The Rachel Maddow Show | September 14, 2012
>>> the news coming out of libya and egypt and elsewhere in the middle east and north africa this week has understandably pushed almost everything out of the headlines. but even with all that is going on abroad, we are still in the homestretch of the presidential campaign . and there is a lot going on. the obama campaign this week quietly released its fifth ad focused on women 's health and reproductive choice . ad number five. and it's not just an ad that they put up on the web somewhere. this is an ad that is airing on tv in the swing states . this new ad argues like the previous ones did that both mr. romney and his running mate paul ryan say they would overturn roe v. wade and both have supported banning abortion even without exceptions for women who get pregnant because of rape or incest. the ad is airing in five states. all of which are swing states that the president and the romney campaign are fighting hard to win. it's airing in colorado, ohio, iowa, nevada, and virginia . the obama campaign is essentially showing with all these ads how seriously they are taking the women 's vote in this election and how they are appealing for the women 's vote by talking policy. but hey, the romney campaign is serious about the women 's vote, too. and here's how you can tell. i want you to look at the crowd staged behind mitt romney at a rally yesterday in fairfax, virginia . what do almost all of the people standing behind mitt romney at this rally have in common? if you said matched chromosomes, ding, ding, ding! there are a couple of "y" chromosomes in the back row maybe, but right next to romney it is lady time all the time. when i saw this yesterday, i was watching this with the sound off and i thought he was speaking at some sort of women -only event. i thought, how many women -only events are there in the world and why would they invite a presidential candidate ? he wasn't speaking at a woman-only event. they just moved all the women at the event so that they were standing right next to him and behind him. well, judging by the latest polling out of virginia , it looks like the obama campaign strategy of highlighting mr. romney and mr. ryan's records on women 's health may be trumping the romney campaign's strategy of just standing the candidate up next to a lot of women . president obama 's beating mitt romney among virginia women by 14 points right now. and it was in this political environment that something happened in the state of virginia today. that is not necessarily being billed as relevant to the presidential race , but boy, howdy, is it relevant to the presidential race . virginia governor bob mcdonnell who spent a lifetime as an antiabortion activist and his attorney general who also spent a lifetime as an antiabortion activist, these two aggressively have engineered a meeting of the state 's health board that happened today. they aggressively engineered that meeting toward a decision that could have the effect of shutting down most of the abortion clinics in virginia . last year, bob mcdonnell signed a new law calling for special regulations just for abortion clinics. targeted regulations designed to make it economically impossible to operate an abortion clinic in the state of virginia . it's the same thing the republicans did in mississippi this year. these are called trap laws. targeted regulations. these do not apply to any other form of medical facility at all. the law would not apply for dental surgeons or for outpatient plastic surgery clinics. it's just for abortion clinics and it's very obviously designed to shut them down and it is expected to shut down a majority of abortion clinics in the state . informed estimates are it could shut down at least is15 of virginia 's 20 clinics. when it came down to implement the new special abortion clinic only red tape plans in virginia , the state 's health board voted that they would exempt existing clinics from the most onerous new regulations, from the regulations that were designed to force most of these clinics to close. so these targeted regulations would only be likely to prevent new abortion clinics from opening in the state . they would not necessarily shut down the clinics that were already operating there. that, it turned out, was not enough for bob mcdonnell . they refused to accept the new rules from the health department , refused to certify them unless the board of health changed its ruling to get rid of the grandfathering in, to make all of the new red tape apply to all of the existing clinics in virginia . bob mcdonnell and ken leaned on the board of health to go back and overturn their previous ruling and today the board of health did what they wanted.
>> motion passed.
>> after bob mcdonnell and ken cuccinelli told the board of health and the state how to vote, told them they were not allowed to exempt existing clinics from the new regulations that are designed to shut them down, the virginia board of health voted to go along with the govern ever today. voted to impose those targeted new regulations on all of virginia 's 20 abortion clinics. that's the decision mcdonnell and cuccinelli told them to make and that vote will shut down most of the state 's clinics. in a really important swing state , this is republican governance at work. it's not exactly a triumph of small "c" conservatism. this is really big government purposely using mountains of red tape in a targeted way to shut down specific private businesses in order to get the government's chosen outcome in a medical decision that you are supposed to be able to make yourself in conjunction with your doctor. but now the government is going to make that decision for you. virginia women right now, you have 20 options in the state if you ever need to terminate a pregnancy. nobody can guarantee you are going to have any options in the state once these new regulations are enforced. this is how republican governance is being modeled in the swing state of virginia . the women of virginia and the men of virginia are being shown what republicans will do if you vote them into office. so the implicit question here is, hey, virginia , do you like what ken cuccinelli and governor ultrasound have done to your state and to your rights? how about those forced ultrasounds? how are those going for you? is the government closing clinics and making medical decisions for you your kind of thing? do you want that for the whole country? you want the federal government to be like that, too? because that can be arranged. joining us now is virginia house delegate, the democratic minority whip , a chair of the legislature's reproductive health caucus. it's great to have you here tonight. thank you for joining us.
>> thank you for having me.
>> mitt romney and paul ryan are trying to win over female voters in virginia . mr. romney was campaigning against a backdrop of all women in fairfax. paul ryan was in virginia today. how do you think what's happening in virginia in terms of women 's health at the state level, how do you think that's going to play into the presidential race there if at all?
>> i think it's going to play heavily, rachel. i mean, virginia women are seeing time and time again republicans cling to an extreme right and bully an independent agency like they did today. the board of health . where these are independent people who have medical degrees and who understand what is necessary to deliver services to individuals in a safe manner. and what they saw was the attorney general cuccinelli bullying them sending them a letter saying, if you don't vote the way i want you to vote, i might not represent you, you may have to incur legal fees. i'm hearing from women from both sides of the aisle, democrats and republicans saying the republican party has gone too far, i cannot vote for mitt romney , i cannot vote for paul ryan . we have a senate race, i cannot vote for george allen because he, too, clings to these extreme social agendas that are over to the right.
>> the reproductive health issue in virginia came to national prominence around governor bob mcdonnell signing a law -- forcing women to pay for that privilege. when you are hearing people talk about presidential politics in the state of virginia , is it widely known that the vice presidential nominee on the republican ticket paul ryan proposed a forced ultrasound bill just like virginia 's for the whole country? is that connection being made by people in the state ?
>> it is. i think voters are starting to focus and the republicans keep just delivering gifts to us democrats because they keep going to this extreme agenda and people are digging a little bit farther. they know that paul ryan has had a history of extreme agenda. that's against women 's reproductive health and and does not trust a woman for what she does to her body and her health.
>> what do you see as the outcome here? we've talked to people who are observers of how t. r.a.p. laws work and are designed to work. in mississippi we saw regulations targeted in which people sponsoring that legislation openly admitted they were trying to ban abortion in mississippi by shutting down all the clinics. is it clear that that's what they're trying to do in virginia and do you think that's going to be the effect of these laws?
>> absolutely. i think it's very clear that that's what they're trying to do. again, when the board of health said we're going to grandfather in clinics and then the attorney general says, well, i'm not going to accept that, you go back and you do what i want you to do, i think it's very clear that they're trying to close clinics and, you know, the attorney general cuccinelli , he's running for governor next year and he's using this as his platform. and, you know, it's one thing to use a bully pulpit . it's another thing to be a bully. that's exactly what happened.
>> were there protests today -- when there were protests today after this board of health ruling, were they reminiscent of the same kind of protests we saw after the forced ultra -- during the debate over the forced ultrasound thing, or are there more people being drawn into this debate now than maybe even were paying attention before?
>> i think more people are being drawn into the debate and they are, you know, down in richmond, there was protests. and unfortunately, let me tell you, the american public needs to know, the public comment period was cut down to one hour. last time it was two hours. only a limited number of people were allowed to be in the hearing room. so they actually had to have a hearing, advocates and people who were just concerned that it may not -- pro-choice advocates with their concern of the overreach of government that's happening in virginia . they had their own hearing outside and the public comment period outside of the hearing room in the parking lot is my understanding of what happened. we're seeing a broad reaction in virginia on the social media and just outrage about what happened because we're seeing republicans with their heavy hand of government reaching into the private lives of women without any exception. not any exception for rape or incest. just an out and out blanket. we're going to close down clinics. rachel, what's important, people must know these clinics provide health care . they provide preventative service, cancer screenings. that's things that keep us women alive and keep our bodies healthy so we can care for our families.
>> virginia house delegate charniele herring. thank you for joining us. we're going to stay on this story. we've been on it for a long time it seems. i hope you'll come back and talk to us again as the story unfolds.
>> thank you for having me. appreciate it.
>>> all right. according to the president's rivals he and former president ronald reagan share something very important in common. and his rivals are against that thing that president obama shares with president reagan . that weird