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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/27/15

Guests: Marc Morial, Steve Schale

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. The great Tim Russert was the host, the moderator of "Meet the Press" on NBC from 1991 until he died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2008. Tim Russert was only 58 years old when he died, which is hard to believe now, looking back on him and his legacy, because it really feels like Tim Russert was a journalistic institution. We still feel his loss so acutely. But in the business that I`m in now, there are times when you have to dig back through the archives. You have to go through the historical record of how things happened live and in the moment. And sometimes in those moments, I had one of these moments today, you realize why it is that Tim Russert even now has a legacy that is larger than life, and that will stay larger than life for a very long time to come. Watch this footage. This was Tim Russert on "Meet the Press", September 4th, 2005. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TIM RUSSERT, MEET THE PRESS: Mr. Secretary, are you or anyone who reports to you contemplating resignation? MICHAEL CHERTOFF, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: You know, Tim, what we`re contemplating now is the fact that we are very, very much in the middle of the crisis. What I`m focused on now and what I want my department, in fact what the president has ordered all of us to be focused on now is what do we need to do in the next hours, in the next days, in the next weeks, in the next months to make sure that we are doing everything possible to give these people succor and to make their lives easier. We will have time to go back and do an after action report but the time right now is look at the enormous task ahead of us. RUSSERT: Many Americans believe now is the time for accountability. The Republican governor of Massachusetts said we are an embarrassment to the world. The Republican senator from Louisiana, David Vitter, said that you deserve a grade of F, flunk. How would you grade yourself? CHERTOFF: You know, Tim, again, I`m going to -- the process of grading myself and grading everybody else is one that we will examine over time. We will in due course look at what we`ve done here and incorporate it into the planning. But, first, we are going to make sure we are tending to the crisis at hand. RUSSERT: So, no heads will roll? CHERTOFF: Tim, in due course if people want to go and chop heads off, there will be an opportunity to do it. RUSSERT: People are stunned by a comment the president of the United States made on Wednesday, Mr. Secretary. He said, quote, "I don`t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." How could the president be so wrong, be so misinformed? CHERTOFF: Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning, picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, "New Orleans dodged the bullet." We had actually pre-staged a tremendous number of supplies, meals, shelter, water. We had pre-staged even before the hurricane dozens of coast guard helicopters which are obviously nearby but not in the area. So, the difficulty wasn`t lack of supplies. The difficulty was that when the levee broke, it was very, very hard to get the supplies to the people. RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, you say pre-staged. People were sent to the convention center. There was no water, no food, no beds, no authorities there. There was no planning. CHERTOFF: You know, Tim, at the end of the day, this is the truth. The only way to avoid a catastrophic problem in that Super Bowl is to have people leave before the hurricane hits. Those who got out are fine. Those who stayed in faced one of the most horrible experiences in their life. RUSSERT: But that`s the point. Those who got out were people with SUVs and automobiles and airfares who could get out. Those who could not get out were the poor who rely on public buses to get out. Your Web site says that your department assumes primary responsibility for a national disaster. If you knew a hurricane three storm was coming, why weren`t buses, trains, planes, cruise ships, trucks, provided on Friday, Saturday, Sunday to evacuate people before the storm? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Tim Russert, September 4th, 2005. So, basically a week into the rolling American disaster that was Hurricane Katrina a decade ago. Now, that government official who he put on the spit and roasted there, that was George W. Bush`s homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff. He was responsible for governmental failures around Hurricane Katrina, not only as homeland security secretary but also specifically as the head of the government department that included FEMA. FEMA, which failed in a way it had never failed before in that administration and in that specific storm. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Now to new questions about FEMA director Michael Brown, who`s already under fire for his response to Hurricane Katrina. As we`ve reported, "Time" magazine is investigating, and they found that his emergency management background may be overstated. NBC`s Andrea Mitchell as more on that story. Andrea, good morning to you. ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Good morning, Matt. "Time" magazine investigated and found that there were serious questions about the investigative background and the management training that he had. In fact it turns out that he had almost no management training. This as "The Washington Post" is also reporting today that the other top FEMA officials also had very little background in anything other than public relations. This also comes while there are serious questions about the delayed response to the hurricane disaster. Almost two weeks after Katrina hit, a clearer picture about what went wrong. Much of the public outcry is aimed at FEMA, the federal disaster agency. GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-PRESIDENT: Brownie, you`re doing a heck of a job. MITCHELL: FEMA`s director, Michael Brown, is a political appointee, previously commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association, "Time" magazine investigated claims on his official White House bio. CAROLINA MIRANDA, TIME MAGAZINE REPORTER: The biggest discrepancy we found among several was the fact that the White House release listed him as an assistant city manager for the city of Edmond, Oklahoma, from 1975 to 1978, saying that during this time he had had oversight of emergency services division for that city and his vital experience to his charge as FEMA director. Well, we called the city of Edmond and find out he actually worked there from 1977 to 1980 and it wasn`t an assistant to the city manager which is an administrative role, sort of on par with an intern. MITCHELL: Whenever Brown`s previous experience in management or emergencies, as the Katrina tragedy unfolded, he seemed unaware. Television viewers knew about the appalling conditions in the New Orleans convention center long before he did. MICHAEL BROWN, THEN-FEMA DIRECTOR: I`ve got to tell you from the bottom of my heart how sad I feel for those people. The federal government just learned about those people today. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Michael Brown is the person who President George W. Bush put in charge of our nation`s Federal Emergency Management Agency. Not just his performance in that job, but the lack of experience or skills that he had when he was appointed to that job by the Bush administration, that is, I think, what led the country to see Hurricane Katrina as not just a failure, a screw-up, a mistake, but as an indictment. As an indictment of the very idea that people to denigrate government and who think government can`t do anything right, it`s an indictment that people who feel that way shouldn`t ever be put in charge of any important functions of government. Michael Brown is a big reason why Katrina became a larger indictment of the Bush administration and not just the parts of the government that failed specifically in that storm. After over 1,800 people died and a great American city was beaten almost to death in that storm and the floods and the botched recovery, this federal emergency management director who was joking the whole time about how badly he wanted to quit and how he was trapped and how he needed to be rescued and didn`t his shirts look great on TV, after all of that, even a decade down the road, I think most people would like to forget about that guy, right? About ole heck of a job Michael Brown. But he is still around. He`s back today at the front page of penning this article, quote, "Stop blaming me for Hurricane Katrina." His argument about what went wrong and why nobody should blame him is, according to him, quote, "The American public needs to learn not to rely on the government to save them when a crisis hits." Or at least we need to learn not to rely on people who don`t believe in government to run government in any sort of decent fashion, particularly when a crisis hits. Michael Brown is also back in the background of this campaign video that the Jeb Bush for president campaign just put out. It`s a campaign video bragging about Jeb Bush being a good hurricane governor in Florida. Literally, that is Michael brown, the FEMA guy from Katrina, standing next to Jeb Bush in this Jeb Bush campaign video. George W. Bush himself will be back in New Orleans tomorrow for an event marking a decade since the disaster. But President Obama was there today. In his remarks today in New Orleans, he made a gentle reference to Katrina being a manmade disaster. He made a pointed reference to his own FEMA director and how much he likes and respects him, his own overhaul of FEMA as an agency, and he talked about some of the ways that New Orleans has recovered for all the challenges, some of the ways New Orleans has come back. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was something that was supposed to never happen here -- maybe someplace else, but not here, not in America. And we came to realize that what started out as a natural disaster became a manmade disaster -- a failure of government to look out for its own citizens. We`ve revamped FEMA, and I just have to say, by the way, there`s a man named Craig Fugate who runs FEMA and has been doing extraordinary work, and his team all across the country, every time there`s a disaster. (APPLAUSE) I love me some Craig Fugate. Although, it`s a little disturbing, you know, he gets excited when there are disasters, because he gets restless if everything is just quiet. But we under -- under his leadership, we`ve revamped FEMA into a stronger, more efficient agency. In fact, the whole federal government has gotten smarter at preventing and recovering from disasters. We have data that shows before the storm, the high school graduation rate was 54 percent. Today, it`s up to 73 percent. (APPLAUSE) Before the storm, college enrollment was 37 percent. Today, it`s almost 60 percent. (APPLAUSE) We still have a long way to go, but that is real progress. New Orleans is coming back better and stronger. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: New Orleans is coming back better and stronger, the president says. But he also went out of his way to say basically it`s coming back up evenly, too. Joining us now is Marc Morial. He`s the former mayor of New Orleans. He`s now president and CEO of the National Urban League. New Orleans chapter of the league put out a report called "The State of Black New Orleans", which documents the uneven nature of the recovery in New Orleans since the storm. Mr. Morial, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here with us. MARC MORIAL, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE PRESIDENT & CEO: Thanks, Rachel. Thanks for having me and I really appreciate listening to those clips from ten years ago. MADDOW: Yes. I feel like -- I`m 42 now, I was 32 then. It`s not like I was so young then that I can`t remember it, but I was newly shocked, newly very emotional not just about the toll but about the governmental failure that happened at that time. I wonder if you feel like that`s being put in proper perspective right now, ten years out. Obviously, this visit by the president today is a big deal for New Orleans, but do you feel like we`ve grasped it and remember it properly? MORIAL: You know, I think that the film clips that you`ve aired need to continue to be aired, because only by reminding people what happened, only about reminding people about the ineptitude and incompetence at every level of government and the way that people suffered, the way people lost their lives, the way people were in sweltering heat, high humidity, stranded at the convention center, stranded at the dome, on the roofs and attics of their homes, only, I believe, by continuing to remind people will we recognize and understand how important it is for the nation, for states and cities to have their emergency response act better together today than it was ten years ago, but certainly because of the pain and the grief. It`s also important, Rachel, I think to focus on the progress that`s been made, the comeback of the region, but also as "The State of Black New Orleans" report points out, the grave inequities that continue to exist. The neighborhoods that still need investment to come back, the housing shortage that remains and all of the work yet left to be done. MADDOW: When I looked at that report today from the New Orleans chapter of the Urban League, I felt like the main thrust that I didn`t fully understand I think before seeing it put in those terms, the main thesis was that a lot of what explains some of the racial -- a lot of what explains the racial disparity in the recovery, particularly some things about like political representation and whether or not people are governing themselves and people are being governed according to a sort of fair demographic sense, a lot of that is because the poorest neighborhoods and the blackest neighborhoods are neighborhoods that people were less able to come back to, less able to move back into New Orleans back into than other neighborhoods that tended to be whiter. Is that it, that there was a demographic shift in terms of who could come back and who couldn`t? MORIAL: Yes. But let`s in fact add this to it. Number one, there was a plan confected early on by a number of business leaders. I call it the Dallas Plan because it was put together in Dallas, or the Green Dot Plan, that suggested that many of these historic African-American neighborhoods should not come back, that they should be turned into lagoons. There was a public uprising against that plan, but the effect it had is that it delayed, if you will, the comeback of a whole host of neighborhoods, both African-American middle class, working class and even some neighborhoods that were mixed and not necessarily African-American. Secondly, the state`s primary compensation program, the road home program, in fact was a program that was not evenly, fairly or equitably administered. It was the target of a successful civil rights racial discrimination lawsuit. So, the point is, is that even after the immediate, if you will, stumbling and fumbling, there were still decisions made and efforts made that were designed to slow the recovery in some parts of the city. I think in the last five years, the pace has been picked up. In the last five years, a lot of infrastructure improvements have been made. Many people have worked to come back, but New Orleans still has an affordable housing crisis, a housing shortage, still has grave inequities in a number of areas. But that shouldn`t take away from some of the important progress that`s been made. But let`s understand there were federal, state and local decisions that were made in the earliest of days that really, really sent a message to people. Unfortunately, we don`t want you to come back. MADDOW: Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, also former mayor of New Orleans -- thank you for your time tonight, sir. I know your time is precious at this anniversary. Thanks very much. MORIAL: Thank you very much. Appreciate it, Rachel. Always. MADDOW: There`s a lot more ahead tonight. We`ve got some surprisingly excellent polling news for the Democrats, who are running for president right now. Plus, we propose a new rule that all politicians should adhere to. It`s related to that don`t put things on your head rule, but different. Stay with us. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is really funny. There was a rule in politics that presidents and presidential candidates should not put things on their heads. It`s a well-known rule for all the obvious reasons. But I have to propose a new rule. No one knew this was going to be necessary, but I now have to propose a new rule that presidential candidates and presidents should not sit in oversized chairs that make them look infantile. Who knew this would be necessary? But Marco Rubio has made this necessary. Feast your eyes, America. This is presidential candidate Marco Rubio yesterday in New Hampshire, just lounging around in an oversized rocking chair, swinging his feet. We talked to the very nice owner of this store today in New Hampshire who told us the chair is not for sale, it`s just a prop, but Marco Rubio saw it, hopped up there, couldn`t resist. And so, now, the -- what do we call it? The eat-a-man rule has to be invoked in this presidential race for the first time ever. Wow. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And they start off -- now think of this is on the front page, especially if you come from New York. When you`re on the front page, that means like a lot to me, of "The New York Times." That`s a lot. So, it talks about a -- you know the whole thing I had with the Spanish journalist, if you call him a journalist, I don`t actually. He`s an advocate for lots of things. So, they say here, this is a different person. On the front page. Ricardo Sanchez, known as "El Mandril" on his Spanish drive-time radio show in Los Angeles has taken to calling Donald J. Trump "El hombre del peluquin." In other words, the man of the toupee. This is on the front page of "the New York Times." I don`t wear a toupee. It`s my hair, I swear. Come here, come here, come here. We`re going to settle this -- you know, Barbara Walters did it. Barbara Walters named me the most whatever it is of the year. Just come on up here. They`re going to let you -- you have to do an inspection here. This is getting crazy. This is crazy. Just real quick, we don`t want to mess it up too much because I do use hairspray. Come, come. Is it mine? Look. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is! TRUMP: Say it, please. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I believe it is. TRUMP: Thank you. And have I ever met you before? No. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you haven`t. TRUMP: But you`re very nice. Thank you. Nice to meet you. (END VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: This is one of his regular stunts. He has done this before. He asks women to touch his head. See? To put to rest what he thinks are the aesthetics objections to his hairdo. From Mr. Trump`s perspective, I think he thinks that people talk about his hair all the time because they believe his hair is fake. I do not think that is the only aesthetics objection to Mr. Trump`s hairdo. Whether or not that hair is attached, I don`t think that`s the root of the concern. But today he did his "touch my hair" stunt again, that event in Greenville, South Carolina. There`s a new national poll out today, which polls on the Republican field for president and Democratic field for president and it polls on potential general matchups between Republican nominees and Democratic nominees. And overall, this new poll out today is not just good news for Democrats, it is spectacularly good news for Democrats. Mr. Trump is obviously rising high on the Republican side of this contest but this latest poll from Quinnipiac would show that Donald Trump would lose in a general election to Hillary Clinton. He would also lose in a general election to Joe Biden. He would also lose in a general election to Bernie Sanders. In fact, this new Quinnipiac poll shows Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders not only beating Donald Trump, but they would also beat Jeb Bush. Even Bernie would beat Jeb Bush in a general election. Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden would each beat Marco Rubio in a general election matchup as well. So, if you want to organize that matrix sort of to the greatest possible benefit of the Republican party, in this latest poll at least, the only way the Republican Party could win the White House in this election is if they nominate Marco Rubio to be their candidate and the Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders to be their candidate. And however likely you think either of those things is to happen in either party, how likely are both of those things to happen at once, especially now that Marco Rubio is sitting down in big chairs to swing his tiny feet. He`s their only hope, and look at him. So it`s pretty good news for Democrats. Now, on the Republican side of this new polling, there is a little weirdness on the Republican side. Not at the top, though. Weirdness is inherently a relative term. Whether or not something is weird depends on what`s normal, right? It depends on the context. And in our lives now as Americans in this century, at the top of the Republican field, this is normal. This is no longer weird. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: So, now -- no, no, it gets worse, don`t worry. Trump, who has dismissed some Mexico immigrants -- listen to this -- as rapists and criminals or, simply put, as Hitler. Do you believe -- now, the Hitler one I`ve never heard until this morning when I woke up. I`m not a fan of Hitler. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Donald Trump, Republican presidential front runner, clarifying not a fan of Hitler. Take nothing for granted, right? But Donald Trump almost could not do any better in the Republican race than he is doing right now. Last month in this same poll, in the Quinnipiac poll, Donald Trump was also in first place. He was at the top of the field with 20 percent of the vote. That was the Quinnipiac poll last month. Now, this month in the same poll he is still in first place, but he no longer has 20 percent of the vote. Now he has 28 percent of the vote. Last month in this poll Scott Walker was second place to Donald Trump. Now, Scott Walker`s support has dropped by more than half. Scott Walker is down to 6 percent support and sixth place nationwide. Jeb Bush in the same poll last month, he was running in third place. Now as of this poll today, Jeb Bush is still in third place, but now, it`s a three-way tie for third place and he`s down to single digits. Dr. Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, who has never run for office before, he`s doing very well in the latest national Quinnipiac poll. Ben Carson has been doing increasingly well recently. Donald Trump is not only doing increasingly well, he`s basically off the charts at this point. But again, that`s no longer weird. That is the new normal in Republican politics. I said there was a little bit of weirdness on the Republican side of this new polling. There is weirdness there but it`s not at the top. That`s the new normal. Where it is weird on the Republican side is at CNN. And I love me some CNN. CNN is a real news organization, most of the time. When CNN, for example, found out that they got the second Republican presidential debate this year, they very quickly, very responsibly put out a long detailed explanation of the criteria they would use for deciding who would be allowed into that debate. FOX didn`t do that. FOX is a different kind of organization. But CNN put all the details out up front right away. So far so good. But then two things happened that CNN has not accounted for yet. Two things happened after that. First of all, 17 Republican candidates declared they would be running for president, 17. The second thing that happened is that FOX News went first in the debate game, right? FOX News held the first Republican debate with that huge 17-candidate field. And what FOX News decided to do was a real live, real time, no consent human experiment in which they proved live on TV that it was a terrible intrusion into the democratic process to split the debate into two parts, and it was fundamentally just a bad idea is their way of dealing with the size of the Republican field this year. They only let some of the candidates into the real debate. They stuck the other candidates into some insulting lesser format. FOX News did that already. It was indefensible in small d democratic terms. This news organization taking over the process like that, warping the way the candidates had to try to compete. But it was also just on a basic human ethical level, it was a truly obnoxious insult to these candidates. It had never been done that way before in presidential politics in either party, but that is what FOX News did, with the real debate and the insulting kids table debate. Well, now CNN is going to do it, too. And because they have decided that they won`t just let all the candidates debate on equal terms, because they decided they want to follow FOX lead instead and just pick ten of the 17 candidates for the real debate, CNN has to use their invented CNN polling calculation system to decide which of the ten candidates they`re going to take. And it turns out even though this polling calculus was announced in advance, and it had some detail to it, and it wasn`t the black box we were dealing with FOX, even still the CNN criteria for just picking ten of the 17 candidates turns out to have some very bizarre implications. Because take a look at this latest polling that`s out today. Look here at this part of the polling that`s out today. Carly Fiorina in this latest national poll that`s out today, Carly Fiorina is polling one point behind Scott Walker nationally. She`s ahead of Chris Christie, she`s ahead of Mike Huckabee, she`s killing Rand Paul. Carly Fiorina has beaten Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee in two of the three national polls that have been taken since the first debate. She`s beaten Chris Christie in all three of the national polls taken since the first debate. But CNN is planning on putting Chris Christie in the debate and Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul but not her, even though she is kicking their butts. So, honestly, I sort of feel like all of the candidates should be complaining about this. Right now, it`s Carly Fiorina`s campaign that`s complaining the loudest because hers is the campaign that`s most obviously hurt right now by this dumb new system that Republicans have decided to live by this year. But the last time they did it in the first debate, it was the Rick Perry campaign who most legitimately had a claim to being unfairly hurt by that 10-candidate cutoff. It was almost also Ted Cruz who got almost hurt by that cutoff last time. Carly Fiorina this time, who knows who it`s going to be next time. All the candidates I think ought to be complaining about this. Right now, Carly Fiorina`s campaign is complaining the loudest. Their beef is totally understandable. What is less understandable is CNN and why CNN is doing this. FOX News made the mistake first. CNN does not have to double down on that mistake and make it again. CNN, you do not have to do this. Just let them all debate on equal terms, like we`ve always done before. Let them all debate on equal terms. Drop the kids table idea. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hillary Clinton today in Cleveland, Ohio. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: don`t be distracted by the flamboyant front runner. If you look at their policies, most of the other candidates are just Trump without the pizzazz or the hair. It is a great reality TV show, isn`t it? Marco Rubio brags about wanting to deny victims of rape and incest access to health care, to an abortion. Jeb Bush says Planned Parenthood shouldn`t get a penny. Your governor right here in Ohio banned state funding for some rape crisis centers because they sometimes refer women to other health facilities that do provide abortions. Extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups. We expect that from people who don`t want to live in the modern world. But it`s a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States, yet they espouse out of date and out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century America. We`re going forward, we`re not going back! (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Hillary Clinton today in Cleveland, Ohio. Incidentally, the Republican Party is demanding an apology from Secretary Clinton on that last point she made about Republicans being extreme on women`s issues. Clinton campaign already making clear that the Republicans are not going to get that apology. She`s also hitting them in Spanish as well, hitting them really well actually. Stay here, that`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So far, sorry to say, political ads this season have been a little mediocre. No big standout ones. I think this one is pretty good, though. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Bringing drugs, they`re bringing crime, they`re rapist. JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Better enforcement so that you don`t have these anchor babies. TRUMP: Excuse me, I used the word "anchor baby". REPORTER: Do you regret using the term anchor babies yesterday on the radio? BUSH: No, I didn`t. I don`t. I don`t regret it. GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R-WI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To me, it`s about enforcing the laws in this country. TRUMP: They`re getting out. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This is the Republican Party, pass it on, English and Spanish. That was put out today by Priorities USA. They`re a super PAC that is supporting Hillary Clinton. Also coming out swinging today on that same issue was Richard Trumka, who`s the head of the AFL-CIO. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD TRUMKA, AFL/CIO PRESIDENT: There are no codes or hidden messages here. These candidates are telling us they believe that some people are superior and others are inferior, and they intend to govern our country on that basis. This is the politics of fear and division, and it`s on an entirely new level. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Richard Trumka, head of the AFL/CIO talking about Republican candidates for president. The AFL hasn`t made a presidential endorsement yet but today leaked news that Richard Trumka had lunch at Vice President Biden`s house today. Presumably, they not only ate lunch, presumably they were talking about whether or not Vice President Biden is going to run for president. On Hillary Clinton`s first day back on the campaign trail after a short vacation yesterday, in what may or may not have been a refreshing change for her, this time reporters didn`t only want to ask her about her e-mail server from her time as secretary of state. Now, her first day back from vacation, she got precisely one question about the e-mails. All of the rest of the questions were about Vice President Biden. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: I just want him to reach whatever he thinks the right decision is. And he has to do that. And it has to be a really, really hard one. And I was at his son`s funeral. I mean I cannot even imagine the grief and the heartbreak. I mean, Joe has had more terrible events than most people can even contemplate, losing his first wife, losing his first daughter, now losing his son. I think everybody should -- he has to do what he has to do, but I`m just going to continue with my campaign. I`m going to do what I believe I should be doing and he will have to decide what he should be doing. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Hillary Clinton yesterday responding for the first time to this new wave of speculation that the vice president might jump into the Democratic presidential primary against her. For his part, the vice president himself held an unusual conference call this week yesterday with members of the DNC. The ostensible topic was the Iran deal, but he also talked about if he was going to get in. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I were to announce to run, I have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul, and right now, both are pretty well banged up and we`re trying to figure out that issue. That`s the truth of the matter and -- but believe me, I`ve given this a lot of thought and dealing internally in this family about how we do this. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s what Vice President Biden has said himself about this decision, although it`s clear those remarks were not intended to become public. People close to the vice president, though, have been telling the press that the vice president`s decision might not come on this matter until October -- which honestly strikes me as late. I mean, it does mean the vice president has plenty of time to make up his mind, but it also means that Hillary Clinton and the other candidates are about to face weeks and potentially months of reporters asking them about somebody who may or may not be running against them. A factor that may or may not ultimately be relevant in the race for the presidency. This is going to go on until October we`re not going to know? Joining us now is Steve Schale. He`s a political strategist and advisor to the Draft Biden committee. Mr. Schale, I really appreciate you being here. Thanks for your time tonight. STEVE SCHALE, DRAFT BIDEN 2016 COMMITTEE ADVISER: Thank you. MADDOW: So, obviously, the big question is whether or not the vice president is going to run. We`ll short circuit that conversation by saying nobody knows yet. Perhaps an equally pressing question, though, is how long the question is going to be out there. Secretary Clinton and the other Democratic candidates really going to have to wait until October until they know? SCHALE: Well, Rachel, I mean I`ve been in politics to know that really nobody wants somebody else to get in the race, so I`m sure that the other campaigns don`t like this sort of being out there. But the vice president frankly has earned the right to take his time on this decision and clearly it`s a big one he has to make. Our job is to get ready in case he does run. That`s why we`re out recruiting volunteers, talking to donors, trying to ensure that there`s an infrastructure in place should the vice president decide to run so when he hits the ground running, there`s a campaign kind of ready for him. MADDOW: In that regard, in terms of infrastructure, staff and volunteers and all the other nuts and bolts things you need to do in order to run, what do you have in place? What are your plans? SCHALE: We`ve got -- I mean, Draft Biden, we`ve got volunteers active in 46 states right now, probably be at 50 by the first part of next week. We`ve got over 250,000 people on our e-mail list. I can tell you in the 72 hours, I`ve been involved in the operation, the phone calls I`ve gotten from donors and people looking to get involved, staff, is pretty remarkable. So, we feel really good about the enthusiasm and frankly a lot of what we`re trying to do is send a message to the vice president as he`s making his decision -- listen, there are folks out here that want you to do this and if you do it, we`ll have your back. MADDOW: As it gets later and later in the process, I think this question is going to get more and more pressing. If this were very early on, nobody would ask this. But as it gets later, it starts to feel like a Draft Biden effort and even just the Draft Biden speculation ends up being subtractive from the other candidates in terms of the enthusiasm for them, in terms of what they can line up in terms of fund-raising and commitments. As it gets later and later and later, it starts to feel like you cost the other candidates more and more. If the decision does go very late and the vice president decides not to run, does the Draft Biden effort then redound to whatever else is the Democratic nominee? Is it an effort that supports another candidate if need be? SCHALE: Well, listen, I think that`s sort of speculative but I disagree with the larger point. The reality is since the vice president has made it more public that he was seriously considering, since we ramped up our efforts, you`ve seen a lot of coverage on the Democratic side of the primary equation. Really up until ten days ago or so, the entire conversation was about Trump and the Republicans. We were pretty much drowned out, you know? So, I think that Biden`s consideration has actually helped our cause. More people are talking about our issues, out registering our voters, activating our supporters. That`s good for us come next November. MADDOW: Steve Schale, political strategist, advisor to the Draft Biden committee. It`s actually very helpful, illuminating to hear your thoughts. I hope you`ll come back and keep talking to us. SCHALE: Would love to. Thanks for having me on. MADDOW: Thanks very much. All right. Much more -- that`s an interesting question, you know. If you get people psyched about conflict on the Democratic side right now, whether or not it turns into an actual contested primary, does that excitement redound to whoever the nominee is going to be or is it just for the prospect of a person who might not run? I don`t know. We`ll see. Much more ahead tonight, stay with us. (COMEMRCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I want you to watch this quick video clip of what we call DVM. DVM. It stands for dirty van meat. I want you to stare at this dirty van and its dirty van meat, and tell me in earnest you do not feel an urge to know more. Just try and tell me that you don`t yearn to understand this dirty meat. Why it exists? Where it came from? Who put the meat in the dirty van? Admit it, you are powerful against the pull of the dirty van meat. The secrets of DVM will be revealed next here. Stay with me. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today in Russia`s being weird again news, I present this headline -- Russian authorities burn food for BMW racing team. The car racing them from BMW is apparently participating in an event in Moscow this week, as their welcome to Russia salute, the Russian government decided to incinerate all of the food that the BMW team brought with them for all of their personnel for all the time they would be in Russia. Something like a ton and a half of perfectly good food burned. And not like they messed up cooking, I mean incinerated. This was not done because Vladimir has some weird beef with German carmakers nor was it done because Germans were trying to smuggle some weird beef into Russia. No, Putin ordered the incineration of food because that`s what Russia is doing now. This time last year, Russia banned food imports from the European Union, from the U.S., from Australia, Canada and Norway in protest against the sanctions those countries had put on Russia over Putin`s war against Ukraine. And so, for months now, on Vladimir Putin`s direct orders, Russians have been bulldozing and burning literally tons of perfectly good Western food. Here they are unloading big slabs of meat from the back of a dirty van. The dirty van meat may look delicious but it`s on the way to a crematorium to be incinerated. And they are really making a spectacle of the whole thing. A Russian official is putting three frozen Hungarian geese on trial while a guy in a just do it shirt acts as a witness to the trial. He apparently agreed to ban the terrible Western goods while he stood in his Nike shirt. He must have agreed, though, because shortly after that tribunal they brought out a freaking bulldozer to run over those three geese, those three evil but delicious frozen Hungarian geese. The Russian government is pursuing legislation that will make it worse. They will classify Western food as strategically important. Until now the label applied to weapons, explosives, weapons, poisons and radioactive materials. But if that starts to include food, that would mean bringing any foreign food in to Russia could mean seven years in a Russian prison. Seven years in prison. This is the kind of story that seems like it can`t really be possible, the bulldozer and geese, really? But it did happen. This is real and sometimes there`s news in the world for which you need reassurance about whether or not it is real. That`s why we have something called Debunktion Junction, which is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hoot-hoot! Debunktion Junction, what`s my function? You may have seen news about how the Obama administration is taking concrete steps to try to get Guantanamo closed by the time President Obama leaves office. The Pentagon has been looking a few different sites that could conceivably house Guantanamo prisoners if Guantanamo closed, including sites Kansas and South Carolina. In response, Republican senators from those two states have now written an op-ed saying they are way too scared to do that. Senators Pat Roberts and Tim Scott writing this week that President Obama is risking the security of the nation by moving the terrorists at Guantanamo, quote, "in to our backyards." Same sentiment expressed by South Carolina`s Republican Governor Nikki Haley. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is a slap in the face to the people of South Carolina who have sacrificed so much for this country to turn around and say you are going to put these terrorists in our backyard. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Is Nikki Haley right? Is Nikki Haley right and Senator Scott and Roberts? Is President Obama planning to put terrorists in their backyards? Is that true or false? (BUZZER) MADDOW: Not unless Nikki Haley and those senators live in a maximum security military prison. The Pentagon is not looking to resettle prisoners from Guantanamo in Kansas and South Carolina like neighborhoods. Senator Robertson, Senator Scott write this week they will do anything in their power to keep their state`s churches, schools an playgrounds safe from this terrible plan to close Guantanamo. But nobody is planning to move Guantanamo prisoners on to Kansas playgrounds or churches or schools in South Carolina. They are planning to transfer them in to high-security military prisons. The naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina, or the maximum security prison in Leavenworth, in Kansas or some other prison like that. Guantanamo prisoners are currently in prison. They are not going to be resettled in American backyards. They are going to be moved to another prison. Actually I think it is going to happen this year, at least if this is the quality of the remaining arguments against it. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END