tv Up W Steve Kornacki MSNBC October 27, 2013 5:00am-7:01am PDT
nchronizes your business expenses. just shoot your business card receipts and they're automatically matched up with the charges on your online statement. i'm john kaplan, and i'm a member of a synchronized world. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. the prognosis for post shutdown washington isn't good and there's a reason. good morning. we're feeling a little lonely. we're especially glad you decided to join us today, spend any time looking for the political middle these days, you'll find yourself in a no-man's-land, wondering where everybody else has gone. was the system designed to work in an era of hyperpolarization. we'll explain in a minute. is marching further to the right the way for the republican party to win back the white house? there is a real time test playing out right now and the results aren't very encouraging
for the tea party. we'll tell you about that test in a little bit. you know how every political scandal gets branded a gate, as we mark the anniversary of the saturday night massacre, we'll revisit the scandal that started it all and talk about what it has to say about presidential authority today. and finally, other political talk shows may promise you they'll have no spin, but we'll be embracing the concept this morning in a very literal way. we'll tell you about that in a little bit. first, this is the bull weevil, a minuscule beetle, 6 millimeters in length with a huge snout designed to mall through cotton bugs, tiny pests. it has the power to destroy thousands of acres of cotton bite by bite. bull weevil crippled the economy in the 1920s and then made the comeback as a political symbol. now southern democrats who oppose their national party's shift toward integration were
calling themselves bull weevils. moniker picked up more steam in 1980s when democrats controlled the house. tip o'neill was the speaker. because there were dozens of southern bull weevils happy to buck their party, president ronald reagan had functional control of the chamber for the first two years of his presidency. bull weevils of the 1980s were democrats like larry mcdonald, who was named chairman of the far right john birch society in 1983. mcdonald appeared on a very early, very funny to watch now version of cnn's cross fire that year and faced questions about the attempts to stage a right wing takeover of local parent teacher associations. >> welcome back to "cross fire." our guest is the new chairman recently named chairman of the john birch society. congressman larry mcdonald, a democrat from georgia. mr. mcdonald, your predecessor
believed that the pta was too left wing and john birch society tried to infiltrate it or so he said, used the word infiltrate. is that part of your program now? >> i think when the pta comes out in this program for the test ban treaty and when the pta comes out for gun control, and comes out for national legislative programs linked with liberaldom, having nothing to do with education of our children, like many people are wondering what in the world is the pta doing and that includes members of the john buirch society. >> that was a democratic member of congress and there were a lot like him back then. he was tragically killed a few months after that taping, and the soviets shot down korean airlines flight 007. he left behind dozens of conservative democrats in congress just like him. around the same time, on the other side of the aisle, there were northern liberal republicans who voted a lot more like democrats than the bull weevils did. take, for example, new york republican senator jacob javitz. after two decades in the senate as a republican, he was defeated
by a primary challenger from the right, al d'amato. but the liberal party, an old institution of new york state politics, had a ballot line of its own and offered its endorsement to javitz, who took it and ran against the motto in the general election. >> jacob javitz, 24 years in the senate, and d'amato made much of his age, health and liberal views. >> hey, i see you're wearing a javitz button. >> yeah, he's my candidate. >> are you kidding? he'll be 82 if he finishes his term and he voted with jimmy conner 82% of the time. >> so now javitz is officially a liberal, running on the state's liberal party ticket. but still planning to vote for reagan and finding no contradiction in that. >> i will appeal to all the people of new york on the ground that i can best represent them all, whether they're democrats, republicans, liberal party, independent, conservative. i can serve them. >> javitz candidacy ended up splitting the democratic vote and made al d'amato a u.s.
senator. still a sizable contingent of liberal republicans in congress back in those days and like conservative democrats they also self-identified with an insect, the gypsy moth. a liberal republican from kentucky said he chose the term because the leaf eating gypsy moth is as much of a nuisance in the north as the bull weevil is in the south. well, these metaphorical tests, political factions tormented their parties through the '70s and '80s and even the 1990s. they're now mostly extinct. by and large liberal republicans switched parties or lost elections. the same is true for the bull weevils. democratic and republican parties were once big tents that incorporated extensive geographic cultural, even ideological diversity. that era looks more and more like a historical fluke, a blip. it played out in the decades after civil rights legislation. when lyndon johnson championed legislation, he was bucked by conservative southern democrats. for a while, these progressive
republicans and conservative democrats stuck with their party heritage. but steadily over the ensuing decades, liberal northerners migrated to the democrats, conservative southerners to the republicans. each party became more ideologically uniform. voters recognized this shift. 40 years ago, a third of voters would split their votes for congress and for the president between the two parties. they were ticket splitters. back then both democrats and republicans appealed to the same individual voter. compare that last year when not even one in ten voters split their votes between the parties, a record low. if you're right of center today, if you identify with the conservative tribe, with red america, there is velittle reas to vote otherwise. if you're with blue america, there is very little reason for you to vote anything but democratic. the parties have basically sorted themselves out which leaves few natural bipartisan coalitions in congress anymore. one party believes in the right to abortion, the other doesn't. one party believes in large cuts to the social safety net, the
other doesn't. one party believes on raising taxes on the wealthy, the other doesn't. it encourages the two parties to work as distinct entities that never cooperate, that are at war with each other. in the obama era, the republicans have taken this concept to a whole new level. they have perfected obstructionism. first killing off simple majority rule in the senate. the upper chamber now requires a super majority to pass pretty much anything. senate republicans have hamstrung the executive branch with filibuster threats against dozens of obama nominees. now with republicans controlling the house, they manage to shut down the government for first time in 17 years. the first time since the last time a democratic president and republican house tried to co-exist. and they also nearly caused the u.s. treasury to default, twice. a party that has zero interest in cooperating with the other party, a party whose base draws its energy from the conviction that it must fight the other party on everything has the power to do all of this in a
political system that depends on some level of bipartisan cooperation when there is divided government. and as washington emerges from the shutdown drama this past month, as we all ask what now, well, it looks like we'll be stuck in this mess for a while. hard for democrats to look back at the last three plus years and not conclude the only way that it will accomplish anything substantial is if they control the white house, a 60 vote super majority in the senate and the house, all at once, like they did for part of obama's first two years in office. the earliest they can take back the house is in the 2014 midterms. the odds of them pulling that off, even though the gop is racking up terrible poll numbers now, the odds of that are not very good. divided government is likely to be the rule for the rest of the obama presidency and maybe well after it. we dodged a default earlier this month and the government is open for business again. is there any reason to think the gridlock defined the last three years will end in any meaningful way anytime soon? is this system of ours designed to work in the time we're now
living in, a time of ideologically sorted out parties, ideologically sorted out voters, a time of intense polarization? talk about it, i want to bring in elle joy williams of community strategies, we have reed wilson, covers state politics and policy for the blog. robert george, columnist with the new york post and former aid to then house speaker newt gingrich, norm ornsteen, co-author of the book "it's even worse than it looks." also a resident scholar at the american enterprise institute. norm, i'll start with you. i think i bored heavily from what you have written in the last couple of years about the state of washington right now, and specifically how things have changed in the republican party, in the obama era. i guess the question i just start with you is looking ahead, taking from now to the 2014 midterms, out of the shutdown, away from the default drama, is there any reason to expect anything in washington will change in the next year before the 2014 midterms? >> it gets harder and harder,
steve, because the midterm approach and especially over the next six months. a lot of republicans in the house and is now we see a number of them in the senate fearing primary challenges, all pulling further to the right. whether that results in any impetus toward a compromise, it is hard to see it happening. the frustrating thing here is as we move towards this budget conference with the deadline of mid-december there is every reason objectively pragmatically for the two parties to get this debt issue off the table for now. not working to anybody's advantage. and it is not difficult if you're in normal politics to find the kind of compromise and give and take that could get us there. but there is this huge obstacle in the way and that is the polarization that you describe so well. >> and we can illustrate the polarization. we have a graph that sort of explains the evolution of the house. this takes it from the last 30 years, 1982 to 2012 and shows
the ideological overlap in the house, where you basically take the most liberal republican, the most conservative democrat, and how many members from both parties sort of fit in between there. that's where you have a lot of room for bipartisanship. look at that. 30 years ago, 344 combined between the two parties. and last year, last time they took this, 11, that's what we're left with. and i just -- leaves me with the question to raise there, was this system of ours even really designed to function when the two parties are sort of completely sorted out and separate like that. >> some of our founding fathers said this, you know, talked about sort of the difficulty with people aligning with the party, and people trying to hold on to party ideals instead of thinking for themselves or thinking what is best for the country. this is what they feared. john adams, george washington in his farewell speech talked about parties and people following that leadership, or following those hard lines and not particularly following what is good for the country. and we can't have people -- we can't function as a government where people who are in
government don't believe in government, you know. it is difficult to do that. and even though you can see sort of in congress, sort of this ideological shift, the american people are not like that. people are identified as independents, 37% i think of americans identify sort of in the middle or moderate, so the american people aren't like that. so they're not even listening to the people they're supposed to be governing. >> the question is, though, maybe they are, because one of the things your initial segment didn't focus on is the fact that on the one hand, as you said, people are identifying more as independent. in fact, as the parties are shrinking, the people who think of themselves as independent has grown. but the other side of it is they're also ideologically and geographically self-selecting. so people who end up going to texas and the south, you know, they start to -- even if they didn't necessarily think of themselves as conservative when they got there, they start associating with various folks
and they become more conservative. and the same thing happens to those people who end up in blue parts of the country as well. it is not surprising they then end up sending people to congress who start reflecting their values. >> you get a point i'm interested in, i'm sort of -- i'm trying to figure out, is there such a thing and was there ever such a thing as a real big vibrant political middle. robert, you can point out the number of people registered as independents or say they're independents grows, but as we said in the introduction, ticket splitting, people go out and vote, i'm voting for romney for president, voting for democrat for congress, trying to think of a liberal democrat, i'm blanking, but basically -- caroline maloney, there is one. it doesn't happen anymore. and it just makes me wonder was there ever much of a political middle there or more confusion? >> i think there was, and you got to it a little bit in the beginning. there used to be four parties in congress. the liberal republicans and the liberal democrats, conservative
democrats and conservative republicans. what we're seeing now is a -- the parties themselves are becoming more hoe knowledge us in. that's what the national journal chart shows, their vote rankings are showing that republicans are voting are republicans more often and democrats with democrats more often. that reflects a broadening of how we play politics these days. all politics is local, tip o'neill said. it is not really anymore. the conservative activists and the liberal activists in washington, d.c. or wherever they happen to be based, thinking of eric erickson and red state.com, and can start playing in -- moveon.org, can start playing in primaries where they're completely separate from their thousands of miles away. i was struck by a piece in yesterday's "washington post" by my colleague paul cane who went down to tennessee, he was following lamar alexander around, and lamar alexander's opponent, one of the state reps trying to primary alexander from the right, said that he would
really have a great chance if all the outside money from washington would come in. the outside groups, heritage action fund, club for growth, groups like that get involved in that campaign. you now have a guy rupping for office in tennessee who is depending on money from washington instead of building a grassroots movement from tennessee. >> there is a couple of problems here, though, worth pointing out. you can have sharp ideological polarization and partisan polarization, plenty of issues which are not inherently ideological if you want to work together. what has happened in part two is the phenomenon of the permanent campaign f you look at the era of the bull weevils and the gypsy moths, the democrats had hegemony in the house to make a majority for 40 consecutive years. for a good portion of that, republicans decided that the only way to participate was to compromise and work together. after newt gingrich took the republicans into a majority in
1994, every election since you can imagine the majority shifting and now you get this conscious effort. if we work with them, it may reduce our chances of being in the majority. so what you've seen now -- it gets back to your original point and really what is the thesis of the book, you have a conscious parliamentary minority party on the republicans. they decided even in areas where they were four things last month, they're not going to be for them now because it might work to the advantage of barack obama and democrats. how you operate and make policy in a situation like that is the dilemma we face and is putting enormous stress on the system and on the economy. >> and we'll pick this up after the break, one issue there is that seems to have been if you look at mitch mcconnell, the public statements, there was an intentional calculation on the part of the republicans, but in some ways it has paid off and is continuing to pay off for them politically. we'll pick that up after this.
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certainly there are broad elements within the party now that are driving their own agenda for their own advantage, irrespective of, you know, what implications it has for the republican party. certainly this isn't a party i recognize and the party that i joined when i, you know, first enrolled. and that's regrettable. and this is not helping the republican party currently. that's for sure. >> olympia snowe, former senator from maine, one of last few authentic moderate republicans on capitol hill. one of the few republicans who voted for president obama's stimulus at the start of his presidency. but it takes up to the point i was starting to talk about before the break, and that is, you know, she's talking about how it is not helping the republican party. you look at the state of the republican party when president obama came to office in 2009, democrats looking at 60 votes in
the senate and overwhelming house majority, and republicans by adopting the idea of we're going to obstruct and fight everything, be in daily partisan war, permanent campaign mode, they won't back the house the next year, they're closer in the senate now than they were at the start of president obama's term. they didn't win back the white house, but they have gotten a foot hold on capitol hill and they have been able to do -- look, the government, we're talking about a government shutdown here, talking about the sequester, talking about -- they have been able to do a lot with a little -- without having the presidency. i wonder if you're a conservative republican today and look at this and say there is incentive for us to keep going. >> definitely an incentive if the focus in the whole mission is to win as opposed to governing. if you're trying to win as you mentioned a permanent campaign to be up and be won and able to obstruct things, yes, this works for you. if you want to actually govern the country, and actually do something that affects american people, this doesn't work. and that's what we're seeing, so you see -- i want to get back to
the american people for a minute, we're talking about sort of the partisanship of elected officials, but i wonder if we had a chart also to chart sort of the extreme partisan and also the amount of people that actually participate in the system are actually -- and do we weed out people who are not interested in that fight and then get people or who vote who are invested in this partisanship and that's why you have what we have now. >> one thing i think we're seeing here is the -- a difference in interests. you've got a small number of republican leaders who are paying attention to the interests of the republican party at large. i would put mitch mcconnell in that category, the guy who made the debt deal, ended up, you know, reopening the government, i would put john baner in that category, the republican leadership. but then you have a lot of other members either running -- who want to run for re-election or run for president in 2016 who have self-interest in mind and self-interest means being against that had which is not perfectly conservative.
there are 30 or 40 members in the house who vote against almost anything that the leadership endorses and certainly anything that president obama endorses because to their constituents, they can't be for anything that the president is for. and, by the way, anything that house leadership is for is not sufficiently conservative. it helps them with their constituents back home. so you've got that sort of divergent interest here, one side looking out for the national party, the other side looking out for their own re-election. >> i'm thinking back to when george w. bush was president and democrats, they gave him some cooperation, especially early in his term, on some of his domestic agenda. and it just strikes me that -- >> on foreign policy after 9/11 too. >> if the conservative movement, if today's tea party conservative movement is about just dismantling the government, we don't like the government, we don't want the government, we want to dismantle the government, obstructionism plays to their favor because they can shut down the government without doing any deal-making, without reaching out across the lines. if you're a democrat and you're
more expansive government, and you have a republican president coming to office and offers you, hey, no -- medicare, you know, part d, no child left behind, you're going to work a little bit because you're getting a little bit what you want. >> the republicans from their base perspective, they were sent there to do things like stop spending, and stop obama care and things like that. so if their voters are telling them the first thing they want them to do is stop, either on spending side or program side, that's what -- that's what they're doing. amazingly enough, when newt gingrich took over in 1994, the republicans had the house and the senate. and an argument could be made that the republican house is as effective or even more effective just in terms of just the house in terms of stymieing what the democrat wants to do. i want to say one other thing, we also are looking at trends that are going across the
parties, like, for example, talking about the 60 vote -- the 60 vote level in the senate. that actually started under the -- under the democrats when they were in the minority, blocking bush judicial appointees. >> it started under clinton with the republicans. i think that's -- in 1993, sort of the key date on the filibuster. >> but each time whoever is in the minority tries to figure out how to maximize the leverage the minority has and that's part of the reason we now -- it is 60 votes on every vote. >> there is more of an incentive for the anti-government party, just uniformly obstructs -- >> if you look at the filibuster, like the difference between jaywalking and vehicular homicide. but, you know, it is one thing -- it is one thing if you want to dismantle government. i watched ted cruz yesterday in iowa saying, you know what we should be talking about is jobs in the economy. i'm thinking, right, so you shut down the government, cost the economy $24 billion, put lots of
people out of work, there's a good way to get the economy moving. when cruz was doing his filibuster, a friend of mine e-mailed me and said, remember what the kings said in shrek. this -- in this operation some people may die, but that's the sacrifice i'm willing to make. it really is a destructive policy. i think ultimately destructive for the republican party, we're seeing it in the numbers now, even if they can hold the house, but it is really destructive for the country. even if you want smaller government, you don't want to shut the economy down. >> here is what i would be worried about going forward if i were a republican strategist, sort of more in line with the mitch mcconnell, john boehner trying to be the adults in the room. if they go through the 2014 elections and there are a couple of senate races where conservative members knock off more moderate members, something like ted cruz happens, the most conservative candidate wins in texas, than ends up in the senate and ted cruz and mike lee have a few reinforcements going forward what is to stop the republican primary voter in 2016
from saying, great, we got this, this is how we win, we go all the way, as hard conservative as possible and run the barry goldwater purity ticket and win 45 states. if i were a republican strategist type, i would be rooting really hard for guys like lamar alexander and lindsey graham and all the old guard establishment republicans who are running in primaries now who have a win in november. >> except the way the states are locked in. i can't see any kind of repeat of the goldwater -- i see -- i take your point and that could still happen, but don't see a case where we're going to -- it is going to be 40, 45. >> 45 is too high. >> we'll pick that up on the other side. more to go with this and we'll get more after this break. tend. while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. staying active can actually ease arthritis symptoms. but if you have arthritis, staying active can be difficult. prescription celebrex can help relieve arthritis pain so your body can stay in motion.
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what i'm trying to figure out is if this is an issue of systemic reform that needs to take place, does the system itself need to be changed. i argue that the way things have evolved in washington, it functions like a parliamentary system, except our system is not designed to be a parliamentary system where the opposition party just says no to everything. is there systemic reform or i heard the case made that basically this is a problem of republican party dysfunction. i know, norm, that's something you've written about, maybe talk about that a little bit. >> half the book is really on what can we do about it. but the fact is unless you do a wholesale change in the system, and, remember, the culture supports the system. part of the problem we have here is you look at the first two obama years, there was an awful lot done. we got this incredible set of legislative achievemenachievemen our culture, if it is done by one party over vociferous opposition of the other, we
don't accept them as legitimate. you can't just change the structures and expect that everything will change. but we got to change the structures to change the culture. and that's where i think the most important thing is outside the political institutions, it is enlarging the electorate and taking away some of the overweaning influence of the ideological extremes and it is changing the money system back to a point where you can't have a handful of people and groups, the club for growth, the coke brothers, sheldon alelson and their ilk just dominating this process. >> it seems to me republican party dysfunction, one thing that i have had trouble seeing the last years is really that does the republican party want right now? if you had to come up with an agenda item, it's been, we're against this, we want to dismantle this, but where is the proactive policy. i think back the 1990s, when it was republicans against bill clinton it was very heated between the republicans and bill
clinton. they impeached him. republicans had some agenda item like welfare reform, something they were pushing that bill clinton -- i haven't seen anything like that from republicans except basic opposition for the last three years. >> i think -- i think it is a fair point, that probably comes out partly because of the -- of what a large agenda, i guess, that obama was pushing through. and i think actually you start to see that republicans are realizing they're going to need to start putting together an alternative to obama care if the current system, which is -- has run into some problems of its own over the last few weeks starts to fall apart. i think going into 2014, you know who knows they may start to put together a broader platform. i don't know whether it will be like contract with america or something like that, but definitely has to be more of a -- a pure proactive legislative agenda going forward. >> let me bring up two possible systemic changes.
first of all, last week with not too much fanfare, the house of representatives passed a really big bill on water infrastructure. ports and water ways and canals and things like that. there were a lot of earmarks in that bill. earmarks are not a bad thing. the congress has the power -- >> the return of earmarks. >> supposed to be able to tell us how -- tell the country how to spend its money and, by the way, earmarks also give leadership a carrot or stick. if you vote my way, here you get a project in your district. if you vote against my way, i'm going to take the project out of their district. that's the in congress side of the systemic reform that has gone away in the last couple of years with republican control of the house of representatives on the electoral side, though. we hear a lot about gerry mandering, redistrict reform, there is another answer of how to promote the engagement of the middle in a primary election and general election. it is happening in two states now. top two primary system,
washington state and california, both elect members of congress and all of their elected officials through a top two system. the top two vote getters in a primary, regardless of party, go to a general election. the biggest one that we all paid attention to last year was brad sherman and howard berman two liberal democrats running in the san fernando valley to represent hollywood effectively. and at the end of that race, when the two -- those two democrats, the most expensive house race in the entire country, by the way, was one in which the seat would be democratic anyway, when they got to the general election, you saw both of these very liberal democrats trotting out endorsements from republicans, trying to win over the 10%, 15%, 20% of the vote going to mitt romney. >> that's one of the things we talk about all the time is these -- how many republicans come from districts that barack obama won last year, very, very few. all answering to republican primary electorates. if you take a republican electorate and say the general election now, maybe 20, 30% of
the voters and tea party republican and the more moderate republican, the democrats have a little bit of a voice there in that district. >> i think you're also seeing a gop establishment striking back kind of -- coming into form for 2014 because in a certain way, the tea party explosion surprised the gop establishment when it started in 2010, 2012. now some of them are getting -- are realizing that what -- for want of a better phrase, more mainstream republicans, whatever that phrase means, they need support, they're going to need support on the ground, whether incumbents or running for office, office themselves. you start to see money going -- going to the candidates, karl rove's operation so forth and others are -- wanting to support them as well. >> you talk about reforms, you have to realize how much of our party system goes down to the local level from picking election administrators in terms of who purges lists, in terms of who are proposing these changes
to voter files and things like that, it is not just a system that happens in congress, and washington, d.c., but it goes all the way down to -- and how does that affect change turnout and change the people in the local communities. because there are all the way down from election administrators to governors and state reps, that are doing this legislation that nationally we're fighting against. >> but you're also seeing in a number of states, you know, new york is happening too, where a lot of the states are becoming one party states and that's going down to the local level as well. here, you know, here in new york, where you had republican leaning mirrors for the last 20 years, the current candidate looks like he's going to get -- >> and that is -- that is the sorting out that we're talking about, where it is not just the congress sorting itself out, voters have sorted themselves out and go top to bottom same ticket. we're out of time. i find myself at times a bit overwhelmed with the news out
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200 point question, this republican candidate for the u.s. senate in wyoming branded john mccain, quote, a liberal republican in the fund-raising letter this week. >> i can still feel the suspense in the room. that was one of the questions yesterday. what was the most intense, heated, white knuckle game, it came down to the last question, the last second with susie kin sweeping in for ea dramatic victory. a brand-new feature we're about to inaugurate, not a quiz show, no prizes, but it is fun and different and we'll show you what it is right after this. across america people are taking charge
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about. even when you have the luxury of four hours every weekend to discuss them, making a decision about which of those stories to choose can be very difficult. this week, my producers have hit upon a new way to combat my chronic indecisiveness and crippling doubt. turns out i don't have to choose. all i have to do is spin. this is our new segment which means i get to embrace my inner pat say jack or bob barker. they had a wheel too. the favorite contenders for the things we want to talk about are right here on this wheel. things that came up in the news this week. weren't sure which ones to choose. so it is as simple as it seems. i'll spin it. where the wheel stops, i'll talk about it. if i feel like again, we'll spin the wheel again, now we have entered the all spin zone. with that, here we go. our first spin, price is right rules, has to go around once completely. that was easy. it did. all right. what do we got? what do we got? what do we got? looks like, oh, that looks like dick durbin to me. that's the number two senate
democrat. let's talk about why dick durbin was in the news this week. he was in the news because he posted on his facebook page last sunday that during the government shutdown negotiations, one gop house leader told the president, i cannot even stand to look at you. and that one facebook post set off just days of controversy about how do republicans say that, which republican said that and the white house basically put out a statement thursday saying there was a miscommunication. the white house read out that meeting to senate democrats and we regret the misunderstanding. and they basically -- the deputy chief of staff became the fall guy for this. interesting to me because the idea of the u.s. senator taking to facebook to launch an inflammatory accusation. >> they need a vetting system to make sure -- >> was durbin sitting there like -- >> putting any of these guys in charge of their own social media feeds is probably a bad idea. and, i mean -- >> call it the weiner axiom.
>> this is quite true. when you have got dick durbin, senate leadership, on a different page from the white house, makes them both look kind of petty. >> he's also -- he's the white house's guy too. >> that's an important point, steve. the -- we have talked today about the dysfunction of the republican party. let's not let the white house off the hook here. they're not good at dealing with capitol hill. they have not been from the beginning. they have had very strained relations with harry reid and nancy pelosi for even when they were working together and passing things. and what happened this week was after dick durbin made this claim, jay carney came out and said, nope, didn't happen. you don't do that to your own leadership without giving -- >> especially when it turns out that your guy, your deputy chief of staff was the one who threw -- >> and durbin was, when barack obama was considering or running for president back in 2006, 2007, dick durbin said you should do this, don't listen to
the naysayers. >> stunning the white house would put so much immediate distance between themselves and one of their best allies on the hill. and good for durbin for standing up to them. >> we're going to spin this again. i'm enjoying this. here we go. all right. big bucks. big bucks. let's go. tell me it's not durbin again. >> ted cruz. >> yes. >> ted cruz. though it is a little misleading because we wanted to put a recognizable photo up there. this is more about mrs. ted cruz. recognizable as her husband, but heidi nelson cruz, the wife of ted cruz, gave an interview to the new york times this week, it was interesting interview for a number of reasons, but one of the little anecdotes in here that got some attention, ted cruz, my husband is on my health care plan, through goldman sachs, one of these gold-plated health care plans, and so he's -- he's on her health plan and she's sort of stepped out this week and it is a week that ted cruz, talked about this in
the show yesterday, he immediately -- he went up to iowa on friday night, don't know if he's still there today, but speaking in iowa on friday night and in that mode where it is like -- was there any damage to ted cruz in republican world from this whole shutdown? >> there wasn't, but there probably should have been. and in this case, what was most stunning is the statement from cruz's office. yes, he's on her health care plan, but doesn't cost taxpayers anything. give me a break. the 20 plus thousand dollars a year that that health care plan costs we finance because it is a tax free deduction. and that, of course, on the senate floor, when dick durbin and others prodded ted cruz about where he gets his own health insurance and cruz dissembled a little bit, brings us back to another one of the flaws in some of the projections and strategies used here. >> there is also kind of -- also kind of interesting too, because if you want to look at the old classic model of, you know, republican wives, quietly staying in the background, supporting their husbands and so
forth, in a sense, she's supporting her husband. >> she's literally supporting -- >> if you think about the whole generation we have gone since bill and hillary came in, you've got this very strong confident professional woman, but obviously very -- they're a conservative couple and in a sense, this is the new image we're going to see of political couples going forward, regardless of party. >> we have more spinning to do in the all spin zone. we'll do it after another segment right after the break. [ woman #1 ] why do i cook?
because an empty pan is a blank canvas. [ woman #2 ] to share a moment. [ woman #3 ] to travel the world without leaving home. [ male announcer ] whatever the reason. whatever the dish. make it delicious with swanson. there should be some way to make it easier. [ doorbell rings ] what is a wetjet? some kind of a mopping device. morty, there's a lot of dirt on here. it's almost like dancing. [ both humming ] the swiffer dance.
we're going to spin again. wheel of life goes round and round. and we have got -- looks like, the wild card. so this is -- we have some sound cued up. i'm going to play it and we'll talk about it. hillary clinton, we have four wild card choices, i'm picking the first one. hillary clinton this week, the keynote speaker at the tenth anniversary celebration for the
center for american progress in washington. here's what she had to say. >> what it means to be a progressive in america and in the world, to build the case for a progressive agenda, bold new progressive policies, vowedly progressive values, progressive ideas helped make this country the greatest force for human liberty, dignity and opportunity the world has ever known. >> havei have no memory -- >> i think she's trying to deliver a message there, isn't she? >> she's trying to drop little words in between the speech. i don't know what the count was sort of on that speech to give people -- but i guess compared to where we are now, in terms of the political parties, maybe she is, maybe -- >> that's her next game, you need bingo. we hit bingo. >> i think somebody told me that -- i think it was -- i just -- you look at the story of
her collapse in 2008, and specific in iraq and everything, there was room to her left. it looks like she's -- >> need a lot of context here, the this is the tenth anniversary of the center for american progress, started by john podesta, who was bill clinton's chief of staff who is still very close to the family. so this was a celebration of cap as much as it was anything else. you can take that into account and still say when you use the word progressive, all those times -- >> it is true. the word progress is in there. >> but i want to be clear that, you know, because of this -- well, she's going to run or whether minority she's going to run, every single thing she says, she goes to the floor by makeup, if it happens to be, you know, of a different color, it is going to be construed as something of her changing her mind set, changing her politics to run for office. >> only if she progressively shops. >> one more spin, want to fit it in here before the end of the hour.
who do we got? hopefully not a duplicate. looks to me like a big namer? >> liz cheney. >> liz cheney. liz cheney, this is the daughter of dick cheney, so this was what we teased earlier, had this question in the game show yesterday, she sent a fund-raising letter out on tuesday saying that liberal republican senators like john mccain and olympia snowe, former senator, have endorsed my opponent, talking about republican incumbent mike enzi. we must be doing something right if these folks are fighting so hard to preserve the status quo. dick cheney this week, her father, the dick cheney media tour week, on abc this morning. >> he's got the book. >> he's got the book. he'll be on morning joe tomorrow morning. he'll be sitting -- i think he'll be here, he'll be on morning joe, i think in the studio at 7:20 tomorrow morning. this is sort of cheney re-emergence week. >> not only cheney re-emergence week. let's examine the statement for a moment.
all the conservative boxes checked, never done anything that deserves to be -- to get fired for, not only have they endorsed him, everybody else in the senate endorsed him. look at the report he filed last week, he's got money from the most conservative senators, the most liberal republican senators, all the republicans are -- here is once again the establishment and the outsider game within the republican party and who would ever have thought that liz cheney is the outsider. >> look at what she's done, though, in terms of divisiveness, even in the state of wyoming. she's pitted herself against her sister, on gay marriage, she -- her mother had this dustup with alan simpson and his daughter, where she told simpson to shut up, because he had been speaking up for mike enzi. you know, talk about driving a wedge not just within the republican party, within the state. >> alan simpson wrote this epic 2200 word essay about his run-in
with the cheney family in classic, like, alan simpson folksy terms. we're up against the clock. so to speak. we'll do this again, pretty fun. my thanks to l. joy williams, reid wilson. [ male announcer ] this is claira. to prove to you that aleve is the better choice for her, she's agreed to give it up. that's today? [ male announcer ] we'll be with her all day to see how it goes. [ claira ] after the deliveries, i was okay. now the ciabatta is done and the pain is starting again. more pills? seriously? seriously. [ groans ] all these stops to take more pills can be a pain. can i get my aleve back? ♪ for my pain, i want my aleve. [ male announcer ] look for the easy-open red arthritis cap.
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[ male announcer ] when you're sick or hurt, aflac pays you cash. find out more at aflac.com. [ male ♪nnouncer ] when you're sick or hurt, aflac pays you cash. (announcer) answer the call of the grill with new friskies grillers, full of meaty tenders and crunchy bites. that's based on the oh so clever idea that if your opponent is here on the spectrum that you want to be infinitesimally to the right, so that you can capture every marginal voter right up to where they are. the problem is if you do that, you destroy every single reason anyone has to show up and vote. >> if you've been paying attention to american politics for, oh, i don't know, any point in history, you've heard some version of this before. the base of the out of power party scoffing at the suggestion
that moving to the middle is the way to get back in the game, and insisting that long-term permanent electoral glory is right around the corner, if and only if the whole party would just move closer to where the base is. this is the biggest animating principle of the tea party movement, that barack obama is only our president today, because republicans weren't far enough to the right in the bush years, that they haven't been far enough to the right in the obama years, and if they would just move to the right, and stay there, then the presidency, the senate, the house, every governorship, every legislature, every local school committee and sewer board, everything, everywhere in america will be theirs. that's what ted cruz was out in iowa preaching about. it is a message that the republican base, the tea party base is just as eager as ever to hear. here is the thing, though. the republican party by any rational standard or any historical standard is already very far to the right. the story of the last six decades from robert taft, barry goldwater, reagan to gingrich
and ted cruz and the tea party. not a straight-line, the center of power and the gop moved steadily to the right. it is now further to the right than it has ever been in modern times. cruz and the base still believe that the gop is too moderate, too mushy, the only way to win back the white house in 2016 is by becoming more conservative. let me show you something. this is last november's presidential election. almost 130 million americans voted, when all of their ballots were counted, here's what they added up to. barack obama with 51.01%. mitt romney, 47.15%. now here are the numbers for last year's presidential election from the commonwealth of virginia. they have been on your screen for a while. here i am talking about them now. barack obama 51.16, romney 47.28. that is what you call a bellwether state. obama's national margin over romney was 3.86 points. and in virginia, almost exactly the same. 3.88 points. no other state in the country to track as closely to the national result last year as virginia
did. we live if an era shrinking map. voters have sorted themselves out as we talked about earlier. parties have sorted themselves out and now just a handful of truly competitive states are left when it comes time to choose a president. which makes those very few swing states that are left more important than ever to each party's white house hopes. and of the swing states left, as the numbers show, virginia stands as the swingiest of them. it may be the single most important battleground in the next presidential election. which makes the election that is playing out right now in virginia a potentially significant indicator of how swing voters are processing the political upheaval of the past year. everything that happened, everything president obama said and done, everything republicans have said and done since last year's election. the office of governor of virginia is open and if ted cruz is right about what the republican party needs to do to start winning again, then this is a race they should win. because republicans in virginia have nominated for governor a
genuine tea party hero. ken cuccinelli. he rose to fame by leading the leg fight against obama care. cuccinelli checks the box on every issue the tea party says they care about. he embodies the movement. he came to prominence with the movement. he provided grist for the movement and hitting his democratic opponent with every weapon the tea party believes should be used against any democratic candidate. >> i was the first to fight obama care, but my opponent didn't think it went far enough. why would we expand failure? send washington a message and say no to terry mcauliffe's expanded obama care by voting for me on november 5th. about the opponent, cuccinelli got a gift there. mccauliff is a profoundly unpopular candidate. poll after poll shows him with negative ratings, people don't like him. he ran for governor once before and got crushed in a democratic primary.
he is exactly the kind of democrats as one writer put it this year that democrats have been waiting to vote against. here's what mcauliffe's campaign message amounts to. >> my opponent will not compromise. he's a rigid ideological agenda. it is my opponent who referred to g-- >> if you've seen the polls, you know which message is winning in virginia. here is the latest. 46-39 for mcauliffe, that way for months now. he is significantly ahead in this race. and barring october surprise, he is probably going to win it. really is no excuse here for the ted cruz types. this is an off year election, republicans are supposed to have a leg up in those. there is a democrat in the white house. virginia almost always elects the gubernatorial candidate from the party that doesn't control the white house. democratic nominee is amazingly unlikable. this is a swing state. and the gop has nominated exactly the candidate that ted cruz of the world wanted them to nominate. and it is not working out.
if this isn't a preview of what will happen, if national republicans make the same move, if they nominate the same type of candidate the national equivalent of ken cuccinelli in 2016 and i don't know what is, but is that the lesson the tea party is going to take from cuccinelli defeat, a lesson they can ever take from anything? here to help answer that, we have robert george of the new york post, norm ornsteen and kate nocera and bob franken. robert, as the designated conservative on the panel, i'm going to start with you. admitting the possibility something changes and ken cuccinelli wins this race, if he doesn't lose, if all these polls we're seeing are right, how is the conservative movement going to interpret what is happening in virginia now? >> they look at the fact you have two very, very deeply flawed candidates on the top of the ticket there, mcauliffe and cuccinelli. mcauliffe for all the reasons you mentioned before.
also point out that i think the polls showed it, you got a libertarian candidate that is getting 10% and one would assume that two-thirds or more of that would otherwise be going to -- would otherwise be going to cuccinelli. they would look at that as well. >> this sounds like the we're not going to look in the mirror. >> and also there is also the scandal that has brought in bob mcdonald, the governor there, and that -- the fund-raiser for mcdonald also is connected to cuccinelli, so that also depressed his had numbers as well and throw in the government shutdown, which strongly hit virginia. and it is a perfect storm for mcauliffe and against cuccinelli. >> i am remembering the louisiana race several years ago for governor, when david duke, ku klux klansman, was running again edwards who subsequently went to prison and the edwards
forces put out a commercial saying vote for the crook. >> it's important. >> that's right. i'm not going to say maybe it reached that extreme in virginia, but you have somebody on the democratic side who many people view as just plain old smarmy to be honest with you, terry mcauliffe, who can put out a commercial saying vote for the smarmy one because at least he's not an extremist. virginia prides its gentility almost as much as anything. i think that if you can successfully characterize a cuccinelli as somebody who violates this sense of -- >> and there is also the internal fight that went on within the republican party because you have the lieutenant governor bob bowling who basically -- bill. >> bill bowling. >> bill bowling, excuse me. who basically -- >> what happened is the tea party, the conservative movement, they said we're not going to have a state primary this year. we'll tick at the convention. this is -- if this isn't the kind of thing that the tea party movement can look at and say this is -- >> they set it up so cuccinelli
would get the nomination and then what ended up happening is the guy running for lg, jackson, who is probably even more to the right than cuccinelli gets nominated. i had a top virginia gop official say, you know, the democrats nominated the only guy that we could beat and we nominated the only guy that they could beat. this is -- the virginia republicans are generally not comfortable with this ticket and i think they really kind of overestimate overestimated. >> full disclosure, terry mcauliffe was my student for all fu four years. but terry is running as a starkly socially liberal candidate and running on the issues, running on the abortion issue, running on the gay marriage issue, you know, we would imagine in a different world, in a previous world, those would be killers in a
state like virginia, all these other things aside. it is a sign of how the world has changed. on the social issues, even in a southern state now, if you run as a social conservative, you're not running downhill, you may be running uphill. >> i think this is one of the differences between -- it is true, they're profoundly flawed candidates, i think the flaws are very different in that terry mcauliffe's flaws are personal. the image here, the image here is he's the greasy bungler, in the beltway creature and all these things and it seems -- the baggage that he's carrying in this is not -- it is not people saying he's an ideological extremist, not people saying his positions are out of line, the baggage he's carrying is he's the tea party's baggage, ideological baggage. >> to the question you ask, will virginia, assuming it turns out that mcauliffe being a winner, will the tea party learn a lesson from that, maybe they have to cool their jets a little bit. i think that the answer is
watching ted cruz. ted cruz got what should have been humiliated in the -- in what he just went through in washington, and instead he's out there saying, no, no, no, absolutely not. i didn't learn a thing from that. we should have just done it more. i think what you have is a group that some people would call fanatic saying no, we're going to stick to our guns no matter what. guns being literal here. but i don't think they're going to -- >> that's the question, robert. what kind of election would it take, the whole reason for that elaborate introduction was to me, i'm, like, this covers everything. if you're a tea partier, how can you not look at this and say, look, we're part of the problem here in terms of electability for the republicans in swing states. we have to take in into account. if this isn't the lesson what would it take for the tea party to say maybe we're too extreme to win elections. >> first of all, this is ha virginia and it is an off year election. >> that's supposed to favor the republicans, like in 2009. >> you can't always draw -- the
flip side is, you've got in new jersey, you know, chris christie on the other hand is -- >> the one the tea party hates, right. >> but the point is i think when you got a midterm next year, i think it is better to analyze that in terms of what -- of how things might play out in 2016 as opposed to an off off year election three years, three years beforehand. >> not just ted cruz. it is shawn hanity, it is rush limbaugh. there is a mean now on the right which is our craven spineless leaders caved in, just before we had our great victory. and if you take that point of view, you can rationalize away anything and that's what we're seeing here, the rationalize away cuccinelli, rationalize away a race and even if they lose the senate races where primary opponents knock off the
more mainstream conservatives, they'll rationalize that away. they're not going away. >> i talked to virginia republicans who at this same convention where cuccinelli was nominated, e.w. jackson, the farther right lieutenant candidate what happened there was a crowded field of lieutenant governor and moderate republicans and establishment republicans at this convention who said, our candidate isn't going to win, we already have to deal with cuccinelli at the top of the ticket, we'll give them e.w. jackson as the nominee and then when this ticket goes down in flames, we'll say i told you so. we're arriving at this i told you so moment. >> cuccinelli has tried to moderate himself a lot in this race and you don't see him talking as much about the social issues. he tried to distance himself from e.w. jackson. the message coming from the tea party is going to be, like, well, he should have gone out there and really stuck to his guns and, you know. >> now ken cuccinelli is one of the squishes. we have to take a break. we'll pick it up right after
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. here's the difference between what happens in trenton, new jersey, and what happens in washington, d.c. in trenton, we curse at each other and then we sit down at a table and we get things done. in washington, they curse each other and they just keep cursing at each other. and then they don't get anything done. >> the other governor's race that will be settled in the next week, chris christie in new jersey, totally different story than virginia, a lopsided race, chris christie is going to get re-elected in new jersey. let's face it, the question is margin. the other question is talking about lessons that republicans can draw nationally and will draw nationally from this, on the one hand, we're saying if this tea party candidate goes down in flames in virginia, we're having a hard time seeing is that something the tea party
looks at and says we can learn a lesson from that. you have chris christie who projected this image, a lot of it is more image than substance, but projected this image of the moderate republican, the anti-tea party republican, he can win a state that barack obama carried by 17 points last year, he can win in a landslide, is that going to mean anything to republicans? >> i think the real battle not just in terps of mainstream republican versus tea party is actually republican governors versus republican senators like ted cruz, rand paul and so forth. you have christie, you have scott walker in wisconsin, you have rick scott in florida who is down, way down in the polls and now he's kind of had a resurgent, rick snyder in michigan. you have people there who often have to work with democrats, to get things done. the message if any of them decide -- plan on running for president, which more than a few of them are thinking about, they realize they can say, look,
we're conservatives, we can work with democrats, we can get things done, ted cruz may be ideologically pure for the base, but he's part of the washington problem. >> i'm trying to figure out, how is the tea party going to understand the success of chris christie. the iconic moment for chris christie in terms of national republicans is the hug, hugging president obama last year, when he came to new jersey. some just can't get over that. i look at it though and i'm trying to figure it out because i think of mitt romney winning the nomination last year, john mccain got through in 2008, you look at romney getting through last year, the moderate candidate, quote unquote -- >> so far to the right. >> right. he ended up -- he enacted the most conservative platform since goldwater. it seems the model is not just the moderate guy can win. >> i don't see how he does that, though, at this point. he has spoken out so hard against the tea party, against house republicans during the whole sandy thing, he was raging
against john bane and house republicans for -- they abandoned his state. i don't -- >> boehner will not hurt you with the tea party, though, right? >> raging against boehner and raging against the tea party. he has spoken out against the shutdown -- >> from the left, boehner from the left. >> i don't see how he ever -- on a national platform, walks that back. that is kind of who he is and how he's built his whole personality. >> well, first of all, most tea party people sort of look at new jersey as a version of hell. number one. i don't think the -- you get much guidance from new jersey or new york. >> and bipartisan agreement. >> something i've enjoyed is the use of the term moderates. we use it to describe either party, moderates, which suggests to me the others are the immoderates. what you have in the republican party now is the immoderates beginning to antagonize the business community that there is
talk that the business community will come into some of the primaries and try and neutralize the influence of the immoderates and all this kind of thing. here is the state of the republican party. you now have people who many think are the reason for the problems in the united states, that's to say what some of us call the ail gark oligarchs an fanatics. >> if you look at governors, sam brownback in kansas, we had a poll, a questionable poll, we're seeing some republicans in the states who have been antagonistic towards the democratic party, who have tried to govern from the right, scott's resurgence notwithstanding which leaves him down, but john kasich doing very well, scott walker who came back from that antagonistic position to move closer to middle, doing much better. i'm watching that kansas race -- >> kansas is an interesting state, we think of kansas as a red -- a red state. there has been a historical
split in that state, there say moderate wing of the republican party and the sam brownback wing and that's the theory, if you talk to democrats about how to beat brownback, they think they can peel off potentially disaffected moderate republicans. >> i think the democrat that is ahead of brownback, i think he was a former republican. so, yeah, you start to see that. >> but the question then comes back to again, you look at these election results, if the tea party can be blamed for losing virginia, if it can be blamed for losing a state like kansas, still i think you'll have as we say the ted cruz out there saying, well, no, that's not a real tea party candidate. we'll show you a real tea party candidate and then the base wants to hear that, it is a never-ending problem. i thank robert george of the new york post, the most overused suffix in american politics and scandals in general, that's after this. [ both cheer ] got it! i...did not get it. [ female announcer ] you may not be the best with a smart phone but you know what's best for your kids. so we listened when you said
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in history. the 14-year and two-month anniversary of jon stewart celebrating an anniversary. >> 25 years ago today, richard nixon resigned the presidency over his role in watergate, or if it happened today, watergate gate. many recall the final good-bye salute nixon gave before boarding his helicopter. a salute he later regreted becau because it used four more fingers than he intended. >> anniversaries go, that's a bit of a stretch. there is a reason we're bringing up watergate. a pivotal anniversary in the demise of the nixon presidency is upon us. we'll tell you what it is and we'll talk about whether anything that happened in the four 40 years since then measured up to the scandal that started them all. a confident retirement. those dreams, there's just no way we're going to let them die. ♪
we're both delicate little flowers. and since he's walking, he's become a little stain magnet too. but tide free & gentle cleans better in one wash than that other free detergent. wait what happened? where did those stains come from? [ kelly ] that's my tide, what's yours? [ baby giggles ] into an easy dinner with crescent dogs. just separate, add hot dogs, cheese, roll 'em up, and bake. lookin' hot, c-dog. pillsbury crescents. make dinner pop. the other day at "up," we were talking about the names of political scandals. i thought of an old one i remember from a few years ago, so i started typing in the word
trooper gate and to my computer. and before i could finish, i got distracted when auto complete suggested troop beverly hills, the 1989 movie about a bored beverly hills divorcee. once i got out of that shelly long rabbit hole, i discovered that there are three, three political scandals known as trooper gate, one for bill clinton, one for eliot spitzer and one for sarah palin, which goes to show you how overused the gate suffix is used when applied to scandal of any type. there is a wikipedia page titled list of scandals with gate suffix. i counted 130 entries on that page. one of those 130 entries is the one that started it all, the original gate, watergate, the one where gate made sense as a suffix. this marks the 40th anniversary in the demise of richard nixon,
the night the nixon white house imploded, a battle over the president's secret recordings sent the administration into a tail spin from which it would never recover. it started at washington, d.c.'s watergate complex in the summer of 1972, five men affiliated with what was called the committee to re-elect the president more known by the acronym creep were caught breaking into the democratic national committee's headquarters late into the night. >> seven people were indicted today, the five who were caught by the police, along with two others, g. gordon liddy, a former white house aide who was until the story broke, counselor to the committee, the finance committee of president nixon's campaign organization, and e. howard hunt, a former consultant for the white house. the indictments charged that the five men broke into the watergate while liddy and hunt had actually intercepted telephone calls to and from democratic headquarters.
>> there were calls from democrats for a special prosecutor an the story attracted plenty of attention. no one expected nixon to be directly implicated. the drip, drip, drip continued and by the spring of '73, the press and the public was starting to realize how serious the story was. the attorney general in two of nixon's top aides resigned and the president fired white house counsel john dean. that hardly settled the matter and the new attorney general elliott richardson appointed a special prosecutor, democrat named archibald cox. john
dean told congress that nixon had multiple conversations about covering up the break-in, and cox discovered that the president had secret tape recordings of those meetings, cox demanded to hear the tapes which set off a high stakes legal battle, which brings us to october 1973, 40 years ago this month. federal court agreed with cox and ordered nixon to hand over the tapes and friday night, october 19th, 1973, nixon
officially refused to comply with that order. he said he would release summaries of the tapes instead. he also ordered cox, the special prosecutor, to stand down in the court fight and to accept that he would not be getting access to the tapes. cox responded to this by calling a press conference the national press club and saying he would defy the president's order and he would keep trying to get the tapes. which brings us to saturday, october 20th, 1973. and 6:30 washington time that evening, news started to leak out. >> there are reports tonight that president nixon ordered attorney general elliott richardson to fire the special watergate prosecutor archibald cox -- >> the country tonight is in the midst of what may be the most
serious constitutional crisis in its history. the president has fired the special watergate prosecutor archibald cox because of the president's action the attorney general has resigned. elliott richardson has quit, saying he cannot carry out mr. nixon's instructions. richardson's deputy, has been fired. he refused in the moment of constitutional drama to obey a presidential order to fire the special watergate prosecutor. and half an hour after the special watergate prosecutor had been fired, agents of the fbi acting at the direction of the white house sealed off the offices of the special prosecutor, the offices of the attorney general and the offices of the deputy attorney general. >> six fbi agents present, impeding our operations now. >> all this adds up to a totally unprecedented situation, a grave and profound crisis in which the president has said himself against his own attorney general and the department of justice.
>> nixon ended up summoning his solicitor general, a right wing former yale law professor, robert bork, to the white house. he was sworn in as acting attorney general and carried out the president's order to fire cox. the saturday night massacre represented a traumatic suspenseful and unprecedented constitutional crisis. it also became a critical turning point in the watergate story, the moment that nixon lost the country, the moment his beloved silent majority turned on him, the moment that made impeachment proceedings and nixon's resignation inevitable, the most his fate as the most notorious president
was sealed. watergate set a very high standard for presidential scandals and scandals in general. that hasn't stopped the media and the political world from conjuring its memory every time there is so much as a whiff of a possibility of scandal in the air. which explains that wikipedia page about scandals with the gate suffix. we always hear the scandal of the moment in washington is as bad as watergate or worse than watergate.
you heard it a million times. has anything that happened in the four decades since then actually risen to that level, could anything? here to talk about it we have evan thomas, journalist and author of best-selling books, now writing a biography of richard nixon. norm ornsteen, kate nocera and bob franken. if we look at the moment of the saturday night massacre first and just to try to appreciate what we showed john chancellor, that's what americans turning on their televisions, only three or four channels back then, they turned on their televisions that saturday night and they were seeing some equivalent of that no matter what they turned on. can you take us back to the moment and what that represented as a constitutional crisis for the country? >> important point is the constitution survived. it was a crisis, but wheels turn, wheels of justice did turn, nixon was driven from office. the constitution went on. it was -- the atmosphere was a little more hysterical that moment than maybe was warranted. in fact, the court system is
pretty strong and even the president cannot defy it. and ultimately chose not to. but it did represent something very big, which was the press had been fairly supine for years and years and years. and 1960s, vietnam and the credibility gap and the perception that the government was lying to the people, the press got a lot friskier and a lot more aggressive. and really nixon ran into a new phenomenon, a hyperaggressive press corps. it was the washington post, woodward and bernstein, press was slow to catch up. but when they caught up, they caught up with a vengeance and there was a lynch mob out there, out to get nixon. not saying he was innocent. he was not. but believe me, the press was eager to hang that guy. and they did. >> and, bob, in terms of that moment in the watergate saga, when people look back at it who didn't live through it, i
remember reading about it myself, dates never made sense to me, this break-in happened and he gets re-elected overwhelmingly five months late, gets re-elected overwhelmingly. why were they breaking into the office of a candidate he was going to crush anyway and how did it not start registering with people until more than a year later? >> first of all, he ran against the candidate who anybody at the table could have beaten, george mcgovern. and so it was pretty -- he would win in a landslide. and then it was the persistence of the reporters. we have to agree that it was the low level reporters at the washington post who just continued to stay on this story. one of the things that struck me about all of this is that there is certain reforms that came out of watergate. the one that came out of the saturday night massacre, not including saturday night live, of course, but the one that came out of the massacre was the independent counsel statute a few years later, which was supposed to make these independent counsels completely
independent or almost so. but then we started seeing abuses of that as evidence by the monica lewinsky investigation, ken starr, we have gone away from that. the other one was the reform of the campaign finance laws and we ended up with pacs. so it is circular as far as the aggressive press is concerned, now look what we have today, a press sometimes overly aggressive or not well informed. >> and, norm, try to understand as well the constitutionalists that were involved, it starts as what seems like -- it is a bungled burglary by a bunch of clumsy guys at democratic national committee headquarters. the entire scandal unearths offshoots, raising constitutional questions. what was at stake. >> my wife was clerking for a judge in d.c., jim belsen, who arraigned while she was there, the watergate burglars. it seems look a burglary at that time. it escalated into what we saw, i remember being at the white house the night of the saturday
night massmassacre, we didn't k if the system would survive. but what ended up happening is we had a bipartisan, very tough and oftentimes with enormous conflict investigation, everybody remembers howard baker saying what did the president know and when did he know it working with sam irvin, and ultimately you had a bipartisan group of people who decided that the president had to go. in between, you had a unanimous supreme court say you got to give up the tapes. the system worked in the end and we celebrated it. ironically it made an impeachment on much flimsier grounds much easier to do a couple of decades later. that was done in an entirely partisan way. and it almost traces the nature of the system, moving from something where we came together in a moment of danger to one where we did something that was utterly frivolous. >> that's one of those 130 gates, monica gate, you're
referring to there, on that page, but i want to talk about too when we come back, that idea of we use gate for everything. we have every scandal that comes out in washington, somebody says within a day this is worse than watergate this is the same as watergate. i'll ask the question, have we actually seen anything that raises to the level of watergate or could we? we'll get into that right after this. [ coughs, sneezes ] i have a big meeting when we land, but i am so stuffed up, i can't rest. [ male announcer ] nyquil cold and flu liquid gels don't unstuff your nose. they don't? alka seltzer plus night fights your worst cold symptoms, plus has a decongestant. [ inhales deeply ]
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what -- there is the hint of scandal in the air, of any kind of scandal in washington, the reference point is always watergate, and always somebody ready to say this is the same, this is worse, this is it, times ten, whatever the complicated mathematical formula is. kate, we have been through it recently with obama and nsa stuff that came out, went through it with a number of issues with george w. bush where the claim is made these revelations, watergate pales in comparison to this. have you seen anything, you look at watergate and what you covered in washington, have you seen anything that would rise to the level of what watergate represented? >> no. i'm watching the clips from before, i was jealous, that sounds like an amazing scandal to cover. there is the irs that was -- with the scandal with targeting conservative groups, a lot of members on the hill said, you know, this could be worse than watergate, how deep does it go and did the president know about it. but, no, there is nothing yet
i've seen that would really rise to that level. the thing is is that on the hill there are a lot of -- there are a lot of republican members who want to discredit the president and they believe that he is sort of this mastermind behind all of this stuff. and they kind of get in their own way sometimes in the oversight going so aggressively after him. there are legitimate problems that happen with the irs. there are legitimate questions to be asked about, you know, benghazi, but does that -- they go so -- >> how much is the experience of watergate. this probably applies to the media, applies to the people in politics too. like, look, there was a scandal unearthed over the course of two years that led to the demise of the president. how much of that is a motivating factor for an opposition party, maybe saw this with bill clinton, hey, look, they did it to nixon in the '70s, we can do it to clinton in the '90s. how much is in the media eyes,
they start uncovering something this could be watergate. >> it is baked into the congress and to the media. but the public, i think, is resistant. they -- watergate was a big deal, but the overuse of the term and especially the clinton impeachment, i think many people go, hey, enough here. the press pretty much convicted clinton. there was a lot of talk on tv that he's gone. and the american people said, what he did was sordid and ugly, but not enough about having a constitutional crisis about. that message lingered that the crises have a phony quality to them. and people are kind of -- don't take them that seriously. kind of jaundiced about it. >> another flip side of the overuse of the gate suffix and the idea that everything is a big scandal, has that sort of clouded the fact there are a few things that happened in the last 40 years. >> what has also happened, is one thing we pointed out in our book, this had huge electoral
implications. we saw the enormous democratic gains in the 1974 election newt gingrich and those years, we saw the criminalization of policy differences. every little scandal that led up to the 1994 elections. one of the things that politicians have learned is if you can capitalize on the scandal and discredit your opponents and get things ginned up, you can win elections. you put that together with the press corps that learned the lesson from woodward and bernstein, this is how you make fame and fortune by uncovering scandal and it is pretty bad. >> i think to some degree we didn't provide a context. think this is part of a larger problem we have these days and that is the hyperbole. i mean, everything now is spoken of in extreme ways. we have people making references to the fact that somebody ran a traffic light being something that hitler would have done or we have people saying that, you know, the fact that somebody yelled at a page being something
akin to slifslavery and that tyf thing. one of the early manifestations has been the gate, the fact one could argue that maybe it is a bit scandalous and we could have a gate gate. >> voters were on the left who that takes it all with a grain of salt. that's enured to it now. >> i grew up, my entire life, watch politics has been one of the themes of the conservative movement and you saw this in ted cruz's speech, to bash the media. ted cruz bashed "the new york times," bash "the washington post," bash the liberal media. i wonder how much of that on the right, did that grow out of watergate, of watching a republican president sort of be exposed by the media? did that idea of the liberal media -- >> the weird thing is it worked at first. nixon did a brilliant job, for really the first time, making
the liberal media the issue. it was initially successful, but things come around. and the very people that nixon went after came around and they didn't forget. and they were after him. nixon paid for that. >> and accused of not cover everything enough. >> like what you're trying to cover up. i think the interesting thing, the nsa situation -- i'm kind of surprised that hasn't risen to the level, at least on the hill. there are obviously a lot of members very concerned about it who are trying to change it, change the policy regarding the nsa, but they don't -- i haven't heard anyone say, you know, this is worse than watergate. this is a watergatesque situation. >> i think i've heard that -- in benghazi, i've heard that. >> definitely heard that on benghazi. >> but the nsa is spying on -- you know, taking the phone records -- >> but the other things you could all issa-gate, i suppose,
for darrell issa, but you demonize the president and believe that he is the absolute epitome of evil, and then you find that the scandals that must lead right to the president and be evil personified are nothing. and it's very frustrating to people -- >> you set that mind-set with the 24-hour news cycle, it's just -- anyway. what should we know? answers coming up after this. by clinging to the past. and with that: you're history. instead of looking behind... delta is looking beyond. 80 thousand of us investing billions... in everything from the best experiences below... to the finest comforts above. we're not simply saluting history... we're making it.
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all right. we might as well show this. it's the reason i didn't get much sleep last night. i was up late watching the world series. the most bizarre ending to the world series game i've ever seen. but here it is. bottom of the ninth, tie game, two on, one out. justin makes the play at the plate, okay. look at that. umpire there is calling -- can't see if he's calling obstruction on will middle brooks, the third baseman for the red sox. had the bag, dives to make a catch, gets in the way of alan craig, the runner, so craig is
out at the plate, but because he was obstructed by will middle brooks, they said he's safe anyway. there's the manager trying to get an explanation. i have to say, i'm a red sox fan, i'm hoping the we can win this thing. i'm now a little doubtful. but i have to say, i think that was the right call last night. >> except that congressman issa is calling committee -- >> no one called it umpiregate in the break. >> that was the right call. >> the rule says that's -- you know, it doesn't have to be intentional. there you go. a sad moment for red sox. i want to thank kate, bob, ed, and thomas. thank you all for getting up today. thank you for joining at home. we'll be back next weekend on saturday, stay tuned, up against the clock. we are inaugurating the legends division. two former congressmen, martin frost, democrat from texas, tom davis, they will play for the congressional cup against five-time "jeopardy!" champion, the only living human to beat
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♪ for more information and savings options, (announcer) answer the call of the grill with new friskies grillers, full of meaty tenders and crunchy bites. this morning, my question. what's a little spying among friends? plus, how life for the poor and hungry is about to get a lot harder. and how should we remember tragedies like the massacre at sandy hook elementary school? but first, from ron reagan to ted cruz, how, oh, the gop has changed. just had "hardball" host, chris matthews. good morning. i'm melissa harris-perry. this week, as congress continues to be entangled in the n