The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 6/20/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: June 20, 2016
Guest: Frank Rich, Dan Gross
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: It`s good to have you back, my friend. Missed
HAYES: Good to be back. Thanks.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour. Happy
summer. It`s officially summer.
If you are truly a dork for politics, if you`re really into politics not
just as a citizen in terms of a responsibility and a person who votes and
that kind of stuff, but if you`re also into the spectator sport of
politics, if you really just like paying attention to what`s going on in
political news, then for you, politics is interesting all year round,
right? And when it comes to a presidential election year, you like start
stocking up on popcorn and cutting back on your normal nonpolitical social
responsibilities a full year before the election even happens, right?
Not everybody is a politics dork but if you are, you know what I`m talking
about. And I do not sympathize with your plight, I empathize with your
plight. I am right there with you.
For the rest of the country, though, for people who are not politics dorks,
the rule of thumb for when everybody else starts paying casual attention to
a presidential election is basically at the conventions, right? The
conventions happen in high summer, they are designed for TV, they`re
basically week-long partisan infomercials for each party and for each
party`s presidential candidate. So, even people who just have a casual
interest, who don`t live and breathe politics but they`ve got a casual
interest, they start to care a little bit around the conventions. We`re
about a month away from those conventions starting this year. So, your
friends who have not been super into the election, they`ve got about a
month to go before they may start to notice what`s going on.
But if you really drill down with political practitioners, if you talk to
people who make their living doing this stuff, you talk to campaign
strategists, people who manage big, national elections, the people who plan
political ad buys and stuff like that, the actual operatives, people who
need to make strategic decisions around this stuff, they will tell you that
although political junkies care all year long and casual political
observers start caring at the conventions, they will tell you that if you
really want to reach an absolute majority of the country, if you want to
drill down, narrow it down, focus on the time when the election is locked
in, everybody knows who`s competing, everybody knows the basic strengths
and weaknesses of the two sides, everybody in the country is paying
attention even if they don`t care most of the time – well, that time, if
you want to really focus, that time, crunch time, the sprint to the finish
time, starts Labor Day.
Once you hit Labor Day, you`re not even – OK, baseball metaphor, ready?
You`re not even rounding third base anymore. Once you hit Labor Day, you
have already rounded third base, you have started your dive to slide into
home plate. Everything you`ve done for the first year or even years to get
you to that point has to be kicking at full speed after Labor Day, right?
Your whole campaign is not only in place, it`s going full blast. From the
day after Labor Day until the election, that is it.
And yes, it feels like campaigns start earlier and earlier every year.
Feels like campaigns in some weird way kind of never end now. But that
Labor Day rule, that everybody in the country doesn`t start paying
attention until the day after Labor Day, that has been true for decades.
It continues to be true now.
And that is why in 1996 it was such a huge, surprising, big, hairy deal
when the Republican candidate for president that year, 1996, Bob Dole, he
decided the week after Labor Day that he was going to fire the people who
are running his campaign. That`s like being in the middle of a diving
slide toward home plate and in the middle of your slide, you decide to tuck
and roll and turn it into a somersault and start running back to third. I
mean, that was nuts.
After Labor Day, on September 5th, 1996, Bob Dole fired the guys who were
running his campaign that year. And then just over eight weeks later, no
big surprise, Bob Dole got shellacked in the general election. He barely
broke 40 percent of the vote that year.
And Bob Dole isn`t the only guy. It`s not unheard of for candidates to
fire the top people running their campaign. It actually happens to at
least somebody every election cycle. Just this past year, you might
remember it was New Year`s Eve – the New Year`s Eve implosion of the Dr.
Ben Carson campaign. December 31st this past year, Ben Carson`s campaign
manager and his deputy campaign manager and his communications director
were all out all at once.
And after that, Ben Carson did manage to hang on and stay in the race until
the beginning of March, but by the beginning of March he was gone.
Back in the 2004 race, you might remember Howard Dean running his very
high-energy anti-war campaign in the Democratic primary that year. He
showed a lot of strength early on. Had a ton of energy. Particularly had
a ton of support from young people.
And what everybody remembers as sort of the bottom line of the Howard Dean
campaign in 2004 was the way he screamed into that microphone after losing
the Iowa caucus, right? The Dean scream.
What we forget looking back on it now is by the time of the Iowa caucuses,
by January of that year, Howard Dean was already working on his third
campaign manager. He kept firing the old one and hiring a new one right
through January of that year. He was on his third and final one by
January, and within a month of hiring his third and final one, he was out
of the race.
So, firing your top staff in the middle of a presidential campaign,
sometimes that is the last gasp of a campaign that`s about to die. And
that makes sense to a certain extent, right? If you`re losing and it`s too
late to get a new candidate and it`s too impossible or too late to reinvent
your candidate somehow, make them seem like they`re somebody else, in that
case, sometimes the easiest thing to do to make it look like you`re making
a big change is fire the top staff. Hope that changes things somehow.
Sometimes, it`s just the thing you do right before your campaign dies. But
sometimes, candidates fire their top campaign staff and it works.
Sometimes, it`s actually a sign of strength and confidence and even good
judgment in a candidate that they believe in themselves, that they
themselves are the right candidate. They believe they ought to be winning
that campaign they`re in. But they know they`re not being well served by
their staff, and so, they fire that staff and that institutes a course
correction and it`s the right course correction and it pays off.
That happens too sometimes. That`s what happened with John McCain`s
campaign in 2008. The summer before voting started in the Republican
primary that year, John McCain`s campaign was broke down and busted,
totally out of money, nobody would take him seriously, he was nowhere in
the polls and John McCain took charge. Cleaned house, got rid of his top
campaign people, installed all new people, came roaring back, and won the
Republican nomination in 2008.
Same thing happened on the Democratic side in 2004. While John Kerry was
facing that unexpectedly strong showing from the anti-war candidate Howard
Dean, John Kerry took action in November of that year. November before the
voting started in January. John Kerry swapped out his top staff, brought
in a new team, and then he went on to win the nomination.
Ronald Reagan did it back in 1980, in a particularly bold move from Reagan.
Reagan actually fired his campaign manager not when he was losing but when
he was winning. On the day that Ronald Reagan won the New Hampshire
primary in 1980, he fired his campaign manager anyway, even though he was
winning. He brought in people who he liked better and he wrapped up the
nomination later that year.
Arguably, it was even a good move when Hillary Clinton did it in 2008. In
February of that year, in her difficult primary against Barack Obama, I
think team Clinton had not expected that Barack Obama was going to do as
well as he did in the early states and after Obama won three in a row in
February, Clinton in 2008 fired her campaign manager. She brought in a new
team and then proceeded to take it all the way.
She waged one of the longest, closest, hardest-fought presidential primary
battles ever. She did not end up winning. She didn`t end up beating
Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008, but she came as close
as you can humanly come to doing so without actually winning. So, even
though she didn`t win, that shakeup in her campaign I think is probably
seen as a good move by her, not a bad move.
So, there`s a lot of history for this sort of thing. And the news today
that Donald Trump fired his campaign manager this morning, it is very
dramatic news. It has dominated political news all day. But history
honestly does not tell us any one thing about what that might mean.
I mean, a lot of Democrats, a lot of Trump critics, were very gleeful today
that this shows how badly Donald Trump is flailing in his presidential
campaign. That may be true, but firing his campaign manager may also be a
sign that the Donald Trump campaign is about to stop flailing. What if the
reason they were flailing was the guy who they just fired?
I mean, how much of the incredibly poor management of the Donald Trump for
president campaign is attributable to the candidate himself and therefore
intrinsic to any campaign staff and how much of it was due to bad campaign
management? Because honestly, a “C” student sixth graders could probably
manage a campaign better than the Donald Trump general election campaign
was being managed.
And I don`t say that to be ad hominem, and I`m just throwing that out
there. Just look at the known facts here. If you want to know if the
Trump campaign is about to get better, consider some of the details about
how bad they are now. I mean, this can be improved upon even if they bring
in new campaign staff from a temp agency that rolls over every four days so
nobody ever has to get paid benefits.
I mean, look what they`ve got in place now. If you doubt the Trump
campaign`s going to get better, think how much worse they can be than this.
“The Associated Press” reports that as of this past Friday, the Trump
campaign has a grand total of 30 paid staff on the ground. Now, that is
not 30 paid staff at headquarters, at Trump Tower, overseeing a nationwide
operation of other paid staffers. They mean 30 paid staff in total for the
whole country, for this country.
There are 320 million people in this country. That means if you just
wanted to divide up the population of the country among Trump staffers,
you`d have one of those 30 Trump staffers covering the entire population of
Wyoming, Vermont, D.C., Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware,
Montana, Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire combined.
And that is kind of how they`ve divvied up the country, including the
battleground states. The “A.P.” also reports there is one paid Trump
staffer in charge of, quote, “an 11-state southeastern bloc, including the
battleground states of Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.” One staffer
in total for 11 states, including Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.
In a country with 320 million people, I mean, heck in a country with 50
states, how do you run a nationwide campaign with only 30 people trying to
do the whole thing? “The Washington Post” made this I think helpful graph
showing the Trump paid staff, the Trump payroll over time, compared to the
paid staff payrolls of the Clinton campaign which is in dark blue and the
Sanders campaign which is in light blue.
The Trump numbers, see down there on the bottom, looks like kind of a
pimple on a large face. That`s the Trump payroll compared to the
Democratic payrolls for the Democratic primary thus far.
“Washington Post” also put out this rather dramatic graph showing ad
spending in the battleground states. And this is actually what you`re
seeing right here on your screen, this is the comparable numbers from 2012.
So, this is comparable to now. This is June 2012. This time in the race
back when it was Barack Obama running against Mitt Romney.
This shows the eight hottest swing states in terms of what was going on
with ad spending at this time four years ago. It`s an interesting story, a
lot of the states it was really close. Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire,
really close. Romney outspending Obama in North Carolina, you had Obama
outspending Romney in Ohio and Florida. Interesting, swing state numbers
from the 2012 general election.
Now, these are the comparable numbers from this year`s general election.
And this is actually a comparable graph. This is Republican spending and
Democratic spending in these same states – Ohio, Florida, Nevada,
Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, New Hampshire.
And as in 2012, these blue bars represent Democratic spending this year,
spending by or on behalf of Hillary Clinton in the swing states, and the
reason you don`t see any red bars on the 2016 part of the graph is because
Donald Trump has spent nothing so far on ads in the swing states.
So, that`s kind of stunning, right? I mean, it`s already June in an
election year. We`re heading into the conventions in just a couple of
weeks. Donald Trump has a total of 30 people working for his campaign
nationwide. He`s just fired his campaign manager so maybe that means we`re
down to 29 today.
And you look at the swing states. Hillary Clinton is running the table.
Trump is not even trying to compete in the swing states in terms of ads,
which is the other big thing that campaigns spend money on besides people.
It`s very easy to look at all of that as a Trump critic or as a worried
Republican or as a Democrat or Clinton supporter, it`s very easy to look at
all that data and be very smug about what`s going on with Donald Trump.
But there`s a couple of problems with that smugness. Number one, we have
no idea if Hillary Clinton`s $20 million plus ad spending in the swing
states and the gigantic advantage she`s got in terms of size of her
campaign nationwide and in the swing states, we don`t yet know if that`s
In the last swing state polling we got in any of states where she`s so
radically outspending him on ads is the PPP poll we got last week from
Virginia. That poll did show Hillary Clinton winning in Virginia but only
by a whisker. She had three-point lead. That`s within that poll`s margin
If ad spending and size of your campaign on the ground, if that was
predictive for 2016 politics, then Jeb Bush or Scott Walker or somebody
would be the Republican presidential nominee. Not this guy who spent
basically 5 cents to win the Republican primary and who made it this far in
presidential politics and dispatched 16 other rivals with a national
campaign team that honestly could all fit into two elevators if everybody
inhaled and you don`t mind squishing up next to the political director guy
on your left whose name you can never remember because wasn`t there a new
one last week?
So, I don`t – I don`t mean to be my habitual cloud in Democrat silver
lining. I mean, firing the campaign manager in June once you`ve already
got the nomination? That is undeniably some sign of desperation in the
Trump campaign. It`s definitely the biggest campaign change that Trump has
implemented since he started running for president more than a year ago.
Corey Lewandowski being fired has also resulted so far in one other high-
profile resignation from the Trump campaign after another Trump adviser
gleefully tweeted, “ding dong the witch is dead,” when reports first
surfaced that Corey Lewandowski was out. That guy quits and that was a bad
But you know what, even the circumstance of that guy having to quit too,
that itself is a bad sign for the Trump campaign. Not just because of the
indiscipline shown by the “ding dong the witch is dead” tweeter guy. He
showed undiscipline and that`s bad.
But more than that, considering the fact that everybody on the Trump
campaign only found out their campaign manager had been fired when they
read about it in the press. Corey Lewandowski was reportedly today marched
out of Trump Tower by security. There was no staff e-mail, no staff memo
explaining what was going on. Everybody inside the Trump just read about
it in the newspaper like the rest of us schmoes. That is not a good sign.
And there are other things about this firing and about what`s going on in
the Trump campaign right now that are at least weird if not bad signs of
whatever`s going on over there. “New York” magazine and “The New York
Times” were the first to report the impetus for firing the Trump campaign
manager may have come from Mr. Trump`s children. Really? That`s weird.
His kids are the ones running for president?
But then, there`s the Trump campaign`s immediate plans. This week with
only 30 paid campaign staffers on the ground while they`re being radically
outspent to the tune of $20 million in the Clinton campaign in the swing
states, while the Trump campaign is sending out emergency requests for
donations like they did this weekend, telling their supporters they needed
to raise $100,000 in one day in order to start running anti-Clinton ads,
with a campaign manager being fired, with their convention less than a
month away, this would seem like an inopportune time for candidate Trump to
leave the country.
But he`s in fact about to leave the country. He`s planning on going to
Scotland this week to attend to some business matters. We`re going to have
more on that in just a moment.
It is a weird decision for somebody running for president right now.
So, there are a lot of things going on with the Donald Trump for president
campaign which would seem to indicate that it is being poorly run. But
there are two notes of caution here.
First of all, we don`t know if this means his campaign is failing even if
it is poorly run. This poorly run, barely staffed, cheap, outgunned mess
of a campaign is how they got this far. So, don`t feel too, you know, smug
that the Trump campaign is going to fail given their record of absolutely
not failing thus far. That`s part of it.
Here`s the other part of it. If you are heartened by the Trump campaign
being poorly run, it should be bad news to you that the guy who was running
it so poorly has just been fired. If you want Trump to lose, you should
have been rooting for the guy who`s been running this mess of a campaign to
stay right until the end. Is this actually, with the campaign manager
being fired, is this actually day one of the Trump campaign getting their
act together? And if so, how will we know?
MADDOW: We`ve got a big show tonight. The great Frank Rich is here live
in just a moment. And we think we have found a place where Donald Trump is
afraid to go but where the rest of us can go boldly.
Plus, we`ve got the Brady campaign here tonight after tonight`s four no-
votes on proposed gun reforms in Congress.
Big show tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s a good man,
we`ve had great success. You know, I got more primary votes than anybody
in the history of the Republican Party by a tremendous amount. Not by a
I think Corey`s terrific. I watched him before. He was terrific toward
me. Said I was a talented person. And he`s a talented person. He`s a
good guy. He`s a friend of mine.
But I think it`s time now for a different kind of a campaign. We ran a
small, beautiful, well-unified campaign. It worked very well in the
primaries. I think I`m probably going to do some of that. I want to keep
it a little bit very much in control.
As an example, I have 73 people. Hillary Clinton has like almost 900
people. And we`re in the same position. So, you know, there`s something
nice about that. I got criticized for that. I said, wait a minute, I`ve
spent much less money than her and the result so far is the same. I should
be credited for that.
But with Corey, I`m really proud of him. He did a great job. But we`re
going to go a little bit of a different route.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Donald Trump speaking earlier this evening on FOX News.
My single favorite part of that is, “I think Corey`s terrific, he said I
was a talented person.” So, obviously, that`s terrific about him. He`s
obviously very bright, or at least he can see clearly, because I – it`s
After the “Associated Press” reported days ago the Trump campaign had a
grand total of 30 staffers nationwide in total, one other bit of news there
is Donald Trump telling FOX News tonight that he doesn`t have 30 staffers,
he has 73 people. And I assume that 73 is not including his children.
But I should probably check for sure before I assume that because who
Joining us now is Frank Rich, writer at large for “New York Magazine”.
Frank, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Great to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: How do you assess this news that Donald Trump, in late June, has
fired his campaign manager?
RICH: I think pretty much the way you just did. I don`t think it really
means much. As you point out, in history, it`s gone either way when people
have had late firings of their campaign gurus.
But also, everything that`s been said about him when he breaks a rule has
proved to be wrong. How could he survive attacking or ridiculing the most
famous war hero in the Republican Party? Or saying the last Republican
president is responsible for 9/11? Or saying bigoted remarks about every
conceivable minority group and one majority group, women? And yet, none of
it`s made a difference in terms of where he`s gone.
So, this to me means very little. Also, let`s face it – we know he runs
the campaign. This is a guy who has really not changed since he began his
career in the late – when he was in his late 30s as a real estate guy, or
his mid-30s. His modus operandi never changes. So, he`s going to make the
orders and do whatever the hell he wants.
MADDOW: Do you have the same sort of breaking all the rules feeling about
what we think of as political science fundamentals now, right? Like ground
game, staff on the ground, and ad spending. Like that`s supposed to be not
determinative but it`s supposed to tell you who`s seriously competing.
Does that not count either anymore?
RICH: We don`t know. We just don`t know. He got away with a lot of this
during the primary against what was supposed to be the greatest Republican
field in history. Maybe those 73 or 30 or whatever – maybe they`re
geniuses, maybe they`re all like Steve jobs, reinventing politics for
You know, the odds would seem to indicate it`s preposterous, he might as
well be using monopoly money for the campaign, he`s spending so little.
But we don`t know. He`s defied everything. I think we`re wrong to predict
doom because of the usual rules.
MADDOW: Well, the one thing that he has said, the argument that he has
made, not explicitly, but sort of on background and implicit, that is part
of the reason he doesn`t need to run a campaign nationwide, he doesn`t need
to be in all the swing states, he can have one person running North
Carolina, Virginia, Florida, and eight other states without any other paid
help, he says, don`t worry about it, RNC is going to do it. Like RNC has
this big campaign apparatus, bigger than they`ve ever had, let the
Republican Party run it, and I`ll just be Donald Trump. I`ll just tweet.
I`ll tweet, visit any golf course in Scotland when they have a ribbon
cutting or whatever, and the RNC can do it.
RICH: Well, I think he may believe it and I think putting Paul Manafort in
there shows that that`s what he thinks because this is a guy unlike the
previous one who has long-time connections with the Republican
infrastructure, going back to the Reagan years. So maybe he sort of –
Trump has sort of realized, maybe that`s not happening, not getting done,
so I`ll put him in a room with Reince Priebus and somehow they`ll figure it
But he doesn`t give a damn about details, Trump. He wouldn`t be involved
with it anyway. He just wants to give speeches and talk about other people
think he`s so great, and congratulating himself after a mass murder. You
know, he just wants to have his narcissistic orgy.
MADDOW: There is potentially a big opportunity cost for other Republicans
running, right? Because the RNC runs their presidential candidate. But
they also have to worry about everybody down-ticket. The RNC has to worry
about every federal race in the country to a certain extent.
If they`ve got to run the presidential campaign, then presumably that`s bad
news for senators like Mark Kirk, and Kelly Ayotte, and all these other
people who were counting on party help for them, not just the presidential
RICH: Right, it is bad for them. And they`re stuck. They have no power
in this situation. And they`re just sort of going to be stuck in the
middle of it, in no man`s land.
MADDOW: I can see the glee on your face watching this fall apart.
There is a question as to whether this means it`s completely going to fall
apart or whether this means they`re going to stop falling apart and get
their act together.
RICH: It could stop falling apart. And we have the convention to look
MADDOW: Frank Rich, writer at large for “New York” magazine – Frank, it`s
always great to have you here. Thanks.
RICH: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. We got lots more to come tonight, including the four
votes in the Senate tonight on gun reform issues. That`s still ahead.
But, first, one more thing, about the Trump campaign and its staffing
changes. You may remember in Michael Moore`s movie “Fahrenheit 9/11,”
there was this legendary scene where the Iraq War architect Paul Wolfowitz
slurped spit all over his comb before running that comb through his hair,
and it wasn`t like a little dobbly-doo, you know, he like full-on loogied
the comb and put it in his hair.
And then there was a second part, remember he had this young staffer, he`s
touching him. Young staffer whose job apparently was to help with the spit
thing. After Paul Wolfowitz slurped his own comb that wasn`t enough, the
staffer put his own spit on his own hand and started touching Paul
Wolfowitz`s hair and head as well. Just amazing scene, totally burned into
Now the Trump campaign has just hired the kid who had to lick Paul
Wolfowitz`s hair. Turns out he`s a real person, he`s still in politics,
his name is Kevin Kellums (ph). He will be in charge of organizing Donald
Trump supporters to go on TV.
Let`s hope he won`t be personally prepping them for each appearance. We`ll
be right back.
MADDOW: OK, this story think is fascinating.
On June 26th, 1963, President John F. Kennedy gave one of the most famous
speeches of his presidency. He was in West Berlin, height of the Cold War,
he proclaimed, “Ic bin even Berliner,” “I am a Berliner” before a crowd of
100,000 people. And yes, there has since been some snarky concern that
technically he was declaring himself to be a delicious German pastry, ein
bear liner what is you call German jelly donuts.
But come on. What it really was, was a moving gesture of solidarity to the
people of West Berlin, in the part of the world literally surrounded by the
threat of communism. Ich bin ein Berliner, one of the most iconic moments
of the Kennedy presidency or the Cold War. June 26, 1963.
And then there was the next day. Right after his epic speech in West
Berlin, President Kennedy went to Ireland as the first Irish Catholic
president of the United States. And in so doing, he blew Ireland`s mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The town has never seen a day like this before. The Irish wit
flows like tea. Jokes like people talking like (INAUDIBLE) in Ireland, but
they were all in Washington. The president cut quite a figure. And a
This is a pleasant interlude on his four-nation working tour. And who
knows, secretly the president may consider it the highlight of his trip.
Mr. Kennedy noted he was there to see a few cousins who didn`t catch the
At (INAUDIBLE), where his great grandfathers have sailed, and the ancient
borough of Wexford, thousands cheered with the enthusiasm that only Irish
men can muster for one of their own. He was made a freeman of the city.
Among other things, this would entitle him to a bed in the poor house if
he`d ever be after needing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President John F. Kennedy went to Ireland 20,000 people turned out
at the airport to greet him when he landed at Dublin. The city threw him a
ticker tape parade which may not seem like much until you consider they had
never, ever done that before for anyone. It was the first ticker tape
parade in the history of Ireland.
Everywhere he went, people just lost their minds. Nuns went wild. Little
kids went wild. Commentators called it the country`s biggest moment since
national independence. JFK was the first sitting U.S. president to visit
Then a generation later, in 1995, we had the first sitting U.S. president
visit Northern Ireland. And this is when the Northern Ireland conflict was
still really bad. When Clinton went in 1995, the North was in the midst of
historic and serious and somber peace negotiations.
The crowds who greeted him, though, they were not somber. I don`t know how
worried the secret service was about President Clinton`s safety on that
trip but the news footage from then shows crowds literally pushing back
police for a chance to get close – for a chance to get close enough to
maybe shake President Clinton`s hand. The city of Belfast arranged for Van
Morrison to be a warm-up act for President Clinton before he lit the city`s
Christmas tree. Van Morrison, President Clinton`s warm-up.
In Dublin, he spoke before tens of thousands of people waving Irish and
American flags. Look at this in a local paper, “A Bill-ion Welcomes”.
Our current president made it to Ireland in 2011 by which time the Irish
had already dubbed him O`bama, 25,000 people turned out to see him on the
streets of Dublin. In the town where President Obama`s great-great
grandfather was from, crowds lined up 15 deep in the streets, 15 deep, in a
town with a population of 300.
When President Obama went to the local pub to drink a Guinness, it
genuinely looked like 299 of those townspeople crammed into that pub to
witness the moment, to witness the drink. They were very, very psyched to
have him there.
Earlier this month, Donald Trump announced that he would be visiting
Ireland this week as the Republican nominee for president this year. This
time, the Irish do not appear psyched to have him. The Irish prime
minister initially said he was pretty sure that he just wouldn`t have time
to meet Donald Trump if in fact Donald Trump found his way to Ireland. The
prime minister later revised his stance to say, actually, he would be happy
to meet with Donald Trump in Ireland but only so he could tell Trump off to
his face about his, quote, “racist and dangerous” views.
And it`s true, Republicans as a rule, they are not as warmly received in
Ireland as Democratic presidents have been. Both Ronald Reagan and George
W. Bush faced protesters on their presidential visits to Ireland. But you
know what? At least they still went. They still showed up even if they
did get protested.
Now, though, there are reports that Donald Trump is scrapping his plans to
visit Ireland this week. What had initially been announced as a Scotland
and Ireland trip for Mr. Trump actually has no Ireland stop on the official
itinerary. The Trump campaign recently released their final travel plans
and they show Mr. Trump appearing to have canceled his Ireland trip. And
that is being viewed somewhat triumphantly in the Irish press.
But it conceivably might not be a done deal. The Trump campaign
spokesperson told us this, quote, “Mr. Trump`s schedule is still being
finalized, we do hope to make a stop in Ireland.”
If he does, who knows, maybe the road will rise up to meet him, maybe
Ireland will love Donald Trump. Maybe Ireland will turn out for him the
way they did for JFK, Clinton, Obama, and set a great standard for how
Donald Trump will be greeted all over the world if he becomes the next
American president. Ha. Or maybe he`ll just cancel his trip. We`ll see.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: Tonight for the first time since January, Vermont Senator Bernie
Sanders was back on Capitol Hill to cast a vote. In fact, all 100 U.S.
senators tonight showed up for work and got themselves counted, which is
about as rare these days as a full moon happening at the same time as the
summer solstice. That is also a thing that happened today.
And these two eventualities are absolutely unrelated. But we are having
what they call a strawberry moon on the summer solstice far solstice for
the first time in my lifetime, and senators did show up with 100 percent
attendance to vote tonight.
It turns out one of those things was beautiful when it arrived. The other
one ended up as ugly as you would expect. And that story is the one we`ve
got next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I will admit I was kind of stunned when I saw these numbers. In
downtown Orlando, Florida, last night, look at that – 50,000 people turned
out for a vigil, 50,000 people. They read the names out loud of the 49
victims of last week`s Orlando massacre. The crowd, 50,000 people,
responded en masse, “we remember them”.
Forty-nine people killed, dozens of people wounded. Of the wounded
survivors, 19 people are still in the hospital today and four of them are
still in critical condition. People, of course, praying for them
Today, eight days after the attack, the United States Senate voted no on
four proposed gun reforms. Two of those proposed reforms related to people
on the terrorist watch list being able to buy guns. Two of those proposed
reforms related to loopholes in the background check system that let people
buy guns without having any background check.
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy filibustered last week for 15 hours in
order to force these votes tonight and he got those votes but none of the
measures passed, not the two Democratic measures nor the two Republican
That said there is something going on that`s different on this issue.
Tonight, two of the most vulnerable senators who are facing re-election
this year, two of them voted for the Democratic amendment that would have
made it harder for people on the terrorist watch list to buy guns.
Republican Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois and Kelly Ayotte New Hampshire
both tonight voted in favor of Dianne Feinstein`s amendment to make it
harder for people on the terrorist watch list to have guns, or to buy guns.
They voted for it even though it failed overall.
Senator Rand Paul is another Republican who`s up for re-election this year.
He voted no on the Feinstein amendment. He also voted no on the Chris
Murphy amendment on background checks tonight. But even with Rand Paul, I
think you can start to see the tide shifting a little bit around him. Rand
Paul, of course, represents the state of Kentucky.
As recently as two years ago in Kentucky, the Democratic candidate for
Senate was running ads promoting her Senate candidacy on the basis of her
shooting skills. Well, now, just two years later, Rand Paul may have the
same gun politics he always had, but Rand Paul also has a general
Democratic election opponent out for his own senate seat who`s just out
with a new ad lambasting Senator Rand Paul for his pro-guns, no questions
asked position. That`s the sort of ad you run when you think it`s going to
resonate with voters even in a state like Kentucky.
Congress is not yet acting on gun reform at all, but the politics on this
issue do appear to be shifting and shifting fast enough that it`s no longer
clear who benefits politically when gun reform fails. Party line votes on
gun issues are still basically predictable. But whether those party line
votes help or hurt Republicans, that no longer seems predictable at all.
When we`ve lost predictability on that, it may mean that we`re rounding the
corner toward someday getting federal gun reform.
Joining us is Dan Gross. He`s president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent
Mr. Gross, thanks very much for your time. I appreciate you being here.
DAN GROSS, BRADY CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: Thanks for having me,
MADDOW: So, Dan, I know you were at the Senate tonight for those votes.
What`s your reaction to all of these four measures failing?
GROSS: You know, obviously – well, first of all, two of them were bad
measures, so they deserved to fail. But two of them were very important
measures that would have saved lives and it shows the disgraceful
disconnect that still exists between what the American public
overwhelmingly wants and what our elected leaders at the highest level are
doing about it in Congress.
The very encouraging thing though as you point out is, I completely agree,
the tide is turning. We`re in the middle of a sea change. These people
are on the wrong side of history just like they`ve been at other issues.
You look back and you see, you know, there`s a moment when things clearly
started to turn.
And that`s what`s happening right now with the gun violence issue. The
political calculus on this issue is clearly changing. So, you know, we
feel surprisingly upbeat and optimistic. Obviously, we`re incredibly
disheartened. People die as a result of the vote that was taken today or
the votes that were taken today and failed. But we`re as hopeful as we`ve
ever been about the future on this issue.
MADDOW: There`s been a sort of immunity from public opinion that I think
antigun reform legislators have benefited from. I just wonder how durable
that is. We just got new CNN poll numbers tonight showing national support
for expanding background checks at 92 percent in favor. I mean, we`ve seen
overwhelming numbers among Democrats and independents and Republicans and
even among gun owners on this background checks issue forever.
Is it – is the sort of legislative immunity from that sort of public
opinion, is it forever? Do those numbers eventually start to erode it?
GROSS: No, we are eroding it, and it`s clear how we`re eroding it. It`s
always been about closing that disconnect, and closing what`s been called
the intensity gap.
You know, when I first got to this organization four years ago, almost to a
person when I would meet with a member of Congress, they would say, you
know, listen, I get it, I get how passing background checks has nothing to
do with the Second Amendment rights of a law-abiding citizen to buy guns,
but I`m getting calls ten to one from constituents on the other side.
Well, during Senator Murphy`s historic filibuster we put in 150,000 calls
into Congress in 24 hours.
GROSS: So, we`re flipping that narrative absolutely on its head. It`s for
a couple of reasons. One is we`re effectively framing this issue based on
our common ground. Whether you love guns or hate guns, you agree that a
convicted violent criminal, a domestic abuser, somebody`s who`s dangerously
mentally ill, or a would-be terrorist or hate criminal shouldn`t get them.
And we`ve been hammering that positioning.
And then the other thing that`s really changed the playing field is social
media and some of the organizing tools that go along with it. You know, it
used to be the gun lobby would put these memes out there and we would be
helpless because of all the money that they have and the national rifle and
magazine and all that media outlets that they had at their disposal, you
know, and they`d turn into bumper stickers.
But now, I kind of think, we can act like white blood cells because of
social media and immediately converge and attack and attack as in the case
of white blood cells, toxicity, in this case, the toxic rhetoric that comes
out of Congress.
MADDOW: Well, I can hear it in your voice and I can see it in your word
choice that you do have optimism, even after losing these votes tonight. I
guess part of the success is forcing these votes and getting them.
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence – stay
in touch. Let us know what to expect next.
GROSS: Will do. Thanks, Rachel.
All right. Lots more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here`s something to watch. Bernie Sanders, obviously, is still
technically a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. All
the primaries and caucuses are over. But he is still in the race.
He says he`s going all the way that convention and one of the things he
wants at the convention is that he wants to demand changes in the way the
Democratic Party conducts its presidential primaries in the future.
Now, whatever else is going on with Bernie Sanders and his calculation
about how to end his bid and his potential leverage over the Democratic
Party and whether that is waxing or waning right now, well, today Sanders`
quest to change the way the Democratic Party runs its primary. That part
of what he`s asking for suffered a serious political blow, and that`s
because the Congressional Black Caucus came out officially against Sanders`
two big ideas, his structural ideas for how to change the primaries.
Specifically, they came out against the idea of getting rid of the super
delegates, and they came out against his idea of opening up all the
Democratic primaries to not just Democratic voters but also independent
voters, people who are not registered in either party. The Congressional
Black Caucus says it is against both of those changes because each of them
would hurt minority voters and would minority political leaders.
Now, the Democratic Party as an institution, if forced to choose between
Bernie Sanders and the Congressional Black Caucus, it`s possible they`ll go
with Bernie Sanders but it is not probable. So, we`ll see how the party
reacts. We`ll see who else weighs in on these issues about how the
primaries will change. But the CBC being against him is a hard thing in
Democratic politics. This is going to be a real test of what kind of power
Senator Sanders still wields by continuing to be a presidential candidate.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: We`ve got some breaking news, and I`m actually just still trying
to absorb this. I sort of didn`t believe the numbers when I first saw
them. But we just get some breaking news, some sort of amazing news from
the Donald Trump for president campaign. Today is a big deadline for all
the campaigns. This is the day, the 20th day of the month when they have
to report how much money they raised and spent last month. So, this is
fundraising and spending numbers for May. They have to file these reports
with the Federal Elections Commission at the latest by midnight tonight.
Sometimes, campaign release that information publicly way ahead of the
deadline, especially when they have good news to share. That`s so we know
that Hillary Clinton raised more than $28 million in May. She started the
month of June with $42 million cash on hand.
But just in the last few minutes, we were watching for this tonight, but
the Trump numbers appear to have which in and they`re almost unbelievable.
Let me tell you. Last month, this time when we got numbers from Trump, it
was incredibly bad in terms of their cash on hand. Last month at this
time, they said they started May with only $2.4 million cash on hand. This
month, it`s worse. They started June with only $1.3 million cash on hand.
Remember, Hillary Clinton started June with $42 million. Donald Trump,
$1.3 million cash on hand.
This is – I mean, compared to Mitt Romney for example in 2012, Romney at
this time in the campaign had $17 million cash on hand. Again, right now,
Donald Trump is at $1.3 million.
In terms of the total amount that he`s raising – this is just crazy. I`m
just making sure I`m not missing a decimal point here. In May, Hillary
Clinton raised $28 million. For comparison sake, Mitt Romney raised $23
million in May four years ago. Donald Trump just reported that he raised
in total for the entire month, $3.2 million, and $45,000 of that for Donald
Trump was from himself.
This is – I mean, we know that the Trump campaign has been preparing
everybody to be very impressed by how shoestring this is. But they have
$1.3 million on hand to be running a campaign as of June 1st, as the
nominee. I don`t – maybe they`re going to do it by magic. I don`t know.
The other thing to watch for is that by midnight tonight, Bernie Sanders
also has the same deadline to release his fund raising and his cash on
hand. But these numbers from the Trump campaign are absolutely
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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