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MTP Daily, Transcript 10/21/2016

Guests: Charlie Cook, Meg Tirrell, James Davison Hunter, Chris Cillizza, Alfonso Aguilar, Daniella Gibbs Leger

Show: MTP DAILY Date: October 21, 2016 Guest: Brad Todd, Brian Walsh, Chris Cillizza, Daniella Gibbs L‚ger, Alfonso Aguilar, Charlie Cook

CHUCK TODD, HOST: Good evening. Happy Friday. I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington. Welcome to MTP DAILY.

The end is near. No more debates, no more events where Trump and Clinton share the stage, just 18 days until it`s over. Right now, there are a lot of Republicans on the ballot wondering how Trump will spend the last 18 days. How does he land the plane?

Where does he go? What does he say? How does he say it? Will he blow up the party or help salvage it? With that said, we saw something we`ve never seen from Trump in the general election. Just moments ago, he wrapped up a rally in Pennsylvania where he seemed to, believe it or not, contemplate the idea that he might lose.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You know what, they all say that it doesn`t matter if you win or lose. What we`ve done has never been done. It`s true, never been done in this country before. Crowds like this, this whole thing, us getting the -- it`s really us but us getting the nomination and now going on. And, by the way, polls coming out that are really fantastic, fantastic.


TODD: Just hours before that, Trump held a rally in North Carolina where he seemed to talk about regrets.


TRUMP: These are massive rallies and we`re going to do this for another 19 days, right up until the actual vote of November 8. And then I don`t know what kind of shape I`m in, but I`ll be happy and at least I will have known, win, lose or draw, and I`m almost sure if the people come out, we`re going to win. But I will be happy with myself because I always say.

I don`t want to think back, if only I did one more rally, I would have won North Carolina by 500 votes instead of losing it by 200 votes, right, if only I did. So I never want to ever look back. I never want to say that about myself.


TODD: What Trump said in these rallies is just as important as where he is saying it, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where Republicans are trying to hold on to some Senate seats. The RNC appears to be attempting to make some lemonade with Trump`s candidacy by focusing his energy in rallies to fire up the base in these Senate battleground states.

Just look at where Trump has been this month. If you include today`s rallies, five in Pennsylvania, where Republican Pat Toomey is fighting for his political life; four stops in Florida where Marco Rubio is defending his seat; a bunch of rallies in Colorado and North Carolina, two battleground states that also have Senate contest and he has Colorado sort of falling off the radar a bit.

There have been rallies in New Hampshire, Ohio, Nevada. Republicans are in tough Senate races there, too. It`s the same story in Arizona and Wisconsin. Folks, out of the 25 Trump rallies this month, he`s held one in a state where there isn`t a Senate race, Maine.

By the way, no Senate candidate appeared with Trump at any of these rallies. But this appears to be the RNC`s game plan through Election Day, keep Trump talking to the base in states where they need the base to show up. The party cannot hold Congress if there is a turnout crisis. And Trump may be getting the message.

He didn`t talk fatalistically about a rigged vote today at his rallies. Instead, he talked about turnout and he asked voters to help "unrig the system". So the big question, will it work? And can Trump avoid demoralizing his own supporters? And will he continue this tone?

I`m joined by two veteran Republican Strategists. Brad Todd is a top Republican ad maker and consultant on many Senate races this cycle. And Brian Walsh was the Communications Director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee a couple of cycles ago. Gentlemen, welcome to you.

So, Brad, I want to start with we know that there is stuff you do to win a presidential election and then there is stuff you do when you`ve got to keep the party intact. Today, I`m guessing Donald Trump did exactly what Richard Burr would want him to do in North Carolina.

BRAD TODD, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND AD MAKER: Well, there certainly are a lot of our most lower propensity Republican voters who are the most excited about Donald Trump. I think Pat Toomey actually may end up being the biggest beneficiary of all because there are a lot of fairly recently former Democrats in what they call the T in Pennsylvania.

Their part is not Philly and not Pittsburgh, who are far more excited about Donald Trump than they are about any other Republican candidate and more likely to vote. Now Mitt Romney -- one of the untold stories about the Romney loss is that he had a problem with low propensity Republicans at the end of the campaign.

That`s not going to be the problem this year. It`s the higher propensity Republicans that we`re focused on. And I think most of those people are going to come out for Senate candidates.

TODD: You know, Brian, listen to this statement from Trump today. This was in Pennsylvania a few minutes ago. It was almost as if the folks running the Senate Committee, the folks running Toomey`s campaign, said, please just say it this way. Take a listen.


TRUMP: The system is rigged and I`ve been saying it for a long time. And believe me, I`m right. But with your help, we`re going to beat the system and we`re going to unrig the system.


TODD: Imagine if he said that at the debate.

BRIAN WALSH, FORMER NRSC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, look, I think it`s great that he`s going to Western Pennsylvania, Western North Carolina. Frankly, if he wants to go to Indiana and Missouri as well, they aren`t presidential battlegrounds right now but we`ve got some really tight Senate races there right now.

I will say though I`m a little concerned about the rigged system rhetoric, because, look, I think, whenever you`re telling your voters that maybe your vote doesn`t count --

TODD: They don`t come, right.

WALSH: They may not come. So let`s hope -- but on balance, it was a pretty good day for him. We have one more rally to go though.

TODD: And that seems to be the -- look, if there is a wave, it`s not going to be because a bunch of swing voters are going to punish the Republican Party. It`s that a bunch of passive Republicans or the 20% that don`t like Trump enough, maybe not planning on voting for him, decide not to come.

B. TODD: You know, this is the most intense interested election ever. You can`t escape it. You can`t escape in the barbershop. You can`t escape in the water cooler. You can`t escape it anywhere. Every American has a strong opinion on this election. I just can`t think people are going to talk about this all year and then quit on the one day they can act on how they`ve talked about it. I just can`t believe that.

TODD: But if you -- going to Brian`s point, if you tell people your vote doesn`t count because the system is rigged, does that have a negative impact --

B. TODD: Well, that`s long been a Democratic turnout in major cities, is to say that there is -- they`re trying to stop you from voting. And they rush to court at 10:00 a.m. on Election Day to file some --

TODD: But you just said. They are trying to stop you from voting. That is a, you better get of the voting and, of course, they are going to do that.

B. TODD: It`s trying to undermine confidence in the electoral system though. And the Democrats do it every single year, every single cycle in the south. Especially on Election Day, they file bogus lawsuit. They never pursue.

TODD: But isn`t that -- there is a way to talk about in a way that gets you to vote. Well, that`s what he did today, unrig the system. Go on vote.

WALSH: If he had talked about -- Hillary is the political establishment. He should have been the change candidate, largely is with his supporters. And look, Donald Trump`s campaign has had a lot of problems but one problem he hasn`t had is he has a really core base of motivated supporters. And we need every one of them to come out on Election Day, not just voting for him, but voting for down-ballot as well.

TODD: Do you say -- the problem has always been -- he showed discipline today. There`s still one more rally today. And that one takes place after dark. Trump after dark has been -- has given heart burn in the past. Can he keep this up for 18 days?

B. TODD: Well, I think, the trick is to keep this election about Hillary. If you`re the Trump campaign, you want people focusing on Hillary. She is the least popular Democrat to ever run for President in the history of the American republic.

They need an election about the least popular Democrat to ever run for Republic. If he makes the race about her, this thing is going to be a tight race on Election Day.

TODD: I guess what does Richard Burr and Pat Toomey need?

WALSH: Well, I think, what you`re also hearing from them is to be a check and balance on a potential Hillary presidency. And Brad made a good point that, you know, Hillary may win this race, but she is not well-liked and she is not popular and she is not trusted.

And so, to the extent Senate candidates like Pat Toomey and Richard Burr and Kelly Ayotte can make the case that they`re going to be there and be a check and balance, an independent voice for their state, that`s an effective message.

TODD: But that comes with a price because there are some voters that hear check on a President Hillary Clinton and think capitulation.

B. TODD: There`s no question. It is trickier. But most Republicans -- last presidential election was the cycle of self-deportation. This is the cycle of self-disassociation. I think all voters see Trump as different from the Republicans in Congress. In fact, that`s why he won the nomination.

They thought he was very different from the Republicans in Congress. It`s almost like primary voters wanted to check on our Congressional majority. But they very much understand that the Congressional majority is a check on whoever the President is.

TODD: It`s funny you bring that up. I thought one of the odd developments earlier this week, Brian, is when Trump started talking about term limits. And I thought, okay, that was a great message in `94 because Democrats controlled the House and the Senate and Republicans were part of the whole thing. The Republicans control the House and the Senate. Term limits would be essentially Trump`s way of saying I don`t trust those guys either.

WALSH: Well, I don`t -- so we`ve been into lobbying reforms as well. And I read it as just an anti-Washington message which, look, Republican, Democrat, independent voters are angry right now. And I think something like that can tap into --

TODD: What happen if those people say, yeah, that`s right? Good-bye --

B. TODD: Well, wait a minute. There --

TODD: Good bye. I mean does that actually --

B. TODD: Term limits only get eye rolls in the 202 area code. And if they can have term limits for news anchors and political consultants, they`d pass them, too. And I think that it is an accurate expression of the Trump voter frustration. And independents are equally frustrated.

TODD: No doubt. Term limits are always popular until they find out who is not term limited? Lobbyists.

B. TODD: Right.

TODD: And guess who is in-charge of every state legislature that has term limits in this country, the un-term limit lobbyists. I think term limits -- I bought into it until I saw that happen as a voter. Anyway, Brad, Brian, good stuff, guys.

B. TODD: Good to be with you.

TODD: Thank you. If you want to see a Sully Sullenberger style political crash landing, look back to 1996 when Bob Dole lost the election by 200 plus electoral votes but Republicans gained seats in the Senate. Here is how Dole handled things.

He was at a rally nearly 20 years ago to the day after the RNC said every Republican for themselves. He decided to keep the base excited by talking about, wait for it. The same stuff Trump talks about, Clinton scandals, media bias, immigration and health care. Take a listen.


BOB DOLE, FORMER KANSAS SENATOR: The great Vice President, Albert Gore, going out to this Buddhist temple in LA where they take a vow of poverty and walked out with $122,000. How do they get the money? Oh, nobody knows and nobody seems to care. Nobody really cares because Al Gore has already said that`s the end of it. So the media said, okay, that`s the end of that one.

What am I hearing just the past couple of weeks? Maybe 10% of the people being naturalized to have criminal records because if they don`t rush them in before the November election, that`s an outrage. He and Ted Kennedy will decide what taxes to rise and whether to give you their big healthcare plan back which spends $1.5 trillion and imposes 17 new taxes and 50 new bureaucracies and price controls.


TODD: Let`s bring in the panel. MSNBC Political Analyst, Washington Post The Fix boss, Chris Cillizza; Center for American Progress Senior Vice President for Strategy, Daniella Gibbs L‚ger; we haven`t seen any e-mails of hers yet, Alfonso Aguilar is President of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles and a Former Chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship under Bush 43.

I have a joke there because obviously your former boss at the Center for American Progress was John Podesta. So I`ll leave it there. Alfonso, let me start with you. That`s Bob Dole`s rallying cry when he knew the rest of the party -- he knew his job was keep the base intense.


TODD: It sounded a little bit like Donald Trump today without the talk of trashing other Republicans. If Trump keeps this up, is this a recipe to save the House?

AGUILAR: Well, I don`t know if he`s going to keep it up. Bob Dole is Bob Dole. Donald Trump is his own brand of politician. I mean until now, he was saying that the system is rigged. And I think that suppresses voter turnout from his supporters who may think, why vote if the system is rigged?

Is he changing? We have to see if he`s going to continue with this tone. I have no idea. But, look, at this point, it really doesn`t look good. Republicans are starting to be concerned not only about the Senate but the House as well. States like Texas, Arizona are now leaning Republican, where they should be solidly red.

TODD: Is there a point of overconfidence for Democrats, Daniella?

DANIELLA GIBBS L�GER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS COMMUNICATIONS AND STRATEGY SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT: Always. And I think that`s not going to be the case this time. If you talk to people on the campaign and other folks that are out in the states, they are very worried about people becoming overconfident.

And they`re hitting the ground. And they`re putting that message out there that does it matter what the polls say right now? You have to go out and vote and you have to get all your friends and family out to vote.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, THE FIX WRITER: And President Obama, by the way, in Miami yesterday, that was almost the whole message, which is, you know, progress is on the ballot. Civility is on the -- you know, don`t think that this thing is won. Basically Democrats have done this in the past. Don`t do it this time.

TODD: But they`re going for the kill. I mean, they are -- it is this idea. They`re suddenly -- Barack Obama wasn`t thinking about Senate seats in 2012. She is now.

CILLIZZA: And Barack Obama is, I would say, in a way that he --

TODD: Never had.


CILLIZZA: I remember, Chuck, that you and I -- if you spend any time covering Senate campaigns, you know this. In years past, Senate and Democrats, incumbents and challengers, begged Barack Obama to do more for them or the White House to do more.

And he was very focused on his own elections. I think it is fascinating that he is now super aggressive out there. It also helps the fact that in 2010 and 2014, he was not nearly as popular as he is today.

TODD: Right.

CILLIZZA: So they want him to be out there more.

L�GER: Yeah. And this is his legacy, right? So he wants to make sure that not just Hillary Clinton wins but that she has tailwinds coming in behind her.

AGUILAR: And to echo what you said, I think, Democrats are a little bit concerned about minority turnout. You see it with Hispanic voters. They`re not enthused about Hillary Clinton. Some of the polling that NBC has done shows that.

TODD: And I`m curious, if Latino voters who were fired up are concerned about Trump, if that concern has been, the polls show, all right, he`s not going to win, does that keep Hispanic turnout lower?

AGUILAR: I think so.

L�GER: I don`t know. I think there are much people who heard bad hombres the other day and were like, oh, okay.

AGUILAR: Yeah. The problem is that every four years -- look, I want Latinos to come out in record numbers. But every four years, we say this is the year. Romney talked about self-deportation and they don`t come out.

CILLIZZA: The one thing I`ll say is -- and we don`t know if this doesn`t mean turnout. But the reason that Arizona and Texas especially are close in polling -- I think Trump certainly in Texas probably wins, Arizona closer. But the reason that they`re close is because of the Hispanic vote, right.

I mean he is losing suburban women in both of those areas, in both big cities, and the Hispanic vote is hugely against him. So at least in the run up to it, there is a suggestion that the Hispanic vote remains sort of energized by the prospect of Donald Trump.

I mean, look, if ever the Hispanic vote was going to realize its potential, you would think it would be with someone to vote against someone who is saying, we`re going to build a wall with Mexico, someone who has said Mexico is sending us rapists and criminals. If it`s not now, then I wonder when. And if it is now, Arizona is not fundamentally as competitive as you think.

AGUILAR: But he made sure that immigration is not the most important issue for them. That as much as they dislike Trump and his comments about Mexican immigrants, that`s not enough to bring him out. Take Florida, for example, the I-4 corridor, that`s Puerto Rican. Immigration is not an issue for them.

L�GER: The Puerto Ricans are breaking heavily in that quarter for Hillary Clinton.

TODD: That is true but the reality is none of them, Trump or Hillary, has really connected with that community, talking about issues that are important to them.

CILLIZZA: But I would say, I think -- I still am convinced that for the non-white community in this country, Asian-Americans who we don`t talk as much about, Hispanic Americans, African-Americans, Trump -- it`s not even necessarily immigration or civil rights. It`s not any one issue. This is someone who has said and done things that many people in those communities view as a direct threat to them. In a way that --

TODD: Let me force you guys --

L�GER: You`re 100% correct.

TODD: Let me force you guys to have -- I actually had a Democratic Strategist say to me, they think Trump`s most die-hard supporters, who are not regular voters, that if it looks like Trump can`t win, they don`t come out. There is any idea of belief there?

L�GER: I mean it`s possible. It depends on what does his ground game look like? I know he`s relying a lot on the RNC to supply it. But this is where you need, as a candidate, to get those folks who normally don`t vote. You need to be able to knock on their doors and get them out to vote. So I just don`t know.

CILLIZZA: Well, remember, in any campaign, the most likely predictor that you will vote in this campaign is what? That you voted in the past.

TODD: Exactly.

CILLIZZA: It is a habit. And I would agree with you. I mean I just think, look, if you have one or two offices open in the state of Florida and the one you have is in Sarasota, that`s problematic because these are not regular voters. Voting is not a habit from them.

You need to say you have to go here. There may be a thing that you have to fill. It is not something you do every day. This is not going to Starbucks and ordering a coffee. It`s a different process, particularly if you don`t do it that way.

TODD: Alfonso, I`ll let you.

AGUILAR: No. No. I think just to echo that. If you haven`t voted before, why are you going to vote now if the system is rigged?

TODD: We didn`t had a candidate like Trump before.

AGUILAR: Yeah. But if you look at the polling and you think he`s going to lose, why go out and vote?

TODD: Well, that`s what we`re going to find out. You guys are sticking around. Coming up, though, a telling look at Donald Trump`s down-ballot impact. How Trump`s campaign could put Republican Senate candidates in a no-win situation. One of them even admitted it on camera. And what President Obama is doing this year? We just gave you a little preview. But he is doing something we have never seen him do as President. Stay tuned.


TODD: If you live in some battleground campaign areas, do you feel you`ve seen a lot of President Obama lately? Well, you`re not alone. In recent days, President Obama not only has hit the trail in Miami, Cleveland, Greensboro, Philadelphia, stumping for Hillary Clinton is just scratching the surface. The airwaves are now flooded with TV ads that the President has cut for a bunch of down-ballot Democrats, hoping to turn this election into a mini wave.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This year, the voters of Pinellas County have an opportunity to elect a public servant who has always put the people first: Charlie Crist. Tammy Duckworth is the right person to fill my old Senate seat.

My friend, Kate Brown, is getting things done. I`m backing Catherine Cortez Masto for Senate. (INAUDIBLE) is special. Pamela Harris knows you`ve got to be fearless. Reach for what we know is possible. Support Brad Schneider and the Democrats.


TODD: And I think we know he cut those all in the same day, looks like in the TV spot. But in past years, many Congressional Democrats downplayed an association with President Obama. But now, they just can`t seem to get enough. He`s even popped up on a campaign mailer for -- get ready -- Republican Congressman Darrell Issa.

Here, he is praising the President. If you know Issa, you know he`s one of the President`s biggest critics. You never know where you might see the President pop up next. Perhaps right here. More MTP DAILY coming up. Stay tuned.


TODD: Welcome back. To see the impact of Donald Trump on down-ballot races in a nutshell, let`s take a closer look at incumbent Republican, Kelly Ayotte`s race in New Hampshire. In July of 2015 before Trump started picking up the Republican presidential field one by one, Ayotte held an eight point lead in our NBC News/Marist poll over her Democratic challenger, the Governor of New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan.

After Trump`s nomination, Ayotte first said she supported Trump without endorsing him, whatever that meant. Later, Ayotte said she would stand up to Trump but still vote for him. Finally, after Trump`s lewd 2005 comments came to light this month, Ayotte finally pulled her support but just days before the tape promising to be a check on either Trump or Clinton.


SEN. KELLY AYOTTE, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Let`s be honest. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are far from perfect. And I`m not perfect either. But when partisan politician shut down the government, I led the fight to reopen it. I`m Kelly Ayotte and I approve this message because whether I`m working with Republicans, Democrats or independents, I`m standing out for New Hampshire.


TODD: Closest thing to the check on Hillary Clinton ad. Other down-ballot Republicans have resisted going that route because they don`t want to take a hit from Trump supporters for accepting a Clinton presidency as a foregone conclusion. And now, Ayotte is getting hit for her past support for Trump and for pulling her backing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kelly Ayotte stood by him

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you tell a child to aspire to be like Donald Trump? Would you point to him as a role model?

AYOTTE: Absolutely. I`d do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But now, she`s running away trying to save her political career. Kelly Ayotte is all politics, no principles.


TODD: And now this new WMUR poll has Ayotte down 8% to Hassan, though other polls have the race closer. Of course, it`s not just New Hampshire. As we`ve been saying, a potential Democratic mini wave against Trump puts as many as eight Republican Senate seats in jeopardy.

While Democrats really only defending one. Of course, they need to net four to tip control of the chamber. Joining me now is the guru around here, Charlie Cook, Columnist for National Journal, Editor and Publisher of the (INAUDIBLE) Cook Political Report. Who knew we were going to be so into Senate races this close to the presidential?

CHARLIE COOK, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT EDITOR AND PUBLISHER: I`m glad we have something else to talk about other than the presidential.

TODD: All right.

COOK: It`s very fitting.

TODD: You mentioned the words today. You wrote, Republicans will now have four years to think about what they did to themselves this year. Plenty of time to contemplate the consequences of handing over their party`s car keys to the tea party movement and watching as the quintessential tea partier, Donald Trump, drove the car over a cliff. Now I don`t want to get into the debate about whether Trump is a real tea partier or not, but he certainly was driving the car, is your point here.

COOK: And it certainly is a cliff.

TODD: So it`s off the cliff. You think it`s over? You`re done?

COOK: Yeah. Yeah.

TODD: This is baked, done.

COOK: Yeah. If this were a two or three or four, that`d be different but we`re talking six, seven, eight. And your poll had 11. This is -- and the well is just poisoned without talking about it.

TODD: So I guess the question now, is there going to be a wave or not? The ingredients for a wave are what?

COOK: I think a wave is when you have candidates that voters know very little about that are suddenly competitive or even winning. I mean it`s weird there is a partisan tide. I don`t see that there. I mean, to me, if republicans lose their Senate majority it`s going to be because they had 24 seats up to only 10 for Democrats and seven seats up in Obama`s states. And it`s more asymmetrical exposure for Republicans.

TODD: Short of winning the House is when would you say it was a wave? Can you -- because of the gerrymandering, is there a way that you`d say, yeah, it turned into a wave?

COOK: If it got to the seven -

TODD: Seven Senates be a wage?

COOK: If it was six -- first of all, in the House, I would say if it`s in the high teens --

TODD: It takes away.

COOK: That starts a little bit of a wave and is desperate tasks.

TODD: All right. Let`s start going into some individual ones. I think it`s been interesting. You saw what Kelly Ayotte is trying to do in walk with Trump. She`s against him. Pat Toomey is somebody that has not yet pulled any support, nor really given it to him. He`s tried to stay away. Here was the most honest answer I`ve heard any Senate Republican give when it comes to Trump. Take a listen.


SEN. PAT TOOMEY, PENNSYLVANIA: I`ve been very open and public about my criticisms of him. I also acknowledge that, you know, he might just sign legislation that would be constructive, like repeal of Obamacare and restoring sanctions on Iran. So I am still in the same mode I was Monday night, which is feeling stuck.


TODD: Feeling stuck. And he`s also stuck because those voters in those Philadelphia suburbs loathe Trump. Those voters in the tee that Brad Todd was talking about love him.

COOK: Yeah. And the thing is for the Republicans running in really Democratic states, like Mark Kirk, like Ron Johnson, Illinois and Wisconsin, they`re gone. So Pennsylvania is cued up next. And I think Toomey has run a great campaign. I think he`s got better campaign than Katie McGinty.

I think he`s a better candidate but he`s had some headwinds. But I think he pulled it up to basically even. I think it`s an EBIT money raised. That`s a lot better than Toomey was a few months ago.

TODD: All right. I`m going to see if my graphics people can keep up with this. We`re going to lightning around it and we`re just going to go and show these senate by senate. North Carolina, we have Clinton plus four, Senate race tied. What`s the margin that Burr can`t afford in the presidential to survive?

COOK: Four or five.

TODD: Four or five, that`s right at the line there.

COOK: Yeah. But Burr got off to a horrible start.

TODD: All right. Nevada, we have Clinton plus 7 in the most recent poll. Heck was plus three. The Republican that we`ve heard plenty of he pulled the support from Trump. He may lose Trump supporters.

COOK: Yeah. Yeah. And the thing is Heck looked like he had a better chance of winning than a lot of the other Republicans in tight races. And I think also, the Latino wave. That`s a Latino wave.

TODD: And that think is going. All right, quickly, New Hampshire, is the bottom fall out there or not?

COOK: I can`t tell if it`s fallen out. I`d like to --

TODD: It must say to team Clinton this is the second poll that had her up double-digits.

COOK: Right. But I want to see another one that has up by more than 3 or 4 points.

TODD: All right. I want to do Florida fast. Rubio plus two. Clinton plus four. Rubio has hanged in there but he can`t put them away. I think the state just is incapable of Rubio winning big just because it is too split. But I think Rubio is extremely unlikely to lose.

COOK: I think it`s a little flatter than that.

TODD: All right. Missouri and Indiana to me are in a separate category because it`s the same rate, different parties. Roy Blunt and Evan Bayh have the wrong resume in the wrong year. Can either win?

COOK: I think -- I think Bayh is probably slightly more -- is more likely to win than Blunt. Blunt is probably, you know, probably most endangered incumbent after -- after Mark Kirk and -- and Ron Johnson.

TODD: Okay.


COOK: That`s in a Toomey state -- I mean a Trump state. But it`s anti- Washington. It`s a lot coming in.

TODD: All right. We just did all that. I think the range is four to seven.

COOK: Yeah.

TODD: That`s where it was.

COOK: The thing is, the path for republicans to win a majority is just getting narrower and narrower, now that we know that democrats only need four. And the recipe has always been for republicans, minus four, plus one. They can`t lose more than four of their own seats. And they`ve got to win Nevada. And this path gets narrower and narrower.

TODD: Charlie, more races to talk about. See, there is plenty to talk about. We`ll have more on Donald Trump`s impact on the republican party this Sunday on "Meet the Press." Still ahead, why this year`s divisive election could become the norm. Making a governing nightmare. Stay tuned.


TODD: Just how bipartisan is distrust in government? I`ll have the result just ahead with more "MTP Daily." But, first, here`s Meg Terrell with the the CNBC Market Wrap.

MEG TIRRELL, REPORTER, CNBC: Thanks, Chuck. Stocks ended the week mostly flat. The Dow fell 16 points today. The S&P lost a fraction of a point. The Nasdaq gained 15 points. Internet traffic company Dyn is hit by another cyber attack. Websites and services shut down earlier in the day.

Twitter, Netflix and Sony play station network are among the sites affected. The Wall Street Journal reporting Apple has approached Time Warner and is monitoring the media giant talks with AT&T. The phone giant stock fell 3.2 percent after reports it is considering buying Time Warner. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.


TODD: Welcome back to "MTP Daily." No matter who win or loses in 18 days, this country will remain deeply divided along partisan and cultural fault lines. Yesterday, BuzzFeed news published a troubling analysis about the future of media consumption in this country. Let`s examine hyper-partisan Facebook posts. And found the pages frequently publish false and misleading information.

Their conclusion, quote, people who frequent these hyper-partisan pages on the right and the left exist in completely different segments of the online world. Rarely interacting with or seeing what the other side is seeing. Never mind, most of the posts are factually incorrect. Folks, this is just one symptom of a greater disease.

A survey conducted by Gallop for the University of Virginia looked at why this election is divisive. Finds a growing divide based on education levels, geography, and an increasing cynicism about Washington. The authors write, quote, many Americans are even more set in their view that government cannot be trusted. That its leaders and the leadership class more broadly are incompetent, craven, and self-interested and that as citizens, they personally have little meaningful influence over the powerful institutions or circumstances that shape their lives.

Another take away, what we`re seeing this year could become the norm. We can expect more campaigns and candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the future. I want to dive a little bit deeper into this with my next guest. Co-author of the University of Virginia study. The vanishing center of American democracy, James Davison Hunter.

Mr. Hunter, welcome to the show. I have to say, I`m a little disconcerted by the fact that there is a -- that this is so etched in stone that -- that we have a center to study this missing piece of American democracy. How bad is it?

JAMES DAVISON HUNTER, PROFESSOR, CO-AUTHOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, I think these conditions that bring us to the point we are in today have been developing for about a half a century. So the kind of conditions that generate populous discontent have been -- have been developing, they`ve been intensifying and, quite frankly, they`ve been hardening.

TODD: So let`s look it -- look, I think challenge number one for the next president is restoring confidence in government. Forget the debate about whether government should be large or small. We don`t have the basic confidence in government. Of course, we actually do every day, by simply living our lives, we are expressing more confidence perhaps in government than we realize, right? When it comes to food, safety and things like that.

HUNTER: Right.

TODD: But when asked, we have no confidence. How does that -- how do you restore confidence if none of the leaders are trusted?

HUNTER: Well, first of all, is a distinction between the confidence that the electorate has of local government. As a general rule, citizens like their local government a lot more than they do the federal government. But the -- there is this way in which the federal government, the government in Washington, D.C., is just distrusted.

The presidency, the congress, the senate and so on. And these are trends that have been developing for, again, about a half century. And in our research, we have found that they`re getting hardened. These are trends that are across the board.

They are democrat, republican, independent. Vast majorities of the American electorate are distrustful of Washington and when it claims to make -- it`s going to solve problems, it just doesn`t believe it`s going to do that. It`s one of the ways that disaffection shows up.

TODD: All right. But the problem is, okay, so there`s not any leaders elected or unelected that are trusted in government. Outside of the military. There are generals, I think, you can make an argument that would have credibility.

HUNTER: Right.

TODD: The press doesn`t have credibility right now to tell the electorate, hey, we know you hate this institution but you know what? They do X pretty much. Let`s say we reported that. Universally, it was reported. There still would be a majority that didn`t believe it.

HUNTER: That`s right. That`s right.

TODD: So I guess my question is, we`ve got to search for, it`s not just restoring credibility in action, you also have to be able to find the right spokespeople to convince them that maybe things have been -- are getting fixed.

HUNTER: Well, I think that`s -- that`s part of the story. But there is a way in which the political establishment itself, leaders in both parties, just have lost credibility. There is a high level of cynicism among the American electorate toward anything that political leaders say. And again, I think it`s intensified by the very dynamics you mentioned at the beginning of the segment.

TODD: My frustration is, we`ve all diagnosed the problem.

HUNTER: Right.

TODD: But nobody seems to be able to figure out what -- come up with a -- come up with a remedy.

HUNTER: That`s right. I think the problem is -- is massive. And because we`re talking about political culture, these things don`t change overnight.

TODD: No, they don`t, and it`s gonna require a lot of leaders, maybe sticking their neck out in ways that they`ve never done before. Anyway, this is a conversation we should keep having. James Davison Hunter, it was an enlightening survey. I`m glad you did it. Please keep doing it.

HUNTER: Thanks.

TODD: All right. Up next, you got problems? There is an easy thing to blame. Blame it all on the campaign. Everyone else seems to be doing it. Just ahead.


TODD: Tonight, I`m obsessed with the election blame game. No, not Trump pointing fingers at everyone other than himself or some of the recent struggles. I`m obsessed with how it seems that the election is now the ultimate scapegoat for everyone else`s troubles. Even CEOs are now blaming the election for falling sales.

Restaurants, Wendy`s not selling enough burgers. Where is the beef? Blame the campaign. Americans are not running on Dunkin, at least they`re not buying as many donuts these days. Must be the campaign`s fault. There is a little less finger licking happening at KFC right now. Why? Apparently, the campaign. Retailers, they are also blaming the campaign. Those GAP dancers are a little less peppy than they used to be.

Oh, how about the dip in ratings for the NFL games? Commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference and said, blame the presidential debates. Even the American Psychological Association says that a majority of Americans can blame their high stress levels on this campaign. I know everyone here can relate to that one which brings me to this, it`s time to start blaming everything on this race for the White House. For things that haven`t gone our way.

I`m saying it`s the campaign`s fault that the hurricanes lost 3 games in 12 days. That`s all you`re gonna hear about that from me. And the Dodgers are now facing elimination. I was going to blame Kershaw for not pitching game five. No, I`ll blame the campaign. And then it felt like summer, and we had a heat wave in October, campaign`s fault. The oil change light is on in my car. It has been blinking now for three months, campaign.

No one on my staff has been able to make a doctor`s appointment since last year, campaign. See, it works for everything. Just blame the election. Get in a fight with your spouse? Blame Trump and Clinton. We`ll be back with something I didn`t know was possible. You can lose the Al Smith dinner.


TODD: The Al Smith dinner, benefiting Catholic charities, is as much a part of modern presidential campaigns as the debates themselves. Candidates come together to crack a few jokes for a good cause. One thing I`ve never seen happen, a candidate actually can lose the Al Smith dinner.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PARTY NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT OF U.S.: Hillary is so corrupt. She got kicked off the Watergate Commission. How corrupt do you have to be to get kicked off the Watergate Commission? Pretty corrupt.


TODD: Time for "The Lid." The panel is back. Chris Cillizza, Daniella Gibbs Leger, and Alfonso Aguilar. Chris, I didn`t know you could lose the Al Smith dinner.



CHRIS CILLIZZA, WRITER AT THE FIX, CONTRIBUTOR TO POST, THE WASHINGTON POST: And what do people love more than anything else in humor, someone who`s willing to make fun of themselves. That`s the key, right? But -- I mean -- I said this to you when you were playing that clip. Like, was that -- did he think that that line was like humorous? Had he practiced that line? Because there`s no joke in there.

TODD: Let me give you an example. This is how Romney -- Romney and Obama were pretty intense at this point. Especially at this point.

CILLIZZA: I remember the Al Smith dinner four years ago and they were good.

TODD: Let me play you Romney and Obama. Again, they were barely -- the campaigns were really ticked off at each other. Here`s what they did.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF U.S.: Ultimately, though, tonight`s not about the disagreements Governor Romney and I may have. It`s what we have in common, beginning with our unusual names. Actually, Mitt is his middle name. I wish I could use my middle name.

MITT ROMNEY, SERVED AS GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: When, suddenly, I pulled ahead in some of the major polls, what was the headline? Polls show Obama leading from behind.


ROMNEY: And I`ve already seen early reports from tonight`s dinner. Headline, Obama embraced by Catholics. Romney dines with rich people. (END VIDEO CLIP)


TODD: Look, they were totally correct.

ALFONSO AGUILAR, PRESIDENT OF THE LATINO PARTNERSHIP FOR CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES: Yes, absolutely. It`s always been a fun dinner. I mean, this one was certainly nasty. But to be fair, he was very nasty, he was typical Donald Trump, but she was nasty, too. I mean, she had a couple of lines that were.

LEGER: She had a couple of zingers.

TODD: Let me play -- let`s play one of those Clinton ones, because I agree. And order was everything here. And Trump went before her. And it gave her more leeway. But take a listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PARTY NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT OF U.S.: The good news is that the debates finally allowed republicans to unite around their candidate. The bad news is, it`s Mike Pence.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TODD: Yeah, that was a groan too. There was just uncomfortable moment after uncomfortable moment.

LEGER: There were. But I think she had the benefit of going second, but also, she was self-deprecating, and I felt that was completely missing from what Trump did. She told a joke or two at her own expense. And that`s what you need to do at the Al Smith dinner.

AGUILAR: Trump made fun of Melania.

LEGER: Right, he threw his own wife under the bus.

CILLIZZA: This feels like a metaphor for the entire campaign which is, she`s not great, but he`s so much worse that it drowns out her not being great. And the whole story line is him and how do you bomb at a dinner like this, when, in fact, she said things that didn`t go over terribly well. But it doesn`t even matter, because he literally just blocks the sun out every time.

TODD: By the way, what if she had gone first, imagine how he would have reacted to her.

LEGER: That would have been amazing to watch.

AGUILAR: In a weird way, I think he was actually enjoying himself, even when she was speaking, he was -- he was smiling. Rudy Giuliani didn`t seem very happy. But I think he was enjoying himself. I think what was revealing is what Cardinal Dolan said afterwards. That apparently he told her that she was very talented and she told him that, you know, after the election she wanted to work with him.

TODD: Do you think that was a confession in front of Cardinal Dolan? Let`s say the nicest possible thing I`m going to say because Cardinal Dolan is here.

LEGER: I think it`s that, yeah.

CILLIZZA: Cardinal Dolan is going to be on the "Today" show the next day, and someone`s going to say, what were they like in private? I mean, he`s not -- he`s a savvy consumer.

TODD: Cardinal Dolan is one of the savviest Pauls out there, domestically.

LEGER: He can teach Donald Trump a thing or two.

TODD: There is no doubt. By the way, before we go, I know it`s 45 seconds, I`ve got to play you this Joe Biden bite just for fun. Listen.

(START VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF U.S.: The press always ask me, don`t I wish I were debating him? No, I wish we were in high school and I could take him behind the gym. That`s what I wish.



CILLIZZA: I do think, though, that this does make a real point, which is, you see this with Michelle Obama and Joe Biden. These people are more willing to do things for Hillary Clinton because they personally dislike Donald Trump. It`s not necessarily about party, I think President Obama`s the same way. They feel personally affronted by him. And as a result, you see them moving around and doing more.

TODD: If this were Clinton/Romney, I don`t know how enthusiastic Michelle Obama or Joe Biden would be.

LEGER: I don`t know.

TODD: We don`t know. Can`t have that race, can we?

CILLIZZA: Well, we could! TODD: Have a good weekend. You guys can do that on a podcast. After the break, the unexpected guest that caused mass hysteria in the White House briefing room today. Stay tuned.


TODD: Last night in case you missed it, Bill Murray was at the White House today. It surprised the press corps in the briefing room.

(START VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does standing there make you feel like you might want to run for president one day?

BILL MURRAY, ACTOR, COMEDIAN, AND WRITER: No, I would -- I could get -- I think I somehow get into maybe the cabinet and then there would be like a bad bus accident or something and I would be elevated, but there would be be lives saved. But ask me again in four years.


TODD: So why was he there? When reporters asked him first, the White House press staff didn`t seem to know. Was he there to use the White House pool or maybe the White House pond? Pool or pond, pond`s probably good for him. He`s actually in D.C. to receive the Mark Twain prize for American humor. And President Obama had Murray come by to congratulate him. An incredible Cinderella story. By the way, Bill, go Dodgers. That`s all for tonight. "With All Due Respect" starts right now.