The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 11/14/2016

Jonathan Alter, James Peterson, Kurt Andersen, Maria Teresa Kumar, Sean Mcelwee, Patrick Thornton, Tavis Smiley

Date: November 14, 2016
Guest: Jonathan Alter, James Peterson, Kurt Andersen, Maria Teresa Kumar,
Sean Mcelwee, Patrick Thornton, Tavis Smiley

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: So, that does it for us, now it`s time for THE
LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, I`m so glad you mentioned Gwen
Ifill, we`re going to have a little video about Gwen Ifill –


O`DONNELL: Coming up, including what she said about her mentor. And it`s
a sad day, but there`s some beautiful ways to remember Gwen, and we`re
going to be doing that.

MADDOW: Yes, she was an amazing person, that`s an incredible woman.
Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.


O`DONNELL: So, the first president in history with zero experience working
in government has so far chosen only two people to work in the White House.

Possibly the two most important jobs in that White House, and both of them
have zero experience in government. And that`s the nicest thing you can
say about one of them.


LESTER HOLT, JOURNALIST: The president-elect tapping as his top
strategist, Steven Bannon.

historic decision in a bad way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bannon has a clear tie to white nationalists. Clear

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jewish and Muslim groups and a slew of Democrats

CORN: He wanted “Breitbart” to be a platform for the alt-right.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHIEF OF STAFF-ELECT: The guy I know is a guy that isn`t
any of those things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a nightmare.

JOHN OLIVER, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Keep reminding yourself, this is
not normal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to prepare for life to knock you off course.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And even though I know what went wrong, I`ll stand
before the Lord of song with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah!

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: We are all on one team. We are Americans
first, thank you.


supposed to be easy. It`s hard.

GWEN IFILL, LATE: Real change comes from people who make up their minds
that if they see something they will do something.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hallelujah. I`m not giving up and neither should


O`DONNELL: The next White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has never
worked in the federal government.

Never had a job in the White House, never had a job anywhere in the federal

The record for White House Chiefs of Staff with no federal government
experience is not a good one.

You have to go back 24 years to Bill Clinton`s first White House Chief of
Staff, his childhood friend Mack McLarty.

Mack McLarty was well liked by everyone in Washington who dealt with him in
the first year of the Clinton presidency.

He certainly looked the part of White House Chief of Staff and was a decent
and very dignified man,

A man of his word in all of my experience dealing with him when I was
working in the Senate then.

But in the second year of the Clinton presidency, the job got rougher and
rougher. And in the middle of the Clinton crusade to reform healthcare,
Mack McLarty decided there was a better person to be White House Chief of

In the middle of what was then the toughest legislative battle in a
generation. Mack McLarty resigned and replaced himself with Leon Panetta,
who was as good a White House Chief of Staff as we have ever had, possibly
the best.

Reince Priebus is no Leon Panetta. And there is no public evidence that
Reince Priebus could be as good a White House Chief of Staff as Mack

Reince Priebus would not have been on the long list for any other
Republican president`s White House Chief of Staff.

Reince Priebus` only strength is that he knows all of the Republican power
players in the Congress. His weakness – weaknesses are that he knows none
of the Democratic power players in the Congress.

And more importantly, he has zero experience in government. So, a
president with zero experience in government will have beside him through
most of the day a Chief of Staff with exactly the same amount of experience
in government as the president.

The country has reason to worry about that, the world has reason to worry
about that, and the next president has reason to worry about that.

The next president is not going to be able to have confidence in Reince
Priebus because Reince Priebus is never going to be able to say to him,
this is the way we did it when I was working in the Bush administration.

The president is going to know that every time his White House Chief of
Staff opens his mouth on legislation, he will be speaking from zero
experience, same thing with foreign policy.

Same thing with selecting ambassadors and judges and members of the cabinet
and the sub-cabinet, the undersecretaries, the assistant secretaries.

Reince Priebus has never in his life been in the room where a governing
decision was made. Imagine what the reaction would be around the world
tonight if Donald Trump had selected someone like say, wildly respected
Republican Mitch Daniels to be White House Chief of Staff.

He`s currently the president of Purdue University, he was the director of
the opposite management in budget in the George W. Bush administration.

He knows more about how the government works than anyone Donald Trump has
ever spoken to with the recent exception of course of President Obama.

The world would still have reason to be tense that an amateur will be
president. But it would send a reassuring signal that there will always be
an adult in the room if someone like Mitch Daniels is there.

The only thing reassuring about the choice of Reince Priebus as White House
Chief of Staff is that he is not Steve Bannon who was also rumored to be a
possible choice for that job.

But Donald Trump managed to stoke the fear of his administration by
announcing that Steve Bannon will get a job in the White House, an office
in the west wing.

He will be on the White House payroll as chief strategist and senior
counselor. Bannon of course has never worked in government.

His only experience with government is attacking it and most sharply
attacking Republican leaders in Washington like Paul Ryan.

The website Steve Bannon ran before joining the Trump campaign runs
headlines like this about Paul Ryan.

“Paul Ryan says U.S. must admit Muslim migrants sends kids to private
schools, it screens them out. Speaker Ryan failing leadership test and
Paul Ryan running scared in final days ahead of primary elections.”

So, the president with zero experience in government will have a chief
strategist whose only previous governing strategies have been attacking the
Republican speaker of the house and other Republicans.

And who has spent more of his time attacking people, large groups of
people, women, Jews, Muslims, black people.

Steve Bannon has targeted them all. He is a hate merchant. He literally
sells hatred. His website makes its money on hatred.

Today, President Obama refused to answer a question that invited him to
criticize the selection of Steve Bannon.

But he did say this about how the White House should be staffed. Advice
that the next president so far has ignored.


OBAMA: Probably, the most important point that I made was that how you
staff, particularly the Chief of Staff, your national security adviser,
your White House counsel.

You know, how you set up a process and a system to surface information,
generate options for a president, understanding that ultimately the
president is going to be the final decision-maker.

How he staffs the first steps he takes, the first impressions he makes, the
reset that can happen after an election, all those things are important and
should be thought about.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Jonathan Alter; Msnbc political analyst and
columnist for “The Daily Beast”.

Also with us, James Peterson; an Msnbc contributor and director of Africana
studies at Lehigh University.

Jonathan, we only know – we only have two confirmed choices for the White
House, and it`s hard to think of how he could have come up with worse

Washington are comforted by the fact that Priebus is Chief of Staff and
Bannon is chief strategist.


ALTER: As if that`s like a good thing. But I urge them to look back at
the Bush administration when Andy Card was the Chief of Staff and Karl Rove
had the Bannon job who was more powerful in that White House.

Bannon is going to be number one in this White House. He will eat Priebus
for lunch.

He`s way smarter not only than Priebus, but then the other people around
Trump, not to mention Trump himself.

He`s described by conservatives who worked for him as an “evil genius”. A
screamer, a manipulator, a hater, somebody who, by his own words, said that
he wanted to make “Breitbart”, an “alt-right platform”.

In other words, a place for hate to get voice online. And he`s now
expanding to Europe. He`s trying to link up with Le Pen and the –


O`DONNELL: Where there`s a market for this.

ALTER: Neo-fascists –


ALTER: And try to, you know, take this movement, this basically white
nationalist movement global.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the next White House Chief of Staff`s defense
of Bannon today.


PRIEBUS: The guy I know is a guy that isn`t any of those things. I mean,
the guy I know is a guy sitting in the office all day yesterday talking
about hiring, talking about – and the last few months is a guy that`s
exhibited none of those qualities.

Here`s a guy who was in Harvard Business School, he`s a 10-year Naval
officer – the London School of Economics, I believe.

He is a guy who is pretty – he`s very smart, very temperate.


O`DONNELL: James Peterson, so Reince Priebus doesn`t want you to judge
Steve Bannon by his public record at “Breitbart”.

He wants you to judge him by the way he is alone in the room with Reince
Priebus which we`re never going to see.

mean, the key words there was in the last few months, right? Let`s go back
a little bit and look at the “Breitbart” record to really get a better
sense at this.

But Lawrence, just to be clear though, everything that you were talking
about in the opening monologue about the absence of experience for Reince
Priebus, the absence of any government experience for Steve Bannon.

Those are things that for some folks in this country, we`re outraged by
that. It doesn`t make any sense. We want to have smart folks around
whoever the next president is going to be.

But for some of the folks who voted for Mr. Trump, that`s actually a plus
that they have no government experience.

That they are not from inside Washington. They are not in their view
contaminated by the ways in which they think government operates in the
United States.

So, we have to be really smart about how we sort of frame some of these
things. At the end of the day, it`s our job in the media to resist the
normalization of some of these things that are absolute outliers.

Having someone like Steve Bannon in a role like the role that Valerie
Jarrett plays now for President Obama where that someone like David Axelrod
played for Obama previously.

You know, means that we`ve got to think really critically about what
Bannon`s record is, and the best piece of information that we have is
“Breitbart”, you looked at some of those headlines.

But if you – if you look around the country and you see folks crying,
folks are in fear.

And if people are concerned about their lives and their livelihoods going
forward under a Trump presidency, their fears are based upon the kind of
racialized, sexist language.

The kind of hate-filled, sort of imagery and language that`s populated the
site, the “Breitbart” site for the last few years.

And they feel as if Bannon`s anointing here is a signal to Trump`s America
that is going to be business as usual when it comes to some of this hateful
speech and rhetoric.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, if I`m Mike Pence tonight, I could easily be
feeling, this is all very good for Mike Pence.

Because so far Mike Pence is the only guy in the room, in the White House
with any experience. Who in any conversation can use his experience on the
Hill, working in the Congress. He`s the only one who can play that card.

ALTER: Yes, I think that`s true, and he will be a very powerful vice
president. It`s not clear that Donald Trump will listen to a word that he


ALTER: Or anybody else says, he has no record of it. You know, just back
to Bannon for a second. Newt Gingrich says, well, how can he be an anti-

He worked at Goldman Sachs, he was in Hollywood, he made money off Seinfeld
when – in this deal for syndication.

Well, Mel Gibson was –


ALTER: In Hollywood –


ALTER: And one of the things that Bannon did just in the last couple of
weeks is he made this ad for Trump that had Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman,
Janet Yellen, the chair of the Fed, George Soros.

Those were the three villain`s(ph) speech in this piece, all Jewish. A
record his wife is I think – viewers know accused him of anti-Semitism.

So, you know, there are real issues here about the way he treats, not just
Jews, but all sorts of other people.

It`s very important that he not be normalized and that his bigotry be front
and center every time he`s described in the media.

Vigilance is the price of liberty as Wendell Phillips and Thomas Jefferson
said. You know, the press has to stay on this, they cannot let this go.

It`s not something that we can allow just to become, you know, a story that
was an issue several weeks back –

O`DONNELL: Right –

ALTER: Let it drop.

O`DONNELL: James Peterson, I think –

ALTER: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Your point is crucial when you point out – when you referred
to the way I framed this as two people with no experience working in
government and how that can actually sound appealing, will sound appealing
to Trump voters.

But the – so, the right way to frame it to Trump voters to get them to
question it is to say, a guy from Goldman Sachs and a guy, you know, from
Republican Party headquarters, and if that isn`t the center of the swamp,
what – you know, what else is?

PETERSON: Yes, I mean, that`s the game that Mr. Trump has played very
effectively, right? He`s the working-class billionaire, right?

He`s the outsider with all the insider contacts, right? And I think what we
have to realize here is that the kind of vigilance that we`re talking about
having may not be present for the folks who are supporting Trump, because
for them, the victory is already won.

You know, they are not in any way connected to the kind of fear and the
kind of tragedy that people are feeling in this particular moment.

And my sense is that at least from these first two picks, Mr. Trump is not
at all interested in governing in a way that`s going to try to reunite this

What he`s trying to do is send signals to the folks who helped him get to
where he is right now. That this is going to be a Trump presidency that in
many ways reflects the kind of campaigning that he did over the last year
and a half.

O`DONNELL: James Peterson and Jonathan Alter, thank you both for joining
us, really appreciate it.

PETERSON: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up –

ALTER: Thank you, Lawrence –

O`DONNELL: Tavis Smiley will join us, we`ll discuss David Duke`s
endorsement of Steve Bannon working in the White House.

Also, coming up, the president today was asked about Donald Trump`s
temperament for being the president. He had said on the campaign trail
that Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president.

And who lives in a bubble in America? Are there any bubbles or there are a
bunch of bubbles? Is the political elite in a bubble?

Is the Midwest in a bubble? Are the coasts in a bubble? We`ll go into the
bubble, figure it out, coming up.


O`DONNELL: This just in. The “Associated Press” has finally called the
state of New Hampshire for Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton now picks up four more electoral college votes to make the
current electoral college tally, Donald Trump at 290, Hillary Clinton at
232 with only Michigan still to be called by the “Associated Press”.

The actual vote total is 61.3 million for Hillary Clinton and 60.5 million
for Donald Trump. And I challenge you to explain that to other democracies
around the world.

Coming up, who lives in the bigger bubble or are they all bubbles? West
Coast, East Coast, Midwest, we`re going to go in the bubble.



OBAMA: Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be commander-in-chief.



O`DONNELL: That was the day before the election. Today, the president was
asked about that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Given some of the harsh words you had about Mr. Trump
calling him temperamentally unfit to be commander-in-chief.

Does anything surprise you about President-elect Trump winning, now
resuming your office?


O`DONNELL: The president managed to decline to comment on Donald Trump`s
temperament now that he`s actually president-elect. But later, in that
same news conference, he said this.


OBAMA: Whatever you bring to this office, this office has a habit of
magnifying and pointing out and hopefully then you correct for.

This may seem like a silly example, but I know myself well enough to know I
can`t keep track of paper. I am not well organized in that way.

Pretty quickly, after I`m getting stacks of briefing books coming in every
night, I said to myself, I`ve got to figure out a system because I have bad
filing/sorting and organizing habits.

And I`ve got to find some people who can help me keep track of this stuff.
Now that seems trivial, but actually it ends up being a pretty big piece of

I think what will happen with the president-elect is, there are going to be
certain elements of his temperament that will not serve him well unless he
recognizes them and corrects them.

Because when you`re a candidate and you say something that is inaccurate or
controversial, it has less impact than it does when you`re president of the
United States.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Kurt Andersen; the host of public radio program
“Studio 360” and Maria Teresa Kumar, the president and CEO of Voto Latino
and an Msnbc contributor.

Kurt, that was such a kind of brilliantly-chosen example. I wanted to let
it play out because it`s completely neutral.

It doesn`t say anything about Donald Trump. That thing about I am bad at
filing and –


O`DONNELL: Sorting, which by the way is my closest identification to the


O`DONNELL: I`m sure I am worse than he is at this. But he came as close
as he could to this issue of this guy being – up to now, anyway –


O`DONNELL: Completely, temperamentally unfit.

ANDERSEN: He also – the other time I think and other time he said in that
press conference – oh, I gave the president-elect this piece of advice as
well was when he said, when you`re president, you find out that there are
norms and rules and laws.

And the people who work for you find out that there are –


ANDERSEN: Norms and rules and laws. Now, for most people, that will be
like a rhetorical statement.

O`DONNELL: Right –

ANDERSEN: For him, it was actually as though – and I told Donald Trump
this, so that he would understand that –

O`DONNELL: Yes, and Maria Teresa, you know that in no other presidential
transition meeting has one president told the president-elect, you know,
the work here is governed by rules and laws and stuff.

that the enormity of the job is finally starting to sink into the Trump

And to the transition team as we saw when Jared, his son-in-law wanted to
know how much of the presidential staff was going to stick around. So, I
think they definitely have a deep learning here.

But to the president, he was very cautious of saying anything too extreme
with Donald Trump because he recognizes that, at the end of the day in
American politics, we have to make sure that we are keeping the sacredness
of the Oval Office.

The sanctity of it, and the institutions that it runs and represents in
part. And that is what he`s trying to do during this transition.

O`DONNELL: I want to listen to something that the president said today
about Donald Trump, and about – and Kurt, because I know this is a point
you thought about a year ago. About how he doesn`t think Donald Trump is
so ideological. Let`s listen to this.


OBAMA: I also think that he is coming to this office with fewer set, hard
and fast policy prescriptions than a lot of other presidents might be
arriving with.

I don`t think he is ideological. I think ultimately, he`s pragmatic in
that way, and that can serve him well.

As long as he`s got good people around him, and he has a clear sense of


O`DONNELL: Kurt, this harkens back to last year when there was a mini
debate you could find online about – among Democrats of who would be
worse, Ted Cruz or Donald Trump?

And Trump can`t be as bad as Cruz because Trump doesn`t believe anything.

ANDERSEN: Right, you know, and unfortunately – and then I still think
that`s true. He has instincts, like, you know, the guy at the bar on
Queens Boulevard has instincts.


ANDERSEN: But unfortunately, when he does put a guy like Steve Bannon,
whom he met, you know, a few months ago in such an important position in
the White House.

A guy who doesn`t have any ideology, where that can be – oh, good, he`s
practical, he can break through into a third way.

But if Steve Bannon is the guy in your ear down the hall, that`s a little
worrisome because Steve Bannon does have an ideology of hate and white
nationalism and all the rest.

O`DONNELL: And Maria Teresa, what signal do you get from the Bannon

KUMAR: That if the President-elect Donald Trump wants to be the president
for everyone, he – Bannon is not the correct choice.

He is as Kurt just mentioned, he is an anti-Semite. He is anti-LGBT. He
is anti-women, misogynist and he`s anti-immigrant all wrapped up in a nice,
big bowl.

So, if he – if he really wants to moderate the office and be pragmatic, he
has to think twice of who he is surrounding himself with.

Mike Pence is no different. Mike Pence also has very much an extreme
agenda. And let`s not forget, over a million people voted for Hillary
Clinton in the popular vote.

So, this is not necessarily a mandate, but that is what they`re going to
consider it because of the way the electoral college is divided up.

O`DONNELL: And Kurt, a quick word before we go, because you are a real
scholar of Trumpism before it was political –


O`DONNELL: Going way back decades ago here in New Hampshire –

ANDERSEN: That`s my life –

O`DONNELL: Watching Trump.

KUMAR: I am so sorry –

O`DONNELL: Latest news – latest news of the evening, “Nbc News”
confirming that the Trump campaign has inquired about getting security
clearances for Donald Trump`s children. Top secret security clearances for
the kids.

ANDERSEN: Which is extraordinary that they would have some national
security role. Really, again, it`s – I have – I said with some amusement
during the campaign – oh, this is like a crazy television show.

But hey, kids, I am president, you want to work on my national security
team? It`s like it`s some terrible, ridiculous sitcom.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it couldn`t get crazier. Kurt Andersen, Maria Teresa
Kumar, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

KUMAR: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Democrats new goals, they`re trying to find those
people who voted for Donald Trump but previously voted for President Obama.

And later, Tavis Smiley will join us to consider David Duke`s endorsement
of Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.


O`DONNELL: The red/blue divide shifted this year. According to the
Washington Post, nearly 700 counties that twice voted for President Obama
flipped this time and voted for Donald Trump. Enough of those voters were
located in the Midwest battleground states to shift the presidency from
blue to red, even though blue got more votes, Hillary Clinton got more
votes than Donald Trump.

Democrats in the United States Senate got more votes than republicans but
it`s still left the democrats in the minority in the Senate. Democrats in
the House of Representatives got more votes than republicans but it`s still
left them in the minority there. Joining us, Sean McElwee, a policy
analyst for DEMOS Action and Patrick Thornton, the Senior Director of User
Experience Strategy at CQ Roll Call.

Sean, what do you see as the various strata of the Trump vote? One of the
things that drives me nuts about this discussion is people will say it`s
nothing but the racist vote or it is not the racist vote like there`s one
vote. It`s like soil, there are different layers and there`s a racist vote
in there and there are other votes. But one of the interesting votes in
there is former Obama voters for Trump?

that I argue about this is that what we have seen is the culmination or 50
year effort by the Republican Party to weld together a plutocratic agenda
with white racial anxiety. They have told white Americans that the
economic dislocation that you are feeling in your community is due to
immigrants. And that any government programs to solve these problems will
only benefit people of color.

African Americans and Latinos and not white Americans, and what my research
showed is if white people believed that they`re losing jobs and they`re
losing economic grounds to people of color, they are far more likely to
support Trump. Even if they were previously democrats, even if they`re
women, even if they`re college educated.

O`DONNELL: You know, polls really never go straight at it and say, are you
a racist? Because they know they wouldn`t get –


O`DONNELL: – that you get a 99 percent no. But there`s various ways of -
- there are indicators that you find in the data. What are some of the
indicators you found?

MCELWEE: Absolutely. So, the first thing that we use is something called
racial resentment. We ask other groups have gotten ahead. Do African-
Americans just need to work harder and try harder? Has discrimination held
African-Americans back? And the other is just stereotyping. Are white
people, are African-Americans are lazier and more violent than white

And the disturbing number of Americans will say yes.

O`DONNELL: And the ones who say yes, African-Americans are lazier and more
violent are disproportionately represented in the republican and the Trump

MCELWEE: Absolutely. And this survey was actually done at a time before
the primary decided. And we can see within the Republican Party the most
likely to stereotype, the most likely to have racial resentment are far
more supportive with Trump.

O`DONNELL: Trump and not John Kasich for example. Even with the part.

MCELWEE: Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: Patrick Thornton what do you see when you look at this

CALL: Well, I think a lot of what Sean is describing is kind of like the
what of what is going on, and I`m trying to look at, you know, how did this
happen. And a lot of what I`ve seen especially in my native state of Ohio,
I come from more a more rural part of Ohio. It is a lot of voters and a
lot of people that have not had that much experience with people of
different backgrounds.

The county I come from is 97 percent white. And that`s not the whitest
county in Ohio, you know. You got some counties in Appalachia where Trump
just cleaned up that are 98, 99 percent white. And a lot of it really
isn`t so much that they are deliberately trying to be racist or bigoted.
But they ended up voting for a candidate who is deliberately racist or
bigoted because they may not know that many people of different

And so when you – when you see immigrants of different backgrounds being
scapegoated, for them, a lot of times, they may not really realize how
offensive that is or they might not fully realize that maybe – that their
issues that they`re dealing with have nothing to do with that.

O`DONNELL: And Patrick, is it also a factor that people growing up in
these all white communities don`t recognize the sting in a lot of Trump`s
language. They don`t realize how hurtful some of his statements and some
of his attacks have been, including the attack on president Obama`s birth.

THORNTON: Yes. I think 100 percent, they don`t realize it. And I think a
lot of them do not fully grasp that just because you might have
disagreements with either Hillary Clinton or Obama`s economic policies that
doesn`t necessarily mean you can excuse the other things that Trump has
said and done. And so when I hear from a lot of different people from
around the country, a lot of different minorities they tell me that that`s
exactly that they don`t understand how these people could have supported
somebody who has been so openly racist and bigoted towards so many
different groups.

And I think a lot of that really is just a lack of empathy towards people
they have not really met or interacted with. And it`s – I don`t think
it`s – for many of them, there are some people who are legitimately rather
racist and bigoted. But the vast majority of Trump supporters, a lot of
these people in this – the whiter parts of the Midwest, they`re not
intentionally trying to be that, but it`s just a lack of I think experience
with other people and empathy that sometimes leads them to not understand
how revolting Donald Trump is to so many different Americans.

O`DONNELL: And Sean even with all that, we always have to remember in
these discussions, is Hillary Clinton got more votes. She got more votes.
And it is simply accident of distribution and what has become the modern
madness of the Electoral College that means the person with the most votes
can now lose.

MCELWEE: Absolutely. But what I do think that we need to talk about is
the fact that labor unions which are a traditional bastion of working class
mobilization and often can bring people in the working class across race
and gender together have become incredibly weak. And –

O`DONNELL: And labor unions are communicators –


O`DONNELL: – labor unions historically did a lot of communication among
these groups.

MCELWEE: Absolutely. They create the solidarity that it takes and they
create a mobilization. Look at Nevada where you had the AFLCIO knock on
300,000 doors and now you have the first Latina in the senate. So, I do
not think that it is a question of, we have to win back only the white the
working class. We have to win back the working class across race and
gender lines.

O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to take a quick break, we`re going to
be right back.



BERNIE SANDERS, UNITED STATES SENATOR: I know it is not a sexy issue, and
I know the media doesn`t cover it, but trade policy, whether it`s NAFTA or
CAPTA or permanent normal trade relations with China are enormously
important issues.


O`DONNELL: Patrick Thornton, I wanted to show Bernie Sanders talking about
NAFTA and I wish we have some video of him where he`s angrily ranting
against it. Last year we ran some video, a back to back of Donald Trump
talking about NAFTA, Bernie talking about NAFTA. You could not tell the
difference. And in these Midwest battleground states, NAFTA was a huge

And it seems like Hillary Clinton got saddled as the NAFTA candidate, even
though she did not vote for it, had nothing to do with it. She was first
lady when NAFTA went through. But it seems like Bernie Sanders found the
way to talk to those voters about that kind of issue.

THORNTON: Yes, he definitely tapped into that a little bit differently,
and I think there was also a failure on either side, really, I mean the
Republican Party has certainly been more traditionally pro-trade than the
democrats, to actually defend, you know, trade. And I think that left, you
know, Clinton a little bit vulnerable. But, you know, one of the things I
think Clinton didn`t really do apparently a good job either is talking
about a lot of these jobs at factories and jobs that have left Ohio and
other parts of the Midwest haven`t gone to Mexico or Canada.

They`ve gone to Alabama, they`ve gone to Texas, they`ve gone to this right
to work states. And, you know, it gets back to the, you know, the union
discussion we had earlier about unionization is dropping in a lot of – a
lot of this country, a lot of industrial Midwest. So there was not a very
robust discussion about A, maybe how trade has benefited the United States,
but B, how a lot of these jobs are not either being left or lost because of
NAFTA or other trade agreements.

Or are not being lost for, you know, or being lost for other, other
reasons, you know, a lot of factories now have a lot more automation and
robotics going on, which means there`s just a lot less jobs to be had for
the same economic output. And you look at American manufacturing is
actually has quite a bit of a robust output right now, and it has nothing
to do with NAFTA. That`s everything to do with much more modern
manufacturing processes that rely much heavily on robotics.

And that was just never discussed, and I`m not really sure why that was
never articulated from either side.

O`DONNELL: And Sean you never heard Donald Trump railing against or Bernie
Sanders, railing against the Toyota plants that have located here and the
BMW plants that have located in this country. Patrick is right.
International trade is both the most complex subject that government deals
with and yet the most important subject to voters who aren`t fully equipped
to see that whole picture. So, there has to be a way to talk to them.

MCELWEE: Absolutely. Let`s take Arizona. In Arizona there was a paid
sick leave and higher minimum wage on the ballot. And that won 58 percent
of the vote. Clinton won 45 percent of the vote. So, there were a lot of
voters who went out and said I want minimum wage and I want paid sick leave
but didn`t translate that in to the Democratic Party. I was looking at ads
from queue and when he – he was the first Latino to represent Nevada.

And he ran ads talking about expanding social security. He talked about
the minimum wage, he talked about working families. I think you definitely
need to see more of this and you do see more mobilization.

O`DONNELL: First thing President Obama said today about how to talk to
these voters is minimum wage. And yet those very same voters voted for
minimum wage and then for the republican candidate. We have to leave it
there. Sean McElwee and Patrick Thornton, thank you both for joining us
tonight, really appreciate it.

MCELWEE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Still ahead, Tavis Smiley will get tonight`s last word. His
reaction to Steve Bannon joing the Trump White House, but first, a fond
look at Gwen Ifill who we will truly miss.


O`DONNELL: We`re all saddened to learn this morning of the passing of Gwen
Ifill. Gwen was an anchor and managing editor of the PBS News Hour and
Washington Week. She had a highly distinguished career in journalism
including years of work at New York Times and NBC News. Here is a sample
of the reaction today.


personal note Michelle and I want to offer our deepest condolences to Gwen
Ifill`s family and all of you, her colleagues on her passing. Gwen was a
friend of ours. She was extraordinary journalist. She always kept faith
with the fundamental responsibilities of her professional asking tough
questions, holding people in power accountable and defending a strong and
free press that makes our democracy work.

PETE WILLIAMS, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: Gwen was a dear friend, a former NBC
colleague. Pardon me. She was – Gwen would want me to get this together.
She had so many rewards and awards in her office you could barely see out
the window.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was a mentor to me and she also spoke at my
college graduation. And really what I got from her was someone who was
really never too busy to give me – take the time and talk to me about my
stories, about how I had done on meet the press.

OBAMA: I always appreciated Gwen`s reporting even when I was on the
receiving end of a tough and thorough interviews.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me to loose Gwen on my 48th birthday I`ll say this
to anybody whose listening. God only knows how long we have on this earth.
But you should as heck better maximize the time that you are here. She
were for 61 years. We would have loved that she would be here 62. But the
kids is here. You do as much as you can for as long as you can while you
have the opportunity.

OBAMA: She was and employees a powerful role model for young women and
girls who admired her integrity, her tenacity and her intellect. And for
whom she blazed a trail as one half of the first all-female anchor team on
network news. So Gwen did her country a great service. Michelle and I
join her family and colleagues and everybody else who loved her in
remembering her fondly today.


O`DONNELL: I wanted you to hear a few words from Gwen Ifill tonight. And
I found this. Gwen Ifill delivered the commencement address at Wake
Forest in 2013. This was her wish for the students graduating that day.


GWEN IFILL, TELEVISION NEWSCASTER: I wish several things for you today.
Not least of which that you, too, one day will have a mentor like I had in
my career. His name was Tim Russert. He was the Washington NBC News
Bureau Chief. He passed away in 2008, just before he delivered the
commencement speech here at Wake the next year. He was someone who
everyone should have as a mentor. Someone who will talk you into something
you ought to do that you are too scared to do. In my case it was leaving
print for television. Someone who will watch out for you once you do it
and make sure that you succeed, someone who will then turn you loose when
it`s time in my case, leaving NBC News to work for PBS and talk you into
doing something else if you need to. Tim taught me all those things, and
though I don`t think I ever told him how much I appreciate it. I think he
would love it that I`m telling you instead.


O`DONNELL: I`m going to read you a headline. Think about where did this
headline appear? Steve Bannon, eight things to know about Donald Trump`s
chief strategist, including that he reportedly didn`t want his daughters to
go to a school due to the number of Jews that attended. That was in Teen
Vogue. Teen Vogue – teenagers who care about where they go to school, who
care about who they go to school with are reading about this. So far,
Teen Vogue, at least, is refusing to normalize the presidency of Donald
Trump. Tavis Smiley joins us next.



DAVID DUKE, AMERICAN WHITE NATIONALIST: Bannon is being chosen to be the
top strategist. I think that`s a good sign, because I think Mr. Bannon has
really been right on about a lot of issues facing European Americans. He`s
really talked about and supported in some ways the alt-right.


O`DONNELL: That is David Duke`s endorsement of Steve Bannon. He couldn`t
be happier. Joining us now Tavis Smiley, the host of Tavis Smiley on PBS.
Tavis, first of all, my condolences to you for the death of Gwen Ifill,
your PBS Colleague. It`s a sad day for all of us. And let me just invite
you to say a word about Gwen before we get into this.

TAVIS SMILEY, HOST OF TAVIS SMILEY ON PBS: Yes. I don`t mean to put this
in racial terms, but because the media in this country does not look like
America, it does not reflect the breadth and depth of what America is, the
media – the news media does not reflect this beautiful mosaic that is
America. And so I say this in that spirit. Every race of people ought to
be judged, Lawrence, by the best they`ve been able to produce, and put very
simply, Gwen Ifill is among the best that our people have ever given in
this country and indeed the world. And she is going to be sorely missed at

O`DONNELL: Thank You for that, Tavis. Now on to the business of the day.
We have David Duke has finally found an administration that`s so far he`s
just crazy about.

SMILEY: Yes. I don`t believe in nor do I practice the politics of
personal destruction in part because it`s not my style and numbers two
because I believe that every one of us, even Mr. Bannon is redeemable so I
don`t play that game. Having said that Lawrence I do believe that when
people show you who they are, you should believe them. What I found
interesting about this campaign is that every time another vile rant would
come out of Mr. Trump`s mouth, another vulgarity would escape his lips.
Every time that happened there was always someone on the right, and indeed,
let`s be honest, some folk on the left who would defend Donald Trump by
saying that`s not the Donald Trump that I know to which Lawrence O`donnell
and Tavis Smiley and others kept saying will the real Donald Trump please
stand up.

They say that Donald is just saying these outrageous things just to get
elected. That`s not really who he is, and when he gets in, he`s going to
moderate. I caution you, they said the same thing about Clarence Thomas
once he got on the court – the high court. And I`m still waiting for him
to moderate. I digress on that point. My point there was simply this at
this point we are getting to see who the real Donald Trump is. And to my
mind Lawrence there are only two ways to judge the real Donald Trump.

You judge him by his posse and you judge him by his policies. You judge
him by the people he`s placing around him and you judge him by his
priorities. In a couple months, we will see what his budget has to say
about his priorities. Dr. King put it this way, budgets are moral
documents. Budgets are moral documents. You can say what you say, but you
are who you are when you put your budget on the table. But in the interim,
what we can do is to look at the people he`s placing around him. And when
the people you`re placing around you and those who we are told are on your
short list for high positions make up some of the most destructive and
divisive and devilish characters in all of contemporary politics well God
help us all.

O`DONNELL: And Tavis as you say, it`s policy and the personnel. Between
now and February, we probably won`t have much other than the personnel to
judge. And so this is the way we`re going to get our picture of what to
anticipate down the road. Now we can`t sit here tonight and know for
certain what Steve Bannon`s going to be advocating in terms of policy in
the Whitehouse. But certainly if there`s any discussion about how strong
and forbidding and threatening a Muslim ban should be, if there`s a round
table in the Whitehouse about that the bets are that Steve Bannon is indeed
the ban them all category.

SMILEY: Well that`s what I said I don`t believe in personal destruction
politics because every one is redeemable. And I want to prejudge him but
his track record is abundantly clear. And I think the other part. The
part that scares me about this arrangement between he and the now I guess
the former RNC Chair, they will co-chair, co-broker power in the Whitehouse
is that the campaigning never stops. I mean it just sickens me. And
this is not just a critique of the Republicans Party. This is true across
the board saddening that when we get past Election Day, the campaigning
never stops. And the true governing on behalf of fellow citizens never
begins. There`s no line between campaigning and governing, and when you
see one of his ilk receive a position of this kind of authority in the
Whitehouse it makes you wonder will the campaign ever stop and the
governing ever really begin?

O`DONNELL: Well we`ll see what happens when the governing begins. Tavis
Smiley, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

SMILEY: Thank you Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: MSNBC`s live coverage continues now into “THE 11TH HOUR” with
Brian Williams. That`s next.


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