The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 3/31/2016
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: March 31, 2016
Guest: Joel Benenson, Tad Devine, David Haynes, Stuart Stevens, Larry
Sabato, Nicholas Confessore
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Town hall was taped as a live event – conversation
with Chris Matthews at all.
That town hall was taped as a live event. Which is not to say we aired it
live as it happened, but it was taped and aired in its complete form.
Everything that happened with the Chris Matthews, Donald Trump town hall,
all of it went to air.
The network did not clip it, did not cut it, certainly did not shorten Mr.
The official statement from Msnbc on Donald Trump`s claim tonight reads as
follows. “The town hall interview with Donald Trump was taped in advance
and then aired in its entirety.
Absolutely no part of the exchange between Trump and Chris Matthews was
edited out.” We know that, and Mr. Trump knows that, too.
And any allegation otherwise is provably untrue, seriously. I mean even
trying to sell this to a competing network, that is ridiculous.
That does it for us tonight, we`ll see you again tomorrow, now, it`s time
for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: The chief strategist for Hillary
Clinton`s and Bernie Sanders` campaigns will join us on a day when things
got a little more intense between the candidates.
And last night, you saw it right here on Msnbc, Donald Trump stepped right
into a logic trap set by Chris Matthews who had been preparing for that
moment since his days in Catholic school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Do you believe in punishment for abortion? Yes or
no as a principle?
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATIONS & FOUNDER, TRUMP
ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: There has to be some form of punishment –
MATTHEWS: To the woman?
TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form –
MATTHEWS: Ten cents, 10 years, what? –
TRUMP: That I don`t know, that I don`t know –
MATTHEWS: Why not? –
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: To punish a woman for having an abortion
is beyond comprehension –
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: But of course, women shouldn`t be punished –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, of course not –
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Donald Trump is showing us
exactly who he is and we should believe him.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: If I were in my car and getting ready to reverse
and saw Donald in the back up camera –
I`m not confident which pedal I`ll take –
KASICH: I believe that the delegates would take very seriously who could
be president of the United States.
TRUMP: How can they give up millions of people that really feel
disenfranchised except –
MATTHEWS: But they don`t like it –
TRUMP: Yes, that`s true –
MATTHEWS: They don`t like you to be the nominee –
TRUMP: But then they`re going to lose –
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Donald Trump is looking out for
exactly one guy and that guy`s name is Donald Trump.
TRUMP: Oh, we`re going to be so happy, we`re about to have a child – I
said, excuse me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The last time Donald Trump was an unmarried man, he discussed
his dating life with Howard Stern.
At the time, Donald Trump was dating the woman who would become his third
wife and possible first lady of the United States, Melania Trump.
He told Howard, how happy he was that in five years of dating, Melania took
her birth control pills every day.
He said he trusted her completely to do that. And as you`re about to see,
Robin Quivers reminded Donald Trump that he had made the mistake of
trusting a previous girlfriend to take her birth control pills every day.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: She was on the pill, you know, give you –
ROBIN QUIVERS, RADIO PERSONALITY: You know you fell for that one time
TRUMP: I did, that happened. Darling, I`m so happy we`re about to have a
child. I said, excuse me, I didn`t know about this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right –
TRUMP: But you know, at the time it was like, excuse me, what happened?
And then I said, well, what are we going to do about this?
She said, are you serious? The most beautiful day of our lives, I said, oh,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: What are we going to do about this? Clearly, as Donald Trump
saw it, there was a choice to be made about that accidental pregnancy.
A choice that Donald Trump now doesn`t want you to have.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: How do you ban abortion? How do you actually do it?
TRUMP: Well, you know, you`ll go back to a position like they had where
people will perhaps go to illegal places.
MATTHEWS: Yes –
TRUMP: But you have to ban it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You have to ban it. In President Trump`s world, no man in
America would be able to say to his girlfriend upon discovering an
accidental pregnancy what are we going to do about this?
There would be no legal option other than having the baby. The story that
Donald Trump told Howard Stern about that accidental pregnancy ended with
Marla Maples giving birth to a daughter.
And two months after giving birth, she became the second Mrs. Trump. And
now Donald Trump doesn`t want to allow any guy in America to have that
Donald Trump reaction to an accidental pregnancy.
What are we going to do about this? No guy would be allowed to quote the
old pro-choice Donald Trump in that moment.
In Trump world, there would be no choice. Chris Matthews is a graduate of
the Jesuit College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he
participated in discussions of issues like abortion at the highest level of
His tangle with Donald Trump last night was child`s play compared to any
class discussion at Holy Cross.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion? Yes or no as a
TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment –
MATTHEWS: To the woman?
TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form –
MATTHEWS: Ten cents, 10 years, what? –
TRUMP: I don`t know, that I don`t know, that I –
MATTHEWS: Well, why not? –
TRUMP: Don`t know. I don`t know –
MATTHEWS: You take –
TRUMP: Because –
MATTHEWS: Positions on everything else –
TRUMP: I frankly – I do take positions on everything else, it`s a very
MATTHEWS: By saying you`re pro-life, you mean, you want to ban abortion.
How do you ban abortion without some kind of sanction?
Then you get into that very tricky question of sanction, a fine, on human
life which you call murder –
TRUMP: No, I have to be –
MATTHEWS: A fine –
Imprisonment for young woman who finds herself pregnant?
TRUMP: It won`t have to be determined –
MATTHEWS: What about the guy that –
TRUMP: It hasn`t been determined –
MATTHEWS: Gets her pregnant? Response for one of the law for these
abortions? Or is he not responsible for an abortion?
TRUMP: Right –
MATTHEWS: Essentially –
TRUMP: It hasn`t – it hasn`t – different feelings, different people.
MATTHEWS: Yes –
TRUMP: I would say, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Are you surprised? In President Trump`s world when abortion is
banned and a man does his best imitation of Donald Trump saying, well,
what are we going to do about this?
When he discovers his girlfriend is accidentally pregnant, and then that
man helps his girlfriend commit the crime of getting an abortion, that man
will pay no legal price, but the woman will.
The big mistake you watched Donald Trump make there was a political
mistake. He made the mistake of using logic, simple logic to guide him.
Using logic to guide his thinking about his new Republican position in
favor of banning abortion.
It is a politically difficult position to hold in a country where a
majority favors reproductive rights as outlined by the Supreme Court in
Roe versus Wade.
It is logical that if abortion is illegal, people involved in the
commission of that crime, including anyone who helps in the commission of
that crime, should be charged with that crime or being an accessory before
or after the fact for that crime.
But Republicans know how harsh that sounds. It`s the only thing that
sounds harsher than banning abortion.
Charging people with the crime of abortion. That`s the only thing that`s
harsher. And so Republicans like to pretend that abortion can be outlawed.
But no one in America will be treated as an outlaw for violating the
Republican abortion ban.
And so, Donald Trump didn`t know yesterday that the accepted Republican
spin on this point is that when abortion is a crime, only doctors will be
Not the woman who begs the doctor to commit the crime of abortion, she will
not be a criminal.
Not the boyfriend or the husband or the parent who urges the woman to have
an abortion, and drives her to the doctor and pays for the abortion, they
won`t be criminals.
They won`t be accessories before or after the fact. The receptionist at
the clinic won`t be a criminal.
The nurses won`t be criminals because they are among the most admired
people in America and Republicans don`t want to be the party that`s trying
to criminalize our beloved nurses.
Just the doctors. Just the people who pursue the most difficult course of
study in higher education, devote themselves to the study of saving human
life for years.
Then take an oath to do everything they possibly can that is in the best
interest of their patients.
Donald Trump has never had a job that requires him to take an oath and the
“Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” is hoping that he never does.
No to Donald Trump says the first line of the newspaper`s editorial about
Donald Trump this week.
“No to his bigotry, no to his contempt for women and minorities, no to his
vague, clueless, bluster about the problems facing the nation.
No to Trumpism.” The author of that editorial will join us in a moment.
The editorial ends this way.
“A Trump presidency would float down a river polluted by hyperbole in the
statement, tacking left to right, right to left.
Claiming up is down, white is black, night is day, a reality TV wonderland.
Only we live in the real world where the words and choices of presidents
can have momentous consequences.
War, peace, feast and famine, freedom or tyranny, life or death. We can
tell what is at the core of Trump`s beliefs, perhaps beneath the persona of
real Donald Trump.
There is a real person and not a cartoon character. Perhaps, what we do
know is that he has – but what we do know is what he has said and done.
And based on that evidence, it`s clear that this presidential campaign is
about Donald Trump; the wealthy, real estate tycoon.
The casino operator, the celebrity, the brand, it`s not about the citizens.
Wisconsin can be the beginning of the end of all this reality television
Voters can do a nation a huge service on April 5th, they can say no to
Joining us now, David Haynes; the Editorial Page Editor for the “Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel”, Nbc News correspondent Katy Tur who covers Donald Trump.
And Stuart Stevens; columnist for the “Daily Beast” and a former chief
strategist for Mitt Romney`s presidential campaign.
Katy Tur, I want to – before we get to Wisconsin, I want to talk about the
big detour, the sudden detour the Trump campaign did today swerving into
After having said the other day that he plans to stay in Wisconsin pretty
much every day until the election. What happened?
KATY TUR, NBC NEWS: Yes, we were told that he was going to stay in
Wisconsin until the election, and then we were told that he would be
traveling back to New York for a couple of days.
He hadn`t had any public events on his schedule that were planned for
Thursday and Friday, and then suddenly we found him in D.C. having a
meeting with his foreign policy team at his hotel.
And then suddenly stopping by the RNC where he had a meeting with Reince
Priebus that was said to be about party unity and a number of other
procedural things for the Republican nomination.
But this is certainly an interesting detour coming just a day after he set
off quite the firestorm when it comes to abortion as you were talking
Also when it comes to the nuclear arms race, and nuclear weapons, now
Donald Trump stopping by the RNC to try and calm the party down, assure
them before Wisconsin votes, which is about five days from now.
O`DONNELL: David Haynes, it`s coming your way, the next big vote is in
The latest poll we have is a market university poll which shows Ted Cruz
ten points ahead at 40 percent, Donald Trump at 30 percent, John Kasich at
And that was taken before all the controversies of the last 36-48 hours.
What do you suppose we`re going to see as a result of all the turbulence
that`s occurred there in Wisconsin and what we saw with Donald Trump and
the Chris Matthews interview last night.
How do you think that`s shaking up this race?
DAVID HAYNES, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL: Well, it
certainly doesn`t help Donald Trump.
I think even conservatives in Wisconsin who are pro-life don`t want women
to be jailed or punished.
That`s ridiculous. I had calls actually from a couple of Republican women
today who were outraged by that.
One was a Kasich supporter, the other was a supporter of Ted Cruz. So, I
think it is resonating.
And you have to understand, too, that Donald Trump has not been a good
closer in these campaigns.
He has not tended to do well with late-deciding voters.
O`DONNELL: David, you`ve obviously been watching the campaign all year.
What made you decide to wait until it literally came to your state and your
state with the next voters to decide.
What made you wait until then to write that editorial?
HAYNES: Well, we have written some columns in editorials up to now on
Trump. But we thought that it was important at this point that Wisconsin
voters think long and hard about this individual.
He may be a fine reality TV show star, but he has no business being
He`s thought about the issues, not an inch deep, as Michael Gerson in “The
Washington Post” said the other day.
But barely a micron deep. And he`s divisive. He believes in walls. He
would wall off immigrants at the southern border.
He wants a religious test for Muslims. And he`d put a wall up to impunity
tariff, that frankly, it would be very destructive to jobs in the upper
O`DONNELL: Stuart Stevens, having run a presidential campaign, what do you
make of this big detour today?
I mean, as a – basically, a bomb goes off in the campaign, in the Trump
campaign last night at the hands of Chris Matthews.
And then the next day, there`s this sudden unscheduled trip to Washington,
no public events.
What do you expect – what do you suspect is going on there?
STUART STEVENS, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: I think Trump is trying to assure
the RNC that he`s not the disaster that he appears to be.
I mean, as Larry Sabato makes it clear, we`re headed to a historic defeat
here that would be not just the White House, but the Senate and possibly
You can`t imagine the fear that that strikes in those at the RNC. And it`s
more than that. You know, I think Reince Priebus deserves a lot of credit
for what he did after the 2012 election.
Really taking a hard look at what it means to be a Republican and how the
party needs to grow.
Donald Trump is shrinking the Republican Party at a dramatic rate. He`s
headed in the wrong direction.
Instead of expanding from the voters that Mitt Romney got, he is shrinking
that pile of voters.
Instead of getting a bigger boat, we`re going to need a smaller boat, a
much smaller boat.
And that has long-term consequences for the definition of a party, and
really sort of raises a question of can the party survive Donald Trump
O`DONNELL: Katy, Donald Trump is losing in that poll among women in
Wisconsin. He comes in third.
And there`s been plenty of talk over the course of these prime areas about
how the Trump campaign might be able to adjust for a general election.
But does the Trump campaign – does anyone in that campaign, are they
professional enough to realize when they see that number losing, coming in
third among women in Wisconsin that they have a problem right now.
And that problem is with Republican women, and it`s right now.
TUR: Nobody in the campaign is admitting that there might be a problem
with Republican women.
We`ve asked a number of times and they keep saying that Donald Trump has
been able to win the women vote in past states.
But the reality is, as you said, he is not doing well among Republican
women here in Wisconsin.
The state votes on Tuesday. I talked to a number of them today at a diner,
trying to take their polls to find out how they feel about Donald Trump.
And it really split along age lines. The older women were more apt to
giving the benefit of the doubt, to say that he didn`t necessarily mean
that and he adjusted his language.
They weren`t so bothered by his criticism or his attacks on women. They
said that he attacks people in general, men and women.
The younger women, those that were under 50, under 40, certainly under 30
were not so quick to give him that pass.
They do not like his bluster. They do not like his shoot from the hip
style. They think he is offensive to women.
And that`s just here in Wisconsin. Donald Trump has done well so far in
the GOP race for the primaries and the race for this nomination.
But there are a lot of Republican strategists out there, who – and
Republican insiders, GOP leaders who are very worried about the gender gap
with women in a general election.
Right now, about 70 percent, more than 70 percent believe that they have a
– do have a very unfavorable view of Donald Trump in this country.
With a daunting gender gap like that, there`s real concern that a Democrat
could get into the White House pretty easily.
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign is not acknowledging that. They are saying
that once they get to that point, they`re going to be able to work with
women, appeal directly to women, speak directly to them and get them on
We`ll see if that happens, but right now, when you`re talking to Republican
Party leaders on how to bridge this gap, what they`re saying is they`re
really going to try to directly target older white women and just try to
mitigate the losses when it comes to the younger women vote.
O`DONNELL: David Haynes, we need your Wisconsin perspective on two
Republican politicians there that Donald Trump is basically in conflict,
Open conflict with your Republican governor who has endorsed Ted Cruz.
HAYNES: Right –
O`DONNELL: And in – and in – relatively for him, muted conflict with
Speaker Paul Ryan.
Paul Ryan has spoken out against Donald Trump`s idea for banning Muslims
from entering the country.
He has spoken out against Donald Trump`s rhetoric in the campaign and other
things. But Paul Ryan has not endorsed anyone.
Talk about the dynamics of those two major figures in Republican politics
in Wisconsin, being on the other side of the fence at this stage from
Donald Trump in that state.
HAYNES: Well, I think two things. First of all, I think that Scott
Walker`s endorsement of Ted Cruz will matter in this state.
Walker, though, his approval rating overall is only about 38 percent.
Still has a lot of respect from the Republican base here.
And so I think particularly in the ring counties around Milwaukee, and up
and down the Fox valley, that`s going to help Ted Cruz.
I was at the Trump rally in Jamesville, Paul Ryan`s hometown the other day,
and I was struck by when Trump brought up Paul Ryan`s name.
There was a course of boos in Paul Ryan`s hometown. It was startling. But
I think that part of that is that people are just fed up on that side of
the political spectrum right now with the establishment.
And so Paul Ryan – I hear a lot when I talk to Trump supporters in
Wisconsin that they don`t like the budget deal.
Even though I don`t think Paul Ryan had any choice. So, Paul Ryan remains
relatively popular here, but we`ve actually encouraged Ryan to be tougher
on Trump than he`s been.
O`DONNELL: All right, we`ve got to leave it there for tonight. David
Haynes, Katy Tur, Stuart Stevens.
Stuart, when we come back next time here on the show, I want to ask you if
Trump can do the kind of u-turn that Katy described that they plan for the
In the meantime, the audience and I will try to read your mind. We`ll see
you next time, Stuart.
Thank you all for –
STEVENS: I`ll be back –
O`DONNELL: Joining us tonight, thank you. Coming up, new polling shows
Donald Trump would sink more Republican hopes more than the Republican
hopes for the White House much more.
And the chief strategist for the Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders campaigns
will join us as the tension mounts a bit between those campaigns.
O`DONNELL: The Center for Politics at the University of Virginia has made
its first projection of the 2016 electoral college results in November and
it is not looking good for Donald Trump and the Republicans.
UVA`s Larry Sabato joins us next.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CRUZ: If Donald is the nominee and we lose by double digits, which is what
the polls are showing over and over again.
We haven`t seen a double-digit blood-bath since Walter Mondale. We haven`t
seen the consequences.
We lose the Senate, we could lose the house, we would lose elections up and
down the ballot.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Pundit, Ted Cruz just might be right. The first projection
from Larry Sabato for the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in
a general election predicts a disaster for the Republicans and Donald Trump
with Hillary Clinton beating him by 156 electoral votes.
The “Wall Street Journal`s” Daniel Henninger writes today that the danger
Republicans face goes beyond losing the presidential election.
“In early 2015, Republicans were one election away from defeating a weak
Democratic opponent and controlling both houses of Congress barring a
miracle in Cleveland.
They likely are six months away from losing two of those three, plus the
“The Cook Political Report” says incumbent Republican Senators Rob Portman
of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania are now toss-ups.
Because, “the wider margin of victory at the top of the ticket, the less
likely a Portman or Toomey can survive.
If Trump proves to be a serious drag on the ticket, there isn`t much that
either incumbent can do to rescue their re-election bids.
Democratic Representative Denny Heck told “The Washington Post” today that
the house could also be in play.
He said people are now beginning to understand that things could set up,
could set up, to give us a shot at the majority.
They`re beginning to understand that`s a possibility because of Mr. Trump.
Joining us now, Larry Sabato, Director of the University of Virginia Center
for Politics who worked on the new electoral college predictions for the
Also joining us here in New York, Nicholas Confessore; a political reporter
for the “New York Times” and an Msnbc political analyst.
Larry Sabato, what do you make of pundit Ted Cruz there at the beginning,
indicating that they could lose a whole lot more than the White House here?
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Well,
in this particular case, he was a pretty good pundit. Now obviously, his
job is to turn Donald Trump into the Republican Trump mayor.
He`s got to convince Republicans that if they nominate Donald Trump,
they`re likely to lose everything they`ve got now.
And look, you know, it`s seven months away, it`s impossible to say for sure
what will happen, but my bet will be that the Republicans would lose a
They would lose a Senate, they would certainly lose a lot of house seats.
I don`t know if they can lose net 30 and lose the house as a whole.
But even if they just lose the Senate, then he`s correct, they`ve lost the
O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at one example. Senator Richard Burr in
North Carolina. It says, “if Richard Burr supports Donald Trump for
president, will that make it more or less likely for you to vote for Burr?”
More likely – 22 percent, less likely, 48 percent. Nick, this is deadly
NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, POLITICAL REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, it`s pretty
bad, and look, his brand is their brand right now.
And it is very hard to run away from the guy at the top of the ticket in a
There`s always talk for the party on the back foot of how they`re going to
run localized elections, try and de-nationalize the election.
But Trump is a single-handed national riser of everything, and he sucks up
all the oxygen in all the rooms.
And he is the brand. That is, he rises, everyone else rises, as he falls,
everyone else falls.
O`DONNELL: And Larry, that`s the thing that I think people might not get
at this moment exactly.
And that is that, if you are Richard Burr, and you`re running with Donald
Trump at the top of the ticket, it`s not enough for you to just go around,
never mentioning Donald Trump or even not endorsing Donald Trump.
Because everyday on the campaign trail, Donald Trump is going to say
something crazy, and then a microphone gets put up to you, and they say do
you agree with your nominee on this?
SABATO: No, well, you`re absolutely right. And after a while, the line
I`m focusing on my –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
SABATO: Own race –
And you know, the presidential candidate is running his. You know, I
wouldn`t tell people how to vote.
But these things become old and it also becomes obvious when the
presidential candidate visits your state over and over and you`re always at
some far distant point.
You know, it becomes pretty obvious you`re trying to avoid him.
O`DONNELL: And Nick, the – no one`s ever come up with a method of dealing
with this because there`s never been a Trump nominee before.
So, every one down the ticket, every member of Congress, the senators
running, they`re all going to have to improvise this every day if they`ve
got Trump at the top of their ticket.
CONFESSORE: That`s right. And look, Trump has his way of dominating the
discussion as you`ve seen, as you`ve –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
CONFESSORE: All seen. So how do you talk about your bill on the dairy
compact or whatever.
If Donald Trump is out there saying that people who have abortions should
be punished and go to jail.
O`DONNELL: Yes –
CONFESSORE: It`s just very hard to do day-to-day we`ve seen in this
campaign. It`s hard enough for the other presidential candidates to get a
word in edgewise.
Imagine if you`re a house member trying to get a word in edgewise, get
coverage about things that are not about Donald Trump, it`s very hard.
O`DONNELL: Larry, you did not do a match-up on the electoral college with
Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump.
All the poll show that Bernie Sanders beats Donald Trump in some instances
by double the amount that Hillary Clinton does.
So, how would that match-up work?
SABATO: I think Bernie Sanders would end up beating Donald Trump. You
know, at this point, I have a hard time imagining any Democrat losing to
Donald Trump, trying to project it forward to November.
I will say this, though, that Lawrence, in Hillary Clinton`s case, we have
a well-known candidate.
We know her pluses, we know her minuses. After 25 years of being in the
headlines and having every investigative reporter in America look into her
repeatedly, I can`t believe we`re going to find out a whole lot new.
Believe it or not, even though Bernie Sanders has been very public for the
last few months, most Americans think he`s Larry David.
You know, you talk to people and they`re confusing Sanders with this
doppelganger. And you`d much rather be Larry David.
But think about what will happen when Sanders finally gets his vetting, and
he will get a vetting from the Republicans if not from the media.
So, I`m less sure about Sanders though I think he would probably win.
O`DONNELL: All right, I`m going to ask Larry – Bernie Sanders spokesman
Tad Devine coming up about exactly what you just said.
Larry Sabato and Nick Confessore, thank you both for joining me tonight,
Coming up Hillary versus Bernie, representatives of both campaigns. Care
to join us.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, THE LAST WORD: Here is the way it looked
today on the campaign trail.
HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Jus yesterday Donald
Trump said women should be punished for having an abortion.
BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE; Every day he comes up
with another stupid remark, absurd remark.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans are very, very out there right now.
CLINTON: You know, Mia Angelo said, when someone shows you who they are,
JOHN KASICH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is clearly not
prepared to be president of the United States.
CLINTON: Once again he has showed us who he is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is right in her real house an ability to rally
her base. Women voters.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to work to
make people understand that this is an important race.
KASICH: As commander in chief you don`t get do-overs.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Donald Trump, Mr. Don`t apologize, don`t
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And the nuclear thing, I think is really big.
KASICH: He actually talked about the use of nuclear weapons, both in the
Middle East and in Europe.
CLINTON: I have no idea what that means other than it scares me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thinking out loud, when you`re presidential candidate
can be fraught with peril.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bernie Sanders is looking strong in Wisconsin.
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wisconsin is very
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is probably the last best chance for the
Republican establishment to show they can go up against Donald Trump and
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a senator from the Lone Star State.
TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Compared to Donald I am the
quiet, shy, soft spoken one
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump has won other states really easily.
TRUMP: There`s a lot of anger out there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he`s struggling here in Wisconsin. Why do you think
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think people in Wisconsin are pretty level headed.
TRUMP: There`s a lot of anger from people that aren`t angry people
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t think Trump didn`t think he`d get this far.
TRUMP: I`ve been very, very successful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that he`s gotten here he doesn`t know what to do
TRUMP: I can`t believe I`m doing this to be honest with you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Oh, I know, the Bernie came to say that. We`re very sorry you`re
leaving. Before – can I just say this? As they`re leaving, I want to say
I have earned 9 million votes in this election already. I have 1 million
more votes than Donald Trump and I have 2.5 million more votes than Bernie
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton facing some vocal Bernie Sanders supporters
today during her campaign rally in New York. Joining us now the JoeL
Benenson, Senior Strategist on Hillary Clinton`s presidential campaign, and
CEO of Benenson Strategy Group. He was senior strategist for President
Obama 2008 and 2012 campaign. Thank you very much for joining us.
On one of the criticisms Bernie Sanders has from your camp is that he has
unrealistic legislative goals. Hillary Clinton wants to raise the top tax
rate four points up to 43.6 percent. There`s no one in the Congress who`s
ever voted for a tax that high. Nancy Pelosi has said, “We running on any
platform of raising taxes.” How would that tax rate get raised if Paul
Ryan is still the Speaker of the House?
JOEL BENENSON, SENIOR STRATEGIST, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Well, look, I think
after elections when politics change not just around the country, but
sometimes in Washington. I think oftentimes the size of the victory, what
issues are fraught out, you may recall that President Obama ran on
repealing the Bush tax cuts and the Republicans said we won`t repeal them,
but we got them repealed.
O`DONNELL: But they didn`t repeal them, they expired. There`s a different
legislative exercise that you don`t have in from you this time.
BENENSON: I think what you have in the country right now is the sense that
people know those at the top have to pay their fair share. It`s going be
an issue that`s going to front and center in this campaign. Both
candidates on the Democratic side are talking about that. And I believe
that we`re going to win in the general election. And that will be an issue
that will be central. As to how we start making the investments we need
that people desperately want so they can give their kids the education they
want, get college debt down for people who are going to college and they
want responsible plans to pay for those things. And that`s going to have
to happen with people at the top paying more.
O`DONNELL: So you`ll get with Paul Ryan who is in charge of tax policy,
because the constitution put the House of Representatives in charge of it.
You will get him and other Republicans to vote for the first tax increase
of their lives.
BENENSON: I think that when Democrats win the election in November, which I
believe we will do, Republicans are going to have a lot of repairing to do
on their own brand. They have been out of touch on economic policies.
They`re top down philosophy has alienated voters. We`ve won five out of
the last six elections for the presidency in the popular vote. And I think
they`ve got some damage they`re going to have to repair after November.
O`DONNELL: One of the policy differences that Hillary Clinton has with
President Obama is a no-fly zone in Syria. The president says and Bernie
Sanders joins him in this that that`s too risky. To actually enforce a no-
fly zone does require a true presence on the ground to make sure that`s
happening under your no-fly zone is what you want to happen under it. Why
does Hillary Clinton think the president`s wrong about this?
BENENSON: Well, look, I`m not a foreign policy expert as you know,
Lawrence. I think she`s made very clear what she thinks we need to do to
defeat ISIS. She`s laid out a plan to do that. She believes we have to
build coalitions on the ground and get our Arab partners to work very
closely with us. She`s drawn a strong contrast to Senator Sanders approach
to this, where he would put some of the countries that have tension on the
ground and play with each other which is unrealistic. She`s running for
her first term as she has said before. She`s not running for President
Obama`s third term. They trust each other`s judgement. They have probably
have disagreed before. But he chose her to be Secretary of State because
he trusted her judgment. If she gets to be president she`ll make those
decisions. And I think they`ve probably had differences in the past that
they work out when they`re working together.
O`DONNELL: One of the things the candidates have been talking about on the
Democratic and the Republican side are foreign policy advisers. And you`re
team has suggested that Bernie Sanders does not have the right or enough
foreign policy advisers. Does Hillary Clinton have any foreign policy
advisers working for her now who were opposed to the Iraq war?
BENENSON: I don`t know all of her foreign policy advisers. What do I know,
Lawrence, is the vote for the Iraq war took place more than a dozen years
O`DONNELL: You would agree it was the most important foreign policy vote of
the 21th century. One of the things you like your advisor to have been
BENENSON: One of the most important foreign policy.
O`DONNELL: What would be more important?
BENENSON: Maybe declaring war in World War II.
O`DONNELL: Of the 21th century.
BENENSON: Oh, in the 21th century, I`m sorry. I shouldn`t have used that
phrase. I`m not old enough to remember that vote, but the 20th century is
still prominent in my mind.
It was an important vote there`s no question about it. But the American
people have moved past of the Iraq war vote by enlarge, and what the
challenges we face today are. ISIS didn`t exist then. We face challenges
in places we that weren`t thinking about 15 years ago, 12 years ago when
that vote was cast. We are past that. We`re trying to prosecute the case
in the region now with our allies and assemble the kind of alliances that
we need to defeat ISIS completely and that`s what we`re trying to do.
This election is about today and the future. That`s what people are going
to be deciding this on. And the candidate who brings the knowhow and the
chops to deal with the foreign policy challenges we place by far in this
election, is Hillary Clinton. It`s not just because of her experience.
It`s because she`s been around the world. She`s looked at leaders, allies
and opponents on the other side of us in the eye. She`s negotiated tough
deals like the Iran nuclear deal, to contain Iran`s ability to get a
nuclear weapon. That`s what people want as a president who can keep us
safe. She`s got the knowhow and the chops to do that.
O`DONNELL: Reports indicate that the FBI is ready to question and interview
Hillary Clinton about the email system at the State Department. Will she
accept that invitation to be interviewed by the FBI?
BENENSON: She said months ago she will be happy to answer questions in
there review. She said it months ago.
O`DONNELL: Will she let us know when she does that?
BENENSON: Lawrence, it`s not news.
O`DONNELL: You think it`s optional. That`s I just want to know - she will
tell us when she does that?
BENENSON: Lawrence, she has already said months ago that she would be happy
to answer their questions in their review to help bring that review to
closure. This has been hashed out. She has answered every question that`s
been put to her by journalists. And people like you on the show, she`s
done interviews for the past couple of months. And she has said months
ago, several months ago, if not four or five months ago, she will answer
questions to help them facilitate the end of their review.
O`DONNELL: Joel Benenson, thank you much for joining us tonight.
BENENSON: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Up next, Bernie Sanders campaign senior adviser, Ted Levine will
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Tad Devine, Senior Adviser to the Bernie Sanders
presidential campaign. Ted, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
TAD DEVINE, SENIOR ADVISOR TO BERNIE SANDERS: Good to be with you,
O`DONNELL: NAFTA is a big issue. Both Democratic candidates say it`s been
a problem. Bernie Sanders voted against it. He also proposed 20 years ago
to repeal it. Why isn`t Bernie Sanders in favor of repealing NAFTA now in
this presidential campaign?
DEVINE: Well, I think – if he could repeal NAFTA he would. I can`t think
of anybody who has opposed trade agreements more strongly, more publically,
more vocally than Bernie Sanders. He understands that trade agreements
like NAFTA and permanent normal trade relations with China and other
agreements have cost American workers millions of jobs. So, listen,
anything that can be done to turn back the clock on trade agreements that
have cost us jobs, Bernie would support today.
O`DONNELL: I want to ask you a similar question what I was asking Joel
Benenson about the reality, the legislative reality, for the next
president. Assuming, let`s just assume now, that the revolution that
Bernie`s talking about is not complete and you don`t get 100 liberal
democrats added to the House of Representatives, but Paul Ryan is still the
Speaker of the House.
If Paul Ryan I the Speaker of the House that President Sanders has to deal
with, what are the realistic possibilities for legislative outcomes? For
example Bernie Sanders wants to get a top tax rate over 50 percent.
Obviously that`s out of the question. What is possible?
DEVINE: Well, first let me say I will answer your question, that if Bernie
Sanders is the president of the United States, Paul Ryan is not going to be
the Speaker of the House. Because that electorate that elected him is
going to change Washington in a dramatic way. But I will accept the
premise of your question, Lawrence.
Bernie Sanders for 25 years has been in an effective member of congress, in
the House and in the Senate. And what Bernie Sanders I`m sure will do as
president and not just as a single member of the House or Senate, but with
the enormous power and authority of the presidency is use the legislative
skills that he has demonstrated to find some common ground and to move
I`ll give you an example. Probably the biggest piece of legislation passed
in the last session of Congress was the reform of the veteran`s
administration. When Bernie was chairman of the veteran committee. He
worked with John McCain. Somehow the two of them in a room alone mostly,
banging it out found common ground and managed find $15 billion more for
veteran`s health benefits. That`s the approach he would take with Speaker
Ryan or any other Republican leader. Finding some common ground and
working for compromise. By the way, if the Republicans fail to compromise
and that`s what probably happen, I also accept the premise of your question
though, it`s going to be tough to make progress. What would Bernie Sanders
do? He will mobilize grassroots opposition to the Republicans and we will
make the mid-term election of 2018 a referendum on the future of the
Republican Party. That`s what he will do.
O`DONNELL: Bernie Sanders has said that he has a litmus test for
appointments to the Supreme Court. That litmus test includes overturning
Citizens United. Now presidents have avoided publically declaring any
litmus test for Supreme Court nominees, because that`s deadly for the
confirmation process. And as you know, our nominees to go into the
confirmation process saying they haven`t made up their mind about anything.
Including Roe versus Wade for decades they`ve been claiming they don`t even
have an opinion on as a way of getting on the Supreme Court. So why would
president Sanders send in nominees to the Judiciary Committee who have
already in effect publically declared themselves on matters that would come
before the Supreme Court?
DEVINE: Well, listen, it has happened before. John Kerry said publicly
when he ran for president he had a litmus test that his nominee would be
pro-choice. So it`s not unprecedented. Now in terms of why Bernie would
do? He would do it on this issue because he understands that a corrupt
system of campaign finance is destroying America`s economy and he believe
unless we fix that system, beginning with are repeal of Citizens United, we
will not be able to fix a rigged economy. He feels very strongly about it.
It`s a central issue to him.
And he has publically announced he will acts on that as president by making
sure that no appointee to the Supreme Court of his would be in favor of
preserving Citizens United.
O`DONNELL: And will he also have preserving Roe versus Wade as a litmus
test for a nominee?
DEVINE: Well, listen Lawrence, he`s decided he`s not going to put out 20
litmus tests, but I can tell you on the issue of choice, he has a 100
percent voting record supporting a women`s right to choose. He understands
the importance of preserving and protecting and defending that right. And
I cannot conceive of Bernie Sanders appointing someone to the United States
Supreme Court who would not respect and defend that central and precious
right of a woman to choose.
O`DONNELL: I do one quick thing on polls. And that is the polls that
indicate Bernie Sanders beats the Republicans in one-on-one matchups by
greater margins, and in some instances much greater margins than Hillary
Clinton does. Every pundit I have had on this program dismisses those
polls 100 percent. Says they`re completely meaningless. There`s one piece
out today saying we`re now at the point in the calendar where those general
election matchup polls tend to be more real than earlier in the calendar.
But what`s is your response to - you hear it on all of these shows,
virtually every pundit saying, “Oh, ignore those, Bernie Sanders hasn`t
been vetted yet.” And they give us reasons to ignore those polls.
DEVINE: Listen, I do think that polling is valid, not just for the topline
horse race results, but if you look inside these polls. OK, there`s a lot
of numbers in the polls, not just the topline. If you look inside these
polls you`ll see why Bernie Sanders is doing so much better than Hillary
Clinton in general and matchup. It`s because he wins independents and she
loses them. I mean today there was a poll, for example, Quinnipiac poll in
New York, her home state. Her favorable/unfavorable in her home state is
net negative. She`s 45 favorable, 49 unfavorable with the general
election. Bernie`s 54 favorable, 30 unfavorable. So I think these polls
make sense if you look at them and look at how he can draw from a much
broader section of the electorate and cannot.
O`DONNELL: All right, Tad, quickly before you go, Bernie Sanders mentions
Hillary Clinton more and more in his campaign speeches. It used to be he
get through a whole speech without mentioning her name. Where do you draw
the line? Is there a principal that you can identify as negative
campaigning when dealing with the opponent?
DEVINE: Well, I think in advertising it`s easy to draw a line, which is you
don`t push the image of your opponent in an ad. The other line that we`ve
drawn. He`s drawn his whole political career. You know, I think when it
comes to issues we have differences. The other line he has drawn is
personal attacks. He really has avoided those. So I think those are
pretty big bright lines he`s drawn and I think he`ll continue to stay
within those lines.
O`DONNELL: Tad Devine, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really
DEVINE: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump wants to spread the development of
nuclear weapons in the world while President Obama is fighting to stop it.
O`DONNELL: Today President Obama addressed the threat of nuclear
proliferation among terrorist groups in an Op-ed published in the Washing
Post. He wrote, “Given the continued threat posed by organizations, such
as the terrorist group we call ISIL or ISIS. We`ll join allies and
partners in reviewing our counterterrorism efforts to prevent the world`s
most dangerous networks from obtaining the world`s most dangerous weapons.”
Up next, going inside those terrorist networks.
Tomorrow night at this hour MSNBC is debuting a special documentary called,
“ISIS AND THE INTERNET.” I learn a lot when we were making this
documentary. You will too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL (voice over): Now jihadist groups are releasing ever more
sophisticated videos month after month. Their main goal, recruitment,
pulling young people to their cause. In the 1990s, Mubeen Shak (ph) was
one of those people. A young Muslim growing up in Toronto.
MUBEEN SHAK: For me I`m a young kid. I`m 14, 15 years old. I`m not doing
so well in school. I keep telling myself that, you know, I can`t be a good
Muslim living in this infidel society. So I`m already setting myself up
for failure in that sense. I can`t get a normal job because I might have a
Jew or a woman or some other infidel as my boss. And I can`t lower myself
and be subjugated.
O`DONNELL: Attracted to the cause of jihad, Shak watched the earliest
videos like this, and saw how they progressed.
SHAK: For somebody growing up in the west, the appeal to the concept of
jihad - it really comes down to the deficit of heroes that exists in the
Muslim world. And these militants are seen as heroes - heroes that will
save the Muslims from oppression.
O`DONNELL: For these videos, the main recruiting technique is emotion.
ISIS and the Internet, an original MSNBC documentary tomorrow night, 10:00
Chris Hayes is up next.
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