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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  April 12, 2012 12:00am-1:00am EDT

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i'm ed schultz, the "rachel maddow show" starts right now. good evening, rachel. and congratulations on your book. i'm hearing great news, number one "new york times" best seller. >> we just heard, it's the second week at number one, which just blows my mind. really nice of you to say. >> congratulations. you bet. >> thanks, ed. and thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. this is one of those days whereç there's simultaneously a lot going on in the news of politics, but there's also a lot going on in the news about just news. now, we have not covered the twists and turns of the trayvon martin shooting case in sanford, florida, as closely as have many of the other shows on this network. but today is the day when whether or not you have been following this story closely, today is the day that this story became without a doubt, inarguably the most important thing you need to be up on in order to understand what's going
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on in our country right now. today is the day when the central fact of this story, the fact that made it a cause of national outrage, changed. a young unarmed man, a teenager, being shot and killed, will always be the cause of grief and of outrage. but what has made the trayvon martin case a cause for national outrage is that the shooting and killing of an unarmed teenager was not being treated as local authorities as a crime. a teenager was killed. there was an admitted and identified shooter, but the shooter was let go and the shooting was not being treated as a crime. that has been the central fact making this one crime in florida, this one apparent crime, this one shooting in florida, a national cause. and that central fact at the center of that case changed today. and it never would have changed if it were not for the outrage, the tang, the protests, the emotion that has surrounded this case. and so whether or not, again, you have been paying attention to this story every day, today is the day to really understand it. on sunday, february 26th, a neighborhood watch volunteer in sanford, florida, a man named
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george zimmerman called local police. he said there had been recent break-ins in the area. he asked police to respond to someone he described as a suspicious-looking person. he described this suspicious person as a black male, probablç in his late teens, wearing a dark hoodie. the man who the 911 caller was so suspicious of was, in fact, a young black man. he was a very young man. he was 17 years old. he was not armed and it turned out he had every reason to be exactly where he was. his father's girlfriend had a home in that gated community and young trayvon martin was walking back to that home from a convenience store with a bag of candy and an iced tea and nothing else suspicious on his person. what happened next is key. what is not in dispute is that george zimmerman, that neighborhood watch volunteer, shot and killed trayvon martin shortly after his phone call to 911. mr. zimmerman told police that after confronting the teenager,
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he had turned around and was walking back to his vehicle when trayvon martin, he says, approached him from behind. mr. zimmerman told police the two of them exchanged words and that trayvon martin punched him to the ground and started beating him up. mr. zimmerman told police that he then shot trayvon martin in self-defense. again, that is george zimmerman's account of what happened. obviously, there is no account from trayvon martin, because he did not survive this confrontation. the sanford, florida, police did respond to the scene. they did not arrest george zimmerman. but they did take him to the police station, where they interviewed him before releasing him.á the police investigated the case. mr. zimmerman admitted to the shooting. sanford police elected not to formally arrest and pursue charges against him. they elected to treat this shooting as not a crime. the sanford police chief said ç publicly that there was no
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probable cause to arrest mr. zimmerman. "zimmerman provided a statement claiming he acted in self-defense, which at the time was supported by physical evidence and testimony. by florida statute, law enforcement was prohibited from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time." that was the statement from the police chief. specifically citing the statute number for florida's so-called stand your ground gun law. the stand your ground law, which was passed in florida in 2005, allows people who feel threatened to use deadly force, even if they don't first try to retreat from a confrontation. so if you feel scared and you have a choice of running away or of killing the person you are scared of, go ahead and kill 'em. george zimmerman told police that he felt threatened, that he was acting in self-defense when he killed trayvon martin. and that's the key point why this is a national story, why it's such a flash point, why it's been upsetting to so many people. not just that the shooting happened, but the shooting happened and the person that admits to being the shooter in this case went free.
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the fact that this shooting was not treated as a crime in the state of florida. that is the aspect of this case that galvanized the protests, which started locally but that quickly went national. why did george zimmerman say he felt threatened by a kill he followed who was just walking down the street, minding his own business? in not charging george zimmerman, were the local police complicit in an idea that a young african-american man walking down the street is an implicitly threatening thing? were they implicitly condoning the idea that violence against any young black man is, therefore, always understandable. it's always excusable? as the protests swelled, the police chief of sanford, florida, announced that he was temporarily stepping down from his post.ç also, the prosecutor who handles cases in sanford recused himself from the case. he had decided that a grand jury should look into whether or not there should be charges in this case, but he recused himself before that could happen. after that recusal, a special prosecutor was appointed to look into the case, because the first prosecutor was recused. this special prosecutor
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announced earlier this week that she'd decided she would not put the question of whether or not there should be charges in this case to a grand jury. she would not be having a grand jury decide that. instead, she would decide it herself. and today, this case blew wide open when we got her decision. >> today we filed an information charging george zimmerman with murder in the second degree. i will confirm that mr. zimmerman is, indeed, in custody. >> can you tell us where? >>ly not tell you where. that's for his safety as well as everyone else's safety. he will be taken, when it's appropriate, for the appropriate appearance in front of a judge. >> that was florida state's attorney angela corey, announcing today that she has filed second-degree murder charges against george zimmerman in the trayvon martin shooting. this is the first time that charges have been brought in this case or that anybody has been taken into custody in this case. this is the point that all of the protests were leading up to. as the special prosecutor in the case, miss corey's investigation could have resulted in anything from no charges at all to misdemeanor or felony battery to second-degree murder.
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she could not have brought first-degree murder charges in this case without a grand jury. miss corey said today that she had, in fact, tried to prepare trayvon martin's parents for the possibility that she would not be a able to bring any charges in the case. >> we did not promise them anything. in fact, we specifically talkedç about if criminal charges do not come out of this, what can we help you do to make sure your son's death is not in vain? >> in announcing second-degree murder charges against george zimmerman today, miss corey was also specifically asked by reporters about how the state's stand your ground law might affect the prosecution in this case. >> if stand your ground becomes an issue, we fight it, if we believe it's the right thing to do. so if it becomes an issue in this case, we will fight that affirmative defense. my prosecutors and a lot of them are here, and i'm so proud of them.
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they have worked tirelessly, running this office while we've been working on this case. they fight these stand your ground motions. mr. moody just finished a four-day full stand your ground motion on another case. we fight hard. some of them we've won and we've had to appeal them or the offense has appealed and we've won it on appeal. some we've fought hard and the judge ruled against us. that's happened to prosecutors all over the state. it is the law of the state of florida and it will be applied. >> so on the day that this case of such grave national concern blew wide open, questions remain. including about what happens next in this case, and about whether florida's stand your ground law will keep implicitly circumscribing the range of justice available to those seeking justice in the case, and whether or not the stand your ground law will change or the politics of those types of laws will change, because of all the national attention and upset on this case. joining us now is nbc news ç
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national investigative correspondent, michael isikoff. michael, thank you very much for being here. appreciate where are time tonight. >> good to be with you, rachel. >> michael, what happens next in this case? just in terms of the expected procedures, we know that george zimmermann is already in custody. what is the next step for him? >> there'll be an initial court appearance tomorrow, where he will be advised of his rights, and advised of the charges against him. his lawyer will almost certainly seek bond or a bond hearing, but what's interesting about what would happen today, the charges, the second-degree murder charge, that's not a bondable offense in seminole county. so he would not normally have an opportunity to post bond tomorrow. his lawyer will have to seek a bond hearing and my
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understanding is then he'll have 21 days, the prosecutors will have 21 days to have that bond hearing, and that would be the first time that we might get any further information about the nature of the evidence. it may not be much, because the issues there are risk of flight, danger to the community, but right now, we got very little -- we've got no information about what underlay -- what the evidence is in this case, what led angela corey to choose second-degree murder, and that will be the first opportunity -- the bond hearing may be the first opportunity where the prosecutors have to speak and tell us a bit more than they told us today.ç >> so legally in terms of understanding what changed between the initial decision not to bring charges in this case and the decision today, we still don't have any further detail about a different interpretation of the stand your ground idea, whether or not there is further evidence that has come to the light that would affect even the same legal analysis that determined there shouldn't be charges in this case in the
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first place. you're saying that we sort of have to wait until tomorrow to see if this was just a different type of prosecutorial discretion or whether something new has come to light? >> exactly. and i'm not sure we're going to learn anything much more tomorrow. i've got to tell you, rachel, that a lot of lawyers who were following this case whom i've talked to today were surprised by this decision. i think most people expected that there would be charges brought against george zimmerman, but i don't think many expected it was going to be second-degree murder. and you're right, what changed from the state of the evidence, which was pretty murky as it was initially laid out in that police report and today, we don't know. we know zimmerman claimed self-defense. we know the initial police report did say he had a bloody nose and blood on the back of his head.
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we don't know of any clear eyewitnesss who saw in realtime what happened. it was dark. it was a rainy night. yet, clearly, angela corey found evidence to contradict the initial decision. what that was, we don't know. >> michael, one last question for you. we learned today that with florida's open government laws, there's a real possibility that the trial here, the ultimate trial could be televised. it's got great political implications. stand your ground laws around the country, i think, the decision today just as the initial decision not to charge george zimmerman inflamed a lot of people, got a lot of people angry, i think this decision of second-degree murder is going to inflame a lot of people on the other side. we have the national rifle association, which gave us stand your ground, having its national
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convention in st. louis this week. mitt romney is scheduled to speak on friday. i think the combination here is only going to escalate and make this a much bigger political issue than any of us expected a couple of weeks ago. >> i think you're right. you think we've been transfixed by it thus far, i think that is set to increase now. michael isikoff, nbc news national investigative correspondent. michael, thank you very much for your time tonight. >> thank you. all right, supposedly, supposedly there are about 2,000 members of the communist party usa. turns out that a huge proportion of that membership is made up of members of congress. it's true. i heard that somewhere. that's next.
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15 days before the 2008 presidential election, with just two weeks to go until election day in '08, the mccain/palin campaign, at that point, behind in the polls, unveiled a new line of attack against barack obama. >> taking more from a small business or from a small business owner or from a hard-working family and then redistributing that money according to a politician's priorities, there are hints of socialism in there. >> "hints of socialism in there." hints of socialism. if you remember the end of the 2008 presidential campaign at all, you may remember that sometimes sort of rabid crowds at the mccain/palin rallies, yelling all sorts of stuff about barack obama. that he was a terrorist. or that he was a muslim!
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>> i'm mad! i'm really mad! and what's going to surprise you, it's not the economy. it's a socialist taking over our country! >> who is the real barack obama! >> a terrorist! >> i do not believe in -- i can't trust obama. >> i got -- >> i have read about him, and he's not -- he's not -- he's an arab. >> an arab. that sort of thing was starting to happen at mccain/palin rallies, kind of a lot in the end days of that campaign. but two weeks before election day, it wasn't just the voices in the crowd, it was the republican party's vice presidential nominee, in public, on camera, calling barack obama a socialist hinter, right? at the time this was happening, we theorized on this show about what exactly was going on on thç republican side of politics. and we christened a sort of new law of political science. i hereby submit that the longer it's clear that liberals or democrats are going to win an election, the longer it's clear
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that liberals or democrats are winning an argument, the more likely it becomes that someone is going to get called a commie, socialist, commie pinko, five-year planner! >> ever since that knight in 2008, that rule has kind of held. any time liberals or democrats are on the win siding of an argument, it is only a matter of time before somebody gets called a commie. like last march, during the height of the scott walker union-busting thing up in wisconsin, most of the public polling showed that the people were, in policy terms, with the democrats on that issue. they were with keeping union rights and not getting rid of them. so right on cue -- >> yesterday i saw signs, unions
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for america. soy walked up to them and i said, what america do you want to be for? do you want to be for the socialist america? the socialists have kind of come into madison and -- >> oh, yeah! >> it's a fact that we have card-carrying socialists and card-carrying communists in madison -- >> card-carrying communists! i'm telling you, this new law of political science, it holds. and so it was, today down in ç florida, that video surfaced of this particular communist manifesto making its return to american politics today. >> what percentage of the american legislature do you think are card-carrying marxists or international socialists? >> no, it's a good question. i believe there's about 78 to 81 members of the democrat party that are members of the communist party. >> ahhh! gasps from the crowd. i want a special shout-out to
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our subtitler for the restraint in not actually writing down, "gasps." that was allen west of florida being very, very specific about exactly how many communists there are in the united states congress. as you heard him say there, "i believe there's about 78 to 81 members of the democrat party that are members of the communist party." that's how he put it. congressman west wasn't just talking about any old 78 to 81 members of the democrat party, he was talking about a very specific group of them. his spokesperson put out a statement after that, not to apologize for it or to walk it back, but rather to tell everybody exactly who congressman west was talking about. "the congressman was referring to the 76 members of the congressional progressive caucus. the communist party has publicly referred to the progressive caucus as its allies." so allen west doesn't have a
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secret scrawled out list of 76 democrats in congress who are commies, it is specifically theç congressional progressive caucus. this right here is the congressional progressive caucus website. what kind of things do these guys do? these accused communists? well, the thing that the congressional progressive caucus is in the news for these days is the thing you see front and center right there on their website right now, cpc, congressional progressive caucus, announces budget. right around the time that the house republican paul ryan budget came out, the congressional progressive caucus came out with its own budget. and while the paul ryan budget, the house republican budget, which essentially mirrors the really, really unpopular ryan budget from last year. while the ryan budget, the house republican budget is generally seen as more of a liability than an asset for republicans running for higher office today, because a lot of its ideas are particularly unpopular, particularly those around medicare, the progressive caucus
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budget is made up of policies that poll really, really well. that are very popular when you go out and ask real-life humans about them. the progressive budget, for example, calls for ending the bush tax cuts for the wealthiest americans. it calls for letting those tax cuts expire at the the end of the year. that idea is wildly popular when you ask americans about it. 68% of americans say they are for letting the bush tax cuts for the wealthiest americans expire. only 29% of americans say they are opposed to that. the progressive budget also calls for ending taxpayer subsidies for the oil and gas companies. again, a whopping majority of americans say yes to that. 74%. that's a great idea! let's do it. 74% say yes.ç in order to deal with our giant deficit, the progressive budget calls for a temporary surcharge on net worth over $10 million. that sort of idea is more popular than a cold drink on a hot day. the proportion of americans who
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say they would be in favor of that policy, 81%. but the whopping majority of americans who actually like that idea, that 81% actually wants to go even further than what the progressive caucus says. they want to see a surtax not on income over $10 million, they want to see a surtax on income over $1 million. so the american public wildly more progressive than even the congressional progressive caucus on that issue. the progressive budget also calls for something that president obama has been out campaigning for over the last few days. the adoption of the so-called buffett rule. you've heard about this, right? closing the loophole that allows the superrich in this country to pay essentially a mini tax rate, if they make their zillions through things like finance and private equity. it's a special mini tax rate just for people who work in finance. when you ask americans about that, 65% say they support the idea of the buffett rule. a huge majority supports the buffett rule. and that's the progressive caucus budget. all of these ideas that enjoy
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really incredible, almost unfathomably high support among the american people when you ask them about these ideas. and so, therefore, right on cue -- >> i believe there's about 78 to 81 members of the democrat party that are members of the communist party. they actually don't hide. it's called the congressional progressive caucus. >> commies, you appear to winning this argument. communists! for theirart, the actual communists, the actual communist party usa came out today and responded to congressman allen west. one of the vice chairs of the communist party usa telling nbc news today, "we think it's ridiculous. there are no members of congress in the communist party. that's just not true. we support public parks and i assume congressman west does too, that doesn't mean he's a communist." but allen west, in probably the least-shocking development in this entire story, is not backing down. congressman west writing on his facebook page tonight, "you can call them socialists, marxists,
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communist or whatever you want. if you are skeptical, just start watching house special order speeches on c-span regularly." so allen west is directing folks to watch c-span in order to spot the rampant communism in the united states congress! and c-span, if you think about it, is kind of a collectivist venture, kind of nonprofitish, set up and designed to benefit everybody in society. it's kind of a little pink itself. oh, my god, i think that allen west might be -- [ woman ] i was ready for my trip. but my smile wasn't.
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okay. this is not going well. this is not going well. here's the initial problem that they have been trying to solve. this is the support for barack obama among women compared to support for mitt romney among women. that is a really big divide. that's really bad for the republicans. now, this was the gender divide if the last presidential election, which, of course, the1 republicans lost and lost badly. can we put up the -- actually,
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those '08 numbers side by side with the current romney numbers, to see what the new problem is here, just so you can see it in context. right. okay, see? mitt romney is not just in bad shape with women voters, he is in even worse shape with women voters than the last republicans were, and the last republicans lost the election really badly. the problem with women voters is the problem the republicans have been trying to fix. and here was how they tried to fix it first. >> if the democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that the democrats had a war on caterpillars, we'd have a problem with caterpillars. the fact is that it's a fiction. >> reince priebus trying to fix the war on women idea by saying the war on women, that's the same as a war on caterpillars. and of course, it's always hilarious to compare women to caterpillars. but as an analogy, it did miss the key point that people would only say that republicans were waging a war on caterpillars if republicans had spent the last year or so pursuing legislation
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all over the country blocking caterpillar's access to moth reception, repealing equal pay laws for caterpillars, focusing on some caterpillar version of abortion rights to the exclusion of all other priorities, even though they said they were going to focus on caterpillar jobs, jobs, jobs. that part was missing from the analogy. that was sort of strike one, the war on caterpillars thing. then the spokesman for the republican party took another swing at it. he decided that rather than taking issue with the word "women," rather than taking issue with word "three" in the phrase "war on women," he would take issue with word one. he said it was outrageous to use the word "war" in this context.ç that turns out to also be a problem, because he is the spokesman for the republican party, and now has been accused president obama of waging war on everything from religion to coal. so suddenly you're offended by the use of the word "war" as a political metaphor? so strike two. then mitch mcconnell took his own swing at it on a kentucky
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radio show. >> talk about a manufactured issue. there is no issue. senator kay bailey hutchison and kelly ayotte from new hampshire and susan collins and olympia snowe from maine, i think, would be the first to say, and lisa murkowski from alaska, we don't see any evidence of this. >> lisa murkowski of alaska would say you don't see any evidence of this. the problem for senator mcconnell that the republican women who he say would agree with him on this issue do not agree with him on this issue. >> this is not only discussion in congress, but you've got presidential wannabes that are talking about whether or not contraception is good, bad, indifferent, wrong. women feeling that the party that i have chosen to affiliate myself, the republican party, is
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ignoring their concerns. is, is causing them to feel like the rights that they believe were settled a long time ago are now being threatened, possibly eroded. it makes no sense to go down this road. it makes no sense to attack women and if you don't view this n women, then you need the to go home and you need to talk to your wives, you need to go talk to your daughters. ask them if they feel that this is an attack. >> yeah, so saying that senator lisa murkowski, who you just heard talking there, saying that she has debunked this idea that republicans are attacking women's rights, saying that about her, that was strike three. and strike three would usually mean your out, but it turns out they're still up there swinging away. and they have to. and today the people who republicans have to be hoping are best at this stepped up to the plate to swing at it themselves.
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the romney campaign itself took a swing at this today. organizing a conference call on women's issues. now, specifically, they called this conference call to try to apply their one big political trick to this war on women problem that the republicans know they've got. their one political trick that they use for everything is the "i'm rubber, you're glue" trick. so, like, mitt romney has a political liability in that he has signed on to the house republican paul ryan budget to kill medicare. so he accuses president obama of wanting to kill medicare! mr. romney told a reporter that he's going to keep secret his plans for which government departments he wants to eliminate entirely. he says he's going to keep those plans secret until after he is elected. and then he immediately gives a speech accusing president obama of having plans that he is keeping secret until after the ç election. it's i'm rubber, you're glue. whatever i'm being accused of,
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i'm going to say is your problem, then hopefully nobody will be able to tell that i'm really the guy who's in trouble on this. mr. romney, for example, has two post-graduate degrees from harvard university, so he's now accusing president obama of, of course -- >> we have a president who i think is a nice guy, but he spent too much time at harvard, perhaps. >> says the guy with two harvard degrees! amazing. it's i'm rubber, you're glue. this is kind of their only trick. they do this on everything. so naturally the romney campaign today decided to say that it is president obama who has a war on women problem. they convened a conference call today. they called the -- they asked the press to be there. they started it. they convened a conference call today to try this i'm rubber, you're glue trick on their big war on women problem. and they totally blew it. it was strike four. it was worse than the war on caterpillars. did you hear how they screwed this up today? did you? that's next. tide pods. pop in. stand out.
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okay.ií>3 here's the scene. the mitt romney campaign, the day after rick santorum drops out, clears the way for him. so basically it is day one of the general election, and the mitt romney campaign gets to work on their biggest electoral problem, which is that mitt romney is about as popular with women voters as freezer burn anç seeing the check engine light come on. the romney campaign convenes a conference call on women's issues about how great a mitt romney presidency would be for american women, compared to how
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horrible barack obama has been for american women. they convene this call and then this happens. >> our next question will come from sam stein with "huffington post." please go ahead. >> yeah, does governor romney support the lilly ledbetter act? [ silence ] >> sam, we'll get back to you on that. >> "we'll get back you on that"? they don't have an answer for that? that was the first piece of legislation that barack obama signed as president. the lilly ledbetter fair pay act. he brags about it all the time. it gives women access to the courts to sue if they are paid less than men for doing the same work. the romney campaign holds a press event about policy effecting women and they have not thought of an answer on that one? eventually the campaign did figure out something to say on this issue. they said that mr. romney would not repeal that law if he
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becomes president. they didn't say if he actually supports it, though, or if he would have signed that law if it had come to his desk. and that is a touchy subject, after all. republicans overwhelmingly voted against the lilly ledbetter fair pay bill when it was in congress. and this whole thing became an even touchier subject today when the romney campaign tried to damage control this thing this afternoon by roll ought two republican members of congress ç to stand up for mr. romney, to back up mitt romney's bona fides on supporting women getting equal pay for their work. the problem is that both of those members of congress that the romney campaign rolled out today voted against the lilly ledbetter fair pay bill for equal pay for equal work. when it really did come up before them. when they really were in congress. eventually the romney campaign presumably will figure out how to get this issue right. but for day one of the general election campaign, this was a really, really bad start. joining us now is sam stein,
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political editor and reporter for the "huffington post," who had an unexpectedly starring role in the romney campaign's face plant today. sam, thanks for being with us. >> thank you for the dramatic buildup, rachel. >> did you -- it didn't sound like a gotcha question. is there anything about the context that should have -- that would explain why that was such a hard question for them to answer? >> not that i know of. i didn't think of it as a great reptorial feat on my part, but i wanted to know how they felt about this legislation. i figured well, if he endorses the act, then he's explicitly acknowledging that president obama has done something for women positive and if he opposes the act, then he's got further questions to answer. and that's why i posed the question. >> when the campaign ultimately did answer it, what they said is that he wouldn't repeal it and that he supports the basic concept of equal pay for equal work. given the way they talked about women's issues today, given the overall context of how the
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campaign is treating this issue right now, i feel like i can't -- i don't know if that means that mitt romney supports the lilly ledbetter act, if he would have signed it as president if he disagrees with the majority of republican members of congress who voted against it, inclufitq to vouch for him on the subject today. do you feel like you understand what his position is on this now? >> no. and i think part of it is because he wants to take a position that's very vague. and like i said before, if he said he would have signed that law as president, then he's explicitly stating that president obama did something productive for women. that's a tough bind, because he's in this moment in his campaign where he has to argue that it's president obama who's been bad for women. but by saying that he doesn't want to repeal the law, he's also not giving himself some wiggle room as well. so trotting out two women surrogates who voted against the law is probably not the best way to do it. and i should add that as soon as he did say he wouldn't repeal the law, he did take a little
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bit of incoming fire from conservatives, who think of this as a great gift to trial lawyers. this sort of underscoring the very difficult pivot that mitt romney would have. we just didn't expect it to happen on day one. >> in terms of that last point you made there, about conservatives being upset with the vagueness of mr. romney's position from the right, as if the lilly ledbetter act is some sort of scandal, there is this broader question of whether or not conservatives and republicans think they have an issue with -- or understand why it is that they have an issue with women voters. the idea that they're against equal pay for equal work hasn't actually been seen as part of the reason why they've got a problem with women voters. is that now going to become an issue? are they going to come out strongly now against ledbetter and pressure romney on this? >> i don't think so, because itç seems to illogical for them to do something like that. especially when all the polling data is really not in their
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favor. what the romney campaign has try to do this past week is turn the discussion away from issues like equal pay, contraception, abortion, and more towards the economic issues. so prior to my question on the conference call, they started talking about all the economic policies that this president has pursued that have been bad for them. but when pressed on that, they had trouble with that as well. i mean, the two things that they cited were the stimulus and dodd/frank, which is regulatory reform. none of which are explicitly about women or men, they're just about economic reforms. so they're really grasping for legislative straws here, but i don't think that they'll go back to the lilly ledbetter act. i just don't see how that would make political sense. >> that said, now the follow-up question for mitt romney is, as his allies like republican governor scott walker, repeal the state-level versions of the lilly ledbetter act, when they repeal that at the state level, does mr. romney agree with those decisions. this is going to be fun to keep following. sam stein, political editor and reporter for the "huffington post." sam, thanks a lot for being here. >> thanks, rachel. appreciate it. >> thanks. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
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the great state of michigan is minting news these days. this week, for instance, there's a new drive to recall the state's republican governor, rick snyder. the language on the petition got approved on monday so now people can start signing those petitions if they want governor snyder recalled from office. this is try number two for rick snyder. it's a very high threshold you have to cross. a school board in muskegeon heights will appoint an overseer to stripping power from the elected school board to maybe dissolving the whole district if he or she wants to. this is how michigan rolls now. in michigan now, democracy is not a way we solve problems. democracy is a problem itself that has to be got around. the republicans are in full control of the state of michigan since the 2010 elections and their expanded emergency manager law is not about democracy, not at all. do you want to see something in michigan that is about democracy? these boxes contain a couple of a hundred thousand signatures. just as some people are trying to put governor rick snyder on the recall, organizers are ç trying to put the emergency
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manager law on the ballot as well. they want it taught approximate up for a citizens repeal. on the last day of february, they caravanned to the state capital to lansing and delivered 50 box of signed petitions to the board of state canvasser. the petitions included roughly 60,000 more signatures than they need to get on the ballot. the board of state canvas sers have been counting and verifying the signatures ever since and they are close to finishing up. here's the really interesting part. in michigan, you are allowed to try to block a petition drive. you can make a formal legal challenge saying that the petition itself is flawed somehow and so whatever that petition wants done shouldn't be allowed to go forward. this board of state canvassers is the board that makes decisions like that. they set a deadline for
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challenging the petition again the emergency manager law. a deadline of this past monday, april 9th at 5:00 p.m. with 52 minutes to go before the deadline, a challenge to that petition against the emergency manager law indeed came in. a group calling itself citizens for fiscal responsibility filed this brief against the emergency manager law. no matter how many names are on that law, they can not be put oç the ballot for a recall. what is the problem with the petition that they put at the top of their list? quote, the font size of the heading is significantly smaller than is required by michigan
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election law. seriously? really? seriously in really. the font size of the heading is too small. as someone commented on our blog this week, if they really are citizens for fiscal responsibility, you might think they would like a smaller font because they would save money on ink and paper. they told us that they stand by their work. the folks who printed the petition have assured them that the font is the right legal size. but not according to this group's citizens for fiscal responsibility. their spokesman, bob labrant told reporters, quote, they've gone through all of the time and expense only to blow it with the wrong font size. see, you better not take this democracy thing too far. it takes lots of times and it's got lots of rules and you might blow it. senior counsel at a lansing-based firm that works on
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republican-based causes. if you look at the filing papers with the state you'll see that the address is the exact same z thing as the sterling corporation and lives inside this republican firm.ç same street address, same street, you call the citizens number and they answer the phone, sterling corporation. it's the same thing, right? i don't know how big the sterling corporation is exactly on their website. they list seven people, including their counsel people, they should throw out this entire petition drive to recall the emergency law. above his name, sterling lists three partners in the firm. one of them, jeff timmer, look what else is in his bio.
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he also serves on the michigan board of state canvassers. that same board that's now going to be deciding whether the font is too small to overturn the emergency manager law, which his colleague is asking for. so this guy is like the pitch cher and the empire at the same time. you've got citizens for responsibility challenging the positions from inside a consulting firm and getting represented by the senior counsel for that republican firm while one of the firm partners serves on the board that is going to impartially decide whether citizens for fiscal responsibility gets to stop this act of democracy in michigan because the font is a a hair too small. on it is website, sterling corporation talks itself up this way. sterling blends aggressive campaign-oriented tactics, unique understanding of voter attitudes and influential decisions, political leaders, donor and opinion leaders to
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produceúb@g victories. we have called and written to jeff timmer who, of course, is a both a republican strategist and government decision maker now. we have asked him about the apparent conflict in this case between these two roles. we have asked him whether he will recuse himself in this decision. we have not heard back. the republican michigan of state says it is mr. timmer's call alone as to whether he has a conflict of interest here. he gets to decide. earlier this week i said that the news in michigan keeps getting more interesting and more fraught all the time. i did not expect to be reporting on michigan so soon with a new story this confounding about michigan politics. but i have to ask and i'll keep asking, what's going on in michigan and why isn't what is going on in michigan bigger national news given what a mess it seems to be? that does it for us tonight.


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