donald Cruz and -- Donald Cruz -- Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, were start to think about apply thing their trout with Donald Trump even though that might have been unlikely earlier in the process. Now in these few days since you initially reported that, are you starting to see that idea spread that between Cruz and Trump, the donors are happier with Trump?

COSTA: Yes, I do. They see Trump as non-ideological. They see in Cruz, someone who`s strident, who`s close to the base, who`s not really a deal maker. They want a dealmaker.

The most striking thing to happen on the establishment side today was Iowa Governor Terry Branstad speaking out against Cruz. You now see the establishment class looking at Trump and Cruz as perhaps the likely nominees and beginning to make decisions and picking sides.

MADDOW: Robert Costa, reporter for "The Washington Post" -- thanks very much for your time, Robert. Appreciate it tonight.

COSTA: Thank you.

MADDOW: Again, Robert`s story on this subject and the impact of the Palin endorsement among other things is going to be A1 in "The Washington Post" tomorrow morning.

All right. We`re going to be talking just a few minutes to Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders live from Iowa.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: After turning out a whopping 7,000 people last night in Birmingham, Alabama, of all places, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is just right now wrapping up another pretty good-sized event in Sioux City, Iowa. With just two weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses, Senator Bernie Sanders is making a big push in Iowa. He`s got four separate events on his Iowa schedule just for today. He and Secretary Clinton, of course, are very close in the Iowa polls.

Senator Sanders also just got news from the state that goes next right after Iowa. A brand-new poll just out tonight shows Bernie Sanders with a 27-point lead in New Hampshire. Not like he has 27 percent of the vote. He`s leading Hillary Clinton by a margin of 27 points. Bernie Sanders has just hit 60 percent in this new New Hampshire poll just out from CNN and WMUR.

Senator Bernie Sanders is going to be here live with us momentito. Stay with us.


MADDOW: It`s been just over a month since the mayor of Flint, Michigan, declared a state of emergency in the lead poisoned city and today, look, she was at the White House meeting with Obama administration officials. Here she is with senior advisor Valerie Jarrett. She also met with the president himself today.

She talked about what Flint needs now, now that the population of that city has been lead poisoned and their water infrastructure has been basically ruined because of actions by the Rick Snyder administration, the state government.

President Obama issued his own emergency declaration for Flint over the weekend and tomorrow, he says he`s dispatching Nicole Lurie, the official you see her to Flint. She`s from the Health and Human Services Department. Most recently, she led the domestic response to Ebola in the United States. She`s a very experienced public health person. She`s going to be taking lead for the federal government on the crisis in Flint.

The White House says President Obama will not personally be visiting Flint when he travels to Michigan tomorrow. But Flint and its lead contaminated water are now the focus of sustained national attention including political attention.

The two leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have made the Flint crisis a big part of their campaigns. Hillary Clinton`s campaign arranged a conference call with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and reporters today. It was ostensibly about the situation in Flint and what the Clinton campaign was trying to do to help.

But on that call, the mayor made unexpected political news when she was asked if she was ready to endorse Hillary Clinton for president. You can actually hear the Clinton campaign staffers reacting with surprise in this recording of the call.


MAYOR KAREN WEAVER (D), FLINT, MI: We want a friend like Hillary in the White House. That`s exactly what we need to have happen because we know that this isn`t something that`s going to go away and we need a fighter. You know, we need someone there fighting for the city of Flint and making sure we`re getting what we deserved to have happen and Hillary Clinton has shown us she`s ready to take that on.

REPORTER: So, it sounds like you`re endorsing her for president.

WEAVER: Yes, it does sound like it, doesn`t it? I love Hillary.


MADDOW: Some of the people react were Hillary Clinton staffers going, oh, I guess we just got an endorsement. That may have been the first time a mayor of Flint, Michigan, has been asked by the national press to make a presidential be endorsement. I don`t know.

But that is just how much things have changed in the last month that winning the Flint mayor`s endorsement really counts for something right now. And so does knowing enough about Flint to talk about it on the campaign trail.

Bernie Sanders for example, he didn`t win the Flint mayor`s endorsement today, but in one way, he has gone further in his response to Flint than Secretary Clinton has. Senator Sanders now has repeatedly called for the Michigan governor to resign office over this crisis.

Governor Snyder told "The National Journal" yesterday that he does not plan to resign. But the possibility that he will resign is starting to creep into the regular local coverage of this scandal. The governor gets asked all the time now if he is going to step down.

There`s also renewed attention locally to the lieutenant governor of the state who would take over if Snyder did step down.

The governor has been under enormous pressure and criticism for this disaster. Protests have spread from Flint itself to Ann Arbor to the state capital of Lansing tonight, as Rick Snyder was named in two new class action lawsuits filed today and as governor Snyder stepped to the rostrum this evening to deliver his annual state of the state address.


GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: Tonight will be a different state of the state address. There`s so much we could discuss about how we can make our great state even better, stronger, over the next year. But tonight, I will address the crisis in Flint first and in depth.

To begin, I`d like to address the people of Flint. Your families face a crisis. A crisis you did not create and could not have prevented. I want to speak directly, honestly and sincerely to let you know we are praying for you, we are working hard for you, and we are absolutely committed to taking the right steps to effectively solve this crisis.

To you, the people of Flint, I say tonight, as I have before, I am sorry and I will fix it. No citizen of this great state should endure this kind of catastrophe. Government failed you. Federal, state and local leaders by breaking the trust you placed in us.

I`m sorry, most of us all, that I let you down. You deserve better. You deserve accountability. You deserve to know that the buck stops here with me.

Most of all, you deserve to know the truth, and I have a responsibility to tell the truth. The truth about what we`ve done, and what we`ll do to overcome this challenge.


MADDOW: Governor`s remarks tonight in the state of the state address. The only micro-fact check I would make on the governor`s remarks is when he said government failed you, federal, state and local leaders by breaking the trust. In this case, local leaders were not at fault. Local leaders had been replaced in Flint by the people who reported only to the governor. They used the emergency management statute in Michigan to replace local leaders with emergency managers who reported to Rick Snyder and those are the people who made the decision that resulted in the poisoning. That is how this started.

As protesters yelled outside while he spoke at this address tonight, Governor Snyder did spend a solid 15 minutes of his speech addressing the issue of Flint. He said, tomorrow, he`s going to release his own e-mails from the past two years related to Flint, something the local press has been hounding him to do. He plans to send more National Guard troops to Flint tomorrow as well. He asked the legislature today for another $28 million for Flint and he made a point of saying that services will be available for Flint kids who have high blood lead levels or who may have had high levels which, of course means all of Flint`s kids, every single one of them who drank that water. But some big questions are still left unanswered.

What about the governor`s I mails are not from 2015 or but 2013 when the emergency manager his speech addressing the issue of Flint. Tomorrow he`s going to release his own e-mails from the past two years related to Flint, something the local press has been hounding him to do. He plans to send more National Guard troops to Flint tomorrow.

He asked the legislature today for another $28 million for Flint and he made a point of saying that services will be available for Flint kids who have high blood lead levels or who may have had high levels which, of course, means all of Flint`s kids, every single one of them who drank that water.

But some big questions are still left unanswered. What about the governor`s emails not from 2015 or 2014 but 2013 when the emergency manager he pointed made the initial decision to drink from the Flint River. And Governor Snyder said nothing about the exorbitant bills charged to Flint residents for water they could not drink and still can`t and whether those bills will be refunded or forgiven.

The biggest question is whether his speech tonight will convince the people of Michigan he`s up to the task of fixing this problem or do anything to quell the calls for his resignation.

The presidential candidate who has spoken out most forcefully on that point, on the governor`s potential resignation over this scandal, Senator Bernie Sanders joins us live next.


MADDOW: Joining us now for the interview tonight, live from Underwood, Iowa, is Bernie Sanders -- the independent senator from Vermont, contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Senator Sanders, it`s great to see you. Thanks very much for being with us tonight.


MADDOW: Senator, I want to talk with you about Flint, Michigan. I want to talk with you about some of what`s going on between you and Secretary Clinton in the race right now. We`re going to get to that.

But there is -- a couple of other things have just happened on the campaign trail today that I`d just like to get your reaction too to first if you don`t mind. The first one is this very sad news from the Ben Carson campaign that one of Ben Carson`s volunteers was killed in a car crash today on an icy road in Iowa.

I just wanted to know if you`ve reached out to Dr. Carson or if you have any thoughts on that today.

SANDERS: Well, actually, Rachel, I`m right now in Sioux City, Iowa. We just had a rally here.

One of the first things I did do is mention the fact that a young man, a volunteer who works for Dr. Carson died on the roads here, very slippery roads here in Iowa. And, you know, clearly, Dr. Carson and I don`t have much in common politically. But the fact is when you have kids getting involved in the political process, doing their best to elect the candidates of their choice, that`s what the American democracy is about.

So, we issued a statement and I will call up Dr. Carson to send our condolences. You know, when it`s just a tragedy that a young man involved in volunteering at a political campaign should lose his life.

MADDOW: Yes, a 25-year-old man. That`s very sad.

Senator, you called a few days ago for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to resign over the lead poisoning of Flint. He gave his State of the State speech tonight in Michigan, talked about Flint at length it was h. He was emotional at times.

He`s clearly taking, you know, significant responsibility for that. He said tonight he won`t stop working on this mess until it is fixed.

Do you still stand by your call for him to resign? Do you think he is not the man to fix this problem?

SANDERS: But, Rachel, you know, I don`t go around every other day calling for governors to resign. I don`t think I ever have. And I heard Governor Snyder in your report talk about his prayers for the people of Flint and that`s fine.

But the truth is, this is one of the worst public health crises in modern American history. We don`t know the full extent of the crisis. We know that thousands of children and others have been poisoned. We don`t know how many will end up with brain damage.

But clearly, this is a horrific, horrific public health crisis. And I think that in terms of the governor`s office, there has been a real dereliction of duty. I think it`s not good enough to be talking about prayers. It`s important to say, listen, we certainly didn`t mean to do that, but we screwed up terribly and people will be paying the price for this for their entire lives, how many we don`t know, and the right thing in my view to do is to resign.

MADDOW: You brought up the subject of Flint without being asked about it in the last debate as did Secretary Clinton. You both mentioned it at the end of the debates. It was very large reaction from the crowd when you did that. This is obviously something that moves people.

And I think in general the debates have been really illuminating and have brought forward a lot of things that people necessarily didn`t expect. They`ve been spontaneous and they`ve really moved the campaign forward. That`s just my perception as an observer.

You have been loudly critical of the Democratic Party`s debate schedule in this primary. The last three debates for the Democratic side have been on weeks. There are no more scheduled Democratic debates before Iowa or New Hampshire. In contrast, the Republicans have another one next week and then they`ve got another one before New Hampshire.

Is this lack of debates on the Democratic side and hiding them in these obscure places in the schedule, is it a big enough problem that you and the other candidates might revolt and try to at least get another one scheduled?

SANDERS: Well, look, you know, when the Republicans do primetime debates they get 20 million, 25 million people watching it. When we have debates, the one here in Iowa was literally on the night of a huge football game. It was Iowa State versus the University of Iowa. Probably the worst time that you could possibly schedule a debate.

If we want to win in November, it is important that the American people hear our ideas. And debates are one way that millions of people can hear our ideas and hear the differences between the candidates.

So, I think we have got to do a lot better than that.

But, by the way, when I talk about the Democratic Party and leadership, it is not just debate scheduling. We need, Rachel, a 50-state strategy.

I was just in Alabama yesterday. The problems facing the African-American community in cities like Birmingham, Alabama, are mind-blowing. We don`t talk about it. What I learned was incredible. I mean, you`ve got what they call a 21st century Jim Crow.

The Alabama Democratic Party as well as many other Democratic Parties around the country have been written off by the Democratic leadership. Somebody there told me they got a check for $5,000. That`s crazy stuff.

We need to defend working people and we need to defend people of color in 50 states in this country.

And one of the points that I made yesterday in Alabama that if elected president, we are going to have a 50-state strategy. We are going to bring new people, new energy, working people, young people, into the political process. That`s what this campaign is doing, and that`s what I will do as president.

The way Republicans win election is when people get demoralized, when people give up on the political process and when we have low voter turnouts.

So, yes, the scheduling for the debates has been a disaster. We should be ashamed. As a Democratic party that voter turnouts are so low. We have got to reignite energy in this country and get people excited about the political process.

And when we have large voter turnouts as I think our campaign can bring about, we`re not going to only -- not only will we win -- regain the presidency, we`re going to retake the Senate, do very well in the House and in governors` races around the country.

MADDOW: Senator, I`m going to press you on this one part of it and it`s not because I`m trying to foment any sort of revolt here. I`m really not. But I`m trying to follow on what you said.

And thinking about in particular those Democratic polities in those Deep South states so many of which are going to be voting early this year, they`re going to be voting on March 1st when there`s a lot of Southern states are very early in the process because of the way the primary calendar has been changed up this year.

Given that you feel like in particular southern states aren`t getting their due from the Democratic Party, given that you feel like the Democratic Party screwed up in the way they scheduled these debates, given that you said from the very beginning that there ought to be more of these debates, I feel like the candidates are sort of more important in this process than the party is, do you and Governor O`Malley and Secretary Clinton -- do you envisage the three of you getting together and telling the party to stuff it and doing it the way that I`ve heard all three of you articulate you`d rather do it?

SANDERS: Well, count me in as one person -- you know, if Secretary Clinton and Governor O`Malley want to do it, I`m there.

I love debates. I think they are a way to inform the American people of our positions and our differences. So, I think that is a great idea. So, I`m in. If the other candidates are in, you count me in.

MADDOW: I`m never the one who starts these things but I feel like I might be starting something here.

Senator, let me ask you about another issue in terms of the way the campaign is going forward. Your policies on issues like gay rights and reproductive choice are very consistent. They should be very attractive to progressive groups. But there`s been a series of high profile endorsements of groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, they`ve gone out of their way to make very early endorsements for Secretary Clinton. Just today, Human Rights Campaign, the gay rights group, announced their Clinton endorsement.

Are you competing for those groups` endorsements and not getting them, or are you not trying to get them?

SANDERS: Look -- no, Rachel, I would love to have the endorsement of every progressive organization in America. We`re very proud to have received recently the endorsement of We`ve received the endorsement Democracy for America. These are grassroots organizations representing millions of workers.

What we are doing in this campaign, it just blows my mind every day because I see it clearly, we`re taking on not only Wall Street and economic establishment, we`re taking on the political establishment.

So, I have friends and supporters in the Human Rights Fund and Planned Parenthood. But, you know what? Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time. Some of these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment.

I will challenge anybody with regard to my record on LGBT issues. You know, I was one of the few, relatively few to oppose and vote against DOMA, et cetera. In terms of women`s rights, I believe we have a 100 percent life-time pro-choice record. But, you know, that`s what happens in politics.

Look, I`m going to do well and hopefully win, not because of the establishment support. What we are going to do well at and what we are doing well at is rallying the grassroots of this country.

We`ve been going all over the country, having just huge turnouts of people coming to our rallies. We have two and half million individual campaign contributions, more than any campaign in history.

So, Rachel, I can see -- you know, I`m not going to get establishment support. I`m not going to get the support of the governors and the senators, with few exceptions, and many of the major organizations.

But the reason that we are doing so well, why we`re ahead now I believe in New Hampshire, why we`re closing the gap in Iowa, why we`re gaining, why we are gaining in Nevada and South Carolina, and why we`re doing better and better all over the country is not from the establishment. It is from the grassroots of America.

MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont joining us from Iowa tonight. Sir, thank you very much for your time. I know it`s been a really long day for you and I really appreciate you giving us this time tonight. Thank you, sir.

SANDERS: Thank you very much, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. Talk to you soon.

We`ve got much more ahead. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Today, a weird thing happened. A bill that was passed with a unanimous vote by a state legislature, unanimous, was nevertheless vetoed by that state`s governor. I`m not going to tell you who was but I will tell you that that governor is currently applying for a much bigger job. You will not believe the thing he just did. That story is next.


MADDOW: One of the more unusual ways to find yourself cursed in our time is to live in a state where your governor has decided to run for president. Even if it works out well for your governor, it almost never works out well for your state.

Take for example, New Jersey. Not known for its easygoing politics in the best of times. But, recently, New Jersey politicians came together to pass a bill unanimously, unanimous support from both parties.

The law already says in New Jersey that you can`t have a gun if you`re a person who`s been convicted of any of a whole long list of serious crimes like homicide, kidnapping, robbery, aggravated assault, stalking, sexual assault, certain drug crimes, domestic violence. Like a lot of states, if you`ve been convicted of a crime like that, you can`t have a gun in New Jersey that is settled law.

Last year, New Jersey Republicans and Democrats unanimously voted to add a few other serious crimes in that list. They added carjacking, gang criminality, racketeering or terroristic threats. So, convicted carjackers, and gang members and racketeers, people who have made terroristic threats, you can`t have guns in New Jersey.

Along with convicted kidnappers and murderers and burglars and all the rest. It`s a unanimous vote, bipartisan vote -- the definition of noncontroversial, as long as your governor is not running for president.

Today, the "convicted carjackers can`t have guns" bill was vetoed by Chris Christie. This bill had zero opposition. It was 37-to-nothing in the Senate, 68-to-nothing in the assembly. Nobody was opposed to the bill except for Chris Christie because, of course, he`s expecting a big endorsement for the carjackers league of New Hampshire or something. It`s just amazing.

Congratulations, New Jersey. You want your next governor to run for president, too?

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


Good evening, Lawrence.