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MTP Daily, Transcript 10/19/2016

Guests: Robby Mook, Jason Miller, Hugh Hewitt, Molly Ball

Show: MTP DAILY Date: October 19, 2016 Guest: Robby Mook, Jason Miller, Hugh Hewitt, Molly Ball

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to MTP DAILY. I`m Chuck Todd, coming to you live from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, UNLV, home of the Runnin` Rebs, give me a (INAUDIBLE).

We`re four hours away from the presidential debate. And the Trump campaign is teasing more surprises to come. One thing is for sure. This race is not where it was before debate season began. Remember, all the way back in late September, before the first debate on the September 26 -- feels like a lifetime ago, doesn`t it? But it was really just three weeks ago.

The race was tightening. Trump was on the verge of being normalized by the rest of the Republican Party. The headlines we told you at this time that night were this. Trump, Clinton deadlocked in Bloomberg poll before key debate; Clinton, Trump in virtual dead heat on eve of first debate; Trump, Clinton deadlocked in Colorado, Pennsylvania. Well, and, before that first face-off, high profile Republicans and the Trump campaign were saying, just you wait.


REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Clearly, no matter what poll you look at, Trump is moving in the right direction. But he`s also been very disciplined with his message. I think he`s been doing very well across the country.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I would not underestimate Donald Trump in these debates. I think you saw that in the Commander-in-Chief Forum last week where all the polls, including your own NBC polls, said that he won that debate. She has a lot of explaining to do.

HUGH HEWITT, SALEM RADIO NETWORK HOST: He`s going to confound all expectations again as he did throughout the primary season.


TODD: But the first two debates did not go Trump`s way. And it`s clear that Clinton has benefited more from the debates so far than Trump has. Just look at the polling. Our most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal found 31% of voters saying the last two presidential debates made them more likely to vote for Clinton compared to just 14% who said the debates made them more likely to vote for Trump.

52% said the debates have so far made no difference. The negative impact for Trump has been in part because of what he`s done and in part because of what he`s said ahead of the first debate. Trump decided against traditional debate prep. Well, in that night, he stepped on seemingly every single landmine Hillary Clinton dropped in front of him.


HILLARY CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, gee, I hope it does collapse because then I can go in and buy some and make some money. Well, it did collapse.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: That`s called business, by the way.

CLINTON: Maybe he doesn`t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he`s paid nothing in federal taxes because the only years that anybody`s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license. And they showed he didn`t pay any federal income tax.

D. TRUMP: That makes me smart.

CLINTON: So if he`s paid --


TODD: And, of course, Trump bit hard on Clinton`s bait that night over a former Miss Universe which Trump then kept in the headlines for days. Then the October surprises began, one after another. First, The New York Times published Trump`s 1995 tax return.

Then that 2005 Access Hollywood tape of Trump`s hot-mic moment with Billy Bush and then, of course, his response to it. And, at the last debate, Trump pulled a last minute stunt himself holding a Facebook Live event with women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct and abuse over the years and inviting them to sit in the front row of that debate.

Since then, nine women have come forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct. Trump denies all of those allegations. And NBC has not verified them beyond the firsthand account of the she said on this front. Since that first debate, all of that has combined to define Trump in ways his Republican rivals in primary weren`t able to now.

And, now tonight, it`s less about what Trump can do to save himself and more about whether he can stabilize the entire Republican ship enough to save the House and Senate. His Campaign Manager, Kellyanne Conway, this morning on MSNBC urged Trump to do one thing tonight to help his party and himself.


STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC ANCHOR: In a word, your one word of advice for Donald?

CONWAY: Focus.


TODD: So there you go. Let`s turn, first, to the Clinton campaign, Campaign Manager, Robby Mook. He joins me here on set. Robby, welcome. You`ve got lots of fans here. Let me start with tonight`s debate. If there was criticism of Secretary Clinton at the last debate, at the second debate, from even many of your supporters, it was, why didn`t she go after him more? Is she going to be a little more passive tonight or a little more aggressive?

ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I think, what she`s going to try to do more than anything else is spend as much time as she can talking about the issues. This election is about the voters and their future. Donald Trump is going to come and try to throw a lot of mud. She`s going to stay focused, steady and try to prove --

TODD: It`s always easy to say but she didn`t do that in the first debate. She went ahead and dinged him on a lot of non-issue stuff, your TV advertising. I mean it`s not -- wouldn`t be -- I mean it`s a nice thing to say but is that reality?

MOOK: Well, she came to the first debate, first and foremost, prepared. She`s come to all of them prepared. Donald Trump has not. But, second of all, she`s come capable of describing specific plans and ideas that she has that will actually make a difference in people`s lives: creating jobs, lowering the cost of healthcare, lowering the cost of education.

That is what she`ll stay focused on. Donald Trump has been incapable of describing specific policies, been incapable of proving that he will actually do something to make a difference in people`s lives.

TODD: If there`s one thing about the WikiLeaks, about what`s come out of -- I know your standard answer. You guys aren`t confirming or denying any of it. It`s stolen property, et cetera. But the larger picture that has been painted is she`s going to have to deal with tonight is the fact that she calculates everything.

That every position change she made, whether it`s TPP, whatever it was, that it was a calculated move trying to figure out how to move her from the center to the left. Is that a fair portrayal and are you concerned that this is painted as sort of -- she`s not a genuine, authentic progressive?

MOOK: Well, I think, what`s going on here is that the Russians in an effort to help Donald Trump want these questions. They want this conversation. They`re selectively leaking materials at a rate that it is impossible for us to validate them for exactly the purpose of calling things into question, what really happened, who said what, is this true, is this not true. We`re not going to verify any of these right now because, again, they`re coming thousands a day. It`s simply too much for us to do that.

TODD: So what part of -- I mean we cannot look at WikiLeaks. And I could make a case. She went to Ohio, talked about that, at the end of the day, she`s a moderate. That`s what, she is a moderate persona. It`s fair to say that she`s not a comfortable progressive, is it not?

MOOK: Well, she was asked in the debates, in one of the primary debates, are you a moderate? And her response was I`m a progressive who likes to get things done. She answered that very clearly. And I think what you see in those e-mails -- again, we don`t know which are real, which are not and so on and so forth.

You see a candidate who is very actively sweating the details, trying to work out specific policy positions. Donald Trump has been out there spreading a lot of lies. And we`re seeing fresh conspiracy theories this week. And we`re just asking him to come prepared to this debate and talk specific.

TODD: But I want to go back to WikiLeaks here. I know you don`t want to talk about them. I understand that. But it`s out there. And, in fact, there`s a new TV ad that the Trump campaign is using that`s using some WikiLeaks material. Here it is.


CLINTON: And they are living in their parents` basement. That is a mindset that is really affecting their politics. You could put half of Trump`s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.


TODD: Do you have a problem in that how she is -- looks like she has maybe marginalized some Sanders supporters, maybe marginalized some Trump supporters?

MOOK: Well, first of all, let`s look at what Bernie Sanders said about this. And he said that she was describing a situation accurately. If you look at the entire quote there, she was saying that young people are struggling in this economy to find work. And, moreover, they`re burdened by student debt. Once again, Hillary Clinton has a plan, biggest investment in jobs --

TODD: Dropping a basement line though usually has a derogatory -- somebody could take that derogatory.

MOOK: But she was indirectly quoting what she was hearing from young people she was talking to. She was there relaying a conversation she had had with young people about their frustration with the economy. And that they were sometimes forced into situations like these.

Again, she has a jobs plan. She has a specific plan to lower the burden of student debt, to help people refinance. We`ve seen none of this from Donald Trump. And, again, I think this is another classic example of the Trump campaign taken totally out of context, throw it on TV, rather than actually provide some substantive policy to have a real answer.

TODD: I know you don`t want to -- I want to go back to vehicles here. I know you don`t want to answer the question. It is out there enough, that enough people is going to be asked about tonight. Can you really keep this up and not respond to any of the individual issues?

MOOK: I hope this comes up tonight in this regards. The Department of Homeland Security took the unprecedented step of saying that beyond any shadow of a doubt, the Russian government perpetrated this attack and that they were dumping out these materials for the purpose of hurting Hillary Clinton and helping Donald Trump.

The one person who has refused to acknowledge that this even happened, that it was the Russian government, or to condemn it is Donald Trump. His own running mate, Mike Pence, has said that this should not be allowed and that it needs to be responded to.

And Donald Trump remains silent. We know he`s been briefed by the intelligence community on this issue. It`s time for Donald Trump to do the right thing, condemn the Russians and act like a President.

TODD: Very quickly on the battleground map, how serious are you with Arizona and Georgia?

MOOK: Look, Arizona is a battleground state. It could go either way. I think it`s an uphill climb. Democrats haven`t won it in a long time.

TODD: You didn`t say the same thing about Georgia just now. Arizona, you quickly said battleground.

MOOK: I think --

TODD: Do you feel a little less about Georgia?

MOOK: I think that -- let`s put it this way. I think a few months ago, if I come and said Arizona and Utah are going to be in play, people would have thought I was crazy. More and more states are coming into play, the more and more people are exposed to Donald Trump.

TODD: All right. Robby Mook, thanks very much.

MOOK: Thanks.

TODD: I appreciate it. All right. Joining me now, on the other side, is Senior Communications Adviser to the Trump campaign, Jason Miller. Mr. Miller.


TODD: How are you doing, sir. All right. Let me start with WikiLeaks and the Marco Rubio statement where he says he`s not going to acknowledge it. He`s not going to touch it because this is a national security threat.

This is a foreign government that every part of the American government, not the partisan part, not political appointees, professional intelligence folks have identified the Russians are the culprit here. Do you not -- does your candidate not feel it inappropriate to use this material when a foreign adversary of the United States is trying to muck up with the election?

MILLER: Well, Senator Rubio has his own campaign that he`s going to go and run. But the thing you noticed from the Clinton campaign, what they don`t want to talk about, is what`s in those e-mails, the two-faced approach, where one thing is said in public and another thing is said in private. We`re seeing, I mean, the evidence of FBI collusion, DOJ collusion. We`re seeing all these things coming forward. And obviously we`re opposed to hacking.

TODD: Why doesn`t Donald Trump recognize, acknowledge that the Russians are doing this? He`s getting security briefings. He`s, from what we understand, been told that the Russians are trying to mess with this election. Why did he go out in public and basically deny it, blame it on some 400 pound --

MILLER: We`ve been very clear that we oppose hacking. And that`s not something obviously that we support. But Mr. Trump -- it`s not his job to go and -- he`s not the law enforcement that`s investigating a look into that.

TODD: Is he running for President of the United States?

MILLER: Yes. He`s running for President.

TODD: He wants to be Commander-in-Chief? Is he not going to make decisions based on intelligence that he`s gotten from intelligence professionals?

MILLER: Chuck, I can`t believe you`re spending all this time on --

TODD: No. I`m asking you this. I mean this is not an --

MILLER: It`s already done and it`s not important. I mean --

TODD: Is he not going to trust the intelligence that he gets from professional advisers?

MILLER: Why doesn`t the Clinton campaign want to talk about what they`re saying --?

TODD: I asked them that.

MILLER: Anti-Catholic bigotry.

TODD: I`m asking you about the Russians. I`m asking you about why your campaign won`t acknowledge what the Russians are doing.

MILLER: Look, when law enforcement is done with their investigation, they`ll put out their final report and then we`ll know. It`s not our job to speculate.

TODD: All right. I want to talk about the various people you`re inviting to this debate. I want to start with President Obama`s half-brother, somebody he has no relationship with. Jonah Goldberg put up a tweet. He said it`s not just a dog whistle. It is -- I hope we can put it up here. It is a fog horn. And it was in response to somebody saying this is essentially playing the birther card again, more subtly.

MILLER: Chuck, that`s --

TODD: Look, I`m just saying it`s not even a dog whistle. It`s a dog fog horn, once again shows Bannon returning to -- Stephen Bannon has no interest in attracting once gettable swing voters. What do you say to this?

MILLER: Well, I say, tonight is the last chance on big national stage with both candidates together for voters to get a sense of who`s going to take this country in the right direction. This is the chance to lay out the tax plans, lay out the education plan, as you know, topics, immigration, national security. That`s what everyone`s tuned in for tonight.

TODD: Well, then what`s with all this side show business?

MILLER: Again, people want a change in direction, upwards of 76% of people.

TODD: No. No. I understand but why are -- what is the --

MILLER: When the President`s half-brother -- even he thinks that we need a change in direction. I mean that tells you just what the American public --

TODD: So this is not meant to be some sort of weird birther play?

MILLER: Chuck, that`s --

TODD: I`m not --

MILLER: Yeah. Chuck, you throw some random tweet, some pundit, I mean come on. I mean we`re here to talk about the issues later tonight and the fact that Hillary Clinton is going to get put on notice for her 30 year failed record, failed record as Secretary of State, failed record as Senator and the fact that she has helped make the world a more dangerous place. That`s going to be on display tonight, Chuck.

TODD: Let me ask you about the vote rigging stuff. All of you, Mike Pence, yourself, Kellyanne Conway, have all downplayed this idea that you -- you guys have all acknowledged no. There`s not a lot of vote fraud out there, but your candidate doesn`t acknowledge that. Why does the campaign say the honest things about the issues of how elections are connected in this country but the candidate doesn`t?

MILLER: So the rigged system has been the centerpiece of this campaign, about draining the swamp, fighting the rigged system.

TODD: I get that.

MILLER: We talk about media bias --

TODD: That`s different. That`s about --

MILLER: We talk about the bias with Congress, with FBI DOJ, the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, this whole rigged system.

TODD: I get that.

MILLER: We`ve also talked about --

TODD: But why are you questioning the voting in this country, which there`s just no proof that there is massive vote fraud in this country. There has never been a massive fraud in this country.

MILLER: Chuck, you`re wrong.

TODD: I am? Tell me how?

MILLER: I mean The Washington Post had an article in 2014, said upwards of 14% of the people here illegally voted. The Pew Center had a study out saying almost three million people are voting in the wrong state from which they`re actually registered to be at.

Pennsylvania, last year there`s article where over 700 people that were dead or shouldn`t be voting were in fact voting. We`ve seen evidence in Colorado. We`ve seen number to -- our whole point, Chuck, is that we want to see integrity at the ballot box.

TODD: So you don`t believe there`s been integrity at the ballot box for the last 200 years?

MILLER: We`re saying that we want to see integrity at the ballot box and we`re going to go and break up --

TODD: Do you not trust Republican Secretary of the State? Because I say that you look at state of Florida run by Republicans, state of Ohio run by Republicans, state of Colorado election system run by Republicans. I can go on and on.

MILLER: Chuck, voter fraud is real and it exists.

TODD: Is he essentially saying he doesn`t trust Republican elected officials to run a fair election?

MILLER: What he is saying is we have a rigged system right now. When it comes to voter integrity, we want to make sure that the right people are voting, people who are registered to vote and it`s lawful for them to vote. We want everyone who`s able to be able to vote.

TODD: Let me wrap up, sort of, same thing there, battleground question. There has been some questions about both Virginia and Colorado. You guys have put some money back into Virginia. That is a back and forth dispute. Is Colorado fully in play for you or not?

MILLER: Oh, absolutely.

TODD: Are you guys investing actual dollars the way you are in Virginia?

MILLER: And on November 8, you`re going to see we`re going to win Colorado.

TODD: Will we see evidence in the next week?

MILLER: Chuck, I was with Mr. Trump in Colorado yesterday. And the crowds that we had both in Colorado Springs and in Grand Junction, it was over 10,000 in Grand Junction, massive crowds, Colorado Springs. There`s something happening here. There`s a real movement, Chuck. You see these folks that are turning out people who want to take their country back, who want a change in direction. The energy and excitement is there.

TODD: Are you concerned that you`ll have enough resources?

MILLER: We`ll have enough resources.

TODD: You`ll have enough money?


TODD: Is Mr. Trump going to put in more money? Because he seems -- you guys are being outspent a good two, three to one in some of these states.

MILLER: Well, I`m not going to speak as far as Mr. Trump`s checkbook. That`s up to him. But we`ll have the resources and, most importantly, we have the right message.

TODD: All right. Jason Miller, we`ll be watching tonight.

MILLER: Thanks, Chuck.

TODD: Thank you, sir. Well, we`re going to look at how all this is playing down-ballot in much more ahead on this special pre-debate edition of MTP DAILY live from the home of the Runnin` Rebels. Where`s Tarkanian? We`ll be right back.


TODD: Ivanka Trump may be one of her father`s most effective surrogates. But it`s a role she`s not apparently eager to embrace. After a high profile role at the convention in July, she`s been limiting her campaign trail appearances to small events.

And in an interview with Fast Company via e-mail published this week she called her father`s remarks on the 2005 Access Hollywood tape clearly inappropriate and offensive. She added, again, via e-mail "I will say I can`t wait until the election is over".

She also ruled out a role in a Trump/Pence administration. "No. I don`t intend to be part of the government". And then today, at Fortune magazine`s Most Powerful Women Summit, Ivanka Trump went further.


IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP`S DAUGHTER: My brand was launched far before the presidential cycle commenced and will continue long afterwards. And I`m incredibly proud of the work that I`m doing there. And I`ve always tried to maintain complete separation between that and the campaign.

I hate the word surrogate, because what does that mean? Like when people talk about I`m his confident, at one point, they were actually saying major newspapers were publicly were writing that I was Vice Presidential candidate. I`m saying no. I`m a daughter.


TODD: And according to Ivanka the election will be over after November 8.


I TRUMP: He`ll either win or he won`t win. And I believe he`ll accept the outcome either way.




D TRUMP: They even want to try and rig the election at the polling booth where so many cities are corrupt and voter fraud is all too common.

RUHLE: Do you believe there will be widespread voter fraud?

CONWAY: No. I do not believe that.

D TRUMP: There`s a voter fraud also with the media, because they so poison the minds of people by writing false stories.

CONWAY: Donald Trump`s point is a larger one. You don`t want him to talk about the other stuff, but he does -- you know, there is a larger conspiracy.


TODD: So, as you see there, Trump says one thing and Kellyanne Conway tries to reinterpret it another way. As he walks into tonight`s debate, Donald Trump is holding firm that voter fraud is rampant. His campaign is trying to soften that tone. But Republicans are voicing their own concerns. Here`s John Kasich this morning on CBS.


GOV. JOHN KASICH, OHIO: To say that elections are rigged and all these votes are stolen, that`s like saying we never landed on the moon, frankly. That`s how silly it is. No. I don`t think that`s good for our country. The problem is, it does create doubt in people`s minds. And I worry about 25% of Americans who may say when an election is over, it was stolen.


TODD: By the way, John Kasich`s Secretary of State in Ohio who plans to vote for Trump backed Kasich up 100%. Take a listen.


JON HUSTED, OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: As I say about voter fraud, it exists. It`s rare. Most of the time that people try to vote fraudulently, the vote is not counted because we catch it before that actually happens. But there`s no evidence of systemic fraud, vote rigging, anything of the sort.


TODD: So there you go. Despite efforts by Republicans to distance themselves and the party from Trump`s comments, perception is everything as Donald Trump`s claim that democracy is broken already, well, broken it. Panel joins me now. NBC News Political Analyst and Host of the Hugh Hewitt Show on Salem Radio Network, Hugh Hewitt; The Atlantic`s Molly Ball; our own, of course, Special Correspondent, the Grand Poobah of NBC, Tom Brokaw; and Host of AM Joy right here on MSNBC, Joy Reid. Welcome all.


TODD: Tom, be a voice of reason here. Do you feel as if this rhetoric and, what, John Kasich`s 25%, that we`re going to have, that November 9 is going to be as toxic as November 8.

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it`s one of the overwhelming issues coming out of this campaign is what happens after someone is declared the victor. How you put the country back together again? If I had to pick one single issue that is overwhelming to me as a citizen, as a reporter, as someone who has children and grandchildren looking forward, it is how do you stitch the country back together again?

It`s never going to be Kumbaya. But there are issues that we have to be able to work together on and have a tone in Washington in which people represent the small towns, the large cities where they get things done together by getting together and saying, these are our goals. We`re going to find a way to do it. In Washington, that`s been missing. And this campaign has only fed that delusion in my judgments.

TODD: I want also go to this vote rigging issue be a tactic which is I feel like it`s backfiring on Trump, Joy, that it actually helps Democrats motivate their base.

REID: Yeah.

TODD: While Trump`s sending the message that, hey, your vote doesn`t count, don`t bother.

REID: Yeah. I mean he`s essentially blaming in one sense African-Americans in pre-staging this idea that it`s certain communities as he`s putting in Philadelphia and other places that in his mind are "stealing the election". I did find Jon Husted`s comments interesting.

Jon Husted has been one of the most proactive and aggressive Secretaries of State in terms of playing keep away with voters, in terms of being sued, quite frankly, for attempting to deny people the opportunity to register and vote.

So it`s ironic that Husted would be out there as a voice of reason when that very argument that there`s rampant fraud that just happens to be in Cuyahoga County, not Hamilton County, is the reason why Husted has to be so aggressive at making it harder and harder and harder for people of color to vote. So it`s ironic, the line that Republicans are walking, because on issues of voter ID they`ve actually been on Trump`s side of that argument for quite some time.

TODD: And, Hugh, I want to go back to the demoralization argument. I`ve had a conversation today with a Republican strategist who thinks, what is he doing? He`s sending a message that your vote and the whole system is rigged. It may not matter. And he thinks it`s actually going to hurt Republican turnout.

HEWITT: It could. I hadn`t thought about that. And so I have to internalize that and consider that for a little bit. I am, along with Tom, holding down the grandfather demographic. And I`m much more optimistic than more people.

I think that at the end of this Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell step up if Hillary Clinton wins and say we`re going to get together and we`re going to work. Jon Husted -- my friend, Joy, and I have a different view of Jon Husted. He is sort of the center rationality of Republicanism in Ohio with Rob Portman and John Kasich and a lot of good Congressmen.

I think that sensibility of the center returns regardless of who wins, Mr. Trump or not. But I do think Trump`s rhetoric could backfire on turnout in key states. And you don`t see Rob Portman. You don`t see Kelly Ayotte. You don`t see Joe Heck talking about this.

TODD: Well, that`s what`s amazing, Molly, is that they`re all in fact sending the opposite message. And we`ve seen it. I mean they`re all doing different ways of trying to say, wow, we`re not on board with that.

MOLLY BALL, THE ATLANTIC STAFF WRITER: Well, they`re running tactical and strategic campaigns. And if there`s anything that we have learned about the things that Donald Trump says it is that they`re not strategic. They`re just whatever flew into his head based on the last conversation he had or his attempt to rationalize and explain to himself poll results that he doesn`t like.

This is all just Trump trying to grapple with an outcome that he doesn`t like and doesn`t want to accept. And he doesn`t really have a filter. And he doesn`t have someone giving him talking points that he ingests and regurgitates. This is just the pure mind, the pure it of Donald Trump.

TODD: Hey. Let me switch. Ivanka Trump, reaction to what you guys heard. Hugh?

HEWITT: I had written a lot about Ivanka for years. She`s the most impressive member of the Trump family. And I have nothing to say about Eric or Donald Jr., except good things. But she has got an amazing brand, an incredible pull on young people, the demographic in which he does worse, young, professional, women, is the one in which she does best. And what I saw in that interview was very surprising. It`s like cut the ropes from the burning ship and set drift.

BALL: Her brand --

TODD: Well, that`s what you heard too. I thought what I heard was her going --

BALL: Try to preserve the brand and send a message to her dad.

REID: You can say her brand is, in your view, a strong brand but her brand is her surname. Trump is what they sell, whether it`s Eric Trump running the Trump companies, whether it`s Donald Trump Jr., whether it`s Ivanka Trump who`s been involved in selling these apartment complexes that they lease their name to, selling her brand of shoes or clothing.

Trump is her brand. Donald Trump is ruining the brand by which she earns a living. So I think what you`re hearing is at least Ivanka Trump starting to realize that the damage to the Trump brand damages her own prospects of earning a living.

TODD: Tom, do you realize it`s the first time we`ve seen her in front of a camera since the allegations against her father? And it took them a week to get Melania in front of the camera. That`s not the way to fix Trump`s Access Hollywood problem.

BROKAW: There`s no way of fixing it. It is too bad. I mean you need to understand that.

TODD: But your two best women surrogates, perhaps character witnesses, weren`t there.

BROKAW: She was running against the Trump catechism today which is to say that I was offended by it. And we`re going to go on after whatever happens in this election. That`s not how he operates, snubs the whole bases of his campaign. No matter what, we`re going to win. We`re doing well.

Even in their Colorado speech which I watched yesterday at some length and he wanders off the landscape. Yesterday he wandered off the landscape. He went to the moonscape. I didn`t know what he was talking about by the end because he just kept, it`s rigged. You`ve got to figure it out. Then he says something else. He`d say you`ve to look at Philadelphia. It made no sense. There was no central theme. It was as if he was just draining himself in front of the cameras.

TODD: If you listen to a Trump speech, if you don`t read Breitbart, you don`t understand some of the references he`s making. Like if you`re not following it really closely, if you`re not part of that world you don`t understand when he just throws something out there, like Philadelphia.

BALL: Well, that`s been the case, even in the debates, when he knows he`s before an audience of 100 million people, he goes off on, you know, Sid Blumenthal and making, connecting these dots that ordinary Americans have no idea what they even are.

REID: It`s just, you know, I think the people who do understand it, and this is why you can`t cauterize the Trump wound and limit it at him.

Someone like John McCain clearly understands that what he`s saying is that the future of staying in your job depends on appeasing those Breitbart readers. Which is why you have somebody like John McCain even with his reputation sort of, as being an estimable figure essentially threatening not to seat any Supreme Court justice for Hillary Clinton before he pulled it back. He -- he`s bringing other republicans down the same Trump campaign.

BROKAW: One thing I disagree with you and there`s not much, by the way, but mostly it`s about baseball they`ll withdraw. But what I disagree about if the republicans like Mitch McConnell and Speaker Ryan and others, and John Kasich come together and say, OK, we`ve got to deal with this new administration.

That does not include this other constituency that is out there and is not going to go away. The Breitbart card, for example, they all right crowd. They`ve got enormous tools and social media. And they`re going to not fade off into the landscape it seems to me.

It`s been very interesting, you take the republican senators who separated themselves from Donald Trump after his remarks going into the -- about women, and a lot of them said, he`s got to stop he`s got to get away from Pence, and a week later, they were saying, well, you know, I probably going to have to vote for him because I`m a republican.


BROKAW: Because they got so much heat, frankly from other social media.


TODD: That`s exactly right. I want to continue this conversation, but my piece is kind of might half saying I need to take a break here. So, you guys are coming back.

Still ahead, will democrats ride away into Washington this January? Or is it a little bit too soon to be talking about that? We`ll take a look at the democrat`s best chances to pick up certain Senate seats. More (Inaudible) at L.A. live from the campus of UNLV right after this.



TODD: Hours before the final presidential debate here in Las Vegas. By the way, the only debate -- presidential debate being held in a swing state. How about that?

We`re just 20 days of course until the general election. So, we went back into our NBC News/Wall Street Journal polling archives to find our poll numbers before the final debate, and how they stacked up to the tally on election days post-debate for the last 20 years.

We`ll start `96, our NB News/Wall Street Journal poll taken a few weeks before the final debate between Clinton and Bob Dole, had Clinton with a 13-point lead. Bill Clinton ended up winning re-election that year in November by 9 points.

Two thousand, our last pre-debate poll, had George W. Bush 6 points ahead of Al Gore. Well, as you know, Al Gore ended narrowly winning the popular vote, but of course losing the presidency; `04, George W. Bush was up 4 points on John Kerry before the final debate. He held on to win the popular vote by 2.5 points.

Barack Obama led John McCain by five points in our last poll before the final debate in `08. Obama`s final margin was plus 7 when the votes were all counted in November.

And finally, it was all tied up going into the final debate in 2012. Remember, President Obama was still reeling a bit from that first debate performance against Mitt Romney. But a couple of weeks later, President Obama did emerge with a four point victory in his re-election bid.

So, back to the present. Our last NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken just last week had Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 11 points. No real correlation through the years, but it is worth noting that Hillary Clinton currently has the largest lead in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken before the final debate since her husband in 1996.

After the break, are Hillary Clinton`s strong numbers -- sudden strong numbers at the top of the ticket trickling down to help democrats running for Senate.

We`ll look at that and more in a few minutes. Live from Las Vegas right after this.


TODD: Welcome back. National polls have shown a durable lead for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in this presidential race. And there`s a lot of numbers suggesting the potential for a democratic wave.

An election like that could not only put Clinton in the White House, but it could turn the Senate blue, and who knows.

Check it out. Here are the nine Senate seats most likely to switch parties this November. All but Nevada. All but Nevada are currently held by republicans. Illinois and Wisconsin right now are number one and two on our list, that`s most likely to flip.

Followed by New Hampshire, and up there, Florida, all the way at the end. That`s right. Now appears to be the hardest to flip but we still keep it in play. We don`t have a top 10, because we don`t have 10 Senate seats that we fully believe are that in play.

If there is truly is, though, a mass mobilization against Trump and the Republican Party we think all nine of those could end up going to the democratic column or at least 7 of the nine.


It takes a lead on the top of the ticket. So, let`s take a look, Clinton is up five points ahead with Trump. In our NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll in North Carolina and to the same poll republican raise to head-tie with its democratic challenger Deborah Ross in the Senate race.

Same story in New Hampshire. Clinton up 5 in a two way. WBUR poll taken last week, incumbent Kelly Ayotte is tied with her challenger Maggie Hassan in the Senate race. By the way, a brand new UNHC poll is out that has Clinton up 15 in New Hampshire. Ayotte (Inaudible).


Finally, Florida, Clinton leads Trump in a Quinnipiac poll by four points. Republican Marco Rubio who has led every single poll since June in its Senate race is clinging to a 2-point lead over democrat Patrick Murphy.

So, let`s talk about the odds of this wave and other interesting states in play by my pal Steve Kornacki. All right. We`re going to geek out here, so let`s start with the Senate races. What`s it take with a 2012 result, 51- 47. You think 57-47, Clinton over Trump, essentially in a two way, and we know that a four-point spread would be enough for the democrats to win?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Initially, I thought so. But I`m looking at some of these states now. The interesting thing is how within these states the demographics are aligning the way they did in 2012. And Nevada is a perfect example.

TODD: Yes.

KORNACKI: I think at the start of the cycle, we were looking at that Senate race in Nevada, the way we were looking at the presidential race, this was looking very good for democrats. But the demographics here, especially with the blue collar white voters in the state have Trump in the game at the presidential level, and they have Heck just by virtue of being a republican in this environment despite all discovered between them.

TODD: Irony to Joe Heck, hasn`t led in a poll private or public I`m told since he pulled his endorsement of Trump. Huge problem.


TODD: Huge problem for him. Trump voters may be punishing him.

KORNACKI: I think that`s a problem in other states as well. I mean, I think in Pennsylvania, you know, if you`re Toomey, you`re trying to win there, you need some of those traditional republican voters in the Philadelphia suburbs and you need those blue collar folks in Johns town Trump`s appealing.

TODD: All right. Let`s run through these. Illinois any chance for...


KORNACKI: It doesn`t look that way.

TODD: All right. Wisconsin, something is happening in Wisconsin.


TODD: Part of me thinks, Russ Feingold fires that -- a reminder that oh, yes, he was a long term incumbent too.


KORNACKI: It is just a little different than sort of a generic deem.


TODD: It`s not generic.

KORNACKI: That presidential year. Feingold is his own entity, there was that new poll out today, though, that had him up comfortably. And also it get if Hillary Clinton is winning the state by 7, 8 points and start to look that way, I still think Johnson...


TODD: Now here are my -- the two races that have become mirror images of each other in some ways. It`s Missouri and Indiana.


TODD: You have essentially one is -- one is an open say technically. But it features Evan Bayh, a long-time Indiana democrat. And then Roy Blunt, a long-time Missouri republican. Both are struggling because they are creatures of Washington.


TODD: They said they are struggling under the same problem.

KORNACKI: Well, yes. You say by democrat of Indiana, and that`s the thing. The residency issue.

TODD: Right.

KORNACKI: And having these embarrassing questions he hasn`t been able to answer. And I`m thinking that look, there`s two examples out there in Indiana, there`s Coates in 10...

TODD: Yes.

KORNACKI: ... who came from the lucrative Washington career. He went back, won, no problem, in the tea party year, there is Lugar though.

TODD: Yes.

KORNACKI: Lugar in 12, as the republican primary, but Evan Bayh it wasn`t supposed to be this close. And I can see it being a problem.

TODD: But Missouri to me, that that has gone -- the fact to the matter is, that feels almost a better shot right now for democrats than sometimes I think in Nevada.


TODD: That something happened there and this is not Trump related at all.

KORNACKI: Well, although it is the presidential race it`s more competitive there. It was double digits. It was 10 points than Romney.

TODD: Right.

KORNACKI: I saw a poll that put it at five in Missouri. And it was a state in `08 that Obama got within a point of winning. So, democrats in a good year they can get close out there, but, yes. I think Blunt. It`s also the Washington is the Potomac thing.

TODD: All right. What does the national spread have to be for Clinton, for Georgia and Arizona to come i this -- to come -- to turn blue.

KORNACKI: I`m starting to wonder if Arizona and Georgia are a little different. If that number is lower for Arizona than it is for Georgia. I`m thinking of...


TODD: (Inaudible) essentially said that to me by saying we consider Arizona a battleground state and he left Georgia out.

KORNACKI: You know the difference in Arizona I think what it is the large Mormon population. Arizona has a large traditional republican Mormon population. Look what`s happening in Utah, I think it`s bleeding over in Arizona.

TODD: And I guess the thing is that she can win the state with 44, 45.


TODD: In Georgia, she still needs 48 or 45.

KORNACKI: I think national number, I think Georgia, you`re up at 6, 7 points nationally but I think it could be four in Arizona.

TODD: All right. We could have gone on for another three hours on this one. Good stuff. Always good to see you, buddy.

We`re just three hours from the start of tonight`s third and final debate, the only one being held in an actual battleground state. The all-star panel comes back with their expectations. More to be dealt with from Las Vegas right after this.


TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, I`m obsessed with one of the great ironies of this election, and it involves tonight`s debate and two guys who could do without each other, Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Let`s review the bidding. Initially, Ryan had little use for Trump and it wasn`t even clear he would even support him. Then when he finally did endorse, it was with the enthusiasm of a mouse having to cross the path of a cat.

Finally, Ryan more or less told his fellow republican House members, forget Trump, do what you need to do to win. Vote with your conscience. So, in theory, Paul Ryan shouldn`t care about tonight`s debate, except he better care, and he better care a lot.

Here`s why. Until recently, the GOP`s House majority seemed secure. But now that the floorboards have begun to creek a little bit and maybe even snap under Trump, that majority could be in jeopardy, depending on tonight.

So, if Donald Trump goes belly up tonight, the republican House majority could go belly up with him. And if there`s no republican majority, well, then good-bye Paul Ryan speakership.

In other words, if Donald Trump does poorly tonight, Paul Ryan could lose his job. So, here we are, with Paul Ryan who never wanted to support Trump, did so under duress, dumped him when he could. And whose own presidential ambitions would benefit from a Trump thumping. That Paul Ryan now he has no choice but to pull up a chair and root for Donald Trump tonight.

Whoever said politics makes strange bed fellows must have been thinking of Donald Trump and Paul Ryan tonight.

We`ll be back right after this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the president`s rhetoric even he thinks that we need a change in direction. That`s how he just with the American public.

TODD: This is not meant to be some sort of weird birther play.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chuck, that is...


TODD: I`m not.


TODD: That`s one thing we can expect tonight. The Trump campaign has invited President Obama`s half-brother to the debate. OK. What other surprises can we expect?

That brings us to lead panel is with me. Hugh Hewitt, Molly Ball, Tom Brokaw, Joy Reid.

Hugh, I want to start with you and get your -- get your take on a point I made earlier which is, nobody needs Donald Trump to do better tonight than Paul Ryan and that`s got to chop his you know what.

HUGH HEWITT, SALEM NEWS NETWORK: The down ticket needs him to be presidential. Long ago, when I worked for Richard Nixon he sent me in search of in (Inaudible) quote, which it took me six years of reading his society (Ph). It`s a great column for Time magazine.

You have to demonstrate a temperament of when was to fall silent and when to jut out your jaw in defiance. Donald Trump needs to show presidential temperament tonight in order to rally the republicans to him.

He may want to set up Project Veritas. He may want to bring up Cheryl Mills and Heidi. He may want to bring up General Cartwright facing jail. He may want to bring up the USA Today story about the foundation but mostly, he has to stay calm and presidential and he`ll lift the ticket.

TODD: You know, Hugh, my question, and Molly, he didn`t mention a single issue, right?


TODD: And you could argue that so far the only decent 20 minutes he`s had at the debate is when he stuck to issues and he stuck it to her in trade.

BALL: But it`s also, I think that Hugh is right that it is mainly about temperament and it is mainly about character for the voters that Trump increasingly seems to be losing. And some of these that really show the bottom falling out.

And that`s the real danger. I think -- I think Hugh is exactly right that republicans are getting so demoralized by this drum beat of he`s losing, he`s losing.

HEWITT: Right.

BALL: It threatens to, you know, to kill their turnout. It threatens to really make the bottom fall out in House and Senate races. There`s a band wagon effect when an election looks like it`s over. And everybody -- and nobody want to be with a loser.

TODD: And, you know, it`s funny. And we did this little thing in our polls, Tom. And it was interesting to me to note the `96 pre-debate, the last pre-debate poll went the final. It was 13 points for Bill Clinton. Final was 9. We`re here, with pre-debate. Our NBC/Wall Street Journal has it 11.

And there has always been something about the spread of `96 that feels familiar with this race. And I remember in that final debate, Bob Dole tried to throw a few hay makers for him and they never landed very well. There sort of that race was already sort of baked in. Is this race baked or not?

BROKAW: Well, you know, my series who like UFOs, we never know what`s going to happen. And setting the two candidates aside and how they`ve conducted their campaigns, it`s still a big world out there. It`s a big dangerous world out there. We don`t know about the final results of Mosul, for example.

What`s going to happen economically. What kind of calamity could fall and how they respond to all that. And by the way, there is no comparing these two candidates to the candidates who were running in `96. They were different kinds of characters.

TODD: One had the last -- one had the same last name.

BROKAW: One that the same last name but not nearly as nimble as her husband was at the time. So, I think an interesting question tonight is about Hillary Clinton. Does she plays all ball. Does she go out there and just try to be the grand dame? I`m here to repair the country, bring it all together. Or does she go after him on some specific issues? I don`t know. I think that`s going to be as interesting as anything.

TODD: I`m with you. I don`t know what the right answer is, Joy.

REID: Yes.

TODD: On that one which is how tough should she get on him and how much does she ignore him?

REID: Well, here`s the thing is that you start to see in Clinton world a more aggressive attitude toward what the goal is, right? I think in the last debate, the goal was stand pat and look presidential. People are already voting. Holds chord. You don`t really need to be aggressive.

Now you`re start to see the democrats get a lot more aggressive down ticket. I smell a lot of this morning watching local TV. Those ads are full of women, including the ads from people like Joe Heck who are trying like Heck to try to win, you know, and upon intended.

And I think that Hillary Clinton has the opportunity to lash Donald Trump to those down ticket candidates in a way that could be bigger than looks to her on election.


It`s a big deal. And by the way, voter registration closed yesterday here in the State of Nevada. You now have people already voting. The opportunity for Donald Trump to inspire new voters maybe get some voter reg is done. But people are already voting. The performance has instantaneous results for positive or for negative for these candidates.

BROKAW: I watched today. Nicole Wallace, whose wonderful interview with a group of Ohio women who are millennials, mothers with children. And they`re not wild like Hillary. And that`s an issue for her.

So, I think one of the things that she can do tonight is to kind of expand her base. For example, there are a lot of government regulations that no one in this country likes and she has never, ever taken on the issue of government regs and what we should be doing about them. She has offered free college education to people who come from families with $125,000 income, but at the end of four years, they don`t give anything back to their country. Why couldn`t she say at the end of four years, you`re going to have two years of public service that you owe your country. Because we`re sending less than 1 percent of our population to war. That kind of thing.

TODD: All right. I apologize, guys. That clock is ticking, so I have to go. Hugh, Molly, Tom, and Joy, it`s very old -- Molly, Joy. It`s all up beat. Hugh is much (Inaudible).


HEWITT: What`s ringing up there?

TODD: Live from Las Vegas right after this.