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Democrats tackle liberalism and electability. TRANSCRIPT: 7/31/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.

Guests: Darrick Hamilton, Richard Blumenthal, Marianne Williamson, TaraDowdell, Chuck Nice

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST:  We will bring you the expert analysis hosted by Brian Williams. It all starts approximately -- we`ll it start at 10:30.  But we know as soon as the debate is over, you know where to switch.

That`s all for us. We will back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY.  "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.

Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Chuck, you know where to switch that`s a very realistic tease. You`re not asking political junkies to do anything other than switch once they`ve taken the debate.

TODD: They know where to go man. All you got to do 00 here`s what we know, Ari, just keep - hit the previous button.

MELBER: There you go.

TODD: You know folks hit the previous button. It`ll get you where you need to be.

MELBER: All right. We`ll all be watching Chuck. Thank you as always.

TODD: Thank you brother.

MELBER: We have a lot to get to in this edition of THE BEAT with Air Melber. Joe Biden, Kamala Harris heading for a rematch, we`re going to get into what`s at stake.

Later, we`ll be joined live by Marianne Williamson, the most Googled person on stage last night, did you know that? And also new reporting on election security, why Mitch McConnell`s outraged over these attacks like "Moscow Mitch".

But we begin tonight hours away from, as I was just discussing with Chuck, 10 more Democratic candidates taking this debate stage. And tonight`s debate has several famous names, including Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. Some arguing that he really has to bounce back from the rough night he had at the first debate.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: --mischaracterized my position across the board.

I agree that everybody once they in fact - my time is up. I`m sorry.


MELBER: Everyone knows debates are a type of performance and that means expectations do matter. Biden, now previewing a strategy, saying he won`t be quote "As polite tonight". He`s also personally assuring donors, the things are still on track.

These debates are, of course, about reaching voters. For lesser known candidates this is the main way tonight that people are meeting them. In fact, over 11 million people watched that debate last night on TV or online. But it`s not just about that. It`s also for some of these candidates sparking the kind of moments of interests that will generate necessary polling and fundraising to even continue.

Consider this basic fact, most candidates still haven`t qualified formally for the next debate in September. Now all this is after the first round of contenders debated last night with leading progressives in that race Sanders and Warren squaring off over what came to be a push in pull with the moderates about whether these ideas are big and bold in the way to take on Trump or somehow so quote "extreme or unrealistic" they could backfire.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for President of the United States just to talk about what we really can`t do and shouldn`t fight for.

JOHN DELANEY (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible promises. When we run on things that are workable, not fairy tale economics.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I get a little bit tired of Democrats afraid of big ideas.

GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let`s not just talk about plans that are written for press releases that will go nowhere else--

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I`ve heard some people here tonight, I almost wonder why you`re Democrats. You seem to think there`s something wrong about using about using the instruments of government to help people.


MELBER: Snap. I`m joined by Jason Johnson Politics Editor, The Root; economist Darrick Hamilton, who leads the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State and has advised several of these very Democrats running for president including on policy, Sanders, Warren, Harris and Booker - busy man. Zerlina Maxwell, a top aide in the Clinton campaign who is now Director of Progressive Programming for SiriusXM. Nice to see all you here.


MELBER: Your first time on THE BEAT, sir.


MELBER: If people know universal income, they know baby bonds, these are a lot of issues you`ve been writing about and that`s why we mentioned. Your work has been cited by more than one candidate.

When it comes to this debate, over big and bold or more tax cuts what did you think came through last night?

HAMILTON: I think there was clear distinctions about vision. There was one of economic inclusion towards rights of healthcare, right towards the job, right for an environment that we all can have in a sustainable way versus more moderate middle of the road approaches.

MELBER: Did you think that that was a sick burden by Elizabeth Warren saying what you`re running for President to tell us what we can`t do?

HAMILTON: Yes, there were a few sick burns in that debate last night. I think Sanders had one, Elizabeth Warren had one and then Marianne Williamson had one that you just showed.

MELBER: Yes. And I`ll ask her about that, because she`s on later. What did you see?

MAXWELL: Well, I think that it showed that Elizabeth Warren is doing something different than some of the other candidates. She`s showing up with plans on what she is going to do if she becomes the President, and that`s very clear. I mean, no one can ask like what does Elizabeth Warren stand for and what would she do as President.

And every single candidate has the job of coming to a debate and explaining that and for some reason she`s the best at it. Bernie Sanders also was very good at it and effective at communicating his message last night.

And I just think that that moderate, progressive fight was substantive, so that`s good. But I think in some ways it`s misguided to say that Democrats are going way too far to the left. "Oh no this is so scary". Because just a few years ago we were debating the same thing when we were talking about Obamacare and Republicans were saying the same things about the ACA, which is now actually the moderate position.

So if we don`t have amnesia collective way in this moment, we can look back to that debate, because it can inform this debate. Essentially, we`re a little further to the left, right. We`re starting further to the left. Before we were starting as a public option, now, we`re starting with Medicare for all. So maybe we`ll end up with a public option, negotiating--

MELBER: Right. You talk a little about what they sometimes call the Overton Window or what are people seeing as possible.


MELBER: But Warren, Jason, to Zerlina`s point is very comfortable doing that. And when she wants to reframe - and obviously given the intelligent academic that she is, she`s good at it. She`s go - I`m not going to accept your frame. That`s a Republican talking point. What we can`t have and now I`m going to reframe.

And you saw that, I`m going to play a little bit - you saw that on healthcare and how they went back and forth. Take a look.


WARREN: We are the Democrats. We are not about trying to take away health care from anyone. That`s what the Republicans are trying to do.

BULLOCK: It used to be just Republicans who wanted to repeal and replace. Now many Democrats do, as well.

SANDERS: What I am talking about and others up here are talking about is no deductibles and no co-payments. And, Jake, your question is a Republican talking point.


JASON JOHNSON, THEROOT.COM, POLITICS EDITOR: No one`s ever won election by saying, you know yes we can`t, or yes we kind should talk about it and put it together at the meeting. Elizabeth Warren is the only person - her and Bernie are the only people who seem to understand that casting a vision for what you want the country to be is what you`re supposed to do.

But there`s a second thing here that I think was unique to her that`s different from Bernie. Bernie ran in 2016. There`s lots of people - certainly his supporters will say, "Look, at the polls, Bernie can win, Bernie can win, and Bernie can win."

Elizabeth Warren had to prove that she`s tough. She got a body last night with Delaney. She put him out - she put him out. And even though a Delaney was never really going to be a maybe a candidate--

MELBER: You think there`s probable cause there that?

JOHNSON: I called it in. I was like - she has a plan.

MAXWELL: 911 - murder.

JOHNSON: I just saw murder. She`s got a plan. And - but that was a good moment for her, because it didn`t show I`ve got a vision. It`s like I`m willing to fight for this, and that`s the thing that Elizabeth Warren was missing.

So I love the fact that she and Bernie basically did a Mr. and Mrs. Smith. They knocked out all the moderates and said look we`re going to make this about us too. So it was a really good night for both of those candidates.

MELBER: Yes. And this also goes to something that I think it`s very litigated in Democratic primaries, which is the sort of notion of being quote-unquote "Responsible or adult", which anytime you talk like that can start to sound patronizing. Well that patronizing just to the people with quote unquote "more expensive plans".

I mean, war is expensive and Presidents in both parties have started big wars and nobody said well we can`t possibly do that. So it starts to become a kind of a trick. And I raised that in the context of what you`re saying with a new video out from Joe Biden that shows two things.

One, he`s somewhat shook, because he`s making an attack going into the debate. As you know the debate is going, he`s already attacking other people. If you truly believe you`re the front-runner you don`t do that.


MELBER: But, two, he is comfortable staking out the position and maybe he`d argue that with his Washington experience, he`s the one to do it. That some of the health care ideas are too expensive. Take a look.


SANDERS: Health care costs money.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And all this is done without a middle class tax cut?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Without a middle class tax, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 30 trillion over 10 years?

HARRIS: There are ways to pay for it.

SANDERS: Are people going to pay more in taxes? Yes.

WARREN: So, yes, I`m with Bernie on Medicare for all.


JOHNSON: Smart move by Joe Biden and here`s why. What you saw last night is how difficult it is to actually be a moderate in this environment. And the fact that he`s managed to maintain his frontrunner status, while being a moderate, has been really, really difficult.

And he`s saying that by like, "Look, I can give you everything that you want. Not only am I going to increase healthcare, but I`m also going to give you the middle-class tax cuts like we`re back in the 1990s."

So I think it`s a smart move by Joe Biden. I still think he`s going to be in trouble tonight, and I don`t know that he`s going to be able to maintain this status if he has a second screwed up debate.

HAMILTON: Yes. Seems like the party and the population, in general, is beyond the Biden Democratic frame that took place in 2008. And I guess it`s hard for him to run on a something that would be against what he was originally in 2008. But we can look and see what the policies are and where the temperature is.

And we can see that Bernie Sanders` historic run that last time has kind of paved the way for these big--

MELBER: Professor, are you saying its hard out here for a moderate?

HAMILTON: Which is a good thing.

MAXWELL: I think this is smart. To backup Jason`s, what I think this is smart, because obviously, that`s the only lane he can go in in terms of this particular issue, because you have so many candidates taking out a very pure position on Medicare for all and anything that is seen is not truly Medicare for all, you`re copping out.

But I think that the danger here is to act like the ACA is perfect and is in no need of any improvements. I don`t think that any Democrat would say that that`s true, even Democrats that support the ACA.

So I think that, while this is effective, I think he should at least allow there to be an opening to say, look, the ACA was a giant leap in the right direction. But here`s what I propose to improve upon it. And he is talking about a public option and that was always a necessary piece of the puzzle, because it would keep costs down and that`s one of the major problems with the current law.

MELBER: You know, one of the other things about this comes back to where people think they are, right. Barack Obama really did see himself as a bridge builder and essentially a center-left figure, although the Iraq war burnished him in a way with the base.

And other people had ideas about him. There were people who thought he would be more progressive and he was for various reasons, which don`t tell you who someone is, right, what`s inside if you want to go back to kindergarten.

Does Joe Biden think that he`s more liberal than he is in today`s party? Because sometimes you just - you both just referred to him de facto as a moderate. I`m not sure given his life history and some of the votes he took back in the day of - he`s got a long record - it`s mixed. I`m not sure that he even thinks he`s a moderate.

JOHNSON: He doesn`t. He`s like, I`m friends with the black guy, of course, that makes me liberal. That`s what he thinks. But he is really, really moderate. And in fact, what`s strange to me about Joe Biden`s lack of awareness about himself, why do you think Barack Obama picked you as his VP? It`s because you were the moderate. He needed the old white guy to go into the Senate and talk to people who wouldn`t talk to him.

So Joe Biden doesn`t realize who he is. The problem is, everybody is--

MELBER: --who he is today.

JOHNSON: Who he is today. But everybody wants to project something on him. Barack Obama`s best friend, Uncle Joe, they got with the TransAm on the front porch. So if he can still maintain this image of everything that you want me to be, in addition to how I imagine myself in my head, he can stay the frontrunner.

MAXWELL: I don`t think Joe Biden has changed, the party has changed. The party is more diverse and more inclusive. There are people any positions of power that are representative and who look like. The attacks on "The Squad" are instructive, because the people who - the Democrats need to vote for them in order to win, look like "The Squad" and that`s why that that fight was instructive.

Because you need someone who can stand up for people who look like you. And if you can`t stand up for "The Squad" then you`re not going to run for president and stand up for me.

HAMILTON: I would say that is more than just a party, the whole population has changed. I think Joe Biden`s strength has historically been foreign policy. We`re not here to relitigate the Obama presidency. But in a lot of ways it was missed opportunity. And the Democrats today are trying to seize upon that and create new opportunities where we can ultimately get to the society we want to get to.

MELBER: I got to fit in a break. You guys make a lot of interesting points. I`m going to probably ask Marianne about some of them, as we have a candidate on tonight. Jason, Darrick and Zerlina, thank you so much. Zerlina will also be part of our coverage of post-debate night later on.

Coming up the inside story of this "Moscow Mitch" nickname and why it is rivaling Mitch McConnell as he blocks security bills. A secret tape revealing racist language from not one but two American Presidents and the Republican Party, we`re going to get into that. If you haven`t heard. It is new.

And later, as mentioned, Marianne Williamson, the most Googled candidate is here live on THE BEAT and a look at the best debate memes, even some of the punchlines. All that plus a special conversation with a very young 2020 reporter, who is yes, blowing up the net.


JADEN JEFFERSON, JADEN REPORTS NOW, REPORTER: I`m trying to help them with their vote. I`m not trying to push them to vote for no specific candidate. But I`m trying to push them to educate themselves on the candidates.


MELBER: We`ll get educated on that and a lot more tonight. I`m Ari Melber, you are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.


MELBER: Congress is on recess, but many of its members are escalating their confrontation with Donald Trump tonight with New Democrats now endorsing impeachment. Take a look at these numerical facts as they add up.

Back during the very first vote to impeach Trump, when Republicans ran the House in 2017, you see there about 30 percent of Dems voted to impeach. When that same bill came back to the floor last month, from Congressman Al Green, the number jumped to about 40% of Democrats.

And now with New Democrats endorsing impeachment, tonight the figure has already now jumped for the first time to 49% or 114 Democrats. What you`re looking at maybe a new center of gravity for a caucus that has largely stopped short of advocating impeaching Trump.

And the House shift is part of the context for new pressure on the top Republican in the Senate tonight, Mitch McConnell. He`s been blocking a series of election security bills despite warnings from Bob Mueller and U.S. Intelligence that Russia is still at it.

Some have dubbed him "Moscow Mitch", progressive groups running billboards in his home state of Kentucky, plus there are these provocative images - this one going viral on social media, imagining McConnell in a Russian military uniform.

Now McConnell has taken to the Senate floor to protest exactly that kind of politicking, stressing his past opposition to Putin and arguing this is basically read scare tactics against him.

Meanwhile, there`s reporting that he is genuinely fuming about all this, a contrast to his embrace of other Democratic nicknames like the "Grim Reaper".


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): For the first time in my memory, I agree with Nancy Pelosi. I am indeed the "Grim Reaper".

The accusation that I`m quote "un-American" was broadcast on MSNBC. I don`t normally take the time to respond to critics in the media. This modern-day McCarthyism is toxic.


MELBER: I`m joined now by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal from the Judiciary Committee. His election security bill would require federal campaigns to report offers of any foreign assistance. It is one of the proposals blocked by McConnell. I`m also joined by Malcolm Nance, former counterintelligence operative for the U.S. military. Good evening to both of you.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Good evening thanks for having me.

MELBER: Senator let`s get to the bill. But, first, I got to ask does the Senator a point in his criticism as he mentioned the media, he mentioned MSNBC, he mentioned what he views as McCarthyism. Is any of this out-of- bounds in your view or no?

BLUMENTHAL: The plain fact is, we have no idea why Mitch McConnell has made it his unrelenting business to block these measures. Three times I`ve gone to the floor for the Duty Report Act, which requires any campaign, any family member, any candidate to report illegal offers of foreign assistance or acceptance of them, because Donald Trump has said I`d take it, his son said during the campaign I love it.

And the reason why he is blocking these measures is simply - has no explanation. Maybe it relates the fact that we`re seeking greater access to the ballot box for ordinary Americans or ending the impact of big business on those elections. But the simple fact is that he takes pride in being called the "Grim Reaper" not so much "Moscow Mitch".

MELBER: Malcolm?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST/CONTRIBUTOR: Well when Joe Scarborough named him "Moscow Mitch" he made quite an argument that Mitch McConnell`s behaviors were in support almost direct support of the strategic objectives outlined in the Muller report about Russia`s attack on the United States and damage to its electoral process.

No other person has ever stood for a foreign power to intervene in our elections. And now we find out that in August of 2016, Mitch McConnell was the one that that Harry Reid was talking about, when he said that there was opposition to naming names as to who was actively attacking the United States.

Three years on almost to the month, we need to understand whose interest does he work for. Does he work for the people of the United States? Prove it, who defend this nation with your oath of office by giving us the election security we have. Otherwise, that - to gear is going to stick with him.

MELBER: Well, Senator, look at what we`ve learned both from the Mueller report which Malcolm mentions, as well as somewhat we learned from Senate investigations, and you know all about it, which has to do with whether this is as Mueller said on going and where it is.


I want to put up something that is pretty straightforward. Here`s the map United States and here are the states that have been targeted by Russia according to the Senate report. Eagle-eyed viewers will note every state is red, because every single state was targeted. What does that tell us?

BLUMENTHAL: What that map tells us is that this effort is ongoing and as Robert Mueller said it`s ongoing by quoting him many other nations. There was report just last week about the Iranians conducting a disinformation campaign.

So it`s not just Moscow, it`s other foreign governments that want to interfere in our election and it is perhaps one of the greatest threats to our current national security. Our nation is under attack and yet the Republicans are blocking common-sense measures. They`re a matter of simple morality and patriotism.

And by the way common sense is a term overused in this city that displays common sense less often than it should. But these matters ought to be bipartisan and it would be bipartisan--

MELBER: Well, let me--

BLUMENTHAL: --but for the Republican leaders.

MELBER: And let me press you there, because part of what we`re discussing here is the nature of the attacks on Mitch McConnell which as a reporter got his attention, but which are impugning him, right. And it was it was liberals historically who were compared about efforts to tie them to the Red Scare, to tar them, and all these type of things.

So you`re talking senator about why he opposes it. I want to give the Senator McConnell`s view here some airtime. He cites several reasons and this is this is from reporting a long-standing resistance to federal control over state elections, right, which is something that many Republicans were talking about pre-Trump.

Newly enacted security improvements that were shown, he argues to have already worked in 2018, and he`s suspicious that Democrats - I guess, this would be you sir, are trying to gain some kind of harvest advantage through these proposals.

So taking him seriously, what is your response to that? That`s not just the Trumpian thing of "Oh, can`t talk about Russian meddling, because it undermines Trump." He`s saying, hey, he and Kentucky have had a long skepticism of federal involvement elections, although some of that`s controversial for many other reasons, including civil rights. But your response.

BLUMENTHAL: Point-by-point. First of all no federal control would result from these measures - certainly, not from my Duty to Report Act, not from providing funding for election security.

States would continue to control their own elections, not from setting auditing or cybersecurity standards, not from requiring paper ballots, which most states now have. And the states themselves, contrary to what Mitch McConnell said, are asking for this additional funding that we want to provide.

Yes, 380 million has been provided, but a lot more is necessary and a lot more is absolutely a matter of national security. And finally, as for the partisan advantage, these measures would be bipartisan. If Mitch McConnell allowed them, he needs to lead or get out the way.

MELBER: You want him to come to the table. Malcolm, almost out of time. What`s the most important thing that you are watching for as people wonder, "Well if Mueller said it, are we in trouble? Are we at risk?"

NANCE: Well the thing that I`m watching for is exactly what Senator Blumenthal said. He needs to show some leadership and let me give him a little advice as an old Navy Chief. Get up and do your job. This nation needs to be defended. It is not partisan to defend the flag. It is not partisan to defend the Constitution.

What is going to take for him to actually understand that this is critical? Will it take the Iranians to have to the hack votes against him in the next election and make him lose his position? That is possible. The North Koreans can do it, the Russians can do it, anyone can attack us and leaving us defenseless is just malpractice of the worst sort.

MELBER: Senator Blumenthal, Malcolm Nance, thanks to both of you. Important topic. Meanwhile, a 1971 tape of Reagan and Nixon exchanging blatantly racist remarks, newly unearthed, with a lot of context when we`re back in 30 seconds.


MELBER: Now we turn to some new information in context for President Trump`s race-baiting rhetoric and discriminatory policies. Donald Trump has been rebuked as racist by the U.S. House. He`s been called out by civil rights leaders across the nation recently and now his new approach is to blame everyone else.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the word has really gone down a long way, because everybody`s called the racist now. I`m the least racist person there is in the world.


MELBER: Critics know trump uses that exact line as a taunt. He doesn`t appear to believe it or expect most others - given that he entered politics pushing the race baiting birther conspiracy. Ran for President on a religious ban that was so blatantly discriminatory, his own lawyers later claimed he never tried to enact it, as a kind of defense.

And of course, now kicked off his reelection campaign with these attacks on minority members of Congress and basking in those MAGA chants to send people home.

As a political project, Trump`s figured out how to appeal to some American`s desire to go back in time. Hence, the plagiarized Reagan slogan, "Make America Great Again", and the echoes of Richard Nixon`s appeals to law and order.

Well, there are those who argue that Trump is basically corrupted, those otherwise acceptable types of appeals. That those slogans and words could mean something different in Trump`s hands.

And that`s what makes this newly released audio recording from the Nixon Presidential Library so relevant right now, with what America is going through right now. As you are about to hear this repugnant racist language deployed by former top American officials.

Recording is from 1971, then Governor Reagan called President Nixon who was opposed at the time to how the UN had just formally recognized the People`s Republic of China. Obviously, a bit of a complex international piece of history, but that`s relevant, because in this call when the two men believed they were speaking privately, you have Reagan blaming the African delegations in very particular language.

Now this is all newly released historical material. It is in the news, but first a warning. It is deeply offensive, so keep that in mind if you choose to keep the sound on.


RONALD REAGAN, 40TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did.


REAGAN: To see those, those monkeys from those African countries - damn them, they`re still uncomfortable wearing shoes.

NIXON: (Laughter) Well, and then they - the tail wags the dog there, doesn`t it?


NIXON: The tail wags the dog.


MELBER: Yes. President Nixon laughingly appearing to agree with Reagan`s statements, not at all objecting of course to the language, and then placing a call to Secretary of State William Rogers, basically invoking Reagan`s depiction for a conversation about policy within the Nixon administration.


NIXON: --for example just had a call from Reagan - California and he`s been out there and so forth. And as you can imagine there`s strong feeling that we just shouldn`t - as he said he saw these cannibals on television last night , and he says, they weren`t even wearing shoes.  And he says, here the United States is going to submit its fate to that, and so forth and so on.  And you know -- but that`s typical of a reaction which is probably --


NIXON:  -- quite strong.


MELBER:  This is new from history.  What people say can be revealing especially when they don`t think it`ll get out.  And what they do can be revealing given the civil rights record of that same Nixon administration and how Reagan would go on to campaign.

So what did make America great again mean then?  What does it mean now?  The politics of the Southern Strategy, the attacks on welfare queens by Reagan, the relentless fixation on law and order by Nixon, law and order by a president who was found by his own party among others to be committing high crimes in office.

So it`s not all just history it is the foundation of discrimination and racism and the politics of hate that has long stained America.  Be wary of anyone who wants to deny history or facts because we need a firm grasp of both to overcome so many of our nation`s mistakes.

Now have a lot more to come tonight including all kinds of highlights and some of the lowlifes from these big debates and what might stick in voters` minds.


REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You don`t know that, Bernie.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Second of all -- I do know it.  I wrote the damn bill.


MELBER:  And many are saying Marianne Williamson had a breakout night at the debate.  She`s the most searched name on Google across the nation.  She`s right here live on THE BEAT next.



MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We have communities particularly communities of color and disadvantaged communities all over this country who are suffering from environmental injustice.  I assure you I lived in Grosse Pointe.  What happened in Flint would not have happened in Grosse Pointe.  This is part of the dark underbelly of American society.


MELBER:  2020 candidate Marianne Williamson getting cheers and applause you heard there in Detroit.  It has a lot of folks thinking about her today.  In fact, some are calling her the break out winner from this debate and a standout performance.

As for the public online, well, trending on Twitter and the most searched Democratic candidate on Google.  In fact, look at the map.  If you want to win this country, well she was the most searched name in 49 states thanks to last night`s performance.  And there were many passionate answers including this moment on reparations.


WILLIAMSON:  What makes me qualified to say $200 to $500 billion.  I`ll tell you what makes me qualified.  If you did the math of the 40 acres and a mule, given that there was four to five million slaves at the end of the civil war, four to five -- and then we`re all promised 40 acres and a mule for every family of four.  If you do the math, today it would be trillions of dollars.


MELBER:  Marianne Williamson is back on THE BEAT.  Thanks for coming back.

WILLIAMSON:  Thank you so much for having me, Ari.

MELBER:  Of course.  What do you think you got across last night?

WILLIAMSON:  Well I hope I got across a more meaningful discussion of race the minute you have such a short period of time.  But I hope that with the answers that I gave about race, about Flint, about health, about the environment, and about politics in general, that I think was a larger theme which is that we have to go deeper than just talking about external fixes.

We have to have a politics that speaks to more than just watering the -- watering the leaves, we have to water the roots, and I think that theme came through.

MELBER:  You mentioned the roots.  You`re clearly tapping into something.  We mentioned folks searching, then they`re watching, then they`re looking for more.  Would that -- would that suggests depth as you stay longer than even the short answers that these ten-person debates require?

And with that in mind, I want to play one of your other answers last night where you really talked beyond just what many Democrats see is the crisis of Trumpism and about what`s really going on.  Take a look.

WILLIAMSON:  The racisms, the bigotry, and the entire conversation that we`re having here tonight, if you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I`m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.

We need to say it like it is.  It`s bigger than Flint.  It`s all over this country.  It`s particularly people of color and particularly people who do not have the money to fight back.  And if the Democrats don`t start saying it, then why would those people feel that they`re there for us?  And if they think they don`t see it, then they won`t vote for us and Donald Trump will win.


MELBER:  How do you define that collectivized hatred as you put it?

WILLIAMSON:  Well, we have a very serious problem on our hands.  You take racism, and bigotry, and anti-Semitism, and homophobia, and xenophobia, and Islamophobia, all those worst aspects of human character.  You put them all together in a collective field, you put them all over the social media, and then you have a President of the United States who is not above harnessing all those things for political purposes, you have a problem on your hands.  And that problem cannot be defined in strictly political terms.

This man, our president is not just a politician, he`s a phenomenon.  And an insider politics game will not be able to defeat that.  We need to create a politics which is a phenomenon of equal strength and power.  And that will only come from a deeper conversation, a deeper level of truth- telling, a willingness for America to get real about itself in a way that the current political establishment is not used to doing.

MELBER:  Well, you say all that and here is that depth.  You`re what many would call an untraditional candidate, but you want to be President so there`s questions about what you believe in your policies.  Let me play for viewers something that you said that`s gotten some real criticism about depression.  Take a listen.


WILLIAMSON:  I`ve lived two periods of time that by any -- by any means today would be called clinical depression.  But even that`s such a scam, all that means is somebody in a clinic set it.


MELBER:  Should people take from that, that you don`t believe there is a real clinical depression and how would you approach what doctors in science says is depression as part of mental health treatment if you were president?

WILLIAMSON:  Yes.  That clip that you just showed was a podcast I did with Russell Brand.  I think maybe -- I don`t know, maybe I was trying to impress Russell Brand.  I was speaking glibly.  I was not a candidate yet.  I was -- when I said that of itself is such a scam but that was wrong of me to say and I`m sorry that I said it.

There is such a thing as serious, serious depression for which I`m sure the psychotherapeutic drugs are very, very helpful, even life-saving, and I certainly believe that about things such as bipolar and schizophrenia, things about which I would never weigh in on.

However, what I have talked about and written about and stand behind is the idea that there has been a medicalization of what has traditionally be considered a normal -- a spectrum of normal human despair.

And about that, I feel that there was a very legitimate conversation in this country when you see you know just the idea as I -- as I`ve stated before, a divorce, a heartbreak because somebody that you know left or died, or you went to a financial hardship, or breakup, or you`re in your 20s.  These things are difficult but they`re not mental illness.

And the idea of turning everything that is a sad day into a reason for such a quick jump and a knee-jerk jump that is often made today to the question of pharmaceuticals, I think that that is a very legitimate questioning.

We`re living at a time when Attorney General`s all over this country are indicting big pharmaceutical executives for their role in the opioid crisis.  Predatory pharma is a serious, serious issue.  It is a legitimate thing to talk about in our country.

And I don`t understand why anyone would think that now given everything we know about the role of big pharmaceutical executives in the opioid crisis, why should we just assume that in every other area there`s just a paragon of virtue and it pure intent and concern for the common good.

And if you add to that the lack of regulatory oversight that I think most Americans assume on the part of the FDA, for instance, 75 percent of the review process for drugs a mark on is done by big pharma.

So I think that the average American is coming to realize that the role of our regulatory agencies in many areas, not only having to with big pharma, having to do with the environment, when you look at something like the EPA overturning the ban on the sale of pesticides that we know harm a child`s brain simply because of you know, our current head of the EPA or the one before that, whether it was the chemical company executive, the oil company executive met in the Houston hotel room with that with Dow Chemical executives.  There is -- I would think that Americans would want a president who asked these questions and looks into these things deeply,

MELBER:  Well, you laid out a detailed answer and you also mentioned you apologize for the wording there.  I interview candidates.  I could tell you that`s a little different than some of what we hear from certain candidates.

I guess to press you in the follow-up and to have this conversation in the depth that it warrants, one of the questions is one that`s often post sometimes about Republicans who are knocking, for example, climate science which is these are your views, where do you come down on who you get your cues from on medicine or science, because as you know in a related issue, there was this question on vaccinations.

You just mentioned the well-being of children and pesticides.  You had cast skepticism on vaccinations.  I wonder if you could better explain to us where you come down on that given the science and the concern that vaccinations do work and people need them to keep these communities safe.

WILLIAMSON:  Well, once again, I think it`s an overstatement to say that I cast skepticism on vaccinations.  On the issue of vaccinations, I`m pro- vaccination, I`m pro-medicine, I`m pro-science.  On all of these issues, what I`m bringing up that I think is very legitimate and should not be derided and should not be marginalized particularly in a free society is questions about the role of predatory big pharma.  And --

MELBER:  Well, let me -- I`m going to jump in and then let you -- let you respond, obviously, but just so my viewers are keeping up with us, I`ll read a little bit of what you said since you`re talking about the picture, and then I`ll hand it back to you.


MELBER:  The quote here was, it`s different -- it`s no different than the abortion debate.  The U.S. government doesn`t tell a citizen in my book what they have to do with their body or their child.  Vaccine mandates were in your view at the time "draconian and Orwellian."  I hand it back to you.

WILLIAMSON:  Well, the issue of draconian and Orwellian, this is the issue.  When I was a child we took far fewer vaccines, and there was much less bungling, and there was much less chronic illness.

I don`t know why -- you know this is not a topic that I have consciously chosen to.  This is not some big topic for me.  But I have to tell you, it should not be --

MELBER:  But do you think vaccinations are contributing to things being worse now?  Is that -- is that what you`re suggesting?

WILLIAMSON:  No, no, no.  What I`m saying is that in 1986 there was this vaccine protection law.  There was and there have been $4 billion in vaccine compensation payments that have been made, and there was much less chronic -- there was something like 12 percent chronic illness among our children previous to that law, and there`s 54 percent now.

I don`t see why in a free society -- you know, what is going on here?  When you look at the fact that big pharmaceutical companies lobby Congress to the tune of $284 million last year alone as opposed to oil and gas which is lobbied Congress to the tune of $125 million last year.

When you look at all the money that is spent by pharmaceutical companies even on our news -- on our news channels, when you look at the fact that there are two pharmaceutical lobbyists for every member of Congress, and even when you look at the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been paid into the conference of even presidential candidates, why are we -- why are we so OK with the complete shutdown of any conversation about this topic?  Once again, I would think that the American people --

MELBER:  I wouldn`t -- I would argue -- I would argue, Miss Williamson, it`s not that we`re shutting down the topic but we`re engaging it as we do.  When you -- when you come back to --

WILLIAMSON:  No, hear that and I thank you.  And I wasn`t saying that you were shutting it down.

MELBER:  No, I appreciate -- and I appreciate you on that.  Is this -- is the science and the medicine in a potential administration of yours is going to be guided by the Surgeon General by doctors etcetera or is it --

WILLIAMSON:  Oh, I tell you what.

MELBER:  Go ahead.

WILLIAMSON:  No, I`m pro -- I want more scientific -- more scientific research.  I want more scientific research that is not paid for by big pharma.  In a Williamson administration, there will be more scientific review, more scientific -- science what has been happening.

And you can see this with this president is about cutting money to the FDA just like he wants to cut money to the Centers for Disease Control.   He wants to cut money for most things to the National Institute of Health, the things that most people care about.  What I want is more scientific review.  I want less scientific review that is paid for by pharma.  For me --

MELBER:  And my last question is -- just so we`re clear, your view though of federal or state government vaccination requirements is they are valid or you may impose them?

WILLIAMSON:  Absolutely -- there are -- there are -- with any medical intervention, there are benefits and there are risks.  The government always has to come down on the side of the public good.  Absolutely, I was vaccinated, my daughter was vaccinated.  Of course, of course, I am.

I just want to know that when it comes to the review of our drugs, and when it comes to all issues related to drugs, just as we have to allow learn from what is happening in the opioid crisis, I want independent regulation that is conducted by the government that is not paid for by big pharma.  That`s what I want.

MELBER:  Excellent.  Well, Marianne Williamson, I appreciate you coming back on The BEAT.  I`ve talked to you before.  Many people thought you had a big night last night.  We set aside time to get into it.  I appreciate your time.

WILLIAMSON:  Thank you so much.

MELBER:  Thank you.  When we come back, we have a lot more including the must-see debate moments and the ones that went viral, plus the preview for tonight.


MELBER:  You know what it is.  We have your must-see debate moments, the good, the bad, and even the mean.  I am joined now by a comedian and friend of THE BEAT Chuck Nice and Democratic Strategist and former Apprentice Contestant Tara Dowdell.  Nice to see you both.

CHUCK NICE, COMEDIAN:  Good to be here.

MELBER:  Let`s get right to it.  Sanders, Ryan clashing.


SANDERS:  Medicare for all is comprehensive.  It covers all health needs for senior citizens.  It will finally include dental care, hearing aids, and eyeglasses.  Second of all --

RYAN:  But you don`t know that -- you don`t know that, Bernie.

SANDERS:  I do know it.  I wrote the damn bill.


NICE:  You got to love it.  By the way, let me just say this.  One, it`s nice to see that Senator Sanders is writing legislation for himself, and two --

MELBER:  You think he had help?

NICE:  No, I`m just saying, it`s dental, glasses, and hearing aids.

MELBER:  Oh, I get it.

NICE:  Just saying.  Just saying.

MELBER:  This guy.  You are a comedian.  You did sign up for this.

NICE:  Yes, well, come on, what are you going to do?  I mean, you know -- but the other thing is what is it with Bernie where everything -- I don`t care what he says, no matter how important it is, it sounds like you kids, go play where you live.  I don`t know why.

MELBER:  You`re getting that vibe from him?

NICE:  Yes, just that vibe.  It`s like he`s telling them off.

MELBER:  Politically, does it help when they snap back like that, do you think?

DOWDELL:  I think for Bernie because he is always yelling.  So I mean, he brings that fire.  That`s that get off my lawn fire.

MELBER:  Mo Fire if you will.

DOWDELL:  Yes, Mo Fire, exactly.

NICE:  Get off my lawn fire.

DOWDELL:  Like get off my lawn fire.  So I think -- look, I think it was a good moment for him.

NICE:  It really was, yes.

DOWDELL:  I mean, did the audience responded well?  It was immediate and organic reaction from the audience, and it was telling.

MELBER:  Right.  It`s almost like you got -- if this is your brand or your vibe, then you don`t fight it, lean into it.  Maybe that`s part of the next thing we`re going show you because Sanders also getting testy with John Hickenlooper.


JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think if you`re going to force Americans to make these radical changes, they`re not going to go along.  And you --- throw your hands up.  But you haven`t --

SANDERS:  I will.


MELBER:  That was very real.

NICE:  That was real.

MELBER:  I mean, you can`t coach a candidate to do that in the moment, right?

NICE:  No, exactly.  That was -- that was somebody just cut me off on the L.I.E., you know what I mean?  That was a moment --

MELBER:  Some people -- some people, Chuck, are saying it was Bernie`s Outkast moment.

NICE:  Oh really?

MELBER:  Throw your hands in the air.

NICE:  Except he waves it like he does care.  That`s the problem.

MELBER:  And here`s the -- here`s the meme.  For folks at home who don`t want to go on the internet, we got it for you.  This is what the internet is doing.  It`s replaying the moment.

DOWDELL:  Bernie was ready.  He was ready last night.  I mean, my favorite thing about Bernie was that he was literally going after Jake Tapper too.  In the first part of the debate, he was debating Jake Tapper.

MELBER:  Well, this is where the -- this is where the jokes meet the politics.  Historically, Republican debates tend to pick on the media more.  Here you saw, as you just said, Sanders and Warren, when pressed on things, they said, well -- and we mentioned this earlier in our politics blog, not at our fun blog -- oh, if you can afford wars, if you can afford everything else, why are liberal Dems being told it`s only their stuff that you can`t afford?

DOWDELL:  But that`s -- see, this is what Democrats are getting much better at.  Do not argue within the frame of the Republican Party.

NICE:  Right.

DOWDELL:  That is Republican Party framing.  And both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and some of the other democrats too, were ready for it, and they were arguing their point and framing the conversation themselves, and that`s the right thing to do.

MELBER:  And take a look --

DOWDELL:  You don`t win arguing within your opponent`s frame.

MELBER:  Right, because that`s set up against you.

DOWDELL:  Right.

MELBER:  The other moment I want to look at viral, also viral, big theme, Elizabeth Warren, John Delaney, and it`s not so much what she says but what she does.


DON LEMON, ANCHOR, CNN:  Congressman Delaney, I`m coming to you now.  Your estimated net worth is more than $65 million.  That would make you subject to Senator Warren`s proposed wealth tax on the assets of the richest 75,000 homes, households or so in the United States.


MELBER:  Going viral here because people notice it.  That`s what they call a GIF, some people call it a GIF.

NICE:  Yes, either one.  It`s --

DOWDELL:  The birdman.

MELBER:  The birdman.

NICE:  Yes, she was licking her chops.

MELBER:  That`s saying put -- not put some respect on my name but --

DOWDELL:  Put some respect on my name.

MELBER:  Put some -- put some zeros in my tax plan.

NICE:  Right, exactly.

MELBER:  Catchy.

NICE:  Your $0.02, that`s what -- I`m about to take your $0.02, not give you my $0.02.  That`s what she is saying.

MELBER:  Let me ask you something because you`re here as a performer, and this a performance.  How much do you see performers` techniques where she does that because she knows that`s going to play better than a long speech?  She`s -- do you think she`s playing to that or do you think it`s more organic?

NICE:  I think that was a genuine moment, like yo, this is about to go down.  Like this is good.  I`m feeling this.  I really do.  I don`t think - - I don`t think she did that for the camera.

DOWDELL:  I think -- so I said this.  If you`re going into a debate, be ready to be attacked.  Be ready to be attacked on all fronts.  And so I think that the candidates took that lesson from what happened to Joe Biden.  And so I think people were ready.  They were ready to defend their positions.

We know what the attacks are, right.  If you`re Elizabeth Warren, you know what the attacks are, right?  They`re going to come for you, your opponents, the Republicans, they`re going to come for you around health care, right?

So most of these candidates know where the attacks are coming from, so they all should be doing this.

NICE:  Right, exactly.

MELBER:  Yes, and be ready.  Let me show you a little bit of --

DOWDELL:  Stay ready.

MELBER:  -- what some of your -- stay ready.  What some of your fellow brethren, the late-night comedians made of all this.

NICE:  OK, yes.


STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN:  It`s hard to sum up what happened tonight, but most of it was a bunch of guys with no chance to win the Democratic nomination yelling Republican talking points at the people who can.

TREVOR NOAH, COMEDIAN:  Instead of jumping straight into the debates, CNN started with a long fight night promo, right?  And then an endless stream of all the Democratic candidates shaking hands with each other which took forever because there are like 50 people on the stage.

SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN:  Ultimately, this was a deeply substantive debate that showcased genuine differences among the candidates on key policy questions.  And no matter what you think of any of them, eventually one of them is going to go up against a guy whose campaign slogan is basically --



NICE:  That was the best one of them all.

MELBER:  Was it too much handshaking?

NICE:  Yes, it was, without a doubt.  I mean, seriously, that`s like Wu- Tang shaking hands before a concert, you know.

MELBER:  The segment is not even over.  I just wanted to give you --

NICE:  I appreciate that.

MELBER:  I want to give a shout out to something really great.  You know, so often in the news, we`re dealing with conflicts, we`re dealing with politics, we`re dealing with division.  I got to meet through the television last night a young reporter, Jaden, who just got this exclusive, which he bragged about a little bit, and well-earned with Senator Warren, and he is doing all this reporting online.  He is out pounding the pavement.  His name is Jaden.  He is 11 years old.  Here`s how he recapped the night last night.


JADEN JEFFERSON, 11-YEAR-OLD REPORTER:  I would definitely say from what I`ve seen, I can tell that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, they kind of had a friendship today, and many people were hinting at that, that they do have a friendship, but they`re still competitors.

Candidates like Elizabeth Warren, who also made a lot of great points today, you know, really trying to get out there to the people and Bernie Sanders.  I would definitely say those two are the people that we`re really trying to reach to the American people.


NICE:  Bernie and Liz, sitting in a tree.  I like it.

MELBER:  Jaden Jefferson, 11 years old.  Does it give you hope?

DOWDELL:  Oh, tons of hope.  What an inspiring young man.  I mean, he`s -- he was amazing.  I watched the interview last night.  I thought he was super.

MELBER:  You saw it live?

DOWDELL:  Yes, I saw it live.

MELBER:  Did he jumped out to you?  I know I`m putting you on the spot, but he really was something.

DOWDELL:  No, he was.  I mean, you were asking him questions the way you would ask a colleague questions that`s your -- that is your age.  And he handled the questions I mean, with aplomb.  He was -- he was amazing.

NICE:  He was OK.

DOWDELL:  Chuck is jealous.

MELBER:  I mean --

DOWDELL:  Hater!

MELBER:  I was speaking to someone -- I was speaking to someone before I got on set today and it wasn`t like 11 going on 20, but it`s like 11 going on 30, like research.

NICE:  Impressive guy.

MELBER:  And wasn`t it Drake --

DOWDELL:  He takes notes, Chuck.

MELBER:  Take notes.  Take notes.  Wasn`t it -- wasn`t it Drake who said tell these kids to keep dreaming because they sure do come true.

NICE:  Nice.

DOWDELL:  That`s right.

MELBER:  Did we end on a hopeful note?

NICE:  Yes, yes we do.

MELBER:  Do want me to shake your hand again?

NICE:  You know what?  I`ll take that.

MELBER:  Now we really are going to go because it`s time for "HARDBALL."


MELBER:  Thanks for watching THE BEAT tonight.  Thanks to Chuck Nice, Tara Dowdell and all of our great guests.  I`ll be back at 9:00 p.m. Eastern anchoring the debate coverage tonight.