Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: July 13, 2016 Guest: Guy Cecil
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Chris. Appreciate it, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
One of my favorite political ads of all time ran on TV in a presidential campaign before I was born, so I`ve only seen it on YouTube. But it`s great for a couple of reasons. One is that TV ads are usually like a minute long or maybe 30 seconds long. This one, weirdly, is 19 seconds long, which is strange.
Even more strange than that is the fact that it has zero script. It has no words. It`s just this kind of creepy and then hilarious and then ultimately sort of nauseating laugh track.
You have to listen right to the end for the nauseous part of it. But that`s the whole ad. Check it out.
MADDOW: That`s how it ends. You take it right to the end of the 19 seconds.
So, you get to the part where the guys` laughter turns into him hacking and coughing and presumably like barfing at some point. Very dramatic, right? No script.
That was from the 1968 presidential campaign, which we are reliving now as a country. Hubert Humphrey was running against Richard Nixon. Humphrey picked Ed Muskie to be his running mate. And when Nixon picked his running mate, when Nixon picks Spiro Agnew, the Humphrey campaign thought it was a terrible choice, they thought it was such a bad choice for Nixon`s running mate, that they made this insane horror movie of an ad, with an unseen man just laughing hysterically to the point of nausea at the idea of Spiro Agnew as president.
Democrats thought Nixon picking Agnew was just a disaster that year. They ran against Nixon in part on the basis of that bad choice. And in fact, Spiro Agnew, ended up being a terrible vice president, a terrible choice. Agnew had to resign the vice presidency in disgrace, when he pled no contest to multiple bribery charges. It`s almost forgotten now in history because of who the president was when that happened, but they were quite a pair.
Before Nixon had to resign in disgrace, his vice president had to resign in disgrace too. But, even though history soon proved Spiro Agnew to in fact be a terrible choice as a running mate, the Democrats running against Nixon for making that terrible choice for a running mate, it didn`t work.
Agnew, that choice, it didn`t really hurt Nixon in the `68 election. At least it didn`t hurt him enough. Nixon and Agnew of course beat Humphrey and Muskie. They went on to serve one of the most disastrous presidential terms in U.S. history.
The next time Democrats thought a bad running mate choice by the Republicans could be a politically potent thing, the next time the Democratic Party thought it was worth it to run a nasty ad against the Republicans hitting the Republican presidential nominee for his choice of running mate, the next time that happened was 1988, when George H.W. Bush picked Indiana senator Dan Quayle.
Senator Dan Quayle was going to be the vice presidential running mate. He was very, very young. He was a known conservative. Other than that, not much of a known national factor.
This was the "Nightly News" story that ran August 1988, the night Poppy Bush picked Dan Quayle to run with him. This was so great.
Do we have the footage there? Oh, you can see, we`ve got it here. You can see just from this first day`s coverage, why the Democrats were salivating to make Dan Quayle a negative for the Republicans in this election. Here`s the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The idea was to make a choice that would be hailed more as a beginning of the Bush era, than an end of the Reagan era, the first baby boomer on the ticket of either parties, and Dan Quayle clearly wanted the job.
DAN QUAYLE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I just wanted to thank you first for the confidence that you placed in me.
REPORTER: It is hoped that Dan Quayle will help Bush in the Midwest, where the vice president gets blamed for many of the Reagan administration`s unpopular farm policies.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: And Dan Quayle`s a man of the future, a young man!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
A young man, born in the middle of the century, and from the middle of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He`s a young man! Right here in the -- it`s not exactly effusive praise, right? He`s also a man who walks upright. He`s a man who can sign his name.
Also, here he is standing very close proximity to me, alert, and with the power of speech. Behold, this young man of the future, he`s young, he`s from the middle.
The Democrats smelled blood in the water very quickly after George H.W. Bush named Dan Quayle. They got absolutely sure that Quayle was going to be a liability for the Republican ticket that year after the vice presidential debate where Democrat Lloyd Bentsen wiped the floor with Dan Quayle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUAYLE: I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency.
LLOYD BENTSEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you`re no Jack Kennedy.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
But has to be done in a situation like that, in a situation like that --
MODERATOR: Once again, you`re only taking time from your own candidate.
QUAYLE: That was really uncalled for, senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Something about the rejoinder just makes it worse.
After that disastrous debate for Dan Quayle, the Dukakis campaign ran their own anti-Dan Quayle ad, an anti-vice presidential ad.
We got this today from NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss. It hasn`t received widespread circulation since it first ran in 1988. But this was the Democrats trying to kill the Bush-Quayle, over Dan Quayle -- over Quayle just being a bad choice to be Bush`s running mate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got a disaster on our hands.
After all that rehearsal, I thought we had Quayle totally programmed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not totally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suddenly, the words "President Quayle" even make me nervous. Bentsen look great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if -- no, that`s crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it too late to drop him? Bring in Bob Dole.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re right, it`s too crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not that crazy. Rosemary?
AD ANNOUNCER: They`d like to sell you a package. Wouldn`t you rather choose a president?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I don`t know who rosemary is that he`s calling there, but the Republicans did not actually replace Dan Quayle on the ticket that year. Democrats thought they had a great attack ad going after Quayle as a bad and even irresponsible choice. But again, just like with the Democrats` attack against Agnew 20 years earlier, it didn`t work. Nixon and Agnew won in 1968 despite the attacks on Agnew being a bad news. Bush and Quayle won in 1988, despite the attacks on Quayle being a bad choice. And in 1988, Bush and Quayle won by a lot.
I think history would judge that Spiro Agnew and Dan Quayle were not good choices to be vice president of the United States, obviously, for very different reasons. They veer between disastrous on Agnew`s part and embarrassing on Quayle`s part in terms of vice presidential choices.
The opposing parties knew that in advance. They knew it in enough time to try to make an issue of it in the campaign. But it`s hard to make an issue of bad vice presidential choices in the campaign. Most of the time, even really bad running mate choices, they don`t hurt you in November.
But right now, tonight, as we speak, we may be about to test that hypothesis one more time. And that story is next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re getting down to it. We`re going to know soon enough. And so, I don`t mean to get out over my skis here, I don`t mean to predict something before when it actual happens. We don`t know exactly when we`re going to hear who Donald Trump`s running mate is going to be.
We certainly don`t know who he is going to pick. But we`re starting to get a lot more information about how this decision is going to be made known to us. The campaign said today they`re going to formally announce who the running mate is as an event in New York City on Friday.
We don`t know if that Friday event will be the first time we`ll learn who Donald Trump`s running mate is. We don`t know if in advance of that New York City event, the name will be released or leaked to the press.
Politico.com reported today that Donald Trump will be making his decision on who his running mate will be today. Final decision time is today. The event formally announcing the decision is Friday.
Now, if he`s making the decision today, sort of worth looking at what his itinerary was like today. It may be a coincidence, it may be because his private plane got a flat tire while he was in Indiana yesterday, doing a rally at a fund-raiser. So, maybe he wanted to leave Indiana today and go somewhere else, but he couldn`t because his plane had a flat tire. I don`t know.
But on this day, when Trump was supposedly making up his mind about his running mate, he spent the day today in the state of Indiana. He started the day by bringing all his adult children to the home of Indiana governor Mike Pence, who was not only said to be on Donald Trump`s final short list, Mike Pence is now publicly angling so hard for the vice presidency that it`s starting to feel like he might break something if he leans any further.
The last vice presidential candidate from Indiana was Dan Quayle, who also notably angled for it really hard. But the similarities don`t necessarily stop there. And I think it`s important to remember that with Dan Quayle, some of the things that ultimately went wrong with him as a vice presidential choice, you really could see coming ahead of time. It was pretty blaringly obvious public stuff.
If you look at his first appearance as George Bush`s newly named running mate, Dan Quayle even at that first appearance was already showing signs of what he would become known for as a national candidate, and then as a sitting vice president. Even on day one, even at the announcement of Dan Quayle as the running mate, he was already vapidly and enthusiastically not making very much sense right into the microphone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUAYLE: George Bush`s America understands the problems that confront us and can lead us to the future in the 21st century. We will win because America cannot afford to lose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the day Dan Quayle was announced as a running mate. Saying things with the right cadence, but we`re going to win because American can`t afford to lose, and that`s why we`ll win, and that what George Bush`s America understands about problems. I mean, graph that sentence for me, right?
There were already signs that there was maybe something not awesome about Dan Quayle as a potential running mate, on day one. And I think that example today is worth keeping in mind as it starts to become clear that Mike Pence really might be Donald Trump`s choice as the Indiana Republican to be tapped as a potential vice president.
Mike Pence started as a conservative radio host in Indiana. Then he lost a couple of runs for Congress. Then he got into Congress in the year 2000. He ended up spending 12 years in Congress. And all of those 12 years in Congress, he never passed a single bill.
If he ends up becoming the running mate, there will be plenty more to say about his time in Congress and things like that funny moment when his mom told the press about his plans for running for president in 2012 and he had to publicly rebut his mom. That was kind of weird.
There`s a lot that will be said about Indiana under Mike Pence`s governorship since 2012. There`s a very interesting story about why his home state press is so strongly and relentlessly negative on him, even though the Indiana press is not particularly liberal.
That will all come if he`s in fact named as the running mate. But I`m thinking about Mike Pence as Donald Trump`s possible vice presidential running mate. Just look at one thing. Just look at one specific instance from his time running the state of Indiana as governor, just look at the one big national spotlight moment that he`s had as governor, as an executive branch leader. He`s been there for less than one term, only one thing happened when the whole country was paying attention and pressuring him.
And it`s worth looking at that the moment, because that one moment in the national spotlight was a disaster for Mike Pence. It was a disaster on policy grounds. It was a disaster on political grounds, it was a disaster ultimately on fiscal grounds even.
But most of all, I think it`s worth noting it was a personally disastrous moment for him as a leader, as a politician who was supposed to be in charge, because his one moment, where the whole country was paying attention to him and he was under a ton of pressure for what he was going to do, for how he was going to fix the mistake he had made, in that moment, Mike Pence choked, in public. He just fell apart.
I`m going to play for you something that I feel like it`s a little weird it`s been lost in the sauce given what`s been going on with Mike Pence right now and how important this choice about him. I`m going to play for you a little bit of a Mike Pence press conference. It`s a little uncomfortable to watch.
We`re not going to edit this it at all. We`re not going to internally cut it or anything. We`re just going to roll it so you can see how it happened in real time. I think it`s pretty stunning.
What this was, was the middle of the crisis in the state of Indiana. It`s a crisis that Mike Pence created because of a bill that he signed. It was a high pressure time.
This was the cover of the largest paper in the state that morning. This is the front page of "The Indianapolis Star", "Fix this now." And that was the message for Mike Pence, fix this thing that you have broke. You have screwed up. You have screwed up the state. Fix this now.
He was in the middle of a huge mess that he had created, he was responsible for it, and there was not just a statewide clamor for him to fix this now, there was a national clamor for him to fix this thing that he had done. Nobody knew if he could handle the pressure. Nobody knew what he was going to do, but his office called a press conference.
And in the middle of all that, Mike Pence, leader of the state, walked up toward the microphone and this is what happened. Just watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Thank you all for coming. It`s been a tough week here in the Hoosier State. But we`re going to move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Mike Pence with something more than a pregnant pause. Started off as maybe a display of gravitas, like a dramatic moment, but he just sort of got stuck. He just had to do his breaths. Just took him that long to compose himself.
These things happen sometimes in modern politics. A very famous one of these happened in the Arizona gubernatorial debate when it was Republican Jan Brewer who just needed a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MODERATOR: And finally we hear from Jan Brewer.
FORMER GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Thank you, Ted. And it`s great to be here with Larry, Barry, and Terry.
And thank you all for watching us tonight. I have, uh, done so much for it. We have done everything that we could possibly do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It happens sometimes. You just freeze up. You just choke. You get stuck. Happened to Jan Brewer in 2010 in a debate.
Happened to Mike Pence last year at his press conference, which was about this bill, which he signed in the presence of a whole bunch of nuns and friars and other people in religious dress. This was last year, Mike Pence signed a bill that basically made Indiana the "we don`t serve gays here" state. It was the bill that said it`s okay to not serve gay people in the state on the basis of them being gay.
Jan Brewer had actually vetoed the same bill a year and a half earlier. She vetoed that legislation after tons of companies, and sports leagues, and even other states vowed to boycott Arizona and to pull their businesses out of that state if that bill got signed.
Despite that experience in another state, Mike Pence was apparently totally blindsided by the backlash when he did it. By the response when he signed that same kind of bill and the same kind of response that was threatened in Arizona actually ensued in Indiana. Arizona was basically a dry run for what would happen if Mike Pence signed that discrimination bill, but Mike Pence apparently had no idea that backlash was coming. He appeared to be literally dumb founded by what was going on in his state and by how he should respond.
We covered this story extensively when it happened last year. In part because the policy itself and the controversy around it, but mostly we covered it so intensively on a day-to-day basis, because of the spectacle of how it made Mike Pence as a governor kind of fall apart. I mean, he ended up backtracking, ended up trying to take the bill back, but there was this whole series of days where this was this ton of national attention on Indiana and nobody could tell what Mike Pence was doing or what he meant. He kept contradicting himself, he didn`t know how to appear in public.
Mike Pence is a favorite of the Koch brothers. He has presidential ambitions of his own, and has for a long time. He`s always had this really high profile, thanks to this Beltway reputation for being a super solid conservative. But in the face of political pressure brought to bear on him and his state because of what he did, a totally predictable crisis, it was a remarkable and nationally newsworthy thing to see the way that Mike Pence just collapsed and choked in the face of it.
So, we covered it when it happened. We covered it a lot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: It has only been a few days, but Governor Mike Pence of Indiana has gone from saying he was proud to sign this bill and there`s nothing wrong with it, to saying, he was definitely not going to change parts of this bill. It`s still not exactly clear what`s going to happen in Indiana, in part, because Governor Pence himself, he seems regretful. He seems to recognize that he has done something has done great harm to his state, but he does not himself, even now, seem all that clear on the concept of what`s wrong and what should be done, if anything, to right this wrong.
I`ll give you a very specific example of how confused he is. This is -- yesterday morning, it seemed like Governor Mike Pence in Indiana agreed that the law needed to be fixed. That he would find a way to fix it.
PENCE: Let me say I believe this is a clarification, but it`s also a fix. We will fix this.
MADDOW: Mike Pence yesterday morning, we will fix this. By yesterday afternoon, Mike Pence no longer thought he needed to fix this. Watch this.
PENCE: I stand by this law. The law doesn`t need to be fixed.
MADDOW: It doesn`t need to be fixed. We will fix it. It doesn`t -- that was on the same day.
There was this weird moment this afternoon when reporters for some reason were advised that Mike Pence was going to make a new statement about the latest whirl of his dervish as he has careened chaotically through this week and this week in Indiana, reporters showed up, the podium was set up, microphones were tapped, everybody was ready for Mike Pence. No Mike Pence. He never showed up.
We are told that he did sign the supposed fix in Indiana, but he did so in private. No cameras, no reporters, no statements, not this time.
The backlash against Mike Pence`s anti-gay discrimination bill in Indiana was not only national news. It visibly shook him in a way that I think instantly shook him out of consideration as a potential national leader. He was thrown for such a loop by what he did in Indiana. He seemed so unprepared, so shocked, and so unable to handle the pressure once it came. And he eventually tried to take it all back.
When Mike Pence was crumbling in public and Indiana was hemorrhaging convention bookings and business of all kinds, as that state was earmarking an emergency $2 million appropriation to pay an out of state PR firm, to try to rescue Indiana`s newly terrible reputation from what Mike Pence had done to it. Mike Pence`s poll numbers as one measure fell off a cliff.
One Indiana pollster saying the drop in Mike Pence`s approval ratings after the whole riffraffing was, quote, "historic". In the 20 years they`ve been publishing polling data on Indiana politicians, an Indiana governor has never experienced this kind of survey decline in this short a time frame. That backlash shook Indiana, and shook Mike Pence so visibly, it sometimes seemed like he might just seize up and fall over."
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: That was just from our coverage last year. Of the one big moment in the national spotlight that Mike Pence has had in an executive capacity as governor of Indiana.
Mike Pence is not Dan Quayle. But when George H.W. Bush picked Dan Quayle to be his running mate, there were wobbles and worries early on, that Dan Quayle might not be up to the job. He didn`t make much sense even on day one. It seemed like he might be a little too untested for a job as big as being vice president.
Mike Pence doesn`t have that exact problem. He`s not 41 years old like Quayle was when he was picked. He was well in his 50s. He had a bunch of time in Congress. He`s not untested in the same way that Dan Quayle was. In fact, Mike Pence has been tested as the governor of Indiana, for a little less than one term now.
But his time as governor of Indiana has not been particularly pretty, especially when he was under stress. And as Donald Trump now considers Mike Pence to be his running mate, Mike Pence`s home state Republicans are reportedly psyched and delighted about that, that he might be running for vice president, instead of running for re-election as governor, because they are worried that he would lose that because of how he has performed in his one term as governor in Indiana.
Indiana Republicans say they would prefer to put somebody else on the ticket as governor so they can have a hope of holding on to it for the Republican Party. But that`s the man who appears to be at the top of Donald Trump`s short list at least tonight, whether or not the Trump campaign has Googled him, I do not know.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: You know, I`m just very honored and humbled to be on a list of truly remarkable people that are being considered by our nominee for this position. We were just truly grateful to have an opportunity to spend time, again, with Mr. Trump, but also with members of his family. Mrs. Pence and I put out a breakfast spread late last night and clipped some flowers and served coffee over breakfast this morning and just had good conversation as a family together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One thing to keep in mind about the prospect of Indiana Governor Mike Pence becoming Donald Trump`s running mate is this -- Mike Pence`s Koch advantage. Winking at 2016, Mike Pence courts Koch brothers. Also, Mike Pence, a Koch favorite, mulls 2016 run for president.
This factor about Mike Pence got a lot more attention when he was thinking about running for president himself in 2016, before his collapse in Indiana last spring over that anti-gay bill he signed and then tried to take back and then couldn`t explain and said he wasn`t taking it back and then did take it back.
But even though he`s not running for president himself, it`s worth considering again now if Pence is going to be Trump`s running mate, it`s worth considering whether that might mean that the Koch brothers and their network of conservative funders might get off their wallets after all and get involved in the presidential race this year.
The Koch brothers apparently do not like Donald Trump. Before Trump became the nominee, the Koch brothers had pledged they and their network would spend $800 million or $900 million trying to elect a Republican to be the next president in this next election. But once Trump got the nomination, that`s been off the table. The Koch brothers and their network have basically opted out of presidential politicking this year, and that means their money hasn`t been in it.
If Donald Trump picks Mike Pence to be his running mate, could that get the Koch brothers and their hundreds of millions of dollars off the sidelines of this race? Don`t know. But you know it`s a factor.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: In the 2004 presidential race, John Kerry picked John Edwards to be his running mate. That happened on July 6th, about a week later, two weeks before the Democratic convention, the Kerry campaign released their full list of speakers for the convention that summer. Former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, former President Jimmy Carter, Senator Ted Kennedy, a little known but rising state senator by the name of Barack Obama.
They released that about two weeks before the convention. We knew who the speakers were going to be. Anybody missing? Anybody who`s a big deal in circa 2004 Democratic politics who didn`t make the list?
Well, there was this pretty high profile New York senator. In 2004, the senator and former first lady, probably the most famous woman on the face of the earth, one of the highest profile Democrats in the history of Democrats, Hillary Clinton, in 2004 was not on the list of people invited to speak at the John Kerry-John Edwards convention that year.
Now, Senator Clinton sort of took it in stride. She said she wasn`t disappointed. She said she looked forward to just being a part of the convention. That part would be apparently a non-speaking role. Quote, "She would be part of a special segment featuring all the women senators in the party all at once."
It is surely convenient to shunt all the women into one thing and not have to deal with them as individuals, but reporters at the time were pretty incredulous at the time about this snub to Hillary Clinton. Reporters asked the Kerry campaign why Hillary Clinton had not been offered a speaking role at the convention, and a spokesperson for the Kerry campaign responded, and I quote, "She never asked." Wrong answer.
Two days later, John Kerry backtracked. He made it right. He personally phoned Senator Clinton and he did ask her to speak at the convention. He asked her to introduce her husband. Well, that`s something at least.
Hillary Clinton, though, team player, she agreed. And a couple of weeks later, on the first night of the 2004 Democratic convention, she did speak at the convention. She introduced former President Bill Clinton, her husband, but she did make it hurt a little.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), THEN-U.S. SENATOR: I am practically speechless.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Everybody knew what she meant.
Now 12 years later, the vice presidential announcements are getting close. Whether or not Donald Trump is really going to pick Indiana Governor Mike Pence, the Trump campaign did hunker down in Indiana today. Trump met with Mike Pence there, again this morning, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions flew into Indiana today. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich flew into Indiana today, on Sean Hannity`s private plane, hmm, which is weird, but that happened.
Just a minute ago, Donald Trump tweeted that he will be announcing his vice presidential pick on Friday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time in New York City. We`ll see if we get unofficial word of who it is before then. But 11:00 a.m. in New York, that`s the official announcement on Friday.
The Hillary Clinton vice presidential announcement is probably not as imminent. We expect to know from her probably a week from Friday, probably next Friday or maybe the weekend thereafter. But details are starting to leak out about who is going to be speaking at Hillary Clinton`s nominating convention.
We learned last night that Elizabeth Warren will speak on the first night. That report came out yesterday. A lot of people interpreted that as a sign that Senator Warren will not be the vice presidential pick, since that first night is not typically when a vice presidential pick speaks.
But the Clinton campaign says, don`t jump to that conclusion, nothing has been decided. Speaking slots can always be moved around.
With that in mind, today, "The Washington Post" also reported that Bernie Sanders and First Lady Michelle Obama and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker will also be speaking on night one of the Democratic convention.
"Huffington Post" is also reporting that two other reported vice presidential prospects have been giving their speaking slots in Philly as well, veteran California Congressman Xavier Becerra and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. They have both been given speaking slots. Tim Kaine will also have what amounts to a live audition for the role tomorrow when he campaigns with Hillary Clinton in his home state of Virginia.
Joining us now is the great Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian.
Michael, I know this is a very exciting time. It`s really nice to have you here with us.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I feel like staying up all night, it`s so exciting.
MADDOW: Thank you, first of all, for giving us a heads up today about the anti-vice presidential choice ads that ran in 1968 and 1988. The ads that Democrats ran against Agnew in `68 and against Dan Quayle in `88, has it ever worked? Has it ever been a politically effective thing for one party to go after the other party for making a bad running mate choice?
BESCHLOSS: Not really. As you know, people do not make their choice of a president primarily on who the president has a running mate. But in 1972, as you know, that was the classic case of probably the worst choice of a vice presidential running mate in history when George McGovern very hastily at the last minute chose Thomas Eagleton, the Missouri senator, not knowing that Eagleton had been hospitalized three times for depression with electroshock, which was surprising to people in 1972.
That came out later on. And Eagleton was compelled to get off the ticket. Any chance that McGovern had to become president probably went to zero. Had McGovern kept Eagleton on the ticket probably would have hurt him very much.
But the biggest ambition, I think for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton right now is to choose a running mate where, do no harm, make sure there`s no danger of something like that.
MADDOW: In terms of each of these campaigns, they both have different dynamics, there`s different levels of suspense around their choices and how the campaigns are handling them. But we`re getting these vice presidential hints, the short lists, now we have a scheduled announcement on Friday from Donald Trump.
At the same time that we`re getting convention speaking slots, we`re learning how they`re going to be laying out these four-day infomercials for the campaigns.
MADDOW: Is there anything politically important that happens at campaigns these days as long as they get their work done of actually nominating the presidential candidate?
BESCHLOSS: Oh, sure, and announcements too. You were talking about the staging of Trump`s announcement on Friday. Do we figure that`s at Trump tower with the pink marble and the fountain and the escalator. So, we might see a person come down the escalator and only when we see the face do we know who the vice president will be. That would be pretty dramatic.
But the convention, you know, everything that`s done is done with forethought these days, and it can have a big effect. For instance, in 1992, Republican convention in Houston, George H.W. Bush, who was president, running for re-elections, was compelled to have Pat Buchanan who ran against him, speak. Buchanan gave a speech that was many people found very extreme, saying we want to take our streets back. Some people felt it was way over the top.
The polls found that a lot of people who watched that speech by Buchanan might have voted for Bush, but instead, they said if this is what this convention is like, we`re going to vote for Ross Perot or even Bill Clinton. So, one speech like that can overshadow even the nominee`s speech.
MADDOW: Michael, I know you`re a historian and not a pundit, but I cannot resist asking you, given your historical and historically informed understanding of how vice presidential choices are made, do you have strong expectations in terms of which -- what choice either of the candidates might make this year?
BESCHLOSS: Well, the interesting thing and I`m going way out of my wheelhouse -- thank you for saying, Rachel, but since you were kind enough to ask -- I think on the Trump side, the fascinating thing, you`ve got an unpredictable presidential nominee and at least three people at the top of the list, including the one you spoke about tonight, who are pretty controversial and unpredictable themselves.
So, you know, if we were looking for a number two where there was no political risk, I think there`s not someone like that, at least of the top three mentioned. So, it`s going to be fascinating who does come down that escalator. If it`s going to be an escalator on Friday.
On Hillary`s side, she is so traditionally known for not taking an enormous political risk, that you have to assume that, for instance, we heard about a general who is supposedly being vetted, some others who would be out of the box. I don`t think that`s going to happen. So if it`s not someone like Tim Kaine, I`d be very surprised.
MADDOW: Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian -- thank you for getting out of your lane with me there for a moment. I appreciate you being willing to do it. Thank you, sir.
BESCHLOSS: I`m going to scramble back now and only talking about the dead now.
MADDOW: Put your blinker on, it will be all right.
BESCHLOSS: Right, right.
MADDOW: Thanks, sir.
BESCHLOSS: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead, stay with us.
MADDOW: So what can you buy for $57 million? You can buy a lot, right? Go nuts.
For example, this is a shirt that costs $213,000. It`s a shirt made of pure gold. If you have $57 million, you can buy 267 of those shirts.
Or, how about this $3.2 million diamond necklace? For your dog! You could buy 17 of them, throw them in the cart.
If you had $57 million, you can buy 126 rocks like this one. This rock costs $450,000, because it`s from mars.
$57 million could buy a whole world of amazing stuff. What does $57 million buy you in politics this year? So far, bupkis. Nothing. You might as well have bought dog necklaces. That story is next.
MADDOW: Rate of return. Rate of return is the gain or loss on an investment over a specified period of time. It`s a money thing.
Rate of return is also a thing in politics, though. For example, today we got a slew of swing state polls, showing how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are doing in the swing states. And by the looks of these polls, it appears that this is shaping up to be a tight presidential race this year.
In some states like Iowa, they are really, really close. In Ohio, they are tied, neck and neck. In two different polls in Florida, Donald Trump is up. In Pennsylvania, it`s a mixed bag. The Quinnipiac poll has Trump up by two. Another one has Clinton up by nine.
The reason this brings up the question of rate of return and cost benefit and all other sorts of investment terms is because of what`s been spent on these states in terms of ads. Hillary Clinton has out spent Donald Trump so far by a 15-1 margin in the general election. The Clinton campaign has spent roughly $57 million on ads between the campaign and the super PACs that are working to support her campaign. Donald Trump`s campaign, on the other hand, has spent -- nothing.
Hmm, two outside groups including the NRA have spent a total of $4.5 million on his behalf, but he`s spent nothing. In nine battleground swing states, Clinton have spent over $46 million, and Trump and his allies have spent just over $1 million. So, that`s a 40-1 margin in the swing states in terms of ad spending.
When you have a 40-1 advantage in spending, that`s not something you would expect to get swing state results like this.
What kind of rate of return is the Clinton campaign getting for all of those ads? Not to mention the groups that operate independent of the campaign but basically act on her behalf.
Joining us now is Guy Cecil. He`s the chief strategist for the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA. That PAC rolled out a $10.5 million ad blitz in the great state of Pennsylvania after the Fourth of July. That is a state that Donald Trump is leading in one nice to have you back with us today, the Quinnipiac Poll.
Guy, it`s really nice to have you back with us again tonight. Thanks for being here.
GUY CECIL, PRIORITIES USA CHIEF STRATEGIST: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Am I asking the wrong question? This looks like a lot of money spent for not very good results.
CECIL: No, I think it`s the right question, just the wrong answer. If you look at the average of the polls in all of the battleground states today, Hillary Clinton leads, including in North Carolina, which is a state that the president was actually defeated in 2012.
You take a look at a place like Colorado, where the president won by mid single digits, and in the polling today, Hillary Clinton had a double-digit lead. Or take a place like Pennsylvania or Ohio, where for the first time in my entire career, someone actually was registering at zero percent amongst African-Americans.
Having said that, I do think that progressives and Democrats need to understand that this is going to be a close election, that we are going to see these battleground states stay on the map until the very end, and that when you take a look at 2012 there were points during that cycle despite the fact that President Obama and Priorities had defined Mitt Romney early, that the race was close.
So, I hope that this is just the beginning of that type of advertising campaign. And in fact, if you look at Priorities` advertising it`s only about 10 percent of what we intend to spend over the course of the election, and not on gold shirts.
MADDOW: Although you have to admit they`re very nice.
CECIL: That was a pretty stylish shirt.
MADDOW: Did you learn anything in terms of running against Donald Trump from the Republican primary in which so many people, both PACs and campaigns, spent so many millions of dollars against him, and it was sort of like, you know, it kind of only seemed to make him stronger. Ads didn`t seem to take a chunk out of him.
Do you need to sort of recalibrate the kinds of weapons that you use against a candidate like Trump given how ineffective ads have been against him in the past?
CECIL: Actually, you hit on the critical point, that the Republicans did spend millions of dollars against Donald Trump but they waited until just a couple of weeks before the election, for example, in Florida in order to do it when a lot of opinions had already solidified.
If you take a look at all of these polls, Rachel, the fact of the matter is that Donald Trump gets 39, 40, 41 percent. In fact, there was a poll out today in a battleground state where he was in the 20s. And so, the one variable that has stayed pretty consistent over the course of the last six weeks is that Donald Trump consistently polls in the mid 30s to the low 40s. And I think that has a great deal of the reason why Priorities is focused on making sure we`re trying to define Donald Trump early.
And, by the way, not just with swing voters. One of the things that we`re doing differently than a lot of Democratic super PACs is we are advertising targeting Hispanic voters, African-American voters, young people, and we intend on that being a major part of our campaign going forward.
MADDOW: Guy Cecil, chief strategist for the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA -- thank you for being willing to talk about your strategy and stuff on this. I realize, a lot people in your business keep it as trade secrets, but it`s helpful I think to understand what you`re doing.
CECIL: Well, I was promised one of those necklaces. So, that`s the only reason I came on.
MADDOW: It doesn`t fit your dog but we`ll get you a nice substitute. Thanks, Guy.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: If you are just joining us, I want to reiterate tonight`s breaking news on the presidential race and its important logistics. There`s been a lot of conflicting information about the timing of when we`re going to hear from each campaign about their vice presidential selections.
Donald Trump had initially said he would announce his vice presidential running mate at his convention next week in Cleveland. Then, the campaign said no, they would announce sometime this week ahead of the convention. We`ve just had confirmed in a tweet from Donald Trump that the actual announcement of the Trump vice presidential running mate selection will be Friday, 11:00 a.m. in Manhattan.
We don`t know if that`s going to be Trump Tower or somewhere else. We don`t know if we will get some sort of leak or unofficial announcement, advanced notice about who the pick is before that unveiling at 11:00 a.m., but that is the formal event.
It`s widely expected that Hillary Clinton will be making her vice presidential announcement basically exactly one week later, the day after the Republican convention ends, next Friday, or the following weekend. So, you can set your schedule.
We`ll be right back.
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THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I have just been to Buckingham Palace, where her majesty the queen has asked me to form a new government, and I accepted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Theresa May took over as the new British prime minister today after accepting an invitation to govern from Queen Elizabeth. That`s how you do it when you`ve got a queen.
Here you can see Theresa May curtsying to her majesty and to her majesty`s handbag.
Theresa May is the second female prime minister in British history. Margaret Thatcher was the first. But it`s interesting. Even though Thatcher was the woman in charge, she appointed only one other woman to any of her cabinets.
This year in contrast, it`s been reported that Theresa May is expected to put women in nearly half her cabinet positions. Today she did appoint a woman to replace herself as the country`s home secretary.
The appointment that got the most attention today, though, was the surprise naming of the flamboyant former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to be the U.K.`s new foreign secretary, essentially their secretary of state.
You may remember that he says President Obama is a Kenyan with an anti- colonial mindset. Well, now he`ll be Great Britain`s top diplomat, which should be interesting. The U.K. is our closest overseas ally, and I`m sure everything will be fine. But this whole special relationship thing could get a little awkward fairly soon.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END