Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: November 7, 2017 Guest: Larry Sabato, Nicholas Kristof
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And the next speech we`re going have on this network is Democrat Ralph Northam of Virginia, the winner of the Virginia`s governor`s race. We`re awaiting his remarks.
But, Rachel, I want to get your reaction to what you just witnessed in the president`s speech in North Korea, a speech that had the usual kind of Trumpian surprises that as you`re listening to the speech, you can`t quite believe it`s happening. But then you go, oh, yes, this is Donald Trump. Of course, he is doing an advertisement for one of his golf courses, self- enriching against all the previous principles of the presidency, right there in that speech, along with several other things.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Yes. So, the speech in the South Korean national assembly certainly aimed at North Korea for the second half of the speech. But you`re right. In the first half of his speech, he did kind of a -- he kind of read a complimentary encyclopedia page about the accomplishments of South Korea which I`m sure was designed to have him warmly received by his hosts. The president was very stiff for the first half of his speech.
The turning point came when he did start to talk about golf. And I will give the president credit for appearing to be slightly self-conscious about the fact that he was about to start bragging about his golf course. He at least said, you know what I`m about to say. And he bragged about his New Jersey golf club. He bragged about Korean golfers doing well there at a golf tournament that he hosted there recently.
He did appear to be somewhat self-conscious about that, or at least -- I don`t know, I`ve never seen him laugh at himself. But at least he had sort of a different tone there, so it wasn`t just a straight-up ad.
But then the whole second half of the speech was him threatening North Korea and denigrating the possibility of diplomacy and trying to talk every other country in the world a to stop talking to them as we stop talking to them too.
O`DONNELL: And the two positions, if you`re looking for positions that I heard him take, tell me if there were more. One is that North Korea must disarm. His position is North Korea can`t have any nuclear weapons. Not stop where you are now, but must go backwards and disarm.
And then that other point that no country should trade or deal with North Korea in any way, not China, not Russia, no country should do anything with North Korea. And, of course, there is zero prospect of him doing anything to enforce those sentences in his speech.
MADDOW: Right. And these are not new proposals. I mean, you could make a case that this is new from the president in the sense that he went to South Korea and laid out his anti-North Korea case there. And so, maybe that will be persuasive to other countries when he tries to affect their attitudes and their policies towards North Korea.
But he wasn`t asking for anything he hasn`t asked for before. He wasn`t making any new threats. He wasn`t drawing any new lines that he hadn`t drawn before. He did say oddly, and it will be interesting to find out if this was in his prepared remarks, he did say at one point, this is a very different administration than the United States has had in the past.
And at that point in the speech, he was sort of denigrating the idea of weakness and seeming to criticize the United States in years past in terms of the way that we have dealt with North Korea.
But aside from possibly -- if my reading of that part of the speech is correct,` side from him going abroad and criticizing the United States in another country, which is something presidents don`t generally do, I really don`t think there was anything new here, other than he said it in South Korea instead of saying it here.
O`DONNELL: And, Rachel, I have to get your reaction to what looks like a Democratic sweep on this election tonight.
O`DONNELL: In New Jersey, Virginia, everyone had their eyes on Virginia. And now, we have Democrat governor-elect in Virginia.
MADDOW: Yes. I mean, New Jersey it`s not as much as a surprise. And I think that`s because New Jersey is a blue state, although they did elect Chris Christie. There was some question as to whether or not an a ex- Goldman Sachs Democrat might have a little Jon Corzine baggage when Christie got into office in 2009 by defeating Jon Corzine, and the Democrat Phil Murphy running in New Jersey also has a Goldman Sachs background.
There was some questions as to whether or not that might drag him down. Nothing can drag down the Democrat as much as being associated with Chris Christie dragged down the Republican in that race. So, that Democratic win in New Jersey was called almost instantly as soon as polls closed, not that much of a surprise given that Christie`s polling at 14 percent in New Jersey.
It was a surprise to see things called, at least to me, to see things called so quickly in Virginia. There has been bad polling in Virginia in recent years. In the last -- in 2013 governor`s race, the polling there understated the Republican performance in 2014 when Mark Warner was up against Ed Gillespie for that Senate race.
The polling in Virginia understated Republican performance. When I was looking at those polling averages today, where it looked almost even between Northam and Gillespie in Virginia, I thought well, if previous polling biases hold, that means it`s going to be a good night for Republicans in Virginia.
But very quickly, within an hour of polls close, we got that Democratic win called in Virginia. Very soon thereafter, we found out that in terms of all the statewide races, it`s a Democratic sweep in Virginia. And now, there is this drama as the whether or not Democrats might do what is almost literally unthinkable and take back that House of Delegates where they will be -- I mean, they need a 17-seat pickup there, which is insane. But there is a question as to whether or not they might get there tonight.
O`DONNELL: And they are on their way to it. We`re going to be joined by one of the new House of Delegates-elect, the first transgendered member of a state legislature. And she, Rachel, defeated a candidate who proudly called himself and has been in that seat for 25 years, proudly called himself Virginia`s homophobe in chief. So, you can`t ask for a more stunning flip of a seat.
MADDOW: Yes, you know, it`s one thing -- it`s important for the country to have our first ever elected state legislator who is openly transgender. That is an achievement for American civil rights that will stand no matter -- despite the rest of the circumstances of that election.
But for Danica Roem to have beaten Bob Marshall, the guy who authored the Virginia bathroom trans ban, the guy who called himself Virginia`s homophobe in chief, the guy who has ridden prejudice against the LGBT community to a 25-year career in the Virginia House of Delegates, for Danica Roem to beat him, it shows you that sometimes history is written with the caps lock key on, right? It tells you that sometimes history is not subtle about these achievements.
And she is going to go down in history tonight for this victory. But she is going to a big, big change for Virginia just because she is the one that showed Bob Marshall the door. And not by a small margin either. She beat him by double-digits.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and it feels like tonight`s history is being written by movie writers. It is so dramatic.
MADDOW: Unsubtle movie writers.
O`DONNELL: Rachel, thank you very much for sticking with us for a few minutes. Really appreciate it.
MADDOW: Thanks a lot, Lawrence. Appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Well, here we are. Do you remember where you were, what you were feeling, what you were thinking at this hour a year ago?
On the one-year anniversary of the man who came in second place with voters but first place with the Electoral College, thereby plunging the White House into the most unpopular first year of presidency in the history of polling, that man and his party have been sharply rebuked by voters in elections around the country. Donald Trump`s record high disapproval rating as president seems to have translated tonight into a massive disapproval of candidates who have the word "Republican" near their names.
The biggest crushing defeat of the night came in Virginia. Democrat Ralph Northam won the governor`s race, defeating Republican Ed Gillespie. Democrats won all three statewide races in Virginia, winning lieutenant governor and attorney general.
And in New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy won the governor`s race, defeating Republican Kim Guadagno.
Joining us now is MSNBC`s Garrett Haake, who is at Ralph Northam headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, awaiting the victory speech.
Garrett, what`s the scene there tonight?
GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lawrence, I think we`re going to see Ralph Northam any second now. So, if he comes out, I will stop talking.
But Democrats here are palpably both thrilled and relieved, I think. I mean, you talk about this being an issue that has gone on over the last year. This is the win that they have been looking for this. This is what they`ve been waiting for.
OK. We got Terry McAuliffe coming out behind me now. So, I`m going to keep talk.
Look, I was out talking to Democratic voters all day today. I think what`s clear is this campaign and this state have figured out a way to weaponize the resistance. I talked to voters who like Ralph Northam, who wanted to see his values in this governor`s office.
I talked to a lot of Democrats and some Republicans in northern Virginia today who wanted to stick to it Donald Trump. And this was their chance to do that. They were able to come out and cast votes to push back against this White House. And if Democrats around the country can get on board with that, it could be a very big sign.
And I think the other thing we saw tonight on the Democratic side that`s really important is this idea of these reverse coattails. You and Rachel were talking about all these Virginia House of Delegates races. That has brought out voters, it`s clear, all around the commonwealth of Virginia. And there is some idea here that it might sort of validate the Tom Perez strategy of where Democrats compete, they will find a way to win, because they found a way to pour energy into all of these races around the commonwealth.
And that I think is why you`re seeing some of these blowout numbers, in a state that, you know, less than a generation ago was a solidly red state. And now, it`s hard to argue that Virginia is not a blue state going into 2018 completely.
O`DONNELL: Garrett Haake, we`re going to Steve Kornacki, quickly before the governor-elect speaks.
Steve, we`re waiting for the governor-elect to do his victory speech. Your reading of what happened in Virginia tonight? I`ve been watching every one of your reports, Steve, on the edge of our seats before 8:00. And then the picture became very clear.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and first to put this in some perspective, what you`re looking at here, this is the biggest margin for a Democrat in the governor`s race in Virginia in 32 years. It looks like it to be nine points for Ralph Northam. You`ve got to go back to 1985 to find a Democrat winning by that much.
How did this happen? Why did this happen?
Let`s tell the story this way. Ed Gillespie the Republican, he ran, we talked about this a lot. He tried to run on Trumpism. And what did that mean?
Look at it this way. Two different stories happen in Virginia. Last year in the presidential election, Donald Trump, whoa, that wasn`t supposed to happen. Donald Trump got absolutely annihilated in the suburbs outside of Washington, D.C. Republicans usually struggle here. But it was much, much worse for Donald Trump than it usually.
On the other hand, Donald Trump did very well in southwest Virginia, rural area, culturally conservative areas. So, what was Gillespie trying to do with immigration, with Confederate battle statues, the cultural issues? He was trying to get Trump level support in rural Virginia. He succeeded in doing that mostly tonight. He did run up the score here.
But what he thought he could do was get back to the typical Republican performance in these suburbs. Not get blown out like Trump did. Let me show you, though, what happened in the suburbs, because it is something when you put the numbers out there.
Take a look right here actually. This is Prince William County. Put this in some perspective. Ed Gillespie ran for the Senate a few years ago. He lost this county by three points. He thought he could do it again this time. Hold to it three points.
Well, last year, Donald Trump lost here by 21 points. Tonight, Ed Gillespie loses by 23. He did worse than Donald Trump.
And what happened last year for Republicans, they thought was the worst case scenario possible. It actually got worse. Loudoun County, Ed Gillespie won Loudoun County when he ran for the senate. Trump lost it by 17 last year.
What happened tonight? Got worse, 20-point blowout. Well see this all across the suburbs. A lot of vote here. A quarter of the vote in the state is just in these places I`m pointing to right here that is the story.
These places didn`t like Donald Trump last year. They don`t like that he is president. They don`t like the way he has acted as president. And they have not move an inch toward him.
In fact, they`ve moved even further from him. And you`re seeing it here. There was an expectation coming tonight that Northam was more likely than not to win this thing there was no expectation. The margin was going to be like we`re seeing. Almost a ten-point win.
O`DONNELL: Steve, quickly, before you go, I watched your coverage earlier before we really had a verdict here. Very dramatic. Privately in your mind, what was the moment, what was the thing you saw on this map where you said this is where it`s going go before we could officially call it?
KORNACKI: Loudoun County. It came in pretty early. This is sort of the suburbs, ex-burbs outside D.C. That was the question. Gillespie won it, a small margin, he won when he ran for the senate in 2014.
And the whole Gillespie theory was you run on the Trump issue, but you don`t bring Trump into Virginia. You don`t campaign with him. You don`t have him come into the suburbs outside D.C. You try to keep your distance so you can get the Trump margins without alienating the suburbs.
You can go back to being Ed Gillespie, the establishment Republican, the Bush administration alum, the guy who did OK here in 2014 that was the strategy.
They thought they could get that separation. When I saw the results in Loudoun County, I said nope, might as well be Donald Trump on the ballot tonight.
O`DONNELL: Steve, thank you very much for joining us. Really, really appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
We`re joined now by Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Also with us, Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The New York Times."
And, Larry, let`s go to what Steve was telling us about these margins. So, we saw a candidate, you watch this raceway closer than I did, who as Steve was saying, seemed to try to embrace Trumpism in the part of the state where he thought it would work, and then get as far away from it as possible in part of the state where he thought it wouldn`t work.
It turns out the state turns out to be like a small town. They`re going to hear you no matter what you say, wherever you say it in that state.
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Yes. I think people got the message. Look, Virginia was anti-Trump last year, the only southern state that was anti-Trump.
But this is so much bigger. Hillary Clinton won by five points and got 50 percent of the vote. Ralph Northam is edging up nine, maybe even ten points. By the way, he is winning more than Phil Murphy is winning in percentage terms in New Jersey. Murphy was supposed to sweep in.
This election in my view anyway was a repudiation of Trumpism and a backlash to Trump himself. It`s the combination of the two. This is a blue state. I get it. You can`t say it`s going to happen in red states next year. But in this state, for a majority of Virginians, a growing majority of Virginians, Trump is poison.
O`DONNELL: And, of course, Nick, tonight Donald Trump is disowning Ed Gillespie immediately. He tweeted as soon as he possibly could as soon, as this was called, Ed Gillespie worked hard, but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don`t forget, Republicans won four out of four House seats. With the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win bigger than before.
We will play you Donald Trump`s robocall for Ed Gillespie after the governor-elect speaks, because we don`t know what moment that speech is going to start.
But, Nick, Donald Trump got in there, tried to help this candidate get across the finish line. And his candidate lost again.
NICK KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: And he today threw him off the bus and rolled over him. You know, I think that`s because, indeed, the election was to some degree a referendum on Trump. And obviously, he did exceptionally badly.
I mean, if the Democrats had lost, I think it would have been a really bad sign as this Obama won twice. Clinton won. But the scale of the victory for the Democrats I think is a good omen for them for the house in 2018. And, boy, if I were Democrats, I think they should be thinking about putting some referendums on the ballot on guns, on reproductive health, on a lot of other issues. I think this is a good omen for Democrats in 2018.
O`DONNELL: And Steve Bannon was ready to claim the Ed Gillespie victory. He told "The New York Times" just this weekend, talking about Ed Gillespie: He closed an enthusiasm gap by rallying around the Trump agenda. And I think the big lesson for Tuesday that in Gillespie`s case, Trumpism without Trump can show the way forward. If that`s the case, Democrats better be very, very worried.
Larry Sabato, who has to be very, very worried now?
SABATO: I think a lot of Republicans in competitive districts, in purple states, that`s both House seats, even a few Senate seats and certainly governorships. That`s the big place where Democrats can make gains next year. You know what was funny, you just read the Bannon quote. And he was bragging a little too early.
And what did Donald Trump do between that tweet? It was incredible. It was so ungracious. That`s so atypical of Donald Trump. It was so ungracious.
And he said Gillespie did not embrace me or my issues. Well, yes, Gillespie didn`t have him in the campaign. But he certainly embraced his issues and then some. He campaigned on immigration and crime and football players taking a knee, and Confederate monuments.
And Virginians stood up, a very large majority and said, no, thank you.
O`DONNELL: And, Nick, it was interesting to watch at least some analysts, political analysts, especially on television being very impressed with the Gillespie campaign over the last few days, apparently believing that Confederate monuments and scary talk about Mexican gangs and drug crime is the way to win elections.
KRISTOF: Yes. I mean, I never really understood why Gillespie was pursuing that, was pushed that far. Obviously, it wasn`t the primary and then he kind of stayed in that direction. But I also think he misunderstood that, you know, one of the things that the Republicans are most successful in the Obama years was to say, you`ve got to vote Republican in local races as a check on President Obama. And now, that picture is reversed.
And so, I think that is going to be to the Democrats` advantage.
O`DONNELL: We have Governor-elect Murphy in New Jersey taking to the microphone. Let`s take a listen to what he those say.
GOVERNOR-ELECT PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: And I`m so grate to feel say it today. You`ve always had mine.
Tonight, we declare the days of division are over. We will move forward together. This is exactly who we are, New Jersey. We have each other`s backs. To believe in each of us is to believe in all of us.
Eighteen months ago, I chose to run for governor on a belief that New Jersey`s best days are before us, that our future is unlimited, and that we have been failed by leadership which forgot what it meant to dream big. For 541 days, we have asked New Jerseyans to join us.
First, we did a whole lot of listening, then we asked folks to listen to our ideas and to decide for themselves if they wanted a change in direction.
The military veteran uneasy about his access to health care, the young person simply hoping for an equal opportunity to work, the woman worried if her Planned Parenthood clinic will be open so she can get a cancer screening.
The victim of anti-Semitic or other hateful actions, the senior citizen losing sleep over whether she`ll be able to continue to stay in her home and the college graduate doubtful if they can ever even afford a home.
The parents anxious about the funding of their children`s school and also anxious about protecting them from gun violence, the small business owner concerned about her long-term prospects in an economy that is stubbornly stalled and unfair, and many, many others.
Today in resounding fashion, they gave us their answer. A few moments ago, I received a very --
O`DONNELL: Northam headquarters in Virginia for Governor-elect Ralph Northam`s victory speech in this resounding and historic high margin victory for a Democrat in a Virginia governor`s race.
O`DONNELL: Larry Sabato, before the governor gets to the microphone, what does this mean for possible legislative opportunities in Virginia, specifically the Medicaid expansion? We`ll get to that after the speech.
GOVERNOR-ELECT RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: Wow, what a day in the commonwealth of Virginia.
You know, a few minutes ago, I received a gracious call from Ed Gillespie. I wished him well, and I thanked him for his service.
O`DONNELL: It seems there is some kind of possible security issue there where Ralph Northam was all but physically forcibly removed from the stage by one of the security people there. It looks like it may just be a protest on the floor there. Looks like possible protests against the perceived immigration policy of Northam versus the Trump immigration policy. There is something about sanctuary on one of those hand-written signs.
Looks like Governor-elect Northam is coming back out to the microphone.
NORTHAM: Virginia, we have witnessed yet another Democratic sweep today.
I want to congratulate my friend, Attorney General Mark Herring on his reelection, and thank you for reelecting Mark Herring.
I also want to thank our friend, the next lieutenant governor of the commonwealth of Virginia, Justin Fairfax.
What a great team we have here in Virginia.
You know, it was said that the eyes of the nation are now on the commonwealth. Today, Virginians have answered and have spoken. Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness that we will not condone hatred and bigotry, and to end the politics that have torn this country apart.
I want to let you know that in Virginia, it`s going to take a doctor to heal our differences.
To bring unity to our people.
And I`m here to let you know that the doctor is in.
And this doctor will be on call for the next four years.
We need -- we need to close the wounds that divide and bring unity to Virginia. Whether you voted for me or not, we are all Virginians.
And I hope, I hope to earn your confidence and support as we move forward. The Virginia way is to work together to get results. I have taken care of a lot of sick children over the years and their families, and nobody has ever asked me whether I`m a Republican or a Democrat, nor have I asked them.
When someone`s life is at stake, they don`t care whether you`re a Democrat or Republican. They just want someone to help. That`s the way that our administration will govern our commonwealth. We will put the people of Virginia before politics, before party, and before ideology.
And I want to thank so much to Virginia for putting your trust in me. We put a lot of miles on the Sequoia. My man Seth and me.
We drove all over this commonwealth. We listened to a lot of `80s music. And sometimes, we bumped it up to the `90s.
You know, as we traveled across Virginia, I have seen an outpouring of support. I saw the outpouring of people looking to get involved. To those of you that knocked on doors, who made phone calls, and talked to their neighbors about the principles and values that are so important to us as Virginians, I say thank you so much.
And for those of you who supported our campaign financially, the people who scraped $5, $10, $20, your contributions send a message that will be heard around the country and the globe. I am so proud of my team, led by -- led by Brad Kumar (ph) and Gabrielle Greenfield (ph).
I have never been around a team that was more professional, that was more talented, more hardworking. And so to our team, the ones that got us to where we are today, please join me in giving them a big round of applause.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
To the elected officials across this great commonwealth, and I know you`ve heard from a lot of them tonight. I want to thank all of you that supported my campaign. To Senator Warner.
To Senator Tim Kaine.
To Congressman Scott Connelly, Beyer and McEachin, I appreciate your friendship and your support.
What a wonderful four years of leadership we have had under our friend Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. Terry and Dorothy, you have built a new Virginia economy, and put Virginia on the right path. And we are thankful to you.
The progress we will have over the next four years is because of your hard work over the last four years. And we thank you.
To my family, I cannot thank you enough. To our children -- I love her too. To our children, Wes and Aubrey, we are so proud of you. And to my wife Pam, who is the love of my life. Pam Northam, I had to go all the way to Texas to find her. But I`m glad I did. But I want to tell you that Pam Northam is going to be a wonderful first lady for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In closing, I want you to know how humble and honored I am to have your trust to serve as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Having grown up on a small farm on Virginia`s Eastern Shore, I have worked very hard. But I`ve had wonderful opportunities.
And I want Virginians to have those same opportunities. And, you know, as I travel around the Commonwealth, I listened to a lot of folks. And what I hear is number one, Virginians want a job that they can support themselves and their families with. They want to make sure that their children have access to a world class education. They want to make sure that all of us as Virginians have access to affordable and quality health care.
They want to make sure that we live in environments where the air and water are clean. They want to live in communities that are safe where there are not guns on every street corner. And finally, something that I am so proud of, and I remind you all the time, we live in a very diverse society.
It is getting more diverse every day. It is that diverse society that makes this country great. And as long as I`m governor, I will make sure that we`re inclusive, that we welcome people to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Our lights will be on. Our doors will be open. So tomorrow, my fellow Virginians, the hard work of governing begins. Let`s get to work. May god bless all of you, and may God bless the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thank you all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: A historically large margin of victory for a Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate in Virginia, Ralph Northam, accepting that victory just now in his victory speech. It began that this victory speech tonight as a direct rebuke to Donald Trump and Trumpism without mentioning the President`s name. Ralph Northam began by saying his election means the end of divisiveness and it means the end of the politics that have been tearing this country apart. He closed that speech with another very direct rebuke on Trump and Trumpism, saying that the diverse society of Virginia and that the diverse society of this country is what makes this country great.
Words that could never be spoken By Donald Trump or a follower of Trumpism. And Nick Kristof, you`ve been writing a lot about ammunition control, weapons control, and gun control as a public health issue. Ralph Northam did not dodge this issue, especially when Las Vegas, the 58 people being killed in mass murder there brought it into -- inescapably into this campaign.
And what he said at that time as a former army physician treating wounded soldiers, he said I know all to well what assault weapons do to human beings. Until I don`t have another breath in my lungs, I will stand up and tell people that we do not need assault weapons on our streets. That in Virginia that was not an easy political position to take.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, there is some indication that the politics on guns are beginning to change. I would say that, though, that one`s better not framing it as gun control but gun safety. But, you know, over time demographically. So the number of guns in America is continuing to grow well over 300 million now. But the proportion of households who have guns is steadily dropping.
And so there are fewer people who are really passionate about these issues. And even among gun owner, more than 90 percent favor universal background checks. And so I do think -- and on referendums around the country, we`ve seen voters approve stricter gun laws.
So I do think that`s what happening in Virginia is emblematic of a broader shift that offers some hope of advances on toward a more sane gun policy. More likely at the state level than at the federal level.
O`DONNELL: Larry Sabato, I want to get your reaction to the speech we just heard, which to think of it as a Southern Governor`s Speech has a certain surprising quality to it. it sounds like the victory speech of a Democratic Governor who just won in Massachusetts and New York.
LARRY SABATO, MNSBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it did. Of course Virginia has gotten a lot bluer. And it`s really a Middle Atlantic State. It`s not a southern state. You know, some things are going to come back into Virginia, some issues that we thought were settled because the Republicans controlled the legislature by such a large margin at least in the house of delegates.
Believe it or not, the Democrats are inching close to a 50-50 split. They may even get a majority. If they don`t, they`ll only be a seat or two behind that. And I think that puts Health Care back on the agenda here, Medicaid reform, Medicare. That`s back on the agenda.
And with Northam a being a doctor and having nearly half the house of delegates and the Republicans only control the Senate by two votes, 21-19, and many of their districts were carried in a landslide by Northam tonight, I think there is a real possibility for bringing that issue back.
O`DONNELL: Larry Sabato and Nick Kristof, thank you very much for joining us during this breaking news coverage of the Virginia Election, appreciate it. Coming up, the first transgender state legislator Danica Roem will join us after the break and we will have much more live coverage of tonight`s election night.
O`DONNELL: Danica Roem is the first transgendered woman elected in Virginia and the first elected to a state legislature anywhere in the country. Her election to the Virginia House of Delegates in that election she beat Republican incumbent Bob Marshall, who has been in office for 25 years and proudly has been calling himself Virginia`s Chief Homophobe.
He was the author of failed legislation in Virginia to ban transgender people from using public bathrooms of their choice. We are joined now by phone, by Danica Roem. Danica Roem, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
I know this is a hard night for you to squeeze in a phone call with us from your victory celebration. But here you beat someone whose 40 years older than you are. You`re 33. He is 73. He has been in the office for -- well over 20 years and no one more hostile to you and your personal interests and your personal life choices than this man. What was it like to campaign against someone like him?
DANICA ROEM, VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES: Well, Lawrence, what it was like to campaign against someone like him was just basically the idea that I got into the race because we have major infrastructure problems that have been getting worse and worse and worse throughout the 33 years that I lived in Manassas, my entire life. And, you know, I know this is going to be a hard night for Delegate Marshall and his family and his supporters. so rather than pile on him, I`m just going to stick to the same message that we`ve been going to this entire year, which is basically that number one, I campaigned on a platform of building up our infrastructure instead of tearing down each other. And that means fixing up 28 locally here, and that also means working to make Virginia a more inclusive commonwealth.
So no matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, who you love, how you identify or any other identity that you have, you should be celebrated because of who you are, not despite it. In the words of St. Francis de Sales, be who you are and be that well. And that resonated, a message of inclusion and equality resonated here. And for a national audience, I think it`s really important that we note that discrimination is a disqualifier. And that you can champion inclusion. You can champion equality and equity, and you can win.
O`DONNELL: And Governor-Elect Northam`s victory speech tonight ended on that same note. he talked about the diverse society that makes this country great. he expanded on that point in a few sentences toward the end of his speech, the kind of thing that we would never hear from the current President of the United States. Hearing the same note from you, was that a unified message that democrats were delivering in Virginia?
ROEM: I haven`t heard. Honestly, I haven`t even heard his speech. I haven`t been around anything.
Ralph is a friend. Dr. Northam is absolutely amazing. I know he is going to be incredible. He is committed to me that he is going to work with me to fix 28. And I also know that with our incredible to hopefully majority by the time everything is done in the House of Delegates, that we`re going to be able to focus on the issues that unite us and help us and improve our quality of life, like finally expanding Medicaid so that 3,700 uninsured people who live in the 13th district and who earn less than $18,000 a year, which in Northern Virginia, you can`t way rent on.
We can finally help take care of them. And it`s so, so important that we help out the people who need it the most, and that we set the example for the rest of the country to follow. When we focus on traffic, jobs, schools, health care, the quality of life issues that matter so much in every locality, let alone here instead of stigmatizing the constituents who we are lucky to serve then we can accomplish great things together. This is a great one for Virginia.
This is a great one for our country. And to anyone whoever had a doubt that, you know, people of diverse backgrounds, well, like me as a reporter, and keep in mind, my main qualifications for office is I was a lead reporter of the Gainesville Times covering my home community for nine years, two months and two weeks. The administration that we see in Washington right now has absolutely just -- the President of the United States literally declared reporters to be enemies of the state.
Our local reporters are the people who keep our working governments accountable. They have to be able to thrive. And we need an independent press where, you know, this is interesting third party observers who are neutral, who are committed to pursuing the truth and who are permitted to accountability. Facts matter, vetting facts matter and alternative facts are BS. We have to -- it`s so good that Virginia chose to elect two reporters between myself and Chris Hearst to go to Richmond because we will always be reporters before we`re politicians.
O`DONNELL: And Danica Roem, no one knows the local issues better than local reporters. And your campaign, as you keep stressing was run on classic local issues involving traffic congestion, traffic problems, the infrastructure solutions to those.
O`DONNELL: You keep telling us about 28, which is this important road in your district that needs help. and that`s the kind of thing that long-time legislators can take their eye off, especially the Bob Marshall who you unseated who spent this time worrying about bathrooms that apparently no one else in the state, certainly in that district was worried about. And so the national media will hear that he was the guy with the bathroom bill. And you`re the transgendered candidate running against him and think that it`s all about that.
O`DONNELL: but what we`re hearing tonight from you is that it was all about the local issues that it would have been about no matter who the candidates were.
ROEM: Well, let me put hit the way to you. Starting next year, Marshall will be one of my constituents. And I`m not going to attack my own constituents. I think if there is any lesson that comes out of the race this year, it`s not about attacking your constituents, singling them out and trying to make people feel bad about themselves. That`s not our Virginia. That`s not our county, our Manassas Park. Our Virginia is a commonwealth where we celebrate each other because of who they are, not despite it.
O`DONNELL: And you outraised financially for financing your campaign, you outraised your incumbent opponent by three to one with a lot of outside help, a lot of LGBT communities around the country helping your race. could you have won without that outside infusion of cash?
ROEM: I want to mention a few things about that. Number one, we had hundreds and hundreds of donations from within the 13th district, from Manassas, Manassas Park, Gainesville and Hay Market. We were crushing it locally. Another big thing, look at the small dollar donations. Something like almost 12,000 donations between $1 and $100.
That is a grassroots army. We succeed in the 13th. We succeed raising money throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. And Yeah, we succeed raising money nationwide too. and yeah, our LGBT groups came in and they knocked doors for us as well as raised money for us.
And the reason for that is that in our message, it wasn`t just oh, Danica`s transgendered. It wasn`t just why was running against. It was the fact that they know that when I succeed running on local issues, that when I succeed running on the issues that unite us, that they can succeed in whatever is got that they`re called to do and if it`s politics, great. But it`s just being called to come out, if it`s just called to be a good, be a great teacher, whatever it is your life`s calling, if you`re gay or you`re transgender, you should be able to pursue happiness and the government should recognize your right to pursue happiness just as with anyone else.
And next year the people of 13th district know there won`t be bathroom bills that are just going to be dead on arrival. There won`t be discriminatory legislation coming out of the 13th district.
We`re going to be focusing on infrastructure. And yeah, if you read my platform, it said jobs, schools and equality. And I will be a champion for equality. I will be a champion for raising teacher pay.
I`ll be a champion for extending the Virginia railway express out to Innovation Park in Gainesville in a cost-effective way so we can bring more high paying defense, high-tech biotech jobs up to Prince William. And of course I will be a champion for improving our infrastructure, for traffic, water, to education and everything in between. Let`s work together. And yeah, Lawrence, we are stronger together.
O`DONNELL: Danica Roem, thank you very much for joining us on what is a historic election night, really appreciate you taking the time. And I think people having listened to you, many people listening to you for the first time have no confusion now about how you won that race tonight and won it decisively, really appreciate you joining us.
ROEM: Thank You. And to everyone out there, be yourself better than anyone else ever could.
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much, Danica Roem, appreciate it. We`ll be right back with more of the breaking news coverage of tonight`s elections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL MURPHY, GOVERNOR-ELECT OF NEW JERSEY: This is one of the first major elections since Donald Trump was elected. Tonight, New Jersey sent an unmistakable message to the entire nation, we are better than this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That is the Democratic Governor elect Phil Murphy in New Jersey. He will be succeeding Chris Christie who as he serves out his final days as Governor of New Jersey is the least popular Governor in America. And, of course, Chris Christie earned that position in New Jersey by his incompetence in government, his deliberate mendacity in government by tying up traffic on the George Washington Bridge as a political stunt to aggravate an opponent of his and also because Chris Christie was the very first Governor to endorse Donald Trump for President.
We`re joined now by David Jolly, former Congressman from Florida and Krystal Ball a former Congressional Candidate in Virginia. And Krystal you`re watching history made in your home state tonight
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNC CONTRIBUTOR: I`m very happy tonight. And you know I think one of the lessons here that cannot be overlooked is two things. First of all, activists said from the beginning we`re going to try to win back the House of Delegates. And the experienced hands said it`s too far, it`s too much of a stretch. Now you can see -
O`DONNELL: It would be like saying the Democrats are going to win back the House of Representatives saying that six months ago
BALL: exactly. Now we see control`s not going to be determined tonight but they`ve got a great shot at it. the other thing I would say is we competed everywhere, and that made a huge difference. We had an incredible crop of candidates, Danica who you just had on was amazing and that helped inspire people locally on the ground. So compete everywhere. Don`t leave any stone unturned.
O`DONNELL: David Jolly, your reading of what this means to Republicans tonight, the election results across the board, New Jersey to Virginia.
DAVID JOLLY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: This is what a wave feels like. And Democrats won tonight because Donald Trump is President. And that`s what Republicans need to reconcile with. Democrats won tonight because the Republican Party has accommodated these white nationalists themes.
They have accommodated a President who has bragged about sexual assault. They have accommodated a President who has accommodated frankly firearm policy that does not address the concerns of a nation and is pushing a tax bill that`s favors the rich and not mainstream. And what this means for Republicans is without a change of course, which I think we won`t see one, we will see a divided government come January of 2019. This is the beginning of a wave where Democrats begin to take over the first branch of government and that being the legislature.
O`DONNELL: Now, Donald Trump tweeted from South Korea as quickly he`s could disowning Ed Gillespie saying when he lost, Virginia Governor`s race he said he worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Now, did not embrace me or what I stand for. Today, today on voting day in Virginia, Krystal Ball, as you know, Donald Trump placed Robocalls. They placed recorded robocalls for Ed Gillespie by Donald Trump. Let`s listen to Donald Trump`s phone call today to Virginia voters that did not work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Like me, Ed is tough on crime and on the border. Ed will protect your family from crime, drugs, and violence, something Northam will never do. And Ed loves the vets, loves the military and loves your second amendment. With your help, Ed Gillespie will help make America great again, a phrase that I like a lot. Vote for Ed Gillespie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, a lot of pundits working from a national frame looking into Virginia from places like here thought that stuff was going to be very effective.
BALL: Yeah and you know Gillespie really embrace dollars the worst of the worst parts. Trump agenda and the Trump campaign. He went all in on the Manassas, on the Xenophobia, on the racism and Virginia said it`s not going to work. And so I think Republicans nationwide, as David Jolly is pointing out, need to take notice.
Voters are not interested in your racism in 2017 or 2018. They want to hear what you`re going to do for them like Danica, like Ralph Northam, they wanted to know how you`re going to help them with their healthcare and lives and get jobs. And that`s what it`s going to be all about. Healthcare, by the way, the number one issue here and that`s what I`m hearing in states across the country. That is the issue for Democrats for 2018 going forward.
O`DONNELL: And, David Jolly, let`s extend the electoral results up to Maine, the anti-Trump/anti-Republican -
O`DONNELL: Maine had a ballot initiative td tonight voting on expanding voting Medicaid. Maine voted to expand Medicaid and they have a Republican Governor in Maine who is Maine`s version of Donald Trump.
JOLLY: Listen, from Maine to New Jersey to Virginia, frankly to saint Petersburg, Florida, we saw the nationalization, a very purple electoral races. And the reality is Republicans did not win a single purple race tonight. And it is because of the headwinds of Donald Trump and there`s no getting around that.
What we heard in those phone calls and what we saw in his tweets thereafter is a egotistical liar and I say that as a Republican about a Republican President that the reality is this President is an anchor around Republicans running in purple races. The off year elections provide that purple litmus test. It is why Republicans are poised to lose the House of Representatives or the Senate coming up in 2018.
O`DONNELL: Krystal, just want to go back to your confidence level as the Virginia Election Day was approaching because we saw a lot of concern about it that the Democrats were slipping and what -- why can`t the democrats ever get in right.
BALL: I was very nervous, I`ll be honest with you. When I saw it was raining today, you know, we heard the turnout was strong to start with and it was slipping off I started to get nervous again. But this is an incredible result and a real test to activist on the ground.
O`DONNELL: That`s going to be the Last Word for this hour tonight. David Jolly, Krystal Ball, thank you both for joining us, appreciate it.
BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts now.
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