The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 5/4/2016
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: May 4, 2016
Guest: Michael Steele, Stuart Stevens, Charlie Sykes, Lis Smith, Kurt
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: 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
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Hey, Rachel, I was watching the
President`s visit to Flint, today.
And I just wanted to say once again to you, congratulations for having kept
the attention on that story, when no one else – no one else in national
television was doing that.
You gave the story oxygen when it needed it. You know and I know, you`re
always talking about the real other heroes of this story in Flint who got
us to where we are tonight with it and got the President there today.
But no one in national television did what you did with it. And I just
don`t want people forgetting that any time soon.
MADDOW: Well, thank you, Lawrence, it`s really nice for you to say. I
mean, all credit to the people of Flint who yelled loud enough that I heard
them, and that`s all it was.
But thank you, thank you –
O`DONNELL: Great job, Rachel –
MADDOW: Appreciate it, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Well, after John Kasich dropped out of the race this afternoon,
Donald Trump told Lester Holt tonight how he plans to try to define Hillary
Clinton in the general election if she is the Democratic nominee.
And Republicans are already rushing to turn down the vice presidential
nomination before Donald Trump even gets a chance to offer it to them.
But first, think about this, where would Donald Trump and Trumpism be
tonight without the big lie that started it all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS: Raise your hand if you predicted this a year ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a total rejection on the political establishment.
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: It wasn`t sexy. I`d vote for your wife if she –
put her on the VP ticket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is like the hijacking of an airplane that the
passengers are with the hijacker.
O`REILLY: Would you consider Rubio as VP? Big Don and little Marco.
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATIONS & FOUNDER, TRUMP
ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever think this is where you would ever be
REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: You know, I
didn`t, but I don`t think that`s necessarily bad.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: The Lord will show me the way forward.
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R), MASSACHUSETTS: I`m not going to vote for Mr.
TRUMP: Because I`d like to see a very high level, policy-oriented
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Oh, please –
TRUMP: I thought that I`ll be going longer and she`d be going shorter.
She can`t put it away.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: We won the 18th state that we have
TRUMP: Bernie Sanders is a socialist or more than that, he couldn`t be
beyond the socialist.
HOLT: But do you want his supporters? –
TRUMP: Yes, I`m going to get – I think I`ll get a lot of his supporters.
CLINTON: I think he is a loose cannon, and loose cannons tend to misfire.
JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: We are this much closer to
having a president who starts Twitter fights with Cher – this much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Seven years ago, in the first year of the Obama presidency,
polling revealed something very important about Republican voters.
Something that may be the most important thing about the Republican voters
who have now given Donald Trump the status of presumptive nominee for
president of the Republican Party.
There was virtually no public notice of this polling data seven years ago.
I don`t remember hearing any discussions about it on television or
But someone must have noticed. Someone in Trump tower. A 2009 poll showed
that 44 percent of Republicans believe that President Obama was not born in
the United States.
Two years later, Donald Trump began working his way into the hearts of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Three weeks ago when I started, I thought he was probably born in
this country, and now I really have a much bigger doubt than I did before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the beginning of Donald Trump`s presidential campaign.
Presidential campaigns begin long before the candidates officially
announce, usually years before.
And Donald Trump laid the most important cornerstone of his presidential
campaign four years before he formally announced he was running for
That cornerstone was President Obama is not a natural-born citizen.
President Obama is an illegitimate president.
Donald Trump instantly became a hero to haters of Barack Obama, he
instantly became a hero to haters who don`t need facts to support their
It turns out, the very best place to start a Republican presidential
campaign this time around was with the support of the most intense haters
of President Obama.
When Donald Trump rocketed up to the lead in the polls for the Republican -
- of the Republican candidates, 61 percent of his supporters said President
Obama was not born in the United States.
That was five years after President Obama`s Hawaiian birth certificate
It was five years after Donald Trump said that he sent investigators to
Hawaii who were finding incredible things about President Obama`s birth
Things that he never revealed. Because of course, Donald Trump never
really sent any investigators anywhere.
In 2012, over a year after President Obama`s birth certificate became
public, Donald Trump tweeted this.
“An extremely credible source has called my office and told me that Barack
Obama`s birth certificate is a fraud.”
Interviewers stopped asking Donald Trump about President Obama`s birth
certificate at the beginning of his presidential campaign last year.
Because Donald Trump told them he didn`t want to talk about it anymore.
That`s all it took for him to make that subject go away.
Hillary Clinton should try that the next time she`s asked about Benghazi or
her State Department e-mail.
She just doesn`t want to talk about it anymore. Let`s see if everyone
drops those subjects when Hillary Clinton says she doesn`t want to talk
about them anymore.
When Donald Trump announced his presidential campaign last year, he didn`t
need to talk about the President`s birth certificate anymore.
Because he knew he was already going to get the votes of every Republican
who agreed with him on that big lie.
The candidate whose political career was born in the big lie. The big lie
about President Obama`s birth certificate, the big lie about sending
investigators to Hawaii.
That candidate is now the presumptive Republican nominee for president.
Donald Trump spent much of the last year accusing all of his opponents of
lying, and gave his final major opponent Ted Cruz the nickname “lying Ted”.
In return on his final day of campaigning yesterday, Ted Cruz diagnosed
Donald Trump as a pathological liar for saying that Ted Cruz`s father was
somehow involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: So, I`m going to tell you what I really think of
Donald Trump. This man is a pathological liar.
He doesn`t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically
every word that comes out of his mouth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump won the Republican nomination by making the
biggest and most impossible promises of any candidate running this year,
and possibly any candidate ever.
He will force Mexico to pay for a wall on the border. He will convince the
Chinese government and the Russian government at the same time to behave in
the interest of the United States instead of in their own self interests.
He will deport 11 million people, even though we don`t have the law
enforcement capacity to do that.
He will use a religious test for allowing people to enter the United
States. Lester Holt sat down with Donald Trump for a live interview for
“Nightly News” tonight, and he asked him about those big promises.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLT: I am joined now by Donald Trump in his office, good to see you, and
TRUMP: Thank you very much, thank you Lester.
HOLT: I`m sure the phone has been ringing off the hook today, give me some
names. Who called with congratulations today, a name that might surprise
TRUMP: Well, many people, but really, I think most interesting people that
you wouldn`t believe.
People that have been on your show saying terrible things and now they all
want to join –
HOLT: Give me some names –
TRUMP: I don`t want to do that, I think I have to let them come out and do
But one called who said such bad things that frankly, I said, how can you
pivot back to me?
He said don`t worry about it – they`re politicians, don`t worry about it.
So, we`re going to get a lot of endorsements.
And I`m not so sure that endorsements matter, although Bobby Knight
mattered a lot, I think in Indiana because I won that so big –
HOLT: Did you hear from Ted Cruz today?
TRUMP: I did not. I did not. I didn`t call him –
HOLT: You didn`t expect to have a conversation –
TRUMP: I do, I think we will, we got along very well for a long period of
time. And then at the end, it was very competitive, very tough.
He did a good job, he was a very competitive guy.
HOLT: How about John Kasich?
TRUMP: I have not spoken to him. I`ve gotten along with him, we`ll see
how that goes. But I have not spoken to him.
HOLT: You were sitting here watching the top of the broadcast with us.
You saw images of Republicans burning their Republican registration cards.
So angry of the idea of you representing the party? What did you – what
did you think when you saw that?
TRUMP: Well, it`s a little unfair I think from a broadcasting standpoint
because you didn`t show the fact that we have millions more people that
voted in the primaries than never before.
I`ll be setting a record, an all-time record above Ronald Reagan, above
Nixon, above everybody.
I just looked at it, it went back a long way in terms of the Republicans
coming in and voting for me in the primaries.
I have many millions of people. I`ve gotten millions more than anybody
else that ran. So, we have a lot of new people coming into the party,
Lester, tremendous, millions and millions of people.
I think it`s up over 70 percent and nobody can believe it, it`s one of the
hottest stories in politics.
HOLT: You`re speaking to the whole country now. You`ve said a lot of
things – we`ve talked about this.
Things that shocked people, that outraged people with that temporary ban on
Muslim immigration to your characterizations of Mexican immigrants.
Those things worked for you, they resonated, they worked, they got you to
where you are today.
But as you try to appeal to the entire country, do you stand by them? Do
you stand, for example, by the idea of a – of a ban against foreign
Muslims coming here?
TRUMP: I do. We have to be vigilant, we have to be strong. We have to
see what`s going on.
There`s a big problem in the world. You look at what`s happening with the
migration in Europe.
You look at Germany, it`s crime-riddled right now.
HOLT: Sounds like an urgent problem. Is that the first 100 days –
TRUMP: Well, that is an urgent –
TRUMP: Problem. It is an urgent problem in this country. I mean, San
Bernardino, you look at what happened in Paris, where people walk in.
And this is a, frankly, a place where they don`t have guns, and they walk
in and they killed 130 people with hundreds of people in the hospital now
It`s a real problem and we have a president that doesn`t want to even
mention the name of radical Islamic terrorism.
And unless you`re going to mention it –
HOLT: Yes –
TRUMP: Unless, you`re going to try and do something about it, you`re never
going to solve the problem.
HOLT: You`ve also promised to deport those in this country illegally, do
you stand by that?
TRUMP: And come back, yes, they`re going to be deported – look, we either
have a country or we don`t.
We have many illegals in the country and we have to get them out and go
through a process, go through a system, and once that have done well and
have really achieved, we want to bring them back in.
HOLT: Your negatives are staggering. Disapproval, 69 percent women
African-Americans, 88 percent Latinos, 79 people under 34, 75 percent
How much of that is self-inflicted by some of the rhetoric from the primary
campaign? And how do you heal that while still respecting those who got you
TRUMP: Well, the highly respected, “Rasmussen Reports” just came out and
I`m 41 to 39, up on Hillary Clinton.
It just came out, I haven`t even started on Hillary Clinton yet. So, I
don`t know what you`re talking about with the negatives.
Now, I will say, I think I`ll do very well with women, and as you know, in
the last seven states which I won in landslide, I won with women, I won
with African-Americans, I won with Hispanics.
I won at every single level.
HOLT: So, you discard all these numbers?
TRUMP: I don`t discard anything –
I mean, I just started, I just got it, not even 24 hours ago. I mean, I
didn`t know until 24 hours ago, whether or not I was going to even win
Indiana, and I won that in a landslide, you know, really record-setting
HOLT: You`ve said this a number of times that you haven`t really started
on Hillary Clinton. So, start on it.
Give me – give me three words that you would use to define her that you
will use as you press forward?
TRUMP: Well, you know, bad judgment is a couple of words that we can use
and they were used by Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders said she`s not qualified to run for president because she
suffers from bad judgment. And I think that`s true, all you have to do is
look at the e-mail scandal.
She`s under FBI investigation now. And maybe she`ll survive because the
Democrats are protecting her.
But that`s the only reason she`ll survive –
HOLT: You know, we talk about this epic showdown, is there anything that`s
off the table in terms of what you will go after?
TRUMP: Well, I`ll see what they do with me. I mean, if they are fair, I
will be fair with them, a very high level campaign.
I`d like to see that –
HOLT: So, Clinton, will he be fair to this?
TRUMP: If they are fair with me, I`m going to be fair with them, otherwise
he becomes part of it.
HOLT: So, I mean, you will bring it up, though?
TRUMP: I would bring it up depending on what they bring up. It depends,
I`d like to see a very high level policy-oriented campaign.
If they treat me properly, I`m going to treat them properly. It will be a
beautiful thing to see.
You don`t see it often, but I would like to see it.
HOLT: She today called and used the term loose cannon in describing you,
and noted that loose cannons misfires.
She talked about your blustering and your bullying. What`s your response
TRUMP: Well, it`s a nasty term that was given to her by one of her
pollsters, I guess, but the fact is that we need strength in this country.
She is not strong. She`s not going to be strong with the border, she`s not
going to be strong with our military, she`s not going to be strong with
So, no matter how you look, look at the – look at what she`s done with
Libya, look at what a disaster it is. Even her vote to go into Iraq was a
Now, she was one of many, but it was a disastrous vote. And I`ve been
against Iraq for many years.
I said it`s going to destabilize the Middle East.
HOLT: You`ve been proud of the fact that you have self-funded your
campaign to this point, you talk about donations can have, you know, poor,
There is a Super PAC being formed now to support you. Where do you stand
now? As you move into the very expensive general election campaign. Will
you accept donations?
TRUMP: Well, I don`t know, first of all, about Super PACs. I know that
people maybe like me and they form a Super PAC, but I have nothing to do
As you know, I`m not allowed to have anything to do with it, so we`ll see
As far as the campaign, I`m making decisions right now, but probably will
work with the Republican National Committee, raise a lot of money, and go
out and beat Hillary.
We`re going to try and raise over a billion dollars, which is what`s going
to be necessary.
I hear the Democrats maybe will get as high as $2 billion. But we want to
raise up to a billion dollars, maybe even over that.
I`m not even sure that`s necessary because I have a big voice, I go on
shows like yours, I explain the truth and people seem to go along with it.
I mean, you look at the victories that I had, over 16 people that are
senators and governors, and you know, high level people, and one by one,
And we`ll see what happens now. But I think Hillary actually will be
easier to beat than many of these senators, governors, et cetera that we
just were victorious with.
HOLT: Tell me how the audit is going, you have not released your tax
returns, you`ve talked about an IRS audit. Still going on?
TRUMP: It`s still going on. I mean, they go on for a long time.
I`ve been audited, and I`ll tell you, honestly, it`s very unfair. I`ve
been audited every year for 13 or 14 years. Every year, I get audited.
And I will absolutely release my returns when I – when the audit ends.
HOLT: But there`s nothing in those returns, do you think that might make
your supporters raise an eyebrow?
TRUMP: No –
HOLT: Not yet –
TRUMP: That is a very standard audit, and I have them all the time. And I
have other friends that are very wealthy, they don`t even know what I`m
When I say I`m audited, they say they`ve never been audited. I get audited
every single year and I think it`s very unfair.
HOLT: Donald Trump, that`s all the time we have, thank you so much –
TRUMP: Thank you –
HOLT: For your time –
TRUMP: Thank you very much –
HOLT: For talking to you and –
TRUMP: Thank you –
HOLT: Congratulations –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: When we come back, was last night the death of the Republican
Party and the birth of the Trump Party? Michael Steele, Stuart Stevens and
Charlie Sykes will join us.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news from Utah. Former Republican Senator Bob
Bennett has died.
Senator Bennett served Utah as the – he was first elected to the United
States Senate in 1992 and served three terms in 2010.
Senator Bennett lost the Republican primary in Utah to Tea Party candidate
Mike Lee. Senator Bennett suffered from pancreatic cancer.
Tonight, fellow Mormon Mitt Romney tweeted “God be with you, Bob, until we
meet again at Jesus feet.”
Robert Foster Bennett was 82.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you fully confident, Mr. Trump, that you can unite
the Republican Party behind you?
TRUMP: I am confident that I can unite much of it. Some of it, I don`t
I mean, there were statements made about me that those people can go away
and maybe come back in eight years after we served two terms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump lost the Republican Governor of Massachusetts
Charlie Baker today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAKER: There are a number of issues I disagree vehemently with Mr. Trump
on, and the question whether he`s got the temperament to serve as
I`m not going to vote for Mr. Trump, and I sincerely doubt I`ll be voting
for Hillary Clinton either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Stuart Stevens; columnist for the “Daily Beast”
and former chief strategist for Mitt Romney`s presidential campaign.
Also with us, Charlie Sykes, radio host at “WTMJAM” in Milwaukee and the
editor-in-chief of “Right Wisconsin”, he is a leader of the “Never Trump”
And Michael Steele, former Republican Party chairman and an Msnbc political
Michael Steele –
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Yes –
O`DONNELL: Is there a Republican Party left? –
STEELE: Yes, there is –
O`DONNELL: In the United States?
STEELE: Yes, there is, stop it, of course there is. You know, it`s – but
look, this – what we`ve seen as, you know, as the other gentleman know has
been ongoing for quite some time.
This has been different fractures and fissures that have been forming, you
know, forming inside the party for a while.
And certainly, we know, when I came into office in 2008, we just come off
of humiliating defeat in 2008, we lost in 2006.
We had a fractured base, we had – we weren`t raising money. So, this base
is not new for the party.
What is different is Donald Trump. What is also different is how he is
sort of – sort of cross-pollinating, if – bringing in new voters, and
while others inside the party are upset.
So, we don`t know how all of this is going to play out just yet. So, we`re
not dead at this point. Despite some folks on the left who may want to
hope or think so.
O`DONNELL: All right, so, Stuart Stevens, former chairman saying we`re not
dead at this point.
Current chairman saying that it`s not necessarily bad. That`s his phrase,
not necessarily bad that Donald Trump is going to be the nominee.
STUART STEVENS, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Oh, is that a question?
O`DONNELL: Is there a Republican Party left here, Stuart, or is this the
STEVENS: Listen, I think Donald Trump is a disaster. I think he`s going
to lead the party every reason to believe to a historic defeat.
The simple math here n 2012 and a real race, only one Republican, one at
the U.S. Senate in a state that Romney lost, that was in Nevada.
Where Heller(ph) won with .03 percent in a three-way race. That doesn`t
bode well. If you`re in a state that the top of the ticket isn`t winning
or at least doing very well.
Right now, Donald Trump has 28 percent favorable. He`s gotten the most
exposure of any presidential candidate in history.
So, the more people see him, the more people don`t like him. None of those
are positive trends. So, I think we`re headed into a very bleak period
O`DONNELL: The – we have two former living Republican presidents, and
Charlie Sykes, both of them are named Bush, both of them have said they
have no intention of even commenting on the presidential campaign.
So, they`re not – you`re going to have two former presidents who
apparently will not even consider endorsing the Republican nominee for
CHARLIE SYKES, RADIO HOST: Yes, I think the Reince Priebus is a good
friend of mine, he`s in deep denial about the significance.
Look, the fight over the nomination is over. Now, we have the fight for
the soul of the party.
I mean, the reality is that, you know, Donald Trump is a serial liar.
He is a race-baiter, he`s a xenophobe, somebody who mocks the disabled, who
mocks women, and Republicans who roll over, who think this is business as
usual are going to own all of that.
And then want them to think about this over the next six months. That
every slur, every insult, every outrage, every lie, every wacky conspiracy
theory, they`re going to have to defend, they`re going to have to
rationalize or they`re going to have to evade.
And you know, the reality is that, that at some point, you have to step
back and go, OK, look, this race is over.
In terms of, I think who wins the presidential election. But conservative,
conservatives have to ask themselves, are they willing to sell their
integrity for this guy?
Because it`s going to be very hard for a lot of Republicans to walk back
after this is over, and say to minorities, say to women, say to young
people, you know, that`s not us.
That`s not who we are. Because you know what? If they back Donald Trump,
that is who they are.
And that is going to be very hard for them to wipe the stink of that.
That`s why, you know, I know that people are mad at “Never Trump” right
But you know, there`s got to be some folks who are going to have the
credibility to come after all of this is over, to pick up the pieces, and
say you know what?
Trumpism is not conservatism. That is not who we are. This was an
O`DONNELL: Charlie, what are you going to do? Do you know what you`re
going to do with your vote in November?
Will you vote for a libertarian candidate? Will you simply leave the
presidential ballot blank and vote the rest of the ballot?
SYKES: That`s an excellent question. I mean, I`m hoping that a third – I
understand that it`s unlikely.
I hope there`s a principled third party conservative alternative. I`m
going to look at the libertarian party, I may have to write in somebody.
But the reality is that, look, I can`t control the outcome. What I can
control is my conscience, and I`m not going to be voting for Donald Trump.
I`m also not going to be voting for Hillary Clinton. I mean, I`ve been
criticizing Hillary Clinton back in the days when Donald Trump was giving
her big bucks.
But at this point, you know, I do think that conservatives have to ask
themselves fundamental issues at what point does party loyalty trump the
recognition that this man is absolutely and completely unsuited to be the
president of the United States.
I mean, how do you walk back some of the things that the people have said
about Donald Trump, and say, yes, but we should put him in the Oval Office?
Look, I mean, I think it`s scary enough that we might actually give this
man the nuclear codes, much less put him in charge of the IRS or the FBI or
And I think this is something people need to think about very, you know,
seriously between now and November.
O`DONNELL: Michael Steele –
STEELE: Hey –
O`DONNELL: Mark Salter has decided how he`s going to vote in November.
He`s a former top aide to John McCain.
He tweeted, “the GOP is going to nominate for president a guy who reads
“National Enquirer” and thinks it`s on the level. I`m with her.”
So, he`s going – Michael, he`s going all the way over to Hillary Clinton?
STEELE: Yes, God bless him. And that`s – you know, that`s what makes
this a big party and a great country, you get to make that decision.
You really do, you get to decide for yourself and assess Hillary and Donald
And clearly so far in this Republican primary, a lot of the Republicans,
some over 10 million of them have assessed themselves favorably towards
I mean, I understand exactly what everything that`s just been said. My
question is where was all of that back in June, August of last year.
Where was that as the party was going through these (INAUDIBLE) back in
2004-2006 which has been borne out from that, the tea party.
SYKES: Hey –
STEELE: The basis – the basis –
SYKES: I was there –
STEELE: Let me finish, I know you were there –
SYKES: I was calling that out.
STEELE: Let me finish –
SYKES: Yes –
STEELE: The point. The point is, I`m not – I`m not questioning where
people were, per se.
What I`m saying is, this is not a space that we are unfamiliar with. This
has been growing –
SYKES: Yes, it is –
STEELE: Inside the party –
SYKES: Yes –
STEELE: For a long time.
SYKES: Yes, this is where –
STEELE: And the establishment-types –
SYKES: This is where Mr. Steele is wrong –
STEELE: OK –
SYKES: This is new –
STEELE: Look –
SYKES: This is new. The Republican Party –
O`DONNELL: Charlie, let Michael –
STEELE: Trump is new –
O`DONNELL: Let Michael finish his point and then we`re going to –
SYKES: OK –
O`DONNELL: Come back to Charlie –
STEELE: Trump is new, Charlie, Trump is new. But the anger, the –
SYKES: Yes –
STEELE: The frustration, the pissed off nature of the base is not. I sat
in the rooms with them. I remember –
SYKES: Right –
STEELE: The first group of tea parties coming to Washington in April of
2009 to meet –
SYKES: Right –
STEELE: With the chairman to complain about where the party was. So, I
get what you`re saying. Trump is new –
SYKES: Right –
STEELE: But the anger is not, and that`s the piece that the establishment
and others have misjudged from the very beginning including the “Stop
O`DONNELL: Charlie Sykes, a quick –
STEELE: Yes –
O`DONNELL: Last word, go ahead.
SYKES: OK, so the anger is real. But what`s happening is that this con
man as I think hijacked it and he is distorted it.
You know, he wants to run on the issue of Hillary`s judgment, and I`m glad
you brought up the fact that here`s a man who just yesterday was citing the
“National Enquirer” that said that Ted Cruz`s dad was involved in the JFK
I wish he had been asked about that. He`s a guy that peddles birther
conspiracy theories back-scene(ph), wacky notions.
He`s talked – he`s a 9/11 truther. This is the man the Republican Party
is putting up to be president of the United States.
Yes, the anger is real. I share the anger, but this is new, this is not
business as usual. This is an existential threat to the Republican Party`s
end of the conservative movement.
O`DONNELL: Stuart Stevens, we`re going to need your help in the war room
tonight, so, hang around for that bloc.
Charlie Sykes, Michael Steele, thank you both very much –
STEELE: All right, guys –
O`DONNELL: For joining us tonight –
STEELE: Take care –
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it, thanks, Michael. Coming up in the war
room where Stuart Stevens will get a few more words to say.
How the Trump campaign is going to attack Hillary Clinton.
O`DONNELL: And the last word war room tonight, how Donald Trump will try
to define Hillary Clinton, how Hillary Clinton will define Donald Trump.
But first, a look back at how the Republican Party got the most unpopular
nominee in history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He doesn`t have a birth
certificate, or hasn`t shown it. When Mexico sends its people, they are
not sending their best. They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime.
They are rapists. I will build a great, great wall. John McCain, he is a
war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren`t captured, OK.
Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shut down of Muslims
entering the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You call women you don`t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs
and disgusting animals.
TRUMP: You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming
out of her wherever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that face, he cries, would anyone vote for
that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?
TRUMP: I never attack him on his look, and believe me, there is plenty of
subject matter right there. With that, I can tell you, I watched when the
world trade center came tumbling down, thousands of people were cheering.
You going to see this guy, oh, I don`t know what I said. I don`t remember.
You see that? Islam is lost. I could stand in the Middle of Fifth Avenue,
and shoot somebody, and I wouldn`t lose any voters, OK? I think Islam
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC PRGRAM HOST: Do you believe in punishment for
abortion, yes or no, as a principle?
TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be a form of punishment.
Little Marco, Jeb Bush, we call him low energy, lying Ted, right lying,
crooked, crooked, crooked Hillary. If we win, Indiana, it`s over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the chairman of the Republican Party, Donald Trump
will be presumptive GOP nominee.
TRUMP: And we`re going to make America great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s war room. The campaign war room is of
course where the most important strategic decisions of the presidential
campaign are made including decision on how to try defined an opponent.
Last night, the Trump war room finally switched into full general election
campaign mode. Tonight Donald Trump told Lester Holt how he hopes to
define Hillary Clinton if she is the Democratic nominee.
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS HOST: Give me three words that you would use to
define her that you will use as you press forward.
TRUMP: Well, you know, bad judgment is a couple of words that we can use
and then used by Bernie Sanders. So, Bernie Sanders said, she is not
qualified to run for president because she suffered from bad judgment. And
I think, that`s true, all you have to do is look at the e-mail scandal.
She`s under FBI investigators now and maybe she will survive because the
Democrats are protecting her but that`s the only reason she will survive.
O`DONNELL: Earlier today, Secretary Clinton began defining Donald Trump
with two words, loose cannon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have sign the presidency up
close from two different perspectives. So I think I know what it takes.
And I don`t think we can take a risk on loose cannon like Donald Trump
running our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us in the war room tonight, Lis Smith, Veteran of the
Obama 2012 Campaign and Martin O`Malley presidential campaign. Back with
us, Stuart Stevens, Veteran of George W. Bush and Mitt Romney presidential
campaign, Stuart, so in the Trump war room tonight, they are looking at
Hillary Clinton. They are trying to use the judgment angle on her. And
quoting Bernie Sanders, which is always where I look for in the primaries,
what are the opponents of the eventual nominees saying that the other party
can use against them. Of course the file against Trump, from the mouths of
the Republican candidates, is endless. But what do you make of Trump`s
first attempt here defining Hillary Clinton?
STUART STEVENS, CHIEF STRATEGIST ROMNEY 2012: Well, you know, those are
the problem that Trump has. And if you are sitting in the war room, you`ve
been ask yourself, OK, bad judgment looks good. But then my guy, earlier
in the day, was accusing a Republican Senator of her father being linked to
the JFK assassination which, you know, I mean, you are going to raise a
judgment question. This is sort – it goes to the root of with the problem
that Trump has.
When you start getting to the gravitons of the White House, and making
these choices. He is going to have to somehow be able to pass his
threshold where the majority of people can see him as presidential. So, if
I was in that war room, I would really be looking at how to expand that. I
think that that is the first task.
O`DONNELL: There seems to be a unique problem with the Trump war room
which is really, really anything that you throw at the Democratic
candidate. Any word can be immediately thrown back to you. I mean, he
used the word fraud today, Donald Trump did. And he is the only
presidential candidate in history who is an actual defendant in a fraud
case, two of them.
LIS SMITH, FORMER DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER O`MALLEY 2016: Right.
O`DONNELL: In New York and California, while campaigning for president.
O`DONNELL: I mean, when you`re in the Trump war room, and you pick up a
bomb to toss, you going to look at, you can go, wow, this one is coming
right back to us?
SMITH: Yes, but this is the thing. They don`t call him Teflon Don for
nothing. And I think that is why if I were in the Clinton war room, what
I`d be advising is guys, don`t get too cocky, don`t underestimate this guy
because he is define all the conventional wisdom here. And I would
approach and match up with him frankly, like I would approach duel with a
chimpanzee, with a machine gun, right. The rules don`t apply and the
outcome is not determine and a lot of the thing we traditionally do and
take our work in politic will not work against Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: So Stuart, the rules didn`t apply in the Republican Primary, do
have the evidence that the rules are not going to apply in the general
election that the general election electorate has abandon everything it has
used to make evaluation of candidates before?
STEVENS: You know, it looks and I tend to think, it`s more like to make
sure, it`s easier to predict what`s going to happen and when it`s going to
happen? Donald Trump to me, is seems like someone who jumped off a hundred
for a building, and is at floor 50 and thinks he has learned how to fly.
Republican primary voters have proven time again that a polarity of them
will vote for an unelectable candidate. It happened with Todd Akin. It
happened in Indiana with Richard Murdoch. It happened with Sharron Angle,
in many ways that could just be what`s happening here with Donald Trump. I
mean, 20 percent of the Republican voters have voted for Donald Trump. He
says he has gotten the most votes. He has gotten the most people voted not
for Donald Trump and the Republican primary history. So, I think this
question of presidential gravitons (ph) 0:02:42.5 is really an essential
one and that Trump war room they need to address.
I know that in 2000, it was something in a Bush war room we`re really dealt
with, and it wasn`t until that first debate with al gore, that people
really begun to see George Bush someone that they could see as president.
O`DONNELL: So, lis .
O`DONNELL: In the Trump war room, the first presidential decision that has
to be made is, who do I want as my VP? John McCain obviously failed that
particular presidential decision. Now, the unique thing that this war room
has is a list of people .
O`DONNELL: . who turned down the vice presidency.
SMITH: Right. Right.
O`DONNELL: . without being offered nikki haley, Jeff Flake, Susana
Martinez, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, they all
knows before you even offer it to them.
O`DONNELL: This is a tricky choice because they are not going to have that
wider menu, where they get to pick a state that they might want help with
or a particular credential they might want.
SMITH: Right. Well, generally think that the whole VP stake is simply
they overrated. And Stuart, I think you probably agree with me. I mean,
President Obama chose Biden who came from a reliably Democratic State.
Having done particularly well in the primary but he chose him for his
And when you guys chose Ryan in 2012, I don`t think you thought, oh that
you guys would going to win Wisconsin necessarily with him on the ticket.
You chose him, I think because you thought that – and Mitt Romney felt
comfortable with the fact that he would be a good president.
So, look no one wants – I take it for – to be on the titanic. I think
that`s why you see so many people turning it down. But I do think you need
someone who is a little bit more positive, a little bit more likable that
you can put out there on TV, and soften the edges a bit. But I wouldn`t
necessarily look at different states and the type of demographics. I look
for someone who is – who at the softer edge to the campaign.
O`DONNELL: Stuart Stevens, a quick last word on the VP?
STEVENS: I would think that his greatest weakness is this question of
foreign policy. I wouldn`t be surprised if he looks to military for vice
president, someone who has judgment and experience in foreign policy.
O`DONNELL: Liz Smith and Stuart Stevens, the war room veterans, thanks for
joining us in our war room tonight.
STEVENS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: We appreciate it.
SMITH: Great. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up. Elizabeth Warren attacked Donald Trump last night,
exactly, exactly the way the Democrats would want their vice presidential
candidate to attack Donald Trump.
It turns out Twitter is the new audition space for possible vice
O`DONNELL: When Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican Nominee.
Last night Senator Elizabeth Warren unleash nine quick tweets beginning
with Donald Trump is now the leader of the GOP. It`s real. He is one step
away from the White House.
Senator Warren then went on to attack Donald Trump with the righteous
vengeance of a vice presidential candidate.
Here`s what else is real, Donald Trump has built his campaign on racism,
sexism and xenophobia.
A minute later, she tweeted, there`s more enthusiasm for Donald Trump among
leaders of the KKK than leaders of the political party he now controls.
And a couple of minutes after that, what happened next will test the
character for all of us, Republican, Democrat and Independent. And she
ended her twitter blast with. I`m going to fight my heart out to make sure
that Donald Trump`s toxic stew of hatred and insecurity never reaching the
Joining us now, David Corn, National –Washington Bureau Chief in Mother
Jones and MSNCBS Kurt Andersen, host of the Public Radio Program Studio
So, Twitter is the audition forum now for vice presidential candidates,
that was a pretty good round of vice presidential style attack.
KURT ANDERSEN, HOST “STUDIO 360”: Yes, indeed. Now, it was, you know, as
Agnew was to Nixon, Elizabeth Warren can be to Hillary Clinton. No, she is
good and what`s interesting about her as a possible vice president is she
excites sanders side left but she doesn`t have the problematic history left
history quality that .
O`DONNELL: or specially the work, “socialist.”
ANDERSEN: Or specially – it`s really and did quite striking how that work
is not hurt Bernie Sanders so far. And I`m not sure it necessary would,
according to polling going into the general election where she polls better
against the Republicans and Hillary Clinton does. But Elizabeth Warren,
consider her for a moment. This is the second time she has had twitter
like this where it was really hard hitting vice presidential style of
attacking and that has been the modern tradition is to leave the really
tough direct attacks to the vice presidential candidate.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think, I don`t know how close
she is to wanting to be vice president. I don`t know how close Hillary
Clinton is to wanting the vice presidential candidate who in some ways
might overshadow her. But I do know that she, you know, she checks off
more than one box in that list of vice presidential qualifications, being
an attack dog is one thing. But also, she brings all these populistic, you
know, progressive issues to the table in a way that Hillary Clinton hasn`t
been able to wrap her hands around. And she appeals to kitchen table
Democrats and to and maybe some low income but suburbanites, you know,
women out there who, you know, who will find her attractive messenger. So,
there`s a lot that she would bring to the ticket.
But I don`t know still if Elizabeth Warren wants to be – and I think she
is a .
O`DONNELL: And the stipulation of this show that there is now senator who
doesn`t want to be vice president, especially since – no senator has ever
CORN: I think they want a Republican Senator who doesn`t want to be vice
O`DONNELL: Republican, yes in the first time ever they don`t want to .
ANDERSON: But Linden Johnson took every senator who has ever been offered
it has taken this thing. And it is a more powerful position and whatever
O`DONNELL: I would say, she might be different.
ANDERSON: Go ahead.
O`DONNELL: She is then, she is very first one. The advantage – I think
many advantages to a woman along with Hillary Clinton, and just simply
doubling that excitement and Elizabeth Warren is a very exciting performer
as a candidate.
O`DONNELL: But also, it`s the Trump style of attack. If a man is the
Democratic vice presidential nominee, Trump is going to “Little Marco” that
O`DONNELL: In the first week, there is going to a “Little Marco” label on
that guy. And he is not able to do that .
ANDERSON: Well, he has already done that with Elizabeth Warren talks about
her American Indian thing.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, but he is not going to get .
ANDERSON: But you`re right. And as you say, I mean, Hillary among other
things to the way that a vice presidential choice can do anything. They
can give a little excitement for sometime. And the sudden, oh two women,
and this woman that left, the progressive branch finds exciting that is a
O`DONNELL: And David historically if you look at this decision, the least
important factor has been – how much do I like this person? That has
always been the last – it is on the list, but it`s like the bottom thing
on the list.
CORN: Well, I did talk to a female senator and I was with warren this
weekend who said, hey, we have a long history of this country of single
O`DONNELL: Yeah. It`s right. That`s exactly right.
All right, quick break here. When we come back, New York Times columnist,
Tom Friedman, is he right to say that Donald Trump has done the Lord`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: he is imagining a tomorrow, where instead of building walls, we
are breaking down barriers, and where love Trumps hate.
TRUMP: This country, which is very, very divided in so many different
ways, is going to become one beautiful, loving country. And we`re going to
love each other, cherish each other, we`re going to cherish each other,
we`re going to take care of each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In his New York Times column today, Tom Friedman, a column
entitled, “Trump and the lord`s work.” Tom Friedman said, this version of
the Republican Party have to be destroyed so thinking senate right party
can emerge, if this is what Trump has done, he has done the Lord`s work.
Kurt Anderson if the writing assignment was, put the Trump in the Lord`s
work, in a sentence, Tom Friedman did a very good job.
ANDERSON: Well, as a question, I get his point. And that is certainly the
glass half full version of this. The question, will the true conservative,
you know, the people who really think they are the serious Republicans, the
right, will they think that Ted Cruz is failure was a reputation of their
version of Republicanism? I feel they might not.
O`DONNELL: David Corn, what do you make of Tom Friedman`s observation
about the Republican Party have to be destroyed, if that is what Donald
Trump has done then that`s great.
CORN: We have to save the party – destroy the party to save the party in
a way. Well, you know, for eight years or longer, we had this tea party
fever burning through party, the Republican establishing playing footsie
with all the tea party with birtherism with all the excesses, and that
brings in Donald Trump. Is this the final, you know, nuclear showdown for
them? And after this they can pick themselves out of the ashes and move
ahead as a reasonable party? I don`t know if I put money on that.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, Kurt, the problem is, if Donald Trump, if everything
follows the polls now and Donald Trump loses by 15 points. So whatever it
turns out to be, the conservatives in the Republican Party get to say, once
again, because we didn`t nominate – Rush Limbaugh will be on the first day
saying, it`s because we didn`t nominate real conservative. After Rush has
champion in Trump all the way.
ANDERSON: No, that`s what I`m saying. And even though and they would be
able to say about Ted Cruz. Well, he was problematic unlikable jerk, and
therefore he could not be the other guy .
O`DONNELL: David, what I notice is they never bother to explain, why the
true conservatives don`t win the nomination. They have never care about
that explanation. They always just say, we lost the general because we
didn`t have a true conservative. We have Mitt Romney, John McCain.
CORN: They attack the GOP establish and for rigging the rules against
them. But they got cold war, that didn`t work. They got Reagan and that
worked a little better. If you look, you know, at Cruz, I see more cold
water than Reagan I think I see the answer there. But I do believe, you
know, Kurt is right, I mean, day one, day one, they are going to saying,
this party is not a s senate (ph) party, it is a right party, and you
didn`t take that seriously. And this lovely Republican civil war is going
continue on, it will not be resolved by this.
O`DONNELL: Of course that`s what they`re going to say if Trump loses.
CORN: Yeah. Yeah.
O`DONNELL: If Trump wins – well, we`re out of time for that. That`s
going to have to be another very painful night.
CORN: Same night, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: That`s right. David Corn and Kurt Anderson, thank you both for
joining us. Chris Hayes is up next.
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