Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: October 4, 2016 Guest: A.J. Delgado, John Podesta, John Harwood, Betsy Woodruff, Mark Warner, McKay Coppins, Sabrina Siddiqui, Charlie Pierce
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: That`s all we have for tonight. Stay with MSNBC for full coverage leading up to the live telecast of the one and only vice presidential debate at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, followed by post-debate analysis from our team, Chris Hayes, who is always in the twilight of the elites, takes over right now.
Mr. Hayes, it`s all yours.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening from Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, site of the one and only vice presidential debate of the 2016 cycle, which kicks off here, just three hours from now.
I`m Chris Hayes with a lot of very excited lanterns behind me. In just the past hour, both Donald Trump at a rally in Arizona, and Hillary Clinton speaking to reporters in Pennsylvania, weighed in on tonight`s debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m very confident and excited about Tim Kaine in the debate tonight because he understands what`s at stake in the election. He knows what our policies are. He is ready to go toe-to-toe with Mike Pence, on all the issues that matter to Americans.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The debate will be a contrast between our campaign of big ideas and bold solutions for tomorrow, versus the small and petty Clinton campaign that is totally stuck in the past.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Tonight offers Trump`s campaign the chance to alter the trajectory of a presidential race that for Trump has been going very much in the wrong direction since last Monday`s disastrous debate.
Three new polls out of Pennsylvania, a crucial state for Trump, suggests Clinton has built a big lead there. One poll showing her up by 12 points. A slew of new post-debate polls show Clinton opening up a lead of about five to six points nationwide, in a head-to-head matchup.
Clinton`s running mate, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, will seek tonight to both defend a running mate he largely agrees with on the issues and to act like Clinton in casting Trump as fundamentally unfit to serve as president.
Trump`s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, would seem to face a bit of a tougher task. In addition to potentially having to defend his own far-right record on issues like gay rights, Pence will likely be pressed to justify the shocking behavior by his running mate, such as body shaming a former Miss Universe winner, attacking a Gold Star family, plus he may -- need to explain away policy differences he`s had with Trump in issues -- trade deals and the proposed Muslim ban.
Here`s Joe Biden today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t know if he really thinks a lot of what Trump is saying makes any sense. What a hell of a way to make a living, to be vice president and have to get up every morning and support someone you don`t agree with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And joining me now, A.J. Delgado, senior adviser to the Trump campaign.
A.J., what I think is interesting about tonight is that Mike Pence in many ways represents a part of the Republican Party is a kind of pre-Trump part of the Republican Party. He voted for NAFTA, he voted for the Iraq war. He is a guy who embodies this sort of consensus set of ideology that Donald Trump in a lot of ways has thrown out the window.
Do you think we`re going to see him talk about the sort of Mike Pencism or Donald Trumpism?
A.J. DELGADO, SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, I think it`s important to show that this is obviously a yin and yang ticket, in some ways. And that`s what made it so great. Yes, Mike Pence has a different position on the Iraq war than Donald Trump did. And this ticket was all about unity. So that`s a good thing.
As far as the Iraq war goes, though, I`d love to see that discussion happen tonight. Because it`s something we didn`t get into in the last debate, and that`s before -- Hillary was a cheerleader for that war, Chris. She advocated for it on the floor of the Senate. I wonder if folks remember that.
DELGADO: And it`s a stain on her record. So he should bring that up.
HAYES: So here`s my question. Particularly on social issues, this is -- it`s been sort of amazing to me. So I sat in Cleveland, you were there in Cleveland, and I watched Donald Trump deliver an acceptance speech before the RNC in which he did not mention abortion. He did not use the phrase "sanctity of life." That`s something that Mike Pence is a huge believer in. He led the attacks on Planned Parenthood funding.
Do you think we`ll see stuff on gay rights, Obergefell was wrongly decided, abortion, redefining rape legislation? Is all that going to be on the table tonight?
DELGADO: Probably not, because how much of that is controlled by a VP or even a president? That`s mostly -- it`s become in a large part a Supreme Court issue. So I don`t think we should see a focus on that tonight. I`d love to see more of a focus on the Clinton Foundation, on e-mails. I`d love to see Tim Kaine --
HAYES: Well, I -- I know what you would love to see focused on.
DELGADO: No, Chris, everybody is saying, how will Mike Pence defend Donald Trump?
HAYES: Wait a second.
DELGADO: How on earth will Tim Kaine defend Hillary Clinton?
HAYES: I`m not --
DELGADO: I would not want that job.
HAYES: I`m not talking about defense because I am quoting Donald Trump who said, I want, you know, big, bold solutions to the future, right? So when we`re talking about issues, right, there`s a whole set of issues that revolve around things like women`s right to choose, women`s health, marriage equality. Those are big issues in this country.
DELGADO: Usually decided by courts.
HAYES: Right, exactly. But I`m curious, I mean, look, there`s a -- there`s a seat being held open on the Supreme Court for Donald Trump to choose, right?
HAYES: Those issues did not get a lot of play either in the convention at the RNC. They didn`t get a lot of play in the debate. Mike Pence is someone who comes from that part of the coalition. Are we going to hear him talk about that?
DELGADO: I would rather hear him talk about the number one issue, which is jobs and the economy. Mike Pence, what`s his record on jobs? He took unemployment in his state from 8.4 to about 4.8. What`s Tim Kaine`s record?
DELGADO: On job creation?
HAYES: Well --
DELGADO: What`s Hillary Clinton`s other than creating jobs in the government and the FBI?
HAYES: By the way, I love this argument because I`ve sat in the RNC and I watched Republican governor after Republican governor get up and say two things, boy, the Obama economy is an absolute nightmare. In my state, things are going very well. You add up enough of those states, you get a whole country, right?
HAYES: I mean, the fact of the matter is, Mike Pence has overseen a decline in unemployment in the state of Indiana that`s more or less in line with the national decline, right? So it can`t be both.
DELGADO: I think it`s lovely that the folks here, everything seems to be going so well for you guys. If you don`t want change, by all means, vote Clinton-Kaine. If you are suffering, like the people in my community and we do want change, we`re voting for Trump and Pence.
HAYES: That`s the other thing I think will be -- I think will be really interesting.
HAYES: Donald Trump had this argument -- Donald Trump had this argument in the first debate, and I thought it was sort of politically effective, right? So his whole thing was, look, Hillary Clinton`s been there for 30 years and I haven`t and that the system`s broken. Right?
HAYES: But Mike Pence isn`t a very credible messenger on that. I mean, the guy served in Congress multiple terms, he`s been a governor, he is sort of part of the establishment for lack of a better word. It seems to me harder for him to make the argument that we`ve had basically two decades of failed policy when he`s been implicated in that.
DELGADO: Well, for instance, the V.A. scandal with Hillary Clinton, when that was happening.
DELGADO: When there were folks refusing to obtain treatment --
HAYES: Wait, did she run the V.A.?
DELGADO: She was in -- was she not in the Senate? Is that not a federal issue?
HAYES: No. No, she was -- the most recent V.A. scandal?
DELGADO: Was Hillary Clinton -- not when the scandal --
DELGADO: No, no, no, not when the scandal broke.
DELGADO: When people were undergoing a failure of care, that has been going on for at least a decade, Chris, if not longer.
HAYES: Right. Right, but Mike --
DELGADO: Hillary Clinton was at the Senate. There were complaints put forth.
HAYES: Sure. That`s precisely my point.
DELGADO: But the Senate did nothing.
HAYES: Sure. Well, that`s not true actually.
DELGADO: What did she do?
HAYES: She`s been quite active on the V.A.
DELGADO: What did she do? Name one thing.
HAYES: She sponsored a number of pieces of amendments and legislation on V.A.
DELGADO: Sponsor -- what did she do?
HAYES: Let me ask you this.
DELGADO: So no results on the V.A. Got it. OK.
HAYES: No, no, but -- isn`t the same problem with Mike Pence? Right? Because he`s sitting in Congress during the same time.
DELGADO: Was he -- OK.
HAYES: So if you say the V.A. is broken, and you say, look, this is an institutional failure by everyone. It`s an institutional failure by everyone in the Senate and everyone in the Congress. The problem is, that seems to be the catch-up a whole lot of people other than just Hillary Clinton.
DELGADO: Right. And is Mike Pence running for president? He`s running for VP.
HAYES: Well, he might be president.
DELGADO: OK. Well --
DELGADO: He`s not on the ticket as president.
HAYES: I mean, that`s the point. Right, right. So you think that -- you expect to see Mike Pence hammer this change versus more of the same outside, anti-establishment --
DELGADO: Jobs, the economy, Tim Kaine has no record on that.
HAYES: Despite what he`s been doing?
DELGADO: Hillary Clinton has no record on that other than enriching herself for special interests.
HAYES: What? But what do you mean no record?
DELGADO: What is Hillary Clinton`s record on job creation?
HAYES: She was in the Senate.
DELGADO: On economic issues. What jobs does that create, Chris?
HAYES: But that`s true of everyone. If no jobs were created by senators - -
DELGADO: Mike Pence has created thousands of jobs.
HAYES: OK. All right.
DELGADO: Mike Pence slashed the unemployment record.
HAYES: OK, A.J. Delgado.
DELGADO: Come on. This is an obvious choice.
HAYES: Thank you for your time. I appreciate it.
DELGADO: Thank you, as always.
HAYES: Joining me now, John Podesta, chair of Hillary for America campaign.
John Podesta, I`ll ask you A.J.`s question. What is Hillary Clinton`s record on jobs and the economy?
JOHN PODESTA, CHAIR, HILLARY FOR AMERICA CAMPAIGN: Look, she was a very effective senator in New York. She had to take on the challenge of rebuilding the city of New York and the economy of New York after 9/11. She was -- she did a tremendous job working across the aisle with both Republicans and Democrats, to make sure that New York was rebuilt and the city was once again able to thrive.
And I think that what -- look, there`s going to be change come January 20th. The question is what kind of change. What Donald Trump and Mike Pence are promising is to go back to the failed policies, big tax cuts for the wealthy, instead of focusing on building an economy that works for everyone. Making the right investments in infrastructure and advanced manufacturing that Hillary and Tim have proposed.
So I think if you want to talk about change, we`re happy to talk about it. It`s the kind of change we`re going to have. Are we going to go back to the failed policies of trickle down or are we going to go forward and make the right investment for the country?
HAYES: So there was a little news made by former president Bill Clinton on health care. He said something about -- basically he was talking about a sort of strata of people that are in the new Obamacare market places that make too much money to qualify for the subsidies, who are getting squeezed. And I think that`s something that`s broadly recognized across the aisle.
Hillary Clinton came out and spoke a little bit about the need to fix that. That strikes me as one of the sort of core issues here, right? Which is, is there any appetite to fix Obamacare in the Republican Party if everyone acknowledges there are things that need to be fixed?
PODESTA: Well, clearly there are things that do need to be fixed, but we can`t do what Donald Trump wants to do, which is strip away all the progress, throw 20 million people out of their health insurance, end the restrictions on insurance companies from denying you coverage, if you have a pre-existing condition, and the protection that means that women can`t be discriminated against.
That`s what Donald Trump wants to do. What Hillary wants to do is move forward, give small businesses tax credits, so that they could more easily provide coverage to their employees. She wants to make sure out-of-pocket costs are controlled with the tax credits. She wants to lower the cost of prescription drugs and take on the prescription drug industry.
What Donald Trump wants to do is go right back to a system which puts everything in control of the insurance companies and the drug companies. And I think that, you know, that`s a big difference between the two of them. And that`s what the president was talking about. We need to make changes, positive changes, and I think that she`s demonstrated her ability to work across the aisle to get stuff done.
HAYES: Well, so here`s a question about tonight. You`ve got the one and only VP debate. And there`s two ways I could see this debate going in terms of how the participants engineer it. One is a debate that`s fundamentally about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump despite the fact they`re not in the room. And the other is about the vision of the Republican Party in 2016 versus the vision of the Democratic Party as a whole.
There are a lot more people other than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the ballot up and down the ticket. Which of those two do you think we`ll see?
PODESTA: Well, look, I know what Tim Kaine wants to do, which is he`s coming in to argue the case that we`re stronger together, that we can build an economy that works for everyone.
We`re in an historic place in Farmville, Virginia, which was the heart of some of the struggle for civil rights in the state, in the Commonwealth of Virginia. And I think he wants to, you know, again, restore that sense of inclusion, expand the circle of opportunity, that`s what he`s going to argue for. That`s what Hillary`s been arguing for. But he`ll also draw a sharp contrast with the division, the bigotry, the kind of campaign that Donald Trump has run.
You know, he said wants a campaign of big ideas. He`s really run a campaign of big insults. And I think there will be contrast but I think what Tim wants to do is talk about what kind of future Democrats want to build, what kind of future the Clinton-Kaine ticket wants to build, so that we bring our country together, not keep working on this politics of division, bigotry, and hate.
HAYES: All right. John Podesta with the depth hometown pander, thanks for being with me. I appreciate it.
PODESTA: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Joining me now, John Harwood who covers national politics for CNBC and the "New York Times" and Betsy Woodruff, politics reporter at the "Daily Beast."
Same question for you, guys. So there`s -- you know, I went back and I read the transcript of the 1960 debate while I was preparing for the presidential debate. And what was so striking about it was how much it was kind of a vision of the Republican Party stands for this, the Democratic Party stands for this, particularly Jack Kennedy, because he was young, was saying, look, I`m an inheritor of Roosevelt and Truman, this is what our party stands for.
Much less of that in the first presidential debate partly because of the kind of personality of Donald Trump and how singular he is. Do you see -- think we will see a more generic R versus generic D debate tonight with two individuals who are much closer to generic R and generic D?
BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICS REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: I think it`s tough for Pence to make the generic R case because the immediate follow-ups are always, oh, you`re a generic R, which is why you supported NAFTA, that`s a little awkward. You`re a generic R which is why you backed the war in Iraq? That`s also uncomfortable. I think it`s much more likely that we see Pence go on offense, and focusing on Hillary Clinton, rather than trying to give a vision of the Republican Party as a historical entity. Because Trump has changed that party so much, that reaching back through -- you know, through the ages doesn`t give him a lot to work with.
HAYES: Although on the other side it seems to me that there is ground for Kaine to make case. Right? I mean, particularly when you look at the Senate map, when you look at the fact that there`s a real -- there`s a real gap that`s opened up in a lot of these states between how Trump is performing and how senator R`s are performing. The Democrats still need to make a case out of a whole for what a kind of their broad cohort of governing would look like.
JOHN HARWOOD, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, CNBC: Well, they need -- Tim Kaine needs to tie Mike Pence to the stances on which he`s unpopular, that is to say, gay rights, the Indiana law, the Planned Parenthood cuts, abortion, but also the things that Donald Trump has done that make him so outrageous to so many people. So he`s got to do it at both levels.
I agree with Betsy, it`s difficult to make a generation R case, but I do think that Republicans will be calmed by simply seeing a competent prosecution of the -- mainstream Republican argument against Tim Kaine and Hillary Clinton.
HAYES: Right. I mean, that -- that is definitely, I think, what Republican viewers are looking for. People have had a little bit of the analogy of the last cycle when President Obama had what was, I think, nearly universally seen as a poor debate performance and Joe Biden came out and gave a good one.
There was no sort of cataclysmic event, but it was reassuring, I think, to a lot of Democrats who were in panic mode back in 2012. There`s some of that I think that you can see tonight.
WOODRUFF: I think without a doubt. I think another thing is it`s going to be interesting to see if Pence manages to lob a really hard hit directive at Kaine.
WOODRUFF: Right? Because Republicans are focusing much more on Hillary Clinton, but I talked to some college students who are Trump supporters before this hit, and what they said was they really wanted to see Pence completely obliterate Kaine. That`s what they were hoping for. But it`s funny, too, because --
HARDWOOD: That`s preposterous.
HAYES: That`s fool`s gold.
HARDWOOD: How could they possibly --
HAYES: That`s fool`s gold.
But here`s the funny thing about Kaine, too, right? In a lot of my reporting, I`ve reached out to Republicans who worked with Kaine when he was governor and they were in the legislature and I asked them, what do you think about this guy? How`s your relationship with him been? Any standouts? And I`ve been surprised how many of these folks I`ve talked to have said, super nice guy.
WOODRUFF: He was great, he was great to work with, really friendly and affable. I`m confident if you ask the Democrats in Indiana the same question about Pence, you would not get a lot of super cool dude.
HAYES: Right. Yes.
WOODRUFF: I don`t think that`s going to come through.
HARDWOOD: How many elections has Tim Kaine lost in Virginia?
HAYES: Right. That`s the other thing. I mean, he`s --
WOODRUFF: Goose eggs, right?
HAYES: He sort of knows -- he knows what he`s doing there. And I think -- I think you`re right that obliterating Mike Pence or Tim Kaine is sort of beside the point, right? I mean, there is also, though, the case that, you know, you do have two individuals, one 69, one 70, who are relatively advanced in years in terms of running for presidency. You also have some of the reporting that at one point Kasich was offered the vice presidency with the portfolio of foreign and domestic policy, which we should say the Trump campaign denied.
I mean, particularly on the Trump side, it does seem to me, that someone who had zero public service or governing experience, that could be a -- it could be a Cheney-esque level of power seated in Mike Pence.
HARDWOOD: Well, I do think that Tim Kaine is more important to Donald Trump in that way than -- excuse me, Mike Pence is more important to Donald Trump in that way than Tim Kaine is to Hillary Clinton.
HARDWOOD: And one of the things that is a Democratic objective in this debate is for Tim Kaine to not let Mike Pence be seen as a comforting option for people who are wavering, looking at the ticket, and saying, well, I don`t care for Trump, he`s a little overboard, but Tim -- Mike Pence will straighten it out. They want to prevent that from happening.
HAYES: All right. John Harwood and Betsy Woodruff, thank you both for your time. Appreciate it.
Up next, Virginia Senator Mark Warner on what we can expect from Senator Tim Kaine, plus a refresher on Mike Pence and that time Trump tried to change his VP pick at the last minute. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know for a lot of you, this might be the first time you`re hearing me speak, and hey, let me be honest, for many of you, this is the first time you`ve even heard my name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Senator Tim Kaine when Clinton announced him for VP. Kaine has embraced the role of attack dog for Clinton, also brought a strong resume to complement the ticket. A former missionary in the Honduras, he speaks fluent Spanish, which she`s highlighted on the trail. He`s attended a predominantly black church for 30 years, was a one-time civil rights defense attorney who defended death row inmates pro bono, and he`s been mayor of Richmond, governor of Virginia, and now U.S. senator, representing the state, one of only 20 people in American history to hold all three public offices.
Joining me now is Democrat Mark Warner, the senior senator of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Well, Chris, you left out one very important job. He was lieutenant governor when I was governor.
HAYES: He was lieutenant governor. He was your lieutenant governor.
WARNER: He was my lieutenant governor.
HAYES: The two of you were actually -- the two of you were quite, quite close.
WARNER: We are. Our families are close. We actually met each other in law school, not at the library. And we are -- we connected back in the early `90s. We both have settled in Virginia, and our political futures had been interconnected, but there`s just nobody I know in politics that is a more decent human being. And you know, in the age of political teardown and personal political attack, Tim Kaine is a decent guy who is well respected by everybody who works with him, regardless of where they stand on the partisan aisle.
HAYES: You know, I want to talk a little bit about the politics here in Virginia. It is somewhat remarkable that you`ve got a Democratic governor now in Virginia. You`ve got two Democratic senators. You`ve got a state that is more likely -- been carried by the Democrat twice, more likely to be carried three times than even the state of Ohio, right? Sort of classic battleground state. Take me through what`s happening. Is it just demographics?
WARNER: It`s not just demographics. Back in 2001 when Tim and I ran, I ran for governor, Tim for lieutenant governor.
HAYES: Yes. And you had a heavy lift.
WARNER: And all five statewide elected officials were Republican. Our state was as red as Idaho in terms of voting in presidential years.
WARNER: What we showed was that Democrats could be fiscally responsible and socially progressive. And we took a state that at that point that was in huge financial mess and we turned it around. At the end of my term, we were named best managed state, best state for business, and best state for a public education in the whole 50 states. All independently ranked.
Tim continued that, and then you`ve seen that after an interlude with a Republican governor, with Terry McAuliffe now, and I think we are very much a state of where the Democrats --
HAYES: So your argument -- you want to make the argument that it isn`t just the growth of the D.C. suburbs in northern Virginia and the changing demographics. You think Democratic governance is part of what it is.
WARNER: I think the fact that we ended up with a -- we started -- when I started with a $6 billion shortfall and when Tim took over, we had a $1 billion surplus, people actually do care about facts.
HAYES: So let me ask you this, too, because tonight we`ve got an interesting debate. You`ve got Mike Pence and you`ve got Tim Kaine. Both of them, I think, would be characterized as people who are -- tend to be pro-trade and pro-trade deals. You`ve seen at the top of the ticket, both opposition to TPP by both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders was the last person standing in the Democratic primary. You`re a pro-trade Democrat, you`re a pro-TPP Democrat. Has your side lost the argument?
WARNER: Listen, I think that anyone who advocates trade, and I believe, still, that when we`re trading with Asia, we ought to be setting the rules rather than China. We need to acknowledge that there have been winners and there have been losers in trade. And we as a nation, back to all the previous trade deals, has not -- have not done enough to help those communities and individuals that have been hurt by trade.
Candidly, if we believe our own language about trade that is going to add $1 trillion to the economy over the next 10 years, TPP for example, we ought to be able to do more than frankly a failed trade assistance act program that sits on $5 billion.
HAYES: But isn`t this -- I feel like I`ve heard this discussion since NAFTA. I`ll throw some TAA at you. It hasn`t worked.
WARNER: It hasn`t worked. And we need -- it needs to be rethought.
WARNER: We need to think about those companies that are going to be winners. They ought to have their supply of jobs in communities that have been left behind.
WARNER: You think about the communities 30 miles, 40 miles south of here. When you go to Danville and Martinsville, communities that were textile and furniture, a lot of those jobs went to Mexico, then they went to China, then they -- or they`ve been eliminated by automation.
WARNER: But many of those communities are still challenged. And both sides, both political parties, have done a disservice in not helping communities that have been left behind.
HAYES: Well, I look very forward to see what happens in this lame duck session with TPP, whoever is elected. It should be very interesting.
Senator Mark Warner, a real pleasure to have you here on set.
WARNER: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. Much more coverage ahead live from Longwood University as we prepare for the two vice presidential candidates to take the stage for their only debate in this election. A reminder of the rocky road Donald Trump took on the way to picking up Mike Pence.
And next, Steve Schmidt and James Carville, where we stand heading into tonight`s big debate.
HAYES: Election Day is just 35 days away. The race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is back to looking a lot like it did prior to the weekend. Clinton had to leave the 9/11 memorial due to poor health. Her polling took a noticeable and appreciable hit.
Current polling averages have her nearly four points ahead of Donald Trump in both a two-way race and in a four-way race when alternative candidates are included. The question now is whether there is still potential volatility in this race.
Joining me now, Democratic strategist and MSNBC political analyst, James Carville, Republican strategist and MSNBC political analyst, Steve Schmidt.
And James, let me begin with you. The big question here is, has the race been volatile or has it been relatively stable with the exception of those two weeks that were pretty bad for Hillary Clinton and can it still turn around in that way? There`s this sort of school of thought from Plouffe and Pfeifer and a lot of the Obama people that it actually is pretty stable. There was nothing to worry about in that period and then there`s the kind of panic caucus in the Democratic Party. Which side are you on?
JAMES CARVILLE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: My head is on the Plouffe side. My heart is on the panic side. You know, and everybody in politics, you know, panics at one point or another. But look, honestly, we did see the race tightened, you know, before the first debate. And our guess is if it happened before, you worry that well, maybe this could happen again.
I have thought consistently that the Democrats were going to win this cycle, and I still think that. But I`ve been wrong before. So the consequences of being wrong here are pretty dramatic. So I`m going to be nervous all the way to the election.
HAYES: Steve, you know, one of the sort of recurring stories here so far has been about the ground operation, field game, the fact that the Trump campaign itself doesn`t have much of one. Most of it`s being carried by the RNC. It`s something that Democrats have done a very good job of getting very good at the last two cycles.
From where you sit, having done this, you know, looking at vote totals in counties, coming up with vote targets, how much of an advantage do you think that gives the Democrats here?
STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s an enormous advantage for the Democrats. And but for the RNC, the Trump operation would have no ground game at all. It doesn`t do any of the things that a normal political campaign does that we`ve grown accustomed to in these presidential campaigns. So when you`re looking at a race that`s, you know, three, four points national averages have Secretary Clinton ahead, Donald Trump has his work cut out for him.
We`re right about to start early voting in a number of key states and the Democratic advantage is one that will benefit Hillary Clinton over the next 30 days.
HAYES: Steve, what do you think? Is there anything that can happen tonight to fundamentally alter the trajectory of the race or is Sunday the sort of next opportunity for that?
SCHMIDT: No, look, I think this will be the least consequential vice presidential debate of a generation. You had questions about Sarah Palin - -
HAYES: Thanks for that. Stay tuned, everyone.
SCHMIDT: -- and about Dan Quayle about whether they were able -- up to the task. You had the first woman on a ticket with Geraldine Ferraro. You had bad performances by President Bush, by President Obama, where vice presidential candidates Biden and Cheney stopped the bleeding.
Tonight, this race is dominated, not by the undercard, but by the two candidates at the top of the ticket. It`s specifically by Donald Trump who has just been in a meltdown mode since the last debate and so I`m here to see Mike Pence tonight with the unenviable task of explaining to the country why it`s OK for a prospective commander-in-chief to be hate tweeting at 3:00 in the morning, 4:00 in the morning, 5:00 in the morning at a Miss Universe that he`s literally so upset that he can`t sleep at night, and is up doing what he`s doing at 3:00 in the morning.
And I think Mike Pence is going to have to explain some of that to America tonight.
HAYES: Yes, I think that`s probably true.
And James, I also wonder to the degree to which -- I mean, we saw this, like, you know, people talked about the trap that was sprung with Alicia Machado and the obvious effort that had gone into setting that trap, Donald Trump walking into it, and then sort of wriggling around in the trap for a week. You know, it strikes me there`s opportunities for that here as well, not that Mike Pence will take the bait, but that Tim Kaine can try to create moments that Trump will fly off the handle about when the debate is over.
CARVILLE: I think so and I think to Steve`s point, I think Tim Kaine`s job was to keep the meltdown going, and I think that Pence is going to try to freeze the meltdown in place that`s going on.
And I agree with Steve. You know, the undercard here is not -- with Donald Trump in the race, everything revolves around him. And I think for Tim Kaine and Secretary Clinton, that`s fine. I think they`re delighted to have this continue in front of people. Who wants to stop it?
HAYES: Steve, it does -- it does strike me, though, that there was a lot of hope way back, sort of after the conventions, particularly during Khizr Khan, there was a lot of hope by Democrats there would be long coattails. And that -- you know, they were going to take the Senate. A lot of their candidates have underperformed, particularly if you look at Ohio and Florida right now. The Senate really does hang in the balance.
What do you think is the most important thing for Pence to do or for Trump to do, to help the Republican ticket?
SCHMIDT: Look, I -- there`s no help that they can give the Republican ticket. All around the country, you know, today, candidates` campaigns are getting bad numbers back. And I think you`ll start to see this play out in the public polling over the next 48 to 72 hours. But Republicans in these Senate campaigns are deeply worried. They see their positions are treading. I think very soon you will see Republicans making a divided government argument that, look, Hillary Clinton`s going to be elected president. You`ve got to put us in there to keep an eye on her. And I think you`re going to start to see that happen -- you start to see that happen pretty soon here.
HAYES: That -- you know, that`s a really interesting point because there seems like there`s -- if you look at sort of how these state races move in tandem with the national polling at the top between Trump and Clinton, there is a sort of breaking point, right? So we`ve seen the kind of negative gravity start to pull on, say, an Ayotte, if Clinton`s up by eight points, but she can survive a four-point win. So you think if that -- if that gap widens and continues to widen, you really do start to see that down-ballot pressure?
SCHMIDT: Yes, look, and I think the other thing that`s really bothering Republicans out there, you know, certainly running for office, is that if Secretary Clinton went into that debate, deliberately, purposefully set to provoke Donald Trump and he responded at every turn.
She was like a cat toying with a mouse, and when you`re watching this -- when you`re watching this play out, he just -- the inability to show any level of restraint, the inability to not chase the ball.
I mean, temperamentally, I have a Labrador retriever, when I hold a tennis ball up for him he gets this crazed look in his eye. You throw the ball, he brings it back, he`ll do it a thousand times. And that`s what you saw play out in that debate. On issue after issue, she throws it out there and he brings it back.
HAYES: Tim Kaine showing up to sit at the desk tonight with a bucket of tennis balls that`ll be chucking across the stage.
James Carville and Steve Schmidt, thank you for your time, appreciate it.
Still ahead, before Mike Pence takes the stage, a reminder of the truly bizarre series of events that led to him becoming Trump`s VP pick. That`s just after this debate. Don`t go anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Governor Pence, under tremendous pressure from establishment people, endorsed somebody else, but it was more of an endorsement for me. It was the single greatest non-endorsement I`ve ever had in my life, OK. I will take it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Flashback to a warm week in July just before the Republican convention when the entire political world was focused on a single question, who will Donald Trump pick as his running mate?
By July 13th on Wednesday, Trump had narrowed the list down to three people. Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, who had endorsed Ted Cruz in his state`s primary.
After getting stuck in Indiana due to a flat tire on his plane, Trump declared on the 13th the end was in sight. "I will be making the announcement of my vice presidential pick on Friday at 11:00 a.m. in Manhattan. Details to follow."
The very next day, still about 24 hours before the announcement, there was a leak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: We`re back on the air with a development in campaign 2016. NBC News has learned that Donald Trump will announce that Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, will be his vice presidential running mate. That announcement expected to happen officially at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time tomorrow in New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: After the news went public, Trump appeared to back off his decision, telling FOX News it wasn`t, quote, "final, final." By evening, he decided to postpone the announcement altogether, citing a horrific attack that had just taken in Nice, France where a truck barreled through crowds celebrating Bastille Day and killed dozens of people.
By early Friday morning, Trump seemed to have changed his mind again. And he went ahead and made the announcement on Twitter. Quote, "I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my vice presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 a.m." That`s when the campaign unveiled its brand new, rather suggestive logo, which would ultimately prove short-lived.
Even after Trump made his choice, reports emerged about his cold feet the night before, still trying to get out of choosing Pence even after it went public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY O`DONNELL: My reporting says that even last night, when Donald Trump was in California, he was making some phone calls to try to assess if he was locked into the Pence choice or if he could make a change.
No disrespect to Pence, likes him, believes in him, but did not think that he was certain yet that it was the best choice for him, really coming down to that whole issue of the Trump brand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: According to "The New York Times," Trump even fielded a last-ditch appeal from Chris Christie, who once again pressed his own case. Nevertheless, the Pence pick stuck and Trump`s big announcement event the following day proved to be just as bizarre as the rest of the process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They want the wall. They want the borders. They want these things to happen. I want to thank the evangelicals because without the evangelicals I could not have won this nomination. I have a friend who`s a great builder. What he builds is plants. That`s all he does is build plants.
I won the right to have the old post office building on Pennsylvania Avenue right near the White House. While she got away with murder, in fact, I think it might be her greatest accomplishment, escaping the recent scandal. What a difference between crooked Hillary Clinton and Mike Pence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`m joined now by McKay Coppins, senior political writer for BuzzFeed News, Sabrina Siddiqui, political writer for the "Guardian" and Charlie Pierce, writer-at-large for "Esquire."
You know, Pence is in a -- Pence is sort of in a position not dissimilar from Paul Ryan, in certain ways, although he`s much more -- he`s in there, right? He can`t sort of pretend to be ambivalent. And yet he`s kind of weirdly run a parallel campaign the whole time.
MCKAY COPPINS, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, BUZZFEED NEWS: Totally.
HAYES: Because basically it seems to me like a lot of these people are just kind of waiting for Donald Trump to lose and then like put -- and put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
COPPINS: And then try to reassemble the Republican Party that`s tattered.
COPPINS: I mean, the Trump -- Trump picking Pence, I think, to a certain extent, they expected that, right? They expected that Mike Pence would go out and speak to the traditional Republican voters, who aren`t wild about Donald Trump. He would talk to the Christian conservatives, he would talk to the Mitt Romney voters. He seems like a very stayed, boring, reasonable or at least sober-minded Republican.
HAYES: But quite ideological. Quite far right. Yes.
COPPINS: And very conservative, right.
COPPINS: Very conservative. But again, remember when Trump picked him, Trump was having a very -- he had just beaten Ted Cruz, he was having a very hard time even consolidating the conservatives.
COPPINS: So that was part of the logic that went into it. But it`s hilarious that you never see them together. And when they are together, it`s just so clear that there is no chemistry, no -- like, there`s no rapport there between them. This is a strategic pick and now they`re just kind of riding it out.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: And I think that Mike Pence has already spent so much of his time playing cleanup after Donald Trump`s comments, where Donald Trump says Vladimir Putin -- he says nice things about Vladimir Putin, Mike Pence is out with a statement within minutes saying, no, he`s an authoritarian, a thug.
SIDDIQUI: You know, Donald Trump says, we`re not going to defend our NATO allies, Mike Pence is out with a statement saying, no, no, obviously we uphold, you know, our commitment to our NATO allies. And I think one of the challenges will be having to distance himself from Donald Trump tonight and really keeping the focus on Hillary Clinton, as opposed to what you saw with Senator Kelly Ayotte last night in New Hampshire, where she was asked if Donald Trump a role model for our children, she said absolutely. He can`t have a moment like that on that stage tonight.
SIDDIQUI: He needs to appeal to a broader electorate.
HAYES: He`ll get that question a lot.
SIDDIQUI: And he will get that question. As McKay said he was a conservative pick who now is in a position where he has to appeal to a broader electorate.
HAYES: Right. So there`s two -- there`s the temperament thing, right? There`s like a, you know, you know, Governor, how much weight do you think is not OK to gain the year that you win Miss Universe?
Like, what`s your position on that? And also, what`s your position on the NATO allies, right?
CHARLES PIERCE, WRITER-AT-LARGE, ESQUIRE: Right, those are -- yes, those are the two critical issues the last couple of weeks.
PIERCE: First of all, I`d like to congratulate whoever it was on the Internet who called this debate the "Thrilla in Vanilla."
PIERCE: I think that`s a good one. No, I think one of the things that the Democratic Party has failed to do, and I think it`s -- I think the Clinton campaign has a lot of responsibility for this. I don`t look at Donald Trump as an aberration. I look at Donald Trump as a culmination of 40 years of letting the bananas caucus run your party. And I don`t think that the Democrats are doing anyone a good service if -- say, if they allow the Republicans --
HAYES: That was a --
COPPINS: That was a strategic decision to try to pick off some of those more moderate Republican voters to, say, oh, look, you don`t have to own Donald Trump. You can come vote for us.
SIDDIQUI: Right. And I think Hillary Clinton`s campaign in recent weeks has been on the offense. I think you`ll see from Tim Kaine tonight where he`ll say, Donald Trump may say we should have a Muslim ban, Mike Pence is the one who barred Syrian refugees or tried to from Indiana. Donald Trump is someone who said --
HAYES: Which was just shot down by three federal court judges.
SIDDIQUI: Mike Pence and the ultra conservative anti-abortion laws.
PIERCE: And I think it would be an interesting debate if they both argued about what -- their Catholicism means in public policy because they both have --
HAYES: That`s true. That`s very interesting. Yes.
PIERCE: This kind of very interesting faith journal.
PIERCE: You know, Pence claims to be, what, a born-again evangelical Catholic.
PIERCE: Which is theological nonsense, and of course, Kaine is -- you know, Kaine, you know, did the missionary work and now the conservative Catholics are pointing out that he met a liberation theologian who`s thrown out of a helicopter by a militia group.
HAYES: Right. Right.
PIERCE: So that could be an interesting debate. But up until then, I think we`re -- McKay and I were talking, you know, all those polls before the election where they talk about a generic Republican against a generic Democrat?
PIERCE: That`s what this is.
HAYES: But here`s what I think is -- the deeper thing that I find fascinating just about Pence`s presence, right, is that I think a lot of Republicans have convinced themselves that basically Trump is a sort of aberration and he`s temperamentally totally unfit and you can`t listen to anything he does. But that actually Pencism is actually really popular.
COPPINS: Right. And that`s not necessarily true.
HAYES: And yet the problem for them is that Pencism is not actually popular. So that`s part of what we`re going to -- what we`re going to see tonight, I think, is how much he defends that. I want to play that clip of Kelly Ayotte having to answer that question, that excruciate bit of tape right after this break. Don`t go anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you tell a child to aspire to be like Donald Trump.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I would tell a child to absolutely aspire certainly to be their best and to be president and to seek to run for the presidency, absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But would you -- would you -- again, to the question, would you tell them to be like Donald Trump? Would you point to him as a role model?
AYOTTE: I -- I think that certainly there are many role models that we have and I -- I believe he can serve as president, and so absolutely, I would do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte mired in a tight reelection race in New Hampshire found herself having to answer for her party`s presidential nominee last night during a debate. The issue the members of the GOP establishment had to deal with time and time again.
Still with us, I have Charlie Pierce, Sabrina Siddiqui and McKay Coppins. And I should say, after she said absolutely, and you can see Maggie Hasson who`s running against her, being like, do it, get there, get there.
HAYES: Watching her the whole time. Ayotte then has to issue a statement saying, I misspoke tonight.
HAYES: While I would hope all of our children would aspire to be president, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton, which, by the way, as a parent, I do not hope my kids aspire to be president just as --
COPPINS: Yes, actually.
HAYES: It seems like sort of a miserable --
PIERCE: Yes. But that walk-back, that horse doesn`t even remember being in the barn. I mean, it`s way too late for that.
HAYES: Right. Yes, you can`t say -- you can`t call backsies on that. Well, that`s -- and in some ways, that is -- there`s two things happening here. Right? So to the extent that there is a connection between whatever ideological case Democrats are making in the temperamental case, I think it is along this access of inclusiveness, fair mindedness, openness, empathy against bigotry, divisiveness.
HAYES: Stronger together. That is the kind of one place thematically that they`re able to kind of link it all together, where it`s Trump saying all these outlandish and terrible and offensive things, but also connecting to a party that they want to paint as being intolerant.
SIDDIQUI: And a big part of Tim Kaine`s message has been rooted in inclusivity. You remember that, you know, his rollout was in Miami, where he was -- he was campaigning both in English and Spanish since he is fluent in Spanish. And when you think about Virginia in particular, this debate is here in Farmville, I expect him to acknowledge this as the epicenter of Virginia`s civil rights movements, when you think back to school segregation and that Tim Kaine himself was a civil rights attorney. And part of his legacy as the mayor of Richmond and as the governor of Virginia was very much around racial reconciliation. And he`ll use that also as a point of contrast to the Trump-Pence ticket.
HAYES: Exactly. That`s the sort of Obama coalition broader case to make against the Republican Party, I think.
PIERCE: Yes. And I think that, you know, on the other side, you`ve got Mike Pence, who`s most recent burst of publicity prior to becoming vice president was signing a religious freedom restoration act law in secret, in the middle of the night, the week before the final four.
PIERCE: Two blocks from NCAA headquarters and managing the near impossible feat of being on the wrong side of a moral issue from the NCAA.
HAYES: That`s true. That is true. And a -- I mean, we should note, that was a kind of precursor to wrap a legislation that`s sort of in the midst of a bunch of Governor Jan Brewer famously not signing it. He did sign, then they signed it in North Carolina. If you look at the polling of the Republicans in North Carolina, up and down the ticket, governor, Senate, and then the presidential, they`re getting killed by that bill, getting hosed by it.
COPPINS: I don`t think, though, that -- just having talked to people in the Trump campaign, I don`t think that they`re going to spend that much time going after Tim Kaine. And I don`t think Tim -- I think he might, Tim Kaine, try to litigate some of Pence`s policies, but I think more likely we`re going to see the two trying to hold the other accountable for the nominees in their party.
COPPINS: Which is going to make for a probably miserable debate.
HAYES: Yes, I mean, right.
PIERCE: What about the foundation, what about the --
SIDDIQUI: E-mails and trustworthiness.
HAYES: Right. Right.
SIDDIQUI: Looking at the polling that showed that, you know, a slim majority of Americans do not find Hillary Clinton --
COPPINS: But the reality is, people -- everyone always said, people vote for the top of the ticket. And so that`s why they want to make the debate about Clinton and Trump.
HAYES: Of course.
COPPINS: Because nobody really is going to go out on election day and vote for Mike Pence or --
PIERCE: Yes, but at the same time, the last two vice presidential debates have been great.
HAYES: Right. That`s true.
PIERCE: The first one was Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. The last time was Joe Biden, literally laughing at Paul Ryan, you know, and re-injecting the word malarkey into the American political discourse. I hope -- like McKay, I hope it doesn`t come down to your lady`s a crook, your guy is crazy but - -
HAYES: But, look -- but what distinguished 2012, though, right. What was interesting about that was here you had Paul Ryan sitting there who`s the author of the Ryan budget which in some ways have become what the plank -- the platform of the RNC and Mitt Romney was. And so Biden had the -- he kind of had the offer of the thing in front of him, in a way that you do not have with Mike Pence.
COPPINS: Yes. That`s true.
HAYES: Because that -- whatever you think about Mike Pence, he is not Donald Trump.
COPPINS: Right. Well, and -- and this is the thing. So Paul Ryan was actually kind of the icon of the conservatism that had been ascending during the 2012 era, right. Donald Trump -- Trumpism has very little to do with Mike Pence, except that he`s now kind of reluctantly championing it.
HAYES: Well, not reluctantly, though. But -- I mean, that`s the thing, right?
COPPINS: The thing is, Mike Pence is not -- like there`s nothing in Mike Pence`s record that you can say, this is a perfect example of Donald Trump`s problems.
COPPINS: And which is why they`re going to steer there.
HAYES: Which is why they`re going to steer it back to Donald Trump.
HAYES: All right. McKay Coppins, Sabrina Siddiqui, and Charlie Pierce, thank you all for your time tonight.
Our coverage from Longwood University, right here in Farmville, Virginia, continues right after this break. Don`t go anywhere.
HAYES: All right. That`s going to do it for us, for the 6:00 p.m. edition of ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES here on the campus of Longwood University in beautiful Farmville, Virginia. My colleague, Chris Matthews, is going to pick it up with "HARDBALL" next, and then after that, special live coverage, including the one and only VP debate tonight at 9:00 p.m. Then we will be back on the air with Chris for some special late-night action.
Last question here, special VP trivia, who wants VP trivia? Anyone? Everyone`s been asking you too-easy question. Who was James Buchanan`s VP? No one knows. John R. Breckenridge. That`ll do it for us. We`ll see you later.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END