All In With Chris Hayes, Transcript 3/17/2016

Curly Haugland, Danielle Gray, Kristen Soltis-Anderson, Matt Duss, Thomas Perez

Date: March 17, 2016
Guest: Curly Haugland, Danielle Gray, Kristen Soltis-Anderson, Matt Duss,
Thomas Perez


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN –

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There`s more likely to become
an open convention than we thought before.

HAYES: The Republican plot to stop Trump at the convention. Can they rely
on delegate rules to block the nomination?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a very good brain and
I`ve said a lot of things.

HAYES: Plus, the awkward quest for a GOP savior.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think he`s the best alternative
to Donald Trump. He is certainly not my preference, Senator Cruz is not.

HAYES: Then the fight is on, as Obama`s Supreme Court nominee arrives on
the battlefield.

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: The president has a four-year term.
Scientists tell us that there are approximately ten months left in his

HAYES: I`ll speak with Senator Al Franken about the unprecedented

And, Senator Harry Reid unloads on his Republican counterparts.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: When Trump calls immigrants rapists and
murderers, he is doing what he learned from generations of conservatives.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.

At the highest levels of the conservative movement and Republican Party,
there is now a plan coming together to stop Donald Trump from taking the
Republican presidential nomination by whatever means necessary.

This morning, a, quote, “secretive group of Republican operatives and
conservative leaders convened for more than three hours to discuss ways to
unite the right against Donald Trump.” “The Washington Post” reported
strategist affiliated with the anti-Trump group told MSNBC the group is
focused on preventing Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates he needs to
win the nomination outright. Seeking to rally around an alternative who
can beat Trump at the convention, including potentially someone who has
already dropped out of the race or who didn`t run at all.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who former Speaker John Boehner endorsed as the
GOP nominee if Trump does not win on the first ballot, today vowed
unequivocally not to be that person.


RYAN: It`s not going to be me. It should be somebody running for
president. Look, I made a decision over a year ago not to run for
president. I really believe, if you want to be president, you should run
for president.


HAYES: Ryan, who in his role as house speaker, will be chair of the GOP
convention said he was gearing up for a floor fight.


RYAN: Nothing has changed other than the perception that there`s more
likely to become an open convention than we thought before. So, we`re
getting our minds around the idea that this could very well become a
reality and therefore, those of us involved in the convention need to
respect that.


HAYES: In a statement today, group that participated in that meeting this
morning who bill themselves as Conservatives Against Trump, called for all
former Republican candidates not currently supporting Trump to unite
against him and all candidates to hold their delegates on the first ballot
in order to deny him the nomination.

In the pro-trickle down anti-Trump Club for Growth came out with a new ad
today attacking Trump, designed not to beat Trump outright, of course, but
to depress his delegate total before the convention.

It has been more than 60 years since a political convention went to a
second ballot and nearly 40 years since Republicans went to the convention
without a clear nominee and Trump is warning that any attempt to defeat him
at the convention would get ugly.


TRUMP: I think we`ll win before getting to the convention, but I can tell
you if we didn`t and if we`re 20 votes short or if we`re, you know, 100
short and we`re at 1,100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400 because we`re
way ahead of everybody, I don`t think you can say that we don`t get it
automatically. I think it would be – I think you would have riots. I
think you would have riots.


HAYES: Here is the thing: political parties are not democracies, something
Curly Haugland, a member of the RNC Standing Committee on Rules, who I`ll
be speaking with shortly, noted yesterday on CNBC.


choose their nominee, not the general public – contrary to popular belief.

INTERVIEWER: Why bother holding the primaries?

HAUGLAND: That`s a very good question.


HAYES: Those comments generated a lot of backlash, but important and very
literal sense, he is right. In the same way that a Donald Trump campaign
rally is effectively a private event where Trump gets to say who can come
in and who can`t, something he`s done quite a bit of, the Republican Party
like the Democratic Party effectively in some ways a private club, and the
party has enormous power to decide its nominee, if it can stomach the
backlash that would – will come when it does.

Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst, Robert Costa, national political
reporter of “The Washington Post”, who authored that piece we mentioned in
the open there.

How serious is this?

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s serious in the sense that it`s a
true effort from the hard right to try to have some control over the
process. But it`s not so serious because of the timing. It`s late in the
game and they`re struggling to figure out how they can prevent Trump from
reaching that threshold and they`ve already effectively today in that
secret meeting ruled out a third party challenge because it wouldn`t be
logistically or financially possible.

HAYES: There`s a question about whether he is going to get to 1,237. I
just want to point this out. Look at what happened in Missouri, OK, this
is the current state delegate apportionment rules in Missouri which was
not, quote, “winner take all”. It was winner take all by congressional
district and then some other delegates on top.

He basically split the popular vote. He won by 1,000 votes. He got 22
more delegates. So, if that math holds for the rest of the time, I don`t
think they can stop him from getting to 1,237. What am I missing?

COSTA: It`s a painful irony for those in the party establishment who after
the 2012 election rethought the rules for the nominating process and made
this winner-take-all state part of the calendar really come quite quickly
in the process. So now Trump has a very favorable terrain moving forward,
not just in terms of states coming up like Arizona on Tuesday, but it`s

If Cruz struggles to get traction, it`s hard to see if he can do anything
but prevent the threshold rather than beating Trump.

HAYES: You report on these folks all the time. You talk to them all the
time. Here is what I can`t get – at one level I hear – I remember 2008
when you had people who, for instance, were supporting Hillary Clinton
saying I`ll never vote for Barack Obama, I`ll boycott the convention, I`ll
fight to my last dying day, and that proved not to be the case. The
overwhelming majority of people supported Barack Obama. He was elected

So, one scenario that people talking about Trump this way are essentially
going to come around eventually. The other is that we`re watching a
genuine and actual historical fissure in the Republican Party. Which is
it? Are these people serious?

COSTA: They`re serious but based in my reporting the fish sure is not as
historic as it is sometimes presented because there`s a sense among many in
the party, even among grassroots Republicans, that once Trump assumes the
role of the nominee or is close to it, much of the party will rally to him,
donors, party officials, many elected officials because they believe he
could be a strong foe against Secretary Clinton. And I think his ability
to hammer her on issue after issue is going to excite the base.

The only group that`s not going to be excited and is ready to stay out, be
on the sidelines is that movement conservative. The ideological
conservative who wants purity on issues, likes Cruz and just totally
suspicious of Trump.

HAYES: But you basically think – what I`m hearing from you is that the
people to whatever sense there`s people that run the Republican Party,
those people, are going to just basically if that guy wins enough votes it
will be Donald Trump is our nominee and we are the Republican Party of
Donald Trump. That`s the party that we are America.

COSTA: You see, Sheldon Adelson, he`s saying, maybe Trump. You see Reince
Priebus is not walking away from Trump.

The issue right now in the Republican Party is the conservative
professional class that has dominated the Republican Party for the last 20
years, held power even though they`re not representative of the entire
widespread Republican Party, they are seeing their power weakened and their
grip on power just totally taken away. And those are the people who are
really alarmed about Trump.

But the rest of the party is often disengaged and that really is deeply

HAYES: That is a really fascinating point. I had not thought of it in
those terms.

Robert Costa, thank you very much.

COSTA: Thank you.

HAYES: Now, as the odds of a contested convention grow, so too this
confusion about how all that would work. The last time, there was serious
doubt over a nominee going into the convention was 1976, when President
Gerald Ford was battling with Ronald Reagan for the GOP nomination.

We want to show you the lead report of “NBC Nightly News” on August 10th,
1976, six days before the convention. The Reagan and Ford campaigns were
battling it out over the rules over how the delegates get allocated.


JOHN HART, NBC NEWS: What they were fighting about is whether this
convention should order delegates to obey their state laws. Nineteen
states freeze some 900 delegates here to the outcome of their primaries
regardless of the delegates` personal feelings. Reagan`s lawyer said it`s
an insult to law-abiding people to tell them to obey the law.

LOREN SMITH, REAGAN CAMPAIGN LAWYER: It seems somewhat redundant if not
insulting to insert this invalid principle into the convention rules.

HART: Reagan has almost twice as many delegates bound to him as Ford does.
And the Reagan argument is that Ford is more afraid his delegates will
switch if they have the chance.

SMITH: Apparently the Ford campaign does not trust the Ford delegates. I
trust Ford delegates, Reagan delegates, and uncommitted delegates.

HART: Maybe the Ford campaign doesn`t trust the Reagan delegates.

SMITH: Well, that maybe true, but this rule wouldn`t affect that. It
seems not to trust its own delegates. And that`s I think kind of sad.

HART: The rule cuts down on the opportunity for mischief, such as
rebellious delegates refusing to vote to force a second ballot. The new
rule says their votes will be recorded anyway, whether or not they are


All right. Joining me now is Curly Haugland, a member of the current
Republican National Committee Standing Committee on Rules, and an unbound
GOP delegate from North Dakota.

Mr. Haugland, I want to talk about the concept of bound delegates because
that`s what this all comes down to. We`re tabulating bound delegates, the
states are making rules saying, “You delegate that`s going to the
convention under our state party rules, you are bound to that candidate
when you get to Cleveland.”

Is that a meaningful concept? Are we putting too much credence into that

maintaining for years of course that binding is kind of an offensive
concept, and recently, I just discovered this material that led to the clip
that you produced there that shows that, in fact, 1976 was the first and
only presidential convention year where the delegates were actually bound
by convention rules to force – to force them to vote according to the
results of primary elections.

HAYES: So, your position is that the general tradition or actually in the
rules the Republican Party in these conventions is that actually, the rules
do not dictate that those delegates actually have to vote on the first
ballot for the person they are, quote, “bound to”?

HAUGLAND: Yes. As I said, that was the one and only presidential
convention where the delegates were actually bound because promptly in
1980, the next convention reversed that, repealed that, rescinded that
amendment, and that language still exists today in our rules. The
delegates are not bound. They`re free to vote their conscience on all
issues before the convention and on the nominations.

HAYES: So, what I`m hearing from you that even if Donald Trump were to get
over 1,237, there is some scenario which the Republican Party`s delegates
could decide to not vote for him on that first ballot?

HAUGLAND: Well, I guess it begs the question, how do you – how do you
know that there`s 1,237 in the first place? You really don`t know until
the first ballot when all of the candidates are known.

HAYES: Right.

HAUGLAND: And they`re nominated and the first ballot is taken. That`s the
first time you`re going to know how many delegates anybody has. If it`s
over 1,237, obviously, he`ll be nominated, whoever gets that number first,
first to the post.

HAYES: You`re on this standing committee, right? You and I had a
conversation earlier today and we were going through what`s going to happen
in the run-up to Cleveland. And there`s a really important thing I think
people are missing. There`s a convention rules committee that will convene
a week before Cleveland, like we saw in that clip in 1976.

And that committee is going to set the rules for that convention, am I
right about that?

HAUGLAND: That`s exactly right. Each convention sets its own rules. We
use the previous convention rules as a template. That`s a starting point.
And then anything is possible because the convention of the Republican
Party is the highest authority of the party. And they can do anything they

HAYES: So, that rules committee, who sits on that? My understanding is
one man and one woman from each state delegation?

HAUGLAND: That`s correct. And they`re elected by the delegation
themselves. Each state delegation is basically a subcommittee of the
convention. And they operate as such and elect from among their own
members, members of the convention committees.

HAYES: So, if I want to do – if I was dead set right now on preventing
Donald Trump from being the nominee of the Republican Party, and I myself
were a Republican, it seems to me that I would be putting all my effort
into making sure I knew who was going to be serving on that rules committee
that`s going to set the rules for the convention a week before it actually

HAUGLAND: Well, you`re absolutely right. Of course, I think that work is
going on right now.

But I just want to make sure everybody understands and I make this point
clear, I`ve been offended by binding and forcing people to do something
ever since I discovered this rule in 2008. So, this isn`t a Johnny-come-
lately initiative to try to influence this particular convention.

In fact, I had a very active role in trying to force this same discussion
prior to the 2012 convention and was not successful because we didn`t have
enough candidates staying in to force the division of the delegates to get
to the point where we needed to have the rules become important. Now, the
rules are going to be important and we`re going to have a lot of people
learning things that they didn`t know before because they didn`t want to.

HAYES: Yes, that may happen. And your point is the party decides, which I
think is an important one for people to remember. We will see how much
that`s the case ultimately.

Curly Haugland, thanks for taking the time tonight. Appreciate it.

Still to come, the latest stall tactic by Republicans trying to block the
Supreme Court nomination. Senator Al Franken weighs in.

Plus, Ted Cruz`s foreign policy short list includes some truly frightening
people. But is it any better than who is advising Donald Trump? I`ll
explain ahead.

And later, how to take on the campaign that is thus far proven unstoppable.
The Democrats are signaling their strategy for a possible Donald Trump
general election fight. Those stories and more, ahead.


HAYES: After suspending his presidential campaign earlier this week, today
Marco Rubio faced the ultimate humiliation. He was forced to return to
place he tried everything in his power to avoid. I speak, of course, of
the halls of the United States Senate – a place where Rubio missed 35
percent of roll call votes last year. Rubio currently holds a day job
there as one of two individuals representing the nearly 20 million people
of Florida.

As Rubio himself noted earlier, he won`t be doing that for much longer


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I`m not going to be vice president. I`m
not running for governor of Florida. I`m going to finish out my term in
Senate over the 10 months. We`re going to work really hard here and we
have some things we want to achieve, and then I`ll be a private citizen in


HAYES: We should note the Senate begins a two-week recess tomorrow. But
before that break, Rubio echoed many of his Republican colleagues` talking
points, telling reporters he doesn`t think the Senate should be moving on a
Supreme Court nominee the last year in a president`s term. Since the
beginning of the Merrick Garland confirmation battle and the White House is
planning an unprecedented campaign to get their nominee a hearing. We`ll
explain, next.


HAYES: Today was the first full day in the battle to confirm Merrick
Garland, chief judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court.

Senate Democrats are strongly objecting to Republican obstruction and its
refusal to hold hearings on the nominee.

And Minority Leader Harry Reid even linked the tactic to the Trump


REID: Republicans are slamming the door on a good man they once embraced
simply why? Because President Obama nominated him. That`s how they`ve
treated him over his entire presidency. Donald Trump`s style of no-holds
barred politics was forged in the Senate Republican caucus. We`re seeing
this play out now before our very eyes in the debate over the Supreme


HAYES: Today, Judge Garland met with the ranking member of the Senate
Judiciary Committee, Senator Pat Leahy, the kind of customary meeting that
most Republican senators say they will not even take. Those Republicans
are probably hoping if they can just withstand this early bout of pressure,
the nomination will eventually fade away.

But there`s a truly unprecedented offensive being put in place to keep this
nomination in the public eye. It`s called the Constitutional
Responsibility Project, a nonprofit organization which according to “The
New York Times” will accept donations, develop advertising and coordinate
messaging and populated by staff in the president`s two election campaigns.

Some Republicans, like Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah had been discussing the
novel idea of holding hearings on the Judge Garland in a lame duck session
if Hillary Clinton wins the next election, out of fears that she would
nominate someone a lot more liberal or considerably younger than the 63-
year-old centrist.

But today, Republican leaders like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and
Senator John Cornyn pushed back hard on the idea, saying the hearings
should come after the next president is sworn in.

I spoke to Senator Al Franken earlier, asked him what he thinks the
Republicans taking up the nomination if Hillary Clinton wins the


SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: You know, first they`re saying let the
people decide and so we have to have an election and then the next
president can pick their nominee and we`ll take it up then. But now, it`s
let the people decide, unless they decide on someone we don`t like, then
we`ll take up this kind of consensus guy who everyone thinks is great but
instead of letting the new president, who we don`t like, appoint her own

It`s – you know, it shows that in a way that this isn`t been based on
principle the whole time.


HAYES: All right. Joining me now to talk further about this, Danielle
Gray, former adviser to President Obama and former law clerk to Judge
Merrick Garland, and someone who worked in the White House on the Supreme
Court nomination process.

How – what`s the game plan here? I mean, basically, here it was day one,
right, Merrick Garland goes there the doors are closed, he can`t get the
meetings that people he needs to meet with, now what?

of the game plan is to – for the White House is to follow the process that
the White House follows when the White House appoints – when the president
appoints a Supreme Court justice. This is a process the White House has
been through twice before now.

So, you saw in the remarks yesterday, I think, the president endeavored to
really make an introduction to the American people of Chief Judge Merrick
Garland and who he is, the kind of judge he is, the kind of person he is.
The remarks were quiet detailed I think if you compare them to 2009 and
2010. I think part of the case that you should expect this White House to
make is, you know, this is by all accounts one of the most widely admired
jurist in the country.

HAYES: OK. Can you – I`ve got to say, can you explain this to me?

GRAY: Yes.

HAYES: Because I met Merrick Garland. He seems like a delightful and
smart young man. I know people who clerked for him who sing his praises.

But for an outsider, I mean, even his opinions, right, a lot of very dry
agency stuff that comes with the D.C. circuit. You know, there`s not a lot
of like, you know, amazing sort of high profile dissents on really
controversial areas of law. What is it about that the guy that he is so
uniformly acclaimed?

GRAY: I think a few things. I think – first, you know, if you are a
lawyer and you discover that you`re going to argue in front of Merrick
Garland that day, you`re very excited about that because you know a couple
of things. You know that he has really processed the case back and forth
and probably knows it better than you and you`ll be really challenged on
the bench.

But at the same time, he is respectful, he`s likable, you know, he actually
reminds me a lot in his questioning from the bench of Justice Stevens. You
know, the president in his remarks mentioned that he has a quality of being
understanding before disagreeing and that – he oozes that in droves.

I think another reason that he inspires such loyalty is because he is a
careful jurist. He is not issuing sweeping pronouncements. He is really
taking the cases as they come to him. The facts of those cases and the
precedent that is applicable to those cases and really trying to get it

HAYES: There`s reporting today that the Congressional Black Caucus
expressed frustration a few of the members skipping a meeting with Valerie
Jarrett about this nominee and other things because it`s a 63-year-old
white man. There is, of course, one African-American on the court,
Clarence Thomas.

More broadly than that, I mean, are liberals – the liberals that were
disappointed when this was announced yesterday and there were some of them,
what is your message to them?

GRAY: Well, a few things. I think when I was working on judicial
nominations in 2009 and 2010, at least what was reported as the short list
really tremendous candidates with such broad diversity of backgrounds,
ethnicities, gender – that is in large part a credit to President Barack
Obama. Many of those judges that were rumors to be under consideration in
the press have been appointed by this president in the last few years.
This president`s appointed more African-Americans to the bench than any
other president in history, more African-American women to the bench.

And one of the things I think we`ll see as a result of President Obama`s
commitment to diversifying the judiciary is we`re going to hear about those
names again. Those names are going to be on the short list for future
vacancies. What Judge Garland own example shows is that being on the short
list is actually a fast track to finding your way to the Rose Garden one

HAYES: Yes, he has been on it a few times.

Danielle Gray, it`s always a pleasure to have you here.

GRAY: Thanks for having me, Chris.

HAYES: Thanks very much.

Coming up, Ted Cruz releases his list of foreign policy advisers and the
names should concern you a lot. I`ll explain coming up.


HAYES: Earlier this week, PBS news hour a show I should say I`m a huge fan
of, profiled a family in North Carolina. It`s a family that says they have
been motivated by Donald Trump to become more actively involved in
politics. Among the people profiled first-time voter, 33-year-old Grace
Tilly (ph).


GRACE TILLY, 33-YEAR-OLD: My father-in-law and my husband are both
veterans and the whole idea of the care, the veterans being sub par is very


HAYES: Almost immediately after that interview hit the Internet, the folks
over at Gawker flagged something. Two very interesting tattoos on each of
Grace Tilly`s hands. On her right hand, a tattoo of a cross. The Anti-
Defamation League calls the version of the cross on Tilly`s hand, which is
known as a Celtic cross, or Odin`s cross, one of the most important and
commonly used white supremacist symbols.

On the back of the left, hand there`s another tattoo of the number 88. The
ADL says, 88 is a white supremacist numerical code for Heil Hitler. H is
the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 equals HH, equals Heil Hitler.

Today, PBS addressed the controversy. In an editor`s note, it reads in
part, “Ms. Tilly argues these tattoos are not representative of Neo-Nazi
positions, but are connected to her family`s Celtic religious beliefs, that
is what she told our producers as well.”

They also changed the headline of the piece from “Tar Heel family
illustrates why Trump appeals to the south.” New title “Tar Heel explains
why they support Trump.”

Now, we have reached out to Ms. Tilly several times have not heard back.
Her husband told the Fayetteville Observer he`s not interested in talking
about his wife`s tattoos and that, quote, we have said they have personal
meaning to us. It`s personal business.

The Observer also noted that her husband`s YouTube channel includes videos
for nature`s eternal religion under the playlist White Pride is all right.

That playlist appears to have been taken down. So, who knows. They say
it`s all a big mix up, and Maybe it is. Maybe when Donald Trump addresses
the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC on Monday, he should show a picture of this new
voter he`s inspired to get involved and the conference attendees can make
up their own minds about what those symbols portend.



TRUMP: I`m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good
brain and I`ve said a lot of things. I speak to a lot of people, my
primary consultant is myself and, you know, I have a good instinct for this


HAYES: The Republican front-runner finally announced his list of foreign
policy advisers on Morning Joe yesterday and consists of one person: Donald
J. Trump.

The question of candidate`s advisers has been a real issue on the campaign
trail with Bernie Sanders being accused of lacking both foreign policy
chops and a deep bench of experts, and group of 120 self-proclaimed GOP
national security leaders writing an open letter to Trump proclaiming,
quote, “we aren`t able to support a party ticket with Mr. Trump at its

Today, Trump`s most serious remaining challenger Ted Cruz released his list
of foreign policy advisers. And it`s a real rogue`s gallery of warmongers
and bigots, including Elliott Abrams who pleaded guilty to keeping
information from congress about his role in the Iran-Contra scandal; and
Michael Ladine, another Iran-Contra figure and namesake of the so-called
Ladine Doctrine – and I`m quoting directly here – every ten years or so
the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and
throw it against the wall just to show the world we mean business.

But by far the worse of the bunch, a guy who has no business anywhere near
the corridors of power ever is anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank
Gaffney. The man who the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as one of
America`s most notorious Islamaphobes. Gaffney believes the Obama
administration and large parts of the U.S. government are fronts for the
Muslim Brotherhood, accusing such figures as Supreme Court Justice Ilena
Kagan, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and Republican anti-tax fanatic
Grover Norquist of promoting Sharia law.

Gaffney`s organization, the Center for Security Policy, is responsible for
the bogus polls cited by Donald Trump himself in justifying his proposal to
ban Muslims from entering the U.S., an idea that now appears to have gone
mainstream in the Republican electorate.

According to exit polls, around two-thirds of the voters in this past
Tuesday`s Republican primaries said they support banning Muslims from the

As Gaffney sees it, Islam is less a religion protected by the First
Amendment than a militant political plot to take over the U.S.


FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICE: This group, the Organization of
Islamic Cooperation,or OIC, it is 57 states and Palestine that have come
together to promote what is fundamentally the agenda known as Sharia. That
is a totalitarian, political military legal program that would force all of
us, Muslim and non-Muslim alike to submit to its barbaric, repressive
supremacist agenda.


HAYES: With an adviser like that, you almost wish Cruz would just take a
page out of Donald Trump`s book and just consult himsel for heck, even
Donald Trump.

I`m joined now by Matt Duss, president of the Foundation for Middle East

Am I being too harsh here, Matt?

right. As you noted looking at that list of foreign policy advisers, they
seem to run the gamut from Iran-Contra conspirators to anti-Muslim
conspiracy theorists.

HAYES: You know, I`ve got to say one of the – if there`s a single thing
that I found most distressing about this election season so far, it
actually isn`t Donald Trump, it is the exit polling on this question of
banning non-citizen Muslims from the U.S., a policy that would be
absolutely – is sort of on its face bigotry…

DUSS: Right.

HAYES: …has no grounding in what actual security experts say would make
the country safer, would be a horrible black eye for the U.S. around the
world, would inflame all sorts of terrible sentiments towards it and this
is now a real strongly supported position among Republican voters.

DUSS: Right. This is a serious problem. I think that`s what this
demonstrates is that the GOP has a bigotry problem that goes way beyond
Trump. The fact is that they`ve been so obsessed with obstructing and
opposing Barak Obama`s agenda that they`ve allowed all of these crazy ideas
to kind of germinate and grow. And as you noted Frank Gaffney has been
behind so many of these wild conspiracy theories. I mean, we don`t have
time to list all of the crazy things he said over the past ten years.

And for Ted Cruz to just name him as someone who he takes seriously – I
mean, let`s understand, this guy`s ideas are taken seriously by no one who
understands or studies Islam, by no one who studies national security, so
it`s extremely troubling that Cruz puts him on the list of people he is
talking to.

HAYES: I`ve got to play this Lindsey Graham interview. Graham, who is
someone who, you know, is a neoconservative of the first order, has also
been an opponent of Cruz and also has really attacked him on the Muslim
ban, attacked Trump on the Muslim ban idea. This is him talking about
coming around to fundraising for Cruz.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I`m going to be doing a
fundraiser with and for Senator Cruz. I think he is the best alternative
to Donald Trump. He`s certainly not my preference, Senator Cruz is not,
but he is a reliable Republican conservative of which I`ve had many
differences with. I doubt Donald Trump`s conservatism. I think it would
be a disaster for the party. So I`m going to try to help raise money for
Senator Cruz in the (inaudible) community.


HAYES: I`ve never watched a person actually gnaw off their own tongue in
an interview before.

Here is what`s striking to me. There`s two wings it seems in the
Republican Party. You have got the neoconservative wing who is advocating
lots of more military intervention in the Middle East, which has led to the
deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, but who rhetorically and
conceptually been probably the loudest voices actually standing up against
anti-Muslim bigotry, at least rhetorically, and then you have got the folks
who are sort of less – more kind of
nationalist in orientation, less inclined to engage in those wars, but who
are also the most sort of rankly bigoted when talking about the issues.

DUSS: That`s right. I mean, this is exposing some serious fissures within
the GOP elite expert community as well.

You played Lindsey Graham, but let`s think back to a couple weeks ago when
we saw this letter from GOP foreign policy experts who listed a whole set
of crazy positions that Trump has and then said because of these positions
we pledge not to serve in a Trump administration.

Well, go ahead and look at those positions and see how many of them Ted
Cruz himself holds, just for example: support for torture, anti-Muslim
bigotry as you showed. It seems as long as you don`t hit Trump bingo and
hold all of these positions somehow it`s OK.

HAYES: Yeah. All right, Matt Duss, thank you very much.

Will Democrats be more successful at attacking Donald Trump than Republican
establishment has been? We`ll look at their strategy coming up.


HAYES: Who is to blame for the poisoning of the water in Flint, Michigan?
We did not get much closer to an answer today following a public shaming on
Capitol Hill. Republican Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan and the head of
the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, appeared before a
committee to answer for the Flint water crisis, which exposed thousands to
lead poisoning.

Both McCarthy and Snyder faced calls to resign as the blistering rounds of
questioning and assessment of blame fell along partisan lines.

Republicans accused Ms. McCarthy and her agency of hesitating to act. But
Democrats repeatedly pointed out that it was the emergency managers who
Governor Rick Snyder appointed that pushed the city of Flint to change its
water supply to the Flint River in the first place, all to save a few
million dollars a year.

They also questioned Snyder`s leadership on the issue.


CARTWRIGHT: You admit here today that even after the whole world knew
that Flint residents were exposed to unimaginable levels of lead, you did
not declare a state of emergency until January 2016, isn`t that true?

GOVERNOR RICK SNYDER, (R) MICHIGAN: I took immediate action as soon as I
learned there was a lead issue, we started issuing filters to people, doing
water testing, doing blood testing – and to be open with you, I wish more
would have been done.

CARTWRIGHT: Mr. Snyder, plausible deniability only works when it`s
plausible and I`m not buying that you didn`t know about any of this until
October, 2015. You were not in a medically induced coma for a year. And
I`ve had about enough of
your false contrition and your phony apologies.


HAYES: Rachel Maddow will have more on today`s contentious hearing tonight
at at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. You do not want to miss that.



SEN. HARRY REID, (D) NEVADA: For too long, Senator McConnell and Speaker
Ryan have tried to have it both ways, giving Trump occasionally a slap on
wrist each time he says something detestable, but always committing to
support him at the end of the day. This is precisely the moral cowardess
that enabled the rise
of Trump. If they refuse to revoke their support for Trump, they should
put on make America great again hats and stand behind Trump at his next
press conference be a mini-Christie I guess.


HAYES: Democrats appear to be scouting a broad strategy for the general
election that doesn`t just go after Donald Trump, but that attempts to tie
Trump to
Republican leadership and make him an avatar for the entire Republican

Their plan, as Politico noted in a piece today, is to basically sound the
alarm against Trump and paint his candidacy as dangerous and terrifying,
which is essentially what Elizabeth Warren did with some sense of urgency
on this program last night.


seriously. What he is promoting is a form of hate that is virulent. This
is not a reality show, this is real life and this is our country.


HAYES: Meanwhile, the Clinton team began preparing a strategy to go after
Trump a few weeks ago, according to The New York Times would portray Mr.
Trump as a misogynist and an enemy of the working class whose brash temper
would put the nation and the world in grave danger.

Yesterday, Clinton`s chief strategist Joel Benenson seemed to preview a
slightly different tack that Trump is not so much an extreme manifestation
of the Republican Party, but rather just another Republican. He told The
Washington Post`s Greg Sargent, quote, “Donald Trump is a very
unconventional candidate, be sure, but when he comes down to the big issues
we`re debating, everyone one of these Republicans is aligned with the most
extreme policies of the Republican Party economically.”

Now, traditionally, the person most suited for unleashing effective attacks
in the general election is the one running to be vice president.

Joining me now is someone who is being discussed as a potential VP
candidate for Clinton, you`re shaking your head, you don`t like that intro
but it`s true. Secretary of Labor and Clinton supporter, Tom Perez. Great
to have you here.

THOMAS PEREZ, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: Always good to be with you, Chris.

HAYES: Have you had any talks with anyone about this?

PEREZ: No. You know, Brown University people aren`t allowed. And you and
I are Brown.

I`m just here in my official capacity.

HAYES: Yeah.

What is your – you were just talking right before the interview, you said
you`re a political junky, you`re watching this, which you are and I think
most people who work in Washington are.

What is your sense – I got a little worried when I saw people talking
about, you know, the policy ways of going after Donald Trump because it
seems to me like that has been shown to be a short – not to work in the

PEREZ: Well, I`ll tell you this election is about what it means to be
Middle Class in America. Under the president`s leadership, we inherited
the worst recession of our lifetime, 2.3 million jobs lost in the three
months before president took office. We`ve now had six years in a row of
private sector job growth. And so we made a lot of progress on the one
hand, not withstanding all the opposition from McConnell and others.

And at the same time, we have unfinished business. The rising tide must
lift all the boats, not simply the yachts. And so this is a conversation
about what it means to be middle class in America and the thing about it is
when I hear the president and the Democratic candidates what they are
talking about is raising the minimum wage, making sure – I had a hearing
today where, you know, Republicans opposed our efforts to lift overtime pay
for millions of people who used to get overtime but don`t anymore.

HAYES: Yeah.

PEREZ: And things like this – paid leave. These are kitchen table issues
that are very different between Democrats and Republicans.

HAYES: But here is the problem, there`s a moment when Trump said the
following, he said, you know, incomes have stagnated, wages have stagnated,
they`re down for some people, right, and it`s true for certain portions of
the economy. What have they done? And this strikes me as this is the
fundamental problem, challenge, whoever gets the Democratic nomination is
it is absolutely true all these macroeconomic indicators have improved
dramatically – job growth, unemployment, inflation is very low, gas prices
are low, and yet median wages are still lower now for I think most
households – or the median is the definition right – than in, say, 2000.

PEREZ: Well, and the question presented is what are you going to do about
it? And that`s where the differences couldn`t be more stark. You have the
president talking about raising the minimum wage. You have the president
talking about raising overtime, investing in skills and then you have folks
on the other side who say, you know, a low minimum wage is not a problem.

I won`t say who but, you know, rimes with dump. And the – then you go on.

I mean, union organizing, talk to the folks that I have spoken to on the
strip in Las Vegas who tried to organization and they didn`t do it with the
cooperation of management. And so if you`re one of those voters who has
angst – and it`s by the way, it`s very understandable angst because this
has been four
decades in the making, and a big part of what happened for workers was, you
know, the loss of leverage.

HAYES: Yeah.

PEREZ: And as a result of a very conscious attack on collective bargaining
and you see it most recently, for instance, in the efforts in Las Vegas
which were successful, but not withstanding the opposition of management on
the strip.

HAYES: You know, and there`s a certain degree to which I think you could
make the argument that it is the success in attacking private sector unions
particularly and their destruction that has meant there`s a certain part of
the electorate that is very unattached to any institutional force that has
looking out for their interests.

PEREZ: Well, there`s studies that show anywhere from about 20 percent to
33 percent of the inequality that we have seen in the last couple decades
is the result of declining union density.

So, you know, when unions succeeds, America succeeds. And when folks with
angst are looking at who has a formula, you`ve got to really pay attention
to what people are saying. And there couldn`t be a bigger difference. And
this is what it means to be middle class in America.

HAYES: All right, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, real pleasure. Thanks for
joining me.

PEREZ: Always a pleasure.

HAYES: Coming up, Trump`s favorability with a major voting group is down,
and by major voting group, I mean, half the population. Could it be his
undoing in a general election? I`ll explain next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Real quotes from Donald Trump about women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A person who is very flat chested is very hard to be
a 10.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, it really doesn`t matter what they write,
as long as you`ve got a young and beautiful piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

UNIDENTIIFIED FEMALE: Women, you have to treat them like (EXPLETIVE

UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: This is how Donald Trump talks about our mothers…




HAYES: It`s a recent attack ad on Donald Trump produced by group of
Republicans. Meanwhile, a new poll out today finds that half of American
women have a very unfavorable view of Donald Trump, which is up from 40
percent who felt that way in October.

Joining me now Kristen Soltsis-Anderson, Republican pollster and a
columnist for The Washington Examiner.

Kristen, I guess my first question is I guess it`s not surprising but the
real question is this recoverable from?

for Donald Trump to change somebody from very unfavorable to a more
positive position. If someone is somewhat unfavorable, you can move them,
you can persuade them. Once you`re very unfavorable, that`s pretty
entrenched. And with half of women in that position, it is going to very
difficult for Donald Trump to put himself in a competitive position with
whomever the Democratic nominee is come

HAYES: Also, can you win an election with half – I mean, I guess we`re
going to test that. It looks like we`re going to test that if he`s the
nominee. Can you win a national presidential election with numbers like

SOLTIS-ANDERSON: It would be very difficult to do so. Gender gaps run
both ways. Look, in the 2014 mid-term elections, Democrats won female
voters but by a single digit margin while Republicans won male voters by
double digit margins in state after state. And Republicans obviously had a
very good mid-term election.

But in this general election, if you`re talking about 52, 53 percent of
voters having a very unfavorable view of the Republican nominee, and
certainly this is a message that`s – it`s not just about a position that
Donald Trump can flip or change or try to get away from, these are
statements that he`s made. This is a way that he has treated women
throughout the course of his public life that I think the Democrats are
extraordinarily excited to be able to surface and it`s almost a shame,
frankly, that Republicans are only just now getting around to using these
sorts of lines of attack against Donald Trump instead of merely saying,
well, he is not conservative enough.

HAYES; That – I think that`s well said. I mean, here is a tweet. Again,
you can go all day with these.

“26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military only 238 convictions.
What did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together?”

You know, that`s just like a tweet more or less taken at random. There`s
long Howard Stern interviews in which he talks about avoiding STDs being
his own personal Vietnam. There`s no end of the material.

SOLTIS-ANDERSON: There`s no end to the material, but Donald Trump has sort
of confounded expectations this election by saying things any one
individual Donald Trump tweet would scuttle the campaign of anybody else
who abided by the normal rules of political gravity.

But because Donald Trump has tapped into this very powerful frustration
with the status quo, he is somehow able to abide by the rules of celebrity
and entertainment instead of politics and get away with things that are

HAYES: Right.

But my strong sense is that that is partly also due to the confines of the
electorate to which he is accountable right now. He is winning, 40, 42
percent among the people that vote in Republican primaries. I mean, when
move out to general and you see these unfavorables I think the
expectations, the normal rules of political gravity apply.

SOLTIS-ANDERSON: You would think so.

I`ve sort of been the kind of person who thought that Donald Trump didn`t
have much of a shot at winning the Republican nomination about nine months
ago. So, I`m very humble about coming to the table and saying Donald Trump
can`t win something because he has proven people like me wrong before.

But I think very unfavorable numbers, that`s what you didn`t see with the
Republican Party last summer. You saw somewhat unfavorable numbers.
Donald Trump`s brand wasn`t great at the beginning of this process, but he
took those somewhat unfavorables and made them more positive.

It`s really hard to take someone from very unfavorable and move them to
more positive ground.

HAYES: Yeah, and that`s where he is right now. And again, we`ve got four
more months probably of just this part of the campaign. Kristen Soltis-
Anderson thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.


HAYES: All right, That is all in for this evening.


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