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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 10/13/15

Guests: Charlie Pierce, Jess McIntosh, DeRay McKesson, Steve Schmidt,Debbie Wasserman Schultz

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN -- SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a people`s campaign and you, brothers and sisters, are part of a political revolution. (APPLAUSE) HAYES: It`s debate night in America. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should have a good debate that uses accurate information. HAYES: Eight years later, Hillary Clinton returns as the Democratic favorite, and faces her first real test as front runner. CLINTON: That`s my goal. That`s what I`m fighting for. I`m going to stand up for that. HAYES: Tonight, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, David Brock, DeRay McKesson and more from Las Vegas. Then, just how gruesome will the anti-Hillary ads get? AD NARRATOR: What difference does it make? HAYES: And why Donald Trump is accusing Jeb Bush of doing a plant. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t think that you`re a friend to women. HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She was a Bush plant. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. It is exciting, exciting, exciting night. And I`m speaking, of course, the Democratic presidential primary finally gets started in earnest, as five candidates take the stage in Las Vegas for their long awaited first debate. It is an uncommonly late start for the nomination process. At this point in the 2008 cycle, the candidates had already debated each other eight times. They started way back in April of `07. This time around, Republicans have already faced with each other twice, eating up the horse race coverage, leaving a big vacuum on the Democratic side to be filled with mostly hand-wringing over e-mail servers. Hillary Clinton walks into the debate still the clear front-runner leading the field in every national poll, but she faces a tougher of challenge from self-described Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders who has never been elected as a Democrat than anyone would have predicted including I`d say Sanders himself. Sanders continues to generate the most excitement on the trail, draws an massive record-setting crowds and to a remarkable degree, his economic positions especially on inequality and economics have become the party`s center of gravity. Then there are the three other participants in tonight`s debate, Jim Webb, Martin O`Malley and Lincoln Chafee, all of whom have failed thus far to gain much traction. Tonight will there be their first big chance to make a splash and try to convince primary voters to give them a look. We should note -- there are two Democrats who won`t be on the stage tonight. Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig, who`s running for president to overhaul the campaign finance system, after raising $1 million in small donations in rather short order, and Vice President Joe Biden who consistently polls in second or third place among the Democratic field despite not actually being a declared candidate. At this hour, we can predict with some confidence the emergency podium on stand by for Biden especially constructed for his use won`t be getting much use. Joining me now, we have Charlie Pierce, political columnist for "Esquire", Jess McIntosh, spokesperson for Emily`s List, and Dorian Warren, fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and an MSNBC contributor. It is finally here. It`s finally started. And I got to say -- this struck me, Charlie, as a good characterization where we are as we enter this debate. This was a tweet in Jonathan Martin in "The New York Times." He says the following, "most consequential part of the primary, Hillary concluding there`s no general election downside in aligning with the left." I thought that put it well because I can imagine the iteration of this same debate ten years ago or in different circumstances in which Bernie Sanders could walk on the stage and find he was getting pummeled by Hillary Clinton for his positions that they were too far left that, they were extreme, they would alienate independent voters. I don`t think we`re going to see that tonight. CHARLIE PIERCE, ESQUIRE: Well, you`re not going to see it from Hillary Clinton. You`re probably going to see it from Jim Webb who to me is by far the most intriguing person on the stage tonight because it will be the first evidence in this campaign he`s actually alive. But he will be -- he will be the voice of the legendary Scoop Jackson Democrats. And I guarantee you that at least four pundits will point that in the first 20 minutes after the debate is over. HAYES: You know, you mentioned Jim Webb, we should show -- can we show that V.O. we just showed? That`s Jim Webb at the soapbox in Iowa. The reason you see that a lot, as far as I can tell, that`s the only V.O. we have in our system of Jim Webb on the campaign trail. Keep your eyes peeled. You will see that on cable news a lot. Dorian, part of what`s interesting here is you`ve got -- I mean, Bernie Sanders has -- presents a real challenge for Hillary Clinton, I think probably more than they thought, particularly in New Hampshire where he`s been pulling ahead. You can imagine a scenario in which he would manage to take both of her first two states. That`s not completely outlandish, that would be head-turning, right? And yet, he is the policy center of gravity and so what do you expect to see in Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in that dynamic tonight? DORIAN WARREN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there are a couple of things, Chris. One, you might say Bernie Sanders in some ways represents the Warren wing of the Democratic Party and there are three -- HAYES: Although Bernie would be quick to point out, he was doing that long before Elizabeth Warren. WARREN: The current momentum and fervor around economic populism and around in some quarters racial justice. So, he represents that wing in a sense. And there are three progressive groups today that actually sent letters to three of the candidates, O`Malley, Clinton and Sanders, saying, hey, would you please represent the Warren wing in terms of economic populism, racial justice. So, I can see both Clinton and Sanders actually taking up this mantle of economic populism. The interesting question -- HAYES: They have been doing that so far. I mean, to me, though, the bigger problem for them is convergence -- what does convergence get you in a campaign where you`re trying to distinguish yourself? WARREN: Well, that`s what makes the position of Martin O`Malley interesting in this debate tonight. This is in many ways his breakout chance to distinguish himself. What does he have -- where can he go? HAYES: Right. WARREN: He can`t go left. Is he going to -- he`s not going to go center. That`s not where the center of gravity is in the party right now. So, that`s a big challenge for him. For Chafee and for Webb, God knows what the heck they`re going to do. I`m assuming they`re going to be the attack dogs on Sanders and Clinton. HAYES: Although it`s very hard to see Lincoln Chafee playing that role. His disposition doesn`t seem inclined toward that. Jess, you and I are I think in roughly the same age. I guess, it`s remarkable to me to watch this as we enter the debate, you know, we came of age in the Clinton years. Particularly I think our political awakening happened at a time when the conventional wisdom in the Democratic Party was you needed to defense everyone that you weren`t George McGovern, and you need to convince particularly white swing voters you weren`t just going to hand out welfare to the other people that don`t look like you. You`re going to be tough on crime, you`re going to fight wars, you`re going to fly back to Arizona to watch a man executed. We are in a very, very, very different place. I still can`t believe what I`m seeing. JESS MCINTOSH, EMILY`S LIST: I mean, Chris, as much as I love the `90s nostalgia, I`m not nostalgic for that time at all. Not even a little bit. It is so -- it`s exciting to be a progressive right now. It absolutely is. And I think what you pointed out in terms of what the Democrats are talking about right now, like contrast that with what is happening on the other side of the aisle. We`re seeing two parties have really existential conversations about what it means to be them. And the Republicans are disintegrating into sort of a non-ethos policy. I mean, Trump is saying things that are totally anathema to your typical conservative base. He`s winning in the polls. Everybody is trying to outdo each other with more and more xenophobic rhetoric. And on the Democratic side, we`re pretty much coalescing around issues of economic populism and racial justice, with a real focus on gender equality, what we can do for women in the workplace. There is -- we are talking whether we should have debt free tuition or debt free college or tuition free college. Like that`s where we have real wedge issues here tonight on the stage. HAYES: Let me ask you this, Charlie, as someone who has chronicled politics for a longer period of time than I have. I mean, I guess my question is, are is there a danger, right, that you end up in this place where essentially I think the way they read the demographic politics and the electoral map is you got -- the road to victory is to reassemble the Obama coalition. The road to resembling the coalition is to get people who are kind marginal voters to vote. The way to do that is excite them about the things they care about. Is there a possibility of there being a kind backlash of essentially ending up in a place where you do alienate these kind of independent swing voters? PIERCE: Well, I don`t believe -- I believe in independent swing voters as much as I believe in the Yeti and Sasquatch. I don`t think there`s enough proof they exist to be concerned about them. That having been said, I`m going to have to wait and see to determine to make any categorical statement that is no longer impossible to McGovernize a Democratic candidate. HAYES: Right. PIERCE: There`s an awful lot of money going to be dedicated to that task no matter who comes off the stage tonight. HAYES: That is a very good point. There is sort of reality and you can point to the polling and you can say, look, a majority of Republicans support a path to citizenship on immigration. Majority of Republicans. Poll after poll after poll, right? So, you can say, look, this is not a radical position to take, right? You can point to things about campaign finance. The Bernie Sanders position on campaign finance is massively popular across the spectrum. That doesn`t mean that you can`t be McGovernized. WARREN: But it also mean -- I mean, talk about immigration. This is probably Bernie`s one area of vulnerability in the state of Nevada with the heavily Latino population that if one of the other primary candidates wanted to go after him on, his support or his lukewarm support for comprehensive immigration reform will be one of his few areas of vulnerability. But otherwise, right, the question is, will this be a McGovernable debate by the end of it. HAYES: I want to, Jess, read to you this. Obama advisor someone leaked the sort of Obama, Hillary game plan for the debates in 2008. And as reported by Ryan Lizza, I`m going to read this read. "Her greatest vulnerability on this primary is on shifting positions," a former senior adviser said, adding her recent announcement to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership which she previously supported was a mistake. "Her position on TPP is a fairly significant error. She`s going to get attacked either way. So, she might as well get attacked while having a since position." Is that the sort of -- is Hillary Clinton going to having to answer for consistency and particularly if her policy positions seem roughly in the same place as Bernie Sanders, is Bernie Sanders going to be able to say, look, I was here all along? MCINTOSH: No, I think that what`s going to happen is you`ll see two records put side by side. I know there`s a lot of talk about Bernie Sanders being an outsider, which is tough because he`s been in the Senate for many decades. HAYES: In Congress, yes. MCINTOSH: They both have agendas. They both having very long histories of working in public service. And I think that we`re going to see the two of them side by side. We really haven`t seen a presidential contender with as much of a record advocating on behalf of women and children as Hillary Clinton does. That is an exciting and frankly progressive thing that I`m really glad that she gets a chance to talk about. So, I think like, yes, let`s stay away from character, let`s not do that. Let`s go into issues. There are divisions and we should talk about them. Debate is the perfect place to do it. HAYES: But you know what, though? I got to say. I do think -- I do think character and I do think sort of consistency matters. Now, I don`t think it`s the be all, end all. My feeling in an argument with someone is if I argue with them and in the end they say, you`re right, I just say nice work. I don`t say, well, you flip-flopped. I mean, what`s the whole point, right? I don`t see the point of belaboring it. But -- MCINTOSH: Also, the idea we somehow want leadership that would never admit that they have evolved on an issue is insane. That`s not the kind I have person we want making decisions. HAYES: But here`s one place that I think has been underserved in the Democratic debate so far. I hope to see it tonight, Charlie, is foreign policy. You`ve seen the Republican Party really has talked about important policy a lot partly because there`s not a ton of domestic agenda aside from tax cutting and building a wall and mass deportation. So, what they`ve spent a lot of time talking about is Putin and ISIS and terror and the war in Syria. And you`ve seen a kind of reverse image of that on the Democratic side, much less discussion of foreign policy, much more discussion of domestic policy agenda having to do with immigration or income inequality. What do you anticipate in foreign policy tonight? And what are you hoping for, because I would like to see some stuff pleasure fleshed out. PIERCE: Well, I think number one, Hillary Clinton`s going to get hammered on voting for the Iraq war because Sanders did not vote for the Iraq war. Number two, again, I think you`re going to see the Democratic Scoop Jackson traditional hawkish Democrat personified by Jim Webb. He`s going to be the one saying that you know, ISIS is going to murder you in your beds. He`s going to be the hard-core anti-terrorist guy and somebody on that stage among the front-runners has to answer to it. HAYES: That`s right. And I`m glad he`s going to be there for that reason, because I want -- I really -- what I`m hoping more than anything, I would like to see an extended debate about Libya, something that Hillary Clinton played a key role in. There are people who say it was smart and wise and good to do what we do, did there in terms of the NATO bombing that people say it wasn`t. I would like to see an extended debate on that. I think that is something that really has been underserved in the debate so far. And I hope we get that. Charlie Pierce, Jess McIntosh, Dorian Warren, what a pleasure. Thank you all. WARREN: Thank you and congrats on your coverage. HAYES: Thank you. Still ahead, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, chair of the DNC, is here. She responds to allegations a fellow DNC official was disinvited from tonight`s event for saying there should be more than six debates. Plus, an attack ad from the Stop Hillary PAC that deserves a spotlight for just how deplorable it is. That`s ahead. And later, why Donald Trump is accusing the Jeb Bush campaign of planting this woman to confront him at an event. Those stories and more, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: It`s great to be here at "Saturday Night Live." But I`ll be completely honest. It`s even better for "Saturday Night Live" that I`m here. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Some things never change. That was Donald Trump hosting "Saturday Night Live" in 2004. Today, in a huge announcement, "SNL" said the Donald will host again next month on November 7th -- exactly a year and one day before the 2016 presidential election. Now, Trump`s appearance follows a cameo by Hillary Clinton who played a bartender named Val in an "SNL" skit earlier this month. Clinton`s three-minute role quickly triggered discussion of the federal equal time rule, which says if a candidate`s appearance doesn`t fall in the category of a newscast interview, documentary or a live news event, opposing candidates can demand comparable airtime on the same network in the same time slot. There is a recent precedent for this. During the 2004 election, then- Democratic candidate Al Sharpton hosted "SNL" and the campaign for primary opponent Joe Lieberman saw an opportunity. His lawyer claimed in states in which both candidates were on the ballot, Lieberman was entitled to exactly what Sharpton got, 28 minutes of free air time on certain NBC affiliates. Lieberman never appear add on "SNL" since the FEC doesn`t require them to appear on the same show. Instead, he cut a deal for reruns of the Lieberman town meeting to air. With Trump appearing on the "SNL" stage next month, I think we all know what this means -- Bobby Jindal, you have your opening. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: David Brock has become one of Hillary Clinton`s most prominent and notorious defenders. He`s made a career over the last decade fighting for the Clintons in the media. And this election cycle is no different. He`s the founder of Media Matters, progressive watchdog that routinely attacks media outlets for unfair Clinton coverage. He`s founder of Correct the Record, a super PAC that describes itself as, quote, "strategic research and rapid response team designed to defend Hillary Clinton from baseless attacks." He is, simply put, one of Clinton`s most powerful and effective allies. Tonight, he`s here to preview some of the arguments Hillary Clinton will likely make tonight in the first Democratic primary debate. Joining me now from Las Vegas is David Brock, author of the new book, "Killing the Messenger: The Right Wing Plot to Derail Hillary Clinton and Hijack Your Government." David, last night, you gave some remarks I believe in San Francisco that talked about Hillary Clinton is essentially the choice for Democrats seeking someone who is pragmatic and can get things done with a progressive vision. Is that meant to distinguish from her closest competitor right now, Bernie Sanders? DAVID BROCK, CORRECT THE RECORD: Well, you know, what I was trying to do is make an affirmative case for Hillary, one as the real progressive champion in the race; two, record of achievement; and three, specific proposals that are being put out there now that address voters` concerns on the issues that progressives are pushing, reining in Wall Street -- HAYES: Let me ask you this, though. BROCK: -- getting big money out of politics. HAYES: Let me ask you this -- I`ve asked Bernie Sanders this. I`ve asked Martin O`Malley. I would love to ask Hillary Clinton if she wants to come on. BROCK: Sure. Yes. HAYES: You know, putting out proposals is great and a lot of the substantive policy proposals put out by the Clinton campaign have been really encouraging, well thought out, well designed. They have values that I find attractive personally. But the odds are, you`re going to have -- I mean, we`re looking what`s happening in Congress right now. You might have that same group. No, I mean, it`s a real thing. Those same 40 people holding a veto are likely to be equally empowered after this election. Maybe not, but maybe. So, what`s the theory of the case here about why electing Hillary Clinton would create the space to get some of this stuff done she`s talking about? BROCK: Well, look, she`s a veteran of the political wars. I think she`ll have a very good idea of how to get things done even with the recalcitrant House of Representatives. She has a record of bipartisan reaching out in the Senate and at the end of the day, you look at these proposals like take the campaign finance proposal, that`s got some strong executive actions in it. So, I think that`s part of the answer, as well. Things she can doing from the oval office and that she will do. That will be progressive and that will be more change to our system. HAYES: Do you think Bernie Sanders is electable if he`s the nominee? BROCK: You know, I mean voters have to decide that. HAYES: No, but you. I asked you. I asked you. BROCK: Well, you know, I -- you know, probably not. HAYES: You think he`s probably not electable in a general election? BROCK: Right. HAYES: Why? BROCK: Well, I mean we`ll have to see who he`s up against. I have to make a little caveat there. But, you know, I think on the issue of experience, I think there`s virtually no foreign policy experience. And I think that again, and I have to contrast it with Hillary, that she`s putting out real plans that have a good chance of working. I`m not really hearing that from the Sanders campaign. HAYES: Do you think that -- do you think there is danger and let me stipulate I think the Sanders campaign would say they are putting out things that will work. Let me just put that in. Do you think there is -- I`ll ask you what I asked at the top of the show -- do you think -- do you think there`s any independent swing voters left to persuade in a general election in America? BROCK: Well, not too many. You know, one of the things -- and it cuts both ways for Hillary, she`s got this iconic status. And that means a lot of people think they know her and a lot of people have their minds made up. So, there`s probably left to fight over in the middle. I think tonight and in other debates, people who think they know her get another chance to actually know her. That`s what they`re going to see is this progressive champion and a Democrat, by the way, a Democratic progressive champion. HAYES: You mean -- BROCK: She spent three decades -- well, sure, she spent three decades building the Democratic Party. I don`t know how Senator Sanders labels himself today. But it`s not necessarily the most consistent thing in the world. HAYES: The fact he was an independent for decades in Congress and recently joined the Democratic Party officially. BROCK: Right. I mean, Democratic primary voters have to decide if they want that as their standard bearer. HAYES: Do you think we`re going to get much foreign policy tonight? BROCK: Well, I was listening to the show earlier. I hope so. There are some really contrast there. HAYES: She was secretary of state for the love of God. It`s bizarre. BROCK: Sure. HAYES: You would think it would be instinct we were hearing more about. BROCK: You would think so. I mean, I`m sure she`s happy to talk about that record. I hope it does get brought up. I think it will to some extent, sure. HAYES: David Brock, thanks for joining me and thanks for being honest. Always appreciate it. BROCK: Thank you. HAYES: All right. One of the central issues emerging in the Democratic primary race is criminal justice reform. Over the summer, Black Lives Matter activists disrupted Democratic presidential campaign events, interrupting Martin O`Malley`s panel discussion at Netroots Nation, and shutting down Bernie Sander` speech in Seattle in August. Activists from the group have also sat down and met with several of the candidates, many of whom released some kind of criminal justice reform package. It will likely be one of the biggest topics of the night. Joining me now, DeRay McKesson. He`s a prominent Black Lives Matter and civil rights activist who`s already met with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders this election cycle. DeRay, I want to talk to you because you have -- there`s a picture of you saw sitting down with Hillary Clinton along with a bunch of Black Lives Matter activists. Also Bernie Sanders. What have those meetings been like? I imagine off the record. But if you can characterize them, what have they been like? DERAY MCKESSON, BLACK LIVES MATTER ACTIVIST: We`ve had tough good conversations with the candidates. With Sanders, you know, he is a straight shooter, clear talker, sort of pushes back. So, we -- in both of the meetings but in Sanders, we pushed him on this idea that the police should make people feel safe. So, it is interesting conversations about the role of policing and community police. We pushed him on civil asset forfeiture which he came out against after the meeting, which is really positive. We talked about the difference between income and wealth. I`m hopeful he`ll talk about the racial wealth gap. He talks about income. But we know you take everybody up to the poverty line and people still have no wealth. With the Clinton meeting, you know, it was different preparation because she`s not released a full platform around criminal justice. We were trying to get a sense where we stood on so many ideas. Tonight will be important because we`ll still be learning her position. But in that meeting, she seemed to endorse a national use of force standard. We talked to her about how this will be key, how these issues will resonate in her first 100 days if she`s the president, and how she will center these issues and make them a national agenda item and use the federal government to encourage this work at the local and state level around equity with race. HAYES: Just civil asset forfeiture, which you mentioned in the Sanders discussion, is the ability for law enforcement to confiscate goods only after an arrest. Sometimes keep it even if the person is cleared. This happens all over the place. It`s something that is very rife for abuse. And police departments can fund themselves this way. I wanted to explain it if folks hadn`t heeded on this issue. Do you think so far the meetings that you have had were the product essentially of the disruptions? There`s sort of a cause and effect that`s happened where there`s been a lot of activism. There`s been activists in the street. There`s activists at events and that essentially has forced this into the conversation. MCKESSON: Yes, I think the result of the protests that happened over the past 18 months, right, people know we`ve been talking about race and the country`s been engaged in this deeper conversation about race and definitely criminal justice in safety. And I think that the Democrats especially know that they cannot win without the black vote. And people are focused on the issues in a way they have to focus on them. In the meetings, they have been -- both Sanders and Clinton have been really receptive to being pushed. We -- both meetings started about not agreeing on core issues especially about the role of the police about safety or criminal justice at large. By the end, we got to places where we agreed to disagree or we were definitely heard. That was important. HAYES: You know, Hillary Clinton recorded an interview with the fantastic podcast "Another Round" the other day. It was a great conversation which I recommend folks listen to. At one point, she made this point I thought was interesting when she said, you know, a lot of the pressure that came for increased police presence or cracking down on crime or getting tough particularly on drugs and crack in the 1980s and `90s came from African-American communities that felt they were being neglected, that they were being under-policed. That was part of the rationale that led to things like the crime bill. I`m curious your response to that. MCKESSON: Yes, I`m mindful of the fact so much of those are forms, like the Warren poverty were actually bipartisan initiatives. A lot of people thought that was the right way to do it. As we move forward, I`m interested in people being as aggressive about undoing those things and are willing -- are people willing to do that? It`s that it`s one thing to acknowledge that it was bipartisan and that people of color thought these were the solutions, will people be aggressive in undoing it? And I don`t know. Neither candidate has spoken about that. Will they undo it with the same force that it was done. HAYES: You know, the activism and the organizing that`s happened around civil rights, criminal justice reform, police use of force that we`ve seen over the last year and a half, sometimes it`s very disruptive. Sometimes it`s things some folks find alienating. I don`t think activists have illusions about that. The agitation is part of the reason, right? The disruption. MCKESSON: Correct. HAYES: Politicians have a whole other agenda. Can you see yourself essentially, can you find your movement being distanced from politicians as they seek to appeal to broader sets of voters? Are you prepared for that? MCKESSON: Yes, I think the reality is that the black vote matters. I`m interested to see how candidates center blackness especially when they talk about issues around criminal justice, safety, education. I`m not worried about the movement being alienating to people. I`m not worried about what does it mean the structures have alienated so many people and if people are supposed to be the representatives of people in this government, then they must nope what the people want. I think the movement is giving voices in space for people to say here`s what it means for there to be justice or here`s what equity looks like in representatives to respond to that. HAYES: All right. DeRay McKesson, and DeRay McKesson`s iconic vest, both joining us, thank you both. MCKESSON: See you later. HAYES: Still ahead, as attention tonight focuses on the Democrats, Republicans already have two primary debates in the bag. But will they have a big problem when it comes to the general election? A look at that, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: By the time the Democrats take the stage tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, that`s an inside cable news joke, nearly 50 million people have already watched the Republicans face off in two spirited debates. And this could be another reason why some Democrats have been calling for more debates. 50 million people have already watched the Republicans debate. Candidates like Martin O`Malley who said it`s basically a disservice to the party to hold just six primary debates, and with three of those six debates scheduled on weekends, O`Malley has criticized the Democratic National Committee for not giving its candidates time to showcase their ideas. By contrast, the Republican Party has 11 primary debates scheduled. A couple of days ago, it was reported that Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a vice chairwoman of the DNC, said she was disinvited from tonight`s Democratic debate after she publicly called for more debates. Yesterday, I spoke with Congresswoman Gabbard about that claim. And earlier tonight I asked DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to respond to Gabbard`s comments. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TULSI GABBARD, (D) HAWAII: I was actually on your network, I was on MSNBC speaking with Steve on Meet the Press Daily. The very next day, I landed after a red eye flight from Hawaii back to D.C. and landed to a message saying that Debbie Wasserman Schultz`s chief of staff had called mine and said we saw her on MSNBC -- and basically I`m paraphrasing, but if she continues this, then we really don`t think she should be at the debate. HAYES: Is that true? Do you do have a response to that? DEBBIE WASSERMAN SHULTZ, DNC CHAIR: You know, that`s just not true unfortunately. And, you know, what I want to continue to stress, you know, we`re now just a short time from the first Democratic debate in which we have an opportunity to feature our candidates and talk about the huge contrast between our Democratic field of candidates and the Republicans. You know, to talk, Chris, about what this really is about, which is making sure that we can continue to have America which is already great continue to be great. And so I`m going to put this hat on and do the rest of this interview with it on because America is already great, Chris. That`s got to be the focus of this debate tonight. The fact that our candidates are going to talk about closing the widening wage gap, the fact that our candidates are going to talk about making sure that we can pass comprehensive immigration reform, the fact that our candidates will talk about making sure people can get a good access to quality education so that they can actually achieve those cornerstones of a middle class life and contrast that with the Republican field which has said how fast can we kick immigrants out of this country. Let`s take away health care from 17 million Americans. They already shut the government down once, Chris, now they want to do it again to deny women access to health care and defund Planned Parenthood. So, the focus of the debate -- and Congresswoman Gabbard was asked to keep the focus on our candidates, and she chose, you know, to not come to the debate because I guess she thought she was a distraction continuing to talk about this as a distraction. We need to continue to focus on America`s greatness and make sure that we can move forward and help people continue the progress we`ve made under President Obama and Democratic policies. HAYES: I won`t belabor this. I will not that that is a different account, but we will leave that there. Here`s my other question for you, in the issues you just mentioned, one of them was not campaign finance reform, it`s something that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders particularly have talked a lot about. There`s a candidate named Lawrence Lessig who is running. He will not appear tonight. He`s sort of primarily focused on that. My question is, is it the network of CNN or the Democratic Party that ultimately determines eligibility for who is on that stage? SCHULTZ: So, we have discussions about our threshold and our view of what the threshold should be. Ultimately, CNN made the call on what our threshold was which was you know, having an average of 1 percent in a poll about six weeks before the first debate in three national polls. And you know, Larry Lessig just didn`t make that threshold and that`s why he`s not going to on the debate stage tonight. If he subsequently achieves a percentage -- and it`s a pretty low bar, you know, we went for maximum inclusion and we certainly encouraged CNN to set that criteria. So, we`ll see what happens going forward. HAYES: OK. So that was -- there was some sort of partnership collaboration. I will note that in ten of the last national polls he`s only been included in four, but it sounds like should that change in terms of his polling you could see him appearing on the stage. Let me ask you this question, there`s national polling out today and again, I think this far out essentially meaningless in terms of the outcome of the election, but it does say something, that there`s national polling out from Fox News today that has a bunch of the Republican candidates beating Hillary Clinton in a head to head match-up. Now, does that mean anything for who will win in November? No. But it does occur to me, do you feel like there has been a kind of domination of the coverage of this race so far on the Republican side because of how entertaining, frankly, it`s been and how outlandish some of the comments are and how many candidates? And has that actually ended up hurting Hillary Clinton? SCHULTZ: You know, I this I what we`ve been watching on the other side of the aisle is essentially a reality TV show. And there`s some fascination associated with that. You know, it`s like kind of like picking a scab. You know you shouldn`t but you can`t help yourself. And so that`s -- that`s what`s been playing out on the Republican side and heavy been busy trying to out right wing one another. The questions at their debates have been who said what -- who said what about whom. And tonight you`ll see our candidates talk about how we can continue to move America forward, how are we going to make sure that more people have an opportunity to succeed. How are we going to expand opportunities for people to reach the middle class and I think our candidates, any one of them, will be calling out people like Donald Trump and Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and their entire candidate field led by PT Barnum of the 21st Century, Donald Trump. So that we can show that clear contrast, which is ultimately how the 45th president of the United States of America will be chosen and the 45th president of the United States of America will be on that debate stage tonight. I`m confident tonight. We`re getting ready as a national Democratic Party to support our Democratic nominee and be in the strongest possible position to do so. HAYES: Congresswoman, when I get off the air, I`m going to be very disappointed if you pulled the hat out for any of your other interviews. So, I`m hoping this was a kind of a All In Exclusive... SCHULTZ: This is the only one, Chris, because America is already great. $30 on the DNC web site. HAYES: Thank you, congresswoman. SCHULTZ: Absolutely. HAYES: Still ahead, we`re bound to see plenty of shady attack ads in the runup to 2016. But this one we`re about to show you sets the bar for just how truly shameful they can be. That`s just after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Americans are going to be subjected to an absolute avalanche of shady advertising in the run up to the 2016 election. And airing tonight during the Democratic Debate is an early entrant for the most odious of the lot. The spot comes from the Stop Hillary PAC, which was created for one reason, to ensure Hillary Clinton never becomes president of the United states. It shows images of the four Americans killed in the 2012 attacks on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya while actors who are presented as speaking for those murdered Americans ask Clinton critical questions about the Benghazi attacks. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`d like to hear why you tried to silence the Benghazi whistleblower. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Mrs. Clinton, I can`t. What difference does it make? (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Let`s bracket for a moment the fact the claims have been investigated ad nauseum time and time again found to be baseless. The Stop Hillary PAC actually put those baseless claims in the mouths of murdered Americans played by actors and then for the big finale the PAC had the gall to show the grave of ambassador and dedicated diplomat Christopher Stevens. A treasurer and council of the stop Hillary PAC Dan Backer told All In the group has raised more than $2 million since launching in May 2013 mostly, he says, from small donors. Asked to respond to critics who deemed the spot disgusting, Backer would only offer more attacks on Clinton. Now this, of course, is just the beginning. We`re going to see hundreds of millions, in fact more possibly, billions of dollars in attack ads in the election cycle, many from groups that won`t disclose who created the ads who is funding them. And the great thing for the candidates is that they don`t have to come in at the end and say I approve this message. No, they get to stand on the sidelines pretending they`re on the high road and let shady and shameless outside groups do their disgusting dirty work for them. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Despite CNN`s best efforts and emergency standby podium, Vice President Joe Biden is definitely not going to be in Las Vegas tonight unless he somehow teleports there. He spent the day in Washington, D.C. His office says he already has plans for this evening, quote, "tonight Vice President Biden will host a high school reunion following which he will watch the Democratic debate at the Naval Observatory." That`s of course his residence. The announcement coming as the political action committee Draft Biden released its second television ad urging the vice president to run. The group`s first ad, which referenced the death of Biden`s wife and daughter was pulled from the airwaves after the vice president reportedly objected to it. Up next, what the other side is up to. We`ll check in on the Republican primary race as Donald Trump accuses Jeb Bush of, and I`m quoting here, "doing a plant." (COMMERCIAL BREAK) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. So maybe I`m wrong, maybe you can prove me wrong, but I don`t think that you`re a friend to women. DONALD TRUMP, 2016 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I knew I shouldn`t have picked her. I knew I shouldn`t have picked her. So let me give that you that answer right now. I respect women incredibly. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: The crowd at the ostensibly nonpartisan No Labels event yesterday in Manchester, New Hampshire was not necessarily a Donald Trump crowd. Trump was riled by the suggestion he is not, and I`m quoting a friend to wo-man." Not only did he cut off that question, this morning he accused the questioner of being a plant from Jeb bush`s presidential campaign, tweeting "the arrogant young woman who questioned me in such fashion at No Label yesterday was a Jeb staffer." How can he beat Russia and China? And if you`re wondering about the non sequitur later in case you were confused, he tweeted out, "how can Jeb Bush expect to deal with China, Russia and Iran if he gets caught doing a plant during my speech yesterday in NH?" The woman has been identified as Lauren Rose Bachelder (Ph). And her LinkedIn profile indicates she is an intern at Jeb Bush`s presidential campaign. The Bush campaign described her as an unpaid volunteer but not a plant. According to a Bush spokesperson, "like many in New Hampshire, Lauren is a student who is a student At. Anselm`s who is passionate about and active in politics and attended this event on her own accord. While this question was not sanctioned by the campaign, we can`t help notice Mr. Trump does seems to be very sensitive about being challenged by women." Trump isn`t buying that, instead insisting she was indeed a plant. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: She was a bush plant. She was a bush plant. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their campaign came back and said no, she was not. TRUMP: No, they`re not denying it. No, no. They actually acknowledge that it was. And I`ll tell you something... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. They... TRUMP: If Bush can`t plant somebody in a room. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She did volunteer at their campaign, but they said that she was not a plant. TRUMP: It was a Bush plant. What happened is if he can`t put a plant in a room with thousands of people and not get caught, how is he going to deal with Russia, China, and Iran? I don`t think it`s going to work so well for us. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: You know, Caputo tried. He tried. Got to give him credit. When we come back, we`ll look at the inherent problem for Donald Trump or any Republican nominee once they reach the general election. Someone who knows all about the workings of a major presidential campaign, Republican strategist Steve Schmidt joins me next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: I live surrounded by immigrants. My neighbors are immigrants, my family in immigrants, married into a family of immigrants. I see immigration every single day. I see the good of immigration. I see how important it is for our future. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Just under three years ago, Senator Marco Rubio saw the god of immigration. Today, the positions of the current crop of Republican presidential candidates on immigration seem to be far different from that, including the position of now presidential candidate Marco Rubio. Joining me now, Republican Strategist and MSNBC contributor Steve Schmidt. And, Steve, the reason we play that clip and the reason I want to talk to you was -- you know, the nature of this polarization of the electorate combined with the electoral college, right, is that either major party nominee basically starts with like a 45 percent floor. I mean, the battle is very, very constrained in terms of who`s persuadable, that`s kind of the theory we`re seeing people operate under. Do you buy that general framework that we sort of see both sides more or less kind of accept as fact? STEVE SCHMIDT, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Absolutely. The Obama campaign in 2012 came to the determination in the 18 states where the election will be decided that in fact only 5 percent of the likely voters were persuadable by either campaign, and that was much of their focus with the data, the analytics, the targeting being able to identify early on the actual individuals who will decide the outcome of the presidential race. HAYES: But that`s a vanishing small number of people. SCHMIDT: It`s a small number in a country with 350 million people. You know, demographics are destiny to some degree. So even before we talk about the candidates, their personalities, their profiles, whether they`re good at debates or not, if you look at just the states where Democrats have won six out of the last six elections they start with 242 electoral votes. If you add in the states where they`ve won five out of last six elections, they go to 282 electoral votes, 12 more than is necessary for victory. And despite any magical thinking that Republicans wish to apply to the electorate, it is not possible as a matter of mathematics for a Republican candidate to successfully win the presidency without getting at least 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in the country. And you look at the 1988 election, the last person before Mitt Romney to have 59.5 percent of the white vote, George Herbert Walker Bush winning in an electoral landslide. Fast forward to 2012, when you have 59.5 percent of the white vote, but you see the correlating collapse of the Asian vote along with the Hispanic vote, along with the youth vote for a range of issues on a number of different questions that Republicans won`t be heard because the positions for example on gay marriage and any one of a number of issues, you lose in an electoral landslide. HAYES: And that -- so that basic math is the math that I think is understood by the professionals in both camps. And I think it`s largely why we`ve seen the campaign thus far we`ve seen from Hillary Clinton, right which it`s not the campaign I would have expected of the Hillary Clinton who I watched run for senate in New York in 2000, right? Times have shifted. The politics. They`re smart people. They can understand the way the math works. The goal for there for the Democratic nominee basically is follow the path that led to two successive electoral wins. SCHMIDT: a fundamental truth of this race, Chris, is a great Republican candidate: dynamic, articulate, exciting can still lose. A very poor Democratic candidate: inauthentic, inarticulate, shifty, not trustworthy. HAYES: That is a mean thing to say about Lincoln Chafee. I don`t think -- I don`t know why he was going after him. SCHMIDT: Well, he was lighting up the debate stage as we saw just moments ago. HAYES: Well, you know -- right that that`s the thing people have to understand. Now, here`s what I think is interesting. All that sort of structural stuff that brings -- that is not the case where it strikes me as less the case in this primary particularly on the Republican side where it really does feel like it really matters a lot of the candidate, how talented they are politically, how good their professionals around them are, how good they are at raising money. I mean, we`ve already seen candidates fall by the wayside who the structural factors would tell you Scott Walker is probably going to go pretty deep in this. He didn`t. I mean, how much does candidate quality matter at this point in the primary? SCHMIDT: Candidate quality does matter. But look, there`s two types of elections, there`s change elections and there`s more of the same. I believe this will be a change election and a general election dynamic, but it`s certainly a change election inside the Republican Party. And you see 52. HAYES: It is not a more of the same. That`s a great point. SCHMIDT: You see 52 percent of Republican voters supporting three of the outsider candidates. You have to put Ted Cruz into that category, as well, though elected he`s an anti-establishmentarian candidate. He has no interest in governing -- he is very much part of that outsider class. And when you add his totals in, you`re talking about 60 percent of the Republican electorate in absolute rebellion against the political establishment of the Republican Party. And you see this, of course, play out with a faction in the House of Representatives able to hold a gun to the heads of the larger Republican majority. HAYES: 200 members. SCHMIDT: Demanding it gets its way or else with severe repercussions. And we see the dissolution of the seams binding the Republican Party together. And in fact, I think you could make an argument that what we`re seeing is the creation of a third party in the country. I think there`s an awful lot of Republicans in the country who look at Ted Cruz, look at Donald Trump, look at Ben Carson, they say that`s not my party. I would vote for any one of a number of the Democrats before I would vote for one of them. HAYES: I thought it`s interesting, there was Wall Street Journal data that the came from Pew. And it said that only slightly more than half of white southerners identify as Republicans. And I thought to myself that`s weird, I know what the voting patterns are. And it`s not that they`re voting for Democrats or they identify as liberals, they just don`t identify with the party and that`s a bigger issue we`re seeing play out. Steve, it`s always a pleasure to have you here. SCHMIDT: Good to see you, Chris. HAYES: That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END