SC primary TRANSCRIPT: 2/28/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Jonathan Capehart, Justin Bamberg, Amanda Loveday, Anika Noni Rose, Benjamin Dixon, Mook, Niall Stanage, Thomas Bollyky



Good evening, Ari.




ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chuck.


Thank you very much.


And thanks for joining THE BEAT live tonight from South Carolina on

election eve. As you can see, we have voters gathered here at Lizard`s

Thicket restaurant in Columbia, and they`re pretty energized.


Thanks, you guys.




MELBER:  Now, we have been doing something here on THE BEAT that we`re

going to do again later tonight, which is go listen directly to what`s on

the minds of just some of these voters.


Now, our top story is, of course, tomorrow`s primary. And it arrives at a

pivotal moment in this race. Sanders taking a delegate lead, Biden fighting

for a comeback, and Donald Trump under new pressure with this plunging

stock market and concerns about the coronavirus, as well as his handling of



So we have the latest on that this hour as well, a full edition of THE



We are also tracking news the Donald Trump is planning to nominate a

staunch Trump-allied congressman – and a controversial one, at that –

John Ratcliffe, to be the next director of national intelligence.


Top senator Republicans had previously warned against this very pick. So

that news also breaking, and we have that this hour.


Now, today, in South Carolina, the candidates and their surrogates out in

full force here, Sanders campaigning with local leaders, as well as the

rapper Killer Mike. And that was about a mile away from where we are right

now. We will get into that tonight.


Joe Biden, meanwhile, benefiting from the ultimate endorsement you can get

in South Carolina, James Clyburn, who`s also warning quite bluntly of what

he sees as the risk of a Bernie Sanders ticket to the Democratic House.


New polling showing Biden up here. He`s also drawing more fund-raising,

which could be a key lifeline for a national race, which we all know really

begins in earnest on Super Tuesday.


Tomorrow could determine whether some candidates like Biden, Klobuchar, and

Tom Steyer, can provide the proof that they still have a path to this

nomination. A slumping finish here for some of them could doom their quest

to try to prove to Democrats they are the alternative to Bernie Sanders.


A strong finish, though, for any of those might change the shape of this

race. We should also note that Sanders still is the person holding that

delegate lead.


So with 54 delegates up for grabs here, he could finish second and still

have the bigger overall lead in the whole race bigger than he has today.


We`re going to get into all this right now with my panel, Pulitzer Prize-

winning journalist Jonathan Capehart, South Carolina State Representative

Justin Bamberg, a Sanders supporter, and former executive director of the

South Carolina Democratic Party, Amanda Loveday. She`s a senior adviser to

a super PAC that is a supporter of Joe Biden




MELBER:  Thanks to all you being here.




MELBER:  We`re going to get to the surrogates, but starting with a

journalist who`s followed so many of these races.


What do you see in this pivotal homestretch right now?


JONATHAN CAPEHART, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, what`s interesting is the

poll numbers.


Before Congressman Clyburn`s endorsement of Vice President Biden, we

started seeing polls come out, Clemson University and others, showing that

the gap between Vice President Biden and Bernie Sanders, Senator Sanders,

isn`t five points, isn`t in single digits, it`s in double digits.


It`s in a range that people had come to expect to happen between Biden and

Sanders. Then the Clyburn endorsement hits. It`s emotional. It`s powerful.

And it`s – we will find out tomorrow whether it`s effective.


And then the other thing that`s happened, I think, that is probably wind

underneath the vice president sails was a story that came out that talked

about the difference between the polls and the actual win.


And the winds have always been much greater than the final poll. And so, if

you`re Vice President Biden, you`re hoping that past is prologue, that that

happens to him, that the vote total he gets is bigger than the latest polls

that have come out, that Congressman Clyburn, the legendary Congressman

Clyburn, his endorsement will be that push that he needs for not just South

Carolina, but also Super Tuesday, because as much as we talked about the

importance of the African-American vote here in South Carolina – and it is

super important, since African-Americans are 60 percent of the Democratic



There are other states on Super Tuesday that also have significant African-

American voting populations that could stand – they – their votes could

inure to the vice president.


MELBER:  Well, and you`re pointing out that Biden has evidence of doing

better here. And yet it was doing worse – when he was doing worse when

people said they finally heard some fight from him.


Everyone knows Barack Obama`s style. He is chill. And he does well when

he`s chilling. There`s a lot of people who feel, Amanda, that Biden when he

was chilling it wasn`t working. And they like the fight.


And I talked to voters today who said it seems like he`s getting back up

off the mat. Take a quick listen to Joe Biden hitting Bernie Sanders.




JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The fact that someone lists

themselves as an official independent, not even a Democrat, except to run

for the office of president, and then lists himself as a socialist, that

doesn`t fly.


All I know is I`m going to run hard to help down-ballot folks win.




MELBER:  Is he looking better with voters here as he actually doesn`t take

anything for granted and fights for his political life?




There`s two pieces that are going to give him the momentum he needs to win

big tomorrow. First is this continuous effort of his. He did well in

Nevada. He did well at the debate. He did well at his town hall and he got

Jim Clyburn`s endorsement. I mean, that is a list that any politician would

dream of.


Second is, he is continuously going out there and showing confidence. He is

steady, he`s on message. It`s something that South Carolina voters and

voters across the country have been waiting for.


And it`s here and he`s the candidate that we have been hoping to see for



MELBER:  Justin?



Sanders is making way, way, way, way, way big ground here, OK?


This isn`t 2016. There are African-American voters in particular in South

Carolina who understand that Vice President Joe Biden is not Barack Obama.

Obviously, Barack Obama can`t win the presidency if he picks a vice

president that is exactly like him.


African-American voters, voters in general in the Democratic Party are

fired up about Senator Sanders. Joe Biden seems to have lost a step, so to

speak. I think we have seen it. As the vice president of the United States,

he should be performing better in every state than he has been doing.


Think about it, right? 2016, we were talking Hillary and Bernie and the

talk was, oh, Hillary`s going to hit 70 percent of the vote. Bernie`s going

to get 30. We`re talking about, what, 10 points at this point? Joe Biden is

the only candidate who could – quote, unquote – “win” in South Carolina

and still lose at the same time.


Bernie Sanders is going to perform extremely well here. He`s going to be

competitive, and I think that the numbers are going to surprise a lot of

people in this state.


MELBER:  And we are seeing the outlines of a debate at times between

Sanders and Biden, and we have brand-new reporting I want to share.


This was, as mentioned, just about a mile from where we are right now at

the Bernie Sanders rally. And I spoke to several voters. I want to play one

voter in particular, a young voter who was telling us about discussing with

his parents their vote here in South Carolina and about voting for Biden or





UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My parents live in South Carolina, so I came to visit



MELBER:  Are they going to vote tomorrow?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, they are going to vote tomorrow.


MELBER:  Have you had the conversation?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I had the conversation with them months ago.


They were more Biden in the beginning, but they weren`t really following

the race. I mean, they just know Biden, Obama. And that`s what it was.


But I kind of had to pull them along, tug them along into knowing, hey,

guys, this is what Bernie stands for. This is why this is going to be



My mother is battling with M.S. She`s doing OK right…


MELBER:  I`m sorry.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, thank you. She`s doing OK right now.


It was two. It was the education health care together.


I`m like, hey, mom, you always talked about – now, I`m going through

student loans right now. You have always talked about the student loans and

how unaffordable college is for so many people. This is our time to make a

difference, to say – to help people, especially people from a lot of our



We want to help everyone, but people from our community, we have struggled

so much.


MELBER:  Do you know who they`re voting for tomorrow?












MELBER:  That`s one that your side won. What do you think of that

conversation with his own parents?


BAMBERG:  Well, that`s what you`re seeing in this state, right?


A lot of the, say, older African-Americans are more inclined to maybe lean

towards Joe Biden, because that`s what they`re familiar with. But the

younger generation, they are rocking extra hard with Bernie Sanders right

now, including in the black community.


And the younger people are talking to their grandparents, talking to their

parents, and the parents are inclined to listen to their kids, because

their kids are the future.


We`re going to see people turn out for Bernie Sanders unlike what people

are expecting. It`s not going to be anything like 2016.




Well, Amanda, let me – I want to get your counterargument, because that`s

one story, obviously.




MELBER:  That`s – you just heard the argument from one – South Carolina

parents there that he`s trying to basically lobby.


And he made the case, pulling them from Biden to Sanders.


What would your counterargument be? Because, by the way, they could be

watching. The vote is tomorrow. What would you say?


LOVEDAY:  Well, first, I want to mention something that Justin said. And,

obviously, we`re friends before we are foes.


So to the difference between the Hillary Clinton and the Bernie Sanders

primary and what`s happening tomorrow is there were two candidates on the

ballot in 2016. So the 100 percent of the vote had to be split between two.


Now you have numerous candidates on the ballot and so you have to have a

number of votes going to other moderates who are appearing on the ballot in

South Carolina and also on Super Tuesday and into March.


So you`re never going to see the spread you saw from a Hillary Clinton-

Bernie Sanders primary in 2020. But what you are going to see is all of the

moderates` numbers adding up to look more like a Hillary Clinton number,

showing that the Democratic Party is hoping to get a moderate on the

ticket, rather than Democratic socialist.


CAPEHART:  And I would just say this, that we cannot have this conversation

in a vacuum.


President Trump is the person who African-American voters and all voters

are looking at defeating. If there`s one thing that unites Democrats, it`s

getting rid of Donald Trump.


And talking to my own black family…




MELBER:  Go ahead. You can do that.


CAPEHART:  And I`m going to throw this to the black people here in the



After watching that, I`m thinking, yes, he`s lobbying his parents. But

those parents and particularly my relatives, they are focused on getting

rid of Trump. They look at all the candidates and they`re looking at the

person, who`s the one who can beat him?


It`s not just familiarity. Yes, my aunt Gloria loves Joe Biden. My mom is

leaning to Mike Bloomberg. They are wide-eyed about the racial implications

and everything, but they want him gone.


And so I`m looking at – there are old – to your point about older

African-Americans listening to their kids, there are some older African-

Americans who look at their kids and say, yes, baby, that`s – I hear what

they`re saying.




CAPEHART:  And then they`re not going to go into the voting booth and vote

their conscience, vote their fears, vote their hopes and aspirations.


And so that`s why I think what will be fascinating to see is the

generational divide. Is it really there? Will the younger, the younger

voters who are tending towards Senator Sanders, are they going to come out

in the numbers that make their voices heard that swamps the older

generation who they`re trying to persuade?


MELBER:  Well, you tee it up. It`s such a big question. And, luckily, we`re

going to hear from some of the people in the room in reaction later this



And that really also goes to whether South Carolina and the more diverse

states, which is the path to Democrats winning the presidency – it cannot

be done without the diverse coalition, what is sometimes called the Obama



Does the turnout on Saturday show those paths or not, which is what you`re

laying out?


I also want to play for everyone the candidates themselves in these closing

arguments over the last 24 hours in South Carolina.




PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We have to invite everybody we

can into the tent. I will assist on being a president for everybody.



movement that cannot be stopped. And when millions of people stand up and

fight back, nothing on earth can stop us.


BIDEN:  Folks, it`s matters who we elect and what they stand for. So let`s

start by getting rid of Donald Trump.



because my name is Elizabeth Warren, and I`m the woman who`s going to beat

Donald Trump. And I think South Carolina is ready for some big structural





MELBER:  Jonathan Capehart, that brings us to some of these other players.


We obviously have some candidate leaders here. And we have more later this

hour, including a Warren surrogate.


But Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Where do they fit in? And

is this really pressure on them now, if they don`t do well tomorrow?


CAPEHART:  Oh, if they don`t do well tomorrow, some of them can make the

argument – all of them actually can make the argument that they have to

stay in the race past Super Tuesday.


Massachusetts is on Super Tuesday, Minnesota Super Tuesday, California

Super Tuesday, Steyer, Warren, Klobuchar. But once those results come in,

those three and some of the others are going to have to have a serious

conversation with themselves about how possible, how feasible and how –

are their campaigns – and how viable are they?


And I would argue that some of them would need to get out of the race, if

only to make it possible for someone to counter Senator Sanders if there is

truly the moderate wing with all these candidates, and then Senator

Sanders, if they really want to one who to overcome Senator Sanders.


Who is that going to be? They`re all going to make the argument that it`s -

- they are the one. I interviewed Tom Steyer today. He thinks he`s the one.

I interviewed Mayor Pete in Charleston on Monday. He thinks he`s the one,

because he`s actually beaten Bernie Sanders, delegate-wise, in Iowa.


So I wouldn`t want to be any of these candidates because it`s going to be

look in the mirror time. And what`s more important, your political future,

or the future of the party and the country?


MELBER:  Well, and that`s the other thing that goes well beyond tomorrow,

right, but is so important to the point you raised earlier.


We hear it over and over. People say, look, get it together. A lot of

Democrats telling us they see Donald Trump as a threat that only gets worse

if he`s reelected, given how far he`s pushed, and that he basically

admitted to trying to extort foreign election help, that he is blowing up

the Justice Department, something we cover here.


But when you mentioned the path, the Massachusetts story is a fascinating

one. Elizabeth Warren has always been very popular there, and people may

still see her as a very popular figure to lead in the Senate.




MELBER:  But look at these new numbers which I want to flag. Some people

here – brand-new – may not have seen them.


There in Massachusetts, now state polling has Sanders at 25 percent. Warren

trailing at 17. That`s not where you want to be in your home state.




MELBER:  And then you mentioned the block Sanders movement. I want to get

to the representative on this.


“New York Times” saying, in interviews with dozens of Democratic officials,

including 93 superdelegates, and you know they think they`re super,

overwhelming opposition to handing Mr. Sanders the nomination – quote –

“if he falls short of the majority of delegates.”


Is that something that the campaign here and elsewhere is thinking about,

or it`s not time for that?


BAMBERG:  You know, I think there`s a problem here, right? And there`s a

problem with the Democratic Party. I will say it.


We`re supposed to be a party of the people. It`s obvious. Iowa, New

Hampshire, Nevada, we`re going to see South Carolina Saturday, the people

are with Bernie Sanders. I have never seen a champion lose in the first

round of the playoffs and run around and say, I need to be the NBA



MELBER:  So what`s the Sanders campaign message to these superdelegates who

are out in the press now putting this shade on the campaign and saying, we

might stop you at the convention? What`s your message back?


BAMBERG:  Well, the message is this, is, are you there to listen to

yourself or are you there to listen to the people of the United States of

America, right?


This isn`t the Republican Party. The GOP in South Carolina, people wanted

to challenge Trump. They canceled their primary. We don`t do that in the

Democratic Party. So, no, let the people decide.


MELBER:  Yes. And I think we might hear more and more about that.


I have got a lot more in the show. So I want to thank Jonathan Capehart,

Representative Justin Bamberg, and Amanda Loveday, supporting Joe Biden.

Thank you so much.




MELBER:  Coming out, there is a new alert on the coronavirus. We`re going

to get into that and what Mike Pence is doing.


We have a lot more in this show, including Donald Trump`s new nominee to

potentially be the intelligence chief of the United States.


And new surprises from voters we have been speaking to all here.


Stay with us. You`re watching THE BEAT live from South Carolina.




MELBER:  Breaking news tonight on the coronavirus outbreak.


There`s a second case, this one of unknown origin, and it`s confirmed in

California. That obviously is an indication the virus is spreading. The

World Health Organization has raised its global risk alert to its highest

power level.


Stocks continuing to slump today. The market has now had officially its

worst week since the financial crisis. If you count it up on paper, it`s a

$3.4 trillion drop in value, although it could rebound.


Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence, who is basically in charge of all

government information being released about this virus and the government

response, he could go anywhere. He could give any interview. He could give

any press coverage.


But he chose to take his case in this new world to “The Rush Limbaugh Show”

to try to reassure Americans.





American people the facts. I really do believe that we would not be where

we are but for the decisive action that President Trump took in January.




MELBER:  The interview obviously raising eyebrows, since Limbaugh has been

a major source of misinformation many issues, including this potential

public health crisis.




RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  The coronavirus is being weaponized

as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump.


The coronavirus is the common cold, folks. It is probably is a Chicom

laboratory experiment that is in the process of being weaponized.


To scare people into leaving, cashing out in the stock market.




MELBER:  I`m joined now by Thomas Bollyky, director of the Global Health

Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. He`s the author of the book

“Plagues and the Paradox of Progress.”


Thanks for being here.



for having me.


MELBER:  This is obviously quite important. We are out covering 2020 and we

will continue to do that later this hour.


But this is a story on many people`s minds. What is the most important

thing for people to understand about the nature of the threat right now and

what individuals and their families can do to protect themselves?


BOLLYKY:  Great.


So the major thing for people to understand is, first, don`t panic. There

is definitely cause for concern. This is a scenario where you want to be

preparing for the worst, hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst,

but there`s a lot we still don`t know about this virus.


What we have learned over this last week is one piece of information, which

is that it does appear that this virus spreads rapidly; 27 countries

announced their first cases of this virus just alone this week. As you

mentioned, we now have two, potentially, cases of community spread in the

United States.


So, we have a good sense that it`s spreading fast. We don`t know how deadly

this virus is yet, and that`s quite important, but there is certainly cause

for people to prepare themselves.




I want to play a one doctor who has spoken about this. We have been trying

to focus on experts like yourselves and medical experts. Take a listen to

this analysis.




DR. DEAN BLUMBERG, U.C. DAVIS MEDICAL CENTER:  This is probably the tip of

the iceberg. There`s probably other patients who are getting this disease

who are more mildly affected who have not been come to medical attention

who are out there in the community.


And that means that everybody in the community is at risk.




MELBER:  What are people supposed to do with that information, that this

may be hard to detect, that there are people walking around with it, they

don`t know they have it?


What do we do with that?


BOLLYKY:  Yes, so this is a virus that in many ways, in terms of how you

would protect yourself, it is a virus like the flu in that context, in that

you should wash your hands frequently with soap.


If you are sick, you should stay home as a preventative measure not to get

others ill. You should be – on the community, communities should be

preparing themselves. If – it`s not time to cancel public events in

schools, but there should be plans in place if there are.


Not a case where you want to see panic buying. But if you are somebody with

diabetes or hypertension, you might want to think about having medicines in

advance should there be a scenario where there`s stock out.


Those are the kinds of steps you can be taking. But, mostly, what you want

to do is to prevent yourself from getting sick by handwashing and prevent

others from getting sick by staying home if you feel ill.


MELBER:  I mentioned Mike Pence.


Mick Mulvaney, the president`s chief of staff, also speaking about this on

behalf of the federal government, brief statement from him. Take a quick






some schools shut down? Probably. May you see impacts on public

transportation. Sure.


But we do this. We know how to handle this.




MELBER:  Finally, what is your assessment of the federal government`s

messaging here and trying to get people ready for the idea that, even if

there are those types of measures, say, in certain regions, people are told

to avoid the public areas, if possible, or shut down gatherings or schools,

that that itself also shouldn`t automatically be a cause for panic?


Is that the right thing for everyone to keep in mind?


BOLLYKY:  It is the right thing to tell people not to panic. So that part

is quite positive.


The two concerns I have around the federal response this week is the

potential restriction on health officials, like officials at the NIH or

CDC, speaking. We have – this country is the envy of the world in terms of

the experts we have on infectious diseases.


The community, really, the public needs to be hearing from them directly.

So that`s important.


The second, I am concerned by some of the statements that have been made

this week that have suggested that this is a hoax or a political strategy.


What we don`t need is to see this virus be politicized. People need to get

accurate, reliable, sober-minded, science-based information about what they

can do to protect themselves.


MELBER:  Well, shout-out to being sober. I think you have been in this

conversation, which is appreciated. And there`s some key things everyone

can keep in mind.


Thomas Bollyky, thank you so much.


There`s another developing story in Washington we want to give you the

update on.


Donald Trump announcing that he intends to nominate John Ratcliffe, one of

the most loyal political supporters of the president in the Congress, to be

the director of national intelligence.


Now, if you are having some deja vu, it is because Donald Trump previously

also announced the intention to nominate this same person, Ratcliffe, for

the job. It was just last summer, but serious questions came up factually

about his qualifications, including allegations he had deliberately

inflated his resume.


And it was not Democrats, but Republicans in the Senate that basically

pushed against this very pick. Even Mitch McConnell declined to publicly

back him.




SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  Yes. I look forward to meeting with him.


Generally speaking, I would lean toward the president`s nominees?




MELBER:  When you don`t have Mitch McConnell in the Trump White House, that

tells you something. This is a huge fight, and it comes against the

background, of course, of the president accused meddling of not only in

intelligence in the Russian meddling and the questions about how Democrats

were being informed of ongoing 2020 meddling, but also a lot of questions

about politicization of the Justice Department.


That`s a big story breaking on a Friday. We will obviously keep you

apprised of it in our broadcasting tonight and next week.


But we continue here in the South Carolina primary. I have got two key

campaign voices live from Columbia when we`re back in just 30 seconds.






MELBER:  We`re back live in South Carolina on the eve of the primary.


We`re going to talk to supporters of two campaigns here.




MELBER:  But, first, I want to share something with you in our reporting,

because we have, as we like to get, views from different people supporting

different candidates really talk it out, to have the dialogue.


Well, when we were at this Sanders rally that broke just about an hour-and-

a-half since this show, we were able to talk to a bunch of different people

at that rally, conversations with people who were obviously interested

enough to go to a Sanders rally.


And I was able to ask them, why they were there and how politically

experienced they were. Take a listen to some of these answers.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is actually my first rally. And this is the one

I have ever been to.


And I thought it was amazing. I agree with everything he`s saying. I just

graduated, have a ton of debt, so he really resonated with me, Medicare for

all, education, all of that. I believe everything he is running for.


MELBER:  And do you know who you`re voting for?




MELBER:  Can he win South Carolina?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, he can he win South Carolina.


And the people that get it in their minds that he can help the middle class

and the poor, and not to help the rich. If they could get that in their

minds, yes, he will win.




MELBER:  How long a drive is that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  About three-and-a-half-hours.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It was moving and uplifting. (INAUDIBLE)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It was incredible. To hear Native Americans in a

presidential candidate`s platform was huge.


MELBER:  It looks like you`re for Bernie Sanders.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I am, yes sir.


MELBER:  I mean, you got more than one garment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He stands for what I believe in. And there`s no better

way that I can show my support for him and advocate for his policies

without slapping Bernie on my body somewhere.




MELBER:  I`m joined now by Anika Noni Rose, the Tony Award-winning actress

from “Dreamgirls,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and a lot more. She`s here

as a surrogate for Elizabeth Warren.






MELBER:  And Benjamin Dixon is a “Progressive Army” podcast host, a

supporter of Bernie Sanders.


And we have come to you on THE BEAT before. Nice to see you.



having me, Ari.




MELBER:  Since we happened to hear from people at a Sanders rally, I want

to come to you first and ask, what do you think of folks that we heard from

particularly new to politics?


I had people tell me it was their first ever rally. They`re interested in

Sanders. What`s your response to that? What`s your argument for Warren



ANIKA NONI ROSE, ACTRESS:  Well, I think it`s important that people be

interested in everyone.


I think it`s really important that we educate ourselves and we hear

everyone who is in this arena, because we really have a fight on our hands

this particular election.


I think Elizabeth Warren is somebody who is interested in the humanity of

our country and preserving the democracy of our country. She is an ex-

special education teacher. She`s an attorney.


It gives her a wide swathe of information. And when you`re somebody who

chooses to be in special education, that means that you are somebody who

sees people thoroughly, who sees them from the inside, instead of from the



So this is a candidate, the first I heard of her way before this election

was her talking about the mortality rate of black mothers. She was the

first person I heard to speak about that. In 2020, nobody should be worried

about their mortality rate when they go into have a child.


And yet, from the poorest of women to Serena Williams, black women

specifically aren`t being heard. This is a woman who cares about predatory

lenders and how they take advantage of the poorest of the poor and people

of color, and they`re placed in their neighborhoods.


She cares about environmental racism, and she listens to scientists. More

importantly – maybe not more importantly, but just as important, she`s

somebody who learns if a mistake has been made.


If she`s made a mistake, and you say, Elizabeth, you were wrong about that,

she says, OK, well, how so? She takes it in, she implements it in the next

plan that she has. And that`s important.


MELBER:  Let me bring Benjamin in.


When people say, well, Bernie Sanders looks different than other Democrats,

is he too left, too liberal, what is your response to that? And do you have

a view of why we are hearing from so many first-time voters that we heard

at that rally?


Because I had people say, oh, this is this first rally I have ever been to.


DIXON:  Yes.


No, it makes a lot of sense, because there are a lot of voters who felt

disenfranchised by the fact that the Democratic Party really wasn`t

representing their best interests for a very long time.


Bernie Sanders is representing the most diverse subset in this country,

which is the working class. And so if working-class voters get to hear

someone who`s going to speak to their material conditions, someone who is

going to speak to their real-life everyday issues, then that motivates them

to come out.


MELBER:  Does it matter, do you think, that Sanders has traditionally

emphasized more, as you just put it, class, and racial justice can be

achieved as part of that – we talked on the show about how Martin Luther

King was marching against racism and racist terrorism, but also for

economic justice, also for jobs – but that he does it that way?


Or do you think that some of that still has to evolve, and there has to be

more explicit racial justice, for him to be the Democratic nominee?


DIXON:  I think Bernie Sanders himself would admit that there has been a

lot of evolution in his messaging.


But I want to make sure that we`re clear. There are plenty of African-

Americans who are working class are living paycheck to paycheck, who can`t

make ends meet. And so, when he says working class, I think we need to

start thinking that it`s a diverse group of people, because it really is.


MELBER:  Both of you are here on your candidates, but I also want to look

really broadly, particularly as we think about – because diversity matters

and we`re in a diverse state.


Let`s listen to what some of the different candidates have said here in

discussing a major issue that everyone understands for this community,

criminal justice reform.




BUTTIGIEG:  Cutting incarceration in half, reversing the harms of the war

on drugs and, yes, expunging records so people can get their lives back on

track and can reenter.


WARREN:  We need to end cash bail. I will end all for-profit prisons.



prison, they then should have their rights restored and they should be able

to vote.


TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We`re talking about criminal

justice. I`m the only person this stage who believes in reparations for




And when I realized that, I cut it back by 95 percent.


SANDERS:  Jobs and education, not more jails and incarceration.




MELBER:  Do you see a conversation that is better on these issues now in

this primary, even as there are fewer – there have been a shrinking number

of people of color just on the debate stage at all?


ROSE:  I think that the conversation has become better probably because of

the amount of people of color who were on the stage in the beginning.


And I think that it`s something that we cannot ignore. Senator Warren talks

about stopping private prisons. She`s talked about releasing people who

were put in prison for marijuana, which is no longer illegal, and it`s

something that`s holding people for years for minor, minor things.


So I think that the fact that we did have a very diverse playing field in

the beginning has brought these subjects to light, and people cannot afford

not to speak on them anymore.


And I will say this, also. Elizabeth Warren doesn`t really have a black

plan. Every plan that she has keeps black people, people of color,

indigenous people in mind as she moves forward.


And The Root just recently said that her plan – that her plans are the

best for black people in America. They listed her plan as number one.


DIXON:  Well, I will say this about the clip that we just watched. I think

Anika and I can agree, as the representatives of progressive candidates,

that the moderates in this race, they really do have a problem in criminal

justice in terms of their actual record.


To hear Mike Bloomberg speak about anything in terms of criminal justice is

laughable, at his best. Pete Buttigieg has a problem in South Bend. Amy

Klobuchar has a problem. Joe Biden has a problem.


And so the only two people in this race that really do not have a problem

is one who I`m a fan of, Elizabeth Warren, but most certainly one I`m

voting for, which is Bernie Sanders.


MELBER:  I think the counterargument we`re hearing from some people on that

would be that Democrats who`ve been in Congress for a long time, which

includes Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, have the problem because of the

history, because of the crime bill, because there was a bipartisan war on



What is your view of that weakness – or do you deny that it is one for

Sanders – historically?


DIXON:  Yes, I think it`s the most disingenuous argument that`s going on in

this race right now.


Bernie Sanders made it clear what he opposed in the crime bill, which was

the effect that he saw that it was going to have on young black men. He

made it clear at that time, but he also made it clear that he had a vote

for it because of the Violence Against Women Act, which was tucked into it.


And I just have a feeling that, if the roles were reversed, if he didn`t

vote for it, then someone today would be saying, oh, well, you didn`t vote

for the Violence Against Women Act. So I think that particular argument is

really bereft of any substance.


MELBER:  But he is part of the longstanding bipartisan war on drugs.


I mean, all the Democrats were in the `90s. I mean, that`s what they were

doing in the Congress, right? I mean, that`s not contested.


DIXON:  But we have clear audio, video of him on the floor calling out the

very specific policies in that plan that were going to hurt African-

American men. And so he took a stand against it.


And, yes, he did vote for it, right? There`s no doubt that he voted for it.

But the reason he made it clear he voted for it was because of the Violence

Against Women Act.


MELBER:  I really appreciate both of your perspectives.


Benjamin Dixon, we have had you before. We will have you back.


DIXON:  Thank you for having me.


MELBER:  Anika, you`re coming back later in the show.


ROSE:  I am.


MELBER:  Which I`m excited about, because we`re going to get into some

different stuff.


Coming up on this special primary edition of “Fallback Friday,” as

mentioned, we`re going to sit down with some of our guests, as well as a

hip-hop artist from right here in Columbia.


And I`m going to talk to the voters here when we come back.








MELBER:  We`re back live right here at the Lizard`s Thicket in Columbia,

South Carolina.


You can see people are pretty excited. We have been having a great time.

And lately we have been out in the primary states. This is one of our

favorite parts of the show is where we talk to and listen to voters.


How are you all doing?


Do you know who you`re voting for?




MELBER:  Joe Biden. Why?




Well, because we got to get the country back on track. Donald Trump`s been

in there long enough. And we`re just kind of looking out for the future for

the young kids. We got to get it turned around.


MELBER:  You mentioned kids.


We have seen some young people who are for Sanders. Why do you prefer Biden

over Sanders here in South Carolina?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I think that Biden is going to provide us with a

vision to make the country – to put it back on track. It`s kind of out of

control. And there`s a lot of policies that are being disrupted, and it`s

going to affect the future of our children.


MELBER:  And do you agree with that?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I totally agree with him. He`s my husband.






MELBER:  Now, do they always agree on everything?










MELBER:  And do you have a second choice behind Biden, or it`s Biden all

the way, all the way the convention?






UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think that he can really take on Trump, actually.


MELBER:  Because?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Billionaire, billionaire.


MELBER:  Yes, B vs. B.


You know what they called billionaires? It`s all about the commas.






MELBER:  It`s all about the commas.




MELBER:  That`s a little bit of – that`s J. Cole, who`s just one state



What about over here? Do who you know you`re voting for?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think it`s going to be Joe Biden.


MELBER:  Why Joe Biden?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think he can get somebody like Jaime Harrison down-

ticket for South Carolina.




MELBER:  Harrison running against, of course, Lindsey Graham, who`s a big -

- has become a big Trump ally.


When you say that, does that mean that you`re thinking if Bernie Sanders

does win, if he is the nominee, you`re thinking what happens to that

Harrison-Graham race?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, you`re putting me on the spot, but yes.


I`m happy with anybody. I am happy with anybody on the Democratic ticket.


MELBER:  Did you think this would involve you not being on the spot today?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Totally. Totally.




MELBER:  This is a heavier lunch than usual.






Let`s go over here.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Collard greens.


MELBER:  What about you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Now, I have to be perfectly honest. I just moved back

to South Carolina. I`m a Joe Biden fan. I`m with my friend here.


And I do have some reserve about that. And the only reason why I will vote

for him is because he has experience. I believe that there should be a

gathering of all of them. And let`s bring this thing to an end and get

Trump out of office, plain and simple.




MELBER:  And do you guys always agree as well?








UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We`re best friends. We`re best friends. Yes.


MELBER:  Oh, we can do a high-five. Yes, you get in there. Everybody gets a



What about back here? Do you know who you`re voting for?








UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She`s the smartest person in the race, and she`s a



MELBER:  Do you have something in common with Elizabeth Warren then? Are

you also that smart?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  No, my wife is smarter than I am.




MELBER:  I`m going to come around.


That sounds good. Do you agree?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  With me being smarter or with voting for Warren?




MELBER:  It`s the news. You answer whatever question you want.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I will also vote for Warren, because she`s a woman

with a plan.




Let me go over here. What about you all? Have you – you going to vote



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do I have to disqualify myself? Because I`m from



MELBER:  OK. What brought you out here?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Visiting a daughter in Charleston.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And so we happened to be here at the right time.


MELBER:  Indiana will also have a primary. Who will you vote for there?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Probably Bernie.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think he`s got a base that will come out strong. And

I think that will make a big difference. I think there`s a lot of Trump

voters that can go either way.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And they may go to Bernie.


MELBER:  Great.


Well, right here. We`re hearing both in this state and some visitors a lot

of energy, a lot of different candidates.


Thanks to everyone.


When we come back, we have a very special update and a “Fallback Friday”

live from South Carolina.








MELBER:  Welcome back to our special live show right here in South

Carolina. A lot of energy.


Now, we have some very special guests who are right here in the thick of

this primary.


Anika Noni Rose is here campaigning, as mentioned for Elizabeth Warren.

And, as a reminder, she is the Tony-winning actor. She starred in the Oscar

winning-film “Dreamgirls,” and many known as the beloved voice of Princess

Tiana in Disney`s “The Princess and the Frog.” Classics.




MELBER:  We`re also joined now for the first time by Columbia`s own Mook, a

local rapper who has crowned himself the best rapper in South Carolina in a

region known for music.




MELBER:  And as the world eyes tomorrow`s primary here, we have

international journalists Niall Stanage, who`s been out covering the race.




MELBER:  On Fridays, we often ask who needs to fall back.


And, tonight, we are fixing to fall back with this presidential panel.


Who needs to fall back.


ROSE:  Lindsey Graham needs to fall back.




ROSE:  Make a little room for Jaime Harrison, maybe make some room for

health care for his constituents.


He hasn`t had a town hall in three years. He has no idea what these people

want. Fall on back.


MELBER:  Well, he`s not in touch with even going and talking to people who

live here.


ROSE:  Not at all. Not at all.


MELBER:  Mook, who needs to fall back or what needs to fall back?


MOOK, RAPPER:  People need to fall back.


And all the money that`s going on with the politics. Like, there`s too much

money going on. It almost made me feel like I need to be into politics.




MOOK:  Just because – but, yes, I just feel like fall back from all the

money that`s going on, so that we can actually see who is trying to make a



MELBER:  Yes, that`s interesting, because, as many people know, hip-hop

does celebrate success.


MOOK:  Yes.


MELBER:  Nothing wrong with that. But you`re talking about the idea that

people have billions, and they`re using it to, like, drown out other

people`s voices.


MOOK:  Yes, definitely, definitely, yes.




Niall, how about that?


NIALL STANAGE, “THE HILL”:  I think that`s – I think superdelegates are

who needs to fall back, all right, to be honest.


I don`t believe in this idea that the folks here who cast their votes

should have their votes overtaken by other people who decide that they know

better. That`s not making an argument for any particular candidate.


MELBER:  Sure.


STANAGE:  I just think the results need to stand.




MELBER:  What do you think about that?


You were telling us all about why you support Warren earlier, but would you

rather see her win with the will of the voters or would you be comfortable

with this idea that, oh, maybe at the convention, people who aren`t

accountable could change the outcome?


ROSE:  I would love for people to win with the will of the voters. If

people had won with the will of the voters, we wouldn`t be sitting under

Trump right now.




ROSE:  Simple. One vote, one person.


We`re working with a system that was built under slavery to make sure that

slave owners could have things that they wanted, and we`re still doing the

same things. It`s got to change.




MELBER:  Niall, we`re – and getting some applause for that here.


Niall, when the races get tight, we see process become paramount. We saw

that with Clinton and Obama. Donald Trump was complaining about rules that

it turned out benefited him because they round up in the Republican



STANAGE:  Right.


MELBER:  Do you see this, depending on tomorrow`s outcome, as a race that

will get more involved in process?


STANAGE:  I think it can do. It can definitely get into the weeds,

particularly when getting into the weeds benefits one candidate or another.


We see a lot of times candidates make arguments when it`s in their benefit,

as if they believe in this kind of overarching principle. And then, when

it`s not in their benefit, the principle goes out the window.


MELBER:  Right out the window.


And we have seen candidates, including Sanders, change their position this

very question about delegates.


STANAGE:  We have. I think he`s right now, personally. I think he was wrong

back then, when he argued that superdelegates should come in and perhaps

take it away back then from Hillary Clinton.


But right now, if he ends up with a plurality, or Vice President Biden or

Senator Warren, that should be the nominee. I think it would divide the

party if it`s otherwise.




Well, Mook, as you know, the only thing bigger than this red-blue divided

America is the north-south hip-hop divide. It seems like the South has been

getting back in it.


I`m curious because, we`re so close, with all these rappers coming out

North Carolina, who else do you like they`re in your peers there?


MOOK:  In North Carolina?




MOOK:  J. Cole and DaBaby, definitely. I like those two artists.


MELBER:  Are there DaBaby fans here?








MELBER:  What about Jeezy?




MELBER:  Also one. Two, if you count me. Shout-out to everyone in North

Carolina, J. Cole, Jeezy, DaBaby.


Mook, you`re a first-time guest here, a local artist. I appreciate you

coming through.


MOOK:  Yes, first time. Yes, thank you.


MELBER:  Niall, I know that you have been out on the campaign trail and

busy. And it`s great to have you, and have you in more than one block,



ROSE:  Thank you.


MELBER:  And thanks to everyone here.




MELBER:  This has been really fun.


I want to give all shout-outs, all due praise.


And we`re going to fit in one more break, and then we`re back live from

South Carolina.






MELBER:  And we have such a great time here at Lizard`s Thicket in

Columbia, South Carolina.


Obviously, all eyes on South Carolina, as here we are on the eve of the



I want to thank everyone here.


And I want to tell everyone at home we will be back live. I`m anchoring

special coverage 4:00 p.m. Eastern and 11:00 p.m. for late-night coverage.

That`s tomorrow as part of our MSNBC special coverage of this South

Carolina primary.


I want to thank everyone here in South Carolina. We will keep our eye on

this state.




MELBER:  Keep it locked right here on MSNBC.


And let`s see. We did all right.




MELBER: “HARDBALL” is up next.








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