The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 8/5/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: August 5, 2016
Guest: Wendy Sherman, Larry Sabato
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Good evening to you, Chris. Thanks for
Thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. Rachel has the
And right now, we are watching Donald Trump. He`s speaking live in Green
Bay, Wisconsin. And the big questions coming in before Donald Trump took
the stage tonight is, was Trump actually going to go forward with endorsing
Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, in his Republican primary in the House
Earlier this week, Trump was not ready to do that. Just moments ago,
though, he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will have disagreements. But
we will disagree as friends and never stop working together toward victory,
and very importantly, toward real change. So, in our shared mission, to
make America great again, I support and endorse our speaker of the House,
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Paul Ryan, good. He`s a good man. He`s a good man and he`s a good guy.
And he may disagree on a couple of things, but mostly we agree and we`re
going to get it done and we`re going to do a lot of wonderful things.
He`s a good man. And while I`m at it, I hold in the highest esteem Senator
John McCain. For his service to our country, in uniform and in public
office, and I fully support and endorse his re-election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Again, that was just moments ago in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Donald Trump not just endorsing Paul Ryan, the House speaker there, also
Trump offering his endorsement for John McCain in his re-election bid to
the Senate in Arizona. He also gave one to Senator Kelly Ayotte of New
Hampshire. She`s in a very difficult reelection race there as well.
Donald Trump endorsing all three of them publicly. Also, you could see
there, Trump reading that from a statement, staring down at the paper for
most of those remarks we just showed you.
Now, notably, Paul Ryan, the House speaker who did get Donald Trump`s
endorsement tonight, he was nowhere to be seen at this Trump rally tonight.
And for that matter, also not there, Scott Walker, the governor of
Ron Johnson, he`s a senator from Wisconsin, a Republican. He`s up for re-
election this fall. He`s in a very, very difficult race. It`s a rematch
of his 2010 race against Democrat Russ Feingold.
So, Ryan, as we mentioned, he is facing a primary challenge next Tuesday in
his district. He`s being challenged by a man named Paul Nehlen.
There`s a new poll out tonight in that race shows Paul Ryan leading Nehlen
by 66 points. So, Paul Ryan probably doesn`t need the endorsement of
Donald Trump to hold on to his seat in that primary next week.
But this whole thing, this whole thing leading up to what Donald Trump just
said a few minutes ago has become a major spectacle this week. Think about
it, you have the Republican nominee for president of the United States
essentially launching a public stand-off with the Republican speaker of the
House at the height of a presidential campaign.
And backstory to this, you`re probably with it, Ryan formally endorsed
Trump back in June when Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee.
But Ryan has also made his discomfort with many of Trump`s comments and
proposals very clear. And when Ryan weighed in on Trump`s war of words
with the family of a slain American soldier earlier this week, that`s when
Trump announced that he was, quote, just not quite there yet on endorsing
This was just a couple days ago. Trump saying, quote, “I like Paul, but
these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership.
We need very, very strong leadership, and I`m just not quite there yet.
I`m not quite there yet.”
That was just a couple days ago. When Trump said that, it sent shockwaves
through the Republican establishment and created a major story about
Republican party disunity in the middle of what was already a brutal week
for Donald Trump. In fact, Donald Trump`s non-endorsement of Ryan happened
on the same day that President Obama hammered Trump in a White House press
conference for being far too prone to gaffes to be president.
The president saying, quote, “This isn`t a situation where you have an
episodic gaffe. This is daily and weekly.” That`s President Obama on
Donald Trump there earlier this week.
President Obama, of course, is not particularly known for making gaffes of
his own. You can say, the eight years of his presidency, whatever you
think of him, they`ve been pretty much free of gaffes. But he has made a
few along the way. Arguably, in fact, the biggest gaffe that Barack Obama
ever made came not when he was president, but when he was a candidate for
president. You had to go back a little bit more than eight years ago.
April 2008, Barack Obama, then a U.S. senator, competing against Hillary
Clinton, just weeks before the Pennsylvania primary. At a private fund-
raiser in San Francisco, Obama was describing his lack of appeal, the
struggle he was experiencing at that time to connect to blue collar white
That`s a big constituency in Pennsylvania. And it was at that fund-raiser
in San Francisco, in comments he did not know that were being recorded that
he made what became one of his most infamous comments as a politician, when
he described some Pennsylvania voters as being bitter and clinging to their
guns and their religion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2008)
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): You go into some of these small towns in
Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the job have
been gone now for 25 years and nothing`s replaced them. And they fell
through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration and each
successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going
to regenerate and they have not.
So, it`s not surprising then that they get bitter and they cling to guns or
religion or antipathy toward people who aren`t like them, or anti-immigrant
sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Bitter people clinging to guns or religion. Remember when that
happened? When those comments were posted online by “The Huffington Post”,
the political blowback was major for Barack Obama. Obama`s remarks were
immediately pounced on by his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I saw in the media, it`s
being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who
faced hard times are bitter. Well, that`s not my experience.
Pennsylvanians don`t need a president who looks down on them.
They seem kind of elitist and out of touch in talking about people who live
in small towns and rural areas throughout America.
The people of faith whom I know don`t cling to religion because they`re
bitter. In fact, they embrace their faith because it gives them so much in
return, the spiritual rewards of faith and belief.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KORNACKI: That was Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries back in
2008. That feels like a lifetime ago now. But it wasn`t just Hillary
Clinton who went after Barack Obama for those comments. When he ran
against John McCain in the general election, McCain brought the comments up
too. By that time, McCain was, of course, the Republican nominee.
His campaign said that Obama`s comments showed an elitism and condescension
toward hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking. In an
uproar over his clear misstep, his clear gaffe, Barack Obama went on to
lose the Pennsylvania primary in April 2008. He lost to Hillary Clinton by
If you look at the map, the results from that particular Democratic primary
in 2008, you see it right there, the only place really in the state of
Pennsylvania there where Obama cleaned up, it was in the southeastern
corner of the state, it`s in Philadelphia and the areas right around
Philadelphia, some of those surrounding suburbs there. The only places he
really didn`t get wiped out.
Seven months later, seven months after that primary, though, Obama did
carry Pennsylvania in the general election. In fact, he carried it by a
pretty strong margin. He beat John McCain by 11 points in the general
election in 2008.
But, again, look at the map. While McCain won most of the county, if you
just add them up, McCain took most of the Pennsylvania counties, Barack
Obama had overwhelming strength again, right there, the southeastern corner
of the state. You`ve got Philadelphia, you`ve got the Philadelphia
suburbs. That is really where Barack Obama`s margin came from in 2008.
Four years later, Barack Obama wins Pennsylvania again. This time he beats
Mitt Romney. And again you can see it there, the strength, Philadelphia,
the Philadelphia suburbs, the southeastern corner of the state.
But the Republicans did make progress in 2012 in Pennsylvania. That 11-
point margin from 2008, it was cut in half. Barack Obama won it by just
five points. Now this year, Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for
president, he has been making noise about winning a lot of states, but none
of them more than Pennsylvania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I won the elections in
landslides. You know, very important to say. I mean, you look at these
elections. We go to New York, we win almost 62 percent of the vote with
three people running. We then go to Pennsylvania, which is going to be, I
think, a state that we`re going to do amazingly well.
You know, Hillary Clinton wants to put the coal miners out of business.
They want to put the steel mills out of business. I think I`m going to win
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right, and while we were playing that clip of Donald Trump,
I sprinted over here to the big board, because we want to talk about what`s
happening in Pennsylvania right now. In that part of the state that I`m
talking about, and how it connects to a much, much bigger national story
about where this race stands right now, why Donald Trump has fallen behind,
and why he faces a potentially enormous challenge in getting back into this
So, let`s turn to the big board for that. Of course, you can start with
the new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll. We`ve got it at nine points
for Hillary Clinton right now. We`ve seen other polls out there. One had
it at 15, one had it at 10. They`re sort of all over the place.
But what you see clearly, Hillary Clinton, there`s a conversions here.
She`s taken a clear lead nationally. What`s that all about? Well, take a
look at this. The real fault line we`ve been seeing in the polls this
year, the real movement we`ve been seeing – it`s these two groups of
voters here. It`s white voters without college degrees. These are blue
collar whites. White voters with college degrees, more suburbanites,
Well, look at this, Donald Trump is leading blue collar white voters by
about 13 points. Now, that`s not the margin he needs in that group. He
should be 20, 30, maybe even more ahead. It`s only 13.
But the real shocking thing we`re seeing here, it`s this – white voters
with college degrees. Look at this, Hillary Clinton is leading by seven
points. Why is this shocking? I`ll tell you why, it`s because never,
never in the history of exit polling have we seen a Democratic candidate
win this group of voters. College-educated white voters, this has been a
Republican constituency all the way up until maybe this year.
If Hillary Clinton wins this group, it will be the first time we`ve seen a
Democrat doing it. And that gets right to the story we want to tell you
about Pennsylvania. So, we have a new poll in Pennsylvania. And, look,
Hillary Clinton`s up 11 points.
Remember four years ago, Mitt Romney brought it down to five points.
Donald Trump said he brought it down to five. I`m going to get those blue
collar voters in Pennsylvania. I`m going to do even better, I`m going to
win the state. That`s what Donald Trump said. But yet, he finds himself
11 points behind.
There`s a very interesting story in why. Start here, southwest
Pennsylvania, this is sort of the heart of the blue collar white voters
that Trump has been talking about pitching his message to. Look, four
years ago, Mitt Romney won this corner of Pennsylvania by 18 points.
Donald Trump says, I can take what Romney did and I can do better. That`s
how I`m going to win Pennsylvania.
Well, guess what? That new poll this week, Donald Trump is right, in this
corner of Pennsylvania, where you`ve got a lot of those working class white
voters, Donald Trump is doing better than Mitt Romney did. He`s leading by
23 here. Romney only won by 18.
So, Trump is doing what he said he would do here. But take a look at this.
It may be coming at a cost. Southeast Pennsylvania, we were talking about
it, those four counties outside Philadelphia, these are suburban counties
where Republicans have been competitive, and if a Republican`s going to win
Pennsylvania, they`re going to win it by at least being competitive here.
Take a look at this. Barack Obama, he won it by nine points four years
ago. What is it right now? It was nine points for Obama four years ago.
In this new poll, look at this, 40 points.
Hillary Clinton is leading the suburbs that are filled with those white
collar white voters, college educated, more professional, she`s leading by
40 points over Donald Trump. So, yes, Donald Trump`s improving in the
southwest corner of the state on what Mitt Romney did, but it`s coming at a
cost right now. It`s costing him dearly with these voters, and that`s why
he`s trailing in Pennsylvania.
And that`s not just a Pennsylvania story. That`s a national story. Donald
Trump is alienating voters who Republicans have relied on in key states all
around the country, suburbanite voters. So, that`s the story in
Pennsylvania. It`s a national story. And it comes at the end, as we said,
of what`s been a very rough week for Donald Trump.
Joining us now is Robert Costa. He`s national political reporter for “The
Washington Post”, and MSNBC political analyst.
So, Robert, we started with the big news, Donald Trump now, he has that
speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, tonight. He endorsed Paul Ryan. He also
endorsed John McCain, Kelly Ayotte too.
I noticed he was reading from a script. He doesn`t like to read from the
script. We`re seeing a different version of Donald Trump there.
ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Trump has
come under intense pressure in recent days to endorse Ryan. His heart, it
seems, seems to be with Nehlen, who is here in Wisconsin, running a tough,
uphill climb against the speaker, but you get the sense that the party
wants to come together at its elite ranks. The officials in the party have
balked at Trump`s reluctance to do so.
KORNACKI: Do you get the sense that somebody has gotten Trump`s ear in
the last few days? Somebody in his inner circle and has said, look, this
is a bad situation for you right now in terms of the polls, in terms of the
headlines you`ve generated this week, you really need to do something
COSTA: Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman, is someone who has cultivated
relationships on Capitol Hill, in Washington, ever since he took over the
reins of the campaign. And he`s someone who is constantly behind the
scenes, making overtures to party leaders and reassurances, saying, look,
Trump may be saying this publicly, but privately he`s still with you. He
wants to work together. He`s someone who`s tried to usher this, according
to my sources.
And he also has the party chairman, Reince Priebus, grew up in Kenosha,
Wisconsin, it`s in Paul Ryan`s district. He`s been another force.
KORNACKI: And how much recognition – what`s your sense of how much
recognition Donald Trump has of the situation he`s in? Because, of course
in the primaries, we all remember, every speech he gave, he started by
reciting poll numbers, he`d be leading in this state and that state. He
doesn`t talk about the poll numbers at his events that much anymore. Is he
aware of the situation he`s facing?
COSTA: He is and he isn`t. I think the most telling moment tonight
watching this event in Green Bay is the long, wind-up. The amount of time
it took Donald Trump to get to the endorsement of the speaker and then to
Senator Ayotte and Senator McCain, in this long, winding introduction. He
talked about how independent he is as a political candidate, how he`s an
outsider, though he says he acknowledges the need for party unity.
So it was a reluctant endorsement tonight, one done with positive words,
but not too much enthusiasm.
KORNACKI: I think, Robert, if past is prologue, the question is, will
Donald Trump stick to this? Or are we going to have a story days or weeks
from now where he`s at odds with Paul Ryan or another Republican leader all
COSTA: I think when it comes to primary contests, the Trump campaign and
my sources they don`t want to get involved in it. They want to plow
forward in the less than hundred days left in the campaign.
I think, though, Trump, every day, he is running on gut instinct. This is
a candidate who doesn`t have a 9:00 a.m. meeting and conference call every
day to go over the talking points. The talking points come from his own
response, his reaction. So, it`s hard to predict.
KORNACKI: And there also, I`ve always wondered, there seems to be a
showman`s instinct with him, too, where he`s afraid of stepping out there
and sounding too much like a politician. He likes the idea of being the
anti-politician, of being unpredictable.
I always wonder how that factors into his strategy in a moment like this,
where he`s forced to do something that`s very sort of conventional and
COSTA: It`s tough for a first time candidate, because he seems to relish
his base, this populist, anti-TPP, anti-trade group, anti-illegal
immigration that has roused his campaign, that has been really the energy
behind the entire Trump candidacy. And he`s so resistant to anything that
would anger that group or would cause a boo rather than a cheer at his
So, this is Trump adjusting to the general election.
KORNACKI: All right. Robert Costa with “The Washington Post”, and MSNBC
political analyst as well – thanks for the time. Appreciate it.
COSTA: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. We`ve got a great Friday night show for you here. A
lot of political news to get to. We`re going to talk about Hillary
Clinton, what she`s been doing while all eyes have been on Donald Trump and
the drama in the Republican Party.
We`re also going to talk about the House and the Senate, the table for
control on both those. We`re going to talk to one of the best minds in the
business. It`s going to be a pretty fun hour, looking forward to it. I`m
excited to be here. I hope you are too.
Stay with us. We`ll be right back after this.
KORNACKI: Well, if past is prologue, then something that Richard Nixon did
all the way back in 1972 could actually be instructive for Hillary Clinton
in 2016, and also the fuel for nightmares for the Trump campaign. The
Tricky Dick trick that could work for Democrats this time around. That is
coming up next.
KORNACKI: So, if you go back in time 44 years to the 1972 presidential
race, well, you would have seen a landslide, a huge landslide of historic
scale. The incumbent president, Richard Nixon, he`s being challenged by
George McGovern. He was a Democratic senator from South Dakota.
McGovern was the anti-war candidate. He was the activist candidate. He
and his young volunteers seized control of the Democratic Party. And when
they did that, it left the party`s establishment and its old guard feeling
kind of left out with McGovern and his liberal platform suddenly defining
their party. It meant that an unusually large number of Democrats were
suddenly up for grabs, at least potentially. And that was something that
was not at all lost on the Nixon campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: The McGovern defense plan: he would cut the Marines by 1/3, the
Air Force by 1/3, cut Navy personnel by 1/4, he would cut interceptor
planes by 1/2, the Navy fleet by 1/2, and carriers from 16 to 6.
Senator Hubert Humphrey had this to say about the McGovern proposal: It
isn`t just cutting into the fat, it isn`t just cutting into manpower. It`s
cutting into the very security of this country.
President Nixon doesn`t believe we should play games with our national
security. He believes in a strong America, to negotiate for peace from
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The Democrats for Nixon. That wasn`t the only ad they ran like
that back in 1972. The Nixon campaign did a whole series of ads, featuring
Democrats turning on George McGovern, or aiming the message at Democrats
who might have been turned off by George McGovern.
And those ads, by all indications, they worked. In 1972 election,
President Nixon got one of the biggest shares of votes we`ve ever seen. He
won every state, except Massachusetts, he got 61 percent of the vote. Look
at that, George McGovern couldn`t even crack 40.
So that campaign that the Nixon people ran, the one that featured the
Democrats for Nixon, that`s one of the most successful examples of poaching
from the other side. And now, all these years later, Hillary Clinton is
trying to do a version of it as well. She is looking for Republican
validators. She is looking for Republican voices who will essentially step
forward and give Republican voters permission to ditch Trump and vote for a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m Hillary Clinton and I
approve this message.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: If he governs consistent with some of
the things he`s said as a candidate, I would be very frightened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s been talking about the option of using a nuclear
option against our Western European allies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not somebody who should be handed the nuclear
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to ask yourself, do I want a person with that
temperament in control of the nuclear codes? As of now, I`d have to say
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, the Clinton campaign started running that ad today, and it
introduced another type of validator, not just the Republican validator, a
different type her campaign is also pushing, call it the national security
Now, these aren`t all necessarily Republicans who she`s turning to for
validation. We`re talking about national security types. Many of them
have served Republicans. They have bipartisan reputations, even if they
Last week, it was General John Allen, a marine general and former NATO
commander. Also, Leon Panetta, former secretary of defense and head of the
CIA. Both of them spoke at the Democratic convention, both of them
endorsing Hillary Clinton.
And today, Clinton got another national security endorsement. This one
with a different tenor, though. This is Mike Morell. He served as the
acting director of the CIA under President Obama. He served as a senior
officer for the CIA under George W. Bush. In fact, he`s the guy who
briefed George W. Bush during the 9/11 attacks.
And today, he wrote this op-ed in the “New York Times.” He said, “I ran
the CIA and now, I`m endorsing Hillary Clinton.”
But just look at what he said. He spent his whole life working in the CIA
and he said, in this article, quote, “I`m neither a registered Democrat nor
a registered Republican. In my 40 years of voting, I`ve pulled the lever
for candidates of both parties. As a government official, I`ve always been
silent about my preference for president.
The dangers that flow from their Trump`s character are not just risks that
would emerge if he became president. It is already damaging our national
security. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence
officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to
That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon
Mr. Trump`s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr.
Putin had calculated. In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr.
Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian
That was Hillary Clinton`s most recent national security validator,
publicly making the case that Donald Trump is dangerous for our national
Joining us now is the former under secretary of state for political affairs
in the Obama administration, also a Hillary Clinton supporter, Ambassador
Wendy Sherman. Ambassador Sherman is one of nearly 40 former cabinet
members, military officers and senior officials who served under both
Republican and Democratic administrations that recently signed an open
letter denouncing Donald Trump.
Ambassador Sherman, thanks for joining with us. Appreciate that.
Well, this – I guess we`re using the term national security validator,
maybe there`s another way to describe it. But it is interesting, I can`t
remember a campaign from one party nominee has been able to rely on so many
people with built-in credibility in the national security world, making the
case not just against her opponent, but saying at a very basic level that
her opponent is unqualified.
AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS:
Indeed, Steve. And good to be with you tonight. And I think you`ve made
really important comments. The letter that was signed by over 36 people
included all of the people who have been under secretary`s political
affairs for both Republican and Democratic administrations, such august
people as Tom Pickering, Nick Burns, Bill Burns, Mark Grossman.
These are career – I wasn`t a career diplomat. I was a political
appointee. These are people of expertise and knowledge. John Bellinger,
who was the legal adviser for national security council and for the State
Department under President Bush, who thought that what Donald Trump has
been saying, particularly about NATO, which he just doubled down on again,
was reckless and dangerous.
You know, you mentioned 9/11, Steve. People talk about NATO and Article
Five which says that an attack on one is an attack on all. And Donald
Trump has said, we need people to pay their fair share, otherwise we
shouldn`t protect them. Well, Article Five was invoked for the very first
time after 9/11.
All of the NATO allies came to the defense of the United States of America.
And went with us to Afghanistan to fight, to put their national treasure,
their national lives on the line for what happened to the United States of
America. So, these alliances, these partnerships, are not a construction
transaction. They`re not transactions. They`re alliances. They`re the
Since Truman, Republicans and Democrats alike, I`m out here at the Aspen
Strategy Group, which is really the most bipartisan, most non-partisan
collection of national security professionals, and people here think very
hard about what we need to do to keep America safe. And I have heard from
across the spectrum of policy analysts, of diplomats, of generals, of
military, and Mike Morell, who is a superb intelligence professional, great
fear about Donald Trump having his hand on the nuclear codes.
KORNACKI: Yes, I wanted to ask you about that, because we played that ad
from Hillary Clinton. You had two voices there, Charles Krauthammer and
Max Boot, conservative writer, both invoking that issue of the nuclear
codes. I mean, is that – is that your feeling, that this country with
Donald Trump as president would be unsafe with him having the nuclear
SHERMAN: Look, this is a man who appears to be so impulsive, to not have
any monitor on what comes out of his mouth or what he does or how he acts.
There`s no consistency in it. He`s incredibly impulsive.
He tells us one day that indeed, under his administration, Russia will not,
absolutely not invade Ukraine, completely forgetting that Russia`s already
tried to illegally annex Crimea. And then the next day, he says what a
fine leader Vladimir Putin is, how great he is, how strong he is. And the
next day, he says nothing`s going to happen on my watch. We`re going to
make sure that NATO pays its fair share. Japan should be paying full
freight. Japan`s security alliance with us is to keep us safe, not just to
keep Japan safe.
So, if we`re talking about a man who can be so impulsive, change his mind
from one day to the next, from one moment to the next, be for Paul Ryan, be
against for Paul Ryan. Be against John McCain, and the most egregious to
now endorsing him. We don`t know what we`re going to get with him. And
there is not a check and balance.
The president of the United States is the commander in chief. He gets to
decide if we`re going to launch nuclear weapons. He alone makes that
decision, sort of scares the heck out of me that Donald Trump would have
KORNACKI: All right. Ambassador Sherman, former undersecretary of state
for political affairs, a supporter of Hillary Clinton – thanks for the
SHERMAN: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. Next up, the brief saga of fingers, stick boy, and
bones. Just go with me on this.
KORNACKI: The band Compressorhead is from Berlin, Germany. They got a
pretty good reputation, but if I have one criticism, it`s that they can be
a little robotic.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
KORNACKI: So they`re a trio. They go by the nicknames, Fingers, Stick Boy
and Bones. And these days it isn`t all that science fiction to see robots
working alongside humans. But it`s always unsettling when a robot can do
something a little bit less left brain, a little bit more right brain.
And we have a story coming up that could be a plot line in the next man
versus machine movie. That`s ahead.
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: All right, our latest NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” national
poll puts Donald Trump down nine points against Hillary Clinton. A FOX
poll puts Clinton`s lead at ten points. Reuters has it a little bit
closer. They`ve got Clinton by four.
There`s also this, though. A McClatchy Marist poll has her blowing Trump
away by 15 points. Now, obviously, that`s one poll that has her up 15.
But that 15 points would be a bigger lead than President Obama ever had in
any poll during the entire 2012 race against Mitt Romney. This was Mitt
Romney`s worst poll in 2012, he was down 13 points in one poll in June of
Of course, we don`t vote nationally as a country in presidential elections.
We vote state by state. It`s a race to 270 electoral votes. But at a
certain point, if you`re down nine points, 10 points, or 15 points
nationally like Trump is now, you`re probably going to be down in a lot of
states too. Your state by state path to electoral victory is going to be
very narrow, maybe non-existent.
So, let`s take a look now at the end of a brutal week for Donald Trump, at
what his path to 270 looks like. Right now, let`s turn to the big board.
This is set to how the 2012 ended when Barack Obama had 332, Mitt Romney at
206. So, the question for Trump, how does he get from 206 to 270?
There`s been obvious path that`s been there. We talked about it a lot
during the show. Donald Trump, he`s even talked about this himself. If
you flip Pennsylvania, if you flip Ohio, and you flip Florida, and you`re
Donald Trump, and you hold the Romney states, that puts you there.
Here`s the big problem for Donald Trump. We just talked about it. Hillary
Clinton is up double-digits in Pennsylvania. Trump`s getting blown out in
the suburbs there.
We also had a poll this week that had her up six points in Florida. He`s
got to make progress there right now of those three states. Ohio is
probably his best bet and that`s probably not 50/50 for Donald Trump.
There`s worst news this week, though, for Donald Trump and that`s this –
all of this is about where Donald Trump needs to make gains, where he could
improve on mitt Romney in 2012.
Well, it`s an open question how much improvement he can do. But this week
brought fresh questions about whether he can even hold the Romney states
from 2012. And specifically, we`re looking at a couple. We got a poll
today out of Georgia.
Georgia, a state that hasn`t gone for a Democrat since 1992. Poll today
puts Hillary Clinton ahead by four points there over Donald Trump.
How about Arizona? Arizona has gone for a Democrat once in the last
generation. It was for Bill Clinton back in 1996. There`s a poll with
Hillary Clinton leading there by three points.
So, all of this talk about where Donald Trump needs to flip states from
blue to red – well, he`s having a whale of trouble doing that right now,
but his situation is getting worse because Hillary Clinton could be on the
verge of flipping a couple of red states. Also, we`ve seen polls that have
her in contention in North Carolina.
If she can flip those states from red to blue, you can forget about the
Rust Belt strategy for Trump or the Florida strategy or any other strategy.
If she`s flipping a number of states from red to blue, Trump`s not getting
So, that may be the ultimate reason why this was such a tough week for
Back after this.
KORNACKI: Oh, hi there, sorry. I was just thumbing through my favorite
classic children`s bedtime book, “Goodnight Moon.” You maybe know this
one. Here`s a trip down memory lane. Let`s open it up here. How do I get
that in the camera? Goodnight, room.
Remember this one? Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon.
Turn page. Goodnight light and the red balloon. Good night, bears,
goodnight chairs. You get the idea.
We were reminded of goodnight moon today when a leading anti-Trump
conservative Bill Crystal reacted on Twitter to a new poll that shows
Hillary Clinton up by four points over Donald Trump in the deep red state
of Georgia. Bill Crystal tweeting, quote, “Goodbye Senate, goodbye House,
Now, Bill Crystal may not have been channeling goodnight moon, although
maybe he was. And that quote right there, though, it is a stuff of
nightmares for Republicans. Not sweet dreams. The question is, could the
GOP actually give up both the House and the Senate in 2016? I know just
the person to talk to about that.
KORNACKI: So now that we know that Donald Trump has endorsed Paul Ryan in
his race next week in Wisconsin, that`s the news of the hour. Ryan was
already in good shape to win that primary next week. Trump actually lost
Ryan`s congressional district by 20 points earlier this year. So Trump may
not have had that much pull in that district, even with Republicans.
But there are plenty of districts around the country where Trump could have
a lot of pull this November. If you look at the latest polls, Trump could
at least potentially poll voters who would normally vote Republican away
from the party and to the Democrats. And that could hurt Republican
candidates all the way down the ballot, including races for Congress.
Now, this has some Democrats excited, but even if Trump loses big this
fall, history is not on the Democrats` side when it comes to the House of
Representatives. You go back to 1964, more than 50 years ago, Barry
Goldwater was the Republican nominee for president. He won that
nomination, after voting against civil rights. That was obviously a deeply
unpopular stand outside of the south. And Goldwater got shellacked in
November. He didn`t even break 40 percent against LBJ. That was a total
And it did help Democrats down the ticket, with LBJ crushing Goldwater at
the top of the ticket, Democrats picked up 37 seats in the House of
So, that`s probably the good precedent for Democrats today. But here`s the
bad news for them if they`re hoping the same thing will happen with Trump
this fall. That is the only time, 1964 is, in the past half century or so
when a landslide in the race for president has trickled down the ballot
into a landslide for the House.
Also, it`s bad for Trump that even if – excuse me, also bad for Democrats
as bad as things are at this moment, he is nowhere near as far behind as
Goldwater back in 1964. Politics are probably too polarized these days for
that kind of a landslide to happen again.
But if you`re watching the races state by state, here is one indication for
you. Election forecaster Larry Sabato just changed his rating of the
Colorado Senate race from leans Democratic to likely Democratic. He writes
that since the Republicans in that state did not appear to be competitive
this year, that battleground state is now leaning closer to Hillary Clinton
which means that one Senate seat now appears even safer for Democrats.
For the rest of the lay of the land and battle of the Senate, the battle
for the House and the question of the Trump effect, though, let`s turn now
to Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of
Larry, thanks for joining us.
So, why do we stipulate the House, to put it mildly, a real stretch for
Democrats. Let`s look at the Senate, though, you`ve got a lot of
Republican seats that are up this year because they had a very good year
the last time this class was up in 2010. This time, though, they`re going
to have to deal with Trump at the top of the ticket, those Republican
What`s that going to mean?
LARRY SABATO, UNIV. OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS DIRECTOR: It`s doing
to mean the Democrats have a decent to good chance to take over the Senate,
Steve, and by the time we get closer to November 8th, and let`s stipulate,
it`s early August, you know, we`ve both been around a while and we know how
things can change. But when we get closer to November, we may be asking
ourselves can Democrats run up the score enough to protect themselves to
what`s coming in 2018, midterm, possibly and President Hillary Clinton`s
first term that could easily switch a lot of seats back to the Republicans
in the Senate.
KORNACKI: That`s what Democrats learned in 2010, flip side of a big year
in presidential election, you win that White House, you are vulnerable in
that midterm election two years later.
But in terms of 2016 right now, I thought this week the two polls that
caught my attention the most, Georgia and Hillary Clinton, not just that
Hillary Clinton has the chance to win those states, but the implication of
that, if Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket is winning these red
states, you`ve got two senators there that could be at risk for the
SABATO: Yes, I think of the two, believe it or not, John McCain is by far
the more vulnerable. And I think that`s a shock to a lot of people. But
in fact, Arizona right now, presidentially, is a toss up, some would argue
that it`s actually leaning to Clinton.
We`re not quite there yet. We see that as very, very close. We`ve got
Hillary Clinton and 247 electoral votes without Arizona, without Georgia.
The fact that we`re even talking about Arizona and Georgia, if that
actually continues to October, then, we`ll have to go back and revise what
you said about the House, Steve.
KORNACKI: And you mentioned McCain the news tonight is that Donald Trump
formerly endorsed John McCain for re-election in that speech in Wisconsin.
This is about a year after he said war heroes who weren`t captured.
Put yourself, though, in McCain`s shoes just strategically – the dynamics
you`re talking about, on the one hand that`s a state Donald Trump did
really well in the primary. On the other hand, general election voters not
nearly as enamored of Donald Trump. If you`re John McCain, how do you
thread that needle strategically?
SABATO: Well, you have to do what he`s doing, which is at age 80,
tiptoeing through the tulips and doing an incredible dance, a dance on a
very fine line, in which he`s trying to keep the Trump voters with him and
at the same time win over Republicans who are anti-Trump, independents who
are anti-Trump and maybe even a few Democrats who are upset with what Trump
Hey, that`s not easy and the John McCain faces problems that other
incumbents who served a very long time have learned, when you reach a tough
year, voters look on your career and say, it may be gold watch time.
KORNACKI: You know, bigger picture question, if Hillary Clinton is able to
win the White House and they`re able to take back the Senate, all the
gridlock we`ve seen, the story of Washington over the last six years or so,
if the Democrats don`t have the House, if they only have the White House
and they only have the Senate, are they going to be able to do anything, do
SABATO: Well, they`ll be able to get some Supreme Court nominees on the
bench. That`s a very significant thing, obviously, in and of itself, as
well as cabinet appointments. You know, she won`t have to worry about
getting confirmations there and the rest of it.
And, look, it gives you leverage. You know, there are still people in the
House who want things, the number may be dwindling on the Republican side.
But they want things.
And as a result, they have to make some compromises with the is that the.
So it`s a much better position than having neither House ask President
KORNACKI: Yes, and as you say, though, any gains the Democrats make on the
House side this year, if Hillary Clinton wins, they`ll be in danger of
losing some in 2018. That`s just the nature of politics.
Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia – always appreciate the time.
SABATO: Thank you, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. And coming up a glimpse into our dystopian sky net
future brought to us by the Olympics. I, for one, welcome our new robot
editor in chief overlords. Stories ahead.
KORNACKI: Well, tonight marks the official launch of the Olympics. The
opening ceremonies kicking things off in Rio. Members from each of the 207
delegations taking their lap around Brazil`s Maracana stadium. Now, if you
don`t necessarily care about who wins what medal in pole vault, or the
four-by-four relay, and for you the most interesting part of the Olympics
might start tomorrow, it`s when the “Washington Post” is going to unveil
its robot sports writers for the first time. I`m not kidding about this.
“The Washington Post”, believe it or not, has developed a software program
that will, quote, “automatically produce hundreds of real time news reports
about the Olympics.” The program is called Heliograf. It`s essentially an
artificial intelligence platform that will pump out short sports updates a
few sentences at a time for “The Washington Post” live blog. Also, for its
Twitter account coming everything from the daily event schedule to who win
what events in the overall medal count.
So, here is a sneak peak of what our future robot overlord tweets are going
to look like – well, check that out, I guess we beat China there. So,
there is some good news. Keep hearing we never win any more anyway. So,
apparently the future is now, at least for reporters.
I`m not sure if I want this thing to succeed or not, by the way. I think
it will people out of work. Maybe it will save the industry, I can`t tell.
Hopefully, “The Washington Post” is working on a robot that can update my
That`s going to do it for us tonight. Now, it is time for “HARDBALL WITH
CHRIS MATTHEWS”. Have a great weekend.
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