The Rachel Maddow Show | February 13, 2013
>>> where it all went wrong, apparently.
>> hey. okay. are you looking at me? can you -- jillian, can you see me?
>> yes, uh-huh.
>> okay. i'm looking at the teleprompter.
>> good evening. i speak to you tonight from washington, d.c. does it look like i'm even remotely looking in the camera?
>> kind of.
>> that was the setup for the republican response to the republican response to the state of the union last night. i think that is a rand paul staffer trying to make sure that rand paul giving the tea party republican response to the republican response to the state of the union this year did not end up looking like michele bachmann when she gave the same address a couple of years ago while look at something that really wasn't the camera. it turns out the staffer did have reason to be worried. rand paul , a was not looking as far away from the camera as michele bachmann was, but he was not looking into the camera either. they did the same thing wrong again. not only where we once again treated to not just a republican response to the state of the union , but also a tea party republican response to the response that once again the response to the response ended up being unintentionally funny because of bad staging, which is especially amazing considering that senator paul 's staff was acutely aware of this as a potential problem, and we can see them on camera trying to fix it ahead of time. and then there was the official republican response to the state of the union . the republican party 's first major chance to try to rectify with voters whatever it was that the country disliked about them enough to give president obama a resounding reelection victory over them in november. this is the first chance post election to change the country's mind about the republican party after mitt romney , right? this is the first chance at deromneyification. it is the highest profile chance they will have for that for the entire year, if you think about it there is no republican convention there is no national elections. this is it for more than a year. this is their chance to reimpress the american people about what it means to be a republican that isn't about mitt romney . how do they rectify their image with a country where the women voted for democrats in the last election by an 11-point margin? well, the one thing that their state of the union response giver did to make news yesterday other than his state of the union response was that he voted no on the violence against women act . he and 21 other republican men in the united states senate voted no. then marco rubio got caught out once he started giving his speech in the easiest trap to get caught in when you have to give a response address. just minutes after the thing that you are responding to has ended, he anticipated things that he thought president obama would say in the state of the union . he wrote complaints in his own speech about things he thought president obama would say. but then when president obama did not actually say those things, mr. rubio did not adjust his speech the take out the complaints. so senator rubio in his response last night ended up complaining about things said by president obama that president obama actually did not say in the speech that everybody had just finished watching right before marco rubio got to take his turn. mr. rubio 's whole windup was about how president obama had just spent his state of the union address defending big government and demanding even bigger government. this president thinks the only solution to everything is bigger government. and that might be an effective response to a yay big government speech, but instead it seemed like a non sequitur , because this is the speech that senator rubio 's comments actually came after.
>> it is not a bigger government we need.
>> senator rubio also complained with a sarcastic twist that the president needs to put out a medicare plan already. tonight would have been a good night to do that, huh, mr. president. the problem is the president had just put out a medicare plan, a plan he described in the actual state of the union address that he delivered, even if it wasn't the one that played out in marco rubio 's head when he wrote his own speech, and then didn't adjust it to reflect reality. mr. rubio also made a big point about placing himself in the american middle class .
>> mr. president, i still live in the same working class neighborhood i grew up in. my neighbors aren't millionaires. they're retirees who depend on social security and medicare . they're workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. they're immigrants who came here because they were stuck in poverty in the countries where the government dominated the economy. i want to protect my neighbors. hard-working middle class americans who don't need us to come up with a plan to grow the government.
>> i'm just a middle class knie guy looking out for my middle class neighborhood and my working class neighborhood where i grew up in the middle class where i live now. that bit is transformed from political scene-setting into political punch line once everybody links to the pick dplers the real estate listings showing marco rubio is in fact selling that middle class home in that middle class miami neighborhood. it's on the market for $657,000. so, you know you may love your neighbors, but why would you brag about that love for your neighbors in your middle class neighborhood in the highest profile speech you will ever give in your life when you're also on record trying to move away from those neighbors in that neighborhood so you can go live in washington, d.c.? the other screw-up with the rubio speech, the republican party 's big effort to reset and deromneyify themselves in the eyes of the nation is that somebody forgot to deromneyify the speech itself.
>> our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle class prosperity. but president obama , he believes it's the cause of our problems.
>> i know free enterprise is on trial, and we have a president who really doesn't believe in the rights of people to do that.
>> of course solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio. but god also blessed america with abundant coal, oil, and natural gas .
>> i mean, he likes the wind and the solar, but he doesn't like the stuff that is under the ground, like coal and oil and natural gas .
>> instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called clean energy companies like solyndra, let's open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration.
>> they should have done more studying on solyndra and less studying on that drilling. i'm going to open lands for exploration.
>> deromneyification failed. the republicans' official response to barack obama 's state of the union was essentially a new version of the stump speech of the guy who just lost the presidential election to barack obama . and the house that is the emotional centerpiece of the speech turns out is a house for sale. and the criticism of the criticism of the speech is not based on the president's speech at all. and they had him vote no on the violence against women act with 21 other republican guys right before he gave this speech. and they ran a second republican response again as well after they ran this one. it had the same eyeball problem as the other republican speech had the previous time when they did it. and then of course there was this.
>> false choices like the one the president laid out tonight.
>> if anybody everybody asks you to give the republican party 's response to the state of the union just say no. seriously. i care about you. just say no. it's not a good gig. joining us now steve kornacki, host of msnbc's "the cycle" and a senior writer for salon.com. thanks for being here tonight.
>> thanks for having me.
>> is marco rubio the victim of high expectations here? was anybody doomed to fail in setting or did he just screw it up worse than others might have?
>> have come to the idea it might be a good idea for the chair to come together and say the state of the union response, it's just not going to work for anybody. it's an impossible format. i think there were some specific things, especially from the substantive standpoint that were really troublesome about rubio 's response last night. but in general, it's an impossible setting. you've got the president coming into the chamber, joint session , all the lights, all the cameras, all the lights, all the circumstance. and they have tried putting the responses in schools, tried putting them in state legislatures . every different possible backdrop. they never work. they never help anyone. they never help any party that delivers them.
>> and we end up -- we have the bug up there of marco rubio with the lurch for the water bottle. mostly because it's amazing. but also because there is inevitably a focus on just the physical staging of the response because of the contrast with the president's speech. has there ever been one where the opposite party's response has either risen to the same level as the president's speech or advanced the opposite party's interest?
>> no, no. i can't think of one. the evolution of these things is funny. it wasn't always just one person giving the response. i think the low moment was 1985 when the democrats just lost to reagan and they had bill clinton host this 30-minute infomercial. and they literally packed in every democratic politician in the country for like a 20-second speech. and they had a focus group . they didn't realize at the time that talking about the focus group was political suicide . they kept saying our focus group told us this. they've tried all different formats. i've never seen one that actually pulls it off.
>> i almost feel like while there are still i guess two or three more for barack obama , depending. the president doesn't always give the state of the union when he is on his way out the door.
>> but if we've got more ahead for barack obama , this might be a time for them to opt out gracefully if they are going to. but then while we've still got it, there is also the political question of the republican party having chosen marco rubio as their guy. of course he is on the cover of "time" magazine as the savior. and he has been talked up that way in the republican party . since even before he was sworn in. once he got elected. does he deserve it substantively? is there anything that is different about him that lays out a more sustainable, more electorally likely to be effective path for republicans than other politicians they've got now?
>> there are two differences with rubio . i don't think they add up to much, though. one is his life story is relatable in a way that their last standard bearer wasn't. mitt romney 's life story was the story of 1% from birth through to age 65. nobody could really relate to that. marco rubio 's is sort of an immigrant story. it is the american dream in a lot of ways. so it is more relatable. and also the fact that he is hispanic and republicans have this problem with hispanics. and that goes hand in hand with rubio is slowly nudging the party away from the hard line on immigration. i'm not sure exactly where that is going to lead. but that's the one sort of substantive different that rubio represents from where the republican party has been. in every other substantive way, though, not only was that speech sort of a rehash of what romney offered last year, that was a rehash of where the republicans have been since the 1980 campaign. because the theme of the reagan campaign in 1980 was government is not the solution to your problems. government is the problem. and that was a measure that was geared towards what at that time was the emerging working class , middle class sort of majority in the country. that was southern whites. that was northern white ethnics. in the north it was the outer borough ed koch types. we talked in the last few weeks when he died. they had grievances against the government relating to bussing, to desegregation, relating to welfare programs proliferated in the great society. reagan was really tapping into that and conservatism for the last three decades has really tapped into that. the story right now in the story of the 2012 election is today's emerging majority, emerging working class , middle class majority is a lot more diverse. it's nonwhite. it's women. it's professional women. it's millennials. and their attitudes towards government are totally and completely different than the attitudes of the archie bunker voters of the '70s. i don't want to be too dismissive. the attitudes are totally different. and rubio looks different than mitt romney and his story is different than mitt romney , but he is delivering the same romney / reagan message into an audience that i don't think is buying it anymore.
>> i feel like we hear so often that demography is destiny. i feel like policy is destiny here. and i felt like actually the single most embarrassing thing about the republican response was to say that this is the post romney republican party and we're going to have him vote against the violence against women act as the one other thing he does on the day that he gives that response. in terms of appealing to women voters specifically and the gender gap was as definitive in this election as it was in any other. do you see the republican party picking up any signs of all that it's about policy and it's not just about putting more female faces out there to represent?
>> no. and the timing yesterday, the violence against women vote i think tells the story. the person that they have decided for the moment at least is the future of their party, marco rubio , voted against it. but also think about the politics. he is a guy who is very interested in running for 2016 republican presidential nomination . there was a calculation there on marco rubio 's part that voting against that yesterday was the quote/unquote correct vote in terls of political positioning for the 2016 nomination. that tells you not just where marco rubio is in this position, but where the republican party is or where he perceives it to be. until somebody like that feels safe voting for the violence against women act , you've got a bigger problem there than you don't have enough women on stage, i agree. and i think we should just offer this to the republican party now and the democratic party of the future, just don't do state of the union responses anymore.
>> yes. both chairs get together. common ground .
>> bipartisanship. steve kornacki, the host of "the cycle", senior writer for salon. thanks a lot. thanks for being here.
>>> best thing in the world, an improbablebly sweet lbj valentine's day edition, coming up. cap