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Interview with Senator Sherrod Brown

By Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow Show - November 26, 2012

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW November 26, 2012

Guest: Sherrod Brown

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: If I could cleave something off Tom Brady to help you out, I might, but you`d have to bribe me really bad.

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: OK. I`m easy. Do it.

MADDOW: Thanks, man. Appreciate it.

And thanks to you to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

We actually need to start tonight with some breaking news from Washington, D.C. NBC News is reporting tonight that the new CIA director, the one after David Petraeus resigned unexpectedly recently, the acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell, is going to be accompanying the U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice tomorrow at a meeting that she is taking with Republican senators.

Now, this is important because it would appear to be laying the groundwork for Susan Rice`s potential nomination for the position of secretary of state. Susan Rice to succeed the current Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. NBC first reported tonight that Ambassador Rice was paying visits to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That committee will be her first stop on her nominating process if the president does pick her for secretary of state.

Senator John McCain later confirmed to NBC News that he will be meeting with Ambassador Rice tomorrow, alongside his fellow Republican Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Both Senator Graham and Senator Ayotte have joined John McCain in criticizing the potential nomination of Susan Rice, criticizing that nomination on the basis of Ambassador Rice`s role in explaining what happened in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Now, NBC`s Andrea Mitchell is reporting tonight that the acting director of the CIA is going to be joining Ambassador Rice in person for that meeting tomorrow with those critical senators. We will keep you posted if we learn more about this breaking news tonight. But the long and short of this is, number one, the acting CIA director getting directly involved in trying to resolve the factual matters here that have been contested by these Republican senators, and two, honestly, we have the strongest signal we have had yet about who the president will likely nominate to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, the highest profile position in the cabinet, arguably, alongside the attorney general.

But it`s big news in politics and big news in terms of American diplomacy. Cabinet nominations are not always fights for reelected presidents. But in this case, a Susan Rice secretary of state nomination is something that some Republicans have said they would love to have a big fight over. Signs tonight indicating that the president is not going to be shying away from that fight -- big news from Washington tonight.

And the context for the start of a second term here in terms of this president could not be more stark. We think about this historically. When Ronald Reagan was reelected to the presidency in 1984, for example, Ronald Reagan won this many states on the electoral map that year. You can stop your counting now. He won 49.

Walter Mondale, his opponent, won just one state that year. Ronald Reagan, 49 states. It was a landslide. Look at the electoral vote tally that year, 1984. Ronald Reagan, 525, Walter Mondale, 13. Wow.

With that much wind in his sales from that overwhelming victory in 1984, the newly reelected President Reagan decided that what he was going to sail toward in his second term, what he would prioritize after that overwhelming endorsement of him in that election, that endorsement of him as president, what he would work on was war in Central America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: President Reagan warned today of what he called a new danger, support for the leftist government of Nicaragua from Iran`s Ayatollah Khomeini. As Chris Wallace reports tonight, the president sees that as still another reason that we should renew our support of Nicaragua`s anti-Sandinista rebels, the Contras.

RONALD REAGAN, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: A new danger we see in Central America is the support being given to Sandinista by Colonel Gadhafi`s Libya, the PLO, and most recently, the Ayatollah Khomeini`s Iran.

REPORTER: President brought up the Iranian connection today as he tried to put pressure on Congress to resume funding for the anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua.

REAGAN: Countering this by supporting Nicaraguan freedom fighters is essentially acting in self-defense.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW: Self-defense -- which would be true if he were the president of Nicaragua. But as president of the United States of America, President Reagan, even after the huge victory, could not convince the United States of America that waging war in Nicaragua would actually be self-defense, would actually be in our self-interest.

So, President Reagan when he couldn`t persuade the country that we ought to do this, decided instead that he would wage that war that he wanted in secret. And that secret war in Central America led to the huge second term failure of the Ronald Reagan presidency, which was the Iran- Contra affair.

It is amazing that in that scandal, he avoided impeachment. With 14 administration officials up to and including the defense secretary were indicted. The only reason most of them staid out of prison is because Poppy Bush pardoned them when he became president. It was just a catastrophe. That was Ronald Reagan`s second term after he got reelected with a map that looked like this.

When FDR got reelected to his second term, the map was almost the exact opposite. Look, this was 1936. FDR did even better than Reagan if you count electorally. FDR got 523 electoral votes. His opponent, Alf Landon, got eight electoral votes.

In the same way that Reagan did 50 years later, FDR came back to Washington with big plans for what he would do in his second term now that the country had given him this huge vote of confidence.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Tonight, sitting at my desk in the White House, I make my first radio report to the people in my second term of office.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: This was one of FDR`s patented fireside chats, taking his message right to the American people.

And in this first one that he did after getting reelected by the closest thing we have to a unanimous vote in this country, he said that he wanted to change the U.S. Supreme Court. He wanted to add more judges to the Supreme Court and he wanted to give them the president the power to replace sitting justices. It was a radical proposal.

Listen.

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