The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/11/15

Richard Winger, Bryan Stevenson

      ALICIA GARZA, BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT:  – who are not sure if

they align with disruption or not. 


      CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST:  Yes. 


      GARZA:  But, again, we want to be very, very clear that every single

candidate will be pushed to acknowledge what they`re going to do to make

sure that black lives matter. 


      HAYES:  Candidates on notice.


      Alicia Garza and Bill Press, thank you both very much.  I enjoyed



      That is “ALL IN” for this evening. 


      THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now with Ari Melber sitting in

for Rachel.


      Good evening to you, Ari.


      ARI MELBER, MSNBC GUEST HOST:  Thank you, Chris.


      And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. 

Rachel has the night off.


      But it is here!  It is finally here and I, for one, can hardly

contain the excitement.  If you feel a little different today, a little

more energized like maybe there`s a spring in your step that is because,

yes, it has finally arrived. 


      It is the Fiorina surge.  For weeks leading up to the first

Republican debate, she had been polling to the bottom if not at the bottom

of this large pack of 17 candidates.  Things were not looking good for

candidate Carly Fiorina leading up to that big debate last week. 


      And needless to say, she did not make it to the prime time debate

stage.  She was one of those seven candidates at that incredibly awkward,

audience-free kids` table debate. 


      But despite all that, she managed to kill it.  She basically won the

night mainly by getting an invaluable shot of free advertising when the

moderators at the big primetime debate saying her praises. 




      BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS MODERATOR:  Remember, we had another debate on

this very stage from 5:00 to 6:00 that included seven other candidates. 

This is a huge field. 


      MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS MODERATOR:  That`s right.  I bet they are glad

Carly Fiorina did not appear in this hour, because, boy, she unleashed a

can, if you know what I`m saying, earlier. 






      MELBER:  No opinion there.  Just a little shout-out.


      FOX News then also played a clip of Carly Fiorina from that earlier

debate for all the candidates on the big debate stage and then asked them

to respond to her positions. 


      So, Carly Fiorina got the most high-profile shout-out you could get

and she got the benefit of seeming like an underdog by not actually

participating in the big primetime debate while still getting seen and

heard and talked about at the primetime Republican debate.  That was a nice

hat trick. 


      And, by the way, that debate was watched by 24 million people.  Even

just the kids` table debate, even just that sad little event was watched by

something approaching 6 million people, which is almost double the audience

of the first Republican primary debate in the 2012 cycle.  That was just

for the kids table.


      So, yes, ever since the debate Carly Fiorina has been booked on every

TV show and her campaign is making it known that their fundraising numbers

are spiking, her poll numbers are right now are unlike anything we have

seen from her so far. 


      A new “Boston Herald” poll out of New Hampshire, look at this, she`s

in the top five.  The last time that poll was taken, she was tied for dead

last with Pataki and Lindsey Graham.  Now, she is a front-runner in New

Hampshire by that poll. 


      She is also tied in fifth and a new poll out of Iowa and NBC`s

national post-debate survey she`s tied for fourth place.  And there`s a

Rasmussen poll out today.  Fiorina tied with the other top tier candidates,

and just late last month, in that same poll, she was stuck at 1 percent. 

She has catapulted into the top four.


      So, this is what a come-from-behind surge looks like this year.  It

is Carly Fiorina`s turn, apparently, and, of course, it helps that as a

candidate she`s virtually a complete unknown at this point.  That`s

probably what most people know about her record and she won this debate.


      Meanwhile, Donald Trump`s surge also shows no signs of abating even

after that debate performance regardless of what you thought of it.  If you

look closely at the polls, there are still some signs of trouble here for



      In that same New Hampshire poll that shows Carly Fiorina`s support

rising, Donald, yes, he`s number one.  But when pollsters asked those

people about their views of his candidacy, 70 percent say they either think

he doesn`t have the temperament to be president or they just oppose him



      And in the other national poll by Rasmussen, Donald Trump again top

of the field, but look at the change from their last poll a couple weeks

ago.  He has lost a ton of support.  But Donald Trump is, whether you like

it or not, he is still effectively by these metrics, the front-runner for

the nomination. 


      Tonight, he gave his first press conference since that big debate. 

He also gave his speech at a local fund-raiser in Michigan.  Here is how

that went. 




      REPORTER:  Mr. Trump, in all candor, do you think during this

campaign, there have been some times where you feel you have gone over the





      REPORTER:  Gone over the top. 


      TRUMP:  I don`t think so at all.  I mean, I look at the polls.  I can

only go by the polls. 


      I will be creating tremendous numbers of jobs, so I think we`re going

to do great and then the women`s health issues, I`m for that.  I watched

Jeb Bush, give the worst answer the other day. 


      I think that is going to be his 47 percent.  Romney possibly lost the

election for a lot of reasons, frankly, that he lost.  One of the big

reasons was his 47 percent.  That was a disaster. 


      I think that Jeb`s answer the other day on women`s health issues is a

disaster for him.  And I don`t think – now, he then went and said he

misspoke.  How do you misspeak about that? 


      I will be great on women`s health issues.  I cherish women.  I will

be great on women`s health issues, believe me. 




      MELBER:  Joining us now, reporting from the Trump event tonight is

NBC News correspondent Katy Tur, who`s been following the Trump campaign. 


      Nice to see you. 


      KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Nice to see you as well. 


      MELBER:  Tell us about the crowd you saw and heard there, local

county fundraiser, $25 a plate.  It was packed. 


      Who are these people coming out?  What did they try of Trump and your



      TUR:  Not just packed but sold out.  And there were all age ranges. 

A mostly Caucasian crowd but everybody from college students to seniors. 

We spoke with a few of them and they say pretty much what you keep hearing

on this campaign trail, that they like that he`s outspoken, they like that

he doesn`t seem to be beholden to anybody. 


      I did speak with one college student, though, before the event.  And

he tells me that, yes, he was enticed by the draw of Trump celebrity and he

did come out partially because of that.  Because he is such a huge draw,

because he gets so many viewers, so many eyeballs, 24 million for that

debate, he has a real chance to come out and lay out his plans for the

country and say specifically what he`s going to do and why he will be



      He wanted to hear about education.  I would imagine that he went away

from this being disappointed if he was asking for any substance.  Maybe he

wasn`t disappointed he came out and gave a really big show and got huge

crowds and huge applause.  But he didn`t really elaborate on any of the

substance of his campaign, giving a pretty standard stump speech. 


      He spoke to reporters beforehand and a lot of us are trying to move

past the controversial comments, past the he said/she said, what outrageous

thing can you say today?  And now move on to giving an outline when he`s

going to start giving – putting some meat on the bones, if you will.  He

says that he`s going to remain flexible with that and that he`ll give it

when he sees fit as of now – Ari. 


      MELBER:  Yes.  I mean, that`s one of the weirdest parts here is he`s

critical of politics as usual.  But something people don`t like is how

vague politicians are, and they promised everything to different people. 

He was asked point blank today what would be your alternative to Obamacare

there and this evening, he said, I don`t have an answer to that, but he

started talking about how he bought a hotel in Miami once and spent several

minutes on that.


      How does that play out in the country? 


      TUR:  Well, he kept saying that people need to trust him.  And,

generally, when you speak to his fervent supporters, they say, we do trust

him.  They think that he`s the man for the job, not necessarily because he

knows everything but they believe he`ll be able to put the appropriate

people into the appropriate positions. 


      They use “The Apprentice” a lot when you`re talking to them.  They

use that as an example of how he`s able to do good things, how he`s able to

be so successful in business. 


      MELBER:  Do they know that it was a fictitious television show? 


      TUR:  I don`t know, Ari.  I mean, that`s generally –


      MELBER:  I`m sorry. 


      TUR:  That`s generally what they try to say. 


      I think what he is tapping into are people who are sick of the status

quo, they`re sick of politicians, they`re sick of that double speak, and

they don`t necessarily think that he is one of them.


      But, then again, he hasn`t brought out any policy plans.  Tonight,

his biggest applause was for building a wall again.  It was for ISIS, a

strong military.  And perhaps the biggest cheer of the night when he said

his second favorite book was “The Art of the Deal”, which he likes to talk

about a lot.  His first favorite book, though, was the bible.  So, he`s

certainly trying to appeal to a certain base of support within the

Republican Party, and he`s been successful so far. 


      The question is whether he`ll be able to broaden it out and bring

more into the fold in order to get the nomination.  And if he does get the

nomination, will he be able to broaden it enough to go on to win the

presidency?  And that certainly is the question out there and what experts

say there`s just no chance of. 


      MELBER:  NBC News correspondent Katy Tur out on the trail.  Thanks

for your time tonight. 


      The other news Donald Trump made tonight was that he was asked about

a possible third party run. 




      TRUMP:  I want to run as a Republican.  I don`t want to run a third

party or as an independent, I want to run as a Republican.  As long as I`m

treated fairly, that`s going to be the case, and fairly is an instinct. 

It`s an instinct. 


      I know what fair is.  You know what fair is.  I know what it is, yes,

I know what fair is.  And I think that`s happening. 


      And, by the way, win, lose or draw, I`m not just saying I have to



      Now, I guarantee you this, if I win the Republican nomination, I

guarantee you all sitting there, I will not run a third party candidate. 

Do you agree?  OK. 




      MELBER:  I want to be the Republican candidate as long as I`m treated

fairly, he said.  Well, that possibility haunts many Republicans and it`s

unusual for a candidate who leads the polls here to openly challenge his

party by threatening to run against it later, and that chutzpah was on

display in probably the most consequential electoral moment in Thursday`s





      BAIER:  Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is

unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the

Republican Party, and pledge to not run an independent campaign against

that person? 


      Again, we`re looking for you to raise your hand now, raise your hand

now, if you won`t make that pledge tonight. 


      Mr. Trump?


      So, Mr. Trump, to be clear, you`re standing on a Republican primary -



      TRUMP:  I fully understand. 


      BAIER:  The place where the RNC will give the nominee the nod –


      TRUMP:  I fully understand. 


      BAIER:  – and that experts say, an independent run would almost

certainly hand the race over to Democrats and likely another Clinton.  You

can`t say tonight that you can make that pledge? 


      TRUMP:  I cannot say, I have to respect the person that if it`s not

me, the person that wins.  If I do win and I`m leading by quite a bit,

that`s what I want to do.  I can make that pledge if I`m the nominee, I

will pledge I will not run as an independent. 




      MELBER:  Trump has continued to taunt and threaten Republicans by

invoking that leverage and many have taken him at his word that he has





      TRUMP:  Well, I have leverage.  I do have leverage and I like having

leverage.  I`m a businessman.  I`m a natural businessman.  And, you know, I

do like leverage. 


      But I`m not talking so much in terms.  I am right now leading by a

lot.  Not just by a little bit.  I`m leading by a lot. 


      I want to run as a Republican.  I want to win the primaries.  I want

to then run as a Republican.  I think we will win, and certainly that gives

us the best chance of winning. 


      I don`t want to do the independent thing but I do keep it and it is

leverage and it is – there are some very positive things about keeping it. 




      MELBER:  We actually have some new reporting tonight that casts doubt

on how long Trump really has this leverage.  Trump`s basic premise is that

he can ride one road to the GOP nomination and if he losses that, he can

take an off ramp for a second road to the independent run.


      Some Republicans clearly buy that premise because they`ve been acting

afraid and trying to pressure him to commit to the GOP.  Many politicos and

reporters also clearly buy the premise.  You can see that in the discussion

which assumes Trump can ride these roads and maintain his leverage



      But that`s actually not the case.  It`s certainly true that Trump

gets away with breaking many rules that other candidates have to follow. 

Hard to imagine, say, Chris Christie topping the polls while bragging he

may run as an independent.


      But there are rules and then there are laws.  As a practical matter,

the election laws place an expiration date on Trump`s third party option

that`s far sooner than he may realize.  To mount a credible, winnable

independent bid for president, Trump would need to get on the ballot in

virtually every state. 


      Unlike the FOX News rules for debate, high polling numbers and

celebrity status do not just get a candidate into consideration out there. 

Every state has separate rules.  Several big states have high bars and some

early deadlines. 


      Take a look at this.  The huge state of Texas, and its 38 electoral

college votes, key to any GOP victory.  To get on the ballot, independent

candidates must gather over 79,000 signatures from a subset of voters, not

just residents or registered voters but registered voters who didn`t vote

in either party`s primary. 


      So, campaign`s organizers have to find people who are registered to

vote but didn`t vote in primaries.  And they would have to want Trump on

the ballot as an independent.  That takes a lot of time on the ground. 


      Then, there`s the crucial state of Ohio.  No one has won the White

House without Ohio since 1960.  And Trump`s leverage threat runs into a

brick wall here.


      Take a look at this.  The state has a sore loser law that bars people

from trying to run as independents after losing a party primary.  In other

words, Ohio has already thought about the kind of leverage Trump wands to

wield, and they`ve deemed it a, quote, “sore loser move” that is banned. 


      Here`s the requirement exactly – candidates must be unaffiliated

from any political party and the required claim of being unaffiliated must

be made in good faith for the candidate to be qualified run as an



      Not only that, the Ohio secretary of state who is a Republican, said

last week that Mr. Trump has already, quote, “chosen a party for the

election cycle and declared himself as a Republican in the state of Ohio.”


      So the legal supervisor of elections there has determined Trump as a

Republican.  Even if Trump wanted to redefine himself as an independent

there before the primary and fight these rules in court, he would legally

be required to exit the Republican presidential primary midstream because

Ohio`s primary is March 15.  And there`s a precedent on that.  A 2006

federal case holding that independent candidates must not be affiliated

with parties unless make that claim in good faith.


      So, Trump does have this leverage for now, but to keep this as any

kind of real or credible threat, he`d have to start gathering those

hundreds of thousands of signatures and he`d have to decide by early March

if he wants to run as an independent with any shot at Ohio and, thus, the

White House. 


      Joining us now on this big story in politics is Richard Winger,

publisher and editor of ballot access news. 


      No better person for this ballot access discussion.  Good evening to



      RICHARD WINGER, BALLOT ACCESS NEWS:  Hi.  I`m very happy to be on the

show, Ari. 


      MELBER:  Tell me, does Donald Trump have the leverage he thinks based

on your reading of these laws, including Ohio? 


      WINGER:  I`m glad you brought up Ohio.  In 2011, Gary Johnson

declared for the Republican nomination.  He was the former governor of New

Mexico and he was a Republican governor. 


      In December 2011, he said, “I`m quitting this Republican race.  I

think it`s rigged.  They`ve kept me out of the debates.  I`m going to seek

the libertarian nomination.”  And Gary Johnson got on the ballot in Ohio.


      The same thing with John Anderson in 1980.  He stayed a Republican. 

He listed himself in the congressional directory all through 1980 as



      That Ohio law you quoted doesn`t pertain to presidential candidates. 


      MELBER:  So, what do you think is the leverage here?  Do you think he

can play this out in a dual way in multiple states? 


      WINGER:  I do.  Don`t forget, Ralph Nader in 2008 got on the ballot

in 45 states.  And he is not a really wealthy person.  I think he`s

comfortable but not wealthy. 


      1988, Lenora Fulani, the New Alliance Party presidential candidate

got on the ballot in all 50 states.  Perot did it without even having to go

to court in 1992. 


      MELBER:  How early – I mean, several of those people, I would say

Nader and Perot, though, were in party primaries, right?  They weren`t

doing this two-step.  How early, in your view, would Trump have to start

doing things as opposed to just claiming the leverage? 


      WINGER:  Well, if he`s serious that he really wants to keep the

independent route open, if I were him, I would not file in the presidential

primaries of Ohio or Texas or South Dakota.  But we have precedence from

just about every other state that the sore loser laws don`t pertain to

presidential primaries, and the reason is a sore loser law says, if you are

defeated in the primary, you can`t run outside the major parties in



      The trouble with that theory is no person has defeated a Republican

or Democratic presidential nomination in any one state`s primary. 

Presidential primaries are different.  The national conventions decide who

wins and who losses the major party nomination.  That`s why until 2012, no

third party candidate in the entire history of the country had ever been

kept off the general election ballot because he or she had run in a

presidential primary after major party, and there`s been 12 people in the

history of the country who ran in major party presidential primaries and

then ran outside the major parties. 


      MELBER:  Right.  And you`re saying that because often at the state

level, it`s the collection of state results that leads to the total

determination of who the nominee is although in this case, in Ohio, we have

a different opinion from someone who matters, the secretary of state at

least thus far.


      But, as you say, these are things that have been tested and debated. 

If he spends enough time, if Mr. Trump wants to do it, spends enough time,

learning all these laws as well as you.


      Richard Winger, publisher and editor of “Ballot Access News” – thank

you for your time tonight. 


      WINGER:  OK, thank you.  Bye.


      MELBER:  We do have lots more ahead.  Hillary Clinton has been hard

at work on the campaign trail, addressing the Trump phenomenon and trying

to trade barbs with some of her other Republican rivals.  That is next. 


      And later, a fascinating new way to hear one of the most important

speeches in American history.


      Please stay with us.




      MELBER:  You`re looking here at a live picture.  This is right now at

the Reagan Library out in Simi Valley, California.  Republican presidential

candidate Jeb Bush is delivering a big speech there tonight on foreign



      Now, we`re keeping an eye on that speech in order to play you some of

the most important parts in just a moment.  Bush`s aides telling us he is

going to use this address to challenge Hillary Clinton on Iraq. 


      Jeb Bush has spent this whole week essentially picking a big public

fight with Clinton.  Secretary Clinton has ignored her Republican rivals to

date, but that is apparently changing.  That story is next. 


      Stay with us.




      MELBER:  Take a look at this. 


      This was the scene at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena last night, a

campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.  The

campaign says 27,000 people showed up to hear Sanders speak.  It`s just one

day after another 28,000 people in Portland, Oregon, flocked to the Moda

Center to see him, not to mention those 15,000 he drew in Seattle the day



      Sanders has received an outpouring of grassroots support in the West

Coast.  And while the surge in attendance may not give him the nomination,

he remains the front-runner in terms of the number of people coming out to

see him over the course of this entire campaign thus far. 


      Hillary Clinton`s campaign meanwhile has been careful to avoid

positioning her as entitled to the nomination, even as she sails ahead in

many polls.  As we get closer to the Iowa caucuses, though, and as Bernie

Sanders keeps drawing those record crowds, Clinton seems to think that

while she can this Bernie momentum play out unchecked, she cannot afford to

let the Donald Trump reality show on the right distract from the scrutiny

that should be applied to the other more likely Republican nominees. 


      We know this because just over the last 48 hours, she`s used her

bully pulpit like probably never before this cycle to go after a number of

leading Republican contenders. 





said about Megyn Kelly is outrageous, what the rest of the Republicans are

saying about all women is also outrageous.  When one of their major

candidates, a much younger man, the senator from Florida, says there should

be no exceptions for rape and incest, that is as offensive and as troubling

a comment as you could hear from a major candidate running for the



      So, yes, I know it makes great TV.  I think the guy went way

overboard, offensive, outrageous, pick your adjective.  But what Marco

Rubio says has as much of an impact in terms of where the Republican Party

is today as anybody else on that stage, and it is deeply troubling and it

should be to the press. 




      MELBER:  That was Hillary Clinton on the trail, trying to turn

everyone`s attention, our attention, reporters and voters alike, from

Trump`s rhetorical excess to Rubio`s policy extremes.


      Clinton is also using the Internet to directly confront other

Republicans on policy, showing up on Jeb Bush`s Twitter page to talk about

education and student loans and then today she went after Wisconsin

Governor Scott Walker for appearing to be delighted to slash investment in

colleges in Wisconsin. 


      Clinton has changed her game the past couple of days in a way that is

more combative, some would argue even personal maybe for good reason.  The

latest PPP poll in Iowa shows Clinton behind in head to head matchups

against four Republicans.  That includes Ben Carson, he`s four points ahead

of her.  And also, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee and Rubio, all a point ahead

of her. 


      A new poll in New Hampshire shows similar findings, Clinton just a

point or two behind Jeb Bush, Walker and Rand Paul in these hypothetical



      Now, will Hillary Clinton`s new aggressive tactics calling out

Republicans by name on their policies and records one right after the

other, does that boost enthusiasm around her campaign?  Does it improve her

standing in the states where she feels she may be neck and neck with

multiple Republican potential nominees? 


      Joining us now is MSNBC senior editor, Beth Fouhy, who covered

Clinton`s entire 2008 campaign. 


      Good evening to you.




      MELBER:  This seems to be a change in the narrative, in the focus

coming not from her aides, not from advertisements – we see negative ads -

- coming from the candidate. 


      Why is that? 


      FOUHY:  Well, a couple reasons.  One, all the action is on the

Republican side right now.  Her campaign is not generating the kind of

interest, the kind of enthusiasm, even though Bernie Sanders is getting the

big crowds.  He`s not getting the coverage the Republican side is. 

Everything is going on in the Republican side. 


      So, Hillary Clinton has to step into that race if she`s going to get

noticed.  It also helps her avoid having to get into it with Bernie Sanders

who she does not want to engage.


      MELBER:  Right.


      FOUHY:  It allows her to focus, as she would, as a general election

candidate on the likely Republican nominee, and she`s figuring out who that

person is.  You can read the tea leaves who she thinks those people might



      MELBER:  As you know from being on the field, it was often said that

early on in the 2008 cycle, the Clinton campaign did not see Barack Obama



      FOUHY:  Right. 


      MELBER:  I think it`s fair to say they in the 2012 cycle along with

everyone else didn`t exactly see Donald Trump coming. 


      FOUHY:  Right.


      MELBER:  What is the impact in your view on the Clinton candidacy, to

have this sideshow? 


      FOUHY:  Well, again, she has to get into it.  She`s in this funny

position because she went to his wedding.  We all know this now.  He

reminded everyone of that in the debate, and she had to take a question

about that at the press avail. 


      So, if she thinks he`s so outrageous, why is she going to his

wedding?  It`s all kind of – it`s a total sideshow.  So, that`s why she

brought the conversation back at the press avail that you played about

Rubio and really wants to focus on him, because the campaign believes,

Hillary Clinton believes if there`s going to be a nominee between Rubio and

Trump, it`s probably going to be Rubio.  So, let`s pivot over to somebody

who actually has a chance of winning the nomination and not the circus act

of Donald Trump. 


      MELBER:  Well, in her view on women`s health and rights here, is that

in a quieter debate, what Marco Rubio said basically abortion should be

banned in all cases would have been a big deal or, quote/unquote, “gaffe”

and it`s not getting attention because of Trump.  Is that correct? 


      FOUHY:  Totally.  Absolutely.  But she also I think saw that Rubio`s

performance in the debate was considered to be pretty strong.  He

definitely was praised by many Republicans for looking great at that

debate, and to the extent anybody could stand out next to Donald Trump, at

that debate, he did a pretty good job. 


      She wants to squash that bug like before it grows because Rubio on

paper and in many ways in terms of performance is – could be a strong

candidate.  He`s Hispanic, he`s from Florida.  She needs to keep him down. 


      She`s trying to keep Jeb Bush down, as we know, engaging today over

foreign policy.  Yesterday, they were engaging around higher education,

paying for bringing down the price of tuition.  So, she`s eying who she

think is probably going to be the nominee and she does not think it`s

Donald Trump. 


      MELBER:  Right.  And that Donald Trump makes the others look to have

more sane temperaments by comparison. 


      MSNBC senior editor Beth Fouhy – thanks to you.  Thanks as always

for joining us. 


      FOUHY:  You bet.


      MELBER:  Ahead, Jeb Bush is in California tonight giving an address

about the war in the Middle East. 


      Now, is this the best topic for a man trying to distinguish himself

from his father and brother?  We have the details just ahead.




      MELBER:  When you think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., what comes to

mind?  Leader of the civil rights movement?  A preacher, activist? 

Certainly, one of the most gifted public speakers this country has ever



      And yet check this out.  Here is his official transcript from Crozer

Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.  That`s where Dr. King studied when

he was in his 20s. 


      Lock closely at the transcript, though.  You`ll notice Martin Luther

King Jr. got a “C” in public speaking his first year at the seminary.  His

professor considered him average at public speaking.  A “C” in public

speaking for one of the greatest public speakers of all time.


      And there was remarkable news just today about Martin Luther King

Jr., the public speaker, specifically, about his most famous address ever

delivered.  It`s an amazing discovery that was unveiled today.  That is

coming up at the end of our show.




      MELBER:  We`re looking right now at some live pictures from the

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.  There you

see Jeb Bush talking about something that is a little awkward for him –



      Governor Bush has struggled with this topic, of course, for months. 

In May, his inability to answer basic questions about his brother`s

decision to invade.  He gave four different answers in four days.  He

literally had years to prepare.  Everyone knew those questions were coming.


      And that set off alarm bells in many GOP circles.  It was perhaps the

first big sign that maybe Jeb Bush was not quite ready for primetime. 

Governor Bush`s debate performance last week did not much alleviate those



      Asked what he would say to the families of service members killed in

the Iraq war, he made somewhat of a shaky pivot to attacking the Obama





      JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Knowing what we know now with

faulty intelligence and not having security be the first priority when we

invaded, it was a mistake.  I wouldn`t have gone in. 


      Here`s the lesson we should take which relates to this whole subject,

Barack Obama became president and he abandoned Iraq, he left.  And when he

left, al Qaeda was done for.  ISIS was created because of the void that we

left.  And that void now exists as a caliphate the side of Indiana.


      To honor the people that died being, we need – we need to stop the

Iran agreement for sure because the Iranian mullahs have their blood on

their hands and we need to take out ISIS with every tool at our disposal. 




      MELBER:  So, that`s Jeb Bush at last week`s debate, taking a question

about his brother`s war and giving a winding answer about the Obama



      In a speech tonight, he went even further taking that attack to

Hillary Clinton.  Here is what he said just minutes ago. 




      BUSH:  And where was the secretary of state?  Where was Secretary of

State Clinton in all of this?  Like the president himself, she had opposed

the surge, then joined and claiming credit for its success.  Then, stood by

as that hard won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away. 


      In all of her record-setting travels, she stopped by Iraq exactly

once.  Who can seriously argue that America and our friends are safer today

than if 2009 when the president and Secretary Clinton, the storied team of

rivals, took office, so eager to be the history makers, they failed to be

the peacemakers.  It was a –






      MELBER:  That is from just moments ago tonight.  It`s a pretty bold

move on Bush`s part, not only trying to shift the burden on to President

Obama`s shoulders, who famously opposed the war, but also on to Secretary

of State Clinton`s and making it the centerpiece of really the first major

attack on Clinton. 


      And the Clinton campaign appears to be itching for this fight.  Ahead

of Jeb Bush`s speech tonight, a top Clinton aide argued in a phone call

with reporters it was the Bush administration that sent too few troops to

Iraq, as many remember.  They argue it was the Bush administration that

unleashed al Qaeda there and the Bush administration that set the

withdrawal date for American troops. 


      President Obama and Hillary Clinton both argue ISIS is actually a

direct outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq, which grew out of the U.S. invasion

and the vacuum it created.


      Republican voters don`t have to take the Obama/Clinton line on this. 

It turns out, they can now take it from the man eclipsing Bush and this GOP

primary and isn`t going away, like it or not.  Donald Trump has been so

many things in this campaign.  It turns out one of them in his estimation

is Iraq war critics. 


      Now, he may not have gotten around to opposing the war until over a

year after it started in public but he`s brought that up over and over. 

He`s taken that opposition into this primary, bragging about it in a debate

and earlier this year, he proudly posed an article from 2004, quoting him

saying, quote, “Does anybody really believe Iraq is going to be a wonderful

democracy?  Come on, two minutes after we leave, there`s going to be a

revolution and the meanest, toughest, smartest, most vicious guy will take



      Now, that was 2004.  Jeb Bush making the argument that the Iraq clock

has to only start in 2009, and thus, President Obama mismanaged everything

from there on out. 


      Not only are President Obama and Hillary Clinton challenging that

narrative in this presidential campaign saying the clock started long

before, but now, the punitive front-runner in the GOP primary is saying

something similar. 


      Jeb Bush has been struggling with the legacy of his brother`s war for

months.  And it doesn`t look like that struggle is going to get any easier.




      MELBER:  We are officially smack-dab in the middle of a presidential

election season.  Everyone knows that.  And that`s usually the time when

bipartisan disappears. 


      But there`s actually one issue, a sleeper issue that has bipartisan

support where something could actually happen and there`s news on that

tonight.  That is next.




      MELBER:  Before that huge crowd of 27,000 people in L.A. last night,

Bernie Sanders departed from typical political talk about American

exceptionalism to raise an area where America is lagging behind other






president who will push harder for fundamental changes in our criminal

justice system. 




      We do not want to be the country on earth that has more people in

jail than any other country. 






      MELBER:  Modern presidential politics is not a field that is usually

defined by appeals for a measured approach to crime.  Since Richard Nixon`s

law and order campaign in 1968, candidates in both parties have jockeyed

over who could be tougher on crime. 


      But that is changing.  There are more calls to rethink a broken

criminal justice system and not just in position papers or quiet

discussions.  Candidates are pushing the issue, bringing it up themselves

and drawing some huge applause. 


      And it`s not just antiestablishment candidates like some see Bernie

Sanders, and it`s not just liberals.  These calls are coming from both

parties to challenge the U.S.`s harsh policies of mass incarceration. 


      Now, there are two major criticisms often offered against the way our

justice system works here.  One, that it targets minorities unfairly and,

two, that an aggressive war on drugs has caused a quadrupling of our prison

population over a generation. 





this mass incarceration phenomenon is our drug laws, our mandatory minimum

sentencing around drug laws.  The statistics on who gets incarcerated show

that by a wide margin, it disproportionately impacts communities of color. 


      SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The war on drugs has

disproportionately incarcerated African-Americans and Latinos.  Something

has to change.  The war on drugs has gone awry. 


      CLINTON:  Of the more than 2 million Americans incarcerated today, a

significant percentage are low level offenders, people held for violating

parole or minor drug crimes.  There is something wrong when a third of all

black men face the prospect of prison. 




      MELBER:  That is certainly understandable.  But the picture is

actually a bit more complicated. 


      First, it is a fact that criminal law is frequently applied with

racially disparate results.  In America, minorities often subject to

stricter policing, more stop and frisk regardless of conduct, and harsher

penalties for the same offenses committed by other Americans. 


      To a degree, the war on drugs is certainly also a driver of this

problem.  Our prison population has exploded since President Nixon first

declared war on drugs in the `70s.


      But this problem, this mass incarceration is not just from drugs.  As

some states legalize marijuana and some Republicans in Congress talk about

rolling back those mandatory minimums, there are reformers noting that even

changing those laws wouldn`t remove the U.S. from its position as the

highest incarceration rate nation of any democracy in the world. 


      A recent article in “The New York Times” says even without its many

inmates who are convicted of drug charges, the U.S. still leads the world

in imprisoning people.  A true challenge to mass incarceration means

tackling problems that run deeper than the drug war itself. 




      SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We need to recognize

that young people make mistakes.  And we should not live in a world of “Les

Miserables” where a young man finds his entire future taken away by

excessive mandatory minimums. 


      PAUL:  We want to help people work and help people to vote.  We`ve

got to fix the over criminalization problem. 


      SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH:  We have the challenge of over-

criminalization, of over-incarceration, and over-sentencing. 




      MELBER:  Over-criminalization.  The deeper issue here is that the so-

called tough on crime politics have raised a generation of legislators who

wanted to outdo each other in adding defining crimes and punishment,

ballooning all kinds of activities that are now newly considered criminal

and we`ve seen a generation of prosecutors facing pressure to always seek

the maximum penalty.


      Now, this may sound like a broad diagnosis.  How do you actually

break out the problem to challenge it and change it?  Well, the Urban

Institute, a think tank devoted to civil rights, has a new tool that shows

how different policies could alter this mass incarceration.


      It shows if you cut in half the number of people sent to prison for

those drug crimes, that would reduce the prison population 7 percent.  So,

that`s drugs, the topic that everyone has focused on. 


      Look at this, though – if we cut in half the sentences for those

convicted of property crimes, look at what happens.  That would remove and

reduce the inmate population by more, by 10 percent.  You reduce the number

of people behind bars for all nonviolent offenses, America could cut the

prison population by 23 percent. 


      That`s a lot of change.  There`s been a lot of movement here.  But is

there political will to make any of this happen? 


      Joining us now, a very special guest, Bryan A. Stevenson, founder and

executive director of Equal Justice Initiative, a professor at NYU School

of Law and his Ted Talk in the issue of criminal justice reform, went viral

with well over 2 million views. 


      Professor, an honor to have you here tonight. 



to be with you. 


      MELBER:  Is there a political will on this issue now? 


      STEVENSON:  Well, I hope so.  We are experiencing a political moment

unlike anything we have seen in the last 40 years.  I think it can`t be

stressed enough, that for four decades our political discourse has been

corrupted by the sort of politics of fear and anger, where everybody is

competing with each other over who can be toughest on crime. 


      Crime is sort of like a litmus test you had to pass before you could

talk about getting elected.  And what`s it created is an environment that

is difficult to get reform.  So, I do think we are in a political moment. 

But I also think we have to define the objectives much more precisely than

most of the candidates have done. 


      MELBER:  You mentioned the candidates and we showed Republicans using

terms not as familiar to many people.  What does it mean when with we see

some of those Tea Party folks that say there is over criminalization, that

too much conduct can be prosecuted? 


      STEVENSON:  Well, I think many of them are motivated by the same kind

of big government approach that has shaped policy making in other areas. 

But I also think money is a big part of this.  I mean, we spent $6 billion

on jails and prisons in 1980.  Last year, we spent $8 billion.  The truth

is that most of the stuff is happening at the state level. 


      The federal government only produces about 10 percent of the people

who are in jails and prisons.  At the state level, that kind of dramatic

increase in spending on jails and prisons has really compromised the

ability of states to make their budgets balanced, to do the kind of public

service work and support work that electorates want.


      And so, we can`t sustain this level of spending.  I think both

political parties recognize there has to be a shift in the dollars that are

being sent to jails and prisons.  Now the question is how are we going to

shift it? 


      And ending the war on drugs is the beginning.  But as you point out

it is not sufficient.  We`re going to have to radically redefine what are

appropriate punishments for a broad range of crimes. 


      MELBER:  And to imagine alternative, what should be the purpose of

prison for the less serious crimes? 


      STEVENSON:  I actually don`t think if people – if people are not a

threat to public safety, I don`t think we should think of jail or prison. 

We don`t need to spend the kind of money that incarceration costs to

actually manage that population. 


      If we think of drug dependency as a health issue rather than a crime

issue, for less money, not only can we keep them out of jails and prisons

but help them recover.  Look, I represented people for serving life without

parole for writing a bad check, for stealing a bicycle, for stealing a

slice of pizza.  Those kinds of sentences are functions of three strikes

laws, mandatory sentencing laws, all of that I think we can eliminate. 


      But I also think we have to deal with some of other problems.  We`ve

got 50 percent of the people in jails and prisons that suffer from mental

illness, 20 percent are acutely mentally ill.  We`ve got to come up with

solutions for treating and serving and helping the mentally ill that do not

involve jails and prisons. 


      Children, we began demonizing children, calling them super predators

in the 1980s and we sent thousands to prison that created a lifetime of

criminality for them.  That`s something else we can do. 


      But I think if we just step and start looking at what are reasonable

responses, then we can really create a lot of progress on this issue. 


      MELBER:  Bryan Stevenson, director of the Equal Justice Initiative,

and professor of NYU School of Law, thank you for your time tonight. 


      STEVENSON:  You`re very welcome.  Glad to be with you.


      MELBER:  Appreciate it.


      And the best new thing in the world is up next.  So, stay with us.




      MELBER:  We have a best new thing in the world tonight.  It`s a great



      We start in Washington, D.C. 52 years ago. 




      MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., CIVIL RIGHTS ACTION:  I have a dream my four

little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged

by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.  I have

a dream today. 




      MELBER:  MLK`s “I Have A Dream” speech on Washington.  One of the

well-known speeches in history, and yet, there are still aspects of it

which people remain unaware of. 


      For example, the most famous part of that speech where he tells the

crowd about his dream was not in the original draft.  We know this thanks

to a man named George Raveling, a former basketball player and coach who

volunteered as security in that march, asked for a copy just after Dr. King

finished.  He had been offered millions for that copy of the speech over

history but he refuses to sell. 


      Because of the volunteer`s quick thinking, we know the “I Have A

Dream” portion, we know that is Dr. King going off script. 


      Mahalia Jackson, the great gospel singer, reportedly shouting at MLK

to, quote, “tell them about the dream, Martin.”  So, the most famous lines

in one of the most important addresses in our history, they were actually

ad libbed. 


      In keeping with the theme of learning new things about this speech,

the march on Washington wasn`t the first time he told people about his

dream.  In fact, in the years or so leading up to that, March, Dr. King had

been delivering versions of the I have a dream address to supporters around

the nation, versions that can be traced all the way back to a high school

gym in Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, in November 1962. 


      Now, until now, all we had were reports from the Rocky Mountain

report to corroborate that.  Today, that changed because audio of the

speech recently unearthed by local historians was released to the world. 




      KING:  So my friends of Rocky Mountain, I have a dream tonight.  It

is a dream rooted deeply in the American Dream.  I have a dream that one

day, down in Sasser County, Georgia, where they burned down churches a few

days ago because Negroes wanted to register and vote.  One day right down

there, little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands

little white boys and little white girls and walk the streets as brothers

and sisters.  I have a dream. 




      MELBER:  A new recording of an important speech by Martin Luther King



      That is easily far the best new thing in the world today. 


      That`s our show.  Now, it is time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE



      Good evening, Lawrence. 





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