STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. Welcome to HARDBALL. I`m Steve Kornacki in for Chris Matthews. And we`ve got a lot of politics to get to tonight.
But, first, we go to the southern states of the eastern seaboard. That is where millions are now poised to experience Hurricane Dorian`s wrath for the very first time. Dorian is right now moving parallel to the coast of Georgia. It will scrape along the shores of South Carolina tomorrow. Residents there are bracing for that area`s worst potential flooding in 30 years, according to NBC News.
Mass evacuations have been underway in the affected regions as the hurricane will deliver 110-mile-per-hour winds, torrential rain, possibly even what they call tropical tornadoes. According to prediction models, Dorian`s projected track has moved slightly inland now with a possible landfall in North Carolina by Friday morning.
While the hurricane has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, the diameter of the storm has actually expanded as it creeps up along the eastern seaboard.
We are also getting a clearer picture of the extent of devastation wreaked by Dorian in the northern islands of the Bahamas. That`s where the death toll has now officially reached 20. It is also expected to rise according to the Minister of Health there.
The storm struck as a Category 5 hurricane before slowing to a virtual standstill over those islands for almost two days. It wasn`t until this morning that Grand Bahama Island issued an all clear notice.
For the second day, rescuers there continued their efforts to reach victims using boats, jet skis and airlifts to get relief to those who bore the brunt of the storm. Here is a look at some of the sights and sounds amid all that devastation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUBERT MINNIS, BAHAMIAN PRIME MINISTER: We are in the midst of one of the greatest national crisis in our country`s history. The government will bring to bear every resource of state possible to help the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what we`re up against and uncertain of any rescue on the way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in a two-bedroom apartment, and the roof literally caved in on us, and we had to make a run for it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolute devastation. And it really is heartbreaking. Just from the air, it looks completely leveled.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need help. We need help. That`s all I can say. That`s it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know from what we`ve been seeing and hearing that this one will be -- will require the help of all persons. We will need the world to help us with this one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Well, according to a spokesman from the Red Cross, about 45 percent, nearly half of the homes on the hardest hit islands are likely to be damaged or destroyed.
Amid all of this, and as the storm bears down on the United States, President Trump today showcased a doctored image, what appeared to be a doctored image of the region affected by the storm. The president`s map appeared to be edited by hand with a sharpie marker, falsely indicating the storm would impact or could impact Alabama. That is a claim that the National Weather Service has already denied. We will get to that shortly, but, first, the storm itself.
MSNBC`s Ali Velshi is in Charleston, South Carolina. Ali, you can certainly see it is kicking up behind you there. Tomorrow expected to be the critical day. Tell us what it`s like on the ground there.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC CO-HOST, VELSHI & RUHLE: Well, look, you can take a look. The wind blowing, we`ve got gusts probably about 30 miles an hour right now. It doesn`t feel particularly serious. It`s clearly a storm. There is rain coming down. We`ve got the outer bands of the hurricane coming in. The problem is this thing, which is a Category 2, is going to stay a Category 2 all the way through to when it passes Charleston, South Carolina.
Now, that is south right behind me, right. That way is south. That storm is about 145 miles-ish that way. It`s going to be that way east in about 24 hours from now. And that`s when it`s going to be serious. However, it`s going to get serious here tomorrow at about noon or so.
Let me show you why. This is a low-lying place to start with. It floods even in normal storm conditions. You can see everything is closed. This is the Ruth`s Chris, it`s sandbagged and they`ve got plastic on this to try and keep it dry. This is going to flood.
What you`ve seen in the city already is that they`ve even tried to lower the lake levels around here. They`ve got vehicles standing by, water rescue, search and rescue, they`ve got all sorts of abilities to try and get people out. But we`re going get high tide tonight at about between midnight and 1:00 A.M. Take a look over there, galleries, Sunglass Hut. Not everything is boarded up. They`re worried about the flooding.
Now, about noon tomorrow, or 1:00 Eastern, we`re going to get high tide again. And that`s when the worst of the storm surge is going to be. It will be fully six hours before the hurricane is as close to this as it should be. But it`s actually going to be more damaging at about noon to 1:00 tomorrow.
And the concern here, as you know, Steve, always the case in hurricanes, the wind, that is what gets the images. That`s what looks like a hurricane. The danger in hurricanes is always the water, the flooding. Charleston`s got a lot of infrastructure. It`s a city. The danger is, of course, the low-lying areas around here that are going to flood. They`ve already started flooding, and they`re going to flood all the way through for the next 24 hours. And depending on how this storm lingers, it could be longer than that.
We`re not probably the closest point to where this hurricane is going to be. That`s going to be northeast of here, where Hurricane Florence made landfall last year. That`s what they`re expecting, somewhere between Wilmington and Morehouse City. We`re going keep a close eye on that.
But as far as population centers go, Charleston is going to be the place that is going to feel the worst of this hurricane over the course of the next 24 hours. Steve?
KORNACKI: Okay. Ali Velshi, I`m sure you`ll keep us posted. We will be checking back with you a lot in the next 24 hours. Thank you for that update. We appreciate that and stay safe there as well.
Joining me by phone from Nassau in the Bahamas is Neko Gibson, who owns a helicopter ambulance service, was running rescue operations there today. Neko, thank you for taking a few minutes just to update us, and thank you as well for all of the work you`re doing there amidst all that devastation.
I just want to ask you first, we had the news at the top of the hour. They have now officially raised the death toll to 20. What is your sense of how high that number might rise just from what you`re saying?
NEKO GIBSON, NASSAU BAHAMAS: To be honest with you, I have simply no idea. There is so much -- there is just so much disaster, there is so much water, so much debris. I mean, that Category 5 hurricane really left a trail and we really have to keep digging and keep picking up the pieces until we can get a better assessment. But it doesn`t look good from this end.
KORNACKI: And just in terms of we are playing some video there that we have received from the island, you had somebody who was stuck in their house saying they`re not sure if anybody is even going to be able to get to them. How much trouble are you having, just getting to people there?
GIBSON: From what I`ve been told, I mean, I know the Royal Bahamas Defense Force and U.S. Coast Guard, they have all been doing an amazing job with the search-and-rescue efforts and the machinery that everybody is using to get to these people. It is quite difficult, and, you know, like I said, we`re kind of taking it one step at a time there. But it is very hard.
KORNACKI: Can you just give us a sense? Is there any parallel to this you`ve ever seen, you have ever experienced or is this totally in a class of its own?
GIBSON: This is definitely in a class of its own. I mean, the Bahamas, we struggle, in the Southeast Bahamas with Joaquin a couple of islands a couple of years ago. That was not that that hurricane as drastic as that was for us. This is an entirely different level.
KORNACKI: Yes. We have just been looking at some of those scenes on the screen as we talk to you of just utter, utter devastation. We thank you again for taking a few minutes, and thank you for all the work you`re doing there on the ground, just a horrifying scene. Thank you for joining us though, Neko Gibson.
GIBSON: No worries. Thank you so much.
KORNACKI: Okay. Meanwhile, on Sunday, the National Weather Service had to issue a statement correcting the president`s claim that the State of Alabama was at risk from Hurricane Dorian. And yet on Monday, Trump insisted on Twitter that his claim had been true.
And then when the president today held a briefing on the storm in the Oval Office, he showcased the map you`re seeing here, this map from last Thursday, showing the projected path of the storm.
Now, this map he showed today appeared to be edited by hand with a sharpie marker. It shows that someone seems to have extended the region impacted by Dorian west, at least potentially impacted to include Alabama.
We don`t know exactly what happened here, who drew that line, exactly what`s going on. But here is what the president said when asked about the altered map later today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I know that Alabama was in the original forecast. They thought it would get it as a piece of it. It was supposed to go -- actually, we have a better map than that which is going to be presented where we had many lines going directly, many models, each line being a model, and they were going directly through, and in all cases, Alabama was hit. If not, lightly, in some cases, pretty hard.
REPORTER: That map that you showed us today looked like almost like it had a sharpie --
TRUMP: I don`t know, I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, defending the president, the White House tonight released a map that they say was given to the president on Sunday showing the hurricane`s cone of uncertain overlapping very slightly with the State of Alabama.
Additionally, the president tweeted out a map dated from a week ago showing the various paths the hurricane could have taken.
I want to bring in Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for the Associated Press. Jonathan, I think not a topic anybody expected this morning we would be talking about. Basic question here, it appears somebody took a sharpie and drew an addition to the cone here to send it into Alabama. Have you been able to get anything through reporting about what might have happened here?
JONATHAN LEMIRE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: President Trump is very fond of sharpies. Reportedly, he himself made the alteration to the map in the hours before this briefing in the Oval Office.
Let`s back up a step here and talk about why while this -- on one hand, this is sort of an undeniably funny event. It does matter. It is a serious thing. President`s words matter. What the president says or tweets can move markets, can rattle global capitals and can really frighten the residents of a state who might then believe they`re in the path of a dangerous hurricane. And in this case, this hurricane was never any, really, a threat to Alabama, certainly not after a day or two of uncertainty from the National Weather Service.
So what happened is you just walked through the chronology. The president tweeted out that Alabama was in the path. The National Weather Service had to release a rather unprecedented statement correcting the president, saying that Alabama was not in any danger. And then we`ve seen the president double and now triple down.
So in the Oval Office today, he showed reporters that map, which was with the sharpie alteration, suggesting that Alabama had been at risk, defending his original tweet. This is, time and time again, we see this from the president, that he is refusing to acknowledge any mistake. Even a relatively minor one, you know, certainly he would just say, well, I was going off of bad information or old outdated information. He won`t do it.
KORNACKI: Well, could he even say, look, maybe there was a misunderstanding here. It looked like the storm, as I was understanding it, might brush Alabama, might come close. I think that`s a reasonable thing in this situation, not to end up here though.
LEMIRE: No. And any president, of course, especially post-Katrina, is very mindful of the response to a hurricane. We saw how George W. Bush in 2005 really faltered in terms of what happened with Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast. Presidents are very mindful of trying to get out ahead of it and then respond appropriately after the storm hits.
But in this case, once again, he sort of made the incident about himself. And, thankfully, the United States has largely so far skirted the storm, devastating the Bahamas. Impacts here haven`t been that bad. But we have seen the president spend precious time trying to re-litigate this relatively silly matter, including tonight putting out a tweet from a Florida State source saying that showed this path, more than a week old.
KORNACKI: So this is what you`re talking about now is the map we have on the screen right here. This is what he tweeted out within the last hour?
LEMIRE: That`s right. And it`s an August 28th map which he is using to defend a September 1st tweet. And that tweet is from the -- this map is from Florida Water Management District website. And it says on there that information from the National Hurricane Center supersedes anything you see on this map. And as the fine print also reads, it says if anything on this graphic causes confusion, ignore the entire product. And I think it`s safe to say we`ve had nothing but confusion about the president handling the storm.
KORNACKI: Let me just ask you, folks in the White House, folks around this administration, do they have any reaction to something like this?
LEMIRE: The people we`ve talked to tonight, not much yet in terms of sort of a sense of a shrug, and, well, there he goes again in terms of the president being very defensive, not acknowledging -- being able to acknowledge any sort of mistake, being very thin skinned about media criticism. And, certainly, that`s how this was brought to light, this initial mistake, because there was a report suggesting that -- pointing out that his mistake that Alabama was never under any real threat.
But to a broader point, why this does matter, in additional, not only do a president`s words carry weight, but it shows you there is no one in the White House who can get in the way of something like this and say, sir, this might be a bad idea, like this isn`t worth your time and energy to double and then triple down on what was probably an innocent mistake, a bad piece of information, an outdated piece of information.
There is no one there to say to him, sir, this is a bad idea. There are no guardrails left. There are very few people in that White House who have any standing or any courage or any willingness to step up to him. And maybe this is a trivial matter, but they also don`t on rather important ones.
KORNACKI: Okay. Jonathan Lemire, thank you very much, again, on a topic I don`t think we expected we were going to be discussing today. But I appreciate that information.
And coming up, the politics of guns, the headline of a Washington Post editorial today reads, do something, Mr. McConnell. But the Senate majority leader says he will only bring up gun legislation if the president says he supports it. So what if anything can we expect from Congress returns next week?
Plus, a state absolutely critical to President Trump`s victory in 2016 might now be swinging back to the Democrats or I`m going to dive into some brand new poll numbers from the critical state of Wisconsin.
We have got so much more to get to. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD: There are many proposals put forward. I heard 29 different proposals. So there is no lack of proposal. We`ll have to see what happens.
REPORTER: What do you support?
TRUMP: I support safety for our citizens. I support keeping guns out of the hands of sick people, mentally ill people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was president Trump this afternoon still leaving open the question of which, if any, gun control measures he might support. Democrats are continuing to push for universal background checks. That is something the president continued to downplay today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If you look at background checks, and if you look at some of even the more severe and comprehensive ideas that are being put forward, it wouldn`t have stopped any of the last few years worth of these mass shootings, which is a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But it seems at least possible expanded background checks could have made a difference in this weekend`s mass shooting in Odessa, Texas that took lives of seven people and injured more than 20 others.
According to law enforcement officials, the shooter failed to pass a background check in 2014, but was able to purchase his weapons from a private seller. That`s a transaction that under Texas law does not require a background check currently. But that would change under the gun control bill passed by the House in February.
For more, I`m joined by Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University, and Noelle Nikpour, a Republican strategist.
Noelle, let me start on you because it seems there is this dance that`s happened after these tragedies a few times where the president will give some public indication that maybe he is open to some kind of gun control, including maybe background checks. Now, he seems to have reached a point he has come to many times before where he backs off even from that.
Can you see a scenario? What would it take? Let me ask it this way. What -- what would it take for this president to decide it`s worth it politically to support background checks?
NOELLE NIKPOUR, REPUBLICAN FUND-RAISER: I think you could see I think you could see something where he puts maybe funding for the wall or something he can do to combine something to kind of hold the Democrats` feet to the fire, maybe, with doing more extensive universal background checks.
I wouldn`t put it past him. Look, this is one thing that I think we can all agree on, that he is unpredictable. You really cannot predict which way this guy is going to go.
But one thing I will tell you that`s very interesting is, the power of the NRA, I think, has diminished just a little bit, and especially in the department of money. They have had a little money problem. And one of the biggest things that Republican candidates look to or maybe fear is the money and the NRA.
So, if that gets a little weakened, you may see some breakout politicians standing up to the NRA and siding with a little bit more lenient when it comes to with firearms.
KORNACKI: So, Christina, there have been all these headlines lately about infighting in the NRA, turmoil in the NRA.
Do you buy that at all, that, politically, that creates some kind of open here for something to happen on the gun control side? Or do you think this just ends where it`s consistently ended for the last number of years now?
CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Yes, I don`t believe that the NRA is going to back down at all.
I agree with you, Nicole -- Noelle, that the president has sort of no moral consistency, except for when it comes to white supremacy. But policy-wise, he is all over the place.
With the NRA, they still have money. They may not have as much money and put forward as much money as they have in the past, but they still have millions of dollars that they flood local primary races and general elections to make sure that they get the composition of a Republican Congress that they want.
And if we look at some of these past bills that have gone through the House and also the Senate, it`s completely partisan. We see Republicans refusing to act, even when we`re having mass shootings, right now, every three to four days.
So, if this were 1998 or 1999, I think I would feel a little more confident about the power of the NRA. But, clearly, we are at a point where we`re beyond crisis points.
And the fact that the NRA still has such a strong hold on our legislators, where Mitch McConnell will not move, it`s, to me, very worrying.
KORNACKI: Well, so, let me ask the politics of this, then, because this is the argument you hear from -- this really has become -- it`s not entirely, but this has become close to a pretty much partisan -- partisan divide when it comes to guns.
The case you will hear from Democrats is that this is reaching a breaking point with some voters. This is reaching a breaking point, particularly with women in the suburbs.
KORNACKI: We talk about them as a swing constituency all the time, and that this is going to be -- represent a source of backlash against Republicans and strength for Democrats in 2020.
Well, I mean, while you were talking, something dawned on me. Really, a lot of Republican fund-raisers and a lot of gatherings, this issue`s come up, Steve. And a lot of Republicans will be open to really extensive universal background checks.
Mothers -- I mean, think about all the school shootings. And it`s going to take a grassroots effort, someone like that that is going to stand up and say: No more. I believe in the platform of the Republican Party, but when it comes to gun control...
KORNACKI: Do you see that happening, though?
NIKPOUR: Yes. Yes, I do.
KORNACKI: Because you have Mitch McConnell saying: I`m not doing anything unless Trump says it.
NIKPOUR: Well, I do. I do see it, but on the grassroots level, you know?
And another thing is, I think, once you get Republicans that come on board, I think that it will be catching. I really do. And this is not an issue where -- other than Trump`s hard-core base -- I think Trump`s hard-core base, they`re not going to move from anything.
But Trump actually has got the power. If he goes to Mitch McConnell and says, look, I have got an idea, let`s push more -- push more restraints on, you know, putting these guns in the hands, as he said, of mentally ill...
KORNACKI: Well, these are the red flag laws. This is...
NIKPOUR: Yes, no -- nobody wants those people to have guns.
KORNACKI: But the other question I have here too, Christina, is, we`re talking about background checks. We talk about this. And every time you poll, this is a 90-to-10 issue.
GREER: Yet and still, we have not moved.
KORNACKI: And nothing has changed on it in terms of action for a number of years now.
Meanwhile, what I sense -- tell me if I`m wrong here -- the energy on the Democratic side is now moving almost beyond that, beyond background checks, towards something more potentially expansive.
Well, again, if this were a once-in-a-year occurrence, this might be something where it`s like, OK, background checks are necessary.
What we have, these -- these mass shootings don`t have a class. They don`t have a race. They don`t have a geographic locale.
NIKPOUR: That`s right.
GREER: I mean, they are affecting every single corner of the country, so much so that foreign countries are saying, this is a dangerous place, and you might want to just think twice before visiting.
So, when we keep saying we think that the Republicans might come around, when are they going to come around? They haven`t come around with children in cages. They haven`t come around for the environment. They haven`t come around -- we`re starving our military to build this nonsensical wall to nowhere.
When are they going to come around? Every single mass shooting we have, they say, this isn`t the time for politics. We will talk about it later.
But later comes three days later, when more children, adults, religious worshipers are murdered by someone with an AR-15.
NIKPOUR: I think the NRA -- this is not my argument, but I think the NRA`s argument and everyone that supports the NRA is thinking, if we give in on one thing, it`s going to be a domino.
KORNACKI: The slippery slope.
So, I think that that is the push from the NRA, because look what happened to Walmart. Walmart said, look, we`re not going to do this. We`re going to sell ammo. We`re not going to do the assault rifles.
And there is a huge article that the NRA put to all their supporters.
GREER: Someone also just walked into a Walmart and shot people.
NIKPOUR: Yes. You saw what Doug McMillon, the CEO, did.
GREER: We have to have some sort of responsibility.
NIKPOUR: But look what Doug McMillon, the CEO of Walmart, did.
He said, enough is enough, basically. And he didn`t really care about the political ramifications. He didn`t care about a letter from the NRA.
GREER: But we know that Republicans have not shown us a moral compass thus far in a lot of these policy statements.
KORNACKI: One thing we`re seeing -- I think the question here, as I have said, politicians ultimately respond to perceived political incentives.
And the fact that background checks, the last time that came to the Senate, I remember, it was filibustered, and that was the end of it.
Nobody who was part of that filibuster paid an apparent political price the next year. If something changes -- and this is far off now, but if something changes in 2020, I wonder if that`s the sort of thing that scrambles the calculus on these.
We will see if something, though, does before then.
Christina Greer, Noelle Nikpour, thank you both for joining us.
Up next: a day of truly unbelievable political drama in the U.K., Britain`s new prime minister going to war with his own Parliament. And, right now, it looks like Parliament may be winning.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Tonight, the United Kingdom has been plunged into even deeper political chaos. The majority of British lawmakers, including some members of Prime Minister Boris Johnson`s own party, voted to stop Johnson`s plan to leave the European Union without a withdrawal agreement.
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JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOR PARTY: A disastrous no-deal Brexit to take us into the arms of a trade deal with Donald Trump that will put America first and Britain a distant second.
I look forward to the day his government and his party and all the austerity and misery they have heaped on this country are turfed out of office, and we prevent leaving this -- we prevent this country crashing out on the 31st of October.
KENNETH CLARKE, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: I do think the prime minister, with the greatest respect, has a tremendous skill in keeping a straight face whilst he is being so disingenuous.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think it`s very sad that the M.P.s have voted like this. But if I`m still prime minister after Tuesday, the 15th of October, then we will leave on the 31st of October, with, I hope, a much better deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Moments later, Johnson demanded a snap general election to try to get a mandate for his plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: I don`t want an election. The public don`t want an election. The country doesn`t want an election.
But this House has left no other option than letting the public decide who they want as prime minister.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: But his call for an election was then rejected.
The series of events is an embarrassing rebuke for Johnson, who has only been in charge since the end of July. Just yesterday, 21 members of his own party defected, joining opposition lawmakers to take control of the parliamentary agenda.
Johnson was elected on the promise that he would finally deliver a permanent break from the European Union, deal or no deal, on October 31.
This Brexit saga has mired British politics in chaos and confusion since it was approved by a slim margin in a referendum back in 2016. Last week, in an attempt to push his plan through, Johnson had the queen suspend Parliament.
The decision triggered the remarkable events of the past two days, the debate on the floor of Parliament sometimes getting extremely raucous.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Order.
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER, HOUSE OF COMMONS: If we have to go on longer because people sitting on the treasury bench are yelling to try to disrupt, so be it. We will go on longer. Some people used to believe in good behavior. I believe in good behavior on both sides of the House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: For the latest, I`m joined by Christopher Dickey, world news editor at The Daily Beast.
Every time I watch clips of British Parliament, and compare it to our Congress, there is a verbal jousting there and sort of an atmosphere that makes it a little different.
Let me ask you. Speaking of parallels between the U.S. and Britain, we talk about Brexit. A lot of people look back to 2016 and say, Brexit was the harbinger of Trump. It was the surprise in Britain in the middle of 2016, and, a few months later, there was the surprise here in America.
You have this Brexit that was handed to the political establishment in Britain, and they were sort of like, what the heck do we do now? And the political establishment in America kind of greeted Trump with, what the heck do we do now?
There`s some parallels between the political course of these two countries the last few years.
CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, sure.
One reason it`s seen as a harbinger is because it was the first big wave of populist reversal of what people thought was the common sense, common wisdom about the way government would work, about the norms of politics.
Nobody expected it, at least of all David Cameron, the then prime minister who called the referendum. Nobody expected it would be rejected and that, in fact, Britain would be scheduled, maybe, kind of, to leave the European Union.
Also, we had some Russian input in that, just as we had here. And, also, it was based a lot on lies, a lot of lies, just as we had here. So, there are parallels: Populism, Russia, lies all went into a big package that reversed politics as we knew it in Britain and in the United States.
KORNACKI: And the theme too of national identity, of tribalism, nativism, all of the sort of issues we have been debating here so prevalent in that British debate.
Let me ask you about where it goes from here now. Boris Johnson is this colorful figure, some Americans, I think, know, has barely been prime minister for any amount of time here. He had his plan, basically. Parliament moved against his plan this week. He said, OK, let`s have an election. Parliament said no to that.
Is he going to continue as prime minister for much longer?
DICKEY: Well, I think he will be prime minister for a while, just because of the mechanics now of British politics.
You know, he wasn`t elected. He is not an elected prime minister. He was named by about 90,000 Tories out of an electorate of, I don`t know, 48 million in Great Britain. So he doesn`t represent the popular will, although he pretends that he does.
The entire parliamentary system in Britain now has been called into question by the kinds of maneuvers that brought him to power and that he has played with, like suspending Parliament for five weeks.
So he may have trouble hanging so he may have trouble hanging on, but he will use every device that he possibly can. He knows he can`t get a Brexit deal that`s better. He claims that, by threatening a Brexit no deal, he will be able to sway minds in Europe.
But, in fact, nobody trusts him at all. Remember, Boris Johnson is as big a liar as Donald Trump. He maybe doesn`t lie as frequently, but he lies just as badly. He was fired as a journalist from "The Times of London" for making up quotes.
He was dismissed from the Conservative Party at one point for lying about his relationship with a woman. He is such a liar that nobody trusts him when he says he`s going to have elections on October 15.
They think that, if they vote for elections, he will move the date, so they either have no time to install Parliament -- a new Parliament before the October 31 deadline to leave Europe, or even he will move it beyond that, and there will be no Parliament when he crashes out of Europe.
So he is completely untrustworthy. Everybody knows it. Especially the people in his own party know it, and that`s why they walked way from him.
KORNACKI: All right, just a reminder, when we think how messy and chaotic our politics are, it`s not just in the United States where this sort of stuff is happening right now.
Christopher Dickey, thank you for taking a few minutes.
DICKEY: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Appreciate that.
And up next: the state that put Donald Trump over the top on election night 2016, one he can ill afford to lose if he is going to win in 2020, and now brand-new numbers from Wisconsin, head-to-head matchups between Trump and all the top Democrats.
We`re going to go over to the Big Board and show you how it looks in what is probably a make-or-break state for both parties.
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BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: As Donald Trump spoke, you might have seen the graphic change at the bottom of the screen after declaring him the apparent winner in Wisconsin, after declaring him the apparent winner in Pennsylvania, NBC News is projecting that Donald Trump has indeed been elected president of these United States.
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STEVE KORNACKI, MNSBC HOST: Well, who doesn`t remember that moment? That was election night or really, I think it was early morning wee hours of the day after the election 2016. That was when Donald Trump was called the winner of the 2016 presidential election in the state that ticked that Electoral College count over to 70 was the state of Wisconsin.
Remember those three states? We talk about them all the time. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, hadn`t gone Republican in three decades. They all went for Trump, barely, just enough to make him president.
So, Wisconsin, the Democrats are going to have their convention next year. Remember, Hillary Clinton didn`t visit there. I think every candidate is going to be in Wisconsin plenty of times between now and election 2020. So, now, we today have a readout on the state of play in Wisconsin, just over a year before the election.
What can we show you about the state that put Trump over the top that he badly needs again? Here is his approval rating. His approval rating in Wisconsin sits at 45 percent. That`s what he looks -- in a national poll, that`s what Trump looks like on a good day, 45 percent. So, that`s where he sits.
And then, here is the critical question. How is he doing against the likely or the most likely at this point Democratic candidates? Let`s take a look. They matched him up against four.
We can show you here. It`s not cooperating. Let`s see if we can get this -- let me try this one more time. Sometimes -- this also happened on election night, 2016. The board went out.
There we go. Kamala Harris against Donald Trump, 44, 44. They`ve got Harris and Trump tied in Wisconsin in this poll.
How about Elizabeth Warren? There we go. Elizabeth Warren tied, 45-45.
Bernie Sanders, we can show you he leads Trump in the poll, 48-44.
And then check this out, Joe Biden against Trump, here you go, Biden over 50 percent, up by nine points. This is exactly -- remember, Joe Biden running on electability. Here he is in Wisconsin, running nine points ahead of Trump. Four for Sander, tied for the others.
This is what -- when Joe Biden says electable, he wants people thinking of this poll. See this holds, see if that has some value to his campaign.
The one cautionary note, this is a big one. When you see a poll of Wisconsin or anywhere at this point right now, remember, things can change and things did change last time around.
I`m showing you right here. This is a poll taken. You see the end of August. This is Wisconsin at the end of August, the year before the election. What did Wisconsin look like at the end of August a year before the 2016 election?
Check out these matchups. Remember these names? Hillary Clinton was ahead of Jeb Bush. She was 10 points ahead of Scott walker. She was 12 points ahead of Ted Cruz. She was 16 points ahead of Donald Trump in the state of Wisconsin at about this time in 2015.
Hey, Trump is president now. The election is more of a referendum. There are differences, but just a reminder, things can change.
So, state of play in Wisconsin right now with a big cautionary note. Wisconsin, remember, they used to say Florida, Florida, Florida in 2020. We`ll be saying Wisconsin, Wisconsin, Wisconsin.
And up next, another state, how about Texas, the Texodus, they`re calling it. A number of retiring House Republicans is growing, many of them from the Lone Star State. Is it a sign they don`t like their party`s chances of winning back the House next year?
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KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The new poll numbers showing President Trump trailing in Wisconsin aren`t the only numbers that might concern the president today. There are also the numbers 16 and 5. Sixteen, that is the number of House Republicans retiring so far this year, or announcing retirement so far this year.
Just a short time ago, Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner became the latest name added to that list, the second longest serving House member. He has represented his district near Milwaukee for 40 years. And there is also the number five, that`s the number of House members calling it quits from the state of Texas alone.
This morning, Texas Congressman Bill Flores joined the ranks of what is being now called a Texodus ahead of next year`s election, along with Pete Olson, Mike Conway, Kenny Marchant and Will Hurd. Those Texas retirements could be a piece of a larger more fundamental problem for Republicans under President Trump as the party looks to regain control of the House next year.
"Axios" notes, quote: Texas, which holds 38 electoral college votes is becoming a more competitive state for Democrats across all levels of government.
For more I`m joined by Michelle Goldberg, columnist for "The New York Times", and Shermichael Singleton, Republican political consultant.
We`re talking about Republican retirement, so I`ll start with our Republican consultant, Shermichael, first. Let me just ask you, the -- take Texas aside. Just the accumulation of retirement announcements. You know, we mentioned Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin the latest tonight.
Does this say to you that psychologically, Republicans are looking at 2020 and are saying we`re not getting the House back then?
SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Well, I definitely don`t think we`re going to gain the House. I think if you would have asked me this question several months ago, Steve, I would have probably said I think it`s possible.
But I think most of the members who are retiring, with the exception of maybe three in Texas, most of those districts are R plus 10 and above, which means that more than likely a Republican will indeed win those seats. Those seats will remain in the Republican corner.
With the exception of someone like Will Hurd, I think demographic trends have obviously changed the dynamics in that district. Many Republicans were actually surprised in 2018 when the congressman won, he only won by less than a thousand votes.
So that`s not surprising here. But I do think, however, there is a messaging opportunity here for the other side, the Democrats that, to be able to articulate to their voters that even Republicans are concerned with this president. They`re not even winning -- willing, rather, to run for reelection. I think this should be an opportunity for us to focus on some of those suburban voters, which they did see turn out in droves for them in 2018 versus the Republican.
KORNACKI: Right. So Michelle, Shermichael points out a lot of these are probably going to remain Republican.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
KORNACKI: Not necessarily all of them, though, and that takes us to Texas.
KORNACKI: This has been something I think for about 20 years now I have been hearing Democrats talk about the future is Texas, the future is Texas. In all the years, Republicans have kept winning. In 2018, yes, Ted Cruz did get reelected to the Senate.
GOLDBERG: Right, but by less than three points.
KORNACKI: Right. You saw Beto O`Rourke got close, and you saw the suburban areas, these metro areas throughout Texas really swinging hard to the Democrats. Is this -- it`s been hyped for a million years, but is this -- is 2020 the year you think Democrats can really make a play in Texas?
GOLDBERG: My -- people who have been skeptical of this for 20 years, I`ve seen several of them now say no, now we should take it seriously. And clearly, a lot of these Republican congressmen who know their districts are taking it seriously, right?
I mean, Shermichael is right that a lot of these districts, Sensenbrenner`s district in Wisconsin is highly likely to remain Republican. But some -- Will Hurd isn`t the only one who retired after winning his seat by single digits in what had been solidly conservative districts.
And so people on the ground clearly, it`s interesting that they`re doing this after going back for recess, right? You go back for recess, you get a sense of what`s happening on the ground. Then they decide to call it quits.
So it`s kind of telling on two levels. It`s telling about the state of these individual races and these individual states, and it`s also telling about what they see going forward when they look at what another term would mean. They were predicting another term in the minority, sway lot less attractive.
KORNACKI: Right. And one of the retiring Texans is a name you`re hearing a lot, Congressman Will Hurd. He is the only House Republican whose district is on the southern border with Mexico. It`s a huge part of that district on the border.
Thursday, the Pentagon announced it`s diverting $3.6 billion from military construction projects to the president`s long promised border wall. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he was told by Defense Secretary Mark Esper that some of the money should would come for construction and maintenance funds for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The projects that will be diverted to border wall construction come from 23 states, three territories and 19 projects in areas outside the United States.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the decision, quote, irresponsible, but today, President Trump argued it is a matter of national security.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Secretary of defense spoke with members of Congress and explained it to them. I think he felt very good about it. He feels it`s a national security problem. I do too.
It is when you have thousands of people trying to rush our country. I think that`s national security. When you have drugs pouring into our country, I view that as national security. And he had very good conversations with various members of Congress.
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KORNACKI: And again, this stems from the president`s controversial emergency declaration earlier this year. This issue has been roiling for a while now.
But, Shermichael, let me ask you about the politics of it from this standpoint. What we are talking about here, Texas potentially being competitive. Other suburban areas around the country Democrats are targeting.
I`m thinking to the end of the 2018 campaign, Trump emphasized the border. Trump emphasized the caravan. There is certainly some evidence, his hard- core base it worked with, but it didn`t seem to work with the critical suburban areas and areas that potentially be critical in 2018.
SINGLETON: Right. The response from some of the president`s supporters at the time, Steve, was, well, the president was not on the ballot, which is why some of those individuals lost many of those races.
But I`m beginning to see if you look at the cross tabs here that it`s not a matter of whether Trump would be on the ballot or not. I think some suburban voters -- not only suburban women, but suburban men, the educated voters who are simply saying we are sick and tired of Trump every single day. I do believe in the whole idea notion of Trump fatigue. I think that is a real thing.
To your point, what about some of the states where we`re starting to see the margins become slimmer and slimmer for Trump? The only thing I would argue, Steve, that continues to give Trump somewhat of an advantage at this point is the economy. And there is data that now suggests that voters are beginning to say, you know what? This isn`t enough anymore. The economy is starting to slow down.
So what do we see from the president and his reelection campaign is the pivot once again to the border, because that was one of the things he was yet to deliver on. But as a conservative, what concerns me is you`re going to have to enforce eminent domain here. Who is going to pay for this border wall? How are you going to maintain it?
Those are serious and legitimate questions that I think some Republicans are going to raise, and if Democrats are smart, they will raise those questions in many of those suburban districts and say hey, you don`t want the stand with this guy because he`s not in sync with traditional conservative values that may have garner, if you will, to vote Republican in the past.
KORNACKI: Let me ask you quickly, Michelle. We were showing this in the last segment. Four years ago at this time, Donald Trump was losing to Hillary Clinton big. He was losing to her throughout the entire campaign. He won barely at the end.
When you see all these numbers in Texas, all these other places where Trump looks to be struggling now, is it deja vu or do you think it`s different because he is president?
GOLDBERG: I mean, I don`t think the Democrats should take anything for granted, and I don`t think they should rely on those numbers when they choose a nominee, right? To me, my worst fear is that they choose a nominee because they think that they`re electable, even though it`s not somebody that the party is going to get excited about, and then you have a rerun of Hillary Clinton or even John Kerry, right?
So I don`t think Democrats can say -- there is going to be people who don`t like Donald Trump but who also can`t bring themselves to vote for a Democrat. That said, it`s really telling that he is under water in Texas. He is basically under water in most of the states that he needs to win.
SINGLETON: Steve --
KORNACKI: OK. Michelle Goldberg -- Shermichael, I`m sorry we are hard out of time here. We will have you back another night and we can finish the thought then.
Shermichael Singleton, Michelle Goldberg, though, thank you for being with us. You`re watching HARDBALL.
SINGLETON: Thanks, Steve.
KORNACKI: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
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