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tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  November 6, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PST

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>> the president promised if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. again, millions of americans are finding out they can't keep their doctor. >> to protect the administration, you chose to ignore these warnings, and as a result you have put our entire health care system and one-sixth of our economy in jeopardy. i repeat my request for you to resign. >> for their part, democrats railed against the problems in the country's existing health care system and emphasized the expanded coverage available under the new law. indeed, the fixation on glitches, dropped plans, and collective rate shock -- the news media has a natural attraction to bad news over good. millions set to gain low-cost insurance is a less attractive story than florida woman facing higher costs. rate shock is a middle-class problem, so it gets lots of attention, notes kevin drum. and as "the new york times" notes, who is talking about the fact that 7 million americans
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are eligible for free policies? a new study finds that 5 million 06 million people who are uninsured will qualify for subsidies that will be greater than the cost of the cheapest silver or bronze plan. that's not even counting the millions of americans who will now qualify for medicaid. on that note, president obama heads to texas this afternoon where he'll press governor rick perry to put politics aside and expand medicaid to poor men and women in the lone star state. judging by the last month, good luck with that. joining me today, washington bureau chief at the huffington post, ryan grim, syndicated columnist kathleen parker, and msnbc host ronan farrow. ryan, i will start with you. i know "the huffington post" can sometimes focus intently on republican failure. i think the news media has been
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actually fairly even handed in the affordable -- in the coverage of affordable care act. but has the media been too even handed as far as giving air time to glitches and broken promises and not truly focusing on what the law is doing at large? >> i think it's been one of the most embarrassing experiences for the media in a long time. they kept dragging out these people and saying, you know, look at the devastation that was visited upon this woman in florida or wherever because she's getting her policy canceled and now she's in all sorts of trouble. but then if you look a little bit past it, oh, well, actually her insurer might have lied to her and she's actually eligible for comparable or better insurance at less cost. i mean, there's no question that some people, you know, had some plans that they liked that were cheap and were lousy and won't be able to afford some of the better plans. those are some of the people that are subsidizing other people to get insurance. you know, nobody likes to be
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forced to subsidize other people. but that's the minority. the fact that the media has such a hard time of finding bad examples should give them some evidence -- >> i don't know. do they? i feel like fox news has had an easy time of finding bad examples. >> then you call them and they're like, oh, i didn't know i was eligible for this. it's easy to find bad examples if you don't care about the facts. >> but narrative in this counts. part of this is proving to americans that this health insurance is a good thing, that they can actually enroll in it using a computer or a paper form, which will actually still take a long time. and if you don't have enough people buy into the notion that this thing is functioning, then the whole thing can fail. if you look at the enrollment goals, and i'm personally sort of terrified when the white house does release the numbers later this month. the goal is 800,000 by november 30th. i am not a mathematician, but that number, given the fact that
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six people were able to enroll on the first day, could be dreadfully lower than 800,000. >> and i would add an extra terrifying target. they need 40% of the enrollees to be young people. that demographic is particularly critical. that's the demographic most turned off by these type of tech illiteracy glitches. >> how do they get over that? >> when it comes to health care, young, healthy people are typically the last to sign up. these initial numbers, as frightening as they are, and they will be lower than the small numbers expected, don't matter that much in the long run. in massachusetts, young people were among the last to sign up because the initial wave of people are going to be those who need it most urgently. until those young people start lining up later in the game, we need to not turn them off of the system. all of the pundits who are
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exploiting this for political gain need to make sure they understand the system will be up and running and you do need to sign up for your sake so we don't have uninsured young people and so we're not shouldering the burden of emergency care for all those people. >> kathleen, what do you make of all this? there are skeptics. there are always going to be skeptics when there are big pieces of legislation. this legislation should not be without its skepticism given how it's been rolled out. >> absolutely. i have a couple things to say in response to your point, the young people signing up. the way to push that is to appeal to parents. parents will ultimately have to foot the bill if their kid gets hurt or has some catastrophic event. >> and parents can bug their children too. >> my son is sort of libertarianish. he said, why would i even do it? the penalty is minor. i said, you're going to do it because i don't want to pay your medical bills. but let me get to another point. i understand why you want to push toward the narrative of look how many people are getting coverage that need it. i'm certainly not a person who
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wishes to deny those people health coverage, but i do think the way the thing is rolled out -- forget the computer. that can be resolved at some point. but the fact that the administration was not forthcoming about how this thing would, in fact, work, what would have been wrong with saying when the president's presenting the plan -- and this is a debate that took place in the white house, and they opted to make the promise that everyone could keep their plan, knowing full well that was not going to be the case. so why not -- why couldn't he have just said, look, not everybody is going to keep the plan they have because we've changed the law. we have certain standards. but if you lose your policy, you're going to get a better one. and some people may pay a little more. we hope it's not too painful. if you'll bear with us as we push this thing through, it's going to be a better situation for everyone. and that would have been -- you know, the american people can actually handle the details. the former speech writer said, we didn't want to get into the details because we didn't want to confuse people.
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>> we wanted to say the simplest thing that was still the truth, which reminded me of keith alexander saying we wanted to say the least untruthful -- i want to give the least untruthful response i can get. i don't mean to conflate the aca with the nsa and intelligence gathering, but it is kind of an emerging narrative from the white house about, you know, the sort of politics were very much at play here, jake. and we actually found the archival footage. hillary clinton was asked repeatedly in 2007 about her health care plan and said over and over again to ward off republican detractors, you're going to be able to keep your plan. this idea that americans were going to lose the health insurance plans that they coveted regardless of how bad they were was a line of legitimate criticism in the 2008 races. i think it sort of, like, that is where the obama campaign learned that they needed to have a sort of iron-clad alibi, if you will, against the criticism
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that people were going to lose their insurance regardless of whether they would or not. >> they wanted a simpler message. when hillary clinton did her health care reform, bill clinton had a card made up that said, this is your card that's your guarantee of health care. it didn't mean anything. you know? but it's the idea you have to simplify this to sell it politically. if you look at the fairly recent history of the rollout of health care expansions and of big new social programs, there are examples on both sides. none of them have gone well of the rollouts. >> we've learned nothing about rolling them out. >> there was medicare, and they were infinitely smaller in scale. but medicare part d went terribly. seniors were losing their coverage. it looked really bad. it kind of resolved itself and worked out okay. before that, another expansion was passed of medicare. people have forgotten this. it was supposed to cover medigap problems. it was so unpopular ultimately with the people it was supposed to help, basically because of short-term confusion. they ended up repealing the
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program. >> this is not the anti-terror message that they were delivering. >> no, but it's going to be going badly at this stage. that's almost a given. but a year from now, will this all be worked out and we'll look back and say, well, those are the hinks you get in the rollout of a social program, or look back and say, you know, it was really screwed up. i don't think we know the answer. >> if you use the medicare exchanges as bell weather for insurance enrollment, a lot of republicans were against that. some of them, if not all of them, have come around because there's a very real practical implication to not expanding medicare coverage to it the poor. in the same way, if these exchanges start working and people get their low-cost, better coverage, it's going to be hard to continue to rail against this. i think at some point. is that wildly optimistic? >> i think that's right. i think this will be remembered primarily as a failure of messaging. i think those comments indicate
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a larger scale messaging problem, which stems from a lack of faith in the american people. the american people can handle this, they can understand it. the moment those hhs regulations altering the grandfather clause came into the picture, we needed a frank conversation from the administration. frankly, the failure to have that conversation has allowed a lot of other bad actors to step into the conversation. that's why we see these opportunistic people coming into the picture saying, look, before the marketplace opens, you sign up for a higher prie eer priced. >> the president met with insurers yesterday at the white house and said, listen, guys, you cannot keep upselling people. you have to be honest. i try to be very agnostic and nonpartisan on this show, but health insurance companies. don't have a great record of doing well by the people on these actual plans. as ronan points out, talking points memo has a whole piece
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about how these insurers are sending out letters meant to scare people. >> you built your entire health care reform around insurance companies. the insurers are asked to execute this policy that they fought the entire way and that they were deem niezed throughout the entire process of. they were the last ones to come to the table on this. they brought in the doctors, the hospitals, the drug makers, everybody, but not the insurers. so now you want to trust the insurers to carry this out in a way that's most beneficial to you and not necessarily in their profit interest? i mean, it shouldn't be surprising. >> all the while, by the way, insulting the insurers for these crappy plans they've been selling people the whole time, right? >> but they ought to be careful here because, you know, this is kind of the stat us can quo is unacceptable. 50 million uninsured, skyrocketing prices, this is the chance for kind of the market to work this system out. if this started with the heritage foundation, newt
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gingrich, if this fails, republicans don't have an alternative. the alternative is single payer. >> i knew you were going to say that. >> well, there we go. >> the insurers want the same thing obama wants, which is more customers. they want those uninsured healthy young people to sign up too. so, you know, the idea -- i mean, they also want to position themselves to continue to make money if this fails. and they're looking for any opportunity to make money they can. but the idea that they're at odds with the program i don't think is right. >> they need more invincibles like ronan farrow. he's the target audience. >> and everyone is on the same page in those policy goals, but the congressmen and senators who are exploiting this for political gain right now are letting us all done in that goal. >> oh, well, you can get over that. >> zingers galore. we have to say good-bye to ronan. congratulations. great to have you on the show. >> excited to be here. >> can't wait for you to come back. >> feeling is mutual. >> after the break, while virginia's ken cuccinelli
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champion the his views on contraception, abortion, divorce, and sodomy -- a winning quartet -- new jersey governor avoided discussing his socially conservative positions. two different approaches, two different results. we'll look at the power of social issues next on "now." i started part-time, now i'm a manager.n. my employer matches my charitable giving. really. i get bonuses even working part-time. where i work, over 400 people are promoted every day. healthcare starting under $40 a month. i got education benefits. i work at walmart. i'm a pharmacist. sales associate. i manage produce. i work in logistics. there's more to walmart than you think. vo: opportunity. that's the real walmart.
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the election results are in, but big questions remain. in virginia, democrat terry mcauliffe warded off his tea party opponent ken cuccinelli by a margin that was much thinner
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than expected at 48 to 45.5%. mcauliffe owed a debt of gratitude to the female voters. the women were enough to carry mcauliffe to victory. virginia's election will provide the gop, which is quietly but undoubtedly, still ingaugengage civil war on some issues. in the wake of a republican-led government shutdown that furloughed thousands of virginiaens, 56% of those affected supported mcauliffe. but defenders of cuccinelli will note their candidate remained throughout the race at a major spending disadvantage and mcauliffe was aided by a libertarian candidate who siphoned votes from cuccinelli.
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meanwhile, in new jersey, establishment but not moderate gop governor chris christie won big, taking home more than 60% of the vote over democratic opponent barbara buono. unsurprisingly, republican party elders are filled with mirth given the breadth of christie's win. women preferred him by 12%. christie, unlike cuccinelli, never ran as a social conservative and christie, unlike the rest of his party in congress, has benefitted from colleagues on the other side of the aisle who have been more eager to cut deals. most importantly, christie didn't actually have a real opponent. neither democrat nor republican. in a political landscape that is predictable only in its lack of predictability, one thing is for sure. with a belayingered party leader on the left and embattled party on the right, the hand of fortune remains in a spin. joining us from charlottesville, virginia, is the director of the uva center for politics and
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author of "the kennedy half century." professor, thanks so much for joining us. i want to get your immediate thoughts about the race. it was so much tighter than polls in the last two weeks had showed. what were your takeaways from it? >> well, you know, one of my takeaways is i'm going to rely less on polling averages in the future. the polling average was 7%. mcauliffe was supposed to have a 7% cushion. i think that's what most people were expecting. i have to say this, though. the private mcauliffe surveys, which were done by one of nbc's pollsters, he always had it two, three, four points. i don't think they were necessarily expecting a margin as big as the public polling suggested. but your earlier description was absolutely correct. why did the incumbent attorney general, who won almost 59% four years ago, end up falling short
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in this particular election, running against somebody who had not been associated with virginia and who had never held public office. you have to start with the social issues. there's a reason why northern virginia, highly educated, high income, 34% of the entire state's votes, voted for mcauliffe by a 20% margin. it was huge. it wasn't just women. it was also men in northern virginia. the social issues, abortion, gay rights, climate change. these are the things that really put the nails in cuccinelli's coffin. >> professor, i'm going to open this up to our folks in new york. kathleen, what's interesting about the female vote in virginia is while mcauliffe won it on whole, the split was really, as it was nationally in the 2012 election, married women went for cuccinelli 51% to 42%. he won married women by nine points. it's women under 30 mcauliffe won, i think, by almost 20 points. there's clearly a division here
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in terms of how much the question of abortion and a lot of social issues resonate among certain age groups and certain portions of the electorate. >> absolutely. i think one thing that's interesting in this campaign is mcauliffe actually never mentioned the word abortion in any of his ads. most people in virginia, frankly, they don't want to talk about abortion. it never came up except toward the end when planned parenthood came in and did their ads. the fact that this is being framed as an abortion election is -- >> but there were a lot of ads. >> mcauliffe barely won despite the fact he was running against a candidate from 1953, okay? >> or 1853. depends on your choice of century. >> and the republican party did not give him much money. they gave him only $3 million. they gave mcdonald $9 million. a few bucks more in his direction, he might have been able to walk away with this. >> and jake, cuccinelli lost the
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business community. the funding issue was a big deal. mcauliffe outspent him by double digits. >> well, mcauliffe could also not get someone like chris christie to come down -- >> cuccinelli couldn't. >> cuccinelli, i'm sorry. he's not that moderate. >> we can reduce this race to a sentence. it's a familiar sentence. republicans lose winnable race because they nominated a n nutball candidate. an established candidate could have won that race easily. that's the reason the republicans don't control the senate right now. they put tea party candidates in who couldn't beat a centrist democrat when moderate republicans would have. they can keep doing this and keep losing elections or do what chris christie is doing. >> on some level that makes sense. chris christie, he's a moderate. he did not campaign with cuccinelli. he didn't have ted cruz come to
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his state. he had susanna martinez come to his state, and i hhe won by a h margin. at the same time, as whacky as ken cuccinelli was, he lost by 2.5 percentage points. when we talk about cooling the bitter brew that is the tea party, i'm not quite sure you point at those numbers and there's a definitive, you know, door shutting on that part of the republican party. >> well, there's no question the tea party has actually taken encouragement from the fact cuccinelli kept it as close as he did given what kathleen was saying is, that gigantic money edge that mcauliffe had over cuccinelli. and, you know, all that's true. to speak briefly to mr. wiseberg's point, if the republicans had nominated the incumbent lieutenant governor, who's a moderate conservative, his name is bill bowling, i think he would have won easily. but what's really telling is he
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withdrew rather than even compete with cuccinelli in the convention that the cuccinelli backers called instead of a primary. everyone's saying, oh, if they had a primary, that would have solved their problem. no, actually, i think bowling would have lost to cuccinelli in a primary too. >> and that's -- >> it's the base of the republican party that matters today. >> and ryan, the primary process, right. that's the big question for chris christie. so chris christie wins among women. he wins significant support from latinos, african-americans. he gets democrats, 32, i think. but today in an interview with jake tapper, he says, i'm a conservative, i've governed as a conservative in this state, which is not quite i'm severely conservative, but it's really interesting that the day after he's sort of widely hailed as a moderate, a centrist, he needs to go back and prove his conservatism. >> because now he's headed
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towards the republican primary. >> the big enchilada. >> i would have this to say to the tea party folks who are celebrating getting close. you know, nobody should be proud of losing any election to terry mcauliffe. >> poor terry mcauliffe. >> this is one of the least attractive, least popular people to win a statewide race, any state. the polling on this guy was completely upside down. people don't like him. >> right. so maybe the flip is that he did as badly as he did to the professor's point. terry mcauliffe was no big virginia statesman. >> the personality is so important. that's why chris christie's popular. yes, he's pro-life, but he doesn't talk about it. you know, he just has a gregario gregarious, likable personality. everyone i've talked to among republicans in virginia says the problem cuccinelli has is he's perceived as arrogant. he doesn't have the likability factor working in his favor. >> but do you think chris christie can get out of a republican primary not having to sort of double down on his
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aversion to gay marriage, his belief in -- well, his pro-life stance? i mean, can he -- >> well, he's going to have to figure out how to talk about those things. >> he thus far hasn't had to. professor, i want to ask you a question about money. a former obama campaign operative said the drremocrats e really going to regret not having put up more of a fight in new jersey. and if you look at the money that was spent on barbara buono, no money was really spent on barbara buono. she had no real support from the democratic governors association. she said, the democratic political bosses, some elected and some not, made a deal with this governor despite him representing everything they're supposed to be against. did it surprise you that there was so little resistance in new jersey from the side of the democrats? >> oh, i'm stunned because, yes, he would have very difficult to defeat, probably wouldn't happen under any conditions, but you
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rough a guy like that up. you create a record. you force him to lose his temper. why would i say he might lose his temper? >> because he's chris christie. >> you create some video that you can use when you come to the presidential year. they utterly failed to do it. i'm just mystified as to why. >> i think you can blame cory booker for that. this was the race he was supposed to run. he panicked. i think he was afraid that he might not beat christie, and he went for the low-hanging fruit in the form of the senate seat. you know, forcing lautenberg into retirement and when lautenberg died, it was his for the taking. i think after that, people had real doubts. democrats in new jersey had real doubts about whether booker, who would have been their strongest possible candidate, could have beat christie. without him, they didn't even feel like running. >> in a very politically shrewd move, christie made sure he was not on the same ballot as cory
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booker, even if he was running for a different seat. last question in terms of money. i mean, terry mcauliffe, $32.8 million spent on that race. ken cuccinelli spent $19.1 million. a lot of money. chris christie in the new jersey election, there was twice the amount of money spent. a lot of it was on down ballot races. i think that's evidence that the state level, the municipal level, this is where all the action is going to be in american politics, and we can just expect a wave of money in the upcoming midterms and of course in the presidential. >> when don't we see that? of course, it just keeps going up and up, and there seems to be a wellspring that cannot be limited of money. yes, i think that virginia race demonstrates that. of course, terry mcauliffe is a professional fundraiser. that's what he's done all of his life. >> that's what terry mcauliffe does, if nothing else. larry, thanks for your time. >> thank you. >> coming up, the senate is expected to pass landmark
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legislation aimed at preventing discrimination in the workplace. but the bill is expected to be d.o.a. in the republican-controlled house. we'll discuss the gop's blind spot on equality when chad griffin from the human rights campaign joins us just ahead. thrusters at 30%! i can't get her to warp. losing thrusters. i need more power. give me more power! [ mainframe ] located. ge deep-sea fuel technology. a 50,000-pound, ingeniously wired machine that optimizes raw data to help safely discover and maximize resources in extreme conditions. our current situation seems rather extreme. why can't we maximize our... ready. ♪ brilliant. let's get out of here. warp speed. ♪
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speaker john boehner says he will not bring the employment nondiscrimination act up for a vote in the house despite indications that the bill will pass in the senate with bipartisan support. and his reason for opposing it sounds eerily familiar. we'll discuss myth making an the 21st century civil rights fight with the president of the human rights campaign, chad griffin, joining us next on "now." life with crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis is a daily game of "what if's".
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today we seek to take the next step on this journey of justice by banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. several of these brave men and women have joined us here this afternoon. they are american heroes who paid dearly for being true to themselves as they pursued their professions. they performed well, were rewarded by being fired or brutally beaten. for them, ability didn't count, bigotry did. >> nearly two decades after senator ted kennedy introduced the employment nondiscrimination act, congress has still not passed basic protections for gay, lesbian, and transgender employees. in lieu of a federal law, this is where america stands. in 29 states, there is no state law preventing an employer from terminating one of its workers simply because he or she is gay. in 33 states, he or she can be given a pink slip for no other
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reason than they are tra transgender. what's standing in the way of equal rights for all? not what but who. speaker of the house john boehner. with seven senate republicans supporting the vote on monday, the upper chamber is poised to approve the bill this week. but speaker boehner has already indicated he will not bring it up for a vote in the house. his reasoning? the speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost american jobs. and yet, the nonpart son government accountability office found that last year in the 21 states with laws protecting lgbt employees, lawsuits that included a claim of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identification were less than 7% of all employer discrimination litigation. facts be damned, leaders of the gop may continue to dig in their heels, but time and justice continue their inexrabble march forward. if you needed anymore proof, lawmakers yesterday made illinois the 15th state to allow
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same-sex marriage. governor pat quinn says he will sign it at some point this month. joining us now from washington is president of the human rights campaign chad griffin. i'm getting choked up i'm so emotional about this issue, chad. thanks for joining us, as always. >> it's a pleasure to be here, alex. >> let me ask you, in terms of john boehner shutting down the possibility of a vote in the house, what are your thoughts? are you indignant? >> look, it is -- it's unfortunate, let me say that. it's also outrageous and the comments that his spokesperson have made are simply incorrect. look, let's look at the politics of this issue first. the vast majority of americans support this legislation. more than 70% of americans, it includes a majority of republicans, independents and democrats. it also includes a majority support in all 50 states in this country. alex, the lowest level of support in this country is the state of mississippi, where 63% of the voters in the state of mississippi support this legislation.
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>> wow. >> as it relates to jobs, look, there is a reason that so many american companies support this bill. it is not often that you see major, massive american corporations endorsing legislation. general electric, general mills, apple computers, coors beer. these are every day american brands who are supporting this legislation. look, i think the speaker is going to hopefully look at the facts. we're going to work with every republican and democrat in this building behind me to ensure that they understand the facts and they see where the public is on this common sense legislation. and at the end of the day, he's either going to move forward with a vote or he's going to get left behind and be remembered on the wrong side of history. >> chad, i'm going to ask my friend here, kathleen parker, who are as you said the speaker has a choice. the speaker has had a lot of choices, choices, opportunities to stand up and be courageous, move the party forward into the 20th or 21st century depending on your mark on these things. and he's categorically almost
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not taken up those opportunities given to him on a fairly silver platter. kathleen, are you in any way optimistic that john boehner might buck, i guess, what the most -- >> i think it's dead. i'll give you a little background i got while doing a little bit of reporting on this. first, let me clarify my role here. i am margaret meade, okay? i am reporting on the behaviors of the indigenous peoples. >> please do. this is not an endorsement. >> i'm not a samoan. so my understanding is that in the senate, hatch wanted an amendment to make a provision for religious purposes to allow the catholic church to be able to continue to live by their teachings. i don't think that would happen actually. >> there would be nobody left.
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>> anyway, it was excluded so they didn't get that. but i'm sure that -- i think i can say with some certainty that john boehner is not going to entertain it. >> chad, there was -- go ahead. >> no, look, this piece of legislation is based on the civil rights act of 1964. it includes religious exemptions. senator portman wanted an amendment that i believe just moments before i came on here actually passed. we felt it was unnecessary, but it went forward. and it passed. all of the talking points against this -- if you look at what speaker boehner's spokesperson said, those are the talking points that come straight from the right-wing, anti-gay, homophobic extremists. that's not the view of most republicans. most of the republican electorate. and it's not the view of most republicans in this building behind me. i hope the speaker is going to realize we're in a new day in this country. this is a basic american value. i think increasingly elected officials, democrat and republican, are going to start paying a price when they're on
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the wrong side of history, especially on a piece of legislation that has such broad and wide-reaching support in this country. >> yeah, i mean, especially as the gop sort of presumes or takes the mantle on being the party of business. of the fortune 500 companies, 88% of them prevent discrimination against gay and lesbian employees. we are there. this sort of last stand against equal rights does not seem like something that will serve the party well. >> i totally agree with you. i immediately e-mailed someone when i heard this. i said, what are you doing? why aren't you throwing open the flaps of that tent instead of, you know, finding a way to stitch it closed? >> don't you think most americans think it is illegal to discriminate against gay people? >> yes, they probably do. >> they're so far ahead of politicians on this that this has a curious effect of reminding people there's no
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legal protection in many states. >> i assumed. >> one of our biggest challenges has been that over 80% of americans believe that this is already illegal in this country today. it's outrageous to think that one could be fired simply because who they are, how they were born, how god made them. but in fact, it is, in the vast majority of states in this country. it is perfectly legal to be fired because of who you are or not to be hired in the first place. it's time that we do something about it and we do something now. i hope speaker boehner will listen to his constituents, will listen to republicans, and will listen to business and be on the right side of history and move this legislation forward. >> we hope that speaker boehner listens to senators ayotte, collins, hatch, heller, kirk, portman, and toomey. they're in his own party an on the right side of history. chad griffin, a pleasure and honor. >> always a pleasure to be here. >> coming up, best-selling
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author amy tan has been exploring mother-daughter relationships for years. we'll talk to her about her latest work just ahead. road closed? there's a guy...
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she is a best-selling author whose work has been adapted for the big screen, but even with all of her success, it is her experience with tragedy that often informs her work. we will discuss her newest book when he joins us coming up next. avo: the volkswagen "sign then drive" sales event is back. which means it's never been easier to get a new passat, awarded j.d. power's most appealing midsize car, two years in a row. and right now you can drive one home for practically just your signature. get zero due at signing, zero down,
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author amy tan has had her share of experience. the daughter of chinese immigrants, her brother and father died from brain tumors within a year of each other when
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she was just 14 years old. while in high school, she learned her mother had been forced to abandon her four children from an abusive marriage in shanghai, before emigrating to the u.s. though they don't tackle her personal tragedies head on, they explore relationships between family hemembers. her latest book tells the story of american ex-paths, a mother and daughter working as court sans in the early 20th century in shanghai. joining us now, a best-selling author, personal hero of mine, amy tan. >> thank you very much. >> in terms of identity and experience, what is happening in this book is two american women in china, which is almost the inverse of your experience. i want to talk to you personally about how your own history here in america and your background in china informed, you know, sort of the dynamics of this
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relationship. >> well, it's my family's past that i am most interested in because a lot of that trauma that's happened in my family, my mother's marriage, my grandmother who became a concubine, has made me. i feel like it's passed down. trauma gets passed down generation to generation. then we have trauma in our family that has also influenced me. the other part of it is being different in america. i'm raised to think i'm an american. i have these certain privileges. i have my ingenuity, i can make myself and become whoever i want. now you have an american in a book like that who goes from that privilege into china, find out her ingenuity does not emigrate with her. she's now stuck with tradition and a sense of fate. and i feel that i am exploring that, and i wonder what part of me has had that imposed on me. >> well, and it's interesting as
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a mother -- as a daughter of a mother who comes from asia. there's a sense of lack of nostalgia, i think -- or lack of pronounced nostalgia, at least in my family, about the hardships endured back home and a sort of very kind of optimistic embrace of this is the new place in which we are living, we are americans now, forget about the past. but one of the things you do so masterfully is you sort of talk about and you discuss and you set the stage for the pain and the emotional break that happens when you leave one place and go to the next. and the feelings that are very rarely discussed, i think, in asian households about a sense of loss. >> i think that lack of communication is the reason why there is this rift oftentimes between mothers and daughters, but especially daughters -- mothers an daughters of different cultural upbringings. i didn't know anything about my family's past. i didn't even know china was in world war ii. i didn't know it started there.
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you know, so once this -- it was like opening a door to a completely different world. just like if you look under and look at the ocean, you realize there's this other world down there. this past that i could step into and see what had been shaping my life all along. >> was it -- i mean, it is a fairly dramatic and seemingly traumatic family history that you have. and you have been remark -- you seem remarkably -- we're able to talk about it, but also -- i guess i would ask you, the way that you can write about tragedy, i mean, must be informed by your own resilience with your own history. >> yeah, you know, there's a tragedy with my grandmother. she was known as this very traditional, old-fashioned woman who was quiet and she'd been widow when is her husband died during the pandemic. that's what i always thought, that there was a tragedy there, a victim. and then she was raped and forced to become a concubine.
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but i heard later on a different story about her having been possibly -- well, through a photograph looking at this and realizing she may not have been the woman i thought. and her history is still important to me, and i wanted to know, okay, if my grandmother had been this other person and the other person being a court san, how has that shaped who i am, you know? what do i know now about myself, my attitudes towards life? why are the women in my family so strong? what adversity did we have to overcome? you know, it's those puzzles when you go back and you look at them, and they were traumas. they're still traumas, but you wonder what else is there, these mysteries. i'll never know for sure. you know, all of the history of my family. but there is a big one that just got unleashed. >> it is a reason for all of us to go back and plum the depths
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of our family tree, although i don't know we come up with anything remotely as interesting or lyrical or compelling. amy tan. the book is "the valley of amazement." thank you so much for joining us. thanks again for another great book. >> thank you. >> and thank you to my panel ryan, kathleen, and jacob. that's all for now. "andrea mitchell reports" with guest host kristen welker is coming up next. when our little girl was born, we got a subaru. it's where she said her first word. (little girl) no! saw her first day of school. (little girl) bye bye! made a best friend forever. the back seat of my subaru is where she grew up. what? (announcer) the subaru forester. (girl) what? (announcer) motor trend's two thousand fourteen sport utility of the year. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. of their type 2 diabetes with non-insulin victoza®.
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♪ nothing says, "you're my #1 copilot," like a milk-bone biscuit. ♪ say it with milk-bone. i did not seek a second term to do small things. i sought a second term to finish the job. now watch me do it. [ cheers and applause ] >> right now on "andrea mitchell reports," man on a mission. chris christie said leading new jersey back after hurricane sandy turned his job into a mission. now after his landslide win in the garden state, the re-elected governor is sending that message
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straight to washington. >> i know that if we can do this in trenton, new jersey, maybe the folks in washington, d.c. should tune in their tvs right now, see how it's done. >> and close call in virginia. democrat terry mcauliffe squeaked by republican ken cuccinelli to win the race for governor. now each party is learning the voter impact of the government shutdown and the rough health care rollout. >> this race came down to the wire because of obama care. that message will go out across america tonight. >> at a time when washington was often broken, just think about what virginia has been able to accomplish when we work together. >> round two, hhs secretary kathleen sebelius is back on capitol hill tampering expectations,