Andy Beshear (D) gives victory speech. TRANSCRIPT: 11/5/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Neera Tanden, Steve McMahon, Larry Sabato, David Frum, Jonathan Allen, Steve McMahon, Ben Self
Transcript:

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel.

 

But we have the big results, especially the big results in Kentucky where

according to the Republican Party, their view of the case in Kentucky, the

socialists won tonight.  Listen to this. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

O`DONNELL:  This is – this is one of the ads, an excerpt of one of the ads

they were running right down to the end.  Socialists in Washington want to

impeach Trump and take us backward.  Andy Beshear is part of the radical

resistance.  And yet somehow – somehow Andy Beshear won. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Yes, in a state Trump won by 20 points.  Wacky,

right?

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and Donald Trump went down there and put it on the line,

and told them last night, you know, this will be bad for me if I lose.  He

once again did that Trump thing of personalizing that race to be about him. 

And if he wants to make it about him, it`s a very bad night for him. 

 

MADDOW:  That`s right.  And if you`re going to plate your trough that way,

you`re going to have to play for it later on, exactly.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and now what we`re now seeing – it`s going to be

fascinating to see what the Republican spin is after this.  We know what

the Republican spin is going to be, which is Donald Trump went down there

and save the da.  So, what is it now?  What do they say tomorrow? 

 

What is Mitch McConnell thinking tonight?  His numbers in Kentucky, his

popularity is not good to put it mildly.  Mitch McConnell`s up for re-

election next year.  What does this mean for him? 

 

MADDOW:  I was talking down to Vaughn Hillyard as we were just getting the

NBC News call about Beshear being the apparent winner and what Vaughn was

saying at the time that call came in was that Mitch McConnell`s numbers

looked basically exactly like Matt Bevin`s` numbers in Kentucky. 

 

And this is the last statewide that`s going to happen there before Mitch

McConnell is up statewide to try to hold on to his Senate seat.  And so,

every race is different, and that`ll be a presidential election year and

there will be a lot going on.  But it can`t look good. 

 

I imagine the Republicans will make this a personal loss for Bevin.  It

doesn`t say anything about anybody else.

 

O`DONNELL:  Rachel, the winner has taken the stage in Kentucky.  We`re

going to Beshear headquarters right now in Louisville. 

 

GOV-ELECT ANDY BESHEAR (D), KENTUCKY:  Let me first start by thanking my

running meat Jacqueline Coleman. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

You are an incredible friend, an amazing running mate and I know you`re

going to be a phenomenal lieutenant governor. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

Tonight, voters in Kentucky sent a message loud and clear for everyone to

hear.

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

It`s a message that says our elections don`t have to be about right versus

left.  They are still about right versus wrong. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

That our values and how we treat each other is still more important than

our party, that what unites us as Kentuckians is still stronger than any

national divisions. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

And tonight, I think we showed this country that in Kentucky, we can

disagree with each other while still respecting one another. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

In this commonwealth, a commonwealth that I love, we believe in lifting

each other up instead of tearing each other down. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

And here in Kentucky, we can still fight from the very top levels of

government for every family including the lost, the lonely and the left

behind. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

I haven`t had an opportunity yet to speak to Governor Bevin, but my

expectation is that he will honor – he will honor the election that was

held tonight, that he will help us make this transition, and I tell you

what, we`ll be ready for that first day in office and I look forward to it. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

Let me say that while this was a very hard fought election, I know

elections are difficult on families so let`s all wish this governor and his

family the very best.  We can do that.

 

(APPLAUSE)

 

I stand here tonight grateful, grateful to the commonwealth of Kentucky and

its voters, grateful.  But I`ve got to start by thanking the people in my

life who truly drive me, my family, for their love and inspiration. 

 

I want to thank my wife Britainy, your next first lady. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

And let me tell you, I know another first lady pretty well, and I believe

Britainy is going to be one of the best that we have ever had. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

And I have to thank my two kids, Will and Lila. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

You are all my reason for living.  Everything I do, I think about you.  I

love you all so much. 

 

I need to thank a couple of parents who raised me.  I want to thank my mom

and dad, Jane and Steve Beshear, for their love and support, their service,

their amazing service they gave to this commonwealth.

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

Tonight, I want to say thank you to our union families that helped make

this election happen. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

I want to thank the FOP, the Fraternal Order of Police. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

I want to thank our educators. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

To our educators, your courage to stand up and fight against all the

bullying and name-calling help galvanized our entire state.

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

I`ll never forget the first couple of years when I was in office as your

attorney general were a little bit hard.  There were days I came to work

and I felt that last soldier in Rome, but I put on that armor and stepped

up to the front line each and every day until 12,000 reinforcements came to

the capitol. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

To our educators, I know so many of you worked hard on this campaign, and I

appreciate every single hour that each of you and that all of our nearly

3,000 volunteers spent knocking on doors. 

 

And while I believe that Jacqueline said it, let me be very clear, to our

educators, this is your victory. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

From now on, the doors of your state capitol will always be open. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

We will treat each other with dignity and with respect, and we will honor

our commitments to our public servants. 

 

We will make sure that promises made are promises kept, and we will workday

and night to do as much good as we can however we can. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

So while I want everybody to have a lot of fun tonight, after tonight, this

election is over.  After tonight, we move forward with every other Kentucky

citizen as Team Kentucky. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

Team Kentucky is a team whose mission is rooted in our shared values of

faith, hard work and our belief in a bigger, brighter tomorrow. 

 

These Kentucky values transcend any and all party lines. 

 

(APPLAUSE)

 

I am committed – committed to be a governor for everyone.  That means

rural and urban Kentucky, eastern, western, northern and central Kentucky. 

 

It means being a governor for every Democrat, every Republican, and every

independent, ever single Kentuckian. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

To those watching, if I did not earn your vote today, rest assured I will

work hard to earn your trust.  And even more importantly I will always

strive to do the right thing. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

Because I didn`t run for this office just to be governor, I ran for this

office because I want to govern well. 

 

As your next governor, I will listen more than I talk.  I will work with

anyone who has a good idea that we can deliver for Kentuckians. 

 

With all the partisan bickering and nastiness that we`re seeing in

politics, we have an opportunity to do better right here in Kentucky. 

 

We are facing big challenges, but I know we are up to them.  I ran on

kitchen table issues and I will govern focused on those same challenges of

good jobs, health care for every Kentuckian.

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

Protecting and funding our pensions, and always supporting public

education. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

I believe we have a brighter tomorrow to make Kentucky the agri-tech leader

in this country.  We`re going to build our advanced manufacturing sector

and invest in workforce training.  That`s how we`re going to create good

jobs all over Kentucky in every single community. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

In my first week in office, I am going to rescind this governor`s Medicaid

waiver. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

We are going to give this state a brand new Board of Education.

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

And we are going to restore the voting rights of more than 140,000

citizens. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

Every day, we`re going to work to expand access to health care, and we are

going to fight to lower the cost of prescription drugs. 

 

Health care is basic human right, and my administration will treat it as

such. 

 

Under our administration, a pension is a promise.  There will be no more

going after the pensions of our teachers, social workers and first

responders.  They have earned that retirement. 

 

And public education will be the central priority in my administration. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

We are going to invest in our public schools because we believe in the next

generation of Kentuckians.  Our schools are the foundation of our

communities.  Every kid has the right to get a world class education that

opens up every door that they can walk through. 

 

And we can only provide those opportunities by -

 

O`DONNELL:  We have much more election news tonight, including in the state

of Virginia. 

 

But let`s go straight to Steve Kornacki for the latest on Kentucky. 

 

Steve, NBC is calling Andy Beshear the apparent winner.  What are we

waiting for confirmation there? 

 

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, so basically

you can see the margin here.  It is inside of 1 percent here.  This is 0.4

percent of 1 percent.  The margin here 5,801 votes.  Every precinct, we

have every precinct in the state accounted for. 

 

What is happening now is that Matt Bevin, the governor – there it is, we

just had a – I want to figure out what just happened there.  I think I may

know.  It was this.  This is where we had a discrepancy and I wasn`t sure

on this. 

 

The is Woodford County, right outside of Lexington.  Our numbers were

lagging behind the “Associated Press”.  If we`re trying to figure – this

is the one discrepancy that was on the board. 

 

What it basically – I apologize, Lawrence, it literally happened as we

were right here.  It updated by a few thousand votes, the totals for Bevin

and Beshear.  But you can see it still lands about 5,126 votes, 5,126

that`s what it lands at right here. 

 

Matt Bevin, the governor, has said he`s not conceding this election.  What

he does right now is he has the right if he wants – he didn`t say he`s

necessarily doing this – he has the right to file for a recount.  There`s

no automatic recount provision in Kentucky.  But you will have to do if he

wants to take that route, he`d have to go to court, he`d have to go to a

judge. 

 

Apparently in his speech, tonight, he alluded to discrepancies, not clear

exactly what he might be referring to, irregularities, excuse me.  But he

would have to put that in writing, he`d have to go to a judge, he`d have to

get a judge to say, OK, there`s going to be a recount.  But there`s a

possibility he`s going to seek that, there`s a possibility the judge is

going to give him that. 

 

O`DONNELL:  But, Steve, in terms of vote count tonight what more are we

going to see? 

 

KORNACKI:  In Kentucky, that`s it.  I think that`s what you just saw there

in Woodford County was the last one.  It was a thing where “The Associated

Press” has been doing a running count of this and we`ve been doing a

running count, that`s the little change there you just saw, but otherwise,

as I said, every precinct in state is accounted for. 

 

So, if Bevin is ultimately going to become the winner of this race, he

would have to get a recount, and the recount would have to turn up

something we are not seeing in these results.  There`s not going to be

anymore precincts that come in Kentucky that would put Bevin ahead. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Steve, put this Democratic gain just in the vote count in

Kentucky in perspective.  Donald Trump won the state by 30 points.  Here

you see a Democratic candidate statewide running for governor the day after

Donald Trump went down there and said this election is about impeachment,

actually tried to put impeachment on the ballot in Kentucky.  And for the

Democrat to even make the race this close, we would be talking about it

even if the Democrat was coming in second. 

 

KORNACKI:  I think there are a couples things that happen.  I think when

you`re a Democrat and win a governor`s race in Kentucky a lot of things

have to go right for you.  There are two things I draw your attention to. 

 

One I`ve been talking about tonight is in the suburbs, in Cincinnati.  This

is the northern part of Kentucky here.  On the other side of the Ohio River

there is Cincinnati.  These are suburbs of Cincinnati, these three counties

that jut out here. 

 

Population-wise, these are big counties, they make up about 10 percent of

the state population.  They`re traditionally Republican bastions,

traditionally Republican candidates, get pretty big pluralities out of

here, help them win statewide.

 

That is not what happened tonight.  You see two of these three counties in

the Cincinnati suburbs actually flipped and went Democratic, went for

Beshear.  And in the third, that`s Boone County, the red one right here,

Bevin ran 10 points off what he did last time around. 

 

These are counties did well in 2016, but tonight, they went far towards the

Democrats away from Republicans.  I think that is part of the national

story we`ve been talking about.  Suburbs across the country, that`s where

you`ve seen the most dramatic movement over the last few years, during the

Trump presidency, away from the Republican Party of Donald Trump, and

toward the Democratic Party.  That was part of the story in Kentucky

tonight. 

 

The other part of the story in Kentucky tonight, coal country, rural

Kentucky, eastern Kentucky in particular here.  Kentucky is an interesting

state because, yeah, Trump state, red state, wasn`t always a red state. 

Way back Kentucky was a deeply blue state, a Democratic state.  It was blue

collar, culturally conservative, but it was Democratic. 

 

And what happens here is in eastern Kentucky, you start to see these blue

counties here.  Check this out.  This is good example.  Bath County, small

county here but Beshear wins 52-46. 

 

How big of a departure from 2016 is that?  Look at this, Donald Trump got

37 percent here in 2016.  He won by 37.  Tonight, Bevin lost this county by

6. 

 

You see this throughout here.  Trump won by 22, Beshear won by 19.  You can

go up, Nicholas County, here`s another one, Trump won by 41 points in 2016. 

Bevin couldn`t even carry it tonight. 

 

So, it`s an interesting phenomenon here where you can call it ancestrally

Democratic.  They`ve kept their Democratic registration in a lot of cases

but they started voting for Republicans on the national level, they

certainly voted for Donald Trump.  Boy, did they go back to Beshear and the

Democrats tonight. 

 

Vaughn Hillyard, our reporter down there, was saying one of the theories

out there is one of the reasons you heard Andy Beshear mention this in his

speech, his father Steve Beshear, the former governor he did very well in

those areas, and it might have been in part, the Beshear family name might

have reassured some of these voters and brought them back into the

Democratic fold. 

 

But you had – look, Trump last night giving that speech, Trump coming into

Kentucky.  These were exactly the kind of places he thought he was going to

fire up.  Bevin needed to do better in coal country. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Steve, thank you very much.  You cued up Vaughn Hillyard

perfectly.

 

We`re going to go live now to NBC News Vaughn Hillyard at Beshear

headquarters in Louisville. 

 

Vaughn, what`s the reaction there? 

 

VAUGHN HILLYARD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER:  Yes, Steve said it. 

Throughout the night, all of a sudden, as these numbers were coming in,

they were slowly something in there, I was talking with Steve and the

campaign was saying eastern Iowa may be saving us right now.  These are

largely small counties so incremental numbers. 

 

When you`re looking over at places like where Trump won by 40 percent, but

also those little counties like Perry and Johnson, if you look at the 2015

numbers, for the 2019 numbers Bevin lost maybe 4 percentage points.  But

what that said about that is the fact essentially those areas did not turn

out in higher numbers.  The voter turn out increase did not surge in the

same way it did in places like those northern Kentucky suburbs, over in

Boone, over in Kenton, where they saw voter turnout increases about 150

percent, you know? 

 

And you look at those counties.  Essentially they went from Matt Bevin

victories in 2015 with about 66 percent number, down to about a 55 percent

number.  And so, when you see the matter of closing those margins, that`s

where this campaign had the opportunity and through the Louisville area,

through the Lexington number to have those sort of dramatic surges that

ultimately were able to make up for what were still victories in some of

those rural counties. 

 

You know, we were talking about what that campaign was, and when you come

in into town, and you turn on the television set, and you see Matt Bevin

ads.  And what they were about?  They were about Donald Trump, they`re

about impeachment, they`re about the closeness of the relationship between

the White House and Matt Bevin.  It was not so much about policy as opposed

to Andy Beshear. 

 

Andy Beshear was focusing on issues like jobs and health care and

education.  And when you looked at this, I showed up at the polling site

that morning with Matt Bevin, and he said look around, people are talking

about Trump, people are talking about impeachment.  People are looking at

somebody that needs to defend the president. 

 

I countered him saying you`re not ready for the House of Representatives or

Senate with all due respect, sir.  He essentially said you know what, Trump

works.  There was no discussion of policy.  And, ultimately, what you see

here was a Donald Trump victory in 2016 by 30 percent to an Andy Beshear

victory tonight. 

 

And just a few moments ago, on this very stage, Beshear said what this

victory meant was showing the Kentuckians to right versus wrong over left

versus right.  And he said from the stage that he plans to extend voting

rights to 140,000 Kentuckians, and he plans to implement a board of

education, and plans to roll back those Medicaid waivers essentially

playing work restrictions, work requirements on the recipients in the state

of Kentucky, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Vaughn Hillyard, thank you very much for joining us from

Louisville.

 

It`s time for our panel to consider what`s happened here tonight.  We`re

joined by Sam Stein.  He`s the politics editor from “The Daily Beast”,

Steve McMahon, Democratic strategist and co-founder and CEO of Purple

Strategies.  Neera Tanden is with us, she`s a former senior advisor to

President Obama and Hillary Clinton.  She`s president and CEO for the

Center of American Progress. 

 

And let`s just take a look – let`s just take a look at what Donald Trump

had to say last night, Donald Trump last night in Kentucky setting the

stakes for voters in Kentucky. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You`ve got to vote because

if you lose it sends a bad message.  And they will build it up – here`s

the story if you win they`re going to make it like ho-hum, and if you lose

they`re going to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of

the world.  This was the greatest.  You can`t let that happen to me. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Steve, Donald Trump says he suffered the greatest defeat in the

history of the world. 

 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Yes, I tell you what, if I were

Mitch McConnell tonight, I`d be a little concerned.  If you look at what

Trump did in 2016 winning by 30, you look at what happened tonight, you

look at your opponent Amy McGrath having out-raised in the third quarter,

$10.7 million, to about $7 million, and you look at your numbers and how

you`re under water and they really look like Matt Bevin`s` numbers, I think

Mitch McConnell is not having a good night tonight. 

 

Donald Trump certainly isn`t having a good night tonight.  And if I were a

Republican senator running for re-election, I`d be very worried about these

numbers. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Neera Tanden, if you`re Mitch McConnell and you`re

thinking, well, you know, no matter how close it gets on that final night

before the election, I can have Donald Trump fly into Kentucky and save me,

it didn`t work this time. 

 

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  Yes, not saving last night or

today.  I`d say I think the most important part of tonight is Republican

senators considering impeachment have had a strategy, and that strategy is

our success depends on Donald Trump.  And what they see in one of the

reddest states in the country, a state Trump won by 30 points, he has no

coattails for Republicans.  He has no coattails for Bevin, who really isn`t

just neutral.  Bevin`s tied himself to Donald Trump. 

 

And so, Bob Costa had some reporting on this earlier, I think they`re

really looking at this in terms of how do they separate themselves.  I

think you might see more Republicans potentially think of how do I get away

from Trump, instead of how do I basically cover for him each and every day. 

And I think that could prove really important over the next few weeks with

the impeachment. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, Robert Costa, “The Washington Post” reporting tonight he

spent a lot of today with Republican senators and that they were all

watching this election in Kentucky tonight very, very closely, taking that

into consideration on how they approach impeachment. 

 

I want to show the way Republicans believed they could win this race in

Kentucky.  Let`s take a look at this ad where the Republicans basically

were telling Kentucky voters that only the Republicans could save them from

the socialists.  Let`s watch this. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

AD ANNOUNCER:  President Trump and Governor Bevin are making Kentucky great

again, but socialists in Washington want to impeach Trump and take us

backward.  Andy Beshear is part of their radical resistance.  Liberal Andy

Beshear doesn`t share our Kentucky values. 

 

Send the socialist a message.  Defeat Andy Beshear. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Sam Stein, they sent the socialists the message tonight. 

 

SAM STEIN, THE DAILY BEAST:  Yes, they elected him.  That ad might have

been a little over the top, I think, maybe not believable. 

 

But I think you get to something bigger which is Republicans and they

probably still do, believe they can do what they did roughly with Brett

Kavanaugh in the lead up to the election, which is nationalize a culturally

hotbed issue, turn impeachment into a political positive them.

 

But I think if there is a takeaway, I`m not sure I think – we can

extrapolate like two part, but I do think if there is a takeaway, is that

impeachment is not necessarily the great mobilizer that Republicans were

hoping for among their voters.  Certainly, it didn`t seem to work in

Bevin`s favor even though he tried to weaponize it against Beshear here. 

 

Now, of course, we need to keep in mind, Republicans won the attorney

general race, they won the secretary of state race in Kentucky.  So, you

know, some of this has to do with the fact Bevin was a historically hated

governor who did really unpopular things, including messing with peoples

health care and Beshear was able to use that against him. 

 

But I think if you ought to nationalize it, you have to point out that he

did try to bring Trump in to boost turn out, it didn`t work and he did try

to weaponize impeachment against Democrats and that too didn`t work.  And

that might have a psychic effect on other Republicans nationally and those

running in close contests, where they no longer feel like impeachment can

be the tool they use to save their political hide. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Steve, let me just add something Sam was saying, which was

campaign pros know.  They brought Donald Trump in to try to pump up

Republican turn out.  But what campaign professionals know is there`s

always a danger that what that kind of speaker does is pump up the

opposition`s turnout.

 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND CEO OF PURPLE STRATEGIES: Yes.

 

O`DONNELL: I mean I knew senators who used to say to other senators, “I`ll

come to your state or stay away from your state, whichever will help you

the most.” And for liberal northeastern senators, their deal was, “Don`t

worry, I`ll stay away from your state because I know an association with me

is not helpful to you.” Donald Trump went there and maybe he did pump up a

turnout on the Democratic side.

 

MCMAHON: I`m actually guessing he did. I mean one of the reasons that those

senators would say that, “I`ll come in and denounce you or support you

depending upon what`s most helpful.”

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, right.

 

MCMAHON: –is because they would look at polling numbers and they were to

understand, if you have a 41 percent favorable rating in a state, you don`t

want that person in campaigning for you.

 

O`DONNELL: Right.

 

MCMAHON: –because 59 percent of the people don`t like that person. And

Donald Trump`s numbers, even though he won Kentucky by 30, his numbers in

Kentucky are not that strong. Mitch McConnell`s as we mentioned earlier are

not that strong. So you bring in a guy to pump you up, he may actually be

pulling you down and he certainly has the potential to turn out votes for

Democrats and you can see in those suburban counties, where nominally

Republican voters that would support a Republican candidate didn`t support

Matt Bevin tonight, and that`s a warning shot for any Republican.

 

And I think Neera is right, every Republican in the Senate who`s a vote, a

jury member on this impeachment if it gets to the Senate, is looking at

this saying, “It might not be as clear or as easy as it looked a week ago

and I might not want to go there.”

 

O`DONNELL: We have to squeeze in a break here. Sam Stein in your

attendance; Steve McMahon, thanks for starting us off. We have much more

ahead including big Democratic win in Virginia. That one`s really

important; stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: The Republicans put Donald Trump on the ballot today in Kentucky

and the Republicans lost.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATT BEVIN, (R) GOVERNOR OF KENTUCKY: Let`s get out and vote. Let`s send a

message to Washington, to the other states, to the United States of America

that Kentucky is leading the way and that we support the President of the

United States, Donald J. Trump.

 

(APPLAUSE)

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: That was Matt Bevin campaigning for his re-election as governor

in Kentucky just last night; that strategy did not work. We`re joined now

by Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Ben Self. Mr. Self, was this a

referendum on Donald Trump?

 

BEN SELF, (D) KENTUCKY DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: I think that Governor

Bevin clearly tried to make it a referendum on Donald Trump. But at the end

of the day, Kentuckians took at a look at the two candidates, our Attorney

General Andy Beshear and Governor Matt Bevin, and decided which one of them

was better for Kentucky. And that`s what Democrats win in Kentucky, is when

you`re voting based on what`s better for everyday Kentuckians, and it is

not a referendum on the national level.

 

So really, they pulled out all the stops to try to save the second least

popular governor in America. They flew in Donald Trump on the night before

the election; Mike Pence was campaigning the weekend before. Donald Trump,

Jr. came in; Trump came in for two other fundraisers, even have Ben Carson

up in Northern Kentucky. So they tried - when you have a candidate like

Matt Bevin who is so unpopular and whose policies have just failed the

state for so long, you do whatever you can do to try to win and that`s

clearly what they thought they had to do.

 

O`DONNELL: When you saw the President of the United States coming into your

state the night before the election, there`s two ways to look at that, one,

you could be worried that he`s going to help the Republicans but you could

also expect that he - that this President of the United States would help

turnout - help energize turnout on the Democratic side, is that possibly

what happened with the President`s visit?

 

SELF: I think that`s absolutely possible. I mean, if you look at Fayette

County, which is where he showed up in Lexington, the margins from this

race versus those in 2015 were not even comparable. Things over three times

- the vote difference was three times greater than it was in 2015. So, you

absolutely saw Democrats fired up in Kentucky.

 

And you know, as a campaigner, the other thing I saw was I saw 15,000

people who sat there all day trying to get a view of the President, while

we had tens of thousands of people out there knocking on doors trying to

convince people to go out and vote. And that`s really what makes the

difference in an election, particularly in a state like Kentucky when you

can talk to voters door-to-door and you have the ability to hire folks all

around the state to organize volunteers to campaign for you, that matters a

lot more than sitting in a rally for 30 minutes.

 

O`DONNELL: Your state`s senior Senator Mitch McConnell has pretty negative

polling numbers in Kentucky, right now, with the election a year away. What

does tonight`s result tell you about the McConnell re-election campaign?

 

SELF: I think it absolutely shows you that Mitch McConnell is vulnerable.

The Republicans are going to try to say that he`s a different candidate,

it`ll be a national election and won`t be a state election. But when you

look at the popularity numbers for approval ratings for Matt Bevin and

Mitch McConnell, they`re pretty darn close. And I - we`ve been seeing it

for years already. People are fired up to take on Mitch McConnell.

 

We hear from people all around the country every day, people from inside of

the state that they`re ready to ditch Moscow Mitch and replace him with

somebody who really represents the issues in Kentucky. Mitch McConnell

stopped representing Kentucky years ago. He`s all about accumulating power

for himself. And I think when we have a Democratic candidate who is willing

to put Kentucky first, we`re going to see that Kentuckians come out and

vote for them.

 

O`DONNELL: Ben Self, Kentucky`s Democratic Party Chairman, thank you very

much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

 

SELF: Thank you all for having me.

 

O`DONNELL: And when we come back after this break, tonight`s warning for

Mitch McConnell. You just heard it. It is not looking good for Mitch

McConnell and his re-election campaign. And one thing we can guaranty you,

Donald Trump will not be campaigning for Mitch McConnell the night before

the election in Kentucky. If the Republicans have to be campaigning in

Kentucky for the - on the night before the Presidential election, Donald

Trump doesn`t have a chance.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: It was an historic night in Virginia tonight where Democrats

have won control of the State House and the State Senate for the first time

in the 21st century. Let`s go to Steve Kornacki for a look at what`s

happening in Virginia tonight. Steve?

 

STEVE KORNACKI, NATIONAL POLICITAL CORRESPONDENT, MSNBC: Yes, Lawrence, so

let`s take you through the math on this in terms of the House of Delegates

coming into tonight. This is what the balance of power looked like in

Virginia. Republicans control that it was 51 to 48; there was a vacant

seat; there was a Democratic seat. So, it was essentially 51:49 coming into

tonight. There are still a few races being tabulated. But right now,

Democrats have picked up according to the Associated Press. They have

netted five seats so far, a net gain of five seats on the House side for

Democrats. Again, that`s why the AP is now calling this control of the

House of Delegates flipping in Virginia from Republicans to the Democrats.

 

And then, the state Senate side coming into tonight, it was - again, there

was a vacancy here, so really it was a Republican seat. It was 21:19

Republicans on the state Senate side coming into tonight. Democrats really

needed one because if you get to a 20:20 tie and you control the lieutenant

governorship as Democrats do in Virginia, the Lieutenant Governor can break

the tie. So, Democrats needed a net gain of one coming into tonight.

 

Right now, the AP is saying they have gotten a net gain of two on the

Senate side. So again, the Senate called, the House of Delegates called;

that adds to control of the legislature and control of the governorship for

Democrats in Virginia and really it just completes a pretty remarkable

transformation I think of the State of Virginia, of the politics of the

State of Virginia.

 

Lawrence, certainly you know as well as anybody going back decades,

Virginia was thought of as a Republican bastion. These are Republican

presidential winning margins in Virginia starting in 1968 and you just see

an ocean of red here. It flipped in 2008 to Barack Obama, stayed with Obama

in 2012, was right on sort of the national average there. In 2016, Hillary

Clinton won it again. I think folks look at 2020 and they say the Democrats

heavily favored to win Virginia in 2020, whoever it is, Democrats control

the governorship, Democrats control the legislature. You`re never really

looking at a swing state anymore, Lawrence; you`re looking at a blue state.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, and that is what Professor Larry Sabato said tonight in a

tweet and we`re going to go to him now, Steve. We will be back to you.

We`re joined now by Larry Sabato; he`s the Director of the University of

Virginia Center for Politics. And Larry, a closer look now at what has

happened in Virginia. What is the meaning of this election for Virginia,

going forward? Does this put Democrats in control of the next re-

districting in Virginia after the next census?

 

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Yes,

they`re in charge now. They have a comfortable margin in the House of

Delegates. Their margin in the Senate may actually go up; there are three

very close races. Two look likely to me any way to go to Republicans, but

one may well go to Democrats. So, that`s a cushion in the State Senate and

of course, the Governor doesn`t leave office until 2022 or January 2022 and

the re-districting will be done in 2021. So this is a tremendous gain for

Democrats and, as Steve was saying, it`s hard to believe that the Democrats

control everything in Virginia, absolutely everything from a majority of

the House of Representatives delegation, both Senate seats, Governor and

Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and now both Houses of the state

legislature.

 

O`DONNELL: And one of the elements of the degree of difficulty tonight is

that the Democrats were running in districts that were actually drawn by

Republicans during the last redistricting, and so they were drawn to

heavily favor Republicans, which they did. And so this was - this took

everything the Democrats had to pull this off.

 

SABATO: That`s absolutely true and they did get a break in the summer when

the courts ordered a redrawing of a few districts in the House of Delegates

and it favored Democrats substantially. So they got a break there.

 

They actually might have won the House of Delegates even without those

breaks. But in the future, given the fact that Democrats will redraw the

lines in 2021, I think you can look to the Democratic margin increasing.

 

O`DONNELL: And now Larry, a quick word about what we`re seeing in Kentucky

tonight. President went down there last night, he nationalized the race, he

put himself on the ballot in Kentucky, he put impeachment on the ballot in

Kentucky, the Republican advertising and campaign put Donald Trump and put

impeachment on the ballot in the Kentucky Governor`s race, and it was a

very bad night for the Republicans.

 

SABATO: It sure was. Yes, it`s true, they want everything below Governor.

But Governor matters more than all the other things put together. And Trump

put his reputation on the line, he picked Kentucky for the election eve

visit, because he thought he could have the most influence there.

 

But Matt Bevin lost. And when you`re a Republican running statewide in

Kentucky, you have to try to lose, and Bevin tried for four years and he

succeeded.

 

O`DONNELL: Larry Sabato, thank you very much for joining us from Virginia

tonight, really appreciate it.

 

SABATO: Thank you Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we will have more on the big Democratic

wins tonight. Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: So how are Senate Republicans facing an impeachment trial, how

are they feeling tonight? Washington Post reporter Robert Costa tweeted

tonight, “I spent the day in the Senate talking with Republicans. They are

all paying close attention to the Kentucky gubernatorial race. They are not

just watching the returns, but President Trump`s political capital as they

make decisions about how to handle impeachment and their own future.”

 

Joining our discussion now, David Frum, Senior Editor for The Atlantic, and

Jonathan Allen national political reporter for NBC News Digital. And David

Frum, Republican Senators contemplating their own political future is what

they apparently do all day, which up to now has had them pretty much in

lockstep with Donald Trump. What is tonight`s lesson in Kentucky for

Republican Senators?

 

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR FOR THE ATLANTIC: It`s a very ominous lesson for

Republicans and not just about President Trump. President Trump is an

unpopular President, but he`s heading an unpopular agenda. Why was Matt

Bevin such an unpopular Governor? Yes, he picked fights about teacher

pensions and yes he got on the wrong side of a battle about casino

gambling.

 

But the number one cause of his unpopularity was Medicaid. He took 30,000

plus Kentuckians off Medicaid over the past two years. Nationwide,

Republicans have taken 1.3 million people off Medicaid. If Kentucky didn`t

like it, I don`t think the rest of the country is going to like it either.

 

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Allen, Donald Trump put himself on the ballot in

Kentucky, the Republican party put Donald Trump on the ballot in Kentucky,

they put impeachment on the ballot in Kentucky, because they believed it

would help turn out the pro-Trump anti-impeachment vote, didn`t work.

 

JONATHAN ALLEN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER FOR NBC NEWS: It was a poor

bet, Lawrence, as it appears by a few tenths of a percentage point there.

This is not evidence that Donald Trump wanted, it`s not evidence that

Senate Republicans wanted that this impeachment process that`s going on in

the House of Representatives is going to punish Democrats.

 

And what we`ve seen so far is zero evidence of that. The House voted last

week on this impeachment process and all but two of the House Democrats

basically said they don`t fear the consequences of this. We saw the

Kentucky vote today, we saw the votes in Virginia today, there`s absolutely

no evidence of it, and I would say - I would argue that we`ve actually seen

the opposite of that from Senator Mitch McConnell who`s in Kentucky, who

has a feel for this state.

 

He`s been much less aggressive and defensive Trump on impeachment than

Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, the Republican leaders in the House. You

do not see Mitch McConnell organizing 34 Senators to go out and say hell

no, absolutely no way are we ever going to remove the President from

office.

 

Instead, he`s been much more circumspect in what he`s doing. Today, he said

if the vote were held today, there wouldn`t be the votes for it. He said

there`s going to be a trial, he`s not going to dismiss it out of hand. He`s

been much more let`s say careful about it and I think perhaps that`s wise

given the results we saw in Kentucky today.

 

O`DONNELL: Well, Mitch McConnell`s reelection numbers in Kentucky are as

bad as they could possibly be for Republicans. Let`s listen to what Donald

Trump said last night in Kentucky about that next big election in Kentucky

next year.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Next November, the state

needs to defend its values and vote for rock-ribbed Kentucky conservative

Mitch McConnell. But we`re going to get back to that later, we`ll be back

many times.

 

(APPLAUSE)

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: David Frum, maybe going back many times won`t help.

 

FRUM: No, it is - you could also see in Donald Trump`s face how little he

likes Mitch McConnell.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

And how much less Mitch McConnell likes him. There`s a calculation that

every Republican has to be doing, every Republican Senator, which is if a

wishing fairy told you that you would keep the Senate either way, would you

be happier with President Trump or without him?

 

And I think if Republicans were sure they could keep their majority, they`d

be happier without him.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, and Jonathan Allen, there`s another big question for Mitch

McConnell and other Republicans. Let`s just assume for a moment that Mitch

McConnell himself - that he was not up for re-election next year. That big

question is, who do they really want at the top of the ticket next year? Do

they really want Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket next

year?

 

ALLEN: I mean the truth is for Mitch McConnell like, any Congressional

leader, his priority is keeping his caucus as big as it possibly can be,

keeping a majority in his case. He`ll do the calculation closer to the

election as to whether Donald Trump is better for that cause or Mike Pence

is better for that cause.

 

I suspect that they think that an impeachment and a removal is such a

jarring consequence that it`s difficult to recover from. But we`ll wait and

see.

 

O`DONNELL: And David, the lesson here on trying to nationalize the

impeachment cause, trying to nationalize the defense of Donald Trump, if

you wanted to run that test as a Republican and kind of fix it so that

you`d get a positive result, you would take that test to a place like say

Kentucky, which is what they did.

 

It`s not like they took it some swing state or they - they took it to

Kentucky and they couldn`t get Kentucky voters to stand up and say yes, we

are opposed to impeachment.

 

FRUM: Look, the story of the Trump Presidency is just this, that in 2012,

the Republicans discovered their classic cocktail was not palatable anymore

to American voters. And so, in 2016, they said well what if we put a little

Donald Trump spicy seasoned salt around the rim of the cocktail, does it

become more palatable?

 

And they discovered, yes a lot of actually more economically hard-pressed

culturally conservative white voters, especially men, will drink the

cocktail with the Trump seasoning. What the Medicaid plus Trump vote shows

in Kentucky is that the Trump seasoning no longer works, and the Republican

message of less Medicaid for you, people are tasting that and they`re not

enjoying it.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, and Jonathan, what`s so important about that is this is

exactly what Donald Trump has tried to do. Donald Trump has spent his

Presidency trying to take healthcare away from people, trying to repeal

completely Obamacare. And so, the campaign run against Matt Bevin in

Kentucky is the campaign you would run against Donald Trump nationally.

 

ALLEN: It`s so hard to tell sometimes, Lawrence, because the President

talks about how he`s going to preserve various things that his government

is trying to take away at the very same time. He goes out on the stump and

talks about preserving Medicare, but then you look in his budget and it`s

undercutting Medicare.

 

He says he`s going to preserve pre-existing condition protections and there

his government is suing to undermine them. You would think that that`s

something that the Democratic Presidential candidates are going to spend a

lot of time on in this primary and eventually a nominee will spend a lot of

time on in the general election much as Democratic candidates did in the

midterms to great success, and Trump will have to defend what his record

is.

 

O`DONNELL: And David, I think the Democrats have enough video of Donald

Trump saying he was going to repeal Obamacare completely, that they`ll be

able to I think pretty clearly make the case that Donald Trump was trying

to do and has in many ways done the same thing that Matt Bevin was doing.

 

FRUM: And that video will do one more thing, and you`ll see that tomorrow,

which is these things get inside Donald Trump`s head. I mean the real

natural politicians, the Obamas, the Clintons, the George W Bushs, they`re

like boxers. They take a punch, they shake it off, they`re back in the

ring.

 

Donald Trump, these things get inside his head, they work on him and his

own game begins to deteriorate as he takes onboard things that more

professional politicians would shake off and forget the next day.

 

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Allen, how long will we have to wait for the Trump

tweets blaming all of this on Matt Bevin?

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

ALLEN: T minus 30 seconds, Lawrence. How long do we have to go before the

11th hour?

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, and David, that`s another part of this is that Donald Trump

is now sitting in the White House tonight watching this, stewing, thinking

who does he blame, who was the nut in his operation, who let him go to

Kentucky. All of that has to be dealt with in Trump world tomorrow.

 

FRUM: I just glanced at Twitter a second ago. I think that`s already

happened. I think there`s already a statement from the Trump campaign

saying that Donald Trump almost successfully dragged Matt Bevin over the

finish line, that is they`re keeping the blame on him.

 

And now every Republican officeholder has to think, wait a moment, wait a

moment, is that going to happen to me, are you going to kick me if I get

into trouble.

 

O`DONNELL: David Frum, Jonathan Allen, thank you both for joining us with

this live coverage on election night, really appreciate it.

 

That is tonight`s LAST WORD. “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams starts

now, with continuing coverage of tonight`s election night.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END   

 

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