Melissa Harris-Perry, Transcript 12/20/2015

Guests: Robert P. Jones, Basil Smikle, Jr., Daisy Hernandez, Brittney Cooper, Whitney Dow, Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Jeff Weaver; Joe Canason; Dorie Clark; Rachel Marcus; Daisy Hernandez; Carmen Chavez

Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY Date: December 20, 2015 Guest: Robert P. Jones, Basil Smikle, Jr., Daisy Hernandez, Brittney Cooper, Whitney Dow, Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Jeff Weaver; Joe Canason; Dorie Clark; Rachel Marcus; Daisy Hernandez; Carmen Chavez

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: This morning, my question, is Martin Shkreli finally getting acquainted with a little thing called karma?

Plus the race factor in 2016 politics, but not the one you expect.

And the sports person of the year.

But first, the Democrats throw down in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Good morning. I`m Joy Reid in Melissa.

Last night`s Democratic debate was one of the last opportunities of the year for candidates to make their case for the nation on a nationally televised stage. Now, it wasn`t exactly the biggest of stages given its placement in the television graveyard of Saturday night programming, but it was the last debate of the year. And there is only one more debate remaining before primary elections kick off with the Iowa caucuses in February. So the candidates needed to make it count, especially if you`re Bernie Sanders.

Now, if you`re Bernie Sanders, those three hours of exposure on network television were a chance to make up for the media`s collective "meh" when it comes to covering your campaign. A recent analysis of election coverage by the Tindall report which tracks network nicely news programs found that Bernie Sanders received just ten minutes out of 857 minutes of campaign coverage in 2015. Compare that to 234 minutes for Donald Trump, and 113 for Hillary Clinton.

Well, this week may have been a reminder to the Sanders campaign to be careful what you wish for because those minutes of coverage increase exponentially when the Sanders campaign became the center of a good old- fashioned political controversy this week. His coverage went from no news to bad news with the revelation that four Sanders staffers took advantage of a software glitch to access confidential voter data belonging to the Hillary Clinton campaign. What followed was a stand-off in which the Democratic National Committee cut the campaign`s access to its own voter data and the Sanders campaign responded by suing the DNC and accusing it of putting a thumb on the scale in Clinton`s favor.

By Saturday morning the dust had settled, the DNC restored previously blocked access to the voter file. The Sanders campaign agreed to cooperate in an investigation of the data breach. And this morning "Politico" reported that two more Sanders staffers had been suspended following the campaign`s data director who was fired on Friday. And the Clinton campaign was quote "pleased" with how it all turned out. Of course, beneath the surface of all that making nice was heightened anticipation about whether the debate would turn nasty because the data breach scandal was predictably the first question out of the gate last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we saw the breach two months ago, we didn`t go running to the media and make a big deal about it. And it bothers me very much that rather than working on this issue to resolve it, it has become many press releases from the Clinton campaign later.

DAN MUIR, WORLD NEWS ANCHOR: So does Secretary Clinton deserve an apology tonight?

SANDERS: Yes. I apologize.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So now that I think, you know, we have resolve your data, we have agreed on an independent inquiry, we should move on because I don`t think the American people are all that interested in this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Now, once that was out of the way, the debate was a chance for senator Sanders to have a game-changing moment to recapture the news cycle and build momentum going into 2016 and he took his best shot at having a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: Excuse me. Do not tell me that I have not shown courage in standing up to the gun people, in voting to ban assault weapons, voting for instant background checks, voting to end the gun show loophole and now in a position to create a consensus in America on gun safety.

MUIR: Would corporate America love a president Sanders?

SANDERS: No, I think they won`t. The CEO of large multi-nationals like Hillary. They won`t going to like me and Wall Street is going to like me even less.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: (INAUDIBLE). Senator Clinton, meanwhile, told the line between brushing off attacks from her opponents and staying the course in her position far ahead of the pack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: The American president has to both keep our families safe and make the economy grow in a way that helps everyone, not just those at the top. That`s the job. I have a strategy to combat and defeat ISIS without getting us involved in another ground war. And I have plans to raise incomes and deal with a lot of the problems that keep families up at night.

MUIR: Should corporate America love Hillary Clinton?

CLINTON: Everybody should.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Aggressive Martin O`Malley came out swinging!

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to address the economic issues around the kitchen table, and if people want a more high- minded politics and want to move our country forward, go on to martinomalley.com and help my campaign move our country moves.

ISIL videos, ISIL training videos are telling lone wolves the easiest way to cut by a combat assault weapon in America is at a gun show, because of the flip-flopping political approach of Washington that both of my two colleagues on this stage have represented there for the last 40 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Joining me now from Manchester is Democratic National Committee chair and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Madam, chairwoman, thank you for joining us this morning.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, CHAIRWOMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thanks, Joy. Great to be here.

REID: All right. Let`s get right to it. I think the Democrats had a successful debate last night but it was on a Saturday night. It was one of a very few debates. Only the third one so far. And there have been suggestions from supporters of both Bernie Sanders` campaign and Martin O`Malley`s campaign that that was designed to help Hillary Clinton. So I`ll just ask you straight up, is the Democratic National Committee putting its thumb on the scale in favor of Senator Clinton?

SCHULTZ: Joy, I mean let`s think about this. Does it make any sense at all that the chair of a national party would want fewer voters to see our candidates? I don`t control the schedule of the networks. We have three of our debates that are on network television, and those are on Saturday nights. We have three other debates that are during the week. And unfortunately, broadcast network programming is less flexible than cable network programming.

If you look at the Republican debates on broadcast networks, those are on Saturday nights, too. It is unfortunate but I can assure you, I didn`t ask for our debates to be on a Saturday night. We have a combination of schedules between the candidates and the networks and our partners that really result in the way our debate schedule falls out. And you know, this one fell on a Saturday night. That`s all it is. Nothing sinister.

REID: Well, should there be more debates and will there be more debates because there have been calls for that as well?

SCHULTZ: There will be six debates and we have had a number of candidate forums. And there will be more going forward. But you know, again, I have said this many times, I`ll say it again, we need a wide variety of ways for voters to get a good look at our candidates. You know, we have the 100th anniversary this year. We are having the 100th anniversary of this year of the first in the nation primary in New Hampshire. And these voters take their responsibility very seriously. They like to kick the tires. They get the most up close and personal look in the entire arc of the campaign at the candidates. And debates are time consuming. They take a candidate off the trail for preparation and, you know, their whole team gets fully engaged. So we think that a six-debate schedule, particularly with three candidates in our race, is about the right number to make sure that we -- our candidates can do the wide variety of activities necessary to make sure voters can get a good look at them.

REID: Now, of course, the first question out of the gate as expected was about the data breach and as the recent scandal over Sanders` campaign staffers accessing information from the Clinton campaign. The Sanders campaign has accused you, has accused the DNC, of bias in favor of Hillary Clinton. And I ask the question of one of the vice chairs, R.T. Rybak, yesterday of whether, in his view, you personally favor Hillary Clinton over the other candidates. I want to play you what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Do you feel that the chair favors the Hillary Clinton campaign?

R.T. RYBAK, VICE CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I think the chair`s job is to be fair and I think the job of all of the vice chairs is to make sure that happens. And we have really robust conversations about what balance is, and it`s not easy.

REID: OK.

RYBAK: There is no doubt about it. But I need people to know that there is a group of people who are part of the leadership of the DNC, and I will make damn sure as a vice chair, and so will others, that we do everything humanly possible to have a level playing field.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Now, Madam Chair, that didn`t sound 100 percent like R.T. Rybak, the vice chair, was saying that he thinks you are impartial. Are you impartial as to who the next Democratic nominee will be?

SCHULTZ: Of course I am, Joy. I`m 100 percent impartial. I`m -- my responsibility is to manage this primary nominating contest neutrally and fairly. I man, let`s think about this. I am a member of Congress. And I do have a choice as to whether or not to continue as DNC chair and be neutral and do everything I can and put in the kind of time and hours and days on the road that I do to make sure that we can elect Democrats up and down the ballot and elect a Democrat as president. Or I could not be chair and go work for the candidate of my choice. I`m choosing to remain as chair so that I can fight like hell to make sure that the jokers on the other side of the aisle aren`t able to get hold of the White House. That`s because I care deeply about this party and our agenda and making sure that we can continue to build on President Obama`s legacy. So any suggestion that I am doing anything other than manage this primary impartially and neutrally is ludicrous.

REID: And let just ask you because there has been a fair amount of criticism of the DNC for letting this squabble between Sanders and Clinton campaigns spill out into the open. As we both know, campaigns and primaries can get ugly. There are always messy squabbles. This is the first time, you know, that we have seen it born out in the public in this way and the DNC getting involved in that. There is a fair amount of criticism of that. How do you respond to the notion the DNC should have kept this in the family and not have it become a public scandal?

SCHULTZ: Well, we tried to keep it in the family. It was not us that blew this open into the press. You know, what we were doing was trying to simply get the information we need once we learned from our vendor after the software glitch occurred that there had been a breach by the Sanders campaign staff, which I was glad to see senator Sanders acknowledge that was wrong and apologize for. But his staff was simply nonresponsive for at least a day. So much so that I actually am the one that had to call Bernie Sanders and inform him of the breach. He didn`t know about it at all. So I called him.

But we didn`t go to the press over this. We simply tried to get the answers to the questions that we had so that we could maintain the -- or restore the integrity of our voter file. And when it wasn`t forthcoming, the only tool that we had available to us to make sure that his campaign, if they had access to Hillary Clinton`s proprietary information, was to suspend their access until they answered our questions. Once they answered our questions, once they agreed to cooperate fully with an independent audit we were able to get it back.

REID: All right. Well, thank you very much for your time, DNC chair and congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Thank you from Manchester.

SCHULTZ: Thanks, Joy.

REID: All right. Now, I want to turn to my panel here in New York, Basil Smikle, Jr., who is the executive director of the New York state Democratic Party. Dorie Clark, former spokesperson for Howard Dean and the author of "Stand Out, how to find your breakthrough idea and build the following around it. Joe Conason, editor in-chief of the "National Memo."

All right. Let`s talk a little bit about this Democratic scandal. And I do want to start with you, Joe. It is unusual to see such an inter-messy fight. We know that these happen between campaigns spill out into the open this way. Is that the fault of the Democratic National Committee?

JOE CONASON, EDITOR IN-CHIEF, NATIONAL MEMO: I can`t really tell if it`s their fault or not. You know, at some point people start issuing press releases. They start responding. They feel they have to, you know, get their response in the press, you know, because something else has come out.

But you know, Joy, had this been revealed some other way, had it leaked out instead of having the campaigns and the DNC discuss it openly, we would now be talking about how they tried to cover it up, right? I mean, that is the obsession with these process issues always cuts in two ways. Either they are talking too much and they have screwed up, or they are covering up. And I think it worked out fine because the two grown-ups, senator Sanders and secretary Clinton, decided to put this to rest last night and that there`s been more than enough discussion of this.

And you know, I mean, it was almost -- I tweeted last night, Hillary, I`ve heard enough about your damn data breach. I mean, you know, they were done. And she reciprocated what Sanders had done on the emails. So, at least there are two people who get where this campaign should be going, how it should unfold and focus on issues that they disagree on in some ways. But that they think are worth discussing.

REID: And I mean, Dorie, as our resident brand expert at the table, you know, up to now we have really been mostly talking about the Republican brand and their brand problems. But for Democrats, I think the enduring kind of sort of messaging that at least I`m hearing and maybe, you know, I`m the only one, is that Sanders campaign supporters feel that he is an outsider to the party, he`s not a Democrat, that he was unfairly treated, and the chair, you know, whether they admit it or not, they are on Hillary Clinton`s side. Does that present a problem for Democrats as they try to unify the party going into a general election?

DORIE CLARK, AUTHOR, STAND OUT: In the long term I don`t think that it does. I mean, ultimately, where are Sanders supporters going to go? If you have a nominee like a Donald Trump or Ben Carson or someone like that they are going to be so motivated by keeping that person out of the White House. You are, of course, going to migrate to Clinton`s campaign. So I don`t think ultimately that`s going to be an issue.

REID: Yes. Especially since the two hugged it out and they keep on hugging out. Let me get to the side of the table and come back.

But up next, Senator Bernie Sanders` campaign manager will join us to give us his take.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Joining me now from Manchester, New Hampshire is senator Sanders` campaign manager, Jeff Weaver.

Jeff, you made some pretty tough accusations about the Democratic National Committee and what you perceive as bias. I don`t know if you were able to hear my interview with DNC chairwoman Wasserman-Schultz. She says she`s scrupulously neutral in this race. Do you buy it?

JEFF WEAVER, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Good to be with you this morning, Joy.

Listen, when this event erupted this week we worked very, very hard to try to get to the bottom of it. As you know, last night senator Sanders and secretary Clinton I think both addressed this issue and clearly want to put this sort of acrimony behind them in terms of the campaigns.

But look, what the DNC did is they issued a death sentence on the Sanders campaign. And we had to go to federal court to get back day that that we owned with be that was paid for by the two million individual contributions we have received in this campaign, that was acquired by volunteers and staff of our campaign. That data belonged to the political revolution that Bernie is leading. Not to the DNC and not to Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

REID: And yet, Jeff, we awoke this morning to the news that two more staffers for the Sanders campaign have been suspended. You suspended or fired your data director. The senator took responsibility, apologized last night.

Is that enough? I mean are there going to be more revelations? Are there more employees of the Sanders campaign who improperly accessed files and data belonging to the Clinton campaign?

WEAVER: Well, look. That`s what we`re investigating right now. And if we find that people did, they will be disciplined. But look, let me tell you this. You know, two months ago in October, we discovered a significant data hole in the DNC`s security wall. We alerted the DNC. We didn`t run to the media. It was all resolved in house. Everybody`s data was at that time perceived to be protected, although, you know, we have strong suspicion that maybe some of our data was compromised.

This is what we need in this case, to put an end to any questions. We need and independent audit, not just of this event but of the DNC`s handling of data security from day one of this campaign to the present. That`s what we need. That`s what we`re calling for. That`s what senator Sanders called for last night on stage. It sounded like Secretary Clinton agreed. And on Monday I`m going to call my counterpart, Roby Mook (ph), a fellow Vermonter, and we are going to work this out. We are going to call the O`Malley people. We are going to bring the campaigns together with the DNC and jointly agree on an independent outside firm to look at this and it is going to be -- we`re going to look at data security at the DNC from day one to the present.

Candidates have the right to know how secure their data has been. And I think we really, in this case, need to restore confidence of candidates in this case and in future races that their data is going to be secure if it is at the DNC. So that`s what we need going forward.

REID: And Jeff, it sounds like you`re not ending the war with the DNC but very quickly, the Clinton campaign criticize your campaign --

WEAVER: No, no, joy. It`s not a war with the DNC. What this is, this is for the good of the party. This is not about -- we got to put the good of the party above personal agendas, right. We need to find out the truth. Transparency and sunlight are always the best remedy, right? And it sounded like secretary Clinton agreed with senator Sanders` suggestion last night that we do that. I think that`s very positive. We are going to call the O`Malley people as well. We are going to get them on board. We are going to get to the bottom of this. People need to know what happened.

REID: All right. Well, we are going leave it there. Jeff Weaver, thank you very much from Manchester, New Hampshire. Appreciate it.

WEAVER: Thank you.

All right. Our panel will help us make sense of all of this right after this message.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: I think we bring together that broad coalition including Russia to help us destroy ISIS and work on a timetable to get rid of Assad, hopefully through Democratic elections. First priority, destroy ISIS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Sanders, thank you.

O`MALLEY: May I offer a different generation`s perspective on this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor O`Malley.

O`MALLEY: During the cold war --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: So there was former Maryland governor Martin O`Malley trying to have a moment at last night`s debate. And not-so-subtle one, Basil. Is this any way for Martin O`Malley to get back in? I mean, it was a very unsubtle generational slam at the other candidates.

BASIL SMIKLE JR., EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: He has to do anything that he can to gain some traction here. When I first saw him speak at the DNC conference in Minneapolis in the late summer, there are a lot of people that sat next to me particularly from Maryland and saw him very fiery, very passionate and said that they want to see that of him all along. And I think now that he is where he is at in the polls, you are going to see more of that.

REID: At three percent.

SMIKLE: Something like that. You are going to see him come out more in this way, try to make sort of this generational appeal. You know, I don`t know how impactful that will be but this is what he has to do to gain this traction.

REID: And isn`t that part of the problem that, you know, Martin O`Malley isn`t under serious consideration to be the vice presidential candidate. You have got to think the Democrats are thinking this he need some ethnic contrast between the VP and the presidential nominee. Isn`t that part of the issue? He has nowhere to go from here, right.

SMIKLE: Yes. And you know, what`s interesting in this election I think both for Democrats and certainly Republicans, is that governors who typically do command the stage aren`t commanding the stage in this election cycle, and especially with things that have happened in Baltimore recently.

You know, he is being - he is in a very, very tough spot that, you know, he is trying to work his way out of but in relation as you talked about earlier in terms of how much time that Hillary`s gotten and Bernie has gotten, he`s got to find that niche and it`s become difficult.

REID: You know, it is interesting. And Joe, you said something in the break that I want to sort of share with our viewers. Because I think that one of the favorite beltway narratives is this idea that at the end of the day if there`s a divisive primary, how will you bring these two sides together? That was the narrative in 2008. It turned out they came together fine.

Is there a realistic chance that Bernie Sanders and Bernie Sanders supporters would abandon the ticket if and when Hillary Clinton is the nominee?

CONASON: The contrast, Joy, between the two parties is now so strong that I think senator Sanders has summed it up himself several times. He has said on her worst day, whatever that means, Hillary Clinton is infinitely better than any Republican. And you will see, I believe, when this is over, if she is the nominee, he will be her most powerful and strongest supporter. No question. And he is going to take credit for positions that she`s taken and she`ll have to live with that. But that`s also OK. He will be there for her and I assume most of his supporters will, too.

REID: Yes. And Dorie, but at the same time, in the interest of the Democratic Party, to have a fight or at least have the theatrics of a fight because they have to also worry about their voters being enthusiastic enough and being ready to get out there and line up at the polls.

CLARK: I think theatrics is really the operative word, Joy. Because from the minute that Hillary Clinton entered the race she has been, without question, not only the front-runner, she is going to be the nominee. There has never been a serious question about that. But we are we are a country that does not appreciate coronations. And so, if the public believes it`s been hers all along, then they`re going to react unfavorably to that. They are going to say we are not just going to give it to her. We need to make her work for it.

And so I think that is really what is happening. He and Bernie Sanders (INAUDIBLE), but ultimately it is going to be hers. It has been hers all the time and people will be brought together.

REID: Yes. And to that point, I mean, the contrast with Republicans, almost no matter which Republican is nominated. Right? Because they are taking such similar positions. Has Hillary Clinton`s positioning to the left, to Joe`s point, that she`s being moved to the left on domestic issues, does that complicate in any way a potential fight with Republicans?

SMIKLE: No. If you look at the fact that Trump was the only thing that was discussed did shall.

REID: I think about eight times.

SMIKLE: Exactly. I mean, in raising the Specter of a Donald Trump, no matter where Hillary Clinton is on the Democratic side, the Specter of a Donald Trump nominee is what is going to drive, and in part, what`s going to drive people to the polls. But I do think that the combinations of policies, whether mass incarceration, whether talking about black lives matter --

REID: Which barely came up last night.

SMIKLE: It barely came up last night but I know the candidates have been talking about it on the trail. Even and talking to the left, I do think there is enough room particularly on conversations around foreign policy where Hillary seems very conversant on those issues that there is enough room for moderates and Republicans in the general election.

REID: And Joe, on the national security question, I think last night showed that Hillary Clinton will be fine on that issue.

CONASON: The irony is that what was supposed to be a great vulnerability of hers, which the Iraq war vote which she has acknowledged was a terrible mistake, has lent an aura of strength in a funny way. I mean, it was a mistake but on the other hand, she is now seen as hawkish enough to lead the nation. And if you look at polls, she is considered the toughest in a field of men. That`s no small victory for her going towards a general election.

REID: Yes. Martin O`Malley may be louder, but she is definitely (INAUDIBLE) on the stage last night.

All right. Well, thank you very much to Dorie Clark, and Joe Canason. Basil will be sticking around and he will be back for out next hour.

And up next, the pharmaceutical executive loathed around the world and the part of the story you haven`t heard. Details coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Google the phrase "the most hated man in America." And this guy is one of the first people to pop up. Martin Shkreli, aka Pharma Bro, a 32- year-old drug company entrepreneur and former hedge fund manager who has a lot of money and loves to talk about how he spends it. Like the $2 million he dropped to purchase the only copy of the woo tang clan`s "once upon a time" in Shaolin, only to tell Bloomberg business week that he had no immediate plans to actually listen to it. And he recently told hip-hop DX that he is working on paying another $2 billion to bail out a Brooklyn rapper Bobby (INAUDIBLE) out of jail.

But this week, Shkreli had to shift his focus from (INAUDIBLE) legal troubles to his own because Thursday he was arrested by the FBI. The charges -- two counts of securities fraud, two counts of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, seven counts.

What Federal officials summed up was quote "a securities fraud trifecta of lies, deceit and greed." The charges are linked to a biotech firm he founded in 2011. As reported by Bloomberg, prosecutors are accusing him of running a ponzi-like scheme saying he illegally took stock from that firm and used it to pay off debts from unrelated business dealings.

The same day Shkreli posted $5 million bond and was released. And by Friday he was resigned as Turing pharmaceutical`s CEO. Now, we reached to his company but got no response. Shkreli himself took to twitter on Saturday to address the charges. Tweeting quote "I`m confident I will prevail. The allegations against me are baseless and without merit," unquote.

For the past three days many in America have been treating his arrest like an early Christmas present. But here`s the thing. Martin Shkreli`s viral infamy, his status as the so-called most hated man in America is unrelated to these charges.

The real reason his name is synonymous with greed these days, the reason he incites vitriol across the (INAUDIBLE) and beyond is because earlier this year his company jacked up the price of a lifesaving antiviral drug used to treat AIDS patients from about $13 to $750.

But there`s another drug pricing controversy you probably haven`t heard of. Shkreli is the CEO of another company, Kalo Bios. Earlier this month the company announced plans to submit a treatment for a parasitic ailment known as Chagas disease for FDA approval next year. Chagas is the third most common parasite disease in the world affects mainly Latin Americans. Untreated it can cause fatal heart problems. Right now doctors say in -- doctors in the U.S. can obtain the decades-old treatment for free through the CDC, but that may soon change.

In public filings, Shkreli`s company wrote that it expects to price (INAUDIBLE) drug similarly to anti-viral for Hepatitis C which can cost $60,000 to $100,000 for a single course of treatment.

Joining me now, Daisy Hernandez, assistant professor at Miami University and she has been researching and writing about Chagas disease for more than a year. And Keri Geiger, reporter at Bloomberg who has reported on the Martin Shkreli case.

Thank you both for being here.

And I want to start with you, Daisy, because people who haven`t heard of Chagas disease probably need to get just a bit of an explainer on why this is, you know, such a crisis to have the price of the treatment for it go up so sharply and you have a personal connection to it and can explain.

DAISY HERNANDEZ, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, MIAMI UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. Chagas disease in Latin America is considered to be a silent killer. And part of the reason for that is because you might not have any symptoms for 10, 20 or even 30 years. And then in one in three people it leads to heart failure, terrible heart failure. There are eight million people that have the disease, mostly in Latin America. But of course, immigrants here in the United States, 300,000 of them. One of those was my auntie actually who passed away from this disease. There was a lot of silence in our family around it because it is considered a disease of poverty. And so it has that kind of social stigma that comes even with migration.

REID: And Keri, I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that a course of drugs that for all of this time that has been able to be accessed by the CDC for free can suddenly be in a sense almost privatized by this company. And profitize (ph) for Martin Shkreli.

KERI GEIGER, REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: So Martin Shkreli`s kind of catapult in the American public. As you said earlier, really is about these drug pricing strategies which a small group of companies. It is a niche business strategy. And it very much echoes kind of a hedge fund like capitalistic approach to pharmaceutical pricing. Obviously, it doesn`t go down very well with public health officials, with the public, because any time you are laying out a business strategy that of course is going to, and Shkreli himself has said this many times, create shareholder value, return on equity and it is going to make a lot of money, it doesn`t settle well if it reduces access to life saving drugs. And that`s really why this whole thing blew up.

I mean, the fact that he got arrested is pretty phenomenal for basically ripping off investors, you know, allegedly, of course, with a series of hedge funds that he did before. So he has got a pattern of behavior, if you kind of lay out what`s in the indictment, of being a little bit duplicitous on how he is doing his business deals.

Now, what he`s doing, it`s really important to know with this pharmaceutical approach, both the Turing pharmaceutical and Kalo Bio is legal. There is nothing illegal about this. It just doesn`t sit well with a lot of people, and particularly in the health care industry. I think they are looking at ways that say if this should or shouldn`t be brought under more regulatory scrutiny.

REID: Absolutely. And I think that really is the point here. Because, you know, whether or not, you know, people think that Martin Shkreli is the worst person in the world, the reality is that he is the symptom or a larger problem in an industry. There was an interesting piece in the "Atlantic" that made the point that he just may be a symptom of this larger problem and a broken health care system which is largely because the cost of medications is just so incredibly high. Are we focusing so much on this one person rather than looking at the larger system?

HERNANDEZ: Absolutely. And I think he is symbolic of a much larger problem. Patients and doctors who have been working on Chagas disease have been so excited that the FDA might approve this drug. Never in their wildest dreams that did they think it would then be priced out of reach for them. You already have patients that are in low-wage income jobs. I mean, they are just struggling with so many structural issues, to then have this drug priced out of reach is just --

REID: Is this the only drug --

HERNANDEZ: This is the preferred treatment, yes. There is another drug but this one is considered to be more effective. And the pediatric dose of it is actually not considered to be an essential medicine by the world health organization.

REID: And Keri, it is interesting that, you know, this is not as you said, what Martin Shkreli will end up if he does wind up going to prison. It won`t be because of this. So I think that`s I think what shocks a lot of people, that this is perfectly legal.

GEIGER: It is perfectly legal. And it is also a little different from the broader kind of large discussions that we have over the drug pricing industry. Of course with the Hepatitis C drugs that came up, a lot of that is, of course, the business strategy behind that is of course recouping R&D costs which can be in the billions.

But what I think angers people specifically about this strategy is that it will -- it`s an old drug that there is no R&D cost to recoup. So the excessive profits, as a lot of people see this as, particularly for the (INAUDIBLE) which went from $13.50 to $750 a pill, that definitely I think falls into the category of excessive. And I think it that is profit, for profit say.

Right. I mean, of course, companies need to make money so they can develop more drugs. There is obviously this really difficult balancing act that drug companies have for this.

REID: But not for this drug because this drug was actually already developed. We are running out of time. I have to go to break. But stay with me, I want to bring in a medical voice on this issue as soon as we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Earlier this month, Martin Shkreli, aka Pharma Bro, announced plans to submit a treatment for Chagas disease for FDA approval. Chagas is a potentially deadly parasitic disease that affects mainly Latino immigrants and Latin Americans.

The CDC reports that 300,000 people with Chagas live in the U.S. And that eight million people infected with the Chagas disease live in Mexico, Central America and South America. And right now treatment is free through the CDC, or runs up to $100 in Latin America for one course of treatment. Martin Shkreli`s company could increase that price to $100,000 per treatment.

And joining our panel now from D.C., Dr. Rachel Marcus, cardiologist and medical director of the Latin American society of Chagas.

So Doctor Marcus, first of all, Daisy explained a bit about what Chagas diseases. But could you give us just a very brief layman`s understanding of what the disease is?

DR. RACHEL MARCUS, CARDIOLOGIST/MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF THE LATIN AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CHAGAS: Sure. Chagas disease is the long-term consequences of a parasitic infection of the heart. It was traditionally thought of as being a disease of rural poverty in central and South America. The parasite causes an acute infection generally in a child. And then for anywhere between 15 and 30 years, patients will live with the parasite in them and then suffer long-term damage to the heart and to the esophagus and the gastrointestinal system.

REID: And how is the medical community responding to the idea that the one treatment, the main treatment for it, could increase so exponentially in cost?

MARCUS: Well, you`ve asked a great question. One of the problems in the United States dealing with Chagas disease is that the medical community really doesn`t appreciate that it`s here. Those of us in the community of people who are treating Chagas disease actively are shocked and really horrified because most of the patients that we see have no financial resources whatsoever and generally are uninsured. So it would essentially probably put to a halt our ability to treat this illness.

REID: And then, so to my understanding is that the FDA did add Chagas disease to a special program for neglected diseases. Would that theoretically incentivize other companies to come in and maybe produce other treatments that could compete with this one?

MARCUS: We are certainly hoping that that will happen. Unfortunately, thus far the drugs that are in the pipeline that have been tested have not found to be as effective. Right now it is the mainstay of therapy for people with Chagas disease.

REID: And Keri, I want to bring the panel back in because that is really the point, right? That this is not a sense of innovation and competition increasing prices because some other company is coming in and competing with Martin Shkreli. This is literally a monopoly. I think actually, Daisy, you made the point that this is a monopoly.

GEIGER: Yes, absolutely. Because it is a neglected disease, he would probably have a monopoly of at least five years, maybe even longer. So you could have another company as is happening with the AIDS drug come in and say, hey, we are going to do it for a lot less so he would just have monopoly on this price.

REID: And Keri, while this is not a part of what Martin Shkreli`s being indicted for, there is sort of the overall picture of somebody who`s milking profits really off of patients who are poor in order to finance what at least what appears to be a lot of debt being built up in other businesses.

GEIGER: That`s definitely what happened with his previous drug which is just to make clear is not under investigation at this time. It is just Shkreli himself for his actions at that company. But yes, I mean, that`s really where you get the controversy in this, is where is it fair to kind of draw the line on profits versus offering the drug at a low cost to people that need it.

Now his company Turing has said it will offer the drug to people who can`t afford it if they need it. So they have been pretty transparent about that. But it is just this whole process and this whole strategy of this, as I said earlier, this niche group of pharmaceutical players that really has people kind of scratching their heads on what to do next.

REID: Indeed. And Dr. Marcus, I will give you the last word on this. Because if this treatment becomes so expensive that impoverished patients can`t get it, what is the alternative?

MARCUS: Well, as Daisy mentioned, there is a second-line medication called (INAUDIBLE). Unfortunately, you have to take it for longer and the risk of serious side effects is much higher. So it is really not a very palatable alternative.

REID: All right. We thank you very much for bringing us this information, Dr. Rachel Marcus in Washington, D.C. And here in New York, thank you to Keri Geiger. And Daisy will be back in our next hour.

And coming up, the new surge of children crossing the border. Is this the beginning of a new migrant crisis? That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: As the refugee crisis unfolds across Europe, another is looming in our backyard. The number of children crossing the southwest border unaccompanied has quietly surged more than a year after President Obama referred to the problem as a quote "urgent humanitarian situation."

According to U.S. customs and border protection, more than 10,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the southwest border in October and November. That`s a 106 percent increase over the same period last year.

The children, some as young as five years old, are fleeing their home countries in Central America, countries like Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala where spiraling drug and gang violence have worsened. Their journeys to the U.S. can be dangerous and harrowing as they face the risk of rape, extortion, robbery, assault and even death.

The number of family units crossing the border has increased as well. More than 12,000 families have crossed into the U.S., nearly triple the number of arrivals during the same time last year.

And joining me from San Diego is Carmen Chavez, attorney and executive director of Casa Cornelia law center, a legal organization that provides representation to some of the unaccompanied minors and families who have crossed the border.

And thank you so much for being here, Carmen. So what your clients saying about the conditions they face and the reasons for this journey?

CARMEN CHAVEZ, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CASA CORNELIA LAW CENTER: Well, what we hear from the children that we are interviewing here in the San Diego- Mexican border, as you stated, they are from Central America, the northern triangle area of Central America, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. And what we are hearing are gang violence, extreme gang violence without an opportunity to get protection from the government or from the police. Additionally, murder rates are extremely high. And so, there is the children are especially susceptible to forcibly being recruited into these gangs. Additionally, young girls are being raped and used as victims of trafficking.

And you know, I can tell you the story of Tadessa, a young 15-year-old girl who was attending school and caught the attention of one of the gang leaders who went to the school, took her off premises, no one was able to do anything or protect her. She was forcibly taken to another place, raped and kept there for days. And then returned and the process repeated again. Eventually she was able to escape and she escaped with a younger sister to the United States. And that`s one of our clients.

I could tell you another story of Antonio, a 14-year-old boy who the gangs were trying to forcibly recruit him into gang life. He refused. He was stabbed. Now earlier in the year his cousin had been stabbed and now he was able to flee and he took the long journey from his home country through Mexico to the border. And as you stated, it is an extremely dangerous road for them to travel. And it is a long trek and they face so much more violence on the road.

REID: And Carmen, these stories are so harrowing, but one of the pieces of these stories that`s missing is talk of these children`s parents. Why is it that they wind up, as you said, fleeing and escaping alone?

CHAVEZ: Right. Well, for many, they -- there is an extreme fear. Some of them might have one or two parents here in the United States. Others, it is an opportunity to send their children to safety and they`re not able to accompany them. I did personally have a case such as that where the mother said you need to leave, if you don`t leave you`re going to be killed and I don`t want to see you dead. I can`t go with you, for whatever reason. Maybe because there`s other family members there or there`s other children. And in this case, that youngster was 16 years old and she did put him on a bus to try to find safety.

You know, lot of people say, what kind of mother leaves these children -- allows their child to travel and to take this dangerous, dangerous trek? Well, the choices are very slim to none. It`s either the child stays and potentially is killed, oftentimes in her presence, or there`s an opportunity to find a safe haven and so these are the children that we`re seeing in our practice and the children that we`re interviewing.

REID: And very quickly, Carmen, when they come to you, what is happening to the kids on this side of the border? Where are they being housed?

CHAVEZ: Sure. Sure. So once they come to the border, between the U.S. and Mexico, and a large number of them are going through the Texas border. And so the Texas border and the California border and the Arizona border. They are detain by authorities. Many turn themselves in to authorities. Others are apprehended. They are placed in temporary shelters and when they are placed in a temporary shelters that`s where we come in and provide the legal representation. In a very real sense we are the legal first responders for these children.

REID: Yes. Carmen Chavez, just harrowing story. Thank you so much for bringing those stories to our attention. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

CHAVEZ: Thank you.

REID: All right. And coming up, how race factors into the race for 2016 and why Serena Williams is the best sports person of the year. Period.

More Nerdland at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Welcome back. I`m Joy Reid in for Melissa Harris-Perry. We are just six weeks away from the first votes being cast in the 2016 presidential race at the Iowa caucuses. And Donald Trump continues to lead polling among likely Republican caucus goers in the Hawkeye State but just by a hair. Trump is polling at 28 percent in Iowa, according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll with Senator Ted Cruz hot on his heels at 27 percent, and Senator Marco Rubio a distant third.

Trump`s popularity and his longevity in this race has stumped political insiders and purveyors of conventional wisdom. Why has this person with no political experience, who has long been a symbol of wealth and excess, who says outlandish and often outright racially insensitive stuff, why does he still lead the republican primary field after months and months and months? To find out, the Public Religion Research Institute, recently dug through data from its annual American Value Survey, they found that Trump`s supporters differ from the general Republican electorate in a number of important ways. Trump supporters are not surprisingly, more anti- immigration.

A whopping 80 percent of them say, immigrants are a burden on America taking jobs and housing and health care away from native-born Americans compared that with just 56 percent of Republicans who support other candidates. Trump supporters are also more likely to believe in a kind of reverse racism. Seventy four percent of Trump`s supporters think discrimination against white-Americans has become just as big a problem as discrimination against minorities, compared to 57 percent of other Republicans. And 42 percent of Trump supporters say white men face a lot of discrimination today, while only 30 percent of non-Trump Republicans say the same. And this may have something to do with who Trump fans are.

A majority of Trump supporters are both white and working class. But those white working class votes make up only a third of those supporting other Republican candidates. These disaffected white Republicans who form Trump`s base may be an overall minority of American voters but they are emerging as powerful constituency in the Republican primaries. It is a constituency that other Republican candidates are eager to win over should the Donald`s campaign falter. Notice that his opponents are careful not to go after the front-runner with too much gusto, lest they alienate his supporters.

As BuzzFeed Adam Serwer noted to last week`s debate, only Jeb Bush trailing badly in the polls would attack Trump directly for his statement that America should ban Muslims from entering the country, a proposal a widely panned as racist. Or consider that after "The New York Times" reported that Senator Ted Cruz had been privately questioning Trump`s judgment, Cruz was quick to tweet -- Trump is terrific. #Dealwithit. Hmm. But is Trump who Cruz finds terrific or is it his supporters?

And joining me now is Basil Smikle, Jr., executive director of the New York State Democratic Party. Daisy Hernandez, assistant professor of English at Miami University. Brittney Cooper, assistant professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University. And Whitney Dow, producer of the Whiteness Project which explores how white people view their own racial identity. And live from Washington, D.C., Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute which conducted the American values survey that I just mentioned. And Roby, I want to start with you. And thanks for being here. Good to see you again.

ROBERT P. JONES, CEO, PUBLIC RELIGION RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Oh, good to see you.

REID: So, Robert, you`ve really dug into some of this data that talks about white working class angst. Tease it out for us a little bit. Where is this anxiety among white working class voters coming from?

JONES: Well, you know, it`s coming from a variety of places. And I think that`s really important. On the one hand it is absolutely economic. And what we see is that, you know, if we look back over the last few decades we`ve seen a real decline in jobs, the kind of jobs you can get without a college degree. We`ve also seen a real decline in wages in terms of real dollars over that period. But there`s also a kind of cultural component that has both a kind of racial, ethnic and a religious aspect to it. And so, one`s insight into this is, if you look at the changing demographics in the country, particularly if you look at seniors, two-thirds of seniors identify as both white and Christian.

But if you look at Americans under the age of 30, that number drops to 30 percent. So, only 30 percent of Americans under the age of 30 identify as white and Christian. So, when white working class voters I think particularly baby boomers and older white working class voters kind of look at the country, what they I think are reacting to and they are seeing what Trump is tapping into I believe is this sense that a kind of cultural world and economic world to sustain them, you know, for the better part of, you know, the 20th Century is in many ways slipping away.

REID: And Roby, let me go just through a couple of the data points from the survey that you guys did at the American Values Survey.

JONES: Yes.

REID: And this is an interesting convertive (ph). So, you found that White Americans believe that the American way of life has gotten worse since the 1950s by a large margin, while African-Americans and Latinos by a large margin say the opposite. Meanwhile, you also found that white Americans are more likely to say that the cultural influence of white men is declining. And the really interesting thing is when you do the Venn diagram, the overlap between that, that nearly six in 10, 58 percent of Americans who believe that the American culture has changed for the worst since the 1950s also agree that white men are losing influence. So, talk just a little bit about that.

JONES: Yes. Another number that will go right along with that, is about the same number, about 60 percent of Americans, white working class Americans also say that America`s best days are behind us. So, there is a real sense of pessimism, anxiety, I think disillusionment among this group. And, you know, what we`ve seen I think with the decline of kind of the Christian right that played, that kind of organizing principle in pretty -- in GOP politics and even the decline to some extent of the Tea Party brand, what we`re seeing is Donald Trump stepping in as really catalyst to animate really the most disaffected portion of white working class voters. One caveat and one just to make sure I get in here, is that Donald Trump`s favorability among white working class voters as a whole is only about 40 percent. And that`s about the number that he gets among white working class Republican voters as well. But having said that, he is absolutely animating the most disaffected group of this kind of -- this important group in the American public.

REID: I want to bring in the panel in. And come to you on this Whitney, because you`ve been seeing this in real time. When you are out talking with voters, what are you hearing from this most disaffected group of white working class Americans?

WHITNEY DOW, DIRECTOR/PRODUCER, WHITENESS PROJECT: They`re absolutely recognizing that there is a huge shift in their world. And I think, what`s also interesting about it, is that in reality if you look at objectively at the numbers, you know, let`s be honest. Like the influence and the huge, huge proportion of resources that the White male Americans especially still have in this country, it is really not declining significantly. We have better health, we make more money, we have better education, all this. But it is changing. It is changing. And one of the things when I see this, you know, anecdotally or I see how people respond to this, I see why it is such a big part of the political discussion now is I`m one of those people who still believes that the Barack Obama administration really affects how people see the world.

Because it is a very different representation of what America looks like. And for me someone who`s a liberal white male who`s worked on social justice issues for a long time, still when I see a Barack Obama on TV, I don`t really think about him racially. What I see the White House Christmas card and I see that black American family in the White House? It still catches me off-guard that there is a black first family.

REID: Yes.

DOW: And I think that that in all the things, that that really, really, really affects how people see the government, why it is such an issue in the Republican race.

REID: And Brittney, that is the fact, right? That you do have this sort of new look of America. And not just Barack Obama and his family but the coalition that elected them. That`s still resonant I think for a lot of white voters, is it not?

BRITTNEY COOPER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: That`s right. So, there is this real deep psychology that`s rooted in white dominance. Right? There is a sense that seeing white people in leadership, particularly white men, gives a feeling of safety to the white working class. That`s historically been true. There`s a great book by David Roediger called "The Wages of Whiteness" where he talks about how by this ideology was created in the 1850s to keep the white working class from allying within enslaved black people even though their working conditions were incredibly similar. So, one of the things we have happening is that we see the white working class actually voting with the party that does not have their economic interest at heart and historically whenever we see that, it tends to be because the ideology of racial dominance feels like a safer bet than allying with a party around issues of class.

REID: And Robert, I want to come back to Robert. I`ll come back to you on that. Because there is a very strong tendency of white working class voters even if they are at the lowest end of the economic scale, to still vote with the party that doesn`t tend to favor assistance to those of a lower economic scale. Did you find anything in the data to explain why that is?

JONES: You know, well, a couple of things is going on here. I mean, the biggest thing to say I think in terms of understanding the white working class and it not being a monolith, I mean, is about a third of Americans. And what we see is that there are strong regional differences that are really playing a role here. They play a role both in politics and in terms of support of kind of economic issues versus cultural issues. And one interesting thing to note is that if you look back across the last 50 years of elections, it really is white working class voters in the south that have been disaffected from the Democratic Party and have left the Democratic Party by about 20 percentage points here.

And it is really been largely over racial politics, post-civil rights disaffection of the Democratic Party and movement toward the Republican Party. If you look at white working class voters in the rest of the country, actually democratic share of the vote has actually been quite stable. So, what we`re seeing here is not sort of across the board things happening with the white working class but really a kind of regional disaffection that kind of plays out in these kind of cultural issues where you have a more culturally conservative segment of that party, that group in the south.

REID: Right. Well, thank you very much for giving us a lot of that data support. I really appreciate it. Robert Jones in Washington, D.C. Thank you.

JONES: Thank you.

REID: All right. And stay right there. Because up next, the voices in the crowd. A closer look at what`s happening inside some of those huge Donald Trump rallies.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: This Monday at a rally for Donald Trump in Las Vegas, several protesters disrupted the candidate`s speech yelling out "Black Lives Matter," or messages in favor of gun control. As security was removing one of the protesters, a young black man, people in the crowd could be heard screaming at him.

(INAUDIBLE)

(Bleep)

Well, that last bit was, of course, a salute used by the Nazis in World War II era Germany. Now, I`m not saying that a majority or even many of Trump`s supporters act this way. And there is no reason to think that Donald Trump himself knew exactly what was happening at the time. But this is the latest in a series of altercations between protesters and rally attendees that have sometimes turned physical. It speaks to the anger that`s felt by some of Trump`s most vocal supporters and the sometimes alarming way they express it. In fact, just two days after the Vegas incident, at a campaign rally in Mesa, Arizona, a "Washington Post" reporter witnessed one Trump supporters punch a protester in the side. In another, taunt to Latinos in the parking lot calling them "tacos" and telling them to, quote, "Go back to Mexico."

So, Daisy, I want to come to you on this. Because I feel like there is a substantial way that the anxiety of some of these voters who are -- white voters. We don`t know for sure they`re working class but they fit into this white working class know you -- are really focusing that anger, not on the African-Americans so much but on Latinos.

DAISY HERNANDEZ, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, MIAMI UNIVERSITY: Absolutely. And I think the support that he has with these voters really underscores that we failed at immigration reform. Because succeeding at immigration reform would require us to help these white working class families realized how much they actually have in common with the immigrant families that are arriving and we failed at that and this is what you get now.

REID: But Daisy, instead, you`re not even just failed at it, but the sort of uber Latino savior for the Republican Party, Marco Rubio, who`s supposed to go to Washington and get immigration reform done was forced to back off of it. And now he and Ted Cruz are competing to see who could be -- run from it the fastest. How would you be able to do immigration reform if the base of the party is so fundamentally opposed to it?

HERNANDEZ: I think you`re going to have to find a lot of courage --

REID: Yes.

HERNANDEZ: And you`re going to go against the mold. And Rubio did do that, right? And he`s not going to be able to walk away from that because he actually took action. Cruz has a little bit more room in there, right? He can sort of play the rhetoric and get around it. But Rubio is in a sort of a tough spot for that.

REID: And Basil, you know, this was this whole Republican report that they did after the 2012 election was they said, one of the things they needed to do was to get right with the Latino community so they could do better than the 27 percent that Romney did. But is that feasible in a party that`s so fundamentally -- all the statistics show it -- fundamentally, organically opposed to the idea of doing immigration reform because it will change the demographics of the country.

BASIL SMIKLE, JR., EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NYC DEMOCRATIC PARTY: It`s not just immigration reform. They tried to do that with black folk, too. They were in Brooklyn, New York trying to recruit African-American ministers and others to the cause and it just didn`t matter because of the kind of rhetoric that we`re hearing. There`s research out of the Center for American Progress that says that even if you look at deferred action for parents, you have households that could be incredibly active in this process in 2016 but as you said, you have Rubio and Cruz trying to figure out who`s best at talking about how to keep people out and keep them from gaining a path to citizenship. So it doesn`t look like the Republicans are at all interested in growing their party. To Roby`s point earlier, they`re becoming far more regional as a party, not national, not inclusive. And ultimately, you know, I think that hurts them at the end. When Donald Trump is saying make America great again -- like again, when is again?

REID: Yes.

SMIKLE: What part of history are we talking about? But clearly there`s some anger that`s being tapped in to there that as we`ve talked about earlier, we wonder if those folks are actually going out to the polls.

REID: And Whitney, I want to come back to you on this because I think there is a sense that you have sort of the elites in the Republican Party insisting that what Daisy said is true and Rob has said is true, that you have to do immigration reform, that you have to do this thing. But even that it seems like it feels like talking down to these voters that you`ve gone out and talked to who say we don`t want. I want to read you a couple of quotes and this was a moment at a Trump rally, the same Trump rally in Arizona where reporters talked to a couple of people who were at the rally.

This is what they said. One of them said, it is like we`re being invaded. It`s like I`m a minority here. Another said, it is like my son said, to be a white man is like a sin now. Isn`t it the case that even for the elites of the Republican Party to push immigration reform is seen to be marginalizing and talking down to a defying the base of their own party?

DOW: Absolutely. And it is really incredible. I think what`s so interesting about this whole race is that like it`s kind of as if there`s things that Donald Trump has set the debate in unreality. So, this idea that he said, OK, I`m going to decide that all humans can fly and we all debate like at what altitude. That`s kind of what`s going on with the immigration debate. I mean, every study has shown that immigrants, no matter where they`re from -- whether they`re here legally or not legally -- that their rates of incarceration, of violent crime are historic -- are much lower than native Americans -- than I hate to say native Americans, but you know, legal Americans. It`s really interesting that one of them said since like 1993, that immigration has increased -- legal immigration increased has tripled and violent crime among immigrants has gone down by 48 percent.

REID: Yes.

DOW: So it`s not a rational argument and it goes back to a lot of things that I see when doing the Whiteness Project, is that there is a fundamental disconnect from the reality of people`s experience, objective experience, what the world actually is objectively if you look at the data, and how they`re experiencing it. And it`s very, very strange but it is no question that that cohort of working class Americans are really trying to deal with this new reality.

REID: Go ahead.

SMIKLE: If I can add, since Barack Obama has been president of the United States, Democrats have lost almost 1,000 seats in legislatures across the country. And it is the operationalizing of this kind of attitude and angst that I think as a party we are wrestling with now.

REID: And Brittney, that must make it really complicated to be a black or Latino or Republican. Because they have very different asks being made of them as representatives of their party.

COOPER: Sure. I mean, one of the things we have to think about is like -- we are the integrity of Ted Cruz, right, or Marco Rubio that their whole goal in the party is to prove that they don`t want to let people like them into the country. Right? Like the fact that this is the thing that we demand? Again, one of the things that we see with people of color who happen to be Republican is that they fundamentally believe in this notion of the American dream, that the American Project is really an inclusive project that we can push it in order for it to grow. So, they sort of concede this integrity that these white working class of voters who are coming to these rallies and acting suggest is not actually the case and I think that that`s the challenge.

But the other thing I want to say is that the GOP, this is really their chickens coming home to roost. I mean, it is easy to blame Donald Trump for this and to suggest that, you know, he is the cause of this kind of incendiary rhetoric but they`ve been engaged in this kind of dog whistle politics to the base for a couple of decades at this point. And so now they`re getting embarrassed because he`s more blatant about it. But this is what they have done to what their base, so it`s anybody saying things about welfare politics, et cetera, right? So, this is the way that they do things and now they`re just being, you know, called out.

REID: Well, so glad that you mentioned Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio because it just so happens that when we come back, Cruz, Rubio -- oh, yes, it`s so one.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Two top-tier candidates in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, finally mixed it up this week over immigration reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was a time for choosing, as Reagan put it, where there was a battle over amnesty and some chose, like Senator Rubio, to stand with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer and support a massive amnesty plan.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As far as Ted`s record, I`m always puzzled by his attack on this issue. Ted, you support legalizing people who are in this country illegally.

CRUZ: I led the fight against his legalization and amnesty bill.

RUBIO: Does Ted Cruz rule out ever legalizing people that are in this country illegally now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: I have never supported legalization --

RUBIO: Do you rule it out?

CRUZ: I have never supported legalization and I do not intend to support legalization.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Daisy, I am fascinated by this fight between two Latino Republicans over who can be more opposed to legalizing largely Latinos.

HERNANDEZ: It is painful to watch.

(LAUGHTER)

Absolutely. I think what`s interesting to me is, absolutely, it is a race to whiteness. Right? Who can be the whitest person in the room right now? But also, I think it is less representative of the Latino community which is what I find it really fascinating. It is more representative of where the U.S. is right now. Where actually I think Rubio in a lot of ways is the future. He can actually talk about race, he can actually engage, he can actually compromise. Ted Cruz is that other side. He`s the Donald Trump side.

REID: Well, let`s listen to Marco Rubio talking about -- today, just this morning on "Face the Nation," he continued this tag. Because what he`s done really is to bait Ted Cruz because Ted Cruz also actually used to support -- he proposed an amendment that he said would improve the immigration bill that Marco Rubio helped to negotiate with Chuck Schumer and others. This is Marco Rubio going after Ted Cruz for what he says is hypocrisy on his position this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: When you run by telling everybody you`re the only purist in the field, you`re the only one that`s always consistent, conservative, well I think then your record is going to have a light shown on it and in this case it`s proven that in fact well after the immigration debate had ended he was still talking about how he was open to legalizing people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: But this is not Marco Rubio talking in a very subtle, sophisticated way about race. This is Marco Rubio saying, you see? I`m the one who`s more pure. But he was the Tea Party guy who still has to prove his bona fides as against legalizing undocumented immigrants.

COOPER: Absolutely. So, one of the things that I think we should pause and say is the way that they are talking about legalizing people as though they`re talking about legalizing marijuana is a very interesting rhetoric. I think we should really call that out. Right? Because what we are talking about is that folks who contribute to this country and who have been here for generations and also folks whose parents have been here and who have been making a life for them are, you know, are being denied a pathway to citizenship even though in many respects they have more of this sort of American ideal that we celebrate than any of these guys is talking about. So, like as an African-American person who stands in solidarity with other people of color, I think it is really important to name the way that this rhetoric plays out in the public that it becomes really problematic. Right?

But also, again, there is the way that Republicans engage in politics around race which is why they`re becoming a party that shows themselves to be increasingly unfit for the demographics of the country in the 21st Century because they require that people of color, whether we are talking about African-Americans or Latinos, pledge their loyalty to Republican ideals by denying any of the sort of legitimacy of any of these social issues that matter to people of color constituencies and we have to reject that.

REID: And to that point, I want to play now Ted Cruz. Because Ted Cruz I think, in my opinion is probably the Republican candidate who is most situated to unite these various squabbling factions of the Republican base should Trump not be able to go all the way to the nomination. This is Ted Cruz trying to explain his position on immigration and whether or not he did offer an amendment to support what they`re calling an amnesty bill. This is him talking to FOX News Bret Baier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: The fact that I introduced an amendment to remove part of the Gang of Eight bill doesn`t mean I support the rest of the Gang of Eight bill.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: That is not what you said at the time. And Yahoo! dug up these quotes from back then. You said if this amendment were to pass, the chances of this bill passing into law would increase dramatically. Sounded like you wanted the bill to pass.

CRUZ: Of course I warranted the bill to pass. My amendment to pass. What my amendment did --

BAIER: You said the bill.

CRUZ: -- takes citizenship off the table. But it doesn`t mean that I supported the other aspects of the bill which was a terrible bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: He sounds like he`s in confession, Whitney that he`s trying to explain his sin. But Ted Cruz, despite that sort of uhm, uhm, uhm moment, does seem to have the alchemy, he seems to have found the formula that does make him more appealing to these very voters that you interviewed in the Whiteness Project.

DOW: Yes. And I think that you know, the idea that there`s certain types of Latinos, certain types of black people, certain types of Asian people that white voters really like. And it`s sort of -- what I actually think is really interesting is I did a bunch of interviews with some people who were half Latino, half White. And this idea of how you become white when you`re Latino and talking very directly about what it means to leave that - - leave your heritage behind. And there is a real desire for it in this group of people I interviewed in Dallas, about leaving that -- the Latino heritage behind because it allowed them many, many more opportunities. So it`s very, very, very strange to see. As I said earlier, I just think that the thing that`s most confusing for me is this debate about immigration as a bad thing. I mean, it`s just fascinating to me where -- look. We`re all anchor babies on some level. Right? And this idea that somehow that you are trying to reject that heritage and make a connection to something that simply doesn`t exist.

SMIKLE: Well, that`s why, it`s interesting, I agree with your point that if there`s not Donald Trump, I think it is Ted Cruz that`s sort of the inheritor of that kind of demographic. But when you talk about Marco Rubio, that`s why it`s interesting that he could be for Republicans what Clinton was for Democrats in 1992 --

REID: Right.

SMIKLE: -- as a candidate. And he is now sort of getting into this conversation with Ted Cruz about legislative politics which most Americans don`t understand.

REID: Yes.

SMIKLE: But you could actually transcend that and he`s chosen not to.

REID: Yes. And he`s at 11 percent. And I do think it is important to make the point as we`re talking about this. If you look at that Republican field, you take a look at them, and their debate stages have a lot of diversity. You take a look at the democratic stage, oh, the irony.

All right. And up next -- "Saturday Night Live" gets to have its say.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Last night, "Saturday Night Live" once again spoofed the most recent Republican debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before we go to commercial, we`ll give Jeb one last chance to make an impression.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, listen. If we work together, we can stop Donald Trump. If combine my numbers with yours, yours, and yours, we`d almost win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Jebra, shut your pie hole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You know what? You`re a jerk. You`re never going to be president, Donald.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, no kidding. None of us are, genius.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And then because life imitates art, let`s listen to real Jeb Bush talking about Donald Trump today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just one other thing I got to get this off my chest. Donald Trump is a jerk.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Actually, that was on Saturday. And now, let`s listen to real Donald Trump responding today on "Meet the Press."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, his people gave him that quote. You can see he was just saying, okay, I`m ready now. I`m ready now to say it. Jeb is a weak and ineffective person. He`s also a low-energy person which I`ve said before but he is a weak and ineffective person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: At a certain point Basil, it is hard to tell which one is the parody and which is real.

SMIKLE: And what`s amazing to me is Donald Trump has done this without doing commercials. He has not spend money on advertising at all and people by instant were laughing at him and that`s the exact reaction that he`s trying to get.

REID: He doesn`t even have to show up to be on TV. He just calls in. But you know, the interesting thing about Jeb Bush while we are talking about him is Jeb Bush is not just the guy who used to be the front-runner, the guy who raised $100 million. He`s also the guy who had the ability at one time in his career to translate the politics of immigration in a way that seemed rational and seemed like it would be helpful to the party. Why do you think that that has not worked for him? Has the party just passed him by?

DOW: I think what`s so funny about watching those clips? And, you know, I don`t want to say it is my original idea but I read a great article about comparing Donald Trump to -- the debates -- the campaign to a boxing match. Everybody`s boxing. And Donald Trump is a professional wrestler. They`re trying to score points with their hits and he`s hitting them over the heads with chairs and they just don`t know what to do.

REID: Yes.

SMIKLE: And I think what`s happening is that Jeb has been out of office for so long, campaigns, the tactics and campaigns and elections including social media have changed a lot. You don`t have the evangelical wave that rode his brother into office. He hasn`t been able to capture that sort of gone to Carson for a period of time. So, a lot of what I think Jeb had counted on to get him to do well in these debates and in these polls has actually dissipated and been eaten up by all these other candidates.

REID: But Daisy, has the tactics change? Have the mechanics of campaign changed or have we seen a part of the Republican base simply decide to draw a line in the sand on immigration and Trump is on their side of the line and Jeb is on the other?

HERNANDEZ: I think they have drawn that line. And Jeb Bush showed up, and I almost feel I was surprised by his own party, on the shock, and didn`t know how to show up because he actually is willing to compromise on immigration, is willing to come toward the center. Right? But his party isn`t wasn`t there anymore.

REID: And Brittney, I wonder what the implications are, if we continue to move to these different polls, of having one party which is the party of multi-culturalism, the party that has all of America`s racial identities in it and one party that is almost entirely white except for a few representatives of other racial groups. What`s does that mean for the country?

COOPER: Well, you know, I`m hoping that anybody that`s on the side of multiculturalism wins. I mean this is the win that we need. What I think is that this is white supremacy`s last hurrah. And I`ve been saying this for a while. And what I mean by that is that folks have lots of anxiety about the fact that the demographics of the country are changing. We simply will not be a majority white country in just a couple of decades. That is what is true. Those are the facts. And so I think that -- but what has not changed though is the amount of power that white men in particular but also that white middle class and white upper class have. And so what they are doing in terms of policy is building a scaffolding so that what we -- if we`re not careful, if we`re not vigilant and if we don`t get some real structural policy agenda on the left that actually attempts to change this, what we`re going to have is a situation in which white people still retain a lot of power even though the demographics of the country look more colorful.

REID: Yes.

COOPER: And that`s a thing we don`t have.

REID: Yes. But Whitney, what does that mean for the non-economically empowered white American?

DOW: You know, the non-economically empowered white America, what Steinbeck say that they always like, that they kind of consider themselves as embarrassed millionaires. I think that`s one of the problems is that they kind of -- they identify with rich people. But I think one of the issues, and just to speak with Brittney said is, one of the things that really concerns me is, we sit around the table and we criticize what`s going on, and we say this is bad what they`re saying and we are not necessarily making the positive argument on the other side. Whether you look at the Sam`s Club flap or anything like that, is that multi- culturalism isn`t an opposition to something that`s bad. It is actually something that`s good. And it`s not -- and it always confuses me that we`re always making these binary distinctions and I think about like the Sam`s Club thing that is saying, well --

REID: Actions that this CEO wants to see more supplier wanted to see more diversity.

DOW: Right. But she didn`t say why. And I would argue that in my world, I want multicultural, I want a diverse team of people working on all my projects, not because I`m some sort of like do-gooder but because it is good for me. It makes my -- I only have a single narrow vision of the world and by having a wide range of opinions to experience on my team, I benefit. It makes what I do better. And that`s part of -- I think when you talk about multi-culturalism in the country, it makes the country better. It is not just some arbitrary concept. It actually is making us better and stronger.

REID: And no one is making that win-win argument in a way that`s compelling to these voters. I want to thank other panel. Basil Smikle, thank you. Daisy Hernandez, and Whitney Dow. Brittney Cooper will be back in a bit.

And up next, he has virtually no chance of being president but he just might be the king of the pithy one-liner. Coming up, a few words from Senator Lindsey Graham.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: In his quest for the GOP presidential nomination, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is currently polling at near zero. And perhaps those not-so-great expectations have freed the struggling candidate to speak the truth as he sees it and to crack wise in ways his competitors wouldn`t dare. Senator Graham did just that on Tuesday night during CNN`s GOP undercard debate, affectionately known as the kid`s table delivering a performance in the Lindsey Graham style that is become an entertaining staple of the 2016 debate season.

Senator Graham`s quips, vings and facial expressions set up the gut punches he threw at other candidates, mainly Donald Trump. He ridiculed their rhetoric, side-eyed their policy positions and of course he managed to save a jab or two for President Obama and democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton proving that sometimes the undercard offers a better performance than the championship bout. So, for those who missed it, here are a few unforgettable moments with Senator Lindsey Graham.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To my good friend, Ted Cruz. Please ask him the following question. You say you would keep Assad in power. I will tell you that is the worst possible thing that could come out of an American leader`s mouth. His favorite move is apparently "Princess Bride." "Princess Buttercup" would not like this.

I`m not afraid of a guy riding around on a horse without his shirt. The guys got a pair of twos it and we got a full house.

George W. Bush made mistakes but he did adjust. I blame Obama for ISIL. Not Bush. I`m tired of beating on Bush. I miss George W. Bush. I wish he were president right now. We wouldn`t be in this mess.

If you`re worried about somebody having your phone number in the government, don`t be. The only thing you need to worry about is if you`re talking to a terrorist and a judge gives an order to listen to what you`re saying. We`re at war, folks. They`re not trying to steal your car, they`re trying to kill us all.

Donald Trump has done the one single thing you cannot do. Declare war on Islam itself. ISIL would be dancing in the streets. They just don`t believe in dancing. This is a coup for them. And to all of our Muslim friends throughout the world, I am sorry he does not represent us. For God`s sakes, Mr. Trump, you`re asking to be the commander-in-chief, the leader of the free world. Up your game.

I would stay. I would hold the hands of those who are willing to live in peace with us. I would build small school houses in remote regions of the world to give a young woman a voice about her children.

Muslims have died by the thousands fighting this hateful ideology. There are at least 3,500 American Muslims serving in the armed forces. Thank you for your service.

(APPLAUSE)

You are not the enemy. Your religion is not the enemy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Now, Buttercup did like that.

And up next, let`s just make this clear. Serena Williams is the sports person of the year. Person being the operative word.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: This year, "Sports Illustrated" sportsperson of the year is a woman, even though a lot of folks thought the title should go to a male. Serena Williams is the first individual woman athlete to snag the honor in more than three decades. The magazine gave us a laundry list of why. Williams won three major titles, went 53 and three and provided at least one new measure of her tyrannical three-year reign at number one. For six weeks this summer, Williams, twice as many ranking points as the world`s number two. But Serena`s well-earned victory triggered an unprecedented public outcry.

Unprecedented because the haters were hating because the winner is human. That`s right. Well, "Sports Illustrated" named their champion, an online poll gave the magazine readers a chance to weigh in. And Serena received just one percent of that vote while American Pharoah, the horse that won the Triple Crown this year got a whopping 47 percent. Adding fuel to the fire, the "Los Angeles Times" asked, who is the real sportsperson of 2015? Appearing to grant legitimacy to an already problematic debate. But Serena as always is taking the whole thing in stride.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SERENA WILLIAMS, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: I`ve had my shares of ups and downs. I`ve had many struggles, I`ve had blood clots in both my lungs, at the same time, and I lived through tragedies and controversies and horses.

(LAUGHTER)

I had to say it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: But American Pharoah, meanwhile, had no comment because he`s a horse. Back with me is Brittney Cooper. And this week she wrote a Salon.com piece on Serena. The truth about Serena and American Pharaoh. Here`s the real reason why the comparison is so insulting. OK, Brittney, what`s the real reason why it`s so insulting the fact that it`s a horse?

COOPER: Because people aren`t horses and black people in particular are not animals. But that is actually a thing that this country has struggled to acknowledge. So, we actually built this country on the fundamental idea that black people were property, that they were a no more value than chattel, than animals. And so, folks are acting outrage saying that, you know, black people are being hypersensitive when the American Pharoah had an awesome year. But we can`t understand this kind of comparison outside of this long history of always seeing black people as animals first rather than seeing their humanity. And so, for the "Los Angeles Times" to there suggest that a horse is a person is absurd and outrageous and we have a right to be mad.

REID: Yes. And you wrote in your piece update, that argument to the president day, you wrote, "The Supreme Court thinks corporations are people. The religious right thinks fetuses are people. Every day racist are willing to state their bets on the claim that horses are people too." That such ideas necessitate -- necessarily undercut the humanity of black people and black women in particular conveniently goes unacknowledged in public discourse. Because the idea of sort of expanding personhood is quite ironic given the history that you just sided, when the humanity of African-Americans is just being bald down to, can we just say Black Lives Matter.

COOPER: That`s right. So, we are in this moment where we have a whole social movement that job is simply to say that black lives have value. And so, there`s this lack of structural acknowledgment that we have a long way to go in this country in terms of actually conceding the inherent value and right to protection of black people. But I`m also thinking of something that Zora Neale Hurston said many years ago. And I actually hate this quotation what she said, "Black women are the mules of the world." And, you know, I reject that, right? But what I understand is that black -- that folks certainly often want black women to bear the load, to bear the weight and the burden of American racism and then to deal as Serena did with such grace and such power and such beauty even when that`s not well- deserved.

REID: Yes.

COOPER: You know, so that becomes part of the challenge here. But also another thing is Serena is absolutely excellent. So, she`s so wonderful that they had to name the Serena slam after her because she defied what we already know. But we`re in a moment where the Supreme Court is also deciding a case about affirmative action that is a case about whether excellence is the thing that is being rewarded or not. So, we have a country that saying, you know, we don`t want black people to receive special considerations and then Serena showing up, exploding all of the rules and so now people saying, well, then, she`s not even as good as a horse.

REID: As good as --

COOPER: Right.

REID: And I have to show this cover here. Because at first, it`s so fierce and she`s so gorgeous. Because another component of the outrage and the response to this Serena Williams cover. You talked about it in your piece. But it was also unpacked by Serena Williams in the "Daily Beast." I want to read a little bit of what he wrote. "There has been an anti- Serena element" -- and there`s in for a long time, "because she didn`t fit the stereotype of the old-fashioned elegant white female tennis player. British horseracing broadcaster Brough Scott told CNN. She was big and muscular and black. Let`s be candid about it, there`s been plenty of that sort of unspoken prejudice against Serena, I`d have thought, over the years." And that`s Serena Williams quoting a long time horseracing broadcaster.

COOPER: That`s right. So, there`s this long history of unsexing black women. So, Serena talked about it in her remarks as well. She said, you know, they criticized me because I didn`t look like other people. I looked stronger, she said. But her femininity has been called into question. And so, the "Sports Illustrated" cover tries to celebrate her femininity. Because black woman -- so this is the classic Sojourner Truth, ain`t I a woman moment, right? Where she bare her arm. But even in one speech, Sojourner Truth had to bare her breasts to prove that she was a woman. And so, there`s this idea that muscular black women`s bodies, that strong black women`s bodies, that strength that we love to celebrate about black women, we also very often make the claim that it unsexes them, that it makes them not feminine, that it disabuses them of the right to make a claim to womanhood and to the protections that come with it.

REID: Yes.

COOPER: So, I really appreciate the way Serena has reacted to that and just challenging them and saying, my womanhood is fine. My strength is fine. You are the problem.

REID: Yes. She`s gorgeous, she`s fabulous, she`s fierce, she deserves the awards. Stop hating haters. All right. Thank you so much to Brittney Cooper. And that is our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching.

And now it`s time for a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT." Alex.

ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT": It`s so good to see you. Can I say, I`m the biggest fan of Serena Williams. Who could possibly hate that girl? Her talent, her beauty. I mean, so good on you for that conversation.

REID: Amen. Thank you.

WITT: Anyway, to all of you, a private moment with the President after the San Bernardino shooting. You`ll going to hear from a loved one of a man who was killed about what President Obama told him.

Analyzing the democratic debate. Who won, and does it matter?

Plus, the five best gifts for technology for that nerd on your holiday shopping list. Don`t go anywhere, I`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END