CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I`ll be in the spin room at 7:00 p.m. for HARDBALL and bank for post-debate coverage with the candidates. That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. How Senator Bernie Sanders won a blow-out victory in Nevada. How he became the undisputed front runner.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That is a bit shocking. I will agree. I will agree with you there.
HAYES: how to make sense over the Bernie Sanders freak out?
SANDERS: You know what, they should be getting nervous.
HAYES: Plus, new reporting that the Trump purge of disloyal government officials is as bad as it looks. And as coronavirus cases grow outside of China and global markets panic, what the Trump administration should be doing that it`s not.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have it under control. It`s going to be just fine.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. We are one week and one day away from Super Tuesday, the biggest day of the 2020 primary season. A day that when all is said and done, could create a delegate lead for one candidate that then becomes insurmountable, essentially giving them the nomination.
Over the weekend, Senator Bernie Sanders won big in Nevada, coming off of strong finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. He now has a significant delegate lead. Just a small number of delegates have been a portion but he`s got a lead headed into South Carolina this Saturday.
Vice President Joe Biden has been the favorite in South Carolina since the very moment he announced he was running, probably even before he announced. It`s been seen as the one early stage of the first four that he was absolutely sure to win. But the latest NBC polling shows Biden and Sanders neck and neck. Biden has a four-point lead. And the latest national polling, Sanders is in the lead.
Now, nothing in this race is set yet. People of my job have a tendency to overreact with every new incremental movement and declare, it`s over, it`s finished, before it is. But it seems like there are many people both inside and outside the Democratic Party who are shocked Bernie Sanders is doing so well. His success, though, should not be that surprising. Let me explain why.
If you want to win the Democratic primary in 2020, there are three fundamental things you need to do to come out on top. One, you need to put up wins. You got to win states, get more votes than any of the other competitors, because you have to get more delegates than the other people who are running against you.
Two, you have to have an organization and crucially money that can allow you to play in a dozen different states at the same time, because Super Tuesday is so massive this year and come so early. And three, this is crucial, you need to have a multiracial coalition in the diverse, heterogeneous Democratic Party of the 21st century.
Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who`s checking all those boxes. It was the third one that tripped him up the last time. Remember, that was his problem. He had the first two, he did get some wins, and he did have money. He raised a lot of money from the grassroots. He just could not make real inroads with Black and Latino voters. That`s changed now.
Just look at Nevada. The new morning console national polling, Sanders has at least a 10 point lead on his next closest rivals. Remember, there`s also a very rich history where the runner up in a previously contested primary becomes the nominee the next time around. I mean, that`s literally what happened between 2000 2008 with John McCain, and 2008 and 2012 with Mitt Romney, and 2008 and 2016 with Hillary Clinton.
And that makes a certain kind of sense. You have a leg up on the field the second time you run for president. Bernie Sanders has huge name recognition in the country. He was just running for president four years ago. He was on the ballot. He got tens of millions of votes. He spent years campaigning. He has high favorability ratings.
The Sanders campaign has been impressive to get to this point and it`s not by accident. Bernie Sanders and the people running his campaign did not just stumble into it. Because they very much understood what they needed to do differently this time around. And so far, they`ve been doing it and so far, it has been paying dividends. That`s why Bernie Sanders is currently the front runner in the race.
And to Democrats who are freaking out, I`d say, this is what democracy looks like. It`s what primaries are for. So far, Bernie Sanders has the most support of any of his competitors, and someone is going to have to beat him in order to stop him.
Joining me now for more on how Senator Bernie Sanders built this early lead, Jon Ralston, editor of the Nevada Independent who`s been covering Nevada politics for more than 30 years, and Jennifer Medina, National Political Reporter for The New York Times. Her latest piece, which is great titled How Bernie Sanders Dominated in Nevada.
Jon, let me start with you. The final numbers for Sanders and the delegate apportionment are enormous, partly because other people missed the cutoff. But are you surprised by the significance, the size of the victory here?
JON RALSTON, EDITOR, THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT: I`m not that surprised, Chris, and I`ll tell you why. It`s the three things that you mentioned in the intro about what he has this time that he didn`t have last time. But one thing that he didn`t mention that he has more than any other candidate is the enthusiasm of a core group of supporters who would never support anybody else but him.
When he did pretty well here in 2016, Chris, he had a ragtag campaign not run by political pros. You put the organization that he has this time run by political pros, 250 people on the ground way more than any other candidate tapping into that enthusiasm, which by the way, as you mentioned, he ran in 2016. He`s got the name recognition. A lot of those same people are even more enthusiastic this time, right.
And so you tap into that. I don`t think it`s that surprising that he did so well. Plus, there is the brilliant way that he tapped into the Latino vote here, which Jenny Medina and others have written about and I think that`s a prescription for a blowout win, which is what he got.
HAYES: Yes, Jennifer, your piece in the Times was great. Aida Chavez at the Intercept brought something along the same lines about the sort of organizing effort among Latino constituents. What was the sort of program there that in the first sort of genuinely diverse, multicultural electorate in this calendar, they were able to do so well?
JENNIFER MEDINA, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE NEWS YORK TIMES: The main thing that they did so well was to get out early and to get out often. They opened an office in East Las Vegas months before others did. And many voters that I talked to said that they were the only campaign, the Sanders campaign was the only campaign they had ever heard from.
So they had -- they were reaching out to people, they were organizing soccer tournaments, they were going to high schools, and they were doing things that some Democratic operatives had been urging campaigns to do for years, but hadn`t actually happened before. So, it wasn`t some sort of magical thing. It was just going out and talking to people in the communities that they live in.
HAYES: You know, it`s an interesting thing, John, the ways that these early states test different kinds of abilities to campaign. And that may or may not transfer to national campaigns where you got to run a whole bunch of states with a lot of money. But one of the things this has tested is sort of organizing capacity, and also sort of outreach and the ability to do that.
And in that respect, I think of the three early states, this was the most impressive showing from the Sanders campaign.
RALSTON: Well, I think so. And then that`s almost -- I know, you`re throwing me a softball to talk about how Nevada should be the first state to vote and is the most important state, but it also -- it happens to be true. And what Jenny said is definitely true about how we got here early. They had a real strategy in terms of the -- of the coalition that they were going to build a multiracial coalition.
And if you look at those entrance polls, and they can be flawed that they appear to be right this time about how well he did with the Latino vote, and even with the black vote as well, not losing by that much to Joe Biden. And the fact is that it`s not -- he`s not running against one well-known candidate, this time. And so, the anti-Bernie or the non-Bernie vote is being diffused right among other candidates. So he benefits from that, too.
And that`s partly why, Chris, as you -- and you use the right term, there is this freakout going on among some establishment Democrats because they see what`s happening, and they want candidates to get out of the race o they can coalesce the non-Bernie vote.
HAYES: Although I`m not sure if you look at the math that adds up because a lot of the second choices of the other people supporting other candidates are Sanders, which is one of the things, Jennifer, that I thought was interesting with the entrance polls, right? That, that Sanders wins moderates and self-described moderates and conservatives, and he wins Latino voters by quite a bit. He also wins some of the big caucus sites the culinary union has in the hotels, and they had kind of gone out of their way to not endorse a candidate, but to take some shots at him for Medicare for All and yet, they seem to have some -- their campaign has significant support among the actual rank and file.
MEDINA: Absolutely. I mean, to me, that was one of the most interesting subplots to the Nevada caucus, which is that the canary union, which is the largest and most powerful union in the state, and a huge player in Democratic politics, made no secret of its disdain for Sanders over Medicare for All.
They have a really good health care plan and that the leadership really wants to keep it. But I spoke to many, many culinary union members, the rank and file who said that they were with Sanders regardless of what the leadership was telling them. And you saw that play out, I saw that play out in early voting at the Culinary Union hall itself, and then of course, at the sites on the strip, where you had people showing up in red Culinary Union shirts voting for Bernie Sanders, the very person the leadership had told them not to vote for.
HAYES: Jon, do you think -- Harry Reid has called for the -- to get rid of caucuses. He`s also called for Nevada to be first in the nation. What do you think the future of this state, particularly at this crucial moment, as you look at what the Democratic coalition is in 2020, it`s so important to understand that there`s two Coalition`s in American life and like one of them is genuinely multi-racial and the other really barely is, that this state seems to say, in some ways, a lot more than maybe some of the traditional early states.
RALSTON: I think Harry Reid, Chris, and other Democrats here are really worried about the early state status that Reid achieved when he was at the summit of his power for us in 2008 is really in jeopardy, not just because of the caucus, but because the Democrats want to shake things -- want to shake things up next time.
But you know, people still from afar have this view of Nevada as being this quirky, weird state with casinos and brothels, and all the rest of it all. All of that is true, Chris, but we`re also, the way that Las Vegas has evolved, we are a very diverse, cosmopolitan city, with you know, a quarter of the population being Latino and then 10 percent each are so with black and the Asian vote which is become more and more popular. We do look more like America than a lot of different places do. It would make sense for us to go first.
I`m not just doing this because I`m a partisan for Nevada. I do think it actually makes some sense. But I do think Reid made that announcement, followed today by the chairman of the Democratic Party, we`re done with caucuses. It`s as if to say to the DNC, please, please, let us keep our early states stand. We`ll do it right next time.
HAYES: All right, Jon Ralston, Jennifer Medina, thank you both. I really appreciate it.
MEDINA: Thank you.
HAYES: Joining me now, Faiz Shakir, the campaign manager for Senator Bernie Sanders. I want to start on this sort of how you conceive of what lessons you learned from last time around, particularly making inroads among populations and demographics and parts of the Democratic coalition that frankly, Senator Sanders had a hard time with last time.
FAIZ SHAKIR, CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, that could be a very long conversation with you, Chris, but I`ll start with a few. One is obviously our candidate ran before but I think there`s still some building out who Bernie Sanders is for a lot of people. I mean, I think this is somebody who`s life experiences were not even still fully known to everyone. Some of us fought for racial justice, and really wanted to campaign that reflected that diversity. So we certainly accomplish that, and feel good about the composition of the staff and who we fight for and how we represent them.
But in addition to that, operationally, you know, you`re talking about a movement, right, Chris, you and I have been in these spaces where you`re trying to basically take a movement and confine it into the trappings of a presidential campaign which often comes with discipline and message and all those things that movement agitators sometimes go against.
And so you`re trying to kind of blend the two which, from my perspective as a campaign manager, you try to harness what is the best of a movement while operationally trying to make sure that you`re executing a presidential campaign, which I think hopefully we`re doing decently well so far, but we haven`t yet accomplished what we came for.
HAYES: Well, no, and it`s early. Like I said in the intro, like people have a tendency to take whatever happened that day in the campaign and project it forward. It`s not the way that campaigns work. There are people -- so I understand that Sanders tweeted about the Democratic establishment can`t stop us, the Republican establishment can`t stop us. I think there`s a sense that the senator has and people around him that there are powerful forces that don`t want to see him be the president or the nominee. But I want to I want you to address people that don`t feel that way, but have good faith concerns, OK.
People who I talked to, people out there who are like this guy is going to get creamed, are you out of your mind? A 78-year-old Democratic socialist, this is going to be McGovern again. Like there are people who don`t hate Bernie Sanders, might even like some of his policies, who genuinely just worry about that. What is the talk you give to a person who approaches you in good faith and says that to you?
SHAKIR: Well, so first of all, Bernie Sanders has run for president before and 99 percent of people in this country know who he is. And that`s a wonderful asset to have. It certainly benefited us over the course of this campaign. And when you ask people, what do you know about Bernie Sanders, you often get a substantive answer in response.
You either get, oh, he fights for Medicare for all, or he fights the corporate special interests and billionaire power. That means that when you look at head to head polls around the country, it`s built on a spine. That number that you see of him beating Trump head to head in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, nationally, suggest that people know who he is.
And so, for any concern that might be out there about oh, this label, that label, socialism, whatever, you know what outperforms that? The name Bernie Sanders. They know who he is. They know what he fights for. And that means when the assault or when the attacks come, and we all know that they will, he`ll hold up to them because his support has been based off of such substance.
HAYES: So here`s -- so that segues to one of the things happening in the news today. So there`s also a fear, right, that there`s like he`s been around for 30, 40 years. He said a bunch of stuff. He`s written a bunch of stuff. He`s praised various world leaders, some of whom were heads of Marxist insurgencies in Latin America.
He said that Fidel Castro, part of the popularity of the early years of revolution had to do with the provisions of literacy and health care. That was -- he was asked about that in an Anderson Cooper interview on Sunday night. There was a bunch of Florida Democrats basically saying today no. Red line, Castro is terrible. We don`t want a Democratic Party that`s praising Castro.
And the merits of the thing aside, isn`t that exactly the kind of thing that worries you or worries people about Sanders` electability?
SHAKIR: So from my perspective, Chris, it`s one of the reasons that I love and fight for Bernie Sanders. There`s integrity and honesty that you get with him. And what that means is when you ask him a direct question, he gives you a direct response that comes from his heart, and from his soul, tells you exactly what he`s thinking, right. And that means that sometimes you may disagree with his perspective, but you know, he`s straight -- he`s shooting straight with you. He`s not playing a political game.
So when you ask him about, hey, how about Cuba and then Castro? Oh, well, he`s an authoritarian. He`s engaged in human rights abuses. However, there were some good things that happened in Cuba, and so we should acknowledge those too, and that`s an honest answer. And then other people will play political games.
And that`s why, for instance, Chris, I think over the course of this game, we benefited from the fact that his straight-shooting, his integrity, his honesty rises above other people`s efforts to try to offer political barbs and try to throw cheap shots in the kitchen sink at him. He rises above it, because what he`s telling you is what he believes and what he will fight for.
HAYES: Yes. Well, we`re going to -- that`s going to be tested, but I think that`s a pretty good answer. Faiz Shakir, thank you very much.
SHAKIR: Thank you.
HAYES: Next, new reporting about the President`s purging of anyone not ready to fall in line, that the administration`s motives are just as corrupt as we feared. The details in two minutes.
HAYES: Until recently, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia was a woman named Jessie Liu. That is until the end of January when we learned that she was going to be replaced. Now, in her role as the U.S. Attorney in D.C., Liu had overseen the prosecution of two Trump allies former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and longtime Trump buddy and associate Roger stone. Nonetheless, the president nominated her for a top sanctions job in the Treasury Department.
Then about two weeks ago, the president abruptly yanked Liu`s nomination. At the time, it was unclear exactly why he changed his mind, but now the story is being filled in. Axios reports that shortly before withdrawing the nomination, the president reviewed a memo of her alleged misdeeds that had been prepared by a group of outside conservative activists including Ginni Thomas, and if that name rings a bell, she also happens to be the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Now, this group is waging a kind of purge against officials they see as insufficiently pro-Trump. And the reasons for wanting this U.S. Attorney Gone are deeply unnerving. They include not acting on criminal referrals and some of Justice Brett Kavanaugh`s accusers, signing the sentencing filing asking for jail time for Michael Flynn, and dismissing charges against "the violent inauguration protesters who plotted to disrupt the inauguration." That`s after the government`s case fell apart and was in shambles.
The memo is kind of a smoking gun. I mean, there`s a black and white document that shows the Trump administration`s motives or at least the people advising them in purging it`s perceived enemies are precisely as corrupt and authoritarian as we fear. I`m joined now by Washington Post investigative reporter Carol Leonnig, co-author of the book A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump`s Testing of America.
Carol, this has been a subplot of the administration for the beginning, right? This sense of not being staffed loyalists, not having enough loyalists to actually run an administration of having back servers. And I want to say that a president should have people that he trusts and is loyal to. But what`s going on here seems different than anything I`ve ever encountered before.
CAROL LEONNIG, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: For us to, I have to say, Chris, the last two weeks have been really shocking in terms of what we expect about a Justice Department, and the U.S. Attorney`s Office and the District of Columbia is a part of very important part of the Justice Department. The idea that it should be without fear or favor, and blind, and objective, and in this case, you have people who have a very vested interest in some of the plaintiffs who appeared before this -- forgive me, the suspects that appear before this court, trying to whisper in the ear of the president that this group of prosecutors went too hard on these individuals and therefore, this U.S. attorney should be bounced from any future jobs.
HAYES: And in case, Barbara Ledeen is one of the folks who`s part of this group, who wrote the memos as an associate, close associate of Michael Flynn, so has a very vested interest, right? I mean, it`s like, if I`m working with someone and they get prosecuted, like I probably won`t like the prosecutor very much, but that shouldn`t be the controlling opinion necessarily.
LEONNIG: Very close family friends with Michael Flynn, the Ledeens are. And Michael Ledeen, Barbara Ledeen`s husband, co-wrote a book with Michael Flynn. They were there for his sentencing in December, which did not go as they expected when Judge Sullivan said that Michael Flynn would likely do jail time and he was not convinced that they should proceed with the sentencing at that time until he had seen all of his cooperation.
He also accused Michael Flynn of basically selling out his country, which shocked all of Michael Flynn`s allies in the room. They had expected something quite contrary. But your point about the purge is really something striking because here you have secret memos written under dark of night, shared with the president almost like a whisper, trying to, in a McCarthy like way, tell you about how somebody isn`t trustworthy enough.
Jessie Liu has a reputation of being a pretty solid prosecutor who didn`t exactly, you know, go against the President`s wishes. She was a political appointee who served him and here she`s being cast aside as somebody who wasn`t hard enough on the President`s enemies.
HAYES: There`s also -- one of the most worrying aspects that means to me, and that`s my editorializing here is that it`s just the nature of Barr in all this. I mean, it seems that Barr is kind of a type with some of the folks like with the Ginni Thomas`s and Barbara Ledeens, like he sort of views himself in some ways as kind of a warrior on the President`s behalf, as someone who feels the President has been undone and by the people and hits miss.
There`s this quote from a CNN piece that said current and former justice officials described an attorney general who doesn`t readily take advice and is prone to right-wing conspiracy he reads in fringe conservative sites on the internet. And honestly, that makes sense of a lot of his behavior to be honest.
LEONNIG: You know, I can`t be in Bill Barr`s head, but there are some actions he`s taken that tell you he is the President`s lawyer and an ardent supporter. You know, the most classic example was what he did very soon after becoming Attorney General. His four-page memo explaining the President had been exonerated, that there was nothing to see here, when in fact, there was plenty to see here.
This current moment though, strikes me as someplace where Barr is actually feeling the heat because you know, 2,000 -- more than 2,000 Justice Department alums are now rattling their sabers and saying we`re worried about the integrity, the appearance of corruption within the Justice Department. We want everyone to presume this body is above political maneuvering, and we`re worried. And now Barr is having to answer for some of that.
HAYES: That`s a really interesting point. I hadn`t quite heard it that way, Carol Leonnig, thank you for being with me tonight.
LEONNIG: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, new reporting on the President`s efforts to downplay the risk of coronavirus in order to help his own reelection. We`ll talk about what the United States should be doing after this.
HAYES: So today, the Dow Jones Industrial average dropped over 1,000 points on fears of what could be a global pandemic in the making. When the coronavirus first appeared, there were hopes it could be contained within China. But there are now confirmed cases in more than 30 countries across the world. That includes places like Iran, and Italy, South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. among others. It is unclear how much this will spread and also how deadly it will be. It is also unclear what the U.S. is doing to prepare.
In the midst of the outbreak, the Trump administration put out a budget calling for aggressive cuts on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The State Department also apparently contravened the CDC on the evacuation of 14 Americans from a cruise ship dock in Japan. They were infected with the coronavirus and they were put on the same planes as uninfected passengers.
There is a little indication of what the government is planning to do with the virus spreads in the United States which seems increasingly likely. The Washington Post reporting last week that Trump has "Told advisors he does not want the administration to do or say anything that would further spook the markets. He remains worried that any large-scale outbreak could hurt his reelection bid."
Here to talk about what we should be doing instead of worrying about the markets, Dr. Irwin Redlener, Professor of Health and Policy and Management and Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University. It`s good to have you here.
IRWIN REDLENER, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: I guess, first sort of where we are in this. People talk about epidemic versus pandemic. People saying this sort of genies out of the bottle. What`s the distinction there?
REDLENER: Well, the distinction should be is there a new virus that`s actually lethal and spreading from person to person? That`s an epidemic when it starts to spread within a country. When it crosses national borders is when we start to think about a pandemic, which is, of course, it`s already done.
REDLENER: Why the World Health Organization is delaying this designation is not clear, probably politics involved and so on. On the other hand, calling it a pandemic raises the level of fear and anxiety and affects the global economic markets and all of that.
But it also really drives attention on trying to solve this problem. And you really do have some major problems right now.
HAYES: I saw Ron Klain who was the Ebola czar. And I think you were...
REDLENER: I was advising him.
HAYES: You were advising him during that. Who said, look, all the measures that have been taken so far are a buy time.
HAYES: Right, because it has sort of gotten out of China. And we -- and then we`re using the time to do what? What should we be doing right now?
REDLENER: There`s three very urgent things to do. One, make sure we have an effective test that could be distributed worldwide. A couple of weeks ago our own CDC distributed 200 testing kits. They turned out to have defective chemicals, reagents. They had to bring them all back. There`s no time-line for when they`re going to send out appropriate kits. That`s number one.
HAYES: So we don`t have like a comprehensive test that -- available?
REDLENER: We have it, but in tiny quantities, but the states don`t have it, the CDC has it.
HAYES: Got you.
REDLENER: Point two, we need the vaccine to prevent this vaccine to prevent this disease. We`re still nine months to 12 months away from getting that done, which is a real -- obviously a real problem.
Third thing is, and people are working on this, is that we don`t have a specific anti-viral medication like we talked about Tamiflu with bird flu and so on. We have nothing like that. So all of the treatment, even for severely ill people, is quote unquote supportive. It means you go in to a hospital bed, you may go on a mechanical ventilator.
HAYES: And get IV and things like that.
REDLENER: All of that. But we have a big problem in those three technical areas.
But the underlying issue that is really causing us big problems right now is the reporting of this illness, especially like out of China where it originally started, has been abysmal. So, we`ve had now spread across many countries -- I don`t know which countries are actually putting out believable, reliable information, certainly not China. And that`s been a big problem.
HAYES: Or there was news today about Iran, and there was a legislator in Iran who said 53 people died in Comb (ph), which is a city that has a lot of pilgrims in it and a lot of migrants. And then it`s unclear whether that`s true or not. But if that number were true -- and again we don`t know, this is what the legislator said, there`s -- that would indicate there`s a big problem in Iran.
REDLENER: So, imagine if northern Syria in the midst of all of this violence and disruption, had an outbreak of coronavirus, which could could actually happen. Their health care and public health systems are devastated there. We could have problems we can`t even dream about right now.
So, we have a lot to worry about. And I actually do hope it is declared a pandemic as it actually is so we can really up the ante on how fast we`re doing things.
HAYES: I guess the -- you know, I`ve seen some people say, look, it`s just like the flu, and, you know, it`s a strain of something, it`s a flu-like virus. The flu kills 30,000 Americans every year, which is a shocking number, but that -- there`s no reason to panic here. And that at the same time I see people saying like I think the world is sleeping on this a little bit.
REDLENER: Well, it`s kind of a weird combination of those two extreme kind of ending up in very confused understanding what people should do about it. You know, my son`s father-in-law will not travel to visit his grandchildren in San Francisco to Los Angeles. And there`s all kinds of decisions that people are making without much reliable information.
What does not help, though, is for the president to come out blithely saying everything is under control, nothing to worry about here, move on. And I think that`s wrong. We need need to find a balanced approach to communicate honestly about what we`re actually dealing with and that does not mean panic. But try telling that to the financial markets, who are, in fact, panicking at the moment. We`ll see what happens with that.
HAYES: Yeah, they have been the most panicky about this from the beginning. Dr. Irwin Redlener, thank you very much.
REDLENER: Sure, Chris. Thank you.
HAYES: Thank you.
Coming up, making sense of the freak-out over the Bernie Sanders surge. Rebecca Traister, Christina Greer, Sam Seder will all join me right here at this table. Plus, guys, Thing One, Thing Two is back. Did you miss it? Stick around, it`s coming up next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, Donald Trump is in India this week spending a very quick two days in the world`s largest democracy to meet with Prime Minister Modi and work towards a trade deal. The president has also been taking in some of the sights. Here he is visiting Gandhi`s former home, learning how to spin cotton. Here`s Trump and Melania posing for a photo outside of the Taj Mahal, as some people noted, the one he didn`t bankrupt.
Yes, it`s hard to believe it`s been 30 years since Donald Trump opened his spectacularly failed Atlantic City casino with a little help from some famous friends.
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ROBIN LEACH, ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: If the Taj Mahal casino is the eighth wonder of the world, on that day it seemed the beloved gloved one ranked 9th. 75,000 fans nearly swept away super model Elle Macpherson, but they didn`t stop the casino topping $2 million for the day.
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HAYES: Well, that sure didn`t last. Within a year the Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy, was eventually sold off for about four cents on the dollar.
So, it would be understandable if Trump maybe lost his appetite after that. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Donald Trump is a famously picky eater. As far as we know his diet mostly consists of meat loaf, well done steaks with ketchup, and hamburgers, which is probably making things real tricky right now while he`s in India where many people revere cows, of course, as sacred, some places meat eating is so taboo it`s not done in public.
And according to people familiar with the trips planning, the prime minister of India, a devoted vegetarian, plans to serve vegetarian food to the president.
Now, on previous trips Trump`s staff has intervened to make sure he gets food he likes. What exactly that means we`re not sure, but a former official said of this situation, quote, "I don`t know what he`s going to do in this case. They don`t serve cheeseburgers."
A person close to Trump, who has dined with him on several occasions said he has salad with a meal every now and then, but other than that, quote, "I have never seen him eat a vegetable."
Now all this could be partially due to the fact that his doctor, Ronnie Jackson, never got the chance to help Trump get healthier after that infamous physical, because he was forced out following allegations about inappropriate behavior.
Ronnie Jackson recently told The New York Times, quote, "the exercise stuff never took off as much as I wanted it to, but we were working on his diet. We were making the ice cream less accessible, we were putting cauliflower into the mashed potatoes."
Apparently someone else was intervening.
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DR. RONNIE JACKSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: Some people have, you know, just great genes. You know, I told the president that if he had a healthier diet over the last 20 years he might live to be 200 years old. I don`t know. I mean, he has incredible genes, I just assume.
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HAYES: You notice there`s a bit of a freak out among certain segments of Democrats and members of the media about Bernie Sanders`s strong position in the Democratic field. And there are I think two aspects to the freak out. One substantive, from people who just -- they don`t like his politics and his policies. They think he would be a bad president. And to that I say, fine, the argument over which candidate`s policy platform best serves America is the right argument to have during a primary.
But the much bigger argument, or the one that I see more often is that Sanders is sure to be an electoral disaster. He`s going to be George McGovern all over again. He`s going to get annihilated. And I am just here to tell you that the evidence we have, to the extent we have evidence about an unknowable future, just does not support that at all.
I mean, I spent all day look at this stuff. I would love to know the future, as we all would. We can`t know the future. All we can do is just look at some of the evidence that we have, and I`m telling you it`s not in the data, it just isn`t.
Here are the head to head match-ups between President Trump and the Democratic presidential candidates. He is consistently, in poll after poll after poll, at or near the top of all of them. While the candidates who are characterized often as more electable are lower.
Sanders has higher favorability ratings than any other Democratic presidential candidate in the field. His campaign has raised more money. His campaign`s cash on hand in the latest FEC filing more than double the other non-billionaire candidates. And his ability to raise money is not nothing when i t comes to electability and possibly a billion dollars being dropped on his head.
Now, there are swing district congressional members in congress who really do worry about Sanders` effects on them, about being dragged down on those down ballot races. And I`ve got to say they might be right. They know their districts well. They also might be wrong. I don`t know. I do know, I definitely heard that a lot in 2016 from a lot of swing Republican members, as political scientist Kyle Kondik points out in the New York Times op-ed, those fears about down ballot drags might be overstated.
But I`m open to data. We`ll see.
I mean, look, left wing candidates sometimes lose. They sometimes get drubbed. George McGovern wasn`t a left-winger, he was a liberal, but he famously lost in a landslide defeat to Richard Nixon in 1972 after his insurgent progressive campaign managed to capture the Democratic Party nomination. And that`s a trauma that has stayed with people for generations, understandably so.
If you can point me to the data that we have where Sanders is seven points behind in head to head match ups with Trump, I think there would be a real reason to worry, but it`s just not what the data says.
If you don`t like Bernie Sanders because you don`t think he`d be a good president, then that`s your choice, you should act on that as a citizen. But if you are freaking out because he is so obviously an electoral disaster, I`m here to tell you it`s just not what the information that we have now suggests.
So how to make sense of the Sanders freak out next.
HAYES: As I said, there`s a real freak out happening in the circles of media and punditry about the very real possibility Bernie Sanders will win the Democratic nomination, but that same sense of angst and panic does not necessarily translate I think to the broader world of Democratic primary voters who really do view Sanders incredibly favorable.
To talk more about this, I`m joined by Sam Seder, host of the Majority Report; Christina Greer, political science professor at Fordham University; and Rebecca Traister, writer at-large at New York Magazine.
Rebecca, it seems to me like -- so one of the lessons of 2016, I think, was about the social distance of the world of people that cover politics and think about it all day and like the voters out there. And that got over done a little bit as we all like parachuted into diners and like did -- but there was something happening, right. There was like a thing that a lot of people didn`t see coming because they were kind of disconnected from the place it was happening.
And I feel like that`s replicating itself a little bit with what`s happening in the Democratic primary.
REBECCA TRAISTER, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Yeah, well you have a lot of the same people who are communicating these messages. You have a lot of the same people who are still part of the party establishment. You have the same people in charge of the media who are the pundits. You have a lot of this very same faces.
And one of the things that I keep going back to that nobody seems to have learned is that they don`t know anything going in.
HAYES: That`s the key. If you don`t know.
TRAISTER: I can`t believe we can all disagree on the 45,000 lessons of 2016, but here`s one we should all agree on, nobody knew.
HAYES: You don`t know, rig ht.
TRAISTER: And that`s OK as a place to begin thinking about what`s happening in front of you and what could happen, but it is the thing that was not learned. And I think the desire to have control and tell you exactly what`s going to happen is part of what got us to the idea that people are stunned that Bernie Sanders might be winning and now that they`re like freaking out that he`s definitely going to...
TRAISTER: It all about desire to proclaim knowledge and wisdom.
CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right. Well, I`m waiting for South Carolina, just because I don`t know this is the first time we`re going to see African-Americans at the polls.
HAYES: As I said at the top, like no one should be overstating the case here, like things are dynamic. Things change.
GREER: Right. And this is only our second primary. We know caucuses are very different behavior set than primaries. And this is our first time we`re in the south. I am not saying that Bernie Sanders won`t do well, but also the other wild card we have is Michael Bloomberg and the amount of money that he can spend to micro-target to people to get them to not think about Bernie Sanders as a viable candidate, because as Rebecca said...
HAYES: Which he`s going do this week.
GREER: On a daily basis for the punditry class and for journalists, there are people who walk up to you and just say what is happening? Please tell me what is going -- like who the nominee will be. And the thing is it`s way too early, because we don`t know the influence of money. We don`t know how candidates will behave. We also have how many septuagenarians in the race? Like there are a lot of wild card factors that can occur between now, Super Tuesday, and the DNC convention.
SAM SEDER, HOST, MAJORITY REPORT: I think that`s true. But I also think that if there was a counter factual where Joe Biden had won the first three races, where he was raking in millions of dollars...
HAYES: Oh, he`d be the nominee, yeah.
SEDER: ...where he had already established an organization that was the largest organization I think that exists. You know, Bloomberg`s coming in late. He`s paying a lot of people. They show up to work with what level of enthusiasm I`m not quite sure. I mean, I guess we`ll find out more.
But I mean, I also have to say that I think it is the case that it`s very hard to know these things, but I work in a very populist medium, frankly, like am talk radio, I was there. And I still take phone calls on my show now.
And I got a call in 2015 from a writer from Politico, and I cannot remember his name, although I do have it written down somewhere. And he was doing a story on Martin O`Malley at the time. And he said to me, I`m doing a story on Martin O`Malley. He wants to know how he can get progressives away from Elizabeth Warren. And I was like, Elizabeth Warren? She`s not running. Bernie Sanders is running. And he started to laugh. I mean, literally laugh. And he`s like -- I`m like, you don`t know what`s going on out there.
And I think to a certain extent, you know, we saw this with the blogs back in the early 00s. The media that is closest to people, I think, has a better sense on some level of maybe in this populist moment, maybe in other moments not so much, as to what is going on on the ground.
HAYES: Well, part of it, too, is that like there is a lot of different publics, right. That is part of what I think is the difficulty here. Because like for a year there was this thing about like, oh, you folks who are on Twitter, who are on like woke Twitter, you understand that real voters who out there view themselves as moderate and conservative and they like Joe Biden. And there was something to that. It is true that a large chunk of voters call themselves moderates and conservative, it`s just a lot of them are voting for Bernie Sanders now.
And also Joe Biden, like the story of the race so far in some ways is Joe Biden has the dog that didn`t bark, right. Like if the establishment is mad, be mad at Joe Biden and the people that campaigned.
GREER: But also Joe Biden is also a registered Democrat, unlike Bernie Sanders.
TRAISTER: Right, but be mad not only at Joe Biden but at the establishment that decided to get behind him a year ago and were insistent that this was the guy that was going to do it...
HAYES: Who bludgeoned everyone.
TRAISTER: ...contrary to all of the good evidence. There were a lot of good people out here, including people here, talking about the weaknesses that Joe Biden had always exhibited as a candidate. There were a lot of good reasons to think -- and in fact I think they played themselves, the centrists who are worried right now, played themselves to an extraordinary degree by deciding that this was going to be the one guy who could do it, and in doing so losing all kinds of other candidates...
HAYES: Cory Booker, Kamala Harris.
GREER: I think all of the people who were 40s and 50s...
GREER: Hey, Tom Perez, where are you and what are you doing, right? I mean, Joe Biden does not have a history of doing well in presidential races. He ran most of his -- you know, past year as a coronation. Yet again, we see a Democrat running as a coronation, instead of a proper campaign. The Obama bump was not enough. Obama is not coming to save him. There is no life vest coming from Barack Obama. And so here we are.
We know, though, that the Democrats also have this problem where they`re chasing this elusive white working class voter that Amy Klobuchar always talks about that left with Jimmy Carter. They`re not coming back, and very few candidates are actively going out to try and get new voters -- voters of color, young people, essentially people that Obama got. And so I think this is part of the Bernie sort of collective freak out from the Democratic establishment where he`s like, well, actually I will try and talk to some Latino, and Latinx voters or Asian-American voters or black voters who are very diverse. And we`re seeing, there are a lot of black voters who will go with Joe Biden. There are a lot of white voters will go with Mike Bloomberg. And there are going to be another significant portion that will go with Bernie Sanders that`s why I need to see South Carolina before we can...
SEDER: And I think -- you know, the other thing we don`t know, too, and you know, this is one piece of data that we don`t have is are we talking about low propensity voters? Like who has the low propensity voters? And who has the high propensity voters? I mean, when Iowa came in we were like, oh, the numbers are...
HAYES: Were not great.
SEDER: Just were not great. But we can`t tell...
HAYES: Right, who those people are.
SEDER: Who those people are. If they are new people, and some of the high propensity voters are saying, like I don`t care. I`ll vote for whatever Democrat, I don`t need to go to the primary because I`m going to vote for the Democrat you choose.
HAYES: Part of it is like it`s the angst of having the decision being made. So, it`s like Bloomberg, right. I talked to -- like before Bloomberg was on the debate stage, and I was off last week, but...
GREER: It didn`t go well, sorry.
HAYES: That`s what I hear.
Well, but here`s the thing about that. It`s like, you know, there`s always -- the image of a candidate, the initial part of the candidate is always nicer than like when they get in the muck. And you know, that`s just going to happen with everyone. It really happened to Mike Bloomberg who has a lot of things that he is very attackable on.
GREER: You know what, he also has 67 billion other things that he can try and help people forget what they saw, because he can micro-target to you with specifically with glasses who lives in Brooklyn or whatever that may be, and help you misremember what you saw last week if you were watching.
SEDER: Yeah, hopefully they don`t tune in this week.
TRAISTER: But some of the turnout anxieties and everything I think are also a product of an establishment and punditry that made this so much about this notion of electability, which we know can be formed around identity, gender, race, left politics, center politics, and this was made so much about...
HAYES: I totally agree.
TRAISTER: ...who is going to win with this false I know the path and I know who it`s going to be which is all fake, all wrong.
But what it did was take away the process, as it should be, which is people go out and vote for the people...
HAYES: Who they want.
TRAISTER: ...they want the most. And who they want to be president. And that`s not happening so far, and it needs to happen if we`re going to get a candidate that people are really excited about.
HAYES: Yeah, I totally agree with that. It was like my one framework for entering this whole thing was just like I don`t know who is electable and you shouldn`t worry about that, because no one does and you should vote for -- and what you end up with is you end up with a version of the housing bubble where people are buying homes to flip them as opposed to live in them. And so then they buy these properties, because some other schmo is going to take them. It`s like, no, you...
GREER: But I think, Chris, especially with voters of color what the data is showing is they -- a lot of voters of color don`t vote their first choice...
HAYES: No, of course.
GREER: Because we have to think about what white voters are going to do, and we`ve seen (inaudible) poorly as far as the Democrats are concerned, the independents, and so...
HAYES: That`s a great point.
GREER: If the single issue for a lot of voters of color is not Donald Trump in 2020. So, it`s like I may love Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris, but it`s like but I know that, you know, the data shows white men, white women are not going for that, so maybe I should just go for someone who is electable even if they`re not my first or second choice.
HAYES: And Trump was scarring in that regard, rightly so, right? It`s like, oh my god, we can get this.
SEDER: And there`s been a constant refrain that he is an existential threat to the country. True or not, you know, I think it`s very possible.
GREER: It`s very true.
TRAISTER: It`s true.
SEDER: But he certainly is an existential threat to different cohorts within this country, you know, directly. You know people of color I think are like feeling the implications of that more.And so it does make some sense that electability, even if you can`t establish what it is, you would aim for it.
HAYES: That`s the thing. If someone could come and give you a magic pill that says like here`s the future, and here`s the numbers for all of these people, then, like yeah, I can see taking -- I think I probably would vote with that, but there`s no magic pill.
TRAISTER: And the wrongness of the people who told you that that pill, for example, was Joe Biden is part of what`s on display right now.
HAYES: Sam Seder, Christina Greer, and Rebecca Traister, thank you for joining us.
Don`t forget, at the end of this week, I`m going to be in Charleston, South Carolina, ahead of what could be a make or break moment for some of these campaigns. And now I can announce another stop on our All In primary state tour and how you can be part of it. This time, we`re headed to Los Angeles, California in the lead up to Super Tuesday, so if you are in or around Los Angeles, come join the audience next Monday, March 2nd, that`s one week from today. Tickets are free and available now. Head to MSNBC.com/AllIn2020 to get yours today.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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