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Transcript 1/11/18 MTP Daily

Guests: Mark Sanford, Michael Steel, Ruth Marcus, Kimberly Atkins, Larry Sabato, Amy Walter, Kimberly Atkins, Michael Steel, Ruth Marcus

Show: MTP DAILY Date: January 11, 2018 Guest: Mark Sanford, Michael Steel, Ruth Marcus, Kimberly Atkins, Larry Sabato, Amy Walter, Kimberly Atkins, Michael Steel, Ruth Marcus

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: -- particularly among Republicans. That, eventually, Republicans on Capitol Hill would do the math, and they'd say he is more of a cost to us now than he is a benefit. We're going to start to turn on him.

I now don't think that's going to happen. I know that good things are going to take a genuine electoral repudiation. But if there's a wave election and Democrats take both Houses, you know, we'll see what happens.

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: We're out of time. I could listen to these guys forever. It's my form of therapy.

My thanks to John Heilemann, Eddie Glaude, and Rick Stengel. That does it for our hour. I'm Nicolle Wallace.

MTP DAILY starts right now. Hi, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Give us your tired, give us your poor -- yes, that's --



WALLACE: Oh, right.

TODD: No, not today.


TODD: Exactly. Put the bleep machine on Lady Liberty.


TODD: Anyway, if it's Thursday, for Republicans, 2018 just went from bad to worse.


TODD: Tonight, into the blue. We will map out the midterm landscape as a Democratic wave appears to be headed for Congress.

Plus, another sign of Twitter chaos in the Oval Office. The President tells the House to get smart and authorize FISA after first slamming the same surveillance law.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes, it wasn't confusing to me. I'm sorry if it was for you.

TODD: Finally, but wait, there's more. Where was I yesterday that made me want to do this?

This is MTP DAILY and it starts right now.


TODD: Good evening. I'm Chuck Todd here in Washington and welcome to MTP DAILY. It's been one of those normal Trump White House days. Meaning, it's been incredibly chaotic here in Washington.

It feels like the senators are contestants on an episode of "Deal or No Deal" when it comes to, is there or isn't there an agreement on immigration?

And the President had the Hill and the intelligence community in a total frenzy for about two hours today ahead of a key vote on foreign surveillance.

And then late today, NBC News confirmed that when talking to lawmakers about immigration in the Oval Office today, President Trump asked why -- asked simply, why do we want these people from all these s-hole countries here? He was speaking specifically about Haiti and some other African countries.

We'll get to all of that in a moment, but we're going to start with the storm clouds that have been gathering all week long and, frankly, for the last few months, and Republicans are now on an electoral tsunami watch.

Obviously, we've been telling you there's a big blue wave that's coming. You saw it in 2017 and you're seeing it now. Republicans are running out of the way to avoid getting swept up into it.

Midterm elections are always a struggle for the party in power, and 2017 ended on a very rough note for Republicans. But the first few days of 2018 have seen the environment go from bad to worse for the GOP.

Let's start with the House. We're now up to 30 Republican members who are not seeking re-election in November, either retiring or running for statewide office. That number is likely going to grow in the coming days and weeks.

And it doesn't even include members like Arizona's Trent Franks who has already stepped down or Ohio's Pat Tiberi who last -- whose last day is next week. They'll be specials in both of those in 2018 before November.

So let's throw those 30 districts up on a map. And as you can see, when you look at it, a lot of them are concentrated in places like Florida, Pennsylvania, California. Big population centers. Some coastal areas, too. Places that we expect right now could be tough for Republicans in a wave year. Too many essentially suburban areas for the GOP.

Democrats only need a net of 24 House seats to flip that chamber. Their path to get there may go through California.

Folks, there are no competitive statewide races this year in California for the Republicans. They may not even have a statewide Republican nominee for November in either the Senate or the gubernatorial race. So you can expect Republican turnout there to range from lackluster to downright abysmal.

Now, let's go to the Senate map. Republicans are defending just eight Senate seats, but Democrats only need to pick up two to win back control. So every race for them is crucial.

Right now, their most vulnerable seats are Arizona, Nevada, and Tennessee. Open seats. Two of them are open; one, Heller, is a seat that was carried -- Republican seat up in a blue state. But Democrats are hoping the GOP's deep divisions can put another state in play. Maybe a primary out of Mississippi or maybe the great Texas hope that Democrats have comes to fruition for them.

And more good news for Democrats. They got the candidates they want in all of these states. But -- and it's a big but -- this is a tough map for Democrats. They're defending 26 blue seats in 25 states. Ten of those are in states won by President Trump.

And right now, four of the most vulnerable are Florida, Indiana, Missouri, and West Virginia. They're all states won by President Trump and they're all states that have good Republican candidates in it.

Republicans are doing everything possible to keep those races in play. Look no further than what the President did this week, exempting Florida from the administration's move to open up offshore oil drilling. That was to make sure Rick Scott didn't suddenly bail on him, saying, I am not running if you do this.

Now, the GOP is facing headwinds. Ask Nick Saban. The road to the national championship begins on the recruiting trail. And just this week, Republicans lost their top choice to challenge Debbie Stabenow in Michigan. And this morning, they lost their top choice to take on Heidi Heitkamp in ruby red North Dakota.

Folks, the best hope Republicans have right now is the expectation game. They know the way it is coming, so they're going to try to batten down the hatches and to avoid a total washout. Think Democrats 2010.

So with so many people predicting disaster, if they just hold on to one of the chambers, they can consider that a win and breathe a sigh of relief, knowing things could have been a whole lot worse.

So let's get into the weeds a little bit more, bring in a couple of the sharpest political minds we like to talk to about these issues and the big blue wave. Amy Walter, national editor at "The Cook Political Report" and Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics and the keeper of the Sabato Crystal Ball. Welcome to both of you.

Larry, you're on remote. I'll give you the first word here. Good -- Harry LaBarbera (ph) has a good gets great and bad gets worse. How does this environment turn around for the Republicans, and is there any historical precedent that shows an environment this bad this early in a midterm year somehow gets better for that party?

DR. LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: No, not an environment this bad getting better. You can have an intervening event like a terrorist event or some foreign policy disaster that the United States is involved in that might change things, but I kind of doubt it.

Essentially, what you're looking at here is guessing on our part as to how high the blue wave will go. If it's a modest blue wave -- and I think that's still in the realm of possibility. I don't think Democrats want to go into 2018 the way they went into 2016, assuming that the win was inevitable and that all they had to do was be there and take up the White House.

TODD: Right.

SABATO: The blue wave, if it's modest, you can see them cutting the margin in the House in half. You can see them -- Democrats, that is -- losing a seat or two in the Senate, maybe more.

If it's a modest blue wave, a little bit more than modest, substantial, then I think they get the House. I still don't think they get the Senate. They need, really, a giant blue wave to get both the House and the Senate because, as you pointed out, the Senate map is so horrible for Democrats.

TODD: Amy, it is -- this is the month we're finding out where the recruiting hits --


TODD: -- rubber meets the road. And there's two types of recruiting, keeping incumbents from retiring and finding new candidates. And it seems that the current climate is spooking a lot of candidates on the Republican side.

I mean, the Kevin Cramer decision, North Dakota, their lone House member. This was a done deal. He has been running for three years, we all thought, and now he's not running. That has to be just a stomach punch to McConnell?

WALTER: Because let's be really clear. If Hillary Clinton were in the White House right now --

TODD: Kevin Cramer would be --

WALTER: -- somebody like Kevin Cramer would be running for the United States Senate.

TODD: With Heidi Heitkamp then running for re-election.

WALTER: Would she be running for re-election? That's a whole other story, right?

TODD: Right, exactly.

WALTER: There would be a lot of Senate open seats that they'd be defending in those red states. So that's absolutely clear.

The other thing that we're going to see very soon is fundraising numbers. And just from some of the numbers that had been leaked, Democrats themselves, the Democratic candidates, are raising a lot of money. And these aren't in just the top-tier races.

TODD: Right.

WALTER: These are tier three races or tier three candidate in a top-tier race. So the money, the recruiting, and then the retirements are all going to tell us a bigger story beyond just what the environment is.

TODD: Larry, how are you going to watch 2018? What are you looking for in 2018 to tell you something about 2020?

I'll tell you my bias here. If you were to tell me I can only focus on three states in 2018, that both have a sense about both '18 and '20, I would pick Florida, Ohio, and Arizona. Those would be my three states. They're going to be my obsessed states for most of 2020, basically dumping Virginia for Arizona now in my big three. What are you looking at?

SABATO: Well, I hate the fact that you're dumping Virginia, Chuck. I take that personally.

TODD: Good luck finding the --

SABATO: But I think it --

TODD: Is Virginia a swing state anymore?


SABATO: It's a light blue state.

TODD: There you go.

SABATO: It's a light blue state.

TODD: Fair enough.

SABATO: Now, I understand Florida and Ohio. I think you could argue about Arizona and talk about some other states there, but Florida and Ohio, absolutely. If somehow Florida and Ohio turn against Trump, then that means probably some of the other states in that general orbit would be turning against him as well.

And let's not forget, if Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania turn back to their normal color, well, that's the end of that. But I would, again, caution. I think it's important to compare '18 to '20, but I always remember 1994, the day after the election, Bill Clinton's irrelevant. The Republicans are counting on Clinton being a one-termer. You can't necessarily correlate the midterm with the next presidential.

WALTER: But I do -- I like where you're going, though, and what Larry is saying, too, which is, let's look at those states that went for Trump by 20, 30, 40,000 votes -- the Wisconsins, the Pennsylvanias, the Michigan -- and see also what turnout looks like.

I mean, I think this is the challenge for so many of these statewide candidates and even the candidates who are sitting in those exurban Trump districts is, are those voters who turn out, who were so excited for Donald Trump in 2016, do they remain engaged? Do they turn out in the same way we wondered if the Obama coalition would turn out in midterms and they didn't?

TODD: The other storyline that seems to be developing is, this is turning into a year of the woman but in a different way. Not just recruiting new candidates but you also have the --

WALTER: And the issues.

TODD: -- the overhang of the #MeToo Movement. It's extraordinary, the number of women that are running for the House this year.

I think 300 currently filed candidates on the Democratic side are women. I think I've heard that number. We're up to 35 in Senate races. Thirty-one in governor races, I believe, is the number here.

There it is on the board here, and you got them split up. Just a stunning number of women candidates this year. Do you -- how does this play out in the battle for control?

WALTER: Listen, if I were Republicans right now trying to recruit candidates for some of these open seats, I would absolutely find as many women as I could. And in fact --

TODD: Martha McSally, Arizona.

WALTER: Arizona. And now you're seeing in the California districts, in the Wray's district, and in the Issa district. The first names that had been thrown out, that they're talking about and talking up are women candidates, as a way to, right, we're going to be on this messaging, too, in terms of who they are, what they -- what the message and the messenger filling the same place.

TODD: Right. Larry, if you believe the swing voter of this -- particularly, say, in a place like Tennessee, the swing voter is the Republican woman suburban voter. Then Masha Blackburn versus Phil Bredesen, right? Democratic White -- older White male, Republican woman. That's going to sort of test that premise about how much does Trump matter to these women.

SABATO: It will. I tend to think party, along with Trump, will determine a lot of it which may mean that Blackburn wins men and not women. Bredesen could win women and lose men. And we'll see what the balance is in the end.

But if I could throw in something here? What Amy said is absolutely correct, but something that I've noticed with women candidates -- and I did in Virginia, in the elections in November -- where women powered the Democrats nearly taking over the House of Delegates and, of course, those big statewide wins.

Most of the winners in the House of Delegates, the new winners were women! And they ran in districts that most men -- pardon me for being, you know, too generalizing here, but most men would have said, well, I'm not going to run for that because I can't win. That's too heavily a Republican district. Women said I think I can do that.


SABATO: There was -- it wasn't naivete.


SABATO: It was a determination to change things.

TODD: Right.

SABATO: And that's what Republicans ought to be really afraid of as all these women file for House seats that are supposedly unwinnable.

TODD: An excellent point there. Larry Sabato, Amy Walter, as you know, I would want to keep going, but, you know, there's other things to get to today.


TODD: So I appreciate you both, and you know we'll be doing this a lot for the rest of the year.

Up ahead, President Trump slams immigrants from -- and these are his words -- s-hole countries. But he actually said the full word, not just the "s."

He's referring to immigrants from Haiti, Central America, and African countries. And here's the thing, the White House is not denying it. We'll get to that extraordinary story, next.


TODD: Welcome back. Put this in the bucket of things I didn't think I'd have to say on T.V. today or ever.

Lawmakers in the White House have been going back and forth all day, trying to strike a deal on immigration and DACA. And during a meeting in the Oval Office this afternoon, President Trump referred to Haiti and African countries as, quote, s-hole countries and told lawmakers more people from places like Norway should be invited in.

This is according to a Democrat aide that was briefed on the meeting who confirmed the comments to NBC News. The White House has not denied the remarks. Much more on this coming up.


TODD: Welcome back. Let me bring in tonight's panel.

Kimberly Atkins is the chief Washington reporter for the "Washington Herald" and an MSNBC contributor. Michael Steel is a former adviser to Jeb Bush and a former spokesperson for the former House Speaker John Boehner. And Ruth Marcus, a columnist and deputy editorial page editor for "The Washington Post." Welcome, all.

All right, Kimberly, let's get to just the news story as it stands. Here is the best that we understand. So there's been a lot of people going back and forth in the office.

And this has all came up as part of a DACA compromise -- he was being briefed on it -- which would include restoring some temporary protection status for, perhaps, Haitians that had been over here since the earthquake, and some other countries in exchange for getting rid of the visa lottery program.

And then the President, out of some sort of exasperation perhaps or frustration, says, why do we have to -- refers to, essentially, Haiti and other countries as s-hole countries, and says, why can't we have more people from Norway. OK. React.

KIMBERLY ATKINS, CHIEF WASHINGTON REPORTER, BOSTON HERALD: Out of exasperation or perhaps just a keen insight into the way the President's thinks? I mean, you -- it's not a -- it doesn't take a brain surgeon to see what's different between Haiti and African countries and Norway. Yes, he just met with the leader --

TODD: We don't think this is about him hoping for more ski team participants for the Olympic team?


TODD: Yes.

ATKINS: No. It's really him showing his -- the darkest part of his own nature in that sense.

And that's really unfortunate, especially coming off a day where he said any sort of DACA deal which should be a deal of love, a deal that deals with people who are here through no fault of their own, which includes people who are protected by this temporary status who have been here, who are going to school, who are working.

And so it's just a terrible way to refer to a group of people. I mean, I don't know how else you dress that up.

TODD: All right. We have an official response from Raj Shah, the deputy press secretary. Here's the statement, Michael Steel.

Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. He will always reject temporary, weak, and dangerous stopgap measures.

Essentially, the nondenial.


TODD: Denial statement.

STEEL: Nothing remotely close to a denial. This is what drives regular Republicans bonkers about this President. He had a decent couple of days. He was coming out from under the Michael Wolff stories. The televised negotiations over immigration went over pretty well. He sounds like Jeb --

TODD: Not with his base.

STEEL: He sounds like Jeb Bush on immigration.

TODD: Well, and so the base noted.

ATKINS: Or he did.

STEEL: And now we've got this exasperating, borderline racist, stupid comment that's going to blow the whole thing up.

TODD: If you're Tom Cotton, you've made progress today before this comment. Look, the more hardliners on immigration on this issue were basically trying to stiffen the President's spine, I think, is probably a way to do it. And they were making, it seemed like, some progress. This arguably blows it up. I mean, you now don't want to be on the side of the guy that says s-hole countries.

RUTH MARCUS, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. I mean, I wonder if there's some bizarre silver lining here because it's going to force us to have -- at least maybe enable us, to have a conversation about who we are as America. There's a big statue in New York harbor, and a lot of our ancestors --

TODD: Give us your tired, give us your poor.

MARCUS: Your poor, your weak. It doesn't give us your Norwegians and your skiers and your rich people.

You know, my grandparents, my great-grandparents came from the previous version of s-hole countries --

TODD: That was a whole --

MARCUS: And they did pretty well --

TODD: That's why they came here.

MARCUS: -- here. And that's what America is about. It's beyond borderline racist. We passed that border.

ATKINS: Right.

MARCUS: But it's also un-American.

TODD: By the way, we're a country that all came from s-hole countries in that period of time --

ATKINS: Some of us were brought here.

TODD: Yes, some of us were brought here.


TODD: No, and it's like we all feel whatever but that's the whole idea, the larger idea.

MARCUS: And so the reason that Haitians are here, that Salvadorans are here and have been here for so many years -- and I understand the frustrations about temporary status becoming permanent, but they are here because we are a country that welcomes people in need.

ATKINS: Right.

MARCUS: And is generous to those in need.

TODD: And I think we're papering over -- Kimberly, there was like -- I was, like, wow, that seems like a reasonable compromise that they were developing here.

ATKINS: Right.

TODD: Getting the visa lottery program in exchange for getting -- putting the temporary protection status folks who lost in front of the line.

ATKINS: Right.

TODD: The other was, the Dreamers could -- their parents could stay here but they could never be citizens.

ATKINS: Right.

TODD: It seemed, wow, everybody is getting their half a loaf.

ATKINS: And it was coming together more quickly than I expected.

TODD: Much quicker than I thought.

ATKINS: And all it takes is one thing to blow it apart. I mean, it's similar to what we saw this morning with FISA. They took a tweet, and they're, like, voting on that.

MARCUS: And there's always one thing.

STEEL: And let's just -- to throw another ray of sunshine into this conversation, I've got to assume this substantially increases the possibility of a government shutdown. If we can't get an immigration deal as part of that spending -- the next step, the next stopgap spending bill, we're not going to get that.

TODD: And you brought up FISA, Kimberly. That was extraordinary today, watching -- so he watches "Fox & Friends," gets mad about the deep state, thinking FISA is part of the -- essentially, his friends on that program that he watches connected it to the deep state.

He gets angry. John Kelly panics, Dan Coats panics -- the head of the DNI -- and they come up with this elaborate orchestration to stop a weakening of the FISA bill. And they pulled it off, but it was -- John Kelly had to go to the Hill.


STEEL: Right.

TODD: Dan Coats had to issue new regulations that also included some specificity on the Presidential transition, which seemed oddly inappropriate.

MARCUS: And once again, he did not understand from his -- the help of his folks, that certain other network, what he was talking about because he just understands everything through the lens of good for Trump, bad for Trump, not through the lens of good for America, bad for America.

TODD: I'm sorry. The whole Michael Wolff -- the premise of the Michael Wolff book is, what, that he is too knee-jerky, isn't really well-informed about the issues, and we just saw it play out on two issues on the same day, Kimberly.

ATKINS: We did. That's exactly the thing. I mean, despite -- the White House could have shut down this Michael Wolff book more quickly, you know, just citing its inaccuracies and then moving on from it.

But the problem is, as you point out, day to day after day, the narrative of the general focus of that book seems to be borne out with what we're seeing with our own eyes. And it presents a big problem for this President to have the confidence of the American people that, quite frankly, that he knows what he's doing.

TODD: All right. Michael Steel, you're Raul Labrador right now, and you've been trying to be on the hardline on the House Republicans. You're now -- I bet you're trying to represent that wing in some good faith negotiations. What do you do now?

STEEL: Well, it's impossible to try and execute the President's will, the President's agenda, on Capitol Hill, if the President's will changes minute by minute and tweet by tweet. If you're Raul Grijalva and you're trying to be more hardline, if you're --

TODD: Raul Labrador, you mean.

STEEL: Raul Labrador, sorry.

TODD: I think Raul Grijalva is --

STEEL: He's probably on the other side of that one.

TODD: -- very much on the side of that.


STEEL: Well, let's take it him as not there yet. You can't execute policy in this way. This morning -- the FISA bill was on the House floor this afternoon, and the President sees something on T.V. and blows it all up. How do you deal with that if you're a Congressional leader?

TODD: This gets -- Ruth, this gets at the core criticism of this presidency. And I guess at --

MARCUS: Well -- and I'm sorry to interrupt you. John Kelly -- here is what's our theory of John Kelly, right -- his theory, right? I'm not listening to the tweets. I don't pay any attention to that because that's not the real thing, but at least I'm going to orchestrate everything else.

So what have we seen over the last week? We've seen this bizarre strategy dealing with the damaging book, which is to ramp up the increase of -- ramp up the attention paid to it, like guarantee that --

STEEL: The opposite of a good strategy.

MARCUS: Right. You know, clearly, he must have, like, some shares in the -- whoever published the book. That could be the only explanation for that.


MARCUS: And then, you know, this sort of government by improv where he negotiates in public, and it turns out well for a short while. John, no one can manage this president.

TODD: But let's remember "Fox & Friends." Steve Doocy is the single most important adviser to the President of the United States. Can we let that sink in?

ATKINS: I mean, could you imagine that? I mean, I'm always told about how the media has the power to do X, Y, and Z. And I'm like, it's not that powerful --

TODD: But "Fox & Friends," those three --

ATKINS: -- but they do! They actually do have this --

TODD: Those three folks have --

ATKINS: They have an immense power.

TODD: And they --

STEEL: But who's the produce? Who writes their chyrons? The kid who writes their chyrons!

TODD: The kid who writes the banner.


TODD: The single most --

STEEL: That's the most powerful person in America. Or the second.

ATKINS: Right.

MARCUS: Right.

TODD: We got to do a documentary on this guy!

MARCUS: Yes. Chyron boy.

TODD: Like, you know, this is the real power.

MARCUS: And the coffee boy.


TODD: Chyron guy for "Fox & Friends."

MARCUS: And hand a suit to the guy.


MARCUS: Which is --


TODD: I always do the generic. Fair enough. All right. Kimberly, Michael, Ruth, stick around.

Up ahead, another -- as Michael Steel just told you, now the shutdown showdown ramps up. Congress more divided than ever. Are they going to reach any deal before the lights go out? Today looks bad. We'll be right back.


TODD: Hello there. I'm Chuck Todd with an exciting new offer from "MTP Daily." So don't touch that remote. I'll explain, coming up. But first, here's Hampton Pearson with the "CNBC Market Wrap."

HAMPTON PEARSON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT, CNBC: Thanks, Chuck. We had stocks closing higher on Wall Street, rebounding from losses in the previous session. Investors are optimistic about U.S. corporate earnings season upcoming. The Dow jumping 205 points closing at an all-time high, the S&P gaining 19 points, the Nasdaq adding 58 points.

(INAUDIBLE) and Delta airlines rose 4.8 percent after reported adjusted earnings that surpassed analysts' expectations. Xerox jumping five percent following a Wall Street Journal report that the company is in deal talks with Japan's Fuji Film Holdings Corporation.

That's it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.


TODD: Welcome back. We're just eight days away from a possible government shutdown and members of Congress are pretty divided on multiple issues that need to be resolved if the lights are going to stay on. President Trump's massive muddling of his own position this week is making an already complicated situation even worse.

Take DACA. We already know about this. Bipartisan meeting with lawmakers this week. The president seemed to give support for multiple totally contradictory positions on immigration, on off-shore drilling.

His expanded nationwide before backtracking and giving Florida an exemption without really explaining why that exemption can't apply to other states beyond just because, well, they have a Republican governor.

Then just today, the president sent multiple confusing and conflicting tweets on renewal of FISA, which as we said earlier created chaos on the Hill. Just hours before, they were set to vote on this issue.

Joining me now to try to sort some of this out, Republican Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina. Congressman Sanford, welcome to the show, sir.

REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Pleasure. Thank you much. Happy New Year.

TODD: I am jealous of the fact that you're in Charleston, the lovely backdrop there. It's always very nice. Let me ask you. You've heard this issue, this report about how the president referred to some of these countries that we give temporary protection status to and his, I guess, wishing that these immigrants would come from countries like Norway instead of S-hole countries. Your reaction?

SANFORD: Yes, you catch me wrong, we're (ph) flatfooted --

TODD: I understand.

SANFORD: -- from D.C. and we were busy with the FISA vote this morning. And so, you know, it is what it is, and there have been some crazy tweets and some crazy quotes, and I just (INAUDIBLE) it up with it is what it is.

TODD: Well, let me ask you this, though. DACA has been hard enough without all of this. Does -- how much harder does the president's inappropriate comments make it to get an agreement that doesn't shut down the government?

SANFORD: You know, I don't think coarse comments one way or the other are going to drive the DACA debate. I mean, I think that there's fundamentally a big divide right now in the Congress with a lot of conservatives saying, OK, let's not create another DACA down the road and we got to have some measure border security goes with any kind of DACA fix or DACA solution.

And that sort of fix camp, if you will, over the Republican side is an equally fix camp on the democratic side with folks saying, look, these kids came through, you know the whole story, not of their own volition. Let's not hold them hostage to what might or might not happen next on border security.

Those two camps are fairly entrenched, which to your point raises this larger point, how in the world do we get this solved with a larger budget deal come next week?

TODD: It did seem as if I saw a compromise floated that seemed to be the true half a loaf measure. You get some Democratic votes for more border fencing, some 700 miles. You get the DACA protections.

Parents would be allowed to stay, but they would not be eligible for citizenship. The lottery program goes away, but the temporary protection status folks would get priority. What I've outlined, is that something you could vote for?

SANFORD: I don't know. You know, there's a more comprehensive bill that (INAUDIBLE) and others have just introduced that sort of are hot off the press. I would probably be more in that camp.

TODD: Fair enough.

SANFORD: It's a little bit more robust, if you will. I probably be more in that camp.

TODD: What I described, is that feasible, just your way of reading that that can get through the House and the Senate? Let me ask you this, can the -- will Paul Ryan put a bill on the floor if more Democrats support it than Republicans when it comes to this DACA compromise?

SANFORD: Probably not would be my guess. They call it the Hastert Rule and basically it says if you're in the majority at least on the Republican side, they don't really want to move a bill through that -- TODD: You know, that's not -- that's an official rule. You know that it's not an official rule. SANFORD: No, no, no. I'm just saying it's a tradition. A well worn tradition, if you will. TODD: Right.

SANFORD: And so for that reason, I doubt he would, but, again, you're reading the tea leaves as well as I am in terms of what comes next over the next 10 days.

TODD: Let me ask you about FISA and that chaos from this morning. Obviously, we've been discussing the DACA chaos which you missed, I think, on your plane. You were there are for FISA.


TODD: How much does the president's tweet almost undo the entire compromised bill?

SANFORD: It had folks a tither, but, again, I was in the other camp. I'm in the pro-homage (ph) --

TODD: Right.


TODD: Right.

SANFORD: Yes, right. That would say, let's -- let's -- let's beef up some of the civil liberties and some of the protections within what's called the 702 provision of the larger FISA debate.

And so -- so, you know, the initial smoke signal that said, you know, this may have had something to do with something that I didn't like and as much as that create confusion, you know, I don't know how much that gives it, given -- I think it is a mistake to proceed as we did today.

We'll see what happens over on the Senate side, but I think that the fourth amendment is fundamental to this larger notion of liberty and there being a limit to how far government can reach into your personal facts without a warrant and without probable cause.

I think that what we moved forward today, though again I admire the chairman tremendously in what he was trying to do in terms of balancing this, went a bit far in codifying this notion of the government's ability to reach into your personal facts without a warrant and without probable cause.

You feel that that's still -- Americans citizen are still more at risk on this, even though everything's supposed to be about its foreign individuals? SANFORD: No, but that's not how it works. So in these dragnets, if you will, querying a foreign phone number, they talk to somebody in L.a. or they talk to somebody who may be in London, but who may be an American citizen. The question then was what do you do with that data?

And right now, it goes into a large database and without, again, a warrant, they can go, in essence, check into those other queries. You know, as one who's fairly strictly reading the constitution and I get it that today represents a lot of different views on what the constitution means or looks like, I think that, you know, that we went too far.

That you ought to have a warrant and probable cause to go into that, to that bundle, but if you remember, the fourth amendment was fundamentally about, you know, the founding fathers disdain for British soldiers coming through, looking through your house until they finally found something they could charge you with.

TODD: Right.

SANFORD: They put that fourth amendment for a reason. I think civil liberty is vital to larger national liberty.

TODD: And let me finally ask you, I pointed out the beautiful backdrop you have there. You were, you are not happy about this decision, about offshore oil drilling, I know that.

And you made a bit of a snide comment, I think, or a little tweak at the president when you said, you don't want to see oil rigs off the coast of Mar-a-Lago, and there's a lot of people in Myrtle Beach that don't want the same as well.

You were a governor. What's in your toolbox as governor to fight the federal government on this issue, you know, for the governor of South Carolina, for Henry McMaster?

SANFORD: Well, I begin with personal relationships. I mean, I think a lot of people argued that this is largely a decision based on politics, not policy. It was based on what, again, the secretary suggested, which is, you know, Florida is heavily tourism reliant. Well, guess what? Look at the coast of South Carolina. We're heavily tourism reliant.

And so it's based on something more than just policy. There is some politics and some personal relationships that go into this. And I think that Henry McMaster, governor of South Carolina, has a clear personal tie to the president that I hope that he would exploit in any way possible in terms of trying to protect our coastal waters --

TODD: Right.

SANFORD: -- and the tourism business that comes with it. TODD: But in fairness, while that might help South Carolina in the short term, is that any way to govern? That it is all based on who your pals with, whether there's an oil rig on your coastline?

So because there's a Democratic governor of Virginia, he wants -- I'm sure nobody in Virginia beach wants to see an oil rig either. I assume you're not endorsing that style of governance?

SANFORD: No, no, no. We don't have a king or despot and we lay homage to the king or the despot. We want to have a system of policies, as the founding fathers put it, a law and not men. And so I think that whatever you do, you ought to do it on a consistent basis.

That's what was so telling about the Florida decision. If you are going to apply that logic to Florida, then you ought to apply it to a whole host of other states as well.

TODD: Yes. I have a feeling we're not going to see many oil rigs. This is one that I feel like the toothpaste might actually get put back in the tube. We shall see. Congressman Mark Sanford, as always, sir, thanks for coming on and sharing your views.

SANFORD: My pleasure.

TODD: You got it. But wait, there's more. It's an offer that definitely won't last, and it's coming up.


TODD: Welcome back. Tonight I'm obsessed with my visit to Florida yesterday. A prior engagement forced me to take the show on the road to Boynton Beach. Broadcast from a studio located in this beige building in an unremarkable office park. But little did I know, I was entering some place really special.


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TODD: We even stream it. Come on. You don't need cable anymore. Or just watch tomorrow. That works, too.


TODD: Time for "The Lid." Michael Steel, Kimberly Atkins, Ruth Marcus. The way I had ordered our show is we were going to do a little campaign politics first and then we're going to do a little (INAUDIBLE) on the hill and we ended up reversing that.

So, Michael Steel, you were here in 2010, on the -- on one side of this and you saw, I believe, a big red wave building and you guys were taking advantage of it. How familiar does this look to you, just 2010 wise?

MICHAEL STEEL, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY TO JOHN BOEHNER: You know, our friend Amy Walters has a saying that she's been here since 1992 and she has never seen a normal midterm. TODD: I'm with her. STEEL: So --

TODD: What is normal? STEEL: Well, what would be normal right now is if Democrats were poised to make huge gains (INAUDIBLE) on the president's lack of popularity.

TODD: Right.

STEEL: And there are some indications that that's correct. There are other indications that in battleground districts, the polls remain tight, Nancy Pelosi remains incredibly unpopular, Republican fund raising is very good, and starting next month, 90 percent of taxpayers will see a fatter paycheck as a result of the tax reform bill passed before Christmas.

There's reason for optimism amidst the gloom and doom.

TODD: The race by race argument, the getting stuff done argument, the how I avoid Donald Trump argument is essentially what Michael Steel is putting out there. Good luck, right?

RUTH MARCUS, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good luck, Michael. You know, that's the best argument that there is.

TODD: He's not wrong if Donald Trump was in a vault per se. MARCUS: It's not necessarily wrong, but if you think about the known unknowns from here until election day, a lot of them would be scarier for your side than for Nancy Pelosi's side. And the number that pollsters that I've been talking to are looking at is the enthusiasm.

TODD: Yes.

MARCUS: The degree to which democratic voters are really much more engaged and energized to get to the polls and change the outcome. And I asked democratic pollster, how the implications of the tax bill, in particular, what an economy that continues to thrive, what impact that will have on those, that enthusiasm, and the answer I got was none.


KIMBERLY ATKINS, CHIEF WASHINGTON REPORTER AND COLUMNIST, BOSTON HERALD: Yes, I mean, but you need something to drive that enthusiasm, right? I still have yet to see the Democrats really coalesce around a message that is going to capitalize on -- TODD: They need one in '18. They need one in '20. ATKINS: I think you absolutely need one in '18. You need to run on something other than anti-Trump. You need to try in some way to capitalize on the energy that you do see in some movements that are coming out.

At the same time, there's this idea that you have to appeal to these white working class male voters that Democrats seem to be in some ways so worried about. That they're moving away. This is what Democrats are telling me.

That they're moving away from their own core message and who they are and how they appeal. And that could -- there's a big fear that that's going to bite them.

STEEL: You have to give voters something to vote for. The Democrat platform in 2006 when they took the House was really thin rule, but they had something.

TODD: Did have to hang something.

STEEL: I don't know that they're capable of doing that right now. TODD: Do you really think though that you guys won in '10 and '14 by a positive message or just by being the check on Obama?

STEEL: I think in '10, there was the real temptation to be the party of no. And Speaker Boehner to his great credit insisted that we be the party of better solution, that we offer the pledge to America, the we run being for something, not just against the president.

ATKINS: But trust at Obamacare, which was incredibly unpopular at that time. And I think in this sense, you have the efforts to roll back Obamacare that were unpopular and the tax bill that still has to be sold and make people --

MARCUS: A really good idea for Democrats to get a message (INAUDIBLE) 2018.

TODD: Let me -- Ruth, in the most underrated part of The Washington Post (INAUDIBLE) The Washington Post magazine. It just is. It is a very good magazine that doesn't get enough attention. Yet an interesting little poll came in, interesting little conversation with the founding members of the DLC.

And Al Fromm said something interesting that we think sort of strikes at the perfect way to sort of split divide in the Democratic Party which is he said the Democratic Party's problem in the 80s is that the -- were all about fairness and not opportunity.

And Bill Clinton pushed them to opportunity. And he goes, I see the Democrats slipping into fairness argument and his argument is when you talk about fairness, some voters here, what are they taking away from me? When you talk opportunity, they just think what are you doing to make me feel better?

MARCUS: And that kind of flashback to the age of the DLC and that was how Democrats came out of the wilderness in the early 90s. Race is I think what might be a bigger problem for Democrats in 2018 than the lack of a message which is clashing messages.

TODD: Right.

MARCUS: And you're going to see this, you know, emergence. We've had a good time watching the Republicans fight. We're going to have a good time watching Democrats fight. That could be more dangerous for Democrats than no message at all. TODD: Let me ask you this, Kimberly, how do you think the democratic base voters would respond? The Democratic Party is the party of fairness or opportunity?

ATKINS: I think you have to talk about both and I think it is OK to talk about both. I think that's what to fear. Do I appeal to this group of voters or do I appeal to these others and leave it behind? And then there is a way to do both. There is a way to walk and chew gum at the same time.

In congressional races, it is very local, it depends on your district and who those folks are. But I think that 2018 is important and it is also what happens in 2018 is important for 2020. STEEL: And let's not forget the messengers. Nancy Pelosi remains the most flawed out of touch San Francisco millionaire elitist representative on the national stage. Without a change in leadership, I think the Democrats in the House still face a head wind there.

TODD: Is she a bigger pariah than Trump?

MARCUS: No. It depends on for who, right?


MARCUS: You're motivating different bases. TODD: Do you think you can make the racist (ph) Trump versus Pelosi?

STEEL: I think that Donald Trump's brand is so distinct from the party as a whole, that's why you saw last year senators like Rob Portman and Marco Rubio running substantially ahead of Trump in their own states. I think Republican congressional candidates do the same. TODD: Do you think that -- Democrats seem divided on this. A guy in a special election, the Democratic nominee in Pennsylvania special and he is trying to win a district that is a Republican district saying I'm not voting for Nancy Pelosi. STEEL: Does that matter?

MARCUS: The argument about Pelosi just feels awfully stale to me. I know it is tried and true and it has worked for years. STEEL: Every two years it continues to work. TODD: You keep thinking that it will stop working?

STEEL: Right. When is the last time she held a gavel? When is the last time she had power? Look at Georgia six. It continues to work. MARCUS: The argument against Pelosi works to get out a base if the base is willing to be gotten out and isn't frustrated with the president over other things. The argument about Trump, I would go as a matter of pure politics, as a much more motivating argument for a larger number of people.

TODD: Look, the party that gets to be able to say, would you like a check on the president is usually the party that feels pretty good about mid- term. Anyway, Kimberly, Michael, Ruth, thank you all. We'll be right back.


TODD: Welcome back. Mr. President, in case you missed it, these words are inscribed on a plaque on a pedestal on a statue, it is called the Statue of Liberty, it is in New York Harbor in New York City. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

That's all for tonight. We'll be back tomorrow with more "MTP Daily." "The Beat" with Ari Melber starts right now. Good evening, Ari.



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