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All In With Chris Hayes, Transcript, 5/27/2016

Guests: Nick Confessore, Cornell Belcher, Eric Boehlert, Matthew Dunn, Philip Kline, Courtney Kube

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: May 27, 2016 Guest: Nick Confessore, Cornell Belcher, Eric Boehlert, Matthew Dunn, Philip Kline, Courtney Kube


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

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a border problem that is so insane, it is so ridiculous.

HAYES: Trump draws crowds both for and against him in California, as he touts a bold strategy.

TRUMP: I actually think we`re going to win California. Plus, I have property here.

HAYES: Why he now won`t debate Bernie Sanders. But will face Clinton.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know a lot about Donald Trump. He roots for himself, not for you.

HAYES: Then, the least-surprising supporter to board the Trump train. As a former rival --

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: A con artist named Donald Trump.

HAYES: -- is now falling in line.

Plus, the president`s historic trip to Hiroshima.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear.

HAYES: His message on nuclear weapons and why it highlights the stakes of this election.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HARDBALL HOST: Can you tell the Middle East we`re not using a nuclear weapon?

TRUMP: I would never say that. I would never take any of my cards off the table.

MATTHEWS: How about Europe? We won`t use it in Europe?

TRUMP: I`m not going to take it off the table.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


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

Right at this hour, we`ve got some late-breaking news. Police are declaring an ongoing rally against Donald Trump in San Diego to be in a tactical sense an illegal assembly and warning protesters over a loud speaker that if they don`t move, chemical and other agents will be used against them.

This is the aftermath after Trump gave speeches in two California cities today.

The presumptive GOP nominee drawing big crowds of supporters as well as hundreds of protesters who at times clashed with both Trump backers and police. The scene was relatively peaceful at Trump`s first speech in Fresno where police were in full riot gear and protesters chanted, a few waving the Mexican flag.

Inside the rally, police removed dozens of people including some holding a banner reading simply, "love thy neighbor."

Trump responded with trademark mockery.


TRUMP: Thank you very much. She had a very meek, mild voice. Usually better off just letting her shout. It`s my people that cause the problem when they start screaming look over here and you can`t hear the person, right?


HAYES: The scene outside Trump`s second rally in San Diego was quite a bit more heated, at least 1,000 people gathered, some protesters throwing items at police, tried to breach a secure area. SWAT team was called in. Police said at least three were arrested.

All right. Joining me now from outside the site of Trump`s rally in San Diego is NBC News correspondent Katy Tur.

It looks like that`s still quite a situation there, Katy.

KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It is. There`s not as many protesters as there were earlier but there are frankly a handful of them who are just refusing to leave. Right now, riot police are trying to push these protesters back, trying to make them disperse. They have been somewhat successful but there are some holdouts.

I want to bring you this way. Excuse us, we`re a little bit tethered right now. But there`s a line of riot police all the way down this way, hundreds of them that have shown up clutching their batons. There`s a group of protesters right here who are staging a sit-in, refusing to leave, despite the fact that p.a. announcements have repeatedly said, if you do not disperse, we will arrest you. They`re calling this now an unlawful assembly.

Earlier, when the supporters were let out of the convention center, the police tried to avoid any major confrontations by making them go out a back entrance all the way at the other end of the convention center. That worked a little bit. But the reality is a number of those supporters walked all the way around and came to confront supporters on this side of the street. And there were a number of violent collisions between supporters and between protesters.

Protesters, a handful of them here very much looking for a fight. They tried to break through a barricade at the convention center, clashing with police as police pushed them back. This is what we are seeing in city after city that Donald Trump visits, especially the cities that are so close to border towns, major cities as well across the country.

We are just 20 minutes, Chris, from the Mexican border. This is the closest he has come. You can see one woman ripping a Donald Trump sign.

This is the closest Donald Trump has been to the Mexican border since last August when he was in Laredo, Texas, trying to visit border patrol agents. As for this scene right here, the police are trying to disperse it, but these folks are just frankly refusing to leave -- Chris.

HAYES: All right. Katy Tur, thanks for giving us that.

We`re joined now from the site of the protest, MSNBC`s Jacob Rascon.

Jacob, Katy was talking about attempts to keep Trump supporters and protesters separated with mixed success.

JACOB RASCON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: That effort has failed, where we are now you can see this police line. As Katy said, a number of warnings about unlawful assembly, and since then, we`ve seen the police in full riot gear move in here on this side, on my left. Then, we`re going to swing over and I`m going to show you how the other group of police officers not in full riot gear are right here moving in on this other side. The only real exit is this way.

So, a lot of the protesters are leaving. But you have mixed in, look, "Make America Great Again" hats.

At first, the efforts seemed to be to separate the protesters from the Trump supporters. But then it just failed because some of the supporters went over to the protesters and vice verse. They started as Katy talked about fighting and throwing things one to another. This started as a peaceful protest as they usually do. A lot of organizations took part, preparing for days on Facebook, on Twitter.

But then they show up and once the rally is about over, they decide, those who organized, to leave. Those left over are those usually who are willing to be more violent. They wait around for the Trump supporters to leave, they engage the Trump supporters, the Trump supporters engage back, then you get the clash.

This has happened city after city. San Diego being one of the most prepared that we`ve seen. But they weren`t, I don`t think, ready for this -- Chris.

HAYES: All right. Jacob Rascon, thanks. We`ll continue to monitor as folks are escorted out through the phalanx of riot cops.

Trump is vowing to win that state of California where he held those rallies as part of a 15-state strategy he says will lead to victory in November.


TRUMP: What I`m going to do is I want to focus on 15 or so states, because we have to win. And I want my energy to be put into states where it could go either way. And we`re going to play heavy as an example in California. Now, no other Republican, they wouldn`t even go to dinner California, they wouldn`t do it.


HAYES: There`s a reason Republicans feel that way. President Obama won California by 23 points in 2012. The state hasn`t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since way back in 1988. Yet Trump is saying he`s confident.


TRUMP: I honestly think we`re getting these massive crowds all over the place. I actually think we`re going to win California. Plus I have property here. I have employees here.


HAYES: Trump is vowing to compete in deep blue New York, his home state, which hasn`t gone Republican if a presidential race since 1984, as well as Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Republicans also haven`t taken since 1988.

Trump`s view seems to be the traditional rules of politics don`t apply to him. You can see why he feels that way. Trump, of course, triumphed in the Republican primary despite little ground game and repeated predictions of his political demise because of his lack of organization.

But a general election is a different beast. If Trump wins, he will do so despite a campaign that seems utterly unprepared for the task ahead. Trump has a remarkably small campaign staff. For example, all the Clinton campaign, according to the "New York Times," has more than 12 people in its press team. Trump has just one. Trump has yet to hire campaign staff in the traditional battleground states and his campaign parted ways with its national political director, Rick Wiley, who had been tasked with hiring those staffers. He lasted six weeks.

For his national turnout organization, Trump says he`ll lean on the Republican National Committee.


TRUMP: You know, they build over years and years staffs in every state. You can`t do that or you can`t do it very well if you`re doing it all over the next few months. You can`t do that over a period of just a short while, because, you know, we have -- November`s coming up very rapidly. It`s going to be very soon.


HAYES: Already, state GOP officials say the party has not provided enough field organizers and will be badly outgunned by Democrats in battleground states.

Meanwhile, Trump is largely eschewing the sort of data operations essential to President Obama`s electoral success telling the "A.P.", quote, "I`ve always felt it was overrated. Obama got the votes more than his data processing machine."

On the fund-raising front, Trump is now trying to raise money through super PACs. But as "New York Times" reports, donors have received conflicting signals from top aides about which one to support.

Then, there`s the candidate himself. Trump seems to make decisions on the fly, based largely on his gut. Republicans interviewed by "The Times" described him as unpredictable, someone who can be swayed by the last person he talked to. When two "Times" reporters asked for comment on his management style, Trump responded, quote, "You two wouldn`t know how to write a good story about me. If you tried, dream on."

Just yesterday, Trump said he would debate Bernie Sanders if $10 million was donated to charity, even as his campaign was insisting at the same time that he didn`t really mean it.


TRUMP: I`d love to debate Bernie. He`s a dream. I think it would get very high ratings. It should be in a big arena somewhere. And we could have a lot of fun with it.


HAYES: Sanders said he was ready to go but today Trump said he was out, writing in a statement even though, quote, "It would be an easy payday," quote, "it seems inappropriate I would debate the second-place finisher."

Joining me now is Nick Confessore, political reporter for "The New York Times," and Democratic pollster and strategist, Cornell Belcher.

All right. Nick, you covered the world of campaign infrastructure, particularly on the money side. There was a period of time in which it seemed that, OK, we`re going to get now the traditional organization`s going to be built. And here`s my theory about what happened, your colleagues wrote about this today.

The polls bumped for him and I think he just said, I`m going to keep winging it the way that I have.

NICK CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, look, he has actually done pretty well so far without any of those pieces. Right?


CONFESSORE: He has defied all the rules of how you win a primary.

And the question is, can you really apply that kind of gut strategy of not having data, organization, or super PACs or a planned media operation, when you`re trying to reach the millions of swing voters? Really, it`s actually a very small electorate, and trying to reach them and get them out in the first place and vote for you.

HAYES: Cornell, this goes in some ways to the difference between who a primary electorate is and who a general electorate is. But at first blush, do you think it`s a feasible proposition to win a general election with essentially no state organization, no field organizers, no ground game, no actual modern campaign infrastructure?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER AND STRATEGIST: No, it`s madness, although most of this campaign`s been madness.

I got to tell you, Chris, I would a little remiss if I didn`t remark on just the images we`ve been seeing here. I mean, how do you build -- I work for Governor Dean, we put together a neighbor to neighbor program which helped us win in 2006.

How do you put together a neighbor and neighbor program if you`re on the Trump side right now when literally you have neighbors fighting each other? I`ve been in politics a long time. This sort of acidic, visceral, you know, disdain and fighting, Americans among Americans, take your Democrat/Republican hat off, my God, this is just unbelievable what`s happening in our country right now.

I joined a movement, you know, eight years ago that was about bringing people together, whether you agreed with him or not. But the idea was bringing people together to solve big problems of this country. And to watch how this has -- the clock has flipped back and sort of this cyclical change in just eight years. Chris, as an American, it`s frightening.

HAYES: Yes, I should say there`s images of what look to be sort of the beginning of confrontations between supporters and protesters as folks are sort of leaving that rally. An aerial shot, some folks coming in thankfully to mediate and break that up and get everybody moving in their direction.

And, of course, in some ways there`s a relationship between these two things. Which I honestly think is that the key to this campaign thus far has been called earn media. It`s 99 percent that and 1 percent anything else. There`s no pollsters, there`s no strategists, very little actual paid -- he hasn`t purchased very much advertising. There`s essentially a skeletal staff.

This is it. The spectacle is the campaign.

CONFESSORE: It cuts both ways. People remarked in the GOP that Trump basically stepped all over the Clinton e-mail report from this week, and basically got in the way of that having its full effect.

I would say, though, that the premise of modern political organization, when you pull back, because the politics is basically boring to most people and not something that they engage in very often. And you have to put in a ton of work to get them to engage.

The premise of the Trump campaign is that he is not boring. He gives you a reason to come out and participate. And that`s why I think it is an X factor. Celebrity candidates often attract these irregular voters, people who are unpredicted, whose way of thinking about politics is not regular and stratified.

HAYES: Right. That may be true but to get back to the fundamentals here, Cornell, there is no universe, I don`t think, in which Donald Trump is competitive or wins New York and California in which he doesn`t win -- I hear you laughing -- in which he doesn`t win essentially a 15-point Goldwater or Reagan-esque blowout, right?

BELCHER: Unless there`s something going on where they make it illegal for anyone of Hispanic or Latino descent to vote in California. There`s no way in hell he`s going to win California.

But he makes these broad statements. He`s going to -- you know, I hope Donald Trump and the Republican Party, they spend millions upon millions of dollars in California, in New York, because there`s a reason why the Republicans don`t spend money there, because it sucks all your money.

So, if you`re going to spend all this money in California, New York, I think Democrats will say, thank you. You`re spending less money in Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia.

HAYES: Although the way this campaign is going, it`s not clear any money`s being spent in any of these states. It`s not like he`s robbing Peter to pay Paul.

I want to play an interview Bernie Sanders just gave in California to Young Turks, Cenk Uygur, on whether he`s worried -- I think there are Democrats who are worried about Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, whether he`s worried. Take a listen.


CENK UYGUR, YOUNG TURKS: Are you worried that Hillary Clinton is going to lose to Donald Trump?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Am I worried? Am I worried -- what do you think I`m going crazy -- why do you think I`m running after over the state of California, doing three rallies a day? We`re going to have a letter going to superdelegates today and tomorrow as soon as I`m finished with it, making that point. Am I worried? I`m scared to death.


HAYES: That strikes me as the message he wants to bring, but also a genuine feeling on the part of Sanders. And there`s a not insignificant part of the sort of Democratic political class that is pretty nervous as well.

CONFESSORE: Look, I think we`ve gone -- I remember three weeks ago, you know, Cornell and I worked on a story together where I did a story on how could they pull it out. There were liberals on Twitter who would laugh and say, you`re just making up a story to keep this campaign going.

Now, flash forward. You have Democrats voicing this themselves saying, you know what? It`s not clear what`s going to happen. Hillary Clinton is running a very conventional -- good but very conventional campaign. We can`t predict what`s going to happen here.

HAYES: Cornell, when you get back to this good but conventional, when you talk about what the fundamentals are here and whether -- which ones Donald Trump can sort of turn over, I think the ones he can turn over are his margins among voters of color, those aren`t coming back, I don`t think, right? So, the place that he would have to sort of remake the playing table would be essentially with white voters.

CONFESSORE: And that`s a hard thing to do. I mean, no value judgment on it, but our electorate`s going to be even 2 percent browner this time around than it was when Barack Obama won a majority in it, back-to-back majority in it.

I just thought the math doesn`t work for him. This country is not getting older and whiter. When you look at even millennials, millennials are a larger proportion of the electorate in presidential on years than are seniors.

And, you know, our country is growing browner and younger. So, the math just doesn`t work. If I`m a Republican, frankly, if I`m a Republican I am very disturbed by what Donald Trump is doing to the brand, because long- term, you cannot win the future this way.

HAYES: As we look at these images, concluding thought here, Patrick Buchanan wrote a memo to Nixon about using culture war wedge issues, particularly sort of racially freighted language against the protesters, to use the division of 1968 in his favor. He said, "It`s a high-risk strategy that will cleave the country in two but I think we`ll get the bigger half." That`s the test case as we watch a high-risk strategy that is cleaving the country in two in front of our eyes. Who gets the bigger half?

Nick Confessore and Cornell Belcher, thank you both.

Still to come, as President Obama calls for a world without nuclear weapons while visiting Hiroshima tonight, a look it would be like if President Trump at his finger on the button.

But, first, the ALL IN Trump check live team rise again. We`ll separate the fact and fiction of Donald Trump`s California speeches in two minutes.



TRUMP: Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment, remember that. She wants to abolish it. And it`s disgraceful. You know, I watched her on television. And it`s really hard for me to watch her because honestly, it`s very boring, you know? It`s very boring.

But I watched her last night and she lies so much. She lies so much. She was saying last night so many things.

Donald Trump wants to see Japan get nuclear weapons. I never said that. Donald Trump wants to see Germany get nuclear weapons. He wants to see South Korea arm themselves. I didn`t say that.


HAYES: All right, that was a snippet. That was just 42 seconds of Donald Trump speaking today in Fresno, California. In those 42 seconds, as he`s claiming Hillary Clinton lies, Trump makes two points that are blatantly untrue -- one fundamentally false statement every 21 seconds.

First, Hillary Clinton has never called for the abolition of the Second Amendment. As Clinton herself has noted in a tweet, "You`re wrong @realdonaldtrump, we can uphold the Second Amendment while preventing senseless gun violence." In fact, there`s not a elected Democrat I know of calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment.

The other is about this own words. Trump claims Hillary Clinton is lying when she says he wants Japan and South Korea to develop their own nuclear arsenals. But just a couple of months ago when asked by "New York Times" explicitly, would you object if Japan and South Korea got their own nuclear arsenal, given the threat that they face from North Korea and China, Trump said, quote, these are his own words, "You may very well be better off if that`s the case."

And then he said this on camera.


TRUMP: You have so many countries already. China, Pakistan. You have so many countries. Russia. You have so many countries right now that have them.

Now, wouldn`t you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?


HAYES: Many political observers view lies by politicians inevitable, but Donald Trump is not really a politician. He`s making politicians look downright trustworthy.

Joining me now, Eric Boehlert, senior fellow at Media Matters.

To me, what has been the challenge -- that`s just 42 seconds. Put there`s just the complete casualness of the disregard for anything remotely factual.

ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIA MATTERS: Yes, I mean, there has been a complaint from the press that there`s sort of this avalanche of lies. We don`t -- how are we going to deal with this?

Usually, if we catch a nominee making one or two false statements a week, that`s a lot of news. We`re doing our job. How do you handle 18, 19 in a day, or something like that? So in the one sense, I`m sympathetic to that claim.

On the other sense, though, there has to be an overall coverage of treating him not seriously, of just making this point over and over, he as congenital serial liar. He`s not a normal politician, as you say. He`s not an entertainer. He`s just sort of a narcissist who can`t speak the truth for any length of time.

HAYES: But isn`t it the press` job to make that determination or is it the press` job just to individually do that thing like what we just did, it is not true?

BOEHLERT: So, a good example is he gave this joke climate change speech yesterday. A couple of weeks, he gave that joke foreign policy speech.

A lot of newsrooms felt like, OK, he`s the Republican nominee, we have to take this seriously, we have to do five, ten paragraphs regurgitating what he says, and then we`ll get some quotes from people who say they doesn`t know what he`s talking about.

HAYES: Right.

BOEHLERT: But that`s not --

HAYES: You think that model is poorly applied.

BOEHLERT: It does not apply. As we were talking earlier in the show, nothing applies to him. So why are we still pretending he`s Mitt Romney or John McCain or Bob Dole? You know, this is his policy statement?

It`s not a policy statement. It`s incoherent. It doesn`t make any sense. And Republicans in his own party, the foreign policy speech, they`re like, what is this?

So, I don`t think the old model applies and they should get rid of it. I don`t necessarily know exactly what they should do, but you can`t pretend someone is serious who is not serious for 90 seconds a day.

HAYES: He also said today, I think my favorite line today was that he`s in California, he`s in Fresno, which sort of capital of the central valley, which is the kind of big agricultural area. We were there last summer almost a year ago doing our week-long drought show. He said, there is no drought.

BOEHLERT: There is no drought. What do you do, right? So --

HAYES: Which is an article of faith among certain kinds of big agra farmers and right-wingers in California, I should note.

BOEHLERT: Yes, I would think that would be the headline in the "L.A. Times" tomorrow, "Trump: There is no Drought".

HAYES: Right.

BOEHLERT: So, if you live in California and you see that? It clicks. It speaks for itself. So, not Trump addresses conservation on the West Coast? No. It`s Trump: there is no drought. And take it from there.

HAYES: Then the question becomes, how do you -- this question of seriousness seems the problem, right? Because the press doesn`t unilaterally get to decide who is and is not serious. In some ways, the voters have decided that in the Republican Party.

BOEHLERT: They have.

HAYES: He is the major party nominee. You don`t get to say, Eric Boehlert, he`s not serious, or me. It`s -- serious is a deadly disease.

BOEHLERT: Right. So the claim would be, well, the liberal media`s going to write off any Republican candidate.

Look, we weren`t having this discussion when Romney was running.

HAYES: Right. It was about whether his math scanned out on his tax plan.

BOEHLERT: It was about whether a major party nominee cannot tell the truth for any given period of time, we`ve never seen that before. So, I think the press has to adjust its models and not say, he`s the Republican nominee, let`s pretend he`s serious even in the slightest. I mean, I know it`s hard to do but they get to get off the mark I think.

HAYES: Eric Boehlert, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

Is it possible to endorse a man you once called dangerous and a con man? Still ahead, a story of Senator Marco Rubio`s long, slow escalator ride into waiting arms of Donald Trump.


HAYES: Over of the course of Trump`s unorthodox candidacy for president, he`s developed an act for racking up some questionable endorsements. For example, he`s cornered the market on unsavory sports characters from Bobby Knight, the chair-throwing player-choking former basketball coach of Indiana University, who`s been out campaigning for Trump. To Mike Tyson, convicted rapist, endorsement welcomed by Trump. And there`s the notoriously anti-immigrant sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio. And early Trump backer, and, of course, former KKK leader David Duke whose endorsement Trump initially refused to disavow.

Well, this afternoon he got another questionable endorsement with America`s most hated pharmaceutical executive, Martin Shkreli, who`s been indicted on security fraud charges. Tweeting today "I haven`t been called by the Trump camp. I support him versus Hillary. He should find a V.P. candidate who`s seasoned in politics, an ugly game." He followed up saying, "All you people who don`t like Trump are jealous, stupid and poor. Don`t make me laugh. If you are employed by the media, you are worthless."

But Martin Shkreli aka pharma bro isn`t the only Trump backer to emerge this week. He was also joined by none other than Little Marco.


RUBIO: The Party of Lincoln and Reagan is on the verge of being taken over by a con artist named Donald Trump.


HAYES: Now, Marco Rubio went from that to saying he would vote for Trump, coming up next.


HAYES: One of the most interesting parts of watching Donald Trump take over the Republican Party has been observing the steady drip of his former critics and enemies falling in line. This week no different, Marco Rubio, one of Trump`s most ferocious primary opponents doing his very own public about-face saying that not only would he vote for Donald Trump, he would be honored to speak on his behalf if asked at the republican convention this summer.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: Yeah, I want to be helpful. I don`t want to be harmful, because I don`t want Hillary Clinton to be president.

Look, my policy differences with Donald Trump -- I spent 11 months talking about them. So I think they`re well understood.

That said, I don`t want Hillary Clinton to be president. If there`s something I can do to help that from happening and it`s helpful to the cause, I`d most certainly be honored to be considered for that.


HAYES: The Florida senator followed up by saying in Florida only two legitimate candidates on ballot in November. I won`t vote for Clinton and after years of asking people to vote I won`t abstain. Now, Marco Rubio`s decision to vote for Donald Trump and potentially speak on his behalf at the convention shouldn`t come as a surprise seeing that most of his party has done the same thing, but yet it sort of does, because Rubio didn`t just go after Donald Trump as the other Republicans in the primary did, he called him a con artist and unprepared for the presidency.

But he also went a step further laying out the profound consequences of Trump`s candidacy.

It`s an emotional press conference after clashes between protesters at one of Trump`s rallies in Chicago.


RUBIO: This is what happens when a leading presidential candidate goes around feeding into a narrative of anger and bitterness and frustration. Well, there are other people that are angry too. And if they speak out and say whatever they want the result is it all breaks down. It`s called chaos. It`s called anarchy. I mean, we`re going backwards here. This is a frightening, grotesque, and disturbing development in American politics.


HAYES: Rubio today was rather defensive about his about-face going on a long Twitter rant defending himself this afternoon focusing on a Philip Kline piece in The Washington Examiner about how Donald Trump has exposed Marco Rubio.

Rubio apparently not happy with the piece, tweeted, "funny piece by Philip Kline. Easy to be a keyboard cowboy. I actually ran and spent a year away from home trying to prevent the choice before us.

Joining me is that keyboard cowboy, Philip Kline, managing editor of The Washington Examiner who wrote the fantastic piece about Rubio`s change of heart.

Philip, what`s your thesis?

PHILIP KLINE, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, basically -- I mean, look, it`s politics. People often will end up backing people they ran against. I mean, we saw this, Bush famously called Reagan voodoo economics and became his VP. We saw this in `08 with Hillary Clinton and Obama.

but you can see from the clips that you played that we`re talking about something much more fundamental. And Rubio wasn`t just saying that he disagreed with Trump on taxes or on economic policy, he was saying that this is someone, he said at one point, a lunatic who shouldn`t have access to the nuclear codes, an erratic individual. He said he was a con artist and who is tearing the country apart at the seams through his exploiting and inflaming all of this angry rhetoric.

And Rubio was supposed to be this new face of the Republican Party. He was supposed to take conservatism, make it appealing to a broader electorate that didn`t typically vote Republican. He was supposed to raise the tone, be more tolerant and open to all sorts of people. Trump has moved everything in the opposite direction. So it`s sort of a fundamental rejection of everything that Rubio has stood for.

And now Rubio isn`t only saying, well, as bad and horrible as Trump is, Hillary Clinton would be even worse. I don`t trust her with the nuclear codes either. And I don`t trust her to appoint judges. He`s not even saying that or laying that out.


KLINE: He`s saying that he`d be honored to speak on the behalf of Donald Trump.

HAYES: What he`s saying is -- and this is what I think I find hard to watch about this is, what he`s saying is, I was lying before, or I am lying now, but I had to be lying at one point, right? Like either I have -- I think that we should elect someone who is a lunatic who shouldn`t be near the nuclear codes, or I was just saying that to get elected.

But there`s no way out when you say something like that, because that is a difference in kind from, i think he has a bad tax plan. I disagree with him on comprehensive immigration reform.

KLINE: Absolutely. And I think that particularly if you look at the high- minded tone of his rhetoric in criticizing Trump. And I think Ross Stallfit (ph) pointed out on Twitter that he kind of wanted the credit for his criticism of Trump at the time, and now he wants the credit for sort of rallying around the nominee against Hillary Clinton. And you kind of can`t have it both ways.

HAYES: Right.

Yeah, either still never Donald Trump gear I think being sold on that Marco Rubio website if I`m not mistaken. Phlip Kline, thanks for joining me. Appreciate it.

KLINE: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: Still to come, how President Obama`s visit to Hiroshima serves a stark reminder of the stakes of this presidential election. How Donald Trump would handle the job.

Plus, why these images are causing such a commotion. I`ll explain ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Palagonite. P-E-L-A-G-H-E-N-I-T-E. Palagonite.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Palagonite is spelled P-A-L-A-G-O-N-I-T-E.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. I`d like to thank my friends, family and my teachers.


HAYES: Classy way to go out, bro.

The annual Scripps National Spelling Bee ended yesterday and as predicted it was an emotional roller coaster through 39 grueling rounds of spelling. The spelling bee had it all. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and a roomful of pint-sized Cam Newtons practicing the fine art of dabbing.

There`s even a fan favorite and that was 6-year-old Akash Vukoti (ph), the youngest contestant in the bee. He was eliminated on the word a bacteriolytic -- should have had that one, buddy.

But a real cut-throat competition emerged as 11-year-old Nihar Janga and 13-year-old Jairam Hathwar battled it out on the bee stage, their rivalry best illustrated by this spine in which Jairam where he mis-spells the word Drahthaar, that`s a breed of dog, duh, and Nihar can be seen shaking his head in cold-blooded disapproval on the background. Nihar then claps at Jairam as he recuperates from the defeat.

Now, if you thought it was heated on stage, it got real heated on social media with the best clap-back of all-time from the national spelling bee`s own Twitter account. We`ll bring you that in 60 seconds.


HAYES: And so we return to the high drama of the national spelling bee. Our two rivals, Nihar and Jairam are battling this thing ow until the bitter end. But in the meantime, a whole lot of kids had to get eliminated. And when they misspelled a word they were ushered to a very spacious yet sensible-looking couch where a nice lady chatted with them, presumably about what just happened. This prompted one Twitter troll to snark, "unsure why the national spelling bee has a comfort couch. You bleeping lost, suck it up, quit teaching kids it`s okay to "loose."

That troll was met not only with ridicule online from the general public, it was also issued an official correction from the national spelling bee folks which noted it`s not "loose" but in fact "lose."

Back to Nihar and Jairam, both spellers were in it to win it. But after -- ook at that, just amount of focus on their faces. But after 39 rounds of competition, victory was declared for both participants.

Jairam spelling Feldenkreis, a trademark that refers to a system of body movement correctly, while Nihar stayed in the competition with Gesellschaft, a type of social relationship I guess. That`s what the internet said.

It was jubilant celebration after a draw was announced, the trophy presented, the victors were asked for their reaction.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you describe the roller coaster of emotions that these last minutes were?

JAIRAM HATHWAR: It was just insane. I mean, I don`t know how to put it in words.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you take us inside the mental approach and what`s going through your mind?

NIHAR JANGA: No, I`m just speechless. I can`t say anything. I mean, I`m only in fifth grade.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: A set of photos recently released are causing a stir. And at first it may not be immediately clear why, but here`s a context, these are American special operation forces in Syria just 30 miles outside of the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. And that patch on the shoulder you see on one of the U.S. special operators is the insignia of the Kurdish People`s Protection units, or YPG.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook has downplayed that aspect of it saying, quote, special operations forces when they operate in certain areas do what they can to, if you will, blend in with the community to enhance their own protection, their own security.

But the picture is a reminder as we head into this Memorial Day weekend that the Obama administration is currently engaged in fighting a war against ISIS, that includes U.S. armed forces very much on the ground fighting in an active war zone where they`re on the front lines of danger in Syria.

Here to explain what they`re doing, what it means, NBC News national security producer Courtney Kube.

Courtney, can you tell me why this caused such a stir when these photos were released by the AFP?

COURTNEY KUBE, NBC NEWS: So there were two reasons. You mentioned the patch, that obviously caused a bit of a stir. The Turks today expressed a lot of outrage about the fact that American special operations forces were wearing a patch of what they consider to be a terrorist organization.

But beyond that, it was this idea that we`ve been told all along since october of 2015 when the administration announced that they were sending U.S. troops into Syria, we were consistently told that they would be located at headquarters elements, or they would be behind the forward lines of troops.

This is now photographic evidence that they were far south, about 30, 35 miles north of Raqqa, but much further south than we had ever realized -- that the U.S. press corps ever realized they were. They were in a town called Fatisa (ph), which the same day that they were there had just been cleard of ISIS.

So, what that essentially means is that they were right there at the forward line of troops, right there at the forward line of Syrian democratic forces who are pushing south and pushing around Raqqa to clear it of ISIS.

HAYES: There`s also, to go back to the first thing you said, I mean, it`s been pretty clear that the U.S. has allied closely with the YPG. They have been probably -- arguably the most effective fighting force against ISIS. They have dealt ISIS some of their most significant losses. But of course the geopolitics of that are extremely, extremely loaded.

KUBE: Yeah, absolutely. So, the YPG is essentially the Syrian arm of -- a Syrian Kurdish group. There is a Kurdish group that the Turks -- that Turkey believes is called the PKK that Turkey believes is a terrorist organization and actually the U.S. considers as a terrorist organization as well.

Turkey sees the YPG as just the Syrian arm of the PKK -- I`m sorry with all these acronyms. But the U.S. does not see it that way. The U.S. sees them as two completely separate groups.

So, there`s this large group that exists in Syria right now, the Syrian Democratic Forces. Those are who the U.S. is really working with, the U.S. is allying with in the fight against ISIS. But the Syrian Democratic Forces are made up primarily of YPG.

So the whole notion that there`s the Syrian Democratic Forces that is fine for the international community, that the Turks don`t have a problem with, is just -- it`s insincere, it`s not true.

HAYES: The point being there`s an incredible thicket of cross-alliances and both sectarian and ethnic animus in the Syrian civil war, and it means something when the seen as being very closely allied to one specific group which is not an Arab group, which is not actually an Arab group, particularly in the midst of this very, very fraught civil war.

Courtney Kube, thank you for that explainer. I really appreciate it.

KUBE: thank you.

HAYES: Up next, a study in contrast, one president who wants to see a nuclear-free world and one ex-reality star who won`t rule out nuking Europe. Hey, that`s next.



OBAMA: The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well. We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell.


HAYES: President Barack Obama today with appropriately somber and thoughtful reflection became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima.

71 years after the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on the city, President Obama called for a world without nuclear weapons and laid a wreath at the Hiroshima peace memorial, a reminder of the weight that comes with being a nuclear superpower, which stands in fairly stark contrast with the current presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Hear his infamous college basketball coach and Trump endorser Bobby Knight saying that Trump would be a great president in part because he would be willing to drop a nuclear weapon, just like President Harry Truman.


BOBBY KNIGHT, FRM. INDIANA BASKETBALL COACH: And Harry Truman, with what he did in dropping -- in having the guts to drop the bomb in 1944, and here`s a man who would do the same thing because he`s going to become one of the four great presidents of the United States.


HAYES: Nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred in 1945, not `44.

Then there is Trump himself who has ruled -- who refused to rule out using nuclear weapons in the Middle East or even in Europe.


TRUMP: Look, nuclear should be off the table. But would there be a time when it could be used? Possibly.

CHRIS MATHEWS, MSNBC: The trouble when is you said that, the whole...

TRUMP: Possibly.

MATTHEWS: Can you tell the Middle East we`re not using a nuclear weapon?

TRUMP: I would never that. I would never take any of my cards off the table.

MATTHEWS: How about Europe? We won`t use it in Europe.

TRUMP: I`m not going to take it off the table.


HAYES: As for the idea of using American policy and leverage to encourage nonproliferation, Trump took a contrarian view, flouted the idea of -- floated the idea of more countries having nuclear weapons.


TRUMP: At some point, we have to say, you know what, we`re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea. We`re better off frankly if South Korea is going to start to protect itself. Wouldn`t you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons? And they do have them, they absolutely have them.

I would rather see Japan having some form of defense and maybe even offense against North Korea, because we`re not pulling the trigger.

During the Cold War it was understood in this country the biggest responsibility that hung over the American president was they could end life on this planet as we know it if they made the wrong decision.

That is still the case and Donald Trump is now one of two people who will have that power.

Joining me now, nuclear expert Matthew Bunn, professor of practice at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Professor, first, let`s talk of the significance of an American president visiting Hiroshima for the first time since we became the first and only country to deploy nuclear weapons.

MATTHEW BUNN, HARVARD: Well, I think it was very symbolically significant. It really sort of brought home the terrifying power of nuclear weapons and the fact that there are still thousands of these nuclear weapons in the world today, most of them much larger than the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima.

HAYES: There was obviously a period of time in this country in which nuclear weapons were at the forefront of our politics, the forefront of our political debates. The infamous daisy ad that LBJ ran against Goldwater saying the guy might annihilate the Earth. That has receded considerably with the demise of the Cold War.

But from your perspective, how front of mind should the threat of nuclear weapons and proliferation be?

DUNN: Well, it`s still a significant danger. People sort of thought that the nuclear threat went away when the cold war went away, but that`s not the case.

I think people need to be asking the presidential candidates what is your plan for reducing nuclear dangers? What`s your plan for keeping nukes out of the hands of ISIS or al Qaeda? What`s your plan for dealing with North Korea? What`s your plan for tamping down tensions with Russia so we don`t get into a potentially nuclear conflict there?

These are live issues that are still on the table today.

HAYES: I`ve been thinking a lot about sort of history and temperament, particularly the Cuban missile crisis. And there`s a bunch of amazing accounts of that.

But one of the things that comes across in most of those accounts is just how close we came. I mean, if someone else had been sitting in that room where John F. Kennedy was sitting, it is possible we would have fired nuclear weapons.

How close did we come? And how much does presidential judgment and temperament matter?

DUNN: presidential judgment is huge. Almost all of Kennedy`s advisers were advising him to launch air strikes and then an invasion of Cuba. We now know what they didn`t know at the time, which is that Soviet nuclear weapons were already there and that Castro was pushing to use them.

There was an incident where the U.S. Navy, unbeknownst to either the president or the secreatry of defense as part of implementing the blockade of Cuba was dropping depth charges on Soviet submarines, some of which are armed with nuclear weapons.

And on one of those subs, it was only of the officers on board who prevented the others from launching the nuclear weapons.

HAYES: And it was -- just to be clear, it was Kennedy essentially bucking his advisers in that moment who said go invade and, you know, essentially escalate in this moment, call their bluff. It was him bucking his advisers taht prevented what would have very likely been a nuclear cascade.

DUNN: That`s absolutely correct.

Kennedy kept pushing for another idea, another option, until one finally presented itself.

And in fact, if you look, there`s a terrific new book out by former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry called "My Life at the Nuclear Brink." And one of the moments that he recounts was he was one of the photo analysts getting the information to the president during the crisis about what was going on with those missile deployments in Cuba.

And he recounts one particular day when he went to the office convinced he would never leave alive.

HAYES: So how would you feel about President Trump?

DUNN: Well, I think all presidents are sobered once they take office and receive briefings about the power of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, and frankly the power of our adversaries` nuclear stockpiles. So I think there is a sobering effect, but frankly I would much rather have a president who doesn`t have the kind of cavalier attitude about nuclear weapons that Donald Trump appears to have.

To simply go out and go against decades of bipartisan policy about preventing allies and other countries from getting nuclear weapons does not make sense.

HAYES: Matthew Dunn, thank you very much for that.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts right now.