Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: February 2, 2016 Guest: Dan Kildee
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: We`re going to see. We`re going to see those South Carolina numbers if they move or not.
Joy Reid, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, thank you.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
You did amazing, amazing work in Iowa. It was so much fun to watch you.
When you found the Santorum guy in the sweater vest, I just -- I mean, it`s --
HAYES: I have rewatched that clip about 15 times today, because it cracks me up. It`s just sort of the perfect moment of the absurdity of this election.
MADDOW: And if you do nothing else in your life, you will have done that. You found that guy and told that story. It was just -- it was perfection.
HAYES: Thank you.
MADDOW: Great to have you there, man.
Thanks to you at home for joining us.
In 1980, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination was Ronald Reagan. He had challenged incumbent President Gerald Ford in 1976 and given Ford a good run for his money. Ford did win in 1976 and he went onto lose the general election to Jimmy Carter.
And so, the Republican Party by 1980 was of the general opinion that Ronald Reagan was due. Ronald Reagan was next the line. He was the front-runner. In 1980, things did not start well for governor Reagan. The night before the Iowa caucuses the Republican candidates held an Iowa debate. Ronald Reagan decided to not show up for it.
And again, it was not just the last debate before Iowa voted in 1980. It was the night before the caucuses. Front runner Ronald Reagan blew it off.
On the following day, on caucus day itself, Ronald Reagan stayed in California. He didn`t show up in Iowa. And, you know, maybe he was just taking it for granted. He was the front-runner. He was expected to win.
On the ground, in Iowa, that year, something went wrong. Something really specific went wrong. Iowa public television went back to it recently. They did kind of an autopsy of what happened there -- a moment by moment reconstruction of what went so wrong and had such dramatic consequences for the country, on the ground, at the Iowa caucuses in 1980.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Republican Party of Iowa reporting system was built on brand new computers technology designed to compile data phoned in from rural and urban corners of the Iowa.
STEVE ROBERTS: We did it in an effort to get a fast response to the many people who wanted to know what happened in 2,531 different meetings or what the strength was. And a day or two later wasn`t fast enough. This was the fastest way we could come up with.
NARRATOR: Despite the best intentions of reliability, the system ultimately failed on caucus night.
JOHN SEARS: We haven`t been able to get much out of western part of the state. We expect to be quite strong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush took on an early lead as the late vote started to come in. The computers crashed. No real hope of getting them started again. Reporters, I got to write a lead. Bush won.
DOUG CROSS: Without them stopping the counting in some of these rural counties in 1980, we wouldn`t have -- he would have been vice president. He wouldn`t have been president. W would likely now be president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Think our different American history would be that Reagan won the Iowa caucuses in 1980. The whole Bush dynasty never would have started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Did George Bush Sr. actually win Iowa in 1980? Actually, who knows? After the caucuses wrapped up that year and everybody moved onto cover the subsequent races. CBS stuck around afterwards and did an analysis of the results from the Iowa caucuses that year and what CBS found at least was -- well, as far as they could tell Ronald Reagan won the caucuses that year, not Poppy Bush.
So, factually, who knows? Politically, it went down in the books that year as a win for George H.W. Bush. And that was huge. It was huge for him.
I spent the day watching news packages from the time about how George Bush campaign got the wind in their sails and this newfound attention, and all this new fund-raiser, all this media effort for him after his supposed win in Iowa.
And in the end, in the Republican presidential contest that year, no, George Bush senior didn`t end up winning. He didn`t beat Ronald Reagan for the nomination. Reagan ended up becoming the party`s nominee for president that year and ultimately becoming president.
But thanks to that big surprise win that George Bush pulled off in Iowa, that supposed win, thanks to the huge boost that gave to the Bush campaign that year, George Bush did establish himself in 1980, because of Iowa as the primary challenger, the main challenger to Ronald Reagan, the next best guy in the field. And it is a matter of historic record that is why Ronald Reagan chose George H.W. Bush to be his running mate that year.
And that did make George H.W. Bush Ronald Reagan`s vice president, and that did start the Bush legacy in presidential politics, and the rest is history, or it`s a computer glitch depending on you are in the matrix.
Small ripples in the state of Iowa can create very big waves in the whole world that last for a very, very long time. Last night in Iowa, the winner on the Republican side was Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Cruz winning the Iowa caucuses would have not been a shock had the vote happened in December when he was consistently leading in the Iowa polls.
Because the Iowa caucuses were not in December, though, they were last night, it was a surprise result because Ted Cruz stopped leading in the Iowa polls around the holidays, right around the turn of the year. Donald Trump had been beating Ted Cruz soundly in all the Iowa polls, even the really good Iowa polls for the last few weeks heading into last night`s voting.
So, it was a surprise that Ted Cruz won last night. We`re going to talk about whether Ted Cruz is a real contender for the nomination given Iowa`s recent track record in Republican politics. There`s reason to ask whether or not Ted Cruz`s just another Mike Huckabee, just another Rick Santorum, just another Pat Robinson type, a Republican who couldn`t win in Iowa, but who has no real chance at the big prize.
Iowa`s recent track record of picking far right religious conservative Republicans who don`t have much appeal to the rest of the Republican electorate that is part of why lots of Republicans question year after year the wisdom of having Iowa go first. But as this year`s Iowa winner, we don`t know yet if Ted Cruz is going to follow that same pattern. Honestly, personally, I think there`s some signs he`s not a candidate like a Huckabee or a Santorum or Pat Robertson. I think he has a much better chance of going further than your Iowa Republican winner. But we will see. And we`re going to be talking about that evidence ahead tonight.
Second place on the Republican side last night went to Donald Trump, who I think is suffering today from the let down of high expectations. I mean, step back from the results here. Donald Trump came in second out of 12 candidates in Iowa, which is great. Second out of 12 is great -- unless people expected you to be first in which case all you did was lose.
Mr. Trump has been whining today. Sorry to call it that. But he is whining on Twitter, saying he`s not getting enough credit for his good second place finish in Iowa.
But you can`t whine about that. That`s how these things go. You raise expectations that you`re going to win, and you don`t, you get bad press and bad momentum for a long time.
The candidate who is claiming the biggest mandate out of Iowa, weirdly, is a guy who lost not only to Ted Cruz but he also lost to Donald Trump. Florida Senator Marco Rubio is the candidate last night who was first on the stage before anybody else delivering a combination toothpaste ad and wildly gleeful victory speech celebrating his third place finish in Iowa.
Big picture, third out of 12 is a nice thing. Marco Rubio had been in third place in the Iowa polls for weeks and weeks and weeks. Then he got third place in Iowa. He had been in third place in every Iowa poll for weeks and weeks. He was expected to get third place in Iowa and he got third place in Iowa. Whoo!
By the magic of top dollar A-game political spin doctoring Marco Rubio doing exactly as well as he was supposed to is something we should regard as huge news. It`s now the near unanimous view in the Beltway, in the punditocracy that Marco Rubio is the candidate to beat in New Hampshire.
It`s not just the pundit class and the beltway that sees it that way. It`s a view shared by his fellow Republican candidate. It`s at least a belief that is shared by one of those Republican candidates named Chris Christie. We can tell because we have evidence for it.
And the evidence is Chris Christie basically losing his mind today in such an extended, unprompted, anti-Marco Rubio repetitious screed that I expected one of the reporters who witnessed it to reach out and give him a little hug and talk him down and maybe stroke his forehead a little bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m going to work. I love you, guys. You can follow me around all you want. You know me. Unlike some of these other campaigns, I`m not the boy in the bubble, OK? We know who the boy in the bubble is up here, who never answers your questions, who constantly scripted and controlled because he can`t answer your questions.
So, when Senator Rubio gets here, when the boy in the bubble gets here, I hop you guys ask him some questions, because it`s time for him to start answering questions. He wants to say this race is over and it`s all him.
It seems to me he should have to sit across from you to answer your questions and you and you and you and you, and he hasn`t. So, now, it`s time for him to man up and step up and stop letting all his handlers write his speeches and handling, because that`s what they do. That`s what you have to do for somebody who has never done anything in their life.
So, let`s get him up here. Let`s get the boy in the bubble out of bubble. Let`s see if he will answer your questions. Let`s see if he will gaggle with you every day like I gaggle with you guys every day when I`m here. Let`s see if he`ll answer your questions and stand up and take that, but I don`t think he will. You know why? I don`t think he can.
So, if he`d like to -- I`d be happy every day, I`ll have as many gaggles as Marco Rubio does every day. He wants to answer your tough questions about his flip-flops on immigration, he wants to answer your tough questions about his lack of record and experience, he wants to answer your questions about why he ran away from his own immigration bill when it got too hot, I`m fascinated to hear the answers. I`m sure you will be too.
Maybe he`ll answer more than two or three questions at a town hall meeting, and do more than 40 minutes on a little stage telling everybody these speeches that he`s memorized over the course of his time.
This isn`t the student council election. This is the election for the president of the United States. Let`s get the boy in the bubble out of the bubble and let`s see him playing for the next week in New Hampshire.
I`m ready to play. I hope he is, because I`ll be ready to see him on Saturday night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Tell us what you really think. Governor Chris Christie telling reporters just how much he doesn`t care about Marco Rubio. Never thinks about him. He`s of no consequence. Not a substantive guy. Nothing to say.
I mean, you can tell he doesn`t think about Marco Rubio or care about Marco Rubio because he`s physically unable to stop himself from jockeying about Marco Rubio.
Governor Christi, John Kasich and Jeb Bush were the three Republican candidates who watched Iowa election results last night not from Iowa but New Hampshire. Christi, Kasich and Bush all did various degrees of terrible in the Iowa results last night.
One of the things Chris Christie bragged to reporters about today was he spent less money to do terribly in Iowa than Jeb Bush spent to do terribly in Iowa. So, therefore, he`d be a better manager of your money. I lose cheaper. Vote for me.
So, we`re also going to be talking a little later this hour about which Republican candidates are dropping out of race and which ones inexplicably are not. At least on the Republican side, one thing we got last night was a clear result.
On the Democratic side, I was on the air for a long time last night. I mean, we were here live until 2:00 a.m. Eastern and you could see it on our faces. It was not until well after we left that anybody even tried to call the Democratic race other than the Clinton campaign which declared victory as soon as caucuses closed, basically.
Ultimately, the Iowa Democratic Party did declare that Hillary Clinton was the winner of the Iowa caucus by an exceedingly close margin. NBC News actually still considered Secretary Clinton to be the apparent winner in Iowa. They`re holding off any more declarative statement about her winning Iowa until it`s clear whether there`s going to be any sort of challenge to the Iowa result.
If you want to know how close the race was on the Democratic side in Iowa last night, it`s so close it`s hard to show the difference between the candidates. Here, for example, is a correct to scale graph. Show it. Is that the bar graph? These are the inset. The inset bar graph there.
That`s to scale map. A to scale graph showing the difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders last night. You can see the big difference between the red bar and the tan bar.
See a huge difference -- yes, no difference between the two bars to the naked eye. You have to actually use math to show the difference. The tally announced by the Iowa Democratic Party is that Hillary Clinton was awarded this number of state delegate equivalents, 700.59. Senator Sanders was appointed this number of state delegate equivalents, 696.82. That`s a difference of 3.77 delegate equivalents out of roughly 1,400 to be awarded.
Former Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley dropped out of race for president last night because of his poor showing in Iowa last night. He got a minuscule 7.61 state delegate equivalents in last night caucus, out of, again, 1,400 something. That`s a really, really tiny number for him.
You know what, the contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was so tight that those delegates, the Martin O`Malley got, they`d be enough to sway the election between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders twice numbers.
So, it`s just astonishingly close, which led to a very late night, which ultimately turned into a very early morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you anticipate contesting this vote count at all?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Honestly, we just got off the plane. We don`t know enough to say anything about it.
HUNT: Thank you very much, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Kasie Hunt with Bernie Sanders in the pre-dawn moment he stepped off the plane in New Hampshire this morning. One of the kind of amazing things that happened with Senator Sanders was when we got to New Hampshire at freaking 5:00 in the morning, there was a huge crowd of Bernie Sanders supporters there to greet him.
And he ended up having an impromptu rally in the back of the pickup truck rally at 5:00 in the morning.
This is Bernie Sanders getting into New Hampshire this morning before dawn after leaving Iowa last night. We`re actually told by our NBC producer who`s on the ground shooting this that there were about 350 people there. This is in Bow, New Hampshire.
Bernie Sanders had just arrived in state. And this really was 5:00 in the morning. He seemed as bewildered by the crowd as anybody was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I cannot believe -- what time is this? It`s amazing.
Cannot believe that you`re here at the 5:00 in the morning. Something is wrong with you guys. Thank you. We thank you so much.
CROWD: We love your Bernie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The man is 74 years old. I am not 74 years old, but I could not have done that at 5:00 this morning.
By later in day, after the Iowa Democratic Party announced that Secretary Clinton officially had won the Iowa caucuses, this closest race in Iowa history, that put a spring in Secretary Clinton`s step for her event and the interviews she did today, including one with our own Chris Matthews.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Madam Secretary, thank you for joining us. It was quite a night last night.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks.
MATTHEWS: And I was taken with your moment of candor there before the cameras when you said you had a sigh of relief. Tell us about that sigh of relief.
CLINTON: Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: And what it meant to you.
CLINTON: Oh, Chris, it meant the world to me. We all remember I was not successful in Iowa last time. I know how hard that caucus process is -- so proud of our organization, our volunteers, all my supporters. Everybody said if there were a big turn out that would advantage Senator Sanders. There was a big turn out, and we won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There was a big turn out last night on the Democratic side in Iowa. It was not a historically big turnout. 2008 was bigger on the Democratic side. But it was a larger turn out last night than people expected.
Hillary Clinton did better that are Bernie Sanders did with women voters. She did better with Democratic voters who call themselves moderate. She did well with non-white voters, although non-white voters don`t make up a huge portion of the electorate in Iowa.
Bernie Sanders, for his part, he did well with Democratic voters who consider themselves to be very liberal. He did well with voters who do not consider themselves to be Democrats at all, who considers themselves to be independent.
And the group with whom Bernie Sanders hit it out of the park was the youngest voters at Iowa Democratic caucuses last night. Voters between the ages of 17 and 29. He won them by a 70-point margin -- a 70-point margin, which is a bigger gap than any other demographic group between these two candidates in either direction.
Now, the reason that huge gap with young voters didn`t translate into a win for Bernie Sanders last night is because not that many of those young voters who like him so much turned out. Compared to 2008, the portion of the Democratic electorate that turned out last night in Iowa that was that young, it was only 18 percent of the overall turn out. That was down from 2008. That young proportion of the electorate was down about four points from what it had been when Barack Obama had his surprise win in the Iowa caucuses in 2008.
So, maybe that is what made the difference. Bernie Sanders, bottom line, absolutely lucked up the young vote by an astonishing large margin. But not enough young people turned out and voted to have him win Iowa.
Now, what does that mean for what comes next? What does that mean for New Hampshire? Who knows? The immediate horizon here, the poll numbers in New Hampshire on the Democratic side have looked very strong for Bernie Sanders for quite a long time.
But one of the things that`s fun about politics is you never know how far to widen the lens, right? You never know how big and distant a horizon you should be focusing on at anyone moment, because yes, those poll numbers where he`s so far ahead, that`s New Hampshire 2016 as best we can tell right now from the most recent polling.
But the polling may change after Iowa. And we don`t know in what direction, and New Hampshire, as a Democratic battleground, also has to take into account this recent history. This was Hillary Clinton at her victory party in New Hampshire in 2008.
The last time she ran for president in `08, remember what happened to her in New Hampshire. She had been leading in the polls until the 2008 Democratic primary race was shocked by what happened in Iowa that year when Barack Obama won in Iowa. All of a sudden, what that did to the polls in New Hampshire is that Hillary Clinton`s lead in New Hampshire got shaky. She had been steadily leading in New Hampshire but once Iowa happened, that was an earthquake.
And her lead got shaky and then she started trading the lead back and forth with Obama, poll to poll. They even tied exactly in one New Hampshire poll shortly after Iowa. But then, ultimately before New Hampshire voted the, Barack Obama just took over in the polls.
Before the New Hampshire primary in 16 straight polls, Barack Obama was on top. He was going to win. He was going to beat Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. She didn`t have a chance there.
And then New Hampshire voters went to the poll in 2008 and Barack Obama did not win. Hillary Clinton pulled it out, when the polls said she had no chance of it. So, what`s going to happen?
On the Republican side in New Hampshire and beyond, I have no idea. On the Democratic side in New Hampshire and beyond, I have no idea -- and neither do you, particularly, after this tie. This de facto tie which is the smallest of all wins ever in Iowa for the Clinton campaign last night.
The Clinton-Sanders contest here sort of has to be seen as resetting, I think. After this down to the wire, unbelievably close result in Iowa. After something as weird as that, this does feel like a new day one.
This is the day to start asking anew, what are the differences between these candidates? Who`s better on the stump? Who`s got a better platform? Who`s got a better organizational structure? Who`s better at debates? Who`s got a better chance at beating a Republican if they are the nominee?
God, you know we need right now between these two candidate s a freaking debate in New Hampshire, like maybe the day after tomorrow. Thursday night at University of New Hampshire in Durham is really nice. Maybe we could do it like at 9:00 Eastern. Are we on?
That debate, that possible debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is turning into a point of contention between the campaigns like you can`t believe. I think it`s on. Is it on? I`m not sure that it`s on.
I think it`s on. If it is on, I`m one of the moderators, which I`m very excited about. Chuck Todd will be the other one. He joins us in just a moment. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Well, personal announcement to make. I am moving to New Hampshire, tonight. We`re going on the road after this very show tonight. We`re all packing our bags here in New York and piling north to New Hampshire and we`re going to be in New Hampshire the whole rest of the week.
Seriously. It`s really nice this time of year. I`m hoping to steal away for a little fishing in Lake Winnipesauke, if the ice is safe to fish through. Come on.
We got two New Hampshire shows in the works. We`re prepping for the Democratic candidates` debate on Thursday night, which I`m going to make happen through sheer force of will. We are decamping and moving the whole thing to New Hampshire. Woo-hoo!
Chuck Todd is here next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Iowa, we love you. We thank you. You`re special. We will be back many, many time times. In fact, I think I might come buy a farm. I love it, OK? Thank you. Thank you, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Two days before the Iowa caucuses, the final poll from the de facto paper of record in Iowa, "The Des Moines Register", predicted Donald Trump winning Iowa, showed him leading Ted Cruz by five, showed him leading Marco Rubio by 13.
When it came to actual caucusing, though, Donald Trump finished not only in second place, but he also finished only one point ahead of Marco Rubio. Why is that? Did the people who told pollsters they like Donald Trump not actually turn out to caucus, or did the expected number of Trump folks show up, but they were swamped by unexpectedly high number of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio supporters?
Donald Trump remains the front-runner in New Hampshire right now and by significant margins. The question is, is the kind of unexpected, or at least unpredicted weakness that he showed in Iowa last night, is that likely to be replicated in New Hampshire? Should we now see him as paper tiger or are his poll numbers somehow realistic in New Hampshire even though they turned out not to be in Iowa?
Joining us is Chuck Todd, moderator of "Meet the Press", "MTP Daily", and NBC News` political director, the most overworked man in the building right now.
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": I don`t know. I think we`re having a contest.
MADDOW: The most basic questions are always the hardest to answer. Does the way that Donald Trump underperformed last night predict anything about what happens next to him?
TODD: It could, because I think the reason why he underperformed is because he didn`t have an organization.
Look, you know, if you look at the polling and to defend both "The Des Moines Register" poll and our own polling, if you look at the entrance poll, people that made their decision in the last three or four days, they basically swamped to Cruz and Rubio. Trump led with people who had made their decision before the last week by the same essentially margins we showed in our polling. I think that sounds defensive of polling. Those are the facts.
I actually think Donald Trump campaign was sort of the akin to the kid that crams for the final when he realizes he hadn`t prepared for the final exam. The caucuses are hard, OK? Organizing for the caucuses are hard work. Some time in January, they realized we have work to do.
I actually think had me not put in this last minute effort that he did, he stormed the state, tried the Sarah Palin thing, did all this jumping up and down on Cruz, I think he would have finished third or fourth. I actually think he salvaged second by putting together this, you know, shoestring organization that he did just to get where he is.
Look, it was hard work. He didn`t do any of the work going up. Cruz and Rubio, to their credit, mechanically had done a lot of the hard work.
MADDOW: He probably would have been better suited, in terms of national attention to have come in third or fourth with no apparent effort than to been seen to try and fall short.
TODD: Well, that`s where you have -- I give him this credit, which is he went for the win. He knew he was right strategically but he didn`t back it up with hiring the right people.
Had he not -- if Cruz loses Iowa, Cruz has no path after that. He knew it was a way to knock Cruz out. So, that`s why he went for the kill. It was not -- it was a smart strategic mover. He just -- he just sort of thought about it. Did back of the envelope stuff and rushed in and crammed for the final exam.
MADDOW: What happened with the close race between Clinton and Sanders last night when it got called by NBC and when Iowa Democratic Party called it, when the Clinton campaign called it? Do you have anymore clarity on that last night? It was so confusing last night.
TODD: Well, it was, and what the Clinton campaign, this was they -- I think they were worried that somehow Sanders was going claim victory. That he was going to do it.
So, they panicked, but the way they went about and all of a sudden, the correction came. That was the thing I think that threw them. They did look at the numbers and thought he can`t overtake us. And then they had the error, and then it was turned out to be a fairly big error in one county, it was in Dallas County, that actually shrank the margin to the margin we followed the rest of the night.
Boy, I don`t -- they created a story that wasn`t necessary. They could have got more credit for their narrow win, had they not done that, I`m going to take credit three hours in advance thing.
MADDOW: Then because today she could have given the same speech having not made the claim.
TODD: All this gamesmanship, Sanders made a strategic error in waiting. He could have declared that virtual. He could have given that same speech at 10:30 than closer to midnight as he did.
MADDOW: He could have talked at the time Marco Rubio talked, been the story --
TODD: Rubio grabbed victory, and he knew --
MADDOW: From third place.
TODD: The only shot was he could have gotten to second. We`ll see.
I think this, to go back to your first question, I think what we learned last night is Trump may be, you know, the emperor has -- the campaign emperor may not have any clothes. He loses New Hampshire and I don`t know what he does.
TODD: The whole thing comes falling down.
MADDOW: Then, you watch, I mean, then the polls became newly relevant, because you watch to see if he collapses everywhere, where he`s in this -- got this giant leads in later states.
Chuck Todd, moderator of "Meet the Press" and "MTP Daily", weekdays here at MSNBC, and maybe the guy who I`m moderating a debate with on Thursday.
TODD: We`re showing up.
MADDOW: Yes. We`ll be there.
TODD: I`ve already got some friends that plan oncoming.
TODD: We can bring them on stage and let them debate.
MADDOW: Susan is coming. I have questions for you.
TODD: OK, we can have a discussion, and it will be great.
MADDOW: All right. So, we`ll at least be there.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: 2016, presidential election year, also election year for every single member of the United States House and more than a third of the seats in the U.S. Senate.
One of the weirdest and shortest Senate campaigns we covered two years ago in the midterms is when former Vice President Dick Cheney`s daughter Liz packed up and headed west to Wyoming to try to primary Republican Senator Mike Enzi out of his seat. Turns out Wyoming, kind of like him and even if they didn`t, they weren`t necessarily receptive to the idea of replacing him with someone who spent their life in the D.C. beltway, raised her family in Arlington, Virginia, and moved to Wyoming specifically for that election acting like she had been there the whole time.
Shortly after announcing her candidacy, the news emerged that Liz Cheney had improperly bought a Wyoming resident fishing license, using an application that listed her as a ten-year resident of Wyoming even though she lived in Virginia.
Liz Cheney ended up blaming that on the clerk who sold her the fishing license, which is a nice thing to do. That was just the beginning of a short and rocky campaign, which ended not long thereafter with Liz Cheney pulling out of the race.
Well, lest you think all the excitement is on the presidential side of politics this year, the good news I have for you right now, especially if you live in Wyoming, is that old Liz Cheney is back again. She has just announced that she`s going to try to run again from Wyoming, except this time she`s going to run for the House and not the Senate.
And just to prove that she has learned from her past mistakes, her original announcement, Liz Cheney`s announcement that she`s running was published on Facebook with a location tag, location tag from the charming backwoods Wyoming town of Alexandria, Virginia.
The Cheney for Wyoming campaign has taken it down the location from that Facebook post. They`re calling it a campaign glitch. They say despite appearing to launch her Wyoming congressional campaign from Alexandria Virginia, they say they are really based in Gillette, which is definitely in Wyoming. Definitely. They checked twice. Maybe three times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINA MCCARTHY, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: We are here today because a state- appointed emergency manager made the decision that the city of Flint would stop purchasing treated water that had well-served them for 50 years and instead purchase untreated water and not treat that water. That is the decision that was made and by law the state of Michigan had to approve that switch and they did not require corrosion control, all to save money.
Now that state decision resulted in lead leeching out of lead service pipes and plumbing, exposing kids to excess amounts of lead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s the head of the EPA, head of the federal EPA in Flint, Michigan, today, delivering just a scathing rebuke of the Rick Snyder administration and the state of Michigan`s responsibility for lead poisoning all the kids in Flint, Michigan.
The head of the EPA said today in Flint that her agency is there for the long haul. Quote, "We are not leaving until the water system in Flint is back on track. In addition to the head of the EPA personally going to Flint today, two big things just happened in Flint."
The first involves Flint`s mayor. When she was elected last year, Mayor Karen Weaver had almost no authority because the city had been taken over by the state. That`s the whole emergency manager thing in Michigan, right?
Flint had been under state control for years. So, newly elected mayor, Karen Weaver, didn`t have much power to actually do anything to try to get her city out of this lead poisoning disaster they were well into by that point. She then decided that she would basically fake it until she made it.
She made this bold, arguably, outside her lane of authority gambit, and she declared a citywide state of emergency. We don`t know if she had the authority to do that, but she just did it.
And because she did it, because Mayor Weaver took that leap, ultimately that started a ball rolling in terms of accountability that resulted in Michigan governor finally issuing an actual emergency declaration for Flint and President Obama signing a federal emergency declaration for Flint and that is ultimately how you get the ahead of the EPA in Flint today promising to fix Flint`s water and be there until it`s fixed.
It started because Mayor Weaver made that bold move. In terms of government action, that was the thing that changed the course of how the government was responding. Today, Mayor Weaver had done something like that again.
She convened a press conference this afternoon and said that she is calling for all of Flint`s lead water pipes to be removed and replaced. She announced that she is convening team of people headed by a retired brigadier general who will head up this effort to replace all of Flint`s lead pipes.
She even proposed a faster, cheaper method for replacing pipes. She said the state`s capital city of Lansing used this faster, cheaper method to remove and replace thousands of lead service lines in Lansing and she thinks they could do that in Flint, too. So, getting down to the nitty- gritty.
What Karen Weaver does not have is the ability to actually order something like this to happen. Flint certainly doesn`t have the money to do it. Governor Snyder is in no hurry to replace any of Flint`s pipes. He says he wants a lot more studying and testing before any pipes are replaced, if they even need to be replaced at all.
By God, Karen Weaver looks like she`s going to get those pipes dug up by sheer force of her will.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR KAREN WEAVER, FLINT, MICHIGAN: This must happen immediately. That`s what I`m asking for. I am morally obligated to use every bit of the power and authority my office has to make Flint`s water safe and the city successful for the people who live and work here. That`s what I intend to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We don`t necessarily know what power and authority she has, but she is doing everything she can, including this bold gambit today, laying down that gauntlet. That`s one big thing that happened in Flint today. The other thing that happened in Flint today is even bigger. That`s next.
MADDOW: Once the country started to wake up to the giant manmade lead poisoning disaster in Flint, Michigan, one of the first dramatic things we learned about what would become the response to Flint was that the U.S. attorney was investigating. A federal prosecutor`s investigation into how Flint`s water got poisoned.
We knew that was happening as to the first week of January. We didn`t know if it was a criminal or civil investigation. Today, we find out it`s a criminal investigation. Today, we find out the FBI is involved. An FBI spokeswoman in Detroit says, quote, "We have been investigating it for a while."
And now, everybody is wanting to investigate, including something a little sketchy in terms of investigative overture, I guess we can call it, from Congress. Tomorrow, there`s going to be the first congressional hearing on the Flint water crisis, but it is not without controversy. Congress is going to hear from some of the people involved in the story, but they are not going to hear from the main people involved in it.
The Republican committee leaders did not, for example, invite Rick Snyder to testify. Today, we also learned that EPA whistleblower Miguel Del Toral will not be there. We also learned that former Flint emergency manager Darnell Early is refusing to appear, although there maybe some late- breaking news on that tonight.
In terms of this hearing, here is how the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, is describing tomorrow`s event. Quote, "At Wednesday`s hearing, we won`t hear from the governor, any of the emergency managers he appointed in Flint or from anyone else in the state who is involved this making decisions that led to this crisis." He went onto call the hearing, quote, "a partisan effort to protect the governor and others who brought about this crisis."
Joining us now is one man who will be testifying at tomorrow`s hearing, Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint, Michigan.
Congressman, I know you`ve been working like you can`t believe on this story. Thank you so much for being with us again. I really appreciate it.
REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I want to start by asking you, there might be some breaking news about this congressional hearing tonight. We have seen it reported this hour that the Flint emergency manager, one of the people who is directly involved in this decision that did poison the water in Flint, he is being subpoenaed now to testify tomorrow on Capitol Hill.
Do you know anything about that? Do you know what`s likely to happen there?
KILDEE: No. I did talk to Chairman Chaffetz on the floor of the House during a vote series today, and he did indicate that he would be subpoenaing Mr. Early.
And I think they were embarrassed. They invited him, he had accepted and maybe begin to understand the gravity of what was about to take place, and then withdrew.
And I think the committee chair was quite irritated by that, so they issued a subpoena. Whether or not he`ll appear is doubtful, at least based on some reports that I`d just seen.
MADDOW: We have been hearing that he and his lawyer are refusing to be served with that subpoena tonight. Obviously, anybody has the right to plead the fifth for example in a case like this, but there`s questions that have been raised, particularly by ranking member that the committee isn`t trying to get to the bottom of this, that they`re not being aggressive at investigating, that they want to make this an Obama administration scandal instead of really figuring out what happened in Flint.
Does this issue with the subpoena tonight change your mind at all about the overall direction of the committee here and what Congress is trying to learn?
KILDEE: Not really because if they wanted to get answers they would ask the governor to come. He`s the one person who is in a position to know exactly what happened, to answer the questions. He pledged as you know complete transparency.
This doesn`t look much like transparency. But the committee hearing I`ll testify because I asked to tell Flint` story before the committee hears from other witnesses, but, you know, I think everything communicates and I think the hearing is important because the Congress and those watching will see exactly how transparent the Snyder administration is being about this - - not at all.
And they`ll also see members of Congress who should be discharging your duties protecting children in Flint. Some of them may be more interested in the career of the governor, than the career choices that these kids are going to have.
MADDOW: Congressman, we also got word today that the FBI is part of the investigation into why this happened and how this happened in Flint. We heard last month that the U.S. attorney was looking into it and it looks now like it`s a broader investigation with the FBI on the case as well.
Is that heartening to you? Do you have any expectations there in terms of the federal investigation?
KILDEE: Well, I`m very happy that it`s happening because the individuals who did this to the people that I represent, to people in my hometown, need to be personally held accountable and I hope and believe that the facts will lead the investigation wherever it goes and those people who did wrong to the people of Flint will have to stand for that and explain what they did and will be judged accordingly.
I am concerned however that with all the attention on individual accountability that we will somehow lose the responsibility, the moral obligation, that the state of Michigan has to make it right for the people of Flint. As you showed, Mayor Webber is asking for those lead service lines to be replaced. The state of Michigan should write a check to the city of Flint to get that done and they should do it tomorrow.
We`re working to get federal help, but frankly, the governor is out of excuses. He`s sitting on a billion dollars. Big tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the state of Michigan and Flint has water that they can`t drink and he`s not doing anything about it. That`s just wrong.
MADDOW: Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint, Michigan, who`s been really aggressive on this issue in every possible way for the folks in his district -- Congressmen, I know we`ll have you back soon. Thank you for being with us tonight.
KILDEE: Thank you, Rachel.
All right. We`ve got much more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, it was a surprise that Ted Cruz won in Iowa last night. Now, nobody knows what New Hampshire will think of him. It was also a surprise that Hillary Clinton won by that slimmest tiny sliver last night in Iowa and nobody knows what that will do to her prospects in New Hampshire.
There were surprises last night at the top and the bottom of the ticket, but there is no more surprising event that happened last night to any one candidate than what happened to the only candidate who returns my phone calls, and that`s next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: You have been waiting for this. It`s been a long time since we got to do this. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee quit the presidential race last night after the Iowa caucuses, which is sad for him. But it does mean, we get to puff him off our giant list of 2016 Republican presidential candidates.
We haven`t been able to do this to anyone in forever. But here goes. Mike Huckabee going bye-bye in three, two, one. Puff.
I thought I would get to do a lot more of this today, but so far I only get to do it to that one guy. There are still 11 Republicans running for president. All the rest of them are apparently staying in, even the ones who just tanked in Iowa and Iowa was the state where they had the only chance of doing well anywhere.
I`m looking at you, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
You know who else isn`t quitting? Jim Gilmore. And, you know what? That one I get, because at least Jim Gilmore had the foresight to go on Iowa talk radio the weekend before the Iowa caucuses to say publicly exactly what would constitute a victory in Iowa this year.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JIM GILMORE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I get one vote frankly in Iowa, I`ll consider it a victory. A single vote, I`ll consider it a victory.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jim Gilmore announced in advance of the Iowa caucuses that if he got just one vote in Iowa, it would be a victory. Well, guess what, Jim Gilmore outperformed expectations last night by a factor of more than ten. Jim Gilmore got 12 votes in the state of Iowa.
So, yes, he`s not getting puffed off our list anytime soon. Clearly, he`s exceeding expectations and be a victory. He outperformed expectations last night by a factor of more than ten. He got 12 votes in the state of Iowa. He`s not getting puffed off the list any time. He`s exceeding expectations and he`s in it for the long haul.
The ginormous field on the Republican side is a strange thing this far into the race, but it persists. They all persist. Eleven of these people are still running. It`s never going to end. This is our life now forever.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow from New Hampshire.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END