Show: MTP DAILY Date: November 10, 2016 Guest: Reince Priebus, Matthew Continetti, Molly Ball, Cornell Belcher, Bob Casey, Hampton Pearson, Jeff Flake
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Yes, it`s Thursday. Meet the new boss. Not at all the same as the old one.
(voice over): Tonight, meet the Trumps. The Obamas host the next first family as the 2017 transition team kicks it into high gear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: I`ll talk to RNC chairman, Reince Priebus. Plus, the never Trumpers contend with their new political reality. Republican Senator Jeff Blake joins me.
And the real reason Hillary Clinton lost the election. It`s not what you think.
This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
(on camera): Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd back here on the MEET THE PRESS home set. Welcome to MTP DAILY.
A sobering reality now faces president-elect Trump. Pulling off the most historic upset in American politics, that was the easy part. Now comes the really hard stuff. He`s got to govern.
We`re going to speak with RNC chairman, Reince Priebus, a possible candidate to be Trump`s chief of staff in just a moment, about exactly that and a whole lot more.
But first, it was a busy day here in Washington as a flurry of transition meetings played out against a backdrop of social unrest last night. Anti- Trump protests flared all over urban America from New York to Chicago to Seattle, Los Angeles, you name it. More are planned for today.
Speaking of today, president-elect Trump met with President Obama at the White House. And in the great American tradition, these two political rivals presented a united front in transitioning the executive branch to -- from one to the other. It was an extraordinary moment because of how ordinary it really is. This is what outgoing and incoming presidents do, period.
Here`s President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is important for all of us, regardless of party and regardless of political preferences, to now come together, work together to deal with the many challenges that we face. And most of all, I want to emphasize to you, Mr. president-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed, because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And then here`s president-elect Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The meeting lasted for almost an hour and a half, and it could have -- as far as I`m concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer. I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel. He explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets and some of the -- some of the really great things that have been achieved.
So, Mr. President, it was a great honor being with you, and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: The two also shared a lighthearted moment just as the cameras were about to stop rolling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re not -- we are not going to be taking any questions. Thank you, guys. Thank you. That was a good rule. Don`t answer questions when they just start.
TRUMP: It`s always the last one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Then, of course, Trump actually did answer a shouted question there which a whole bunch of pool reporters are thinking, oh, a president that may answer shouted questions. That should be interesting.
Anyway, Trump met with House speaker Paul Ryan. A few moments later with future first lady Melania Trump by his side, where both leaders talked and shared -- talked about a shared conservative agenda.
Trump also met with Senator majority leader Mitch McConnell. Their meeting wrapping up just a few hours ago.
Folks, all of these transition meetings underscore one hugely important point. Transitions between parties are always complicated. And adding to the difficulty, a big majority of the American electorate doesn`t think Trump is qualified to be president. More people in this country voted for Clinton, not Trump, and huge chunks of the minority population in our country say they`re literally scared of his presidency.
So, let`s dive in. I`m joined by RNC chairman Reince Priebus. Mr. Chairman, first, congratulations because as many people know, Trump doesn`t win without the RNC.
REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, RNC: Well, we don`t win without a great candidate like president-elect Donald Trump. So, you need both things. You need a great candidate. A historical candidate. Someone who has energized the country. Even a lot of Democrats came out and voted for him as well.
So, that`s always the first ingredient is a great candidate and we had one. And what he did was historic.
TODD: So, he obviously ran hard against Washington. Today, though -- and said how rigged it is. Today, Washington embraced him. How does -- how does he square that?
[17:05:04] PRIEBUS: Well, I think you saw it starting on Wednesday morning when he gave his speech at 2:30 in the morning. I can tell you that he wrote that speech. And he decided that we`re not going to continue -- this is not a continuation of the campaign speech.
This is bringing America together, calming the waters, selling America. I`m going to be your president, no matter what your political background is, no matter what your religion faith, everything. I am going to be your president. I thought it was an important message.
You saw him today. You played a lot of clips. It was a great day. And it was -- it was president-elect Trump. And that`s what people saw.
And so, he gets that. He wants to do the things that he`s talked about. But he wants to make all the Americans proud, not just Republicans, but everybody. And I know that. And that`s his heart`s desire is to do a great job and be a great president.
TODD: You saw the pictures last night. A lot of protests in a lot of cities in America. Do you believe he should at least make an attempt to address it a little bit and try to do what you`re trying to say here which is he wants to present a message of unity, at least at the start of this administration. Do you think there`s something he can say or do to try to calm the waters?
PRIEBUS: Well, I thought -- and, Chuck, I thought his speech was perfectly on message and eternally fantastic. And his meeting today, I mean, it was a 15-minute meeting and it went 90 minutes. So, that should tell America something about president-elect Trump. That -- and they genuinely had a good meeting. And you could see what was going on today.
Those are the kind of things that I think give Americans real confidence. I thought Secretary Clinton conceding in a speech yesterday was --
PRIEBUS: -- important.
So, I think everyone gets it. I mean, it`s time to move on, get going on real things that matter in this country, you know. And I know that`s where Donald Trump is.
TODD: Do you think there is -- he should, as a way to underline that point or put an exclamation point on it, say, you know what? There isn`t going to be mass deportations or the -- there isn`t going to be a Muslim ban, per se. Some of this was heated rhetoric. Do you think it`s necessary for him to say as president-elect now?
PRIEBUS: But, Chuck -- and I know what you`re saying.
PRIEBUS: And he just gave a speech at two -- you know, Wednesday morning. It`s Thursday now. He had meetings all day with the president. I know you get that. But he`s already said those things in the campaign. He`s already said -- I mean, this is now going on since June that he has said that it`s not -- there is no ban on Muslims in America. This is a matter of restricting immigration from places that harbor terrorism, number one.
And he also said that the only deportation process that might go on is getting rid of the criminal elements of immigration in our country. Then after that, we will look at the plan moving forward with people that remain. So, that has been said over and over and over again.
TODD: Well, that -- but it was that last part.
PRIEBUS: But, again, it`s only been since Wednesday morning.
TODD: No, I understand that and the uncertainty. I just throw it out there. As he continues to send out this unifying message, do you see that as -- do you see him taking more steps?
TODD: Maybe it`s not exactly the way I described but more steps like that that, sort of, at least give the appearance of a bridge or an olive branch.
PRIEBUS: Yes, and I`m not sure. I mean, I don`t -- I`m not the spokesperson for him, but I think --
TODD: Well, not yet.
PRIEBUS: -- I understand where his head`s at.
TODD: Are you --
PRIEBUS: And I don`t -- no, I don`t know, Chuck. It my -- that`s not something that we`re talking about. I know people don`t believe those things when people -- but we`re just not talking about those sorts of plans right now. It`s been a day, basically. And there`s just this slow-moving process.
TODD: Right. Let me ask, if asked to serve in a Trump administration, do you want to do that?
PRIEBUS: I`ll have to wait -- I mean, obviously, I would be honored to continue to help him in any way that I can. But right now, I`m the chairman of the RNC. I love the job. We delivered and it was a great feeling.
TODD: Do you -- obviously, the RNC turnout, what you guys showed. I thought what was interesting, and I`ve had this conversation I think with some of your folks offline as well, is while you hit all your targets, perhaps the surprising thing was Clinton underperforming. Is that how you read this election?
PRIEBUS: But, yes, both of those things, I mean, it was amazing. What people need to understand. And I know mechanics can be boring. And I know you love it, too, Chuck, like I do. But the key to all this ground game talk and data -- and everyone swirls with information. But the most important ingredient is accurately guessing turnout.
[17:10:03] Because if you -- if you can`t guess with turnout, then you actually never know how many ballots you need in the box. And that`s where the RNC excelled. We knew -- like, for example, in Florida. We projected turnout to be 9.4 million voters. It goes beyond that but it was actually --
PRIEBUS: -- 9.386 million voters. Meaning we pinpointed the actual turnout by 23,000 votes which is unbelievably stunning. And we did it in state after state after state, and that is the key to winning on the ground.
TODD: Let me ask you about a couple other pieces of things in the news today. One is a "Washington Post" report from Russia that said, we had contact with the Trump campaign. This is deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov who says this. Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage. Quite a few have been staying in touch with Russian representatives.
During the campaign, the Trump campaign had denied any links, any formal back and forth with members of the Russian government. What`s the -- what`s the truth here?
PRIEBUS: I think it`s sounds like -- I think it`s preposterous. And I think it`s ridiculous (ph).
TODD: Do you think the Russians are making it up? Do you think they`re just trolling --
PRIEBUS: Well, whoever is writing that -- well, one of two things are happening.
TODD: This is a quote. I read you a quote from the Russian deputy foreign minister.
PRIEBUS: Right. Well, then, either the -- either the person is not telling the truth and is spinning some sort of P.R. message that is totally bogus, or the writer themselves is lying which I don`t suggest that. So, it must be the former.
So, it`s ridiculous. I`ve never heard of anything like that. It`s insanity.
TODD: And finally, I want to ask you about Donald Trump`s business dealings and, obviously, his business. There is no conflict of interest law that impacts the president or the vice president. But there is a conflict of interest law for every member of the executive branch. Congress passed that law.
They can`t -- separation of powers, they can`t do it for the president and the vice president. Will a president Trump abide by the same conflict of interest rules that govern executive branch staffers?
PRIEBUS: I mean, I would imagine so. But it`s not something I`m involved with, Chuck. I mean, and I know this is an important question. But it`s just not something I`m dealing with. It`s not something that I`m in --I`m involved with.
So, you know, you`re asking the wrong person, as far as conflict details and in particular employees in different departments. You know, that`s something, I think, we`re a little bit too soon.
But I would imagine so. I mean, he`s going to do everything, I think, as well as he can. And I think he`s going to impress a lot of people and I think he`s going to be a great president.
TODD: Finally, this was in the "New York Times" today, and it sort of surprised me. It came from NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell. And he said the following. He said, the election of Donald Trump makes his job harder on the issue of domestic violence.
He says this. I have twin daughters and a wife, so I have to explain that to them. So, yes, on that front, does it make it harder publicly? Listen, I think our country has to have more respect for one another and we have to unite.
What do you say -- obviously, the NFL has been dealing with its own image problems when it comes with women and domestic abuse and all of that. If that`s the commissioner of the NFL responding to president-elect Trump`s -- to Donald Trump`s election, what -- do you have a comment?
PRIEBUS: Other than he treats people with tremendous dignity and respect, number one. Number two, I think people are going to see very quickly the president Donald Trump in action. And I think they`re going to be impressed with what happens. And I think he`s going to be a great president.
TODD: You know, it was interesting today watching him with President Obama. It looked to me as if the weight of the job was starting to -- that he was starting to realize the weight of the job. Do you get that sense?
PRIEBUS: Oh, I think he always understood the weight of the job. I mean, he`s taken on mountain after mountain. Now, this is a huge job. This is a massive responsibility. I think he totally gets it.
I saw that on Wednesday morning when he was preparing his speech, and what he wasn`t willing to say and what he was willing to say. And it was all about bringing the country together, moving forward and accomplishing the goals that he set out on the campaign.
It wasn`t about bragging. It wasn`t about rhetoric. It was about leadership. And I saw it instantly when I was in his kitchen and he was there working on his plans moving forward. I see president Trump forming right now and it`s a good thing.
TODD: All right. Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican Party. Again, you know, you had to deal with a lot of grief from a lot of people for in multiple cycles. And I think the -- you look at where the Republican Party is today up and down the ballot in the RNC ground game, and I think a lot of people owe a thank you to you.
[17:15:00] PRIEBUS: I appreciate that, Chuck. We worked hard and everyone here is thrilled.
TODD: All right. Reince Priebus. Until we -- I hope to have the first interview with you when you`re chief of staff.
PRIEBUS: Oh, please. That`s crazy. Thanks.
TODD: You got it.
PRIEBUS: All right. We just got our first look at another transition meeting that happened today in Washington. This is a White House photo of first lady Michelle Obama meeting with Melania Trump. There we go there.
All right, let`s bring in my panel, "The Atlantic`s" Molly Ball, Democratic pollster and strategist Cornell Belcher, and "Washington Free Beacon" editor and chief, Matthew Continetti.
Matthew, let me start with you. You were not a low-profile never Trumper. Are you -- where are you on watch -- what you`ve seen with -- from president-elect Trump in the last 24 hours? Are you -- feel better, less nervous or what?
MATTHEW CONTINETTI, EDITOR AND CHIEF, "WASHINGTON FREE BEACAN": I`m mildly optimistic. This is the most significant political event of my lifetime. I was born six months after Reagan was inaugurated. And it only really compares to Reagan`s election.
And even then, there`s some differences, right? Because Reagan was a two- term governor of California. He had been in the public eye since he started --
TODD: He had run for the presidency before.
CONTINETTI: He had run for the president in 1976. And Trump has none of that. And, of course, Reagan also had a Republican Party that was not in control of Congress. I don`t know the condition in the states. I don`t think --
TODD: He had just gotten the Senate. Yes.
CONTINETTI: Right. So, he got the Senate, right, in 1988, lost in 1986. So, it`s a much more powerful Republican Party overall and a much more of a novice taking office in what is -- can only be a political earthquake.
TODD: I don`t know what -- it did -- I don`t know. I mean, we`re all going to interpret this. But you`ve gotten to know Trump a little bit. I`ve gotten to know him a little bit. That looked like a -- somebody who was a little bit nervous. But you would think anybody in that position would be.
MOLLY BALL, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": Sure. I mean, I learned long ago never to try to read Donald Trump`s mind. But, certainly, his affect was quite subdued. And I think he is trying to show people that he`s going to take this seriously.
As a candidate, he was often not taken seriously. He often did not behave in a serious manner. He was often very erratic and undisciplined. And so, to the extent that he wants to prove to people that he can really do this job. He`s going to act in a way that reflects the gravity of the office, I think.
TODD: Cornell, you know President Obama pretty well, having been his pollster two campaigns in a row. He is clearly going out of his way to basically say, look, I am not going to -- I want to talk about this. So, I`m not going to -- he`s not making political points while he`s standing with the president-elect.
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND POLLSTER: No, he`s behaving like a president should. And he`s behaving like George Bush did with him. I`ve got to tell you, he looked -- to me, Trump looked like tale is the dog who always chases the car. And what happens when you actually chase the car -- when you actually catch the car? And I don`t know which meeting was more awkward, him with Ryan or him with -- quite frankly, with the president, right?
TODD: You`re right. I don`t know which -- I think we`re all wondering that one.
BELCHER: And I think that`s part of the challenge for him because he -- I mean, he has not sort of been friends of the Republican establishment right now so he`s got some battles within -- to deal Republican Party actually to deal with.
But I think, at this point, you know, -- and I actually got caught up yesterday in some of the protests -- in trafficking a protest. And I have friends of mine and family members who are literally scared, Chuck, --
BELCHER: -- about what`s going on in this country in this. I think how he un -- how he unfolds and how he talks and how he talks about the transition in the next couple of days, next couple of weeks. These are going to be awfully important because you`ve got an awful lot of --
TODD: He`s got to address this.
BELCHER: -- (INAUDIBLE.)
TODD: Yes. I need to get it in some form and show that he can handle a situation like this.
BELCHER: Yes, I think he does. It`s important because we have people out there who are afraid.
TODD: All right. I`m going to pause the conversation here. Sneak in a quick break. Coming up, we`re going to talk about the hard lessons that the Democrats need to learn from Tuesday`s outcome. Senator Bob Casey will join me to discuss the way forward for his party, and we`ll start actually in his home state of Pennsylvania.
Plus, he openly mocked his president`s -- party`s presidential nominee. One of the most vocal anti-Trump Republicans in the Senate joins me ahead. Stay tuned.
TODD: Welcome back. Tuesday was not the historic night Hillary Clinton wanted it to be, but it was an historic night for women further down the ballot. Get this, the number of women of color who will be in the United States Senate quadrupled on election night.
Right now, Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, a Japanese American, is the only woman of color serving in the 100-member body. She`s only the second woman of color ever to serve in the Senate.
Well, come January, there will be three more, Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, Kamala Harris of California, and Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada. All women of color. All newly elected Democrats. It`s still a small group but it`s four times larger than any other time in American history.
We`ll be right back.
TODD: Welcome back. In some of the largest cities in this country, thousands of protesters packed the streets last night to protest president- elect Trump. But the passion fueling those urban protests wasn`t enough to overcome how Trump overperformed in rural America, especially in states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Take a look at the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania, in fact. Donald Trump received 232,000 more votes than Mitt Romney did in 2012. And Hillary Clinton got 145,000 fewer votes than Obama.
So, what`s next for the party and who is their leader? Joining me now is Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. He won reelection in 2012 when Obama kept the state blue. And he, if he chooses to run for reelection, would be up in 2018.
Senator Casey, welcome back, sir.
SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Chuck, good to be with you. Thank you.
TODD: So, tell me in your words, what happened in Pennsylvania?
CASEY: Well, Chuck, I think what you saw was the usual Democratic performance in rather substantial high numbers in southeastern Pennsylvania. Philadelphia was very strong. Suburban Philadelphia was and in a number of other communities.
But what we saw western -- in western Pennsylvania, and to a large extent in the middle of the state as well, is Democratic performance that was down but even down below where it was in 2012. So, this problem didn`t just arise this year. This has been happening over a number of years.
I saw a lot of them when I was running in 2012, for example. But I think it was off even more substantially this time. So, if you`re a Democrat like me, you`ve to be able to have conversations with folks that live in those communities and do some listening and do some learning.
TODD: I don`t remember seeing Hillary Clinton do a lot of outreach in the -- in the T of Pennsylvania. Was that a mistake, in hindsight?
CASEY: Well, look, I`m not going to analyze, you know, strategy and I`ll leave that to others to analyze the campaign. I`m just talking about going forward. Democrats are going to have to have a more direct conversation with, and a lot of that conversation is going to be listening, to folks in those communities.
[17:25:12] TODD: But I want to pause here. I can`t -- it just strikes me. I`m talking to Bob Casey Jr., right? And your dad and you, you won elections not on the back of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. You won because of how well you did in a -- in the Scratons (ph). Is it possible that Hillary Clinton didn`t connect to the Scratons of the world? And because, you know, Barack Obama had a Joe Biden by his side who certainly was part of the ticket. Is that part of it, too?
CASEY: Chuck, I`ll leave that to others to analyze that. But what I`m saying is that I think that as a party, and I start with myself, we`re going to have to figure out ways to engage with voters in those communities.
I think trade is an area where, in this election, that was a driving issue. But if -- look, if can -- if we have a effort made to come together in common purpose on an issue like infrastructure, rebuilding roads and bridges, we`ve got 5,200 bridges in our state structurally deficient.
We`ve got large segments of our rural population in Pennsylvania and around the country where there`s no broadband deployments. You have people living in small towns and rural areas that don`t have broadband or any way to have connectivity to the Internet.
So, I think there are a lot of ways we can -- we can engage with folks but we obviously have to do better.
TODD: Senate Democrats are basically, for all intense and purposes, the leader of the Democratic Party right now, the operational or functioning leader of the Democratic opposition. What does that mean to you? What do -- how should Democrats perform -- conduct themselves as an opposition party when it comes to dealing with president Trump?
CASEY: Well, look, there are probably a number of areas where we can work with them. Infrastructure is one. He may have a conflict with his own party on that. We have been trying for years to have a bipartisan substantial investment in infrastructure. We`ll see if the Republicans go along with us. But I think that`s one area.
But there are going to be areas where we don`t agree. I mean, if -- for example, I`ll just speak for myself here but I think it`s true of a lot of Democrats. If president-elect Trump embraces fully, for example, the Ryan budget, he`s not going to get my vote on that. Which would devastate programs like Medicaid which is not just a program for poor children in our inner city, but it`s also a major reason why people can get into nursing homes, for example. That`s not going to work very well in Pennsylvania.
TODD: Well, let me ask you about the Supreme Court. Senate Republicans basically decided to prevent the Senate from -- prevent President Obama from filling the Supreme Court opening for about nine months. Will Senate Democrats allow president-elect Trump to fill that vacancy or will Senate Democrats decide that they will fight this just as hard as Republicans fought it?
CASEY: Well, first of all, I think Merrick Garland should get a hearing and a vote this year in the -- in the post-election period, because Senate Republicans have been totally derelict in their duty. There is no constitutional basis or otherwise for the position they`ve taken to deny him.
But when it comes to Trump administration`s Supreme Court nominees, we`re going to -- we`re going to question them very closely. We`re going to -- we`re going to scrutinize them and then make -- then make a decision.
I`ll speaking for myself. I think that --
TODD: You won`t go along with a filibuster. You won`t go along -- you -- yes, go ahead.
CASEY: There`s nothing wrong with filibustering. But when you nominate someone of the Supreme Court, they should get a hearing and a vote.
TODD: You don`t think that there are some partisan Democrats will -- who are going to say to you and beg you to say, hey, do everything you can to prevent them from ever filling this, since they did that to President Obama. Why wouldn`t you do it tit for tat?
CASEY: Well, because you can`t say, in 2016, that someone deserves a hearing and a vote. That doesn`t mean you fight very hard to make sure that when they`re in that area of that time of review and scrutiny, that you question them and you cast a vote against them if you don`t think they`re -- they have the temperament and the judicial philosophy that would be -- you think would be appropriate for the Supreme Court.
But we want to start, first of all, with getting Merrick Garland a hearing and a vote. And then, we`ll see what the new administration does with -- if there is a vacancy coming up.
[17:30:00] TODD: Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania. Good to see you. Are you -- are you running for reelection for sure? Have you decided yet?
BOB CASEY, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM PENNSYLVANIA: Yes, I will be, Chuck. Thanks.
TODD: All right. There it is. For any of my Pennsylvania reporter friends, he`s running again. All right. Thank you, Senator Casey.
CASEY: Thanks, Chuck.
TODD: My colleague Rachel Maddow will have an exclusive interview with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, tonight at 9 p.m. eastern. Still ahead, never say never. Will the congressional republicans who spoke out against Donald Trump get behind their new president? Senator Jeff Flake joins me with his take. Stay tuned.
TODD: President-elect Donald Trump was not the only special guest at the White House today. Shortly after meeting with Trump, President Obama welcomed the NBA champions, Cleveland Cavaliers. President praised the team for their actions both on and off the court including their charitable contributions to the Cleveland community.
But hey, Lebron was at the White House, and this time in a Cleveland jersey rather than a Miami jersey to celebrate. Anyway, we got more "MTP Daily" just ahead, but first here`s Hampton Pearson with the CNBC Market Wrap.
HAMPTON PEARSON, REPORTER, CNBC: Thanks, Chuck. We had a mixed close of the markets, but for the Dow which surged 218 points is a record high. The S&P gains 4, the Nasdaq sheds 42 points. Disney shares are sinking after hours. The company reported revenue and earnings that missed estimates.
The stock is up more than 2 percent in late trading. And filings for first- time jobless benefits fell by 11,000 last week to 254,000. They remain well below the level associated with a healthy labor market. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
TODD: Welcome back to "MTP Daily." Republican leaders in Capitol Hill greeted president-elect Donald Trump with open arms today. But how President Trump will work with congress remains to be seen, especially how he deals with those within his own party who did not support him.
Joining me now is one of those republicans and one of Trump`s most vocal critics in the party, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. This is his first interview since Trump was elected. Senator Flake, welcome back to the show, sir.
JEFF FLAKE, JUNIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM ARIZONA: Thanks for having me on.
TODD: We`ve gone from him at one point threatening to have a Super PAC fund a challenge against you, if necessary, to where we are today. How do you expect to work with a President Trump in the U.S. senate?
FLAKE: Well, I was very pleased to see the speech that he gave just after he won. I thought it was gracious and uplifting and healing. And so I will look for the good, assume the best, and hope he does as well.
TODD: You had -- you were really troubled more, I think, on much of his -- the personal behavior coupled -- and the Muslim ban, I think, really was one of your last straws as well. That`s really not off the table. Does he have to take that off the table for you to get more comfortable working with him?
FLAKE: Well, we`ll see what -- what comes down. I think that he`s going to work with congress where he can, and he`s shown that today. He sat down with Paul Ryan, I understand, and leader McConnell as well, and that`s a good sign. We`ve seen all good signs so far. Obviously in congress, we`ll go along.
There are a lot of things we agree on getting rid of some of these burdens in regulations, Obamacare. There is a big menu that we could choose from on areas we agree completely on. We`ll obviously encounter some issues where we differ and we`ll deal with those when we get to them.
TODD: What is -- whose agenda is it? Kay Granger yesterday, congresswoman if Texas who was not a Trump supporter, said, you know what? He earned this election, and in many ways a lot of republicans should acknowledge -- that a lot of republicans owe their reelection to him, and to the turnout and to the support levels that he got particularly in some parts of, you know, looking at Wisconsin, for instance.
And you`re in the majority, arguably because of how well he did in Wisconsin and Indiana and Missouri. So whose agenda is it? Is it his agenda? Is he the captain here, or do senate and congressional republicans, do you get to push your agenda?
FLAKE: Well, obviously, he`s the leader of the party. He`s the president- elect of the United States. And I think all of us who have opposed him during the process of eating a huge helping of crow already. I didn`t think that he would get this far, I really didn`t.
Having said that, obviously, when there are areas of disagreement and there may be some, there will be some, we`ll push back. But in the meantime, there are a lot of things we agree on. I think he`s been gracious, you know, so far in terms of outreach and has done it right so far. We`ll see where we go.
TODD: I just interviewed Senator Bob Casey, democrat from Pennsylvania. I asked him about -- I said, why wouldn`t democrats, senate democrats do the same thing to a Trump Supreme Court nominee that basically senate republicans did to Merrick Garland, and I will set aside, you have been a loud voice of saying Merrick Garland deserves a hearing, Merrick Garland deserves a vote, all of those things.
I`m well aware of that. But would you blame democrats if Chuck Schumer said, you know what? We`re just going to make this impossible for you to try get this. We`re going to put every barrier we can to make sure that this is as difficult as possible to confirm this justice. Would you blame him?
FLAKE: No. I think a number of us, a number of republicans were approached by the news media on reports that people would demand that we not confirm any Hillary Clinton nominee or not allow them to be considered if we were to retain the majority, and a number of us said no, that`s not reasonable.
That`s not what we were sent to the senate to do. And I would expect that most democrats feel the same way. You may have a few who want to block forever, but you can`t do that. You shouldn`t do that in the senate. So I would expect them to be reasonable.
TODD: But -- did you -- and Senator Casey said he wouldn`t do that. He said it would be hypocritical, we demand a hearing and a vote, so he wouldn`t do that.
TODD: But is is -- you know, he is also still saying, still holding out hope that Merrick Garland is gonna somehow get a hearing now and a vote. That`s not gonna happen. But has this been a stain on the senate?
FLAKE: Well, I think, you know, since 2003, when democrats first and republicans later, have kind of blocked the president`s executive calendar, which was really never done before that, I think it has been a stain on the senate. I hope we can get back to moving the president`s nominees and cabinet officials at least to the floor for a vote.
So it has not been good for the senate. I hope we can move away. I do think we ought to continue to treasure the legislative filibuster. It makes for better legislation, it forces people to work across the aisle, and, you know, it`s not so prone to overreach by either party.
TODD: So you will not support any movement by McConnell to go to a nuclear option, so-called nuclear option?
FLAKE: On legislative agenda? No.
TODD: Or on the Supreme Court. What about on the Supreme Court?
FLAKE: No. I would like to return to where we were prior to 2003 when simply nobody ever filibustered an executive -- a part of the president`s executive calendar, including Supreme Court nominees. So, I hope that we don`t do that.
But if we did, it would simply be de facto, or what was de facto prior to 2003. What I`m most concerned about is the legislative filibuster and not breaking with senate tradition there. Because that`s been there for a reason and it`s been good for the institution and good for the country.
TODD: As every senator will tell you that`s been there a while, you`re only in the majority until you`re in the minority.
FLAKE: That`s exactly right. It`s tough to remember sometimes, but it always happens.
TODD: It is. Senator Jeff Flake, republican from Arizona. Good to see you, sir. Thanks for coming on.
FLAKE: Thanks for having me.
TODD: You got it. Just ahead. Why I`m obsessed with a big myth about this election? Plus, a look at some of Trump`s promises about the first 100 days. Stay tuned.
TODD: Welcome back. I`m obsessed with a big myth that`s emerging from Tuesday, the myth that Donald Trump won the election over, you know, overwhelming with a turnout. In fact, it`s Hillary Clinton who lost this election. And here`s what I mean by that. All along we wondered whether Donald Trump would change the electorate. It turned out she changed the electorate.
Hillary Clinton was handed the Obama coalition and she turned it back into the Al Gore/John Kerry coalition. In other words, she brought up the very electorate that Gore and Kerry got. The electorate that was just good enough to lose, close but not quite. One proof. Compare the number of Mitt Romney votes. Mitt Romney won in Wisconsin in 2012 to what Donald Trump got this year. It`s almost identical.
Now, compare President Obama`s 2012 vote. 1.6 million plus to Hillary Clinton`s less than 1.4 million. Now, that`s a difference. That`s a big difference between Obama winning big in 2012. He won Wisconsin by nearly seven points, and Clinton losing it very small in 2016. Want more proof? Let`s take a look at Michigan. Trump actually outperformed Romney by 164,000 votes.
But look at what happened to Hillary Clinton. She did a lot worse than Obama. She got almost 300,000 fewer votes. So, instead of winning easily, she`s down by 12,000 votes with the counting still going on. Let`s be clear. Donald Trump did bring out some new white voters, especially in suburban and rural areas. In Pennsylvania, he added more than 200,000 votes to Romney`s total. He did generate enthusiasm.
That`s all true and that`s exactly what Hillary Clinton could not do. She could not generate enthusiasm. So yes, we in the media most definitely got the result wrong. But as we gnash our teeth over what we missed, let`s not miss something else.
Hillary Clinton didn`t lose because of a Donald Trump surge. She lost because she lost, because millions of democrats were too busy or maybe too indifferent or too unenthusiastic about her to bother to vote. We`ll be right back.
TODD: Time now for "The Lid." While we`ve been on the air, a former Democratic National Committee chairman announced that he wants to be the future chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Howard Dean tweeted the following. Quote, the dems need organization and focus on the young, need a 50-state strategy and tech rehab. I am in for chairman again.
Panel is back. Molly, Cornell, Matt. By the way, that`s what up for the out party, especially when your first loss after you`ve lost the presidency, the big campaign is for who runs the DNC. Cornell, you worked for Chairman Howard Dean.
CORNELL BELCHER, PRESIDENT OF BRILLIANT CORNERS RESEARCH AND STRATEGIES, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND POLLSTER: I`m checking my phone. I think he might call.
TODD: Yeah. You worked for him in `05.
BELCHER: We were shaking things up. All that stuff. By the way, that was very successful. A lot of democrats panned it at first, oh, this would never work. Then when it started working, it was brilliant.
TODD: I thought it was all Obama.
BELCHER: Actually Obama campaign picked it up. But, Howard Dean is right to a certain extent. We do need to get back focused on the 50-state strategy. We do need to get back expanding the playing fields and expanding the map.
I think there`s going to be a strong, hard, tough fought for for the chairmanship of the party this time around. There`s some younger people, thinking about it, some people who you might not think of as traditional, thinking about it. And there should be. Because we do need some new blood. We do need some new thinking.
I want to say this, Chuck. I don`t want to go into another election where so many of the democrats so need black and brown people and young people and the top of the democratic party, with budgetary authority, there are no people of color. This is the last time I`m going to support a party when people of color don`t have a voice.
TODD: Do you think Cory Booker would have made a difference as her running mate?
BELCHER: That`s a tough question, Chuck.
TODD: I`ve had some democrats ask me that.
BELCHER: And good for you.
TODD: You brought it up. I wasn`t gonna, but you brought up the topic.
BELCHER: I think Cory Booker is an awfully talented and strong politician.
TODD: I think you just gave me the answer.
BELCHER: And I look forward to his future.
TODD: Matthew, let me ask you this. I`m curious what your response was to Bob Casey Jr. When basically saying, ruling out, no way would they ever do that to -- is -- do you watch and think, boy, the conservatives fight a lot better than the democrats do.
MATTHEW CONTINETTI, JOURNALIST AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF "THE WASHINGTON FREE BEACON": Well, there`s a big difference. The republicans were in the majority.
TODD: Truth. They had the authority.
CONTINETTI: They had the power.
TODD: Yeah, they did have the power.
CONTINETTI: This is about power. I mean, if somehow we had a result where Schumer was going to be the majority leader next year and Donald Trump was still the president, well, yeah, I think they might have thought about this strategy and just continuing the McConnell strategy.
I wrote earlier this year that we could face an eight-seat supreme court for this time. But they don`t have power and that`s the thing. In Washington, power is all.
TODD: Molly, it is interesting. How senate democrats handle this is going to matter to the grassroots of the party, even as a Bob Casey has to think about running in a midterm election and not alienating swing voters in Pennsylvania. It`s going to be an interesting, I think, push/poll on some - - particularly some senators that are up in 18.
MOLLY BALL, STAFF WRITER FOR "THE ATLANTIC": Look, I think the debate that is going to be had within the democratic party is going to look very much like the debate that republicans have been having for the past eight years. If you`re going to win another national election, do you need to focus more on turning out your base?
What Cornell was talking about, what you were talking about, all those people that weren`t enthusiastic enough about Hillary Clinton, but would have voted for her if they would have hypothetically showed up. Or is it about talking to the kind of people you were talking about Casey about.
Is it about going back to Scranton and getting those, you know, those union members and those white working class people back in the fold of the party. That was the choice that republicans had. You had one part of the party saying we got to go out and talk to Hispanics and young people. The other part saying, no, we just need more white people. That side won and it worked out.
CONTINETTI: Here`s the X factor here though. It`s not just the democrats who have a say in the future of the democratic party. It`s going to be president-elect Trump as well. What does he do? Remember, he has no real tie to the conservative movement as we understand it. And he has made.
TODD: You heard Casey say on infrastructure.
CONTINETTI: By the way, that whole debate between Ryan and Trump, you know who`s going to win that debate. Trump. He`s the president. He already won it. And Trump has already made some outreach to the African-American community. It was not always the best outreach. It was not always welcomed. But if he continues this type of visits to black churches, to doing something about a city agenda.
BELCHER: If he asks me -- if he asks me, I`ll serve.
TODD: Last word.
BELCHER: I know we`ve got to wrap, but the battle between those who say, we`ve got to go more white and working class versus the battle with democratic party who say, no, we got to go younger and more diverse, that`s the fundamental ballot of the democratic party right now.
TODD: Obama/Biden said do both, I would argue.
BELCHER: I agree.
TODD: All right. Molly, Cornell, Matthew, appreciate it. Thank you. After the break, will Trump and Clinton carry on another important post-election tradition? Stay tuned.
TODD: Finally, in case you missed it, there`s a big post-election event yet to come. As we showed you earlier, President Obama met with president-elect Trump in the White House today. That`s an American tradition and the signal of the beginning of everybody wants to be a smooth transition of power.
But there`s another tradition we would like to see, perhaps performed maybe. The meeting between the winner and the loser. Four years ago, President Obama met with Mitt Romney in the oval office after the election. In 2008, it was senators John McCain and Barack Obama sharing the stage together following the election. Following the 2004 election, President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry shook hands at a ceremony honoring the baseball great, Jackie Robinson.
And in 2000, it was Texas governor and president-elect George V. Bush meeting with Vice President Al Gore after that contention election. It can`t be easy for the losers to come face to face with the person who beat them, especially after a bitter or close election or even a contested one. So far, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been gracious to each other in public. The question is, when or if they will have their post- election face-to-face?
That`s all we have for tonight. With All Due Respect is next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END