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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 2/5/2016

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 2/5/2016

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: February 5, 2016

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris, this is nice. I mean, weird.

HAYES: We were joking about whether we`re going to pretend we`re in different rooms of the shop and we decided that was deception.

MADDOW: It`s like --


MADDOW: Thanks, man. It`s been great to have you here.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Oh, my God. So, if you care about politics in this country, if you enjoy politics, there`s nothing than better to be in New Hampshire in the last frenzied days. The last run up to the New Hampshire primary, especially if you have contested races but utterly close volatile races on both sides, but utterly unpredictably close and volatile races on both sides.

New Hampshire is the greatest place to be in the world this time of year in even number of years. That said, every election year is different. Por ejemplo, this year, here`s the weird thing. In nature and in news, it is very rare that some fairly static measure of how things are suddenly increases by factor of 50. Something suddenly grows 50 times over. But that is what has just happened this year in New Hampshire politics.

Last time around in 2012, by this time in the New Hampshire race, there had been roughly $2 million worth of political ads run in the state, $2 million, all the campaigns. This time around it`s not $2 million. It`s $100 million.

Bloomberg Politics reports that ad spending just in New Hampshire this cycle so far is at roughly $100 million. That`s 50 times what it was in 2012. That`s not counting. That`s only through today. That`s not counting what will be spent this weekend and Monday and Tuesday heading into the primary itself -- $100 million in this one little state.

And part of the reason for that is because there are more super PACs this year and TV stations can charge super PACs more for each ad than they can charge the campaigns. For example, in one local newscast, the Chris Christie campaign was reportedly charged $700 for their ad while in that same broadcast on that same station on the same day, the John Kasich super PAC was charged $5,000 to run their ad. So, that`s part of it.

If you want know how you get a 50 fold increase in ad spending in one state just since 2012, part of it is super PACs and the fact they have to spend more money on their ads. Part of it is also some really, really, really, really rich super PACs that are spending money so fast it`s all a blur right now. There`s one particular super PAC that`s spending money, right now, like it`s on fire.

I`ll give you an example. On one local station in the New Hampshire ad market, there`s this one super PAC that the one super PAC spent more than all of other the candidates combined from both parties. And so, of course, you know who super PAC it is, right? It`s the super PAC supporting this guy, Jeb Bush`s campaign, and the super PAC supporting him.

Jeb has more money behind him than anyone. They are spending more money than anyone particularly here in New Hampshire. But here in today`s news, are two really interesting signs that they might be sort of pulling the fire alarm or at least they might be pulling into pull out all the stops mode.

The first sign they are thinking this might be the end is that this is the new ad they`re playing. I`m going to show you in a second. This is my reasoning. If you`re Jeb Bush, you probably thought -- you probably knew you would run this ad sometime. I can`t help but think the idea was to run this one last ad, last, really last as in November. Last as in oh, my God there`s nothing else we can try. Let`s try everything.

They knew they would have to do this at some point. I`m pretty sure they had no idea they would have to run this ad now before New Hampshire votes.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: The first job of the president is to protect America. Our next president must be prepared to lead. I know Jeb. I know his good heart and strong backbone.

Jeb will unite our country. He knows how to bring the world together against terror. Experience and judgment count in the oval office. Jeb Bush is a leader who will keep our country safe.

ANNOUNCER: Jeb Bush. Right to Rise USA is responsible for the content of this message.


MADDOW: New super PAC ad for George W. Bush`s younger brother. If case you didn`t remember him that way, Jeb Bush last stand is apparently him running as George W. Bush`s younger brother. All hands on deck, I guess.

The other sign that the fire alarm may have been pulled on Jeb Bush and people may have started moving toward their escape routes is this reporting tonight from This is Alex Isenstadt of tonight reporting that the Jeb Bush super PAC had planned to start a big ad blitz in Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma starting on Monday. They have now pushed the start dates to Thursday.

And you know what, that may be nothing at all. It may be nothing. I don`t know, maybe just calendar change. It does have one really important affect. Switching start day of those ads from Monday to Thursday conveniently gives the Jeb Bush super PAC a chance to cancel those ads without penalty and not waste all their money right up until Wednesday of next week, which is the day after the New Hampshire primary.

So, theoretically, if Jeb Bush, say, gets completely smoked in New Hampshire on Tuesday and quits the race on Wednesday, his super PAC, because of this change, they can now cancel all those ads and get their money back. They can save that money they otherwise would have lost on a five-state ad blitz for candidate who just quit. As for why they would want to save the money, I don`t know. Maybe it could be used for the Jeb Bush vice presidential campaign. Maybe it`s for Marvin or maybe it`s for Neil. I don`t know if there`s another Bush up right away.

So, the Jeb Bush super PAC appears to be readying its exit strategy. There`s at least some signs of that.

The Ben Carson campaign reportedly laid off 50 people last night.

The Carly Fiorina campaign, what I can tell you is good news about the Carly Fiorina campaign is that they have a really cute Carly red RV, which I saw today in the flesh. I ran into it in Manchester, New Hampshire. That`s the picture I took with my phone.

That`s a good sign that Carly Fiorina is still running. She`s at least still got an RV. That said, Carly Fiorina is now definitely going to be excluded from the Republican debate, which is tomorrow night on ABC. She`s not going to be at the kid`s table for the debate this time because there`s no kid table this time. It`s going to be seven Republican candidates on stage and those seven will not include her. So, that does not bode well for her future in this race.

Ranks have shrunk already on the Republican side just this week. They seem poised to shrink again very soon.

Now, on the Democrat side, things are getting unpredictable.

You know what tracking polls are, right? Tracking polls are a different kind of poll altogether. Tracking polls, what they do is pool a group of people with a similar make up of every single day and then they keep polling that same group of people. They poll them to see how their views change overtime day by day.

So, UMass Lowell/7 News is doing a tracking poll in New Hampshire. And on the day of the Iowa caucus on Monday, Bernie Sanders in that tracking poll was ahead in New Hampshire by 31 points. He was at 61 and Hillary Clinton was at 30.

Now, the end of that same week, five days later, look, Hillary Clinton has cut that Bernie Sanders lead in half. Bernie Sanders is at 55 and Hillary Clinton is at 40. Within a matter of days, she shrunk his lead in New Hampshire, at least from this one tracking poll, from 31 down, all the way down to 15 points.

Lest you think that helps you make sense of that race, though, consider this alongside it for the Democrats. There`s also a new national poll out by Quinnipiac University which shows at the national level, not here in New Hampshire where the candidates are currently campaigning every second of their lives, but nationwide, the new poll Quinnipiac poll shows that Senator Sanders is closer to Secretary Clinton than he has ever been.

In this new national poll, Secretary Clinton is at 44. Bernie Sanders is at 42. The last time this same poll was conducted in mid-December, Secretary Clinton was leading him by 31 points. Now she`s leading him by two. Senator Sanders closed that national lead two points.

So, after the Democrats final New Hampshire debate last night, which we`re going to be talking about a little later in the show, honestly, it is super exciting. It`s exciting, unpredictable, it`s even a little weird on the Democratic side, super volatile. New Hampshire is starting to feel just as unpredictable as Iowa ended up being this past week.

I had a chance today to see a few Republican events in New Hampshire which was amazing, for all sorts of different reasons, including me getting my first interview with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. I am a person who works five days a week in New York, which is a state that neighbors New Jersey -- literally, I can see New Jersey from my house. But in order to interview the governor of New Jersey, I had to go to New Hampshire in a snowstorm. But I did get it, and we`re going to have more on that later.

But one thing I did not expect in following Republican candidates around today and seeing all their buses and their RVs and chasing down the candidates and all the rest of it, it was so fun. But the one thing I did not expect to find on my very fun journey on the Republican campaign trail today was punditry about the state of the Democratic race and the relative strengths and weaknesses of Bernie Sanders versus Hillary Clinton.

I mean, in normal times, candidates go out of their way to leave the punditry to the pundits, right? They like to talk about themselves. They like to talk about whatever political enemy is most convenient for them to be attacking at that moment. But candidates, as a rule, they don`t handicap their own races. They don`t handicap other people`s races. They particularly don`t handicap other people`s races in the other party. That`s how it normally goes. Except today, that`s not at all what I found.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What you do on Tuesday will narrow this field. You`re going to decide who the other 48 states gets to pick from. We started with 17. We`re down to eight.

You`ll probably get it down to three or four or five. And so, you have a great responsibility for the rest of the country. Choose wisely. Choose wisely because if you do, we`ll have some good options to run against Hillary Clinton and we may have chance to win.

But, you know, they`ve already made their choice. Bernie will win up here. If Bernie can`t beat Hillary in Iowa, where there are nothing but white liberal people, he ain`t winning any place else. I`m telling you right now. He may win here Tuesday, but you`re getting Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side because Bernie Sanders, maybe Minnesota, you know, Wisconsin, you know, maybe a couple of those places, Bernie Sanders might win in those places.

Also places filled with really good liberal white people. But other than that, all this -- you know it`s true, right? Come on. It`s true. Hillary Clinton is going to win this nomination.

OK. Bernie can have some fun for a while. And he got his own ice cream from Ben and Jerry. It`s great.

I mean, if nothing else comes out of this for Bernie Sanders, right, he got his own ice cream of Ben and Jerry. It`s like Jimmy Fallon. It`s so exciting.

He`s like a 74-year-old Jewish guy from Brooklyn and he`s got his own ice cream now for Ben and Jerry. How exciting. If he runs for president for no other reason, he`s got that. It`s a good thing for him.

But, listen, as a Republican, I know. I can`t -- we cannot get lucky enough that the Democrats would actually nominate a 74-year-old socialist. We can`t get that lucky, right? It can`t possibly happen. We`ll get Hillary. So, we better nominate someone who knows how to fight.


MADDOW: That man is doing Democratic party punditry as part of his stump speech, as part of his town hall shtick for Republican voters in New Hampshire. I don`t know. I didn`t expect that. That was Chris Christie today in Stratham, New Hampshire, doing a town hall. This was his 67th town hall in the great state of New Hampshire.

And Chris Christie and John Kasich are really the two candidates who have gone all in on New Hampshire. They are both campaigning in the same way. They`re both trying to cast themselves as more moderate Republicans. They are not ashamed of using the word moderate. I saw them both use it today.

They both talk about benefits of compromise and working with Democrats. They are trying to seem as reasonable as possible and talk about other Republicans as unreasonable. They are both campaigning exactly the same way. They`re both talking about their executive experience as governors, lots of anecdotes about their time governing and how practical they are and how you have to do the hard work in the trenches with the real people on the other side and get things done.

They are both tactically approaching not only -- they are both approaching New Hampshire in the same way. It`s strategically in terms of the way they are trying to cast themselves and also tactically the way they`re doing it. They are both doing dozen and dozens of town halls in the state. Neither of them are leaving the state. They have been here for the duration. They were here the day after Iowa, right?

John Kasich was even here the day of Iowa. Chris Christie today did his 67th town hall. John Kasich did his 98th which I went to this morning and then and later today he did his 99th and then his 100th. Seeing these two guys on paper, very similar guys, pursuing very similar strategies, through very similar means. And it turns out when you see them in person, it`s very easy to see in person why they are getting totally dissimilar outcomes.

It`s very easy to see why one of them is a contender and could conceivably win on in New Hampshire on Tuesday, at least place in the top three, and the other one looks like that`s a pipe dream. On paper, they are exactly the same. In person, no way. And that story is next.


MADDOW: In case you haven`t noticed, we moved to New Hampshire, and we picked up a bar in the process. And in turns out we`re going to be staying for the duration. Honey, this is my way of telling you I need to be back in New Hampshire for Monday night show. We`re going to be doing Monday night show here.

Tuesday night primary, if you want to plan your primary night right now, Brian Williams and I are going to be anchoring MSNBC`s New Hampshire coverage from New Hampshire, minus the bar, along with Chris Matthews, starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on primary night. That`s Tuesday.

We`re also going to be doing our show on Monday night. We`re not leaving. Where else would we like to be?

Also, I should tell you, coming up after the show tonight, at 10:00 Eastern on MSNBC, we`re going to be re-airing the MSNBC Democratic candidates debates. So, if you missed it, no excuses. It`s on after this hour tonight. We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: So, one of the famously exciting things about New Hampshire is not only does everybody in state get to meet all the candidates more than once, if you want to, but New Hampshire voters also like to be unpollable. They like to make up their minds at the last minute.

This frenzy of campaigning that you`re now seeing all over the state of New Hampshire right now, that`s for a reason. There`s a reason that there`s so much campaigning in the last few days. It`s because New Hampshire voters are waiting to hear arguments that sway them right now in these last moments before they go to vote.

That`s not a bug in the system. That is a feature. That`s how they do it here, to a person. That was what I found from every single voter I talk to today. Democrats and Republicans, even the ones who clearly now who they liked and didn`t like, nobody I talk today told me they were 100 percent decided.


MADDOW: Are you already a John Kasich supporter? Are you undecided?

JOAN HALL, UNDECIDED NH PRIMARY VOTER: A little undecided, but I certainly enjoyed this today.

MADDOW: Who else are you thinking about?

HALL: All of them really.

MADDOW: So, are you John Kasich supporters already? Are you thinking about it? What`s your --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very close to it.

MADDOW: Still a little undecided but you like John Kasich?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I want to go listen to Christie today.

MADDOW: So, you like Rubio, but you think that Kasich maybe got more of what it takes.


MADDOW: What about Trump? What did you think of him?

ALBERT: I think it`s great because I`m so tired of politicians. It`s refreshing to hear somebody speak about and not care what they say.

MADDOW: So you think you might vote for him?

ALBERT: I don`t know if I`ll go that far.


ALBERT: But I really have enjoyed him being in the race. Yes.

MADDOW: When will you make up your mind?

ALBERT: Probably the day before.

MADDOW: Or on the drive down.

ALBERT: I can walk across the street to it.

MADDOW: Oh, very good. So, you better decide before you go.

MONICA KERMAN, UNDECIDED NH PRIMARY VOTER: A really good friend of mine last night who was going to vote for Rand Paul and she said I know what I`m going to do Tuesday. I think there`s a lot of us.

MADDOW: Who`s on your short list?

DEBBIE DONEGAN, UNDECIDED NH PRIMARY VOTER: I like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich.

MADDOW: Are you leaning towards any one of them? Those three, you`re still deciding.

DONEGAN: I`m going to look at the three of them over the next couple of days and then I will decide.

MADDOW: I mean, it`s Friday. You`re going to vote on Tuesday. When will you know?

DONEGAN: Tuesday. In my case probably Tuesday.

JOHN KASICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re fine. The country, we got problems, wages. Not enough jobs, college debt. All these things we`re talking about, whatever. Wall Street, whatever. OK. All these things are things that need to be fixed. They`re really not that hard to fix.

We can`t keep drifting -- drifting, drifting, drifting. I`ll tell you, I think the basic strength of our country is good. You know, let`s talk about the stock market for a second. People like, oh my God, the markets. The market is always up and down.

Now, it`s reacting not to the basics but things they see. It`s almost like the media and the 24-hour news cycle. You know, oh my God, you know, that`s until tomorrow. Oh my god, again. That`s like the market. That`s why there`s so much volatile.

What I can tell you, in my opinion, is the basics of our economy is very strong. If you get into the market and you`re diversified and you wait, you`ll always go up.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: So, how do you see leading to the world in a global sense so we gain more stability? It`s a tinderbox now. And Obama has made it far worse.

KASICH: Well, you know, a tinderbox.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Maybe not that.

KASICH: Yes. What I would -- look, I served for 18 years on the defense committee and I was in the Pentagon after 9/11. I remember when there were 15,000 nuclear warheads aimed at us. I remember as a kid, hiding in a cloak room in 1962 when we thought that we were going to war with the Soviets. So, we`ll keep it all in perspective.

MADDOW: This is John Kasich`s 98th town hall. He`s going to do two more today. He`s going to get to 100 today. We`re at a country club in the middle of a giant snowstorm.

I`ll tell you the thing that sounds very different from John Kasich when he`s doing this is that everybody else on the Republican side is talking about the country being on the verge of collapse, and verge of Armageddon, if not Armageddon already. John Kasich, part of his message is like, you know what, we`re OK. Fundamentals of our country are OK. The fundamentals of the markets are OK.

He was asked by a voter concerned about unrest and threats from abroad. He rejected the idea it`s a tinderbox in the Middle East or in North Africa. He said, tinder box, hmm, I remember the Cold War. You have to keep it in perspective.

I think the word moderate is a difficult word at this point, but he`s presenting a moderate view in terms of where the country is, whether or not you agree with his prescriptions of where to go.

He`s saying things are OK. That`s a very foreign thing at this point in the campaign, from all the other Republican candidates that he`d been (INAUDIBLE)


MADDOW: We really did have to brave the weather to get to that John Kasich event. But I`m so glad that I went. I`m so glad I got to see because I kept wondering what it was about John Kasich that seemed to be working for him this New Hampshire.

He does seem to be doing a lot of the same things, talking a lot of the same ways, presenting himself a lot of the same ways, as a lot of the other candidates who are not getting anywhere in this state at all. I had wondered before I got here, maybe it was the John Kasich super PAC ads that had been playing so much in New Hampshire, maybe those ads were the secret to his success somehow.

But you know what? They`re really $100 million worth of ads that have played in New Hampshire so far this year, literally. I don`t think anybody is going to tell you that any one ad, any one candidate`s ad are going to change the course of the race. There`s just too big a stream of advertising. I don`t think that`s it.

But look at the latest polling out today in New Hampshire. This is -- in the NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll, in New Hampshire it feels like the reason John Kasich is in double digits right there behind Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, it feels like because of how real and reasonable seeming and relatable seeming and personally engaged seeming he is at these zillions of events he`s doing in person all across the states.

John Kasich is not just giving you something to listen to. He`s not just doing a performance like some of these guys are. He`s listening to his people in the room. Asking them questions, drawing them out. Engaging with why they are there, talking about them personally. I saw him do it.

You know, honestly, I don`t want to get too far ahead of this. John Kasich is not Oprah. He is crusty and curmudgeoly in his personality.

But if some voters are looking for authenticity in their candidate, well, just as a political consumer, as a political observer who`s been up to New Hampshire for a lot of different primaries and seen a lot of these events, I can see how New Hampshire voters see authenticity in John Kasich up here in New Hampshire. I can see that when he`s in those rooms.

Now, in contrast -- that`s next.



MADDOWE: So, we just finished up be Chris Christie town hall at Timberland corporate headquarters in Stratham, New Hampshire, which is actually very cool. The Timberland headquarters, they -- it`s such a big employer and they have lots and lots of candidates in and out of here all the time. And so, it`s kind of just cool to be here. Also, nice to be inside because of the snowstorm.

But watching Chris Christie immediately after watching John Kasich is super-interesting because both of those guys, more than anybody else, Christie and Kasich worked their heart out in New Hampshire, even to the exclusion of working in Iowa. Christie did a little bit in Iowa, but really, they gave up on Iowa in order to go all in on New Hampshire. And they`re both a New Hampshire kind of candidate. They are both who you would expect New Hampshire to go for if New Hampshire plays the type this year.

But seeing Kasich and then seeing Christie, I feel like I get why at least the polls say the strategy is working for Kasich and not working for Christie. They are giving you a similar message in terms of being willing to work across the aisle, of having a more moderate approach that usually, is attractive to New Hampshire voters, about being good at governance. They both have little digs at Barack Obama but don`t spend all their time doing that.

On the substance, they are very similar. But on the style, Kasich is engaged one-on-one with people in a way that engages them not only with whatever it is he`s saying but whatever it is their saying. He responds to them individually.

He`s personable. He seems grouchy in a sort of likable way. In the same way Christie is likable in a grouchy. But Chris Christie gets questions but he does speeches thereafter, literally speech length riffs on whatever he thinks is either funny or important about the point.

The lack of engagement from Christie, him just sort of performing while the audience isn`t getting it was a surprise to me. I don`t know if it just doesn`t work in New Hampshire and it works at home, or if it`s just seeing him next to Kasich, he`s much better at this, but that was a surprise.


MADDOW: One benefit of seeing the Chris Christie event and the John Kasich event back to back and in person today was being able to see the key difference between them in terms of how well they are connecting with people in these rooms that they are talking to all over New Hampshire. John Kasich I think moved every single person who I saw in that room with him. The Chris Christie crowd had people walking out.

The other unexpected and freaking awesome reason it was great to make it to that Chris Christie town hall, fighting through the snowstorm across the state, delayed because of the weather and the whole thing, the other reason it was worth going and this is part of our drive today, is that for how many years now has it been time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.

We were the first national news out let to cover the bridgegate story in New Jersey. We frequently, even in the New Jersey press get blamed or sometimes credited, mostly blamed for having brought that story to a national audience, which ultimately made it into a national scandal that affected Chris Christie`s political standing on the national stage, and not just bridgegate, though. There`s a lot of things about Governor Chris Christie that we have spent a lot of time covering over a lot of years on this show.

And, boy, have I asked for a lot of interviews with Governor Christie. We have never even gotten a no from them. They just give us nothing. I think when a phone call arrives on the cell phone, of anybody who works anywhere near Governor Chris Christie, they see the first digits of our phone numbers from our office and it`s like ignore, ignore. It`s like an executive order.

I have never been able to get him or anywhere near him. Today, I finally got my interview with Chris Christie.

That`s next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Are you guys going to go see Christie?


MADDOW: Have you seen him before?



MADDOW: I`d love to see Chris Christie, too.

I`d love to interview Chris Christie, but that would be the end of the world before that happens.





MADDOW: Governor, what`s --

CHRISTIE: Rachel, Rachel, how are you?

MADDOW: Nice to see you, Governor.

CHRISTIE: Good to see you.

MADDOW: I had to come -- I`m here to get you. I couldn`t get you in New York --

CHRISTIE: Well, Rachel, you beat the crap out of me for years. You expect me to voluntarily come on your program. Come on.

MADDOW: Oh, come on. I expect you to. You love the back and forth.

CHRISTIE: Oh, no, with a lot of people. Maybe not for you.

MADDOW: Oh, come on.

CHRISTIE: What do you got for today?

MADDOW: I just wanted to know. This is not trying to beat the crap at you, what`s the difference between a New Hampshire town hall and a New Jersey town hall? What`s the different kind of questions that you get with the different kind of interactions?

CHRISTIE: Well, it`s different, first of all, because in New Hampshire, I`m talking about state-based issues, and here, it`s federal issues. So, it become a totally different issue set to deal with.

In New Jersey, you`re talking about pensions and you`re talking about law enforcement and you`re talking about K-to-12 education in a much more granular way than you are in a national forum. But there`s also differences like, listen, let`s try to difference between Iowa and New Hampshire and New Jersey, because I give you a range, right? So, Iowans are very laid back. Iowans sit there were their arms-folded across their chest most of the time, barely kind of nod at you. And you don`t get any feed off the audience at all.

Mary Pat and I are saying a number of times, like we`re sitting in Iowa town halls, I couldn`t tell you if I was doing well, poorly or somewhere in between. New Hampshire, more emotive, much more emotive, more emotion, more reaction and very, very good questions. These are people who really read up on the issues. They really understand what`s going on. And they don`t ask you like the level one question. They ask you the level two question, which is interesting.

New Jerseyians, I never have to wonder how I`m doing. I know immediately when I walk in the room. New Jerseyians are even more emotive than the folks in New Hampshire and are very emotive in midst of answers.

Like New Hampshire folks won`t interrupt except with maybe laughter. New Jersey folks will interrupt you in the middle of an answer, like that`s crap! You know, I`m like, oh, hey, thank you.

So, it`s range. The difference between the three are the range of emotions, and I think of the differences in those states and their cultures. And so, when you`re a politician, you don`t change, because if you change, people note it. What you do is you just understand and not be affected by it as much.

So, I`m not nearly as affected this New Jersey when someone would yell at me as if someone yelled at me in Iowa.

MADDOW: But nobody yells at you in Iowa and New Jersey the way they do in New Jersey.

CHRISTIE: Well, no.

MADDOW: It`s sort of why people love your town halls in New Jersey is the fight. (INAUDIBLE) fight everyone.

CHRISTIE: Well, yes, I mean, listen, I`ve had a few of them in New Hampshire. I`ve had a few where people come at me a little bit and I had one the other day where a guy came at me a little bit and I came back at him.

I don`t know that the people love the fight in New Jersey. Remember, it`s 134 town halls I`ve done as governor. And most of them are relatively sedate affairs. Most are like what you just saw here.

But when you`re in the New York media market, right, you have one of those moments. You have a sit down and shut up moments. You have a "you`re a liar, no, you`re a liar" moment, it gets played over and over again because that`s the entertaining stuff.

Answering a thoughtful question with a thoughtful answer usually doesn`t make programs like yours or others. I`m not talking about right or left. I`m talking about just people are trying to find something to entertain folks and put it on. I`ve never had a problem with that. It usually gets rarely entertaining, one way or the other.

MADDOW: So, you think the fight`s play everywhere outside New Jersey? There`s some question that maybe your style is a very New Jersey style and that combativeness while might not play everywhere.

CHRISTIE: Well, then, how do you explain Trump? I mean, whatever you want to say and have said about me over the years in terms of things that have come out of my mouth, they`re a fraction. I never said I could shoot somebody in the middle of Fifth Avenue and I wouldn`t lose a voter. I never called Mexicans rapists and murderers. I never said ban all Muslims from the United States.

I mean, you know, this is a guy, who if you believe the polls, is ahead not only in New Hampshire but he`s ahead much more nationally than in this particular state.

So, I don`t think that`s it. I think you all have always misread me in that regard. I spent my time going all around the entire country being asked by people to come and raise money for them. They don`t fight somebody who people don`t like. Like, hey, you hate Christie, why don`t you come pay (INAUDIBLE) to come and see him, you know? You know, that`s not the way it works.

So, I think that folks have always misunderstood that part of it. I`ve always felt like I am who I am. I`m some people`s cup of tea. Others I won`t be. But I never found that to be regional. I found that to be more philosophically based. Do they agree with my philosophy and what I`ve done? There`s always some sort of kind of ethnicity thing to it too.

MADDOW: What do you mean?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I -- my point is, that like for some folks, if you`re a Northeastern person who seems to least bit ethnic in any kind of ethnicity, they always think you can`t possibly be conservative, right? So, you got do overcome that a little bit when you`re somebody who comes -- I`m talking about whether it`s me or there`s Rudy Giuliani or there`s George Pataki, whoever it is, they will think, even though you may have governed conservatively, they may say, well, yes, he`s from there. So, he can`t be real conservative.

REPORTER: Is that Trump`s problem too?

CHRISTIE: No, no, I don`t think -- listen, I don`t -- whatever Trump`s problems are, they`re Trump`s problems. Trump is a Donald as I`ve known -- I`ve said, I`ve known him for a long time. He`s a unique figure publicly well before he ran for president.

And so, whatever Donald`s problems in his assets are, Donald`s problems in assets. I don`t think they apply in the same way to the rest of us who are involved in politics. It`s much different.


MADDOW: That`s Governor Chris Christie today.

See, Governor, we can have an interesting conversation, you and I. I come to cover you as a politician. Not to bury as some sort of cartoonish villain. We can do this again sometime. Be not afraid. That went fine.

Even if I asked you hard questions, it still would have been fine. You know it would have. Come on. Come on. Come on.

Governor Christie is at crucial moment here in New Hampshire. This is literally the weekend when he needs to be peaking. Instead, sadly for him and his campaign, he does appear to be heading in the other direction right now. The brand new NBC/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll from New Hampshire shows Governor Christie at 4 percent. That`s down from the same poll last month when he was at 7 percent, and everybody thought maybe double digits were in sight for him. Double digits are not in sight for him, at least not yet.

The governor also said today, he thinks that New Hampshire voters will winnow the Republican field down to three, four, five candidates. Right now, Governor Christy is not polling in the top five. He`s number six.

And, honestly, you can see how hard he`s working. He`s dong everything he can here in New Hampshire. He`s using all of his considerable charm and political talent. He`s got giantly full schedule. He`s doing every single thing he can.

Governor Christie today described his plans to go home after Tuesday, to go back to New Jersey after New Hampshire votes on Tuesday night. He said he`s going to spend just a couple of days in New Jersey at home before he goes onto South Carolina.

Realistically, though, it remains to be seen if there`s going to be any South Carolina in Chris Christie`s future unless he has a very late and rapid turn around in his fortunes here. New Jersey, you may be getting your governor back. Get excited.


CHRISTIE: I got to make my way through the snow. It`s going to take me a little longer. Good seeing you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Let`s do this again.

CHRISTIE: You got it.



MADDOW: So, Ben Carson did not drop out of Republican race during the Iowa caucuses on Monday night. He did not. It has become a legitimate scandal in the Republican race, though, that Ted Cruz`s campaign said that he did.

The first thing we knew about these tweets from Ted Cruz`s high profile surrogate and endorser, Republican Congressman Steve King. As the Iowa caucuses were getting under way on Monday night, Steve King did this, "Carson looks like he`s out. Iowans need know before they vote. Most will go to Cruz, I hope."

The tweets we found out first and then we found out about this e-mail under the official Ted Cruz campaign logo. It also went out on Monday as the caucuses were getting under way. Ben Carson taking time off, quote, "please inform any Carson caucus-goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted Cruz."

We then learned from Ben Carson himself that, at least according to him, when his wife showed up at one Iowa caucus Monday night to make a pitch for her husband, a Ted Cruz supporter had spoken first and that Ted Cruz speaker had just told that precinct that Ben Carson was dropping out of race. So, Ben Carson supporters should feel free to support other people.

Ben Carson`s own wife had to tell them no, no, no, my husband is still running. He`s not dropping out.

After all of that, we heard Ted Cruz apologize to Ben Carson and say this was not some planned organized dirty trick. It was a regrettable mistake. He said a staff error. He said his political team forwarded a misleading story, but, quote, "Subsequently, the Carson campaign put out a statement clarifying that Dr. Carson was not suspending his campaign", and the Cruz team did not forward that statement to supporters as well. According to Ted Cruz, quote, "That was a mistake."

Now, we know it was not just a mistake. It was not just some forgettable staffers forgetting the loop back around to that story, forgetting to dot the I`s and cross the T`s on this. Now, it realy does appear to have been a dirty trick carried out on a wide and deliberate scale by the whole apparatus of the Ted Cruz campaign in Iowa, because now, a right wing website has published what appeared to be sort of phone bank style calls from the Ted Cruz campaign on caucus night literally spreading this lie across the state of Iowa about Ben Carson. Spreading this lie that Dr. Carson was dropping out of the race, so Carson supporters should feel free to defect to another candidate, preferably Ted Cruz.


TED CRUZ CAMPAIGN VOICE MAIL: From the Ted Cruz campaign, calling because you`re a precinct captain, and it`s just been announced that Ben Carson is taking a leave of absence from the campaign trail. So, it is very important that you tell any Ben Carson voters that for tonight, that they will waste a vote on Ben Carson and vote for Ted Cruz. He is taking a leave of absence from this campaign. All right? Thank you. Bye.


MADDOW: This is going to be an entry in the textbook where they teach bad kids with good grades the dark art of political dirty tricks.

This is nasty. This is a nasty dirty trick from Ted Cruz and he got caught dead right. Because he`s Ted Cruz, he doesn`t have a friend in the world in Republican political circles so nobody is giving him a hand up or an excuse on this. He has got caught.

And the question is, is this going to go down in history as sort of just dirty tricks as usual? You know, politics ain`t bean bag and all that?

There does seem to be a legitimate animus toward Ted Cruz on some other issues as well from the people he`s running against on the Republican side. But particularly on this, on this thing he did with telling his supporters that Ben Carson was out of race, wow do Republicans seem mad at him about this.

What is the best context for understanding whether this something like this really could something like this could hurt Ted Cruz or whether it will be seen as politics as usual?

I know who to ask that question, and that`s next.



TED CRUZ CAMPAIGN VOICE MAIL: Hello, this is the Cruz campaign with breaking news: Dr. Ben Carson will be planning to suspend his campaign following tonight`s caucuses. Please inform any Carson caucus-goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted instead. Thank you. Good night.


MADDOW: That was a voice mail left by someone with the Ted Cruz campaign in Iowa right at the start of the Iowa caucuses on Monday night.

Ben Carson was not dropping out of the race, in fact, but the Cruz campaign engaged a big effort to get word out to precincts that Ben Carson was leaving the race. He wasn`t leaving the race.

The question is, is this dirty tricks as usual? Or is this worse than the kind of stuff we have seen in the past?

Fortunately, I have with me the perfect person to ask about this.

Joining us now is MSNBC political correspondent Steve Kornacki.

Steve, thank you.


MADDOW: You`re a good student of dirty tricks.

KORNACKI: Ha! Is that a good thing?

MADDOW: Well, you have good anecdotes about them. I know this is as your pal. I have been -- it is dirty trick what Ted Cruz did in Iowa to Ben Carson, but I have been struck how mad other Republican candidates and campaigns are about it. There is legitimate anger about it and people are not faking it.

Is that because people don`t like Ted Cruz or is this in the grand scheme of things more beyond the pale than your usual political (INAUDIBLE)?

KORNACKI: Yes, I mean, I guess the standard I use for judging dirty tricks is you think about to the South Carolina primary in 2000 is George W. Bush and John McCain.

MADDOW: Right.

KORNACKI: In all of the sort of underhanded behind the scene stuff that was taking place that under mind John McCain for Bush allying people.

MADDOW: That he was secretly, he`d been crazy and brain washed and he had a black child he didn`t own up to.

KORNACKI: Right. To me, that`s the all time worst at the presidential level. I saw a lot worst in New Jersey, I say that. At the presidential level, that`s the worst. I wouldn`t put this in that league. And I do think a lot of the reaction has to do with like, Cruz, A, has a target on his back, having just won Iowa, and B, Republicans don`t like the guy in a lot of cases. So, they`re looking for excuses to go after him.

MADDOW: I feel like that`s an important part here because if you were seen as a popular guy, if you`ve exchanged favors with people, exchanged pleasantries with people, sometimes A, be more forgiving about what you did, they`re more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt, and they may back you up.

Nobody is backing him up. Nobody is throwing him a life line on this at all. Does that tend to affect whether or not something like this sticks as a legitimately bad act?

KORNACKI: I think -- look, here`s where I think it sticks. Ben Carson seemed genuinely aggrieved by this, genuinely offended by this.

Here`s the thing -- the Carson campaign, clearly the trajectory was not and is not good. It doesn`t look like Ben Carson has much of a chance in this thing. When the initial report came out on CNN that suggested maybe he is going to Florida, people are speculating he`s getting out of the race, it seemed plausible he would be getting out of the race.

Here`s the thing, from what we can tell right now, this has fired up Ben Carson.

MADDOW: Right.

KORNACKI: Ben Carson is so angry at Ted Cruz he wants to stay in now and the whole reason the Cruz campaign was doing was Ben Carson getting 5 or 10 percent of the vote was such a threat to Ted Cruz in Iowa, the margin so small, he needs every evangelical vote he can get.

MADDOW: Those are the votes he needs specifically.

KORNACKI: Every vote for Carson is a vote being taken from Cruz. If Carson stays in this thing to South Carolina, South Carolina is the next key state for Ted Cruz. Ben Carson gets 6 percent in South Carolina.

MADDOW: It`s not enough to make him a contender but it`s not enough to maybe rub Ted Cruz.

KORNACKI: Absolutely. Because this is the thing --

MADDOW: It`s fascinating.

KORNACKI: -- the model for Ted Cruz here is, it`s what Mike Huckabee couldn`t do in 2008, and Rick Santorum couldn`t do in 2012. You win Iowa and you parlay into South Carolina. The story with Huckabee is he was so close to beating John McCain in South Carolina. He was undercut by Fred Thompson.

MADDOW: Uh-hmm.

KORNACKI: Fred Thompson stayed in the race, got --

MADDOW: Not a contender, but just enough to gut the other guy.

KORNACKI: Exactly. And that is the threat of Ben Carson right now. So, if this keeps Ben Carson in the game a few weeks longer than he was going to be --

MADDOW: Because of sheer anger, because of sheer disgust.

KORNACKI: I`m going to show that guy.

MADDOW: You know, people wonder why we love politics and then stuff like this happens.

KORNACKI: It`s so personal.

MADDOW: It`s Shakespeare. It`s perfect.

MSNBC political correspondent Steve Kornacki -- I`m sorry that you`re not wearing your University of New Hampshire sweat shirt. We`ll see about getting a new for the rest of the weekend.

KORNACKI: Oh, this weekend, plenty of time for that.

MADDOW: All right. Well done.

We`ve got more ahead from New Hampshire. Stay with us. We`re live from Manchester. We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: Update for you. Things are moving fast now. Early this hour we reported on Jeb Bush`s older brother, former President George W. Bush starring in a new super PAC ad for Jeb Bush running now just ahead of the New Hampshire primary.

This is like a closing argument last possible thing you can do ad, and we all knew Jeb Bush would have to call in this favor from his older brother. We did not know that he would be calling it in this soon.

Well, again, as of the beginning of this show we knew that commercial was set to start running today in the great state of South Carolina. Now, we have an update, straight from the reporter who got the exclusive on that story, "Politico`s" Alex Isenstadt. He now reports that that commercial the George Bush ad is going to be airing during the Super Bowl because why not?

Jeb Bush`s campaign has more money behind it than anyone, they`re spending more money than anyone and how better to truly blow torch a pallet of money than expanding your ad buy for your George W. Bush "My Brother" ad to include the Super Bowl.

Wow. There you have it. Somebody`s media`s buyer is getting a Rolls Royce next year.

That does it for us tonight. We will see you again Monday from New Hampshire.

Now, it`s time for the Democratic candidates debate. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END