Show: MTP DAILY Date: November 3, 2016 Guest: Bill Burton, Jon Ralston, Nancy Gibbs, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Al Cardenas, Steve Kraske
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Thursday. Campaign excitement is in the air. Just five days until America decides.
(voice-over): Tonight, traveling interstate 270. How where the candidates have been shows where they think they are going.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Five days away from the change you have been waiting for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Plus, can Hillary Clinton break down the big red GOP wall? We`ve got new polls from Georgia, Texas and Arizona.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, for the first time, we have a real chance to turn this state blue again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And Mitch McConnell has a new plan to save his job as majority leader, embrace Trump.
This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
(on camera): Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd here at election headquarters in New York City. And welcome to MTP DAILY.
With five days to go, the campaign trail, of course, is hopping. Trump went nuclear, though, by claiming that Clinton will somehow be indicted. The Clinton campaign put out their own hit list on Trump`s various insults.
We`ve also got some new NBC News-"Wall Street Journal" Marist battleground polls hot off the presses. We`re going to dive into all of that in a moment.
But first, let`s begin with a bigger look at this race. The race is a -- of course, is about getting to 270. Yes, ad dollars matter. So, do national headlines. The presidential contests are won and lost on the ground.
And, for that reason, a campaign schedule is king. Today. The Trump campaign blitzed the battlegrounds, including events in Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania where Melania stumped for the very first time. And Trump just finished speaking in North Carolina.
Democrats had events in Wisconsin. Obama spoke twice today in Florida. Sanders stumped in Ohio. Clinton spoke in North Carolina.
And both sides brought out the biggest guns they can bring out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This isn`t a joke. This isn`t "Survivor." This isn`t "The Bachelorette." This counts.
TRUMP: If she were to win, it would create unprecedented constitutional crisis.
CLINTON: If Donald Trump were to win this election, we would have a commander in chief who is completely out of his depth and whose ideas are incredibly dangerous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: So, what do you think the stakes are for this election? Just small, huh? If you just listen to Trump and Clinton there. Geez, anyway.
Campaign presence tells you everything. It cuts through all the spin because it shows you what these campaigns care about and where they think they`re vulnerable. And we`ve been tracking every single stop made by the candidates since the conventions. Hundreds of them.
And we`ll start with Trump. While Trump is an untraditional candidate, his schedule hasn`t been untraditional. In fact, he`s blitzed all the traditional battleground since the convention, making more than 20 stops each in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
And, of course, it`s for good reason. He`s got to win every single one of those states I just named just to get into the game. He can`t even start thinking about 270 until he sweeps those four states. He`s made fewer stops in places where Clinton has held consistent leads, like Virginia or the big blue wall of Wisconsin and Michigan. Although, he`s likely going to need to break through somewhere in the upper Midwest to win.
He`s also made fewer stops in Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada and Iowa. And here are the states he`s barely visited which includes places his campaign initially boasted about that they wanted to put in play, like deep blue Connecticut, New Jersey and Illinois.
Trump also had to make a few pit stops in traditionally red states to try to shore up some support, like in Arizona, even Texas and, of course, don`t forget about his stop in battleground Mexico. Now, not New Mexico. Of course, I`m talking about his visit to Mexico. And then, there`s Mike Pence who`s been to Utah.
But now, let`s go to the Clinton map. Clinton`s heat map screams one thing, Florida, Florida, Florida. She is stumping the sunshine state, winning 20 times since the convention. Her next most visited states looks a lot like Trump`s, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania. But there`s been a lot of Nevada and Iowa with Clinton.
And rounding out our heat map of travel is a mix of offense and some defense. There`s been the traditional battlegrounds like New Hampshire and Colorado. There`s red Arizona which is potentially in play, despite only going blue once since 1948. And then, of course, blue Michigan where the Trump campaign is hoping to pull an upset.
Clinton and Trump have run polar opposite campaigns, but they both at least seem to agree where to travel. The path to the White House goes through Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. They are the most visited battleground states for both sides by far. The schedule never lies.
[17:05:06] I am joined now by two folks who know a thing or two about battleground blitzes and why the schedules do tell us something. Sara Fagan is a CNBC Contributor, former Bush 43 political director and campaign strategist to the 2004 Bush relay. Bill Burton was President Obama`s deputy press secretary, national press secretary for the 2008 campaign, and, of course, was with Priorities USA which was the presidential campaign`s super PAC for Obama in 2012. Welcome to both of you.
So, the campaign schedule, Sara, it is, obviously, and I`ve always hear this, there is one thing you can never get more of and that is a candidate`s time.
SARA FAGEN, CNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That`s right.
TODD: So, the schedule is king. These schedules have been pretty traditional.
FAGEN: They have been traditional. Look, the Trump folks are smart. They know that you`ve got to win Florida. That is the most important state for him. He looks reasonably strong or at least -- perhaps slightly ahead in Ohio. And then, of course, then that gets harder for him.
So, Florida and then it`s Pennsylvania most likely. That`s probably the best path for Trump to claim the electoral college victory. Although that does still look pretty tough, in my view. But his schedule reflects that.
TODD: You know, Bill, when you make a decision as a campaign to go to a state that hasn`t really been in the battleground, say Michigan, or Wisconsin right now, or Virginia when it comes Clinton-Kaine campaign, you know you`re going to take some heat when that announcement gets made. But why would you do that this late in the game?
BILL BURTON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DUPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Well, there`s a variety of reasons why you would go into some of these states right now, even if you have a significant lead. For example, you know, in Pennsylvania where Clinton has shown some strength, they don`t have early voting. So, her going to Pennsylvania or Tim Kaine or some of the surrogates going there later in the game makes sense, just to make sure that you`re shoring up your base.
Because everywhere you go, you likely end up on the front page of the newspaper. If you look at the front page of the "Arizona Republic Today," it`s a strong front page for Hillary Clinton.
BURTON: You dominate local news coverage and your support grows. And, plus, you know, the voter contact is very important. The Clinton campaign, when you go to her events, there`s folks with clipboards everywhere.
BURTON: They`re collecting everyone`s information and they`re drive -- getting those folks out to vote. So, do big events really matter even this late in the game? Particularly in the competitive battlegrounds.
TODD: You know, you bring up a -- I`m glad you brought up that point. It`s exactly where I was transitioning. You know, Sara, we have seen plenty of reports that the Trump campaign will hold a great rally, --
TODD: -- pass out all of these pieces of -- volunteer cards, things like that. And then, you hear they forget to collect them or they don`t go. And I guess it is -- that has been one of these cases where you see just as the Trump campaign is picking up momentum, I`ve been accumulating these little anecdotes about ground game issues.
TODD: And wonder, boy, where is that going to cost them? You know, is that a point in Florida? Is that a half a point in, you know, North Carolina?
FAGEN: Yes, I think if Donald Trump ends up losing some of these key battlegrounds by a point or a half a point, he`s going to wish he never said that the data infrastructure was overrated.
And, look, there`s real reasons why he`s behind Clinton on this. The Republican primary is long and divisive and he didn`t become the nominee until late. But, nonetheless, you know, remains the fact that she`s had more time and has invested more heavily in a ground game. And I think for Donald Trump to win a state like Ohio or Pennsylvania, it`s not good enough to be tied. He`s got to be up a point or two, maybe as much as three points because of what Democrats have built in 2008 and 2012 in the Obama victories.
FAGEN: They have some better infrastructure than the Republicans anyway by definition when you have a commander in chief sitting in the White House that`s of your party.
TODD: Well, and, Bill, one of the things we`ve noticed here and it`s not surprising you guys perfected this and started to do it in 2008 which is when you hold a rally in, say, late October in Florida, the Clinton campaign has been planning them as close to an early voting location as they can. And I saw it in North Carolina.
The Trump campaign hasn`t been doing that as much. And, you know, maybe that just goes to inexperience on the ground.
BURTON: Right, it`s a big -- it`s a big problem for the Trump. Because the Clinton campaign, like the Obama campaign before it, is very focused on the actual mechanics of voting. What do people need to do in order to get their ballots or to get to the polling place and make sure that their vote is counted?
And, you know, making sure that there`s transportation, having organized -- I remember in 2908, we had people organize marches from the rallies over to the early voting locations. And, you know, Robby, the campaign manager of the Clinton campaign, is one of the geniuses in the field in the whole country. So, he`s been working on this for long time.
And I think Donald Trump has been a little late to the game and is doing his best to catch up. But it`s things like that. Thinking about the mechanics. Thinking about how do you collect the information? How do you analyze the data that you have? It all matters.
[17:10:10] And, like Sara was saying, --
BURTON: -- you know, if you`ve got places that are a half point or one point or two points away, you know, that can really make the difference.
TODD: You know, we talk about the power of the candidates himself. Surrogates matter a lot. And, obviously, the surrogate, the power of the surrogate, that the Democrats have versus the Republican ticket, I mean, there really hasn`t been a comparison, because Trump has not had party elders wanting to be a part of this.
But he did, finally, have his spouse out today campaigning on her own. Let me play an excerpt of her speech today in Philadelphia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELANIA TRUMP: You have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other. We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Now, Sara, what I found was interesting is that they had her do a speech when I think what they need is they need some retail campaigning.
TODD: And it seems to be that that is something that is another deficit of the Trump campaign. And part of it could be just simply because Republican Party elders haven`t been too fond. It`s not like you have -- we have the -- you the Obamas --
TODD: -- helping the Clintons. We don`t have the Bushes and the Romneys helping the Trumps.
FAGEN: No, that`s true. But, look, I think having Melania Trump on the campaign trail, you know, regardless of the event, is definitely a net positive for Mr. Trump. I mean, she is graceful and elegant. And she definitely softens him up. And her speech, while it`s gotten some ridicule because of the nature of talking about bullying and cyber stalking and so forth, which she`s right about, you know, she`s gotten criticism.
TODD: Was that the camp -- because it`s maybe the wrong campaign to be putting out that message?
FAGEN: Well, I mean, you know, you -- there`s been all kind of analogies on Twitter. You know, Bernie Madoff`s wife, and so forth. But the reality is, like, you know, she`s right. And she`s lovely and elegant. And Donald Trump should have her on the campaign trail every day doing as many events as she`s willing to do.
TODD: Bill, how much of an advantage do you think this has been for Democrats that you have? Obamas, Bidens and a Clinton spouse. And Trump has, basically, been going it alone. He gets -- you know, he`s got Giuliani. He`s got -- sometimes he`s got Christie though not anymore. And some of them are not as effective as they used to be.
BURTON: You know, back a long time ago, I was John Kerry`s Midwest communication`s director. And that meant that we would organize all the different folks who -- on a campaign that Sara beat us on, by the way. But as surrogates would come through, you would try to get local press for them, in Iowa, Minnesota, --
BURTON: -- Wisconsin. And, you know, if you didn`t have a ted Kennedy or a real major surrogate come out for you, you couldn`t get any local press on it. So, the fact that Hillary Clinton can bring the president, the first lady, the vice president and on and on, and Donald Trump has only been using himself and now Melania, it`s a huge advantage for Clinton.
And, you know, I agree with Sara. The more Melania is out on the trail, probably the better it is for Trump. And I think they were smart to send her to a place like Pennsylvania where there are a lot of voters who I think that she might appeal to. But it`s pretty late in the --
TODD: I was just going to say, it`s awfully late.
BURTON: -- game to start to do that.
BURTON: It`s very late in the game. And, you know, we`ll see how big of an impact that it really has.
TODD: All right, I`m going to leave it there. Sara Fagen, Bill Burton, two pros.
TODD: Appreciate it.
Coming up, can Hillary Clinton break through in some of the reddest of states? Two weeks ago, they really thought they could. We`re going to reveal our brand new state polls from states maybe that are turning pink, not quite blue. Stay tuned.
TODD: Welcome back. As we teased at the top, we do have some brand-new NBC-"Wallstreet Journal" Marist polls and some of the borderline former red states that might be inches into the battleground. We`ve got some interesting results out of Arizona and Georgia, and we`ll share those with you in a minute.
But we also checked in on Texas, because there hadn`t been a good, actual, solid poll in Texas in a long time. And here`s what we found. We had Trump leading by nine point, 49 percent. Clinton at 40, Johnson and Stein at combined eight percent. That nine-point lead for Trump, right now, is a lot smaller than a 16-point win that Romney grabbed Texas with in 2012. Something to keep in -- keep in mind. And when I show you this next poll from California. We`ll go from the biggest red state, in terms of electoral votes, to the biggest blue state.
So, a new online poll conducted by the field research who used to be the preeminent phone poll in California, they have Clinton with a 20-point lead over Trump in California right now, 53-33. But perhaps the bigger news from this poll is they have Clinton leading Trump all over the place, including in traditionally Republican strongholds like Orange County.
But there`s something else here I want you to keep an eye on on election night. Taken together, these numbers out of Texas and California highlight what demographics were already telling us. Many of the deep blue states are getting even bluer in this country.
In some of the bigger, red states might be actually getting a bit pinker. And even though Trump may compete in more of the battlegrounds than Mitt Romney did, consider this. We could end up in a place on Tuesday night where Trump wins more electoral votes than Romney`s 206. But he could win, sort of perform worse, in the popular vote.
If you just look at Texas, that tells you, he`s not going to get the big margins. But Clinton is going to get ginormous margins in a California. So, we`ll see.
Coming up, though, we`ll have new numbers in Arizona and Georgia. Both states still competitive. We`ll be right back.
TODD: Welcome back to MTP DAILY. We have those brand-new NBC-"Wallstreet Journal" Marist polls we have to tell you about from Arizona and Georgia. In states that Democrats have been talking about putting into play for a decade now.
So, let`s take a look. First, there`s Arizona. Hillary Clinton appeared at a huge rally last night. We have Trump at 45. Clinton at 40. Thanks to our likely voter model. Gary Johnson, who, of course, was governor of neighboring New Mexico, is below 10 percent now, sitting at nine. Jill Stein at three percent.
Compare that to where things stood in early September. Trump`s actually widened his lead a bit. But, as you can really see, it`s those third party candidates that have gone away and that may be helping Trump more than anything. Clinton`s best shot here is if Gary Johnson gets into double digits.
Now, to Georgia. Here, it is neck and neck. Democrats have been eager to try to capitalize on these demographic changes in Georgia which are similar to North Carolina. And, right now, though, Trump is ahead of Clinton by only one point in the three-way race. Among likely voters, he`s at 45. Clinton at 44. We`ve got Johnson at eight. Jill Stein, by the way, is not on the ballot. In early September, our poll showed Trump two points ahead, 44-42.
Now, we`ll see what this means. But we`re assuming an African-American electorate of 30 percent and that`s what keeps Georgia very close. The question is, will African turnout and the African-American electorate equal that 30 percent number? That will tell us how accurate this Georgia poll is.
[17:20:08] But if you can`t wait another five days for this race to be over, you might be in luck when it comes to Nevada. Over 610,000 people have already voted in the silver state. With Democratic affiliated voters outpacing Republicans and according to data, all of that collected and tabulated by NBC News and Target Smart.
But our friend in Nevada, political guru Jon Ralston, thinks we might know if the race is basically done when early voting ends tomorrow night. And all of it is based on turnout in one critical county.
So, what does he mean here? Well, let`s talk to him. Ralston joins me now from Las Vegas. He`s, of course, an NBC Contributor, political analyst for KTNV. So, John, you`ve got a lot of my colleagues and producers all fired up. And intrigued when you said you thought you could call Nevada after tomorrow night. What makes you so confident?
JON RALSTON, POLITICAL ANALYST, KTNV: Well, I`m not that confident, Chuck. You know how we pundits are. We always talk much more confidently than we actually are. Listen, there`s going to be two-thirds of the vote in. Clark County, as you know, Chuck, is a hugely Democratic county where the Democrats always build up this firewall, in terms of early votes and absentee ballots return.
They have a 55,000 vote lead right now in that county. They`re hoping to get it up above 60, maybe closer to 70 which is where it was in 2012. When it was 70,000 in 2012, Barack Obama won the state by seven points.
All the data I`ve seen indicates if they get it up above 60, get it to 65 or so, based on what`s going on in Washoe County, which is the other urban area, Reno, it is going to be almost impossible for Donald Trump to win Nevada unless something changes today or tomorrow.
TODD: Where is he underperforming?
RALSTON: Well, I`m not so sure he`s underperforming as much as the Democrats so nominate in Nevada. They have a 90,000 voter edge state wide. They have this Clark County bash and they have the Reid -- Harry Reid Democratic Party machine.
But there is one thing going on that I`ve been able to pick up on that`s going on in some other places, too, I think, Chuck, which is that Hillary Clinton is holding the Democratic base. And maybe even higher numbers, in some cases, than Barack Obama did. And Trump is hemorrhaging Republicans.
And there`s one other thing, too, that I think is really interesting that`s going on, Chuck. Independents, about 20 percent of the electorate here, they went for Romney by some number of points or maybe they went for Obama, excuse me, for a few points in 2012. They are leaning towards the Democrats now. They are -- they are much less white than they were in the past. And those voters and significant numbers, I think they`re going against Trump.
TODD: And let me ask you one last question before I let you go. The Mormon vote in Nevada, it`s a little bit bigger in Nevada than it is in most other states outside of Utah and Arizona. How much of a problem is that for Trump? And are you seeing any evidence that it -- that Mormons are either a crossover for Clinton or not voting or looking for a third alternative?
RALSTON: Yes, Gary Johnson is on the battle here. I think some Mormons are going to vote for Gary Johnson. But not a lot because of his performance and because some of his views are not going to comport with theirs. But it`s clear that Mormons here feel the same way as Mormons in Utah. They don`t like Trump.
Does that mean they`re going to vote for Hillary Clinton, Chuck? I think some of them will but I think many of them will not. But every one of them that doesn`t vote for Trump hurts him.
TODD: Jon Ralston. We will be -- everybody will be refreshing the Ralston flash tomorrow night to get that final analysis from you on that early vote out there. Thank you, sir.
RALSTON: Thanks, Chuck.
TODD: All right, let me bring in the panel for the -- for the evening. Nancy Gibbs, managing editor for "Time" magazine. Al Cardenas, former senior advisor to Jeb Bush and a former chairman of the Florida Republican Party. And Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of "The Nation." Welcome to all of you.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE NATION": Thank you.
TODD: Al, before I -- you know, I`m going to ask you this only because I see a lot of other Republicans going -- suddenly, who were never Trump, going to Trump.
AL CARDENAS, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR, JEB BUSH CAMPAIGN: Right.
TODD: Where are you today?
CARDENAS: No, I`m not there. And if we`re going to rebuild the party, we can`t be too critical of each other.
CARDENAS: But, you know, I don`t see many going to Hillary. I thought there`d be more of that so that`s encouraging, in terms of rebuilding the party. But, yes, there`s a lot of pressure at the end. I think some of this anti --
TODD: Have you felt more pressure lately?
CARDENAS: You know, I have. But, you know, not so much from others. I think, by now, people know where I am and they`ve left me alone.
But I think it`s more of the, you know, renewed FBI investigations. Republicans are saying, you know, we`re going to have to deal with a lot of distractions. Maybe, you know, this is an election about who`s the least to worst candidate, and maybe Donald Trump is it. And, plus, he`s wearing our colors (ph). And so, some of that is happening.
But I think that the main reason he`s surged, before this FBI thing, were twofold. One, Gary Johnson`s dropped a lot and I think he`s been the beneficiary of most of it. And, surprisingly, the undecideds have been, like, cut in half in the three weeks. He`s received, you know, a larger share of those (ph).
[17:25:09] TODD: (INAUDIBLE) is exactly right. I think Clinton got her -- Clinton got to 48 a lot sooner than Trump got to where he`s at. If -- let`s say he`s at 45. He`s only just gotten there. I think whatever Johnson-Stein vote was taken from her, she grabbed it after the third debate.
NANCY GIBBS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I think that`s right. It`s interesting in the Arizona results --
GIBBS: -- that her favorabilities have gone up since you were last there in September. And that`s, basically, the debates.
GIBBS: And his are about the same but they`ve gone down a little bit. So, it`s -- you know, obviously, it`s different state to state, but I do feel as though the real balances did -- the "Access Hollywood" and all of that drama hurt him as much or more than the e-mail drama has been hurting her.
TODD: Katrina, do you buy that what we`re seeing this week is a Comey effect or not? Or do you think we would have seen it anyway, that there is a natural, sort of, people make their choice?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, "THE NATION": Natural, coming together at the end of this very, very long election season.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The long drive (INAUDIBLE.)
VANDEN HEUVEL: It may be over. The problem is that it won`t be over. We will be in that new terrain.
But what strikes me, Todd, I have to say, I know we`re talking horse racing polls --
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- which is important. It`s just how -- it`s stunning how little attention to policy there has been.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And I think, you know, the Tindil (ph) report of respected news, a monitoring organization, came up with a study the other day, showing that the three main network evening broadcasts devoted 32 minutes of attention to policy since the beginning.
TODD: But let me ask you this, though.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think that plays a role, I have to say.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Because in their closing arguments, you see Donald Trump. He`s going to be the change candidate. And it isn`t any establishment year. He keeps stepping on his lines, --
VANDEN HEUVEL: -- because he`s really tracking grievance not policy. And Hillary Clinton wants to say, I`m historic. But she, you know, has 64,000 good policies, many of them good, not all. But she`s having a hard time moving away from just saying Trump is unfit.
TODD: But she --
VANDEN HEUVEL: That`s not about --
TODD: Well, I was just going to say -- I`m going to say, I`m glad you brought it -- because I -- look, beating up on the media is a past time. But you cover the camp --
TODD: -- you cover the campaign that`s there, not the one that you want sometimes.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, --
TODD: And I say is that because Al -- I mean, what -- Trump and -- look at how Trump and Clinton are closing. They`re not closing on policy. There`s not one policy they`re closing on.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I know, but I believe, often, there`s too much attention to policy and not enough to emotion and character. But, Todd, come on. I mean, we`ve seen cable news. CNN just tracked $1 billion in gross profits. Not because they couldn`t have done a little more substance. But they gave, virtually at the beginning of this race, unfiltered access to Donald Trump. Why? Because he`s quick bait. His ratings and revenue.
TODD: Look, I hear you there. But the point is, both campaigns, what -- they`re not running on policy. She`s not closing on policy.
GIBBS: Clinton absolutely would have because she`s the one who loves policy and has the, you know, 120,000 words worth of policy on her Web site. Except, they made a calculation that Trump`s fitness for office was the much better strategy.
TODD: Was an easier path to the White House.
GIBBS: It isn`t that she doesn`t care about it or doesn`t want to talk about it. I do think it`s tricky. If you have one candidate who would like to talk about policy until the cows come home and the other one who just isn`t in that space, how do you even approach that?
CARDENAS: You know, it`s interesting because some of the conversations have been had in the GOP camp have been shut down as too risky. But the one conversation was, you know, she`s a double of Richard Nixon just on the Democrat side. Smart, capable, experience, but with every trick up her sleeves, secretive. And people are looking at that, saying, whoa, let`s not do that, because our guys like Richard Nixon and who are we to do that?
But, you know, Donald Trump`s got five days to go. He`s not there. The only way for him to be there is to take some risks. Now, where`s the vote going to come from? People are not moving from where they are, the voters, except the undecideds.
TODD: They got (INAUDIBLE.)
CARDENAS: Except the undecideds and some of the Gary Johnson three or four percent he`s got left. And so, that`s not a bad play to do. I mean, you - - this election is about characters, way too late to be a policy in the equation.
TODD: Yes, it`s been a character election now, I think, for six months. All right. You guys are sticking around the rest of the show still ahead.
I want to check in on Missouri. It`s been a wild political year in Missouri and it`s not really a part of the presidential battleground. You`ve got a Senate race that`s going to be about the fight for control. We`re going to be determining it there. And a crazy governor`s race that`s very close.
And Donald Trump, by the way, is touting new trouble for Hillary Clinton and her foundation. Pete Williams, though, will join me next to try to separate fact from fiction on the latest rumors and innuendo regarding the FBI. Stay tuned.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, GOP NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT: The FBI agents say their investigation is likely to yield an indictment. Reports also show the political leadership at the Department of Justice is trying to protect Hillary Clinton and is interfering with the FBI`s criminal investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, "MEET THE PRESS DAILY" SHOW HOST: So Donald Trump today is hoping to capitalize on a bunch of rough headlines for the Clinton campaign. The "Wall Street Journal" reported late last night on a supposed feud within the FBI over pursuing the investigation into the Clinton Foundation and that`s separately, they said this, quote, officials at the justice department headquarters sent a message to all the offices involved to stand down on investigating the foundation.
Also late last night, citing two sources inside the FBI. Fox News reported that an indictment was, quote, likely in the Clinton Foundation case. The Fox News anchor Bret Baier who broke the story walked back that reporting a bit today.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANCHOR FOR FOX: I pressed these sources again and again, what would happen? I got to the end of that and said they have a lot of evidence that would likely lead to an indictment. But that`s not, that`s inartfully answered. That`s not the process. That`s not how you do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Which was what we are all about to explain there. Fox is standing by its reporting that there is a 99 percent chance that at least five foreign intelligence agencies breached Clinton`s private server. So, when it comes to the FBI and the justice department, there is only one person to go to to find out what`s really going on here, Pete Williams, our chief justice correspondent.
So, Pete, let`s walk through the "Wall Street Journal" story that claims that there is a feud inside the FBI and a feud between FBI injustice over pursuing the Clinton Foundation case. First of all, what is the status of the FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: There really isn`t one, if you want to call it investigation. That`s a term of art in the FBI. There was an initial inquiry that was opened a couple of months ago based largely on media reports and a book called "Clinton Cash."
There were some initial things done in that. But the FBI officials tell me there`s been virtually no movement on that case for the last several months. So this idea that there are indictments near or something like that I am told is just not true.
TODD: On the second one, this idea that the server that the Clinton home server was that they know for a certain that it was breached by at least five different foreign entities. That would be big news if true, correct?
WILLIAMS: Indeed, so. And I am told that there -- there is no such view. Go back to what Comey said in July when he announced that no charges should be filed. He said that there were signs of attempted breaches into the computer and that they couldn`t -- they simply can`t say for sure whether it was breached.
They say if it was, it might have been the kind of breach that would not have left any signs, so they concluded they couldn`t know for sure, but they found no positive proof of any successful hacks.
TODD: I`m curious how the FBI is handling the fact there is all sorts of leaks and innuendo now percolating all over. What you`re saying is essentially that both the journal and the Fox stories are totally overheated and overheight.
Does the FBI think at some point considering how much a role they perhaps are playing right now inadvertently in this campaign that if that is the case they, themselves, should put out notice on that?
WILLIAMS: Well, let me just feel a little bit careful here. On the journal story, there is certainly -- you know, it`s not surprising. It`s certainly true that the case agents working the case and headquarters and the justice department disagreed and there were some pretty strong feelings.
Now, that`s not unusual in these cases, there have been -- I think about the Boston marathon bombing, the Omar Mateen case. There are lots of times when field agents think, you know, if main justice would just let us go, we could do this. So that`s not unusual. But I don`t think you`re gonna hear anything from the FBI in the next few days.
TODD: Do you think they are -- Are they comfortable with all this innuendo that has been based on FBI sources?
WILLIAMS: Well, they don`t like it certainly. But they don`t believe that the answer is to come out and say anything. I think many of the guys said enough last Friday.
TODD: Yeah, I guess. All right. Pete Williams, in our Washington Newsroom. Pete, thank you very much. We`ll have more "MTP Daily" ahead. Here`s Hampton Pearson with CNBC Market Wrap.
HAMPTON PEARSON, REPORTER, CNBC: Thanks, Chuck. We had stocks closing lower across the board. The Dow sinking by 29 points. The S&P off by nine. The Nasdaq dropping 47. Shares of Starbucks are higher after hour. The company reported revenue and earnings that beat estimates. Same store sales were up by 4 percent.
First time jobless claims rose to a near three-month high last week. However, claims remain below the level associated with a healthy labor market. The report comes one day after the government`s closely watched jobs data. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
TODD: Five days out from election day and it`s still anyone`s guess which party will control the senate next term. It seems like democrats were favored. Now, I am not sure. More on that and Mitch McConnell`s new strategy to keep his job later. One key seat to democrats may need a flip to win the majority in Missouri. That`s our race of the day.
This contest puts longtime political power, Roy Blunt, against a young democrat, Missouri Secretary of State, Jason Kander, getting hit on residency issues, ties to big tobacco, and his relationship with lobbyist. Monmouth had a poll out just yesterday that has Blunt essentially clinging to a one-point lead, the closest it`s been all year.
One thing that sets Missouri apart though from other states with close races is Donald Trump is actually outperforming the republican senate candidate. According to Monmouth, Trump is winning 96 percent of republicans. Blunt is winning just 90 percent. So it`s no surprise, Blunt is now playing to the republican base to the Trump base actually.
Joining me now to try to figure out what`s going on in Missouri is City Star columnist Steve Kraske. Steve, it is interesting here, it`s not really a presidential battleground that got a little bit close, I think pre-Comey, but it`s starting to look like it`s leaning red federal ways these days.
But both the senate and governor race are incredibly competitive and democrats are showing surprising strength in a state that is appears to be going red on the presidential level. What`s happening?
STEVE KRASKE, POLITICAL COLUMNIST FOR THE KANSAS CITY STAR: It`s interesting, Chuck. By all means, outsiders are the story in Missouri as they have been so much across the country. That has been Donald Trump story, obviously. The outsider in the U.S. senate race is the democrat Jason Kander.
He really isn`t so much of an outsider. He`s a four-year secretary of state, a three-term state law maker. But he`s 35-years-old and that gets him sort of a bearing continence of someone who`s different, someone who`s coming at this from the outside.
Roy Blunt as you just mentioned, obviously, a longtime insider in Missouri, a longstanding career in the U.S. House of Representatives, followed up by his single term now in the U.S. senate. And if it`s the year of the outsider, it`s not a good year for someone like Roy Blunt, who again has been the consummate insider for so many years.
TODD: So could it be that Trump voters who are, you know, wanting to essentially like just, you know, throw the Molotov cocktail at Washington, is that why Blunt is under performing Trump?
KRASKE: I think that begins to get at it. Again, Blunt being such an insider in this strange year, Missouri is like this outsider thing, will talk about the governor`s race in just a moment and in that race, the outsider is making a very strong push in a race that`s virtually deadlocked here.
You know, the state is very simple in terms of how it breaks down, Chuck, as you well know. The two big things go democratic. The rest of the state is always bright red on the election map. And it`s looking very red now in our State of Missouri that Monmouth poll had Trump up by 14 points, Chuck.
TODD: Let me just ask you this, this one out question which is, I guess -- I feel like Missouri is becoming a more reliable republican state on the presidential level. But clearly it still is competitive down the ballot.
Is that something, is that a, is that a statement about the state democratic party and the state republican party? Is this simply a coincidence or something a black swan type thing? What is happening below the radar here?
KRASKE: Chuck, it`s a statement on the Missouri republican party. Republicans are getting decimated cycle after cycle by these very competitive primaries we`ve had out here, including the one this year for governor on the republican side. A four-way, very strong four candidates fighting it out in the primary here.
And those primaries have been under cutting, undermining republican candidates statewide, now, going back a number of years. They`ve got to figure that out going forward as has been the case in so many states, the democrats are the disciplined ones suddenly in Missouri.
TODD: Well, it sounds like what`s happening in Missouri inside the republican party is similar to what`s happening here in Washington inside the republican party. Steve Kraske, good to see you.
KRASKE: Thank you, Chuck.
TODD: Appreciate it. Up next, why I`m obsessed with the number 7. Stay tuned.
TODD: Now, tonight my obsession is with the seven-game series. Obviously, the most thrilling way to wrap up any championship. What if anything could be decided this way? How about a best of seven? Never mind, you don`t want that. But seriously, coming off the excitement of last night`s nail biting world series game. I have been obsessed with trying to figure out, who should we credit with the genius of game seven.
Who invented the seven-game series? The answer is one of the original national league owners, John T. Brush, of the New York Giants. The seven game format was one of the so-called Brush rules adopted in 1905 after Brush blocked the 1904 championship games. At the time he refused to allow his giants who played Boston, because he thought that the American league was inferior, duh, still is.
The next year under his rule, his team played the Philadelphia athletics in the second world series. Giants won in game five. First series to actually go to Brush`s seven-game ending was in 1909. Pittsburgh pirates beat the Detroit Tigers in their first championship of the MLB era.
A decade later, there was a brief flirtation with a nine-game series, but it only lasted for three years. Hoping for the best. I don`t Chicago or Cleveland fans could have handled even more games and certainly not Aroldis Chapman nor Andrew Miller, their arms are about to fall off. Anyways, thank you, Mr. Brush, for game seven. We`ll be right back.
TODD: Welcome back to "The Lid." The panel is back. Nancy Gibbs, Al Cardenas, and Katrina Vanden Heuvel. you know, I was really intrigued by something today from Mitch McConnell. We do not have footage of it, but he was campaigning across the State of Kentucky last night and basically gave what is for McConnell, his first real endorsement of Trump.
He`s always said he`s going to vote for him, but he said this. We need a new president. Donald Trump to be the most powerful republican in America. You know, Nancy, he`s -- this is Mitch McConnell, who has not been comfortable with Trump the whole time.
I think he has always viewed him as the guy who`s going to cost him his senate majority leader title. Now, he thinks, maybe the only shot he has of keeping that title is to embrace him.
NANCY GIBBS, ESSAYIST AND MANAGING EDITOR FOR TIME MAGAZINE: And if he keeps it, maybe, in fact, he will be the most powerful republican.
TODD: He may be thinking that way.
AL CARDENAS, LAWYER, POLITICIAN, AND CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: What I think he`s thinking is he doesn`t like the idea of being a senate minority leader. And the way to keep a majority is to have Donald Trump do better in a number of states, where the fault line is such that our candidates may not win.
TODD: It makes sense, politically. You look at -- look at the segment I just did about Missouri. Blunt is underperforming Trump. And you look at, you know, Pat Toomey is in a box, because he needs those philly suburbs, but needs a big turnout.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER OF "THE NATION": Blunt, I think, is underperforming, because he`s viewed as the establishment candidate. That is a more republican state. And McConnell, I think, is desperate to get on the change in any establishment bandwagon. Good luck.
TODD: But I`m curious, Al, because you`ve been, you know, pretty never Trump. And you have some others. And then there`s been this late sort of, okay, let`s embrace Trump. But if he loses, do all these people -- what do they do with the stand of Trump now?
CARDENAS: Well, you know, it depends on Trump. Talking about this T.V. he might do, he might want to lead the effort to take over the RNC and other state parties. Folks are talking about that. At one point, I thought, you know, he kind of banished, because he`ll lose by five, six, seven points. Doesn`t seem to be the case. I think this election may get a little closer. I don`t know if we can get above 230 votes.
TODD: That`s what`s interesting. Suddenly -- I`m with you, Al, I think a lot of republicans who thought they were getting ready the to rebuild the party, your Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Trump world believes they not only should have a seat at that table, but run at the table.
GIBBS: They may be the builders. If that`s what they want to do. The theory about, they have a completely different plan. We have absolutely no way of knowing. This is not a team that has been laying that groundwork for decades.
VANDEN HEUVEL: It`s hard to say. Every step, every breath he takes, Trump seems to be reducing the coalition. I mean, it`s rousing a base, but it`s not building in new voters and new coalitions.
TODD: But who will own this -- somebody -- if Trump walks away, somebody is still going to represent this piece.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think there will be a civil war. I mean, this is conventional wisdom. I think there will be a civil war inside the republican party. I think Paul Ryan will probably preside over a much more extreme husk of a house.
TODD: You`re assuming Ryan can get the votes.
VANDEN HEUVEL: If he can get the votes.
TODD: . to be speaker. I don`t know.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think the senate is vital for Hillary Clinton. I mean, she will be one of the few first-term democratic presidents to come in without control of the house and the senate. And if she`s going to be able to govern, she`s going to need a senate to take back a court and maybe executive actions, as Obama learned in the second term, because Mitch McConnell wanted to take him down, day one.
TODD: Well, George H.W. Bush is the last first-term president to come in with having the party, the other party controlling both. That does make your first term hard.
CARDENAS: Yeah, it does. Because, frankly, 70 percent of what you get to do, you do in the first six months of your first year in office.
TODD: And guess what, George H.W. Bush was a one-term president.
GIBBS: It also depends on what Chuck Schumer thinks about nuclear options and other tactics in the senate.
TODD: Oh, I think we`re headed to a nuclear option, no matter what.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Let`s hope we`re not headed to nuclear war. That`s a different discussion.
TODD: That`s a different discussion. We`ll leave it there. You guys are great. Nancy, Al, Katrina, good to see you all.
After the break, the state to watch next Tuesday night or maybe Wednesday morning, here`s a hint. I cannot see it from my house. Stay tuned.
TODD: Well, in case you missed it, there might be a sleeper toss-up state, one that will probably get called once we all go finally to sleep too early on election night, it`s Alaska. That`s right, Alaska. Could it be a closely contested state this year? Let`s make the case.
The last frontier has only voted democratic once since achieving statehood in 1959. But hear me out. Here`s why Alaska could be competitive this cycle. First, native Alaskans. They make up 15 percent of the state`s population and the state`s largest native organization endorsed Hillary Clinton. It`s the group`s first-ever political endorsement.
Two, another demographic note. About 28 percent of white Alaskans do have college degrees, more than in Ohio and Iowa. That would be a positive potentially for Clinton. Next, both the Trump campaign and the Johnson campaign missed the deadline to get their biographies in the voter pamphlet that gets sent to every single registered voter. That`s right, Donald Trump forgot that. So their information is only on the online version, but not what came into houses.
And the third party vote could matter in Alaska big-time this year. VP nominee Bill Weld stumped for his running mate Gary Johnson last week in anchorage. Polls have had Johnson as high as 18 percent last month. And speaking of polls, a live telephone poll last week had Clinton up in Alaska by four points.
Folks we`re not ready to throw Alaska into the toss-up pile. We have it leaning Republican for now. But we`re telling you the state might be worth staying up late on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.
That`s al we have for tonight. With All Due Respect, though, starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END