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Democrats open 11 point lead. TRANSCRIPT: 10/15/2018, The Beat w Ari Melber.

Guests: Mara Gay, Shelby Holliday, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Ralph Nader, Stretch, Bobbito

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: October 15, 2018 Guest: Mara Gay, Shelby Holliday, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Ralph Nader, Stretch, Bobbito

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Ari, are you ready for me? I`m coming in there.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Well, Katy, I don`t have a lot of time to awkward toss right now but as you know, I`d like to you join me on THE BEAT this hour.

TUR: I`m coming. I`m walking over.

MELBER: You`re walking right now?

TUR: Yes.

MELBER: Great. If only we had a wide shot, we would show that. I`ll see you soon. Oh, stay with her. Can they stay -- yes.

TUR: I`m attached to the chair. I can`t go anywhere.

MELBER: We`ve all been there. You know what, Katy, you made it awkward somehow.

TUR: I did. I tried, Ari.

MELBER: I`ll see you soon.

As you`ve just heard, if you`re watching the show, Katy Tur is on THE BEAT tonight. We`re going to talk about Trump granting this rare "60 Minutes" interview. That`s what she is going to discuss with me including why Trump used that sit-down to twice insist he`s "not a baby," a trend for Trump.

Later on this hour, I`m also going to talk about this painting that`s hanging in Trump`s White House. And for a deeper historical take, I am thrilled to tell Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin will be on THE BEAT tonight for that and a wider discussion, her first time joining us.

Also, how should Democrats seize economic populism in this midterms? Ralph Nader is here to talk politics and join in the first ever Nader sandwich on television. We`ll explain what that means later.

But we begin with this new polling showing Democrats taking double-digit leads in the midterms. This is obviously stoking some Republican jitters with strategists giving up on some of the House districts that Republicans wanted in order to stem the bleeding. Here you have it, the Dems` 11-point lead in retaking the House.

EAP reporting Republicans view this as a when and not an if because they`re already spinning a blame game for why they would lose the House and that in-fighting includes allegations that it would be Congress` fault that they let the ball drop for this promise $62 million in political ads and Republicans bracing to lose up to a dozen House races.

Now, Donald Trump is also struck a more melancholy tone as of late. In this "60 Minutes" interview, he sounded downright plaintive about just how tough politics can be.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Washington, D.C. is a vicious, vicious place, the attacks, the bad-mouthing, the speaking behind your back. You know, and my way, I feel very comfortable here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Trump also comfortable doing anything to survive. The talks are already underway reportedly for how his team might work with Democrats if they do take back the House. So the bottom line tonight is that the Democrats lead already is having an impact. Washington prepping for whatever November brings.

But as everybody knows from many in election, including, of course, 2016, a lead is not a victory which is especially true in this era which is the fastest, most nonstop omnipresence that have news cycles ever, an overconfident perception the Democrats will win could actually hurt them. On the most important key to winning which is widespread turnout in a nonpresidential year.

So let`s take this paradox to our all-star panel tonight. "The New York Times" Mara Gay, "The Wall Street Journal" Shelby Holliday, and "The Washington Post" Eugene Robinson.

And, Eugene, I bring this paradox to you first with a famous concept from the sociologist, W.I. Thomas. If people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences. And Democrats have a real lead but they don`t want to be overconfident and have these consequences hurt their turnout, right?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. The other side`s one who`s overconfident. The Republicans have been complaining for most of this election cycle about President Trump saying, "Oh, we`re going to do great. We`re fine. We`re going to wipe them out." Fearing that that would make Republicans still overconfident than they stayed home.

And now Democrats, now that there is a consensus that the Democrats are ahead and ahead by enough of a margin to suggest that they`re quite likely to take the House, I think there`s a very legitimate concern that Democrats will say, "Oh, well, it`s a done deal." So we don`t have to actually make the effort to vote. And so I would really caution people against figure saying Democrats have a 70 percent chance of doing this or that.

That`s a snapshot and basically a very, very educated guess, but nobody is going to win anything by 70 percent. It`s going to be close elections, a bunch of close elections and every vote is going to matter.

MELBER: Right. And we talk a lot about who likes who. Mara, we talk about, "Oh, well, Donald Trump has his base," but there is a resistance that was larger than his base from the start of this because Hillary Clinton won more votes and now that`s distributed across the midterms. When you put that to the side as we get closer to November and it is all about turnout, we want to show some of this in the context of people who say they`re certain to turn out.

Right now, you have 81/79 of people who claim themselves they`re absolutely certain. So really statistical margin of error there. If you look at 2014 in October as a comparison, there you had a much larger Republican turnout and their voting blocs generally are higher for off-year elections.

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, listen, this is a tale of two Houses really is what it is. The House of Representatives is more representative of the popular vote. And therefore turnout is, of course, extremely important but the Democrats have the advantage here. And, you know, this is not an abnormal thing. Two years after the president comes into office, you generally have the opposite party with gains.

And, of course, we`re not in a normal time. And it`s certainly true that Donald Trump is exciting his base but his base is not going to be enough to overcome the, you know, frankly, the majority of Americans who oppose this president and the House is going to reflect that. The Senate is a different story. The Senate is just -- is not as representative of the popular vote.

SHELBY HOLLIDAY, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: It`s also a battle of the suburbs. I mean you`re looking at the fundraising and spending where money is being allocated. And Republicans are looking very down on their chances in the suburbs and that`s really where a lot of strategists in this race -- this House will be won or lost.

If you look at numbers, they`re significant. You talked about the certainty to vote but enthusiasm is up and it`s up among key demographics, young people, women, minority, those are all likely to benefit Democrats but the but, but, but is that polls never really mattered for Trump in the general election. Will they matter in the midterms? Trump wants to make this race all about him and he`s doing a pretty good job of doing so.

MELBER: Right. And Eugene, as you know, if there is going to be any congressional midterm message that`s going to unite the whole country on to what`s going to propel Democrats, it`s going to be personal DNA testing. Obviously, that`s --

ROBINSON: Apparently.

MELBER: -- that`s what you want to go into. For folks who aren`t familiar with my drive point, "The Boston Globe" reporting Warren releases this DNA test as a response to Donald Trump with evidence that she has some native American`s heritage in her family tree. It goes 6 to 10 generations. And then she tried to sort of make this big Monday news flash. It was very coordinated.

Then she took to the president`s medium as you know, Eugene, and said, "By the way, Trump, remember saying on July 5th, you`d give a million dollars to a charity of my choice if my DNA showed Native American ancestry. I remember. Here`s the verdict. Send the check to National Indigenous Women`s Resource Center.

Eugene, this is one of those things -- I get what she`s trying to do. I don`t think this was a fair attack to begin with but I`m also not sure that this is the time or the focus for the Democrats. What do you make of this?

ROBINSON: I think this is not the time or the focus for the Democrats. I mean I understand why she`s doing it and why she`s doing it now, it`s about 2020. It`s not about 2018. I think the Democratic party needs to be all about 2018 and I have said and written, you know, to the -- to broken record extent that, look, don`t even think about that presidential race. That will take care of itself.

The Democratic party has to get past 2018 and needs to have some power because the party is powerless right now. And, you know, you got to have some power in order to play and you can`t play this game where the Democrats are now. They need to win a House of Congress. They need to win a bunch of governors` races and some state legislatures to set themselves up for redistricting in 2020. They really need to focus on next month.

MELBER: And, Mara, I think this is something where people can relate to Elizabeth Warren being trolled this way by the president, you know. Birtherism was anti-black. This particular heritage obsession of his is more I guess anti-democratic white woman. And so I get the desire to address it in some way.

But I want to read you, Jim Messina who is a supporter of Elizabeth Warren as a Democrat, a former Obama campaign manager who says, "Look, argue substance all you want but 22 days before a crucial election where we must win the House and Senate to save America, why does Senator Warren have to do her announcement now? Why can`t Dems ever stay focused?

GAY: OK. Absolutely right. In terms of the Elizabeth Warren -- the attack on Warren, I believe that was actually about white anxieties among Donald Trump`s base about who is white America but that`s not what Democrats should be focused right now. There`s two issues they should be focused on in those key districts. Only two, health care and the GOP Tax Bill. Those are the issues you hear again and again from these swing state Democrats that have been extremely influential with independent voters.

Democrats in those suburban districts as you said, Shelby, are extremely upset with the Republican agenda and what Trump has done on health care and on taxes. Those are the winning issues in those districts. You know what, we have two more years to talk about what`s helpful for the Democratic base. There`s certainly issues beyond those but --

MELBER: So you think she misfired on this?

GAY: I think that she not only misfired but I think that, you know, it`s easy for Elizabeth Warren to go out and talk about that because she doesn`t have to go win in a swing district. And they are a lot of Democrats right now who are fighting for seats in swing district and they really aren`t talking about those two issues and that`s what voters want to hear.

HOLLIDAY: Well, and her message is not going to change anything. It`s not going to change the minds of people who have made fun of her for claiming her native American ancestry. It`s not going to change the mind of Trump supporters who laugh at his joke whenever he says, Pocahontas. I don`t even think it will stop President Trump from making that -- I mean joke is not the right term.

MELBER: Wait. You don`t --

HOLLIDAY: You know what I`m saying.

MELBER: You don`t think this deeply research genetic material --

HOLLIDAY: Ten generations back --

MELBER: -- that she publicized will alter the way he tweets?

HOLLIDAY: No.

MELBER: That`s your take?

HOLLIDAY: It`s not going to change anything. It`s a distraction. Democrats cannot stay on message to save their lives. They`re all over the place. And, Mara, I would add healthcare is big, tax cut`s big, immigration is also very big.

MELBER: Right. You get the feeling --

HOLLIDAY: And American ancestry has nothing to do with any of us.

MELBER: Not on the top 10 list. You get the feeling she didn`t road test this with everyone.

The other big news here is Trump denying that he ever asked Russia for help during the 2016 election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Do you really think I`d call Russia to help me with an election? Give me a break. They wouldn`t be able to help me at all. Call Russia, it`s so ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It would be ridiculous to call Russia unless, of course, in July of 2016 you literally did it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Do you really think I`d call Russia to help me with an election? Give me a break. They wouldn`t be able to help me at all. Call Russia, it`s so ridiculous.

Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GAY: You know, it`s just complete impunity at this point. It`s very clear that the president can say anything that he wants and he`s not held accountable for it by his base. The rest of America, though, I think is still reality base and those people are going to vote in November and there`s not much Donald Trump`s tweets are going to do about that.

HOLLIDAY: It`s also an interesting denial given -- he`s saying essentially that Russia would never be able to help me anyways. There`s plenty of evidence that shows Russia did help President Trump. It`s evidence from the special counsel`s office. It`s evidence coming from academics. It`s evidence from social media companies. So he`s not only dismissing the fact that he called on Russia but that Russia even helped him which we know is not true.

MELBER: Right. and the other point, Eugene, that is on policy here because it goes to how we deal with these other countries. Is the president tough enough or independent enough or pick your adjective to deal with the Saudis, to deal with the Russians, to deal with the countries that oppose national security challenges?

Here, he was in the same interview with Lesley Stahl trying to suggest that he is tough with Putin but he does it in secret and that`s why we never hear about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESLEY STAHL, JOURNALIST, CBS NEWS: I mean, him personally, Vladimir Putin --

TRUMP: I think I`m very tough with him personally. I had a meeting with him. The two of us, it was a very tough meeting and it was a very good meeting.

STAHL: Do you agree that Vladimir Putin is involved in assassinations, in poisonings?

TRUMP: Probably he is, yes. Probably. I mean --

STAHL: Probably?

TRUMP: Probably but I rely on them. It`s not in our country.

STAHL: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Eugene?

ROBINSON: Yes. Well, no, he`s not tough enough with Vladimir Putin and one could only imagine what those meetings are like. It`s not just that what Vladimir Putin did with the 2016 election, it`s what he is doing around the world. It`s what he is doing to interfere with European democracies. It`s what he`s doing in Syria to bolster the Assad regime and to -- which is a murderous regime. It`s what -- it`s the role he`s playing on the world stage.

And President Trump won`t say a bad word about him. He just won`t say a bad word about him in public and there`s no reason to believe that he says a bad word about him in private.

MELBER: Right. And it`s quite telling when you look at some of what came out of that interview.

My thanks to Mara and Shelby. And Eugene, stay with me. I want you with Doris Kearns Goodwin later in the hour.

Coming up, a little more on what Trump revealed on a personal side in the "60 Minutes" interview. His recurring focus on babies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I mean, I`m not a baby. I`m not a baby. Babies.

STAHL: Who said baby?

TRUMP: The political people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And lots of people talking about this White House painting that puts Trump at the table with past presidents. We have an expert on past presidents. As I mentioned, Doris Kearns Goodwin here tonight.

And later, my interview with one of the most polarizing figures of recent political history, what`s Ralph Nader up to now? And it may be Monday but we have a special fallback sandwich later in the show. I`ll explain.

I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I know all these things. I mean I`m not a baby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Fact check, true. The president is not a baby. The point he raised repeatedly in this big news "60 Minutes" interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STAHL: I know.

TRUMP: I know all these things. I mean I`m not a baby.

STAHL: I know but why do you --

TRUMP: I know all these things. I`m not a baby. This is a tough business. This is a vicious place. I always used to say the toughest people are Manhattan real estate guys and blah, blah. Now, I say they`re babies.

STAHL: Who said baby?

TRUMP: The political people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Trump`s penchant for referencing babies is an insult or an insecurity that has deep roots. Authors Josh Green and Bob Woodward have reported how during the campaign he shouted at Paul Manafort, "You treat me like a baby. Am I like a baby to you? I sit here like a little baby and I watch TV and you talk to me. Am I an f`ing baby, Paul?"

That fixation gained some political traction after international activist answered that question, "Yes." Trolling the president with a giant diaper- clad Trump baby blimp which has flown in London and across the U.S. This weekend, it was in Chicago.

Now, Katy Tur covered the Trump campaign from day one. In her campaign chronicle Unbelievable, she writes Trump fixated on image because he can`t bear looking weak. And few humans are weaker than babies because they`re babies.

Katy, thanks for being here.

TUR: That was really deep.

MELBER: Well, I wonder what is the depth that you see in his obsession with this?

TUR: Well, it`s not just during the presidency. I mean he brought this up on the campaign as well when he was trying to take down Marco Rubio who for a time was leading in the polls. He kept calling him a baby over and over again. So it is an insult that he uses when he needs to bring somebody down a notch. It`s like dog catcher in that way.

He can`t bear looking weak which is exactly what I wrote in the book. At the time, when I was writing that, he was abruptly -- he abruptly stopped one of his speeches in Raleigh, North Carolina because protesters interrupted so much it made it hard for him to keep speaking. I reported that. He got furious and boycotted NBC News because he thought it made him look weak. If a protester got under his skin --

MELBER: He was not in control.

TUR: -- that he doesn`t look in control, he`s not a strong person. It`s the same way that he I think he views dictators. He`s not a baby. He understands what they do. He gets it. The world is a dark and dangerous place, it`s a mean place. He said that over and over again.

MELBER: And you mentioned him attacking people when you were covering. And let`s look at him attacking people as babies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have a bunch of babies running our country, folks. We have a bunch of losers. They are losers. They are babies.

What the hell did he think? He`s like a baby.

And then he apologized like a little baby. Like a disgusting little weak pathetic baby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: It seems like more than a talking point. It seems to resonate somewhere inside him.

TUR: No, it`s a deep insult. It`s what he considers one of his deepest insults, calling somebody a baby, calling somebody a dog catcher because you can`t take them seriously. A baby because, as you said, they`re weak and they can`t protect themselves. I mean he thinks that if you tell the truth, if you admit that there`s nuance to your decision, you are going to look weak, that he saw our past leaders as weak and babies because they were unwilling to say what needed to be said.

He was the one that was willing to say it. He was the one that was willing to go out and say, "I`m going to bomb the families of terrorists." And anybody who judged him for it and said, "Hey. You can`t do that", they were weak because he was the one telling it like it is.

MELBER: So let`s probe his mentality because --

TUR: OK.

MELBER: -- you spent so much time with him.

TUR: Yes.

MELBER: And I`m not trying to put him on the couch. But sometimes the things that we most revile in others remind us of something that we`re not at peace within ourselves. And, you know, Bob Marley said the biggest man you ever did see was once a baby. And it was a statement about humility.

And I wonder if -- and feel free to disagree because we like intellectual changes here, I wonder if part of him is actually personally uncomfortable with the notion that he was once a baby, that we come from dust, that we return to dust, that there is a kind of a weakness in that that is human frailty that bothers him.

TUR: You know, I don`t know. And I think that is something that --

MELBER: Well, I don`t know either.

TUR: -- a clinical psychologist would need to sit down and discuss with him but he -- I can say from covering him for as long as I did, from interacting with him the way that I did, he has a personal aversion, a revulsion, if you will, to looking weak, and to being somebody who is unwilling to say the mean thing, the honest thing.

And just to make my point on what he was doing there with the dictators is that he`s willing to say what other leaders would not say, which is, yes, I know what they do but it`s more important that I get an arms deal even though that arms deal is the way he describes it is not accurate even in the slightest. But it`s more -- for him, it`s saying being willing to say I`m ready to deal with this person regardless of what they do in their home countries because I can -- there`s a transactional relationship that can be had. It doesn`t matter what you do, the means justify the ends and the ends are that I`m going to get a better deal.

MELBER: Right. And in fairness, a lot of his supporters resonate with that kind of real politic. Before I let you go, we have some more imagery that we want to put up on the screen. A salute to Katy Tur`s college tour. Folks may remember that moment posing with that bear but we have other ones. Look at this one. Did you deliberately make this a priority on your trip?

TUR: Do you know why I`ve got such an affinity to bears?

MELBER: No.

TUR: My middle name is Bear.

MELBER: Really?

TUR: Yes.

MELBER: Why?

TUR: I don`t know. My family is weird. I`ve got a weird family.

MELBER: That`s cool.

TUR: Yes.

MELBER: You know what, I never would have guessed that you grew up in a weird family.

TUR: No, no. Of course, I`m totally normal.

MELBER: I`m kidding.

TUR: Katy Bear Tur.

MELBER: Katy Bear Tur.

TUR: Yes, that`s me.

MELBER: But you don`t use it professionally?

TUR: No, I don`t because I get enough Turred on Twitter. I don`t want to add the Bear to it.

MELBER: Got it.

TUR: I really brought the level of intellectual order, bigger from this conversation down quite a bit.

MELBER: We loved having you here. You spent a lot of time around the man who became president and you covered that campaign vociferously so.

TUR: Listen, I think Donald Trump is -- and I`m not going to get down on the therapist couch but he is a projector. And when somebody makes an argument against him, he will turn it back around and make that argument against them.

MELBER: Exactly. Doris, come this way because we`re out of time only because we love Katy Tur but we have Doris Kearns Goodwin in 30 seconds.

Thanks for being here.

TUR: I`m glad to be here.

MELBER: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: And we`re back. In politics as in life, sometimes the most revealing things are not on stage in front of us but are the things just offstage or the background instead of the foreground. And that`s how a lot of people felt about this painting hanging in the White House.

It`s news tonight because it was caught on camera in that "60 Minutes" interview with Trump, a jaunty piece of Republican fan fiction imagining him relaxing with Republican presidents, living and dead. And it`s a portrait of partisanship that doesn`t exactly actually represent living history considering the reports that neither President Bush voted for Trump, let alone drink with him.

But, come on, it`s just a painting. And some compared the style of the iconic rendering of dogs playing poker. We know dogs don`t really play poker and we know President Bush Senior and Junior don`t really like Trump. But why is the image important to a president who otherwise tends to be more rebellious about this kind of thing?

Well, partly because our presidents define our history and culture which Pulitzer Prize Winning Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin is here to discuss on THE BEAT in a moment. She has had, of course, a front row seat working directly for Lyndon Johnson, that`s her whispering there, to interviewing President Obama when he was leaving office in 2016, historical interview.

And her new book "Leadership in Turbulent Times" explores how four iconic presidents used empathy, compassion, and leadership to lead America through periods of strife that really do make many of today`s brawls look melodramatic or downright quaint. She writes about FDR soberly leading a nation through literal existential threats, his inaugural in contrast to the most recent presidential inaugural.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.

TRUMP: And the crime and the gangs and the drugs robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

ROOSEVELT: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

TRUMP: This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Doris Kearns Goodwin, thanks for coming on the show.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, AUTHOR, LEADERSHIP IN TURBULENT TIMES: I`m glad to be with you.

MELBER: You started writing this years ago before the current political moment. What drew you to the adversity that pushes great presidents to be great?

GOODWIN: Well, I think I learned even over time from living with my guys, I call them my guys somehow because I spent so much time with them, is that when they go through something that`s difficult -- Lincoln nearly -- he has a depression that was so deep, they took all knives and razors from his room but he came out of it because he said I could just as soon die now but I have not yet done anything to make any human being remember that I have lived.

Teddy Roosevelt lost his wife and his mother on the same day in the same house. And most importantly Franklin Roosevelt had polio from which he emerged more in part, more able to connect to other people to whom faith and dealt an unkind hand. If you get through adversity and you accept that you have losses, you acknowledge you made mistakes, then you grow. That`s the important thing, a leader has to grow in office.

MELBER: In politics, we talk so much about ideology. You tell this as a story of empathy, who has it and who found a way to gather it as part of their leadership.

GOODWIN: If I had to choose one quality that`s so important for a leader and so missing today, I mean Teddy Roosevelt said the rock of democracy will founder if people in different regions, parties, sections, and religions see each other as the other rather than as common American citizens. Lincoln had empathy inborne from the time he was a little kid.

Teddy Roosevelt did not. He comes from a privileged background but he gets into politics and he sees decrepit tenements. He`s a police commissioner. He wanders the streets at night and he said he developed fellow feeling for people. Even though it was conscious for him, it became natural.

FDR developed it because of polio. Lyndon Johnson had it as a young boy and then he lost it until he got so much power without purpose. And then he had a massive heart attack and decided too how am I going to be remembered? Once ambition changes from self to something larger, that`s when a good leader becomes a potentially great leader.

MELBER: It`s funny you said that about the application of ambition. Because isn`t that a big part of how Joseph Campbell defines the hero? That the hero is doing something for the world or for some other cause, whether you agree or not whereas raw personal ambition is for the self. And you mentioned LBJ. I want to play the very famous words that he spoke in 1965 that mattered but they weren`t his words. Just like in music and culture, we see how much a salute can mean. Let`s look at that.

GOODWIN: Yes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYNDON B. JOHNSON: It`s all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice and we shall overcome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GOODWIN: That`s a critical moment when a leader in power connects to the outside group that`s arguing against the government. The civil rights Movement was pushing forward. Every big change we`ve ever had in our country, the anti-slavery movement, the women`s movement, the environmental movement, the civil rights movement, this was a big risk that President Johnson took on civil rights.

When he first came in, he decided to make his first priority the passage of the Desegregation Act. His friend said you can`t do that. You`re going to be undone. You`ll never get the filibuster through, and you`ll be a failed president when you go to it -- you`re on reelection. He had the courage.

If he`d only shown it on Vietnam the same courage but he still deserves to be in the pantheon for what he did on civil rights. It`s huge. When a precedent feels they`ve done something that fulfills that larger ambition, they want to keep doing it. So he went from civil rights to voting rights.

MELBER: Stay with me. I know -- you remember how some of these artists have riders in their contract like they only have white M&M`s and the green -- I know one of your riders is you only appear with other Pulitzer Prize Winners.

GOODWIN: No way.

MELBER: No, it`s not true. It`s a joke.

GOODWIN: No way.

MELBER: But I`m going to bring in another Pulitzer Prize Winner Gene Robinson. It`s just a little Pulitzer humor. I don`t have one, both of you do. That I do but Gene, I wonder your thoughts when you listen to Doris` fine history and you as our current events person and how does this apply today?

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, first of all, I look forward to reading Doris`s new book and hi, Doris.

GOODWIN: Hi!

ROBINSON: And second, you know, what -- you talked about -- she just talked about how presidents grow in office. And one way they grow is that they learn new facts. They ingest information and process information and learn things and grow. And President Trump seems to be I think uniquely impervious to information, to new information. He doesn`t seem to grow in that way. And I wondered if, Doris, have we had a president before now who seemed to be so impervious to new facts and who might that be.

GOODWIN: Well, I don`t know. I mean, you have to in order to be pervious if that`s the other side of impervious is that you have to be able to --

ROBINSON: Permeable.

GOODWIN: Yes. You have to be able to acknowledge that something you said was wrong or something you believed was wrong and you`ve changed your mind. But somehow he seems to think that that`s a weakness when it`s absolutely a strength. I mean, Lincoln used to say that if I learned something that I did wrong I`m smarter today than I was yesterday as a result of it. All of my guys were able to do that to be able to say that this is what I thought but I`ve learned something new.

I`m here in this office new things are coming in but somehow this is a sense of weakness and that`s a real problem because if we can`t grow an office, you`ll never be able to be the kind of president that one wants you to be.

MELBER: Well, I don`t say this simply because you are a historian here but many of the great presidents that you`re profiling here were deeply interested in and knowledgeable about where the country was to where it was going to go. And you write about how FDR wanted to use this as a pivot point with the idea that it really could rewrite the domestic contract in America which amazingly it did. And you contrast that to what I`m about to play which is Donald Trump having only the most cursory understanding of Reagan. I mean, he`ll plagiarize the slogans but when it comes to America`s place in the world and what`s come before him, he does seem genuinely uninterested and that seems like a hindrance take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I do trust him, yes. I trust him. That doesn`t mean I can`t be proven wrong.

LESLEY STAHL, HOST, 60 MINUTES: Why would you trust him?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, if I didn`t trust him, I wouldn`t say that to you. Wouldn`t I be foolish to tell you right here on 60 Minutes --

STAHL: Well, remember Reagan said trust but verify.

TRUMP: Sure. I know. It`s very true. But the fact is I do trust him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: With regard to Kim Jong-un, Reagan was right but he`s going to do the opposite as sort of what comes from there.

GOODWIN: And what you really hope is when you get to be president, it`s the most incredible club in the world. Why not learn from the presidents who went before you? I mean all of my guys, LBJ felt that FDR was his hero. FDR felt Teddy was his hero. Teddy felt Abraham Lincoln was his hero. Abraham Lincoln to Washington, they all read about the people who came before him and learn from them.

MELBER: And it`s Teddy in the upper right there, you could see he finds Donald Trump very funny in this picture.

GOODWIN: You got that. Look, if anybody from today to combat Mr. Trump I think it would be Teddy Roosevelt. I mean, he was as much of a central figure. I mean, he loved to be in the center of attention but he wanted a square deal for the rich and the poor, the capitalist and the wage worker, and he had all these pithy statements. He`d be great with the Twitterverse today, speak softly and carry a big stick.

MELBER: Do you think Teddy Roosevelt would be big on Twitter --

GOODWIN: He`d be great on Twitter.

MELBER: -- and a Bull Moose challenge would be the right thing for Donald Trump incumbency?

GOODWIN: I think he might be alright. And he also was able to have a self-deprecating sense of humor which you don`t see in Mr. Trump at all.

MELBER: No.

GOODWIN: Which is an important thing to look at yourself from the outside and laugh at yourself when you have to.

MELBER: Doris Kearns Goodwin, I really appreciate you stopping by THE BEAT. I hope you come back. Gene, great having you in more than one segment. Again, the new book is leadership in turbulent times. Check it out. And coming up, we turn to a progressive icon with some warnings for Donald Trump and the Democrats as we approach Midterm polling favoring the Dems. Ralph Nader is here coming up tonight on THE BEAT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: It was three years ago when Donald Trump appeared on SNL as himself that they predicted what his White House might look like in 2018.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Jimmy, how`s the economy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amazing, sir. In the words of our new national anthem, it`s huge. After your tough negotiations with China, you are killing them on trade. They`re now borrowing money from us. I`ve no idea how you did it, sir.

TRUMP: Well, you know what, I don`t have to get specific. With me, it`s just works. You know, it`s magic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That was a joke and China is not exactly borrowing yet, but there are a lot of numbers showing the Trump`s economy doesn`t work for all Americans yet. Of course, Trump campaigned on being a populist but he didn`t quite grasp the word calling himself a popularist. The new NBC Poll shows that the economy and reducing the influence of special interests actually topped the list for the most important issues among voters in the Midterms right now.

When it comes to which party they trust on the economy, look at this, voters choosing Republicans by a slight edge. So how can liberals invoke the importance of the economy and true populism and actually get Democrats behind it? Well, my next guest Ralph Nader has a whole lot of ideas in his new book To The Ramparts: How Bush and Obama Paved the Way for the Trump Presidency and Why it Isn`t Too Late to Reverse Course. The book argues in part these problems are bigger than Trump because corporate money has taken over both parties a point that Ralph, the consumer advocate was making all the way back in the 1970s.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RALPH NADER, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The issue basically now is whether we can build up enough Democrat par outside of government in order to permit increasingly those inside of government to uphold their oath of office and perform the Public Interest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: You were nothing if not consistent. What is new though that you want to get across in the book?

NADER: That the Democratic Party can`t defend the country against the worst Republican Party in history. This is a party, Republican Party, on in the record voting against children, voting against women, voting against clean air, voting against clean water. If you can`t landslide that kind of party all the way down to the City Council from Congress to City Council, you better look in the mirror and the Democrat Party better look in the mirror. We`re about a month away from the election and they talk about a blue wave. You got to have wind to get a blue wave.

The wind comes from the people believing that you stand for something. They haven`t answered the question. What does the Democratic Party stand for? And I think if they make a big issue out of raising the minimum wage and they should get in front of the Capitol Steps, all the Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and say we`re going to push for a livable wage. It`s long overdue and the guys at the top are running away with the vent.

You know, the Democrats talk about voter suppression and that`s real, purging voters, high complex I.Ds. and fooling around with registration dates, but they`re not really pushing for a great get out to vote. There are 125 million people or eligible to vote who will not vote in November. That`s a lot of votes.

MELBER: How do you compare that to two parties that have gotten very involved in the politics of personality which Barack Obama benefited from but ultimately warned against. Take a look at Obama on that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You cannot sit back and wait for a savior. You can`t opt out because you don`t feel sufficiently inspired by this or that particular candidate. This is not a rock concert, this is not Coachella.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Is that an important message for Obama to deliver?

NADER: Oh, it`s very important because the Democrats are falling into the trap of Trump. Let`s run against Trump. Well, you couldn`t have a president easier to run against but that doesn`t put bread on the table. They have got to go down where people are working, living, and raising their families. They`re going to blow the next month`s election if they continue business as usual. And to Democratic National Committee headed by Mr. Perez who hasn`t returned my call for over a year, I have some suggestions for him.

MELBER: Why do you think it`s not calling you back?

NADER: Because they don`t want to hear from the civic community, they just hear from the political consultants and all the millions of dollars that are put in simple T.V. ads because they get a 15 percent cut.

MELBER: It also raises the question, have you tried texting him?

NADER: We have e-mailed him, yes, and we have text. We`ve done everything.

MELBER: And look, you`re looking at the next election, then you see Mike Bloomberg now re-registering as a Democrat. I imagine you view him as a classic corporate politician. He`s moving parties based on where he may have a political opportunity. Do you think it would be bad for the Democrats that Mike Bloomberg run or become the nominee?

NADER: No.

MELBER: What about Wall Street?

NADER: Wall Street is his weakness. He`s for corporate welfare. On the other hand, he`s not a routine Wall Street guy. He`s an entrepreneur and he thinks for himself. I think he could shake up the Democrat Party. I think because I`ve known him, talked with him, I think he roots the day they didn`t run four years ago.

MELBER: You said shake up the Democratic Party, we`re going to fit in a break and then we`re going to shake up THE BEAT with something including you and some special guests that we`ve never done before when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: We`re doing something different today on THE BEAT, a special edition of fall back unlike any other. Yes, this is our first ever sandwich addition to fall back. Our special guests Ralph Nader is sandwich between two friends of THE BEAT the Radio DJs Stretch and Bobbito. Here we are.

STRETCH, RADIO DJ: Here we are.

MELBER: I want to -- I want to play it one more time just so we`re all clear what we`re doing. Run it again. Sandwich edition. Ralph Nader, you`re a great sport. You are a liberal icon and you are here surrounded by music icons and I ask you this week who needs to fall back?

NADER: Fall back New York Times which reviews and profiles Ann Coulter but has declined to review my last ten books including one appropriately called, just out To The Ramparts By Seven Stories Press.

MELBER: I appreciate you naming names, putting the New York Times on blast. This is the thing where they get hit for being allegedly liberal and yet there are voices, yours, Noam Chomsky, and others who are clearly - - I`m not just saying this because you`re here -- but are clearly established intellectuals who haven`t been progressive who don`t seem to get the same attention.

NADER: That`s right. They`ve printed more war criminals in op-eds in the New York Times than they have major peace advocates like Noam Chomsky, the late Howard Zinn. The editorial page is sometimes pretty good, pretty liberal, but by and large it`s like they`re on the defensive all the time. What are they afraid of? Open it up to the Civic progressive community, all the groups that built America and improved its justice.

MELBER: Well, apparently they`re afraid of the Nader sandwich among other things which is a new thing we created. Bobbito, this -- we might need a like a rap beef to settle this.

BOBBITO: That`s nice.

MELBER: Who do you -- who do you want to fall back?

BOBBITO, RADIO D.J.: My fall back this time is the train seat hogs with them on Amtrak and it`s the old lady or young lady with like 15 bags on the seat instead of putting it up love, and you know it`s the holiday weekend as people looking for a seat and you can`t find a seat. Or it`s a cat on a train, the hard rock from the outer borough with the -- what do you call it?

STRETCH: Manspreading.

BOBBITO: The Manspreading taking up three seats.

MELBER: Manspreading. That`s when -- it`s a -- the legs spread out all the other people`s personal space. .

BOBBITO: On the phone listening to his music loud, loud.

MELBER: So you`re just fighting for the people.

BOBBITO: Yes, because --

MELBER: People need space.

STRETCH: My fallback is the new CEO of Goldman Sachs, David Solomon who now fancies himself in addition to being a banker of a quasi-criminal institution.

NADER: Quasi?

STRETCH: Quasi, yes. Let me clear from Ralph on that. He fancies himself an EDM D.J.

MELBER: I think we have a clip of this. Let`s take a look. So this is your area of expertise. You`re saying bankers being D.J.s is a no-go here at least this banker.

STRETCH: I think you know, people need to leave it to the professionals.

MELBER: OK. My "FALLBACK" is John Kelly for presiding over one of the least diverse candidates -- excuse me cabinets in history. John Kelly is the Chief of Staff. We can put the statistics up here. In both parties, the Trump administration got fewer minorities and women and Nikki Haley leaving only assets, then the past three administrations of both parties.

NADER: What are you talking, Ari? This is diversely vicious. They have they`re vicious in different ways. They`ve got plenty of diversity.

MELBER: Different types of average of evil in your view.

NADER: Oh, yes.

MELBER: So that`s my "FALLBACK." Do you have another one.

NADER: I have a "FALLBACK." There`s a rat infestation in Congress. The rats in the thousands are coming up from the catacombs and scurrying around all over Congress. I`m so concerned at this, Ari, that I`ve written this book, how the rats reformed the Congress in order to stand up for the rats.

MELBER: This is -- when is this one. This is a fable. This is like a like Mouse, right? That was the story of the cartoon serie?

NADER: It was designed to make yourself laugh seriously enough to organize and take back Congress for the people.

MELBER: So people at home who are younger and may not have followed your career wondering has Ralph Nader written a book about everything?

NADER: No, I have not written a book about inner Mongolia.

MELBER: OK. Bobbito, what else is on your list?

BOBBITO: My second one is back to the train. Clearly, I don`t own a car right, so I want the train --

MELBER: Own a car, you don`t own a suit?

BOBBITO: Neither do you, Ari. Imagine you`re Ari Melber, you`re on a flight, you`re on Amtrak, you arrived at your destination. You`ve been eating garlic aioli --

MELBER: OK.

BOBBITO: You got something on your teeth, right? You go to the bathroom but MTR for example, they have reusable paper towels.

MELBER: I mean, you lost your co-D.J. Do you want to start over?

BOBBITO: You can be good to the environment.

MELBER: This is -- if this story were a date --

BOBBITO: You can`t fit your face on a hand drier.

MELBER: If this story were a date, it would be a first date that would never leave to a second base.

BOBBITO: Listen, I had another "FALLBACK" and it was this loud.

MELBER: Don`t try to appeal.

BOBBITO: I`m invited here to --

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Don`t try to appeal. Don`t change the subject. Can you help us?

STRETCH: Oh, man. My second "FALLBACK?" My second "FALLBACK" is the New York City Sanitation Department. They give you a ticket for mixing your recyclables with their garbage but just this week alone I`ve caught and I`ve seen the Sanitation Department come to the curb and throw the recyclables and the regular garbage into the same trunk and mixing it up. And I just think that`s really disconcerting. If we can`t get recycling at a local level, how are we going to face you know, what the U.N. calls a crisis which are going to be by 2000 -- 2040 which --

MELBER: Right. We have a global crisis but it starts with doing everything we can step by step.

NADER: And I must say, that`s not a stretch

MELBER: Hey, horn, hit it. Ralph Nader with the stretch con joke, we`re going to count it. My second "FALLBACK" only came to me in this moment, and it is it is Bobbito`s outfit for television needs to fall back and find some. I`m not thinking of you to wear a tie but if you look like you came directly from the gym, you might not be ready for television.

BOBBITO: I might not be. It`s all good.

MELBER: It`s all good. Bobbito Garcia, Ralph Nader -- Ralph Nader is the essential ingredients to the Nader Sandwich. Thank you guys for doing this and we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Some breaking legal news that just came into our newsroom. Donald Trump scoring a win in court today. A judge has dismissed a defamation suit brought against him by Stormy Daniels and her attorney Michael Avenatti. They may even have to shell over cash if this ruling sees it because the judge awarded Trump attorney`s fees. And the new statement that we got just minutes ago, Trump`s lawyer saying no amount of spin from Mr. Avenatti "can characterize this ruling in any other way than a victory for Trump.

And now, within just a few minutes ago, Avenatti tweeting that this is a limited ruing and he believes when he appeals it, he will ultimately win. That battle continues and we`ll keep covering it but we are out of time on THE BEAT tonight. I`ll see you back here live 6:00 p.m. Eastern. "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: It`s all about him. Let`s play HARDBALL.

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