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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 09/15/15

Guests: Rick Wilson, Cornell Belcher, Jess McIntosh, Stuart Stevens, Billde Blasio, James Cameron

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So the debate: I hear they`re all going after me. Whatever. Whatever. HAYES (voice-over): A candidate on fire, debating in a state that`s on fire. Tonight, former Romney strategist Stuart Stevens on the movement to stop Trump. A report from Simi Valley on the efforts to keep the Reagan Library from burning down. And director James Cameron on the manmade disaster of climate change. Then a Hillary super PAC goes negative on Bernie Sanders and the senator`s fighting back. And the mayor of New York on the brutal police take-down of James Blake. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: What was your reaction when you saw that video? HAYES (voice-over): My interview with Mayor De Blasio when ALL IN starts right now. (MUSIC PLAYING) HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes on the eve of the second Republican presidential debate. Pretty astounding new poll shows how topsy-turvy the dynamics of this race have become. In a survey out today from "The New York Times" and CBS News, Ben Carson has pulled into a statistical dead heat with Donald Trump at 23 percent among Republican primary voters to Trump`s 27 percent with a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percent. That`s a massive jump for Carson, who was at just 6 percent in the same poll just one month ago. And it puts total support for both Carson and Trump, two men who have never run for office nor served in government, at 50 percent. Compare that to the total support for Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, two Republican governors who are long expected to be the favorites. They are currently at a cumulative 8 percent, just a point behind the poll`s third most popular response, "don`t know." With Carson now giving Trump a run for his considerable money and refusing to be drawn into an open feud as so many other rivals have done, how the two front-runners handle each other will be the thing to watch for tomorrow night. For Trump`s part, he`s projecting an air of unconcern. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: So, the debate: I hear they`re all going after me. Whatever. Whatever. No, I hear it. (END VIDEO CLIP) Joining me now EMILY`s List spokesperson, Jess McIntosh, former DNC pollster Cornell Belcher and GOP strategist Rick Wilson. So, Rick, we`ve been talking about the Trump phenomenon. I think counterintuitive, the whole idea that has guided people responding to Trump has been you got to fight back against a bully. Bully punches you in the face, you punch him right back. Trump`s a bully, ergo go right at him. We saw Governor Perry do that. We saw Rand Paul do that. We saw Jeb Bush do that a little bit. And I feel like maybe Ben Carson is showing that everyone got it wrong the whole time, that really the way to essentially outdo Trump is just to not take the bait. RICK WILSON, GOP STRATEGIST: Well, look, one thing you should realize is you can`t shame Donald Trump. He has been around people for years who told him that every time he breaks wind, it smells like daffodils and sunshine. This is a guy who is used to being held in the arms of a bunch of toadies and bootlickers who always praise him. So when people fight back against him, he has this immediate shield wall that goes up and he attacks and attacks and attacks and attacks. So Carson, in some ways, this sort of Bruce Lee attack, "Be water, my friend," of not letting Trump hit him. And Carly Fiorina, by the way, the same sort of category this week, who really showed how you can go after Donald Trump by turning his attack and deflecting it a little bit into something that went after a demo that he`s weak with, which is Republican women. I think her ad this week was terrific on that front. HAYES: So Cornell, I was looking today at "Huff Post," that the "Huff Post" pollster averages. One of the things I thought that was most interesting was data about the amount of attention people say they are paying to this race. And as early as it is, you`re seeing people paying much more attention to this race at this point than they did four years ago, eight years ago, 12 years ago, 16 years ago. Does that say anything about the fluidity of the polling, how seriously we should take the numbers now? Or is it still just essentially all a run-up to when people get serious, voters get serious in December? CORNELL BELCHER, FORMER DNC POLLSTER: Well, a couple things. One, there`s a big X factor. Let me say, I was talking to -- as I do in my travels and talking to people around the country, cabbies, people parking cars -- and you have people talking about debates and tuning in to debates and watching the debates, who say they`ve never watched a debate before. But it is part of this reality television sort of phenomenon that I`ve said is eating American culture that you see taking part in this. This is a show a lot of people want to see. Now I love the idea that bringing more people into the process. The other part about this is, yes, the electorate is very fluid right now in that poll, 63 percent of the electorate were still shopping around. So you have a very fluid poll so you have a very fluid group of voters right now. The question becomes, do these people who are turning in to watch it, who have never been a part of it, do they then become part of the process and the X factors and throw off a lot of these polling models? As crazy as this sounds, does Donald Trump have the ability to expand and grow the Republican electorate because of the people that are tuning in and watching him? It is a fascinating phenomenon. HAYES: Jess, this debate we`re going to have, a really amazing thing on the stage. And I`m not quite sure what anyone`s going to do it with this time around. There`s going be a woman on stage this time. It`s going to be confusing, I think, for all involved. JESS MCINTOSH, EMILY`S LIST SPOKESPERSON: A real live one. HAYES: A real live one; she can talk, talk back, talk, ask questions. It`s going to be very confusing for everyone involved. She is now on stage, Carly Fiorina making the cut this time. She had this sort of back-and-forth with Donald Trump, who said this nasty thing about her looks, which he then tried to like, I think, in a somewhat cowardly fashion, pretend he hasn`t said about her looks -- MCINTOSH: Which is what he did with Megyn Kelly. He said something nasty about her and then said that we were all the nasty ones for thinking that`s what we meant. That`s just his M.O. HAYES: But do you think -- I`ve sort of amazed that Donald Trump`s polling with Republican women hasn`t seemed to be affected by any of this. I have to be honest, like all the predictions of, well, this is the thing that does him in, the one thing I would think is, at a certain point you`ll see some splits start to happen in the gender divide internal Republican polling. That hasn`t shown up yet. I don`t know if Carly Fiorina can drive that wedge tomorrow night. MCINTOSH: I think it`s always a mistake to think of women as a monolithic voting bloc. Obviously Democratic women voters are very different than Republican women voters. That gets even more dicey when you slice it by married or unmarried or women of color or Latinas. So saying we should see women reacting to this thing in X way will never lead to you a productive place. I think that having Carly on stage might mean that gender issues are raised. And if I could ask questions of people on stage, I would be asking what they would do to update our workplace laws, to understand that women are 41 percent of breadwinners now. I would be asking about reproductive health. I would be asking about how absolutely extreme they have gotten on just about every issue relating to women, what they would do end gender discrimination in pay. So the fact she`s there and we`re talking about women`s issues possibly because she`s there I think is ultimately a really good thing for women who are looking to draw contrasts. I want to be pulling for Carly. The Republican Party desperately needs more women in it, but the bottom line is she`s got the same exact agenda, this backwards-looking agenda that the rest of them have. So I don`t know how much of a real substantive distinction will be drawn because she`s there -- although I`m glad she`s there. HAYES: First of all, let`s show -- I think we have a little bit of that ad that Carly Fiorina put out, which has been well received. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look at this face. And look at all of your faces. This is the face of a 61-year-old woman. I am proud of every year and every wrinkle. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: So, Rick, on this question of where is the most productive area of substantive policy disagreement to mine, were you asking questions, where you would like to see focus, to see actual substantive exchanges, where do you want to see the substantive policy focus be tomorrow night? WILSON: I think because Donald Trump has had such an outsized impact on this race, I want the discussion to be about whether we`re still going to be a party of limited government conservativism or whether we`re going to be a party of personality driven nationalist statism that Trump seems to be proposing. I think there are plenty of folks on the stage, who come from a variety of experiential backgrounds, from Governor Walker to Senator Rubio to Senator Paul to Senator Cruz to Governor Bush, who all have a very, you know, diverse range of ideas about where the Republican Party should be going in terms of its overall governing philosophy. So I`d really want to see if we`re going to have a party that`s going to stick to being a limited government party driven by the boundaries of the Constitution or whether we`ll go off on this tangent, where it basically becomes a personality-driven political operation, a lot like the Democrats went through, where the wonder of the Democrats with Barack Obama was that this charismatic guy drove this huge gain to the White House. But the downside of it is, they`re left with a weak bench at the end of the day and they`re down to stunt casting with Hillary Clinton essentially. So I really want to see a discussion on whether these folks are going to come out and compete with each other on substantive limited government conservative principles rather than just whether this is going to be another reality TV show hosted by Donald Trump. HAYES: Let me just say that Hillary Clinton has been in public life a very long time. I think stunt casting doesn`t quite capture her. Cornell, let me ask you -- WILSON: You know what, Carly Fiorina doesn`t run with the same sort of, "I`m a woman, I`m a woman, I`m a woman" backstop all the time that Hillary is sort of retreating to now that her numbers -- BELCHER: What was that ad that Carly just put out? I mean, what was that ad that Carly just put out? She just put out an ad that -- (CROSSTALK) WILSON: I`ll tell you what that ad was. That ad was smart politics, addressing the fact that Donald Trump, that women Republicans are largely less impressed with the Donald Trump show than male Republicans right now. BELCHER: Yes, driving a gender gap is in fact -- is always smart politics, especially when you have a majority of the electorate that`s female. That`s not anything different from what Hillary Clinton has been doing, speaking to women`s issues. (CROSSTALK) WILSON: Carly Fiorina is not running on the principle of "Elect me, I`m mommy and grandma." (CROSSTALK) WILSON: Hillary Clinton has retreated to her last redoubt, which is all of this desperate attempt to recapture Democratic women voters, who have all walked away from her this year because her numbers -- MCINTOSH: None of this is remotely true. I can`t let that stand. WILSON: Her numbers are have cratered. HAYES: Wait. Hey, guys. Hey, will you all be quiet? Because it`s my show. Hold on one second. Thank you very much. OK? Her numbers have not cratered. All Democratic women have not run away from her. She has lost significant support as the primary process has played out, A. B, I have to say, people talk about the desperation of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Whether you think it`s a good or a bad campaign, whether you think e-mails are hurting her or not, the one thing about the campaign is, they have just been rolling out policy after policy after policy and, in fact, what`s been remarkable to me is that it`s been -- again, you could say this is good or bad or she`s up or down in the polls. But the way Hillary Clinton has run this campaign so far has been remarkably substantive in terms of what they have been proposing. I don`t know if it`s good politics or not. But the one thing they haven`t done is anything stunty. And in fact, I think to turn this around, you could make the argument they could probably use more stunt casting. Jess McIntosh, Cornell Belcher and Rick Wilson, thank you very much. MCINTOSH: Thank you. HAYES: Still to come, they may be spread out across different campaigns but some reports say the old Romney crew is united in one mission: stop Trump. I`ll explain ahead. Plus, continued fallout from the James Blake take-down. Now the NYPD union is pushing back. I`ll ask Mayor Bill De Blasio about that and more in a preview of my exclusive interview. And later, a look at wildfires raging in California. I`ll talk to filmmaker James Cameron about his fight to raise climate change awareness. Those stories and more ahead. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: A new poll out from Monmouth today with more good news for Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. Sanders leads with 43 percent of the vote versus 36 percent for Hillary Clinton and 13 percent for Vice President Joe Biden, who has not actually entered the race; it`s still unclear if he will. Now Clinton has been rolling out -- as I said just a moment ago -- impressively detailed policy proposals that are quite progressive in substance. But last Thursday in what seemed like an attempt to draw a contrast with the surging Sanders, she cast herself as a centrist. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I get accused of being kind of moderate and center. I plead guilty. I think sometimes it`s important when you`re in the elected arena, you try to figure out, how do you bring people together to get something done instead of just standing on the opposite sides yelling at each other? (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Sanders and Clinton have so far declined to criticize each other directly. But yesterday a super PAC backing Clinton, called Correct the Record, which is led by Clinton ally David Brock -- we had on the show last week -- went negative in an e-mail to "Huffington Post," reportedly linking Sanders to Venezuela`s Hugo Chavez and, quote, "the most extreme comments by new U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn." Now that prompted up a pretty fired-up response from Team Sanders. In a fundraising email today, Sanders lamented he had been attacked, quote, "pretty viciously" by Clinton`s super PAC, adding, "it was the kind of onslaught I expected to see from the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson." Sanders` strength, particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire, represents a real threat to Clinton at this point, one that seems to have her backers increasingly worried. The big question now is whether this dustup, which is, in the grand scheme of things, pretty small, will turn out to be a minor blip in an otherwise friendly battle or a preview of real nastiness to come. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (MUSIC PLAYING) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We should have won last time. Mitt Romney let us down. I mean he let us down. He let us down. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Donald Trump has been savagely critical of Mitt Romney`s 2012 presidential campaign, casting Romney as a choker who lost an election he should have won. In 2012, Romney was the consensus choice of a GOP donor class and party establishment that now disdains Trump, I think it`s fair to say. And today the deep-pocketed Club for Growth unleashed a $1 million ad campaign against the Donald, casting him as just another politician and, even worse, a liberal one at that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Trump wants us to think he`s Mr. Tell It Like It Is, but he has a record and it`s very liberal. He`s really just playing us for chumps. Trump, just another politician. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Romney`s former aides and advisors are now reportedly united in an effort to stop Trump, even though they are now affiliated with a variety of different candidates. Trump endorsed Romney in one of the most awkward photo ops in the 2012 cycle but the relationship clearly seems broken. In July, Romney said Trump`s immigration comments are hurting the GOP, a determination he is qualified to make. Romney won just 27 percent of Latino voters in 2012 after infamously endorsing, quote, "self-deportation" for undocumented immigrants. Joining me now, Stuart Stevens, who was the chief strategist for Romney`s presidential campaign and who returned to his native Mississippi after Romney`s defeat to write his new book, which is out today, I believe, "The Last Season." It`s about spending a season attending Ole Miss football games with his 95-year-old father. Stuart Stevens, you are one of the most interesting men in politics. STUART STEVENS, REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN MANAGER AND AUTHOR: Well, I don`t know about that, Chris. HAYES: No, it really is true. It is true because you have -- you`re not just a political operative, although that`s something you do. You write. You`ve had a bunch of different experiences. The Trump phenomenon, through your eyes, as someone who was part of that campaign that he says was like a golfer missing a 6-inch putt. STEVENS: Well, I think you kind of remember, you, I and Donald Trump have all received the same number of votes for president. So let`s wait and see, as they say in Vermont, how this sugars out. I`m of the conventional wisdom that Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee. I wrote a piece today, saying that I don`t think he`ll actually end up on the ballot and not go all the way. The greatest sin in Donald Trump`s value system is to be a loser. And what do we know about most people who run for president? They lose. We have 20-something odd people running for president now. There`s some reason to believe only one will win. So I don`t think that Donald Trump is going to risk being a success in business to becoming a loser, who would lose to Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, whomever, Chris Christie. HAYES: With, so then the question is, well, I guess the first question is, are you like getting the band back together? Making a joke about it`s like "Ocean`s 11"? (CROSSTALK) STEVENS: I wish it was like "Ocean`s 11". It would be a lot more fun. HAYES: Stuart Stevens is in a garage in Vermont -- STEVENS: Yes, it would be a lot more fun. Look, I read that "Boston Globe" piece. I mean, there are people who work for Romney, who are working for different candidates who are now running against Donald Trump. So I guess in that sense they`re working against Donald Trump. But there`s no organized effort to try to stop Donald Trump. And it`s something that -- you know, Mitt Romney`s proven he`s going to speak up when he wants to speak up on what issues he wants to speak up on. And this isn`t a cause that Mitt Romney has adopted now. So I don`t think there`s really anything to that. HAYES: You write about in the book, the book is sort of about dealing with this loss. STEVENS: Loss. HAYES: You guys lost. STEVENS: Yes. HAYES: And politics is -- you lose more than you win in politics. And whether that`s substantively or whether that`s campaigns, what did you learn from that loss? STEVENS: Well, I think that you`re absolutely right, that it is -- the book is a meditation on loss. And I discovered, I think like a lot of people in politics, that the pain of losing is greater than the pleasure of winning. And if you`re like me and you really like doing campaigns -- I`ve been fortunate to work for a lot of candidates, who would have won anyway if I hadn`t worked for them, which is the secret of success in political consulting. HAYES: Yes. Like good casting. STEVENS: Or good baseball teams. HAYES: Right. STEVENS: And but this was, you know, obviously a huge loss and terrifically disappointing. Personally, I felt very saddened by it in the sense that I let people down and mostly let Mitt Romney and his family, who I became very, very fond of, down. But it`s, you know, I think that a lot of life is dealing with loss of different sorts. And sort of deciding how you`re going to deal with it and how it`s going to be part of your life. HAYES: It`s funny you talk about Trump, because one of the things about the way that politics works, it`s the way media works and our culture works, which is like someone`s up or down or winning, and the second they`re not winning, they`re a loser. It`s like, oh this incompetent, bubbling buffoon. And Mitt Romney, I don`t share his politics, but the guy`s an extremely accomplished successful, obviously a very capable and smart individual. That`s true of all sorts of people across the ideological spectrum. Do you feel like you reclaimed, doing this with your dad, going back to where you`re from, you feel like you reclaimed some sense of what value you have as a person independent from whether you win or lose? STEVENS: It`s a very good point because we spent this fall going to football games. It`s the first time I haven`t spent a fall doing campaigns in a long time. And not to sort of value your own self-worth by what the tracking numbers are, it`s sort of a different experience. And I had, in my life, gone into a system where it was sort of like a high school football game, when you walked off the field, you knew you had succeeded or not by whether you won or lost, which is a somewhat shallow but fun way to live. HAYES: But it`s concrete. STEVENS: And I like that. What I like about campaigns is the winning or losing of it. It`s more fun to win but it`s that challenge. Government never interested me. I was always a guy, who, if I had any use at all, it was the taking of Baghdad, not the running of Baghdad. HAYES: Right, right. Stuart Stevens, it`s a great pleasure to have you here. It`s a really interesting book. STEVENS: Thank you very much. HAYES: Up next, my interview with New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, who talks for the first time since the video of a police officer`s violent arrest of tennis star James Blake was released. Stick around for that. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Today a New York City police union is lashing out at critics of the police officer who tackled retired tennis player James Blake in an apparent case of mistaken identity. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HAYES (voice-over): Blake was briefly arrested and detained by police while just standing outside of a hotel last week, after being apparently mistaken as a suspect in a credit card fraud ring. It now appears, however, the man police say they confused with Blake was himself mistakenly suspected of involvement in the ring. James Frascatore, the officer seen on the video tackling the retired tennis player, has since been placed on modified assignment pending an investigation. Mayor Bill De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton have both since personally apologized to Blake. Today "The New York Times" editorial board asked a number of questions about the incident, like, quote, "why shouldn`t Officer Frascatore be arrested for assault?" The president of the Patrolman`s Benevolent Association hit back in a letter, addressed, "To all armchair judges," writing, in part, quote, "if you have never struggled with someone who is resisting an arrest or who pulled a gun or knife on you when you approached them for breaking a law, then you are not qualified to judge the actions of police officers putting themselves in harm`s way for the public good." I spoke to Mayor Bill De Blasio in his first national interview since the video of the brutal false arrest was released. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Mr. Mayor, good to see you. BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Good to be here. HAYES: Let`s start off with James Blake. Do you feel like this has been well handled? DE BLASIO: I this it was very clear, as soon as we recognized there was a problem, the commissioner apologized. I apologized. And the commissioner obviously took a very strong action, taking away the officer`s badge and gun. So I think it has been well handled; but, more to the point, the bigger change that we`re making in this police force, the bigger reform is to retrain this entire patrol force, something that`s never done before in New York City, to teach officers how to de-escalate, how to use less force in any encounter with a city resident. So this moment, it is a teachful moment, because it reminds people that reforms that we have now undertaken are necessary. When they are fully achieved, when every officer has been retrained and when the emphasis on bringing police and community deepens in this police force, I think you`ll see fewer moments like this. HAYES: What was your reaction when you saw that video? DE BLASIO: Oh, it was obviously wrong. That`s why the apology was warranted. HAYES: You know, it`s been very interesting for me to watch the politics and policy of police and policing play out in New York City because it was central to your campaign when you`re running. It was happening -- that campaign was right before this movement across the country around Black Lives Matter, policing reform, criminal justice really became a front and center national issue. And you are now facing critics on both sides. So, let`s start with the critics. DE BLASIO: Welcome to government. HAYES: Yes. Let`s start with the critics who say basically, you have in your rush to appease folks that were opposed to stop and frisk, you have curtailed elements of New York City policing that were responsible for the great crime drop, you are imperiling citizens and you are ushering back the bad old days and evidence of that a homeless man who lives near the editor of the New York Post and the more seriously a rise in murders year over year. What do you say to those folks who say it`s all coming back andyou`re to blame. DE BLASIO: I thought you were going to invoke Chris Christie next. HAYES: Well, he`s also one of them. DE BLASIO: He`s one of them. Look as Commissioner Bratton has made very clear, crime has gone down this year compared to last year and it went down last year compared to the year before. I`m very, very proud of that fact. And we did that while reducing the broken stop and frisk policy while taking stops from an all-time high of 700,000 stops in a single year, 2011, by last year we had that number down under 50,000 stops. It`s gone down further this year and crime continues to go down. So, we`ve proven that you can be fair while keeping people safe. I`m very proud of that fact. And I actually think we`re going to find ways to make the community safer because we`re going to draw the community closer, a new neighborhood policing model, which we really have not done properly before in New York City. We value the relationship between the police and community. And getting those unnecessary stops out of the equation was one of the predicates to being able to bring policy and community back together. HAYES: One final question on this topic from the other side. There`s people like Congressman Hakeem Jeffries I would say most prominently, but others who say this approach to reform -- you obviously reduced stop and frisk, but that you guys took your foot off the gas a little bit when you encountered resistance, when you encounter a real intense blacklash, when I think one of the darkest moments for this city, I think (inaudible) in the last few years was the murder of those two police officers, just a really brutal, awful moment I think for the whole city. There are people who say that was an interruption in the project of reform. What do you say to that? DE BLASIO: I think that doesn`t recognize the history. It was a tragic moment for the city, everyone felt it in the common, but the reforms have continued consistently. The retraining of the entire police force, think about that for a moment. Every single police officer shown how to work more closely with the community, shown how to reduce the use of force, huge reduction number of stops. We`re not talking about a small reduction. From 700,000 to under 50,000 and going down. HAYES: That starts before you. DE BLASIO: Oh, it does. But we continued it and deepened it and showed crime could go down at the same time. So, the training is a reform. The reduction of stop and frisk is reform. As I say, a reinvigorated civilian complaint review board, plus a new inspector general for police, these are fundamental new reforms. And we`re adding new technology which I think will help keep both community and officers safer. All of this is moving simultaneously. So, I think some people like to minimize the equation and act like there was an interruption. But I don`t see an interruption, I see a continued pattern of reform. And you know, I was challenged by some over the winter about my views and I said my views are my views. I`m not apologizing for them, which I think is the sign of how resolute I am that we`re going to continue these reforms. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Mayor Bill de Blasio ran and won one of the most progressive campaigns in recent history. And I asked him how he sees that vision playing out in the 2016 presidential election. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DE BLASIO: I think there`s something bigger happening in this country that`s very promising. The whole debate on income inequality, reaching down to the grass roots deeply and becoming much more of an electoral issue. I certainly think it`s permeating what we see from the Democratic presidential candidates. So, I`m hopeful we have a special moment here that could be really a moment of profound progressive change. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: If you`re wondering, the mayor is seven-and-a-half feet tall, I`m seven feet tall. Much more of my exclusive interview with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio tomorrow. Come back, you`ll want to watch it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: At least a dozen people are dead after what has been described as a wall of water hit cars full of people on Monday near the Utah-Arizona State line. Flash flooding came after heavy rains fell in the canyons north of Hildale, Utah. The downpour, which lasted 20 to 30 minutes spent waves of water and mud rushing through the streets and blocking the only route out of the area, sweeping away two cars carrying several families, 16 women and children. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VIRGINIA BLACK, WITNESSED FLOOD: There goes a van. Oh, my goodness. Oh, dear. It went over the thing. Oh, no. Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Oh, no. Dear. Oh, no. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: The youngest fatality a child just about 4 years old according to officials. Just three people survived and one person still missing. Several other cars did however manage to make it to safety as the torn water whipped through the streets, more than 600 emergency responders and volunteers were involved in the search and rescue effort today. And 25 Utah National Guard soldiers have been dispatched to Hildale to assist first responders in search and recovery efforts. Now, the tragic events in Utah took place as wildfires continue to burn on over 100 acres of drought parched California. The state that also happens to be the site of the next Republican debate tomorrow night. Our report from Simi Valley next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: He made the two the top grossing movies of all time, rewrote the rules of filmmaking. he was the first human being to make a solo trip to the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench. And now James Cameron is taking what may be the biggest challenge yet, saving the planet from the effects of climate change. My interview with filmmaker, explorer and activist James Cameron coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: The Republican debate tomorrow night is taking place at the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley, California, less than 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles. As we learned when we visited the area in July for our special series "All In America Water Wars," well people there may be following the presidential election, but what they relaly care about is the historic drought now threatening their water supply and increasing the rate of deadly wildfires. Right now two massive wildfires are burning in northern California covering a combined area of more than 130,000 acres. At least one person has been killed and tens of thousands forced to evacuate. About a month ago, another fire threatened homes in Simi Valley. And as MSNBC`s Jacob Soboroff reports tonight, it happened dangerously close to where the Republican candidates will gather tomorrow. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Wildfires are tearing through miles of parched wilderness grassland and creeping dangerously close to neighborhoods. You can see the flames just about maybe 20 feet away from that one fence. A small brush fire in Simi Valley spread quickly, hundreds of homes in its path. So we`re on the northern end of a rustic fire that burned up here just about a month ago. How many acres burn up here? CHIEF TED SMITH, VENTURY CITY FIRE DPARTMENT: About 190 acres. SOBOROFF: And how far are we right now from the Reagan Library? SMITH: Well, as the crow flies, about two miles. SOBOROFF: So just two miles from here? SMITH: Just two miles, yeah. SOBOROFF: Could we see fire like this up by the Reagan Library? SOBOROFF: Absolutely. SMITH: I was a young chief officer and we had a fire, it was called the Simi fire in 2003. It was a Santa Ana wind day. We had 40-mile-an-hour Santa Ana andthe fire established itself on that ridge. And it jumped the Cherahada Road and ran right by the Reagan Library. So, I`ll never forget, I was sitting there, I`d been up for about 36 hours and got a call from the deputy chief. And he said to me. He says, Teddy, do not let the Reagan Library burn down. I said yes, sir. He goes, by the way the fuselage from the plane is there. Don`t let that burn down either. So, I said yes, sir, copy that, boss. SOBOROFF: Well, you did a good job. It`s still standing, for the record. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the Reagan Library was built in the early `90s, it was landscaped so that there would always be something in bloom. And over the past 20 years, our landscape architects have added to that original plan. SOBOROFF: The Reagan Library was not exactly built with water conservation in mind, as you can see here. When ground was broken, this was essentially a desert hilltop that they turned into an oasis. But as you can see at the library`s replica of the White House rose garden, times have changed. In the spring, this hillside is normally very green and sprinkled with wildflowers, but around now, if the hillside hasn`t been cleared like you see right here, this vegetation can go from lush to extremely dangerous. I`m about 100 feet from the replica of the White House south lawn at the Reagan Library. And as you can see behind me, it`s normally dry out here but it is very, very dry. And this is exactly the type of stuff that went up in flames just a little ways away from here. The Reagan Library is part of the city of Simi Valley. Like the rest of California, it`s under a state mandated water restriction because of drought. And officials say the library is doing its fair share. Has the library met the state mandated water conservation. WANDA MOYER, CITY OF SIMI VALLEY: They have. They`ve exceeded it. SOBOROFF: They`ve exceeded it? MOYER: Yes. SOBOROFF: Here at the Reagan Library, they have exceeded the statewide water conservation mandate, but the question is whether or not that change is sustainable and whether or not politicians and residents will support it. Republicans are coming out here for the debate on Wednesday. Are you going to be watching? UNIDENITIFED MALE: No. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you care what they have to say coming up on Wednesday? UNIDENTIIFED MALE: Not really. UNIDENTIIFED FEMALE: I`d like to hear about environmental issues from them. SOBOROFF: The Republicans are coming here for the debate. UNIDENITFIED FEMALE: Absolutely, which is wonderful. SOBOROFF: Do you think they`re going to talk about the drought? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they will. Republicans care. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Joining me now from Simi Valley, California, MSNBC`s Jacob Soboroff. Jacob, so I love the fact that here at the Reagan Library, of course Reagan infamously I`m here from the government. I`m here to help. Big enemy regulation. The library is using -- is essentially complying with the regulation to reduce their water. SOBOROFF: That`s absolutely right, Chris. As a matter of fact, they`re a great customer if you listen to what the city says and wouldn`t be a great customer if it wasn`t for the regulations that the city has in place. Not only would the Reagan Library not be meeting or exceeding the standards for water conservation here in Simi Valley and in Southern California, statewide in California, but a lot of these houses, these homes that are protected by 100 feet of defensible space which is mandated also by the fire department probably would have burn down if it wasn`t for regulation. HAYES: You know, we did a flyover in San Diego and they were talking to me, the firefighters there were talking to me about that -- how important that space is particularly right now. You`ve got California`s got historic drought. It`s actually -- this has gotten less play, it`s hotter than it`s ever been. That space, how important is that space that regulations have created a barrier between a place like the actual library itself and all that brush that tends to burn so quickly? SOBOROFF: Extraordinarily important and something I learned when I was out here is that when the fires are burning near these homes, particularly if they`re burning uphill, they burn very, very rapidly especially when they`re aided by the wind conditions. And this 100 feet of defensible space is essentially trimmed down to maybe an inch or less of grass. And so this grass will burn if you watch the footage of the fire up here relatively slowly compared to the burning wildfires that we`re seeing in Northern California. HAYES: I saw that you guys got a ton of rain recently. There`s been a few huge deluges just in the last few months. So, is the corner been turned? Everything okay now? SOBOROFF: Let me play myth buster for a minute with you, Chris. The drought is not over, even though we had more rain today than any other September day almost since the late 1800s. If you have seen the movie Chinatown or if you have watched your reporting on All In, you know that we get most of our drinking water from Northern California. So, even though we got dumped on down here, that water is doing almost nothing to help us fight back the drought. HAYES: All right. Jacob Soboroff live for us at the Reagan Library. Thanks a lot. That was great. Site of the Republican debate tomorrow. Up next, my interview with Titanic and Avatar director James Cameron about his fight against climate change. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Climate change did not come up a single time at the first Republican debate. And with the front-runner talking dismissively about President Obama`s climate priorities, do not expect the future of the planet to get serious treatment tomorrow night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: You can`t get hurt with extreme weather. Do you agree? There`s always going to be -- there`s a tornado, there`s a little cold. There`s a wind. It`s always extreme. He said the biggest threat we have is extreme weather. And I say in terms of global warming, the biggest threat we have is nuclear global warming because we have incompetent politicians. That`s the biggest threat we have. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Despite efforts by President Obama and others to put climate change at the top of the agenda, Republican denialism continues to block progress at the national level. That`s why state and local governments have been taking matters into their own hands. Today in Los Angeles, community leaders from around the U.S. met with their counterparts from the world`s other biggest polluter, China, at a summit following up the major accord reached by President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping last year. One of the speaks at that event was filmmaker, explorer and environmental activist James Cameron, probably most famous for Oscar winners Titanic and Avatar. And James Cameron, that one and only joins me now live from L.S. James, I had you in my monitor here as we were playing the Trump sound. And you were shaking your head dolefully. JAMES CAMERON, DIRECTOR: I know. Well, the ironies are running rampant here. You`ve got the Reagan Library almost burned down by epic wild land fires here in California. We`ve major wildland fires burning up in northern California on the same day that we have an unprecedented historically unprecedented deluge here which stretched all the way to Arizona and caused that kind of tragic event there. And so you see climate completely out of control. There was an article in the L.A. Times today that we`re -- the snowpack is at the lowest level since they`ve been able to measure going back 500 years, down to 3 percent of what it normally would be this time of year. And yet, here you know, only a few miles from where the last big fire was locally, they`re going to have this debate. And they won`t talk about it. HAYES: What does that mean though? I mean, so you`re someone who`s worked a lot on this issue. You`re a very smart guy. You`re fairly technically adept I think it`s fair to say. I think about this all the time. So our system, 60 vote filibuster, it`s just hard to see a path from A to B to getting to say carbon pricing or a carbon tax or something like that. So, then what`s the path forward? Tell me what you`re doing and what you`re doing today about that? CAMERON: Yeah, look, I felt hopeless for a long time watching a government that`s paralyzed by denialism on the right about what I think of as the biggest crisis that our society and our global civilization faces. And you know, I think the answer is that it`s got to come from the bottom up. If people on the -- in the Clinton campaign, for example, are talking about climate change, it`s going to come up. It`s going to be forced into the spotlight. President Obama is taking action. It`s not coming from the leadership down. It`s coming from the people up where -- you know, it`s people like myself and my colleagues that work in media who have to get the facts out there and let people judge for themselves. And people are getting concerned. It kind of went away right after 2008 and the financial downturn. It`s coming roaring back now because we see the evidence all around us. If I can give you an example, people are not connecting the dots on, we`ve got this big crisis with the Syrian refugees pouring into the EU. So you`ve got this big immigrant refugee crisis. Well, that`s caused by rise of ISIS and the collapse of Syria as a state. It`s now a failed state. Well, why? It all began as a result of a drought. Farms collapsed. 1.5 million farmers moved off their farms into the cities. The government didn`t help them. They had no jobs. They rose up to challenge the Assad regime. It resulted in a civil war and now we have one of the biggest crises on the global map right now as a result of an unprecedented drought that researchers are now connecting to climate change. So that`s the climate change is not something in the future, it`s happening it right now all around us, we`re not necessarily connecting the dots. HAYES: And you`re also seeing -- that`s a really good point about the ways in which societies, political systems respond to any kind of forcing mechanism, any kind of stress. So you see what happens in societies in which jobs get scarce, or -- right after a financial crisis. Like, it`s very easy under conditions of constrained resources for some of the worst impulses in politics, doesn`t matter the society to come out. And that`s a real thing to worry about. CAMERON: Well, I think it is. But people have to understand that the cost of not fighting climate change now is going to be much, much greater later to our economy. So but it`s not an issue of what`s really best for the economy. It`s really an issue of what`s best right now next quarter for the entrenched interests who have their hands unnaturally on the levers of power in our so-called democratic system. So, that`s why it needs to come bottom up in this country. Now, you look at China who are meeting us halfway on this you know right here in Los Angeles with this historic summit. And China is very much a top down system. And they can pivot quicker than us even though they`re a much bigger system and much bigger population, 1.4 billion people. But they`re outstripping us in solar, they`re outstripping us in all across the renewable energy spectrum. They`ve put in -- in 2013, alone, they put in more solar than the United States hassince solar was invented and it was invented here. So you know, we`re hopefully we`ll be able to meet in the middle because if solutions have to be global on this. They can`t be -- we can`t solve it here. WE can`t solve it in Europe. We can`t just solve it in China. We`ve got to all work together on this. HAYES: Well, it`s interesting you bring this up because the sort of cutting edge of denialism that you`ll see in politics is, folks have increasingly gotten embarrassed by denying the actual data. The body of data is -- it ends up, you look a little ridiculous, right? So what you see now particularly in the Republican field is, this kind of shoulder shrug which is yeah, it`s a problem but China`s never going to do anything about it. And we can`t be suckers. We can`t be the ones that take the first step. And you were at this conference with Chinese officials there. I mean, what`s your sense about the seriousness of China? CAMERON: I think they`re very serious. I think they understand that it`s a threat, it`s a very immediate threat for them. I mean, their industrialization has come at a rate much, much faster than ours and they`ve grown their economy so rapidly, they`re getting overwhelmed by environmental problems. And they know they have to do something about it because there is a certain bottom up pressure in their system. They`ve got to keep the people happy and they`ve got to keep their business community happy. And so they have to do something about it. And they`re acting as quickly as they can. And that`s why I think that President Obama and President Xi have come together on this. But I think the action is going to happen at a kind of state, regional and city level like this summit right here is mayors from China. Now, that may not sound that powerful. But you`ve got to remember that a mayor in Cchina may be a government, a government headed by a single person over 19 million people, 25 million people. These cities there are like major state governors here. So, they can actually take some pretty decisive action. HAYES: And finally and quickly, James, you are partnering with Sam Cas (ph), a friend of mine, a former White House chef, on the food choice task force. What`s that? CAMERON: Right. Well, food choice task force was founded because most people are not making the connection between the choices they make in terms of the food they eat and what that means for the sustainability of this nation and of the planet. And let me give you an example that most people don`t know. When we think of climate change, we think of coal fired power plants and tail pipe emissions, but the second biggest source of greenhouse gases is animal agriculture. So if you cut down on meat and dairy, you`re individually doing something... THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END