Show: MTP DAILY Date: October 18, 2016 Guest: Bob Ehrlich, Al Cardenas, Chris Cillizza, Ruth Marcus, Robert Traynham, Hampton Pearson, Ben Ray Lujan
PETER ALEXANDER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Peter Alexander in Washington, just back from Green Bay, the last Trump rally. Chuck Todd has this evening off. Welcome to MTP DAILY.
On the eve of the final presidential debate, it is Donald Trump versus President Obama, Donald Trump versus Republicans, and frankly Trump versus new evidence from his accusers. The Republican nominee is facing intense criticism from both his critics and opponents after tripling down on unproven claims that wide scale voter fraud is rigging this election against him.
A message that has some of his supporters saying they`re ready for protests, even civil unrest if he loses. And PEOPLE magazine has just published a story revealing six people who they say can corroborate writer, Natasha Stoynoff`s claims of being attacked by Trump in 2005.
NBC News has not confirmed the allegation. Trump, of course, denies that it ever happened. And Melania Trump disputes that story as well. So, with all of that swirling around the Trump campaign, we are keeping an eye on the scene in Grand Junction, Colorado where Trump will be speaking to supporters, his second of two stops in that state. That should happen any time now.
This afternoon, President Obama criticizing Trump`s attempt to discredit the democratic election process as "unprecedented". He slammed it as destabilizing the foundation of American democracy. Here`s what President Obama said this afternoon at a joint press conference at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If whenever things are going badly for you and you lose, you start blaming somebody else, then you don`t have what it takes to be in this job. I`d advise Mr. Trump to stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.
One way of weakening America and making it less great is if you start betraying those basic American traditions that have been bipartisan and have helped to hold together this democracy now for well over two centuries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: Just a few hours later, Trump continued his rigged election talk at a rally in Colorado Springs that wrapped up just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We won`t let them stop maybe the greatest movement in the history of our country. But they even want to try and rig the election at the polling booths where so many cities are corrupt and you see that and voter fraud is all too common. And then they criticize us for saying that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: Trump`s claims of large scale vote rigging have been widely panned even by fellow Republicans. Last night, we heard from Trump`s top adviser, Governor Chris Christie, and two Republican senators facing re- election, Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, NEW JERSEY: I`m convinced that the election will be a fair one and that the process will be one that will be accepted by the American people.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, FLORIDA: This election is not being rigged. I hope he stops saying that. We have 67 counties in the state, each of which conduct their own elections. I promise you there`s not a 67 county conspiracy to rig this election.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY, PENNSYLVANIA: Our elections may not always be completely perfect but they are legitimate. They have integrity. And everyone needs to respect the outcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: And just a quick fact check here. Numerous experts and academics from both sides of the aisle have called Trump`s claims unfounded. One study found that you`re more likely to get struck by lightning than that someone impersonates another voter at the polls.
I`m joined now by Trump supporter and Former Maryland Governor, Bob Ehrlich, along with the Former Chairman of the American Conservative Union, Al Cardenas, who was the Chair of the Florida GOP during the 2000 recount. He is not supporting either Trump or Clinton in this race. Gentlemen, nice to see you.
BOB EHRLICH, FORMER MARYLAND GOVERNOR: Good to see you again.
AL CARDENAS, FORMER FLORIDA GOP CHAIRMAN: Good to see you go.
ALEXANDER: A little happy time. Glad that we can have a moment of Republican unity as it were, right.
EHRLICH: It is nice.
ALEXANDER: The party could use moments like this. So, Bob, if I can start with you, Governor, quickly. So, right now, it`s Donald Trump against the world in effect against some other Republicans against --
EHRLICH: Just the way he wants it.
ALEXANDER: Just the way he wants it?
EHRLICH: Did you notice his terminology, not party, not campaign, movement. He --
ALEXANDER: So is the movement strong enough to be a winning movement or is it just good to --
EHRLICH: We`re going to find that out in three weeks.
ALEXANDER: So let me ask you, Al. Right now, we`re already looking at the numbers. He`s trailing nationally by double-digits according to most polls, maybe five or six in some of the most generous polls. So is the movement satisfactory for the Republican Party that believes there`s a lot at stake here?
CARDENAS: Well, he`s got to do two things to win on Election Day. He`s got to have a three or four point turnout advantage, see if his people are as passionate as he thinks they are. And number two, he`s got to narrow the gap if you look at the real clear politics average by two or three points. He`s got three weeks to do these things. He`s got three weeks to do it.
ALEXANDER: I think we agree he`s got a long way to go in a race that`s basically static from where the ratings were, effectively the poll numbers were for these guys all the way back in January.
EHRLICH: Well, actually I would disagree with that in both ways. He was closing pretty well until the tape, until the video.
ALEXANDER: Suffice to say. But in January, the 51%/41% race was able to do. It`s 51%/41% in our newest poll right now. So for everything we witnessed, we`re basically right back where we started, acknowledging that the tape had an impact in recent days. Let me ask you about his recent claims. I guess this idea of large scale vote rigging. Do you condone that given the fact that so many people and so many polls suggest it doesn`t exist?
EHRLICH: When you say that, you better be able to prove it. I`ve been through in 1994 Maryland, where we had some very serious allegations and still a lot of people believe that election didn`t turn out --
ALEXANDER: But multiple independents say tell me one incidence out of a billion. We agree to that, don`t we?
EHRLICH: Yeah. I agree. I interpreted the rigging to be the press, the establishment, everybody that he is running against, quite frankly.
ALEXANDER: But he tweeted again. He says it`s happening at polling places. And then he tweeted it is large scale voter fraud.
EHRLICH: Here`s the deal. If you say that, you better be able to prove it. If you can`t prove it, you`re going to look real bad.
ALEXANDER: So let me ask you. So the President agrees, I think, with Governor Ehrlich on that topic. Here`s what President Obama said on this issue today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We recognize that there`s something more important than any individual campaign and that is making sure that the integrity and trust in our institutions sustains itself because democracy, by definition, works by consent, not by force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EHRLICH: This from a guy who doesn`t want a photo ID at the polls though.
ALEXANDER: So let me ask you because this is about Donald Trump right now, though, because he is tweeting. So has Donald Trump crossed the line here on this issue? Even Jon Husted, the Secretary of State, a Republican, in Ohio says it`s irresponsible because the facts don`t back it up.
CARDENAS: Yeah. I agree. Listen, he had a winning issue, campaign shenanigans in the Democrat primary. He could have talked about media bias. But he crossed the line. He crossed the line. 30 Republican Governors in this country will tell you that they`re going to run for elections on Election Day. The Democrats will say the same.
EHRLICH: We should be talking about immunity deals for Hillary`s staff. We should be talking that.
CARDENAS: Here`s my concern, all right. Number one, President Obama shouldn`t have talked in a press conference with the Prime Minister of Italy about election fraud.
ALEXANDER: But he was asked about it.
CARDENAS: I know it, but he should have punted. And number two -- and he`s got a right to talk about it, just not at that instance. Number two --
ALEXANDER: For what it`s worth, Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister also had a criticism of Donald Trump, though, not by name.
CARDENAS: I know. I know. But my point is, look, one thing that make us prouder than anything else is the fact that we have a pure democracy. We have a peaceful transfer of power on Election Day. We have an election that the whole world thinks is transparent, it`s fair, and it`s honest. And we don`t want to tarnish that.
ALEXANDER: Are you satisfied from what we`ve heard or not heard from the Reince Priebus`s and the Paul Ryan`s of the world? Paul Ryan put out a statement through his press office basically. He hasn`t said a thing about this.
CARDENAS: Listen, all I`ve got to tell you is first thing that comes to my mind is my country. I want my country to have a reputation around the world that`s --
ALEXANDER: So is this good for the country?
CARDENAS: And so this was not good for the country.
EHRLICH: It`s what makes us exceptional, what you described, all right, and there`s exceptionalism, so --
ALEXANDER: Speaking of that exceptionalism, a lot of people that take exception to the way they think that this election is going right now. Take a listen to what some people told my colleague, Jacob Rascon, today in Colorado Springs in case Donald Trump loses in just three weeks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB RASCON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: On November 8, what if he loses?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: America is not going to sit down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe there will be a civil unrest and I believe there should be. I don`t think that Hillary will win fair and square if they say she wins.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m going to question it. I`m going to think there`s something weird going on. Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I will guarantee that there will probably be a hell of a lot of protest.
RASCON: If Hillary Clinton wins, will you accept the outcome?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hell no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hell no. I will never qualify her as my President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: Bob, what do you tell those supporters? Should they protest the result if we continue on the path that the polls show right now?
EHRLICH: Two things, no. But what you see also is a function of WikiLeaks and quid pro quos and Hillary`s history here of the -- which --
ALEXANDER: All of which dictates what decision people will make at the polling place.
EHRLICH: Which lends itself though to paranoia and you`re seeing a little of that right in there.
ALEXANDER: So my question is though when it`s done, if Donald Trump does lose his polls presently, say, Colorado, the latest poll from Quinnipiac, I think, has him down eight points where those voters are right now. Do you say that they should go out and protest? Should there be civil unrest? What should the message be to those individuals?
CARDENAS: Do you have an acceptable message?
EHRLICH: Yeah, what he just described. It`s a peaceful transfer of power. It is what makes us very unique and exceptional.
CARDENAS: I think, Governor, others who are supporting Donald Trump will agree on election night to say the right thing. And that is whoever wins won. And that`s what Americans should always accept.
ALEXANDER: I was asking you about Paul Ryan a second ago. Here is what Donald Trump -- and I was in Green Bay, Wisconsin yesterday. Before Trump walked out, the crowd started chanting Paul Ryan sucks. I think we can say that. Hopefully kids aren`t watching right now. So here is some of what Donald Trump said about Paul Ryan. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you think he wants you to win?
TRUMP: Well, maybe not, because maybe he wants to run in four years or maybe he doesn`t know how to win. Maybe he just doesn`t know how to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: Bob, is that a winning strategy?
EHRLICH: Well, we`re going to find out in three weeks. But, again, nobody should be surprised.
ALEXANDER: If you`re advising -- I mean you`re a supporter, you`re advising in effect here.
EHRLICH: I have been wrong every step. OK. I have been wrong everything I`ve said from last six months, as have you, as have many members of the Washington establishment. So this is outside the play book, outside the rule book kind of campaign.
ALEXANDER: Do you think the polls are wrong right now?
EHRLICH: No. I think generally, clearly the video hurt. Clearly he was closing and tied in many polls prior to the video. That has clearly been a clear line in this election. But, again, what you see there is the anti- establishment Trump.
CARDENAS: Let`s say he is playing one card and that card is a populous movement that`s going to passionately show up and populous need to be against everything. They need to be against Washington. They need to be against establishment.
ALEXANDER: And he is.
CARDENAS: And he is personifying it. Now, to me, that`s a shrinking base and that`s no win strategy, but he believes that`s a winning card.
EHRLICH: And I guess his response would be, well, it won the primary. The problem is you have different strategies with regard to general and primary.
ALEXANDER: In a sentence, the strategy that he should take on in the debate tomorrow night is what?
EHRLICH: Issues --
CARDENAS: Yeah. I would agree with that.
EHRLICH: So selectively charter schools, $20 trillion in debt, tax reform, jobs, what has given rise to the angst in working class America? Hit it hard on the issues.
ALEXANDER: Governor Bob Ehrlich, Al Cardenas, nice to see you.
CARDENAS: Good to be with you.
ALEXANDER: A little GOP unity. As we said we like to see that today. Keep it right here for more MSNBC full coverage of the third and final presidential debate. It is tonight. We will have some of it with some special editions of "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews and "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes, live from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Then, of course, tomorrow, the day of the debate. We`ll have all day coverage from UNLV, home to those Running Rebels, leading up to the debate at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Supporters in Grand Junction, Colorado are still waiting for Trump to land his plane and take the stage. Does Trump have an opportunity to move the needle just three weeks to go? We have some new numbers that could help answer that question. You`re watching MTP DAILY.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: I stand by everything I ever said in the Republican primary. And I would admit right off the bat this is not the most inspirational choice we`ve ever had in American history in terms of these two candidates. There`s no doubt that there`s a lot of things I disagree with and the nominee of my party.
And I`ve taken him on when he says things that are wrong on policy. And I condemn them when he said things that are aggressive, outrageous, vulgar and inappropriate. And I will continue to do so. The problem is the other party has nominated someone who has repeatedly violated federal law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: A few days ago here, we introduced you to the word condemndorse, the seemingly circus level contortions that some Republicans are doing to distance themselves from Trump but not lose his supporters. That, of course, was on full display again yesterday.
Several senate debates where the Republican presidential nominee was front and center. You just heard Florida`s Marco Rubio. In Ohio, challenger, Ted Strickland, the Democrat, hit the Republican Senator, Rob Portman, for his past Trump support.
Portman argued Strickland hasn`t stood up to Clinton. Portman also broke with Trump and many Republicans last night by endorsing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigration. Finally, more condemndorsements in Pennsylvania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE MCGINTY, SENATOR NOMINEE: Dangers and reckless allegation and suggestion that Donald Trump has been making. People want their voices heard. They will show up respectfully of the process. But I do think this is another one of those reasons why it is important for Senator Toomey to say Donald Trump is unfit to be President of the United States.
TOOMEY: The fact is our elections are a fundamental aspect of our democratic process, one of the most important defining features. And they work. They have worked for a very long time and we all need to respect the outcomes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: That was Senator Toomey. He hasn`t said if he will vote for Trump. He says he will probably announce whom he is voting for before Election Day. Coming up, the incredibly stable presidential election, believe it or not. That`s next.
ALEXANDER: So if you spent the last 10 months on, say, bars, believe it or not, you probably didn`t miss all that much. Despite the roller-coaster we`ve all been on since January of this year, the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is at the exact same spot. Take a look at this. It`s kind of stunning.
In a head-to-head matchup today, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows this. Clinton is up 10 points, 51% to Trump`s 41%. So just for a moment, check where we were in January. Our poll then had them at the exact same numbers, 51%/41%.
That might have something to do with the fact that both of these candidates have been household names for decades. And that, of course, is reflected in their favorability ratings. Today, only 29% of voters have a positive view of Donald Trump. In January this year, the same amount.
In fact, the only number that`s moved is his negative rating. Well, it`s down by here -- up by 4%. And the same is the case for Hillary Clinton. Her positive rating today, 40%. Look where it was in January. Her negative rating has gone up slightly, too. It`s up one point in 10 months.
She`s basically exactly where she was. The bottom-line is crazy as this all seems. And as much as you`ve been watching, the cake has pretty much been baked since January. Let`s get right to my panel: Chris Cillizza, Washington Post Political Reporter, Founder of The Fix blog and an MSNBC Contributor; Ruth Marcus, Columnist and Deputy Editorial Page Editor for The Washington Post. We`ve got a heavy Washington Post contingent today. Robert Traynham, Former Senior Adviser to President Bush and an MSNBC Contributor.
Chris, just to you out of the gates. This has to blow your mind for everything everybody has paid attention to. We`re right back where we started.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, THE WASHINGTON POST WRITER: You can say it, everything that I`ve written. That`s fine. It`s okay. So I like this potential crisis. It is cool.
ALEXANDER: No, no. You still care.
CILLIZZA: So I keep telling myself while you were showing those numbers. And then I read it in first read this morning and thought about it at that moment. It`s not the destination. It`s the journey. That`s what I`m focused on. But yeah. I think what you outlined is the right conclusion which is these are two people who are among the most recognizable people certainly in the country now and in the world.
These are people about whom opinions have been set for quite some time. We`re more likely to think of that with Hillary Clinton. But the truth of the matter is Donald Trump has been famous for a very long time. And most people have some opinion about him.
So, in some ways, it`s not surprising that the numbers haven`t moved because neither of them have fundamentally altered who they are for all the talk. And I`ve sat on this chair and talked about the pivot any number of times. Donald Trump is fundamentally who he was when he gotten to this race and who he was six months --
ALEXANDER: So, Ruth, is this thing baked? I mean is this locked into place now? Can anything change given what we`ve witnessed over this many months in the last three weeks?
RUTH MARCUS, THE WASHINGTON POST ?DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR/COLUMNIST: Well, I think, going forward -- and I`ve spent a lot of time baking cakes, could have stayed home and done it today -- that it is pretty much ready to come out of the oven. However, I think, one of the things that`s remarkable and that may explain these numbers is how much has happened in that interim period.
All of the outrageous and for anybody else catastrophic things that Donald Trump has said since January, all of the information that`s come out about Hillary Clinton, extremely careless, even though she`s not being prosecuted with the e-mails. So I think that kind of locks everybody in place because there`s been so much problematic stuff about each of them.
ALEXANDER: So let me ask you about that, Robert. So this new reporting from The Washington Post within the last hour or so about the details, behind the scenes, this conversation between an FBI official and a State Department official basically as it`s alleged there was quid pro quo.
Both agencies we should say, say that that`s not the case. Nonetheless, obviously, there was some business that a lot of people think was funny business going on behind the scenes, trying to clean up some classified details. This seems like it gets right to the heart of her biggest weakness and the WikiLeaks has been detailing a lot of these elements.
ROBERT TRAYNHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: And her biggest weakness being the trustworthy issue.
TRAYNHAM: Yeah. I totally agree with that. If I can finish the cake analogy here, what`s fascinating to me is that although tens of millions of dollars that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in particular have spent on trying to change their image and trying to on all the positive ads, but the cake still stays the same.
In other words, everyone knows exactly how this cake tastes. No one is buying the positive ads, if you will. To your question, Peter, look, I think, most people know that Hillary Clinton probably has some variation of the truth. Most people know that.
But in addition to that, most people are also saying that she`s much more qualified to be President. There`s a lot of scars there, but we realize that she`s much more qualified than Donald Trump. And that Trump`s everything else.
CILLIZZA: So I wonder about -- Robert was saying about none of the positive ads had any impact. I`m not convinced. There`s not an ad that I can point to like, oh, that negative ad has had a lot of influence.
TRAYNHAM: Against Hillary Clinton?
CILLIZZA: Against either.
CILLIZZA: It feels like normally as you point out, Peter, not an insignificant issue that`s coming up that`s still at the heart of it, but I have no faith that there`s anything that will come out that moves the number in any meaningful way. Because, to Ruth`s point, look at what we`ve seen. I mean it`s like a novel.
ALEXANDER: Looks like Donald Trump right now is I`ve got to fire up my people and believe this movement can just overwhelm, like a Brexit type vote. Brexit was even going into the polls. We`re at a 10 point gap right now. So there are differences. But finish your thought.
TRAYNHAM: But the reality is, is that difference with Brexit is that there were significant amounts of people that were going to go out to the polls and actually say yes, let`s exit Brexit. Donald Trump`s numbers, the math just simply doesn`t add up. But I can go back to your point, Chris, which I think is interesting is because didn`t you think that 3:00 a.m. ad that Hillary Clinton put out there that our children are watching with respect to kids watching. I thought that was an ad.
CILLIZZA: And I thought the ad with the widening position, to Ruth`s point of view because I thought the ad with women reading the things. But that`s the one that stands out the most in our mind.
MARCUS: The kids ad and the young women reading the things that he said, but I`m not sure that that reinforce some views. I`m not sure it moved any numbers.
CILLIZZA: That`s right. Did it change minds?
TRAYNHAM: You don`t have to motivate the Democratic base by saying gosh, darn it, all the reason why I need to get out.
MARCUS: No. I think the motivation for the democratic base and I think the unhappiness with some of the Republican voters and even Republican office holders has all come out of Trump`s own mouth and has been amplified not in paid media but in Trump`s earned media like --
ALEXANDER: The bottom-line is there seems to be a desiring change, right. Now there`s a lot of people who say hey, we`ve got to change this thing. This messenger is so flawed that it`s really struggle to --
CILLIZZA: We want change but we also want change within a job that we know is one of the most important jobs in the world. So you don`t want to ratification because I feel like remember when Denny Green -- I think it was Denny Green, Minnesota Vikings coach. He comes out and he says they are who we thought they are.
MARCUS: I feel like, in fact, we`re talking about cakes.
CILLIZZA: I`m going to feel like that`s this election. They kind of are who we thought they were.
ALEXANDER: Is the cake baked for the people? What do you do for the Toomeys, the Rubios?
MARCUS: Down-ballot you should be really worried about what`s going on inside the oven. And those guys as you said before the break are in this absolutely excruciating situation where some -- I`m not going to go with the cake thing. We`re going to leave that.
ALEXANDER: We better bring a cake in this conversation.
MARCUS: No. I`ve been getting a hard time in the makeup room about not bringing a cake. Also but look, they`re going to alienate people if they say one thing. They are going to alienate another set of people if they say another thing. You could fee; sorry for them except for the fact that what Trump is saying, particularly from my point of view what Trump is saying about the rigged election is so dangerous.
CILLIZZA: Pat Toomey, who you should there, Pat Toomey has to run. I don`t think Richard Burr is on a terribly good campaign in North Carolina. I don`t think that what Belinda is certainly particularly good campaign.
ALEXANDER: Well, that`s great. Rob Portman has been the best one.
CILLIZZA: Rob Portman is running an amazing campaign. In Pennsylvania, I think Pat Toomey has done quite a good job and could still lose for exactly what Ruth was talking about. You watch Republican turnout drop even a point or two, Donald Trump loses 54%/44%, something like that in Pennsylvania. Pat Toomey, you cannot over perform that level.
TRAYNHAM: Exactly. And if he could run the most perfect race and still lose.
CILLIZZA: Kelly Ayotte, it`s the same exact thing in New Hampshire. She is running a pretty good race in the ground game but the reality is that she could lose because of the top five.
ALEXANDER: Huge name recognition.
CILLIZZA: Really in a close race, it can really kill you.
ALEXANDER: Yeah. Chris, our bacon lady, Ruth Marcus, Robert Traynham, you`re going to hold it too at this point.
MARCUS: Still going to turn it off?
ALEXANDER: Still the calm Democrats are feeling good about the President election and are hopeful about taking this senate. But what about the house? I`m going to talk to the man whose job it is to win the house for team blue as soon as we come back.
ALEXANDER: More MTP DAILY is just ahead. First, Hampton Pearson with today`s CNBC Market Wrap.
HAMPTON PEARSON, CNBC REPORTER: Thanks, Peter. Stronger than expected earnings reports gave stocks a Wall Street boost. The Dow finished 75.5 points up, the S&P up 13, the Nasdaq ending 44 points higher. Stock in the nation`s largest health insurer rose. United Health Care third quarter profit growing 23 percent to $2 billion.
One in five Americans will get another historically low increase in their monthly social security checks next year. The cost of living adjustment announced today is just three-tenths percent or $4 more a month for the average recipient. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
ALEXANDER: Back live on MTP DAILY with Clinton`s campaign feeling more confident about winning the White House. She`s turning more attention to down-ballot races. At our latest NBC News, "Wall Street Journal" poll 46 percent of registered voters want democrats controlling congress, just two points more to the 44 percent who prefer republican control.
And 53 percent of registered voters say they were likely to vote a republican in the congress who would check Clinton`s agenda should she become president, just 40 percent wanted a democrat to help her agenda. To combat that kind of ticket splitting, NBC`s Alex Seitz-Wald says that Clinton will begin doing what many down-ballot democrats frankly have been doing for months, trying to get republicans on the ballot attached to Donald Trump.
Congressman Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman. Congressman, nice to see you. Thanks for being with us from Vegas right now. Hillary Clinton as we have been reporting spent time trying to woo disaffected republican voters to vote for her by clearly saying that Donald Trump doesn`t represent their party.
It essentially encouraged what some people view it like split ticket voting. Now, there is concerted effort to try to tie Donald Trump to republicans down ballot. But people are wondering, is the shift too late to make the difference for those down ballot democrats?
REP. BEN RAY LUJAN (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, Peter, it`s great to be with you as well. And quite honestly, it is too little too late for those republicans that are trying to walk away from Donald Trump, especially after the revelation of the Hollywood or Access Hollywood videos. We are seeing more and more republicans trying to walk away.
But as we asked voters across the country what their thoughts are of this, clearly voters are telling us that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, that they see republicans trying to walk away from Donald Trump simply as a political calculation and it is not working.
ALEXANDER: The republicans have the largest majority in the house in, you know, nearly nine decades. Would this effort by democrats to retake the house exist without Donald Trump at the top of the ticket? Were they adequately prepared for all of these competitive races?
LUJAN: Well, Peter, as you remember from the very beginning, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was working to make sure the American people were aware of all the vitriol, bigotry, and races we received from Donald Trump, and reminding them that much of the birther conspiracies and many of the other hateful statements.
ALEXANDER: But without Donald Trump would the message resonate?
LUJAN: Yeah, but, Peter, that`s what I`m saying, much of the birther conspiracy and all of the ugly statements that Donald Trump was saying actually were being said by house republicans over the last six years, and so we have reminded the American people where these house republicans have been.
And look, we knew as democrats we were going to pick up seats this cycle. But with Donald Trump, we`re more optimistic, and especially with the Access Hollywood tapes that we as democrats will pick up more seats than originally anticipated.
ALEXANDER: President Obama and Eric Holder are gonna work together on redistricting reform group, but it`s not going to be active until at least the 2018 midterms when voter turnout as you and I both know is lower and republicans typically have the edge. How are you fighting the hurdles of gerrymandering in this race?
LUJAN: Well, from the very beginning we knew that we had to have a new battlefield that was out there, and so we continue to understand the negative impacts of Donald Trump across this map, and where we could go after districts, namely suburban areas and districts where we saw getting more democrat over time, and that were emerging districts when it came to communities of color, women and millennials.
And that`s why there`s ten new seats on the map this year that we as democrats are going after compared to districts in the past or battlegrounds in the past. That`s what leading to such an optimistic view and sentiment that I have, especially picking up seats this cycle.
ALEXANDER: Let me pull up if I can for you this flier. The Huffington Post obtained it from Congressman Darrell Issa of Southern California. On it, he writes, quote, I`m very pleased that President Obama has signed into law the Survivors` Bill of Rights legislation, I co-sponsored to protect the victims of sexual assault.
So Issa is aligning himself with the president and sexual assault survivors, considering the allegations that Trump is facing, this couldn`t be sort of a bigger departure for the nominee. I just want your reaction to that.
LUJAN: Well, Darrell Issa is still supporting Donald Trump and voting for Donald Trump, and that`s why the people in the 49th congressional district of California are -- are so concerned with where Darrell Issa is and not pushing back on Donald Trump.
And that`s why Colonel Doug Applegate is going to be elected to the United States House of Representatives. Poll after poll not only has showed Colonel Applegate closing in California 49th, but now shows him ahead of Darrell Issa out in California.
ALEXANDER: Congressman Lujan, we appreciate your time. To the audience watching right now, we are looking at live pictures, Donald Trump has just landed in Grand Junction, Colorado. It is his second stop of the day in the state. He`s expected to take the stage there shortly.
Also this hour, Bernie Sanders is in Flagstaff, Arizona, rallying Clinton supporters, the Clinton campaign trying to widen the map to places like Arizona. We`re going to monitor both events and bring you any news from there. Ahead in "The Lid" tonight, we are placing our bets for tomorrow`s Vegas debate. We roll the dice next.
ALEXANDER: "Meet the Press" upcoming 70th anniversary as a radio show. Chuck Todd has launched a new podcast, 1947 the "Meet the Press" podcast will feature notable guests discussing politics, sports, pop culture. Maureen Dowd, Dean Baquet of "The New York Times," "New York Magazine" Andrew Sullivan, and astronaut Kate Rubins all among the guests already featured.
The new interviews will be published every Wednesday. You can download and subscribe at iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. We are going to be right back with "The Lid" right after this. Stay tuned.
ALEXANDER: Back live. You can see Donald Trump greeting his supporters in Grand Junction, Colorado, his second of two stops in Colorado. A state where the latest polls show him trailing Hillary Clinton by eight points. His last stop before he heads further west to Vegas, the strip, fight night tomorrow evening. We, of course, will be there.
Just over 24 hours from now until the two face off on the debate stage taking place in Nevada. The silver state is not just the battleground for the final debate but also battleground state for the White House. Check out this new Monmouth poll though released this afternoon. Clinton right now up seven points on Trump. You can see on the right side of your screen.
She was down two points in the previous Monmouth poll. That was taken only a month ago of course before the hot mike moment from Access Hollywood and some other moments with the pace of this campaign. It`s hard to keep track of all the moments that have happened in that time.
The panel is back. Chris Cillizza, Ruth Marcus, and Robert Traynham all joining us here. If I can, Robert, that number in Nevada right now, there had to be some states Donald Trump was going to flip. For awhile looked like Nevada may be one of them, New Hampshire or something like this. Nevada is getting further and further away from him not to mention Colorado of course.
TRAYNHAM: And of course Arizona. I mean, Arizona hasn`t gone.
ALEXANDER: Michelle Obama is gonna be.
TRAYNHAM: Michelle Obama is there. Chelsea Clinton is there. I actually talked to a good friend of mine, he`s running for congress whose a democrat in Arizona. He said, I`ve never seen anything like this before, where one is spending $700,000 against my opponent, meaning the republicans.
But in addition to that, Hillary Clinton is maybe making some news there. My understanding is Secretary Clinton may be there next week, but Michelle Obama, Chelsea Clinton are in Arizona. That`s unbelievable.
ALEXANDER: I like that.
TRAYNHAM: Well, I mean, think about this. Three weeks away from the election and it appears that Hillary Clinton could -- could -- could just sweep the whole map. Georgia, Arizona.
ALEXANDER: It`s in 1996, I think, the only time in my memory.
CILLIZZA: Yeah, that was a three-way race. The number was a little bit lower. I mean, you`re talking about historic reorganization of a map that sort of Obama sort of messed with in 2008 when in fact almost normal in 2012. Arizona, look, Utah. Utah is gonna be a swing state.
ALEXANDER: Connections to a state where he has been campaigning a ton, of course, right? The former republican now independent. State like Texas, do the democrats pour resources into Texas? It is striking. It is a state that`s population is changing dramatically. And recent polls show even three points up.
MARCUS: Democrats should pour resources in Texas maybe in 2020 or 2024, you know.
ALEXANDER: Premature right now.
MARCUS: Little premature right now. But those numbers in Nevada really do matter and they matter for the reasons that we are talking about before which have to do with the senate race there and what happens to down- ballot. That`s I think where the whole game is right now.
ALEXANDER: What are we not paying attention to right now. It`s easy to say, I will look at the numbers, this thing is over. As we said earlier, the cake is baked. I`m gonna be baking a cake with my own daughters tonight, don`t worry, I`m a baker as well, right?
MARCUS: For anybody out there who thought you were being sexist in any way, I raised the question of cake baking. On me. Yeah.
ALEXANDER: Twitter is mostly a friendly place in the campaign season. What are we missing? Millennials right now, 60 percent of them say, they support Hillary Clinton. Do they show up in force?
CILLIZZA: The only thing I can think of and this is the dumbest -- the most broad analysis I can think of is, who turns out, right? I mean, the Clinton campaign manager predicts larger turnout than 2012. that`s over 125 million. What do those people look like?
Do I think that there is some, hidden is probably the wrong word, but people who are a little nervous about saying they`re for Donald Trump and will vote for him, yes. Is he behind by too much in too many states for that to matter? Also currently yes. That`s I think is the issue.
I do think he will over-perform the polling we see a little bit. But there`s not seven points of hidden vote in Florida or Colorado or Virginia. Seven points in Virginia wouldn`t even win it.
ALEXANDER: I recognize we get sort of enamoured by these national polls, places like Texas, a lot closer than they used to be, makes that number so much wider, right? So.
MARCUS: The thing I would add to that is the known, unknown here, what else that comes out in these WikiLeaks documents. Either true or false.
ALEXANDER: Donald Trump is smart just to say, just ignore all these other stuff and say, let`s just go back to the fundamental issue about this woman. Take a look at this e-mail -- take a look at this e-mail, and walk the voters through this tomorrow night.
MARCUS: But he can`t stop himself from counter-punching. And I couldn`t stop myself from interrupting you. I`m sorry.
CILLIZZA: No, not at all. Ruth is exactly right. Republican said something this morning, look, you want to know what Donald Trump will say in debate, e-mails, foundation, WikiLeaks. E-mails, foundation, WikiLeaks. Like this big block. Because the more the spotlight shines on her, the less well she does. The problem is Donald Trump has proven to Ruth`s point, uniquely incapable of letting the spotlight off of him.
TRAYNHAM: Peter, to your question, I think we are not paying attention to the potential 50/50 setup, if that`s the case, then obviously they take control of the senate because Vice President Tim Kaine would be a tie- breaker. I think that`s a really, really strong possibility.
CILLIZZA: Can I throw one thing on top of that? Let`s say it`s that and democrats control it. Terry McAuliffe could have appoint Tim Kaine`s successor in Virginia, right? But that would only be a temporary one until 2018. It would be a very interesting dynamic because Virginia in the midterm with Hillary Clinton as president might be a different dynamic than Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton in the presidential here.
MARCUS: Either way, the 2018 senate campaign, assume for the moment that the democrats have a reasonable shot at taking the senate, begins the day after the election day. ALEXANDER: I think it is probably the influence of some people behind the scenes, maybe the Reince Priebus of the world. Donald Trump isn`t going to Virginia, right? He is going to places where there are close senate races. Wisconsin not his state but he`s really in it, but Ron Johnson certainly is. New Hampshire, right? He`s going to Florida, going Ohio where Portman is looking good. Some play behind the scenes at least in trying to protect that senate?
CILLIZZA: Traditionally that`s true, especially these last 21 days. Every place that get the most valuable asset is a candidate`s time.
CILLIZZA: I don`t know if it is true. I don`t know if he is just picking where he wants to go or.
TRAYNHAM: But if I`m an incumbent senator.
TRAYNHAM: . with the election stuff, I`m not sure I want him by my side in Pennsylvania or some other places.
CILLIZZA: Pat Toomey does not want Donald Trump anywhere near him. ALEXANDER: Pat Toomey and Ron Johnson handling this.
TRAYNHAM: They are praying to God that there is gonna be a significant ticket splitting going on particularly in the middle part of the state. Got to remember, Pennsylvania has one million registered more democrats than republicans. So, it was already mathematically almost impossible for Toomey to win re-election but statewide republicans have done so in the past.
Rick Santorum in 2000, you`re going down the list. The question really becomes is whether or not he holds the middle part of the state in the tea area and whether or not Philadelphia and Pittsburgh pretty much vote for Clinton but also vote for Toomey. ALEXANDER: Let`s talk about tomorrow in Vegas if we can for a second, sort of tee that up. Ruth, your idea what Hillary Clinton needs to do well. Obviously, last time we witnessed it more disengaged Hillary Clinton as it were and that she wasn`t going to try to confront Donald Trump on a lot of these attacks, a lot of them the same way that Mike Pence let things lie. Hillary Clinton let things lie. What do you think she can do that either helps herself or protects herself tomorrow evening?
MARCUS: Well, I think that actually worked pretty well for her last time around. I think we are gonna see a more aggressive, more in your face Hillary Clinton vis-a-vis Donald Trump tomorrow. I`m not sure she needs to do that. I think it`s a little bit risky.
ALEXANDER: She`s bringing the mother of a Benghazi victim tomorrow night.
MARCUS: He is, yes.
ALEXANDER: Excuse me, of course, he is. Which is notable, right? Because that is the Benghazi issue, unlike the accusers that are focusing on Bill Clinton, this focuses on her one of the most memorable and damaging moments in her experience in the administration.
CILLIZZA: I think that -- if I was advising her, I would tell her to take very few risks. Don`t engage him hugely. Because think about it, if the election goes on its current course, barring a triple bank shot followed by another triple bank shot, she will win just based on the numbers.
Take no risk. It is all to his benefit once you get outside of the norms of what debates are to be expected. To her credit, her best asset as a debater is she`s very steady. She`s rarely an A-plus, she`s almost never a C-minus.
ALEXANDER: The smartest thing by the commission of the presidential debates may have been to have this one hosted by Mike -- excuse me, by Chris Wallace at Fox News, right, because Donald trump can`t say no to a Fox News debate if he had any consideration.
TRAYNHAM: Secretary Clinton is a trained attorney and her closing argument I think tonight is gonna pivot to Russia, and I think she`s really going to and you know he`s very sensitive about this. So I think she`s really going to really ping him on his foreign policy experience or lack thereof.
ALEXANDER: The WikiLeaks showed however that she said, I wish we could have a better relationship with Vladimir Putin.
TRAYNHAM: That`s true but I think naturally he`s gonna get defensive, he`s gonna be on the defense all throughout the 90 minutes.
CILLIZZA: He has shown an incapacity to stay on message even when he has good messages. Term limits, past versus future, he struggles.
ALEXANDER: He`s got 90 more minutes to try. Last thought?
MARCUS: He doesn`t have two minutes of substance to add to an answer so that`s why he gets all over the lot.
ALEXANDER: Ruth Marcus, Chris Cillizza, Robert Traynham, nice to see you guys, thank you very much. Out to Las Vegas right now, NBC`s Kasie Hunt is already there laying the groundwork ahead of tomorrow night`s debate. Kasie, what are you hearing? You`ve been talking to folks on both sides. What are they telling you tonight?
KASIE HUNT, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT FOR NBC NEWS AND MSNBC: Hey, Peter, I was listening to the conversation you were just having with the panel and I think if you`re the Clinton campaign right now there`s a couple calculations for some of this down-ballot expansion, the map you`re seeing, go beyond just, oh, we could add to our electoral college vote total in Arizona.
Part of it is taking care of the party. The Clintons have always been known for looking out for other people around them, that`s how they have generated so much loyalty over the years, also you know, they`re known for when you`re not loyal back to them, making sure they don`t forget about that. I think that`s a big part of it. I think there`s more pressure on them to talk about these down-ballot races, and I also think that there`s kind of a long-term goal here.
Democrats are looking at Georgia as a place that, yes, in 2020, yes in 2024 is going to look like North Carolina, going to look like Virginia. It`s a state that is really on the future map for the democratic party and when you look, you`re talking also about Trump`s travel, he`s going to Wisconsin, he`s going to Ohio, he`s going to New Hampshire. That is really, you know, Wisconsin is the reach state on their map, right, if you`re looking at trying to appeal particularly to white working class men.
He needs to move Wisconsin, he needs to move Michigan, he needs to not waste his time in Virginia. I think Colorado is another interesting place he`s been spending some time there, of course, and of course here in Nevada. The fact that the polls have moved so significantly in Nevada in last week, I think, is very important because this has always been a place where that white working class vote has been larger than in other places so if democrats were worried about one state in this area of the country, it was here in Nevada.
Those worries are getting a little bit less intense. I think overall, you know, this kind of paints a picture about governing and, you know, the next race for the democratic party as much as it says about this very unique place in time in 2016.
ALEXANDER: Kasie, thank you very much, as we talk about the idea of governing, can you imagine if this campaign had been actually about governing and not all the other garbage and other G word that has been focused on. After the break, a palate cleanser. You`re watching MTP DAILY.
ALEXANDER: Finally, just in case you didn`t check the mail or you missed your invitation, tonight is the 14th and final state dinner hosted by the Obamas in the White House. Of course, it was the Obama`s first state dinner when one couple decided an invitation wasn`t really necessary. We remember how that ended.
Tonight`s party is being held for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife and the Obamas are going out with a bang. In fact, President Obama told reporters they saved the best for last. Celebrity chef host Mario Batali is in the kitchen. He`s using veggies from Michelle Obama`s final harvest from her White House garden. He is preparing dishes that she hand- picked at a private tasting in New York while the Obamas were visiting during last month`s U.N. general assembly.
So here are some of the arrivals right now, if they`re not in a food coma after four courses of steak and sweet potato pasta. Gwen Stefani is performing after dinner. There would be some arrivals at least to the red carpet. That`s all for tonight. Chuck will be back tomorrow with special MTP DAILY.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END