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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 3/24/2016

Guests: Mary Spicuzza, Matea Gold, Amy Klobuchar

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: March 24, 2016 Guest: Mary Spicuzza, Matea Gold, Amy Klobuchar

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now with the one and only Steve Kornacki in for Rachel.

Good evening, Steve.

STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks for that.

HAYES: You bet.

KORNACKI: And thanks to you for joining us at home tonight. Rachel has the night off.

But in her honor, I`m going to kick things off with the trip back in time to the year 1912, 104 years ago. 1912 was the year that the state of Wisconsin held its first Republican presidential primary, 104 years ago on this April 3rd is the anniversary of that.

The state`s Republican voters in 1912 could have chosen the man who was already president, Republican William Howard Taft. They also could have picked Taft`s predecessor as president, Teddy Roosevelt. He was trying to take back the White House.

But Wisconsin voters didn`t go with one of those two options. Instead, they went with this guy, U.S. Senator and former Wisconsin Governor Robert La Follette, better known as Fighting Bob. Fighting Bob was a progressive Republican. This was back in the days when it wasn`t unusual for a Republican to be a lot more liberal than a Democrat. There were few as liberal has Fighting Bob La Follette.

He won 73 percent of the vote in the Wisconsin primary. Wisconsin chose its favorite son Bob La Follette three times in fact in Republican presidential primaries. Although he never did come anywhere near winning the Republican presidential nomination. Wisconsin voters also sent him to the U.S. Senate for 20 years. They also sent his son to the Senate for another 20 years.

And Fighting Bob La Follette wasn`t just a beloved figure inside Wisconsin. In his final presidential run in the year 1924, that year he ran as the candidate of the progressive party, a third party nationally. That year, he won 17 percent of the national vote. That`s one of best showings ever recorded by a third party in the national presidential election.

Bob La Follette was the original progressive. He was a fighter for the new deal. He have fighting for new deal policies decades before there was a New Deal. He battled with railroads, battled with corporations. He fought for workers` rights, for labor unions, for woman suffrage, Social Security and end to child labor. He imposed American imperialism and foreign wars.

To this day, Fighting Bob La Follette is pretty much seen as one of the most influential progressive legislators in American history. If you`re a fan of those principles, the ones he fought for, you have the voters of the state of Wisconsin to thank for that, because they are the ones who kept electing him.

Of course, you also have the voters of Wisconsin to thank for what came later after fighting Fight Bob La Follette died in office in 1925. It was his son Robert La Follette who was elected to succeed him to replace him to that seat. And his son held the seat for the next 20 years, largely carrying on his father`s progressive policies.

But that`s when things changed. It was then in the 1940s that he was defeated in a primary for the U.S. Senate. The man who Wisconsin Republicans chose over him, the man who Wisconsin Republicans booted him out of office for, they then sent to the U.S. Senate twice. That was Joseph McCarthy, Tail Gunner Joe.

That`s Wisconsin for you. They`re very independent minded folks up there. To this day, Wisconsin is a battleground that`s state in the middle politically. At least that`s what the results in Wisconsin say.

Democrats carry it in presidential elections, although some of those margins have been razor thin like in the years 2000 and 2004. At the same time, Republicans have won six of the last eight governors races in Wisconsin. So, it looks like a moderate state. It looks like a state teetering right between the Republicans and Democrats.

But it is not really a moderate state. What Wisconsin actually is a state of unusually stark polar opposites. This is state where the Democrats brag of a proudly and deeply progressive tradition. It`s Wisconsin Democrats who ended up embracing the Fighting Bob La Follette tradition. It`s Wisconsin Democrat who is have given us Russ Feingold and give us David Obey in the House of Representatives. These are fierce champions of liberalism on the national stage. These are Wisconsin Democrats.

But it`s also Wisconsin that`s a state with some of the most rock ribbed conservatives in America. These are the conservatives who lifted Joe McCarthy to victory in that primary over La Follette son, all those years ago. These are the conservatives who have claimed primacy in today`s Wisconsin Republican Party.

This is the Wisconsin Republican Party that has lately produced two of the top national conservative and top national Republican leaders. Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, and, of course, Governor Scott Walker, the survivor of a recall and also failed presidential candidate this year.

Wisconsin is state that gave us the greatest progressive legislature in American history and then gave the seat to country`s most infamous conservative demagogue. And then, a few years ago elected to that seat, the first openly gay senator in U.S. history. Also it`s a state that voted three times for the current governor, this is a man singularly devoted to busting up what`s left of the labor movement that was championed by Fighting Bob La Follette.

You kind of never know what Wisconsin voters are going to do when they head to the polls, and that`s what makes the Wisconsin presidential primary, which is now coming up in less than two weeks, April 5th, mark your calendars. It`s what makes that primary so fascinating for both the Democratic and Republican candidates, the state is a pivotal state in their march to the nomination.

On the Democratic side, the conventional wisdom has it that Wisconsin probably should be Bernie Sanders country. This is a state he should do well in. One of his first big rallies after he declared his candidacy last summer, it was in Dane County, Wisconsin. That`s where Madison is. That`s the heart of liberalism in Wisconsin.

Sanders drew nearly 10,000 people to that rally. That was last summer. That was before this thing got kicked off really.

In terms of Sanders path to the nomination, the possible path, it`s a long shot now, if he`s going to pull it off, he absolutely needs to win Wisconsin. He needs to win it big. And yet, the latest poll in Wisconsin shows Hillary Clinton ahead of him by six points. It`s a close race.

Sanders needs to be winning big. Instead, he`s down six right now. It`s a slim margin. Certainly doesn`t spell doom but doesn`t suggest he has the overwhelming lead he`s going to need. He`s beginning to need to pull off a Michigan style upset and then some if he`s going to get on road to upsetting Hillary and winning the nomination.

Then, there`s the main event on the Republican side. In that event Wisconsin might seem like it`s the kind of place where John Kasich should have a shot. Kasich is the governor of another Midwestern state and, of course, Wisconsin looks like a moderate state, a swing state, an Ohio-like state.

But remember what we said about Wisconsin, about the politics in Wisconsin. There are close elections there but in Wisconsin, close elections are not at all a sign of moderation. They are a sign of stark, polar opposites battling each other out for every inch. Indeed in that latest same poll out of Wisconsin, on the Republican side, it actually shows, look at this, Ted Cruz is in the lead in the Republican race in Wisconsin with John Kasich way behind at 19 percent in third place. Obviously, Ted Cruz is only a point ahead there. You can pretty much call it a tie right now in Wisconsin -- a tie between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

Over the next ten days or so the various factions of the stop Trump movement are making clear they will be pouring all of their efforts into Wisconsin, into beating Donald Trump in that state.

House speaker and Wisconsinite Paul Ryan gave a speech in which he decried the state of American politics. It was really just seen as a shot at Donald Trump who announced he`s going to be going to Paul Ryan`s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin and holding a rally there, a Trump rally in Paul Ryan`s backyard. That`s Donald Trump`s response to Paul Ryan stepping into this fight.

Scott Walker, meanwhile, the governor, he`s been talking up the idea of a contested convention. The idea that Trump won`t get the 1,237 magic number and the doors to anybody`s nomination would be flung wide open in Cleveland and both he and Paul Ryan are being pressured to endorse someone in the fight against Trump in their home state in that primary.

The Club for Growth, which has endorsed Ted Cruz has made a $2 million ad buy in Wisconsin. And, of course, Cruz himself is barnstorming the state. He`s continuing his current feud with Trump. Today, he called Trump a, quote, "sniveling coward" for attacking his wife on twitter.

But if Trump does beat back the attacks, if he does endure all those negative ads and he does go on to win Wisconsin, the state where his rivals have these perceived advantages, these perceived openings at least, where the establishment forces are putting all of their energy into stopping him, if Donald Trump can withstand that, and can win Wisconsin on April 5th in two weeks, this is why the victory would be important for him. It would prove he can win anywhere and everywhere. He can win under any condition, at least this terms of what`s thrown against him.

And that would show that it`s going to be hard to stop him anywhere else before or maybe even at that convention in Cleveland this summer. Those are the stakes in Wisconsin.

And joining me now is Mary Spicuzza. She`s "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" politics reporter.

So, Mary, you guys are now at the center of the political universe. I`d ask you how that feels. Instead, I`ll start with this, though: the effort to stop Donald Trump in Wisconsin, how likely is it to succeed?

MARY SPICUZZA, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL POLITICS REPORTER: You know, I think there are a lot of establishment Republicans here who are just hoping and praying that Wisconsin will be the force that will stop Donald Trump. We`re seeing massive ad buys, we`re seeing a lot of calls for Scott Walker to endorse Ted Cruz and throw his support behind him.

I think people are seeing Wisconsin, not to make too many "Star Wars" references but the last hope, the Obi-Wan Kenobi of stopping Trump. You know, I do think that they are mobilizing, and that there`s a lot of money pouring into it and a lot of political power that will be devoted to trying to stop the Donald in Wisconsin.

KORNACKI: So, what are the indications we`re getting from the governor, from Scott Walker, about what he`s going to do here?

SPICUZZA: We asked Governor Walker during a visit to Milwaukee a couple of days ago what his plans were. He`s not committed to making an endorsement but he certainly hinted at making one. He said it would not be before Easter and that he would be focused on the holiday and look at next week. He said it was down to two of the three contenders and my co-worker asked him, is that Kasich and Cruz and he said yes.

So, clearly, he`s had a long history of not backing Donald Trump and when he got out of race in September, he said he was trying to clear the field to allow a positive alternative to Trump to rise.

KORNACKI: Yes, I think they were about 15 candidates back then. Now, we`re down o three. So, I guess that`s clear and it`s taking a while. But so, let me ask you, though, he does weigh in on this, if he does get behind Ted Cruz, I guess there`s two ways to read how that would play out, one -- you tell me which is more accurate here -- but one would be, OK, this is the conservative governor, conservative voters will say that`s our guy, we`re going to follow his lead or does that feed into Trump`s message that, hey, the establishment scared of me and out to get me?

SPICUZZA: I think it could be both. You know, the governor has had some lower approval ratings lately. A lot of people did not like his presidential run. He`s dropped in the polls here. And so, I think among independents and liberals and some conservatives he`s not as popular as he used to be.

That said, I think there`s a base of support who love Governor Walker, who are devoted to Governor Walker, I think they will listen to his message. But yes, I`m sure Trump will say this is the establishment trying to stop me. Don`t let somebody tell you who to vote for.

KORNACKI: Meanwhile, there`s a competitive Democratic race there. Bernie Sanders, his biggest win to date has been in Michigan. But a lot of people look at Wisconsin saying this should be Sanders country. There`s the poll that has him down six points. What`s his process for pulling out a victory there?

SPICUZZA: You know, he had a massive rally in Madison, which you`ve mentioned last year. He`s going to be back in a few days. I think I would be very surprised if the folks in Madison and Dane County end up supporting Hillary.

You know, this isn`t a winner take all state. This is kind of a winner take most state. So, we`ll have to see how it goes. I think Hillary might take the votes in Milwaukee area. Bernie more in the Madison area. So, I think it`s going to be close on both sides.

KORNACKI: All right. Mary Spicuzza, politics reporter for "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" -- thanks for your time tonight.

SPICUZZA: Thanks for having me.

KORNACKI: All right. And if at home you`re asking yourself, Steve is here, where`s the big board? If you`re asking yourself that, well, fear not. The big board is right over there. We`re going to dust it off and bring it out for the next segment.


KORNACKI: So, there`s nothing quite like spending your weekday afternoon doing this, particular in a place like Phoenix, Arizona, where the average temperature this time of year -- well, let`s just say not chilly. Images like this has sparked outrage this week, and in places and people you might not be expecting it from.

That`s ahead. Stay with us.


KORNACKI: Twelve thirty-seven, 1,237. If you`re a political junkie, then you are very familiar with that number. That`s the number of delegates that Donald Trump needs to clench the Republican presidential nomination on the first ballot in Cleveland. The question is, can he get there?

Now, Trump can do it by winning 54 percent of the pledge delegates in the 17 states that have yet to vote. But even if he comes up short of that number he can prevail. The reason: unbound delegates. These are delegates who are not required to vote for the candidate who won their state. They are free to vote for whoever they want to vote for on the first ballot at the convention.

So, if Trump falls short of 1,237 but still gets close enough, he can presumably make up that difference by luring some of these unbound delegates to his side. Of course, all of this will be determined by how well he performs in those 17 remaining states. That starts with Wisconsin on April 5th.

So, how could Trump get to 1,237? Let me show you. Let`s take a look at the big board.

Right now, this is a rough number. But Donald Trump right now is at 755 delegates. It`s give or take a few. We`ll say 755. Remember, the target number here is 1,237.

So, let`s play this out and see what it could take. These are the states that are left. The number you see next to it, the number of delegates up for grabs. Now, the first thing I could say is there`s three states here. We`ll take off the board. Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, these are winner take all states. These are states that really fit the profile of places where Ted Cruz is doing well.

So, we`re going to say for the purposes of this, Cruz wins the states. Let`s look at the other places where Trump could get the number. So, let`s start in Wisconsin. It`s a close race we just talked about it.

Let`s say Trump pulls it out, close but pulls it out. That would mean, the way the rules work, probably about 30 delegates for Trump. That would move him to 785. Where else can he look? The action is going to shift then after Wisconsin is going to the Northeast.

The Northeast is Trump`s secret weapon over the next few months. There are more than 300 delegates in these states and these states are really good Trump states. I mean, it starts with New York, his home state. New Jersey, a winner take all state. West Virginia fits the profile of a Trump state.

It is not inconceivable that he walks away with 280 delegates from here. If he does that, he`s sitting at 1,035. Where else does he go? In May, there`s going to be a primary in Indiana. Could be another close state. Let`s say it`s a close Trump win, 30 more delegates.

Now, where are we? Now, we`re at 1,065. Where else does he look? Let`s go out to the Pacific coast. Three states where he could do well. There`s a poll in California today that has him up ten points over Ted Cruz there.

He could take 150 delegates from the West Coast states, those three West Coast states. You add that in, where is he now? Now, he`s at 1,215 if I`m doing that right. Twelve thirty-seven is the number, remember?

We`ve taken these three off the board. There`s one state left. It`s New Mexico. If he won the whole thing, if he won every delegate there, this is proportional, that would be tough. He would be at 1,239. He could get a lot and could get very, very close to 1,237.

Of course, these are rough numbers. He could do better up here than we think. That would put him over. What are the stop Trump people hoping for, what are they hoping for? They are hoping they beat him in Wisconsin, they beat him in Indiana. They deny him the number out of Northeast and they deny him the number out of Pacific coast.

There`s a lot of wiggle room on both sides. But what you see there`s a path for Donald Trump to get to 1,237 or to get very close to it.

Now, of course, stopping Trump could be helped by a little cooperation and coordination between the campaigns of these two rivals, of Cruz and John Kasich, but that doesn`t look like it`s about to happen. Cruz is calling Kasich a spoiler. He says he has zero chance of winning.

While he wants Kasich to stay out of Wisconsin, Kasich`s top advisor, John Weaver today said this, he said, quote, "Ted Cruz should stay out of Pennsylvania, New York and New England as John Kasich has the best opportunity to slow down and actually defeat Donald Trump there." This after Kasich said his rival doesn`t have a prayer in the Northeast.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I think the calendar, we`re going to do fine here. I`m not going to predict we`re going to win here. When we get to Pennsylvania, we get to New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island -- let me tell you, I drop out, Donald Trump is absolutely going to be the nominee, because -- I mean, I`m not out here to stop Donald Trump but I can tell you the reality of it because I don`t believe that Senator Cruz can come to the East and win.


KORNACKI: That was John Kasich.

And joining us, "Washington Post" national political reporter Robert Costa.

Robert, thanks for taking a few minutes.

Well, let me start with a strategic question for the stop Trump movement, because it seems to me there`s two conflicting theories about how you do this. On the one hand, you`ve got Cruz and some of these establishment types saying Cruz needs the one-on-one. On the other hand, you`ve got the Kasich folks saying, no, we need the divide and conquer. We need Kasich competing in these Northeast states. Cruz can`t compete there. That`s the only way you stop him.

Is anybody right on this? And are they going to come to any agreement on this?

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: Steve, there are two emerging strategies. One is what Senator Cruz is focusing on is to pick up delegates at the state Republican convention. These are events that happen after the primary and the caucuses and where the state party convenes to decide who really goes to the convention and what the roles will be for these delegates.

Cruz has been picking up in states like Louisiana, delegates to be on the rules committee which is going to be helpful for him. The rules committee will have a lot of influence, determining what goes on on the floor. And beyond working at state conventions which we`re also looking at and reporting on, it`s how Kasich and Cruz and Trump are targeting congressional districts and states like New York and Pennsylvania where they think they can strategically pick up some delegates.

KORNACKI: It seems to me there`s a technical question here. There`s more of a practical political question.

Let me ask you how these things get bounced. Let`s say Trump gets out of primary season short of 1,237. The number likely on the board is like 1,210 or something. She`s 27 shy. He`s well ahead of Ted Cruz in terms of the delegates you`ve actually won in these primaries. He`s got a lot more votes when you add up everything from these primaries.

If he`s in that situation, I know technically Republicans, if they have, if they manipulate the conventions the way you`re talking about, they could stop him. But practically, politically, could they get away with stopping somebody in that position?

COSTA: It would be very difficult. The party leadership understands that. They are really counting on Cruz. That`s why some are rallying to his side to try to pick up some momentum in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is really the target, because if Cruz doesn`t get electricity around his candidacy in early April, it will be hard to see how he sustains himself as someone who can really block Trump from picking up, let`s say, over 50 percent of the remaining delegates, which would put him close to that threshold.

KORNACKI: The rallying cry we hear from the people that want to stop Trump is never Trump. If you`re on Twitter, that`s the hashtag they are using all the time. Is there going to be pressure that builds over next few week, next months that says why are we directing? Why are we as Republicans directing the fire at Trump who is likely to be the nominee and not at Hillary Clinton and not saying, never Hillary?

COSTA: It`s the looming question in Republican politics. You saw in Trump`s whirlwind day in Washington a few days go, he is picking up some support on Capitol Hill and he`s also getting more organized in terms of the convention. He doesn`t have the level of organization with delegates that Cruz has, but he has Ben Carson`s former campaign manager, I spoke to him a couple of days ago about how he maps it all out. They got a lot of grassroots supporters, not well known people in the state who are ready to be delegates for Trump.

And their belief is, if Trump does get over 1,200 or close to it, they can argue the election is stolen. And that will keep most of the party base on their side.

KORNACKI: All right. Robert Costa, "Washington Post" national political reporter and NBC News and MSNBC political analyst, thanks for the time.

COSTA: Thank you.

KORNACKI: All right. And there is much more ahead here tonight, including what happens to the Republican stop Trump movement if they can`t stop Trump? Stay with us.


KORNACKI: We have a brief update to a story that Rachel covered last night about the insane number of hours Arizona voters spent waiting in line. It`s the biggest county in Arizona. The Maricopa County recorder decided this year to cut the number of polling locations in that county by two- thirds.

That means it seems like this played out across the county, folks waiting for hours. Those were the lucky ones. Some couldn`t make it as far as the line. Traffic was backed so much that people weren`t able to make it in time for the 7:00 p.m. poll close time.

And one of those Arizona voters who cast her ballot hours after the polls had close was a woman named Kimberly Yee. And she is a Republican state senator from Phoenix. She also waited in line for five and a half hours to vote on Tuesday at her polling location before finally casting her ballot at 12:20 in the morning on Wednesday.

Now, the county recorder in Maricopa has taken responsibility for the chaos. She`s promised to increase the number of polling locations. The senator said that promise is just not enough. And so, she`s proposing legislation that would require both Maricopa and Pima Counties, Pima is where Tucson is, together, these two counties account for the vast majority of the state`s population.

Her legislation would make those counties operate a minimum number of polling locations from now on. She tells the Arizona Republican newspaper, quote, "We want to make voting easy and we want to make it accessible. Yesterday a situation did the exact opposite."

Now, meanwhile, the mayor of Phoenix is calling on the Feds to get involved. Mayor Greg Stanton writing a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch last night, telling her that he is, quote, "angry" that county election officials allowed this to happen in his city. The mayor asked her to launch a full investigation into the series of events that led to Tuesday`s chaos.

If that investigation does take place, it`s unclear what the consequences would be for officials involved in making that decision. Arizona with its 43 percent non-white and Hispanic population used to be required to clear any changes to voting procedures with the federal government. But that was before the Supreme Court gutted that provision of the Voting Rights Act back in 2013, allowing local officials to do things like reduce the number of polling stations without any kind of approval.

So, it`s unclear what will happen next. But in the wake of that chaos in Maricopa County on Tuesday, it is clear that officials across the board and across party lines now are aware that scenes like this are not acceptable.



REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our political discourse, both the kind we see on TV, and the kind we experience among each other, it did not used to be this bad. It does not have to be this way. We think of politics in terms of this vote or this election. It can be so much more than that. Politics can be a battle of ideas, not a battle of insults.


KORNACKI: That was speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, yesterday lamenting the current state of politics. Officially condemning both sides for the tenor of electoral politics, but it was hard not to conclude that his comments were aimed at his own party and the candidate now leading the presidential field.

A recent "Bloomberg" poll shows Donald Trump with a 68 percent unfavorable rating among all voters. That is larger than any other candidate from either party. It`s also larger than the number for the U.S. Congress. That came with only a 61 percent unfavorable score. The Ted Cruz campaign is seizing on this very idea arguing that Trump would be a disaster for the Republican Party in the general election.

Of course, the way this campaign has gone, it`s hard to say anything can`t or won`t happen. So, maybe Trump could turn the numbers around and reinvent himself in the fall. It`s sounding like Republican leaders aren`t willing to wait around to find out.

With the party fighting to keep the slim majority in the U.S. Senate, that`s where they will be defending 24 of the 34 seats up for grabs in November, with that, "The Washington Post" reports that many Republican leaders and the Koch brothers are now mobilizing do protect races from the ill effects of a Donald Trump nomination.

Here to tell us how they will do that is Matea Gold. She`s a national political reporter for "The Washington Post".

Matea, thanks for being with us.

So, you write that the Republican Party, the leaders at least, you`re talking about here, are trying to, quote, "insulate themselves from the effects of Donald Trump`s candidacy." Insulate them. What does that mean?

MATEA GOLD, THE WASHINGTON POST: What we`re seeing a scramble by some of the best funded independent groups that support the GOP to try to create sort of a defense barrier around congressional Republicans. This is taking the form of an early spring TV barrage where we`re seeing playing out in states like Ohio, where there`s already been more than $5 million of advertising spent, and we`re increasingly going to say that in the weeks to come, as these groups really try to create a profile for these incumbent Republicans that will help separate them from Trump if he`s if nominee.

KORNACKI: How -- I mean, how direct, how literal would that separation be. I mean, are you talking about candidates running ads on behalf of candidates or say, I reject Trump or subtler than that?

GOLD: Much more subtle. That would be dangerous path to walk especially now before a nominee is selected. The strategy right now is to localize these races. For example, we saw one of the groups affiliated with American crossroads, a major GOP super PAC, going to New Hampshire this week, emphasize the bipartisan work she`s done on the heroin crisis in the state.

So, there will be an attempt really to drive home that these Republicans are your senator, your Congress member. They are working on issues in your community and really give them an identity separate from that of the Republican Party in the hopes that will help protect them in Trump is leading the ticket.

KORNACKI: We`ve heard about the Koch brother funding so much sort of support of Republicans, but, of course, you`re writing here that they would be sitting out if Donald Trump is the nominee. I wonder how that would affect him given he`s spent so little money and gotten to the top of the pack.

GOLD: Right. I mean, Trump is sort of the wild card when it comes to independent spending, and he`s also made it a point of pride to position himself against wealthy funders including the Koch brothers. He actually mocked the candidates that went to their gatherings and said that they would be puppets of the Koch.

So, I`m sure he would seize on this as an opportunity to emphasizes his independent. But there`s no question that a general election campaign does involve heavy persuasion through television advertising. That`s something that Koch network has also done. And in addition, they have a huge amount of ground troops now. They have built up huge organization across the country. Those are people that have identified voters and would be prepared to mobilize voters if were engaged.

KORNACKI: All right. Matea Gold, national political reporter with "The Washington Post" -- thanks for your time.

GOLD: My pleasure.

KORNACKI: All right. Much more ahead. Stay with us.


KORNACKI: Officials in France say they have foiled a terrorist attack which they say was at an advanced stage of planning. Officials raided a home outside of Paris tonight after arresting a French national this morning. French authorities called it a major arrest but also said at this point, there are no known links between the thwarted plot and the attacks this week in Belgium or last November in Paris.

And in Belgium, prosecutors say they detained six people after raids around the city of Brussels while searching for accomplices, including at least one attacker who`s believed to be on the run.

Also tonight, U.S. officials are saying the names of two of the attackers, two brothers had been listen as a potential terror threat U.S. databases before this week`s attacks. Belgium authorities have said the brothers were known as petty criminals and not as potential terrorists.

More as we learn it. We`ll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A long and bitter debate over Robert Bork came to an end today when the Senate voted to reject his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The 60-year-old federal judge and legal scholar thus became the 28th nominee in history to be denied confirmation to the Supreme Court.

NBC`s John Nancy has more on today`s vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senators voting in the negative. Adams, Baucus, Biden, Bingaman.

REPORTER: Senator Hatch of Utah called it a de-Bork-acle, a process so politically charged that all senators but one had felt called upon to denounce their votes in advance.


KORNACKI: That was 1987, 29 years ago. Republicans were so upset that year when Democrats defeated the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, that they actually coined words for the whole thing. There you had Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah calling Bork`s rejection a, quote, de-Bork-le.

When President Reagan nominated Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987, it was to put it mildly a controversial choice. Bork had staunchly conservative views on everything from abortion to civil rights. In the end, he was rejected by a vote of 58-42, the largest margin in history.

What is perhaps most interesting about Bork`s nomination is it marked something of a turning point in the Supreme Court confirmation process. Just a few months before Bork was nominated, a young senator named Joe Biden, he was then the incoming judiciary committee chairman, he was actually asked about the process of Bork being nominated.

Biden pointed out what was more or less tradition. He said a qualified nominee should get confirmed even if senators disagree with that nominee ideologically at the time. And again, this was months before Bork was actually nominated. Biden told "The Philadelphia Inquirer", say the administration sends up Bork and after our investigation he looks a lot like Justin Antonin Scalia. I`d have to vote for him. If they tear me apart, that`s the medicine I`ll have to take."

That quote was from November of 1986. But by the following fall, Biden was leading the fight against Bork. And he was joined by just about every other Democrat in the Senate. It`s a moment that Republicans point to as the start of the road to where we are today when ever nomination to the Supreme Court becomes an intense partisan battle.

In truth, the origins of this moment are more complicated than that. But it is fair to say that actions by both parties have shaped where things stand with many Republicans refusing to even hold a confirmation hearing for President Obama`s Supreme Court nominee.

These days, the right is quick to point to a 1992 speech that was given by then-Senator Biden. At the time, he told his colleagues to seriously consider not holding confirmation hearings if there was a court offering during that year`s presidential election. By 2000, the Supreme Court became politicized not because of a nomination process but because of a ruling on the 2000 Bush-Gore election. In a 5-4 vote, the court ruled to end the recount, effectively handing the presidency to George W. Bush.

Democrats decried the fact that the five justices in a majority were all Republican appointees. By 2005, Senate Republicans were threatening to use what was called the nuclear options, to push through George W. Bush`s most controversial choices for spots on lower courts. That would have allowed them the majority party in the Senate to push through any nominees they can get a simple majority vote for without any support from Democrats.

During the confirmation battle over Bush, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito in 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama and 23 Democrats actually attempted to block a vote on Alito`s confirmation. They tried to filibuster it, and they failed.

And now, during the Obama`s presidency, the goalposts have been pushed further. The president`s lower court picks had been stalled and obstructed by Republicans in record ways, and, of course, there`s the big one playing out right now. Last week the president nominated moderate Appeals Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court and the Republican leadership is refusing to even consider holding hearings on the Garland nomination. Many Republicans are also refusing to even meet with him.

Today, Vice President Joe Biden addressed this stalemate. He pushed back on the Republicans who are invoking his 1992 comments as validation for their blockade against the current nominee.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody is suggesting individual senators have to vote yes in any particular presidential nominee. Voting no is always an option and it is their option. But saying nothing, seeing nothing, reading nothing, hearing nothing and deciding in advance simply to turn your back before the president even names a nominee is not an option the Constitution leaves open. It`s a plain abdication of the Senate solemn constitutional duty. It`s an abdication, quite frankly, that`s never occurred before in our history.


KORNACKI: The question now is, given the history of rancor on both sides, how does anyone get confirmed to the court, especially now in this election year?

Joining us now is Senator Amy Klobuchar. She met with Judge Garland yesterday on Capitol Hill. She`s also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. That`s the committee that will hold confirmation hearings for him if the Republican leadership decides to hold confirmation hearings.

Senator Klobuchar, thanks for taking a few minutes.

Let me ask you this. I guess, there are two ways of looking at this. Let me ask about the bigger picture view. I mean, we can stipulate what Republicans are doing now, refusing to even hold hearings in many cases, and refusing to even meet with this nominee, that is unprecedented, in its nature, but let me ask you the bigger picture view.

Do you look at this and say there are things that your party has done over the last generation with these court nominations over the last generation that have step-by-step helped to erode the norms of how these things are handled and helped to lead to this moment?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: There`s no doubt there`s been partisanship on both sides, but there`s a major difference here. Joe Biden gave a beautiful speech today at Georgetown, and he was clearing the air, and he was explaining, you know what the Biden Rule really is, the Biden Rule is that when he was in charge, every nominee got a hearing.

Eight court nominees got hearings. Every nominee got an up or down vote. That is what has happened since 1916 when we started having hearings. So, this is actually a complete break from precedent, one that was recognized by all people, Jerry Moran of Kansas who said, look, I may not vote for this nominee, and this was a major break to have someone was conservative as Jerry Moran, Republican senator say this. He said, but I`ve got do my job and there should be a hearing. That`s what he said.

So, I think you`re starting to see Republicans coming out and realizing we now have three calling for a hearing, over ten agreeing to meet with him, that this is just wrong in terms of how they have respected history.

KORNACKI: But it feels sometimes likely, yes, it is what you`re saying is true, it is a complete break from history, I`ll grant the point. But I guess what I`m asking here is every step along the way that`s gotten us to this moment, a lot of these steps at least featured breaks from history, I think back for instance, we mentioned the filibuster there in 2006 when Democrats, including then-Senator Barack Obama tried to stop there even being a vote, a simple up-or-down on Samuel Alito going to the Supreme Court. Not because they didn`t think he was qualified, but because they didn`t agree with him ideologically.

Doesn`t something like that contribute to a moment like this?

KLOBUCHAR: You can go back in history and show all kinds of moments, but I`m in the now. I`m in the now -- and the now is we have a 4-4 Supreme Court. We have eight people when we`re supposed to have nine. We have cases that are very important that are coming before that are court.

And we have a situation where it could be 400 days the way they`re talking before that is filled and we have never seen anything like that. Not since we`ve had hearings. You have to go back to the civil war when a seat was left open for this long. So, yes, there`s been rancor on both sides, but when you look at the facts of leaving the seat open, about having hearings, we have never seen anything like this before, and that`s why you`re starting to see people as conservative as Jerry Moran say that there should be a hearing.

KORNACKI: Let me ask you quickly, you met with Judge Garland. What was your sense personally? Was he -- do you sense he thinks he`s going to get a vote, he`s going to get a hearing this year?

KLOBUCHAR: I think he does. You wouldn`t subject yourself to all the scrutiny if you didn`t think you had a chance of getting this job.

This is a fine public servant, a man who oversaw both the Unabomber prosecution and the Oklahoma City bombing at the same time. He has argued over 20 Supreme Court case. He is someone that has had the votes of people like Orrin Hatch, and John McCain and people like Senator Coats of Indiana. They have supported him in the past, a number of my colleagues, and they have said very good things about him, including Senator Hatch challenging people to come to the floor and say anything negative about this fine public servant.

He deserves a hearing and he deserves a vote. And the fact that the president put up such an exemplary jurist is actually I think part of the contributing factor, the fact that these people are saying, you know what, at least I`ve got to meet with him, maybe he should have a hearing and this is the kind of thing we predicted would happen and should happen if you look at the law and you look at the history of this country. He deserves this hearing.

KORNACKI: All right. Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, thanks for the time.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, thank you. It was great to be on, Steve.

KORNACKI: All right. And remembering a comic genius, that`s next.


KORNACKI: One of the things I`ve noticed as I get older is that I`m starting more and more sentences with the words I can remember back when. There`s that new show with the O.J. Simpson trial and every time I see a promo for it, my first thought is, I can remember when that verdict was announced. I`ll think back to that moment in time, I`ll think back to where I was, what I was saying and what I was thinking and feeling, not what I was feeling about the event itself, but what I was feeling about life itself back in that moment in my life.

And then I`ll count the years in my head and I`ll realize how long it`s been and I get scared by the passage of time and then I snap out of it and I return to life in this moment.

Well, anyway, I had one of those "I can remember when back" "remember back when" moments today, but I really wish I hadn`t because I can remember back when I saw it`s the Garry Shandling show for the first time. Most people, when they think of Garry Shandling probably think of the Larry Sanders show. That was the one in the 1990s, where they played the late night talk show host, which is a great show, a lot of people believe Garry Shandling`s fake late night show was better than the realize ones.

But I`m talking about his other show. It`s the one that came first, and it was called "It`s Garry Shandling Show". It was on Showtime and Fox in the late `80s and early `90s. It was Garry Shandling playing himself, a standup comic named Garry Shandling in a sitcom. But there was a catch.

The catch was that he had self awareness. His character knew that he was in a sitcom. He knew that he was in living in a world of props and scripted scenes. He knew there was a live studio audience watching al of it. He was amused and bewildered by the artificial world around him as all of us were watching it.

The joke extended to the theme song where the lyrics explained we were listening to the theme song to "The Garry Shandling Show". The show would start at something like this.


GARRY SHANDLING, COMEDIAN: I want to tell you what`s going on in my life, but first I have to go to the bathroom. You can watch the opening credits and I should be right back.



KORNACKI: "It`s Garry Shandling Show" was stupid, but it was stupid in an intentional and brilliant way, in a way that paved the way for so many shows to come. I can remember back when I first watched it, it was back in the mid-1990s, when I was in high school, when I liked to laugh but I didn`t know what funny was.

"It`s Garry Shandling Show" was airing in reruns on Comedy Central back then. They were running a marathon of it and at first, I didn`t get the show at all, but I kept watching and slowly it started to click and what did it for me was a character named Leonard.

He was one of Garry`s neighbors on the show. I recognize the guy who played him. He was one of the bar regulars on Cheers, but he kept showing up at Garry`s door, not because he had something to say or to do to advance the plot, but because he wanted to be on TV. He was playing a character who knew there was a TV show going on around him and he just wanted to be on camera.

I remember suddenly getting it when I watched that scene, getting the joke of the show, getting the concept of irony, getting how the dumbest thinking can also be the smartest thing, getting what funny really was. It was like a Rosetta Stone moment for me.

I`m smiling remembering all of this, but it`s not in the mind for the worst reason, because Garry Shandling died today. He was 66 years old and no one saw it coming. A lot of people made me laugh through the years, but Garry Shandling is the one who made me realize that comedians could also be geniuses.

That does it for us tonight. Rachel will be back tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.