Transcript of conversation between Elizabeth Warren and Rachel Maddow
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The following is a transcript of the conversation between Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rachel Maddow on Thursday, as provided by MSNBC:
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: But in this Democratic Party right now, there is also another force outside of the Obama/Biden White House that frankly has a hell of a megaphone and a hell of an audience and a ton of influence right now. And that person is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
She now has also made a decision about who to endorse in this year's presidential election. She waited until President Obama made his call earlier today. Frankly, it was a source of great consternation and agita to a lot of people in the Democratic Party that she didn't choose between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders during the primary.
But tonight, she's here to talk about the choice that she has now made. And I don't mean here in the larger sense, I mean here specifically on set with me.
Joining us now, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Thank you so much for being here.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you. I'm delighted to be here. I'm glad you made to it Washington.
MADDOW: Yes. Just barely.
WARREN: Thank you.
MADDOW: I am still wearing jeans. I didn't have time to change all the way.
WARREN: That's all right.
MADDOW: It's all right.
So, I understand that you intend to endorse Hillary Clinton tonight? I'd like to hear it.
WARREN: Yes, I'm ready. I am ready to get in this fight and work my heart out for Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States and to make sure that Donald Trump never gets any place close to the White House.
MADDOW: Why did you not endorse during the primary? What was your thinking during the primary, holding out when so many other Democratic senators, all the women Democratic senators, almost all the men Democratic senators, got on board with Hillary Clinton -- Senator Sanders had Jeff Merkley. You were one of few holdouts who didn't endorse either one. What was your thinking about that?
WARREN: I thought that the primary was really important. And it was an opportunity for Democrats to get out there and show, this is what it means to be a Democrat. We got out there and pushed those issues forward and we made sure that the American people saw the kind of thinking we have, the kind of energy we have, and what makes us very different from those guys on the other side.
MADDOW: So, you think the primary was -- it was a long primary.
WARREN: I know that.
MADDOW: It was a tough contested primary. Some people worried that that was softening up the eventual Democratic nominee too much for the general.
But you think it was constructive?
WARREN: I do think it's constructive.
And I also think that what Bernie Sanders did was just powerfully important. He ran -- he ran a campaign from the heart. And he ran a campaign where he took these issues and he really thrust them into the spotlight.
And he also brought -- these are issues near and dear to my heart. And he brought millions of people into the political process. He brought millions of people into the Democratic Party.
And for me, that's what this is all about. I take my cue on every part of this from Bernie himself and what he said right at the beginning. He said, this campaign, he said, what this is about, what here doing here, is about millions of people across this country, millions of people who work hard every day and just keep getting slammed.
It is not about one candidate. It's not even about one election. It's about all of us coming together to help fight to level the playing field, to make sure that everybody gets a fighting chance.
MADDOW: Do you feel like Senator Sanders' supporters, and indeed Senator Sanders himself, who was independent until five minutes before this race, do you feel like they have a home in the Democratic Party right now, for real, or do you think the Democratic Party needs to do more, needs to change more, in order to be a natural home for those folks?
WARREN: The way I see this is that there is a very big and important home here. That I think about what's at stake in this election. And I think about what happens if the Republicans have the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.
Say good-bye to the Affordable Care Act. That means 20 million people who lose their health insurance, just like that.
Say good-bye to Dodd-Frank and all of the financial reforms and efforts to try to rein in Wall Street. Just say good-bye to it. That means we can go where Wall Street gets to call the shots again. We saw how that worked out in 2008.
And say good-bye to a Supreme Court that is truly open and balanced and looking out for the American people. Instead the Republicans just want to capture a right-wing court for another whole generation.
I look at those things and I think about what's at stake. It's literally people's lives. It's our economy. It is the very fabric of our democracy. For me, that's the heart of what the Democratic Party stands for. That is what we fight for. That's why we're in this fight. That's why we've got to win.
MADDOW: And when you make that case, that is -- that's a case about worrying about what happens if the Democrats do not win.
A lot of people I think, not just Sanders supporters, but I think a lot of people look at Donald Trump as the Republican nominee and they think, actually, my vote is not needed on the Democratic side this time because Donald Trump is a terrible nominee, he's not only going to lose, but it's going to have knock-on effects where the Republicans are going to get wiped out up and down the ballot. Hillary Clinton isn't liberal enough for me, I'd rather write in Bernie, I'll vote Green Party. I'll vote libertarian or something.
What do you say to those folks?
WARREN: Look, the Republicans underestimated and underestimated and underestimated Donald Trump. And look where that got them. They kept saying, no, no, no, that's not going to happen, we don't have to worry about that.
Donald Trump is a genuine threat to this country. He is a threat economically to this country. But he is a threat to who we are as a people. There is an ugly side to Donald Trump that we all have to stop and think about what's going on here.
Look, I'll pick one example when we talk about him and that is the housing crisis. Remember where Donald Trump was in this? In 2007, before the big explosion in 2008, a lot of people are starting to look around and say, whoa, we've got an inflated bubble here, there's going to be trouble coming.
And Donald Trump said -- was quoted. He was excited for the crash because he knew how to make money off it. He was rooting for an economic crash because it was going to help line his pockets.
What kind of a person does something like that? What kind of a person roots for people to be kicked out of their home? What kind of a person does that?
It's a person who is an insecure money-grubber who cares about nothing but himself. He doesn't care who gets hurt, as long as he makes a profit off it. That cannot, cannot be the man who leads the United States of America.
MADDOW: Is there -- do you have a feeling, do you feel like there's Elizabeth Warren-specific advice coming from where you come from, the issues you care about the people who you have so much influence with because of the way you talk about these issues, is -- do you have a prescription for how the Democratic Party's primary should wrap up?
Senator Sanders has a rally tonight in D.C. He's going to compete in the D.C. primary. He says he's going right through to the convention, we don't know exactly what that means. But he was talking tonight at this rally, said, you know, when I am president, I'm going to use my executive authority.
I mean, do you have a prescription for how this primary should end?
WARREN: I think that it's clear now that we need to start thinking about all of this together and we need to think about the difference between us and the difference -- and the Republicans. That's for me what the heart of this is about.
But, you know, I want to add another part to this because I think it really matters here. And I like our talking back and forth but I want to get this on the table and get it on the table early. Hillary Clinton won. And she won because she's a fighter, she's out there, she's tough.
And I think this is what we need. Look at who she is. For 25 years, she's been taking the incomings, right? The right wing has thrown everything they possibly can at her.
And what does she do? A lot of people would just hang up their spurs. They'd say, you know, I've had enough of this. And she doesn't. What she's done is she gets back up and she gets back in the fight.
As a Democrat, one of the things that frustrates me the most is there are a lot of times we just don't get in the fight. We ask pretty please if we can have things or we make the argument for why it is the best thing to do, and then wait patiently for the other side to agree to come along. We negotiate. We start our opening position by negotiating.
You know, and I get that. I get the reason that you should be willing to negotiate sometimes. But you also ought to be willing to throw a punch.
And there are a lot of things that people say about Hillary Clinton. But nobody says that she doesn't know how to throw a punch.
MADDOW: As somebody -- I agree with you, both on the perseverance and on the fighter characterization of Hillary Clinton. I think that's the most important way to understand her political power, her willingness to never give up. We have gone 240 years in this country without a woman ever being nominated for president, let alone elected one.
MADDOW: Her aggression and her stance as a fighter in politics, does that make her more palatable to a country who apparently has a real problem with this concept, or less? Does that make it harder for her?
SANDERS: You know, to me, this isn't about palatable anymore. This is about what we need to survive. This is about whether or not we are going to have a country that just works for the Donald Trumps of the world, that just works for a handful of the largest corporations of the world, or a country that really is building an economic future for all of us.
And yes, I think having a fighter in the lead, a female fighter in the lead, is exactly what this country needs.
MADDOW: One of the things that people are gaming out right now is the prospect not just of having a female nominee at the top of the Democratic ticket, but possibly having an all-female ticket.
MADDOW: We're going to talk about that when we come back if you don't mind.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts having just given her endorsement for the presidential race, Senator Warren endorsing Hillary Clinton tonight.
Much more with her right after this. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Joining us again is Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts. She spent the earlier part of the evening plucking the feathers off Donald Trump, calling him a fraud, a racist bully, a whiner. She also did a decent Mitch McConnell impression, which I've never seen before.
Now, Senator Warren is here with us. She's just endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
Senator, thank you again.
WARREN: Thank you.
MADDOW: You enjoy talking about Donald Trump.
MADDOW: Obviously, your criticism of him is heartfelt.
What role do you see for yourself in this -- in this general election contest?
WARREN: Oh, listen, I'm going to do everything I can to help Hillary Clinton get elected and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that Donald Trump never comes within shouting distance of the White House.
MADDOW: Has Hillary Clinton talked to you about the prospect of being her running mate? Have you been vetted?
MADDOW: Have you -- no. No conversations?
MADDOW: Am I supposed to ask it more broadly? Have her people talked to your people?
WARREN: I don't think so.
You know, look, I know there's been a lot of speculation about this. But the truth is, I love the work I do. I can't tell you how grateful I am to the people of Massachusetts who sent me here to just wade into these fights.
And now, we're about to enter another big fight. And that is a general election fight that pits a tough woman who is willing to lead against a small, insecure bully who thinks he's going to get his way by throwing nasty tantrums, by giving people ugly names, by saying racist and other kinds of outrageous things.
And we just can't let him be the leader of this country. We can line up. We can be part of Hillary Clinton's effort to be the president of the United States and to help do the things we care about in this country -- to really help build a future.
MADDOW: Because you are -- you're the person who's made it so that people like me don't know whether to call it the Sanders wing of the party or the Warren wing of the party. You are -- as somebody who chose not to run for president yourself despite a lot of people pressuring you to do that, you still wield enormous influence, and a lot of people on the left side of this party look up to you. That's why your endorsement was so coveted.
I think that's why Senator Sanders' supporters have been so upset you didn't endorse him during the primary. They think it would have made a very big difference. And they're upset with you today and tonight because of this endorsement.
What's your reaction to that?
WARREN: My reaction is that I thought it was important for the primary to go forward, and not to try to tilt it one way or the other, to try to get or try to end it. That really what I wanted to see is I wanted to see Democrats out there talking about our core set of issues. And let people around this country vote, let -- people have caucuses, let them do it however they're going to do it.
But the point is to get us engaged and to get us engaged on that set of issues.
Rachel, can we just think about how different did it is today than it was five years ago. We talk today, we have open conversations about the best way to make sure that young people are going to be able to get an affordable education, that, gosh, this matters. And just by the way notice Trump's view of this.
You know, Trump believes that you just cheat them. You know, that's what is happening right now, this is Trump University.
We have talked about the best way to put more restrictions on Wall Street, to be able to rein Wall Street in tighter.
And what do the Republicans say? Donald Trump? They say they're just going to roll back the Dodd-Frank regulations. They want to undermine the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
I mean, these are huge differences.
Social Security, five years ago, the whole conversation around Social Security -- I remember this -- it was like some people said, the conservatives said, you cut it a lot, right? And the moderates say, oh, you just cut it a little. And those of us who are genuinely progressive are saying, aah, this is terrible.
And now, what's the conversation about? The conversation is about what's the best way to make Social Security secure going into the future and to make it work better for those who depend the most on it, for the millions of people for whom Social Security is all that stands between them and poverty. For the 14 million people who count on Social Security, to put a roof over their heads and food on the table.
These are the issues that Democrats brought forward and that happened because we had a primary race, it happened because Bernie Sanders was in there fighting and because Hillary Clinton was in there fighting.
MADDOW: When President Obama recently moved on that issue and started talking for the first time about expanding Social Security, do you attribute that to the primary?
WARREN: Look, you bet, are you kidding?
Because this is what the primary did. It's not just that two people got up and talked about something. It's that lots of people then got engaged and talked about it, so that their conversation was not a small conversation, it was a huge conversation. It was a conversation all across this country.
And Barack Obama heard that conversation. He heard the American people.
And I'll tell you somebody else that's going to hear it. And that is the Republicans are going to hear it. And it's going to be that kind of national conversation that's going to make real change in this country.
We've got to put wind in the sails here. We've got to make this happen.
But Bernie has given us these issues. He's given us this moment. He has brought this light to it that we really can push this country in a better direction. We can help level the playing field.
MADDOW: This is sort of an awkward question and I don't want you to take it in the wrong way. I don't mean this in kind of a celebrity way, nor do I mean it in a gossip way.
MADDOW: I mean it for people who don't live in Washington or travel here or know how things work.
MADDOW: I think there's a lot of curiosity as to where these conversations happen and how these negotiations happen and how parties move and how policies shift and how tone shifts.
Do you personally talk to Bernie Sanders? Do you personally talk to Hillary Clinton? Do you have personal relationships with these people? Do you have personal relationships with the vice president or the president?
Is it all business, or does some of this get worked out because some people like each other or because some people don't?
WARREN: So -- yes. Absolutely. And I have talked to people, you know -- I've talked to Bernie, I've talked to Hillary, I've talked to people who work for them.
But do understand about this, Rachel. What gives it power is the power within the idea itself, and the fact that others care about it.
So, when you talk about Social Security, it's not just enough to say, we're looking at you, this really matters. It's the fact that a million Americans think it matters. Oh, wait, it's 2 million Americans think it matters. No, it's 4 million Americans. It's 6 million, wait, it's 10 million, it's 50 million Americans who care about this. That's how we're going to make change.
Here's how I look at this. The Republicans had a real advantage over us for a long time. And the principal advantage they have had is they have concentrated money and concentrated power. And, boy, when it's all concentrated, man, you can organize it, you can use it, you can get out there, you can run those negative ads, you can be effective, you can put money into campaigns.
What do we got on our side? Yes, we got some money, some. People put money in. But the reality is what we've got is we've got all the votes. We've got all the voices.
There are so many more people on our side. And I'm not just talking Democrats here. You talk about those core issues, about Social Security, about college, about raising the minimum wage, about reining in Wall Street.
You look at those core issues and somewhere between 60 percent and 75 percent of all of America, that's Democrats, Republicans, independents, libertarians, vegetarians. They sign up and say, yes, I'm for that.
So, the question is then, Rachel -- why hasn't that happened? Why hasn't it happened?
The answer is because Washington, this place where we are right now. It is the bubble. It's the bubble that's created by the money. It is the bubble that is created by the contributions, by the lobbyists, by every part of this tight little circle.
Our only chance to break out of that is that we got to say, against your concentrated money and power, we're going to put up our voices and our votes and we're going to be here. We're going to be here in these elections. And we're going to make sure that the people who run for office and get elected are the ones who are going to work for the American people. That's what this is all about.
MADDOW: With that kind of a vision, I have one last question for you. You'll know what I'm getting at but take my question literally.
MADDOW: And I know you're not seeking the job and I know you love being a senator. But if you were asked to be Secretary Clinton's running mate, do you believe you could do it? By that I mean, the most important job of being a vice president is to be ready to be president if God forbid something happened to the commander-in-chief.
I know you don't want the job. But do you know you would be capable of stepping into that job and doing that job if you were ever called to do it? Because -- and I ask you because Ed Rendell, former DNC chairman, former Pennsylvania governor, said recently that you were no -- not in any way, shape or form ready to be commander-in-chief. I want to know if you think you could be.
WARREN: Yes, I do.
MADDOW: Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts making this endorsement, for the first time tonight, Hillary Clinton for president. Thank you for making that announcement on this show. And thanks for being willing to talk to me about it.
WARREN: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks. Great to see you.
WARREN: You take care.
She's my senator too. I'm very lucky.
WARREN: You bet. My constituent.
MADDOW: We'll be right back.