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From birtherism to "nationalism." TRANSCRIPT: 10/23/2018, The Beat w. Ari Melber.

Guests: Clarence Page, David Frum, Heidi Przybyla, Katty Kay, Donny Deutsch, Black Thought

Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: October 23, 2018 Guest: Clarence Page, David Frum, Heidi Przybyla, Katty Kay, Donny Deutsch, Black Thought

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Come join us live at 5 p.m. for local. First 50 people get the official "MEET THE PRESS" swag. So there you go. Don`t forget. That`s all I have tonight.

"THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. Everybody say good evening, Ari. They love you here, buddy.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hey. Good evening, Chuck. We`ll be watching. As they say in Texas, don`t mess with "MEET THE PRESS DAILY". We`ll be watching.

We have several developing stories here on THE BEAT tonight. The Trump administration announcing a new planned meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. That is foreign policy news they chose to make two weeks out from election day.

Later, advertising guru Donny Deutsch joins me to talk about this midterm ad wars. I`m looking forward to that.

And at the end of our hour today, criminal justice reform, Jared Kushner talking about his hopes for a breakthrough. I`ll be joined by Black Thought from "The Roots" tonight about the work that he`s doing, including a big push that`s kicking off on that subject tonight.

But our top story right now is these closing arguments in the midterms. And as we report how fierce this is getting, keep in mind, when Politicos say, and I do it too, oh, the midterms are 14 days away, it`s just a figure of speech. And here`s why. Voting has actually begun in most states around the country. People voting right now in 32 states.

That includes Texas where the Trump-Cruz squashed the beef rally, coinciding with the start of early voting last night which means we`re seeing at least two things here. One, early indicators of turnout. In some areas, casting ballots at a rate equal to the high turnout 2016 presidential election. And two, politicians are not waiting to get into gear. They`re making their toughest closing arguments right now.

But for Donald Trump, that means hammering an image of Republican unity and touting a cultural nationalism that attacks foreigners and immigrants. And many are criticizing the obvious hypocrisy of Trump and Cruz joining forces after their public attacks on each other. We reported on that hypocrisy that night, last night I should say.

But I also want to report to you tonight, that message politically from their rally is breaking through. Texans today are reading about an allegedly united Republican party, brothers in arms. Trump also invoking reports of this caravan near Central America to stoke fears. Now, he concedes he has no proof for his claims about the caravan, but he is hyping it along with a new call for nationalism.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, they have a word. It sort of became old fashioned. It`s called a nationalist. And I say, really? We`re not supposed to use that word? You know what I am? I`m a nationalist, OK? I`m a nationalist.

There`s no proof of anything. There`s no proof of anything but they could very well be.

You know how the caravan started? Does everybody know what this means? I think the Democrats had something to do with it. And in that caravan, you have some very bad people.


MELBER: And today, Mike Pence made the illogical argument that if a caravan is large enough, it must include some Middle Eastern immigrants.


ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: The president keeps talking about this migrant caravan. He references Middle Easterners that are part of this caravan, without evidence. Why is that? And where is the evidence, if any?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it`s inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people advancing toward our border.


MELBER: It`s actually very conceivable. Donald Trump is betting all of this fear will turn people out regardless of what`s conceivable or what is factual. And recent history does show Trump can energize both his base and the resistance.

Last year`s Women`s March remains the single largest day demonstration in U.S. history, paved the way for this false record number of women running for office. More than three-quarters of them are basically they`re Democrats. So they`re effectively running against Trump. It was the mobilization that got Democratic turnout in red Alabama to outpace even Obama-era numbers and win a Senate race there for the first time in 25 years in the special elections.

So the news tonight is not really that Trump is lying about immigration. There`s nothing new about that. Or that the Republican party continues to surrender and to embrace his nationalist message. The big news is that this voting is underway, that initial turnout appears strong, and that high turnout may not help Trump, who continues to hold record low approval numbers or help his message since immigration is not the top issue for most voters right now.

I`m joined by Heidi Przybyla, a national political reporter for NBC News, David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter and senior editor in "The Atlantic", the author of Trumpocracy, and Clarence Page, columnist for the "Chicago Tribune".

Clarence, the nationalism, the immigration, the caravan, it all seems to be an effort to move everyone away from the fundamentals in these midterms?

CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Well, it certainly is. And certainly, President Trump has high motivations to want to nationalize the race and make himself the issue of the race. He had said so himself because, for one thing, our tax cuts haven`t performed as well with the voters as Republicans had hoped.

And so President Trump is going for what works, the old reliable for him, which is fear and hate. And that includes the paranoia about people from outside coming in, invading, and changing the America that we`ve known and loved for so long. It`s the kind of a message that some of us take seriously, some of us take literally.

I take it seriously because it can move votes. I certainly don`t believe him literally, though, when he says things like there are Middle Easterners on the caravan and secret democratic money going to it. That defies logic because that issue -- those visuals on TV obviously play more toward the Trump camp. So that`s --

MELBER: When you say it defies logic, do you mean it`s an obvious lie?

PAGE: I mean the idea that Democrats would be supporting these --

MELBER: He`s lying? He`s lying about this public issue, this sort of national issue --

PAGE: Sure.

MELBER: -- and saying that it`s the opposing party and saying there are people in it that he has no evidence of. And he sort of normalized that to the degree that people -- that`s really the biggest headline, the president lying about this. I guess you could call this a security issue if they got close enough.

PAGE: If that`s still news, that this president lies, I mean after -- I`ve lost count. I think it`s 3,000 so far that the "Washington Post" has counted in this administration but his supporters know it. They aren`t all that dumb. Really, I`ve talked to Trump supporters and they say, "Yes, I know he`s not really going to build a wall but at least he wants to strengthen the border. I know that."

And so they`re really hearing the symbolic messages that`s coming through in his talk. We used to call it code when covering racial issues in the Willie Horton era, for example. I think the caravans are becoming the new Willie Horton for this midterm elections.

MELBER: David?

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: As so often happens, we`re actually having two elections at the same time. One is an election for strongly committed voters, especially early voters. And the other is for people who are much less powerfully connected to the political system. For the strongly committed voters, this is a referendum on the question of character versus nationalism. That the people who reject the president, reject his character, reject his way of being president, the people who support him are caught up in his message of ethnicity and Americanism.

But they`re not going to decide the election. The election is going to be decided by people who are much more weakly connected to the political system. And for them, this is an election of health care versus jobs. The president saying, I`m creating jobs. The Democrats saying, he`s going to take your health care away. They`re both right.

MELBER: Fair. And with regard, Heidi, to the politics to this, you have a former Trump adviser, Barry Bennett, basically looking at this purely as a political ploy, this immigration issue. He says the fact that there`s a caravan in existence is a political gift. "I wish they were carrying heroin. I wish we had thought of it. It speaks to the dearth of creativity."

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, NBC NEWS: This is a repeat, Ari. It`s almost to a tee of the 2016 playbook when Trump went down to a massive rally. I believe it was in New Mexico or Arizona and started, you know, doing the build the wall chanting.

And it is something that, while overall the numbers that you point to say it is not a top issue, if you drill down into those critical red states where the most consequential Senate races are at issue, it is a top issue for a lot of those voters. And it is one of those cultural issues, those cultural touchstones that animates those voters. And this is not the only cultural touchstone that he`s fanning at this time.

If you notice just within the past few days, the administration just started about changing the -- started talking about changing the legal definition of gender. That`s another cultural touchstone. And so you see here these dots that they are connecting and trying to, you know, fan the base in those states where it is effective. It is not going to be effective in the affluent swing suburbs where they`re going to get clobbered, where a lot of those women are voting in record numbers. But it could be effective for, say, in like North Dakota or Montana.

MELBER: It also has the elements of getting away from the actual policy accountability. Because if you`re concerned about how immigration is being handled in this country, you`re concerned with the Trump administration. They are in charge. And so there`s this fantasy football aspect of it, which is striking.

Take a look at this Fox News" report where they`re sort of documenting what they view as the problematic border. But, this again is the border that Trump is in control of. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve been hiding in the bushes waiting to witness one of these crossings. They`re coming right now. You can see they`re coming. They`ve got a family in a raft. Excuse me, sir. Were you trying to cross into America illegally?


PRZYBYLA: It`s funny that you pulled up that clip, Ari. Because that is exactly how this issue started. The caravan was created within the past few days. There`s a great tick-tock in the "New York Times" that shows how this all started. It was a "Fox & Friends" segment. And within 20 to 30 minutes of that segment, the president started tweeting and talking about the caravan.

And they`ve taken that like a bone, a dog to a bone. And it`s become a top issue now, a top talking point. If you watched last night, as I did, on "Fox News", Sean Hannity went straight from the president`s debate -- straight from his speech, his rally, to the caravan.

MELBER: David?

FRUM: Well, it`s also a dog to a bone for Democrats though. I mean this should -- Democrats should not find this so hard to deal with. The caravan is an attempt to force the borders of the United States by weight of numbers. Democrats actually have a pretty good argument here, which is, rates of illegal crossing of the American border, which went down in 2017, are now up.

The number of illegal crossings in 2018 is higher than it was in 2016. And significantly higher than it was in 2015. And so one of the things that Democrats could say is, Donald Trump talks about illegal immigration. Actually, he`s enabled it. But the party has talked itself into this position where any effort to maintain the integrity of the borders of the United States has now become some kind of assault on immigrants, legal immigrants, and they won`t do it. And so just as this issue puts Donald Trump where he wants to be, it also entraps Democrats in a place where they should not be.

MELBER: Clarence?

PAGE: David`s right. As David usually is. I mean, I give him credit. The fact is that Democrats cosponsored immigration reform that would have strengthened the borders, but they couldn`t get it through the conservative Republicans who didn`t want to hear anything but border security. We need comprehensive immigration reform, but that`s why we haven`t had any progress in over a decade.

So it`s really a situation where the Democrats can take advantage of this. I think instead they`re trying to pull things back to health care, which has been an issue that`s working for them very well right now. I said in my column, pick your fear, loss of your health care coverage or an invasion of terrorists across the border. That`s the kind of campaign that we`ve got going here.

MELBER: Right. And there`s a lot of evidence that voters, including in red states, care a lot about the health care issues, that that is a pocketbook issue. And we have a special report on that I should mention later in the show.

Clarence, you mentioned the dog whistle and the nationalism. Here was the president doubling down on that today.


REPORTER: There is a concern that you are sending coded language or a dog whistle to some Americans out there that what you really mean is that you`re a white nationalist.

TRUMP: I`ve never even heard that. I cannot imagine that. You mean I say I`m a nationalist?

REPORTER: You never heard --

TRUMP: No, I never heard that theory about being a nationalist. I`ve heard them all. But I`m somebody that loves our country. And I am a nationalist. It`s a word that hasn`t been used too much.


MELBER: Clarence, do you think there`s a big risk to people, explicitly Donald Trump`s opponents, be it Democratic partisans or the rest of the resistance, getting into another vocabulary fight with him over this?

PAGE: Well, I was relieved, first of all, that he didn`t say F no nationalist because that`s what I`ve been calling a lot of the Trumpian philosophy if we can say there is an ideology. But I don`t know why he wants to bother with labels like that.

I don`t see where there`s any percentage in it for him with his base. Too many other folks who do pay attention to these labels, it reminds them of ethnonationalism or the kind of nationalist politics that are roiling Europe right now. But who knows what our president is going to do next.

MELBER: Clarence Page, Heidi Przybyla, thank you both. David Frum, we`ll be coming back to you in the show.

Coming up, there is some news about the next Trump-Putin meeting. The last one considered wildly to be a low in Trump foreign policy. Plus, how the Democrats are selling their message in the midterms and hitting back against the Trump rhetoric. Donny Deutsch talking about marketing to voters.

And we have this reporting, as I mentioned, on health care lies in the election, including we`re going to hear from Obama`s health secretary later tonight.

And later, our interview on the roof, The Roots` frontman Black Thought. We`re going to talk about a new push for criminal justice reform.

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


MELBER: National Security Adviser John Bolton in Moscow doubling down on a baseless claim that Russia`s meddling had no impact, he decided, on the outcome of the 2016 election.


JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Taken what we`ve seen so far, there`s no possibility that the outcome of the election would have been changed. If new information comes to light, obviously we`d have to take that into account.


MELBER: That is not the position of his colleagues or the U.S. Intelligence Community, which never actually made the assessment on the impact of Russian interference. Bolton also confirmed Trump will do a new meeting with Vladimir Putin next month in Paris.


BOLTON: President Putin said and I said yes, in fact, that President Trump would be -- would look forward to meeting with him in Paris.


MELBER: If you`re keeping score, that would be their first face-to-face meeting since the Helsinki summit.


REPORTER: Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. Who do you believe?

TRUMP: President Putin, he just said it`s not Russia. I wail say this, I don`t see any reason why it would be. President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

REPORTER: President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election?

VLADIMIR PUTTING, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Yes, I did.


MELBER: Katty Kay, Washington anchor for "BBC News" and rejoining us David Frum from "The Atlantic."

Katty, when you look at this, John Bolton maybe trying to do more than one thing. He has an unusual boss in Donald Trump. What do you see as the actual goals of what he`s just conveyed today?

KATTY KAY, WASHINGTON ANCHOR, BBC NEWS: Yes, I think John Bolton is trying to achieve two aims at once. One is to say, look, the meddling had no impact in the election result, and my boss was elected legitimately off his own merits. But also, if you do happen to think of meddling again, please don`t do it and I`m going to confront you on it and it`s not going to get you anywhere.

So we know that John Bolton is a hawk on Russia. And last year, he called Russian meddling in the U.S. election an act of war. He definitely rolled back from that today. But he`s got to keep his boss happy, too, right? He can`t go around saying yes, it had an impact on the election.

So I saw this as Bolton trying to keep both sides of the argument. Don`t do it again but by the way, he was elected legitimately.

MELBER: David?

FRUM: Well, John Bolton said that the meddling had no decisive impact on the election. So he was not saying they didn`t change one vote. Remember, one of the things the Russians put a lot of effort into was assisting with the suppression of black voters. One of the reasons Hillary Clinton lost was that black voter turnout simply crashed between 2012 and 2016.

It`s not a surprise that black voters were less likely to turn out for Hillary Clinton than they were for Barack Obama. What is a surprise is black voters were less likely to turn out for Hillary Clinton than they were for John Kerry in 2004. So something happened there. A lot of different things. One was the Russians put a lot of social media effort into discouraging black voters. They did these two dumps. Would anybody say not one vote was changed because of those things? I don`t think anybody would say that. Not two? No one would say that.

And as we get closer to the one or two we think obviously were changed, up to the 80,000 that made the decisive difference, at that point we`re into the unknowability. John, what was made him claim? We cannot know. What would the election have been like without the Russians?

KAY: Yes.

FRUM: I think a lot of us who look closely ought to believe that they were very, very important to Donald Trump`s success. Did they put him over the top? They did but we don`t know. But enough that I would say -- and this is a phrase I just stress when people ask the question, is Donald Trump the legitimate president of the United States? He`s certainly the lawful president of the United States.

But there`s -- you can`t remove the cloud over his legitimacy because he welcomed this interference.

KAY: Ari, I mean John Bolton used various phrases during the course of his trip to Moscow. He said that he`d told the Russians there was no impact. He also then used the phrase minimal impact. He himself seemed slightly confused about the amount he was going to play up the impact.

But, you know, the Senate heard that 126 million Facebook users that had seen posts that were posted by Russian meddlers in the election out of St. Petersburg. So it seems implausible that if 126 million people saw these fake posts or interfered with posts from the Russians, that not one of them was swayed by those posts they saw.

MELBER: It`s interesting hearing both of you break this down because I feel you`re traversing the big issue of whether this is an empirical debate about the impact, as John Bolton was minimizing, or whether it is a culpable debate about whether Donald Trump through his public statements and welcoming it, or in a more legal sense which has not been determined, whether he was involved.

I mean, David, ultimately to use your knowledge on history, which is safer or gets people less polarized, the fact that Richard Nixon was found to have been directly involved in the espionage against his opponents put a taint on that election in a way that I think you might agree would not have been the case had someone done it as a rogue actor, had it may be "helped" him, but had he not been involved and been culpable.

FRUM: Well, Richard Nixon won in 1972 by a landslide. He got almost 60 percent of the vote.


FRUM: So he was going to win that election no matter what. And that`s one of the real bizarreness of Watergate is why bother? This whole thing you couldn`t take them to walk away.

MELBER: But to your point of the L or the legitimacy, wasn`t it more tainted because he was involved? Whether he needed to do it, quote- unquote, or not.

FRUM: But Donald -- this case is much more extreme than Watergate because of the national security. The kind of dirty tricks that Nixon did in Watergate, unfortunately, had been a feature of American politics for a long time. Lyndon Johnson bugged Barry Goldwater in 1964. He shouldn`t have but did.

What has never happened is an American candidate for president welcoming the interference of a hostile foreign power in an election that was so close. So this is not -- I mean, Nixon`s election, no one doubted that he won. With Donald Trump, we really do. We can never not wonder if the United States had acted more robustly against Russia, who would be president now? We can never silence that question.

MELBER: Katty, final word?

KAY: Yes. I mean look, we`re talking about 10,000 votes in Michigan, right. It`s such a small slice of votes that the chances that those 10,000 people may have seen, may have been one of the people that saw those Facebook posts. You have to accept that that`s a possibility. You can`t say it`s definitely true. You can`t say it`s definitely not true. And that`s I think why you heard John Bolton today using slightly fuzzy language around this.

MELBER: Katty Kay and David Frum getting in the heart of it. Thank you both.

FRUM: Thank you.

MELBER: We are 30 seconds away from a very good friend to the show and two weeks away from the test of all of this messaging. The one and only Donny Deutsch is here. In 30 seconds, he`s going to break down the midterm ad wars. Sir.



MELBER: The top story tonight, closing arguments. As mentioned, we are into early voting and two weeks out from election day. Both sides are sharpening their brands and their marketing campaigns. And who better to join us than Donny Deutsch, a branding and marketing expert and he knows messaging better than many. He helped transform Deutsch, once a small print advertising boutique firm into a "swaggering ad firm".


MELBER: Yes, we pulled that out.

DEUTSCH: Swaggering.

MELBER: Yes. Now, Donny, I`m going to get right to it. Here`s the GOP echoing Trump on this message of fear.


TRUMP: Democrats want to open borders, which equals massive crime coming into our country.

RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The highest crime rate in the State of Florida. We absolutely need to stress public safety, secure borders.

TRUMP: Every day, sanctuary cities are unleashing vicious predators and bloodthirsty killers.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: He supports sanctuary cities. That is radical, that is reckless, and that is not the State of Texas.

TRUMP: The policies of their party aren`t just extreme. Frankly, they`re dangerous.

MATT ROSENDALE (R), MONTANA SENATE CANDIDATE: We can`t let John Tester and the radical liberal resistance win this November.

TRUMP: You don`t have the wall. You don`t have a border. What you have is you have infiltration of drugs.

RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA SENATE CANDIDATE: We got to build the wall. We need to build it to keep Mexican meth out of Montana communities.


MELBER: He has an echo. Is it working?

DEUTSCH: First, let me say if you`re an American and you`re not repulsed by the racism, the Xenophobia, the entire -- we`re going to get into some of these Republican ads that it is Mexican versus white, it is black versus white, it is Muslim versus white. You don`t understand what this country is built on.

Is it working? It`s working with his base. At the end of the day, Americans are going to have this election. It`s no longer going to be about Donald Trump. It`s who we are. And Americans are going to have to decide who we are, what they believe in. And that small section in the middle, not the 40 percent, is going to have to make that decision.

MELBER: But you`re saying that the message here is arguing against the founding ethic of America?

DEUTSCH: Which is we are an open country. We are a fair country. That`s what we are built on. And particularly, some of the ads that they are running are so Xenophobic, are so racist, are so hate and fearmongering. It`s disgusting and it`s repulsive.

And this is a time -- and Kamala Harris was talking about this, this is now a gut check for who we are. Because when you see some of these messages, if you`re an American and you don`t resile from it, you`re not repulsed by them, then you don`t understand who we are as a country and what we`ve been built on.

MELBER: Well put. And I think it goes to what these closing arguments look like which we`ve been covering, you know, throughout tonight`s show. I want to show you as well the other side of this. We just gave the Republicans some time. Let`s give the Democrats some time. The messaging we`re seeing from them depends on the district, far less nationalized.

DEUTSCH: Absolutely.

MELBER: There`s anti-Trumpism. There`s health care which we`ll get into.

DEUTSCH: (INAUDIBLE) the nationalists because they don`t have a daily spokesperson. That`s the advantage. Like him or not, there is a daily 60 second --

MELBER: They don`t have a Twitter in chief. Take a look at an array of Democratic messaging.


RICHARD CORDRAY (D), OHIO GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Pre-existing conditions. You get a little bit sick? Hmm, they might drop you off your coverage. That`s not what an insurance system is supposed to be.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: The Supreme Court process. Let`s speak the truth, that it was a denial of justice for the women of this country.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: You know he`ll be able to stand up to the payday lenders. And you know he`ll be able to stand up to a legislature that`s the most retrograde legislature in the United States of America.


DEUTSCH: This is a simple argument. From the Republican side, it`s be scared because our borders are wide open and we`re letting all the criminals in. And on the Democratic side, they`re going to take health care away and that preexisting conditions are not going to work. One is a much more left brain argument, the other is a right brain argument.

What worries me is sometimes the right brain arguments win because they`re emotional and it`s fear-based but that`s kind of where the table is set.

MELBER: When you did corporate ads, you`re selling a product. So there`s positive branding. In politics, as we know, people need negative branding. The Democrats struggle with that because they try to be the nicer party. I`m being broad but I think compared to this president, that`s fair to say. And there`s nothing wrong with being nice.

But what about picking a fight? Let me show you for our next cut for your analysis, Democrats trying to find a corporate bogeyman. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dear congressman Curbelo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought you had our backs.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You voted with Trump almost 85 percent of the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You voted to hand a trillion-dollar tax cut to the wealthy and big corporations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When big corporations call, Troy Balderson answers. He backs their huge tax giveaway that`s led to record profits. Now the bill is due and you`re going to pay for it.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You guys paid for this. But what`s happening now, not a joke. Mark my words. If we don`t win the House and the Senate, they are going to drastically cut Social Security.


DEUTSCH: Once again that`s the top timing up the beat that they`re going to go after Medicaid, they`re going to go after Social Security and they`re going to go after pre-existing conditions. And that`s going to be the constant theme through the Democrats. The Democrats can`t go after Trump anymore. It didn`t work in 2016. Trump is baked in. Everybody knows Trump lies, everybody knows Trump, who he is, you can`t just point at the boogeyman anymore. You`ve got to really give them tangible reasons why they should be afraid on the Democratic side. And those are some very real reasons.

MELBER: Well, you have given out advice that some are ignoring. Now, people ignore Donny Deutsch at their peril, sir. But I`m going to play you a couple ads that are Democrats basically doing that, obsessing over Trump. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barbara Comstock might as well be Barbara Trump- stock. Barbara Trump-stock agrees voting with Trump 98 percent of the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Side-table, how much was your tax cut?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was -- there`s not a lot, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but for someone like side table not a lot is actually quite a bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How often does Mimi Walters vote with Donald Trump, 99 percent of the time.


DEUTSCH: No, I`m making a different point. What I -- look, in districts that are clearly anti-Trump, who attacks yourself, you got more Trump, you don`t want that, saves on the flip side the Republicans. You touch the Trump if he`s working. I`m talking about ads they`re basically saying Donald Trump is a liar and Donald Trump is the -- like we got that.

MELBER: That are obsessed with his style and how he is.

DEUTSCH: We can`t do that anymore. We`ve got to do the very hard left- brain arguments. I`m actually launching a team that we put together with the DNC in a couple of days that really hit healthcare but do it in a very emotional, different kind of decent way than it`s been done before.

MELBER: Which means what --

DEUTSCH: You`ll see a couple of days, but we were using a very different type of tactic that I think is going to cut through that`s going to be a bit of a national overlay. Obviously, there`s a lot of hand-to-hand combat, daily warfare in the -- in the individual races.

MELBER: If I`m not mistaken, you just embedded a tease within this --

DEUTSCH: Yes, I did. A tease. I think on "MORNING JOE" on Thursday morning you`ll see some of my work unveiled. But the thing that really scares me, you didn`t show some of them, some of the Republican ads out there or out now. There`s a there`s an African-American Congressman running in the Catskills in New York who was once a rapper.

MELBER: Antonio Delgado.

DEUTSCH: Yes. And they call him the New York City Rapper. Don`t let that New York City --

MELBER: We have that.


MELBER: You didn`t know we had that, but we have that. We`ll take a look at that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big city rapper Antonio Delgado supports their radical government takeover of health care. We can`t afford big-city Liberal Antonio Delgado.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ammar Campa-Najjar is working to infiltrate Congress. He`s used three different themes to hide his family`s ties to terrorism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ammar Campa-Najjar, a risk we can`t ignore.


DEUTSCH: Those were three adds, the second one xenophobic. That is a Congressman who was speaking Chinese because he was trying to make a statement -- I don`t know, I`m not quite sure what he was actually speaking but his statement was --

MELBER: I think it was Korean.

DEUTSCH: Korean, I`m sorry. That right. He was speaking Korean to say that he was hoping there was peace not anything about jobs.

MELBER: Right, diplomacy.

DEUTSCH: And to suggest that that`s what was about is disgusting. As far as the first one, basically what they`re saying is that black guy, that city guy, because he wrapped at one point, he`s going to stand for radical takeover of your health care. And the third one which was also was equally -- his grandfather was involved -- that he`s never met, was before he was born was involved in Munich attacks, but to paint him with that, it`s the same brush. It`s if you`re not white. They`re coming to get you. They`re coming to take your jobs, they`re coming to take your kids.

MELBER: And it comes to the time we have a president saying he`s proud to be a "nationalist."

DEUTSCH: Scary stuff, guys.

MELBER: Donny Deutsch, I appreciate your expertise and your moral clarity on some of these issues that require it. Up ahead, inside Jared Kushner`s push for prison reform, what is real? The lead MC of the Roots Black Thought doing criminal justice reform work tonight and he`ll explain on THE BEAT. But first, one of the biggest Midterm lies is spreading my special report fact-checking the ObamaCare lies next.


MELBER: Now to tonight`s BEAT special report on a priority for voters in Midterms that is already going on. If you follow the news, you hear about Russian meddling, health care, FBI firings, that`s what gets covered. If you listen to Donald Trump, you`ve been hearing about well, immigration and nationalism.

But now that we`re in the homestretch, what do voters care about? Well, I`ll tell you. Jobs and healthcare are still the top priorities. Health care is the policy the federal government has the most control over. It can fund to protect your health care coverage or it can cut that support as Donald Trump has proposed. ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act has been politically controversial but it has been slowly working to get more Americans health care since it passed in 2010. In fact, you see there the percentage of Americans with insurance rising all the way up to 91 percent. That is the result of the policy. If you fund private health insurance and provide more government insurance, people get insurance.

Now, along the way, Republican politicians have been fighting this law with a strategy that has three pillars and this is important for the Midterms. Repeal, sabotage, or discriminate. Repeal means eliminate ObamaCare if you can, sabotage means undercut it, and if you can`t do that, then they have been trying to get corporations to discriminate against six -- sick people. Well, repeal of course is the original promise from House Republicans, they voted on that dozens of times, Trump ran on it, they held that vote in July which failed, Republicans then turn to the sabotage portion various bills to gut ObamaCare so it wouldn`t work.

One bill would gut the mandate to get health insurance and Republicans voted for that. It was so close that you had the late Senator John McCain giving it the crucial thumbs down. He argued that kneecapping part of ObamaCare with no replacement was irresponsible. Now, that was sabotage which failed as well. At the state level though, not the federal level, Republicans did try other things. ObamaCare not being offered to citizens and 14 red states that were basically refusing to do Medicaid expansion. Those were efforts at the hindering or the sabotage and that makes this rising number of Americans covered even more striking.

Then, before we get to the Midterms I want to show you a final way some Republicans have been opposing ObamaCare trying to gut one of its popular protections for people who are either sick or might get sick. You may have heard about this as pre-existing conditions. It boils down to whether corporations can discriminate against patients this week the Trump administration has a new effort to make that kind of discrimination easier and they won`t defend that part of ObamaCare in court.

But it`s not just Trump. Take Ted Cruz who`s campaigning for his life right now. He wanted to gut those positions, those protections, position that`s so far to the right. He`s flipped with Texas` other Republican senator over it. Now, let me be clear. Ted Cruz has every right to hold that view even if it`s unpopular. But just as the saying goes that no plan survives first contact with the enemy, apparently no Cruz ObamaCare plan is surviving first contact with the voters even in red Texas. Cruz is gone from calling ObamaCare a nightmare to now saying he agrees with everyone over protecting those pre-existing conditions.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: This is a nightmare. Repeal ObamaCare and repeal it.

We can protect pre-existing conditions and you -- and you need to understand, everyone agrees we`re going to protect pre-existing conditions.


MELBER: Everyone agrees with that except for Ted Cruz from earlier this year and most of his career. That`s not all. In Midterm ads running right now, other Republicans also defending that part of ObamaCare.


REP. MARTHA MCSALLY (R), ARIZONA: I voted to protect people with pre- existing conditions. We cannot go back to where we were before ObamaCare where people were one diagnosis away from going bankrupt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m taking on both parties and fighting for those with pre-existing conditions.


MELBER: Those candidates voted to repeal ObamaCare including those pre- existing condition protections. So what do these Republican candidates know? Are they following this chart again that shows ObamaCare`s rising coverage rates in America or are they following this chart which shows in that black line on the right the political support for ObamaCare has now surged to be most of the country? You got to wonder what Obama officials are thinking as they watch all of this. Their policy working apparently so well that Republicans are running on it even though they voted to repeal it.

So for this special report tonight, we thought we`d ask well, one of the voices on all this, Obama`s point person former Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Now, this clip is going to air right now for the first time. She just told me these Republican ads are lies and Democrats will rebut them all the way through November.


KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, SECRETARY, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, UNITED STATES: We now see Republicans at the state level and in Congress trying to pretend they also have been part of this bandwagon since 2010 and that just absolutely is not true. And they`re trying to say oh I`ve always been there. I always believed in protecting people and it`s just flat-out a lie. It`s -- though I think Democrats need to make it very clear this has been their position all along.


MELBER: That`s starting to happen. Democrats have gone from avoiding ads mentioning health care, for the most part, to look at this. Most of their Midterm ads now hammer the issue. And while Trump talks immigration today, both Democratic congressional leaders were posting about health care. Sebelius also telling me this is a life-and-death issue for Americans.


SEBELIUS: People understand how important it is and never want to go back to the day where an insurance company can pick and choose, can medically underwrite a condition or can offer you a policy and eliminate any part of your sickness. A heart attack survivor could be told well, we`ll cover everything but anything to do with your heart. Those policies were in place each and every day.


MELBER: When you put it like that, this kind of health discrimination doesn`t just sound unpopular, it sounds heartless and it seems that voters do get that. You see there, the popularity, they may not think ObamaCare is perfect but they find it better than that GOP alternative of repeal sabotage or discriminate and finding that the coverage is important. Now, the GOP sabotage strategy may also be faltering among red state voters. Consider that when people vote in two weeks, it`s not just candidates. Look, there`s going to be four states that have ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid all for them are red Trump states, Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, and Montana.

And in Utah polls show voters supporting this. In Idaho, more than 60 percent of voters oppose the Republican politicians` refusal to expand Obama`s Medicaid provision. Nebraska, we`ve seen grassroots support display. It took over 100,000 signatures to get that on the ballot exceeding the requirement, a similar story in Montana.

So when you take it all together, it can take time for truth about policy to get out but it seems that voters even in the red states are seeing that this law helps people get health care which can be hard to get. Or put it simply like the musician Big Sean once said, I`m rare as affordable health care or going to wealth from welfare. And subsidizing insurance appears to make that affordable health care less rare. And expanding Medicaid well, it helps people get well with or without welfare.

Now up ahead, we`re going to go back up to the roof out of the studio and hear from the musician-activist Black Thought about Jared Kushner`s push for prison reform.


MELBER: We are back on the roof at 30 Rock and I`m joined by Black Thought from the hip-hop group The Roots.


MELBER: Very good to have you. You also may know him of course as the house band for NBC`s "TONIGHT SHOW" with Jimmy Fallon. Tonight, you guys are performing at a charity concert in Brooklyn with Title X. It features stars like Lauryn Hill from The Fugees and Nick Jonas. Proceeds going to the Equal Justice Initiative and the Innocence Project. And when you talk about prison reform, this is something that none other than Trump advisor Jared Kushner was just disgusting. He`s saying we have to reform our prisons.


VAN JONES, HOST, CNN: Donald Trump cares about people in prison?

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: He`s actually spent a lot of time on the issue. He sees it as a fairness issue. I`m for progress, I`m for moving forward, and I`m hoping that a lot of the people in the House in the Senate will be with us as well.


MELBER: Do you think Jared Kushner and the Trump administration are serious about reforming prison?

BLACK THOUGHT: I mean, you know, I don`t know. I feel like that`s you know, whether how serious they are is as yet to you know, sort of be determined. I feel like the question of criminal justice is the solution varies from person to person. Some people feel like it`s the system the criminal justice system in itself that is in need of reform, and others you know, feel like you know, we need to present or you know just create more opportunities for people who have been charged as criminals and convicted criminals to sort of be rehabilitated and that sort of reformed. I think it`s give and take you know, on both sides and I feel like one -- I feel like they both exist sort of you know, because of the other.

MELBER: People who look at you every night performing on "THE TONIGHT SHOW" and seeing you go around the country and perform music most of your life, you are living a dream and yet you wrote about this. "I could have been that kid stuck in the system. Time to bring awareness to a broken system." Why is it important for you to say that could have been you?

BLACK THOUGHT: I mean, I feel like you know, it -- when you personalize the experience in that way, more people are sort of able to identify with it. And you know, it`s just -- it`s a nod to people who may have been sort of felt like they`ve been going through -- going through something on their own you know, without a support system, without you know, someone that they could you know, sort of turn to or look to who has a similar narrative.

I feel like I don`t know, I`m -- just based on where I come from, the time in which I was born and where I was born, I feel like I`m a success story so --

MELBER: Looking at your music, I want to read some of your lyrics here. You said, on 2:15 I heard murder run this vast deserted land since back when burning man was blacks in Birmingham before the presidential election diversion scam, matter of fact, before they clapped Franz Ferdinand. What are you saying there?

BLACK THOUGHT: I mean, I think you know, it`s -- I`m speaking to the history of you know, this country and you know, the grounds upon which it was sort of you know, founded, how this country was you know, initially colonized and you know, just like what the real history is and you know how many people were sort of murdered and removed from the land of which they were the indigenous inhabitants.

MELBER: That violence was a part of America`s --

BLACK THOUGHT: Yes, you know, violence has always been and continues to be. And you know, I think in their line I also wanted to demonstrate that it`s nothing new, you know. The struggle is nothing new, the war is nothing new. Even before you know, the World War One we still have you know, we were dealing with some of the same issues, you know, and the fact that that`s the sad truth.

MELBER: And from what you`re seeing, do you think there`s going to be high turnout in the Midterms at the Obama levels or are you worried as you say people get diverted, are you worried people also basically stop paying as much attention?

BLACK THOUGHT: I don`t think it`s a lack of attention, but I mean I don`t know. I`m hopeful that voters turn out in the way that they did during the you know, pre Obama administration but I`m not sure. You know, I feel like performing at events like this and sort of speaking up, you know, making it sort of clear where I stand is me sort of fulfilling my responsibilities as best I`m able to so --

MELBER: Tariq Black Thought, thanks for coming and good luck tonight.

BLACK THOUGHT: Thank you, man.



BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nevada, you could be the first state ever to elect a State Legislature where the majority are women which I`m pretty sure things will work better if you give women a chance to run things for a while. But you have to vote!


MELBER: Former President Obama basically saying it`s somebody else`s turn. Women voters and women candidates are, of course, one of the big stories this year and in these Midterms. They could prove very decisive on election night. And to dig into that advance tomorrow, we have something special on THE BEAT. We`re convening a panel of all-women candidates to talk about their priorities, their passions, why some of them, as first- time candidates, chose to run this year and of course, posing the question, is this the year of the woman? Is it a time`s up election when you look at the energy from last year`s women`s march which we were covering tonight, to a question of who will turn out and why.

Also I want to tell you. We`re going to talk to a man leading this drive, he says, to impeach Donald Trump. Don`t wait. Get ready. Do it when the Democrats win the House, if they win the House. That`s the view of one controversial billionaire Tom Steyer. He`s also on THE BEAT tomorrow night. So we have a lot to get to and we want to give you that preview, Donny Deutsch style tease if you will.

Our time tonight is up. Thank you as always for watching THE BEAT. Don`t go anywhere because "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Trump renames the Republicans. Let`s play HARDBALL.


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