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All In With Chris Hayes, Transcript 5/2/2016

Guests: Charlie Pierce, Jane Sanders, Harry Enten, Jess McIntosh, John Lovett

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: May 2, 2016 Guest: Charlie Pierce, Jane Sanders, Harry Enten, Jess McIntosh, John Lovett


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


HAYES: Ted Cruz`s closing arguments amidst signs his support in Indiana is falling.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Carly`s perfectly nice. By the way, she fell off the stage, did anybody see that? And Cruz didn`t do anything.

HAYES: Then, the GOP nightmare scenario.

TRUMP: She ate like a pig. I`d like her right in that fat ugly face of hers.

JOHN BOOZMAN: I`ll support the candidate regardless of who we pick.

HAYES: Could Trump help Democrats retake the Senate?

Plus, as Hillary Clinton pivots to the general election, Bernie Sanders makes a bold prediction.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The convention will be a contested contest.

HAYES: Jane Sanders is here to discuss the campaign`s road forward.

And the comedian-in-chief.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: GOP Chairman Reince Priebus is here as well.

HAYES: President Obama roasts the room at the correspondents` dinner.

OBAMA: Congratulations on all your success. The Republican Party, the nomination process, it`s all going great.

HAYES: One of the people who helped him write that routine will join me when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.

Tomorrow`s primary in Indiana may be all that stands between Donald Trump and the Republican presidential nomination.

And tonight, he and rival Ted Cruz are holding dueling rallies in different parts of the Hoosier State in a final effort to motivate supporters before the polls open just ten hours from now.

For Cruz and the Never Trump movement, the stakes could not be higher.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The entire country is depending on Indiana right now. It really is. It`s a fundamental choice which direction the country goes. I think this is a moment where the entire country is relying on Indiana to save us from going over this cliff.


HAYES: While Cruz had been hoping for a repeat of his triumph last month in Wisconsin, the local Indiana Never Trump coalition that boosted him, the Trump coalition, Never Trump coalition that boosts him there failed to materialize in Indiana.

Cruz`s attempts to shake up the race over the last week, announcing an alliance with John Kasich and picking Carly Fiorina as his theoretical running mate, seem to have backfired. Trump now leads by 15 points in a new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal"/Marist poll of likely Republican voters in Indiana.

If that margin holds in tomorrow`s voting, he could sweep every single one of the state`s 57 delegates which are awarded by a combination of winner take all for the state, and winner take all for each congressional district. Also in that poll, 58 percent of likely GOP voters in Indiana said they disapprove of the Cruz/Kasich alliance.

It won`t stop Cruz from turning to ever more desperate last-ditch tactics to try to win over Indiana voters. Like say directly confronting a group of angry Trump supporters protesting one of his campaign events today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You asked Kasich to drop out, it`s your turn. Take your own words.

CRUZ: Well, now, I`m curious, sir --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time to drop out.

CRUZ: -- when Donald doesn`t get to 1,237, are you going to call on him to drop out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald`s definitely going to get more than 1,237. He`s going to get more than 1,237.


CRUZ: You know on the wall, that Donald told "The New York Times" editorial board he`s not going to build a wall, he`s not going to deport anyone?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once again, Lyin` Ted!


HAYES: That came just a day after Cruz reprimanded a kid who was heckling him at a rally in northern Indiana.


CRUZ: Thank you, son. You know, I appreciate your sharing your views. You know, one of the things that hopefully someone has told you is that children should actually speak with respect.


CRUZ: In my household, when a child behaves that way, they get a spanking.



HAYES: I should note it`s a matter of public record by Ted Cruz that he hits his kids.

At another event earlier in the day yesterday, Cruz`s new running mate Carly Fiorina had a bit of a mishap while introducing the candidate and his family.


CARLY FIORINA (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Help me welcome your next first family, Heidi Cruz, your next first lady, Carolyn and Catherine, and the next president of the United States -- Ted Cruz!


HAYES: Today, Donald Trump, renowned cherisher of women, scolded Cruz for failing to help Fiorina get back up.


TRUMP: She fell off the stage, did anybody see that? And Cruz didn`t do anything! Even I would have helped her, OK? They just showed it to me and I said, wow, that`s really cruel. She fell off. She just went down. She went down a long way, right?

And she went down right in front of him and he was talking, kept talking, he didn`t even look like -- that was a weird deal.


HAYES: The same time Ted Cruz is playing up the high stakes of tomorrow`s vote, he`s also trying to limit expectations of his own performance at the ballot and make it all about the convention in Cleveland.

Witnesses interviewed today with NBC`s Hallie Jackson.


CRUZ: Nobody is going to get to 1,237. I`m not going to get to 1237, but neither is Donald Trump.

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS: Twelve thirty-five?

CRUZ: So, we are headed to a contested convention. And at a contested convention, the battle`s going to be, who can earn the support of a majority of the delegates elected by the people.

Donald knows that he cannot earn a majority at the convention of the delegates who have been elected by the people. If you can`t earn a majority, you can`t be the nominee. It means you can`t unite the party. And you`d be an incredibly weak general election candidate.


HAYES: It`s true the Cruz campaign has done a much, much better laying the groundwork for a contested convention, getting loyal supporters elected as delegates in state after state. Just this past weekend, the Cruz camp won 10 of the 13 delegate slots up for grabs at Virginia`s GOP state convention in Virginia, despite finishing third in the state`s primary behind Trump and Marco Rubio.

But with Trump shattering expectations in last week`s northeast primaries, bringing him ever closer to 1,237, some of Cruz`s delegates may be experiencing a change of heart. In North Dakota, where delegates are technically unbound but Cruz supporters won a majority of the slots, a delegate named Jim Poolman, who`s committed to Cruz, told "The National Review," "I think last Tuesday`s vote spooked a lot of people. Donald Trump has a lot of support across the country, just last Tuesday winning five states is one heck of a showing."

In an interview with "The New York Times", Poolman said, quote, "I`m not in the anybody but Trump campaign, I`m in the anybody but Hillary campaign."

It`s not just Republican delegates who are coming around to Trump. He`s picked up three more congressional endorsements in just the last week. And now, according to "The Associated Press", Republican leaders are beginning to make peace with Trump as the nominee.

One of Trump`s supporters in the House used almost the exact same language as the North Dakota delegate. "It`s not Never Trump, it`s Never Hillary, wake up and smell the coffee."

Let`s go to NBC`s Katy Tur in South Bend, Indiana, where the Trump rally has just wrapped up.

And, Katy, I watched a little bit of the Trump rally, it seemed that they`re feeling pretty confident.

KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the Trump rally`s just started behind me here in South Bend.

They`re feeling extraordinarily confident about Indiana. I spoke with Donald Trump`s campaign manager a moment ago and they`re feeling good, especially seeing that they are up 15 points in the latest NBC News/Marist poll. But they`re already running a general election campaign they tell me, despite Ted Cruz still being in this race, despite John Kasich still being in this race, they`re looking forward and looking ahead to how they`re going to take on Hillary Clinton.

Today when Donald Trump had a lunch at Shapiro`s in Indianapolis with the infamous anti-Clinton author Ed Klein, that should be an indication they`re trying to figure a way to frame their attacks going forward. They`re already trying to get Bernie Sanders appeal out there, saying that he has been treated unfairly by the DNC, and that his supporters should go to Donald Trump, who is also an outsider.

But Indiana again, that is the task at hand. It is tomorrow and they do believe they`re going to take out a win here. But it`s not a must-win like it is for Ted Cruz. Even with that, at the campaign thinks they`ll be able to go on and easily make to it 1,237 by the time California votes on June 7th.

HAYES: All right. Katy Tur at the Trump rally, with some lusty boos in the background, it wouldn`t be a Trump rally if there weren`t any.

Joining me in the cross rally in Indianapolis, NBC`s Hallie Jackson.

Hallie, it`s looking tough. I mean, 15 points today. There was a sense maybe they could bring back the Wisconsin magic, has not materialized so far. Glenn Beck on stage trying to work that magic, calling for a fast. What`s the thinking there?

JACKSON: Listen, I think there`s a sense within the campaign, Chris, based on conversations I just had with the senior adviser that they know tomorrow is not going to go the way they want it to go. That it will probably be a tough night for them. That it`s going to be possibly a single-digit loss.

There`s pushback against the idea that the margin will be as big as our NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows, which is a 15-point lead by Donald Trump right now. But there`s a sense that Cruz will hang on until there is no longer, as he put it in that interview we did, a viable path to the nomination. That means Trump hitting 1,237.

Why? Why stay in? As was phrased to me, you never know. The idea within the campaign is that Trump is such a wild card, there`s no reason, they believe, for Cruz to get out of this race. They want to be able to offer conservatives a choice in case something happens and Trump`s candidacy. Trump`s campaign does fall apart.

Now, of course, people have been talking about what Trump could do to lose the nomination since, what, August, July, even earlier. Maybe since that moment that he came down those escalators back in June. So there`s a question as to sort of how realistic that is.

But Cruz tomorrow night, I don`t think you`ll see him come out and give some sort of concession speech if he loses. He will continue to fight, June 7th -- the big day -- that is when Trump could lock up the nomination and if he does, that is when you will see a real reassessment within the Cruz campaign.

HAYES: All right. Hallie Jackson, thank you very much.

Joining me now, former RNC chair and MSNBC political analyst, Michael Steele, and Charlie Pierce, writer at large for "Esquire" Magazine.

Michael, I`m sort of -- I`m a bit bemused as I watch the never Trump forces start to maybe flirt a little bit with, well, maybe Trump. Maybe eventually Trump. This is Mr. Kristol who is a flagship member of the never Trumpers answering a question just earlier today. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you, there are things Trump can do to win you over?

BILL KRISTOL, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I mean, I guess never say never. On the one hand, I`m never Trump. On the other hand, I`ll say never, but never say never. I`ll leave it there.



HAYES: See, this is the writing on the wall, Michael. No one -- everyone loves a winner.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That is so precious. That is so precious, because he flipped out on me in a conversation we had about this very thing, about 30 days ago. And he was like, how you know, no way, no way! I`m like, OK, dude, just wait.


HAYES: I wish we had that on tape, I would play that in a heartbeat if you had that conversation on tape.

STEELE: Oh my gosh, no.

But this is where they are. They have been long-suffering on this slow death march to nowhere. And meanwhile, the base of the party is like, dudes, we`re over here. We`re going with this guy.

And this reconciliation within the party has probably been one of the most amusingly frustrating things to watch. Because the base has been saying for some time, as you know, this guy, we like him. Yes, we don`t like everything he says, we don`t like everything he does. But he`s the kind of fighter we want for this fight.

And there has been nothing since the beginning of this campaign that anyone other than Donald Trump has been able to do to slow his role and that`s the reality of it. He has moved this campaign to the point now where we`re at our last wall, our last firewall, our last bridge, our last whatever, in Indiana tomorrow night. And there`s nowhere else to go except to get on board and that`s what you`re seeing.

HAYES: And, Charlie. what I`m looking for tomorrow, I mean, the polling out today that has him over 50 percent, it was one thing he wins over 50 percent in New York. It`s another when he clears high 50s in the Northeast, which is sort of the ancestral home of Trumpism, if you will.

But in the case of Indiana, this is not the kind of place you`d expect him to clean up or to romp. If he clears 50 tomorrow, that to me seems a clear statement from the GOP base about where they are and how ready they are for this.

CHARLIE PIERCE, ESQUIRE MAGAZINE: Yes, first of all, I`d like to say that it was hard to hear Bill Kristol talk over the sound of the cock crowing in the background.

However --


PIERCE: However, you`re right. I spent a day with the Cruz surrogate team yesterday, which was God help us Louie Gohmert and Carly Fiorina and Heidi Cruz and -- who am I missing? Mike Lee.

And outside of a slice of the evangelical vote, and not a very big slice anymore, there`s no support for him in Indiana right now. There`s no reason to vote for the guy. You saw him today. This is a guy who was the Ivy League debating champion and he was arguing with a guy in fake Oakley sunglasses and a fake weather-beaten sweatshirt whose entire riposte to him was, uh-uh! No!

I expect to see Ted Cruz on a street corner outside Ft. Wayne with a sign saying, "will debate for food."

HAYES: By the way, people are -- that was a biblical reference from Charlie Pierce, anyone who accuses us of being godless liberals.

Jesuit-educated Michael Steele knew exactly --

PIERCE: That of Jesuit education --

HAYES: Right, that`s a Jesuit education right there.

So this was the other thing, right? The question that Cruz is going to play. Right now, I think you`re seeing calculations about people`s future in the party. I want to play you Ted Cruz and Chuck Todd going around and around on this question of the fundamental never Trump question.

And that`s the real thing that hangs the air right now, take a listen.


CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: If he`s the nominee, I take it you can`t support him anymore, can you?

CRUZ: I believe if the Republican party nominates Donald Trump, we will lose to Hillary --

TODD: Aare you going to support him?

CRUZ: We will lose --

TODD: I understand what you believe in the Republican Party. Are you -- can you support him? Can you tell your delegates --

CRUZ: Chuck, what I`m going to do is --

TODD: -- lay down your arms and support Trump?

CRUZ: Chuck --

TODD: Well, you may not.

CRUZ: Chuck, I recognize that many in the media would love for me to surrender to Donald Trump.

TODD: If it`s a time for choosing, say it. For him? Or against him? As the nominee? It`s a time for choosing, is it not?

CRUZ: Chuck, you`re welcome to lobby for support for Trump as much as possible.

TODD: Let the record show you have not taken a position on whether you can support Trump if he`s the nominee? Fair enough?

CRUZ: And let the record show you tried very, very hard to get me to commit to supporting Trump. The record will show that.


HAYES: Michael, what`s that about?

STEELE: I don`t know. Bottom line is, just say no. Nancy Reagan said it. Just say no.

I mean, this is the problem no one can take it seriously at this stage, just say no.

HAYES: That`s right.

STEELE: You can`t support the guy? Just say it.

HAYES: And that`s been the problem, Charlie, from the beginning. You`ve got to either go -- you`ve got to be in it all the way or not. And there`s a small group of intellectuals who I think both feel it on principle basis, they really do believe it, they hate Trump, and also feel insulated from the consequences of that. But aside from them, Charlie, like you`re saying, that`s not a huge constituency, never has been.

PIERCE: No, it`s not. I think that the historical irony, of course, is that the very fact that Ted Cruz is a figure of national politics at all is a failure of the Republican establishment, especially in Texas.

HAYES: All right. Michael Steele and Charlie Pierce, thank you very much, both.

STEELE: All right.

HAYES: Still to come, could Democrats win back control of the Senate this November if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee? A look at how that starting to play out.

Plus, President Obama lets loose in his final White House correspondents` dinner. How humor played a very strategic part of Obama`s legacy.

But, first, after conflicting messages on Bernie Sanders` plan going forward, with another election day up tomorrow, the candidate himself offered some clarity and now, Jane Sanders joins me.

That interview right after the break.


HAYES: In the last few weeks, there have been at times, a set of conflicting messages about the Bernie Sanders campaign strategy between now and the convention in Philadelphia.

The Sanders chief strategist Tad Devine suggested to my colleague Rachel Maddow that party insiders, the so-called superdelegates, should follow the will of the voters.

But campaign manager Jeff Weaver has argued that superdelegates are free to support the candidate of their choice and even override the will of the voters, giving Sanders a potential path to victory even if he`s trailing Clinton in the popular vote and among pledged delegates.

Yesterday, the candidate himself offered his own thoughts.


SANDERS: It is virtually impossible for Secretary Clinton to reach the majority of convention delegates by June 14th with pledged delegates alone. She will need superdelegates to take her over the top at the convention in Philadelphia. In other words, the convention will be a contested contest.


HAYES: Sanders says overall he wants to flip superdelegates who have already endorsed Clinton, especially in states where he won. Superdelegates who support Clinton should switch their allegiance to him.

As Greg Sargent notes in "The Washington Post", however, even granting Sanders` concession, the math still doesn`t work for him at least as of now. Tonight Sanders is in Indiana where Democratic voters will go to the polls tomorrow.

But perhaps showing how confident the Clinton campaign is, she`s on a two- day tour targeting voters in Appalachia, with stops in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. Kentucky and West Virginia will hold their primaries later this month. Ohio, on the other hand, has already voted, back in March. But it is of course a crucial swing state that could decide the general election in November.

I spoke with Jane Sanders, spouse of Bernie Sanders, and I began by asking whether she could point to a precedent for what Sanders is now calling for.


JANE SANDERS, WIFE OF SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: We`re doing it Bernie`s way as always. But, of course, there has been precedent. I mean, remember Teddy Kennedy with Jimmy Carter. Hillary Clinton with Barack Obama.

So, the fact is that it`s not over until it`s over. Neither Hillary nor Bernie will get the requisite number of pledged delegates --

HAYES: Right.

SANDERS: -- to be able to wrap up the nomination before the convention. So we go to the convention.

HAYES: Right, so if you go to the convention, I mean, that was also true back in 2008 if you name checked Hillary Clinton, who lost to Barack Obama. Once it became clear. It didn`t happen until June. I think she dropped out first or second week of June that she was not going to be able to surpass that lead. She dropped out. She did not essentially force a roll call vote at the convention.

1980, that`s exactly what Ted Kennedy did. And there was a pretty active floor battle. His folks trying to win over votes, ultimately, that was unsuccessful.

But there`s a lot of people who look at that example and say, Carter went on to get his clock cleaned. And that kind of terrifies them, because they think that played some role in essentially weakening the eventual nominee.

SANDERS: Well, as I remember that, it was a little bit rambunctious, shall we say, that convention.

We will fight on the issues. And there`s going to be a fight on the issues no matter what at the convention. You know, Bernie is very strong on going to a $15 minimum wage, stopping fracking, and taking climate change very, very seriously. He wants to have electoral reform so that one person, one vote, actually is carried out, both in the primaries and in the general election.

He wants to stop the revolving door between corporate contributors and the executive branch. We will be having great discussions. I think they`ll be good for the American people to hear those discussions, because I don`t think there`s discussions are going to be happening on the Republican side. And that`s what we`re hearing about as we go around the country and talk to people.

HAYES: I want to give you a chance to respond to critics of yours. Paul Krugman in the "New York Times" has been really hammering the Sanders campaign. There are others who basically say that the Sanders campaign, by soliciting donations to make Bernie Sanders the nominee, is essentially running a con on its donors.

What do you say to those people?

SANDERS: Really? What is John Kasich doing, what that is Ted Cruz been doing? No, we`re running on the issues. You know that.

I don`t take Paul Krugman seriously anymore. I used to. I think there are a lot of other, better economists and people who seem to have better critical thinking. So, that`s a disappointment. But I don`t read him so I can`t tell you what he says anymore.

I do think that we are running on the issues and Bernie -- we just had a fantastic rally this afternoon, we`re in Indianapolis, we`re having another one. And everywhere we go, people say, please keep fighting for us, you`re our voice, don`t give up.

We owe it to the people that have been part of this movement to take it all the way to the end and to work really hard. Everybody knows, anything can happen in politics and especially this year, Chris. I mean, if anybody had said to you a year ago, we would be where we are today -- not just Bernie. I mean, of course, nobody believed a year ago or any time in between in the national media that he had a shot. So, you still don`t but we do.

HAYES: The five final candidates would have been predicted by zero people a year ago.

SANDERS: Exactly.

HAYES: I will definitely give you that. Jane Sanders, always a pleasure, thank you very much.

SANDERS: Nice to see you, Chris.


HAYES: Still to come, President Obama delivers a literal mike drop at his final White House Correspondents` Dinner. Some of the best moments 80 seconds away right after the break.


HAYES: This year, I once again observed my annual tradition of skipping the White House Correspondents Association dinner to go on a date with my wife -- happy birthday, babe. But the date ended early enough that we did get to watch and for the eighth straight year, President Obama`s performance was definitely not something you wanted to miss.

The president once again roasted the roam with a combination of deadpan charm and barely concealed scorn. Here`s a bit of what he had to say about the Republicans who showed up.


OBAMA: GOP chairman, Reince Priebus, is here as well. Glad to see that you feel that you`ve earned a night off. Congratulations on all your success. The Republican Party, the nomination process, it`s all going great. Keep it up.

Just look at the confusion over the invitations to tonight`s dinner. Guests were asked to check whether they wanted steak or fish. But instead, a whole bunch of you wrote in "Paul Ryan."

That`s not an option, people. Steak or fish. You may not like steak or fish. But that`s your choice.


HAYES: President`s use of humor has been a key political tool in an era in which audiences are fracturing. The president has to get ever more creative of his use of the bully pulpit.

We`re going to look at how he`s done that and relive some classic comic moments with someone who worked on all eight of the correspondents` association dinner speeches. That`s next.


HAYES: President Obama`s time in office has taken place amid one of the most seismic shifts of media consumption in history. And the Obama White House has been aggressive in using new and nontraditional media with the president sitting for interviews with YouTube creators, making late-night TV appearances, participating in comic viral videos to encourage young people to sign up for health care coverage.


OBAMA: I`m President Barack Obama. And I, too, want to slow jam the news.

If I ran a third time it would be like doing a third "Hangover" movie. It didn`t really work out very well, did it?

JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN: Every person you talk to is putting on an act. A total show.

OBAMA: It`s a problem.

ZACH GALIFIANAKIS, COMEDIAN: I have to know, what is it like to be the last black president?

OBAMA: Seriously?

Nation, as you know, I, Stephen Colbert, have never cared for our president.

Thanks, Obama.

Have you heard of

GALIFIANAKIS: Here we go. OK, let`s get this out of the way. What`d you come here to plug?

OBAMA: I could call a nuclear submarine right here from this -- I bet you don`t have that.

SEINFELD: I don`t have that.

OBAMA: Yeah. It`s a cool feature. Plus seat warmers. So between the nuclear submarine thing and the...

SEINFED: Well, everybody has got that.


OBAMA: Can I live?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch the spider bite.

OBAMA: That`s the other hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s everywhere.

OBAMA: Obama out.


HAYES: Joining me now, John Lovett, who spent three years as a speechwriter for President Obama in the White House and still pitches in. He helped write all eight of the president`s White House Correspondents` Dinner speeches including the one the president delivered this weekend.

All right, John. Here`s my first question. Where is the line? How do you figure out where the line is? Because the whole shtick here is, the president`s saying things he wouldn`t normally say, he`s telling uncomfortable truths, he said some things about Hillary Clinton that were pretty rough.

JOHN LOVETT, SPEECHWRITER: Oh, that`s not rough. I mean, I`ve seen rough, that was not rough.

I think, look, when we started working on these speeches in 2009, and we were like trying to figure out how -- what`s the tone we`re going to set at these correspondents dinners? I remember we did a draft. And it was actually the president who was like, guys? I can go a little harder. We don`t have to -- and you know what, he was right. Like, he`s got the chops for this.

HAYES: He -- it occurred to me also that it ends up being a situation -- think the whole night is like this, even the Larry Wilmore as well, where a person is just insulated to kind of just say things they think are truths.

LOVETT: That`s the best.

HAYES: Like the Reince Priebus thing wasn`t even a joke. It was just like, you are terrible at your job and I`m telling you this in front of everyone.

LOVETT: The best jokes he has ever done, you read it after, like what exactly was the joke there?

Like, you remember, we did a joke one year where he was like, you think I should get a drink with Mitch McConnell? Why don`t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell? And that`s not even a joke, that`s just something he doesn`t want to do.

HAYES: What about this sort of idea of the president and his bully pulpit at this time? Right, so I think there`s this idea of like there`s the fireside chat, obviously, there was Kennedy and the sort of dawn of network television. There`s a sense of gravitas that surrounds the office. And yet you guys and people around the president have made these decisions to put them in all sorts of positions that are not necessarily filled with gravitas, like talking to Zach Galifianakis In Between Two Ferns.

LOVETT: You think -- that doesn`t seem presidential to you?

I think that -- look, you go where the people are. You rob a bank because that`s where the money is. I mean, there`s such an incredible like thicket of garbage that you have to cut through to reach anybody. I mean, like, listen, I don`t know if you know this, but cable news kind of sucks.


HAYSE: Are you doing your own correspondents dinner shtick right now on my show?

LOVETT: I do it 24 hours a day I`m insufferable. It`s great to be here, Chris.

HAYES: Thanks, John.

LOVETT: But look -- this president is really good at this. And I don`t think it`s a coincidence that a president that campaigned in a new way and reached new audiences is also the kind of person who understands how to do this and how to reach people in a funny way. And it`s just -- whether it`s cable news or things that go viral on Twitter or Facebook, comedy does work.

You know, we do the State of the Union and we made a dumb joke about salmon, right? And I don`t want to get into the details of the joke, because it was awesome. But afterwards, the next day, NPR called people or somebody called people and up did a poll and said what do you remember from the speech? And this was a speech about the economy.

HAYES: Right.

LOVETT: But the only thing people remembered was the word salmon. So I think this stuff breaks through. And when it`s getting harder and harder, when news is so much more atomized, and when people are so mistrustful of everything they see -- I used to -- remember when Bush said that thing about how it`s hard to get through the filter? You know, he kind of was making a good point. It`s hard to break through and comedy does break through. People share it, people want to do it, it`s entertaining. You know, it`s a good way to get across a message to people.

HAYES: It`s interesting to me that when we were sort of going back through this, the moment when he did most of these was around

LOVETT: Right.

HAYES: When the president was almost just hat in hand selling this thing.

LOVETT: Right.

HAYES: I mean, he was -- like he wouldn`t say no to anything, because he just was like he wouldn`t say no to anything, they just wanted people to enroll.

LOVETT: Right.

And you remember when he did comedian in cars, and he just says to Seinfeld, I think this was supposed to talk about, usually that`s what I do in these things.

HAYES: That`s right, exactly.

John Lovett, great pleasure, man, thanks a lot.

LOVETT: That was fun, thanks.

HAYES: Still to come, could Democrats get a boost this November big enough to win back the Senate with a little help from Donald Trump?

Stay with us.


HAYES: Today, Virginia Republicans announced they will sue to stop ex- felons in their state from voting.

Just a little over a week ago the Democratic Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe restored the voting rights for 206,000 ex-felons.


TERRY MCAULIFFE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: I believe it is time to cast off Virginia`s troubled history of injustice and embrace an honest, clean process for restoring the rights of these men and women. And so today I will sign an order restoring the civil and voting rights of every single individual who has completed his or her sentence as of this day, April 22, 2016.


HAYES: According to the national conference of state legislators, in 38 states and the the District of Columbia, most ex-felons automatically gain the right to vote upon completion of their sentence. In some states, sentence is defined as just prison time. In other states, sentence means prison time plus parole and/or probation.

But Governor McAuliffe`s executive order brought Virginia in line with the vast majority of the country. And Virginia Republicans, like State Senate Republican Leader Thomas Norment have two main complaints. They say McAuliffe`s action is a blatant political ploy to help a Democrat win Virginia in the presidential election. And they charge that Governor McAuliffe`s executive action exceeds his authority because the voting rights of ex-felons are set out in the state constitution of Virginia. And while they may be right about that, I`m not sure that`s their best argument. I`ll explain in 60 seconds.


HAYES: All right, so Governor Terry McAuliffe restored voting rights of 206,000 ex-felons who have served their sentence, who have paid their debt to society.

Virginia Republicans will sue to stop it. And the governor`s spokesman said in a statement these Virginians are qualified to vote, they deserve a voice, not more partisan schemes to disenfranchise them.

Now, that is not empty rhetoric as detailed brilliantly in The Atlantic. The governor`s executive action marks an exorcism for one of Jim Crow`s last vestiges in Virginia`s state charter, the constitution of Virginia. Decades of post-reconstruction, white supremacist, segregationist efforts are reflected in the Virginia constitution, words designed not just to maintain segregation as the law of the land, but actively to keep African- Americans from voting through means that included, but were not limited to, literacy tests and poll taxes.

As detailed by The Atlantic during Virginia`s 1902 constitutional convention, the suppression of the black vote was openly discussed, quote, "I told the people of my county before they sent me here I intended as far as in me lay to disenfranchise every negro that I could." That`s what R.L. Gordon told his fellow delegates.

By the late 1960s, Supreme Court decisions and the the Voting Rights Act of 1965, most of that part of the constitution had been struck down, but left unscathed was the provision barring felons from voting for life.

According to the Sentencing Project, felony disenfranchisement policies have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. So, when Virginia Republicans say Governor McAuliffe lacks the authority to restore voting rights they`re pointing to a portion of the Virginia constitution that was design the with the specific intent of keeping people of color from voting. They`re pointing to a provision that in practice disproportionately affects people of color.

However, this plays out legally, that is what opposition to Governor McAuliffe is hanging their hat on.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back in the Vietnam days, the Berrigan brothers (ph) were big. You attracted tens of thousands of people. Now you`re not as big. You do not attract the same attention. Is that hard for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I don`t think we ever felt our conscience was tied to the other end of a TV cord. I think we`ve tried for a number of years to do what was right because it was right.


HAYES: Father Daniel Berrigan (ph), a towering figure in American political life, and at one time a celebrity, died on Saturday in the Bronx at the age of 94.

As a Jesuit priest and an anti-war activist, Berrigan (ph) and along with his brother Philip (ph), organized one of the most famous protests of the Vietnam era.

In May of 1968, the brothers led a group that walked into a U.S. Selective Service office in suburban Maryland, seized hundreds of draft records, and burned them in the parking lot using homemade napalm.

As The New York Times recounts, all these years later when the police came, the trespassers were praying in the parking lot, waiting peacefully to be led into the van.

The Berrigans (ph) and their accomplices, known as the Catonsville Nine, inspired the larger anti-war movement and the brothers were eventually convicted of destroying government property and sentenced to three years in federal prison each.

But both brothers went on the lam, earning them a spot on the FBI`s ten most wanted list and the cover of TIME magazine. They were eventually apprehended with Daniel Berrigan (ph) serving 18 months in prison.

Following his release, he kept doing the exact same kind of work -- leading demonstrations, getting arrested, using civil disobedience to protest war and racism and nuclear proliferation. He was an inspiration to advocates of social justice, generations of Catholics, and particularly my father, a former Jesuit seminarian, among them.

Daniel Berrigan was a poet, and a teacher, and even found a place in our pop culture, the radical priest of the Paul Simon song "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard."

He was cast as a Jesuit in the 1986 movie "The Mission."

But what endured through it all was Berrigan`s steadfast moral vision and commitment to bearing witness. His later work, ministering to AIDS patients when mainstream society viewed them with terror and contempt. He even took part in the Occupy Wall Street movement a few years back.

Daniel Berrigan`s (ph) work never stopped. And as he wrote in his memoir, that work, beginning with his most famous act of protest, effected a larger movement, quote "nothing can be done."

How often we had heard that gasp, the last of the human of soul, of freedom, indeed something could be done, and was, and would be."

Father Daniel Berrigan (ph) poet, passivist, and moral beacon was 94 years old.


HAYES: All right, today, President Obama sat down with six local TV stations across the country to push for a senate vote on his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. The stations he chose to sit down with out of Des Moines, Iowa, Manchester, New Hampshire, Cincinnati, Ohio, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Phoenix, Arizona, and Kansas City, Missouri.

Now, all those cities have one very particular thing in common: they are states where Republican senators are up for re-election on November 8.

6 of 24 seats Republicans are defending this year.

Democrats, meanwhile, are defending just 10 seats and need to flip five GOP seats to take back the Senate. Even months ago, heading into this election Democrats had a good chance of picking up some Senate seats.

Now, as the Trump phenomenon continues to take shape, there is open fretting from Republicans they could lose control of the senate. In a new ad out of Arkansas Senate race shows just why the GOP is worried.

The web ad released by Democrat Connor Aldridge, which will likely only play on Facebook, gives jus a little snapshot of what these down ballot races are going to look like with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket.


TRUMP: She ate like a pig.

I`d look in that fat ugly face of hers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He once sent a picture of herself with the words the face of a dog written on it.

TRUMP: The boob job is terrible. You know, they look like two light bulbs coming out of a body.

Blood coming out of her wharever.

A person who is pattern flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.

HOWARD STERN, RADIO SHOW HOST: You don`t think you could get it up for her?

TRUMP: I think I`d have a hard time.


TRUMP: No, I don`t find her attractive.

JOHN BOOZEMAN: I`ll support the candidate regardless of who you pick whether Donald Trump it certainly would be a lot better presidency


HAYES: Joining me now, Harry Enten, senior political writer and analyst at 538, Jess McIntosh, spokesperson for Emily`s List, a PAC devoted to supporting pro-choice women candidates and they have endorsed Hillary Clinton.

All right, Harry, so -- Jess, I want to come to you in a second about that ad and about the strategy here. Before we get to that -- you seem anxious to talk about that. Before we get to that, Harry, what do we know about the relationship between the margins of the presidential election and how much we can predict what that swing in the senate is. Is there a fairly straightforward relationship? You win by five points you get this many seats, you win by 10 points you get this many?


But what we do know is there is an increasingly strong relationship over the past few cycles of what the Senate result is in a state and the presidential sort of swing in a state.

So, if you look back to 2014, I think you could explain like something like 75 percent of variation of Senate results of states and how the president did in 2012 in those states.

HAYES: Meaning increasingly it`s this case that as we get more rigidly polarized, you get voting that is -- you know, red states vote for Republican statewide, blue states vote Democrat statewide, that`s particularly true in a presidential year.

ENTEN: That`s exactly right. And it`s just so amazing if you look at that map of where President Obama is going. He`s going to Missouri. He`s going to Iowa, those are states that weren`t on anybody`s radar at the beginning of the year. I mean, Chuck Grassley is, you know, a household name in Iowa, and he`s talking on the phone. He`s talking -- you know, doing these Tv hits, that suggests that those states could be in play, which is not anything that Republicans want.

HAYES: So, Jess, if that this is case -- I mean, obviously I think Democrats are feeling their oats on this because of the sort of headwinds now for Republicans. One question is ads like that, I mean, to what extent can the personal things that people might find odious about Donald Trump be connected to candidates running for Senate -- it seems easier to connect someone substantively like on a policy or a platform -- they all support the Ryan budget -- than this guy is a pig and also Chuck Grassley is running for Senate.

How much can you pull that off?

JESS MCINTOSH, EMILY`S LIST: Well, I think it makes it a lot easier when every single one of the Republicans who we are attempting to knock out in 2016 is willing to support Trump and wants him to nominate the next Supreme Court justice.

I mean, that seems like a fairly easy link right there. It`s arguable that the Supreme Court is more important to women`s autonomy than congress or the White House and women absolutely understand that.

So, I think they`re stuck with him. And there`s this compounding factor, which is all those seats that you mentioned where Democrats are challenging Republican incumbents for the Senate, out of 8 of the 9 most competitive, six of them are being challenged by Democratic women. So, you`re going to see these kinds of ads, and this kind of rhetoric. And he appears to be doubling down on this. It`s not like we`re pulling stuff from the `80s, and he hasn`t said anything like that in decades. It was, you know, yesterday.

You are going to see that dynamic play out when there is a progressive Democratic woman on the ticket for Senate.

HAYES: Harry, the top places where the Republicans are vulnerable it seems to me would be Wisconsin, Illinois and New Hampshire. In all those places you have got a Republican incumbent, you got in all those places states that are fairly reliable -- I mean, Illinois, quite reliably blue, and all of them are essentially products of the 2010 electorate, which is a very different electorate than that we project for this electorate.

ENTEN: Right, exactly. You know, if you look at state like Illinois, for example...

HAYES: I mean, the fact that there is a Republican in that seat is sort of amazing.

ENTEN: It`s amazing. I mean, that is a state that is just going to have a lot more minorities this time around.

I mean, Mark Kirk barely won in 2010. He`s probably already a goner unless something happens. His own polls already show that he`s trailing Tammy Duckworth. I mean, that`s a state -- and you just go through all the states one by one by one, you go, wow, this is easy to get to the number of seats that`s necessary for Democrats to take control.

HAYES: And this Illinois -- Illinois is a good case, because I think it`s probably the most imperiled and watching the behavior of Mark Kirk there, Jess, I think an indication of what we will see more of.

Tammy Duckworth, he`s being challenged by a woman. She obviously -- she served in Iraq. She worked at the Department of Veteran Affairs. He is not -- I think he`s not going to go to the convention. He was also one of the first people on this Merrick Garland issue to say meet with Merrick Garland. He was the first one to say he should get a vote.

That -- you are going to see you will see him trying to distance themselves in some ways from both the national party and Trump.

MCINTOSH: Absolutely. Absolutely. They are going to try. But Mark Kirk has also called Tammy Duckworth a naive fool. He joked about how she was spending all of her time picking out dresses for the DNC. This is a party wide issue that they don`t have an agenda for women. And most of them don`t know how to talk to or about women.

So, I think -- you know, we all know that the most effective messaging around an election is being able to use an opponent`s words in their own voice where you can see the video of them saying it. And we just have -- I mean, the trouble here is what to choose from, not where to find it.

HAYES: Here`s my question for you, Harry, one interesting lesson to me from the primary so far is the diminishing marginal value of each ad, each dollar of TV spending. It has seemed to produce diminishing returns. Do you expect that to continue in the general?

ENTEN: In the senate races where a lot of these candidates are not that well known I don`t expect it necessarily to continue, like in North Carolina, Debra Ross who is running against Richard Burr, she`s not very well-known and Richard Burr doesn`t have that high name recognition either.

MCINTOSH: And she`s tied.

HAYES: Right. Exactly. She`s already tied.

And so that`s where you`re going to see -- you think you are going to see these -- whatever the ads are this kind of big ad dollar spending play a bit role.

ENTEN: Exactly. Senate races down ticket ads make much more of a difference.

HAYES: Interesting. Harry Enten, Jess McIntosh, thank you both for joining me.

All right, that is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.