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All In with Chris Hayes, Transcript 2/19/2016

Guests: Tad Devine, Jess McIntosh, Sabrina Siddiqui, Jack Hunter, Yvanna Cancella, Lucy Flores, Luis Gutierrez, Dave Weigel

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: February 19, 2016 Guest: Tad Devine, Jess McIntosh, Sabrina Siddiqui, Jack Hunter, Yvanna Cancella, Lucy Flores, Luis Gutierrez, Dave Weigel

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN from Las Vegas --

(CHANTING)

HAYES: Big crowds, big names and the voice of God.

AD NARRATOR: Together a stronger country.

HAYES: Tonight, the Democratic fight for Nevada closes with a fury.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: His opponent jumped all over me last night.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bill Clinton has been on the campaign trail making very nasty comments about me.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Sanders wasn`t really a Democrat until he decided to run for president.

HAYES: Then, Donald Trump goes baba booey on Iraq.

HOWARD STERN: Are you for invading Iraq?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I guess so.

HAYES: The frontrunner stays on offense even as his numbers begin to slip.

TRUMP: What I think you ought to do is boycott Apple.

HAYES: Tonight, can Trump hold on? Can the Cruz versus Rubio immigration fight get any nastier? And can third place once again be the new first place in South Carolina?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marco Rubio, will you raise your hand?

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: Good evening from Las Vegas, Nevada. I am Chris Hayes.

In less than 24 hours, Democrats here in Nevada will head to caucuses to decide whether Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton will emerge victorious in a contest that now appears to be far closer than most observers expected just a few weeks ago.

Polling in the Nevada caucuses is notoriously difficult, and there had been relatively few polls here this year.

But a poll released this week found the two candidates essentially tied, a big difference from the way things looked in October when the same pollsters found Clinton had a 16-point lead.

Both candidates, along with Bill Clinton, have been making their final pushes here today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON: There`s been a lot of passion in this primary, and it`s fine with me. Hillary`s opponent jumped all over me last night. Talked about how bad I`ve been for African-Americans and poor people.

(BOOS)

Well, let me just say this -- that campaign has been remarkably fact free. And a lot of the numbers don`t add up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The former president was referring to comments Sanders made at last night`s MSNBC-Telemundo town hall, where Sanders said Bill Clinton did, quote, "a pretty good job as president" but criticism -- criticized him on trade policy, Wall Street deregulation and welfare reform .

At the town hall, Sanders also hit back at Clinton`s criticism that he is essentially a single issue candidate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: I`m not quite sure where she comes up with this single issue idea. But do I believe it has to be a major focus on economy when the middle class is disappearing, when people in Nevada and all over this country are working longer hours for low wages and almost all income going to the top 1 percent. Yes, I`m going focus on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Clinton appearing after Sanders in that same town hall, cast herself as the greater champion of immigration reform and said that if she`s elected president, it will be a top priority.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSE DIAZ-BALART, MSNBC HOST: Do you promise to deal with immigration reform within first 100 days?

HILLARY CLINTON: Absolutely. And we`re going to introduce legislation, Jose. We`re going to absolutely going to introduce legislation. I`m going to call everybody on the committee, Democrats and Republicans alike.

DIAZ-BALART: Within the 100 days?

CLINTON: Yes, I`m going to introduce my priority legislation. This is at the top of that list. It`s going to be introduced.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Nevada looks very different, of course, in the first two voting states, Iowa and New Hampshire, both of which are overwhelmingly white. Nevada by contrast is only about half white, nearly a third of the state identifies as Hispanic or Latino. And that`s far from the only indication that we`re not in Iowa anymore.

Last night Clinton posed for picture with none other than Britney Spears who was in the midst of a two year plus residency at Caesars. While in Reno, 90-year-old Dick Van Dyke attended a rally for Sanders, featuring a succession of, quote, "bands for Bernie".

As for me, I`m here at the New York, New York Hotel and Casino, smack in the middle of the Vegas Strip, on top of a massive replica of the Brooklyn Bridge. It feels like home.

Joining me now, Tad Devine, senior adviser to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

You guys, it looks like it`s very close here in Nevada. The polling in South Carolina, which, of course, is next Saturday, it doesn`t look like it`s moved. Your campaign`s understanding of the difference between your successes here and the inability to move things in South Carolina.

TAD DEVINE, SENIOR ADVISOR, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN. Well, I think if we have a good day tomorrow, that could affect South Carolina. You know, Chris, we`re at the beginning of this process, OK? Tomorrow, we can prove something very important that Bernie Sanders can win votes from a diverse electorate. I think if we do that people will understand he can build a coalition that can win the nomination of the Democratic Party.

HAYES: One of the things last night was immigration. There`s a lot of stuff about immigration. I want to read you a quote Bernie Sanders appearing on Lou Dobbs back in 2007 when he voted against McCain-Kennedy. Here he is giving part of his explanation for voting against that, opposing the legislation.

He said, "If poverty is increasing, if wages are going down, I don`t know why we need millions of people to be coming to the country`s guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down even lower than they are now."

Now, that`s not the rationale he gives now when he talks about that bill. Now, he talks about LULAC`s opposition to the work, worker position.

Is this change in tone and emphasis for him?

DEVINE: No. He gave a speech on the floor of the Congress at the time of that vote. And he said in the speech on the floor at the time, he cited, for example, the Southern Poverty Law Institute study that said that bill would be akin to slavery in that speech at the time.

So, sure, there`s a quote here. There`s a quote there. He was very concerned about the impact of that. It was supported by -- you know, and his position was supported by LULAC at the time. And, by the way, the executive director of LULAC today came out and said the Clinton campaign attacks against Bernie against this are unfair and unfounded.

HAYES: There`s also a little bit of a controversy over something that one of the surrogates, Killer Mike, have said, Bernie Sanders was about whether people should vote for --

DEVINE: We don`t have to say the word, OK? Go ahead.

HAYES: Here`s what I want. No, no. Here`s what I want you to respond to.

Bernie Sanders says, I think Mike`s point is you shouldn`t vote for someone based on their gender. Why not? Why shouldn`t you vote for someone because she`s a woman? Because we`ve never had a woman president and that`s a big and important thing.

DEVINE: Well, it is a big thing. But I think, you know, what`s important is that you vote for someone on the basis of their ideas, their proposals, their qualifications, their ability to serve in office. That`s more important.

HAYES: But you would -- OK, but here`s what I want -- you would stipulation there`s a difference between saying, "I`m going to vote for this candidate because he`s a man and I`m going to vote for this candidate because she`s a woman."

DEVINE: Well, no. I would say that voting for someone because of their gender isn`t as important as voting for them for their ideas or their capacity to serve.

HAYES: But there is a difference. Like there is a difference in what it would mean politically. What someone`s feeling about voting for the first woman president is than saying, "I only vote for men", which I think we would all reject as morally --

DEVINE: Or women for that matter, I guess, you know? Why wouldn`t that make sense? I only vote for women.

HAYES: You think those are on the same planes?

DEVINE: You know, listen, I think it`s very important we have diversity in our representation. It`s great that women are getting more and more involved in politics and we encourage that.

But in this right now for president, Democrats have two choices. You got Bernie. You got Hillary. And what we`re saying is, listen, you should vote for the person who can move this country forward faster. We need progress immediately. We need someone to take on a rigged economy that`s sending almost all the wealth to the top, and someone who understands that that rigged economy is held in place by a corrupt system of campaign finance.

That`s his message. I think it`s hitting home here in Nevada and everywhere.

HAYES: What do you think about this? Hillary Clinton has this line that she brought out, which I think is an interesting one. It gets to the sort of a deep question about the theory of the world that Bernie Sanders has, which I think is a very coherent theory. She said you can break up the big banks tomorrow and that won`t end racism, right?

That basically all the enemies of progress aren`t simply the concentration of wealth. There are other enemies of progress that are, to be found all over the political end.

DEVINE: She couldn`t be more right. Of course, there are. That`s why Bernie Sanders wants to take on a lot of issues.

You know, this idea that Bernie Sanders is a one issue candidate, I found preposterous on his face. Go to one of his rallies for an hour and 15 minutes or an hour and a half and hear him do a tour de force of so many issues and so many problems that we confronted America, and offering solutions to those problems.

Yes, it`s true, he has one message. And maybe she`s confusing that with having one issue. But he`s got a lot of issues that he cares about and wants to do something about as president.

HAYES: All right. Tad Devine, Bernie Sanders, great pleasure to have you here. Thanks very much.

DEVINE: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: All right. Joining me now, I have Jess McIntosh, spokesperson for Emily`s List, which supports pro-choice female Democratic candidates, which has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

There`s a certain line of thinks that goes the following way.

JESS MCINTOSH, EMILY`S LIST: OK.

HAYES: Part of Hillary Clinton`s pitch is she`s electable, that she`s more electable than Bernie Sanders. I think that`s a pitch they make.

MCINTOSH: Yes, I`m happy to make it myself.

HAYES: You believe that, right.

But that if she loses New Hampshire, barely ekes out Iowa, she may be barely ekes out Nevada. That starts to go into that argument.

MCINTOSH: Look, this is going to be a close primary. It`s going to be a close fight and it`s going to be a long one. So, she`s won one. He`s won one.

We`re in a tight race tomorrow. I think South Carolina is looking really good for her, and I do believe that the rest of the states are going to break more in her favor than in Bernie`s because of nights like last night. I think we saw really clearly a candidate who understands the way gender and race intersect with the economy in a way that will let her break down barriers for all Americans.

I think we see Bernie`s campaign, you saw his advisor just now kind of reject the idea that it would matter in any way to be able to speak to those communities in a way she can. I find that --

HAYES: In his defense, since he`s no longer here to defend himself. I think what they say is not that it doesn`t matter, right? I mean, their point is they have a message that`s about this specific thing.

MCINTOSH: Oh, sure. But if you`re going to address income inequality, you have to hit them all sides. And he seems to think that breaking up the big banks is the number one and only thing you can do. He thinks that he`s going to have a political revolution that gets done whether Congress wants to play or not. But when it comes to things like immigration, he says we`re going to give it a shot but, obviously, we can only do it with congressional support.

I think that people see the duality in that message and wonder why one is so primary above the needs of other people.

HAYES: But isn`t that a problem for both of them? See? I never understood this point, right? If the point is the Bernie Sanders political revolution can`t happen with a Republican congress, which is true.

MCINTOSH: Sure.

HAYES: Let me stipulate that a fact about the world.

MCINTOSH: Yes.

HAYES: It`s also true like, you know, Bernie Sanders wants free tuition and Hillary Clinton wants debt free tuition. Well, good luck getting either the Republican House to do either, right?

MCINTOSH: I think when you utterly reject anybody who isn`t of your ideology, when you don`t make any effort to bring them in to you party, when you don`t make any effort to work party lines that way, then there`s no chance of finding consensus.

Hillary has actually been able to build consensus as secretary of state, as senator. She`s been able to do it.

HAYES: I`m sorry, but this idea -- Republicans hate Hillary Clinton.

Now, let me make something clear -- individual Republicans who have worked with Hillary Clinton like Hillary Clinton a tremendous amount.

MCINTOSH: Sure.

HAYES: That is true. People rave about their personal interactions.

But Republicans as a whole, the idea that a Hillary Clinton administration would not face unbelievable obstruction --

MCINTOSH: Any Democratic administration would face unbelievable obstruction by the Republicans. Look at what`s happening right now.

HAYES: Yes, right.

MCINTOSH: But there is zero chance of implementing a progressive economic plan if you don`t have a plan to back it up, you don`t have outside parties saying, yes, this is going to work, and here`s how it is. And Hillary does.

HAYES: Last night, Hillary Clinton was asked, once again about the speech transcripts. She said she will release them when other the people, and there are other people on the Republican side a lot.

MCINTOSH: Sure.

HAYES: Bernie Sanders gave a few speeches. They say they`ll release the transcript.

MCINTOSH: Sure.

HAYES: They have this tweet, the count down clock of how long she`s been looking into releasing it. Fair or foul for this issue?

MCINTOSH: I think at this certain point, we have to stop asking her to live to a higher standard than anyone else especially on the other side are willing to listen. She has been more thoroughly vetted on a personal basis than any other candidate running. At some point, we need to talk about the agenda. We need to talk about the plans. We need to make the case to the voters.

I`m not hearing voters clamoring for transcripts of speeches. I think maybe if that were happening, that would change things. But right now, people want to talk about an agenda.

HAYESS: That is the question, whether that will change.

Jess McIntosh, thank you very much. Really appreciate it.

MCINTOSH: Thanks.

HAYES: All right. Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst, Jon Ralston, host of "The Ralston Live", which airs on PBS Nevada.

Jon, you and I were at the town hall last night. Why -- what is your understanding of why this state is, at least as far as we know, as tight as it is, particularly given the fact that Hillary Clinton did a really ramp here in 2008?

JON RALSTON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, she shouldn`t be in here trouble here at all. She was here six months before Sanders campaign even woke up and found Nevada on a map at the end of last year. She locked up all the best talent, got all the endorsements, as she has in most states.

But then, the Sanders momentum started. He started to raise money, hired people and opened offices. And then after he almost beat her in Iowa and the momentum in New Hampshire after that crushing loss, the Clinton folks started seeing their internal polls hemorrhaging. And now, you see all the energy here going towards Sanders.

And the question remains, can the Clinton campaign with all the infrastructure and last minute visits by high profile surrogates, can they hold that off and hold on a state that most people think shouldn`t have been a problem for them.

HAYES: The culinary workers union here, which obviously is very powerful force in Las Vegas and Nevada politics, they endorse Barack Obama, I think somewhat surprisingly actually. Endorsed Barack Obama back in 2008.

They went all in for him. They put enormous resources into the workers they have organized here. They came up short.

They`ve stated neutral this time around. What do you make of that?

RALSTON: You know, it`s really interesting too. They stayed out of this saying there`s contract negotiations and they have actually been involved inside the casinos in the past, as you know, Chris, in 2008, there were those casino caucuses. They`re going to have them again.

The question is really whether or not the culinary union is going to urge their members to vote this time in the caucuses. Harry Reid took the unusual step, as "The New York Times" reported, of calling the union leadership to say, come on, you got to get your folks out there.

The culinary is very reluctant to get involved this time. I think there may be some bad blood left over. Talk about irony, Chris, the Clintons went into the casinos in 2008 to try to divide and conquer inside the leadership -- inside the rank and file, the same thing that Bernie Sanders is doing this time, because there`s an assumption that the culinary union leans toward Clinton.

HAYES: You just mentioned Harry Reid. I`ll be tomorrow at his caucus location actually. He has a tremendous amount invested in this caucus. It was sort of under his stewardship that it`s been moved up in the calendar. He`s been very outspoken about how unrepresentative he thinks Iowa and New Hampshire are.

This has become a kind of focal point for him and the party in terms of reflecting the diversity of Obama coalition. But I also get the sense that the same political traditions have not rooted themselves here that you see in some of the other early states. Is that fair?

RALSTON: I think that`s absolutely right. That`s why I keep calling us the Rodney Dangerfield of caucuses. We`re not seen as the same way as Iowa and New Hampshire. We`re too far away, as John Kasich memorably said in South Carolina.

Today, we`re considered remote. Of course, Nevada is a quirky state. There`s legalized gaming where you are. There`s legalized prostitution in the rural counties.

So, Harry Reid wanted to bring credibility to Nevada, but he also thought it was good for the Democratic Party to have a more diverse state on the early state calendar. And so, that`s why he`s pushed so hard.

I think he`s worried. This is his last year in office, as you know, Chris. He wants to leave a legacy to make sure we continue to be an early state, which is why he doesn`t want problems tomorrow, which is why he`s asking the culinary to get involved, which is why they are very concerned about something happening at the caucuses that would cause the results to be called into question as they were in Iowa.

He`s got a lot at stake here. Harry Reid is the Democratic Party in Nevada.

HAYES: That`s right. Jon Ralston, thank you as always.

RALSTON: You bet.

HAYES: Still to come, Trump`s lead in South Carolina narrows to single digits. What this means for his campaign.

Plus, Republican immigration battle. Ted Cruz puts out a brutally effective ad taking aim at Marco Rubio. We will play that for you.

And later, tomorrow could be make or break for some campaigns. We`ll look at what`s at stake for the Democrats and Republicans, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: The solemn ceremony in Washington, D.C. today. The flag draped casket of Justice Antonin Scalia was carried up to the Supreme Court steps by eight court police officers, surrounded by more than a hundred Supreme Court staff members and past and present Scalia law clerks, up to these steps to the great hall, where his body lay in repose throughout the day.

President Obama and the first lady were among the family, friends and dignitaries who arrived to pay their respects. Justice Scalia who served on the high court for nearly three decades.

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill will attend the funeral mass scheduled to take place tomorrow morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: With just 11 hours until polls open in South Carolina, Donald Trump appears to be losing altitude. In the latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, Trump is down eight points from January from what had been a 16-point lead over Ted Cruz is now down to just five points. "The Augusta Chronicle" poll out today is even more stark, has Trump down nine points from over a week ago, while it shows Rubio with a nine-point increase in support.

Now, this could just be natural tightening as election day nears, or it could have something to do with Trump`s debate performance last week when he launched a full on attack on the Bush administration, something he is now, it appears, starting to walk back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TV ANCHOR: Are you still saying that the Bush administration lied to get us into Iraq?

TRUMP: Well, I`m in the saying anything one way or the other.

TV ANCHOR: This is what some voters in South Carolina are seizing on, whether or not you accused the Bush administration of lying? Are you still accusing them?

TRUMP: No, I think you`re seizing on it. I don`t think they are seizing on it.

TV ANCHOR: Well, the voter asked you about it last night.

TRUMP: I don`t think the voters are seizing on it. I don`t know if he lied or not. He could have lied. Maybe he did, maybe he didn`t. I guess you`d have to ask him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Joining me now, Sabrina Siddiqui, political reporter at "The Guardian", and Jack Hunter, he`s editor of the political website, "Rare Politics", and a South Carolina native.

And, Jack, let me start with you, as someone who`s pretty steeped in that state`s politics.

What is your read on what is a pretty unambiguous move in the polling across a number of polls of a significant Trump decline in this last week?

JACK HUNTER, EDITOR, RARE POLITICS: Well, we`ll see how significant that decline is tomorrow, during the primary actually. It`s amazing when you think about it, Chris, that in state like my home state of South Carolina, a deep red state, that a lot of people consider what you might call militaristic, that the Republican front-runner who has been up for so long, can say those things about the Bush administration, can say those things about the Iraq war, which was the defining identity for conservatives for much of the last decade, yet he`s still a front-runner.

Will it hurt him enough? I don`t know. I dare say it doesn`t hurt him as some of the polls reflect. And I dare say that much of the conservative base that`s split between him and Cruz and maybe a few others aren`t really bothered by the fact he had the criticisms of the Bush administration at this point.

HAYES: That`s really interesting perspective.

Sabrina, you`ve been covering the campaign there. There`s a lot of talk, you`re seeing people already starting to jockey, particular people who are Rubio backers and they are legion, to get Jeb Bush out if he finishes anything less than third. This is a "Politico" quoting a Jeb Bush donor saying, "If he finishes significantly behind Rubio in South Carolina, I think a lot of people who are close to him, including donors, are going to say don`t stay in until the money runs out, don`t stay and just to be a spoiler. We`re thinking about legacy now."

What do you think about that?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN: Well, I think that what we saw was Jeb Bush got another lease on life in New Hampshire when he was able to finish ahead of Marco Rubio who, of course, suffered in fifth coming after a disappointing debate performance. So, people are willing to give Jeb Bush another look when he came into South Carolina to see how he would perform here.

But what we have seen is Marco Rubio has not actually been impacted at least significantly based on his performance in New Hampshire. In fact, he`s competing in a comfortable third if not inching up on Ted Cruz in second place.

So, if Marco Rubio is able to finish well ahead of Jeb Bush, then he gets to make the argument he`s been trying to make for some time that the time has come for the establishment to rally around my candidacy for the donor class to really recognize that I`m the only shot we have if you want to stop Donald Trump and Ted Cruz from running away with the race.

HAYES: Jack, it seemed to me only a matter of time only we got some Confederate flag politicking, you know, given the state, the history and what happened just last year. A report out today of a robocall from a Ted Cruz-allied super PAC hitting Donald Trump for essentially disrespecting the Confederate flag. This is something you have spoken out about.

What`s your response to that?

HUNTER: You know, that sort of ugly politics has smeared this entire campaign long before we got to South Carolina. That it happened with the super PAC. And I haven`t seen the details, I think that`s deplorable.

You know, we`ve seen with a lot of these campaigns. I think part of Trump`s popularity when he kicked off things in June was talking about Mexicans as rapists. We have seen candidates like Trump and even Marco Rubio saying they would shut down mosques and restaurants where Muslims gather.

I mean, it`s gotten despicable at that level. It`s not a good representation of the Republican Party if we`re going to be forward thinking, if we`re going to be something that, really, all Americans can embrace. I don`t know that Trump is the answer to that. I would dispute this fact that, you know, Marco Rubio because he`s younger and he`s Hispanic that he doesn`t play those sort of dirty politics, too.

HAYES: All right. Sabrina and Jack, I want you to hang with me, because up next, what might be one of the most effective attack ads of this primary was just released by the Cruz campaign. We`re going to play it for you, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

AD NARRATOR: Then Rubio got to Washington and wrote the bill giving amnesty to illegals.

Using Obama`s talking points to make his sales pitch:

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know we have to deal with the 11 million people who are here illegally.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to deal with the 11 million individuals who are here illegally.

Passing a background check.

RUBIO: Passed a background check.

OBAMA: Paying a penalty.

RUBIO: Pay a fine.

OBAMA: Paying taxes.

RUBIO: Start paying taxes.

OBAMA: It won`t be a quick process.

RUBIO: That is a long path.

OBAMA: But it will be a fair process.

RUBIO: But I do think it`s fair.

AD NARRATOR: Marco Rubio burned us once. He shouldn`t get the chance to sell us out again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That`s the latest ad from the Cruz campaign running in South Carolina hitting Marco Rubio.

Still with me, Sabrina Siddiqui and Jack Hunter. And Sabrina, I mean, obviously, I`m sure the politics of the people who are being targeted by that ad, which are people very much opposed to comprehensive immigration reform, but if you`re opposed to that that is a pretty brutally effective ad in terms of going after Rubio who has tried to distance himself from his advocacy for that gang of eight Senate comprehensive bipartisan bill.

SIDDIQUI: Absolutely. Marco Rubio, when it comes to his candidacy, the greatest liability for him coming into the race was always going to be the fact that he co-authored the comprehensive immigration reform bill that has been viewed as an anathema to conservatives.

And he has long distanced himself from it. You know, he`s disavowed anything comprehensive. He said that we have to secure the border before there will be not just citizenship but even work permits for undocumented immigrants.

But at the end of the day, he is going to continue to be hit on this issue right now by Ted Cruz who really wants to squeeze him out of race and turn this into a two-man contest between himself and Donald Trump, both of whom, of course, have the hardest line on immigration.

But, you know, whether or not Marco Rubio can weather these attacks remains to be seen. Certainly, so far he was still able to compete in Iowa and perform better than he was expected to and in New Hampshire it was not immigration that brought him down, it was his own debate performance.

So, it still remains to be seen whether this is gaining traction in terms of preventing him from being able to break through. But I think this is just the beginning. You are going to see a lot more of this in the coming weeks.

HAYES: Jack, to that point, I mean, in an interview with CNN he said he would get rid of DACA, which of course is the president`s action to protect DREAMers, chidlren brought here as people who were brought here as Children by their parents as undocumented immigants.

There has been a kind of bidding war to the right on immigration, particularly since Trump entered. You have got everyone defending the honor of Donald Trump against the pope about building a wall including Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Are you surprised by how far to the right that has gone in this primary? And is there any ability for that to come back towards equilibrium in the general or is that done for?

HUNTER: Well, two things. First of all, this has been the dumbest election of my lifetime. And you hit on a few reasons why just right there.

Second of all, I would say the last chance to bring some real sanity back into this race left when Rand Paul dropped out.

So, the libertarian perspective is gone. That was the nicer, fresher face in my opinion.

For the people who are left talking about immigration, you know, somebody like Marco Rubio has lurched to the right in some bad ways, some ways that are probably politically necessary. But he`s also been a bit of a liar. He just said this week that his gang of eight bill that`s been so controversial with conservatives, he never really meant for that to become law. Does anybody out there, I don`t care if you`re right left or in between actually believe that? That`s a problem he is going to have in South Carolina. How much? We`ll find out tomorrow. Trump is at the top of the ticket with some really anti-immigrant rhetoric. You have got Ted Cruz in there saying some similar things.

Look, the Republican Party is going to have to get better, it`s going to have to be more Millennial, more forward thinking. It`s going to have to put on a better face to win elections past 2016.

Will Trump ruin it for the near future? I don`t know. This Saturday is going to be very interesting.

HAYES: All right, Sabrina Siddiqui and Jack Hunter, thank you both for your time tonight. I appreciate it.

HUNTER: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, the immigration battle between the Democratic candidates. That fight, that very important fight, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: I`m not a dictator here. It has to do with a little bit of cooperation from the congress.

But, it is a major priority when you have 11 million people living in the shadows. I think we owe it to them to move as expeditiously as we can.

CLINTON: You know, I was the first person to call out Donald Trump. I said enough of this prejudice and paranoia and the kind of language that he uses. So, I will do everything I can, not only for the young people who deserve the highest protection, but for their families as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Immigration was at the forefront in last night`s MSNBC town hall with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both working to make their case in a state with large portions of both immigrants and first generation Americans.

Joining me now, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Democrat from Illinois who has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. Great to have you here, congressman.

You have been critical of Bernie Sanders`s record on immigration in the past. I want to ask you about an area where I think you actually side with Bernie Sanders and that is on the fate of many of the women and children who have come here from Central America. The administration had deported some of them. They`ve gone through a process, they`ve been deported. There`s some documentation suggest some of them have actually even been killed back in Honduras.

Hillary Clinton has basically said I trust that process, Bernie Sanders has called for temporary status to be granted to all of them. Am I right that you -- where are you on that?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, (D) ILLINOIS: Well, here`s where I am at. I`m here with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who is our lead on immigration in the judiciary committee. She and I. as you know, went down to San Antonio to visit the centers and then we called upon the administration to end the deportations.

So, I`m for ending the deportations until such time we can guarantee that everyone gets their day in court, well they didn`t have a lawyer, right. They didn`t really have legal counsel. And when somebody`s life is at risk, I think we should give them the full...

HAYES: OK, but then I am right, right. That you -- that that is a position that Bernie Sanders shares and not Hillary Clinton.

GUTIERREZ: Let me just say this, Hillary Clinton has, I believe, the fullest proposal. She`s saying, waiting a minute, they should apply for asylum without having to go through that treacherous trip. She`s saying that the United Nations should get involved and she`s saying we should change the way -- she`s actually called for attorneys, for all of the children before they go through the process, and she`s called for the end of this program.

She has called for the end of their deportation until such time have a lawyer. And I think that`s the right thing to do.

HAYES: I was going through policy positions of these two candidates on immigration today in some real depth. And there`s not a ton of daylight as far as I can tell, things on DACA, on DAPA, which is of course the executive order that`s been stayed by the courts, that would apply to a broader category of person. Is this about their current policies for you or is this about record and who you feel you trust...

GUTIERREZ: Chris, look, it`s about who I believe can win the election in November and is best suited. Look, I want to get comprehensive immigration reform done. Here what I believe, I don`t think you can become president of the United States without going through the barrio. And I think as you remember the autopsy that Romney and Ryan went through said we made a pretty fundamental mistake in trying to get -- every political analyst, anybody who knows something about politics will probably say, look, unless you get 45, 46 percent of the Latino vote, you just can`t reach the presidency. I don`t think they are going to reach the presidency the way they`re going.

And so I want to make sure that I have a president of the United States that`s equipped to get the job done. And let me just say this, 2007 was a critical year, our lion, our champion in the Senate, Senator Kennedy, had a comprehensive immigration proposal. The fact is that my senator in Senator Durbin and Senator Leahy from Vermont, all voted for cloture. Senator Sanders said no to cloture and didn`t allow.

There`s a real special thing that does happen. You know, the Senate is a very exclusive club. Here`s one of the things exclusive club allows other people to do. I, along with Zoe Lofgren and the Chairman of the Judiciary committee, we were in the majority after many years of being in the minority as Democrats, we went down there and plead with the Senators, vote for cloture. We will make the bill better, because that`s the way you make immigration reform.

You let the Senate and the house, and you go to reconcile. Unfortuantely, Bernie Sanders that day voted against cloture and then went on Lou Dobbs program to tell everybody why he voted and what he said was, I am voting against it because there is -- there are these guest worker program that will be terrible and it take away jobs from American citizens.

But here`s what I say, what about the 11 million undocumented worker that is a de facto guest worker program that are being exploited.

So, I thought we need to put this forward in a way.

HAYES: so, that moment on that vote from what I`m hearing from you really meant a lot to you in terms how you feel about him?

GUTIERREZ: Well, I think we would have moved so much more -- but, look, Chris, it`s not just about immigration. This morning I was with the Human Rights Campaign Fund with 50 people. That`s a great organization of people. I`ve worked with them on the LGBT community. I mean, I look at so many organizations and so many issues. I`m -- as a member of the judiciary, I sit there and I protect Planned Parenthood. And when I hear that Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign Fund, two legitimate great organizations in the forefront, progressive politics endorse Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders says, well, they are part of the establishment. You have to be pretty elitist to call the men and women who fight every day to protect women`s reproductive rights part of the establishment.

HAYES: In fairness to him, I think he meant the Democratic Party -- but I get your point.

Congressman, it`s good to see you.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: All right, joining me now I have Lucy Flores. She`s a Democratic candidate for congress, former Nevada assembly member. You have endorsed Bernie Sanders. On this McCain-Kennedy, I mean, that`s a vote he has defended and he has said, look, the guess worker provisions weren`t up to the standards I wanted, but there`s a lot of people -- there`s a pretty strong argument on the other side that this was the best we could get at that moment. And you just heard the congressman say, look, this was a crucial moment for this thing. It died that year and we have seen what`s happened in the wake of it. Like, he`s got to own that vote.

LUCY FLORES, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, and he has.

And look, as you already acknowledged, he has explained what the problem was and frankly I think Congressman Gutierrez would agree that we can`t have something that treats people as second class citizens. And frankly that provision would have created almost an indentured servant type of situation.

But ultimately for me, it really is about, you know, sure people are going to be disappointed in that vote. Well, I`m really disappointed that Secretary Clinton took the position she did just recently on those Central American refugee children. And even more recently said that we had to use those children to send a message.

So, we`re going to use children to send a message knowing we`re sending them back into the conditions. So, it could have been -- the response could have been entirely different. And frankly that`s the same argument that we`re now saying that others are saying about Senator Sanders that that response could have been different. Well, frankly that both of their responses could have been different.

HAYES: Just in fairness, let me just the context of that quote about send a message, right, the message was to try to essentially send a message to smugglers, right, that they couldn`t essentially make money off of this transit and that if you sort of stopped the acceptance on one end that would sort of work down the line to close that off.

In full fairness, that is the context.

FLORES: That is the context except that what the action was sending children back to Central America.

HAYES: Delores Huerta (ph), of course a legendary organizer, she has endorsed Hillary Clinton, she endorsed her back in 2008, she`s -- big fairness, fairly loyal to Hillary Clinton, said this of Bernie Sanders, Bernie hasn`t been around. He came to see the Latinos when they had the fruit -- she mentions an old saying about not seeing the cactus until it had the fruit. What`s your response to that?

FLORES: I think that the senator has done an incredible job in congress and frankly hasn`t been given the opportunity to introduce himself to constituencies outside of Vermont. This is, in all fairness, the first time that he has been on the national stage, right. And the fact that he has so much momentum building for him. His message resonates across gender, across age, across ethnicity. And I`ve seen that firsthand on the ground here in Nevada.

I mean, look, two, three, months ago we were talking about how Nevada was going to be Secretary Clinton`s firewall and that a big part that was going to be the Latino community. Well, what do we have now? We don`t have a ton of credible polling, because it`s so difficult.

HAYES: Luckily we get an election...

FLORES: That`s exactly right, we`re going to see it tomorrow.

But, you know, anecdotally, I can tell you it`s just been incredible to watch the momentum, the volunteer-driven activities that are happening out there. The conversations I`ve had with so many Latinos out there, families. My own dad was so amazing. He says to me, he`s very independent, late 70s, Latino immigrant from Mexico. And he says to me, I said dad who are you going to caucus for? And he said, well, I really like the old guy. So, I was like this is fantastic.

HAYES: Well, let me say this, you strike me as a talented enough politician. I would be disappointed if you couldn`t convert your father.

FLORES: Well, you know, I also respect his opinion.

HAYES: Thank you very much. Lucy Fores, great to have you here.

All right, still to come this weekend marks the beginning of a new chapter in the 2016 campaign. Now, tomorrow`s results could reshape those two races in the lead up to all important super Tuesday. That`s next.

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HAYES: Just hours from now, Democrats in Nevada will be heading to caucus sites all over the state. And I`ll be at Harry Reid`s own caucus site just outside of Las Vegas for a special live programming. It`s also primary day in South Carolina for the Republicans and MSNBC will cover it all starting tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. So, definitely tune in.

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REP. JAMES CLYBURN, (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: Campaigns are and should be about the future. And I believe the future of the Democratic Party and the United States of America will be best served with the experiences and know how of Hillary Clinton as our 45th president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the third ranking Democratic in the House endorsing Hillary Clinton today. Polls show Clinton with a big lead in South Clinton in South Carolina where Democrats vote next Saturday, one week after tomorrow`s Nevada Democratic caucuses.

But nationally, Bernie Sanders has cut Clinton`s lead in half, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. She now leads him by 11 points, down from a 25 point margin a month ago.

A Fox News poll out yesterday even showed Sanders leading Clinton, 47-44. His first lead in major national poll.

Now, over the next week-and-a-half, voters in 13 states will go to the polls. And what happens starting here tomorrow will determine just how competitive this race really is and we`ll discuss that, next.

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HAYES: Joining me now is Yvanna Cancella, she`s a political director of the Culinary Workers Union local 226, which has declined to endorse a candidate. They are remaining neutral; and Dave Weigel, national political correspondent for the Washington Post.

Ivana, let me talk to you first. What is your read on the politics here in terms of going into tomorrow? You`re someone pretty connected here politically. You guys have a big and very important powerful membership. Is your read on this pretty even as well?

YVANNA CANCELLA, POLITICAL DIRECTOR CULINARY WORKERS UNION LOCAL 226: Yeah, I think it`s going to have a very close race. I think whatever happens tomorrow won`t be a surprise in that both candidates expect it to be close and it will say a lot about the state of the race to see what happens here.

HAYES: You got this job when you were 23 and you`re...

CANCELLA: 28.

HAYES: You`re like a little bit of a political savant. And if you do politics for the Culinary Workers Union in Vegas, you know a thing or two about politics. Do you see Bernie Sanders with path of the nomination?

CANCELLA: I don`t know if I -- I mean, a path to the nomination is a bit - - it`s asking me to think above my pay grade. But do I think that he can win in Nevada? I think, yeah, I think he`s carved out a path for himself to win tomorrow. I think he`s made enough inroads with critical voters. And I think he capitalized on a ground swell of grassroots support long before he even declared his candidacy.

HAYES: Really, you saw that?

CANCELLA: Yeah. We actually had -- we helped host two different economic town halls for him. And at the first one there were what were traditional Bernie supporters, right, older white, progressives. And then at the second one there was a great cadre of younger Bernie folks who had made homemade t-shirts, buttons, and that was way -- that was almost a month before he even declared for the presidency.

And so that kind of a grass roots movement was in place long before the campaign even got started, which was just in October.

HAYES: So, let`s takl -- you`ve been mostly covering the Republicans. And I want to talk about South Carolina tomorrow.

So, Rubio -- I find it sort of the like Rubio industrial complex fascinating and somewhat hilarious where it`s like all these people that are like trying to like push Marco Rubio over the finish line.

PAUL WEIGEL, WASHINGTON POST: It`s very horizontal -- media and Republicans...

HAYES: Yeah, and partly because the people, at least in the professional political class of Republicans think he`s the best candidate, which I understand why they would think that.

They had this three, two, one thing, right, third in Iowa, second in New Hampshire and one in South Carolina. Now, it`s three, and then it was five, now they`re trying to spin another third place finish. I mean, at a certain point the guy has got to win a state.

WEIGEL: Well, the theory that he has, that everyone has is that once you get it down to Trump plus them and that`s it, then he will beat him. And they are very thrilled by this Wall Street Journal poll this week that showed, indeed, again if it`s Rubio versus Trump, once it gets to the maybe the March states, Illinois, Ohio, then they beat them.

HAYES: And there`s a lot of delegates backloaded in the calendar.

WEIGEL: Right, so for them, I don`t think it`s pure spin. I believe that if Jeb Bush is so weakened by this that he drops out, they`ve been waiting for a lot of that money on the sidelines to come over.

This -- a lot of the times if you spin a third place, it`s BS, not this time. It would move some money.

HAYES: That would move some money, but the problem is Ted Cruz. Like, it waves away the Ted Cruz problem. Like, yes, in a counterfactual universe where it`s just you and Donald Trump, maybe you beat Donald Trump, but you have got this other guy who is not going anywhere, who has already won a state he could come in second tomorrow for all we know.

WEIGEL: And I think the theory with him is that he can`t -- maybe he`ll do really well March 1, but Rubio is going to have an organization plus whatever Jeb sheds in the later states.

I mean, it`s good that we pay attention to these early states, that we spend this time here. The idea that you can`t win once 4 percent of the delegates are decided is a little frivolous.

And I do think the Rubio people from -- I first got impressed not by that much height but when I started coming around to Alaska and Illinois and these states where no else was organized, and they were.

So, I do think they have a strategy, but they also have a lot of people leaning on the scale for them to declare anything a win.

HAYES: What is the state of the Republican Party here in Nevada? You guys had this crazy thing happen. This was like one of the great stories of `08? Was it `08? Now, it was 2012, right, was it when Mitt Romney won here and then the -- he won in the Republican caucuses. And then basically the Ron Paul people infiltrated, like, they sort of like took over the entire apparatus of the state party and gave him all the delegates.

CANCELLA: And I think since then the Republican Party has been trying to fix itself.

Unfortunately, they are their own worst enemy. And so the state of the Republican Party here is still in very similar disarray as it was in 2012 with the exception of the country Republican Party, which is done some rebuilding and really tried to become a viable entity to carry all the way to the Republican Party in the state.

But I think the Republican race here is fairly unpredictable considering...

HAYES: We know nothing.

CANCELLA: We know nothing.

HAYES: I mean, Trump was -- the most recent polling on Trump way, way up. And, you know, he is the only candidate with his name on a big 50-story building.

CANCELLA: Where we recently won a union election, by the way?

HAYES: Really?

CANCELLA: yes.

HAYES: Oh, that`s interesting. Tell me the back story there.

CANCELLA: Yeah, workers came just two years ago and there`s about 550 workers that voted on December 4th and 5th and with 53 percent of the vote won a union election.

HAYES: Fascinating.

There you go.

Yvanna Cancella and Dave Weigel, thank you for both for joining us.

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