'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for
Video via MSNBC: Worst Persons
Video via YouTube: Anne Akiko Meyers Plays Molitor Stradivarius
The toss: Doubt in your voice
Guests: Gabe Gonzalez, Chris Hayes, Lauren Valle, Richard Wolffe, Anne Akiko Meyers
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Crossing the line:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Voting to give the illegal aliens Social Security benefits, tax breaks, and college tuition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Nevada Republican Sharron Angle descends into over-racism just to get power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Waves of illegal aliens streaming across our border, joining violent gangs, forcing families to live in fear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That Nevada does not have a border with Mexico or any other nation would make this funny, in a different context.
This - this is funny: endorsing your opponent. The Republican candidate for governor of California talks about the good old days when she moved there. How everything was great in California way back in 1980.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEG WHITMAN (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: You know, 30 years ago, anything was possible in this state.
SUBTITLE: Who was governor 30 years ago? Jerry Brown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Assault at Lexington, at the Rand Paul-Jack Conway senatorial debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the police! Get the police!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: MoveOn.org supporter Lauren Valle, her head stomped on by a Rand Paul county campaign coordinator. The Paul campaign staffer blames the police and the camera angle. He's been served with a criminal summons. Our guest: Lauren Valle.
What happened to that Tea Party saying from the Gadsden flag?
"Don't tread on me."
The message is the message. The messaging is working, says the Obama campaign team. One in three voters nationwide, not firmly committed. The number in 2008 was only one in seven. Colorado Senate, Pennsylvania Senate, tied.
The multimillion-dollar industry that is counterterrorism and anti-Muslim analysis.
And what does a $3,600,000 violin sound like?
My guest, Anne Akiko Meyers - not just showing but playing Napoleon's Stradivarius?
All the news and commentary - now on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Tuesday, October 26th, seven days until the 2010 midterm elections. One week left and, as of today, the last figment of pretense is now long gone.
It's no longer a battle of red versus blue. As a new Republican campaign ad reveals, it's white versus nonwhite.
Our fifth story tonight: the woman who wants to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid previously ran ads linking Reid to illegal immigration.
In those ads, Republican Sharron Angle hedged her bets a little. She told Hispanic kids that the menacing figures in her ads were not necessarily Hispanic. She said that her emphasis on illegal immigration had nothing to do with Latinos per se, that she did not think the tough guys in her ad were necessarily Latino because America, she said, has a problem with its northern border, too.
And yet even these ads, the semi-plausible deniability ads invoked outrage and condemnation from even Republican Hispanics, including a former spokesperson for Angle herself. Not to mention that the claims about Reid's records in these ads were assessed as false or misleading by both local journalists and national fact-checking groups.
So, what does Angle's new ad do? Walk back her claim against Reid? Moderate her stark contrast of innocent white Nevadans with sorely threatening Latinos? No. She's upping the ante, dropping the Canadian fig leaf. This ad leaves no doubt the Mexican president appears, the border crossing at El Paso, and yes, squinty-eyed brown skin young men coming for Nevada's school children. Not the black ones, nor the Latino ones, nor the Asian ones - the white ones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)
SHARRON ANGLE (R), NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm Sharron Angle and I approve this message.
NARRATOR: Waves of illegal alien streaming across our board, joining violent gangs, forcing families to live in fear. And what's Harry Reid doing about it? Voting to give the illegal aliens Social Security benefits, tax breaks and college tuition, voting against declaring English our national language twice, and even siding with Obama and the president of Mexico to block Arizona's tough new immigration law.
Harry Reid, it's clear whose side he's on and it's not yours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Today, a coalition of Latino and immigration groups, America's Voice, Campaign for Community Change, and Mi Familia Vota rolled out a print and radio campaign of their own, both in Nevada and in Colorado. In Colorado where Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck has waged a campaign similar to Angle.
The new ads telling Latinos, quote, "This Election Day, show the power of your voice to these would silence it."
With us now: Gabe Gonzalez, national campaign director at the Center for Community Change.
Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
GABE GONZALEZ, CAMPAIGN FOR COMMUNITY CHANGE: Thank you. It's actually the Campaign for Community Change.
OLBERMANN: My apologies for the misnomer.
Another member of your coalition put out a statement that said, quote, "Sharron Angle is running the ugliest anti-immigrant, anti-Latino campaign in history. But her ads are suggesting that she's talking about illegal immigrants.
Why is that not accurate?
GONZALEZ: Well, you know what they say. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And if you look at those ads, it's pretty clear what she's doing. She's taking people who look a lot like me, dressing them up like gang members and saying they are a threat to their communities. So, you know, she can say one thing, but it's pretty clear what she means. And those of us in the Latino community are not fooled.
OLBERMANN: The new campaign here - Angle obviously knew that these ads would outrage the Hispanic community and right-thinking people. Is it possible that your outrage actually helps motivate her base? Is it that messed up now?
GONZALEZ: You know, I really can't say what motivates her base. I do know that one thing it's going to do is it's going to motivate Latino vote and anybody who cares about whether we have overt racism in campaigns anymore.
This is just another example of somebody who is desperate to get ahead and willing to use just about anything to do it. So, she's basically standing on the backs of Latinos throughout Nevada and throughout the country in order to make sure that her campaign is viable.
OLBERMANN: We know, of course, the Willie Horton ad used by Bush 41, the blatant racism that played on white fears of violence from black young men. Jesse Helms, an infamous ad that played on white fears minorities that they would take their jobs in the Senate race.
Obviously, they're remembered today as vile. What is often forgotten is they seem to have worked.
Won't it work this time for Angle and Buck? Is there a way to prevent it other than the obvious?
GONZALEZ: Yes, there's a couple things I'd say about that. The first one is, you know, going back to Willie Horton. Lee Atwater repented that on his death bed and I really hope that Sharron Angle does - sees the light before she has to see her maker and really comes to term with this.
But, you know, in terms of why this wouldn't work this time, I think the country is smarter than that. Basically, what she's doing is she's acting like a bully. She is desperate to get ahead. She is in the state of Nevada, the state that's got a myriad of problems. It's got problems with unemployment. It's got problems with foreclosures and she still can't get ahead in the polls.
So, she's basically picking on the weak kid. She's picking on the undocumented because they don't vote. So, she's saying to the undocumented: meet me at the polls on November 2nd. We'll settle this once and for all.
I personally don't think America likes bullies. When I was growing up in Indiana, at Eastford (ph) Elementary School, we knew how to deal with bullies. You stand up to them.
So, what we think is going to happen, what we're asking people to do, is take her up on it. Yes, we'll meet you at the polls on November 2nd. We'll settle this once and for all. I just don't think America likes bullies and I don't think they're going to support stuff like this.
OLBERMANN: Last question, in your experience, Mr. Gonzalez, what is the biggest impediment for getting Latinos to vote?
GONZALEZ: I don't think there's really an impediment, actually. If you look at the number in 2006, record numbers came out. In 2008, you could arguably say they were part of a majority that helped elect the president.
And we think, when you compare the numbers of this year to the last mid-term election, you're going to see an increase in Latino votes. That said, Latinos are like everybody else. If you want them to come out on Election Day, you got to give them something to vote for.
If there were two things that I would identify the Latinos care about, one is comprehensive immigration reform. So, we got to find a practical solution, not scapegoating, not racism, but a real solution to the problem.
And the second one is, like every other American, it's jobs. We've got to figure out what's going on with unemployment. We've got to do a better job at this. And we got to have people with practical solutions and not engage in race-baiting and scapegoating.
OLBERMANN: Gabe Gonzalez, the national campaign director of the Campaign for Community Change - my apologies for the misnomer at the beginning. And thanks again for your time.
GONZALEZ: No worries. Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: Suppressing Latino voting is not the only arrow in Ms. Angle's quiver. It turns out her campaign now soliciting donations to protect against Democrats, quote, "trying to manipulate the election. Harry Reid intends to steal this election if he can't win it outright."
We've discussed on this news hour previously defending against made-up voter fraud is a classic tactic for committing election fraud under the guise of protecting the ballot box, scare off the voters, especially poor and disenfranchised reluctant to run your gauntlet.
Are Angle's claims made up?
Nevada secretary of state writing, quote, "No such complaint has been submitted to this office."
But Ms. Angle is not alone in exploiting divisive fears in the campaign's final days. "Talking Points Memo" reporting Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota targeted by a Tea Party Nation e-mail this weekend. That e-mail listing reasons to retire Ellison - among them: Ellison's religion, he is Muslim.
Nor is Ms. Angle alone in trying to skew the voting. Florida Tea Party candidates accused the GOP of, quote, "dirty tricks and illegal electioneering," rather.
And nor is Ms. Angle alone in airing egregious ads. Though this ad of Republican California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman only becomes egregious in retrospect - in hilarious fashion, once you have the full context. Before that, here's the relevant clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)
WHITMAN: My husband and I came here as newlyweds. We raised our family here and the California dream came true for me in ways I could never have imagined.
Now, I'm running as governor to restore the California dream for everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Standard Republican Tea Party nostalgia for a Norman Rockwell America? Not exactly. And not hilarious yet.
But here she is sounding the same theme just last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITMAN: I want Californians to really know me. I want them to know that the reason that I am running is I want to jumpstart the California dream for every Californian. You know, 30 years ago, anything was possible in this state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: She doesn't seem funny.
What's so funny about Whitman's nostalgia for the California she remembers from 1980? Democratic candidate Jerry Brown explains in his new ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITMAN: You know, 30 years ago, anything was possible in this state.
SUBTITLE: Who was governor 30 years ago? Jerry Brown.
NARRATOR: As governor he cut waste, got rid of the mansion and the limo, budgets were balanced, $4 billion in tax cuts, world-class schools and universities, clean energy promoted, 1.9 million new jobs created. California was working.
WHITMAN: I mean, it's why I came to California so many years ago.
NARRATOR: Jerry Brown, the knowledge and know-how to get California working again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I'm joined here in New York by Chris Hayes, the Washington editor for "The Nation" magazine.
Good evening, Chris.
CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Good to see you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We'll get to Meg Whitman's demo tape for the comedy story in Hollywood, the inadvertent endorsement of her own opponent in a minute.
But let me start out here with this distinction that I drew between the voter fraud that Sharron Angle's campaign has sort of made up out of whole cloth and how that makes it easier for her to commit this actual crime, known as election fraud.
HAYES: Look, I mean, this is - this is one of these mythological bogeymen of the right. And it is perennially, in every election, whether midterm or presidential, that there are some massive conspiracy, you know, through the now defunct ACORN or other group that are comprised of racial and ethnic minorities to implement systemic voter fraud and steal elections.
In fact, there are people who still believe it. I mean, you run into them as a reporter, who still believe the 2008, that ACORN -
HAYES: - managed to steal the election.
And what it does it sort of licenses people to harass and intimidate people of color when they go to the polls. Now, we have had two centuries of battles in this country to give full enfranchisement rights to racial minorities and we still have a situation in which the amount of polling places in urban communities tend to be less than in white suburban and affluent communities in which voting rates often among those communities are lower.
And so, we still have a long way to go. This kind of licensing of intimidation doesn't help that.
OLBERMANN: Broadly on Sharron Angle, she come across as a true believer, you know, the stupid kind. The naive, I've never been out of my own house before. I believe this stuff.
HAYES: Oh, totally.
OLBERMANN: Is that a false premise? I mean, does she know exactly what she's doing with an ad like that?
HAYES: Oh, well, I think she has to know. I mean, look, you know, anyone who can - anyone capable of any sort of visual, perceptual input can understand what's going on with that ad, I think.
I can't read Sharron Angle's mind but I do know - I think that understanding this kind of core tribalist sentiment that it's us and them, and he's on the side of them, and we all know what them looks like, that's like not a big stretch. I mean, that's part of American conservative vocabulary.
HAYES: It has been for a long time. It certainly is now, during a time of economic peril. So, I don't think there's a huge leap that she has to go through to make that work.
OLBERMANN: And we see this now in a different direction in Minnesota with Keith Ellison. I mean, that's how much more raw can this sentiment get if you're staying that the reason he should not be reelected is he belongs to this religion. You are applying a test that is literally prohibited by U.S. law and the Constitution.
HAYES: Literally prohibited. And I think, you know, it's part of what to me is one of the most worrisome trends in what has been generally a sort of depressing election season, is the amount of - the degree to which it has become a mainstream view in right wing America and conservative America and the Republican Party that we have. As Bill O'Reilly said on Imus this morning, quote, "a Muslim problem," that we have a Muslim problem.
The world has a Muslim problem. And that actually, this is - I mean, when you start phrasing things in those terms, you begin to touch some sort of very uncomfortable historical resonances and to talk about someone being unqualified for office should be booted out because of the religion they have is just so anathema to everything that the Founders conceived of when they drafted the First Amendment.
OLBERMANN: We'll get back to that with Mr. O'Reilly later on.
But I must ask about the Jerry Brown ad. As funny as it is, did it capture something unintentionally about these conservatives and this sort of - this pristine view of a past that was largely constructed for them by liberals? Like 1980 California is liberal apex California.
HAYES: Exactly. And that's actually why I love that ad. And because - you're right, there is this very intense tension in the conservative vision. On the one hand, conservatives are always standing to thwart history saying, stop, looking back in nostalgia.
On the other hand, the country has gotten more conservative over time, the halcyon days were in certain - many important respect, particularly with the respect to political economy, more progressive.
There was the provision, the reason people moved to California was because of the provisioning of public goods there, because they had a world class university system that working class people could send their kids to, because there were - there was a sort of social democracy that was created in California in the '60s and '70s that drew in this vibrant middle class. And that's what she's touching on when she talks about, that's what people remember when they think about the glory days.
OLBERMANN: Yes. They didn't - the glory days were not Ronald Reagan's governorship in California. It was Pat Brown and then Jerry Brown.
OLBERMANN: All right. We've exhausted that.
Chris Hayes of "The Nation" - as always, great thanks to your time and good to see you in person.
HAYES: Good to see you in person, too.
OLBERMANN: Just for the record, our regular studio is out of commission tonight.
The details meanwhile are coming fast and furious out of Kentucky where the MoveOn.org supporter at the Rand Paul-Jack Conway debate turns out to have been stomped on by a Paul campaign county coordinator whose endorsement Rand Paul boasted about in a newspaper ad this morning. The victim, Lauren Valle, is my guest next.
OLBERMANN: A criminal summons for assault has been issued for a county coordinator for the Rand Paul campaign after this assault on a Move On volunteer last night at the Kentucky Senate debate. The victim joins me next.
At this point in 2008, only 14 percent of voters nationwide were not firmly committed to a choice. The number tonight is 33 percent. Richard Wolffe on the contention from the president's campaign crew that the messaging is working.
It's tough when you're no longer the best known name on your own channel of crazy. He doubles down on the Islamophobia.
And this is a craftswoman who believes in the quality of the tool. A concert violinist pays $3,600,000 million for a Stradivarius. She will play it for you live here tonight.
OLBERMANN: Last night, supporters of Kentucky's Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul attacked a supporter from MoveOn.org. They dragged her to the ground. Then the Bourbon County coordinator for the Paul campaign stepped on that supporter's head.
In our fourth story: the victim, Lauren Valle, will join us in a moment.
Meantime, the Paul campaign makes its slow progression from one unacceptable reaction statement to another. The incident happened in Lexington just before the debate between Paul and the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Jack Conway of Kentucky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the cops!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the police. Get the police. Get the police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. Come on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Today, Tim Profitt, the Bourbon County campaign coordinator for Paul admitted that he was the one who stomped on Ms. Valle's head. His non-apology apology via the "Associated Press" includes this, quote, "I'm sorry that it came to that and I apologize if it appeared overly forceful, but I was concerned about Rand's safety." Mr. Profitt also said that the camera angle made it the incident appeared worse than it was and he criticized the police for not stepping in.
The police have now issued a criminal summons for Mr. Profitt to appear in court where a judge will decide if charges are warranted. The second attacker, the one most responsible for wrestling Ms. Valle to the ground has been identified on the blogosphere but we're awaiting formal confirmation of his identity.
The fact that Mr. Profitt, who is so central to the Paul camp that it touted his endorsement. At the bottom of an ad, the campaign took out a Bourbon County paper which appeared today.
And the Paul campaign's first statement on the matter shortly after midnight, tried to blame both sides. It reads, in part, "We understand that there was an altercation outside the debate between the supporters of both sides, and that is incredibly unfortunate."
Speaking for himself today, Mr. Paul did not fare much better.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was your reaction that, you know, folks who were wearing Rand Paul t-shirts and hats treated this woman this way?
RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, we want everybody to be civil. We want this issue - the campaign to be about issues. We'll tell you that when we arrive, there was enormous passion on both sides. It really was something where you walk into a daze of lights flashing, people yelling and screaming, bumping up and there was a bit of a crowd control problem.
And I don't - I don't want anyone to be involved in things that aren't civil. I think this should always be about the issues. And it is an unusual situation to have so many people so passionate on both sides jockeying back and forth. And it wasn't something that I liked or anybody liked about that situation.
So, I hope in the future, it's going to be better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Paul campaign released yet another statement this afternoon. The campaign, quote, "is extremely disappointed in and condemns the action of a supporter. The Paul campaign has disassociated itself with the volunteer, and once again urges all activists on both sides to remember that their political passions should never manifest themselves in physical altercations of any kind."
Joining me now as promised, Lauren Valle of MoveOn.org.
Thanks for your tonight, Lauren.
LAUREN VALLE, MOVEON.ORG SUPPORTER: Thanks for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: How are you feeling?
VALLE: I'm pretty sore. But I still have little headaches, I'm doing OK though.
OLBERMANN: Tell us what you were trying to do before what was captured on videotape, and then what happened?
VALLE: Sure. I've been in Kentucky for the past two week working on a project original a Move On project called Republic Corp, which is a conglomeration between - a fictional conglomeration between the Republican Party and corporate America. And I actually should say it's satirical because it's not really fictional.
VALLE: And the conglomeration was formed by a merger, and the official merger between the Republican Party and corporate America.
So, I've been in Kentucky running events as a Republic Corp executive. We've been - we were at a previous debate. I've been in town raising awareness about the Citizens United decision and how that's impacted corporate spending and this election cycle, particularly in Kentucky.
OLBERMANN: So, what was happening just before the videotape? You were trying to do what as you moved into that crowd?
VALLE: Well, just before the tape, I was identified by the Rand Paul campaign because they've seen me around town at these events and they realize that had they know me because of my work and they don't support it. And so, they actually formed a blockade around me once they realized that I was there.
And as Rand's car pulls up, they step in front of me and start to block me. And so, I stepped of the curb to try and get around them. And at that point, they pursued me around the car, chased me around the car and what you see in the video is when I'm in the front of the car. And that's when I'm pulled down. And then my head is stomped on.
OLBERMANN: So, you were not mistaken for some sort of threat to Mr. Paul's safety? Before the tape rolls, they know who you are and what you're trying to do?
VALLE: Yes. It was premeditated. My partner Alex who was with me heard them behind us say, we're here to do crowd control and some - we might have to take someone out.
OLBERMANN: Also, the police report afterwards did confirm that there was no justification for what the supporters did. The wig was because of what? Why were you wearing a wig?
VALLE: Part of our tactic with Republic Corp is to be Republic Corp executives. And so, I've been in costume all week. We filmed videos. And we do events in character.
So, I've been in different characters all week for the past two weeks. So, that was me being a Republic Corp executive.
OLBERMANN: Why do we here that tape Paul supporters, and this Mr.
Profitt calling for the police?
VALLE: I think it's because I'm being tackled to the ground. You know, I think I would be calling for the police if I was witnessing that as well because, clearly, I'm being injured.
OLBERMANN: Do you plan to pursue charges on this? I mean, what is the status of this case as you understand it?
VALLE: I - we are proceeding with legal - with the legal process. As far as I know, there has been a summons issued and there will be a court date set. I plan to see the process through. I think that it's very important that people be held responsible for this sort of behavior.
OLBERMANN: This is really an aside, but it's too ironic to not let pass. And I know if you can answer this, you probably have other things to be concerned about at the time. It appears as if the man who actually threw you to the ground was wearing a "Don't tread on me" button. Could you see, is that true?
VALLE: Well, I couldn't se much at all at the time. But I think that's true. And you know, I think that what is important to say, since we're also concerned about freedom, is that none of us can be free if some of us are oppressed.
OLBERMANN: The Paul campaign - Mr. Paul today himself, in that really inarticulate statement, have implied that you or other so-called activists have done something wrong here. How do you respond to that?
VALLE: You know, they're really concerned with the Constitution and my First Amendment right is freedom of speech and that's exactly what I was exercising. I was there with a sign and simply wanted to have that sign be seen just like the hundreds of other people that were at the event. So, I can't really see anything wrong with that.
OLBERMANN: All right. So, that brings to us a concluding question. You were not trying to hand anything to Rand Paul. You were not trying to get to Rand Paul. You just wanted to hold up a sign?
VALLE: No, I just wanted him to see it, you know? We - part of what we do is get the Republic Corp logo in the same shot as our - as our employee. I was holding the employee of the month award, brand as on Republic Corp staff, as part of our satire. And so, I was interested in him seeing and it getting a shot.
But certainly, I have intention of harming him, contacting him at all.
OLBERMANN: Lauren Valle of Move On - we're glad that you're OK, relatively speaking and thanks greatly for your time tonight.
VALLE: Thank you so much, Keith.
OLBERMANN: It is not what happened to Ms. Valle but the almost farcical rationalization by the admitted perpetrator, Mr. Profitt, that brings us to this postscript.
The idea that the videotape of the assault distorted what really happened - we've heard this before. "The Bill Hicks is Still Ahead of His Time Clip of the Week" takes us back to the Rodney King trial which L.A. police officers insisted it was all in the way you looked at that videotape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL HICKS: It's how you look at the tape. Well, would you care to tell the court how you're looking at that?
HICKS: Yes, OK, Sure. It's how you look at it. The tape.
Well, if you play it backwards, you see us help King up and send him on his way.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Amazingly, what part of Ms. Valle was stepped on has been lied about today on national radio. Can you guess by whom? Details later in "Worsts."
OLBERMANN: Instead of Oddball tonight, something far too serious. No matter what the baseball game was, how long it dragged on or how quickly it passed, how unpleasant the weather or how perfect the setting, it was always better if I got to say hi to Bill Shannon.
Bill was the official scorer. None could have been better at it. He was also historian, living baseball encyclopedia, former soccer executive, repository of the history of sports journalism in New York, guide to all newcomers and friend.
He was meticulous and generous and exuberant. Bill Shannon died this morning in a fire in his New Jersey home. Death is a part of everything and every place. And yet I do not know if I can go into those press boxes at the stadiums next year knowing I will never get to see him again. Bill Shannon was 69 years old.
OLBERMANN: In 2006, Karl Rove set the current high water mark for White House hubris heading into a midterm election. Two weeks before the vote, Rove scoffed at polling that suggested Democrats could retake Congress. The infamous quote was "you're entitled to your math. I'm entitled to the math."
In our third story, no Rovian bluster from the current White House. Instead, tightening Senate races and new polling that shows a third of likely voters could still be up for grabs, causing optimism tonight in the camp of President Obama.
Richard Wolffe, who joins me in a moment, writing today on the "Daily Beast" website "the White House is concerned there may be trouble in many of the House districts where their voter turnout operation is weak, but a senior aide to the president also saying they could do OK and better than expected in places like Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania."
The president's final campaign push will be in Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll out of the Keystone state saying that race there tied. Sestak and Toomey for Senate 46 a piece. Toomey had led by ten among likely voters in August.
In Colorado, the new "Denver Post"/Survey USA poll has the Democrat Michael Bennett now tied with his challenger, Tea Party Republican Ken Buck. Buck had been up by five three week ago.
In California, the leads that Democratic candidates continue to hold telling the White House that fears of a Republican wave may be overblown. Overall, the White House believes it has been effective drawing contrasts between Democrats and their opponents, pointing out the role of secret money in the elections.
Again, quoting a White House senior aide, "the message has been working. It has started over the last couple of months to reenergize Democrats, to present this election as a very clear choice about moving this country forward or taking it back to giving free rein to the special interests."
Joining me now, as promised, Richard Wolffe, "Daily Beast" columnist, MSNBC contributor, and author of the upcoming book, "Revival, A Struggle For Survival Inside the Obama White House." Good evening, Richard..
RICHARD WOLFFE, AUTHOR, "REVIVAL, STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL INSIDE THE
OBAMA WHITE HOUSE": Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The White House told you they have expectations. The quote was, they had the expectations exactly where we want them. What are the expectations and what does that mean?
WOLFFE: Well, if you're going to lose seats, lose a lot of seats in Congress. You really want to set the bar even higher for the other side and say that maybe on the other side of it, that they didn't meet expectations. Now clearly there's some gallows humor in here. This is a White House that would be much happier - a party that would be much happier if they were the ones who were picking up seats, or at least holding on to their majorities.
But when it come to where expectations are for Republicans, they went up. They've come down. They have gone sky high again. If you're looking at the benchmark for Republicans now, I think many people would say it is '94. It's 54 seats. That's a lot of seats to pick up.
So the White House is looking at the other side of this saying, well, the other side may have done well, but they didn't live up to where we all thought. And if this is their high water mark, then we're in good shape for two years time.
OLBERMANN: This Associated Press poll; one in three likely voters fitting in the category of not firmly decided, when the number essentially two years ago tonight, more or less, was one in seven. Do they expect to be able to take much of that third of the electorate? And why don't we hear about this number?
WOLFFE: We don't hear about this number because a lot of people are making very firm predictions right now, and this is a very volatile election, as we're seeing in state by state, district by district, these number are moving. With this, a few days left, they could move either way. This is not really necessarily a grounds for optimism. This is something still to play for. This election is not fixed.
But it could open up even further away from Democrats. I think the thing that the White House is clinging on to here is that there's still a lot Democrats have to work toward. Because if they're not, these gaps could open up.
Alternatively, the Republican gains could shrink quite dramatically in these last few days.
OLBERMANN: The election is not fixed. Don't tell Sharron Angle that. A little further west, the Suffolk University poll, Boxer by nine today over Carly Fiorina. Jerry Brown by eight over Meg Whitman even before her inadvertent endorsement of Jerry Brown as governor in 1980. Why particularly is the White House pointing to the California numbers as a sign of a positive, obviously other than the affect in California?
WOLFFE: Look at all the money that's been spent, all the attention on the race. And yet you have Democratic candidates who may not be the best candidates the Democrats could come up with who are still way ahead. If this was the tidal wave, if this, again, is the high water mark, the Republicans are falling short because they should be much, much more competitive in a place like California.
So I think what the White House is looking at is a mix result, patchy results, where they could come out the other side and say this isn't a sweep. We still have a glimmer of hope. We still have a path to going forward.
OLBERMANN: MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe. As always, Ricahrd, great thanks.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: A reminder, tomorrow night my special comment: the full and fearful platform of the Tea Party candidates and what responsibility rests on you to get out the vote.
Tonight here, a wonderful break. The concert violinist Anne Akiko Meyers will play the Stradivarius for which she has just paid 3.6 million dollars, which is only a little more, to hear a Nashville newspaper paper tell it, than what the anti-Muslim business is worth to this counterterrorism expert.
And when Rachel joins you at the top the hour, live from Alaska, her guests, Senate candidates Scott McAdams, Lisa Murkowski and - this is correct - Joe Miller. And good luck to you, sir.
OLBERMANN: You will get to hear what a 3.6 million dollar Stradivarius violin sounds like next. But first, get out your pitchforks and torches, time for tonight's worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Tokyo Rose Limbaugh, rationalizing the assault on Lauren Valle by lying about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The man puts his foot down on her head. Now in the video that A.P. itself posted, the man put his foot down on her shoulders in what looked to me like an effort to help restrain her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You're not only a damned liar, Limbaugh, you're a damned bad liar. The runner up, Bill-O the clown, struggling back into relevance at a time when on the Fox PAC network only racism and hatred sells.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I believe there is a Muslim problem in the world. Conservatives generally believe there is a major Muslim problem in the world. And liberals tend to downplay the situation.
It is a Muslim problem because it is generated by Muslims almost exclusively. So it is a Muslim problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The irony to O'Reilly's Islamophobia and bigotry is that 160 years ago in this country people who thought and felt as O'Reilly does now believed we had an Irish problem, an Irish threat of terrorism here represented by a group called the Fenians (ph), and that it was generated by the Irish almost exclusively. so it was an Irish problem. They were as wrong and as bigoted then as O'Reilly is now.
But our winner, Steve Emerson, who I regret to say used to be employed here as a counterterrorism expert. The Nashville newspaper "The Tennessean" reports that Mr. Emerson has a for profit company called SAE Productions and a nonprofit group call Project on Terrorism Foundation, which takes contributions and tries to link American-based organizations to international terrorism.
The problem is Mr. Emerson's nonprofit, the "Tennessean" reports, paid Mr. Emerson's for profit corporation 3.4 million dollars. As the head of a nonprofit watch dog group noted - here's the quote - "you have a nonprofit acting as a front organization and all the money is going for a profit. It's wrong. This is off the charts."
The gist of this is many counterterrorist experts and groups warning about the so called Muslim threat aren't just stoking fear; they're stoking profits. As I proposed here years ago, the first counterterrorism expert to say there isn't really much to worry about would crush the whole counterterrorism expert industry. Unfortunately, there seem to be no chance that that is going to be Steve Emerson, today's Worst Person in the World.
This is a little different. We wanted to give you a sneak preview of our next segment, when the world famous concert violinist Anne Akiko Meyers will join me to play this new Stradivarius that she just bought at action. She joins me now. Welcome.
ANNE AKIKO MEYERS, VIOLNIIST: Thank you so much, Keith.
OLBERMANN: May I?
MEYERS: Of course. Would you like the play it?
OLBERMANN: I can't play anything. Do you hold from -
Do you play any other instruments?
MEYERS: Oh, my god!
OLBERMANN: Come on, admit. We got you for a second. The real 3.6 million dollar violin is just fine. In our number one story, the violin I did not break, the Malator (ph) Stradivarius, a storied instrument of notable provinence.
But just what does a 3.6 million dollar legend sound like? We'll find out presently, as its newest owner, concert violinist and my co-conspirator there, Anne Akiko Meyers, actress, performs for us.
First the back story. There are only about 650 Stradivarius instruments in the world today, all created in the legendary shop of Antonio Stradivari. Stradivari's unique interpretation of design and geometry gave his violins unparalleled sounds and quality that other violin makers have tried but have been unable to replicate.
Which brings us to this Strad made in 1697; French socialite Madame Juliette Recamier (ph) gave to it a young general in Napoleon's Army, Count Gabrielle Jean Joseph Malator (ph), who in turn gave the instrument its name. It's believed to have also been owned - though this hasn't been verified - by Napoleon Bonaparte.
Eventually, it found its way to this country in the 20th century, owners ranging from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, to the violinist Elmar Olivare (ph). Earlier this month, it sold for 3.6 million dollars, the highest price ever for a musical instrument at an auction.
Joining me now, as promised, the proud owner of this 1697 Malator Stradivarius, convert violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, whose latest CD is called "Seasons Dreams." Welcome again.
MEYERS: Thank you very much, Keith.
OLBERMANN: As I asked once on Twitter, 3.5 million dollars and it doesn't pay itself?
MEYERS: It make me cappuccinos in the morning.
OLBERMANN: It does something else. We heard the sort of technical explanation. As the artist, why is a Stradivarius extraordinary?
MEYERS: It is the sound. It is really like no other. It is extraordinary. The history of the violin also, and the condition of the violin. It is like it was made yesterday. It is just in perfect condition. And it is over 300 years old.
OLBERMANN: Did you hesitate at all playing it for the first time?
MEYERS: No. I could not wait to get my mitts on it, actually, and people had to keep me away.
OLBERMANN: Was this a goal? I presume it is a goal of anybody who ever picks up a violin seriously to eventually play one. But to own one and play one?
MEYERS: Yes. That's very rare. And I am very fortunate to have found this violin, that it was made available, and that I found it and play it now and can share it with the world.
OLBERMANN: But you're not going to get a second one as a back-up, not at those prices. One will have to suffice?
MEYERS: That doesn't even include the price of the bow. The bow is like another 200,000 dollars.
OLBERMANN: I'm going to make sure we have enough time for your performance. And I've done enough of the Jim Gray./Lebron James act in setting this up. What are we going to hear as we hear a 3.6 million dollar musical instrument?
MEYERS: "A Little Summertime" by George Gershwin.
OLBERMANN: Gershwin, as presented by Anne Akiko Meyers. I'll leave you to have the stage and I'll come back when you're done. Thank you.
MEYERS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Wow! What's - obviously, a concert performer such as yourself can make one instrument sound like more than one instrument. Is it peculiar to the Stradivarius that gives that you that effect of having an entire orchestra with you at one point? It sounded like four or five different instruments. Is that unique to it?
MEYERS: Definitely. That's what make the sound like no other.
OLBERMANN: That's a real - a perfect piece to demonstrate that, isn't it?
MEYERS: Even though Napoleon might be shaking in his boots and rolling in his grave hearing a little George Gershwin on his violin.
OLBERMANN: What - that sort of historical implication, is that important to you when you think of it? That was built by a man and played by another music legend who lived in a country that the man would have maybe have heard of as a colonial outpost for the French and the English in the late 1600s.
MEYERS: I think of the history with this violin every time I put my hands around the neck of it. You can't help but remember.
OLBERMANN: And the Napoleon aspect? Have you looked further into that?
MEYERS: Yes. It is verified.
OLBERMANN: It is verified?
MEYERS: It's in a book by Goodkind (ph) that it was owned by Napoleon.
OLBERMANN: Did he play the violin or did he just have other people play it for him?
MEYERS: That I'm not sure of.
OLBERMANN: Did he have it on Elba? Is that how he - if he had taken it with him to Elba, would he have been goo - I'm sorry. I'm going off on historical references.
I must ask you, do - you don't worry about its value when you play it or travel with it or anything else?
MEYERS: Well, I definitely do.
OLBERMANN: I don't see any guards out here. Do I look like an honest man to you?
MEYERS: My body guards are in my dressing room.
OLBERMANN: I can imagine.
MEYERS: That would be my four-month-old daughter.
OLBERMANN: I was going to say, that's - well, she looked - she'll look suspicious at me when I walk in there. Anne Akiko Meyers, it's marvelous to have you here. Congratulations.
MEYERS: Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: Thank you so much, at least for - thank you kindly. All right. Well, I don't know how we're going to top that tomorrow. That's October 26th. We'll try. A Special Comment here tomorrow night. We'll go candidate by candidate with - and I hesitate to say this in the same segment in which we heard Anne's work - the Tea Party.
I'm Keith Olbermann, good night, good luck. Now we head north to Alaska with guests Senator Murkowski, Mr. McAdams, and Mr. Miller. Ladies and gentlemen, here is Rachel Maddow. Good evening, Rachel..
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END