Show: MTP DAILY Date: October 17, 2016 Guest: Kellyanne Conway, Perry Bacon, Celinda Lake, Rick Tyler, Hampton Pearson, Michael Waldman, Ben Ginsberg
KRISTEN WELKER, HOST: And good evening. I`m Kristen Welker in Washington in for Chuck Todd. Welcome to MTP DAILY.
Three weeks to Election Day, two days until the final presidential debate, but forget about winners and losers for a minute. It seems that America`s faith in our Democratic process is being stressed to its breaking point.
We`ve never seen a major party nominee suggest the election is a fraud. And we`ve never seen an entire campaign`s dirty laundry, its mostly closely guarded secrets, aired for public viewing, not like this. We`re going to dive into two major stories on both sides of the aisle tonight as this race takes a sharp turn into uncharted and frankly unsettling territory.
We begin with Republican nominee Donald Trump crossing a line that even some of his most ardent supporters, his running mate and his Campaign Manager dare not cross, questioning the legitimacy of the outcome of the U.S. election. We`re going to speak with Trump`s Campaign Manager, Kellyanne Conway, in just a second.
Trump and his campaign have railed against the media and other institutions for what they see as unfair coverage this election season. But they have never before said the vote would literarily be rigged at polling places. Republican leaders basically said there was no way Trump would say that and that he was only talking about the media.
Then Trump said this, tweeting today. "Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before Election Day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So na‹ve!" First off, we are not aware of any evidence of large scale voter fraud and neither it appears is Trump`s campaign.
We asked for evidence and they didn`t provide any. Trump`s comments come after his running mate, GOP leaders and his most ardent supporters crisscrossed the airwaves yesterday to assure voters that Trump would not cross that line. Here`s how they explained Trump`s past comments. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think what Donald Trump is talking about is, frankly, what appears to be the monolithic support of the national media for Hillary Clinton`s campaign. The American people are tired of the obvious bias in the national media. That`s where the sense of a rigged election goes here, Chuck.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I think what he feels is the establishment is against him and they are rigging the election against him, not cheating at the polling place. He`s never talked about cheating at the polling place.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER GEORGIA REPRESENTATIVE: I believe the rigging is at the level of the national establishment. I don`t think it`s at the level of stealing votes at the precinct level.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WELKER: It also comes after House Speaker Paul Ryan put out a statement explicitly rejecting this kind of conspiracy chatter saying, "Our democracy relies on confidence in election results and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity".
We`re going to take a deeper dive into Trump`s claims of large scale voter fraud later in the show. But that claim is something that even Republican elections lawyers say is absolute nonsense. I`m joined now by Trump Campaign Manager, Kellyanne Conway. Thanks so much, Kellyanne, for joining me. Really appreciate it.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Thank you. Yes.
WELKER: I want to start right there, Donald Trump making this very serious charge. And my question for you is it not dangerous and irresponsible to claim that there is going to be large scale voter fraud without any evidence and three weeks before Election Day?
CONWAY: Kristen, you`ve got to look at everything he said about the rigged, corrupt system. This is a part of it today, but he`s also more prominently spoken out about the collusion between the mainstream media, the Clinton campaign, I think, the establishment, certainly.
And if you look at all these e-mails that are coming out, just today, we learned that you have a very high ranking person, lieutenant at the State Department, asking the FBI to declassify Hillary Clinton e-mails as a "quid pro quo". Please recall that was a rigged, corrupt system.
WELKER: Kelly, I`ve been reporting on that all day long. It`s a complicated story, as you know, the FBI and State Department saying that that e-mail have been taken out of context. But I want to stick to the point at hand here, since I have you for this interview.
Which is that Donald Trump -- and I understand you`re saying it`s a part of his argument. But he said over the weekend the election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing crooked Hillary, but also at many polling places. What`s he talking about? Where is the proof of that, Kellyanne?
CONWAY: Well, he`s talking about some of the reports that he`s read in the past about different irregularities in different --
WELKER: But is that responsible, Kellyanne? He is the nominee of the Republican Party. Is it responsible to talk about something that he has read about in the past without any proof? As you know, the Brennan Center says that there is about as much chance that someone`s going to go to the polls and impersonate another voter as there is of getting hit by lightning.
CONWAY: Well, that`s a liberal outfit. But, in any event, the way you asked the question -- the question you`re asking and the way you ask it presumes that you think he is being irresponsible. So let me just answer it this way. If you`re Donald Trump and you`re trying to get your message out directly to the people and you`re being stopped every which way, excuse him if he thinks that there are different barriers to access for him to talk to the voters.
And his largest argument is and will continue to be that he just can`t get fair coverage. And I think anybody -- look, responsible journalists have actually written columns saying Donald Trump defies journalistic objective standards. We can just lay all those down to just try to stop this man.
And, by the way, if the American people are buying it by and large then he would not be tied in the polls, like he is in the new CNN polling, leading in Ohio, tied in North Carolina and Nevada effectively within the margin of errors. So this is part of his argument and he has a right to say it. I mean I think people are telling much more in the sense that --
WELKER: Look, Kellyanne, because we don`t have a lot of time and I want to get through a lot of different topics. It`s not just the Brennan Center. It`s the Republican Election Attorney, Chris Ashby, who noted that there is really no proof of this.
NYU, Loyola, they`ve all said that there is just no proof of voter fraud. So my question for you is, on Election Day, will you accept the outcome of this election? Will Donald Trump?
CONWAY: Absent evidence of wrongdoing, of irregularities and voter fraud, of course, we`ll accept it. And, by the way, he has said that if he wins he`ll be the President of all Americans. She thinks tens and millions of them are deplorable and irredeemable.
He`ll be the President of people who didn`t support him and don`t much care for him. And, by the way, we will accept -- I certainly will accept the election result, if, in fact, there are no irregularities or voter fraud, if the election results are very clear.
But, look, I do think if you`re Donald Trump and you`re just trying to get even one-tenth of the positive coverage that Hillary Clinton gets, it`s very frustrating. I can tell you as the Campaign Manager, Kristen, if we had a level playing field, if we had like a semi tilted playing field, we`d be heading these polls.
I agree with Newt Gingrich on that. But I`m telling you. We`re just going to cut through all of that and deliver our message directly to the people. We don`t have a choice.
WELKER: Kellyanne, there is no proof that there is any type of the collusion that you`re talking about. You`re talking about Secretary Clinton`s e-mails, the WikiLeaks hacks. We`ve been reporting on that for days now.
CONWAY: I`m sorry. There`s no proof of what? There`s no proof of what?
WELKER: That there is any media bias that you`re talking about.
CONWAY: Oh, my goodness. Wow.
WELKER: But, Kelly, let me just talk to you about Donald Trump`s --
CONWAY: Did you see the donations -- I`m sorry. Did you see the jurno donations e-mail, the link today, that by a margin of 27-1 journalists, working reporters have given money to Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump?
WELKER: Kellyanne, OK, I`m talking to you about your candidate who is running for President and you`re citing the polls. Our poll shows that Secretary Clinton is up by 11 points. A lot of people think that that`s because Donald Trump has done damage to his own campaign. So let`s get back to this issue of voter --
CONWAY: That`s a nationwide poll.
WELKER: Let me get back to this issue of voter fraud, Kellyanne. And, again, he is not using the term if. You`re saying if there is fraud. He is saying that there already is fraud. We know that some of his followers are taking this very seriously.
One person, David Clarke, who is essentially an elected official, saying it`s incredible that our institutions of government, the White House, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt. Pitch forks and torches time. So, again, do you not worry that some of his supporters are taking this too far and are ready to take to the streets if they don`t get the outcome that they want in this election?
CONWAY: No, I`m not, Kristen. And, by the way, the only -- you want evidence? The only evidence we have of torches and firebombs happened yesterday at one of our Republican headquarters in North Carolina. It was firebombed, people writing the word Nazi and Republican on a wall.
I think it was disgusting. I`m glad everybody`s denounced it. But the fact is somebody who is not a Republican is responsible for that. So if you want actual evidence of violence, using firebombs and torches, you have it just yesterday. But I didn`t hear that in the example.
Look, the fact is that there is a lot of heated rhetoric on the left as well. I mean have you read social media, what people have to say? Do you follow the threats that people like me get, like Donald Trump get, like his children get? I mean it`s a very heated electorate.
WELKER: But, Kellyanne, he is the Republican nominee. But he is the Republican nominee. And I`m asking you about his rhetoric that he is using. Is he not contributing to this environment that a lot of people describe feels like a boiling point for a lot of his supporters and Democrats as well?
CONWAY: No. I think you should ask Hillary Clinton why she stands by people who describe police as pigs in the blanket or let`s go kill some police officers. I mean, is she responsible for all of that? Does Mike Caniper or Robby Mook even get asked that on any of the NBC channels?
I mean we don`t hold them accountable for that. But you want us to be held accountable for something that may happen in the future when I`m telling you what we learned yesterday and today, firebombing. And if anybody has been in there, they easily could have been killed, Kristen. I hope you agree if you saw the damage that has done.
WELKER: And you`re right. It has been roundly condemned. There is no doubt about that. They are absolutely what everyone is condemning that.
CONWAY: But that actually happened. That`s not a perspective possibility. It actually happened yesterday.
WELKER: Right. And the FBI is looking into who is responsible. Let me ask you --
CONWAY: Well, good.
WELKER: About these nine women who have come forward publicly with allegations of sexual misconduct and groping against Donald Trump. Here is what he had to say about one of his accusers. I want to get your reaction on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: When you looked at that horrible woman last night, you said I don`t think so. I don`t think so. Oh, I was with Donald Trump in 1980. I was sitting with him on an airplane. And he went after me on the plane. Yeah. I`m going to go after. Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you, man. You don`t know. That would not be my first choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WELKER: Kellyanne, do you condone that kind of language? Is that the right response?
CONWAY: It`s not how I would answer the question. At the same time, he is very frustrated because he`s denied these allegations. He`s simply said he didn`t do it. And, frankly, when it comes to -- I know you`re cherry- picking different quotes that he`s said here and there, but, I think, the one that`s most important to your viewers anyway as an objective journalist would be the one where he has denied all these allegations.
He`s said they`re fiction and that they`re not true. And I think you`ll see interviews with his wife later on tonight on two different networks, where she echoes that and says she believes her husband. And she thinks people are out there for fame or political purposes or financial purposes, perpetuating these lies. And I`ll leave it at that.
WELKER: Well, he has said he denies these allegations. As you know, there are nine women who`ve come forward. And their stories seem to fit into his own words, what he said back in that tape back in 2005. Aren`t you concerned that he has essentially laid out the map for sexually assaulting women and then you have these women coming forward and saying yeah, that`s what he did?
CONWAY: I`m concerned that you`re obsessed with covering this point when, again, we have -- all these issues that Americans tells the NBC pollsters. You want to quote the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Kristen. What about the issue stats that`s in there? What about national security and the economy and immigration and healthcare and corruption and ethics in Washington? Why do the media and people in Washington have a 12% approval rating practically? I think we`re talking about it right here.
I mean I`m concerned that there is so much -- those who do objective content analysis about what got covered last week, it`s like less than one minute out of over 66 minutes of the three major network broadcasts spent any time at all on what happened in these e-mails through WikiLeaks, what we know about the Clinton thinking. And oh, my God, we know she is not warm. What is her core? How do we reinvent her? We`re still finding her voice after 30 years. God lord, that we`re worried about our house.
WELKER: And, Kellyanne, again, I think, we`re moving on that all day long as well. But this is a part of vetting your candidate.
CONWAY: And yet you said 23 of 66 minutes.
WELKER: This is a part of vetting your candidate. So let me just ask you because I know we`re running out of time for you. You have specifically said that every -- and you`ve said every is the operative word. That every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed and supported. So do you agree with Trump that these victims are, in his words -- he has called them horrible liars?
CONWAY: So I was tweeting at Hillary Clinton who is yet to be held to account for her tweet right before Bill`s victims went out to that second debate. And, of course, she was asked about that at the debate and never even answered and I guess wasn`t held to account to answer.
So she`s yet to respond to that. But I will read you the rest of what she said in that actual statement. And I quote, "I would say that everyone should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence". That was Hillary Clinton. Nobody ever says the end of her quote. So I think she has a point. And all I know is that if people have -- if they have claims, they should go --
WELKER: Kellyanne, I have one minute left and we`re going to lose you. So I want to make sure I get to one more point. And I apologize for cutting you off, but very quickly.
CONWAY: Does it have anything to do with the electoral map or how we`ve been or how I manage the campaign?
WELKER: Well, it can. Donald Trump over the weekend said he wants a drug test before the next debate. Do you know why he would say that? Some Republicans have said to me it seems like he is just making up stuff at this point and that it may have come from Alex Jones. Is that accurate?
CONWAY: I don`t know anything about where it came from. But he said it at a rally in Maine. And he said that she was losing her energy and he doesn`t know what happened to here. She`s sort of petering out at the end, that`s his characterization of it. And I think you heard him in his own words. I think those words are unequivocal.
WELKER: Okay. Kellyanne Conway, we`re going to lose you. So I really appreciate your time.
CONWAY: Thank you.
WELKER: Thank you so much for being here. And I want to bring in my panel: my colleague, NBC Senior Political Reporter, Perry Bacon; Celinda Lake is a Democratic Pollster; and Rick Tyler is an MSNBC Political Analyst and Former Communications Director with the Cruz campaign. Rick, what was your take away from that interview? I know there was a lot to unpack there.
RICK TYLER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The campaign has a deliberate strategy. Look, the media is not very popular, right. Everybody knows that.
TYLER: And the campaign has had a deliberate strategy of making the media the enemy. That`s been throughout. And so it seems a little disingenuous to say on the one hand that you`re in this big huge argument with the media. But the problem with the coverage, the so-called equal coverage is, Hillary Clinton would literally have to go out every single day in her rallies and talk about her e-mails.
And I didn`t do classified information and make jokes about them, because she would make news all day long. Donald Trump goes out on the campaign trail and he talks about these women and it gets covered. And they wonder why they get all this coverage.
WELKER: Yeah. And, to that point, Celinda, did you hear anything that Kellyanne Conway said to mitigate the firestorm around these allegations, as Rick is talking about, by these nine women? They say it`s absolutely false. Anything in that interview that you think is going to change the minds of women who right now say they are supporting Secretary Clinton?
CELINDA LAKE, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Well, I think, in many ways, I think, Kellyanne Conway, who I have enormous respect for, actually validated a lot of women`s choices because she didn`t do two things. She didn`t attack these women and she didn`t defend his statements on the bus.
And Donald Trump has a lot to answer for and, frankly, there is no answer for it. And for a lot of women out there it`s done. There is no answer. But I agree with you. He is digging himself in day after day after day. If he wants to talk about issues, he should talk about issues that he might get covered on them. The great irony is the media made Donald Trump and now he doesn`t like it.
WELKER: Perry, it was striking, right, that she said that wouldn`t be how I would have handled all of these allegations against women who actually attacked them. I thought that was an interesting moment.
PERRY BACON JR., NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. She did not -- I mean she basically passed it off to Melania. She is going to defend in her interview tonight. Other thing is you kept pressing her on this voter fraud idea and she did not really give any examples or defend that as Trump`s team was on that either.
She kept moving it to -- you can tell Mike Pence and Kellyanne want to say the media is bias and that election is rigged. But I agree with Kellyanne. The media -- newspaper endorsements are with Hillary Clinton. That`s true. The media is probably against -- a lot of the media is against Donald Trump. That`s not wrong.
That said, it`s hard to defend the voter fraud claims, as you know, because lots of organizations have looked into this and there is very little evidence of voter fraud in the States. And she can`t find that and Donald Trump can`t find that. And the whole Republican Party wants them to stop saying this.
WELKER: Yeah. Rick, very quickly, before we go, what are the complicated arguments that Donald Trump is making when it comes to voter fraud? I mean you raised the point that he won the nomination.
TYLER: Well, three things. He won the nomination in the same rigged system that he is running in today. So what changed? The second thing is for his supporters, why would his supporters be encouraged to go out and participate in a rigged election? I mean it seems like that would suppress his own voters. So I don`t understand the messaging on that.
LAKE: Oh, I think, the other thing about it is, the so-called rigged elections are what makes America great. And to go after attacking what makes this country unique and great, the 200-year experiment we have and then to pressure on voter turnout that is idiotic.
TYLER: And if you`re winning you don`t claim rigged elections.
WELKER: Great point. Good. Stick around panel. Thank you.
LAKE: Thank you.
WELKER: And coming up, more e-mail issues for the Clinton campaign as we`ve been talking about as the WikiLeaks fallout continues. The campaign is also answering new questions about the candidate`s private e-mail server.
And Clinton surrogates are stumping in a surprising spot this week. We`ll look at the Clinton campaign`s game plan to expand the electoral map. Stay tuned. We`re back after a quick break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELANIA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP`S WIFE: I said to my husband that the language is inappropriate. It`s not acceptable. And I was surprised because that is not the man that I know. And, as you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on. It was only a mic. And I wonder if they even knew that the mic was on because they were kind of a boy talk. And he was lead on like egg on from the host to say dirty and bad stuff.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You feel the host, Billy Bush, was sort of egging him on?
M. TRUMP: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WELKER: That`s Melania Trump addressing her husband`s comments regarding the 2005 tape where he made some lewd comments about women. We`ll be right back.
WELKER: The Clinton campaign is being forced to respond today to newly released documents from the FBI`s investigation and to her use of a private e-mail server when she was Secretary of State. The documents, called 302s, are shorthand notes taken by FBI agents during an investigation.
They were released because of a Freedom of Information Act request. Now Republicans are seizing, in particular, on a note outlining discussions between a now retired FBI agent whose name has been redacted and Patrick Kennedy, the Under Secretary of State.
And agent writes in the note,"[Redacted] indicated he had been contacted by Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary of State, who had asked his assistance in altering the e-mails classification in exchange for a quid pro quo. [Redacted] advised that, in exchange for marking the e-mail unclassified, State would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more agents in the countries where they are presently forbidden".
The Clinton campaign, the FBI, and the State Department are denying that this happened. It was the FBI agent who first brought up how many agents are placed abroad. The FBI officials tell NBC News the matter resulted in a serious internal investigation into that agent.
In a statement today, the Bureau says, "The classification of the e-mail was not changed and it remains classified today. Although there was never a quid pro quo, these allegations were nonetheless referred to the appropriate officials for review.
I want to bring in my friend and colleague, Andrea Mitchell, of course, who also covers the Clinton campaign, host of MSNBC`s "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS". And you have been following this story, Andrea, all day long. What are the other takeaways here that we need to know about?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS HOST: What you`ve got here is the FBI and the State Department who have been fighting for a year and a half over the classifications of these e-mails. The FBI and the intelligence communities saying they should be more classified and retroactively re-classifying some that hadn`t been.
And the State Department saying no, this is the way we do business. This is not something that should be classified. It`s simply mentioning a name here and a name there and the FBI basically winning all of these arguments. So the fact that there is this debate, this negotiation, is not anything unusual.
We`ve been, in fact, told every day at the State Department, hey, this is happening. We`re pushing back while we lost this one. We lost another one. This is an ongoing negotiation. What is unusual is this note from the FBI official saying that the agent`s name with this happened.
And, in fact, what we were told it was exactly the opposite. That an FBI official brought up placing agents in Iraq, a country where they have not been able to get in, as an add-on to another conversation with Patrick Kennedy. He said now that I`ve got you on the phone basically we finally nailed you down here to talk about this, let me bring this up.
And so they brought it up from the FBI`s standpoint. It wasn`t Patrick Kennedy. He was no quid pro quo. There was no linkage. There were really separate issues and that there was nothing at all in the fairest. But that doesn`t mean that there won`t be attacks. And, in fact, we are told Donald Trump in his speech tonight is going to be jumping all over this.
WELKER: And what`s striking to me, in part, Andrea, as we`ve covered this today, is the fact that we`re three weeks away from Election Day and we`re still talking about her e-mails. Politically speaking, it`s just not coming at a welcome time from the perspective of her campaign.
MITCHELL: And not only her e-mails but everyone else`s e-mails, because, also today, WikiLeaks has dumped another 1,500 pages, bringing its -- 15,200 pages now or e-mails from John Podesta, which has all of these communications. And we just -- this was just published by the Russian broadcaster and the Russian service before WikiLeaks even dumped them.
We have to go through and properly clean them up because we shouldn`t all be opening these very potentially suspicious e-mails. So it`s going to take us a while to go through them. But this is a never-ending flow. And how does she prepare for a debate not knowing what`s out there? And the fact that Russia is publishing them before even WikiLeaks makes it very clear that that linkage is as suspected.
WELKER: Right. And there`s no doubt. This will come up at Wednesday`s debate. Andrea, great to see you. Thank you. We`ll look for your report on Nightly News.
MITCHELL: You bet. Thanks.
WELKER: Appreciate it. Still ahead, rigging the vote, we`ve got a reality check from both sides of the aisle. More MTP DAILY right after this.
KRISTEN WELKER, TELEVISION JOURNALIST, NBC NEWS: We`re just two days away from the third and final presidential debate of 2016, if you can believe that. Stay with MSNBC for all day coverage from the University of Nevada Las Vegas this Wednesday, then don`t miss our live telecast of the debate at 9 p.m. eastern followed by late night analysis from our whole team. More on MTP Daily just ahead but first, Hampton Pearson has the CNBC Market Wrap.
HAMPTON PEARSON, REPORTER, CNBC: Thanks, Kristen. We have stocks closing low today amid declining oil prices and warnings of rising inflation. The Dow fell just under 52 points, the S&P lost 6, the Nasdaq dropped by 14 points. U.S. crude oil price is trading below $50 a barrel.
FED vice chair Stanley Fischer warning low interest rates could cost U.S. economy to drag for a long time. Meanwhile, Netflix reporting stronger than expected sales and earnings, adding 3.6 million new members in the third quarter. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
WELKER: Democrats and some republicans are calling Donald Trump`s voter fraud charges unfounded and actually dangerous. Here`s vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine on Sunday.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
TIM KAINE, CANDIDATE FOR VICE PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.: We run elections and we run them well here. He shouldn`t be engaging in those scare tactics and so we are needing to push that message, and we ask the GOP leaders also to stand up for the integrity of the American electoral process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WELKER: And some republicans have answer to that call including Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted who says, he intends to vote for Trump. Take a look.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
JON HUSTED, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: I can reassure Donald Trump I am in charge of elections in Ohio and they`re not going to be rigged. Institutions like our election system is one of the bedrocks of American democracy. We should not question it or the legitimacy of it. Are there cases of voter fraud? Absolutely, there are cases of voter fraud, but it`s rare, and we catch these people a lot. Most time, we catch them before their vote is even counted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WELKER: I`m joined now by former Bill Clinton`s speech writer and president of the Brennan Center for Justice, Michael Waldman, and former general council to the republican party and NBC political analyst, Ben Ginsberg. Thanks to both of you for being here. I really appreciate it.
MICHAEL WALDMAN, FORMER BILL CLINTON`S SPEECH WRITER, PRESIDENT OF THE BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Great to be with you.
WELKER: So Ben, we have been citing these sources throughout the day, the Brennan Center Loyola which have essentially found that voter fraud is very rare. Are we right? Historically speaking, is there any real proof of widespread voter fraud?
BEN GINSBERG, FORMER GENERAL COUNCIL TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Not in person, voter fraud, no, and what Jon Husted said is -- is absolutely right. Look, republican election officials control 30 different states in the election mechanisms within that, in the voting. And so it`s - - republicans want this to be a fair election, where every eligible voter gets to have his or her vote counted.
WELKER: And Michael, there is a concern that this type of rhetoric is essentially playing with fire, that voters on both sides of the aisle are already at a boiling point because there are so many emotions and passions to go along with this election. Are you concerned that when you hear Trump talk about a rigged election, it could actually force this boiling point to take a really negative turn?
WADLMAN: Well, I think we all should be concerned when the integrity of our elections and the strength of our democracy are called into question, especially without a scintilla of legitimate evidence. I think what Ben Ginsberg said is exactly right, which is that there is every reason to have confidence that everybody`s vote will be counted.
I think this could -- I hope also be a bit of inflection point because one of the reasons that Donald Trump has been able to gain traction with this, in addition to his willingness to say almost anything, is that we have been hearing unfounded claims of voter fraud for a while and it has been the justification for a lot of policies that I don`t think make sense.
We can have all kinds of agreements and disagreements about the ins and outs of election law, but I think that everybody should agree that in this day and age, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in person, just like Ben Ginsberg said, you are as a statistical matter more likely to be hit by lightning in the United States than to commit in person voter impersonation.
WELKER: Ben, doesn`t the message by Donald Trump that there is voter fraud run the risk of having some republican home, if they think that this election is rigged in places like Ohio, where we just played secretary of state saying hey, this election is not going to be rigged. You have the close senate race there, Rob Portman`s seat is at stake. So are you concerned that some republicans are going to say, what is the point of going out and voting?
GINSBERG: Yeah, I think you do have to be concerned about that. I think with states like Ohio and states where there are battleground senate contests and house races that will determine the majority, that republicans will get motivated. Because one thing that does sort of coalesce republican thought is the need to be sure that there is a republican senate and republican house and republican officials at the state level.
WELKER: And Michael, just weighing in on that, do you worry that there could be sort of depressed voter turnout on both sides because of what we hearing from Donald Trump?
WALDMAN: Look, voter turnout in the last federal election was the lowest in 72 years. We have a lot to do to give people reason to think that their votes matter and that they will count. And so, you know, if it is a bit of an accidental vote suppression strategy aimed at his own voters, that is only part of it.
I think that we want to encourage everybody to vote, everybody who is eligible. And I worry also that it is stirring up as we`ve seen him encourage people to go be poll watchers. And there is a place for poll watching.
But the combination of the incendiary and often racially charged rhetoric about people and those other neighborhoods are committing fraud, people in inner cities as Rudy Giuliani said, could really lead to some ugly confrontations. We want election integrity, but we do not want and don`t need vigilantism.
WELKER: You actually just raised the point that I was going to raise which is about these poll monitors, that not unusual to have poll monitors, but do you worry to Michael`s point that we could actually see clashes over this and is there sort of a latent message there that could be spewing racial tensions?
GINSBERG: Well, I certainly hope not. And what`s true is that each state has its set of laws to govern who could go in the polling places and what their activities can be within the polling places. So what I believe will happen is that state parties, county parties, local parties will assign poll watchers to different locations. Both democrats and republicans do that.
As Michael pointed out, there is a place for poll watching because that is part of the authentication and credibility of the contest is to have people observing it. But the bounds of what they can do within the polling place are entirely subscribed by the different state laws.
WELKER: All right, great conversation. Michael Waldman and Ben Ginsberg, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
WALDMAN: Thank you.
WELKER: And coming up, divided America. We`ll go to two counties with two very different outlooks on the presidential race. And the country`s future. You don`t want to miss that. Stay tuned.
WELKER: Welcome back. We`re taking a look today at the great American divide, this country is now so split up by race and common culture that we tend to live among people who think just like we do. "Meet the Press" team traveled to two counties, one that is strongly pro-Trump and one that is strongly pro-Clinton. In each place, we talked to people who just can`t imagine why anyone would vote for the other candidate. Take a look.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump`s America is a place like Monroe County, Ohio where 97 percent of people are white and the median household income of $41,000 is well below the national average. It`s where the fleeing steel industry left an unemployment rate hovering at 9 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m voting for Trump. I don`t like either one of them, really. But, Hillary has got so much stuff against her, I don`t see how anybody can vote for her. Reasonably.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He understands jobs. He understands the -- that is what we need. We don`t want handouts. We want jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you drive the roads anywhere here in southeast Ohio, for every Hillary sign, you will see approximately 15 or more Trump signs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The county was hit hard when the Ormet aluminum plant slowly closed over the last decade, and in an area devoid of much hope, Trump`s business record seems like the best shot for recovery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The economy right now is kind of in the tank. Donald Trump creates jobs. He may go bankrupt the whole nine yards, but everywhere he goes he builds jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we need a change, and the republicans that are going against Trump right now need to be thrown out of office anyhow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a sense here that it will take a Trump to make Monroe great again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first thing you learn when you -- when you get your driver`s license or actually as you are growing up is if you want to go anywhere, you`re going to drive for an hour. Do we like it here? Sure. Will our children come back? Probably not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a very different reality. Just 300 miles to the east in Hillary Clinton`s America, a place like Arlington County, Virginia. Here, only 63 percent of the people are white and the median household income is more than $100,000. The robust economy of this urban suburb means an unemployment rate below 3 percent. Here, there is disdain for Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would never vote for Trump. I don`t support him at all. I think his comments are horrible. I think he`s a despicable person. I don`t understand how people are voting for him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing surprises me now about him. I think what surprises me is that people see him and could put is aside and still support him for other reasons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary is not perfect, but I don`t think she will destroy the country. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here, there are bustling streets and lots of places for people to spend lots of money. Here, people think America is still great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I grew up on the east coast and I think, you know, the east coast and most of the west coast, you`re sort of in a much different place than the rest of the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican I might consider voting for, but at this point, I think it`s more of an anti-Trump thing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think now given her competition is Donald Trump, I think you would have to have your head checked if you were going to vote for him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We kind of know the difference between a blowhard and a diplomat.
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WELKER: Fascinating discussion there. Well we are back in just a moment with what this deep division will mean at the ballot box in just three weeks. Stay with us.
WELKER: Time now for "The Lid." Before the break, we showed you a tale of two counties. In the longer term, the problem for republicans is that those pro-Trump counties are shrinking in size and influence, while the pro- Clinton ones are actually growing, becoming increasingly democratic and turning the red states blue.
The panel is back now. Perry Bacon, Celinda Lake, and Rick Tyler. Thanks, guys, for sticking around. Perry, let me start with you. What did you make of what we just saw how divided the country feels in some parts and what it means ultimately?
PERRY BACON, NBS SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I find the division to be very worrisome, it used to be were divided by let`s say policy in some ways, big government, small government. This is really between college non-educated whites and non-whites, you can pretty much tell everyone is gonna vote based on those characteristics. A little bit worrisome.
You can find a Trump supporter saying we are gonna find the people who are not voting for Trump. They can tell who they think they know who the non- Trump voters are based on look. And that`s not a good thing. I think these divides are becoming more based on class and race than before.
WELKER: Linda, weighing on that, why do you think that is?
CELINDA LAKE, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: America for two decades now has been becoming more polarized. And if you notice the voters in Ohio, they feel threatened by the changes. There was a real age difference if you notice between the counties, too. But I think what America is really looking for honestly is someone who will unite America. I don`t think that anybody thinks these divisions are good.
WELKER: Rick, on election day, if you take that clip that we just saw, I think we`re going to see a potentially close race or at at least we are going to see those divides play out, right?
RICK TYLER, FORMER CRUZ CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You`ll see it -- what`s happening is, it`s -- Americans don`t even need it. Liberals in service, they don`t eat at the same restaurants, they don`t watch the same movies, they don`t go on the same vacations, they don`t live in the same places, they don`t shop at the same stores, and they don`t listen to same media.
You can literally get up as a conservative every day and never listen to a liberal point of view. You can get up every morning as a liberal and never listen to a conservative point of view. And in a way, that`s sad. It used to be that we would listen to a much more narrow media and people then sort of argue it out. But now, you don`t have to listen to anybody that you don`t agree with.
And so they live in two totally different universes. So this is the way you see it. So when someone in Arlington County who makes an average of $100,000 a year don`t understand people in Appalachia, you know, you`ve got to say, wait a minute.
And by the way, part of our plan with Ted Cruz is we were going to win those voters, those white, uneducated voters. We were going to work very hard to get them. And we had them. We went all through the southeast.
WELKER: You were winning them over.
TYLER: We were winning them. But -- but Donald Trump ultimately had the message that I`m the real outsider, not hard to do when you`re a candidate, and they believed him over Ted Cruz, but we were going to do it in a plus way, so we would get Hispanics and African-Americans and Asian Americans and women in addition to them, as opposed to just them.
WELKER: I want to look at the broader state of the race right now, some of our recent polls, Secretary Clinton has opened up an 11-point lead nationally in our NBC News four-way race. If you look at the Monmouth poll, four-way race, Secretary Clinton leads 15 to 38 percent. Perry, it ain`t over until it`s over, we know that, as Yogi Berra would say, but this is a tough climb for Donald Trump at this point.
BACON: We`re in uncharted territory. It looks like -- first of all, the map is changing in some ways because Trump in the CNN poll is still ahead in Ohio. More likely for Hillary to win North Carolina than Ohio. That`s a big change from before. But also, Michelle Obama is going to Arizona on Thursday.
She`s like, in some ways, the best surrogate of the campaign, and the fact that she`s going to that state tells you Robby Mook, her campaign manager saying, we`re trying to expand the map, we`re gonna spin money down ballot. Essentially saying, we`re confident enough that we`re going to spend money on houses in a race.
This election, we could see some big changes. The house is probably going to stay republican, but not totally determined yet.
WELKER: Celinda, comment on that. Is it possible for Secretary Clinton to win a state like Arizona? They`re also eyeing Indiana, Missouri, Utah, Georgia. Do you think she can pick up some of these.
LAKE: Utah and Alaska.
WELKER: Some people are saying Utah is never going to happen.
LAKE: All those on the third party candidate. But, yes, it`s totally possible. And I think what`s good about this is that it`s going to be a broader mandate. Because going back to your original question, we don`t want America and America doesn`t want to be divided come January 27th. We want to be united. So a broader mandate to get moving again I think is very important for the next four years.
TYLER: In the positive or negative sense, I don`t think we`re going to get a mandate. Even if she was overwhelmingly by electoral votes, she`s not going to have. This is not a wave election of everybody`s for Hillary. It`s, you know, I have more people despise you as opposed to more people despise me. That`s not very healthy.
WELKER: Before we get to election day, we have the third and final debate coming up on Wednesday. Rick, I`ve been talking to some of my republican and democratic sources. It seems like Trump is preparing in the same way that he prepared before. Secretary Clinton is, as well. And she might try to sort of do more of what she did in that second debate to try to stay a little bit above the fray if she disagrees with Donald Trump, direct him to her website. Smart strategy or do you think she needs to be tough?
TYLER: I think it`s smart. I think what Donald Trump will do is give the same type of performance he did before. His base will absolutely love it. But it won`t raise the ceiling. He won`t get beyond the base. It seems to me, he`s going to use that debate to protect more of his reputation, like he has to like correct the record. And he`s going to end up doing the opposite.
WELKER: Celinda, what do you think she needs to do? Do you agree with Rick?
LAKE: I totally agree with you. And I think that what she needs to do is lay out her agenda. And voters are sick of hearing about this. Sick of hearing about tapes and e-mails. They want to hear what your vision is. What about hearing my family for a change instead of your family.
WELKER: I thinks it`s a great point. That`s what voters are telling me.
BACON: She should talk as little as possible. This is an election about Donald Trump. Let him talk, let him make controversial remarks.
WELKER: And I will leave you with the final word. All right, Perry, Celinda, and Rick, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it, guys. Great conversation. After the break, in case you missed it, a new development on what might be the first fight for the next president. Stay tuned.
WELKER: In case you missed it, and with the presidential campaign dominating the airways, you may have, there`s still only eight justices on the supreme court. That`s one fewer than we need. Arizona senator John McCain talked about the fight over the vacancy today.
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JOHN MCCAIN, SENATOR FROM ARIZONA: I promise you that we will -- we will be united against any supreme court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up. I promise you. This is -- this is -- this is where we need the majority.
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WELKER: That comment raising some eyebrows. Until now, the republican party line and the reason for the delay in filling the seat has been that the next president should get to fill the vacancy.
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MITCH MCCONNELL, U.S. SENIOR SENATOR FROM KENTUCKY: Let`s give them a voice. Let`s let the American people decide. If senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee, the next president nominates whoever that might be.
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WELKER: That`s, of course, Mitch McConnell, as republicans were making that gamble, hoping that the the next president would be a republican. But now republicans are facing the possibility of Hillary Clinton appointing the next supreme court justice. McCain`s spokesperson softened those comments, saying that the senator will, quote, thoroughly examine the record of any supreme court nominee put before the senate.
But, it raises the question, would senate republicans filibuster Clinton`s supreme court nominee, no matter what? And would senate democrats use the nuclear option on her pick? Well, I think we know one thing that the hill will be fighting about, after inauguration. That is all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." "With All Due Respect" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END