All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 2/16/2016
Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
Date: February 16, 2016
Guest: Tony Beam, Danielle Gray, Nick Confessore, Karen Finney
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN –
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ted Cruz, he`s, seriously –
he`s got a – he`s got a mental problem.
HAYES: The Trump rampage to the nomination continues.
TRUMP: We`ve got a win on Saturday.
HAYES: Tonight, the latest major evidence that Donald Trump is poised to
win in South Carolina.
Then, President Obama joins the fight to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Constitution is pretty
clear about what is supposed to happen now.
HAYES: Tonight, there are signs the Republican blockade may already be
And tonight, the first indication that the Clinton firewall may hold in
South Carolina as Hillary stops in Harlem.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to begin by facing up
to the reality of systemic racism.
HAYES: And the Sanders campaign makes a major ad buy.
AD NARRATOR: Bernie Sanders is a protester.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
And tonight, we have new information that shed some light on the most
burning question in politics following Saturday night`s very heated debate
– how South Carolina`s Republican primary voters feel about the omni
directional assault that Donald Trump launched at that debate not just
against his opponents, but also against the crowd and the debate hall, as
well as the legacy of former President George W. Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You`re the single biggest liar. You`re probably worse than Jeb
Bush. You are the single biggest liar.
Jeb is so wrong. Jeb is absolutely wrong.
Just so you understand, you know who that is? That`s Jeb`s special
interest and lobbyists talking.
I want to tell you, they lied. They said there were weapons of mass
destruction. There were none. They knew there were none.
The World Trade Center came down during the reign. He kept us safe.
That`s not safe. That is not safe.
MODERATOR: All right.
TRUMP: That is not safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: As we watched this all unfold live, people rushed to declare what
they have declared countless times before. This was it. This was finally
it – Donald Trump`s waterloo. He would pay for attacking George W. Bush
in South Carolina, where polls suggest Republicans love the ex-president,
he would pay for saying that the country was misled into Iraq and that on
September 11th, Bush did not, in fact, keep us safe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He basically is mirroring the words
of Michael Moore in a Republican primary. It`s kind of weird. What Trump
is talking about is conspiracy theories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today, we got our first post-debate polling in South Carolina which
holds its GOP primary this Saturday and behold the devastation. The poll
shows Trump with 35 percent support, putting him 17 points ahead of Ted
Cruz and Marco Rubio.
Another poll shows him with commanding lead over the field. Thought there
are signs in that one the debate may have taken something of a toll. Trump
had 40 percent in interviews before the debate and 31 percent in interviews
Still, that is a big edge over the rest of the field and the polls do not
show any sort of serious boost for Jeb Bush who has been campaigning with
his brother in South Carolina and who today was widely mocked online after
tweeting a picture with a gun with his name carved in the barrel with a
And here`s the lesson we`re learning this week, even if voters in places
like in South Carolina like the Bush family, even if they sometimes
disagree with what Trump has to say, even found unfair, or outrageous, it
just didn`t make much of a difference. Trump has become a vessel for a
certain type of, let`s call it, lost cause identity politics.
In a new poll, 38 percent of Trump supporters said they wish the South had
won the civil war, 31 percent said they support began on gay people
entering the U.S. He`s also more than that though. One Trump supporter
told “The L.A. Times”, quote, “We`re voting with our middle finger.”
Another South Carolina voter considering Trump told our Benjy Sarlin,
quote, “If Jeb had just told Trump to F off, he`s get my vote.”
Yesterday, George W. Bush argued that, quote, “We do not need someone in
the Oval Office who mirrors and inflames our frustrations.” Donald Trump
is a living, breathing refutation of that argument. And if he wins South
Carolina on Saturday as the polls currently suggest he will, the odds of
Trump achieving the once unthinkable and becoming the GOP presidential
nominee will grow considerably.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Saturday is such a big day. And we can do Saturday, we can do
really well, we can literally run the table and we can win this whole thing
and we can turn this country around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: At a press conference today, President Obama said that at least in
the general election, he believes cooler heads will prevail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president. And the
reason is because I have a lot of faith in the American people. And I
think they recognize that being president is a serious job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Trump was asked to respond to the president`s comments this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This man has done such a bad job. He set us back so far and for
him to say that is a great compliment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Dr. Tony Beam, vice president for Student Life and
Christian Worldview at North Greenville University in South Carolina, host
of the radio talk show “Christian Worldview Today”. He is supporting Ted
Cruz for president.
Dr. Beam, let me start with the president`s comments. Does that help
Donald Trump when the president explicitly says something about Donald
Trump? Do you think among the people that you spend your time with?
DR. TONY BEAM, HOST, “CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW TODAY”: Absolutely. In fact –
by the way, Chris, thank you for having me on this evening. I appreciate
No, I don`t know that there`s anything that Donald Trump can do at this
point to blunt his support. I agree with some of the analysis I`ve been
hearing and reading and talking about all week. The things that he said in
the debate the other night should have really cut into his lead. Well, it
might have cost him a few percentage points but it seems that nothing can
derail the Trump rain, at least here in South Carolina.
It doesn`t hurt that President Obama came out and had some things about
Trump never being president. Here in South Carolina, President Obama is
not very popular. And certainly, that will cause a reaction. But I think
it will be a reaction in favor of Donald Trump.
HAYES: You know, you are an evangelical minister. You have something
called Christian Worldview Radio. And I just got to ask you – here is
polling on evangelicals in South Carolina. Donald Trump is winning 42
percent over Ted Cruz, 23 percent.
Donald Trump who talks about the little cracker when he refers to
communion. Donald Trump who says he`s never asked forgiveness from God.
Donald Trump who in every way seems a total refutation of a theological
integrity to viewing the world that world view philosophy calls for. How
is this happening?
BEAM: Well, I`m not sure, Chris. I think if I could explain that, I would
be a wealthy people, because I think a lot of people are asking that
question. I ask it every day on my radio show.
I talk to people every day that are Donald Trump supporters. And I ask
them standard questions about why they are supporting Trump. What do you
think about what he said here? How about his position that he took years
ago about this? What makes you think we should embrace him as an
evangelical Christian if he can`t describe forgiveness or anything to do
with the depth of the Christian faith?
But what I get back is anger. Trump is going to change things. Trump is
going to take Washington and turn it upside down.
My concern is what Washington is going to look like after it writes itself
after Trump gets there without a track record, I don`t know what he`s going
to do and that concerns me greatly in this election.
HAYES: Let me ask you about abortion. I thought the abortion ads that Ted
Cruz had been running about Donald Trump had been fairly effective if
you`re opposed the abortion and a very committed to that opposition.
Is that not working with the people that call your radio show? I mean, I
imagine that the people that listen to your radio show have a deeply held
belief that abortion is wrong in every instance and want to see that made
into law. Trump`s position on this seems so obviously to have been adopted
so late. Do people buy it?
BEAM: Well, I don`t think it matters, Chris, whether they buy it or not.
That`s the frustration that I have. That I`ve had with this whole campaign
as we talk about Donald Trump.
I`ve asked that question plenty of times on the show. What about the fact
that Donald Trump didn`t appear to be pro-life until recently? What about
the fact that Donald Trump didn`t appear to be conservative until recently?
What about the values of conservatism that are supposed to matter to us if
we`re conservatives and we believe that conservatism is the right way for
the government to be run? It`s the right philosophy for America. What
about all that?
And people just keep coming back to home base. They are mad – they`re
angry. They`re frustrated. They believe the Republican Party
establishment and Washington, as they describe it, has turned their back on
the grassroots voters. And they don`t care about his positions as long as
Trump is going to go to Washington and turn things up side down. Become a
different kind of president.
HAYES: All right. Dr. Tony Beam, this is really a fascinating,
fascinating look into the psychology of voters down there. I really
appreciate you taking the time.
BEAM: My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.
HAYES: All right. Joining me, MSNBC contributor Josh Barro, correspondent
for “The Upshot” at “The New York Times”.
That`s – I mean, there`s a great “This American Life” piece with Tony
Beam, which is where we got the idea to have him on the show, I should not.
You know, you can hear how flummoxed he is about how post-ideological all
JOSH BARRO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. No, and you`re seeing this in all
parts of the Republican Party, right? One of the key features we see in
the polls is that Donald Trump doesn`t do well with given groups in the
party. Somewhat better with people less educated and have lower incomes.
But it`s really pretty popular across the scale. He does well with
moderates and conservatives, with evangelical Christians, with people who
are not evangelical Christians.
And all of the assumptions you had about these elements in the party and
what they wanted out a candidate is not bearing fruit. In New Hampshire,
places that Mitt Romney won going away four years ago went strongly for
Donald Trump. The sort of Northeastern, moderate establishment Republicans
who are supposed to be the bulwark for candidates like Jeb Bush were going
for Donald Trump. It`s not a Trump-Cruz right on the right. It`s also a
Trump versus Bush, Trump versus Kasich.
BARRO: Trump versus Rubio race in the establishment.
And I think one of the things we`re learning is voters are much less
ideological than we were led to believe that they were. It`s not so much
that they walk into the voting booth and say, I want the moderate
candidate. I want a conservative candidate.
HAYES: Or even I want someone who agrees with me obviously and sincerely
BARRO: Right. There`s a piece you wrote for the nation about 12 years ago
that I think it`s really instructive about how a lot of voters don`t
understand what a political issue is.
BARRO: I like to say, voters don`t have opinions about policy. They have
feelings about issues. Donald Trump speaks to their sort of very broad
nebulous feelings about what`s wrong with the government.
And it doesn`t really matter that much what the specific policy positions
are that get plugged in there, and even he can go after someone like George
Bush who is popular with them on the war, say things that would be
extremely unpopular coming out of the Democrat, but because they have this
emotional connection with Donald Trump, he`s able to not only get away with
saying those things. He seems to have tried on it.
HAYES: You know, there`s another aspect of this, I think you`re right.
There`s another aspect about this performance of dominance. This is some
other people talk about. Josh Marshalls has written about this. And Benjy
Sarlin, who`s been doing great reporting in the field at MSNBC.com, talking
to voters, right? At this rally, right? People come out to see George W.
So, these are people that like him and talking to those folks saying I like
the Bushes. I want to see the ex-president. I`m probably going to vote
for Trump. And one guy who says, if Jeb had just – had nothing to do with
like establishment, moderate, where they are, how big their tax cuts are
going to be, it was purely the performance of dominance that basically
Donald Trump beating up on Jeb Bush had essentially that Jeb Bush was
unable to fight back had disqualified him in the eyes of his voters.
BARRO: Yes, although I don`t know. I mean, of all the candidates in the
field, Jeb has tried to punch back the hardest. Now, maybe because it`s
not convincing coming from him.
BARRO: I don`t know if it`s about dominance. I think it`s dominance
coming from Donald Trump and I think it`s about who it`s against. I think
if voters were not so upset over what the establishment has done over the
last 16 years or so, beating up on the establishment wouldn`t be as popular
as it is.
HAYES: That is true. But I also think, frankly, that a pathology has been
cultivated in the sort of conservative subculture about this sort of
dominance and machoness. And you see it all the time in the way that
certain kind of, hermetically sealed echo chamber of conservatives talk
about things that I think is now coming back to bite them.
BARRO: Yes. Although, I think if you look on the left we`re seeing the
success of Bernie Sanders that doesn`t have the element of machoness but
has the same element of rejecting all of these losers who have made all of
these mistakes before.
HAYES: Yes, but look at the difference between how this – I mean, we`ll
see where we are, right? But Bernie Sanders is not winning going away.
HAYES: That`s something different about this institutional nature aside
from the fact they`re not substantively different.
BARRO: Right. Well, I also think the left is not as displeased with the
BARRO: Which makes sense because we have a Democratic president who has a
fairly long list of legislative achievements that people should be at least
somewhat happy about. I`m sure Hillary is screaming that in private like
why are people not grateful for this stuff?
BARRO: But I think they are to some extent grateful. I think that`s why
it`s working more on the right than the left, but it`s working on both
sides to a significant extent because of the immense level of discontent.
HAYES: All right. Josh Barro, thank you very much.
HAYES: All right. Still to come, it`s the off (ph) foretold Rubio surge.
Can his campaign spin a third place finish as a win again?
And later, why Nevada will be a major battleground of the Democratic
candidates and why the outcome there is still absolutely and completely
unclear. We don`t know anything.
Plus, President Obama has some words from Republicans threatening to
obstruct a Supreme Court nomination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Your job doesn`t stop until you`re voted out or until your term
expires. I intend to do my job between now and January 20th of 2017. I
expect them to do their job as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All right. There`s a new conspiracy theory going around in the
furthest recesses of the right wing fever swamp popularized by the likes of
Info Wars and even the Drudge Report, suggesting that because Antonin
Scalia was reportedly found dead with a pillow over his face, because he
wasn`t pronounced dead and had no autopsy performed, the only logical
conclusion is foul play.
Let`s be clear here, there`s zero evidence to substantiate this theory.
And according to Matt Pierce of “The L.A. Times”, the man who found Scalia
said the pillow was not actually on his face, but between his head and the
On top of that, there`s reason to believe the Scalia family, as you can
expect, might find the conspiracy theory pretty offensive. That didn`t
stop the Republican presidential front-runner from doing an interview with
one of the theory`s most high profile opponents, talk radio host Michael
It`s the latest sign of Trump`s willingness to engage with the ugly,
irrational underbelly of far right wing politics. And America`s most
famous birther is open to questions about what befell the Supreme Court
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MICHAEL SAVAGE, HOST: I went on the air and said we need the equivalent of
a Warren Commission. We need an immediate autopsy before the body is
disposed of. What do you think of that?
TRUMP: Well, I just heard today, and just a little while ago actually.
You know, I just landed and I`m hearing it`s a big topic that`s the
question, and it`s a horrible topic. But they say they found a pillow on
his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.
I can`t tell you what – I can`t give you an answer. You know, usually, I
like to hear your answers. But I literally just heard it a little while
ago. It`s just starting to come out now, as you know, Michael.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This is the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. It`s the
one court where we would expect elected officials to rise above day-to-day
politics, and this will be the opportunity for senators to do their job. I
intend to do my job between now and January 20th of 2017. I expect them to
do their job as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Obama making it clear he`s ready for a fight over
nominating a successor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, despite
Republicans` pledge to block him.
“New York Times” reports Democrats are teeing up a public campaign to put
pressure on Senate Republicans, complete with an online clock that would
start on the day President Obama named his nominee.
Already, there`s been a small crack in Republican resistance, after joining
calls to hold off on replacing Scalia until after the election, Senate
Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley would not rule out holding confirmation
hearings in a radio interview this morning.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, RADIO IOWA)
CALLER: Do you plan hold a hearing on the president`s nominee and then
vote on that nomination in committee?
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: I would wait until the nominee is made
before I would make any decisions. In other words, take it a step at the
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: Like many of his Republican colleagues, Grassley called for a delay
in nomination process, citing what he called, quote, “standard practice
over the last nearly 80 years that Supreme Court nominees are not nominated
and confirmed during a presidential election year.”
As SCOTUS Blog points out, six Supreme Court justices were nominated and/or
confirmed during an election year during the 20th century. Mahlon Pitney,
nominated and confirmed in March 1912. Louis Brandeis, nominated in
January 1916, confirmed the following June. John Clarke, both nominated
and confirmed in July that same year.
The famous Benjamin Cardozo nominated in January, confirmed in February of
1932. Frank Murphy, nominated and confirmed in January 1940. And far more
recently and perhaps germane, current Justice Anthony Kennedy, nominated in
November 1987 after two previous nominees went down and confirmed in
February of 1988.
Of the 20th century nominees that failed to get confirmed in election year,
none had anything to do with leaving the seat open for the next president
to fill. If you go all the way back to our nation`s founding, three
presidents, John Adams, John Tyler and Rutherford B. Hayes even appointed
justices in the lame duck period, between the next president`s election and
There`s a precedent, however. After the Dodd-Frank financial reform law
was passed in 2010, creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,
Senate Republicans vowed to oppose any nominee to head the CFPB regardless
of party or qualifications until major changes were made to the bureau. It
was the first time in Senate history, according to “PolitiFact”, that a
party blocked an appointment because it just disagreed with the role of the
government agency one created by an act of Congress.
And regardless of off the lofty illusions to Democratic principles, the
current maneuvering over President Obama`s Supreme Court nominee is just as
blatantly political, something presidential candidate Ben Carson revealed
perhaps inadvertently while discussing the last debate in a radio
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
HOST: Do you think the same six people on stage would say the same thing
if there were a Republican president in the White House right now for them
to wait until the next president is selected?
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CADNDIATE: No, no, they wouldn`t.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now is Danielle Gray, former senior adviser to President
Obama, who is part of the team who worked on judicial nominations including
the two Supreme Court justices confirmed under Barack Obama.
Who is the president going to nominate?
DANIELLE GRAY, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRES. OBAMA: You know, it`s just
my opinion but I think he`s going to pick whomever he would like.
HAYES: You`re obviously not going to answer this question even though I
feel like you have probably good read on it.
So, let me try this – there`s two ways to think about this nominee. One
is this person`s not going to be confirmed. You want the person who
basically makes the best martyr for political purpose, the most sympathetic
that you just could hang around the necks of the Republicans. The other
is, no, they think they`re going to win the fight and this person will be
seated on the court before he leaves offices.
Which of those two ways of thinking do you think is guiding the White
GRAY: I think certainly the latter. I think this is a president, as we`ve
seen time and time again, who takes very seriously the role of the courts.
He`s been through this twice before with two previous Supreme Court
vacancies. He understands that this is one of the more serious things and
responsibilities that a president actually has. And it`s a privilege and
one should treat it as such.
And so, I think what he said earlier is exactly right. They`re going to
treat this as an ordinary court vacancy and the obligation is to nominate
someone and fulfill the constitutional duty to do so.
HAYES: But you got to – I mean, OK, you`re going to have to get 14 votes
because they`re going to try to filibuster. You got to win – you have to
get 14 defections, A, and, B, let`s say someone you think would be perfect
for the court, OK? You nominate them. They then get bludgeoned for almost
a year. You`ve now killed that person`s chances, right?
I mean, if there`s a new president. If it`s President Bernie Sanders of
President Hillary Clinton, or a Republican, are they going to want to
continue with that person? Isn`t there some risk in whoever that nominee
GRAY: You know, I say a couple of things about that, Chris. I think the
kind of obstruction that the president is encountered with his executive
appointments as you just mentioned with lower court appointments, the court
of appeals, district courts.
HAYES: Which have basically been on hold since the midterms.
GRAY: Exactly. Part of the reason that obstruction can exist is those are
low visibility nominations. The American people aren`t focused on them.
They`re not paying a lot of attention. So, months can go by.
HAYES: Oh, the fifth circuit is down a judge.
GRAY: Fifth circuit, you know, there`s a nomination in the southern
district. It`s hard for people to follow. A Supreme Court nomination is
one of the more visible events in our democracy. It`s something people are
paying attention. They are thinking about the role of the court.
And I think one of the things, the White House is going to think about with
this nomination is, it`s going to – for all the reasons you mentioned at
the top of the show, that the historical argument that this has never
occurred in history is not going to carry out. It`s certainly not going to
carry when the president nominates a real life human being with 300-plus
days remaining in his term who has a record, the American people can judge
the person`s qualifications.
HAYES: So, you – I mean, you sound like you believe they are right also
that they can win this fight?
GRAY: Yes, absolutely, absolutely. I mean, I think there`s been others –
HAYES: Where do the 14 votes come from, though? I mean, why am I am crazy
– am I crazy to think there`s no way for the person gets confirmed?
GRAY: Listen, I think you have to try. I think that`s my starting point
And I think also ,what you`ve seen in some of the president`s legislative
battles where the starting point with the Republicans is often a very, very
hard line. As you noted at the top of the show, you`re now hearing
statements to the affect of maybe we`ll have hearing.
You know, I think the thing that I keep coming back to is this is not going
to be an academic abstract fight about whether or not the president can
fill a vacancy. It`s going to be a real person and a real argument and the
Supreme Court, by the way, is going to be hearing cases and potentially
dividing on those cases in way that`s not productive for the country.
HAYES: You clerked for Breyer, the term that Chief Justice Rehnquist died,
right? You`ve been on a court that was four-four. What was that like?
GRAY: It was for a temporary period. Ultimately, Justice Alito was
confirmed. There was a lot of changeover that year.
HAYES: That`s right.
GRAY: I think there`s a few things. I think this is a court that thinks a
lot about legitimacy in its decision makes and the spectacle of issuing a
lot of divided opinions, opinion that don`t have precedential weight for
the lower courts is not ideal in terms of this court. So, I think you`re
going to – I would expect to see an effort to minimize that to some extent
and to watch the court really struggle with how to function without a full
complement of members.
HAYES: All right. Danielle Gray, thank you very much.
GRAY: Thank you.
HAYES: We`re going to be relying on you as this goes forward, it`s going
to be quite a fight.
Still to come, Democratic candidates fight for a vote crucial to the
nomination, which sends Bernie Sanders of a historically black colleges and
Hillary Clinton to Harlem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Republican governors and legislatures are erecting one barrier
after another and make it harder for black people to vote. It`s a blast
from the Jim Crow past.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: OK, right now, here`s where things stand in the Democratic primary
fight. Hillary Clinton won one state, Iowa by a fraction of a percentage
point. Bernie Sanders won one state, New Hampshire by a wide margin. And
the first state to offer a tiebreaker is Nevada, which is caucusing this
And Hillary Clinton won that state`s caucus in 2008 against Barack Obama.
And there was a time when many observers thought she would walk away with
it again this time around.
But there are lots of anecdotal signs that things are quite tight. We
don`t know for sure because, well, no reliable polling has been done
recently which is
maddening, though that`s another story.
But there are indications, as described by veteran Nevada reporter John
Ralston in an interview with NBC`s Kristen Welker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN RALSTON, RALSTON REPORTS: The fact that the Clinton campaign came out
of that big New Hampshire loss and tried to spin that Nevada was just Iowa
and New Hampshire and that Sanders could do very well here.
I know that Clinton believes the race is in single digits. I know that for
a fact. And it probably is. But what does that mean when you have a
caucus, which is going to have relatively low turnout and has same day
registration where the Clinton campaign has to be worried about the whole
Millennial effect, right. All these young voters deciding to register on
Saturday to go support Bernie Sanders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, this contest is a big deal in terms of momentum, in terms of
testing the electoral viability of Bernie Sanders outside of the very white
and unrepresentative states of Iowa and New Hampshire. It`s a big deal in
durability if he`s built for the long haul. And it`s a big deal for
Hillary Clinton if she can`t hold on to it.
So, we`re going in Nevada. On Thursday night, we`ll be hosting a special
hour live just before MSNBC`s exclusive town hall hosted by Chuck Todd and
Jose Diaz-Balart with both of the candidates.
We will also be there for caucus day, so be sure to joins us Thursday for
the kickoff for our special Nevada caucus coverage.
HAYES: New polling out of South Carolina does not appear to bode well for
Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by 21 points, that
margin is even greater among black Democratic voters. And nationally,
Hillary Clinton is
drawing a significant portion of her support from younger black voters.
According to the latest NBC News poll, 64 percent of the black Democratic
voters under 30 back Clinton while just a quarter support Sanders.
African-American voters will play a significant role both in the South
Carolina Democratic primary and the states that follow on super Tuesday and
beyond. And today`s schedules for both candidates reflect that. Starting
with Hillary Clinton who began her day meeting with the National Urban
in New York and prominent civil right leaders like Reverend Al Sharpton and
NAACP President Cornell Brooks.
Afterwards, she headed uptown to Harlem to Langston Hughes auditorium
located on Malcolm X boulevard to give a speech on, quote, breaking down
barriers for African-Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FRM. U.S. SECREATRY OF STATE: Imagine if a white baby in
South Carolina were twice as likely to die before her first birthday than
African-American baby. Imagine the outcry. Imagine the resources that
would flood in. Now, these inequities are wrong, but they`re also immoral.
And it will be the mission of my presidency to bring them to an end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Bernie Sanders began his day at a prayer breakfast in South
Carolina with, according to the New York Times, actor Danny Glover and
former NAACP President Ben Jealous who had both endorsed Sanders.
After which, Sanders held a town hall meeting at the University of South
Carolina, where he was introduced by Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric
Garner who died after being put in a choke hold by a New York police
officer. None of the officers were charged.
Today, the Sanders campaign announced a massive TV ad buy with a two-minute
ad featuring Garner`s endorsement airing in every broadcast market in South
Carolina tomorrow as well as on national cable morning shows and BET.
After leaving the Palmetto State, Sanders headed south to Atlanta for a
rally with rapper Killer Mike at the historically black Morehouse College.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, VERMONT: We began this campaign nine months ago. And
we began it, people said, well, Bernie, we like the way you comb your hair.
You`re kind of a sharp GQ kind of fellow, but you ain`t going to go any
place because your ideas are too radical. Turns out that wasn`t quite the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: We`ll be looking at each candidate`s strategy to talk to and court
African-American voters, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: White Americans need to do a better job of listening when
African-Americans talk about the seen and unseen barriers that you face
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Karen Finney senior adviser and senior spokesperson
for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Great to have you here.
KAREN FINNEY, SENIOR ADVISER HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Great to be here.
HAYES: So, why did she give this speech?
FINNEY: So, this is actually a culmination of things that she`s actually
been talking about from the beginning of this campaign. Her very first
policy speech of the campaign was actually at Columbia talking about
reform and what she wanted to do around criminal justice reform. And she`s
talked about criminal justice reform, but also that it`s not – there`s
that but there`s racism. And we have to deal with racism. She talked
about that quite beautifully after the massacre at the church in
And she pointed out that it was an act of racist terror, which I think a
lot of us believe. So, she`s been talking pretty forcefully about these
issues. But today was about – you know, her life has been about breaking
down barriers from the work that she did at the Children`s Defense Fund to
health care for kids, you know, CHIP program when she worked as First Lady,
when she was in the senate
protecting the right to vote and those issues.
So, this was really a culmination of that. And she wanted to sort of talk
about her vision of how do we go forward. Because to her, yes, we have
criminal justice reform, we have to talk about racism, but then how do we
talk about making sure that people are able live a fulsome life? How do we
talk about economic investments to create jobs? How do we talk about the
fact that we have so many African-American female head of households. We
need equal pay for women.
So, it was kind of a culmination of all these ideas.
HAYES: She used the term intersectional in this speech, which…
FINNEY: Yes, she did.
HAYES: …what universe am I in?
FINNEY: 2016, my friend. You bet.
HAYES: Hillary Clinton is using intersectional.
I want you to respond to the most cynical interpretation of this. And it`s
not the one that I hold, just to be clear – or the mass incarceration
which is basically she looks at the – you guys look at numbers. You`re
basically even with
Bernie Sanders in national polling among white voters. Voters of color are
people described it as demographic firewall, which I find like a weirdly
belittling term. But put that aside.
But this is essentially just a kind of pander to maintain this bulwark.
FINNEY: You know, a couple of things. Number one, if she hadn`t actually
started talking about criminal justice reform even in December 2014, I
think before she was even thinking about running, if I hadn`t known her for
over 20 years, I might – I can see why you might – people might believe
But having seen her do the work, I know that this is her heart. This is –
you know, this idea that – and as a woman, I mean, she`s someone, her own
been about breaking down barriers in addition to the work that she`s done.
So, you know, I guess I can see why people would say that and I think part
of what you saw today, and I think this is a distinction between her and
Bernie, quite frankly, she`s been doing this work for a very long time.
And there`s a familiarity.
I mean, you know, some of the civil rights leaders this morning, places
like we went to – we go to African-American communities, there`s a comfort
because she knows these issues. And so she`s able to talk about them at a
level of and layer of depth that I don`t think you`re hearing from Bernie
HAYES: Let me ask you what strikes me as the toughest question here,
right. We`re coming off the first black president in American history.
Hillary Clinton is very vocal about how she wants to continue and
consolidate that legacy. And at the same time, if you look at all sorts of
metrics, the disparities, racial disparities whether it`s unemployment,
health, income, wealth, incarceration, right, those disparities have
stubbornly remained through these eight years. In some ways they have
expanded along certain metrics when you look at sort of health and the
housing boom effect – the housing bust effect.
FINNEY: Although with health, you have more African-Americans having
health care now thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
HAYES: You do. But there is a real question of like what do ou do next?
What does that look like shrinking that if you`re talking about continuing
the president`s legacy, in some ways there`s a lot left to fulfill in terms
of bringing down those inequities.
FINNEY: And I think what you`re raising is really important, which is we
are not a single issue country. We do not – breaking down the banks,
great. Is that going to clean the water in Flint? I don`t think so. Is
that going to fix the pipes in Flint? I don`t think so. And that`s a part
of what this speech was about that when you talk about – and, look, part
of why Hillary is talking about these issues, is that when you – in the
African-American community, part of our concern is President Obama has made
real progress on some very important things. Eric Holder helped to make a
lot of progress. Loretta Lynch is helping to make a lot of progress. We
want to know the next president is going to be as committed, if not more
so, to building on what he`s done and doing more.
And that`s what today was about. And again, I think it`s still important
that she – you know, again, it`s housing and redlining and access to
capital. And remember, she talked about the new markets tax credit which
was something that
Bill Clinton started and how that targets investment into low income
communities and can really make a difference in people`s lives in way they
HAYES: All right, Karen Finney, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
All right, joining me now Trymaine Lee, national MSNBC national reporter.
There`s been some really interesting stuff around generational divides.
And I thought this was a particularly interesting – this was about – this
was a piece about the congressional black caucus PAC endorsing Hillary
Clinton and Maxine
Waters after the event, Waters walked out, wanted to know had her
colleagues publicly chastised young voters for their naivete.
Some lawmakers had, onlookers told her. Her face dropped. You can`t do
that. That`s why I can`t stand behind them, because I don`t want my young
people to think that way.
There`s an interesting tension around this sort of rhetoric of Bernie
Sanders as this idealist who doesn`t know the real world.
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That`s right. I think some of
that – the idea that your chastising these young people who feel very much
a part of these movements that are growing very much on their own from
taking to the streets. And I think part of that is the appeal of Bernie
Sanders to many young people. It sounds radical. It sounds anti-
establishment. When you think about some of the things that are hinged to
the Clinton era. The idea of this super predator and mass incarceration.
And then when you look at the stop and frisk
and we look at what led to Eric Garner`s death. And it`s interesting how
campaigns almost have these dueling – the victim`s families.
On one you have Eric Garner`s daughter, and then on the other you have
Sabrina Fuller. It`s like what is…
HAYES: I`m glad you brought that up. Because I understand why those
endorsements mean a lot. These are people who have suffered tremendous
pain, personal anguish. They have been at the center of a national fight
and American democracy. But I agree that – how do you interpret these
sort of dueling endorsements we keep seeing?
LEE: In one sense it almost feels like it`s not just condescending, but
it`s almost pandering by both sides. We know what`s hot right now. We
both have been pushed months ago from Black Lives Matter.
On the other hand, the bar is set so low that it feels good today when
Hillary Clinton talking about the inequity not just about economics, but
it`s about race and it`s about the color of skin. And so it`s the one hand
it`s pandering to the highest order. It`s almost like I can remember so
many times sitting in black churches and white politicians come on. They
put that little twang in their voice,
bring your souls to the polls. And it`s condescending. And it hits you in
a certain kind of place. That bothers you deeply. But they`re trying,
And a part of this feels like that on both sides.
HAYES: Well, that`s – got it. You articulated it far better than I ever
could. I will say this, though, when I do – when you look at these
interviews with these folks, or if look at the Erica Garner video. I mean,
she has got this whole thing on her website where she talks about that
video, which they`re now running. They`re going to run in South Carolina.
It`s massively powerful. Forget, for a moment, the candidate. I mean, 95
percent of it isn`t about Bernie Sanders, it`s just about her life and what
You know, she talks a about how she had full artistic control of that
thing, that she made that. And, I don`t know, I think something about
seeing that video flipped my thinking about that aspect of this.
LEE: See, here the thing of – the truth is the truth. Right, so whether
it`s pandering or not, whether it`s a matter of politics or not, it hits a
cord because it`s all true. And we`ve seen this over the last two years.
And finally for whatever reason, these candidates are addressing it. And
even people in the communities that may not otherwise be politically
engaged are having these conversations and these commercials and ads are a
good vehicle for this.
HAYES: You know, my thought as I watched this is when is the last time we
saw a bidding war for black votes. It`s sort of remarkable. And partly, I
mean, it`s an inverse. Barack Obama did not have to do these kinds of
things. He was Barack Obama. We are seeing something. And I can`t
remember the last time I saw something like this in any kind of politics.
LEE: And not just the black vote. Traditionally, you know, Ms. Johnson,
the old church folks, the souls to your polls types that had taken buses
straight from church to early voting, but young activists engaged in the
HAYES: And a sort of full spectrum engagement with the tremendous
intellectual foment that is around this moment in sort of racial justice.
I think it`s a really fascinating moment. Trymaine Lee,it`s always great
to see you, man.
HAYES: Still to come, how Marco Rubio`s campaign is trying to spin losing
into a totally legitimate winning strategy. That`s next.
HAYES: Since the beginning of the campaign season, Politico has had a
regular feature in which it asks what it calls insiders who won a debate.
Now, here is chart on who won last Saturday`s debate, according to, quote,
the top activists, operatives and early state strategists as Politico puts
Marco Rubio, by a mile, 44 percent doubling the next votegetter that was
Jeb Bush. And this is not the first time, debate after debate, the
insiders proclaim Rubio the winner, except for that Fiorina one there.
Nearly the all the past seven
debates it`s Rubio, Rubio, Rubio.
Now, this is also not first time Republican insiders tried to push a rosy
narrative of Rubio`s standing and potential, or the first time media
outlets covered supposed Rubiomentum.
On the eve of Iowa, there was a New York Times article about Rubio`s
resurgence in that state. And it is true, he did overperform in Iowa quite
He came in third, which he tried to turn into a major victory, a narrative
many in the Rubio industrial complex, readily supported.
But Rubio translated that momentum into a fifth place finish in New
Hampshire after an epically painful sequence in a debate the weekend
Rubio performed far better in last Saturday`s debate, no question. The
latest debate that insiders say he won overwhelmingly.
Today, there`s a political article about how he`s allegedly lighting South
Carolina on fire and how a third place finish in that state could make him
a, quote, comeback kid.
So, what began as a three, two, one strategy has become a three, five,
three strategy. And for a conservative movement incensed with the idea of
participation trophies, Marco Rubio is getting dangerously close to earning
So, just why are some of the most powerful people in the Republican Party
invested in Rubio? The answer, ahead.
HAYES: Joining me now, Nick Confessore, political reporter for The New
York Times. You cover a lot of big money in the sort of donor class.
That`s sort of your beat in a lot of ways.
Marco Rubio is a favorite of theirs, I think it`s fair to say, particularly
this point. Why the investment in Marco Rubio? You can feel all these
parts of the sort of Republican establishment like willing him to victory
NICK CONFESSORE, NEW YORK TIMES: They wanted a candidate who is young, who
is Hispanic, who would cut taxes, who have Sheldon Adelson`s foreign
policy, right. And that was their ideal candidate.
HAYES: That was like, if you were like at a donor class lab where you
would construct the candidate, right.
CONFESSORE: You would build Marco Rubio.
CONFESSORE: And be credible with the Tea Party, to some extent, which he
was. He was a favorite of that group in Florida.
And, you know, Jeb Bush was winning the money race in a lot of ways but
was partly a function of loyalty and family, partly his own connections.
But Rubio is the future of the party. And if he gets steamrolled and run
over by Ted Cruz, who they hate, and Donald Trump, who they can`t control,
it`s a disaster for them.
HAYES: I mean, I`ve got to say, I don`t think it`s that unlikely he does
this point. I mean, we had the polling now. He`s battling for third. The
PPP has him I guess tied with Cruz. CNN has him all in sort of like this
middle – there he is, he`s tied with Cruz at 18 percent.
I mean, a third place finish, you got three, five, three. Like at a
certain point, you`ve got to start winning states if you`re going to win
CONFESSORE: I keep joking that you can`t kind of overcome expectations and
win the nomination all the way. You can`t just keep…
HAYES: Right, you need delegates, not just…
CONFESSORE: You have to actually win, you can`t just pretend you almost
won over and over again.
And, you know, it`s not clear. And people have said this for a while, what
was his path to victory. What state does he win? They can never answer
that question. It was always ask me later. It`s OK, he`s going to rack
that, we`ll figure it out.
And it`s not quite coming together that way.
HAYES: Do you think that – the argument the Rubio people make as they
watch all this unfold – and I saw people today when Barack Obama said
Donald Trump won`t be president, I saw conservatives and Republicans who
support Rubio thinking that
was a Barack Obama attempt to elevate Trump at the expense of Rubio.
There`s a theory among those folks that Democrats don`t want to face Rubio.
That`s the one they most fear.
CONFESSORE: I`m not sure that`s true anymore. I`m not sure we can take it
as given that Donald Trump is somehow the most beatable candidate. This is
a guy who has drawn passion and enthusiasm in a way no other candidate,
probably of either party, has really produced in terms of the passion. And
I just don`t see that like somehow he`ll fade away or go away and then the
answer will be a Rubio.
HAYES: What do all these dudes do if it comes down to Trump-Cruz?
Like all – I mean like all of whole crew of big money conservative money -
- what are they going to do?
CONFESSORE: It`s easy. Look, Cruz has a couple of these guys in his
corner who are true believers who are conservatives, but the business class
would actually pretty fine with Trump.
If Trump won, if Trump`s a winner, they`re fine with him. He`s real estate
guy. They have friends like him. They`re going to be fine.
But Cruz they don`t like and can`t deal with and can`t work with.
HAYES: So that`s – yeah, if it does come down to those two, then we`re
going to see if they put their thumb on the scale, it`s going to be so
Nick Confessore, thank you very much.
That is All In for this evening.
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