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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 10/30/15

Guests: Philip Bump, Alex Isenstadt, Catherine Rampell, Rick Wilson, TreyRadel, Ben Jealous, Wade Henderson, Jeb Lund, Juan Cole

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN -- BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Gotcha. HAYES: Republican candidates stage a coup, holding a secret meeting without the RNC. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don`t overly micromanage the process. HAYES: While Reince Priebus is doing damage control. REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: I just can`t tell you how pissed off I am. HAYES: Then, Jeb Bush ramps up his attacks on Marco Rubio and tries to reassure panicked donors. JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s going fine. REPORTER: Are you having any fun? BUSH: Oh, yes. You saw it. Having lots of fun. HAYES: Plus, the White House announces it will deploy U.S. commandos to Syria, despite assurances there would be no boots on the ground. JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The mission of our men and women on the ground has not changed. HAYES: We`ll look at the shifting strategy against ISIS. JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The challenge that we face in Syria today is nothing less than to chart a course out of hell. HAYES: And Hillary Clinton`s speech on criminal justice reform interrupted by Black Lives Matter. BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTERS: Black lives matter. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, they do. And I`m going to talk a lot about that in a minute. HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. In the wake of a chaotic third GOP debate, the candidates are revolting against the party`s central institution, the Republican National Committee. The only thing the different factions of the GOP seem to agree on is vilifying the media. Almost no one in the Republican field was happy with Wednesday night`s debate, and after Ben Carson said he was reaching out to the other candidates about reforming debate rules, last night, "Politico" posted a big scoop, since confirmed by NBC News. The campaigns, all of them, are planning to gather in Washington on Sunday to plot how to change the messy debate process, and quote, "how to remove power from the hands of the Republican National Committee." NBC`s Chris Jansing reports most of the campaigns have signed on including the Bush camp, which had been initially non-committal. While the RNC has made multiple attempts to reach the organizers, Chairman Reince Priebus and his representatives remain uninvited. Last night, Priebus was still trying to contain the debate fallout, blaming host CNBC, our sister network, for how things went. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRIEBUS: Obviously, we had assurances it was going to be straight up finance, which is what they do every day. SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Let me ask you -- PRIEBUS: Just nothing but a crap sandwich. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: In response to the initial criticism of the debate, CNBC responded in a statement Wednesday, "People who want to be president of the United States should be able to answer tough questions." Today, perhaps a signal that he`s hearing the candidates` message, Priebus went even further, writing a letter to NBC News chair Andy Lack, who also oversees MSNBC, canceling NBC and Telemundo`s participation in a debate scheduled for February 16th. "The CNBC network is one of your media properties and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith. While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates` visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC`s moderators engaged in a series of gotcha questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone and designed to embarrass our candidates." That Republican debate had been the only one set to air on Spanish language television. Meanwhile, Priebus said he still plans to hold the event with the debate`s other co-host, the conservative publication "The National Review," which was going to do it together with Telemundo and NBC. NBC News responded in a statement, "This is a disappointing development. However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo, we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party." Now, railing against the mainstream media has proved to be a major political boon to the candidates, especially Ted Cruz, who this week has practically made it his campaign platform. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Democratic debates are primarily moderated by liberals, and the Republican debates are primarily moderated by liberals. On the Republican side, you look at an awful lot of the media interviewers. Their object is, whoever the Republican nominee is, to beat up on them and to have people either stay home or vote for Hillary Clinton. HOST: Sure. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: After Cruz`s big moment slamming the moderators Wednesday night, 24 percent of Republican-leaning respondents to an online poll said he`d done the best job in the debate. The day after Cruz told FOX News his campaign managed to raise $1.1 million. Joining me now, "Washington Post" political reporter Phillip Bump, and Alex Isenstadt, political reporter for "Politico". Alex, let`s talk about this meeting, how it came to be and what the intention here is. ALEX ISENSTADT, POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, look, the intention here is that candidates sort of want to take power out of the hands of the Republican National Committee, which has been really taking the lead in negotiating the terms of the debates. So, they`re going to be getting together a number of campaigns together on Sunday night and talking about what they warrant for debates in the future. And they all agree that this debate we had on Wednesday in Boulder, Colorado, was a total mess and they don`t want to repeat that again. HAYES: Well, but here`s my question for them, right? I mean, part of this is there`s this backlash against Reince Priebus, and it seems like sometimes that`s what`s driving this. I mean, I feel like the frustration toward the last debate in some ways was building over three debates, it`s the culmination of a lot of frustration. It`s the culmination of a lot of frustrations at Reince Priebus himself. Is that a fair assessment? ISENSTADT: It is a fair assessment. And understand why that`s happening. It`s because the RNC this cycle really took it upon themselves to take greater control over this process. You`ll remember four years ago when there were about two dozen Republican debates and they were just as much of a mess. Afterwards, the party decided they wanted to have greater control, wanted to clean it up a little bit. But look, it`s just as much of a mess as ever and now you have a tremendous backlash. The RNC is under a massive amount of pressure right now. HAYES: Let me play Reince Priebus basically promising it that things are going to be better this time. This is him February 2nd. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRIEBUS: I am against a process that can turn into a circus, which is what I`m trying to prevent. So I`m trying to in a reasonable way, allowing for debate, allowing for people to get involved but also not allow for 23 debates and a six-month out-of-control primary process from taking place. So I`m trying to find that happy medium, Steve. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Philip, it strikes me that Reince is in a position similar to John Boehner, which is the center of gravity for the institutional Republican Party is just becoming completely unmoored and there`s very little he can do about p it. PHILIP BUMP, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. If you look at who started putting together this thing, it was people who weren`t long-standing members of the Republican Party and the Republican establishment. Absolutely part of this is that the candidates who are on stage want to demonstrate they`re independent of the Republican Party, they`re independent of the news media. If you look at what happened in 2012, right, we all remember when Newt Gingrich challenged CNN, got huge applause. Like that sort of thing is very memorable. And Ted Cruz is very aware when he was dodging the questions actually posed to him and instead attacking the media, that that would be beneficial. HAYES: Well, and it also strikes me that if you ask Reince Priebus eight months ago, ten months ago, do you think Ben Carson and Donald Trump are going to be the front-runners in the primary, calling the shots essentially, and running an end-around around your authority over the debate process he would have said you`re out of your mind. BUMP: Well, I think that if you had tried to predict anything that happened in Republican politics in the course of the last 12 months, maybe since the night Eric Cantor lost, it would have been almost impossible to do so. The extent to which the RNC has lost control over Republicans is hard to emphasize. HAYES: Well, and this gets me back, Alex. I feel like obviously we`re in a sort of conflicted position because CNBC is a sort of partner to MSNBC, and I`m not going to like opine one way or the other about the journalism because it`s just not credible in either direction. What I will say, however, is it does seem to me that there`s a little bit of scapegoating. I mean, look, the Republican primary has more candidates than anyone ever before. There`s ten people on that stage, which is kind of tough to manage, and two people who`ve never had elected office have been dominating the polls for three months -- a billionaire real estate mogul who says outrageous things, former reality star, and a neuroscientist who has no political experience whatsoever. That`s not anyone`s fault. That is the state of play in the Republican race. ISENSTADT: No, that`s true. And I can guarantee you that when the RNC took control of this process, they weren`t betting that there would be about 16 different candidates in this race and that Donald Trump would be leading in the polls and that Ben Carson would also be leading in the polls. That wasn`t what they were thinking. And so, this race has taken on a very rambunctious tone. The RNC didn`t know that when they signed up for this. HAYES: There`s an item in "Politico" that said during the debate that two DNC people came in to complain about Jeb Bush not getting enough time. Sean Spicer who was named there later said it was for a number of candidates not getting enough time. But the CNBC employee who was involved said the only candidate they heard about was Jeb Bush. Which if that`s true and you`re another candidate I would hit the roof on that. BUMP: Yes, absolutely. There`s not much secret that the Republican establishment was hoping Jeb Bush would be able to carry the ball across the finish line to some extent, obviously not all the of them. But putting your hand on the scale like that doesn`t help the RNC`s case. Obviously -- HAYES: Right. Please? Yes? BUMP: I mean, obviously, what we`ve seen over the course -- I mean, the night before the debate everyone was mad about at the RNC because of the green rooms. Then there was the debate, and the day after, they were mad at the RNC over how the debate -- and Reince Priebus is trying to figure out how to regain control. And I can say it I don`t work for NBC, part of what he did today is simply so he can say, oh, no, I`m on your side, when he had a tough week in proving that. HAYES: All right. Philip Bump, Alex Isenstadt, thank you both. All right. I`m joined now by "Washington Post" columnist, Catherine Rampell. And, Catherine, I thought you had a good piece about this where you said Republicans are right, we`re terrible, the media, not for the reasons they say. And part of it was about what these debates have been more broadly. What`s your beef? CATHERINE RAMPELL, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think what`s happened is that the candidates have learned from previous experiences both at the debates and other coverage, what scores them points, what gets them more air time, what dominates the news cycle. And they`ve learned and they`ve acted on it. And one of those things, you know, is just talk over your time limit, right? That was part of the reason why the debate was so chaotic because they had learned from previous debates that they should just keep talking, they`ll get more air time, you know, which is kind of an annoying thing. But more substantively, they learned that if they lie but they lie confidently, maybe they`ll get fact checked later. But if in the interim the pundits are like good job, that was so confident. HAYES: Or that 24 million people see the lie and 1 million people see the fact check you`re still up net-net. RAMPELL: It seems pedantic in the end, it seems nitpicky. So it`s really about how great can I craft my performance, whether or not it`s tethered to the truth. HAYES: And look, I think part of the core issue here and part of the frustration everyone`s feeling is that when you look at the minutes that people got, right? You`re watching these long big things. People were getting four minutes of speaking time, six minutes of speaking time. At the top is seven minutes, right? It is -- there is no solution to producing a ten-person debate. None. Like if someone came to me and my producer said, hey, we`ve got a great idea for tonight`s show -- RAMPELL: Book ten people. HAYES: We`re going to book ten guests at the same time. And you just sort of -- I`d be like no, that`s going to be bad television and nothing will ever get resolved or said because there`s ten people. But that`s what -- I mean -- RAMPELL: I know. HAYES: So that`s no one`s fault. And I understand if I were participating in that as a candidate, I would find it massively frustrating. RAMPELL: And I also wonder when I was talking about how they`ve been strategic about crafting their strategy from one debate to the next, in previous debates the way that your opponent got to talk was that you attacked them, right? So I do wonder if part of the reason why you saw candidates not attacking their competition this time around -- HAYES: Because that gave time to the person being attacked. RAMPELL: Yes, more air time. HAYES: But then you need something to attack. RAMPELL: And you go after Kasich, right? You know, he`s not as much of a threat to Donald Trump. HAYES: Right. RAMPELL: I think what happens is the candidates have to figure out how can I get as much air time as possible, how can I get as little -- give as little air time as possible to my greatest threats, and you have this sort of finagling for what eventually in the end is like three minutes of speaking time. And it just is not the most -- it`s not the format that`s the most conducive to a substantive informed conversation. HAYES: It`s funny because it`s a situation that I think a lot of people feel that way, right? The candidates clearly feel that way. I think people -- critics across all three debates sometimes maybe feel that way although there are certain exchanges that have been very illuminating but they`ve also been -- all three are basically breaking records for ratings, right? That`s the other part of it, is that, yes, it might be that there`s some tension between what will be the most dynamic television and what serves -- RAMPELL: Democracy? HAYES: That`s right. The best. It`s possible there`s a tension between those two things. RAMPELL: Who would have guessed? HAYES: I mean, I`ve never guessed. RAMPELL: Yes. It`s never wrestled with these problems. It`s absolutely an issue. And it does create some perverse incentives if you`re a moderator, right? Like you kind of want to create some tension on stage. HAYES: Absolutely. RAMPELL: You want to get them to attack each other. There was more of that I think in previous debates than in this debate. Partly, again, because I think that if you attack your opponent they`re going to get to talk, they realize that. But -- HAYES: That`s a great point. I had not thought of that. RAMPELL: But I do think if you`re a moderator you kind of want to ask these provocative questions that are going to produce the greatest drama. HAYES: And also look, at each subsequent debate, there`s a premium on novelty, right? You`re trying to find in debate 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7, you as a moderator are trying to find questions that haven`t been asked before, right? All this sort of low-hanging fruit gets taken. That`s how you end up in places that I think maybe the candidates feel are esoteric. But I -- to me, whatever the rules are, whatever the RNC comes up with, ten people on stage is going to be kind of a mess no matter what. RAMPELL: Especially if they`ve learned they shouldn`t answer the question, if it`s a difficult question they don`t want to answer, just bash the media and say, liberal bias, not worth my talking about the debt ceiling or whatever. So, even if they ask substantive questions -- HAYES: Right, doesn`t mean you`re going to get an answer. RAMPELL: Right, exactly. HAYES: Catherine Rampell, thank you very much. All right. Still to come as Jeb Bush`s campaign trains its focus on Marco Rubio, it`s easy to forget they were once very close allies. We`ll look at the latest attacks. Plus, our second ALL IN candidate book report. This week, it`s Mike Huckabee`s latest work titled "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy", which sounds almost delicious. And later, how Hillary Clinton handled a Black Lives Matter protest during her speech on criminal justice reform. Those stories and more, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Jeb Bush has a message for everybody asking dire questions about his floundering presidential campaign. He is having a great time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOST: Are you having fun running for president? BUSH: Yes, I am. I`m having a blast. And I`m getting my views validated and challenged at the same time. It`s a phenomenal way to grow intellectually, spiritually. Physically, I`m in phenomenal shape for an old 62-year-old guy. In fact, I think we ought to have five-hour debates. REPORTER: What do you make of the headlines that say your campaign is on life support? BUSH: It`s not on life support. We have the most money. We have the greatest organization. We`re doing fine. End is not near. Memo to file. Life is good. REPORTER: You told donors on a conference call that you`re going to get better at this. What are you going to do to get better at this? BUSH: Look, we`ve got eight more debates. I`m going to have to do what other candidates do, which is rudely interrupt, not answer the questions that are asked, and hopefully the debate moderators will actually ask more substantive questions as well. It`s going fine. REPORTER: Are you having any fun? BUSH: Oh, yes. You saw it. Having lots of fun. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Doth the candidate protest too much? When we come back, the Shakespearean saga that the relationship between Bush and his protege-turned-bitter-rival Marco Rubio. And yes, there`s a sword involved. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: When Marco Rubio was elected speaker of the Florida House back in 2005, then Florida Governor Jeb Bush presented Rubio with a sword Bush claimed he had long relied on which Bush called the sword of Chang. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: I`m going to bestow on you the sword of a great conservative warrior and I know Chang won`t let you down and you won`t let him down. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: With Rubio now having surpassed Bush in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, Bush`s bequeathing of that sword to his one-time protege has started to look pretty prescient. It is hard to overstate how close these two men once were. They first met 15 years ago and quickly became close allies who reportedly regularly consulted each other in late- night phone calls, a relationships friends have described as being almost family. In a 2012 tribute to Bush, now senator Rubio said, quote, "Often in the Senate when faced with a tough choice I would ask myself, WWJD. What would Jeb do?" But as Rubio`s demolition of Bush in Wednesday`s GOP debate made clear, the relationship has morphed into an increasingly bitter rivalry with all the markings of a Shakespearean drama. Last night, "U.S. News" published a leaked 112-page internal Bush campaign memo that is starkly critical of Rubio. One slide titled "Marco is a risky bet" bullet-points Rubio`s, quote, "misuse of state party credit cards, taxpayer funds and ties to scandal-tarred former Congressman David Rivera." The memo then goes through other alleged Rubio dirty laundry before concluding cryptically, those who have looked into Marco`s background in the past have been concerned with what they have found. A Bush aide told "U.S. News" that was a reference to Rubio being vetted for vice president by Mitt Romney`s team in 2012 but long-time top Romney aide Beth Meyers pushed back telling politico that "Senator Rubio passed our vetting. We found nothing that disqualified him from serving as VP." Meanwhile, Bush`s campaign manager, Danny Diaz, has reportedly bragged about the size of their operation research file on Senator Rubio and said they were prepared to begin a full-scale attack. The Bush campaign isn`t the only one going to war. While Rubio has been relatively restrained in his public comments about Bush, the super PAC backing him which just unveiled this, its first campaign ad, today found a memo that includes this remarkably cutting line, quote, "When you consider all angles as we do, we believe there are really only four candidates with a reasonable chance of becoming the Republican nominee, Senator Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and Senator Ted Cruz." You probably noticed that a certain former Florida governor was not among the names listed there. As for Bush, seen here underneath a "Jeb can fix it" sign, he has spent the last 48 hours in damage control mode following his widely panned debate performance. A national NBC News online poll conducted by Survey Monkey out today found that 38 percent of Republican-leaning voters felt that Bush did the worst job in the debate. No other candidate was even in the double digits. Bush`s campaign last week said it was slashing payroll by 40 percent. Today brought yet another dire sign. The campaign`s chief operating officer, long-time Bush family ally, Christine Ciccone, lost her job for which she was reportedly being paid $12,000 per month. Bush himself appears to be trying to reboot. His campaign is billing a month Monday speech in Tampa at major event in which Bush will be sharper than ever and his cash-flush super PAC is planning an $11 million ad blitz starting in January. Joining me now, former Republican Congressman Trey Radel of Florida, and Republican media consultant Rick Wilson, founder of Intrepid Media. Trey, give us a little background on this relationship. I know you know both these gentlemen. It was a kind of defining relationship in Florida politics for years there while Marco Rubio was in the legislature and Jeb Bush was in the state house. TREY RADEL (R-FL), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Sure. And shortly after that Rubio wrote a book. Governor Bush also wrote a forward to it. They are very close. They are colleagues. They share a lot of the same views. But is it really like Obi Wan or Yoda to Luke Skywalker? I don`t know if it`s that much. I think the word protege has been used a little too much. I think that Marco Rubio -- I think it`s more like Dr. Dre to Snoop Dogg, if you will. Marco Rubio is his own man. Yes, Jeb has helped him throughout his career tremendously, has given him a certain platform and stature, but Marco Rubio is his own man. I met Marco Rubio back in 2009. I was a political reporter here in southwest Florida. Marco at the time was running for the U.S. Senate against Charlie Crist. At the time, Governor Crist had the highest approval ratings in the United States of America. At that time, Marco could not get ten people to sit down with him at a lunch. And now, where are we today? Marco`s running for president after being in the U.S. Senate. And Charlie Crist is running as a Democrat for the United States Congress. HAYES: Right. RADEL: Marco Rubio has some serious political chops, and he`s shown us that through most especially this last debate. HAYES: Rick, you had this tweet that a lot of people pointed to, this is right before the debate, says the following, "Man, oh man, the dumb replanned move a certain campaign is about to make in the big debate is campaign-ending stupid." A lot of people thought this was Jeb Bush turning toward Marco Rubio, attacking him on this vote, referencing the French work week, mischaracterizing the French work week, I will also add. Is that what you were referring to? RICK WILSON, INTREPID MEDIA: It was. It was. And look, that was a moment I think that Governor Bush didn`t meet the standards he tends to set for himself in terms of carrying an attack that`s substantive and real because you could see that he was uncomfortable with it from the very beginning. You could see that he was grinding it out. And the fact of the matter is the rumor mill had pushed that out so far and so widely, there was no scenario under which Marco Rubio wasn`t ready to snatch that thing out of the air no matter what the variation of the attack was, he was going to take that and smash it. And I think it really blew back on the governor. And I think he would have been better off, frankly -- you know, Jeb Bush`s folks are telling him his target is Marco Rubio, and he couldn`t be more wrong. If Jeb Bush wants to solidify his donors and the folks who support him in the establishment side of his party, then he`s got to prove he can take out Donald Trump. It`s not Marco. That to me is a fundamental strategic distraction for him. And I think the fact that it`s against a guy who is wildly popular in Florida, wildly popular in the field right now, a rising star in this thing, really it contradicts sort of basic political gut logic. You go after the guy that`s going to make something for you. You knock down Donald Trump a few notches and you`re something. You knock down Marco and it doesn`t yield you a lot if you`re Jeb Bush. HAYES: Well, it also, Trey, brings it mind, there`s an old adage that when the stakes get low, the politics get very, very petty, they get very vicious. And there`s a corollary in politics which is when two people don`t have a lot of substantive differences, right? When they`re running on very -- when they don`t have things they can point to and say you voted for this and I`m against that and you want this war and I don`t want that war. Then, all that`s left is personality. The differentiation process is almost predetermined to get pretty personal when you have Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio who there`s not a ton of political daylight between them. RADEL: I agree. And quite frankly I disagree with some of their stances on things. Let`s take a look at a few things here. I think that both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio see themselves as being in this for a marathon. I think they believe that people like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who Rick just mentioned, I think they see those as -- and I hate to say this, everybody said about Trump as a flash in the pan. I don`t think those two think they`re in it for the long haul, even though Trump has done what he`s done. But let`s go back to a few things. When we see that, here`s what I definitively know in politics. I`ve been through quite a bit both professionally as an elective member of Congress, and having been through a campaign. If you are being attacked, you are winning. If you are explaining, you are losing. And right now as this cycle stands, right now Marco Rubio even though he`s down in the polls, he`s winning pretty big and Jeb is losing because he`s having to explain himself at every turn. HAYES: That`s the key, Rick. The poll we had out today had Marco Rubio at nine points. It`s not clear to me the voters in the base of the Republican Party were as impressed by Marco Rubio as the kind of pundit and donor class seem to be. What do you think? WILSON: The donor class damage that that mistake made to Governor Bush in the debate is still being tallied. I mean, just tonight Maggie Haberman of the "New York Times" broke that Paul Singer has decided to back Marco. And the donor class movement toward Marco right now, because they recognize that Ben Carson is a wonderful man but fundamentally unprepared to be president in every possible axis and that Donald Trump is quite frankly bordering on, you know, delusional that he`s going to be president. He may be ahead in the polls but the Republican establishment, the donor class, and frankly mainstream Republican voters, 75 percent of them don`t want Donald Trump as president. HAYES: Right. WILSON: So, they`re looking at Marco Rubio across the board, from various conservative folks to moderate folks to establish -- whatever the demo is, they`re looking at Marco now not just as the guy who can be the nominee but as the guy who`s going to be the best positioned to beat Hillary Clinton. HAYES: Right. Trey Radel, Rick Wilson, thank you gentlemen both. Appreciate it. WILSON: Thanks, Chris. RADEL: Thank you. HAYES: Up next, our second ALL IN book report. This week, Mike Huckabee`s book which asks, quote, "Have I been taken to a different planet than the one on which I grew up?" We`ll try to answer that, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC MODERATOR: As a preacher as well as a politician, you know that presidents need the moral authority to bring the entire country together. The leading Republican candidate, when you look at the average of national polls right now, is Donald Trump. When you look at him, do you see someone with the moral authority to unite the country. MIKE HUCKABEE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, as few questions I`ve got, the last one I need is to give him some more time. I love Donald Trump. He is a good man. I`m wearing a Trump tie tonight. Get over that one, OK? (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Governor Mike Huckabee, who`s currently polling around 3.5 percent in the Republican presidential primary, only got to talk for about seven minutes during Wednesday night`s debate. Fortunately, he laid out his thoughts earlier this year in the tome "God, Guns, Grits and Gravy" and Guardian and Rolling Stone columnist Jeb Lund just read it for us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB LUND, JOURNALIST: "For those us from the land of god, guns, grits and gravy being told we need to ride a bicycle and live in a tree stump by an environmental lobbyist in a Gucci suit, or an aging hippie who hasn`t been outside the San Francisco city limits since Jerry Garcia died, goes over about as well as Pee-Wee Herman lecturing George Foreman on how to throw a punch." I hate this. "I`m a life member of Ducks Unlimited, a life member of Bass Angler Sportsman Society, and a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation. In fact maybe I should add another G to god, guns, grits and gravy: game. Because god gives us game that we shoot with guns and serve with grits and gravy. Good." There are so many straw men in this book that I was afraid to read it near an open flame. Huckabee explains a war on Christians by citing protests against Chick-Fil-A and claiming they were inspired by the company owner`s comments on a radio show to make liberals look easily outraged. It would be a good point were it not for the company`s history of donating to anti-marriage equality groups and being sued for workplace discrimination. Give Huckabee some credit. He`s fluent in pop culture in a way that most conservatives aren`t. And he effortlessly drops references throughout the book. But if you`re a woman pop cultural figure you only show up here to be shamed as a fallen woman -- Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, they`re only cited as part of a culture of dehumanization. And then he goes on to say that a culture of dehumanization is what led to the holocaust. So we`re going to have to update the Martin Niemoller quote, "first they came for Destiny`s Child, and I only did twerking." This book is pretty good. Huckabee spins a good yarn the way any charismatic preacher should, and there are some genuine laugh out loud moments. As a campaign book it`s probably a 4 out of 5. As a real book that you would read for normal reasons it`s a 3 out of 10. Please, don`t read the book. (END VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Next week, Guardian and Rolling Stone columnist Jeb Lund will be reviewing a brand new book for us, the much-anticipated "Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again," by one Donald J. Trump with no ghost writer, I`m sure. I`m sure he just wrote this in the last few months. It hits book store shelves on Tuesday. I cannot wait. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: A major escalation announced today in what had previously been a U.S. air campaign against ISIS in Syria. That effort will now involve U.S. troops on the ground engaged in combat. American special operations forces numbering fewer than 50, according to the White House, will deploy in the Kurdish-controlled area of Syria to help fight ISIS. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of the change in strategy today in Vienna. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATES: He authorized a small complement of U.S. special operations forces to deploy to northern Syria, where they will help to coordinate local ground forces and coalition efforts in order to counter Daesh. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Daesh is the acronym of the Arabic word for ISIS. Today`s announcement comes just over a week after Army Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler was killed in combat during a raid to free ISIS prisoners in Iraq, a country in which the U.S. supposedly no longer had a combat role. And the announcement arises after repeated assurances by President Obama that the U.S. strategy against ISIS would not involve boots on the ground in Syria. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: The White House is insisting that today`s announcement represents an intensification in strategy, not a change, while also acknowledging the risk. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The mission that the commander-in -chief has given our military personnel in Iraq and now in Syria is a train, advise and assist mission. And we have gone to great lengths to make clear that that in no way diminishes the amount of risk that our men and women in uniform will be facing. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Whatever the semantic distinctions, the intensification looks like part of an inevitable trajectory toward greater U.S. military involvement in the Syrian civil war. Joining me now, Juan Cole, professor of history at University of Michigan and author of The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East. Professor Cole, you are someone who has been chronicling the region and studying it for a long time. You`ve been critical of U.S. intervention. You`ve advocated for U.S. intervention in the case of Libya. What do you make of today`s announcement? JUAN COLE, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: Well, I think that today`s announcement is probably an acknowledgment of something that`s been going on for a little while. The U.S. has hooked up with a leftist Kurdish militia in northeast Syria which has been the best Syrian actor for fighting ISIL. And since Obama`s emphasis is on defeating ISIL, perhaps depriving it of its capital in Syria at Raqqa, it is the Kurds with which the U.S. is partnering. HAYES: The Kurds have been probably the most effective if not one of the most effective forces in fighting ISIS. They won a very brutal battle at Kobani near the Turkish border. Of course what complicates this is that Turkey, a NATO country, absolutely hates that group, is scared of them, has been trying to bomb them at times. So what does that do to that relationship? COLE: Well, Turkey says it bombed the Syrian Kurds on Friday. And I don`t know. It`s possible that one of the reasons this announcement has been made is to signal to the Turks publicly that if they bomb the Syrian Kurds they`re in danger of bombing U.S. troops because they`re embedded now, and to -- hands off. But this is a big fight, as you say, between the U.S. and Turkey. HAYES: Well, this is a really good point. It leads me to the thing that I`ve been thinking about. I`ve been listening to this amazing podcast called Hardcore History by Dan Carlin. He`s got this epic about World War I. And I have got to say listening to it and reading the news out of Syria you start to wonder are we going to end up in a situation where one country -- all these countries are involved via proxies, Russia`s bombing, Turkey`s bombing, the U.S. is bombing, Iran is on the ground, different people on the ground. You`re going to end up in a situation where I don`t know, Russia accidentally bombs a U.S. special operations commando. I mean, what are we headed toward here? COLE: You know, that is not completely impossible but it`s a little unlikely because you have to think about the Syrian civil war as having theaters. So there`s a northeast theater that`s mainly Kurdish and ISIL. And then there`s a northwest theater that`s mainly now Russia and al Qaeda. So each of these areas is a place where there`s a concentration on a particular enemy. Syria, as you said, is very complex. It`s not like a football game where there`s two sides. It`s more like a poker game where there are like five, you know, players and each of them is trying to win. HAYES: And in the middle just tremendous and unceasing carnage, misery and horror for the people of Syria, the blameless people of Syria, who are knocking at the door of the European countries as they try to flee. Juan Cole, thank you very much for your time. COLE: Thank you. HAYES: Coming up, Hillary Clinton`s rally on criminal justice reform is interrupted by a Black Lives Matter protest. Her reaction, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: If you are still looking for a costume this Halloween, here`s some of the best the internet has to offer. Charlie Todd on Twitter gives us Donald Grump who is upset about his numbers in the latest MSNBC toddler poll. On the other side of the aisle there`s Baby Bernie, ready to tell his fellow trick-or-treaters about his plan to reduce candy inequality. Here`s a somewhat more obscure political one. This brilliant getup is Vice President Joe Biden whispering into the ear of Stephanie Carter at the swearing in ceremony for her husband, defense secretary Ashton Carter. There`s plenty of non-political costume greatness, too. Here`s modern-day Aladdin riding his hoverboard magic carpet. And toddler crazy cat lady in her robe and curlers. And there`s this impressive feat of engineering. The little girl under the cloud is named Zoe. Her very talented dad, who apparently has got some time on his hands, turned her into El Nino with LED lights for lightning and a pump connected to a water battle in her backpack to make it rain. Shaming all the other dads out there, I might add. Here`s hoping your Halloween is safe, fun, and less stormy than Zoe`s. And don`t important our important annual public service announcement. Never, ever wear blackface ever. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HAYES: Starting today over the next several days about 6,000 people will be released from federal prison as part of an effort to reduce their sentences for drug crimes. Officials say it is the largest one-time release of federal prisoners in U.S. history. This is happening because last year the U.S. Sentencing Commission decided to reduce the sentences of drug offenders in an effort to reduce overcrowding. And congress did not object to the commission`s decision. This federal prisoner release comes amidst a rhetorical push by President Obama for criminal justice reform. This year the president commuted the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders and became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. Speaking with inmates in Oklahoma about reforming the system. Now, the administration`s push seems to be in line with what is widely seen as a growing bipartisan campaign for criminal justice reforms. Early this month a group of Democratic and Republican senators introduced what Republican Chuck Grassley hailed as the biggest criminal justice reform in our generation. But if anyone thinks these reforms won`t be fodder for political opportunism and fear mongering I give you the Louisiana governor`s race where Republican Senator David Vitter is casting his Democratic rival John Bel Edwards as soft on crime. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: Voting for Edwards is like voting to make Obama Louisiana`s next governor. Want proof? He dangerously called the releasing of 6,000 criminals from jail. Edwards joined Obama promising at (inaudible) university he`ll release 5,500 in Louisiana alone. 5,500 dangerous thugs, drug dealers, back into our neighborhoods. Edwards even voted to allow convicts to receive taxpayer-funded pensions. Obama and Edwards, wrong for Louisiana. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: New Orleans branch of the NAACP is calling for Vitter to take down that ad saying it seeks to strike fear in the hearts of the white community. Vitter`s ad is the first we`ve seen seeking to exploit the recent sentencing reforms for political gain. Now today, Hillary Clinton speaking in Atlanta got a taste of the pressure on the other side of the criminal justice debate. New pressure. And we will show you what that looks like next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Using non- violence, using the power... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Black lives matter! CLINTON: ...of these feelings that come forward -- and yes, they do. Yes, they do. And I`m going to talk a lot about that in a minute. Now, my friends, I am going to get to some very important points that actually prove that black lives do matter and we have to take action together. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: During her speech on criminal justice this afternoon at Clark Atlanta University, a historically black college in Georgia, Hillary Clinton was interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters singing and chanting for at least ten minutes. The crowd eventually countered with chants of Hillary and let her speak and Atlanta Mayor Kassim Reed and congressman John Lewis, himself no stranger to protest, were seen trying to talk to some of the protesters. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: Well CROWD: Hillary. CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you all very much. I really appreciate it. And I appreciate the congressman and the mayor having my back. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Joining me now, Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Ben Jealous, partner at Caper Capital and former president and CEO of the NAACP. Mr. Henderson, let me start with you. We`ve seen a real change in the politics of criminal justice and criminal justice crime and punishment, but I think there`s a real question about how deep this goes and where the pressures are. What is your judgment of where we are? WADE HENDERSON, CEO, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Well, there is a question, Chris. But let me say I`m really pleased to see Democrats leading on this important issue. I mean, this is the first time that we`ve seen Democratic presidential candidates not afraid of their shadow when it comes to criminal justice policy. I think it`s attributable in part to the Black Lives Matter movement. I think it`s also attributable to a surprising convergence between left and right ideologies on crime. And lastly, I think it`s a reflection of the severity of the problem in prison with mass incarceration and overcrowding. Now, the question of how deep this commitment goes, it remains to be seen and tested. But I think it`s important that we are having the conversation, and I do think it`s important that steps are being taken like that today as a result of the sentencing commission having reduced sentences, people being released. My one concern about the 6,000 who are being released is that they are not prepared to really in most instances address the revolving door reincarceration and I think without preparation, given the fact that they can`t get employment in most instances, can`t get student loans, and often don`t get housing, that these individuals really will face obstacles that no one individual can be expected to overcome. HAYES: Well, and Ben, that speaks to I think part of the issue here, right? We`ve seen a kind of confluence of the rhetoric. We`ve seen the politics align a different way. We`ve seen a situation where because of groups like Black Lives Matter there`s pressure on the other side, which there wasn`t for a long time, at least not of the kind there is now. But this question of how deep it goes, you know, are we actually going to commit to making a world in which those 6,000 folks getting out of prison have something to do? BEN JEALOUS, CAPER CAPITAL: You know, look, this all comes down to trust. The issue is that I think people suspect -- people know she was against, for instance, retroactivity before she was for it but essentially she was -- she was for it before she was against it. And the fear with moderates is that quite frankly they tend to follow their opponents. And so right now, yes, the Republican Party generally has been pretty good but what happens if they shift right? Will she also shift right? And that really is the concern, can we trust her? HAYES: Yeah, Mr. Anderson, I`m hearing a lot of that from criminal justice reformers when they look at -- and not just Hillary Clinton, at Bernie Sanders and Martin O`Malley as well, right, because -- but very focused on Hillary Clinton. There`s a long Marshall project sort of chronicling of her record on criminal justice, which she`s gone back and forth. How important is trust? And how important is -- it doesn`t matter as long as the politics continue to be there. HENDERSON: Well, look, I believe in trust but I also believe in verification. Trust but verify. I think in this instance it`s up to us, the advocacy community, and communities around the country, to insist on getting relief for those who are incarcerated for the reason that it makes no sense to fill up prisons without providing relief for individuals who will eventually be released. So I think it`s really up to us to press our political leadership to force the issue and to be aggressive. And I think if we do it in a strategic way the results, regardless of who is elected, can`t be against the kinds of things that we`re pushing now. HAYES: You know, Ben... JEALOUS: Well, you know... HAYES: Please, go ahead. JEALOUS: Quite frankly, that`s why the Black Lives Matter movement is so important, because they do sort of unleash kind of a unpredictable righteousness and real force that creates more room for long-standing leaders like Wade to really be even more forcible, but also create some fear for a politicians that if they don`t quite frankly have the courage of their convictions that black folks won`t just sit quietly by and be betrayed once more and poor people even more generally. HAYES: Yeah, Mr. Henderson, my question to you is do you see this turning around, do you see a backlash coming? Here in New York City we`ve seen some of the old politics of crime and punishment. Do you anticipate us seeing that? HENDERSON: I think we have to anticipate some of that. But I think the current climate of change is really quite powerful. And as Ben said, the Black Lives Matter movement is contributing to it, but I also think middle-class Americans, regardless of race, recognize that mass incarceration has cost our country dearly and I think we are prepared to change. HAYES: All right, Wade Henderson, Ben Jealous, thank you gentlemen both. That is All In for this evening. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END