Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 20, 2016 Guest: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Nate Silver, Steve King, McKay Coppins, Michelle Goldberg, Steve Cohen
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN --
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Right-winging, bitter-clinging proud clingers of our guns, our God, and our religions, and our --
HAYES: It has happened again!
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wow! Wow!
HAYES: Trump-Palin, take two.
PALIN: We`re not going to chill. In fact, it`s time to drill, baby, drill, down! And hold these folks accountable.
HAYES: Tonight, Ted Cruz gets his own high-profile backup in the brewing Republican civil war.
Then, Team Hillary goes there on socialism.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: It is very hard, I think, for most Americans to see how socialism would cure the problems that we are facing right now.
HAYES: Plus, Nate Silver with forecasts for post Palin-Trump and the surging Sanders, and the controversy over Senator Bernie Sanders, the African-American vote, and reparations.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s likelihood of getting through the Congress is nil.
HAYES: My executive interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates when ALL IN starts right now.
HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
With the Iowa caucuses fast approaching, the two Republican front runners are battling it out for the support of some of the parties` most influential power brokers. I speak, of course, of conservative media celebrities.
After Donald Trump won the endorsement of Sarah Palin, a long-time ally of Ted Cruz, whom he credits with helping him win his Senate seat, today, Cruz is trying to one-up his rival, announcing that radio host Glenn Beck will join him on the campaign trail this Saturday in Iowa.
It`s a sign of where the GOP center of gravity lies. That while the two leading candidates are competing over talk radio and reality stars, neither of them has a single endorsement from a sitting Republican senator or governor. Not one.
Beck has never been a big fan of Donald Trump`s politics, and in a Facebook post last night, he questioned Palin`s motives for supporting Trump. Quote, "When Sarah and the Tea Party won a hard-fought election and were under attack in 2010, Donald J. Trump was giving money to Pelosi, Reid, and Rahm.
I couldn`t disagree with her more, but she has played the game now for years. Perhaps she knows more than those of us still on the outside.
Maybe the press was right about her but for all the wrong reasons."
It`s not clear what exactly Beck meant to imply about Palin`s intentions, but this was not the first time that he`s criticized her.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOWS HOST: I don`t know who she is any more. I don`t know what she stands for. I saw a clip of her talking to Donald Trump. What the hell is that? I don`t even know who she is anymore. I don`t know what she stands for. I don`t know.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: Asked about Palin on the "Today" show this morning, Trump said he`d be open to giving her a job in his cabinet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP (via telephone): I haven`t discussed anything with her about what she would do. But she is somebody I really like and I respect, and certainly she could play a position if she wanted to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And in an interview last September, Palin made it clear, she`s got a very specific post in mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby. Oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the earth for mankind`s use instead of us relying on unfriendly foreign nations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Already, there are signs Trump and Palin may not be entirely on the same page. While the press release for Trump`s rally in Iowa this morning advertise a Palin appearance and tickets for the event touted a special guest, the same language the campaign used to tease Palin`s endorsement yesterday, Trump arrived solo.
The former vice presidential nominee was a no-show. Palin later posted a photo of herself on Facebook boarding the Trump plane with the accompanying caption, "Trading in the beautiful snow of Iowa for the red dirt of Oklahoma, as planned, despite what the media is trying to spin up."
She was on hand for an afternoon rally in Tulsa, where she made news for mentioning her son, Track, who was arrested in Alaska Monday night on domestic violence charges for allegedly punching his girl friend and threatening to kill himself. We decided not to mention the arrest yesterday, because it didn`t seem relevant to Palin`s political activities.
Today, however, Palin herself brought it up, linking Track`s behavior to PTSD from his military deployment and appearing to blame it on President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: My son, like so many others, they come back a bit different. They come back hardened. They come back wondering if there is that respect for what it is that their fellow soldiers and airmen and every other member of the military so sacrificially have given to this country. It starts from the top.
The question, though, that comes from our own president, where they have to look at him and wonder, do you know what we go through?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It remains unclear how much Palin`s support actually helps Trump, either in the short term or the long term. Like Trump, she`s an incredibly divisive figure.
In a 2013 poll, Republicans gave her a net favorability rating of 27 percent; while among independents, she was at negative 39 percent.
Nevertheless, there are signs that faced with a riskier alternative, establishment Republicans may be coming around to the idea of Trump as a nominee. There has been recent reporting on the donor class making overtures to Trump and today former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole seemed to sum up their thinking, telling "The New York Times" that if Ted Cruz were the nominee, the parties` losses would be, quote, "cataclysmic".
Joining me now, Congressman Steve King, Republican from Iowa, who has endorsed Ted Cruz.
Congressman, first, your reaction to Sarah Palin`s endorsement of Donald Trump. Are you -- is your heart broken?
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Well, I like Sarah Palin. And, you know, I appreciate her, and I would have liked it if she would have endorsed Ted Cruz.
I guess I take the responsibility on myself. And that is, I had a chance when Sarah was standing next to Ted Cruz, and I`m there in that little triangle planning a pheasant hunt the next day and I didn`t close the sale. If I had done that, I think Sarah would have endorsed Ted Cruz instead.
I would just say this. That Phil Robertson did, and "Duck Dynasty" did, so I would say okay, Donald Trump, I`ll see -- we`ll -- here`s Phil Robertson, and you`re going to match him with Sarah Palin. And then we`ll raise you a Glenn Beck. If it`s going to be the endorsement game, this could go on until February 1st in Iowa.
HAYES: Well, who else is on the table? Is there something with an HDTV show that would really -- would really sort of put you guys over the top?
KING: You know, I think it really is about Iowans and what Iowans have to say to Iowans. And we appreciate all of the endorsements that come in from outside the state. But, you know, I stood up in meeting after meeting and I said to them, you know me. I have represented you in Congress for 13 years, six years prior to that in the state Senate.
I am a full spectrum constitutional Christian conservative. And I take the risk. And I say, if there is anybody that fits that category, they`re willing to step up and say that I have let them down, I don`t think I ever have.
And I`m willing to put all of that on the line, all that reputation on the line, in endorsing Ted Cruz, because he fits that model and that mold, and he`s smart and his record proves it. He has been in the trenches fighting all along. And he`s not switched on his positions in a lifetime.
And yet we -- and we wonder, what is the compass that Donald Trump is guiding him? What`s navigating him? Nobody can predict where he`s going to be tomorrow.
HAYES: Let me ask you this. I was pretty amazed by those comments by Bob Dole. And I had seen a bit of this.
And I have to ask you this. I mean, people that have known Ted Cruz that have worked with him, a lot of people genuinely don`t like the guy. I mean, they seem to bear him genuine animus. And this is something that sort of cross ideological.
I`ve never met the guy. I don`t know. Maybe he`s a super awesome guy and everyone is wrong.
But -- I mean, is it shocking to you that so many people who have worked with him are the not endorsing him, and, in fact, seem to be rooting for him to lose to someone like Donald Trump, who as you correctly state, doesn`t seem to have great conservative bona fides?
KING: Well, not only that. If you sit down with people in New York who know Donald Trump, you`ll hear the same things.
So, I don`t put a lost credence in that, and people that say that. I don`t expect Mitch McConnell to come out in that fashion, because Ted Cruz has gone directly against the establishment within the party.
This is an establishment blowback effort. Not only is establishment is thinking, well, if we can`t figure out how to beat Ted Cruz in Iowa, maybe we have to join Donald Trump to get that done. I think we`re seeing that happen also.
And by the way, it`s the establishment that always starts the fight. They always drive the wedge. And I say to them, I give you everything you want. Actually, Ted Cruz gives them everything they want.
If they want low taxes, low regulation and a strong national defense and a chance to buy, sell, trade and make gain in a free enterprise economy, all of that is there in Ted Cruz. He gives them more than they want with defending our innocent unborn life, and marriage and the constitutions and principles that restore the pillars of American exceptionalism, Chris.
HAYES: Speaking of that, he has a line in his speech which says on the first day, he will direct the Department of Justice to investigate Planned Parenthood. That strikes me as egregious violation of the kind of separation between the criminal investigations of the DOJ and the president. It`s the sort of thing that Nixon was impeached over, part of what he was impeached over. I imagine any president that did that, that would be an impeachable offense.
Does that strike you as worrisome?
KING: Where is the outrage over Barack Obama then if that`s the case? I mean, I`ve asked the last two attorneys general under oath before the Judiciary Committee --
HAYES: I`m sorry, I understand. And I get that and I know everything about the IRS.
But you`re the candidate that you endorsed is now saying publicly on the stump that the first day he will direct Department of Justice to investigate criminally, presumably, an enterprise that would break with very long-standing tradition that puts that outside the purview of the White House. Doesn`t that trouble you, as someone who wants limited government?
KING: We might be able to choose a different way to say that. But we all know that the policies of the president echo into the leadership within each of the departments. And even though the previous attorneys generals have said they`re not influenced politically, they have also said that when the president says there is not a scintilla -- I think that`s what he said, a scintilla -- no, a smidgen of evidence that Lois Lerner had any bias built within their operation in the IRS, we know that`s not true. There is no way we can get this administration to enforce a law.
Ted Cruz is saying I will enforce a law and there wait a moment be an investigation that does anything except examine whether they enforce a law or not.
HAYES: Got you.
KING: I don`t think there`s anything wrong with him taking that position.
HAYES: Congressman Steve King, thank you very much.
KING: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: I`m joined by McKay Coppins, senior political writer for "BuzzFeed" and author of the new campaign book, "The Wilderness", Michelle Goldberg, columnist for Slate.com.
Mark Levin today went on a long rant against Donald Trump backing Ted Cruz. Limbaugh sort of came to Trump`s defense. You got this sort of civil war happening among the kid of -- and this is where it all matters. I mean, these are the only people who have any credibility with the folks who decide this race.
Not one elected -- not one senator or governor. I mean, you`ve got some elected officials. It`s kind of an amazing situation.
MCKAY COPPINS, BUZZFEED: What I think is interesting about this is that the conservative talk radio world and a lot of the conservative media have used this same sort of identity politics and kind of attitude and all, you know, performance, that Trump is seizing on. But for years and years, right?
But they have used it generally in pursuit of a genuinely conservative ideology or agenda, right? And where I think that they`re now seeing this blow up in their faces that Trump has taken that element of it, and Palin did it as well, right?
HAYES: She was Trump 1.0. And you saw it so much.
COPPINS: And they have done -- but it was never about ideology. It was never about pure ideology. It was about attitude and performance. And that`s what`s dismaying people like Glenn Beck, right? That`s why he`s so freaked out, because now it`s not using that performance to pursue.
HAYES: They`re all performing. I mean --
COPPINS: Of course. But they had -- like what is Donald Trump`s, like, ideology? Can you come -- can you actually put together any kind of political ideology?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, SLATE.COM: Him chanting into that microphone "USA, USA, USA."
COPPINS: That`s his platform. And no, I think that`s true.
HAYES: Nationalism is an ideology.
COPPINS: Right, but it`s not -- it`s not the entire ideology that the Glenn Becks of the world and the Mark Levins of the world were so motivated by for years and years.
GOLDBERG: The other thing that I think is going on is that, you know, for a long, long time, the center of populist -- right wing populist authoritarianism has been with the religious right. And, you know, Glenn Beck comes out of the religious right, a lot of the thinking and ideology of the Republican Party, you know, even about kind of low taxes and things that aren`t actually about religion tend to come out of the religious right.
And for a long time, the power of the religious right and the influence of Christianity in the United States more generally has been on the decline. And people like me have celebrated the growing secularism of the United States. But I think what we`re seeing here is sort of a -- be careful what you wish for, right? Because we`re seeing what happens when the religious part of religious authoritarianism drops out.
GOLDBERG: You know? And what you`re left with is --
COPPINS: This is an interesting idea.
GOLDBERG: -- we were sort of atomized --
HAYES: David Brooks wrote a column saying this. I mean, he was saying it about Ted Cruz, right? Where it was just sort of like, he was saying there is no grace, there is no mercy.
GOLDBERG: But the difference is that Ted Cruz has a very coherent religion ideology. And he`s being backed by what`s left of the theocratic right. And for all we know, they still have quite a bit of power. This hasn`t been decided yet.
But in the past, there wouldn`t have been another very strong populist conservative to somebody that the entire --
HAYES: Who is so obviously manifestly secular as Donald Trump is, despite his long -- his protestations.
COPPINS: I wrote about in this week. I think it`s interesting how Trump has used a religion as a way -- and we talked about this on the show before. What he says about Cruz and evangelicals -- there aren`t a lot of evangelicals coming out of Cuba.
What he`s doing is his whole world view is very retro when it comes to religion and it`s not about theology at all. It`s actually about identity politics circa 1950s, `60s America and, you know, the main line protestant monopoly. And when you look at the people who support Donald Trump, there are a lot of Christians, but people who don`t report going to church ever are much bigger supporters of Trump than the weekly or monthly church- goers.
There is a reason for that. There is a religious element of, you know, American life to make his point.
GOLDBERG: Another thing is that for a long time evangelicalism, there`s -- the number of people who identify as evangelicals, there are people who have very, very strong religious commitments. And then there are people who identify as evangelicals as a way of identifying with the right wing populism, right? And so, it`s not -- so there are actually two different groups of people.
HAYES: That call themselves that.
It`s still remarkable to me -- here we are how many days out from the caucuses. Cruz is getting hammered by Rubio. Rubio has got a new mailer out that has him like in Canadian maple leaf flag.
HAYES: And it purports to say it`s not about the birther issue but his value-added tax comes from Canada. You`ve got Rubio and Christie just beating the stuffing out of each other in new Hampshire, both in their advertisement. You`ve got a new ad coming out -- that`s going to hit the radio airwaves in Iowa on Cruz, right?
COPPINS: Basically accusing him of being a phony Christian, bringing up the tithing issue, that he doesn`t give that much to charity. This is unknown exactly. It`s a new outside group, it`s unknown who is funding it, which is the story of politics right now.
I`ll have a story later tonight about this actually. This tithing issue is becoming something for Ted Cruz. A lot of his critics in Iowa are bringing this up.
HAYES: And think about this. Think of what I just -- Rubio is getting hit and Jeb Bush has run ads. Who is not --
GOLDBERG: Right. And then Trump floating above --
HAYES: Negative ad dollars.
HAYES: No negative ad dollars. There are New Hampshire -- the Jeb Bush people corrected me when I said it was -- they said we have a negative ad up against him with real dollars behind it in New Hampshire. But in Iowa, as far as I can tell, as of this late date still, not a single cent being spent on going after Donald Trump. It`s --
COPPINS: I mean, what is the "Republican establishment", quote/unquote, or the money class? What are they for if not to take down a Donald Trump like candidate, right?
HAYES: McKay Coppins and Michelle Goldberg, thank you both for being here.
Still ahead, I`ll talk with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates on what he says is a major inconsistency between Bernie Sanders platform and his take on reparations.
Plus, Clinton`s words of a new rallying cry against Sanders. Does it pack the same punch it used to?
And later, is statistician Nate Silver rethinking his predictions of a Donald Trump presidency? I`ll ask him that and what a path to victory would look like.
Those stories and more, ahead.
HAYES: Today, Senate Democrats successfully blocked a GOP sponsor bill that would have made it more difficult for refugees from Syria and Iraq to be resettled here in America. The bill, which was passed by the House last November, six days after the terror attacks in Paris, would require the homeland security secretary, the FBI director, and national intelligence director to personally confirm to Congress that every refugee from Syria or Iraq poses no security threat.
It never stood a chance at becoming law. The White House called it untenable and vowed to veto it. But today`s vote included a bit of trolling by Democrats. Minority Leader Harry Reid said Dems would help to advance the refugee bill if Republicans agreed to vote on a set of amendments, one of which officially denounced Donald Trump`s proposed Muslim ban, which would sort of force Republicans to vote on the record on Trump`s vision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: As a front runner of the Republican nomination, Donald Trump and his proposal are leading the public debate in our country. Republicans who support these illogical plans should be prepared for the next logical step, voting on his vision of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: What is your view of the effective way to stop Bernie Sanders` momentum? What message should the Clinton operation use now to stop his momentum?
DAVID BROCK, CORRECT THE RECORD: Bernie Sanders isn`t electable. I don`t believe he`s electable in the Democratic Party and he`s not electable in the general election.
And that`s because of the elephant in the room. He`s a socialist. He`s not a Democrat. He`s got a 30-year history of affiliation with a lot of wackadoodle ideas and parties. Think about what the Republicans will do with the fact that he`s a socialist in the fall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Hillary Clinton supporters like David Brock seen there appear to have a new strategy for going after Bernie Sanders, using the "S" word.
David Brock, the founder of pro-Clinton super PAC made those comments yesterday, the same day a new poll was released showing Sanders with a massive lead over Clinton in New Hampshire.
This morning, "The New York Times" ran an article titled "Alarmed Clinton supporters begin focusing on Sanders` social edge," quoting several Clinton backers questioning whether Sanders could win a general election.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said, "Here in the heartland, we like our politicians in the mainstream. He is not. He is a socialist."
Senator Claire McCaskill said Sanders, quote, "makes it impossible for Democrats in a state like Missouri."
Continued with that line of criticism in an interview with NBC`s Kasie Hunt today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you think a socialist, a self-declared socialist could win the presidency of the United States?
MCCASKILL: I can only speak for my state. I think it would be absolutely impossible for a self-declared socialist to win in a state like Missouri. And you`ve got to win states like Missouri if you`re going to win the presidency. States like Indiana, states like Ohio, states like Pennsylvania. It is very hard, I think, for most Americans to see how socialism would cure the problems that we are facing right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I should note that Barack Obama, who won a lot of states people thought were impossible for a Democrat to win, even he lost Missouri twice.
That said, Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen voiced his concerns for Democrats seeking re-election with Bernie Sanders at the top of the ticket, saying, "It wouldn`t be helpful outside Vermont, Massachusetts, Berkeley, Palo Alto and Ann Arbor."
The shift in tone towards Sanders did not go unnoticed by RNC chair Reince Priebus who tweeted, "Facing cratering poll numbers, the Clinton campaign and surrogates are ramping up their attacks on Sanders."
Joining me now, Congressman Steve Cohen, Democrat from Tennessee.
Congressman, I mean, no one is going to -- let`s just say this, in terms of the top of the ticket. No Democrat is going to win Tennessee either way.
Do you really think it would make a difference someone like yourself in your district, whether Sanders or -- if Sanders is at the top of the ticket?
REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: It won`t make a difference in my district at all. But, you know, I have a largest African-American district in the country. And the two most popular people -- three most popular people in this district are Hillary and Bill Clinton and myself.
HAYES: So then my question to you is -- here`s one thing. On the timing of this, this does seem sort of concerted. Did you guys get a memo or did everyone decide today to talk about this or were you reached out to by reporters?
COHEN: Reached out -- Jonathan Martin called me, a friend from "The New York Times." We barbecue and we talk football.
HAYES: And so you were just answering his questions.
COHEN: Right. That was all. There`s nothing -- so far as I`m concerned or aware of that was any connection with anybody.
I want to have a winner. I want somebody in the White House who can negotiate with Republicans when they pass legislation that the president vetoes. We`re going to have a Republican house. We may have a Republican Senate. And the president will veto legislation and then work together for compromise.
And Hillary Clinton has shown an ability to do that. That is really important.
Bernie Sanders has a lot of issues that I support, support strongly. I think Bernie has done a great job of invigorating enthusiasm into politics and I like his positions on criminal justice reform, particularly on drug reform.
But the reality is, he -- it would be difficult for him to get elected, and Hillary has more experience to be president and to work with Republicans and make things happen.
And the bottom line, my opinion, is we need to know that we have somebody who can appoint three Supreme Court justices. The three oldest justices are Ginsburg, Breyer and Kennedy. And if the Republicans end up appointing those three people, we`re up the creek without a paddle for a long time.
HAYES: What do you say to people who say the following? You know, yes, socialists may be difficult in the general election. I think there is some polling that suggests that. Although younger people seem to have a positive -- more positive view of it than older people, for some obvious reasons.
But there`s also people who say Hillary Clinton has her own problems. That there is essentially a certain level of negativity -- her negatives are essentially baked in. There is a certain threshold she cannot get past. People have essentially formed their opinion of this woman over 30 years. And that she actually poses problems in the general.
COHEN: Well, everybody -- every candidate has certain problems when they have been in the arena, and they have come up upon issues that cause them to have opposition from some group.
Bernie is real good on being against Wall Street. And I understand that. And that`s important. They almost destroyed our world`s economy. And they got away with it, with nobody going to jail and nobody being held responsible.
Hillary has friends on Wall Street. She represented New York as the United States senator. And when you represent a state, you represent all the different interests and you know the importance of Wall Street to the Manhattan and New York and the world economy.
The reality is, when it comes time to the fall and Hillary is our nominee, the people that don`t like Wall Street are a lot better off with Hillary Clinton than they are going to be with a Republican, even Donald Trump, who really is part of the same ilk.
HAYES: So --
COHEN: And Hillary Clinton would make a great president. She`s very well- versed in foreign affairs. She can deal with foreign leaders, which is so important in this era with the Middle East in disarray and Putin exerting himself in Eastern Europe.
We need somebody strong and knowledgeable in foreign affairs, as well as somebody who knows the issues in America that can get things accomplished.
Paul Krugman is my guru. When Paul Krugman says -- and he was right. Great victory for Democrats and progressives to get the Affordable Care Act, Patient Protection Act passed. We don`t need to scrape it, we need to improve it.
The public option would be a great thing. We should have had it in the bill originally. And if we can come back and get it in, it will be amazing, because the Republicans aren`t going to be for any of that.
HAYES: All right.
COHEN: The reality is, you`ve got to have a strong president who will stand up for the right things against the Republicans.
HAYES: All right. Thank you, Congressman Steve Cohen. Thanks for joining us.
COHEN: You`re welcome, Chris. Good to be back with you.
Up next, my interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of African Americans are starting to call for reparations for the many years of stolen labor through slavery. Is that something you would support as president?
BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I don`t think so. I think it would be -- first of all, its likelihood of getting through congress is nil.
Second of all, very divisive. I think the real issue is, when we look at the poverty rate among the African American community, when we look at the high unemployment rate within the African American community and costs within the African American community, we have a lot of work to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Last week Bernie Sanders was asked if he would support reparations.
His answer, a decisive no, went largely under the radar, that is until yesterday when Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote an article in The Atlantic asking, quote, "why precisely is Bernie Sanders against reparations?"
Coates writes that, for those of us interested in how the left prioritizes it`s various radicalisms, Sanders answer is illuminating.
Sanders says the chance of getting reparations through congress is nil, a correct observation which could just as much apply to the Vermont senator`s own much platform.
A wrath of articles, commentary immediately followed, while the Sanders` campaign declined to comment.
Now, early on in his campaign, Bernie Sanders had some run-ins with Black Lives Matter activists. Since then, I think his campaign would argue, even well before then, he has been working very, very hard to bring voters of color into the fold.
Sanders is doing very well in predominantly White Iowa and New Hampshire, but beyond those states he simply cannot win in a Democratic primary without a sizable chunk of voters of color.
The campaign has made some gains in the polling among voters of color, it announced a tour of historically Black colleges and universities and a criminal justice reform platform.
But he still trails Hillary Clinton nationally, by some 40 points among non White voters.
I spoke with Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent of The Atlantic and author of the award winning book, Between the World and Me, and I asked him why he felt moved to write the Sanders` piece.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TA-NEHISI COATES, THE ATLANTIC: I simply didn`t understand his answer, to be blunt.
The senator, whose campaign I respect, who I respect, who I consider very, very courageous. Who, some people in my household that are a lot younger than me actually support and have been very vocal about supporting has I think inspired quite a number of people.
With his willingness to put solutions on the table that a lot of folks consider outside of the politically doable.
And so then to see him dismiss reparations, simply because, you know, it -- it is not politically doable in his opinion, just -- it just felt completely off. It felt out of tune with the entire, you know, spirit of his campaign.
You know, he mentioned that the chances for getting reparations through congress are nil. In fact, the senator advocates several things, you know, whose chances in congress are also nil.
I`m not saying he shouldn`t be advocating those things, by the way. My point is that he should. You need those ideas out into the world. That should be part of the political debate. I`m a fan of that.
But I`m a fan of doing it across the board and not being selective about it.
HAYES: I`m going basically adopt and pose as devil`s advocate for a moment, since we don`t have the Sanders people here and they never responded.
HAYES: One thing I would say, the elephant in the room here, the Democratic party is a multiracial coalition, but it`s a multiracial coalition that is capable of snapping.
In the sense that a calculation is made that reparations would essentially be so anathema to consider the amount of Democratic white voters, particularly Democratic White and Latino voters, I think, non Black voters, that it just might blow up even what might ultimately end up as a protest candidacy.
COATES: Okay. So then why not respond and say that? Why not say that? Why not say, listen, I have to represent what my coalition says, and right now I don`t think -- I think reparations is actually a very justified idea, but I don`t think we have the support within our coalition to say that.
That`s the argument, then make the argument. That seems like, you know, a pretty good one. Go ahead and make it then.
HAYES: I guess my question is, when you`ve got someone who is asking, who is pushing for things that we all I think agree are going to be very hard to bring about, does that leave him any room to essentially say some things aren`t possible? These things aren`t possible but they`re closer to being possible than those other things?
COATES: Yeah, surely. Surely, surely. But I think, like, when I see somebody just wave away reparations on pragmatic concerns. When your campaign itself is not based on pragmatism. When your campaign is based on, as I said before, what is politically imaginable, and that`s a really, really good thing, by the way. I`m defending that. I`m not against that. I`m for candidacies based on that.
That`s the tonal difference. It`s not that, hey, we have a bunch of great ideas here, but only some of them look like they can actually happen. Or some look more likely to happen than others, so these are the ones we`re going to advocate.
First of all, they didn`t even return my numerous calls or my e-mail. So let`s start there.
There was no even back, you know -- back channel conversation about that at all. They just, you know, left it be and felt it shouldn`t be responded to.
That`s fine, but then I have to write what I think about that. And forget no back channel conversation, there is nothing on the record speaking on what you`re speaking, it was dismissed on pragmatic terms.
But those are not the terms that the rest of Bernie Sanders platform, and it shouldn`t be, by the way.
HAYES: I want to talk about the way that race and issues of racial justice have played in this primary campaign. I want to talk about the other candidate, Hillary Clinton, and what this kind of Democratic primary and its racial politics look like in the first campaign being run after Barack Obama, if you`ll stick around.
Can you stick around?
COATES: Yeah, I think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think 2016 is a year on a federal level we should start studying reparations?
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we should -- we should start studying what investments we need to make in communities to help individuals and families and communities move forward. And I am absolutely committed to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`m back here with Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent at The Atlantic.
Ta-Nehisi, so, one of the responses I`ve seen from some folks is basically, it`s unfair to go after Bernie Sanders or just go after Bernie Sanders in a race that essentially now is between two front runners, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, although she still is ahead in national polling.
Killer Mike, amazing hip-hop artist and outstanding supporter, basically says that the fact that only one candidate is being called to task is bull, especially when that candidate is the only one with policy proposals that directly affects the Black community if elected.
What do you think of that?
COATES: First of all, I`m a huge Killer Mike fan. Let`s just start there. And not just a huge Killer Mike fan as an artist but also as an intellectual and articulator of political opinions.
We just disagree.
I think, you know, for two reasons. First of all, what you call yourself matters. Bernie Sanders is the candidate who calls himself a radical. Bernie Sanders is the Democratic socialist. Bernie Sanders is the candidate that is representing the left wing of the Democratic party, with hopes of representing the left wing of the Democratic party, the radical wing.
It is then fair to ask what radical proposals you support of the radical candidate. That Hillary Clinton is against reparations is absolutely news to no one. No one would be surprised by that. I think it`s fair to be somewhat surprised by Senator Sanders` reaction.
The second point is, you know saying, why don`t you ask Hillary Clinton the same question is not, in fact, an answer to the question that I pose.
The question that I pose is why does Senator Bernie Sanders not support reparations? You know? And I called and tried to get an answer to that.
Those who support him then responded by saying, yes, but Hillary Clinton doesn`t support it either, is a way of changing the subject. It doesn`t answer the question. It`s a way of deflecting.
It`s like when, you know, if you, for instance, want to talk about say Bill Cosby`s record and people say, well, we need to talk about Bill Clinton`s record in terms of rape also, it just changes the subject.
You know, answer the question as it was asked. Don`t deflect.
HAYES: There is, right now -- I think part of the reason the piece you wrote and the response to it has gotten a fair amount of attention and is written up in The New York Times today, is because there is this really fascinating and in some senses wrenching battle happening between these two candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, obviously both of them are White, to reconstitute the Barack Obama coalition.
And right know, Sanders has been making gains, or was making gains among voters of color, but still polling way behind in voters of color. There is a real racial gap between Sanders and Clinton`s appeal as of now. Sanders was even asked of that in the campaign.
I`m just curious as someone who is -- follows this stuff, what you make of that. What your working theory of that gap is?
COATES: My working theory is that, a, Hillary Clinton is better known. People know the Clinton, you know, brand. People, you know, are much more familiar with Hillary Clinton. Black people particularly. They have a deeper relationship with Hillary Clinton than they do with Bernie Sanders.
But what I wrote is not a brief for Hillary Clinton, and it`s not a brief for voting against Senator Bernie Sanders. It concerns one issue. One very, very important issue, as far as I am concerned. But I think African Americans constitute a very intelligent electorate.
They will look at their panoply of interests, which may include reparations but also include things broader than reparations, and make a decision about who is a better candidate for them.
And I don`t necessarily think, you know -- noting, you know, or disagreeing with Senator Sanders` position on reparations, disagreeing with the fact that he didn`t necessarily want to have a conversation about that.
Necessarily means that you shouldn`t vote for him. The two don`t necessarily go hand-in-hand. This is not an argument for Senator -- for Hillary Clinton at all. HAYES: All right. Ta-Nehisi Coates, always a pleasure. Thanks for coming on.
COATES: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Coming up, I`ll talk with Nate Silver over just how tight the race actually is between Hillary and Bernie. That`s ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
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LESTER HOLT, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS: Developing news tonight, a monster winter storm bearing down, blizzard watches up. In some places, forecasts for the kind of snow they haven`t seen in 100 years. 50 million Americans bracing for impact.
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HAYES: Scientists announced today that 2015 is the Earth`s hottest year on record since they have been keeping track about 160 years ago.
Some might say it`s sort of ironic to be reporting this news the same day that much of the east coast is bracing for a major winter storm, but, that very storm which will be hitting the east coast this weekend is going to threaten a huge storm surge, part of which is due to a higher sea level due to climate change.
2015 breaks a record set just last year, making it the warmest year since record-keeping began, and it is part of a disturbing trend we have seen.
Here`s how 2015 compares with the six other warmest years on record, and here is the overall trend since 1880.
Scientists predict 2016 will be at least as warm last year, or even warmer.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am very proud of what I`ve done as president. The only job that`s more important to me is the job of fatherhood. And I know that if I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself that my kids` health could be at risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today President Obama commented for the first time on the lead contamination in Flint`s water supply, and he did so in nearby Detroit.
The president was in the motor city this afternoon to tout the resurgence of the auto industry, with the ongoing crisis just 70 miles north looming large.
He made his remarks just hours after Flint mayor, Karen Weaver, who met with Mr. Obama yesterday, said the situation unfolding in the poor majority black city wouldn`t have happened in a rich suburb.
Speaking with reporters at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., Mayor Weaver also said the proposed measures outlined by Governor Rick Schneider in his State of the State Address were a good first step, but her city needs more help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN WEAVER, MAYOR OF FLINT, MI: Trust was broken over a period of time, and you don`t regain trust within a matter of seconds because a statement was made.
So this is something that he`s going to have to work on for a long, long time. And it`s something that even the City of Flint has to continue to work on as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Last night, Governor Schneider apologized for the crisis and vowed to fix the issue, as he faces continued criticism for the state`s delayed response.
The crisis started nearly two years ago in April 2014 when Flint, while under control of the state appointed emergency manager, switched from Detroit`s water system to the Flint river in a money-saving measure. That river water was so corrosive that it leeched lead out of old pipes, exposing tens of thousands of people to lead poisoning.
Flint returned to the Detroit water system last October, but the damage was done.
Late this afternoon, Governor Snyder released 200 pages of e-mails in an effort to show the public what he knew about the contamination crisis and when.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The governor`s top aide wrote to him last September, several months after tests first revealed lead, saying, the responsibility for the water crisis lies with the city and the county. But said the state should speak up to avoid the narrative that the state is ducking responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today, the Michigan house unanimously approved $28 million in state funding for the crisis, which will include money for lead testing and replacing fixtures in schools, daycares and hospitals.
But, it is unclear how long it will take to fix the damage to the water pipes. Residents are still being warned not to use unfiltered tap water for drinking, cooking or bathing.
Because there is no safe level of lead in water, it can lead to emotional, behavioral problems, even brain damage, particularly for those exposed as children. And in flint, there are nearly 9,000 children under the age of 6 that are believed to have been exposed.
If you, like the president, like myself, are a parent, just think for a moment what you would want to do to a person that poisoned the brain of your child. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAYES: With 12 days until voting begins, polls show Donald Trump in a very good place. He leads by 16 points nationally, by 20 points in New Hampshire.
While he`s locked in a tight battle in Iowa with Ted Cruz, Trump would seem to have the momentum over the past two days, having secured an endorsement from Sarah Palin, while Cruz gets hammered by both Bob Dole and Iowa`s Republican governor, Terry Branstad.
But over at the website FiveThirtyEight, polling guru Nate Silver has long played down Trump`s chances to ultimately win the nomination.
Joining me is Nate Silver, editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.
All right. You still have for Iowa -- you`re still forecasting a Ted Cruz win, and you`re generally, I would say, the posture of FiveThirtyEight`s methodology has been more bearish on Trump than his poll numbers would show.
NATE SILVER, FIVETHRITYEIGHT EDITOR IN CHIEF: We`ve been asking people to be cautious in considering candidates like this don`t normally win the nomination.
But I think we`re renouncing some of our Trump skepticism, number one because the polls, not so much in Iowa, where he still has issues, but his New Hampshire polls are strong.
But more importantly, we`re seeing the cavalry finally come in, but against Ted Cruz, not as we assumed, against Donald Trump. Maybe it will backfire, ironically, and wind up helping Cruz. We have not had an Iowa poll in about a week.
But we were saying, oh, don`t worry about the national polls, they`re not very predictive, because they`re not, but we assume at the end you`ll see a coalition of people come in and say, it can`t be Trump, and we`re not seeing that. There is no negative advertising against Trump in any of the first three states.
I think they wouldn`t be thrilled to nominate him. But to us, pardon the cliche, but that`s a little bit of a game-changer.
HAYES: And I think that the FiveThirtyEight sort of philosophy, I think, in some ways has always been -- there`s polling and aggregating polling, and then there is a general assumption that precedent means something, right?
SILVER: Yeah, it`s empirical. It`s looking at history -- to some extent, there is I think an implicit assumption there that parties behave rationally.
I think it would be very good for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders if Donald Trump were the nominee.
I think the GOP is kind of silly not to nominate someone like Marco Rubio instead, who unlike Cruz or Trump is polling neck and neck with Clinton. Not very predictive, but still.
But, a party doesn`t always coordinate in the way it should in the textbook kind of sense. And we`re getting awfully close to the first couple of states voting.
And they`re trying to thread needle I think in saying, oh, first we`ll take out Cruz, then we`ll turn our attention to Trump. There are a lot of ways that could go wrong.
This is a party that backed $100 million behind Jeb Bush, who, we were very skeptical about Bush`s chances early on. So for them to do like a two-hit deal in sequence with Cruz and then Trump, it`s kind of a walking a tight rope.
HAYES: Well, and you -- in Iowa, again, this is a similar thing happening there, where the -- your forecast is 79% Hillary Clinton, 21% Bernie Sanders, which is like a much bigger spread than the actual polling right now, and for that same reason --
SILVER: So that`s called the polls plus forecast that looks at endorsements and national polls, and assumes that the boring thing, because usually that`s what happens, the establishment candidate wins.
But I don`t know. You know, Bernie certainly is looking good in New Hampshire.
By the way, we have not seen an Iowa poll in about a week. It wouldn`t surprise me when we see more Iowa polls, it will be even tighter there.
Usually if you see movement in one of the early states, things are going in basically the same direction.
HAYES: Right, because it`s a very similar campaign.
SILVER: Yeah, so me, you know, if I could get 4-1 odds on Bernie in Iowa, I would love those odds, and I think when we see more polls, who knows. My sense is Iowa is tighter than that.
HAYES: Finally, we see all these people saying that this idea that Ted Cruz would be a disaster in the general, maybe Trump would run better than him in the general.
You wrote a piece the other day being like, hey, just to remind everyone, Donald Trump`s net favorables are negative 25, which is the worst of anyone in the race.
SILVER: The funny thing -- I don`t want to talk about our website traffic, but that article got a huge amount of attention from people who we think are GOP leaning readers. And this is not a fact that is discussed.
He`s one of the least popular politicians in America today. Hillary`s favorables are not very good either. By the way, Bernie Sanders has net positive numbers.
Still, it seems to have been completely forgotten about in Trump mania.
HAYES: That he`s actually extremely unpopular in the broad populace.
SILVER: Many think he`s a great salesman, can turn things around.
HAYES: But that`s the question.
SILVER: That`s a heroic assumption. If you only had Trump and Cruz, I could kind of get it. But when you have Rubio and Christie and Kasich, still a lot of choices, I would think.
HAYES: Alright. Nate Silver, thank you very much. That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END