tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC January 24, 2012 4:00am-5:00am EST
following the state of the union address. the rachel mad dow show starts right now. we'll see you tomorrow night. newt gingrich has released the contract he entered into with freddie mac. he'll be joining us in just a the financial meltdown at the enof the bush presidency, a critique plays down the fannie mae and other government instruments. it has been a line of attack that he took consulting fees from a housing-related public
agency. he was under contract with freddie mac for roughly six years. mr. gingrich has done himself nol favors in responding to that criticism when his first instinct was to say he wasn't paid for lobbying or consulting, more paid as a historian. >> your firm was paid $300,000 by freddie mac in 2006. what did do you for the money? >> i offered advice. my advice as a historian when they walked in and said we are making loans to people with no credit history. >> historians at that point crying out how much hundreds of thousands? how do i get a gig like that? the his storian line also led to this attack ad in florida by mitt romney against mr. gingrich. >> while florida families lost everything in the housing crisis, newt gingrich cashed in. gingrich was paid over $1.6 million by the agency that helped create the crisis. >> i offered advice, my advice as a historian. >> a historian?
really? >> the micro context of this release tonight is that mr. gingrich seems to be attempting to nip this criticism in the bud by having his former consulting company release these freddie mac contracts right away. basically as soon as he was asked for them. the slightly larger context of this is that the demand that mitt romney release his tax returns is still an outstanding demand. after changing his position on the tax returns a lot, mr. romney now says he will release the 2010 tax returns and estimate of the numbers of his 2011 returns tomorrow. but for the moment, tonight, that request about mitt romney's tax returns is outstanding. we don't know at the will release any other years. so gingrich trying to shut up criticism of his freddie mac deal, a. also trying to make mitt romney look like the only guy hiding anything, b. but the wider context here is that mitt romney himself has yet to come up with a salable position on the housing crisis. florida's housing crisis is awful. nevada's is worst, that is the
next contest. so far mitt romney's most notable statement on the record about the housing crisis is this one. >> as to what to do for the housing industry specifically things to do to encourage housing, one is don't try to stop the foreclosure process, let it run its course and hit the bottom. >> with you the macrolevel of context here, yes there is another level of context, give me a break i had caffeine today, the macrolevel of context or the widest context the republican establishment is freaking out that newt gingrich might be their nominee. >> we all know the record. he was run out of the speakership by his own party, fined $300,000 for ethics violations. this is a guy who had a very difficult political career at times. and has been embarrassment to the party. >> all across the country this morning people are waking up who are running for office as republicans, from dog catcher to senate, and they are saying good
god, newt gingrich might be at the top of this ticket. >> republicans in congress will be terrified to run with this man for fear they will lose the house and senate are, they will begin to do what they can to try to defeat him because they fear he can't win the election and moreover may drag them down to defeat. the reason liquor sales, truck loads are going to pellosi. >> champagne and whiskey i get it. if that was not clear enough, here was the wall street journal editorial page. did you see this? "if gop office holders had better candidate they should have rallied behind one to get in the race" they still could if the primary contest drags on without a clear journal. still trying to recruit new candidates after three primaries are are done.
when newt gingrich was surging before iowa, the establishment shut down the surge by having figures come out and talk a lot of smack about him and burying in in an avalanche of money, from the mitt romney super pacs. they thought that newt gingrich was politically dead after they threw all that at him. now he's reanimated. gallup, described his national support as collapsing, romney's show support for governor romney collapsing further. in florida specifically, mr. gingrich posting bigger leads over mr. romney, according to today's polls. what killed the gingrich momentum before was the establishment coming out to attack him and direct fire from mitt romney. but honestly this housing stuff that mitt romney is trying to hit him with in florida makes him look worst than newt gingrich it's weak tea. the establishment? i guess this is going ton the
test of their power to control republican outcomes. there is no way i could put this better than what republican strategist steve schmidt said on the air on saturday night when it became clear newt gingrich was running away with it in south carolina. i thought he might explode on camera. >> probably moving toward declaration of war on newt gingrich by the republican establishment. and if newt gingrich is able to win the florida primary, you will see a panic and a meltdown of the republican establishment that is beyond my ability to articulate in the english language. >> joining us with the newly released newt gingrich freddie mac contract in hand, is michael isikoff. mr. isikoff, thank you for joining us. >> great to be with you, rachel. >> first, give us a sense of what this document is. what it describes, and who has released it. >> center for health transformation, an arm of the gingrich group, which is the consulting firm founded by newt gingrich that had the contract
with freddie mac released it today, tonight, just a couple hours before the nbc news debate and this is in response to the sort of mounting drumbeat from the romney campaign saying show us what you did for freddie mac, show us your contract, show us everything you've got. and at the same time gingrich has been pressing for release of romney's tax returns, so in order to, i think, to sort of basically help support gingrich's drumbeat for disclosure by romney, he preemptively or had his former firm release the contract. i have to say it raises more questions than it answers. first of all, it provides no light on what gingrich actually did for freddie mac. the contract itself provides for $25,000 a month, $300,000 a year in 2006 to provide consulting
and other services. nothing in the contract gives you any hint of what that consulting consisted of or what gingrich did. we know this 2006 contract was a follow-up to an earlier 1999 contract. that gingrich first had with freddie mac when i asked where's the 1999 contract, i was told by the center spokeswoman they can't find it nor can they find the renewal of the 1999 contract from 2002. there is the earlier arrangement that has not been released and then i asked for what about the written documents, reports that gingrich group may have provided for freddie mac, where are those? and i was first told there were no written reports, there were no produced reports. and then later, when i pressed
them further on that, with a big question mark, huh? they were told they are not authorized to release written reports. so the big question at the center of it, what did newt gingrich actually do for freddie mac? we know he got paid a lot of money. if you add up the consulting contracts, $1.6, maybe $1.8 million. depending when the original 99 agreement was signed but we don't know what he did. part of the reason there is controversy because he's trying to say i didn't lobby. it's true he was never a ledge -- registered lobbyist, can we tell who he was reporting to at freddie mac that would explain how he was functioning within the organization? >> funny you should ask. yes,we can. the contract the first pain shows he was reporting to the director of public policy for freddie mac a man by the name of craig thomas, who in fact was
one of freddie mac's top lobbyists. so the consulting work that newt gingrich was doing was for the freddie mac top lobbyist, but gingrich insists it did not consist of lobbying. the lobbying disclosure law and how it defines lobbying activities, it does say lobbying activity consists of work in preparation for lobbying or work as background material that is intended to help lobbying. so i think again, the fact that he was reporting to a freddie mac lobbyist does raise the further questions what he was actually doing. >> michael isikoff, thank you for helping us explain this. complicated but i feel more clear. thank you. >> $1.6 to $1.8 to report to the lobbyist at the organization. how close to lobbying is that? alan grayson of florida who
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when newt gingrich won south carolina on saturday night, he gave a speech, but it took him a long time to get to the venue and get to the podium to make the speech. it was a full 19 minutes between the time we were told he was about to give his speech and when he finally did it. i don't know if there was booze,
but by the time he started speaking, based on the sounds out of his audience, there might have been beer mixed in with the pure thrill of victory. >> newt, newt, newt, newt. >> what makes us different from virtually every other country in the world you have to wonder how out of touch reality this administration is. >> they are clueless. >> the newt gingrich crowd, angry, happy, you know how that feels. happy, angry. angry, happy. good for them, they had a great night. one newt gingrich victory speech crowd moment, where it was hard
to tell in the moment what they were saying. it only became clear later. >> rick santorum showed enormous courage in iowa when he had no money, nobody covered him and he kept campaigning. his -- >> what they are yelling, after newt gingrich mentions rick santorum? the crowd is yelling vp, vp, as mr. gingrich since you're going to be the republican party presidential nominee, pick rick santorum to be your running mate. look at the wait he sort of responds to the crowd, he gets a grin, eggs them on about it. i rest my case. at this point in the presidential nominating contest, rick santorum does not look like he will win. a grain of salt i didn't think he would win in iowa, turned out i was wrong. he is not doing well.
after winning iowa he came in fifth place in new hampshire, came in a distant third place in south carolina. right now in florida polling at 11%. mr. santorum doesn't seem to have the momentum, the lift even after winning iowa you would expect him to have if he were going to win. again, anything is possible but it doesn't seem like m santorum is on a path toward winning at this point. if he's not on a path toward winning, what is his effect on the race? republican voters know they have an establishment candidate. republican voters know that their choice is romney or not romney. the more not rom knees there are, better newt gingrich's chances are. mr. romney would love for mr. santorum to stay in and keep splitting the anti-romney vote. that is why you have the big grin from newt gingrich to the vp, vp cheers, the praise for rick santorum in the speech itself. what can i offer you, my dear friend?
>> here is a guy who articulates the values of social conservatism, articulates the importance of manufacturing and who may have been as right about the dangers of iran as anybody in this country in the last ten years. >> please get out of the race! mr. santorum on saturday night praised mr. gingrich right back in his speech saying good job, buddy. but santorum has not kept up with the praising of newt gingrich. in fact mr. santorum in an op-ed in the wall street journal said he didn't prioritize sheel conservative issues, specifically abortion, to push them to the bottom of the agenda. on the occasion of the anniversary of roe versus wade, fighting against abortion right as the cause to which he has dedicated his life. right. if anybody knows anything about rick santorum the man on dog thing and also the abortion issue. that is what your hole reputation boils down to, senator, central challenge of your candidacy is broaden your appeal beyond those issues to
convince people you can speak to some other issues we sides just being anti-gay and anti-abortion. if this is just a contest about who is the most anti-abortion, then congratulations, rick santorum you're running away it. you may have gotten destroyed in new hampshire, came in fifth. looking at the exit poll results, one group of voters you won were voters who said that abortion was the most important issue motivating their vote. also in south carolina, you got destroyed, the one group of voters where you won majority of the vote, abortion was the moe important thing motivating their vote. the only other group was voters who said the most important quality was a strong moral character. you can see gingrich an romney down the field on that one. because he has already locking up the anti-abortion vote, but that is not enough to help him do well overall, it is a like strange that rick santorum chose to do a big high profile wall
street journal op-ed, doubling down on what is his single issue of abortion. dude, you're winning the anti-abortion primary. what you're supposed to try to wins the race for the republican nomination. unless the race for the republican nomination sort of is the anti-abortion primary. so far the dirt y tricks we know about in the campaign, nasty smears that south carolina republicans are known for, dirty tricks have been about abortion. flyer left on the windshield of cars denigrating rick santorum's wife. fake cnn e-mail denigrating newt gingrich. suffice to say, nasty allegations related to the issue of abortion. so the dirty tricksters believe abortion is important enough to sway the race. further evidence the con 'tis the anti-abortion primary, the next contest is in florida the republicans in the florida lecture last year filed 18
different pieces of anti-abortion legislation for their state. by our count they took some sort of sacks on nine of those bills and five anti-abortion measures were signed in law. they have started a new legislative session, there is an anti-abortion cue. three bills on the docket tomorrow. florida is not alone. on the occasion of roe versus wa defrn the anti-abortion move is crowing about what a great year they had. the president of americans united for life saying "the headlines were about the changing command in the house of representatives, what we were seeing was a tidal wave in state houses "wt when we saw the wave come in we ran the ball and ran with it. 28 laws we were involved with passed. it was breath taking. taking their own breath away with their success since the republican victories in 2010. today anti-abortion march in washington.
the movement was treated to a special from the speaker of the house, john boehner who said he's work to overturn roe versus wade decision. there have been more roll backs of abortion rights since the 2010 elections since it was passed 39 years ago. this massive, coordinated offensive against abortion rights by the republicans has frankly been aided by the fact that republicans love to campaign on this issue, democrats don't love to campaign on this issue. being pro choice is not a litmus test for the democratic party the way being pro life is for the republican party. there are lots of elected democrats opposed to abortion rights. democrats not opposed abortion rights have not been willing to stand up appeared say that much less campaign on being pro-choice. perhaps by virtue of the fact republicans have gone so far, both with anti-abortions laws and campaign promises, we're seeing real democratic push back in a big way. from the top, sort of can't thbl
did not get any press today, this is remarkable. e-mail from obama for america, reelection campaign, signed by stephanie cutter, not just on the issue of abortion, also on contraception and other women's health issues. you never see something like this. on friday the obama administration announced soon women won't have to pay out of pocket for birth control. many insurance plans will be required to fully cover contra shin without copays or deductibles thanks to the affordable care act they cap make decisions best for them while saving hundreds of dollars. think how different that it is from what the candidates on the other side. they vowed to repeal the affordable care act. mitt romney said he would define life as beginning as conception, similar to the state level personhood amendment that could ban many forms of contraception and in vitro fertilization. explains how under health reform
mammograms and health screens are free, then it goes back on the attack. at the same time, our opponents have been waging a war or women's health, attempting to defund planted parenthood, overturn roe versus wade. if we will protect our progress and take more steps forward, we need to show we have his back now when the heat is on. then they ask you to sign a petition and puts you on their radar to raise money and to get out for the vote. with rick santorum or without, the anti-abortion movement has so taken over the republican party now that they have turned the republican party's nominating contest in an anti-abortion primary. they might think that is good politics for them but leaves democrats wide open to lock up every pro choice vote in the country and then some. it seems like now they are
finally trying to. joining us is alan grayson, represented florida's 8th district, nice to see you again, thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> how central is rolling back abortion rights to what florida republicans are all about right now? >> i think it's quite central. our polling shows locally and this is true throughout the state, around 10% of the republican voters are strictly anti-choice vote. by the way, 10% of the democratic vote is a pro-choice vote, they are relatively equal. the difference is the republicans have nothing else going for them. if you ask the republicans what is your policy to get people back to work, hear blah, blah, foreclosures, homeless necessary, nothing. health care, allowing people to see a doctor when they are sick, nothing. what they do is use the abortion issue to distract people. they can't give them bread so they give them circuses. >> florida's vote is going to be the first primary this year that is closed, it's republicans
only, there won't be democrats or independents participating. from your upclose and personal perspective what do you think we should understand about the republican mind set in florida? not just in terms of predicting the outcome but what is in the forefront of the voters minds as they head in the polls? there is four different elections going on, geographically spread. republican vote in the panhandle, republican vote on the i-40 cor i door, republican cuban and jewish vote. they are entirely different. you will see mitt romney do well in the orlando-tampa area. he will do well in the southwest part of the state. i he will have trouble with the cuban vote, he did in 2008. he will have a tremendous amount of trouble with the jewish vote in south fa. in the panhandle, you will see them split evenly i give the edge to gingrich and i think also you will see other candidates do well in the panhandle. >> why do you think prominent florida republicans like marco rubio and jeb bush aren't
endorsing anybody. >> they look in the mirror think say this guy looks like a vice president or president to me. >> when lindsey graham was the only guy who didn't endorse in south carolina, he's the guy who won because all the rest voted for mitt romney and the state went against him? >> i think lindsey graham probably has the same thing in mind i don't think that will happen. >> do you think that if rick santorum dropped out that his votes would go to newt gingrich at this point, is that the way things are splitting? >> yeah, i see a block of semi-rationale people. i see small business supporting newt gingrich. fundamentalist christians, almost all of them in florida protestant and libertarians
voting for ron paul. gingrich and santorum are fighting over the same vote, that will consolidate for one or the other. >> back to the abortion issue, anniversary of roe versus wade, always a big march around the time, a hot of promises and crowing from the anti-abortion movement, we have seen a remarkable year. in a remarkable year of restricting abortion rights, florida stands out. 18 different pieces of anti-abortion legislation including five new anti-abortion restrictions passing in the state. what accounts for that taking the forefront of the republican agenda, even as it popped up and was popular everywhere, florida seemed to have gone nuts. >> i think it's because democrats here in florida for some reason reluctant to make the case for pro choice. i think that is what it comes down to. i have no trouble telling people i think the most fundamental right is the right to control our on body.
union starts right here on msnbc at 8:00 p.m. eastern. we will have the president's address and republican party's official response, given by indiana governor mitch daniels. our special coverage of the state of the union including the big special event night desk and everything, starts tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. eastern. we will be right back. bored with your one trick lipstick? then lead a double life! with new blast flipstick from covergirl. it's the lipstick with a flip side. you call this a flip side? creamy color on one end, shimmery color on the other. expertly matched so you can flip your look. from demure, to daring. you be demure! day to night, naughty to nice.
we learned this weekend which teams are going to the super bowl. the new york giants will represent the nfc after an unfortunate and presumably lonely san francisco 49er fumbled two punts he was trying to catch. that is how the giants punched their ticket to indianapolis. my beloved patriots won, more unfortunate and a baltimore raven missed a field goal from close in, winning the gratitude of millions of new englanders, sitting with their noses pressed up against their tv's. the games that decided who is going to the super bowl were weird games. both took place yesterday. the super bowl is not this weekend, it doesn't happen until two weekends from now. you want to know what happens next weekend?
st. louis happens. this is what is happening in america this weekend. this upcoming saturday. st. louis, missouri is set to be the first city in the united states to host a welcome home parade for the veterans of the iraq war. for 125 years america has publicly commemorated the end of the wars with parades. to welcome home the veterans. it's one small thing we have historically done to show our appreciation, to say welcome home. thank you for serving in this war. we're so glad you're back home. the war in iraq officially and finally ended last month. there has not been a parade in new york, or in washington d.c. the afghanistan war after all is still going on. but a grass roots effort, a really grass roots effort in st. louis has put the nation's first end of the iraq war welcome home parade on the calendar for this upcoming saturday. >> yes, i think we're going to make it, i think st. louis will not only make it but we'll lead the way for country, we'll set an example.
>> the city it is taking motivating from the mayor's office to volunteers to housewives, to -- it's amazing, what is happening right now. really made us believe that impossible thing was nonsense. >> by day the guy you saw that, craig schneider works in educational technology in a st. louis school district. he puts the computers together and make sure they work. that is what he does by day. by evening and night and early in the morning he has been raising money for the parade. getting veterans groups together to welcome the troops at the end of the parade. craig and another friend raised north of $25,000 so far on their facebook page. make january 28th wem welcome home the heros fromle the war day. after parade on saturday, groups that work with returning veterans will set up tables for a day-long event. craig and other volunteers hope to link up veterans aid groups
from all 50 states. if you're helping troops in north dakota say, craig the computer guy says let him know, he will fix up with a table, flag and streaming video. he gets inspiration, one from his friend who won a bronze star, the other was seeing the city of st. louis organize a parade overnight for the cardinals after they won the world series. that showed that the parade thing could be done even on very short notice. joining us now for the interview is craig schneider, an organizer of the st. louis parade, to welcome home veterans of the iraq war. craig, congratulations and thanks for making time to talk to us, i'm sure this is a busy week for you right now. >> it is busy, thank you for having us, rachel, i'm a fan of your brain. >> i'll send it over to you, i haven't been using it recently. >> we'll take it, we're taking donations. >> you don't want that one. let me ask you about the basic start of this, how you got the idea to do it and once you got the idea, why you thought it was
possible? >> we knew it was possible. we got the idea because no one else was doing it and someone could if they stepped up, we knew we could. my friend tom, we were notice the cardinals did it in short order, we can do it now. we love our heros from the baseball team, we have bigger heros coming home now, they deserve a parade, too, more than a parade, the veteran resource village thing. >> tell me about the veteran resource village, one of your partners is a resource center for veterans, their mission to veterans to tell veterans they are still needed. >> we paired up with the st. louis organization, they are a national organization but based next to us "mission continues" they do amazing work, they don't just give the sold yibiers a welcome home, they put them to work on jobs, to reinvesting in the community, their motto is "this isn't a charity it's a challenge" it's about a challenge.
you have been able to make this happen in st. louis and we're not seeing it happen in new york city and in washington and some other big cities. part of the discussion nationally has been concern that with the afghanistan war still going on, you don't want to be welcoming people home who are still being deployed, awkwardness around that, but still you're tapping in something people felt like ought to be done. why do you think it happened in st. louis? >> i think it happened here because it had to start somewhere, st. louis we're in the middle of the country, just a small town city that knows how to get things done. we know how to stop saying that's impossible and if we have to get everything together from the mayor down to make it happen, this is a town with a great reputation, we knew it's the perfect place to do it. >> what about the ongoing war in afghanistan? i imagine you have been not just talking with veterans resource centers but veterans themselves, is that a complication for this? >> it is a complication. what we are basically doing is
beginning a process that is not going to begin and end on january 28th. we're putting the people together and the people in place to start this as a regular routine to welcome home, we have a lot of folks we miss a lot. the work we do now will help us make sure we are ready to welcome them home, they are not forgotten. believe me everyone is involved in this knows if you were in iraq you were probably in afghanistan too, we understand that and we're sensitive to it but it has to start somewhere, we started it now. we will be ready when they come home, we promise. >> craig, i don't mean to ask you a leading question, people can make donations on the facebook page? >> i hope they do. yes. grass roots is an overroad word, we're paying as we go. we have two big goals, first of all, money aside, we have to pay for the party, help us do that, we hope you come to the web page and help, we're focused on the vets. we want this is their day, before we get in questions like that, tom and i and the organization are going out, let's have a parade full of
vets, not st. louis, if you served in the post 9/11 wars, bring your family, we'll find a place for you. if we can't get you in the parade we'll get new union station. this is america's party, we want everybody here. >> craig schneider one of the organizers of the st. louis pa railed for iraq war veterans, thank you for doing this, thank you for talking to us. keep us apprised as you set up, okay? >> i will. when you're off air i have a question for you but not for your show. >> oh, how provocative. okay, thanks, craig. reminder there is more information about this event on our website, maddowblog.com. now i need to talk to craig off air. after this show on the last word, lawrence o'donnell breaks down the republican debate fresh and hot, don't miss it. here the most moving piece of video i have seen in a long time. that's next.
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we don't usually do this on this show, but today and in this case i think it's warranted. by now you have heard the news that congress woman gabrielle giffords is stepping down a crazed kid with a handgun and he can tended magazine full of bullets tried to assassinate congress woman giffords, killed six other people, wounded 13. she was shot in the head, grieveously wounded. she has recovered, amazingly
since then, but has now decided to step down from congress to focus on her continued recovery. as i said we don't usually do this. but have you seen what she did to announce she is stepping down? it's very short, and in my opinion, you totally owe it to yourself to watch this. >> arizona is my home, always will be. a lot has happened over the past year. we cannot change that, but i know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better. jobs, border security, veterans. we can do so much more by
working together. i don't remember much from that horrible day, but i will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. i have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for arizona, i will step down this week. i'm getting better. every day. my spirit is high. i will return and we will work
together for arizona and this great country. thank you very much. video made by gabby giffords, seeing her now and that video with her before this madman shot her, is very, very moving. congresswoman giffords met with other victims of the shooting today. she will attend the state of the union address in congress tomorrow, as will her husband, astronaut mark kelly, who will sit with the first lady in her box seats at the address. and then on wednesday, we have just found out that the house will take up gabrielle giffords' final bill and they'll take it up under expedited terms. it's a bill to cut down on ultralight aircraft to cut down on smuggling. i think probably forever it will
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in indiana today, the state senate republicans decided to welcome the patriots and the giants to the super bowl in indianapolis in two weeks by voting to strip union rights in the state. the nfl players association, the players union has put itself loudly on the side of the state's democrats and others who are fighting mitch daniels' union-stripping plan there.
even while the vote was still pending today, a breakaway group of pro union rights republicans, a group called the lunch pail republicans, announced plans to run pro-union rights primary challengers against two republicans in the legislature, who are going along with the union-stripping plan. and if the prospects of protests including the nfl players association at the super bowl were not high-profile enough around this issue, well, then, republican governor mitch daniels is giving the republican party's official state of the union response tomorrow night. to put that much more of a spotlight on his state and how his union-busting agenda seems to be tearing apart both his state and his party. and meanwhile, as the republican candidates for president fight to out-gay -- out-gay each other, that would be a totally different thing, fight to out-antigay each other, with the mitt romney campaign, this campaign distributed when he ran
for governor in massachusetts, with rick santorum pledging to not just oppose gay rights, as he always has, but to go back in time and annul people's existing marriages, same-sex marriages, if he's elected president, mr. santorum also pledging to try to re-closet the military by un-repealing don't ask, don't tell. with newt gingrich going so far to sign a marital fidelity oath, pledging himself to not cheating on his wife, his wife, anymore, despite the copy out the nose ridicule such a pledge earns him. with the republican presidential candidates fighting to out-antigay each other in the blue states, if you're pro-gay rights, it proves that things get better. martin o'malley introducing a bill today to legalize same-sex marriage in maryland. this follows on the heels of christine gregoire announcing her support for same-sex marriage rights and her introduction of state marriage equality legislation.
today in olympia, washington, at a legislative hearing on this issue, a democratic state senator named mary hougen announced that she would support the bill. she said, i know this announcement makes me the so-called 25th vote, the vote that ensures passage. in a statement she said she needed time to make up her mind on the issue "to reconcile my religious beliefs with my belief as an american, as a legislator, and as a wife and a mother who cannot deny the to others the joys and benefits i enjoy." this is the right vote, she said, and it is the vote i will cast when this measure comes to the floor. and, meanwhile, also today, we had some serious and worrying news from the family and the office of republican senator mark kirk in illinois. senator kirk was elected in 2010 to the illinois senate seat, previously held by president obama. mr. kirk is 52 years old, he's a former naval intelligence officer. on saturday, senator kirk checked himself into a chicago hospital because he was experiencing dizziness and headache.
doctors at that first hospital diagnosed a stroke, caused by a problem with a carotid artery that was blocking the blood flow to the senator's brain. so that checking into the hospital was on saturday. on sunday, they transferred him to a different hospital and rushed the senator into surgery because of swelling on the right side of his brain. doctors say in the three-hour surgery, they removed a 4 x 8 inch section of his skull to relieve the pressure that was caused by the swelling. the doctor who performed senator kirk's surgery told reporters, fortunately, the stroke was not on the left side of the brain, in which case that would affect his ability to speak, understand, and think. as it stands, with the swelling having been on the other side of his brain, doctors say the stroke will likely affect the senator's ability to use his left arm and possibly his left leg and may also cause some facial paralysis. senator kirk's surgeon also says senator kirk is young, is in very good shape, and is very healthy. all of those things are in his favo