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Public Statements

MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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Let me ask you both -- I want to start with Congresswoman Edwards because I`ve known you for a while, and I want to ask you, just as a human being, not as a partisan, what did you think when you heard about this U.S. congressman, a colleague of yours in the broadest sense, who says -- who said that he`s really -- he doesn`t think in a case of legitimate -- only in a case -- actually, he said -- the way he phrased it, which is so wild, in a case of "legitimate" rape, the woman wouldn`t get pregnant. And by the way, there should be "some punishment" for -- for rape.

I don`t know how to read all that to me, how to absorb it.

REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D), MARYLAND: Well, I -- you know --

MATTHEWS: What did you think as a woman?

EDWARDS: Chris, I`ve said before that this doesn`t bear any relation to either biology or humanity. And I really mean that because when you think of what a woman experiences in rape and the horror of that, the idea that you`re going to separate some kinds of rape from other kinds of rape, as though you have good victims and bad victims, really just takes us back to, you know, a really different time in our history.

And I think, as women, we thought that we`d gotten way beyond that, where we have, you know, systems, whether those are law enforcement systems
and -- in our communities that actually treat us as whole human beings when
it comes to rape and to the horror and tragedy of it.

And so as a woman, it actually hurts me because I thought we were long
past this debate, but clearly, we`re not.

MATTHEWS: What`s interesting is the weird intellectual linkage, Joe Klein, between this guy`s views of being very -- fair enough -- he`s very anti -- very pro-life. Fine. You can take that position. It`s a legitimate debate, obviously, in this country, and people are divided on it.

But he uses that very strong pro-life position to cast doubt as a Republican on rape as an idea --

JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": Yes.

MATTHEWS: -- because it`s inconsistent with his Republican notion, which is in the platform, we know, in draft form already. There can be no abortions under any circumstances, including rape, so they have to almost out-define or non-define or define away, I should say, the idea of rape because it gets in the way of their pro-life position, the party.

KLEIN: Well, the notion that you can parse rape is absolutely ridiculous.

MATTHEWS: But why is he doing it?

KLEIN: Why is he doing it? Because he`s an ideologue.

And the amendment, the congressional amendment that he put in that had
Paul Ryan as a supporter used the term forcible rape. There are studies that show that one-half of the out-of-wedlock births among teenagers are the result of rape by older men of teenage children. And especially in poor black, poor white communities, it`s very often mom`s boyfriend.

Now, that -- you can`t distinguish between that and forcible rape. That`s disgraceful.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but let me go back to the idea of the Republican Party.

Donna Edwards, you`re a Democrat, but the Republican Party is meeting this week coming into -- right off this whole crazy thing with Todd Akin and this debate`s going to go on all weekend. They`re going to draft platform language that basically abolishes any legal right to an abortion, under any circumstances.

Whether you get pregnant -- because you don`t want to be pregnant, and you get pregnant and you don`t want to have a child or take the child to term, any condition, whether it`s incest, they are going to basically eradicate a woman`s right to choose. What do you think that`s going to do to voters out there after they do that on Monday night?

EDWARDS: Well, I think it gives us some real pause.

Look, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are running away from Todd Akin and they`re running away from Paul Ryan`s legislative agenda, which he`s been
very clear about and was in lockstep with Todd Akin. And now they`re going
to try to run away from the Republican Party platform.

There`s only so much running away that can be done by a ticket from the top to the bottom that strongly has a pro-life position, but a rather radical position when it comes to the way we treat rape, incest in this country, and not even providing exemptions for that, even though Mitt Romney says that his administration was.

It`s not their party platform. And so there`s only so much you can do to run away from the entire agenda of the Republican Party, and this is pretty consistent with the way that they have treated these issues related to women and women`s health care over the course of certainly this Congress since Republicans have had control of the House, but very consistent in their Republican agenda.

I just don`t see how Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can distance themselves
anymore from what their agenda is.

MATTHEWS: Right. But, Congresswoman, and now, Joe, it seems to me that was the whole idea of picking Ryan. You picked a guy which Romney did after weeks of thinking about this, months even. He said, I`m going to pick a guy that is going to put focus on the economy and the need to cut the debt and I`m going to take a guy who`s true blue on that subject, right?

But it turns out within days, we`re all realizing this guy believes in personhood, that from the second after conception, after a fertilized egg, you`re a human being, you`re a person, therefore, the government will protect you under the 14th Amendment, all your rights.

This is pretty radical stuff. Do you think Romney knew he was stepping into this?

KLEIN: Well, I think there`s a larger issue here.

I don`t think Romney was fully aware of all the aspects of Paul Ryan. But the larger issue here is how does a guy like Todd Akin get to win a primary in a state like Missouri? The Republican Party has a major grassroots problem, which is that a good part of its grassroots now celebrate ignorance.

It`s more than abortion and women`s rights. It`s evolution.

MATTHEWS: OK. Put that in nonpartisan --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What does celebrate ignorance mean?

KLEIN: It`s, you know, denying evolution, denying the science behind climate change, the birtherism. How is it that when Donald Trump comes out of the closet as a major league birther, he shoots to the top of the polls, the presidential preference polls among Republicans?

I mean, there is an awful lot of celebration of ignorance going on in that party right now. It`s really sad for me, because there was a point 20 years ago when I thought the Republicans were coming up with some of the best policy ideas.

MATTHEWS: OK. With no attack on anybody, but this -- our politics is getting more Middle Eastern, where any rumor, any weird theory becomes the thing you fight over.

There`s no such thing as checking it with Google even. Check the facts. Nobody checks anything anymore. Crazy thinking.

Thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland.

Thank you, Joe Klein of "TIME."

EDWARDS: Thank you.

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