Show: MTP DAILY Date: May 31, 2017 Guest: Richard Haass, Ruth Marcus, Eliana Johnson, Aditi Roy
NICOLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: You always come loaded with facts. Thank you to my panel, Jen Palmieri, Eli Stokols, Michael Allen, who I got a new job today. Thank you for joining the panel.
That does it for this hour. I`m Nicole Wallace. "MTP DAILY" starts right now. Hi, Chuck.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicole. It`s always a good reminder that there is another Mike Allen out there.
WALLACE: Exactly. There are two. They`re both great.
TODD: They`re both fabulous, absolutely. Thank you, Nicole.
If it`s Wednesday, it`s a new lesson in Trumpology 101.
(voice-over): Tonight, a covfefe break by any another name. What a random Twitter typo may tell the world about the current state of affairs in the West Wing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, U.S. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, I think the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Plus, summertime blues. Why Democrats are still stuck in an identity crisis 204 days after the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I also think I was victim of a very broad assumption I was going to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And meet the candidates. How the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party in Virginia is taking center stage with the gubernatorial race.
This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.
(on camera): Good evening, I`m Chuck Todd here in Washington and welcome to MTP DAILY.
Folks, it`s not a good sign when a Yogi Berra quote sums up the White House better than any political analyst can.
Well, what else can you say right now rather than it`s Deja vu all over again? The chief of staff`s job is on the line, again. The Russia probe is wreaking havoc, again. Our allies are rattled, again. The president is tweeting absurdities, again. And the White House is defending them, again.
So, who the heck is steering this ship? Who knows? Where is the ship headed? We don`t know. The president is literally tweeting gibberish about covfefe in the middle of the night and no one takes it down for hours.
And then, this afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the gibberish during an off-camera briefing with reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think people should be concerned that the president posted somewhat of an incoherent tweet last flight and the it then stayed up for hours?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did it stay up so long? Is no one watching this?
SPICER: No, I think the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did the president mean?
SPICER: Blake. Blake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: The defense is arguably just as lucid as the tweet itself. And it also demonstrates the high-wire act the president`s staff apparently thinks they have to walk, when it comes to defending this president, seemingly no matter. I mean, can you not just say, it was a typo? Who cares?
And if it`s Wednesday, there`s another shoe about to drop on Russia. A sources close former FBI Director James Comey today says he`s been cleared by special counsel to testify before Congress in public. Comey could testify as early as next week about the president`s alleged attempts to shut down the Flynn probe.
And there`s more staff chaos swirling today. Multiple sources close to the administration have been telling NBC News that the president is seeking advice about potentially ousting Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. We`ve been down this road before.
President staff economic advisor Gary Cohn, a life-long Democrat and Goldman Sachs alum has emerged as a possible replacement among the insiders vying for the job. Cohn, along with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, penned this Wall Street op-ed today, touting the president`s recent trip overseas. It articulates a view of foreign policy you might call -- some might call hunger games diplomacy.
Check out this paragraph. Quote, "The world is not a global community but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it."
But, folks, whether Cohn is the chief of staff or Priebus or whoever, a staff shakeup, arguably, isn`t going to change Trump. So, whether it`s White House chaos or Russia or foreign policy, we could be stuck in a cycle of Deja vu all over again and again and again.
I`m joined now by Richard Haass, who is the president of the Council of Foreign Relations. He was special assistant of Bush 41 and the principle advisor to secretary of state, Colin Powell under Bush 43. And he`s author of a new book, "A World in Disarray." Geez, does it get any more fitting than that, Mr. Haass?
Anyway, welcome back to the show, sir.
RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS: It`s good to take a break far from my covfefe here and join you.
TODD: Thank you.
I want to start with that I was struck by that quote, I wasn`t alone, in that op-ed by Cohn and McMaster. I was struck by it for a number of reasons.
[17:05:05] The first being, I cannot believe either McMaster or Cohn would have articulated that then individually a year ago. But is -- that comes across to me -- the entire thing comes across to me as a break of American foreign policy and American views of the last 70 years. Is it not?
HAASS: To a large extent. It`s fair enough to say that there`s not a great deal of international community yet but that ought to be our goal to build one. It`s the only way we`re ever going to deal successfully with an array of global challenges, from terrorism to nonproliferation to climate change.
Plus, we do have a large degree of community with our allies and the nature of an alliance is not this (INAUDIBLE) and what you called hunger games day-to-day competition. We actually do have some common interests, when it comes to regulating trade or dealing with common threats.
So, that -- this articulation, I guess, of a world view, which quite honestly, Chuck, I had never heard before from anybody, it`s strange. I`ll be generous.
TODD: Look, you`ve -- speaking of generous. You have been very slow. A lot of other alums from Republican administrations have been tougher on this president. You`ve been -- you were very slow to -- you`ve given him a lot of rope. And I`ve noticed, you seemed to lose patience over this trip as you were watching it. Is that a fair analysis of watching you?
HAASS: Well, I don`t know if I`ve been slow, but I feel every administration deserves some time to get up to speed, particularly this one because you had an awful lot of people who had never been involved in governing before. They inherited an awfully tough inbox which is why I wrote the book I wrote.
But, yes, I think the combination. They began terribly. A unilateral yanking the United States out of the transpacific partnership which was a strategic and an economic mistake. The handling of this trip, particularly in Europe, reinforced the idea that what ought to be unconditional, American support for allies had somehow grown conditional.
Most recently, you had the United States, you know, basically saying was going to get out of the Paris Climate Agreement. This ought to be the model of multilateralism. These guys ought to love it. We set our own goals. We can change our own goals. We can decide how much money we give to others.
If this isn`t the perfect model of what you might call sovereign multilateralism, I don`t know what is. So, I just don`t understand it. And, yes, I feel they are causing real cumulative cost to the world and to America`s reputation in the world and this is going to be lasting.
TODD: I want to dive in on two topics that you`ve brought in. One is Paris. What is the difference between Paris and Kyoto? And, look, the Bush administration took us out of Kyoto. What`s the difference?
HAASS: Kyoto was a top down agreement where, essentially, the world agreed on what would be the overall targets. Individual countries were, essentially, told what they had to do. This is a bottom up agreement pass. Each country, essentially, sets its own goals.
It would be as if you decided, I`m going to give myself a B plus on this exam. That`s what you do. You agree -- you set your own goals for carbon and, you know, for emissions, for how much money you`re going to give to countries to help them cope. That`s what it is. And the world adds it up and that`s the total effort.
But each country decides, itself, what it is going to do.
TODD: So, you think it is easy to be in this agreement because you control so much -- so many facets of it.
HAASS: Other than trying to make a symbolic point, there`s absolutely no reason to get out of this agreement. I`d also say that the link between putting limits, you know, what we do on emissions and economic growth, that link has increasingly been busted. The United States can grow economically without meaningfully increasing its dependence on fossil fuels.
TODD: All right. And the other issue I want to get to has to do with the Middle Eastern portion of the president`s trip. Where there was a Q and A with a long-time foreign service officer at the State Department that has been making the rounds. Let me play part of it for you and get your reaction on the other side. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you characterize Saudi Arabia`s commitment to democracy? And does the administration believe that democracy is a buffer or barrier against extremism?
STUART JONES, U.S. ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: I think what we`d say is that, at this meeting, we were able to make significant progress with Saudi and GCC Partners.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Obviously, it was an exaggerated example there of somebody struggling to defend, essentially, how we deal with Saudi Arabia. And whether we are promoting democracy or not, versus, say, in Iran, which in the one hand, does embrace more democracy than Saudi Arabia does. And the twists and knots that ties us up in.
[17:10:07] HAASS: Yes, you know, beyond how painful that was to watch, I thought the trip to Saudi Arabia was odd in two ways. One, it seemed to blame Iran for a lot of the terrorism going on. But 90 percent of the terrorism comes out of Sunni societies, Al Qaeda, ISIS and the rest.
And, second of all, there was very little emphasis on the Saudis and others changing the way their society is run. Because, otherwise, they`re going to continue to generate recruits. You`ve got all these disaffected, undereducated, underemployed young men. Well, that`s cannon fodder for groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.
So, Iran`s a problem. I get it. But by -- essentially, we let Saudi Arabia off the others off the hook and that`s a big mistake.
TODD: Did we take sides in Sunni Shia? Is that what happened on this trip?
HAASS: To a large extent, we`d better be careful with that because Saudis have launched what I think is the potential to be their Vietnam in Yemen. We want to be very, very careful.
I would say we don`t want to sign up to any, sort of, open-ended Saudi-led Sunni campaign against Shia Iran. Iran is a capable economy. It`s a real country. Yes, there`s -- they`re problematic. I get it totally, Chuck. But 60 percent of their people just voted for Rouhani and we ought to, basically, figure out a way to contain Iran to push back.
But also, to try to bring about some evolution in Iran. I don`t think it`s idealistic or naive to say that in a generation or two, Iran could be a very different country. It worked with the Soviet Union. I`m not persuaded it can`t work with Iran.
TODD: Well, Richard, your book is "The World in Disarray." I guess every day, it looks more pression all the time.
HAASS: Be time for a second addition soon.
TODD: There is. All right, Richard Haass, the Council on Foreign Relations. Always a pleasure, sir. Thanks for coming on and sharing your views.
HAASS: Thanks, Chuck.
TODD: Coming up, Hillary Clinton just looked back at the 2016 election and why she lost. How much of the blame is she taking for herself?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I take responsibility for every decision I made but that`s not why I lost.
TODD: Welcome back to the show.
There`s been a lot of reporting today about whether the U.S. will or will not pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The president says he`ll be announcing his decision in the next few days. And here`s White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: When the president has a decision to make, he`ll let people be it known. He`s the ultimate decider and when he has a decision to make, he`ll let you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: But ask yourself, is this all a Trump tactic? It seems this strategy comes straight from the pages of the art of deal. His 1987 memoir referenced his style of deal making. Quote, "I aim very high and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I`m after. Sometimes I settle for less than I sought. But in most cases, I still end up with what I want.
So, think about it. The way the White House is handling the climate accord decision and its rollout, or lack thereof, is similar to how they spoke about NAFTA. First, they were going to go rip it up. Then, they were just starting a negotiation. And, eventually, they probably say they made it better.
[17:15:01] Maybe that`s the path they`ll follow on the Paris Accords, too. We`ll to have wait until the ultimate decider decides.
But the point is, don`t assume anything on this one and don`t be surprised if, in 48 hours, there`s a, we`re going to make another decision in six months and see how this goes.
We`ll be back, though, in 60 seconds.
TODD: Welcome back.
Late this afternoon, in what ended up being a wide-ranging review of the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton told the recode conference in California, which is a media and tech gathering, why she believes she lost. She took some responsibility but she found many other reasons, beyond her own performance, as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I take responsibility for every decision I made. But that`s not why I lost.
So, I`m now the nominee of the Democratic Party. I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean, nothing?
CLINTON: I mean, it was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. So, within one hour, one hour of the "Access Hollywood" tapes being leaked -- within one hour, the Russians, let`s say WikiLeaks, same thing, dumped the Jon Podesta e-mails.
You know, the Comey letter, which was, now we know, partly based on a false memo from the Russians. He dumps that on me on October 28th and I immediately start falling.
Let`s put the campaigning stuff on the table.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But don`t even (ph) change. Why not?
CLINTON: I won 3 million more votes than the other guy. I never said I was a perfect candidate and I certainly have never said I ran perfect campaigns. But I don`t know who is or did.
And, at some point, it, sort of, bleeds over into misogyny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Mrs. Clinton`s comments come at a time when the Democratic Party remains in a bit of its own disarray. They`re still analyzing and arguing over how they manage to lose in 2016. Who they are. What they represent. How to campaign in 2018 and 2020. By saying more than, we`re better than Trump.
For plenty of Democrats, Hillary Clinton remains the wronged standard bearer. The accomplished and deserving candidate who was, essentially, cheated out of presidency.
For others, she is the last person they want to see out there as the face of the post 2016 Democratic Party. And therein lies the divide -- one of the divides inside the Democratic Party.
Let`s bring in tonight`s panel. Michael Steele, an MSNBC Political Analyst, former RNC chair. Ruth Marcus is "The Washington Post" columnist and the deputy editorial page editor of "The Post." And Eliana Johnson is a national political reporter with "Politico."
Ruth, you have -- you were giving a lot of commentary as you were hearing highlights before the cameras turned on. I figured I`d give Ruth a first shot at this.
Look, she -- what I found striking about this is how much in the minutiae she is on the all the technical ways she believes she lost on the digital front. That was -- she has -- she`s gone down the rabbit hole and she`s still there. She is -- she is learning about bots and socks. And that`s clear.
RUTH MARCUS, COLUMNIST AND DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Oh, she`s been in Chappaqua surrounded by folks, marinating, stewing, studying.
TODD: Somebody said, (INAUDIBLE) and homeland. She`s got the yarn out. She -- no. But she clearly is, this is her focus.
MARCUS: I`m not sure she`s going full (INAUDIBLE) on you.
MARCUS: But it is a backwards-looking thing and that might be therapeutic for her. I don`t think it`s therapeutic for the country. I don`t think it`s very healthy for the Democratic Party.
And I think, in particular, the part that had me a little bit yelling at my T.V. was going to the misogyny. Particularly on the question, you didn`t show this clip, but whether the Goldman Sachs` speeches weren`t a problem because, of course, men get paid for these speeches so why shouldn`t a woman get paid, too? Answer, in case anybody wants to know, because this woman was about to be running for president and it was a really bad idea.
TODD: Yes. Michael Steele, you presided over a party that was also, sort of, fighting about --
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
TODD: Frankly, they`re still fighting about what they are and who they are and all this.
[17:20:00] STEELE: Yes. Yes. They`ve got a (INAUDIBLE.)
TODD: But there was this -- there was always a core that said, the candidate stunk. Get them out of here. And there was a core that said, oh, no, no, no, no, you guys are part of the problem. And so, it`s not an unfamiliar place for a party to be after they lose a presidency.
STEELE: No, it isn`t. I mean, look, in 2008, 2009, you had the McCain backlash. A lot of folks in the party would just, like, see, this is why we lost. So, we didn`t nominate a conservative. We did not nominate someone who was principled. And this is where we are.
So, you come into this job with a new reality that you`ve got these factions that are now at war with each other and blaming each other for what`s just happened.
The problem the Democrats have right now is that John McCain -- unlike John McCain who said, OK, I`m done. Here`s -- take my leftover cash. Go build -- rebuild the party. She`s still talking about it and she`s still reliving it.
And so, it makes it harder for Tom Perez, the new chairman, to begin to pull those factions together. You have the whole dance, song and dance with Bernie Sanders that went nowhere fast. Again, trying to pull those factions together.
When she said the party was bankrupt when she took it over. Now, again, who`s she slapping here?
TODD: She`s slapping Barack Obama.
STEELE: She`s slapping Barack Obama.
TODD: Yes, and let`s remember who she`s slapping --
STEELE: She`s slapping Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
TODD: No, no, no. It starts at the top.
STEELE: But -- it starts at the top. It starts at the top. But, you know, there is the chairman. But it also slaps her campaign. Because when she becomes the nominee coming in that door, she has control.
TODD: By the way, --
STEELE: And she the ability to put money into that game.
TODD: -- she`s not wrong.
STEELE: No, she`s not wrong.
TODD: The DNC was incredibly mismanaged under the Obama presidency.
STEELE: Oh, yes. Well, he -- Obama didn`t --
TODD: Extraordinarily so.
STEELE: -- (INAUDIBLE) political necessity of it.
TODD: Among the -- absolutely among the more destructive things --
TODD: -- that happened to the party.
But I go to this misogyny thing because I think this is what`s going to polarize how just this interview is covered, how your comments are covered right now, how your -- every -- this conversation, I think sometimes, are we underestimating the gender lens on how people are seeing this now in the rearview mirror?
ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": I will answer your question. But I just want to say, I think she has two options. One is to stop talking about this.
The second is to say, I didn`t campaign enough in the Midwest. I didn`t talk about the real issues that animated this election and they were domestic policy issues. They were the economy and they were trade. The things Donald Trump happened to talk about.
The issue of misogyny, I mean, she was the most highly paid female speaker in the country, period. And so, I think it is misleading. And to cast herself as a victim I think is misleading.
You know, NYU did a study that put a man playing Hillary Clinton, a female playing Donald Trump, re-enacted the debates. The audience reacted -- the audience reaction demonstrated that she was perceived worse when a man reenacted her role and Trump was perceived better when he was played by a woman. I just think the argument doesn`t wash.
TODD: Well, and, Ruth, the one thing she never does talk about in these reviews that she`s done is Bernie Sanders beat her in Wisconsin and Michigan. Two of the three state -- they`ve got a warning sign. There was a flashing and it turned out to be a flashing red light. I thought it was flashing yellow. I`ll fully admit that. But it turned out to be flashing red on the issue of trade.
MARCUS: Right. And they got a warning sign. They decided not to hear it. They got warnings from others. Debby Dingle wrote an op-ed for us, talking about how she was warning the campaign that, you know, need -- attention needed to be paid here.
But I want to go back to misogyny. I mean, it is impossible to tweeze out, and we were talking about this earlier, anti-female animists to the extent it existed, and anti-Hillary Clinton animists, to the extent it existed. And to also feed in there, people who were motivated and attracted to vote for Hillary Clinton because of her gender.
MARCUS: So, it`s a really complex stew. She wants to see it through a particular lens that I think is a little too filtered.
TODD: Well, in this case, this is a lens, I think, Michael Steele, that the Trump presidency is refocusing, right? In hindsight, I think there are a ton of women out there who I don`t think viewed the 2016 election through gender -- the gender lens as strongly, but maybe now do in hindsight.
STEELE: They probably do. I don`t know. I have a slightly different takeaway. I think the misogyny piece played a bigger subtext than people want to give it credit for. I think there were a lot of attitudes out there about how they view women in power and authority. And I don`t think they view them very favorably. And I think we see that reflected --
TODD: There`s plenty of academic study on that issue.
TODD: OK, take away her name.
STEELE: Take away her name (INAUDIBLE.)
TODD: On that issue, that is a fact out there. You see if out there.
STEELE: I just think that this country still has very puritanical views of women. And, particularly, in terms of the roles that they have outside the home and the roles they have in business and now in politics.
We don`t like to talk about it. It`s like race. We want to dance around it and we want to be cute about it and we want to use big words. But, at the end of the day, it`s how people look at a female candidate and how they size her up.
[17:25:02] And, right now, they size her up very differently than they do the male counterpart.
And I think that touches on what you just raised, Eliana, about that study from NYU about how people, kind of, perceive women when you sort of neutralize it. Then it works for them. But when you -- when you put it in the full throttle gender, it becomes more of an issue.
TODD: Hey, Ruth, I have to take a break. Chew on this and then I`m going to go break. She`s now the third straight losing Democratic nominee for president to not believe they truly lost.
She doesn`t believe she lost fair and square. John Kerry, to this day, does not believe he lost fair and square in 2004. And we know Al Gore does not believe he lost fair. Just something interesting there.
MARCUS: But the other two didn`t talk about it quite as much, just saying.
TODD: I`m going to take a break and come back. There you go. I`m going to go to break on that. OK, Ruth. You guys are sticking around.
Still ahead, speaking of the Democratic Party and its identity crisis. We`ll just point out across the country, we`re going to get two views of what the Democrats should be saying, how they should be talking to voters so stay with us.
TODD: Still ahead here on MTP DAILY. Are drug companies about to be blamed for the opioid crisis the way tobacco companies were blamed for lung cancer? It`s a real thing in Ohio.
But first, Aditi Roy with the CNBC Market Wrap.
ADITI ROY, CORRESPONDENT, CNBC: Thanks so much, Chuck.
Stocks closed lower on the last trading day of May. Nevertheless, the NASDAQ notched a seven-month winning streak. The Dow losing 20 points. The S&P slipping a point. The NASDAQ shedding 4 points. The financial sector weighing heavily on markets. Shares of JP Morgan losing 2.1 percent after decline in trading revenue compared to the same quarter last year.
Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes for the second straight month. The National Association of Realtors says pending home sales in April fell 1.3 percent. That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR, "MEET THE PRESS DAILY" SHOW HOST: Welcome back. To outsiders, there is a bit of a proxy battle in the greater fight over the Democratic Party identity. It is taking place right now in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Virginia.
"The Washington Post" characterized the race as pragmatism versus populism. I sat down yesterday with one of the two Democratic candidates, Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, and asked him if he feels comfortable with being labeled the pragmatist.
(START VIDEO CLIP) RALPH NORTHAM, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: When we travel around the commonwealth, people are looking for I would say two things. One, someone who can stand up to what is going on in Washington. There is a lot of hatred and recklessness now. We certainly don`t want that influence in Virginia any more than we have to. And another thing, people are looking for a leader who knows how to get things done.
I`ve been in Richmond for 10 years now and have good relationships to people from both sides of the aisle. And so, you know, people in Virginia, they want a job that they can support their families with, they want access to health care, they want to make sure that their children have access to a world class education system, and they want to live in safe neighborhoods where there are no guns on every street corner.
TODD: What is the evidence though that a pragmatic approach is workable anymore in Virginia? I say this (inaudible) to set the record (inaudible).
TODD: And this is a guy that, you know Governor McAuliffe very well. If he finds somebody unlike him, he is desperate to make you like him. Whether you -- so no one can say this guy didn`t try to have personal relationships. If you (inaudible) any vetos, I mean, you`re not getting things done.
TODD: What do you say?
NORTHAM: He told these folks, you know, we`re an inclusive state. That means we live in a very diverse society and, you know, we`ve been very aggressive with our business model in Virginia. So our lights are on, our doors are open.
He told the folks on the other side of the aisle, if you bring in pieces of legislature that discriminate against folks like the LGBT community, to continue the attacks on women`s reproductive health care that promote gun proliferation in Virginia, I`m going to veto. And he is stuck to his word and he has.
TODD: I don`t said -- how are you going to change it? Why -- where will you succeed where he failed?
NORTHAM: Well, they will know. They will continue to know that we stand up for progressive Democratic values, some of the things that I just mentioned. But, you know, things like the smoking ban in restaurants. The only way to do that, the only way to take on the tobacco industry with all the influence they have in Virginia is to work with people from both sides of the aisle.
So I have good relationships. I don`t have (inaudible) on ideas so I bring my ideas to the table and I listen to others. At the end of the day, really the Virginia way is to do what`s in the best interests of Virginia.
TODD: There`s been sort of two ways. I`ve just watched your candidacy. Just looking at your TV ads. On the one hand, you are putting across this pragmatic approach. Very much a little more southern genteel. Let`s call it that. On the other hand, you called the president of the United States a narcissistic maniac. And it was during the first time I heard this on a net.
TODD: And I`m thinking, is name calling appropriate? Why is it appropriate in this case?
NORTHAM: Well, I think it is important not only for Virginians but for this country to know that he is dangerous. You know, he sold people a bill of goods. He said things that he`s had trouble backing up. He has been very detrimental to health care. As you know, I am a physician, so we want to make sure that all Virginians have access to.
TODD: This isn`t a technical term. Are you using the term the way your medical training would tell you?
NORTHAM: You know, I am a pediatric neurologist. There`s a lot of overlap between psychiatry and neurology. I would just invite the viewers to look up to criteria for narcissism and I think.
TODD: You believe he needs clinical help.
NORTHAM: . they`ll see some familiarity with what they see.
TODD: Why is this -- so we start off by having a conversation about how you think you can work across the aisle.
TODD: You called the Republican Party president of the United States a narcissistic maniac. Will you understand if some say, I can`t work with you, let`s say you happen to become governor, Governor Northam because you name called. What would you tell that Republican?
NORTHAM: I would just say let`s look up the criteria for narcissism and see if the shoe fits, wear it. I think a lot of people on both sides of the aisle would agree with that.
TODD: But you have no regrets about going down that road. I mean, there have been a lot of criticisms that were defining our politics downward. You know, it`s sort of like, well, if it works, do it. Are you at all uncomfortable about putting yourself in a position where you`re trashing the president of the United States in television ads?
NORTHAM: Well, I don`t know that it is trashing. I think it is just calling him for what he is. Again, I think he is dangerous. I think what`s going on with Russia right now, again, what is going on with health care, 23 million people in America are at risk especially those with pre-existing conditions to lose their coverage. That`s not what we should accept in this country. So I think people understand that.
TODD: And sort of been implied critique I guess on your primary point. It is the fact that you have experience in Richmond and he doesn`t.
TODD: Plenty of voters are going to think, experience in the state capital is not what I want. What`s wrong with coming in as an outsider?
NORTHAM: You know, I would say the analogy, I`m a doctor. You know, If you need neurosurgery, do you want someone that has been at the table before in the operating room or you want someone that comes in and has no experience? You could use that analogy in a lot of different areas. But experience is important. The governor has four years in Virginia.
That means you need to hit the ground running, you need to have an agenda, what you want to do for Virginia, and you need to have the relationships and understand how to get things done. That is what I bring to the table.
TODD: Terry McAuliffe didn`t have any of those things. Terry McAuliffe was an outsider. Never held elective office before. Certainly was a national party leader. But in some ways, the criticisms against Terry McAuliffe and the criticisms I heard against Tom Perriello is very similar. Why do you think -- why shouldn`t voters evaluate them similarly?
NORTHAM: Well, Terry McAuliffe, you know, he ran back in `09. He was unsuccessful. He then spent four years in Virginia running to be the next governor, the 72nd governance, so he got out and he has a lot of relationships. I can tell you, Terry McAuliffe has been the right person at the right time in Virginia. He has done a great job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Well, joining me now is the other candidate in the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primarily. It is former congressman, Tom Perriello. Congressman, welcome back to the show.
TOM PERRIELLO, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, VIRGINIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me.
TODD: First time in this capacity. So, basically same first question. You`re being labeled the populist, but the implication is you`re not a very pragmatic guy. You accept that caricature by the post?
PERRIELLO: Not at all. We`ve talked about being a pragmatic populist in fact and that`s what I`ve done my whole life, put deals together, whether that has been peace deals overseas or (inaudible). What people think is not very pragmatic as having an average of $35,000 in student debt for people in Virginia. People don`t think it is very pragmatic to pay someone a minimum wage of $14,000 a year who is living in northern Virginia.
That`s a poverty wage. People are sick and tired of politicians from both parties who are defining down the sense of what`s possible so much that the middle class and the working class can`t survive. So we are actually talking about solutions that resonate just as well in red counties as blue counties. I think there are a lot of people in the leadership of both parties that haven`t quite realized how that shifted across Virginia.
TODD: It has been interesting to watch this primary both as a Virginian but also from the outside. Many of the big national players are behind you. Bernie Sanders I believe I think has supported you. I think Elizabeth Warren has said good things about you. Many of.
PERRIELLO: And Hillary Clinton, I think.
TODD: Yes. This main state players in Virginia politics are with Northam. And maybe it`s because he`s a sitting lieutenant governor. There are also potential reasons for that. But I wonder, let me ask you this. Does this set of Democrats, these three Democrats, deserve renomination? Have they done a good job or do you think this has been a disappointing four years with Democrats in charge of Virginia?
PERRIELLO: Well, first, when we came in in January, all of the major elected officials have already endorsed for Ralph Northam and I didn`t think it was appropriate to ask them to switch sides. We`ve built a grassroots army. I think despite them having a three-year, $3 million head start, we`ve barn stormed the state. We`ve over 350 public double events.
We`ve done town hall meetings. Grassroots unfiltered. We`ve reached over 250,000 Virginians through Facebook live doing town halls. And I think what we`re seeing is Virginians are more interested in making their over decision about which candidate they think is going to make the best governor and give us the best chance to win. We`ve clearly been winning the breaks on that and have a momentum.
TODD: Would you see this team as deserving a renomination as good Democrats?
PERRIELLO: Well, we don`t allow two terms or else Governor McAuliffe would be winning and we would all be supporting him. I think there is a lot going well in this state. But underneath that over the last 15 years, you have to understand the middle class has not seen a raise in 18 years in Virginia. We have a minimum wage below west Virginia at $14,000 a year.
We`re near the bottom of the barrel on clean energy because the utilities have too much power in Richmond. And what I find is not just a lot of Democrats excited about our reform agenda but a lot of those third-party voters in Virginia, 7 percent went third party in November, and they`re looking for new ideas. This is really about the future versus the past.
TODD: I hear you, 12 of the last 16 years have been governed by Democrats in Virginia, 12 of the last 16. Why do you think they were unsuccessful in getting the middle class erased? PERRIELLO: The number one reason was the gerrymandered legislature. It doesn`t represent the voters of Virginia. My likely opponent Gillespie, his lobbying firm wrote the algorithm that gerrymander the districts so that voters don`t get represented. Instead, their corporate lobbying clients do. And that means working class and middle class get a little less of a shake.
What I understand out there, people just want a level playing field and as governor, I`m going to veto any of those efforts to keep a gerrymandered map. We`re going to let that kind of pragmatic Virginia come forward. But the middle now cares about things like criminal justice reform and Medicaid expansion because we are seeing problems in rural communities that are different than 20 years ago. So I think we need leaders that are going to catch up to that.
TODD: What`s realistic here? Look, basically the main I would say, and I said this to the lieutenant governor. If there was an implied critique in the differences between the two, the idea of experience in Richmond and being able to get things done in Richmond. It seems as if Terry McAuliffe did everything he could to work with the other side.
I think you could make it on a personality front. You know, he did every charm offense that you could think, you know, what booze do you like, whatever. He didn`t get anywhere. He struggled to work with the Republican legislature. You`re coming in as a barnstormer. You are the outsider. You are talking tough on this. How are you going to get anything done with the Republican legislature? PERRIELLO: I think what folks with all due respect inside the beltway sometimes don`t understand is that actually builds bipartisan appeal. The policy positions we are taking are incredibly popular in the red parts of the state. We are the first campaign in Virginia history to support two years of free community college trade school or apprenticeship program.
And the two places I hear most often and interested in that are communities of color in the cities and rural white communities. The very groups that Donald Trump is trying on divide. Concerns about the poverty wages. Again, the same two groups that Trump wants to divide. We actually stand for economic agenda that leaves no race or region behind. We bring those folks together. When we talk about criminal.
TODD: That`s not going to -- I mean, look, let`s just be realistic. It`s not going to translate right now the votes of this legislature.
PERRIELLO: It is. This is the.
TODD: I mean, how are you going to pay -- I mean, I`ve heard how you say you`re going to plan to pay for the two years of college. I think waste, fraud and abuse is one angle which I`m sorry, that is a politician`s dream.
PERRIELLO: Oh, no, no.
TODD: But you have a tax. You have a tax on -- explain this tax.
PERRIELLO: We give very specific spending cuts, very specific loopholes that we going to close, and revenue for those making a million dollars a year more. And the fact of the matter is, we hear a lot of appreciation from Republicans and independents who say I`m going to agree or disagree, but at least you`re the only one telling us straight how are we going to pay for this.
Part of what we`ve run into in Virginia in the last 15 years, which you know as a resident, is we`re under-investing in education and infrastructure. The very things that made us a competitive place to do business and to raise a family. The Republican legislature has been blocking that and we`ve seen that comparative advantage disappear. To me, it is entirely pragmatic to go out and make the tough decisions just like you would in a business.
TODD: Do you think basically the state is under-taxed?
PERRIELLO: I think we do need to have the revenue to invest in education and infrastructure. We have about two-thirds of companies that pay no tax at all. What people care about is the quality of life. When I ran the quadrennial diplomacy and development review at the state department, the traffic situation in northern Virginia, frankly, is a national security threat.
Both because of the resiliency and vulnerability and because of our ability to attract top level national security personnel to live in the northern Virginia area. Adults step up. They make tough decisions. They bring people together. I spent more time as a peace negotiator than a politician. I still believe we can find some common ground across these divides. We do it by standing for right things that can make a difference at the kitchen table.
TODD: All right. Tom Perriello, former congressman of 5th district of Virginia. Thanks for coming on.
PERRIELLO: Thank you.
TODD: Stay safe on the trail. We`ll be watching the primary, I think, in less than two weeks.
PERRIELLO: Thirteen days, June 13.
TODD: All right. When we come back, something is happening in Ohio that we have a feeling may spread across the country. We`ll see how happy it is going to make certain sectors of the economy.
TODD: Welcome back. Tonight, I`m obsessed with Ohio`s Republican attorney general Mike DeWine who has decided to have the state sue five drug manufacturers in effect for causing the state`s opioid crisis. DeWine`s argument is that the manufacturers with the help of distributors hooked patients on pain medications who then sought cheaper more powerful agents like heroin and synthetic opioids. Now, it is easy to see how opinion on this can divide fairly quickly.
You may think DeWine is right to go after drug companies because you believe they chose to plug the market with addictive pain killers in order to fatten their own bottom lines. No matter how many people became street addicts or you may think this is another example of people blaming their problems on others and refusing to take responsibility for their own lives. And yes, Mike DeWine is expected to run for governor so there`s that.
But Ohio is not the first state to take this step and it won`t be the last. If you`re thinking this sounds a lot, like blaming tobacco companies for lung cancer or trying to hold gun manufacturers responsible for shooting deaths, you`re right. It is exactly what this is. You may agree or disagree. But given the growing opioid crisis in America and the frustration that is out there, don`t be surprised if this gets contagious. I think you will see a lot more of these suits, not less. We`ll be right back.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
KARA SWISHER, JOURNALIST: I don`t think we can get into covfefe right now, it`s a longer thing.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I thought it was a hidden message to the Russians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Well, there you go. Time for "The Lid" or your (inaudible) moment. Michael Steele, Ruth Marcus, Eliana Johnson. I want to go to the Trump White House here and what he`s doing. It`s sort of the dialing for advice, and it`s like -- I mean, look, Reince Priebus has been on the hot seat since the day he took the job. The minute he put him in, he`s been talking to people about replacing him. That`s what he does. At what point, though, is he going to get to the point where people don`t want the job?
ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER AT POLITICO: I mean, I think he`s pretty close to there. I think it`s ironic that Sean Spicer calls the president the ultimate decider because he`s actually extremely indecisive. He called lots and lots of people and asked them for advice, and he takes a long time to make decisions. It wouldn`t surprise me if we say -- if we see Reince Priebus stay in this job for a long time.
And if we see Sean Spicer who we heard was getting booted out of his job, stay in his job for a long time, because I don`t actually think that the president is going to make huge, sweeping decisive changes in the White House. I think we may see him linger around these people. Not only because he has hard time bringing in competent people to replace them, but also because he is not somebody who takes swift decisive action. We see that with Paris climate today.
RUTH MARCUS, JOURNALIST FOR THE WASHINGTON POST: You clearly could have imagined the president bringing in more effective, more kind of take control chief of staff earlier on. So, when he announced Reince Priebus, right, remember, it was equivalent Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Both of them were on the out. One of them is.
MARCUS: So you knew that anybody who has ever covered the White House knew that that was an untenable situation. That is not how an effective White House works. But he decided not to do that. And now I think you`re really right. His ability to bring in somebody of the caliber that he needs, the caliber that any White House needs is really seriously diminished.
(CROSSTALK) TODD: I can tell you, they reach out to somebody who I know very well who would be an extraordinary killer type of communications director for this president. And he was tempted for about 10 minutes.
TODD: And then he was like, I`m not putting my reputation in somebody else`s hands.
TODD: In this case you do, you always do that when you go in the White House. It`s times ten with this one.
STEELE: Well, it is, and I think that all of the song and dance that we`re doing now around, you know, Donald Trump and his staff, at the end of the day, if you want to work in the White House, you have one path and that`s Donald Trump`s path. He sets it.
He determines who is on it. He determines who is in, who is out. If you`re not -- don`t have the ability to go out and communicate that, to execute on that, then you`re going to have the kind of problems that you`re having. So, all this, you know, who is going to be the next chief of staff, it all depends on who Donald Trump wants in the job if he wants.
JOHNSON: I think the bigger question is would this president, in the event any desire for a chief of staff who would speak the truth to him.
JOHNSON: . and who he would empower. And I don`t think he has any desire to replace Reince Priebus with a tougher and more decisive chief.
STEELE: Exactly. Chief of staff is the only other person beside the first lady who can tell the president no.
JOHNSON: If he`s doing his job.
TODD: Before I let you go, we saw the two Democratic candidates back to back. They seem more stylish to be different than anything else.
STEELE: I was very impressed with Perriello. I think he -- I love the way you hit on the point about, you know, you`re the populist, and he just kind of worked that to his advantage, I thought in the conversation. I think he`s very effective. It will be interesting.
TODD: Northam looks like how also the Democrats got elected ten years ago.
TODD: Every Democratic southern governor of the `80s. I was thinking Dick Riley, Bill Miller, you know, Bill Clinton.
JOHNSON: And Perriello is the populist, but he`s a Yale grad and he comes across that way. TODD: It is. It is more stylistic than anything else. It`s fascinating to watch. Great panel. Great conversation. Topics to make it a great panel. So, thank you. After the break, Jeb Bush strikes out against -- strikes out again against team (ph) Romney.
TODD: Well, in case you missed it, about four weeks ago, we said this. In case you missed it, Bush beat Romney in Florida, or at least a Bush beat a Romney in a contest of sorts in Florida. Well, now, in case you missed it, Jeb Bush has reportedly dropped out of that race in Florida. It was the race to purchase the Miami Marlins. Bush had a lot of things going for him. He had name recognition.
He had what we thought was a fund raising advantage. His reputation for serious leadership. Huge endorsements like from guys like Derek Jeter. Oh, wait, that`s a different race. Bush had been part of an ownership group that included somebody popular like Derek Jeter, former Yankee short stop, still wants to be a part of any group that buys the Marlins, but all signs point to Romney now winning this too close to call race.
Tagg Romney that is being the new front runner for the Marlins. No matter what the real winner here frustratingly is going to be Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria who has been called the most hated man in baseball. Through a complicated arrangements of (inaudible) for major league baseball, Loria ended up buying the Marlins for virtually nothing in 2002.
Whether he sells it to Romney or Jeter or someone else entirely, the price tag is over a billion dollars. And he is about to make a killing even as he tried to kill baseball in south Florida. That`s all for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." "For the Record" with Greta starts right now. Go, Greta.
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