Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 29, 2018 Guest: Andrew Gillum, Mark Hetfield
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining this hour.
The Democratic candidate governor for Florida, Andrew Gillum, is going to be live here in just a minute. I have never interviewed him before. I`m very much looking forward to the chance to have him here live to the interview, just eight days before the Florida`s governor`s race, and, of course, all the other elections in the country.
Also coming up this hour, we`re going to be joined by the head of the charity, the Jewish charity that the alleged killer at the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre this weekend turned into some bizarre anti-Semitic conspiracy in his head before he set off to kill those 11 people at Shabbat services this weekend. What the alleged killer in Pittsburgh was apparently railing about online immediately before he got his guns and went out to the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh to start murdering people, what he was railing about right before he did that is actually one of the most long-standing, most well respected, most accomplished charities in this country. And the story behind them is incredible if you do not already know it.
So, we`re going speak to the head of that group in just few minutes. You`re going to want the see that.
I need to tell you, though, as we are starting the show tonight, one of the things that we are keeping an eye on is something that I think we`ll have to change over the course of this evening. It f it doesn`t change in the exact hour we are live on the air, it will have to change overnight, just because it seems absolutely untenable what the president is planning to do here. This mass killing at the Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday was the worst and deadliest attack on American Jews in the history of our country. And anti-Semitic incidents, anti-Semitic rhetoric and vandalism and attacks, they have generally been on the rise over the past couple of years, particularly with the newly emboldened white nationalist groups that we are now coping with as a country when the president went out of his way last year to say nice things about the gentlemen who showed up to rally by torch light at Charlottesville, Virginia, in the Unite the Right last year.
One of the reason people were so shocked by the commentary from the president was, yes, because those guys had just killed someone at that rally, but also because they had staged a torch-lit march, where they marched around literally shouting in unison "Jews will not replace us".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEMONSTRATORS: Jews will not replace us! Jews will not replace us!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The president has still never retracted his statement that there were good people among the "Jews will not replace us" crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia.
So the climate is bad and getting worse. The Anti-Defamation League tracks anti-Semitic incidents in the United States every year. They say the number of such incidents rose 57 percent last year over the previous year, right? So things are already just not going in a good direction, but what happened this weekend, what happened Saturday in Pittsburgh is obviously something different bean order of magnitude, right? What happened Saturday in Pittsburgh, this mass murder by a guy who police say literally just told them he was out the kill as many Jews as possible, what happened Saturday really has never, ever happened before in the history of the United States.
American Jews have never been attacked like this, have never suffered something like this in this country. And that`s why I think even a lot of people who are jaded and cynical by now and well-trained not to expect any better were still nevertheless surprised when the president decided that on Saturday night, just hours after the massacre, he would go ahead with his planned political rally in Illinois. Yes.
Why cancel it just because we just have the worst and most murderous anti- Semitic attack in the history of the United States of America? The president still wanted to do his rally. Why would he not? So he did it, and he explained to his rally audience on Saturday night that he thought about cancelling the event, but he decided not to because he explained to the crowd that right after 9/11, the New York Stock Exchange had opened up the very next day after the 9/11 attack. So that was the principle he was following with doing his political rally the night of the worst massacre of American Jews ever.
Now, whatever you think of that argument from the president, the 9/11 argument, right, it may surprise you or not to learn that in fact the New York Stock Exchange didn`t open up on the day after 9/11. It didn`t. It stayed closed for days.
So even the thing he is using to justify what he did on Saturday is made -- the president didn`t want a massacre of American Jews to stop his rally. He really loves these rallies. And so, here he came up with a fairy tale about something that really truly did not happen at 9/11. He threw that out there as the reason he was still doing his rally.
Now, if you think it was an honest mistake by the president and he must have felt badly about it, you should also know that by later on Saturday night, the president was busy tweeting about the World Series and criticizing the coaching staff of the L.A. Dodgers. And I point that out only to show and to say that there is -- just in terms of knowing what comes next, this is a turbulent time, right? This is a dark time. This is a time when people start crying listening to the news on the radio, right? Like what terrible new thing is going to happen.
This is a time when people are checking out of the news because it seems like one more terrible thing can`t possibly be larded on top of the other stuff that we`ve been coping with. In that context, it is both psychologically helpful and helpful for us as a civic society that we have some expectation of what can come next, about what will come next, about what`s the reasonable sort of number line between which we might have a reasonable expectation of what`s going to happen next in our country, right? Like a little stability, right? A little foresight, a little reasonable expectation, because I think we need that.
I think it`s important to recognize that there is no reason for us to expect any big outbreak of leadership here, right, from the president. Not after an event like this, not with a president like this. I don`t say that with malice toward the president at all. I say it just because we should be clear about the facts that to the extent that we as a country need leadership at a time like this, we need leadership after an unprecedented attack like this, which comes as the end of a -- hopefully the end of a series of attacks, to the extent that we need leadership at a time like this as a country, we are not going get it from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And therefore we will need to find it elsewhere.
But that`s okay, right? Just be reasonable about where leadership is going to come from. It`s not coming from there. That`s okay. To the extent that eloquence and insight and inside and empathy and justice are things that the country needs right now, those things will rise up. Those things will be made manifest.
The dearth of those things coming from the political leadership, the dearth of those things coming from the White House will take the form of a vacuum that other more capable Americans will fill. I absolutely believe it.
But the president being that vacuum, being that sort of sucking hole in the middle of this story in this national trauma, here`s the thing about that that seems to me can`t stand even for the duration of this evening. Even for just Monday night. You might have seen news coverage today, including the front page of "The Washington Post" about this open letter that was written by Jewish leaders in the city of Pittsburgh after Saturday`s mass murder. It`s an open letter, and these Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh invited other people to sign on to what they said.
I checked a little bit before coming into the studio. And last I looked, nearly 50,000 people had signed on to this letter as of tonight. The letter isn`t long. It`s directly about the synagogue massacre, and it calls on President Trump to please not come to Pittsburgh in the immediate wake of this event.
Well, naturally, that made this president want to go to Pittsburgh all the more, and the sooner the better. I mean, this open letter was posted, Jewish leaders voicing their preference about a presidential visit. The White House responded by deciding to stick a thumb in their eye and immediately schedule a presidential visit for Pittsburgh for tomorrow.
Now, here`s the real problem with that -- the funerals. Pittsburgh is going to start burying their dead tomorrow. The first of the funerals for those who were killed in this attack will start tomorrow. And that has practical consequences, and that led the mayor of the city of Pittsburgh to make this public sort of humble plea.
He told reporters today, quote: We do not have enough public safety officials to provide enough protection at the funerals and to be able at the same time to draw attention to a potential presidential visit. If the president is looking to come to Pittsburgh, I would ask that he not do so while we`re burying the dead.
As of right now, though, apparently, the president is still planning on going.
So, imagine you work at the White House. You`re used to a lot from this president, but right now, in this moment, what are you telling yourself about what you`re helping plan and working on at the White House, right? The White House justification for is what?
Aww, that`s cute, your massacre victims need burying? No. President Trump wants to do what he wants to do. That`s more important.
I mean, the city is literally saying as a matter of public safety which you would think would be paramount at this time, they cannot devote enough resources to both protect the funerals of the massacre victims and also bring the president into the city where he`d like to show up despite all the requests from that city to the contrary.
So like I said, we`re watching this sort of small element of this story tonight because it just seems like one of -- this just seems like a thing that cannot stand, right? I mean, the president continuing to hold his political rally and tweeting about baseball within hours of the worst attack in the history of the United States on Jewish Americans. You know, maybe that was stuff he just decided to do on his own.
But the president now deliberately interfering with the funerals of the murder victims? Presumably that has to be a whole of White House effort, right? He can`t plan that himself. And so, presumably, somebody in the White House will be too nauseas to go through with that, right? Right?
We await word. I fully expect because I am a glass half full kind of person that we hear that the president is going to delay that trip. But as of yet, still on.
And as I mentioned, we`re going to have Andrew Gillum here in just a moment. He is the Democratic candidate for governor of Florida. Part of the reason I wanted to talk to Mr. Gillum today is because Florida, his state is turning out to be its own nexus for this dark moment that we`re having as a country.
Before the synagogue massacre suspect was in court today in Pennsylvania, this morning in Florida, it was the first court appearance for the mass bombing suspect, who is now alleged to have mailed not 13, not 14, but maybe 15 explosive devices to prominent Democrats and other people identified by President Trump and in the conservative media as critics of the president. This new device was discovered today apparently addressed to CNN headquarters in Atlanta. It appears to be part of the bombing campaign that produced 14 other devices but we`re sort of waiting for confirmation on that.
The FBI is also now reportedly fanning out around the country, warning other people who they`ve now discovered may also have been targeted by this bomber, now that they`ve got access to his electronic devices presumably and all of his material possessions, presumably that`s how they`re figuring out who this guy was researching and potentially plotting against. And so, the FBI is warning people all over the country. And again, because he sent these explosive devices through the mail, there is always the possibility that there may be yet more of them out there that are still in transit.
Now, that bomber will eventually be prosecuted in the Southern District of New York in federal court in Manhattan. But his first court appearance today was in Florida, because that`s where he was arrested. That`s where he lived.
And he apparently was just as wound up about Florida homegrown politics as he was about national politics. "The Miami Herald" reports that the alleged bomber had lots and lots of online posts about Andrew Gillum, the candidate we`re about to speak with, the Florida Democratic candidate for governor, including the bombing suspect tweeting 22 different images of Gillum, quote, including one with him appearing as a puppet of Democratic billionaire George Soros.
George Soros, you will recall, was the first person known to have received a pipe bomb sent by this alleged bomber early last week. But I kid you not. After we learned that Soros got that first pipe bomb on Tuesday of last week, and then in subsequent days we learned that it wasn`t just Soros, he was the first one, that it was actually a dozen more bombs at least, targeting Democrats and two former presidents and all the rest of it, on Friday of last week, after all of that had unfolded, but before the bomber had been arrested, Andrew Gillum`s Republican opponent, Congressman Ron DeSantis stood up at a rally on Friday to tell the crowd at a church in Winter Haven, Florida, that they should be afraid of Andrew Gillum being elected governor of Florida because then, quote, then he could be seeding into our state government, you know, Soros-based activists.
This was Friday last week. By Friday last week, George Soros had already received a pipe bomb, and it was clear that it was part of a bombing campaign. At that point, the bomber was still at large and targeted more than a dozen people all over the country. This was still several hours before they caught the bomber. But that`s what the campaign against Andrew Gillum in Florida likes.
If you vote for him, it`s a vote for a Jewish-led conspiracy that`s coming to secretly invade. So, Florida does seem to be a little bit of a nexus of a lot of this dark stuff that is boiling up to the service as we head into the last week before the election. One of the people the bomber targeted directly was a California Democratic senator, Kamala Harris.
Kamala Harris was in Florida today, campaigning with Andrew Gillum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: This moment will pass. The darkness that we are experiencing, the hate we are witnessing, the vitriol, the intent to divide us, that`s going to pass. And years from now, our children, our grandchildren will look in our eyes, each one of us, and they`re going to ask us, where were you at that inflection moment?
And what I know, we`re going to be able to say is we were all here together fighting for Andrew Gillum, and we will be able to tell them more than just how we felt at this moment. We will be able to tell them what we did, what action we took, that we spoke up, that we stood out, that we got people to the polls, that we called and we texted and we e-mailed and we elected Andrew Gillum the next governor of the great state of Florida!
MAYOR ANDREW GILLUM (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I am eager to send a message to the president of the United States that his kind of politics, that his brand of politics, his brand of hatred, his brand of division, his brand of attempting to turn American against American citizen, citizen against citizen, humanity against humanity has come to an end in the state of Florida. The state of Florida has brought it to an end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Tomorrow is a week out from the election -- national elections, Congress elections, important gubernatorial races like that race in Florida coming up. The national story writ large about these super important elections is that it turns out they`re not ending by being all about Trump, right? That`s the sort of national story right now. Democratic candidates aren`t campaigning against Trump in their races. Republican candidates are not campaigning for Trump in their races.
Nationwide, we`re told that is the big picture view of these elections. These elections aren`t being conducted for or against the president. They`re all about these other candidates, regardless of who the president is.
But you know what? This Florida`s governor`s race, this crucial Florida`s governor`s race kind of feels it is a little bit about Trump. You saw that there, that argument at that rally today from Andrew Gillum with who we`re going to speak with in just a moment. At Ron DeSantis` rallies, even just in the last few days, when he talks about Andrew Gillum, his crowd yells back, "lock him up, lock him up."
Ron DeSantis is the guy who ran this ad at the start of his campaign where he plays "build the wall" with his kids and he teaches them Trump catch words. Mr. Trump said you`re fired. I love that part. And he teaches his kids to say "make America great again."
The morning after the primary election in which Ron DeSantis learned that he would be the nominee and he would be running against Andrew Gillum, Ron DeSantis is the guy who went on the Fox News and said about Andrew Gillum, quote, "the last thing we need to do is monkey this up." That and some other things about Ron DeSantis led Andrew Gillum to utter the most memorable debate line from any candidate in either party running for any office this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GILLUM: My grandmother used to say a hit dog will holler, and it hollered through this room. Mr. DeSantis has spoken. First of all, he`s got neo- Nazis helping him out in this state. He has spoken at racist conferences. He has accepted a contribution and would not return it from someone who referred to the former president of the United States as a Muslim N-I-G-G- E-R.
When asked to return that money, he said no. He`s using that money to now fund negative ads. Now, I`m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist, I`m simply saying the racists believe he is a racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Andrew Gillum is the Democratic candidate for Florida governor. He joins us next.
MADDOW: In Winter Garden, Florida, today, this mom brought her two kids with her to the polls. This mom to-be did as well. You see the angle there? That baby is apparently due on Wednesday, the day after tomorrow. She`s out voting today. What`s your excuse?
In Miami, on Sunday this weekend, people marched to the polls with their kids after church. In Orlando some voters brought a life size -- well, larger than life size cutout of the man they were lined up to vote for, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
We`re told that early voting across the country is on track to blow the roof of any prior midterm election ever. Florida appears to be no exception. "The Miami Herald" now reporting that Florida`s on pace to set a new record for turnout in that state in a nonpresidential election year.
Joining us now for the interview is Tallahassee mayor, Democratic candidate for governor, Andrew Gillum.
Mayor Gillum, thank you very much for being with us. I know this is an incredibly busy time.
GILLUM: Indeed. Thank you so much for having me here with you this evening.
MADDOW: So, Mr. Mayor, you are here at an exciting time electorally speaking. I`m sure you`re not going to sleep much in the next eight days.
GILLUM: Not at all.
MADDOW: This is also a very difficult time for the country. And you are in a contest to become the leader and the head of the state government in one of the most populous states in the country. I just want to ask you as you weigh the prospect of sending to that office -- you know, this massacre in Pittsburgh this weekend was the worst attack ever on the American Jewish community, the bombing campaign targeting prominent Democrats only seems to have ended last week with the arrest of a man in your state.
This feels like more than just divisive times.
MADDOW: How do you want to try to make things better in the state of Florida? Do you have a -- do you have insight into how your state could try to lead or try to at least heal at times like this?
GILLUM: Yes. Well, Rachel, I want to begin by at least expressing my deep regrets and honestly solidarity with the people of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, those 11 families that are undoubtedly grieving today and will continue to in the aftermath of what has been a senseless tragedy. I am also thankful that those bombs never reached their intended targets, never took innocent life. But the idea that people could be so worked up, so enraged by this moment by this politics that we created in this country ought to be unnerving to all of us.
Our president, instead of rising to the occasion, every opportunity that he gets to really show that he`s a leader, a leader that cut through, cut across, in the moments where the American people could use leadership the most, he repeatedly fails us. He spent his day today tweeting about me, tweeting at me, tweeting lies rather than working to tamp down the kind of derision and division that he has helped himself to stoke.
My opponent here in this race in Florida has done much of the same. I tell you, Rachel, what we focus on is trying to give voters a reason to go out and vote for something and just not against. I`ve tried to say to my opponent, listen, there is so much that we have different between us on the substance of the issues, on the policies. Why do we have to call names?
Why do we have to go to the gutter of politics? Why do we have to divide each other base off the way we look, the religion we hold, the language we may speak, or what country of origin we might be from? We`re bigger than that. We`re better than that.
And I`m asking him to rise to the occasion. And unfortunately, he keeps going into the gutter with Mr. Trump. And I think that our state and certainly our nation deserves better than that.
MADDOW: Because you raised it, I wanted to ask about some of the ways the president has been personally going after you. He does seem a little bit fixated on your race, given that it`s a state-wide race and not a race that necessarily has national consequences, at least in terms of being a senator or somebody else who would be in Congress.
The president said on Twitter, as usual, in Florida there is a choice between a Harvard Yale-educated man named Ron DeSantis who has been a great congressman and will be a great governor and a Dem who is a thief and who is a mayor of poorly run Tallahassee, said to be one of the most corrupt cities in the country.
Now you responded to that by saying on Twitter there is a choice between having the courage to at the person, meaning respond directly to the person you are thrash talking, or not. Real Donald Trump is howling because he`s weak. Florida go vote today.
What do you mean by the --
GILLUM: That`s right.
MADDOW: What do you mean by the accusation here that the president is weak and that`s why he`s howling?
GILLUM: I mean, I didn`t me to point out that the president is weak. And he performs as all weak people do by bullying others.
I mean, you`re talking about the most powerful position in the free world and the president of the United States takes time to badger me, to bully me on Twitter? I mean, it just doesn`t make any sense.
The president needs to grow up. He needs to do his job. He needs to lead. This country could use leadership at this moment. And instead, he is throwing insults across Twitter.
What I would say to the president, number one, I lead a city that is among the fastest growing economies in the state of Florida. My crime rate in my city is at a five-year low, on trajectory to be at a 20-year low, and we achieved that at the same time as arresting fewer people.
I lead, again, a community that I`m extremely proud of, and I got to tell you, my mother and my grandmother raised somebody who is honest, who is forthright, who is direct. And I don`t think the president is used to that kind of direct speak. He can dish it out, but he certainly can`t take it. I want him to know that he has met his match right here in Florida.
MADDOW: You mentioned that the core of your strategy in terms of election night eight days from now is that you want to give people something to vote for, not just something to vote against. One of the things that we have seen in Florida, like around the country, is a huge enthusiasm for early voting. As far as I can tell, the latest numbers, nearly 3 million Florida residents have cast in-person early votes in absentee ballots thus far.
That would be way above the pace, way, way above the pace, like more than double the pace from the last midterm election in 2014. But we`re also seeing in terms of partisan affiliation that look likes Republicans may have a slight edge in terms of the number of people bipartisan affiliation who you`re turning out.
What do you make of the early voting enthusiasm that you`re seeing and the partisan balance of those who are turning out?
GILLUM: Well, I tell you, I`m extremely encouraged by what we`re seeing on the ground, Rachel. I mean, we`re usually double-digits behind in early vote and in absentee voting in my state at this juncture, this far out from Election Day. We`re only I think something like four points behind Republicans right now. And I believe we`re going to close that gap. Every day we get closer to election day, people are turning out.
I mean, I campaign in parts of this state that haven`t seen a Democratic nominee campaign in the final stretch of the election. We were in Putnam County. We were in St. John`s County. We had an outdoor crowd in St. John`s County which went for Donald Trump by double-digits that stretched as far as the eye could see.
There was such amazing enthusiasm. We campaigned in the villages. I`ll be in Bay County in two days. We`ll be in Polk County tomorrow. We`re going to areas where they`re not used to seeing us.
And as I`ve said all along on the trail, I`m going to those places because I want them to know that I want to be their governor too. You don`t win the race for governor of the state of Florida by winning one county and losing another, picking up one and losing the other.
The one who wins is the one who gets one more vote. And that vote may come from anywhere throughout the length and breadth of my state, which is why I`m willing to go there, even if it feels uncomfortable, and ask those voters for their support. As I said, we`re trying to give voters something to go and vote for, health care, paying teachers what they`re worth, a clean environment. Mr. DeSantis, my opponent, wants to focus people on the color of my skin.
As I told him, the only color the people of this state care for is the blue-green algae flowing out of the east and west side of the state due to the environmental degradation at the hands of his party. He doesn`t want to talk than which is why he distracts with these kind of antics. But we`ll retire him on November 6th. I`m looking forward to doing that and getting about the business of the people of my state.
MADDOW: Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, Democratic candidate for governor in the state. Sir, thank you for talking to us tonight.
GILLUM: Thank you.
MADDOW: I know it`s going to be a heck of an eight days ahead. Thank you very much, sir.
GILLUM: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. I should tell you that we have invited Congressman DeSantis to be on the show as well. I very much look forward to the chance to having him here if he decides to be here. I would love to host him.
Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: 1904, they set up an office on Ellis Island to help immigrants trying to make their way to the United States, like this little 18-month- old girl sitting in a Red Cross basket. She arrived in New York from Europe with her family. Here she is waiting for her parents to be cleared through Customs.
Or this little boy wearing a feather headdress, making his way off the USS General R.M. Blatchford. He arrived at Ellis Island in 1951.
Because going through Ellis Island wasn`t always easy, it took some time, they built this hut for the Jewish Harvest Festival. The idea is if people were Jewish, were coming through Ellis Island, they couldn`t make it to their destination in time, they could still celebrate that holiday with their families while they were still in process.
You can see that same group at work in Warsaw in Poland, people trying to flee Eastern Europe. They helped this 77-year-old widow make her way from Ukraine to Culver City, California, to be reunited with her son.
You see that badge on her lapel. Can we zoom in on that? See that? If you recognize that, that`s actually the same badge that we saw on the baby. See that? See the same badge on the baby?
And actually, look at the man who is holding the little boy with the headdress. They`re all wearing the same badge. H-I-A-S. It stands for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. And everybody just calls them HIAS. They`re the oldest refugee agency in the world.
They were first established in 1881. Think about that. 1881, to help Jewish refugees make their way out of war zones and persecution and away from pogroms to help them to safe places. Over the years, their mission broaden to help resettle refugees of all kinds, HIAS is one of nine agencies that has a contract with the State Department to help refugees resettle inside the U.S.
The group says, quote, we used to welcome refugees because they were Jewish. Today, HIAS welcomes refugees because we are Jewish.
HIAS has been doing this work for over 130 years all day over the world, but it`s because of what happened now in one American city this weekend that we`re talking again about this particular agency, because when that gunman burst into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, part of the record he left behind online is that he repeatedly in rage named that charity, that specific Jewish refugee agency that has brought so many people from so many different traditions out of danger and into new lives.
Joining us now is Mark Hetfield. He is president and CEO of HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
Mr. Hetfield, I really appreciate you`re time tonight. I know this has been a very, very difficult time. Thanks for being here.
MARK HETFIELD, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HIAS: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Can you tell us a little bit about how people have responded and the kind of response that HIAS has experienced since the name of your group and the mission of your group and apparent rage that this inspired in the gunman was identified as part of this tragedy?
HETFIELD: I mean, the response has been absolutely incredible. We have people of all faiths who are contributing to HIAS. We`ve been getting many, many calls and letters and e-mails from ordinary people, from people who have been helped by HIAS, from people whose grandparents were brought here by HIAS, from members of Congress, senators, even the secretary general of the United Nations called me.
MADDOW: We`re looking as we`re talking to you at some images of vigils that have been happening not just in Pittsburgh, but around the country. This is obviously the worst attack that`s ever happened to the Jewish community in the United States on American soil.
What do you think would be the right measure of how we respond to this as a country?
HETFIELD: I mean, I hope this is an opportunity to reexamine how we speak about the other, that we reexamine what we`re doing in terms of fighting hate speech. There is just too much space right now for hate, and that`s what happened here. I mean, when you have hate speech, hateful speech almost always leads to hateful acts, and that`s exactly what happened here. That`s what happened last week with the pipe bombs.
I mean, we really need to reexamine our national discourse, and we need to do it on an individual level. Well need to do it family by family, institution by institution. And certainly, we need our elected leaders to set an example for us, a positive example.
MADDOW: I mentioned that yours is a very long-standing organization, the oldest refugee organization in the world that`s continuously operation. It`s a big organization. It does a lot of good work around the country with people from all over the world, this contract with the State Department to help resettle refugees. I wonder, since the name HIAS and the gunman fixating on HIAS again surfaced in relation to this tragedy, I wondered if you had been reached out to, if you heard from the White House or the secretary of state`s office or anybody else at high levels of the U.S. government, either just to check in or to touch base about moving forward?
HETFIELD: Nope. We were very clearly identified as being a motivation for this murderer. But we`ve gotten a lot of phone calls, a lot of support. We`ve heard nothing from the White House. We`ve heard nothing from the secretary of state, and, you know, we partner with the State Department to welcome refugees.
We`re one of nine agencies that works in partnership with the Department of State to resettle refugees in this country, and we do it here in Pittsburgh, in partnership with the Jewish family and community services of Pittsburgh, which is a terrific partner. But no, we haven`t heard anything from them.
MADDOW: Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society -- thanks for being with us tonight. I know, again, this is a very difficult time.
HETFIELD: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: On this date, October 29th, in 1970, the incumbent president was worried about the midterm elections, the first congressional elections since he had first been elected president less than two years earlier. Now, the country at the time was profoundly divided on partisan terms and otherwise, and even though the president was having trouble on the Vietnam war and on the economy and a whole bunch of other very fundamental things, the president that year thought that the threat of mass violence in America might actually work well for him as a campaign issue.
And so, 48 years ago tonight, October 29th, just before the 1970 midterm elections, the president of the United States made the most out of an angry crowd of protesters that had gathered outside one of his speeches in California. He got up in their faces on purpose. I mean, he literally got up in their faces. He just milked it for all it was worth, made sure the cameras were running, capturing all of it.
And he thereby got exactly the kind of news coverage he was hoping to get out of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The demonstrators were waiting outside when President Nixon finished his speech.
He came out and gave them his victory sign, and they didn`t like it.
DEMONSTRATORS: Jail Nixon, one, two, three, four, we don`t want your war! One, two, three, four, we don`t want your war! One, two, three, four, we don`t want your war! One, two, three, four, we don`t want your war! One, two, three, four, we don`t want your war!
REPORTER: It wasn`t until the president got in his limousine that the crowd began to do more than chant.
DEMONSTRATORS: Power to the people! Power to the people!
REPORTER: As the motorcade pulled away, it was pelted in the darkness by rocks, bottles, and a few eggs. Two Secret Service men and two policemen were injured. The San Jose police chief said given a little more time, the mob would have surrounded and trapped the president`s car.
Don Oliver, NBC News, reporting.
MADDOW: The mob. In response to that protest in 1970, which happened on a Thursday night, the Republican Party bought television time for Friday, for the very next night in order to try to capitalize on that incident. And that speech the following night is where Nixon said it was time for the great silent majority of Americans to stand up and be counted. That was that speech the next night.
Nixon needed a mob scene to run against. I mean, Nixon, if he could have staged and rerun the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago all through 1970, he would have done so every night. That was his big play for the midterms.
You`re rattled by the screaming protests? Do you think this might be an unsafe time in the country? Are you worried the mob will surround the president`s car? Well, contrast me with that, Nixon told the voters.
I`m law and order personified. I`m the leader here. I`m not at all rattled. I`m calm and collected in the face of all this over-the-top stuff.
Nixon did have one problem, though, in making this case at the time -- his vice president. His vice president didn`t talk that way at all. His vice president was not the cool, calm, collected type when it came to protesters or really to anybody he didn`t like. I`m just going to roll the very top of NBC`s newscast that night about the big protest that had just taken place against Nixon in California.
Again, remember, Nixon later that same night, after the network news would go on to buy a huge block of national TV time that same night to try to capitalize on those protests by giving a whole speech about the quiet, decent silent majority, telling America you don`t like that invective, you don`t like those swearing people, you don`t like that anger? I`m the alternative, right?
But check this out. Listen to what his vice president said that same night to basically squash that message like a bug.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: There has been widespread reaction today in political campaigns all across the country due to the attack last night on President Nixon`s motorcade in San Jose, California. A crowd of between one and 2,000 people threw bottles, bricks, rocks, eggs, and red flags at the motorcade. The police say it was terribly dangerous, and the consensus seems to be that it was the most dangerous moment for an American president since the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Vice President Agnew said today of the demonstrators, it is time to squeeze that kind of garbage out of our society.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It is time to squeeze that kind of garbage out of our society. Who squeezes garbage?
Nixon`s vice president was Spiro Agnew. He`s long dead now and even longer forgotten, but now that we`re having another first election after a new president was sworn in and the president is trying to make this election about the fear of leftist mobs and also hatred of the news media, sometimes it`s tempting to think that reincarnation might be real.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Spiro Agnew chose Alabama, George Wallace Country, for his latest assault on the news media. It was the news some people said would help Republican fortunes, not only in Alabama but throughout the state, where demonstrators for civil rights and peace and the so-called eastern press have never been popular.
The Nixon administration has denied that it`s pursuing a southern strategy to build a power base in the South. But the Republicans know that one reason why the election last fall was close was because Wallace carried five Southern states. There is much support in the south for president Nixon`s policies in Vietnam. Agnew, speaking at GOP rallies, isn`t hurting a bit with his outspoken attack on the anti-war movement and the press.
SPIRO AGNEW, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: It`s my intention to keep doing it. I`m not out to vilify or attack anybody, but I think if this country is going to remain great, it`s extremely important that the people who are in positions of leadership are not intimidated by the news media. And I don`t intend to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If this country is to remain great. Or we could always make it great again.
Nixon`s Vice President Spiro Agnew, could go toe to toe in George Wallace`s Alabama on the issue of race and the civil rights movement. He was known for stirring up virulent anti-Semitism of who was behind his favorite target, the evil media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AGNEW: It`s not an easy thing to wake up each morning to learn that some prominent man or some prominent institution has implied that you are a bigot or a racist or a fool. I`m not asking immunity from criticism, but the way when the network commentators and even the gentlemen of "The New York Times" enjoy a forum of diplomatic immunity from comment and criticism of what they said is over.
REOPRTER: Agnew got a warm reception, but it`s still too early to say what decisive factor it`ll have on politics in Alabama or in the South.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, I just made this podcast mini series about this guy, about Agnew. It`s supposed to launch tomorrow but we decided actually that we`re just going to put it up tonight. So, launch date is tomorrow. We`re putting it up tonight anyway. So you can get the first two episodes if not right this second they`ll be available as soon as we`re off the air tonight. MSNBC.com/bagman.
The first episode is called "An Unsettling Secret". So, we`re posting two episodes at once. Make sure you listen to "An Unsettling Secret" first. The reason it`s called "Bag Man" is because the podcast in general is about how Spiro Agnew came to an end in the White House itself.
But the reason I care about that so much and I think you might be interested in hearing about it, too, is because right now, honestly in our politics, this minute, this guy sort of feels like he`s back from the dead. We`re living through his politics again. And when someone with that kind of politics, with that kind of pick every fight, playing with fire, stir up the worst in people approach gets forced out of office about an inch ahead of him being thrown in jail for his crimes, that is something worth brushing up on.
MSNBC.com/bagman. As of tonight we are posting the first two episodes early or you can get it on any app where you usually get your podcasts. Just search those two words, bag man. Honestly, you`re going to think it`s uncanny.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AGNEW: To hear them say that those who break the law and take it into their own hands should be excused under certain circumstances, I say they should be excused under no circumstances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So I mentioned in my interview with Florida candidate for governor, Andrew Gillum, earlier this hour that it looks like it might be record turnout for a congressional election this year. Let me put a little bit of meat on those bones in terms of the new data that we`ve got. I want you to take these eight states as a kind of barometer for what we`re seeing.
Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas -- I can tell you as of tonight that in these eight states, more people have already early voted this year than the total number of people who early voted in those states in 2014. And we are still more than a week from the election. Again, they`ve already broken the 2014 early voting record in those states.
We have been reporting on early vote records being shredded from Delaware to Nevada to a bunch of places in between. With eight days left if we`ve already topped 2014 total numbers, we expect this list to get more crowded.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: You can chalk this up as sort of one of those good news/bad news things. Apparently, we nuked the website for "Bag Man", which is really good for you guys. I just put up we`ll up the first two episodes of the "Bag Man".
We`re supposed to launch tomorrow, but we decided that we have to put them up tonight. So, we posted them tonight. The website -- should I not even say it? OK, apparently I can say it.
MSNBC.com/bagman is the website. But apparently we just killed it, it was just -- because I just said that. So thank you very much for being interested enough, and please try back later if you can`t get right through. You can just subscribe if you go to the podcast app on your phone, if you don`t want to go through the website. Sorry.
All right, see you again tomorrow.
Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence. I`m happy to see you back.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END