The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donell, Transcript, 8/1/2016
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: August 1, 2016
Guest: Catherine Byrne, Stuart Stevens, Khizr Khan, Ghazala Khan, Paul
Eaton, Tayyib Rashid
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: On your life and mine other than – those attached
to your feet, and they literally put out the boat fire from above.
It took about two minutes, and that`s the whole story.
Basically, this has no impact on your life and mine other than seeing these
pictures, but my mind is blown and I needed to share it with somebody –
and hey, there you are, they put out the boat fire with a fly board.
It`s like back to the future meets back draft, that`s all. Now, here is
the thing – that does it for us tonight, thank you for being with us
Now stay tuned, please, for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Hey, Rachel, thank you –
MADDOW: Hi –
O`DONNELL: Very much.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. On Friday night at this hour, my first guests were
Khizr Khan and his wife Ghazala Khan in their first television interview
after Mr. Khan`s deeply moving speech at the Democratic Convention the
Our conversation was for Mr. and Mrs. Khan the beginning of an
extraordinary weekend in which they became the lead story in American news
for three straight days because presidential candidate Donald Trump decided
to attack each of them.
They will join us again, tonight. Through all those days Donald Trump
couldn`t bring himself to utter one positive word about their son, Army
Captain Humayun Khan who sacrificed his life to protect and save other
Something no one in Donald Trump`s family has ever done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF HUMAYUN KHAN: You have sacrificed nothing and no
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATIONS & FOUNDER, TRUMP
ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: Well, that sounds – who wrote that? Did Hillary`s
script writers write it?
GHAZARA KHAN, MOTHER OF HUMAYUN KHAN: I always keep telling him be safe
and don`t be – don`t become hero for me, just be my son, come back as a
He came back as a hero.
TRUMP: If you look at his wife, she was standing there, she had nothing to
say. She probably – maybe she wasn`t allowed to have anything to say.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: To launch an attack as he did
on Captain Khan`s mother, a gold star mother, I don`t know where the bounds
I don`t know where the bottom is.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one has given more for
our freedom and our security than our gold star families.
TRUMP: I think I made a lot of sacrifices. I worked very hard, I`ve had
tremendous success. I think those are –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are sacrifices?
TRUMP: I`m sure, I think they`re sacrifices.
JOHN OLIVER, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: No, they are absolutely not.
They are self-serving hard truths from a self-serving half man who is
somehow convinced half the country that sacrifice is the same thing as
KHAN: There comes a time in the history of a nation where ethical, moral
stand has to be taken regardless of the political cost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Khizr Khan and Ghazala Khan, the parents of Army
Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2004.
Thank you again very much for coming back on this program where you began
what`s become a national conversation on Friday night after your
electrifying speech, Mr. Khan, on Thursday night for the Democratic
I know you`ve been through a lot this weekend and I greatly appreciate you
KHAN: Thank you for inviting us, we are delighted to be here.
KHAN: Thank you very much –
O`DONNELL: And also, once again, let me begin by saying I am very sorry
for your loss and I`m very sorry that – those are the circumstances, the
loss of your son is what has brought us together in this conversation.
I`m very sorry about that and never lose sight of that.
KHAN: Thank you for your –
O`DONNELL: Appreciate –
KHAN: For your appreciation, thank you for your care and kindness.
O`DONNELL: On Friday night`s show, you told me that you had given only
half of your speech at the Democratic Convention and you then went on to
give the rest of what was on your mind, Mr. Khan.
And specifically you challenged Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to disavow
Donald Trump. They have since issued statements in which each one of them
said that your son is a hero.
They both said that barring people from entering into the United States
based on religion is wrong and should not happen and it`s contrary to
But they did not mention Donald Trump in either one of their statements.
Was that disappointing to you?
KHAN: First, we are grateful that Senator McConnell and Speaker Ryan
kindly issued encouraging statements. But again, both leaders, patriots,
good people did not go through what is necessary to fix the problem of this
This candidate will not – will continue to violate – compare the Senator
McConnell`s statement that there is no place for barring a group of people
based on their religion in the tradition and in the values of United
I am paraphrasing. Now, look – compare that with the policies announced
and the vote pandering statements made by Donald Trump on that issue.
People are banned because of their religion. A stricter immigration
policies, of course, we need to make certain, we need to tighten our
immigration policies, who we let in and who we don`t let in.
That is a reasonable measure. But just simply saying that we are going to
ban all Muslims, that is nothing but pandering for vote. That is nothing
but selling snake oil that he cannot – these policies cannot be
These are violation of the constitution of United States.
O`DONNELL: Mrs. Khan, since we spoke on Friday night, Donald Trump came
out saying these strange things about you not speaking at the convention.
Things that we had talked about on this show about why you didn`t speak
because your grief was so deep and you couldn`t bring yourself to do that.
You`re afraid you couldn`t keep your composure together. We went through a
weekend now of Donald Trump making comments about you specifically.
How did that feel for you to be singled out by Donald Trump like that?
KHAN: I don`t feel like anything because I don`t think that he knows me or
he knows about this Muslim woman, he doesn`t know anything.
A person that doesn`t know whatever he`s saying doesn`t matter to me. I
said why I did not speak. I said I`m a very strong Muslim woman and I
requested all my sisters and daughters and mothers out there be strong like
– anything – like show everybody that you are a good strong Muslim woman.
But I don`t really care what Donald Trump is saying about me or about
anyone. Because I respect myself. I respect my fellow Muslims, Americans
or all the religions.
I respect all the human beings. So, I`m not going to say anything for
Donald Trump any more, and thank you for asking that for me.
O`DONNELL: Mike Pence tonight was at a campaign event in Nevada and he
said nothing about you or your son in his prepared remarks.
But then he was asked a question from the audience about you and your son,
and Mike Pence then said, your son is a hero. He said what you would
expect someone to say about your son.
Donald Trump still hasn`t said anything about your son since he – over the
course of this weekend. He issued a written statement – his campaign
issued a written statement saying, “Captain Humayun Khan was a hero to our
But Donald Trump spoke for 58 minutes today and he never said those words
and he never said anything about your son. Mr. Khan, would it help now for
Donald Trump to say what Mike Pence said tonight?
KHAN: I assure you, Lawrence, and your audience, that he will not have the
moral courage to say that. Those statements – statements of disingenuous,
those statements mean nothing because he does not mean that.
Those are written by someone else on his behalf. This person lacks sense
of empathy. He cannot empathize with the people and their feeling that he
wishes to lead.
Without empathy, a leader is no leader. A leader cannot become a leader –
KHAN: Cannot –
KHAN: And lack of his empathy is an indication of his disqualification.
He does not have that basic character of empathy. And it is evident in his
year-long rhetoric, his war pandering, fear mongering, making statements
that do not show that basic character of being empathetic to the people he
wants to lead.
He if elected, he would be leading people that voted for him and people
that opposed him, but he must be empathetic to both groups and be – and
must have capacity to understand and bear the criticism that this political
process brings in this process.
And I have not seen that patience. I have not seen that caliber. I have
not seen that tolerance for criticism when president elected – when they
take oath of office, they have president for all.
Not for one group that supports that other groups that doesn`t support.
His reply would be, I will fix it then, I will do it myself. I will do it
Democracy is – great democracy like United States, the enemy of the world
will learn from us, he is going to fix himself by himself.
That is again, pandering for votes. Makes no sense.
O`DONNELL: I want to take you back to December of last year for a moment
that shocked most of the country. And I`d like to know what it was like in
a Muslim family to hear Donald Trump say this.
This is when he announced his proposed ban on Muslims entering the country.
Let`s listen to this one more time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of
Muslims entering the United States until our country`s representatives can
figure out what the hell is going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Mrs. Khizr Khan, there are two things to react to there, and
I`m just wondering what it was like in your house, in your kitchen that
Talking to your sons, talking to your husband about what Donald Trump just
said, and how his audience reacted to it with cheers.
KHAN: Well, I think – we have a very large family here and we have small
nieces and nephews. They have asked me that could we finish our schools
here or they will send us back?
It was so heartbreaking that they`re doing their homework and thinking,
should we do this homework? Should we finish it or we are going back?
And whatever Donald Trump is saying, this is – he`s just saying, I don`t
know if he just think about it or not.
And have you heard the words that he is saying all the time, they`re not
presidential words like a person who will be a president and saying – and
that type of word, I don`t know.
I don`t expect him to be really strong like a – like a president. He act
– he does not even act like a president that will – we will choose.
O`DONNELL: Mr. Khan, in your speech at the convention, you asked Donald
Trump a question that he hasn`t answered. The question of, have you ever
visited Arlington National Cemetery?
I don`t believe there`s any record that he has or that he`s visited any
military cemetery or that he`s ever attended a military funeral.
When is the last time you visited Arlington and visited your son`s grave?
KHAN: We are there literally every occasion so often we live away from
there, but every time we are in Washington D.C., which is quite often, we
I go to four or five grave sites that I know personally the people that
were killed that had visited us.
One person I spoke at his funeral came to our house, one lieutenant, young
lieutenant, went through the RTC Commission, came to our house, held my
hand, asked me to show him about the memorabilia that we had for him.
I walked him through – I know what he was asking. And there you will see
the difference, not that he wanted to look at those things.
He felt that I was feeling comfort walking him through those things,
talking about my son. He became my comforter. I spoke – he was killed in
I spoke at his funeral and I said that to us, this lieutenant will always
remain a comforter that came to comfort us. That is – that is empathy.
That is caliber.
And this candidate lacks – he – if you asked him if he went to Arlington
Cemetery, his answer would be, I have built hotels, I have built casinos, I
have filed bankruptcies, I have built big buildings, I have employed this.
That is all he could think, that is all he can feel. He has no
O`DONNELL: Mr. and Mrs. Khan, once again, thank you very much for coming
back on this program where you started this conversation Friday night.
I really appreciate it. And again, I`m very sorry that the reason we`re
talking is this incredible sacrifice that you and your family have made in
the loss of your son. I`m very sorry for your loss.
KHAN: Thank you –
KHAN: Appreciate it, thank you –
KHAN: Thank you, Lawrence, thank you for inviting us, thank you for your
kindness. And thanks to the entire world that have poured their love,
affection and support.
We are grateful to every one of them and our hearts and prayers are with
the whole veterans, with those who wear the uniform, we are grateful to
them for their service.
O`DONNELL: Again, thank you both, good night.
KHAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Catherine Byrne, the woman who challenged Mike Pence
tonight about what Donald Trump said about Mr. and Mrs. Khan.
Her son is currently serving in the military. Catherine Byrne will tell us
what she thought of Mike Pence`s response. Also with us tonight, Major
General Paul Eaton whose father was killed in action in Vietnam.
And also with us, Howard Dean and Stuart Stevens, they`re here to analyze
what the polls – what polls are showing is a convention bounce for Hillary
O`DONNELL: You can watch our video on Facebook where more than a million
people watched my conversation Friday night with Mr. and Mrs. Khan.
You can also watch the interview we did Friday night with Tony Schwartz who
actually wrote Donald Trump`s autobiography for him. Tony Schwartz did an
amazing job of taking us inside the very dark mind of Donald Trump.
That was a very special interview. Up next, Major General Paul Eaton and
Tayyib Rashid who tweets as Muslim Marine because he served in the Marines
and he is Muslim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I do honor this, and I honor all people that were killed as
military or otherwise. And I think that it`s very important to do so. I
honor the people that were killed in Benghazi, needlessly killed in
I honor many people that were killed for this country, all people that were
killed for this country, and defending our country, it`s very important to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump at a local interview tonight in Ohio,
talking about Army Captain Humayun Khan whose parents Donald Trump spent
the weekend attacking.
A group of gold star families who lost military relatives in battle sent an
open letter to Donald Trump today saying, “your recent comments regarding
the Khan family were repugnant and personally offensive to us when you
question a mother`s pain by implying that her religion, not her grief kept
her from addressing an arena of people.
You are attacking us when you say your job building buildings is akin to
our sacrifice, you are attacking our sacrifice.”
Joining us now, one of the signers of that letter, retired Major General
Paul Eaton who was the son of Colonel Norman Eaton who was killed in action
Also with us is Tayyib Rashid, a Muslim who served as a Marine for five
years. General Eaton, tell us about your reaction to what we just heard
Donald Trump say in this local interview in Ohio where all he would say
about Captain Khan was I do honor their son.
Those are the only words he said about Captain Khan. Then he had to
immediately go on to say I honor all people that were killed as military or
otherwise. And he extends the statement out, he couldn`t stop and say
something particular to Captain Khan.
PAUL EATON, RETIRED UNITED STATES ARMY GENERAL: Lawrence, first, thank you
for having me on. And I am very proud to share this moment with Marine
Sergeant Rashid. Thank you very much.
TAYYIB RASHID, FORMER UNITED STATES MARINE: Likewise.
EATON: It`s – it is an honor. I will tell you that this is just one more
indicator, it`s one more data point why Mr. Trump does not have the
judgment or the temperament to serve as the commander-in-chief of the Armed
Forces of the United States.
It`s appalling to what he is doing and it`s just a string of failures on
the part of this particular candidate to make himself appear to be a
reasonable and viable candidate for the presidency.
O`DONNELL: Sergeant Rashid, I`ve been wondering all weekend, your reaction
to this. We`ve talked about some of these issues before, but never with
this astonishingly strange attack that Donald Trump levied this weekend.
RASHID: Lawrence, I can`t add any more than what has already been said
about this despicable act of Mr. Trump once more. But you know, what I
would submit is rather than focusing on what Mr. Trump is not doing.
Clearly, he lacks the judgment and the temperament as the general just
said. But what is the solution? And I would submit to you is that we need
to understand that this is not just a physical war but an ideological war.
And in order to win the ideological war, we need to kill the root cause
which is ignorance. Mr. Trump is pandering to his base that is ignorant on
the very basic beliefs of Islam as well as the U.S. constitution.
And so in that effort and to try to educate the masses, what the Ahmadiyya
Muslim community is doing is trying – has launched a true Islam campaign
to try to kill the ideology that terrorists as well as Islamophobes use to
recruit and to promote extremism, which is exactly what Mr. Trump is doing.
So, what I would submit to you is that we need to focus on the problem, we
need to focus on the solution and use the proven model as provided by the
Ahmadiyya Muslim community under the leadership of his holiness Mirza
Masroor Ahmad, the caliph of Islam to educate people about the true
teachings of Islam and promote harmony and peace between people.
O`DONNELL: General Eaton, apparently, Donald Trump demonstrated this
weekend he has no idea what sacrifice means, even the meaning of the word.
And so, I want to take you back in time to your family`s sacrifice and your
father being lost in Vietnam, how old were you when that happened? What was
that experience like when you got the news that you`ve lost your father in
EATON: Lawrence, I was – I was 18 years old, I was a freshman at West
Point. I took the phone call when the charger quarters asked me to come
down and answer a tearful call from my mom on her 40th birthday.
And what we knew was that my father had gone missing at night while bombing
the Hiroshima entailed and then providing close air support to special
forces on the ground.
We didn`t know that he was dead. We just started a 38-year saga of not
knowing the outcome until we finally did get Joyce(ph) Task Force full
accounting on the ground and they were able to recover the remains.
O`DONNELL: And your reaction to hearing Donald Trump describe his
suffering as building buildings and basically going about his business in
EATON: Lawrence, we`ve got a pending civil military disaster if this man
is elected. General John Allen yesterday was very eloquent.
The things that Mr. Trump has said about reinstatement of torture, about
bombing innocents and killing innocents because of their association with
potential or alleged terrorists.
This is not a man we can trust with a nuclear code. This is not a man that
we can trust with any leader capacity in the United States government.
O`DONNELL: Mike Pence had a rally tonight in which he did not bring up the
Khans or Captain Khan, but he was confronted about that by Catherine Byrne
who is – whose son is currently in the military. Let`s look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CATHERINE BYRNE, SON SERVES IN THE U.S. AIR FORCE: Time and time again,
Trump has disrespected our nation`s Armed Forces and veterans and has
disrespect for Mr. Khan and his family is just an example of that.
Ever be a point in time when you`re able to look at Trump in the eye and
tell him enough is enough?
MIKE PENCE, DONALD TRUMP`S RUNNING MATE: Well, I thank you for the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get away from me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK –
PENCE: It`s all right. It`s all right. Let me just say, first, I want to
honor your son`s service to the country and your family`s service to the
country, I truly do.
Captain Khan is an American hero and we honor him and honor his family as
we do all gold star families.
Donald Trump supports our soldiers and supports our veterans like no other
leader in my lifetime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Sergeant – Mike Pence handle that?
RASHID: Well, yes, again, I think Mike Pence, well, in words said what
needed to be said. I don`t think he went nearly far enough, because the
fact of the matter is that Mr. Trump has not done nearly enough.
The way that he attacked Mrs. Ghazala Khan was vicious to say the least.
And again, it goes back to, you know, the fact that he`s absolutely
ignorant about the high status of women in Islam.
And the fact that Islam considers that paradise lies under the feet of
mothers. And given that status, for him to just attack her and say, maybe
she wasn`t allowed to speak is really beneath the dignity of a presidential
O`DONNELL: Retired Army Major General Paul Eaton and former Marine
Sergeant Tayyib Rashid, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.
RASHID: Thank you –
EATON: Thank you very much, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Up next, that military mother who you just saw confronting Mike
Pence will join us about what – and get her reaction.
She`ll tell us her reaction to Mike Pence`s response to her tonight.
O`DONNELL: Here`s another look at Catherine Byrne confronting Mike Pence
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CATHERINE BYRNE, MILITARY MOM: My name is Catherine and I`m military mom.
My son is currently breaking in the U.S. air force.
GOV. MIKE PENCE, (R) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you so much.
BYRNE: My question for you, Mr. Pence, is time and time again Trump has
disrespected our nation`s armed forces and veterans and has disrespect for
Mr. Khan and his family just recently. Will there ever be a point in time
when you`re able to look at Trump in the eye and tell him enough is enough?
PENCE: Well, I thank you for the question.
It`s all right. It`s all right.
Folks, that`s what freedom looks like and that`s what freedom sounds like,
OK. Let me just say, first I want to honor your son`s service to the
country and your family`s service to the country. I truly do ma`am …
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Catherine Byrne, the military mother you just
saw there confronting Donald Trump`s running mate Mike Pence.
And Catherine Byrne, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really
appreciate it. Boy, that crowd turned on you awfully fast, as soon as you
announced that you`re a military mother you got a cheer from them, but as
soon as you mentioned the word “Khan” you got a much bigger boo from them.
Did the whole place turned against you in that moment?
BYRNE: Yes I did – it did. And I felt like everybody behind me and, yes,
the whole room just – they talked over me. It all of a sudden just –
O`DONNELL: What did it feel like standing up there confronting a vice
presidential candidate on this issue?
BYRNE: Well, I knew that it was going to take bravery to mention Mr.
Khan`s name in that audience. So, I was kind of – I was ready and I was
there for a while. But it was my opportunity to ask the candidates candid
questions that are important to me. And if I get those opportunities I`m
going to do that. I live in Carson City, so the town hall was relatively
close by and I had the day off, so I was able to make it.
O`DONNELL: And you had written out your comments that you intended to ask
him, it seemed like you were reading from a piece of paper.
BYRNE: Yes, the question I worked very hard at getting the absolute right
question. I`m concerned about respect, in general.
O`DONNELL: And have you …
BYRNE: And respect for our military.
O`DONNELL: Have you had a chance to talk to your son in the military about
what`s happened over the last few days involving the Khan family?
BYRNE: No, I haven`t. Our contact – I just keep with him, is purely
personal. I don`t really involve in the happenings that are going on
outside our lives of just being a mother and a son.
O`DONNELL: And what was your reaction watching, this weekend, to the
Donald Trump attack on Mr. and Mrs. Khan just overtaking our news?
BYRNE: You know, it was very – it was really, really upsetting to me.
And, especially a mother to mother, to comment on criticizing her actions
or whatever lack of whatever, is just – it was really painful. It was
painful to me, to listen to all of that, and I cried a lot. And it`s just
really upsetting to me to compare, you know, the level of what your
sacrifice is once you lose a child. There`s nothing to compare to that.
O`DONNELL: And what was your reaction to Mike Pence`s response to you
BYRNE: You know I was very thankful to him that I thought that he was
respectful to me as an individual. And I really thank him for that. But
basically, that`s about all I got, I really got out of that. I thought he
was respectful to me.
O`DONNELL: And so what happened in the room there after you asked your
question and you`re still – and he dealt with it …
BYRNE: I`m still there, yeah. I just took my seat and sat down.
O`DONNELL: You`re still left in this big room with a bunch of people who
don`t feel very good about you.
BYRNE: You know, once I sat down, nobody really came up to me and said
anything, you know, hateful or hurtful to me. I got more people coming up
to me and saying thank you for my courage.
O`DONNELL: So there were some people there then who weren`t booing and who
privately thanked you?
BYRNE: Right, yes. I was thanked privately quite a bit.
O`DONNELL: Catherine Byrne, thank you for your …
BYRNE: That it was courage – that it was the courage, and they were
Republicans so – they were all Trump supporters, you know, it took courage
to do that.
O`DONNELL: Well, they are right to thank you for your courage and thank
your son for his courage in the military. And Catherine Byrne, thank you
very much for joining us tonight on short notice, really appreciate it.
BYRNE: You`re welcome, thank you. Thanks for having me.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, Howard Dean and Stuart Stevens tell us what all of this means on
the presidential campaign.
O`DONNELL: I can`t look my children in the eye and tell them I voted for
Donald Trump. If the race in Florida is close, I will vote for Hillary
Clinton. That`s from Sally Bradshaw. She`s a top adviser to Jeb Bush and
she was one of the coauthors of the Republican Party`s 2013, so-called
autopsy report that said the Republican party was going to have to change
and appeal to Hispanic voters if it had any chance of winning, along with a
lot of other new ways of working with the Republican Party, all of which
have been ignored.
Joining us now, Republican strategist, Stuart Stevens, he is the author of
“The Innocent of Nothing to Fear,” the best political beach reading of the
summer. Stuart, Sally Bradshaw, a serious Republican Party player, not
just coming out and saying I will not vote for Donald Trump, but saying
since she lives in the state of Florida where votes matter, that if it`s
close, she will actually vote for Hillary Clinton to try to put her over
the top. She won`t go libertarian, she won`t go third party if it`s close
STUART STEVENS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, Sally represents millions
of women out there. If you just look at the numbers, Mitt Romney won white
women about 14 points and Donald Trump in all the polls I see is either
breaking even or may be ahead one. So, Sally is just a demographic there
of represented by a lot of people.
And I think that – these are people who would like to vote for a
Republican candidate, have voted for Republican candidate but can`t bring
themselves to vote for Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: And, you know, it is about explaining it to your kids. One of
the biggest responses I`ve ever gotten to a tweet was today when I said,
even if you don`t have children or grandchildren, you will spend the rest
of your life explaining what you did to stop Trump. And it`s not going to
be a comfortable answer 10 years from now, 20 years from now, to say, “Oh,
I voted for Donald Trump.”
STEVENS: I don`t think there will be many Donald Trump voters to be had at
thanksgiving dinner this year. One of the most troubling aspects of this
cycle is sort of this effort to normalize Donald Trump. I get the tribal
poll of politics probably better than most folks for better or worse. But,
he`s not a normal candidate. And if you just look in the last 72 hours,
you just see this incredibly, erratic, unstable person who has no core,
sort of flailing around. And its one thing to be a candidate like that and
it would be extraordinarily dangerous were he president.
O`DONNELL: We saw tortured responses from Republicans, John McCain puts
out a written response, very strong against his treatment of the Khan
family. Then he`s asked in an event today, public event and he said to an
audience question that of course I`ll support the Republican nominee. Paul
Ryan was asked on this program Friday night by Mr. Khan to repudiate Donald
Trump. Paul Ryan puts out a statement very much supportive of the Khan
family and Captain Khan but never mentions Donald Trump.
And then tonight, Donald Trump tweets something favorable about the
Republican Tea Party challenger to the speaker of the house in a primary
there next week. Is there – do you see a smarter way for Paul Ryan, Mitch
McConnell to handle this, or is it just day by day, figure out each one of
these as you go along, there`s no smarter play for Republican congressional
STEVENS: Look, I personally think that the RNC should withdraw support
from Donald Trump and ask him to step aside. I think what he`s done just
in the last 72 hours is disqualifying. Let Governor Pence take the top of
the ticket and fill the ticket with his vice presidential choice. This can
be done. There`s mechanism is in place if the top of the ticket were to
step aside, you know, become disabled.
I think that would be a smarter play. I think it will be better for the
party. I think it will be better for the senate candidates running out
there and I think it would be better for the country. Is it likely to
happen? No. But this is a year in which we say there`s no rules, so why
shouldn`t we say there`s no rules about something like that this?
O`DONNELL: Quickly Stuart, if it`s the smarter play why is no Republican
and the leadership making that play?
STEVENS: You know, they`re in very difficult positions because they not
only represent themselves they represent their conferences. I can`t
imagine the pressures – the cross pressures that they`re under. And I
wouldn`t be critical of them. I think that they have to decide what`s best
and I really think that it`s just an incredible difficult position that
Donald Trump has placed so many people who are Republicans or want to vote
O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to bring Howard Dean into the
conversation coming up.
But first, Warren Buffett who is thousands of times richer than Donald
Trump has a few words to say about Donald Trump
O`DONNELL: According to Donald Trump, he is rich because he is so very,
very smart. What that means is Warren Buffett is astronomically smarter
than Donald Trump, and Warren Buffett had this to say about Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN BUFFET, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY CEO: We both done extremely well during
this period, and our families haven`t sacrificed anything, and Donald Trump
and I haven`t sacrificed anything. But how in the world can you stand up
to a couple of parents who lost a son and talk about sacrificing because
you were building a bunch of buildings?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to a little bit more of Warren Buffett who was
appearing at a campaign even with Hillary Clinton today. Warren Buffett is
of course almost infinitely richer than Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUFFETT: He can`t do it. He can`t release it because he`s under an audit.
Now I`ve got news for him, I`m under audit too. And, I would be delighted
to meet him anyplace, any time between now and election, I`ll bring my tax
return, he can bring his tax return, nobody is going to arrest us. It is
not – there are no rules against showing your tax returns, and just let
people ask us questions about the items that are on there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump would cry his eyes out if he ever saw Warren
Buffet`s tax return. Warren Buffet is the kind of rich that Donald Trump
can only dream about.
Stuart Stevens and Howard Dean will join us in tonight`s campaign war room.
O`DONNELL: 98 days to go until election, every night is a late night in
the campaign war rooms where they are now studying the results of latest
CNN poll shows Hillary Clinton up by nine on a one on one poll against
Donald Trump. In a four-way race in the CNN poll with the Libertarian and
Green Party candidates, it shows Hillary Clinton ahead by eight points with
45 percent, Donald Trump at 37, Libertarian Gary Johnson at nine, Green
Party candidate Jill Stein at five.
A CBS news poll shows Hillary Clinton ahead by five, and a three-way poll
that includes Gary Johnson. A new Gallup Poll shows that after the
conventions, 45 percent of Americans said the conventions made them more
likely to vote for Hillary Clinton, 41 percent say they`re less likely to
vote for her. 36 percent of Americans say they`re more likely after the
convention to vote for Donald Trump and 51 percent say they are less likely
to vote for him after the conventions.
This is the first time a Gallup Poll showed that convention made most
people less likely to vote for a nominee, Donald Trump.
Joining us now Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont, former DNC
chairman, a Hillary Clinton supporter and an MSNBC political analyst; also
back with us Stuart Stevens.
Howard Dean, is that about the best you could hope for in tonight`s polls
after the convention?
HOWARD DEAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I have trouble dealing with all of
these polls because they`re so early. I really don`t think polls matter
much until after Labor Day, I don`t think they really matter until about
three weeks before the election.
But certainly, I think it clearly reflects the well-orchestrated Democratic
convention and the not-so well orchestrated Republican convention. The
Republicans stepped on their own message three days out of four. The only
day they really got was the last day. The rest of it was all about Ted
Cruz being booed and Mrs. Trump copying her speech from Michelle Obama,
which was of course continued by Trump`s denial. So it was pretty
disastrous handling of the whole thing, I thought.
O`DONNELL: Stuart Stevens, what do you make of these polls, these post-
STEVENS: Oh I actually do think that they matter. Only because they sort
of pervert back to a mean that existed before the conventions just better
of Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump is still running against Donald Trump.
To be a credible candidate you have to have your favorables a lot higher
than Donald Trump are. Now Hillary Clinton has not been great but they`re
starting to get better.
So, if he`s in the 30s with favorables, it`s just never – no one has ever
been elected president with those kind of numbers.
O`DONNELL: The Gallup Poll did one of those polls that makes you feel
like, “Oh, OK, the world isn`t completely crazy.” And it`s about the
acceptance speeches of the nominees. It showed that 44 percent thought
Hillary Clinton`s speech was excellent or good, 35 percent thought Donald
Trump`s speech was excellent or good. They`re about tied on just OK, 17
percent and 18 percent.
And then, on poor and terrible, 20 percent thought Hillary Clinton`s was
poor and terrible and 36 percent thought Donald Trump`s was poor and
terrible. So, Donald Trump scored higher – more people thought his speech
was terrible than thought anything else about it. Howard Dean, the world
starts to make sense when you look at a poll like that.
DEAN: Yeah that, I do think matters. I mean that`s basically his
unfavorables, and that`s a very strong number and it`s a very bad number.
That is – once people think you`ve done – you`re in the terrible category
it`s really, really hard to win them back. And of course, Trump is not the
sort of person that might be prevailed upon to have the kind of discipline
that`s necessary to do that. But that is a very bad number and that is
likely to persist until Election Day.
O`DONNELL: And Stuart, I mean so much for the convention working like a
commercial, which is the basic design of a convention is a four-day
convention that`s all positive, that is nothing – there`s no counter
message built into it. It just sales your candidacy and there`s the
biggest number reaction to Trump`s speech was terrible.
DEAN: Yeah, you know, one of the big dynamics here, and any sort of
generic situation is, who comes second. Whoever comes second in the
convention is greatly advantaged, which is why the party in power always
chooses to go second. Because even if you do get a bounce you tend to get
sat on by the next convention. But I thought that Donald Trump gave a
remarkably dark, pessimistic speech that just didn`t really jive with the
way most Americans see America.
And I think when you get that kind of disconnect it`s hard to make people
rise up to the cause because I think lot of them at best are just kind of
scratching their heads.
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, it reminded me of his first speech when he came
down the escalator and I remember my reaction on the air afterwards was,
that is the most anti-American political campaign speech I had ever heard.
Everything in America was bad, the military was bad, nothing works, there`s
no border. It was just the most negative thing I had heard and he`s kept
going in that direction.
DEAN: Yeah – you know, of course, I thought his campaign has been dead
once a week since for a year and a half and haven`t been right. But, you
know, to attack the military, the military today is – if it`s not at the
top, it`s very close to the top of the most respected institutions in the
country. I don`t see how he continues to do this. I really don`t.
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, Stuart Stevens, thank you both very much for
joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
STEVENS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
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