The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 09/15/15

David Corn, Steve Clemons, James Richardson, Annie Linskey, Ezra Klein, Mo Elleithee

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight, now it`s time for
“The LAST WORD”, Ari Melber, sitting in for Lawrence tonight, hi Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi Rachel, I was as confused as you were.

MADDOW: Exactly, if that was a major foreign policy address, we have
nothing to fear from a Donald Trump foreign policy.

MELBER: Exactly, thank you Rachel –

MADDOW: Thanks Ari –


MELBER: Tonight, we are going to tell you why the Bernie Sanders surge is
not at all like Donald Trump surge. We have new sound from Joe Biden
responding to Trump.

We`re going to play that in a minute. And Donald Trump has, as we were
just discussing, finished what was supposed to be a policy speech on that
Navy battleship, but it turned into a speech about Donald Trump mission



AUDIENCE: Who`s there?

COLBERT: Orange.

AUDIENCE: Orange who?

COLBERT: Speaking of Donald Trump –


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump ramps up the rhetoric just one day before
the next GOP debate.

COLBERT: The Republican frontrunner is now running fronter than ever
before in the polls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve combined politics and policy and entertainment
now into one thing.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unless I win, it`s been a waste
of time for me, folks, I`ll be honest with you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the moment, anger and entertainment are trumping

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the debate tomorrow night, who goes after Trump
the most?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump is an entertainer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s Carly. She was the only candidate last
time who went after Trump directly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sadly, it`s becoming more like a cartoon than a debate
about the issues.

TRUMP: What would President Trump do? President Trump.

CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Being on “Celebrity Apprentice”
the host, is a clear path to the presidency, yes –


Than being the governor of –


O`BRIEN: California.

TRUMP: What would President Trump do? President Trump – President Trump -
- President Trump.

O`BRIEN: That`s who we`ve come to.



MELBER: It`s not every day a presidential candidate goes to a battleship,
and Donald Trump definitely understands the power of big symbolic media
events, but he surprised everyone tonight by failing to meet this moment.

Just last hour, Donald Trump stepped aboard the USS Iowa to speak to a
veterans group and turned in one of the shortest, most free-associating
random addresses of his entire weird campaign.

Here is the closest he came to foreign policy.


TRUMP: I just want to say that we`re going to come out with some plans in
a very short time. We`re going to be building up our military. We`re
going to make our military so big and so strong and so great.


And it will be so powerful that I don`t think we`re ever going to have to
use it. Nobody is going to mess with us. I learned a lot about the Iowa.

By the way, Iowa is a great place for a lot of reasons, you know? We have
been treated so well in the state of Iowa, it`s been incredible.

Number one on the polls and we love those people, they`re great. So –


TRUMP: This is a great ship – Hawkeye, he goes. This is a great ship and
that`s a great state.

We`re going to rebuild the military, we`re going to make it so strong.
Right now, and you know it, we have illegal immigrants that are treated
better, by far, than our veterans. That`s not going to happen anymore.



MELBER: Trump then told the people who gathered there in California about
the people who gathered for him last night in Texas.


TRUMP: Last night in Dallas, at the American Airlines Center, 20,000
people, the basketball arena of the Mavericks. Twenty thousand people
showed up and I want to tell you, it was a love fest.


MELBER: Donald Trump praised Rush Limbaugh, he criticized his Republican
rivals for not having read his book “The Art of the Deal” and then 12
minutes later, he was out of there.

Joining me now is David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief for “Mother Jones”
and Msnbc analyst, Steve Clemons, Washington editor-at-large at “The
Atlantic”, also a contributor here.

And James Richardson, Republican strategist and Managing Director at the
global law firm Dentons. David Corn, what just happened?


Still, it was huge, it was incredible. It was beautiful.

I mean, did anyone really expect Donald Trump to come out and give a 27-
point plan on how to have a more robust military.

MELBER: How about –

CORN: What he`s going to do –

MELBER: How about a point or two though –


David –

CORN: F35 and the F47 and the F14?

MELBER: How about –

CORN: I mean –

MELBER: A point or two?

CORN: Well, maybe one. But listen, here is – he gave us his plan. He
said when there`s President Trump, there won`t be a trade deficit anymore
with China.

What else do you want, Ari?

MELBER: I guess –

CORN: I mean –

MELBER: I don`t –

CORN: Come on, what else do you want? You know, Steve Clemons is going to
tell you that we need foreign policy papers, but this is really just about


You know, and let Steve Clemons, he`s a beautiful person, he`s incredible,
he`s huge. But really, this is just about playing to the crowd again and
again and again.

Once he gets into details, he`s not the Donald Trump that`s selling Donald
Trump incredibly well –

MELBER: Yes, David –

CORN: To the Republican electorate.

MELBER: I got bad news for Steve Clemons, you and James are here for the
politics, we asked Steve to come on for the foreign policy and just witness
a policy-free speech.

I also want to play as promised – this is breaking now this evening, Joe
Biden speaking very directly and emphatically tonight about the message,
that what he calls the sick message Donald Trump has been putting out.

Take a listen to Joe Biden tonight.


down right now about what`s going on in the Republican Party.

I mean this sincerely now. This is not – no, this – I`m being deadly
earnest about this. I want you to remember, notwithstanding the fact
there`s one guy absolutely denigrating an entire group of people, appealing
to the baser side of human nature.

Working on this notion, a xenophobia in a way that hasn`t occurred in a
long time. Sends the no-nothing party back at the – at the end of the
19th century.


MELBER: Steve Clemons, the Vice President drawing a direct line from
Donald Trump`s sort of nativism and anti-immigrant rhetoric today all the
way back. What do you think of those new comments from Joe Biden?

clarity of Joe Biden on this is going to be searing and very important.

I think that, you know, what we`re talking about when you look not only at
Donald Trump, but Ben Carson.

And you know, we`re not talking about him today, but the fact that half of
GOP voters support these two men who are not talking in any serious way
about the nuts and bolts of foreign policy.

Forget the papers that David is talking about, but just any semblance of a
strategic sense of understanding the priorities the nation needs to put

Neither one of them are doing this. And I think that the nativism, the
jingoism, this kind of very base pugnacious nationalism that`s so dark has
been brewing in this country for a long time.

I mean, I remember Jesse Helms, you`ve had – you`ve had John Bolton have,
you know, quick spikes in some of this.

So we`ve seen it before, but not consolidated in such a large footprint
using modern methods of communication and the internet and the networking
that`s bringing all of this together.

And he`s seducing that party and I think it`s very dangerous.

MELBER: James, as a Republican, what did you think of the Vice President
confronting a lot of what Trump is saying there?

And are you comfortable with the sort of thin foreign policy vision that
Trump laid out tonight on that battle ship?

Absolutely not.

You know, Mr. Trump clearly believes that there`s mileage in the issue of
immigration which is why he spent, you know, 30 seconds in what he billed
as a major foreign policy address on foreign policy, and everything else
really pivoted back to immigration.

But my own view is that, I don`t really believe that at the end of the day,
America wants as president, a man who`s going to need to consult Wikipedia
in national security briefings.


This is a guy who has absolutely no fluency in the issue of national
security or frankly any transcendent challenge ahead for the next

You know, if you look back in the last two weeks, he was twice asked about
the Iranian revolutionary guard and twice he whiffed.

One time so spectacularly bad that he actually mistook the Quds Force,
which is effectively a terror organization incubator for the Kurds, which,
as you know, Ari, is an ethnic group.

So, one has to wonder if in Mr. Trump`s see-and-say foreign policy, if
we`re going to be arming the Quds and bombing the Kurds. Because frankly,
he has no idea what he`s talking about.

Chuck Todd asked him too, last month rather, who he consults for military
policy and his actual answer was “The Shows”.

MELBER: Right –

RICHARDSON: That`s terrifying that someone like me could influence the
President`s foreign policy view just because he watches “The Shows”.

MELBER: Well, and to that point, David, what Trump was clearly giving away
that he not only exists in a world where television entertainment “The
Apprentice” is his reality, obviously, but that he thinks that sufficient,
he has a lot of money.

He`s now ahead in the polls. If he had any intellectual or policy
curiosity, David, he could gather experts to consult with. He just doesn`t

CORN: Yes –

MELBER: Seem to want to. Is that going to come up Wednesday night at this
big debate?

CORN: I mean, I`ll take a little credit here, because after he did that
sit-down with our colleague Chuck Todd, I called up Jack Jacobs, who is
also a consultant here at Msnbc –

MELBER: Sure –

CORN: Who Donald Trump had named as one of his go-to guys on national
security. And Colonel Jacobs told me that he`s never once spoken to Donald
Trump about national security or foreign policy matters.

Now, imagine that Hillary Clinton or even Jeb Bush said something like that
and he got called out that way. But let me just flip the script here for
one second.

The problem for the Republicans at least is not so much Donald Trump. It`s
the fact that with all these deficits that we`ve talked about, others have
talked about, still 30 percent, 40 percent of Republicans go for him.

They don`t want the policy, they don`t want the details, they don`t want
the intellectual depth for rigor, they want someone who`s a celebrity
venting and angry, and that`s good enough for them.

And if you throw in the Ben Carson vote, which is a little bit different,
you get over half of the Republican Party.

That shows me Trump is not going to go away and just calling him out on
details is not going to be an effective strategy for the Republican

MELBER: So Steve, connect the dot from there to these Republicans on that
main debate stage tomorrow night.

Because it would seem after this address which we know the other Republican
campaigns were watching, Donald Trump is basically daring everyone – he`s
saying he feels no pressure even in a military setting with an emphasis on
veterans to offer anything.

CLEMONS: So what Donald Trump is doing and I think – I think we all need
to take it seriously because it is resonating for many Americans.

Is, he`s presenting a picture of a gravity-less environment in which
America has no boundaries, no limits, can continuously work its way through
boxes, he`s all powerful.

You know, it`s interesting the comment that he did make tonight about a
military so big that we wouldn`t need to use it. That`s a different
message from the neo-conservatives who want a big military and want to use

You know, there are these moments where he`s harkening back to a time when
the world looked at the United States and Americans felt, we were, you
know, king of the hill.

And I think that what most of the rest of the candidates in both parties
are doing is they`re operating where the gravity switch is turned on.

But you have a lot of Americans and the kind of economic mess we have in
this country, the great divide in wealth, the sense that, whether they
blame George W. Bush or they blame Barack Obama, they sense that we have
economic limits, they have military limits.

So, even though he`s coming out with a detail-less, you know, position on
this stuff, he is reaching deep into the souls of these people because they
want what America used to be back, and he`s not being compelled by

So, as long as he dominates that rhetoric, that posture, you can ask for
details, reports, detailed plans, and no one is going to be able to
basically get through that teflon-skin he`s got.

MELBER: Right, all right, the panel stays with us, so hang, guys. Coming
up next, one of the most powerful groups in the conservative movement now
calling Donald Trump`s tax plan way too liberal.

And it`s not just the Trump show tonight. Who is running the better
outsider campaign, Trump or Sanders? We`ve got a special report on that
with Ezra Klein.

And later, Vladimir Putin joining the fight in Syria, guess whose side he`s


MELBER: You may think that immigration is Donald Trump`s number one
campaign issue, but if you go to Donald Trump`s campaign website, it turns
out his only issue, literally, at – you can scroll over
the positions tab in there, it is immigration reform, that is it.

So, maybe at the top there, instead of saying positions, it should just be
labeled position. Now, unlike Trump`s page, Ben Carson`s site takes you
first to a page asking for money, but his issues page to be fair, has half
a dozen conservative positions on issues like abortion, a balanced budget
amendment and even one called keeping Gitmo open.

For the record, Hillary Clinton`s site lists her positions on 23 different
issues and they`re listed in alphabetical order.

Up next, the Club for Growth is attacking billionaire Donald Trump because
Trump`s position on taxes they say is too liberal.



TRUMP: You know, at the beginning, three, four months ago – well, he`s
just doing this for fun, he`s doing this for his brand. I need this, like
for my brand –


OK? But he`s doing it for his brand. One person, a real loser said he`s a
clown, he`s a clown! Now, they`re saying – oh, how do we stop this guy? No
more clown.

I haven`t heard the word clown in a while, I`ll tell you. They don`t use
that word anymore.


MELBER: Many Republicans don`t use that word anymore. The Trump candidacy
began as something most politicos laughed off in Washington, Republicans
said they could just wait it out.

And this week, there are signs it`s something they`re genuinely scared of.
Consider all the talk about a third party run.

Just weeks ago, Republican elites were saying, they were the winners in
Trump`s agreement to sign that loyalty pledge.

Now, some Republicans are openly talking about having their candidate run
as a third party Republican if Trump wins the nomination.

Bill Kristol, the former Bush White House official and a conservative
leader says if Trump is the nominee, he`d support getting someone good on
the ballot as a third party candidate.

Top Wall Street executives are terrified Trump could actually win, and some
conservative money is now pouring in to stop the momentum.

The Club for Growth; a powerhouse conservative group that`s ousted several
members of Congress is spending a million dollars on these new ads in Iowa.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which presidential candidate supports higher taxes,
national healthcare and the Wall Street bailout? It`s Donald Trump?

TRUMP: In many cases, I probably identify more as a Democrat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump wants us to think he`s Mr. tell it like it is,
but he has a record and it`s very liberal. He`s really just playing us for

Trump, just another politician.

TRUMP: In many cases, I probably identify more as a Democrat.


MELBER: This is the kind of well funded right-wing attack that any typical
candidate would fear. But Donald Trump is not a typical candidate and he
doesn`t seem to be afraid of anything right now.

Joining us to discuss, Ezra Klein, editor-in-chief for and Msnbc
policy analyst. Annie Linskey, national political reporter for the “Boston
Globe”, and back with us, David and James.

Annie, starting with you, what is the significance of this kind of
conservative attack in Iowa for Trump?

far everybody who`s tried to attack Trump has found themselves back under
the heels.

And I think that is fascinating to see some of the leading voices of the
Republican Party take the stance.

I mean, you mentioned this in your intro that the Republican Party for
weeks was wringing their hands, trying to force Trump to the table to sign
this pledge that he wouldn`t mount a third-party run.

And now, you know, literally, you know, days later, the leading voices in
the party are turning around and doing the same thing to him that they made
him pledge he wouldn`t do to them.

And I think there`s a real question about whether, you know, the people who
Donald Trump is really speaking to are going to see some of that

And you know, one would just warn that this far, everyone who has made
this, taken these swings at Donald Trump that hasn`t been the way to get at

Conversely, you look at somebody like Ben Carson who is surging a little
bit in the polls and is just taking a different approach.

MELBER: Right, and part of what you`re getting at is who has the
credibility in this environment, now James as a Republican you know, Club
for Growth has swung a big bat in the past, but Trump to be fair and
accurate seemed to have a strong point, which he was pushing on the
“O`Reilly Factor” tonight.

And the public documents support this, that the club had actually asked him
for money. Take a listen.


TRUMP: And by the way, Club for Growth is a phony outfit, they came to my
office a few months ago, they asked me for a million dollars, I said, no.

Right after I told them, no – because I don`t even know who these people
are – right after I told them, no, they came out with a negative kind of
an ad.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: Well, you know –

TRUMP: Now they put on an ad, just so you understand –


TRUMP: I`m lowering taxes, I`m not raising taxes –

O`REILLY: On me, OK –

TRUMP: So, what they –

O`REILLY: On me –

TRUMP: Said is a lie.


MELBER: James, does that rebuttal help him?

RICHARDSON: No, the Club for Growth has an actual record of advocating for
conservative positions. But in the last 30 years, Donald Trump has
advocated for so many positions that are virtual anathema to the party.

I mean, he advocated for a fourteen and a quarter percent tax on the
wealthiest of Americans, you know, he once supported the decriminalization
of all narcotics.

He said he`s very pro choice at one point, he supported a single-payer
healthcare plan. You know, he`s not going to out-conservative the Club for

That`s simply not going to happen. And what you`re seeing among
conservatives is that, they were first transitioning from amusement at
Trump`s candidacy to bewilderment that it was actually catching on.

And now they`re moving into frustration. And they`re realizing that you
can`t attack Trump on policy, you just can`t. Because he`s going to
respond back in generalities that you can`t really engage on.

MELBER: Well, that goes –

RICHARDSON: So, you have to –


RICHARDSON: Fight Trump with Trump.

MELBER: Yes, you list the policies, Ezra, that goes to something you look
at a lot, one of these candidates actually stand for. So, apart from
whatever people think of the Club for Growth, Iowans are going to see these

Here`s a policy-oriented one on a somewhat arcane issue, but one that
people are going to see about Trump but in his own words. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Supreme Court`s Kelo decision gave government
massive new power to take private property and give it to corporations.

Conservatives have fought this disaster. What Donald Trump say about the

TRUMP: I happen to agree with it a 100 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump supports eminent domain abuse because he can make
millions, while we lose our property rights. Trump, the worst kind of


MELBER: You know, Ezra, loyal viewers of the broadcast will know you get
pretty excited about having a domain advertisement.


But what do you – what do you make of this?

EZRA KLEIN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF FOR VOX.COM: Yes, that`s one of the first
eminent domain attack ads I`ve seen. I think – every time I watch these
ads, the same thing comes into mind.

Donald Trump is not trapped in there with the Republican Party, they are
trapped in there with him. That other Club for Growth ad you played, when
it ends, Donald Trump, just another politician.

And the Club for Growth wants you to vote for Jeb Bush probably?


There`s a huge problem here. The Club for Growth is really worth putting
in context. The Club for Growth is the player in the Republican Party
among its interest groups that advocates for cutting taxes on extremely
rich people.

Like, they are so much as there is one part of the Republican Party you can
identify as basically the millionaire and billionaire lobby, it is the Club
for Growth.

They are very consistent, they have a real record, and that record is they
want taxes lowered on very rich people. And one thing that Trump is doing
on a policy level is that he just doesn`t care about that.

And it`s just not the case – most Republican voters. If you go and talk
to them, if you go and poll them, care a lot about lowering taxes on very
rich people and cutting Medicare and Social Security.

And so one thing Trump is doing – and this I think we do not give him
enough attention for. The – one reason people are responding to him is
he`s blowing up the consensus in the Republican Party that has not worked
for a lot of its voters.

He`s much more populist and even if his policies are not at all fully
formed, they are much more oriented towards middle class, sort of primarily
white voters.

I would say right now than anyone else running for president on the
Republican side. And that`s part of his appeal.

MELBER: Annie, you`re shaking your head, go ahead and then David after

LINSKEY: Well, I`m just thinking, you know, listening to those ads, they
just sound like such a typical attack ad that kind of like low, mean,
voice, you know, this is Donald Trump and then this, you know, repeating
the kind of grainy footage of him.

And I just think that the rise of a Trump candidacy, the rise of a Sanders
candidacy is people in the – in the bases of the party are saying we kind
of are tired of this.

So, it`s just hard for me to see how you use this kind of like – you know,
the standard attack against a nonstandard candidate and think it`s going to

I mean, so far nothing has, so –

CORN: Yes –

LINSKEY: We`ll see –

CORN: Yes, when I see –

LINSKEY: You know –

CORN: Those – when I see those ads, I think of the Godzilla movies,
remember? They always bring in the artillery, we`re going to fire these
machine guns.

And even though there had been 20 Godzilla movies already, they don`t –


CORN: Understand that you can`t take Godzilla down with this. These ads
are lame, they`re like pea-shooters against Donald Trump. And Ezra is
right on, you know, talk about the populism, the policy here.

But really what Donald Trump is doing is responding to people`s resentments
and passions. And so, coming up with an ad about eminent domain abuse?

I mean, God, I mean, the smartest thing he ever did was not give a million
dollars to Club for Growth, that is Donald Trump to waste on such
foolishness –

MELBER: Yes, James –

CORN: They really don`t understand what they`re dealing with here.

MELBER: To that point, James, there was a great “Wall Street Journal”
interview with Trump where he basically says, this is you guys, this is you
reporters, you media types, and you in Washington that want me to come up
with a list.

He says nobody cares, nobody – I`m talking – who cares about the list of
policies because I`m speaking of something deeper.

RICHARDSON: So his biggest asset right now is, of course, his name
identification, which is virtually 100 percent.

But the voters actual appreciation for Trump`s policies is totally
superficial because they are nonexistent.

But what you`re going to see over the next couple of months is that, a very
extensive robust education campaign on the positions he staked out

And I don`t particularly think that eminent domain is going to move voters
in Iowa. But I will tell you that his comments on abortion definitely are
going to have a serious impact on evangelical voters in Iowa.

His comments about single payer of healthcare are really going to wriggle a
lot of people out there. So, I don`t know if this issue is going to move a
lot of people, but he is vulnerable, and this tape is going to start
rolling out of his old comments.

And it`s going to be pretty ubiquitous.


MELBER: We got to run because –

CORN: All right –

MELBER: It`s timing, but if there`s one takeaway is that if you weren`t
interested in eminent domain before tonight, you don`t need to be
interested in it after tonight.


I want to thank David Corn and James Richardson for joining us, the rest of
the panel stays. Coming up next, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush say they
have the experience to get things actually done as president.

So why are insurgents, not only Donald Trump, but this Bernie Sanders
surge, why is that happening? We`re going to dig into that next.



TRUMP: We are tired of being pushed around by incompetent people. We are
just tired of what is happening. We are sick and tired of what is



going on, which is getting the establishment nervous is that we are seeing
from coast to coast hundreds of thousands of people getting involved in
this campaign, knocking on doors, making phone calls. And that is the
political revolution.


MELBER: The outsiders are surging. When you look at the Huff Post polling
trend, Trump is over 33 points, leading the field. And, when you look at
the same trend for democrats, Sanders is near 50 percent in New Hampshire.
He does still trail Clinton nationally.

Now, that may sound like a similar dynamic in both the parties. And, you
may have heard people comparing Trump and Sanders. But, there is actually
a lot of evidence that the Sanders surge is far more significant than
Trump`s. Because he began the race unknown to most voters, because he does
not have billions of dollars of his own money to spend.

And, because Sanders is surging against a single establishment quasi
incumbent favorite in his party, not just pulling ahead in a divided
fractured field of 15. And, that is why some political experts are
starting to point out that Trump`s loud unusual campaign is actually
distracted from the bigger story. Our own Chuck Todd said this on Sunday.


saying for a while, if it were not for Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders would
be the biggest political story of the year.


MELBER: The biggest political story of the year. And, Vox`s Ezra Klein
wrote an analysis saying, quote, “In a normal year, Sanders` rise would be
a shocking unbelievable story that would be dominating political media. It
is just currently being overshadowed by Trump`s story, which is arguably
more unbelievable and certainly makes for better TV.”

Joining us now adding to the panel is Georgetown University`s Mo Elleithee,
who worked on Hillary Clinton`s 2008 campaign. Ezra and Annie still with
us. So, Ezra, what do you mean by that and what is special about what
Bernie Sanders is doing?

KLEIN: So, Sanders is mounting an insurgent candidacy. He is now ahead in
some polls in Iowa and way ahead in New Hampshire. And, he is doing it
without – he is really in a way the anti-Trump. He comes in with
virtually no name recognition in the national democratic party. He comes
in with no money.

He does not get the kind of wall to wall media coverage Trump gets, not
even a shadow of that. He does not make the kind of provocations trump
does. He is not doing the same kind of stunts. He is not getting a lot of
attention for the terrible things he says about certain groups of people.
And, he is not even going into negative campaigns.

He promised early on, he would not do any negative campaigning and so far
he really he has not. And, yet week by week, month by month, he is gaining
in very serious ways on Hillary Clinton. That is a tremendous kind of
victory. And, it is worth noting, too, he is doing it without really an
issue that is splitting the Democratic Party.

This is not like when Howard Dean or Barack Obama used the Iraq War, where
there was a tremendous fissure in the party to vault ahead of more
establishment candidate. Sanders is doing it really on a strength of a
kind of pure approach to politics to sort of small money donor democracy.

MELBER: Yes, I think that is –

KLEIN: That is just a tremendous political accomplishment. I do not think
we quite are able to recognize the magnitude of yet because we are so
distracted by Trump.

MELBER: I think that is dead on, Ezra. I mean you think about, you
mentioned the Dean example, anti-war, or folks think back to Eugene
McCarthy`s campaign. In many ways, politically, it is easier to organize
around that energy. This is a proactive campaign, “The Wall Street
Journal” was looking at his proposals, what Bernie wants to do, looking at

Running up to about $18 trillion with Medicare for all, social security,
infrastructure, college affordability, paid leave fund, bolster private
pensions, which of course have been a problem in the country; a new youth
jobs initiative at around $5 billion and some plans on child care.

This is a detailed proposal. It is the mirror image of the lack of detail
on the Trump side. And, there is I should mention some fighting about the
numbers. Here was Bernie Sanders talking about some of the cost in an
interview on an MSNBC today.


SANDERS: Ezra, that is not the reality. And, we will be responding to the
“Wall Street” Journal on that. I think most of the expense that they put
in there, the expenditures have to do with a single pay out health care

They overly significantly exaggerated the cost of that, and they forgot the
tell the American people in that article that, that means eliminating the
cost that you incur with private health insurance.

Second point, which they really did not get into, is we are going to demand
that the wealthiest people and the largest corporations in this country do
start paying their fare share of taxes.


MELBER: Mo, he is exciting the democratic base with a very detailed
national populist plan.

MO ELLEITHEE, FMR. DNC SPOKESMAN: Yes, I think Bernie has been running a
tremendous campaign. Probably, one of the best two or three campaigns of
anyone on both sides of the aisle, that is being run this cycle. I would
say, he and Carly Fiorina, maybe are running two of the best campaigns I
have seen so far.

But, I do think it is worth noting and making some historical comparisons.
I think, the Democratic Party has a long history of having a strong
insurgent candidacy in its democratic primaries. I worked for Bill Bradley
in 2000 on the ground of New Hampshire.

Right about this point in the Campaign, we were surging ahead of Al Gore in
New Hampshire and starting to catch up to him in other states. The Gore
campaign was the establishment campaign. It was clunky. It was big. It
was having trouble reacting in real time.

The Bradley campaign ended up making Al Gore recalibrate and run a much
stronger campaign. In 1992, there was Paul Tsongas running against Bill
Clinton. In 2004, there was Howard Dean running against John Kerry. So,
we have that history. I do not want to take away from what Bernie Sanders
is doing, but I do think it is early to see how sustainable this is and how
the Clinton campaign reacts.

MELBER: Annie, you have been out on the road. Do those analogies hold up?

LINSKEY: I think it is really hard to know. I mean, quite frankly, does
everything everybody has said so far this year has been wrong. And, one of
the critical things is when you talk to people and I spent a lot of time
today talking to people in New Hampshire, and you say like, what is going
on with the Clinton campaign? How can they be – There was a CBS poll
earlier this week that suggested that she is 22 points down in New
Hampshire to Bernie Sanders?

And, I have been asking people why? How is this happening in New
Hampshire, a place that really for all of this discussion of Bradley and
previous campaigns, New Hampshire is supposed to be a very, very friendly
place for her. I mean that was always supposed to be the way that it was.

And the answer that I am getting is somewhat alarming for Clinton`s
campaign, which is that – and I know you discussed it before, but that
this e-mail story has not gone away and she has not shut it down. And,
when you look forward, I mean, you are going to have the end of this month,
another batch of e-mails are going to be released. And, then you are going
to have the –

MELBER: But Bernie is not surging because of the e-mails. I do not think
that is what is going on.

LINSKEY: Well, I think that is that is – that is what the Clinton
campaign surrogates are saying.

MELBER: Well, let me take it to Mo as a former – they can say that all
they want. That is insane. You are not getting 15,000 and 20,000 people
turning out for Bernie`s popularism because she got to watch a server

ELLEITHEE: Well, the crowd size is probably the least relevant metric to
look at. If went by crowd size as we be talking about President Rand Paul
at this point on the republican side. But, I do think that his surge is a
combination of things.

It is one, this nagging e-mail thing that is getting to an issue of trust
that the Clinton campaign needs to deal with. But more importantly, and
this is the one parallel between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump that I
think is very relevant.

They are both fearless. They are two candidates who are out there right
now, saying what they want to say. Not sounding like they are overly
calibrated candidates. Bernie Sanders is going to liberty showing that he
is willing to go – that is the kind of people will react to.

MELBER: That speaks to some of the energy out there. Mo, Annie and Ezra,
thank you, very interesting discussion. Coming up, NBC`s Richard Engle
reporting from that Serbian-Hungarian border about this crisis among the
refugees. We got that report. Also next, Kanye West releasing what could
look like a campaign video.



MELBER: Kanye West recently said in an MTV award show that he will run for
President in 2020. Now, few took it very seriously, but we have learned to
underestimate celebrity campaign plans at our own peril.

And, now some people online are making their own ads for Kanye`s potential
future campaign. This is essentially fan fiction, putting Kanye`s real
words against the motif of typical American campaign ads. And, it is


KANYE WEST, AMERICAN RAPPER: We deal with racism, because they are
different races. We focus on the different races as opposed to the human
race. All they want to present to young black men as the idea of making it
to the league or making it to be a rapper, but not the idea of becoming an

They would do anything they can to make it seem like a truthful idea is a
stupid idea or a crazy idea. Our power, our oil – our oil is our
expression, is our influence. Do not never let them take that away. And,
when we have the chance to express it and to influence, do not only just do
it for us, do it for the human race.


MEBER: Not bad. Now coming up. We do have that report on the hundreds of
thousands fleeing the fighting in Syria. Vladimir Putin sending in
supplies but maybe not the kind you would expect.


MELBER: Welcome back. Today, Hungary declared a state of crisis on its
border with Serbia, stranding thousands of refugees. Hungry is
implementing these new border laws that can basically land these refugees
in prison. Only those who applies for Asylum in Syria are now allowed

Hungry also announced that it will create another new fence along its
border with Romania. The Romanian government called that, quote, “Out of
Line with the European Union Spirit.” NBC`s Chief Foreign Correspondent
Richard Engle is in Hungary with the latest.


southern border, stranding thousands of desperate refugees and migrants.
But no fence is going to keep them out. This morning, soldiers repaired a
hole cut overnight and waiting for those who do get through are smugglers.
The government promises to crack down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are trying to step up against human smugglers that
is illegal organized crime, and we are going to introduce Draconian
measures against organized crime.

ENGEL: Draconian measures like what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meaning, prison sentenced up to ten years.


ENGEL: But smuggling is thriving and it did not take us long to spot these
Syrian men negotiating with two locals. When they spotted our camera, the
smugglers walked away and the rest of the family emerged from hiding.

We are scared of the smugglers, but we have no choice, what he tells us.
You cannot live in constant fear of death. You have to take risks to
arrive at a safe place.

We hide our camera in the tall grass by the side of the road and see the
family approached by one smuggler after another. This one offers to take
them to the next town over. The price, $100 each.

Others offer to take them all the way to Sweden for $1,000 each. Half off
for kids. The family cannot afford that, so they keep walking. You see
them everywhere. Men lingering in their cars. With a cell phone
recording in my pocket, I approached one driver.


ENGEL: If somebody wants to go to Germany, can you take? How much?


ENGEL: Four or five people. All the way to Germany.


ENGEL: Germany.



ENGEL: Then he gets suspicious about my phone. We leave before things
escalate. But the smuggling continues with no shortage of potential
customers. Richard Engle, NBC news, Roszke, Hungary.


MELBER: Thanks to Richard for that report. And up next, Vladimir Putin
enters the conflict in Syria.


MELBER: Syrian rebels have posted a new video online showing what they say
is their attack on a Syrian government outpost near Damascus. Rebels, of
course, constantly post videos online in their battle against the Assad
regime as well as against the ISIS.

Now, because these are videos taken on the battlefield, NBC news cannot
independently verify much about what happened. But that is what we are
seeing in the region. Now up next, Vladimir Putin joining the fight in
Syria against the rebels.


MELBER: Another report and story we wanted to get to, Russian President,
Vladimir Putin defending his countries military assistance to the Syrian
government and encouraging other countries to essentially do the same.

Now, speaking at a defense summit, Putin said, quote, “We are supporting
the government of Syria, that is Assad, in the fight against a terrorist
aggression, offering and will continue to offer necessary military
technical assistance without an active participation of the Syrian
authorities in the military,” he says. “It would be impossible to expel
the terrorists from that country and the region as a whole and to protect
the Syrian people from destruction.”

Over the past several days, Russia has moved tanks, artillery, mobile
housing units and troops to an airfield near a Syria`s coastal city of
Lotakya (ph). The Pentagon says the Russian military is building
potentially a forward airbase there, which could complicate U.S. and
coalition air strikes that target ISIS.

The Obama Administration, also concerned that this military build-up could
boost Russia`s ally Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and his regime. U.S.
blames the region of course, for the unfolding refugee crisis in and around
Syria, while Putin says, quote, “Without Russia`s support for Syria, the
situation in the country would have been worse than in Libya and the flow
of refugees would have been even bigger,” end quote.

Steve Clemons is with us to break it down. Steve, no surprise to anyone
who has been following this what the alliance is. What is new and
concerning in the eyes of the Obama Administration about this right now?

CLEMONS: Well, Russia is expanding its influence in a lot of places in the
world, but they have just amped up their role in whatever Syria becomes.
They have made themselves the block that matters the most. If there is
going to be an outcome in Syria that is the Syrian regime without Assad,
Russia is going to expect a very high price for that from the United

They worry about the disintegration of the Syrian state. Almost like we
do, but they are much closer. They got 20 million Sunnis in and around
countries that border Russia. And, so, the radicals and the Islamic
extremists that have been drawn in its Syrian conflict become roving in a
certain extent.

So, Russia has genuine security concerns in the region. But, for us, it is
complicating because we would rather from a distance, arms length, continue
to maintain our own influence there. But Russia has – when you put troops
on the ground, you put housing units.

You got military advisers. You got other kinds of equipment, it is not
that they just get in the way of our bombing runs, what is on the ground
matters. You also have Iran supporting, lots of Hezbollah troops. And,
so, both of those forces are now much more determined about what happens on
the ground with the government in Syria than we – than we are.

MELBER: State Department Spokesman, John Kirby, spoke about this today as
well. Take a listen.


JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Nothing is changed about the fact
that we do not want to see the Assad regime getting any support. There
cannot be a role of the Assad regime in efforts to stabilize the situation
in Syria, much less go against ISIL.

And, there is an international coalition fighting ISIL, 62-some-odd
nations. And, as I said yesterday, we would welcome a constructive role by
Russia in those efforts, but it cannot begin and it cannot continue under
the condition where the Assad regime continues to get military support.


MELBER: I mean the bottom line on that on policy, Steve, is fine. The
U.S. says they are anti-Assad. But, there is nothing –

CLEMONS: Yes, well –

MELBER: Go ahead.

CLEMONS: Look. I love John Kirby. I mean he is a great guy. But that is
almost Orwellian in this notion that you have a two-front war.

MELBER: Right.

CLEMONS: You got rebels on one side. You got Assad. We sort of want to
imagine, you know, you cannot really fight the rebels. You got to fight
both at the same time. We are not really fighting Assad. We are just sort
of hoping he disappears.

MELBER: Exactly. That is what I am saying. It is Orwellian.

CLEMONS: And, yes, and I think it is disheartening for many people,
particularly the moderates that are stuck like a – you know, in the middle
of a vice between all of these groups. And, then it is not just ISIS you
got on the news that David Petraeus said the other day, “Maybe we should
ally with them. An Al Qaeda affiliate to basically deal with ISIS.”

So, it is very, very confusing Rubik`s cube in there. And, the notion –
and I think the Russians – you know and the Iranians are basically saying,
Assad is their client. They are also scared whether Assad heads the state
or not, disintegration of the army, a disintegration of the backbone of
that state could lead to another Libya or another meltdown situation, which
has dramatic ramifications through the region.

So, whether you like what Russia is doing or not, you can understand that
disintegration piece is something – we deal with the regime and Assad
together and that is probably a mistake in our own rhetoric and posture.

MELBER: Right. We now we have a lot of enemies there, but we are not
actually fighting a two-front war.


MELBER: Steve Clemons for “The Atlantic,” thank you very much.

CLEMONS: Thank you.

MELBER: I am Ari Melber have been filling in for Lawrence O`Donnell
tonight. Chris Hayes is up next.


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