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Senator Gary Peters TRANSCRIPT: 8/6/20 All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Rick Pearlstein, Julian Brave Noisecat, Gary Peters, Stacey Abrams, Adrianne Shropshire

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: All right, Thank you so much, Representative Charles  Booker, Jamie Harrison. I really appreciate you all. That is tonight`s  REIDOUT. And "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. All the President`s mess, a  total failure on Coronavirus and a historically bad economy puts this  historically bad president right in league with Herbert Hoover, which  explains the ongoing attacks on democracy for the campaign of Donald Trump.  Stacey Abrams is here on what you can do to protect the election. 

Plus, Senator Gary Peters on his new investigation of the sabotage of the  Post Office. The new 2020 ads from the Biden campaign that may be the  perfect antidote to Trump`s non-stop lies, when ALL IN starts right now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. How do you campaign for  reelection when the country`s falling apart? How do you try to get four  more years when what`s happening now is this? Today the President was in  Ohio for what were basically campaign events. At one event, they actually  played the song Live and Let Die on the sound system before he took the  stage, which is a strange choice during a deadly pandemic. It`s a sort of a  Paul McCartney`s version of "it is what it is," I suppose. 

Now, the plan at this event had been for the Republican governor of Ohio,  Mike DeWine, who`s done a pretty good job of actually managing the virus  there, to greet the President when he arrives. So Governor DeWine got  tested in advance of meeting the President. And guess what, the test showed  that he has the Coronavirus.

Now, instead of greeting with Donald Trump, he is in quarantine, making him  the second governor in the country that we know of to have contracted the  virus. That was not the best news to kick off the President`s trip to Ohio  and it did not get better. The President`s remarks the airport were built  as being about "economic prosperity," but they came on a day that 1.2  million people filed for unemployment benefits for the first-time last  week. That`s the 20th straight week of claims of about a million. 

And here`s the thing to look at with this, many of those job losses are  permanent. I`m sure you`ve been hearing about it. We`ve been hearing it.  We`ve seen it. People are getting laid off, corporations are cutting back,  and those jobs are not coming back. There are simply no way to get around  the fact the country is in abjectly terrible shape. 

We now have officially lost more than 160,000 of our fellow Americans to  the virus. That`s almost certainly an undercount. And while many other  countries had the virus contained, we are still seeing over 1,000 deaths a  day, more than 1,100 so far, just today. If you look at all that the utter  failure to contain the virus, the historically terrible economy, it is hard  not to wonder and I will admit to wondering this a lot and maybe you do  too. Honestly, how is anyone supporting this guy?

I mean, seriously. Six months ago, in January, I could understand. Now, I  mean, Donald Trump is hugely unpopular. He`s only at about 41 percent  approval rating, but that still means about two every five Americans, after  all this, after all this, still approve of the job Donald Trump is doing,  which seems crazy. 

So I was thinking about this, and I decided to just take a look back at  what happened in some of the biggest presidential blowouts in U.S. history  for a little context. Now, in 1932, there`s Republican incumbent President  Herbert Hoover. He was running for reelection in the midst of the Great  Depression. 

There were food lines across the country, thousands upon thousands of  Americans living in shanty towns which are named after the president called  Hoovervilles. We did not have the modern welfare state, so people were like  literally starving to death. It is fair to say it was not the ideal  environment for a president to get reelected. 

And President Hoover did lose that 1932 race to FDR by a big margin. It is  remembered as a massive blowout, and it was. But look at this, even amidst  the Great Depression, with shanty towns literally named after him,  Hooverville, Hoover still got nearly 40 percent of the vote. 40 percent,  and that is the thing to remember. No matter how much of a blowout we think  a race was, the losing candidates still usually gets around 40 percent. 

In 1984, another big historic blowout, right? Walter Mondale, right, got  his butt kicked by Reagan. He won 41 percent of the vote against Ronald  Reagan, in a race that most people probably remember is a much bigger  blowout. In 1980, amid stagflation, the Iran hostage the second oil crisis,  right, Jimmy Carter, who also remembers as running amidst profound national  crisis, he got 41 percent of the vote. 

That`s the thing. If you`re running for president in a two-party system,  with two candidates, two major candidates, you pretty much start at 40  percent. It`s just the way it is. That`s the floor. 40 percent is the floor  for a major party candidate. But if Donald Trump only ends up around where  he is now, with around 41 percent of the vote, it`s still a huge deal.

If he gets that vote, if that is what people vote, it is not only a  historic repudiation, it will have huge implications for the entire federal  government, for Congress, because he will drag down his party with him. And  right now, Democrats are seeing some very encouraging state-based polls  even as the national race looks to have tightened a little bit a tick or so  in the last week. 

Look at the Senate, all right. Iowa, new poll has Democrat Theresa  Greenfield with a lead, all be it within the margin of error, on Republican  Senator Joni Ernst. That was not seen as a top tier pick up opportunity for  Democrats. So that`s Iowa. 

South Carolina, South Carolina was viewed as a Hail Mary. South Carolina  was one of these things were Democrats get excited but it`s not going to  happen. A new poll today has Democrat Jamie Harrison tied, tied with a  Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. 

Even in Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in this latest  polling, has only a five-point lead over Democrat Amy McGrath. These are  not the races that Democrats need necessarily to win to take back the  Senate. Those are the ones they are not supposed to win, but here we are. 

Look, it`s a big fractious country, 350 million people. We disagree about  all things, nearly everything. But the thing is there still actually a lot  of unity out there. The polling shows most of us, most of us understand the  importance of things like wearing masks to combat the pandemic, for one  thing. And while it is not an overwhelming majority, 55 percent of the  country does realize that the guy running the country is doing a terrible  job. 

And right now with you know, 90 plus days to Election Day, the only way out  is to flex our Democratic muscles, and for everyone to come together across  all sorts of lines in American life, mean, people that don`t necessarily  agree with each other, right, to deliver the same verdict that Americans  delivered to President Herbert Hoover, way back in 1932. 

For some historical perspective on this race, I`m joined now by historian  Rick Pearlstein. His most recent book is Reaganland: America`s Right Turn  1976-1980. Rick is one of the great historians of modern conservatism and  presidential politics. And I thought, maybe Rick, we would start with this  idea of the 40 percent because in a weird way, I`ve kind of found it  comforting to go back through these, these margins. 

I remember tweeting at one point as we headed into this pandemic, that we  might be able to find out what would happen if Herbert Hoover had Fox News.  And it turns out that like, even without Fox News, they`re still 40 percent  of the country that voted for him.

RICK PEARLSTEIN, HISTORIAN: Well, he had the Chicago Tribune, but I`m about  to discomfort you, Chris, because I kind of made a pledge to myself the  morning that Donald Trump tweeted that we might not have an election on  November -- you know, the first Tuesday in November. And I said, anytime  someone asked me to kind of analyze this election in the context of  previous American elections, I would point out that we might be coming to a  point where we need to think about parallels like, you know, Chile in 1970,  and Italy in 1922, and in Germany in 1933. 

And with Donald Trump at 40 percent, you know, Herbert Hoover didn`t face  the possibility of going to jail if he didn`t get re-inaugurated on January  20th, or back then, it was in March, I should say. So the fact that he`s at  this point where he`s desperate, and he has, you know, a strong plurality  of supporters who probably won`t accept as legitimate an election that  happens by mail if the other guy wins, it`s not as simple as the Electoral  College meeting in January and casting its votes for the person who wins  their state. So, we`re in a -- we`re in sort of a more uncharted territory. 

Now, that said, most people just don`t really follow politics day to day  They don`t watch CNN, they don`t watch MSNBC, and you know, they have party  loyalty, right? And they heard that the Republicans are the good guys and  the Democrats are the bad guys. So, there is yes, that floor. You know,  Barry Goldwater had it too. 

So, you know, maybe he can, you know, shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and  some will just pull the lever for the Republicans because that`s what  they`ve always done.

HAYES: Yes, but that -- so I think -- I think these two are related in this  way, because I think about this too, and I agree with you, right. Like, I  think that we`re in -- and I`ve said this a lot on the show, like we`re in  a democratic danger zone, real fundamental, like, does American democracy,  like survive kind of territory. You know, the President talking about  already sabotaging the legitimacy. 

But I do think there`s a connection between the two because I think there - - if he was at -- if he was pulling at 55 percent, the anti-Democratic  moves would be more worrisome. And when you`ve seen people like that have  made sort of anti-Democratic moves popularly like Erdogan in Turkey, there  was a period where he was both sort of edging away democracy and genuinely  popular as a figure. Those two things played off each other.

I do think that this -- the fact that there`s a majority of the country  that does not like this guy itself, and the street protests itself,  actually proved to be like the only check we really have in some ways. Like  that`s the kind of force of gravity on the other side.

PEARLSTEIN: Absolutely. And the fact that he is kind of tried his Reichstag  fire in Portland, you know, he`s tried to kind of drum up this terror of,  you know, Antifa, mobs, you know, abducting your daughter or something like  that. And it`s completely backfired with the voters he needs most, which  are those suburban swing voters, demonstrates that if he`s a fascist, he`s  just not a very competent one. 

Now, hopefully, that will be enough. You know, on Election Day, we have to  realize that it might not be called on Election Day. You know, you guys  will do your job and, you know, spread that message and our -- you know,  gatekeepers and our strong institutions, you know, have to hold the line  and prepare for the worst, right? Because he calls the shots and we have to  anticipate them and the Democrats have to fold them into their plan for  Election Day.

HAYES: Final question for you, and I know sort of historical parallels are  inexact, but there was -- something that`s jumped out of me about 32 and  80, right, which are both sort of iconic examples of first (INAUDIBLE)  president running for reelection getting their butt kicked in the midst of  a country that was not in great shape objectively, right. 

And what I think is important about those two moments, and you write about  this, obviously, with Reagan in the 80s, is they were also sort of the  beginnings of different eras and epochs of American governance. I mean, 32  marks the beginning of FDR and 1980, you know, marks the beginning of  Reagan. It`s an enormous change in America. And there`s a relationship  between big victories and being able to implement an agenda, and I think  that that`s not something to take lightly, as we head towards November  here.

PEARLSTEIN: Yes, that`s our friend Corey Robin`s argument that Donald Trump  is such a frenzy -- you know, he`s reaching with such frenzy for this  smaller and smaller chunk of the electorate, because we do seem to be  coming to the end of his historical regime. 

And that`s why it`s so important if you`re a Democrat or if you`re a  leftist or if you`re a socialist, even if you`re in this strong blue state,  you have to vote because we have to pile up such an overwhelming popular  victory that normally is, you know, does Trump leave the White House but we  have to delegitamate the fascist turn to the Republican Party in the most  resounding possible way. You know, so basically, we look OK in the eyes of  history, and we can turn our back and reconstruct the country and the image  we want to see it.

HAYES: Yes, Corey Robin, who you just gave a shout out to wrote a piece  very soon after Trump`s election saying, is Trump the conservative Carter  which at the time people were like, what are you talking about, but there`s  something in it. Rick Pearlstein, whose book -- new book on Reagan is out  now if I`m not mistaken. You should definitely pre-order it. Rick, thanks  so much.

PEARLSTEIN: Thanks, Chris. Cheers.

HAYES: Thanks. All right, for more on what is going on with the polls, I  want to turn now to Julian Brave Noisecat. He`s the vice president of  policy and strategy at the progressive think tank Data for Progress. They  just released some really fascinating state polls, including in Iowa and  North Carolina. 

Julian, it`s interesting, because today -- there`s a bunch of state polling  today, and if you look at national polling, it does seem to indicate that,  you know, the race has tightened a little bit a point or two between Donald  Trump and Joe Biden. But the state polling that you guys have shows Trump  and Republicans a lot of pressure -- in a lot of trouble. What did you find  an Iowa for instance?

JULIAN BRAVE NOISECAT, VICE PRESIDENT OF POLICY AND STRATEGY, DATA FOR  PROGRESS: So firstly, thank you so much for having me on, Chris. We polled  four states that could determine which party controls the Senate. Iowa was  one of them. Iowa, for example, we had Trump up by just one which was  obviously not in Republican`s game plan, but we had Democrat Theresa  Greenfield up by two against Republican Senator Joni Ernst. 

And I think that that story of what`s happening in Iowa where Republicans  are, you know, losing ground quickly in places where they really don`t want  to see that happen is a very good story for team blue. You know, your last  guest, Rick Pearlstein was just talking about how we might be at the end of  an epoch for the Republican Party in American politics. I`m more of a  basketball guy and it`s kind of like the end of the third quarter. And you  know, team blue is seeing some really good signs and team red is seeing  some significant warning signs in our numbers.

HAYES: North Carolina is another interesting race to me because again, I  didn`t have this -- I mean, the three races, you know, everyone going into  here I think in this year saw as Democratic pick up opportunities, the  strongest were Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Martha  McSally in Arizona. 

And there`s a variety of reasons in Colorado. That state has trended very  Democratic, Maine has as well. Collins, you know, voted for Kavanaugh, and  then McSally has had a hard time Arizona trending. I did not have North  Carolina really on my list of competitive races. Thom Tillis though, he`s  pulling way underwater in you`re pulling in a lot of people`s polling. And  I have been surprised at how consistent it is given that it was not a race  I expected to be this competitive.

NOISECAT: So, in North Carolina, we actually have Democrat Cal Cunningham  that Senator Thom Tillis` challenger up by eight. So, he`s up by eight  against the incumbent Republican. And we have former Vice President Joe  Biden up by four against President Trump. 

And Chris, you`re like completely right about this. This was again, you  know, no usually something that would be on people`s radar in a normal  general election year, but things are going incredibly poorly for the  Republican Party. And one thing to note is that it`s actually not a better  story down ballot for Republicans. 

We found that incumbent Republican senators are with the exception of  Senator Susan Collins, actually polling behind the president. So, this is - - this is not good news for the Republican Party.

HAYES: That`s a really interesting point that has come out that they`re  actually pulling behind the president, that Trump`s actually outperforming  both Tillis and Ernst in those states in North Carolina and in Iowa, and  that Collins actually is doing a fairly good job in relation to Trump.  She`s only three points behind I think in your poll.

But there`s also -- there`s the Quinnipiac`s South Carolina poll, it`s not  your poll, but Quinnipiac poll in South Carolina, again, this was one of  those sort of Hail Mary races. Jamie Harrison, who we`ve talked about, he`s  raised a lot of money, that -- you know, I mean, that Presidential race,  top-line number, South Carolina being five points and that Senate race is  being tied. 

Again, that is not what the average of polls is showing, and I think that`s  probably one of the best polls Harrison has gotten, and I wouldn`t expect  the race to be that close. And yet, that is like, it`s hard to express how  much of a four-alarm fire that is for the Republican Party if they`re  seeing anything like that in their internals right now.

NOISECAT: I mean, I think that it just shows how far the Republican Party  is behind the electorate on a number of issues that matter. I mean, whether  you`re talking about the coronavirus, whether you`re talking about the  economy, and also whether you`re talking about issues that you might not  expect to be high priorities this year, like climate change.

So, we actually asked voters about issue areas like climate and we found  that they tend to be siding with the Democrats on a number of issues.  Whether that be investing in clean energy, you know, environmental justice,  ensuring that funds are going to the communities that are most impacted by  pollution. 

So, you know, it`s really -- if I was a Republican consultant, which  thankfully I am not, you know, it would be hard to say what they have here.  They`re grasping at straws. 

HAYES: Yes. And that grasping at straws is precisely where right now  people`s unemployment insurance has run out and there has been no deal  struck while the president sort of looks on and isn`t really even a party  in negotiations because the Republican Party doesn`t actually know what it  wants. It doesn`t know what it stands for aside from like railing against  cancel culture every night. Julian Brave Noisecat from Data for Progress,  thank you so much for being with me.

NOISECAT: Thanks so much for having me, Chris.

HAYES: Next up, Trump`s Postmaster General confirms he is slowing the mail.  And tonight, Democratic Senator Gary Peters of Michigan has announced an  investigation to find out why. And Senator Peters joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: The new head of the U.S. Postal Service has acknowledged the new  policies that he put in place have caused mail delays. We know this thanks  to a letter from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the top Democrat in  the Senate Chuck Schumer detailing what the new Postmaster General Lewis  DeJoy who also happens to be a Trump donor told them in a meeting just  yesterday.

Quoting from the letter, "At this meeting, you confirm that contrary to  certain prior denials and statements made minimizing these changes, the  Postal Service recently instituted operational changes shortly after you  assume the position of Postmaster General. We believe these changes made  during the middle of a once in a century pandemic now threaten the timely  delivery of mail, including medicines for seniors, paychecks for workers,  and absentee ballots for voters that is essential to millions of  Americans."

All those slowdowns are having other effects, as well. For example, because  most Veteran Affairs prescriptions are fulfilled by mail, veterans are now  reporting longer wait times to get their medications. Well, today, Senator  Gary Peters, the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, which  has domain oversight over this, just launched an investigation into those  delays at the U.S. Postal Service. And Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of  Michigan is here with me now. 

Senator, it`s great to have you. Let me start with that -- with that letter  that Pelosi and Schumer sent and what the sort of top-line concerns are  from you and other Democrats?  SEN. GARY PETERS (D-MI): Well, there are a number of top-line concerns,  Chris. And thank you for really highlighting this story because I think  it`s incredibly important for the reasons that you -- that you mentioned.  We have folks who rely on the Postal Service for our checks, Social  Security checks, paychecks, prescription medicines that are coming in. You  mentioned how the V.A. is now realizing that these mail delays are  impacting the ability to get essential drugs to veterans who require this.  This is incredibly important that we deal with. 

And as the ranking member of the committee with oversight over the Post  Office, we`ve been trying to get information from the Postmaster General.  It has been slow. We`re finally starting to get information. Just late  today, we`ve got answers to some of the questions we asked but there are  huge gaps as well as you mentioned at the top of the segment.

We know that a number of changes have gone in place to basically limit over  time. So, if you have a surge of mail, mail will pile up because it`s not  taken out of the Post Office as it usually is. You`re also seeing  transportation trucks going back and forth are being delayed as well, are  not being fully utilized. You`re also seeing some of the processing, that  machines that process and sort are also limited in what they`re doing. All  of these things basically mean that mail starts piling up. 

You know, I`m hearing from folks, letter carriers, and postal workers.  They`re saying, they`re seeing piles of mail that they`ve never seen before  in their post offices. I`m hearing from constituents all across the state  of Michigan. My colleagues are hearing from their constituents all over the  country that this is happening. This cannot occur, especially, as was  mentioned, in the middle of a pandemic.

People rely on the postal service to provide critical mail to them in a  timely way. And that`s not happening and we need to get to the bottom of it  and try to understand why would they put these changes in, clearly it looks  as if that`s slowing down the mail, without actually testing to find out  does this even work. The implications are so, so huge, it`s irresponsible  to think you`d be putting in these kinds of changes without understanding  exactly the impact that will have on reliability.

HAYES: You know, it`s -- I`ve been in contact with a ton of people, both  customers of the U.S. Postal Service, and mail carriers, and former retired  mail carriers. It`s almost inside the Post Office. It`s almost a point of  like, you know, religious devotion that you don`t let mail pile up. That  mail goes out as fast as you can get it out. You do what it takes to get it  out the door. And that`s the sort of like cardinal operating principle that  has now been upended. 

And I guess my understanding of the argument from those implementing this  is that this is cost-saving, that essentially, you need -- the USPS has  tough finances, that it needs a lot of money from the federal government  right now. There`s -- we can talk about the causes of that. And that this  is intended to limit oversight -- overtime, to limit labor costs, so that  you bring the overhead down. Is there a good faith argument there? Like, is  that -- is that an actual argument?

PETERS: Well, we haven`t -- we haven`t seen any of that analysis going  forward. But you know, bottom line, if you`re -- if you`re a company, you  want to provide first-class service. Just like first-class mail, you want  to provide service to your customers. And when you start backing off on  those kinds of service standards, and people can`t rely on the mail, you  know, there are other alternatives that people can use for mail service for  a variety of products. 

And if you start taking and providing less service, people are going to  look for alternatives. And you`re going to be in a downward spiral. You  have to continue to provide the kind of service that people expect from the  Postal Service or you`re going to be in bigger trouble. 

You know, there are a lot of folks who believe the Trump administration  basically wants to privatize the Postal Service. They want to basically  throw a wrench in the wheel so that they can justify basically privatizing  the service. That is unacceptable. This is the only agency or the only  entity that actually delivers to every single address in the United States  no matter where you live. 

It`s absolutely essential to folks in rural areas that rely on the Postal  Service. We`ve got to make sure that this proud history of this  organization of over 240 years continues to deliver the mail. And as you  mentioned, very, very accurately, you know, postal workers say they never  want to see a bag of mail laying on the floor. They want to get it out  immediately. 

And sometimes you get a huge surge. When you have a big surge of absentee  ballots, you need more people. You need more manpower and hours in order to  get it out. And that`s what we expect the Postal Service to do, and we`re  going to demand that we get that kind of service from the Postal Service  going forward.

HAYES: Final question, but briefly, it has not been established definitive  to me that Louis DeJoy, the Postmaster General and Trump and RNC donor is  the source of these changes. Is that established to you? Like do we know  for a fact that this is Louis DeJoy`s doing?

PETERS: Well, we got a letter this afternoon, just this afternoon that said  yes, these changes are going forward, but it wasn`t from the Postmaster  General or someone within the Postal Service. But it looks clear that this  is something that they put forward which leads to the other questions, did  you test this? Did you do you have any kind of data to back up that this is  actually something that`ll work? And how are you monitoring it? How do we  make changes if it is indeed slowing down the mail?

HAYES: All right, Senator Gary Peters, thank you so much for taking time  and I`d love to have you back as we learn more on this topic we`re going to  stay on.

PETERS: Right. Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, Stacey Abrams is here. We have a lot to talk about,  including how you, yes you, can fight back against the President`s attack  on your ability to vote safely. Stacey Abrams joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: We recently got an e-mail from a viewer asking for a little bit of  advice during this time of unprecedented uncertainty. The viewer wants to  know what to do with all their rage and anger and despair about where we  are right now and suggested maybe on the show I could, you know, live in a  little bit our normal delivery of the catastrophe every night. And there`s  a small insignificant thing we can do that will matter a lot, so listen up.

According to recent Washington Post analysis, nearly 180 million eligible  voters are able to vote by mail in November. So visit your state election  office Web site or your county Web site, it might be one or the other.  Figure out the rules for obtaining an absentee ballot and request one. You  may have already had an application mailed to you already. Lots of states  have done that. It`s made Donald Trump angry.

Then, when you get your ballot, fill it out, double-check to make sure you  have done it correctly, and mail it in the first day you can. Do not wait  to ask for the ballot or to mail it into the last minute because you will  make it as smooth as possible on the administrative end. It`s just one way  to do your part. It`s a small thing but it`s empowering thing. Get your  ballot, get your friends and your family and everyone you know to get their  ballots, and then remind everyone to get them in early. 

Joining me now is someone who has been fighting the ballot -- the battle  for ballot access and helping people do what they can to make sure their  votes are counted, Stacey Abrams, the founder of Fair Fight Action, an  organization to address voter suppression, and Fair Count, an organization  fighting the fair counting of the census in America as well. She`s the  author of the recent book Our Time is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight  for a Fair America.

It`s great to have you on, Stacey. And I thought of you because you have --  you have had to fight on two levels, both in your campaign and in the work  you`ve done, which is at a sort of structural policy level lawsuits and  policy fights to open up access to voting and fight back against  disenfranchisement, but also the personal level, like getting -- making  sure people do go and vote, that they do jump through the hoops that have  been created by other people for them so that they can actually exercise  their franchise. And it seems to me that`s a useful model for thinking  about this election.

STACEY ABRAMS, FOUNDER, FAIR FIGHT ACTION: I hope so. I mean, part of the  work that I`ve been committed to doing since I was 17, has been about  making sure people understand the power of their vote. My parents would  take us to protest, but they would also take us to go and vote with them  when they would cast their ballots, and they wanted us to understand that  both are necessary. One is about demanding what we need and the second is  about ensuring that we get it. And if we don`t put those two pieces  together, wrong will win. The other side will be victorious because we only  fight half the battle.

HAYES: There`s some news out of Georgia which is it`s such a fascinating  state right now. I mean, it`s always been a fascinating state, but because  of the changes that are happening there, because of the -- how hard-fought  that state is looking like it might be, and it might be in the -- in the  presidential election, DeKalb County, which is trending towards the  Democrats, they`re they want to send to everyone the county absentee  ballots. And the Secretary of State has sort of stepped in to tell them  don`t do that. Don`t send absentee ballot requests to everyone that you  have on your voter rolls. What do you make of that action by the Republican  Secretary of State?

ABRAMS: Well, it`s even more than that. So, DeKalb County is actually a  deeply blue county. It is a majority African American, and it has the  ability to add tens of thousands of votes to the rolls if every eligible  voter cast their ballots. And so, what we are hearing from Secretary of  State Raffensperger is fear. That if everyone who is eligible to vote,  particularly those who last voted for Barack Obama, if they show up and  vote for Joe Biden, that this will tip the state of Georgia.

Because what we have to remember, we have seen dramatic declines in the  margins from eight points in 2012 fo4 Barack Obama, to 1.4 percent in my  election. And they know that if every eligible voter, not every active  voter, which is a list that cuts off those who haven`t voted in the last  five years and stretch them towards the process of being purged, if every  eligible voter knows they have the right to vote, and can do so by mail,  they`re deeply terrified that this will be the death knell of Republicans  winning the state of Georgia. And they know if we can win the top of the  ticket, that means we`re going to win two Senate seats, flip a House seat,  Democrat, and that we can likely flip the chamber in the House of  Representatives.

HAYES: It`s such a great point. I want to just reread this quote, right?  "He wanted to reconsider sending absentee ballot request to both active and  inactive voters." That`s not a real category. That`s not like that`s not in  the Constitution. That`s not a category in democratic theory. That`s not a  category called active or inactive. It`s not a use it or lose it situation.  Like you`re a voter. You can vote, you can vote. You can vote if you want  to or not vote, but you don`t -- like inactive isn`t some like second class  of voter.

ABRAMS: Exactly. Well, and that`s what they used. Right now, in 2020,  Georgia has roughly 7.4 million registered voters. But in June, when they  send out absentee ballot applications, they only send it to a little under  a little -- they sent it about 6.9 million voters. They left off all of the  inactive voters because those are voters they`ve tagged as voters that they  don`t think we`ll be able to vote in a few years and so they`re slowly  moving them out of the eye of voters and out of the eye of candidates who  would otherwise reach out to them and pull them back into the process. 

That`s actually one of the things I talked about in my book, the  shenanigans used not simply to disenfranchise those who are active voters,  but the way they try to dissuade and discourage those who may have chosen  not to vote in recent elections, so they actually get moved out of the  conversation altogether.

HAYES: You also have an organization focused on Census -- on the Census.  And obviously, the President has sort of waged this kind of war against the  Census, the famous citizenship question case in which they were defeated at  the Supreme Court. This new executive action and now they`re cutting the  vote -- cutting the count short, by a month. 

The Census is another place where people can take some small action, which  is if you`re watching this right now and you haven`t filled out your census  form, go fill out your census form at census.gov and get everyone you know  to do it. But what are your concerns more broadly about where we are with  this census?

ABRAMS: We need Congress to take action. When the next covert relief  passes, we need the census to be extended to the end of October. We have to  remember that the non-response follow-up period when people come and knock  on your doors, that is usually how the historically undercounted  communities actually get included. That means it`s absolutely necessary for  communities of color.

Right now, Latinos are lagging by 12 percent, African Americans are lagging  by 14 percent, Native Americans are lagging by 25 percent. Even the Asian  American population, which is doing the best of communities of color is  behind by two percent. If they cut off that period, they`re not simply  ending it early, they`re going to then use a statistical tool called  imputation to guess the race and needs of those communities. And when they  guess, they tend to guess white.

They tend to guess that the people who are not being included, that they  look like the majority that actually performed, and that means that  communities of color get erased, not simply for the Census count, but that  then means that racial gerrymandering would be permissible because you  can`t prove that they were gerrymandering communities of color. Even though  everyone in the neighborhood knows it, they have no ability to prove it. 

So this is even more nefarious than people realize. And we need in addition  to completing the census. We need folks to call on Congress to statutorily  push the date to October 31st. Do not let them end the census early. Make  them do their jobs so we have an accurate census and an accurate count of  America.

HAYES: All right, Stacey Abrams, always great to talk to you. Thank you for  making time tonight.

ABRAMS: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: Ahead, the Biden campaign takes a new angle in their latest ad and  persuasive appeals from one of the President`s biggest audiences, that`s  coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: The Trump reelection campaign basically is two rhetorical modes  right now as they`re flailing. One is pander to the base and turn that  pandering up to 11, so you get stuff like this in Cleveland today where the  President said Joe Biden is going to hurt God.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He`s going to do things that  nobody ever would ever think even possible, because he`s following the  radical left agenda. Take away your guns, destroy your second amendment, no  religion, no anything, hurt the Bible, hurt God. He`s against God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: No religion, hurt the Bible, and hurt God, which is hard to do. I  don`t even know how you heard God. Now, that kind of rhetoric is designed  to fire up the base, so that`s one mode. The other is try to convince  people, the not hardcore, true believers that they have some solution to  the once in a century pandemic that has now killed over 160,000 Americans,  including more than 1,100 fellow Americans just today alone.

But from the outset, that has been part of a series of kind of music man  style promises of some future magical solution. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We`re going down not up. We`re going very substantially down, not  up. 

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: It is being contained. And do  you not think it`s being contained? 

LARRY KUDLOW, Director, United States National Economic Council: We have  contained this. We have contained this. I won`t say airtight but pretty  close to airtight. 

TRUMP: It`s going to disappear one day. It`s like a miracle, it will  disappear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: As one Kellyanne Conway in March 6th, it is being contained. You  don`t think it`s being contained? No, I don`t think it`s being contained.  The latest script is that the vaccine is always just around the corner.  Today, in typically clottish fashion, the President speculated the vaccine  could be here by November 3rd, which also happens to be Election Day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what`s the earliest we can see that vaccine?

TRUMP: Sooner than the end of the year. It could be much sooner. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sooner than November 3rd?

TRUMP: Oh, I think -- I think in some cases, yes. It`s possible before, but  right around that time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: You know, maybe November 2nd, maybe the day before the election the  vaccine magically appears. It would solve it then. And so, as President  Trump stares down a pandemic that is both terrible in the real world and  for him politically, he`s getting more extreme, more desperate in his  rhetoric, the Biden campaign has taken a very interesting turn with a new  ad that does exactly the opposite. We`ll talk more about that right after  this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: In 1964, Lyndon Johnson ran a now-iconic campaign ad against Barry  Goldwater, where a little girl counts Daisy petals until her counting  becomes the countdown to a nuclear explosion. The idea being, President  Goldwater has come elected and started a nuclear war because he`s a madman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Six, eight, nine -- 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two,  one, zero. These are the stakes. You`ll make a world in which all of God`s  children can live are to go into the dark. We must either love each other  or we must die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote for President Johnson on November 3rd. The stakes  are too high for you to stay home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The stakes are that your adorable little daughter gets nuked. Now,  even though we`re not living through a nuclear winter, we are living  through a version of disaster. I mean, a national disaster resulting in  thousands and thousands of deaths day after day after day. And a new ad  from Joe Biden goes against the grain, in many ways is the opposite of the  grand life and death scale of the daisy ad. 

The new after the Biden campaign relates what a bummer this current  disaster is. It doesn`t focus on deaths, and evictions, and close schools.  It says this virus is ruining the little things like seeing your grandkids.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband and I have been gifted with two beautiful  grandchildren. We try to see them as often as possible. And it`s been six  months and it`s way too long. And while I don`t blame Donald Trump for the  virus, I blame him for his lack of action. And because of that, we`re  sitting here, zooming or facetiming with our grandchildren instead of  hugging and kissing them, and that`s hard. 

Joe Biden knows that every moment is precious. I trust Joe Biden to get  this virus under control.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m Joe Biden, and I approve this  message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: It seems like a really real smart, relatable ad for a portion of the  population that Joe Biden is trying to focus on. This is for all the people  who were sold on idea that there was some normal around the bend during the  Trump years, because there is no normal during Trump. That was false. 

Joining me now for more on the different approaches the two campaigns are  taking is Adrianne Shropshire. She is a veteran Democratic strategist and  executive director of BlackPAC. She had a lot of experience in politics,  community organizing, and ads as well. And I just -- I was so struck by  this ad Adrianne because it`s so understated in so many ways, given how  terrible things are, and given the kind of micro-targeted median voter he`s  trying to reach, you know, an elderly couple or senior citizen couple in  Florida.

ADRIANNE SHROPSHIRE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BLACKPAC: Yes. I mean, the reality  is that, you know, voters understand where we are. They understand the  crisis that we`re in. They do not want to see campaign ad after campaign ad  reminding them of our national misery, right? I`ve said it in focus group  after focus group, and what people -- you know, the message that voters say  that they want to hear is one of national unity. They want to hear a  message about a path forward, how this mess is going to get fixed. 

And I think the brilliant thing about that ad is that while it appears to  be targeted at, you know, one segment of the electorate, the reality is  that that is all of us, right? That is my entire family every Sunday night  sitting around with the Zoom call, right? So it is -- it is -- there was a  moment where the multi-prong crisis that are facing the country are  literally touching every single one of us. 

And what`s brilliant about the ad is that, you know, it leads toward that  unifying message, right? It is every message, quite frankly. Every ad I  would hope to see that comes out of the campaign is a way to unify, to tell  a message and to tell a story that connects people about the moment that  we`re in. It`s really -- you know, if you think about it in this -- in this  way of having a national unity being a campaign strategy all by itself.

HAYES: That`s a great point. There is something -- you articulated it in a  way I hadn`t quite been able to think through, that the sort of counter --  like the badness of current reality, the situation we`re in is so obvious,  so manifest in people`s lives, that the ads don`t have to hit that home. 

I`ve often felt that way about sort of Trump`s character too. Like, people  know what Trump`s character is. That the thing that you have to hit home is  that like, the idea that there is some way out or there is something better  that is a possible alternative right now is the key message.

SHROPSHIRE: Yes, that`s right. I mean, you know, we can think about it in  terms of Obama`s ads, right? Like, we all knew the devastation that the  country was facing at the time, and he brought us, right?

HAYES: Right. 

SHROPSHIRE: It`s the -- it`s a similar situation the conditions right now  that people are facing are so severe, right, both from the healthcare  impacts of COVID, the economic impacts of COVID, the racism and police  violence that we`re seeing that obviously, galvanize people. I mean, I  think there`s a way that we should also be thinking about the Black Lives  Matter Movement as one of those unifying messages that have actually  brought the country together, which is so striking. 

We think about the ways that you know that -- you know, in the previous  segment when, you know, listening to Trump speak, you know, a week ago or  two weeks ago or whenever it was when he was trying to scare suburban white  women, as Pearlstein said earlier, that this idea that the Black Lives  Matter, you know, hordes of marchers are coming to your neighborhood, when  the reality is that those suburban white women, it`s their kids who are  populating those protests, right. 

And so this sort of juxtaposition of this, you know -- this you know, the  masses are coming for you, when, in fact, you have those same children who  are those kids, teenagers, and in their 20s coming back from those protests  and saying to their parents having dinner table conversations about the  experience that they just had, how unifying being at those protests were  for them, having a family conversation about what it means to be anti- racist. 

So there is -- the country wants a unifying message. Trump certainly cannot  provide that because he`s incapable, but Joe Biden can.

HAYES: That`s it. That is another great point. I mean, I think that, you  know, one of the things you see is that they -- there`s been such --  they`ve been so counting on a set of sort of divisions, cultural wedge  issues, the famous Pat Buchanan memo to Nixon back in 72 basically saying  "we can crack the hunter country in half, but we`ll get the bigger half,"  they`ve been doing that with the smaller half, right?

And the sort of antidote to that tonally is unity over division, which is a  very big kind of basic and accessible message. It was in many ways Barack  Obama`s 2004 speech, and then his campaign and it was a very effective  message.

SHROPSHIRE: Yes, that`s right. And it is what people want. People want a  way out of where we are. The pandemic is affecting everyone. You know, in a  minute everyone will, you know, will know someone who is about to get  kicked out of their house, right, is about to get evicted. People know  folks who have lost jobs. People know someone who has had the Coronavirus.  People know someone who has died from Coronavirus.

Like, we are all affected in the same way right now. And I think that being  able to understand that, use these campaign ads and the messaging to tell  each of our stories is across and create the sort of unifying -- you know,  unified country to fight what we`re going to need to fight on the other  side of this. That`s going to be really important for them to use these  campaign ads and these messages in that way. 

HAYES: Adrianne Shropshire, that`s -- that was great. Thank you so much. I  really appreciate it. 

SHROPSHIRE: Thank you, Chris. 

HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Thursday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW" show  starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. 

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  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY  BE UPDATED. END