The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/5/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: October 5, 2016
Guest: Michael McFaul
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: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: Good to see you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Wednesday.
We think of them as presidential debates, but they were not presidential
debates. There were seven of them in a row, all between the same two
candidates. The first one was in late August and the whole string of all
seven of them, they went right through mid-October. And these seven
debates were held in seven different towns.
By the end of it, there was such a frenzy around these debates that tens of
thousands of people were turning out in person to try to see them. In
fact, in Galesburg, Illinois, at Knox College, which was the site of the
fifth debate out of the seven, the crowds there were so thick on the
grounds of the college, so thick at the site of the debate. But the debate
organizers worried they weren`t going to be able to get the candidates
safely through the giant crowds and up on to the stage, at least in enough
time to start on time.
So, they improvised a solution. They had the candidates at Knox College,
they had them evade the crowd and just mysteriously pop up on the back of
the stage as a kind of dramatic surprise by climbing through a window in
the building nearest to the stage. That`s how they got to the stage. And
you see that re-enacted here because C-Span in C-Span`s infinite wisdom in
1994, they went through the trouble of re-enacting all seven of those
And that is as close as we ever got to a televised version of what are
still regarded as the greatest American political debates of all time.
It was 1858. It was Stephen Douglas, the short guy, the Democrat, versus
Abraham Lincoln, the tall guy, the Republican. Each of their debates were
hours long. They did do this series of seven in a row in seven different
They covered a range of topics but mostly what they debated was slavery,
Lincoln`s opposition to slavery versus Douglas` belief that individual
states should decide what they want to do on the issue.
And at the end of those absolutely legendary seven debates, Abraham Lincoln
lost because the legendary Lincoln/Douglas debates of 1858, those were not
presidential debates. Those were debates for an Illinois Senate seat.
Stephen Douglas was the incumbent senator from Illinois, Lincoln was trying
to take his seat.
And at the end of those epic seven debates, with tens of thousands of
people to see them, with newspapers sending reporters from all over to
attend the debates and transcribe every word of them and publish them in
the newspaper, with whole swaths of the country hanging on this performance
between these two candidates – at the end of it all, at the end of the
series of seven debates, Lincoln did win the popular vote on election day
in 1858. But at that time, the popular vote didn`t choose who your senator
was. Senators were actually decided by the state legislature. And the
state legislature in Illinois that year, they didn`t pick Lincoln. They
picked Stephen Douglas.
That was 1858. And then two years later, the same two guys, Lincoln and
Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, they squared off again. Second
time, though, it wasn`t for an Illinois Senate seat. Second time, it was
for the presidency.
By that point the Lincoln/Douglas debates had been published not just in
newspapers all over the country, they`d been published in book form and
Abraham Lincoln`s national stature as a man standing against slavery, his
stature had only grown. And so, even though Stephen Douglas beat Lincoln in
1858 for that Senate seat, two years later when the contest was for the
presidency, Lincoln beat Douglas.
And it`s interesting, in that presidential race in 1860, Stephen Douglas
did not come in second to Abraham Lincoln. He came in fourth, because the
politics of slavery had basically blown up party politics in this country.
And Abraham Lincoln stood as a Republican for the brand-new Republican
Party and Stephen Douglas stood as a Democrat.
But the Democratic Party had split in two. There was another presidential
candidate besides Stephen Douglas who ran as a Southern Democrat that year.
There was also a third candidate that ran, something called the
Constitutional Union Party ran a candidate. That`s a party that basically
existed just for that election. They fielded a candidate who more than
tripled Stephen Douglas` vote at the end of that day for the presidency in
1860, but then instantly that party just disappeared. We never heard of it
But that is how Abraham Lincoln became president. And then between the day
he was elected and the day he was sworn in, seven states seceded from the
Union and we headed down the path toward a civil war in this country over
the issue of slavery.
Talk about a consequential election, right? By the time that election was
being held in 1860, there was a relatively new anti-slavery magazine,
publication, that was becoming influential called “The Atlantic Monthly”.
And in 1960, three years after they were founded, the founding editor of
that magazine decided that “The Atlantic Monthly” would make a presidential
endorsement. They in fact endorsed Abraham Lincoln in the presidential
election of 1860.
And, you know, to endorse Lincoln that year was to go out on a limb in
terms of party politics, because the Republican Party was brand-new at that
point. They never had a presidential – president from the Republican
All the parties were sort of falling apart, even the old ones were
fracturing and splitting and renaming themselves and popping up in new
iterations and then disappearing. I mean, slavery was just tearing the
country apart including all of our political institutions. But “The
Atlantic Monthly” that year in 1860, they decided to plight their troth
with this young Abraham Lincoln from Illinois, the Republican Party.
And they did for a very clear reason. They were coming at it for a very
clear reason. They said, “It is in a moral aversion to slavery as a great
wrong that the chief strength of the Republican Party lies.”
So, I mean, yes, they liked Abraham Lincoln well enough. He has experience
enough in public affairs to make him a statesman and not enough to make him
a politician, which was kind of a nice cute thing to say about somebody,
right? But the passion behind that endorsement was about the issue, was
about trying to stop slavery, and they recognized that that`s what that
election was about in our country. And so, they made that endorsement in
1860. They endorsed Lincoln for president.
And that same magazine, “The Atlantic Monthly”, they went more than a
hundred years before they ever made another presidential endorsement. They
waited until not even 1960, but 1964, 104 years later before they did it
again. 1964, of course, the year after JFK was assassinated in office,
Lyndon Johnson was the brand-new incumbent president running for his first
full term in his own right.
In that year, 1964, for the first time in 104 years, that magazine got off
the pot again for the first time since Lincoln. It`s interesting. They
said sort of nice enough things about LBJ. They said, for example, that
they admired him for, quote, “the continuity with which he has maintained
our foreign policy”, which is nice. That clearly would not be enough of a
reason for them to make a presidential endorsement that year for the first
time since Lincoln.
What drove them that year turns out was not their enthusiasm for LBJ but
rather their quite opposite feelings about LBJ`s opponent. It was their
horror that Barry Goldwater might become president. Goldwater was the
Republican nominee that year. And at “The Atlantic”, they worried about,
according to their endorsement that year, they worried about Goldwater`s
cavalier attitude toward nuclear weapons.
On civil rights, they worried that his proposal to let states in the Deep
South make their own decisions on segregation and civil rights, they
worried that that would ultimately establish a kind of American apartheid.
They said it would have us, quote, “Stumbling down the road taken by South
Africa.” Which I think actually is a very good point and probably true.
They clearly disagreed with Barry Goldwater on the issues of the day. They
were frankly just scared about the prospect of him being president. They
said they distrusted his capacity for judgment. So much so that he became
– he was at least the cause for the second presidential endorsement in the
history of that magazine, that was founded in 1857. The first endorsement
was Lincoln, second endorsement was against Goldwater and sort of
incidentally for LBJ.
Well, now, with that their entire history since they were founded in 1857,
now they have made their third endorsement. This afternoon, “The Atlantic”
crossed the presidential line for only the third time in its history. With
what honestly again were sort of measured words of praise for Hillary
Clinton. They`re not exactly doing back flips over Hillary Clinton.
They say, quote, “We are impressed by many of the qualities of the
Democratic Party`s nominee for president, even as we are exasperated by
others.” She has flaws, they say, quote, “but she is among the most
prepared candidates to seek the presidency. We`re confident that she
understands the role of the United States in the world. We have no doubt
she will apply herself assiduously to the problems confronting this
country. She has demonstrated an aptitude for analysis and hard work.”
Sort of sounds like a kindly diplomatic fifth grade teacher explaining in
the comment section of a write-in report card why Junior has earned that B-
plus-plus this year, right? Like, you know, hard worker. That counts.
Clearly, that`s not what is moving the editors of “The Atlantic” to make
only their third presidential endorsement since 1857. It is not that they
have political lust for Hillary Clinton.
In fact, they spell it out. “If Hillary Clinton is facing Mitt Romney or
John McCain or George W. Bush or for that matter any of the leading
candidates that Donald Trump vanquished in the Republican primaries this
year, we would not have contemplated making this endorsement.”
Because they don`t make endorsements, right? I mean, two since 1857? They
don`t make endorsements.
But the reason they broke that rule and made this endorsement today is
because, of course, who Hillary Clinton is running against. They describe
Donald Trump as, quote, “The most ostentatiously unqualified major party
candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency.” And that`s
the part where they`re being nice.
Ready for the rest of it? Buckle up. Check this out.
Quote, “Donald Trump has no record of public service and no qualifications
for public office. His affect is that of an infomercial huckster. He
traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective.
He`s appallingly sexist. He`s erratic, secretive and xenophobic. He
expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers and he evinces authoritarian
He`s easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America`s
nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse, he is ignorant of
and indifferent to the Constitution; he appears not to read.”
It does go on, but this is how they close, “We believe in American
democracy, in which individuals from various parties of different
ideological stripes can advance their ideas and compete for the affection
of voters. But Trump is not a man of ideas. He`s a demagogue, a
xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing and a liar. He is spectacularly unfit
for office. And voters should act in defense of American democracy and
elect his opponent.” Woof.
Nobody believes that newspaper endorsements or certainly magazine
endorsements make the difference between a candidate winning election and
not winning election, especially at the presidential level. It just
doesn`t work that way.
It`s turning out to be an interesting thing about this election that when
the history of this election is written, it will record that a great many
American publications, not just liberal and mainstream publications but
even conservative publications, a great many American publications decided
this year that for their own purposes, for their own honor, for their own
sense of their own values, for their own place in history, for the way they
want themselves to be seen in history as publications, publishers and
editorial boards across this country with astonishing unanimity have
decided to break with all their various traditions and go out of their way
to be on record saying no to the Republican nominee this year.
I mean, all these publications say a range of things from very positive to
neutral to even mildly negative about Hillary Clinton, but the unanimity
with which they`ve said absolutely no to Donald Trump, they put themselves
on record as saying “no to Trump”, that will be a striking part of the
history of this election. I mean, we`re still watching every day. But as
far as we can tell here on this show, there still has not been a single
newspaper endorsement of Donald Trump in the general election. And we
believe that is unprecedented maybe not just in the modern day but in the
history of running for president.
Now, because of it history with endorsements, because of the freaking
Lincoln factor, I think this particular endorsement today from “The
Atlantic”, I think that went off like a firecracker in Donald Trump`s
mailbox. But that turned out to be just one point in what was a very
different day for him and his campaign.
Also today, investigative reporter Kurt Eichenwald at “Newsweek”, he
obtained and published portions of yet more Donald Trump tax documents.
Among other things, these new tax documents seem to suggest that Mr. Trump
not only owed a lot of money and wrote off a lot of financial losses, he
also apparently, according to these documents, had very, very, very little
income for a number of years after he first went into business which may
undercut Mr. Trump`s accounts of his own success in business.
He also appears to have been rescued in those early years repeatedly by his
dad, by cash infusions and large loans arranged and organized for him by
his rich dad.
In addition, “BuzzFeed News” today published thousands of pages of
documents from some of Mr. Trump`s multiple bankruptcies. These are
documents that were theoretically available in the public record but never
before been posted online. And now that “BuzzFeed” has posted them online,
it will presumably lead to a whole new round of reporting on the ways in
which Donald Trump`s business interests have failed over the years.
This all, of course, comes on the heels of “The New York Times” publishing
three pages of Donald Trump`s tax returns this past weekend. I should tell
you that the man who is on record as the preparer of those taxes from that
time, he`s going to be a guest tonight on “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE
So, all of his financial stuff, none of this is welcome news for Mr. Trump
and his campaign particularly as his campaign is sort of getting boiled
down to its essence at the end here and he is focusing more and more on his
stance as a businessman and a nonpolitician. That said, all of this stuff
is coming at a particularly difficult time, I think, in part because of the
way that this stuff is sort of stepping on the tail of what was otherwise a
fairly good showing for the Trump campaign last night at the vice
Donald Trump`s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, did well on the
stage versus Democratic Senator Tim Kaine last night. That said, he did
well mostly in the way he was personally perceived on that stage. Mr.
Trump, I think, broadly was not seen as necessarily helping his running
mate, Donald Trump. He may have done a good deal to help his future
political prospects for himself.
Also, the Clinton campaign made a lot of hay out of Governor Pence`s
repeated refusals to defend Donald Trump`s record. Those reminders of
things that Trump has said that Mike Pence didn`t want to didn`t last night
or denied that Trump said, those will go on for a few days on the Clinton
side as they continue to sort of beat the drum for what happened last
Even so, whether or not Pence continues to enjoy the good reviews from last
night or the Clinton campaign continues to beat them over the head with the
way that Mike Pence kind of hurt Trump last night, one way or the other,
whoever is going to try to make the most advantage of this thing, nobody
expects that last night`s vice presidential debate is going to move the
needle all that much in either direction. And that`s in large part because
it turns out nobody watched last night`s debate.
Last night`s debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine was the least watched
vice presidential debate since Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman sat down for a
sleepy chitchat in the year 2000. The only one less watched than that one
was Al Gore versus Jack Kemp in 19 – (SNORING) sorry. Late night. Lost
my train of thought. Sorry, who?
There are two reasons why it is bad news for the Trump campaign that last
night`s vice presidential debate is probably not going to make more of a
splash and those two reasons became very, very, very apparent today. One
of them the beltway press has figured out, one they have not. But that
story is next.
MADDOW: So, heading into last night`s vice presidential debate, Democrat
Tim Kaine`s job was to basically hold steady. Don`t rock the boat. Try to
leave things as they are. Leave no trace.
Republican candidate Mike Pence had a harder job last night. He actually
needed to move things. He needed to try to fundamentally change the
direction of the race overall. And the reason they had different jobs is
because heading into last night`s debate, one side is on track to lose the
election right now and one side is on track to win.
The Republican side is on track to lose. And so they can`t afford to just
tread water on these big nights or do no harm. What they need is a shock
to the system. They need to change the numbers right now because the
numbers look like this.
“The New York Times” number crunchers every day assess the latest polling,
both nationwide and state to state. They boil it down to one predictive
number in which they say how much of a chance each candidate has of winning
the election. In recent weeks, that number of the likelihood of winning
the election has stayed in favor of Hillary Clinton but has been as low as
At “The New York Times”, it`s now back up above 80 percent in terms of
Hillary Clinton`s chances of winning the November election. “New York
Times” tonight has her at an 81 percent chance of winning.
Over at fivethirtyeighth.com, which is Nate Silver`s outfit, they do
something similar, theirs a multiple times a day, at least twice a day.
Towards the end of September, they had Hillary Clinton`s chances of winning
as low as 55 percent. The number was 55-45, Clinton over Trump.
Well, now at fivethirtyeight.com they have Clinton way back up. As of
tonight at FiveThirthEight.com, they say it`s a 77 percent chance that
Hillary Clinton will win and a 23 percent chance that Donald Trump will
Now, down ticket, I should tell you the Senate prospects are also looking
better for the Democratic Party. When “The Washington Post” launched their
Senate forecast a couple of weeks ago, you might remember us reporting on
that. They forecast their initial Senate, you know, their initial Senate
estimate in terms of who was going to control the Senate next year, their
initial forecast was that Republicans were likely to hold on control of the
Well, now, “The Washington Post” is predicting that the Democrats have what
they call the slightest of edges when it comes to predicting who will
control the U.S. Senate after these elections. “The New York Times” today
puts a number on it. They say there`s a 56 percent chance that Democrats
will win control of the Senate in November. They had previously said that
the Republicans were likely to regain control or to hold on to control.
So, that`s one reason why it is bad news for the Trump campaign, that last
night`s vice presidential debate wasn`t more watched and it wasn`t more
lopsided, wasn`t anything that`s going to amount to some kind of shock to
the system. There`s just simple fact that the Republican side is not
winning right now. So they need a game changer.
Polling right now is not in their favor. The trajectory goes toward them
losing. That was one reason.
The other reason was just not enough for them is the calendar. They`re
just running out of time. And I think this is less appreciated in terms of
the difference between these two sides, but I think it`s important. Since
the first presidential debate last week, here are some of the headliner
rallies and the events that the Clinton campaign has advertised. These are
not exhaustive. These are just once that we noticed.
They had – the day after the debate, they had Joe Biden campaigning for
Clinton in Pennsylvania. That same day, Bill Clinton did two different
events in Ohio. The following day, it was the first lady, Michelle Obama,
who held two rallies in Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton herself appeared
alongside her primary rival Bernie Sanders at an event in New Hampshire
This week, Vice President Biden was out for Hillary Clinton again with two
more stops in Florida on Monday. Bill Clinton had two stops in Michigan
that same day.
Then, the following day, Bill Clinton started a bus tour through Ohio.
That same day, First Lady Michelle Obama held two Clinton rallies in North
Carolina. Bernie Sanders held two events that day in Minnesota. Elizabeth
Warren held a Hillary Clinton event in Nevada.
Just today, Bernie Sanders held three different Hillary Clinton rallies in
one day. He was in Des Moines, Iowa, and Madison, Wisconsin, then Green
Bay, Wisconsin, all in one day today. Bill Clinton did two events in Ohio.
Tomorrow, Bernie Sanders has four Clinton events all in Michigan. Bernie
Sanders will do three more events for Hillary Clinton on Friday. When he
said he`ll do all he can, he`s doing all he can. Elizabeth Warren will do
two events for Hillary Clinton that day in Wisconsin. Joe Biden back on
the trail in Pennsylvania again.
Then, next week, look for President Obama to be back out on the campaign
trail for Hillary Clinton as well.
And the one thing that all of those Hillary Clinton headliner events have
in common is that those are not just Hillary Clinton`s events or Tim
Kaine`s events. I mean, they have each got their full scale schedules of,
you know, debate prep and fundraisers and private events, but also rallies
and get out the vote stuff and organizing days as well.
I mean, the public events schedule for the Clinton campaign is all those
events I just listed in addition to the door knocking, phone banking, voter
registration, early voting, get out the vote efforts. And when you`re in
the last month of the campaign, that`s exactly what you hope it would look
Yes, you got the presidential candidate out there and you have your vice
presidential candidate out there but you`ve also got the sitting president,
the first lady, sitting vice president, unprecedented high profile popular
surrogates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders – I mean, they`re all
out there blitzing.
On the Republican side, it is not working that way right now. Donald Trump
and Mike Pence do events – oh, yes, they do. Donald Trump had two events
today. Mike Pence had two events today as well. And that`s the list
because they`re it.
There is no equivalent of President Obama and Vice President Biden and
First Lady Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders out headlining their own
rallies and their own public events for the Trump campaign. I mean, yes
Donald Trump has people who will speak for him on television, people like
Rudy Giuliani or used to be Chris Christie before the whole Bridgegate
thing got too awkward and, of course, they`ve got people who work for their
campaign who get booked on television to do interviews about the campaign.
But in terms of people out there in the field, right, rallying the Donald
Trump faithful and inspiring people to come out to the local auditorium and
to put their name on the dotted line and fill out a voter registration form
and sign up to volunteer, getting involved with the campaign, become a door
knocker, get their training to be a blah, blah, blah. All that stuff that
happens in person at these campaign events, two people do that on the
Republican side, Trump and Pence. That`s it.
And the rallies they do, which again are just the two of them, those
rallies, those are the alpha and the omega for the Trump campaign in terms
of how they`re organizing their get out the vote, voter registration,
volunteer efforts. They send people out in these green shirts to encourage
people at Trump rallies to register to vote or cast their votes early when
they show up for the Trump-Pence rallies, and that`s great. They ought to
be doing that at these rallies.
There are, in fact, Donald Trump and Mike Pence rallies, those exist. But
that`s all they`ve got. They`re basing their whole nuts and bolts turnout
operation on the number of rallies they can do. And they have increased
the infrastructure of how to get people register to vote at rallies and
But the total number of rallies they can do is constrained by the number of
them that they are. On the Trump campaign side, it is basically just Hall
and Oates, right? It`s just the two.
I mean, on the Clinton side, it`s like we are the world. On the Clinton
side, its` like Lyle Lovett and his large band. It`s like remember when
Parliament and Funkadelic became Parliament-Funkadelic and it was like,
wait, how many of you are actually playing instruments right now? Or are
you just up there having an amazing time?
There`s two of them on the Republican side that are trying to do a rally-
based ground operation. Democratic side isn`t trying to do a rally-based
ground operation but they`ve got an entire family of high level surrogates
who are a big enough deal in their own right that they can run their own
events, separate and independent from whether or not Hillary Clinton and
Tim Kaine are out there themselves. And oh, by the way, they are.
So this is not the election of 1860, all right? This isn`t civil war or
not civil war. This is not even the election of 1964, LBJ versus Barry
Goldwater. But this one is its own big deal that`s moving people to do
stuff they`ve never done for previous elections. And all signs point to
the one direction in which this is going to turn out. Tick tock.
MADDOW: Above and beyond everything else going on in the news, we and
everybody else in this hemisphere are monitoring and mourning the progress
of Hurricane Matthew. Matthew, worryingly, is not just a big hurricane, it
is a slow moving hurricane.
It`s right now bearing down on the Bahamas with sustained winds of 115
miles an hour. That storm has already killed at least 25 people across
multiple Caribbean countries and was particularly destructive in Haiti.
It`s being called the worst disaster in Haiti since the horrible earthquake
that devastated that country in 2010.
So, Hurricane Matthew is already terrible. It has already done fatal
damage in the Caribbean. It is currently expected to intensify as it moves
closer to our own Atlantic coast.
I mean, there is still a lot of urn certainty. It`s still unclear if and
when this hurricane can make landfall directly in the United States. The
latest computer models tonight do show the possibility that this storm
could reach the Florida coast early Friday, possibly as a massive category
States of emergency have been declared in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina
and South Carolina – lots of coastal communities are being ordered to
evacuate ahead of, again, what is expected to be a sniff storm and surge
flooding. This is worth keeping an eye on if you are anywhere within the
reach of my voice. But we`ll keep you updated throughout the night as this
MADDOW: Deadliest catch. Yeah.
Imagine that your job is fishing for crab. It`s something you do
regularly. You know exactly what it`s like out there at sea fishing for
One day, you go out just like you always do and something very surprising
happens. Something you did not see coming. Watch.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: A Russian submarine just pops up while you`re out fishing for
crab, strolls on by – a new nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.
These guys were so surprised at the sight of this submarine that we had a
Russian speaking producer translate what they said in response when they
It turns out I can`t even describe to you what the translation is. Suffice
to say, it`s along the lines of, this is bleeping bleep, this is bleeping
bleep, this is bleeping bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep. And then at the end
they say, “Let`s go get drunk.”
Yesterday was the first and only vice presidential debate of this election.
It is not unheard of for candidates on the same ticket to have different
approaches to policy or different viewpoints. In 1980 when they were both
running for the Republican presidential nomination, Ronald Reagan and
George H.W. Bush disagreed over taxes and economic policies. Bush called
Reagan`s tax plan voodoo economics. Then, when Reagan won the primary and
he asked bush to be his running mate George Bush stopped accusing Reagan`s
economic plan of being voodoo. He got on board.
When Al Gore and Joe Lieberman competed in the primaries they disagreed on
school vouchers. They disagreed on abortion. But when Gore in 2000
invited Lieberman to be his running mate, Lieberman started to defer to the
guy on the top of the ticket. Quote, “Lieberman defers to gore on matters
That`s what usually happens. You don`t start agreeing on everything, but
then one of you wins and if you`re the guy who gets asked to be on the team
with the guy who won, you agree or you at least pretend to agree that you
United front, right? Steady waters. That`s what they have seen all of
these years. That`s what we expected last night. Until boom, here comes a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: After the Russian reset,
the Russians invaded Ukraine and took over Crimea and the small and
bullying leader of Russia is now dictating terms to the United States. The
provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength, and if Russia
chooses to be involved and continue, I should say, to be involved in this
barbaric attacks on civilians in Aleppo, the United States of America
should be prepared to use military force to strike military targets of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bullying leader of Russia dictating terms to the United States,
the U.S. should be prepared to use military force to – so says Governor
Mike Pence, Donald Trump`s running mate.
And that`s the exact opposite of what Trump himself has been saying on the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I look at Assad and Assad to me
looks better than the other side. Russia wants to get rid of ISIS as much
as we do if not more. Let Russia take care of ISIS. How many places can
Wouldn`t it be great if we actually got along with Russia? Wouldn`t it be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, the top of the ticket, wouldn`t it be great if we got along
with Russia. Top of the ticket says I wouldn`t have fought so much against
Assad. We have bigger problems than Assad. His running mate says Russia`s
terrible run by this tiny terrible little bully also let`s bomb Assad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: The United States of America should be prepared to use military
force to strike military targets of the Assad regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s not that weird for running mates to disagree with each other
on policy. It is weird for the number two person on the ticket to not
abandon his or her previously held position and get in line with what the
presidential candidate is running on. But it is truly weird for the vice
presidential candidate to run completely opposite to their presidential
candidate`s position and then just pretend that the presidential candidate
agrees with him.
But that`s what Mike Pence did last night on foreign policy. It seemed to
even confuse the Trump/Pence campaign. Trump deputy campaign manager was
in the spin room and was asked after the debate about this surprise
pronouncement that at least the Pence campaign wants to bomb Syria. And
maybe bomb Russia. And Vladimir Putin is now small and bullying.
The deputy campaign manager was asked whether that is, in fact, the new
position of the Trump/Pence campaign, he responded, quote, “I didn`t hear
that exact line, so I`d have to look at it.”
There are not all that many surprises in politics, but this one is a
surprise. The presidential candidate and the vice presidential candidate
having opposite and incompatible foreign policies? That`s a surprise.
That`s a submarine in your fishing trip. This is something they`re going
to have to sort out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Wouldn`t it be great if we actually got along with Russia?
Wouldn`t it be great?
PENCE: The provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength.
And if Russia chooses to be involved and continue, I should say, to be
involved in this barbaric attack on civilians in Aleppo, the United States
of America should be prepared to use military force to strike military
targets of the Assad regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So which is it wouldn`t it be great if we actually got along with
Russia? Or the provocations by Russia need to be met with American
strength? Which is it?
And what does it mean when a candidate for president and vice president on
the same ticket run on opposite foreign policies? And they`re not
hypothetical foreign policies about something that`s not really going on
right now. It`s non-hypothetical foreign policies about something we face
as a country.
Can they run on opposite policies? Which one counts as what we vote for?
Joining us now is the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul.
He`s a professor of political science at Stanford.
Mr. Ambassador, it`s nice to see you. Thank you for being with us tonight.
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Sure. Thanks for having
me. I know what those Russians were saying about the submarine.
MADDOW: Was –
MCFAUL: Those were pretty nasty words they were using.
MADDOW: Was I accurate in quoting it as bleeping bleep, bleeping bleep,
MADDOW: We had a producer very far overseas that we had to do a lot of
audio file drama on that one. But thank you.
In terms of Mike Pence and Donald Trump on Russia and Syria, were you clear
that they have the same policy or opposite policies? Is there a space
between them where they both make sense?
MCFAUL: There`s nothing that unites them. I mean, seriously, what Mr.
Pence said last night has absolutely nothing to do with what Donald Trump
has been saying, not just for one sound bite, I want to point out, but for
several months now.
You know, Mr. Pence said, “We need to stand up to the bully.” Mr. Trump
has said, “I want to get along with Putin. I admire Putin. I think he`s a
And he uses this phrase that, for a former diplomat, drives me nuts. He
said, wouldn`t it be nice if the Russians, we could get together with the
Russians and bomb Syria? And I would add to that, wouldn`t it be nice if
we could get the Russians to leave Ukraine and Crimea? And wouldn`t it be
nice if Mr. Putin democratized the Russian political system?
But that`s not a policy, that`s an objective. It`s categorically against
what his vice presidential candidate said last night.
MADDOW: I`ve been trying to put this into historical context if only for
my own understanding trying to get at how important it is to have a vice
presidential candidate and a presidential candidate giving diametrically
opposite messages, proposing totally incompatible policies on the same
thing. I mean, you`ve been involved in high level diplomacy and have been
very close up to high level politics for a long time.
What happens when you`ve got two contrary messages like that? I mean,
presumably it`s the presidential candidate whose message wins out in
something like this, right?
MCFAUL: Well, first of all, we should wait and see. I mean, I think it`s
important now for journalists and maybe on the debate on Sunday for someone
to ask, as you said earlier, which is the official policy of the
Trump/Pence candidacy. But there`s a bigger problem here, which is let`s
pretend or suppose or think about the future where they might be in the
White House situation room together.
You can`t have people with diametrically opposed positions on something as
fundamental as how we`re going to deal with Russia. That is just a recipe
for disaster in terms of American national security.
MADDOW: From a Russian perspective, let`s say that Trump and Pence were
elected and this difference between them is never resolved and that`s how
they get sworn in, that`s how they take office next year, how would Russia
view that? Would they see that as an opportunity for themselves? Would
they see that as worrying?
MCFAUL: Well, of course, the Russians have been delighted with there Trump
for several months, right? Their media loves him, their twitteratti love
him. Mr. Putin has complimented him. They think this would be just a
breakthrough in terms of Russian national interests if Trump were to become
Last night on Twitter and in the media, they were taken aback. They were
like, whoa, maybe Trump is just some phantom candidate and Mr. Pence
represents the more traditional Republican line that they`ve had it out for
Russia for quite some time.
That was really interesting to watch that in real time. And this morning,
they themselves, of course, are confused just as you and I are about what
is the actual policy of the Trump campaign.
MADDOW: We are the world, I say it for the second time tonight. Not
without a lot of worry.
Michael McFaul, thank you so much for your time tonight, sir. It`s good to
MCFAUL: Yes, thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight with us. Stay here.
MADDOW: We have a few rules around here on this show. Wild turkey bourbon
is better at 180 proof than 80 proof. The syllable in Oregon is pronounced
gun, not Oregon. It`s Oregon.
And it`s never Nevada. It`s Nevada, no matter who or where you are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Heroin overdoses are surging and meth overdoses in Nevada, Nevada.
And you know what I said? You know what I said? I said when I came out
here, I said nobody says it the other way. It has to be Nevada, right?
And if you don`t say it correctly, and it didn`t happen to me, but it
happened to a friend of mine, he was killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is a thing that happened today. That was very strange.
Donald Trump going well out of his way to get it ostentatiously wrong, and
then he gets corrected by the crowd and he doesn`t get that they`re
correcting him. He is in Nevada when he does it, and they`re yelling
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Nobody says it the other way. It has to be Nevada, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There is a lot going on in the world at the time. The president
had a lot on his mind. But he found himself talking to the press about
And you could kind of hear the reporters laughing at him as he did it. But
President George W. Bush did not stop himself because he was dead serious.
He was dead serious about it. He freaking hates broccoli.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I do not like broccoli. And I haven`t
liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I`m
president of the United States, and I`m not going to eat any more broccoli.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He is not laughing. George H.W. Bush hated broccoli so much, he
banned it from Air Force One. That got the whole country worked up about
the president`s preferences in roughage. You didn`t know there is a
broccoli lobby, there is a broccoli lobby. Vegetable politics are a real
thing in Washington.
It turns out this year too. And you should hold that thought because there
is a really great story about that next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: For the broccoli vote out there, Barbara loves broccoli. She has
tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So she can go
out and meet the caravan of broccoli that is coming in to Washington.
REPORTER: Lima beans!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: 1933, FDR installed a pool at the White House. He, of course, had
polio. He used the pool for physical therapy.
When JFK got to the White House, he had the pool touched up. His dad added
a nice mural of sailboats.
That pool is no longer in use. It`s now covered up by the White House
briefing room. In 1970, Richard Nixon had the briefing room built right on
top of where the pool was.
And he was within his rights to do that. One of the things you get to do
as president is make the White House your house. Some of that has to do
with the basic decor, the rug, statues, paintings.
But some presidents make larger structural changes. FDR built the indoor
pool. Gerald Ford built an outdoor pool. Richard Nixon paved FDR`s pool
and built a one-lane bowling alley.
Dwight Eisenhower installed a putting green, which has had lots of use over
the years. Jimmy Carter put up solar panels. Ronald Reagan took them
President Obama added basketball hoops and a put lines on the tennis courts
so he could play fuel court games.
And each of the decisions does offer a small glimpse into the personality
of a president. None of them has created any kind of lasting
responsibility for the presidents who come afterwards. That, however,
might be about to change. Tomorrow is the final harvest of the White House
The kitchen garden at the White House is the project, of course, of the
first lady. It`s planted on the south lawn of the White House. And if you
didn`t think Michelle Obama was nails and had a good political sense, let
me tell you, she is nails and she has a good political sense.
Today before the final harvest, the first lady cemented the garden`s place
at the White House using some actual cement. She unveiled an expanded
garden. It`s now more than double the size of the original plot. The
updates include wider stone walkways and concrete and steel planters, you
know, the kinds of things that tend to last a long, long time.
She also announced that maintenance of the garden will be paid for by a
multimillion-dollar grant, not taxpayer money. In other words, if somebody
in the future wants to argue that that garden is an unnecessary expense –
well, that angle just got tossed into the wood chipper. And more
insurance, the garden has now been planted with broccoli and kale and
collard greens, which means those vegetables will be ready to pick next
year. Hint, hint, you know, don`t let that good food go to waste. What
are you going to do, turn that under? Plow it under? Really?
And it may be hard to imagine Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Bill
Clinton or Melania Trump out there dutifully tilling the dirt out there on
the South Lawn. But with one final power move, the First Lady Michelle
Obama has almost guaranteed that one or two of them will be expected to be
doing exactly that. Do not plow that garden under.
It`s called the kale offensive. I call it the kale offensive.
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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