Show: UP Date: December 13, 2015 Guest: Robert Costa, Tara Dowdell, O`Brien Murray, Elahe Izadi, Darsh Singh, Eric Milgram, Carolyn Maloney, John Feal, Dr. Michael Crane, Bradley Myles
RICHARD LUI, MSNBC HOST: A big shakeup in the race for the Republican nomination. Very good morning to you. Thanks for getting up with us this Sunday morning. We have got some new polls that show, well, one individual, Ted Cruz, pulling ahead in Iowa. Is he the new GOP frontrunner? The new data out this hour that`s giving credence to those reported warnings of a contested Republican convention. On the Democratic side, why did the Bernie Sanders campaign tell journalists not to ask him about ISIS.
Also, this hour, three years after Sandy Hook, the fight continues for significant gun reform in this country. We`ll be joined by one of the Newtown fathers pushing for change.
Plus, taking care of the people who worked at ground zero. Our special panel of lawmakers, doctors and 9/11 first responders fighting for recognition so many years later.
We`ll also be joined by the first turban Sikh to play college basketball, to find out how a racist Internet meme of him in action became a rallying cry for understanding and tolerance. That`s coming up, too.
But we begin this hour with brand new numbers in the race for the White House. Just moments ago, NBC News and the "Wall Street Journal" releasing the latest poll on the fight for the Republican nomination nationwide, and it`s a huge shift in the race. Donald Trump has retaken his place in the lead from Ben Carson, he`s now at 27 percent, but just as striking, Ted Cruz has surged to second place with a gain of 12 points. He`s now just five points back from Trump. Cruz has taken support from Ben Carson, who has plummeted 18 points from the October survey with Marco Rubio in third at 15 percent, up 4. Could this be evidence of an emerging three-way race? At the same time, we`re seeing a major shakeup in Iowa. New polling from "The Des Moines Register" and Bloomberg overnight showing a record breaking 21-point gain for Cruz in Iowa. 21. He`s now taken the lead in the hawk- eye state with support of nearly a third of the Iowa GOP. Trump trails Cruz by ten points. Carson is in third, followed by Rubio and Bush. Trump has sparred, as you know, with "The Des Moines Register" the entire campaign, excuse me, and had this to say the day before the poll`s release.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "The Des Moines Register" is the worst.
TRUMP: They are the worst. The worst. You know, they`re very dishonest. Every time "The Des Moines Register" does a poll, I always do badly, but I believe, and I may be wrong, in fact I`ll say I`m sure I`m wrong, but it`s my opinion that they don`t do it properly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: Joining me now "Washington Post" political reporter Robert Costa, also an NBC News/MSNBC political analyst. Robert, you`ve been watching what`s happening so closely here at the top, and we got some new numbers for you to now add into your machine here. You`ve been talking about this contested potential convention, and now we have some new numbers out of Iowa, we have the new NBC "Wall Street Journal" poll as well. But I want to start in Iowa. What do you make of Cruz making a really big move here, 21 percentage points?
ROBERT COSTA: Richard, what we usually watch in Republican politics in terms of fault lines is the establishment versus an outsider, a grassroots favorite. This election it`s totally different. We`re now seeing a battle among the outsiders and the establishment candidates, they are struggling for political oxygen. You have Cruz, Carson, Trump, all battling in Iowa, and nationally, but I think Iowa captures what`s happening in the GOP. Cruz is on the rise. A favorite of movement conservatives. Trump`s still a favorite of populist Republicans, those who are - as ideological, and Carson is hanging around.
LUI: What does it tell you about who might be the establishment candidate then?
COSTA: It`s still very unclear. New Hampshire is, perhaps, the best launching pad for an establishment candidate, for Kasich, Bush, Rubio. They have to decide, the establishment has to decide who is its candidate.
LUI: What was interesting, if you put the first and second choice numbers here, Cruz came out at over 51 percent.
COSTA: Cruz is seen as someone, the right wants to perhaps rally around because he`s already an elected official. He has deep roots within the movement. So if you`re uncomfortable with Trump, but you still want a conservative outsider it seems like Cruz is your pick.
LUI: So, when you look at Jeb and Rubio together, though, their numbers, if those are to be the establishment candidates in Iowa looking very, very low.
COSTA: Iowa is just not going to be a place likely for an establishment candidate, a mainstream Republican to break out. That`s why a broker convention is being talked about. If you have multiple candidates, three, four, five coming out of the early states with delegates, it could be a long, long race.
LUI: I got some of your friends here, Robert, I want to bring in our panel here at this morning, at 9:00 a.m. "The Washington Post" Elahe Izadi, Republican strategist O`Brien Murray, Democratic strategist Tara Dowdell. So, what`s also interesting about this conversation is we have the new numbers coming out of NBC News and the "Wall Street Journal" and we see Trump moving ahead in a decisive way, yet it`s very different than what we`re seeing in Iowa for the reasons that Robert was describing. The thought here about who might be that individual, who might be the non- evangelical candidate, who might be the establishment candidate as Robert is saying. We`ll find that out in New Hampshire. What is your thought here, Tara?
TARA DOWDELL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, if Donald Trump was a televangelist, he would be Ted Cruz.
DOWDELL: So, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump like Robert alluded to are very similar creatures. The notion that Ted Cruz hasn`t said the same extreme things that Donald Trump has said is just a false notion. He said even more extreme things, it`s just that Donald Trump is getting most of the publicity, but I do think there`s a greater comfort level from many on the right with Ted Cruz because he is a senator, because he does have very strong evangelical ties that are consistent.
LUI: Because Trump now appears more extreme?
O`BRIEN MURRAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think when you look at the Cruz numbers really what you`re seeing now possibly is the organization everyone`s been talking about. He has got a lot of credit over the past few months for being at better organized than any candidate and even though we talk about Trump now surpassing Carson in these surveys what you really have is movement by Cruz and I think there`s solidifying behind him. What you`re going to see now on the other side of the ledger is as you find other candidates dropping out they`ll start unifying behind somebody, whether that is Christi or whether that is Rubio at this point, Kasich or Bush, time will tell. But I think that`s what you are really having here. Carson`s numbers are dropping down, that side of the ledger is moving toward Cruz at this point.
LUI: Yeah, and Elahe, what was interesting is how Cruz has not decided to engage Trump, even though Trump came out with a very, I would say, controversial comment what he said, there are not many evangelicals coming out of Cuba.
ELAHE IZADI, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, and this is part of the strategy, right? By going after Trump the way some of the other candidates have, he`s possibly alienating some Trump supporters who he`s still trying to pick off, right, and the other interesting thing about this, is that Trump`s supporters also include a block of people who are not typically super political engaged. I mean he`s attracted and politicized people who aren`t as involved at this point in the process, so if something happens to Trump, if he drops out, where are those voters going to go? Maybe they won`t go to anyone.
LUI: OK, so, when you know, Politico is reporting that Clinton, the campaign chair John Podesta said in a private fund-raiser on Thursday that he believes Cruz is the likeliest nominee. And so, if that is true where does the money go, right? Because as we look at the current energy, it is Cruz. On the other side we have some funders sitting on the sidelines, saying, OK, if it`s not Cruz --
MURRAY: But I don`t think Republican donors are taking advice from Podesta at this point. They`re going to let the chips fall where they may, they are going to be behind a Cruz, behind a Rubio at this point. See, where they want to go. What Podesta says about who that nominee is going to be, is just smoke and mirrors at this point.
DOWDELL: But I do think, though, that Podesta raises a good point. First of all, Ted Cruz has been raising a lot of money. That`s something that hasn`t gotten a lot of attention. He`s raised a lot of money, he`s consistently raised a lot of money even when he wasn`t polling as high. So, that`s number one. But many of the people who were on the sidelines are more moderate Republicans, that is exactly why they`re on the sidelines because they are uncomfortable with what they`re hearing from all of the candidates. That`s why you hear this talk about Romney and some coming bark, a resurrection.
LUI: I want to get back to Robert here, so, Robert, one - it`s an interesting part of this "Des Moines" poll is where is Carson?
COSTA: Carson struggled on foreign policy. He still has a grassroots network in Iowa and he`s pulling a strong percentage of the Republican electorate. But he hasn`t had a spark in the campaign. That`s why this debate next week, next Tuesday is going to be very important for him.
LUI: What do you think is going to happen on Tuesday? And how crucial? We`ll see a couple of dropping to the wayside, leaving the campaign trail after Tuesday?
COSTA: Well, if you don`t get on that stage if you`re Senator Paul and you don`t find a way to get a lectern in Las Vegas, it`s going to be very tough for your campaign, because it`s a long slog between mid-December and the end of January when the voting starts, and you have to have the money to survive. I think you may see some drop off between now and Iowa.
LUI: Last work to Elahe.
IZADI: Yeah, I mean - go ahead.
MURRAY: It`s not the win, it`s the spin and momentum. I think as Robert is talking about there right now, Carson is on the downward spin at this point, but what you have also is, Rubio moving up and Cruz moving up at the same time.
LUI: Thank you all. I appreciate that. "The Washington Post" Robert Costa doing some great reporting as usual, thank you, Robert.
COSTA: Thank you.
LUI: Still ahead, does Bernie Sanders want to talk about ISIS? We`ll take a look at his campaign`s conflicting message about that topic, but first, three years after Sandy Hook, the fight for meaningful gun reform continues. We`ll be joined by a Newtown father pushing for change.
LUI: Today marks one month since the terror attacks in Paris and British Prime Minister David Cameron is calling for the European Union to enact stricter gun controls there. Here`s what we know. Cameron will lay out his proposals to E.U. members this week in Brussels. He will call for a ban on the trade of high-powered semiautomatic weapons from the western Balkans and greater sharing of intelligence among member states. Officials say hundreds of military weapons used during the Balkans war have ended up on the black market and many of those weapons have been linked recently to attacks including Paris.
And tomorrow marks three years since a gunman opened fire as well on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 young students and six of their teachers. The anniversary marked this weekend with marches against gun violence in places like San Francisco, Denver, Boston, amongst many others, in the snow, in the rain, in all that weather. In 2012 only days after the Sandy Hook shooting President Obama traveled to Newtown and promised to seek gun reform legislation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We can`t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end, and to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can`t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: A handful of states including Connecticut have been able to strengthen their gun safety laws in the years since, but in Congress, the conversation was and remains a nonstarter. This is a map for you right here of all the mass shootings that have taken place in the U.S. in the three years since Sandy Hook, more than 1,000 of them with more than 1,300 people killed. Joining us here is Eric Milgram, whose two children survived the attack on Sandy Hook. And Eric, thanks for being here today. Tuesday marks the day. It is the first time that the anniversary falls on a school day and as we listen and we talk about some of the details from three years ago, I cannot help but think how emotional this must be for you.
ERIC MILGRAM, NEWTOWN ACTION ALLIANCE: Well, actually Monday, tomorrow is the third year anniversary, and every year it gets a little easier, and what we`ve learned, you know, those of us who experience this in Sandy Hook and Newtown, the perspectives from people who survive shootings like in Columbine or Virginia Tech were very helpful, they gave us the sense of what they experienced. Not every shooting is the same, not every individual is the same, but one of the things that they made clear was the first year is the hardest, the day of the shooting - the first anniversary is going to be very difficult, you make it through that and then things come in waves and they`re absolutely right, but every anniversary it gets a little bit easier, although with the San Bernardino shooting occurring so close to this one, it really enflamed what was already a sore spot.
LUI: You no doubt have talked to your two children about this topic. How do you talk about it with them and what do they say to you?
MILGRAM: You know, my son asked me the day of the shooting or it was either the day of or the next day, why would someone no matter how angry, no matter how disturbed they were, come in and shoot first graders? And I still don`t have an answer for him. But what I did tell him is, we`re the only industrialized country where people no matter how disturbed they are can do this. You know, it doesn`t matter how disturbed an individual is. The guns are a factor.
LUI: And talking about the guns, the unfortunate similarity with San Bernardino and Sandy Hook was an AR-15 was used, an assault rifle. And as those details come out and you look for solutions, yourself and your state looks for solutions, what has, from your view, been something that gives you hope?
MILGRAM: What gives me hope is that we`re still talking about Sandy Hook three years later. The shock is gone. We`ve had so many shootings in between, I can`t even keep up with them all and this is something I pay very close attention to. You know that you have a problem when you say hey, did you hear about the school shooting and people say "which one?" But at the same time, what`s happening is it`s no longer the radical pro- gun rights extremists, the people who in the wake of a shooting will call their senator or their congressional representative ten times. Now people before who never owned guns, never cared about guns are saying what can I do to help? And, you know, social media has been a powerful force. I`m connected with folks like Andy Parker whose daughter Alison was killed on air, connected with folks like Richard Martinez. We are people who are bound by tragedy, but we are coming together to say hey, I thought this couldn`t happen in my community or wouldn`t happen to me. Every other community in the United States, you better have a disaster plan in place for something like this happens, what you`re going to do.
LUI: O`Brien, as you watch Congress what do you think might be a better way to move forward, because as I was mentioning the polarity that exists right now.
MURRAY: Sure. I think the first thing it addresses these are tragedies and never should happen in our country or any other country, for that matter. Especially when you mentioned first graders and so forth, and I think, you know, every incident is extremely different, but there is a common bond and I think it`s mental illness at this point, which has been sorely addressed by any government, whether it be state or federal. It needs to be fixed and I think that`s the first step. And even Marco Rubio said ...
LUI: Well, actually, Connecticut has done a pretty good job in terms of comparison to other states and moving forward and addressing the health care system, at least those who`ve been watching this space.
MURRAY: But Andrew Cuomo`s answer was, let`s get seven round clips instead of ten round clips. It`s a bumper sticker. They don`t even make those, but yet they passed the law and do that kind of thing. The laws that you are talking about passing right now would not have done anything in these tragedies. Marco Rubio said that and "The Washington Post" verified what he said when they looked at each of the incidents and what the laws are being proposed. So we need to take a broader look at this and again, if we addressed the mental illness in this country and what`s not being done I think that`s the major first step at this point.
DOWDELL: I have to disagree with that, because when you look at mental illness, yes, is there a problem with mental illness in this country and people receiving the treatment that they need, that is true. But to say that, Jeff, because someone committed one of these heinous acts as they`re mentally ill, that`s a way of dismissing some of the other issues that can be addressed. So, yes, I agree, certainly we need to do more to help people who need that, but we don`t want to stigmatize people who are mentally ill to say that they will be violent. But I think the issue here is when you look at what`s happening there is a blatant attempt in this country by the NRA, by its supporters to stop, to basically freeze any policy, any initiative that looks to address this issue, and when you look at there are things that can be done to the point where people say that they can`t.
DOWDELL: Exactly. But also, when you look at domestic violence. That`s actually a precursor for violent crime. And many men who commit domestic violence who get their guns initially are able to keep those guns, that is something that could have saved many lives.
LUI: Final word to Eric here and Tara was bringing up the NRA and she was saying that it almost seems like they cannot be addressed in terms of their concerns. What is your view in terms of how that possibility may have evolved over recent years?
MILGRAM: Well, if you look at Gabby Giffords political action committee and the NRA is over 100 years old. Gabby Giffords Political Action Committee is probably four years old, five years old at that. If you look at the amount of money they`ve been able to raise to counter-spend against the NRA on congressional lobbying. The NRA is scared, they are very scared and that`s why they oppose universal background checks, they oppose any common sense legislation because any of these things it makes it more difficult for that black market to exist, and they thrive on those black market profits.
LUI: Eric, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing with us your feelings on the topic. Eric Milgram joining us today from Newtown Action Committee, if I`ve got that correct. Is that right?
MILGRAM: Newtown Action Alliance.
LUI: Action Alliance. Thank you so much.
Still ahead, new details that firebombing of a mosque in southern California. What we know about the man arrested for the attack that`s being called a hate crime. And that - is this a single issue election? And is Bernie Sanders avoiding that issue?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE SANDERS (D): What about ISIS guys? How often are these people talking about the issues that we talk about today? Of course I`ll talk about ISIS, but today what we`re talking about is a community in which half of the people don`t have jobs, we`re talking about a community in which there are hundreds of buildings that are uninhabitable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: That was Bernie Sanders in Baltimore last week, sort of taking a question from a reporter about ISIS that question came in response to a directive to reporters from his campaign spokesman not to ask the Vermont senator about the Islamic State. Sanders, for the most part, has avoided taking, talking about terrorism, an issue that`s dominated the campaign trail in the wake of attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. After all, new poll, a new poll, shows terrorism is now the number one priority to Americans even over the economy and that`s a dramatic change from just one month ago as you can see there. And while Hillary Clinton`s campaign is reportedly confident this will benefit her. A new CNBC survey has found concerns over a major attack in the U.S. have not increased nearly as much for Democrats as for Republicans.
Now we get to the Sanders` message in a race that has become pretty much a single issue election then. Let`s take a listen to what he has to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: All right, let`s get back to our panel, and as we look at Sanders, and his campaign staffers reportedly saying don`t ask him about ISIS, this is perhaps similar to Ben Carson, and his dynamic, will this hurt as we look at Bernie Sanders, his initial forays and especially because New Hampshire is so important to him?
IZADI: Well, I think there is a distinction here between Bernie Sanders and Ben Carson on this issue in particular. I believe a month or two ago Sanders did articulate some sort of plan that he would enact to address ISIS and it kind of tracks more with President Obama, but the distinction here is that Bernie Sanders has been consistent over decades in his political career that he wants to focus on domestic issues. When it comes to foreign policy, his stance has always been for the most part anti- interventionist versus being a hawk, right, and he believes that this money spent on defense spending and on fighting foreign wars could be better spent at home. And he`s kind of articulating that sentiment. The question will be is whether these concerns over terrorism remain consistent throughout the election cycle, if people continue to be as worried about another terrorist attack, those poll numbers you showed that`s the highest it`s been since the wake of 9/11.
LUI: While the answer might be yes, because the economy is so good, right? The economy at the moment is second, but we`re looking at very low employment numbers, the Dow is not diving, so if it remains to be this issue, will he get Ben Carsoned as we saw in Des Moines on the numbers here because Ben Carson had the appearance of not being able to handle such an issue?
MURRAY: "Meet the Press" on Sundays where he takes the numbers and the issues that comes up. And one of the weekends he did the debate in the previous weeks and what words were mentioned. National defense and security, national security has always been a major issue for Republicans, less so for Democrats. So, I think that`s one reason, too, Bernie is trying to avoid it. The other thing is, he`s going against the Secretary of State who has international experience and international travel. We`ll blame her for it. There`s no question about it. The Republicans blame Hillary Clinton for it. He won`t even blame Hillary Clinton for her e- mails. He will step away like he did in the debate. He will not engage and attack her. Therefore, when this issue comes up, I don`t see any way he can win that argument against Hillary Clinton.
LUI: And there was reportedly an ad that was put out by the Sanders campaign that was critical of Hillary Clinton here, Tara, but what happened is it was pulled at the last moment, it was aiming or looking at where is the money coming from for Hillary Clinton?
DOWDELL: Well, I think that Senator Sanders and to your point, he has been extremely consistent. So I think that`s number one.
LUI: About not throwing punches?
DOWDELL: About yes, he has said specifically that he does not want to engage in sort of a dirty attack campaign, that he wants to focus on what he cares about, and that is the economy, that`s his message. But I do think, remember, Sanders is running in the Democratic primary, and you saw the distinction in that poll between how Democrats feel about national security versus Republicans. Republicans are far, it`s a far bigger issue for Republicans. For Democrats, the economic issues still are very important, so I think that Bernie Sanders` strategy isn`t necessarily a bad one. He`s gotten this far by being himself. This is Bernie Sanders being himself.
LUI: All right, I thank our panel today. Thank you so much, Tara, O`Brien as well, and Elahe, I appreciate your time today and being with us this morning.
Still ahead, how long will 9/11 first responders be able to count on receiving health benefits from the federal government? And next, the Internet wanted to use his basketball picture to send a message of hate. But what happened after is inspiring.
LUI: We are following developments out in California where police have made an arrest in the firebombing of a mosque about 75 miles outside of San Bernardino. 23-year-old Carl Dial is being held at the Riverside county jail, charged with a hate crime in connection with the bombing of an Islamic center in Coachella, California, Friday afternoon. While investigators have not announced a motive, Dial`s father tells NBC News his son was a loner who "might be suffering from a psychiatric ailment" and had become consumed by what he`s been reading on social media. Dial is now being held on $150,000 bond.
Now, to a history-making NCAA basketball player who just became the subject of a racist anti-Muslim internet meme. Now, he and his supporters are fighting back. The viral meme was on Facebook and Twitter feeds, a turbaned basketball player. The racist caption read "Nobody at school wants to guard Muhammad. He`s too explosive." The probable intimation, Muslim means terrorist attacks. As it turns out, this player, this NCAA player is not even Muslim. He`s Sikh. His name is not Muhammad. It`s Darsh Singh. Many were outraged including a friend of Singh`s. Greg Worthington wrote online "People need to understand this stuff hurts people. You might think it`s funny, but that`s mainly because you don`t know the guy. Perhaps if you did, then you would see this differently." Worthington explained not only was Darsh co-captain of the Trinity University basketball team." This post has almost 40,000 likes as a result. In addition, Worthington says his jersey currently hangs in the Smithsonian. He, Darsh Singh was the first turban Sikh ever to play in the NCAA. The meme to support Darsh Singh now in Worthington`s view, the hashtag "Be like Darsh."
Joining us this morning from Dallas, Texas, Darsh Singh. Thanks for getting up, Darsh, and you know, when you first heard about this post, you dismissed it I heard and if you did, why did you dismiss it at the start?
DARSH SINGH, UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL PLAYER: Well, as a Sikh and as an American I believe that love is the most powerful force in the world, and this story reinforced that for me. You know, this person who posted the meme didn`t know me. They wanted to post something out of ignorance. And I had nothing to say to that. It doesn`t affect who I am and my character, but I was really moved by Greg`s action. He was compelled by his Christian values of radical love and he wanted to speak out against hate and he spoke out on Facebook. And what was amazing to me is, it went viral, his love went viral as just by one person acting, so many other people wanted to express love whether it`s because of their faith, whether it`s their values or just human decency, whatever it was, they were compelled to do so. And that is what`s so inspirational to me.
LUI: Inspirational, you wrote in an op-ed in "The Dallas Morning News" many things, one of which is this, hope. And the response, and I was just mentioning, close to 40,000 likes to his comments, and as well as can`t count how many comments coming out in support of you. What does that tell you about the way people understand what is now unfortunately trending Islamophobia, but as well as what it means to be Sikh and to have a Sikh way of life, because those are different.
DARSH SINGH: Right, well, in the Sikh tradition, we believe that every individual has the potential to embody divine love, and what this showed me was, I think people are recognizing that there are no bystanders when you see hate violence. Hate, and when you reach out to people and connect with them, it means something. Silence in the face of prejudice is an act of hate, and so a lot of people are recognizing that and they`re speaking up and that`s what`s been really so meaningful to me, is they`ve gotten so many messages, I thought, this is the good news, people reaching out and saying in the past I`ve seen things, I`ve been silent, I pledge to you that I`m going to speak up from now on. That`s really powerful to me.
LUI: Darsh, that`s powerful. That`s also inspirational as you`re saying. And that is the good news. The bad news might be some of the comments that you`ve heard recently from Donald Trump and other public figures that are potentially here fueling a wave of as was mentioned earlier, Islamophobia and then, this is what will affect you personally and SALDEF, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund did an investigation into this, and their report shows that about half of the public associate the turban, which you are wearing with Islam and that they believe, and I`m just reading straight from the report here that Sikhism is a sect of Islam. So, you were saying silence should not be used. How might you work towards alleviating that misperception?
DARSH SINGH: Well, you`re absolutely right. When we hear this increase of rhetoric of hate on the airwaves, it results in hate on the ground, right? We`re seeing houses of worship being vandalized, bombed, we`re seeing people being bullied, we`re seeing folks being beaten up. This is not the America that I grew up in. I was born and bred here in Texas. This is not the America I love. It really breaks my heart, there`s a story of a young sixth grader in New York who had her hijab ripped off, she was beaten up in the playground, people calling her ISIS. It really breaks my heart to see that. What are we teaching our kids? What values are we really imparting when we have this rhetoric floating around? And so, my humble request to my fellow Americans is to recognize that hate comes from fear and ignorance and it`s the ideology of terrorism, and we have to combat that. Those who are truly faithful and those who really care about each other as Americans have to step up and say if I believe in love, if I believe in compassion, I have to live into it, right? I have to take my thoughts and move it into words and move it into action and that`s what we can do together to build a more resilient community.
LUI: I look forward to what you might be doing as a history making NCAA basketball player, no doubt I`m looking forward to seeing what other history you might be making, especially on this very issue that you`re pushing forward today. Darsh Singh, former player at Trinity University, thank you for stopping by today and talking about this topic.
DARSH SINGH: Thanks to you, I love you, too.
Still ahead an update on yesterday`s historical elections in Saudi Arabia.
And next, 9/11 first responders make a final push for health benefits as a congressional deadline looms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN FEAL, DEMOLITION SUPERVISOR AT GROUND ZERO: We have gone eight, eight Christmases without federal assistance. We have gone eight years not knowing what the following year would bring to us on New Year`s. You can have rest and peace of mind knowing that help is on its way in 2011, and to me that`s better than opening any Christmas present this year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUI: John Feal, a former Ground Zero demolition supervisor speaking after the Zadroga Act passed in December 2010. Five years later as Congress prepares to wrap up its legislative session this week, medical treatment and compensation ensured by that law, hinge on one piece of unfinished business, the Zedroga Act established the World Trade Center health program offering health services for 9/11 first responders, recovery workers and survivors, who lived, worked or went to school near Ground Zero and for those who responded to the Pentagon, the crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. There are now more than 72,000 patients enrolled in the World Trade Center health program. But this fall the Zadroga Act expired. Funding for the laws expected to run out by earlier next year.
House Speaker Paul Ryan saying this week that the Zadroga Act will be renewed as part of a comprehensive spending bill meant to fund the government and avoid the shutdown. And after weeks of criticism from comedian Jon Stewart, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also assured the legislation would be approved in the omnibus bill. But as we wait for the vote next week, some questions remain. For how long will the law be extended? How much money are we talking about? And how is it going to be paid for?
Joining us right now, Democratic Congressman from New York Carolyn Maloney, John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation, and he was a demolition supervisor as I mentioned at Ground Zero. Dr. Michael Crane is the director of the World Trade Center health program at Mt. Sinai hospital here in New York.
Congresswoman, if you can tell us, how does it look? Do you believe that this will go through? One of your colleagues who you know quite well, Pete King, saying yes, this will work. This is going to happen.
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY, (D) NEW YORK: Well, all - we have momentum and it`s not over `til it`s over and the president signed it into law, but it looks very good that the $8.1 billion health and compensation program will be part of the omnibus must pass bill, $3.5 billion will be for a permanent health care program, which is so very important, the cancers are not going to go away. The men are sick. We need to be there for them, and then we have the rest of the money will be for the compensation program that will expire in 2021.
LUI: Is it enough?
MALONEY: It is enough. It is what we agreed to. It`s what we believe we need, and we would like a permanent for the compensation, but we`ll be back in five years for that, but the heroes should not have to go home for the holidays without their health care and knowing that they have it. They were there for us, this grateful nation has to be there for them.
LUI: John Feal, we were playing what you had said five years ago, and clearly this is an emotional issue for you and to your heart. You were there. With this now and it looks like based on what the representative was telling us, it looks like it may happen, but there`s still the possibility before the president signs this that it may not.
JOHN FEAL, FOUNDER FEALGOOD FOUNDATION: Yes, sure, listen. The fat lady didn`t sing yet, but she`s warming up. Five years ago we knew we would be here today. We`re not shocked, we are not surprised and we`re not taken back by what Congress has done over the last year to stall this bill. Our bill is the sexiest bill in Congress and everybody wanted to attach themselves to it. Democrats knew this was a must pass bill, Republicans knew it was a must pass bill and they used it as a political football and every time we got to the one yard line they continued to move the goal post back but we`re close, we are inches away, but anything can happen, so we`re not taking anything for granted.
LUI: What would you say to Congress?
FEAL: Shame on you for playing politics with human life.
MALONEY: It`s a national scandal that it hasn`t passed and it was allowed to expire.
LUI: Doctor, to you on this. You understand the program, you understand why the money is needed. And we can certainly see that there`s a little bit of concern about how this was used. Has this affected at all your level of service, the way you`re planning for service to those who need the help?
DR. MICHAEL CRANE, DIRECTOR WTC HEALTH PROGRAM AT MT. SINAI: Thankfully not yet. I tend to be an optimist about these things. I think that the right thing will happen, which is to take care of these folks, take care of their illnesses and bring this bill forward and get it done.
LUI: John Feal, what are you hearing from all of those who you know? You talk to them every day, who were there, part of the group that I was discussing, that would benefit from this bill, what are they telling you?
FEAL: Well, listen, there is a cloud of uncertainty in the 9/11 community, but there`s also a cloud of uncertainty into those who work under Dr. Crane. You know, how ironic, the doctors that fight to keep us alive and treat us, we`re fighting to keep their jobs. We`re paying them back by continuing to go to D.C., and great champions like Carolyn Maloney and Kirsten Gillibrand continue to fight for us. You know, again, we`re close, but we are not popping the cork yet. We still have to monitor over the next 72, 96 hours but we`re in a better place than we were last week and that`s reassuring.
LUI: Representative, I want you to finish. But I want to go to the doctor very quickly here. What sorts of patients are you seeing right now, what are some of the afflictions?
CRANE: At the very beginning early on we saw the patients who had the sort of inflammatory irritative conditions, sinusitis, asthma, irritation of the stomach, but now we`re in a real chronic disease phase. We`re seeing many more people with cancer. I`m at Mt. Sinai and we have 22,000 patients and I`m over 1,000 of them are now experiencing cancer. So this is now a far more ill population than those healthy folks.
LUI: They are getting sicker and sicker.
CRANE: Absolutely. And, you know, age also taking its toll. They were 39 at the time of World Trade. They are in their mid-50s now, so the normal things are happening, but all that exposure is probably making every single normal thing that happens to a person worse. And the greatest worry, of course, is the cancer, but also there is significant mental health conditions, very similar to what the Afghan war veterans have.
LUI: John Feal, how many people - how many friends have you lost?
FEAL: I`ve been to 149 funerals, each one gets harder.
MALONEY: We lost almost 3,000 people on 9/11, but we`ve lost hundreds and hundreds since, more police officers have died since 9/11 from exposure to the toxic air than died on 9/11, so this is a very serious and important bill and we are saying no more excuses, no more delays, no more political games. It`s time to pass this bill, and turn it into a law that provides support to people for their life, for their health care. It`s the least that we can do for those who ran into fire while others were running out, and I`m wearing a hero`s jacket tonight, a present from the firefighters and officers and we are hopeful, you have to be hopeful. The leaders have said they`re going to get it done. I trust they`ll get it done. It`s the right thing to do.
MALONEY: It`s the patriotic thing to do, it`s the American thing to do.
LUI: That`s right, and no doubt the police detective from the New York Police Department, Zadroga would be very glad to hear all three of you to say what you had to say today. So, good luck in what you are doing.
MALONEY: Thank you so much.
LUI: Thank you so much to John. Thank you, doctor, so much for your time today.
We want to update you on a story we first brought you yesterday. Here`s what we know at this hour on it, and we can tell you that at least three Saudi women have won seats on municipal councils. Yesterday`s elections were the first in the country`s history, in which women could run for office and the first time that women could vote. At this point we can tell you that nearly 1,000 women were competing for 2,100 seats. There were about 7,000 candidates all together. Election officials are still counting ballots in many races. Stay with MSNBC and msnbc.com throughout the day for more on that. We`ll be right back.
LUI: A sex trafficking ring has been busted in Peru. And authorities believe an American citizen is at the center of it. 65-year-old New Hampshire resident Joshua Brown was arrested along with five others as part of a joint U.S.-Peruvian operation to get to the heart of a child sex trafficking ring that authorities say has been operating in the country for the past decade. Police were able to rescue 11 victims. The youngest being four years old. Joining me to talk about this case from Washington is Bradley Myles, chief executive officer of Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization combating modern day slavery and human trafficking as well.
Brad, thanks for joining us here today. And when we talk about sex tourism, which is what this case is about, it is a term that many of us are not familiar with. How big of a problem is this and what is it?
BRADLEY MYLES, POLARIS PROJECT: Well, it`s a disgusting term. I mean it`s the concept of somebody traveling to another country, especially when you refer to child sex tourism, I think it should be referred to as child sexual abuse and rape. It`s someone traveling to another country because they believe they can exploit children in that other country for sex, and sounds like in this case, that`s what was happening here as this ring was trying to advertise child sex tourists.
LUI: And in this detail coming from ICE, they are saying there was a four- year old, 1 of those 11 minors that was being charged - was being sold for $7,000 to have sex with an adult. Are we talking about Americans as part of the potential customers of this sex tourism industry?
MYLES: Well, we need to learn more about it as this case unfolds who all the customers were. When we hear about sex tourism and child sex tourism around the world, we do hear about Americans traveling abroad to places like Cambodia, the Philippines, here in this case in this example in Peru. People traveling to other countries to have sex with children in those other countries. It is the reason why the U.S. passed this act called the Protect Act, which is specifically to address you travel to another country to exploit a child, you can be prosecuted in the U.S. for that crime. So, it sounds like that`s what was happening here.
LUI: Yes, because Brad, when I was doing a story out of Southeast Asia, that was exactly what they were doing, they were traveling to another countries to try to skirt laws.
MYLES: Absolutely. They think that in the other country there might not be as strong of a law enforcement response, they think there might not be as strong in a victim service response. And it is the reason you got to think about why do traffickers do this? They`re always thinking about profit and risk and what is the blend between profit and risk? Is it high profit enough and is it low risk enough? So, when you have a case like this alleged case, you`ve got someone who believed I can make high profits in this country selling this service for low risk.
LUI: So 30 seconds here, Brad. This is an American operation that`s trying to stop this. How successful are we?
MYLES: Well, I`m glad to see this take-down happened. This case is allegedly happening for ten years, so this is progress. This is a step forward. But there is so much more to do. I mean this is a great international cooperation here between ICE and the Peruvian national police and the Peruvian attorney general`s office and child victim services. So much more to do that I think this is a step, but we need to really change that equation of addressing the profit and risk and we haven`t gotten quite there yet.
LUI: Brad Myles from Polaris Project, thank you so much for joining us on this Sunday morning.
MYLES: Richard, good to see you.
LUI: And thank you for getting up with us today on this Sunday.
Up next is Melissa Harris-Perry. We`ll see you next weekend, have a great week.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END