IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Balance of Power. TRANSCRIPT: 9/3/2018, All In w Chris Hayes.

Guests: Leah Wright Rigueur, Baratunde Thurston, Danielle Moodie-Smith, Nick Confessore

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: September 3, 2018 Guest: Leah Wright Rigueur, Baratunde Thurston, Danielle Moodie-Smith, Nick Confessore

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Happy Labor Day to everyone. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t think there`s going to be a blue wave I hope there`s a red wave.

HAYES: 64 days until November 6th. Will the country choose to take back power from the party of Trump?

TOM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DNC: This is indeed the most important election of our lifetime.

HAYES: Tonight, the efforts to flip the House.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The contrast between House Republicans and Democrats could not be clearer.

HAYES: The chances of a Democratic majority in the Senate.

TRUMP: I don`t think I see that blue wave.

HAYES: And the role of women in the resistance.

TRUMP: Oh it is. The women likes me, you know.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. It is Labor Day, the traditional start of the electoral season and there are just 64 days until the midterm elections, usually the most consequential midterm elections in a generation or more. For the next hour, we`ll look at the pitched battle for the House and the Senate, the challenge for Democrats within their own energized party and the unique position of women in the resistance.

The Trump presidency not even two years in has challenged the nation`s most fundamental democratic institutions in ways that have just barely been contained by parts of the judiciary and by public outrage. Since taking office President Trump has launched a sustained attack on a Justice Department that will not bend to his will. He`s called the Special Counsel investigation a rigged witch hunt, an illegal scam and taken every opportunity to question its validity. He`s even sided with President Vladimir Putin of Russia and against U.S. intelligence agencies on the central issue of whether Russia interfered with the 2016 election.

The abject corruption in the administration is so phenomenal that even Republicans have circulated an internal memo listing all the possible areas Democrats might investigate if they retake the House. It include such things as the President`s tax returns, emoluments violations, dismissal of EPA board members, the family separation policy and the hurricane response in Puerto Rico that left 3,000 Americans dead.

Meanwhile, the possibility of a blue wave this November is real since according to the Cook Political Report Democrats overperformed by an average of eight or nine percent in special elections. An energized Democratic base has resulted in record-breaking number of women running for office. To walk us through the political landscape Democrats are facing let`s bring an MSNBC National Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki. Steve what`s the -- what`s the battleground look like?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, I mean, so that`s an interesting way to start when you talk about the special elections and those giant gains Democrats have been posting. Here`s the big difference now that we`re talking about November not open seats in a lot of cases. A lot of incumbents and you start looking potentially for Republicans that an advantage that comes with incumbency. So 23 is the target, the magic number for Democrats. They need to net 23, a gain of 23 and you say there are 25 Republican-held seats right now in districts that already went for Hillary Clinton.

So this is sort of the first line of attack for Democrats. It would logical that this will probably be the heart of their gains this November. But take a closer look I say incumbency. Incumbency can change the nature of some of these races, the type of Democratic challenger that emerges does too. And guess, what folks are so into the midterms right now that a really high quality, pollster Monmouth has actually been pulling some of these individual races so we`re starting to see a little bit of this.

There`s going to be three here I want to focus on. Number one is Barbara Comstock, this is Northern Virginia. This is a district Clinton didn`t just win. Clinton won it by ten points, one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country right there. Another Philadelphia suburbs Brian Fitzpatrick, and another one out in the West Coast Dana Rohrabacher out in California. We got three polls pretty recently from Monmouth on these races. Let`s take a look at what it`s showing.

Number one, this is Comstock. This matches up with exactly what you`d expect, a district that has surged hard towards the Democrats really over the last couple decades and especially in the Trump era. Here`s an incumbent running under 40 percent double digits down. This confirms the thinking that Barbara Comstock may be the single most vulnerable Republican of this year. That is exactly what Democrats are hoping for in a district like that.

Here`s where it starts to get a little bit more tricky. Now you`re in the 48th district of California. Here`s a district Hillary Clinton won by two points in 2016. Here`s a district where the Democrats are up the lead as three. It`s pretty much matching what Hillary Clinton got there. Dana Rohrabacher, he`s got his own baggage as well. We say these incumbents you know, Dana Rohrabacher, very controversial, his ties to Russia, comments about Russia, that sort of thing. So Rohrbacher sort of on his own, right, a very you know, individual presence in that district. Democrats he encouraged by this but Rohrbacher still in the game.

Then there`s this. How about this? In Pennsylvania, in the Philadelphia suburbs, another Clinton district here. Hillary Clinton won this district. Look at this though. The Republican incumbent running seven points ahead of the Democrat, and why is this? This Democratic challenger who emerged, a lot of folks looking at it saying this may not be a good match for this district. It doesn`t really have any local ties. You know, it doesn`t have much of a record of voting in the district. And look at this, the incumbent there right now going into this with an advantage.

So just because they`re Clinton districts, that is the first line of attack for Democrats but that doesn`t mean they`re all going to match up with what you saw in 2016. But you get beyond those, I can tell you, these 23 -- how about this there`s another three dozen seats, three dozen seats. You could add to this where Trump won but the margin was single digits so that could be opportunity there for Democrats. And there are some wild cards on the board too. I just want to mention this quickly things that you cannot look at the 2016 in election and say would be in play in 2018 and yet are.

I`ll give you an example. The third district of West Virginia kind of buried there by that head but the third district of West Virginia, southern West Virginia used to be a generation ago, Democratic stronghold. It really loves Trump. It went for him by 50 points. But guess what, it`s an open seat there. And check out this poll Richard Ojeda, Trump voter, certainly with the Sanders wing of the party, he says he`s turned on Trump running as a Democrat for an open seat.

And again, you take the incumbency factored out, you put the volatility of the local political culture, there are a couple of these on the board where Democrats on paper would have no chance but there are some peculiar local circumstances so you got to take that into account too.

HAYES: Right. So when you think about -- when you think about the sort of the tiers of competitive to sit here, right, to me the first tier of competitiveness is probably you know, Clinton districts that are open where you`ve got a retiring -- you got no incumbent, right? Would you say that`s probably like the top tier?

KORNACKI: Yes, and we can -- in fact, I can show you right here -- I can show you right here on the map a perfect example of this. Let`s make sure this thing is selected. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, this is a Republican in South Florida, she is retiring, the seat is open, and Republicans, they`re pretty much there all but seeing this one already.

HAYES: Right. And then you`ve got -- so they`ve got you`ve got the open ones because we got a lot of retirements. There`s all these sort of data points that kind of accrue, right, retirements, fundraising, before you even get to the polling. And then after that, you`ve got your Rohrbachers, you got your Comstock`s, right, your biggest ones, but they`re going to have to do -- I mean, one of the things we`ve learned, right, is that these things tend to go in bulk.

We`ve seen in 1994, we saw in 2006 and, we thought saw in 2010 that this idea of a wave is that a whole bunch of people win races under those circumstances that you didn`t even expect. We`ve got our eyes on those yet erase but there might be other ones if, in fact, that kind of midterm happens that really come out of nowhere.

KORNACKI: Yes, and you`ve got a sort of a demographic wildcard here too. I can`t -- most of Ohio was covered up by these but somewhere here in middle -- the middle of Ohio where we just had that special election a couple weeks ago in the 12th district, the Columbus area, Columbus suburbs and exurbs, there`s a district it wouldn`t fit the criteria I`m describing Trump actually won it by 11 in 2016 but what we saw in that special election was the Columbus suburbs, the immediate suburb is right outside Columbus massive turnout even bigger shift to the Democrats since 2016. It wasn`t enough for the Democrats to win but it was enough for them to come as close to winning as you can without winning.

And so there are districts like that around the country. When you get a concentration of that demographic that seems the most exercised on the Left right now, those college-educated higher-income suburban nights, when you got districts that have a big piece of that, that bag you`re going to find extra volatility there.

HAYES: Yes, it`s a great point. Steve Kornacki, as always that was great. Thank you very much. For a deep dive in the battle of the House let`s bring in Leah Wright Rigueur, she`s Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University`s Kennedy School government, MSNBC Contributor Josh Barro, Senior Editor at Business Insider and Baratunde Thurston, author of How to be Black.

Let`s start with this question of where -- who are the folks in these districts? Because there`s a fascinating thing happening which is that we`re having a national election, we`re having a bunch of different elections, and when you think about the election for the House those districts the most competitive ones tend to be demographically the sort of white relatively affluent college-educated districts that is going to be the battleground, I think it`s going to determine a lot of what this race ends up focusing.

JOSH BARRO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I actually think there`s an excessive focus on that which is to say people sort of talk about you know, what`s the way forward for Democrats? Do they need to try to build where Hillary actually gained over Barack Obama four years earlier in these affluent districts? Does she (INAUDIBLE) to try to win back working-class whites who fell away? Do they need to try to boost minority turnout that was not as strong in 2016? And I think the correct answer is that you can and should try to do all of --

HAYES: Yes, you should. To perform a little better with a bunch of different people will win you an election.

BARRO: Right. And you saw that in the special election that Connor Lamb won outside Pittsburgh and people thought of that as you know, very traditional white working-class district but it includes a lot of more upscale suburbs of Pittsburgh as well with a lot of college-educated voters. And basically, the formula for Connor Lamb to win was that where in that district Hillary had done well, he did better than Hillary, and where in the district Obama had done relatively well he did better than Obama`s.

So basically you want to -- you want to rebuild what Democrats lost with working-class whites and you want to try to keep continuing making these inroads with college-educated whites. And I think they`ve been showing in these elections that you really can do both of those and that puts lots of different kinds of districts right in the map.

You have these affluent suburban districts like California 48 and in Orange County but then you also have these districts in Iowa where Donald Trump won Iowa by like nine points. Traditionally Iowa`s a swing state but I think you have Democrats looking at two very good pickup opportunities there and even an outside shot at Steve King.

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Yes. So I absolutely -- I absolutely agree. And I think one of the things that -- one of the things that this election is -- the midterm elections are going to pull out is that in fact, this is not just a referendum on Donald Trump, although that is important but it`s also a referendum on you know, what are the policies what are the ideas what are the agendas, what are the vision.

And so one of the things that we`ve seen Democrats do particularly in the last couple of months is really try and articulate that message and that vision and not just appeal to these you know one other or you know, what have you, but instead say okay we`re going to go after these voters that we didn`t win in the election but we`re also going to go after the people that we wrote off before. So we`re going to go after minority voters. We`re going to go after you know black women voters who are the backbone of the modern Democratic Party.

HAYES: Right.

RIGUEUR: We`re going to go after all of these people who we saw as non- likely voters or unlikely voters and instead say that we can do all of the above and present them with something that would be compelling enough to put them -- to put them in office.

BARATUNDE THURSTON, COMEDIAN AND WRITER: And I would love to just odd zoom back a little bit and say I have a little bit of PTSD about forecasts and polls --

BARRO: Oh, yes.

THURSTON: -- because the screenshot that I have saved forever from election nights as Hillary Clinton still has an 84 percent chance of being our current president.

BARRO: Absolutely.

HAYES: Oh yes. I just want to be clear like nothing is done until it`s done at all and in fact, who the heck knows?

THURSTON: Right, but all that said, you know, waves don`t power themselves but there is a lot of power behind this one. And so, I`m seeing some candidates, I`m seeing in the in the 50th in California Duncan Hunter`s district, you know, he has made things more open which is like go fund me style rating of his campaign funds. There`s an opportunity there.

I am -- with Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez obviously in the news a ton, one of the lesser spoken things about her is her actual campaign strategy. And I highlighted something from one of her e-mails where she said look, this is what the Democratic Party told me I was supposed to do. Here`s the list of everyone who`s already voted in the past, you knock, on their door ten times.

HAYES: Right.

THURSTON: And what she did is knock on everybody else`s door. So you expand the electorate and I think there are some people out there who are starting to really deploy that strategy.

HAYES: So two points there, right? One is the idea that things are -- that we are seeing a bunch of just events in the world that alter the map which is Chris Collins and Doug Hunter both got indicted, right? So those were not --

THURSTON: Indictments help.

HAYES: Yes, exactly. But the perfect example being like again, anything can happen right?

BARRO: Right.

HAYES: Fifteen, twenty days ago those seats were not on anyone`s map as possibilities and then an indictment happen, right? So, things can change very quickly in terms of exhaustion dispensed. But this idea about the strategy, the bet that someone like Stacey Abrams who`s running statewide in Georgia to be governor, right? She would be the first black woman governor in the nation`s history, right, or that Andrew Gilliam is making in Florida, that bet is based on the on both Josh`s point about doing a little better with everyone but also bringing in marginal voters.

And the scalability there, we should you be clear, there`s a lot of voters in the Democratic coalition who vote -- who have voted in presidentials and not a midterm.


HAYES: Those are --

THURSTON: That`s our thing. That`s not a bad thing.

HAYES: Forget the people -- forget the people who you haven`t registered, just the low hanging fruit there is there.

BARRO: Yes, and I think that`s going to be very interesting also to see what this governor`s race in Florida with Andrew Gillum who was he a black relatively left-wing candidate and there`d been a lot of talk about you know, that I think there`s nervousness in the Florida Democratic Party about you know, is he is he too far left to win.

On the other hand, you know, there`s only two candidates who`ve won statewide races for major office in Florida in the last twenty years. One is Bill Nelson who is running a kind of lackluster reelection campaign for Senate and the other is Barack Obama. And so I think that there is something to that idea that you know, the upscale white turnout is probably going to take care of itself in this election cycle.

We`re seeing just sort of off the charts engagement especially with suburban college-educated women and so if you have a candidate who can engage younger voters, black voters, then that`s the -- that`s the pieces of the puzzle you can gather. The other piece is Hispanic voters which I`m less sure about in Florida. But those are the pieces you need to put together to build the Democratic --

HAYES: That`s -- it`s such a -- that`s an important to take care of itself because sometimes you see this question about Democrats not having national masses on say Russia or corruption or things like that. It`s really not getting talked about a ton on these local race of the campaign trail and I think the bet there is those voters that care about that know about that and are going to basically, what, climb over hot coals to vote on election day.

THURSTON: Because they want a do over --

HAYES: Right, because that sort of backed in. I want you guys to stick around. I`m going to talk about the much harder climb that Democrats face this November as they try to take back the Senate. Do you not go any where.


HAYES: Unlike the House, the odds aren`t great for Democrats to take back the Senate in November. Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report recently put Republicans at odds of holding the Senate even higher than Democrats have taking over the House which according to 538 sits just below 73 percent right now. So why are things so starkly divergent when Democrats would need to flip only two seats to reclaim control the Senate.

Still with me at the table Leah Wright Rigueur, Josh Barro, and Baratunde Thurston. The map is very, very hard for the Democrats. It`s most mostly red state Democrats who are up. I think they`re seven or eight in states Trump one that they`re going to have to hold on to.

RIGUEUR: Yes, so much harder I think that Democrats and strategists and even Republicans are being much more pragmatic about the chances then of anything radical changing. The tides are very different right? It`s Democrats who are defending who -- or who feel far more on the defensive right at least --

HAYES: Right. If you look at the contested race right in the House side, it`s overwhelming held by Republicans, if you look at the test race on the Senate side it`s mostly Democrats.

RIGUEUR: Right. And so, we`re talking -- I mean, we`re not talking about a power grab here, we`re talking about that in the House but in the Senate it`s -- this is about defending turf. This is about you know, hunkering down where there is actual opportunity and making sure that it`s not too bad in the long run, that you get whatever games that are possible.

THURSTON: What I see also possible in the Senate is defending democracy, right, defending our institutions and being a check right? There is this co-equal branch of government that with Republican control we`ve seen under plate and some of the messages that can sell that are not about taking Trump down but about lifting America up.

HAYES: That`s interesting. That`s interesting.

THURSTON: Even the messages that are called liberal messages like Medicare for all have majority support. They`re not liberal messages, they`re American messages. And so seeing people who take that tack --

HAYES: Although I think if you`re Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, you`re not doing Medicare for all --

THURSTON: No, but you`re also afraid of being called an MS-13 sympathizer which you`re going to get anyway.

HAYES: Right.

THURSTON: So you might as well stand up for the good thing.

BARRO: Yes, if you`re -- if you`re Heidi Heitkamp, what you`re doing is you`re attacking your opponent for undermining protections for pre-existing conditions in the Affordable Care Act.

HAYES: Exactly.

BARRO: And then you`re running a campaign that is otherwise very customized to your state, she`s very focused on the agriculture -- on the impact on agriculture from the President`s tariff policy which has been bad --

HAYES: Which by the way as a gift.

BARRO: Right.

HAYES: I mean, it`s also a gift. Let me just say, it`s a gift to Sherrod Brown in Ohio who many people thought would have a competitive -- would be a very competitive race who is doing very well. And what he`s been able to do is he`s been a longtime sort of you know, anti-free trade deal. So he`s basically like yes, Trump put on the tariffs and so he`s got a way to sort of align himself with the President in a state that went for Trump.

BARRO: Yes. And so that`s one of that`s one of ten states that Democrats have to defend in this election that the Trump won. But a number of those races are not really competitive, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, the way this map is this is basically Democrats have to win all but one of the competitive races, maybe all but two if you think Texas is a competitive race in order to take a majority in the Senate. And so that`s a -- that`s a tall order because there`s like almost a dozen competitive races.

Now, the good news for Democrats is that very often all of the races fall in the same direction or nearly all of them. So it`s not -- most of the models I`ve seen give Democrats you know, like a one in six, one in eight chance of taking the Senate which is not nothing. Nate Silver likes to say that one in six are your odds of losing at Russian roulette so you should take it seriously when people tell you --

RIGUEUR: That`s where we are.

HAYES: That`s good actually. That`s a very good way of putting it.

BARRO: Yes, because I think he`s irritated because so many people looked at these things that said Hillary Clinton having 84 percent chance to win and they read that as though it said she --

HAYES: They round it up.

BARRO: Right.

HAYES: They round it up.

BARRO: Yes, so you can`t round up. But I think taking back the Senate, if Democrats managed to thread that needle, you know, taking back the house gets you a lot. You can do all these investigations, you had -- everything because to the legislative process has to go through a Democratic majority body. I think the Senate you can also shut down all the judicial --

HAYES: Well, that`s -- I mean, that -- and in some ways I mean, what we -- the world in which -- I mean, Republicans continue to hold the Senate, one of the things that they have done most successfully under unified governance is not really passed big domestic policy agendas. They got basically one big thing through which tax cuts but they have been incredibly effective than judiciary which they have basically --

THURSTON: When it allows them to -- it`s the it`s the bargain that they made with the president that most of them despise.

HAYES: Yes, that`s exactly the bargain.

THURSTON: The President is on record like kidnapping children at scale. You look the other way on that because you get the judges you want.

HAYES: Right.

THURSTON: And that`s a dark deal but they`ve made it.

HAYES: And there`s two races in the Senate I find particularly interesting. One is in Texas because you mentioned that, right? So there`s that -- you know, every cycle there`s like the great hope that Texas will turn blue, the Texas Democratic Party has been an absolute moribund disaster for a million different reasons. Beto O`Rourke was a Congressman on the border in El Paso running against Ted Cruz.

Beto we should say is like he`s very charismatic, he`s very -- might have been handsome, he`s like -- he`s like -- he looked -- he looks the part like -- and he`s run a very strong campaign. There`s this question about whether it`s national hype or not but Texas being in play would be a remarkable fact/

RIGUEUR: Right. So the fact that it`s actually even as close as it may be and I`ve seen anywhere from between two point percentage points to eight percentage points and you know, I don`t know if it`s actually in contests in Congress but the fact that --

HAYES: But it is -- it is a race. Yes, it is race.

RIGUEUR: And -- but it`s Texas, right? It`s a place where you know, Beto O`Rourke has gone in and said, I see nothing wrong with people who are kneeling, right? That is -- I mean, and you know granted Ted Cruz treated it as if it`s a you know, he committed a treasonous offense.


RIGUEUR: But the fact that that moment could happen in the fact that we are where we are right now and the fact that Texas feels competitive and may in fact be competitive is a really important part about the future of politics, about the future of the Democratic Party and how people feel about the Republican Party right now.

BARRO: I think Texas is for Democrats what New Jersey was for a long time for Republicans which is to say you had -- over several decades you had over and over these competitive Senate races in New Jersey where Republicans would spend you know tens of millions of dollars on ads in the New York and Philadelphia market to lose by two or three or four. And eventually, they realized they were throwing good money after bad and they gave up.

And so similarly in Texas you know, you see all these polls. I haven`t seen a poll that has Beto ahead. It`s like you know, down by one, down -- and so for -- I think the proposition for Democrats is it feels like an opportunity to spend a ton of money in a very large state to lose by a little bit and I think that`s the hesitation.

HAYES: Let me argue against that though, as someone having followed Texas politics fairly closely. The -- part of the issue in Texas it`s the you know, it`s the second biggest state in the Union, right? It`s -- there`s lots of offices. Like the Democratic Party there are so poorly hollowed out that a well performing statewide candidate who does go everywhere, does something to the strength of that party in that state, even a loss, even a loss of two or three points, I mean, you talk to people in Texas politics and they say, look the energy it needs to right now, the money that he is being able to raise is doing good things for the Texas Democratic Party as an entity whether or not he can pull this out.

THURSTON: And you can`t win races that you`re not in. You can`t win an argument that you don`t make.

HAYES: Just ask Chris Collins and Duncan Hunters, you know that I mean? Like that`s the perfect example. You can`t -- there are every year a shocking number of races that are uncontested. There are uncontested races essentially.

THURSTON: And one of the things I would love to see to keep the bench deep, to talk about this deeper Democratic apparatus, we can`t expect to bring in new voters and do that consistently when we inconsistently approach them. When you show up just asking for a vote and you`re not there in the in-between seasons to say we`re going to help you with your water, we`re going to help you with this complaint, you have against the city, the state, the county, you have to be there for people before you need them if we can ask them for something we --

HAYES: It`s also part of the power of incumbency. Leah Wright Rigueur, Josh Barro, and Baratunde Thurston, that was great. Thank you very much.

BARRO: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, a look at one of the most memorable ads of the midterms and the small Detroit studio that made it. Trymaine Lee brings us that story next.


HAYES: An ideology that was stuck in the political wilderness for decades in America at least is now front and center in the midterms. A slew of young Democratic candidates such as New York`s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are openly espousing socialist ideas and identifying themselves with socialism as an ideology. Another thing many of those candidates have in common a small Detroit studio that`s turning us some of the most memorable campaign ads of the cycle. Our own Trymaine Lee explains.


ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, NEW YORK: That`s why I`m running for Congress. This race is about people versus money. We`ve got people they`ve got money.

TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked the political world and won her congressional primary in New York City --

CORTEZ: I cannot believe these numbers right now.

LEE: It was doing no small parts of the online campaign video that introduced her to the world.

CORTEZ: My name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

LEE: More than four million people watched the video that helped propel this dynamic former bartender from the Bronx to victory over one of the top leaders in the Democratic establishment. The video was created by a tiny company of three people in a makeshift apartment studio in Detroit Michigan and Ocasio-Cortez isn`t their only candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can have a Rhode Island where every person can go to the doctor without fear of going broke, where we can lead the nation in renewable energy and return the profits to the people, where all Rhode Islanders can have jobs that pay, homes they can afford and a future for their children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She told me how our people were exploited by colonizers and forced to work on plantations. The people of Hawaii have come together and risen up before and we can do it again.

My name is --

LEE: Naomi Burton and Nick Hayes, and their colleague Natalie Fernandez Silver, all left jobs in PR, advertising, and law and are using the skills they learned in the corporate world to promote a certain kind of politics.

NICK HAYES, MEANS OF PRODUCTION: We were creating propaganda. We`re creating propaganda for the status quo essentially. And so it`s easy if you look at it in those terms to take those tools and those resources to the left and create propaganda exclusively for the working class.

LEE: The three of them are all card-carrying members of the Democratic Socialists of America, and they won`t work for just anyone.

HAYES: We have a hard line. We don`t work with corporations. We don`t work with corporate candidates. We are working to unseat corporate Democrats. We`re working to unseat corporate Republicans.

LEE: The company is called Means of Production, it`s a nod to Marxist economics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Webster`s Collegiate Dictionary defines socialism as Democratic management of the essential means for the production and distribution of goods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The majority of people up to the 1 percent.

LEE: And their world view is shaped by the deep economic divides they see in Detroit, where they say so-called revitalization benefits those on top and leaves behind many at the bottom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Detroit is a great example of the way that capitalism has gone so far to the extremes under Democratic control to a point that people don`t own the downtown anymore. Individual billionaires and millionaires own our downtown.

LEE: Far from the shiny towers of downtown, the team`s studio is tucked in a working-class neighborhood on the city`s southwest side.

You think about the history of Detroit, it`s a movement city. It`s a history of struggle but also capitalism and the struggle against that and workers` rights. Does that feed the work you all do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. I mean, of course. I mean, this is the backdrop to which we work, right? So we see the effects of capitalism. We see a town that`s been run by corporate Democrats for decades that`s only gotten worse and worse for people.

HAYES: Right now we`re breathing in air that is the worst in Michigan. Pseople in this area, right, have like three times as high likelihood of developing asthma.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s industries, it`s corporations who are polluting all of the water, all of the air, everything in these areas.

LEE: To show their point, they took me to a place just three miles from their office where the pollution is so thick on the ground it`s visible on Google Maps.

So where are we now?

HAYES: Right now we are looking out at Zug Island.

LEE: Zug Island.

HAYES: Which is basically just this island in the Detroit River that has a ton of industrial sites on it, a ton of pollution, and a lot of that ends up in the river.

LEE: This river`s a weird blue. Like I don`t know if it`s algae or...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t want to jump in.

LEE: So you guys want to support candidates that will kind of rein some of this stuff in, right?

HAYES: Rein all of this in. I mean, if you put workers in control of these workplaces, right, people who live in this community, they would find alternative solutions to generating energy than this.

LEE: And that`s the kind of candidate this tiny production team is trying to get elected to office from their one-room studio one video at a time.

Your videos have been extremely successful. What`s the secret sauce? Who are you going after? How is this working?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know how to create content that really resonates with people, but it`s the policies. It`s Medicare for all. It`s housing for all. It`s a green new deal. It`s these things that people are hearing and understanding how they will fix their lives.

HAYES: Socialists are sexy, like there`s a lot of young people, there`s a lot of people of color who identify as socialist, who have been looking for an opportunity to enter into the realm of electoral politics. We`re excited to elevate those people.


HAYES: And Trymaine Lee joins me now.

You know, that video, the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez video blew. And you we should say she won. Daniel Ng, the candidate in Hawaii did not. In fact, he came in last I think.

But it`s the marriage of the slickness and the skills these people clearly had from the very corporate world to this message is just fascinate.

LEE: It`s actually really amazing. And this is actually a fun piece to do because they were so earnest, but they`ve been able to tap into this energy from the far left in this country with all of those young candidates. But all of this magic is happening from that little one-room studio. And they like to keep it that way.

Now, they charged Ocasio-Cortez about $10,000. They will be charging more moving forward. But they still want to keep it manageable. They want to try to fend off the trappings of the corporate world.

HAYES: They are also -- they`re also very good at what they do. I mean, those ads are really good. And it seems like they`re kind of building -- they`re sort of building a visual vocabulary for an emerging part of the Democratic Party coalition.

LEE: And they`re very intentional about that. And they do see themselves as a wing, a cog in this bigger machine for this new left and progressive movement.

But I think bringing those skills that they learned in the corporate world, like you said in the video, Nick said, we were creating propaganda for the corporate world...

HAYES: Such an interesting line.

LEE: Why not take propaganda for the people?

HAYES: There`s also sort of -- they are part of this sort of broader intellectual foment, right. When you talk about the Democratic Socialists of America, which has been around for years, but was a fairly sleepy organization until recently. They`re part of this sort of new crop of people that have joined specifically that organization.

LEE: Oh, without question. Undeniably they`re saying we will only work with people that believe in Medicare for all and free education, all these things. And they understand that there are some people, some candidates in certain parts of the country that cannot say I am a socialist, right? But you have to believe in those ideals. And they are very intentional about who they`ll work with and why.

HAYES: Trymaine Lee. It was a great package. Thanks a lot.

LEE: Thank you.

HAYES: When we come back the fight for the Democratic Party will progressive insurgents have their own Tea Party style wave this November? We`ll talk about that after the break.


HAYES: Welcome back to our special Labor Day show. We turn now to what`s been going on within the Democratic Party where a number of staunchly progressive candidates have challenged the establishment and won, that includes New York City`s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who in a major upset beat Democratic caucus chair Joe Crowley, and Florida`s Andrew Gillum who notched a stunning primary victory just last week despite being vastly outspent.

But that said, we have largely not seen the sort of anti-establishment fervor among Democrats that the Republicans experienced when the Tea Party rose in 2010. Here to help me understand what`s going on, MSNBC legal analyst and senior vice president for social justice at The New School, Maya Wily, New York Times investigative and political reporter Nick Confessore, and Danielle Moodie-Mills host of Woke AF on Sirius/XM.

So, I think a lot of people -- first of all there`s two sort of layers here, right. There`s the Tea Party model, and I think people forget just how many incumbents got knocked off by prior voters in the Republican Party that year that shocked everyone. I mean, person after person, it was happening all the time.

We`re not seeing the same thing in the Democratic Party this year. And yet, we are seeing a lot of ferment. Like, how would you characterize it?

MAYA WILEY, THE NEW SCHOOL: Well, I would characterize the ferment is about a retrenchment from all the progress we`ve made in society to make it fairer and more just, which the primary barrier to fairness and justice has not been the Democratic Party.

So the Tea Party battle was really to make the Republican Party more conservative. In this case, it`s about the party continuing to be able to be responsive to the people of the United States of America, which also recognizes that those people look like the people from the world.

HAYES: See, so that`s one big thing it strikes me that we`re seeing, and we`re seeing it particularly in the candidates in the way is that for a long time there was a mismatch between the leadership and political class of the Democratic Party and the voters of the Democratic Party which is that it was much more male and much whiter than the actual voters and we`re seeing that gap shrink.

DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, HOST, WOKE AF: I think that that`s the most exciting thing that we could get out of the Donald Trump election is the fact that he has energized people who look like me, people who are people of color, LGBT, women, to say you know what, you don`t represent me. This country is changing. And regardless of whether or not you want to pull us back into the 1950s, progress is going to happen. And we need people that are representative of this country to stand up and say you know, what I can challenge you, I can take you on, and push the Democratic Party where it should be instead of where it wants to go, which is anti-identity politics.

NICK CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Look, I think Trump took a soto voce strand of conservative politics, which is white reaction, and put it front and center in the GOP. And that in a way has clarified the stakes for everybody.

HAYES: Totally agree.

CONFESSORE: ...clarified the stakes for Democratic voters and liberals and Republicans and conservatives. It is a battle between a version of ethnonationalism and diverse progressivism. Those are the two visions for the country now.

HAYES: Totally.

And I think that that is really true. And I think it also has pushed -- you know, other iterations of Democrats in the wilderness I`ve seen in my lifetime, have been different versions. But there`s this idea of sort of go to the center, you`ve gotten too far away. And there`s some of that. Like Kyrsten Sinema is running a very, like, throwback 1990s kind of DLC race.

But largely I think because of what Nick says, right, it`s almost like it`s not really an option because Trump has clarified the coalition so intensely.

WILEY: He`s clarified the coalition. One of the things that Trump did, and I completely agree with Nick, one of the things that Trump did is he both took that ethnonationalism, which some of us just call racism, and what he did was he matched it, though, with economic populism.

HAYES: In message. In message. Let`s just be clear -- in word, not in deed.

WILEY: In word, not in deed, absolutely. In fact, he`s hurt no one more than his base of low income and particularly rural white Americans.

But what that means, right? Is that he got people to say you`re hurting, I`m going to help you. And by the way, some of how time I`m going to message who`s hurting you are this new diverse coalition of Americans.

But also we should not lose this point, you`ve done a lot of work on this, Chris, the fact that we`ve had such active repeated voter suppression, gerrymandering, has had a deep impact on the ability of Democrats, including Democrats on the left, to win that has nothing to do with the popular vote. And that`s part of what we saw in the presidential election of 2016.

HAYES: I also think there`s an economic component to this, which is that because he threw Paul Ryanism out the window, like the guy never talks about things like free markets, ever. He never talks about it.

CONFESSORE: He does them.

HAYES: Yeah, he does a lot of traditional sort of like Koch Brother- friendly Paul Ryan-friendly stuff like huge taxes for people at the top of the income distribution, but he never makes these sort of ideological arguments for the market.

I think that`s been basically jettisoned from American politics. Like, I think that`s cleared the space for $15 minimum wage and socialism and all these things because it`s like we`re not having this debate in which like you need to defend markets anymore.

MOODIE-MILLS: No, because the reality is is that people, especially his base, these are the people that needed health care. These are the people that require $15 minimum wage that are struggling...

HAYES: Some, we should say.

MOODIE-MILLS: Some. OK, not the ones that are making over $100,000 a year that also voted...

HAYES: The rich lorida retirees are all right.

MOODIE-MILLS: But the idea of the base of the Trump Party that he has been propping up has been the hard-working white people, right. And those are the policies that are hurting them the most.

It`s our job as Democrats to tell them why and how, and that`s where the Democrats consistently struggle. We don`t have the economic conversation, we try and have the well, we want you to feel good about yourself. It`s the same conversation that we have when we talk to women. We want to talk about the policies that are going to make you feel good about yourself as opposed to what`s going to happen at your kitchen table.

CONFESSORE: Well, also he`s anti-free trade. He bashes big companies. He supports subsidies and bailouts for the coal industry. He can`t make...

HAYES: And the farmer -- and big agro which...

CONFESSORE: So, he`s not actually a free market conservative.

HAYES: No, he doesn`t believe in it.

CONFESSORE: His politics are built around centrally the prestige and cultural centrality of white people and their desire to see it maintained, which is similar to and part of racism, Maya, but I think it`s more precise to say that his candidacy and his success in office, or in taking office, were really about restoring for some people what they thought as their rightful place of cultural and political dominance in this country.

HAYES: I want to put a pin in that for just one second. I want to stick around, because I want to talk about a sort of trend that goes along with that, because you talk about whiteness and the centrality of that. There`s another part of his victory, and particularly his victory over Hillary Clinton, and the reaction to him, which I think is actually the sort of story of these last two years, the record number of women running for office. I want to get all your thoughts on that right after this.


HAYES: 2018 is being called the year of the woman with a record number of female candidates running for office. 476 filing to run for the House alone, 226 of those winning their primary so far.

A lot of women have been energized by their opposition to the president, and that energy is expected to extend into the voting booth, where they could determine how the balance of power shifts in November.

Back with me to talk about all that, Maya Wiley, Nick Confessore, and Danielle Moodie-Mills.

It is in some way the story of Democratic, not Republican Party, politics, because we haven`t seen the same thing in the Republican Party.

On the Democratic side I mean you`ve got this crazy stat, something like over 50 percent of open primaries in which one man and one woman, the woman is winning. I mean, Democratic voters have been choosing women candidates. They`ve been running for office. And women voters have been the core of volunteers, phone bankers, doorknock -- like that is where the energy`s coming from.

WILEY: Completely true, and not that surprising for a couple of different reasons. Women have been deeply underrepresented in electoral politics.

HAYES: It is nuts.

WILEY: It`s crazy.

And therefore -- and we`re at a point in the country where the country is going in very much the wrong direction.

When you`re the people who grow the berries, put it in the pie and put the pie in the oven, you think you should be able to decide what kind of pie you`re baking. And that`s essentially with what`s happening with women is saying the country is going in the wrong direction. It`s going in the wrong direction on a wide range of issues. Women are being much more responsive and explicit about what the needs are of people and families in terms of their ability to take care of themselves and their families and their communities, so that`s part of what we`re seeing.

I also want to make sure we`re very clear that women of color, in particular, is a big part of the story both in terms of the electorate, right, and the Democratic voting base. All you need to do is look at Alabama and Doug Jones to see how important black women were both to getting him elected. So that`s a big part of this equation, both women of color who are running as well as the base that`s helping to get those Democratic candidates elected.

HAYES: I also think -- I mean, tell me if I`m wrong, but I think there`s also just the -- Trump, the kind of man Trump is, the kind of mysogynist he is, which I think is not even really debatable question -- I mean, sexist, a pig, I don`t know, like -- him beating Hillary Clinton the way he did, followed by the #metoo movement, like there is this kind of just storm right now against a certain kind of structure patriarchy that the president really represents quite perfectly.

MOODIE-MILLS: Oh, he is like the definition of mysogyny. You look it, you see him.

I mean, the idea that he has gone after -- he`s gone after women of color in particular on Twitter, right? He has gone after women by calling them dogs, by saying that Maxine Waters is crazy, all of these things. It is a disregard for women, their values, their intellect and their personhood. And I think that that is -- that`s what these women who are running for office are saying you know what, we`re grabbing you by the ballot. That`s what we`re doing.

We are showing up and we are going to show out, because the reality is, is that when we have had men in power this entire time -- Donald Trump is representative of all the white men that have had too much control and too much power for eons. And women are saying we`ve had enough.

The recommendation we have in congress is ridiculous. It is paltry. And there`s a reason why, because politics has become so dirty and money is so invested in it that it doesn`t allow certain people to be able to show up.

HAYES: This is -- there`s a really interesting intersection with the way that running for office works, campaign financing and the funnel that`s create candidates, which you have written about, and the gender disparity in candidates.

CONFESSORE: Look, most big donors are men. The biggest, biggest donors are almost all men with funnelers, the folks who raise money for candidates that there is actually more equality. And the further down you go in the fundraising scale -- the small donors become more and more women active.

What we`re seeing now is a convergence, I think, of the year of the woman and the rise of the small dollar fundraising. There`s a lot more opportunity...

HAYES: Those two things go together, totally.

CONFESSORE: ...come together. So, if women for obvious social and historic reasons are likely to be resourced to be big donors or to have networks of rich friends who they can call on, they have networks of people who can be small donors.

We see all around the country small local networks of women coming together to raise money for other women and that is a sea change.

HAYES: That has actually been a huge part of story sort of underneath kind of under the iceberg. And there is also just this point of -- and I think this gets back to what we`re saying about the Democratic Party, we`re seeing these crazy gender splits along partisan lines that are basically as far as I can tell unprecedented in polling.

I mean, for most of American history since women got the right to vote, there have been been huge gender splits the way there have been say racial splits, right. So, we expect that it is like 90/10 black voters for Democrats and, you know, white majorities vote for Republicans. We`re starting to see a gender split open up along up along partisan lines that literally has never happened in polling before.

WILEY: I want to be a little bit cautious, because as we know, 53 percent of women voted for Donald Trump, and that really the difference there was really about race and geography, right, so where you lived in the country, and how southern or middle of the country it was, so...

HAYES: Although -- let me just saying, in the approval rating, if you take every different category and you split by gender, you are seeing that open up over the course of the presidency.

WILEY: Absolutely, and for all the reasons that Danielle said. The question is who shows up at the polls?

HAYES: 100 percent.

WILEY: And what they actually do once they get there, because, you know, remember there was that great story, great because of its honesty when Barack Obama was running in 2008 in Boston and a black canvasser knocks on a door and the wife answers. And he says, ma`am, who are you going to vote for? And she says wait just one minute. And she turns around and says honey, who are we going to vote for again? And then the answer comes, drop the N-word, we`re going to vote for that drop the N-word.

But the point is that there is unfortunately a history of women either not showing up and actually voting, which is why women of color have been so pivotal, because they have been doing get out the vote and getting women to the polls, that`s actually one of the things that is going to be critical in the mid- terms.

HAYES: And so far in the primaries, which is a different population, we have seen it. The real big open question, one of the biggest open questions is, do those voters, particularly young women millennials, particularly single mothers, single women, huge constituencies for Democrats and whether they show up.

MOODIE-MILLS: I`ve got to tell you I think that it is outrage that is going to drive women to the ballot, plain and simple.

HAYES: Yes. I totally agree.

MOODIE-MILLS: I think that women in particular, and especially womes of color, we have had enough. We`ve been listening to Donald Trump and reading his tweets for however long now and I think that they are saying, we`ve had enough and we`re going to the ballot.

HAYES: I think in some ways it is like the simplest and most explanatory argument of everything that happens this fall. I honestly mean like that that is what is happening.

Miley Wiley, Nick Confessore, Danielle Moodie-Mills, thank you all for joining us.

Wwe will be right back.


HAYES: Something I`ve been really excited about lately is our new podcast called Why is This Happening? Every week I invite a guest on who is uniquely suited to go beyond theheadlines and explain what in the world is going on. We talk about everything from school segregation in 2018 to corruption in the White House. Really it`s just me and someone I`m interested in having a long chat with chatting.

Our most reason guest, British journalist Mehdi Hasan, who tells us everything we needed to know about Brexit, including the traits the Brexit movement shares with the election of Donald Trump.

You can download all of those episodes and more on TuneIn or wherever you get your podcasts. And please tell us what you think with the #withpod. We`d love to hear from you.

That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now.


opy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.