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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/03/15

Guests: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris, as difficult as it is for me to hear you throw so much shade at Tom Brady -- (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Ahhh! I still, I get past hat. I`m big enough to get past that and I want to talk about something else. Are you hanging around a little bit tonight? CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: I will hang around. MADDOW: Thank you. I forgive you already about Tom Brady. HAYES: All right. MADDOW: All right. See you a little bit later. Thanks to you at home for staying with us this hour. Spare a thought -- spare a thought for the man who just finished serving 14 years as the governor of the great state of Texas. Poor Rick Perry. Rick Perry is a man who is down and out in American politics right now. For some reason though, even though he poses no threat to anyone -- I mean anybody else in the presidential race punching at Rick Perry right now by definition is punching down. He is the basement. Rick Perry should be immune from criticism right now in the presidential race simply because of his own irrelevance in that race. But even though he is that far down and he is that far out, for some reason, Rick Perry is still in a position where he finds himself still getting kicked. The other candidates find time to insult Rick Perry and tear him down. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, one of the things I`m most honored about is so far everybody who`s attacked me has gone down the tubes. You have Lindsey Graham attacked me, he was at 3 percent. Now he`s at zero. You have Perry attacked me. Now, he`s getting out of the race. He was at four or 5 percent. Now, he`s getting out of the race. He was at zero. Everybody, Rand Paul attacked me. I see the last poll, the Monmouth poll just came out today where I`m leading by double figures and Rand Paul is down to less than 2 percent. He attacked me. Now, Jeb Bush also just went town in the Monmouth poll very big. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: OK, I can see Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump going after Jeb Bush, right? Jeb Bush running roughly in third place, right? I can see him going after Rand Paul, because Paul has so much media support, even if he has terrible poll numbers. I can even see Donald Trump going after Lindsey Graham, because even though he`s a zero in the presidential race, he`s absolutely nowhere in the polls even in his home state, Lindsey Graham says to anyone that will listen one of the main reasons he`s still running for president, one of the things he most wants to talk about whenever anybody interviews him for any reason is that he thinks that Donald Trump is so terrible. And he wants to stay in the race to be on record even if he loses, even if he never makes another debate he wants to be on the record in the race as having opposed Trump in every possible way. So, I can see Donald Trump going after Lindsey Graham, right? But Rick Perry? It`s hard to imagine a reason to spend time singling out Rick Perry, right, as his campaign keeps circling the drain. He poses no threat to anyone. But Donald Trump went after him today. That gave Rick Perry a reason to go on television which he did just after Donald Trump`s remarks to answer Donald Trump`s contention that he, Governor Rick Perry, is about to drop out of the presidential race. Spare a blessed thought for Rick Perry. It did not go well. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FEMALE ANCHOR: Joining me now former Texas Governor Rick Perry. Governor, do you want to make news today on the real story? Is Donald Trump right? Are you getting out of the race? RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, a broken clock is right once a day. So -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: How many times a day? Come on, Governor. Come on. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FEMALE ANCHOR: Are you getting out of the race? PERRY: You know, a broken clock is right once a day. So, the bottom line is I`m still here, and I`m still working. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: God bless him. Governor Rick Perry had to let go of the staff member whose job was to remind him about the numerical ending of common American idioms. Wait until the bird in hand versus birds in bushes things. That`s a tough one in terms of the math. So, Rick Perry is having a really hard time. We`re going to have more on the question of whether or not his campaign is over later on in the show tonight. The governor saying on FOX that he`s still working, he`s still there. But there is more news on that subject and Donald Trump may actually be right that Rick Perry is done. That said, the new national poll out that`s today on the Republican presidential race does not have Rick Perry polling at zero percent. He`s not at zero. It has him polling at 1 percent, which is still not very good. It does mean he`s within one point of Rand Paul and Chris Christie, both of whom are at 2 percent nationwide. This is the new Monmouth national poll today. It`s also just the latest poll in which another high profile Republican, another supposedly top tier national caliber Republican is way down in the dumps as well. In fact, is only one point ahead of Rand Paul and Chris Christie, only one point up at 3 percent, is Scott Walker. If you listen to the whole Republican establishment and the whole Beltway media, even just a couple of months ago, either Jeb Bush or Scott Walker was supposed to be winning by now. Scott Walker nationally is in eighth place with 3 percent of the vote which is smaller than the margin of error in this poll. This weekend, I went to the 147th annual Cummington Fair in Western Massachusetts, which is awesome. I go every year. And every year when I go to the Cummington Fair, I make sure to go to the demolition derby. This year, I was sitting with my friend Michael at the demolition derby. And from our vantage in the stance, Michael took a 20-second cell phone video of what the demolition derby looked like from where we were sitting, and we were sitting right in the front row, which was freaking terrifying, in terms of like, you know, rocks, dirt, parts flying up into -- it was very exciting. But in the 20-second clip that he took, I did not notice this when I was live there on Saturday night, I was too scared, I was too caught up in the commotion. But in this video clip that my friend Michael just sent me, it`s like a revelation. Watch this and look for the sage political analyst delivered by the demolition official. It was only 20 seconds but listen, this guy has figured it out. This is sage advice particularly for politicians who find themselves at the bottom of the pack now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: If you`re not moving, you`re probably losing! (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: If you`re not moving you`re probably losing! True at this demolition derby which I attended Saturday night and true in national politics for Rand Paul, and Chris Christie, and Rick Perry and increasingly Scott Walker. All these guys now who are not just flirting with occasionally bad polling numbers in their campaigns for president, these are guys who are not moving. They appear to be stuck at what is becoming a surprising bottom tier of candidates in the Republican race. I mean, it`s one thing to be in the basement for a poll or two. It`s another thing for people to expect you to be a 2 percent guy, a 1 percent guy, a 3 percent guy from here on out. If you are not moving you are probably losing. But things are starting to seem stuck in the polls. Not just at the bottom of the Republican field, also at the top of the field. Of course, that`s a much happier place to be. Donald Trump is also not moving as the Republican presidential front runner. He just seems to be continuing to consolidate and increase what`s starting to feel like a prohibitive lead over all the other candidates. Mr. Trump is in first place in every national poll by our count. By this list at Real Clear Politics, he`s been in first place for the last 18 straight national Republican presidential polls. In the new Monmouth poll that`s out today, Mr. Trump does reach a new milestone, 30 percent of the vote, that`s the highest he`s had, that`s the highest any candidate has had in any national Republican poll all year long. But this is starting to feel not just predictable but permanent. He`s been leading in every poll since the Fourth of July. And by increasingly impressive margins. Here`s a fact that Mr. Trump is not yet bragging about but I think he sort of ought to be. To me at least, this seems like low hanging fruit in terms of things Donald Trump could brag about but I have never heard him brag about, the ad factor. Mr. Trump, obviously, way ahead of everybody in the polls, not only nationally but almost every early state as well. When there have been people who have gotten close to him in the polls recently like that one recent poll out of Iowa in which Ben Carson was tied for first place. When Mr. Trump has been asked about other candidates in a situation like that, nipping at his heels or getting close to him, his answer usually has to do, usually says something about the fact that those candidates have been spending a lot of money on advertising. That`s how he explained, for example, why Ben Carson was doing so well and had tied him in one poll in Iowa. He didn`t say anything bad about Ben Carson. But he said, oh, he`s spending a lot of money in Iowa. When he has been asked about Jeb Bush, who is mired in the single digits, and doing poorly overall, but he`s holding onto roughly third place in the Republican race for the nomination. When he`s been asked about that, Donald Trump has explained why Jeb Bush has any support at all by talking about how much money Jeb Bush is not just raising but spending on advertisement. So, it`s clear that Mr. Trump believes in the political effectiveness of advertising. He thinks you can move your poll numbers up if you spend money on ads. You can tell he believes that because that`s the way he talks about other people`s relative success in this race. But within that reasoning, what is all the more impressive about Mr. Trump`s consistent longstanding and increasingly large leads in the Republican polling is that he`s done all that, he has put himself in first place in Iowa, in New Hampshire, and South Carolina and nationally, all by a mile. He has put himself in first place by such a distance for going on two months now he`s done all of that, built this prohibitive front-runner status without running a single ad. There are no Donald Trump for president TV ads, nationally or in the early states. We just got a good run down from the political dust at NBC News the other day about all the other ad spending happening by all the other campaigns and all the other super PACs supporting all of the campaigns, where they are spending nationally versus in the early states. And usually in a normal presidential year, you try to correlate some of the ad spending with how candidates are doing in various states, right? You try to see the effect of spending in the polls. In this case, you can throw that rule out the window, because the person who is dominating to the point where everybody else is down in single digits, that person has spent zero dollars on ads. It turns out he doesn`t need to. So, Trump to say the least has a good thing going. He`s winning by a mile. He`s not even having to spend anything to do it. He`s stuck at the top of the polls in what`s starting to feel like an increasingly permanent position. He`s not moving but he`s not losing either. Everything is going great for him. And so, today, he decided to make a major change in the dynamics of the race. Why do that right now? Everything is going great for him. What exactly is broken that needs to be fixed for Donald Trump in the presidential race? But this Republican Party loyalty pledge which Mr. Trump made a show out of signing today. It does really represents a major change in the way he is running what up until now has been a phenomenally successful campaign for the Republican nomination for president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you for being here. This is some turnout. My great honor. The chairman just left, as you probably know. He`s been extremely fair. The RNC has been absolutely terrific over the last two-month period. And as you know, that`s what I wanted. I wanted fairness. I don`t have to be treated any differently than anybody else. I just wanted fairness from the Republican Party. We are leading in every single poll. A new poll came out today where we are over 30 percent. We have actually hit numbers as high as 35 and 40 percent. And frankly I felt that the absolute best way to win and to beat the Democrats and very easily, I think, beat the Democrats no matter who it may be, whether it`s Hillary or anybody else and I think maybe Hillary will have a hard time, frankly, with what`s happening getting to the starting gate -- the best way for the Republicans to win is if I win the nomination and go directly against whoever they happen to put up. And for that reason, I have signed the pledge. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) So, I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles for which it stands and we will go out and we will fight hard and we will win. We will win. And most importantly, we will make our country great again because that`s what it`s all about. We have to make our country great again. With that, are there any questions? (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: Yes, many questions. And many questions were asked at today`s press conference. None of which unfortunately could be heard on anyone`s microphones, so it made the press conference hard to follow on TV. But the basic question here is, you know, if you`re Donald Trump, why change now? I mean, if you pitched your team all the way to the world series by throwing your amazing knuckle ball that nobody could hit, why stop doing that and instead start throwing fastballs just because everybody else does? An unnamed adviser to Mr. Trump`s campaign tried to explain the logic of signing the political pledge today, to Joshua Green at Bloomberg Politics. He said that Mr. Trump was changing course on agreeing now that he will not run as a third party candidate because he wants to inoculate him from criticism of that stance, particularly ahead of the next Republican debate in Simi Valley. He doesn`t want people to criticize him for that if he gets asked about it at the next debate. Honestly, and with all respect, that makes no sense. Whatever criticism Donald Trump might have faced about his threat to potentially leave and run on his own, whoever was criticizing him about that, the criticism has not been working. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MODERATOR: Gentlemen, we know how much you love hand-raising questions. So, we promise this is the only one tonight, the only one. Is there anyone on stage -- and can I see hands -- who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican Party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person? Again, we are looking for you to raise your hand now. Raise your hand now if you won`t make that pledge tonight. (BOOING) MODERATOR: Mr. Trump -- Mr. Trump, to be clear, you are standing on a Republican primary debate stage. TRUMP: I fully understand. MODERATOR: The place where the RNC will give the nominee the nod. TRUMP: I fully understand. MODERATOR: And that experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over to Democrats and likely another Clinton. You can`t say tonight that you can make that pledge. TRUMP: I cannot say, I have to respect the person that if it`s not me, the person that wins, if I do win -- and I`m leading by quite a bit, that`s what I want to do. I can totally make the pledge if I`m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But -- and I am discussing it with everybody. But I`m talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee. MODERATOR: So, tonight, you can`t say if another one of these -- SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is what`s wrong. MODERATOR: OK. PAUL: This is what`s wrong. He buys and sells politicians of all stripes -- MODERATOR: Dr. Paul -- PAUL: Look, he`s already hedging his bet on the Clintons, OK? So, if he doesn`t run as a Republican, maybe he supports Clinton or maybe he runs as an independent. MODERATOR: OK. PAUL: But I`d he`s already hedging his bets because he`s used to buying politicians. TRUMP: Well, I have given him plenty of money. MODERATOR: Just to be clear -- we are going to move on. You can`t make the pledge tonight? TRUMP: I will not make the pledge at this time. MODERATOR: OK. (CHEERS) MODERATOR: All right. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Rand Paul trying to share the stage there. That was the last Rand Paul was ever heard of. Whatever you thought about that dramatic moment in the first Republican debate, and that really was the way the debate opened up, Donald Trump, he took the stance, raised his hands, defended that stance. That`s when he opened up to the bluntest possible criticism on that issue. Look at the poll numbers after that debate, right? It`s not hurt Donald Trump one bit for anybody to criticize him on this issue. I mean, until now his consistent stance that he would keep open the option of running as a third party wasn`t hurting him. When he said last month it gave him leverage, he`s right, holding out the possibility that he could bolt the party gave him leverage. He said repeatedly what he wanted from the other Republicans in the field, what he wanted from the party in exchange for him running as a Republican was for the other candidates and the party more broadly to be nice to him, treat him with respect. He`s now effectively saying they no longer have to do that, because he`s pledged to run as a Republican no matter what they do. Why give that up? Why sign the pledge? It was funny. Earlier this morning, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Mr. 2 percent, appeared on the FOX News Channel, and they made a big show of him signing the pledge, too, like there was suspense about it for him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FEMALE ANCHOR: The pledge for you, sir. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Excellent, let`s bring it over here. FEMALE ANCHOR: Here`s the pledge. We printed it out. We heard you hadn`t signed it. Are you running as an independent candidate? CHRISTIE: I`m not. And I don`t need Reince Priebus to meet with me before deciding whether to do this or not. So, there you go. September 3rd, `15. I`m in, I signed. FEMALE ANCHOR: All right. We`ll put it on the file. Thank you very much. Governor, good to see you. CHRISTIE: Great to see you, too. MALE ANCHOR: That`s not a number 2 pencil. FEMALE ANCHOR: No, no. CHRISTIE: All ink, baby. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: All ink, baby. All ink. It`s hilarious. It`s an inherently funny thing to ask Chris Christie to go through the rigmarole of signing the thing, because what, Chris Christie is going to leave the Republican Party where he`s polling at 2 percent and he`s going to harness the great groundswell of support for his candidacy by running a third party campaign that anybody is going to notice let alone care about? Right. I mean, come on. Who else in the giant Republican field poses even the remotest threat of running a third party candidacy that would have any effect on anything whatsoever? Why do they have this pledge? The only reason the Republican Party did this pledge is for one candidate, so Donald Trump would sign it. He not only has enough support nationwide that he could put a huge dent in the Republican nominee by running third party, he`s also the only one among them who logistically could make it happen, because he`s got enough money to self-fund a third party campaign, even if he never raised a single dollar from another human being. He`s the only the threat. So, this threat has been there from him and him alone. This real threat that he could do it but he would to it. And that threat has been dramatic. It`s also given him great leverage to make the Republican Party be nice to him -- to pledge not to block him in his campaign. He already had that until today when he gave it up. He`s not a dumb guy. So, the question is, why did he to this? My best guess is maybe the party, either at the national level or in some combination of the states had come up with a plan by which they told Mr. Trump they`d be able to keep him off the ballot so he thought he needed to do this in order to ensure ballot access in some states. Maybe they told him that. I can certainly imagine the states or National Republican Party threatening that. But, honestly, if you actually look at ballot access laws in the state, almost all of those problems are surmountable with the right lawyers, and the right amount of money and right support in the polls. So, maybe Donald Trump was hoodwinked. Maybe he was tricked into thinking he would need the Republican Party more than he actually does. Hard to believe. Again, he`s not a dummy. He`s a lot of things but he`s not a dummy. Honestly, what this looks like strategically is a giant screw-up -- a giant, beautiful, classy, huge, screw-up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We have a big show tonight. NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is here. Yes, for real. Calm. Calm. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is here. Also, we will have the latest on the drama that`s been unfolding in the commonwealth of Kentucky today, drama that saw a county clerk thrown in jail today over the issue of same-sex marriage. There`s lots still to come tonight. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, it seemed like it was over. Donald Trump said good-bye, he showed off his signed pledge to the cameras, he thanked the crowd, he waved bye-bye. It was over. But then, actively, it turns out there was an encore. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Hey, ladies and gentlemen. This is a very -- an amazing man. He is, as you know -- right? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. TRUMP: Speaker of the house of Indonesia, he`s here to see me. Setya Novatno (ph), one of the most powerful men, a great man and his group is here to see me today. And we will do great things for the United States. Is that correct? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. TRUMP: Do they like me in Indonesia? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Thank you very much. TRUMP: Speaker of the house in Indonesia, thank you very much. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: OK. And with that it was over for a second time. One hallmark thing about Trump`s presidential candidacy is that he does stuff like that. Weird stuff can happen when Donald Trump is around. He seems spontaneous, he seems unscripted, he seems unpredictable and that unpredictability has been used to great effect by Donald Trump on the campaign trail. That`s why the TV news landscape looked like this at 2:00 p.m. today. Everybody following Donald Trump`s every move, even the business channels, because he knows what might happen. In the end, what did happen today was that Mr. Trump announced he was giving up his outsider status as somebody beyond and not beholden to the Republican Party when he signed that pledge that he would support whoever the Republican nominee is and he will not run as an independent candidate. The other thing that today`s press conference laid bear is that he`s also now starting to give up the other thing that sets him apart from other candidates, that perceived spontaneity and authenticity and spontaneity, right? Because aside from signing that pledge, this big media circus he convened today was for a circus act that is starting to feel rehearsed. I mean, his appeal and the fascination with him is in large part because of the spontaneous, unscripted, real, but he`s really not doing that anymore, if he ever was. Watch. For example, here is what Mr. Trump said today about Jeb Bush. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Jeb Bush is a very nice man. I`ll be honest. I think he`s a very nice person. I think he is a very low energy person. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Jeb Bush is a very low energy person. If that that sounds familiar, that`s because Mr. Trump has said it about a zillion times now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Jeb is a nice person. He`s very low energy. I`m not used to that kind of person. People are tired of it. They`re tired of low energy people. Jeb Bush is a low energy person. For him to get things done is hard. You know, I view it as energy. There is no energy on the other side. A very low energy person. Very, very low energy. So low energy that every time you watch him, you fall asleep. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Low energy. And it`s not like this canned attack on Jeb Bush is the only thing Trump has packaged neatly together to deploy at every single event every time he speaks. He has, and has had a canned line for pretty much every issue that`s come up in campaign, to the point where now it is just canned line to canned line to canned line. I mean, it`s neat, disciplined in a way. But it`s also boring, predictable and like a typical politician. I mean, he`s par for the course for every politician honestly, but Donald Trump`s appeal is he`s not supposed to be like that. He`s not supposed to be like every other politician. It turns out he kind of is now. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TRUMP: I love the Hispanics. I have thousands of Hispanics right now working for me, many from Mexico. I love the Mexican people. They have tremendous spirit. I have a great relationship with the Mexican people. Many of them work for me. I have so many Hispanics and they love me. I employ -- they`re tremendous people. They work hard, Mexicans. Thousands of people worked for me over the years. Hispanic. I love the people of Mexico. I love Hispanics. Nobody loves Hispanics like I do. If I didn`t bring up the subject of illegal immigration, you wouldn`t be asking the question nobody would be talking about immigration. Only because of me is everybody talking about illegal immigration. They wouldn`t be talking about it. If it weren`t for me, you would not even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wouldn`t be talking about it. In all fairness, if it weren`t for me they wouldn`t even be talking about illegal immigration. People are offering me millions and millions of dollars. You know, when you`re in first place, you can collect so much money. I keep turning them down. I have people coming up all the time, wanting to give me millions. $5 million last week I turned down from one man. I said I don`t want your money. So, I`m turning down millions. I don`t want your money. We are turning down millions of dollars. All the guys coming up, Don, I want to contribute millions. I said, I don`t want your money. I don`t want your money. So far everybody that`s attacked me has gone down the tubes. Do you ever notice the ones that attacked me most viciously went down to zero? But, you know what`s a great honor is they hit me hard and they went down. Haven`t you heard everything already? It`s like sort of like getting boring. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: If he no longer seems spontaneous and unscripted and no longer seems bigger than and not beholden to the Republican Party, which he swore off with the pledge today, then what`s left that`s different about him? Joining us now is a man whose body language and facial expression said everything I felt when Donald Trump goodnighted the Indonesian house speaker today, my buddy Chris Hayes, host of "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES", who is at the press conference today and asked the first question. Chris, thank you. HAYES: It`s great to be here. MADDOW: The look on your face. I was like, that`s how I feel. HAYES: Well, I also just kept looking around like seriously, are we being pranked? Like, part of it is that I feel there is a lag in terms of the press corps that`s been following him, who I would imagine, you know, they have heard the lines more than we have, that this is just a stump speech now. I mean, just a stump speech. You know, that`s what politicians do. You know, Bernie Sanders is a stump speech. Mike Huckabee is a stump speech. They go and give stump speech. But I can do it now from memory. I can tell you about the Chinese and Japanese and the 1.4 million I can tell you about the illegal immigrants and I can talk about how I will make your head spin and the strongest military, we have to protect the vets. I mean, you can do this spiel. But it`s just a spiel. There is no -- MADDOW: Which isn`t important as a criticism for any other politician because everybody expects that from politician. But now that he`s doing it, is that actually -- I feel the only thing Donald Trump can`t do is be boring. HAYES: I totally agree. He even said it himself, he said at one point, I`ve got to keep saying different things, so they will keep covering me. MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: Which is a sort of the level of awareness about the media phenomenon that Donald Trump that sets him apart on why he`s been so expert. MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: The other thing about it is -- MADDOW: Was this the handout? HAYES: Yes. The other thing to remember about the Donald Trump is that the Donald Trump campaign is largely about the fact that the Donald Trump is winning. MADDOW: Yes. HAYES: So, here`s THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW full screen that was included to -- MADDOW: He handed out something from my show? HAYES: Yes, it`s a RACHEL MADDOW full screen. MADDOW: Wait. Like it`s just a picture from the TV? HAYES: He literally handed out a packet of information that`s full screens from cable news of polls including -- MADDOW: Screen shots from TV shows? That`s not the poll. HAYES: No, it`s like, yes, there is the CNN -- MADDOW: Here`s John King making a gesture about me winning a poll. HAYES: So, I mean, this is the whole spiel, the thing about this, here`s what connects to your thesis is the next step is like this is going to be -- this is not an actual campaign. MADDOW: Right. This is a high school play about a campaign. HAYES: This is a bad set of props that no one will look closely at. Don`t open the folder on stage. Now, the question becomes like, OK, if you are going the conventional route, right? MADDOW: By pledging fealty to the Republican Party. HAYES: And by doing your stump speech and sticking and being on message relentlessly, there are a whole bunch of questions today, he could have made news today. Charlie guff said what about the naked women in Times Square which for those of you watching outside of New York City is suddenly a huge issue in the New York City tabloids, wouldn`t take the bait. Now, he could have said something outlandish. He could have something that made news, he did not, because like you said. He has transformed himself into a, quote, "traditional candidate". The question becomes, do you also then bring the organizational capacities -- MADDOW: Right. So when you happened out information -- HAYES: It`s not screen shots that are out of -- MADDOW: Amazing. That`s amazing. Stunning. Chris Hayes, thank you very -- first of all, thank you for braving it -- and second of all, thank for staying. HAYES: You can keep this. MADDOW: In my own work, I wonder if I should charge him. HAYES: It`s not classy to use this. MADDOW: Credit, the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW. Huge. All right. Thank you, Chris. We`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We`ve got news ahead tonight on this Kentucky county clerk who was thrown in jail today on the issue of same-sex marriage. There is an important part of the story being mostly missed by the national media. We`ve got that specific part of the story for you ahead. Plus, the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is joining us tonight in part because he`s in a big political fight that he picked and he`s winning. He`s here for the interview tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: When the Rowan County clerk`s office opens tomorrow morning, it will do so without it`s clerk. Her name is Kim Davis. She`s the elected clerk in Rowan County. She`s a Democrat. She was held in contempt of court today for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But it`s not as simple as that, because it`s now not just about Kim Davis and her own conscience and her not wanting to do this. Kim Davis is now also trying to stop other people from giving out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Her deputies in the office said they would grant licenses to all couples, but Kim Davis said she would not allow them to do that either, even though she wouldn`t have to sign the licenses or herself or have anything to do with them. She said no to that offer today that other people in her office would handle this matter. And so, the judge sent her to jail for a contempt of court. It is not clear how long she will stay there, whether the judge or she will give in first on this matter. But this one Kentucky clerk is getting attention for this fight right now. I think it`s also very important to note that she may not be alone. She`s not the only clerk who is resisting. By our best figuring today, there appear to be clerks who said they will basically take this same stance as this clerk in Rowan County in 14 counties in Alabama, these 14 counties. Also two more counties in Kentucky besides the one where the clerk is now in jail, plus one county in Texas. If that figuring is correct, that means we are looking at 17 more potential cases like the one unfolding today in Kentucky where the clerk has ended up in jail. We do know how this ends ultimately. This ends with marriage equality everywhere. We have known it would end that way since the United States Supreme Court settled this as a matter of law this summer. But in terms of how we get there, do more officials in other states start joining this Kentucky clerk behind bars for contempt of court? Before we reach that inevitable resolution what happens along the way and what is the prospect of jailed anti-gay wannabe martyrs? What`s the prospect of not just one of them, but more than a dozen of them do to the politics of this issue? Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: It`s become a standard part of the game, the hook shot. Instead of the classic facing the basket, both hands approach you turn sideways. You hook the ball over your head with one arm. By shooting that way with one arm, you free your other non-shooting arm to hold off the defender. You see the hook shot all the time now. But back when the hook shot was still a new idea, the guy who perfected it was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was such a tall guy, 7`2", with such long arms and such good coordination that it was almost impossible for a defender to stop one of his hook shots. You couldn`t reach him. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar mastered the art of creating distance between himself and the other guy. He got so good at the hook shot, he could make them so far from the basket that his hook shot got its own name when he did it. They called it the "sky hook". Kareem Abdul-Jabbar`s sense of distance, the way he could look all alone on the court in the sky hook moments burns forever in my mind as a kid who watched basketball growing up. It turned out to be sort of a metaphor for not just his experience on the basketball court but part of the way he lived his life. In an essay earlier this year, Mr. Abdul-Jabbar wrote really eloquently about his reasons for converting to Islam in 1979 when he changed his name from Lew Alcindor. He said, quote, "I came to realize that the Lew Alcindor everybody was cheering wasn`t really the person they imagined. They wanted me to be the clean cut example of racial equality. The poster boy for how anybody from any background, regardless of race, religion or economic standing could achieve the American Dream. To them, I was living proof to them that racism was a myth. I knew better." After he retired from basketball in 1989 as the NBA`s all-time leading scorer, Mr. Abdul-Jabbar remained engaged in public life and politics. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed him an American cultural ambassador in 2012. He also now writes a regular column in "Time" magazine, a column that is reliably provocative and smart. Last year when the L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling got caught on tape saying really hideously racist stuff and the NBA had to decide what to do about that behavior from a team owners, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar raised the uncomfortable question of why it was that tape that was so upsetting from Donald sterling but not the prior decade when Donald Sterling had to pay huge settlements in racial discrimination cases brought against him as a landlord. Well, this week, Kareem turned his sights on Donald Trump in a column he wrote yesterday for "The Washington Post". He criticized Mr. Trump for menacing journalists and for taking credit even for his ability to bully the media. Mr. Abdul-Jabbar favorably compared Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump saying that the ways the two candidates have dealt with criticism on the campaign trail, quote, "reveal the difference between a mature, thoughtful and intelligent man -- Bernie Sanders -- and a man whose money has made him arrogant to criticism and impervious to feeling the need to have any actual policies. He said Donald Trump`s candidacy will, quote, soon be lost forever. That piece was published yesterday. By yesterday afternoon, Kareem Abdul had received a response from Donald Trump. Not just any response. It was a -- wow, that one. A note scrawled in sharpie on the column that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had written. "Dear Kareem, now I know why the press always treated you so badly. They couldn`t stand you. The fact is that you don`t have a clue about life and what has to be done to make America great again. Best wishes, Donald Trump." How do you respond when you get a note like that? My favorite note is there was one thing highlighted in Mr. Abdul-Jabbar`s column and it was Donald Trump`s name. Ooh, it`s about me. It must be important. I wouldn`t know how to respond to something like that. But if you are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is cool, calm and to the point. He posted that online with a simple observation, "The bully proves my point." Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joins us live next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Yesterday morning, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who is now a political columnist, he posts -- published a piece in "The Washington Post" arguing that Donald Trump is trampling constitutional principles by menacing journalists, among other things. That afternoon, Mr. Abdul-Jabbar had his piece sent back to him with a handwritten note on it from Donald Trump, scrawled in sharpie, quote, "You don`t have a clue." Mr. Abdul-Jabbar then posted it online with this response of his own, "The bully proves my point." Joining us now for the interview is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA Hall of Famer, columnist with "Time Magazine". He`s also the author of a new novel which is due this month. It`s called "Mycroft Holmes". Mr. Abdul-Jabbar, it`s really nice to have you back with us. Thanks for being here. KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, NBA HALL OF FAMER: Nice to talk to you, Rachel. MADDOW: So, there are a lot of things to critique about the Donald Trump presidential campaign. I wonder why you singled out his attacks on the media. Why that bothered you so much? ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, Rachel, it bothers me because First Amendment is such an essential part of what our democracy is about. And when you attack journalists in order to silence criticism, are you really stifling the public discourse? The fact that we can engage in, you know, some critical analysis of what someone says and ask them questions, that makes our democracy work. It makes us able to understand what the issues are and where people`s hearts are and what they`re going to do as our elected officials. And when you try to suppress that, I think you`re trying to stifle criticism and avoid being accountable. And I didn`t like the tone of what that meant in this political campaign. It`s very important. MADDOW: It is one thing to -- for politicians to not like the press or not like reporters. Generally in those cases, I think politicians tend to ignore what is written about them because they don`t like the press and they dismiss what anyone in the press thinks of him. Obviously, he really cares to the point where he sent you this angry scrawled note written on your column. Did you expect anything like that? Has anything like that that happened to you before? Do you have any relationship with him? ABDUL-JABBAR: I have met Mr. Trump a couple of times, but I don`t have any relationship with him. But I didn`t expect that. There are so many other journalists that think he has to be held accountable in some way and they try to ask him questions and all they get is threats and put-downs. It doesn`t make any sense. MADDOW: Why is it that you -- and I will describe this as optimism because I can tell what you think of Donald Trump -- why are you so optimistic that his candidacy will fail? You wrote that it will soon be lost forever, that really has -- that he has no chance, that we`re basically having a sort of fascination right now, but you think that it`s going to be over soon. Why do you think that? ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, you know, political campaigns are about style and substance. And Mr. Trump`s style is very attractive. The reason that he`s able to get all of this attention and have the following that he does is because he says things in a way that inspires people or makes them feel good about the things he`s saying. But pretty soon, there`s going to have to be some substance. When we hear exactly what the substance is of what his programs are for his vision of America, I don`t think that his candidacy will last very long beyond that. MADDOW: I wonder, having been in the public eye for so long, and especially because you were in such a bright public spotlight when you were so young, starting when you were so young. And for so many years, do you feel like -- I guess do you feel like our politics right now are in part about who`s good at managing just the art of being on TV? Who`s good at managing the art of being looked at and talked a lot, rather than anything else that might be more substantive about politics? ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I think too many trivia aspects of the public life have become primary and all important. Whereas getting programs that are going to benefit the average American person and keep our nation on its path of greatness, people don`t seem to be able to discern between those two issues. And, you know, we have to constantly remind people what`s important and why. And that`s why educating ourselves about the candidates and what they have to offer and what they see as the best way to do things, that -- it`s so important. MADDOW: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA Hall of Famer, columnist now at "Time Magazine", author of the soon-to-be released book "Mycroft Holmes" -- I always really enjoy speaking with you, sir. Thank you so much for being here. It`s nice to have you here. ABDUL-JABBAR: Great to talk to you, Rachel. Take care. MADDOW: All right. Thanks. I have been told by the control room that Joe Biden has just made remarks about potentially running for president that go closer than he has ever gotten before in terms of explaining whether or not he`s going to run and I think we`ve got those remarks from you right ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We just got in new tape from moments ago, Vice President Joe Biden speaking tonight in Atlanta. He was taking questions from the audience and this is what he said about whether he`ll run for president. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My whole soul to this endeavor, it would not be appropriate. Everybody talks about a lot of factors, other people in the race, whether I can raise the money, and whether I can put together an organization. That`s not the factor. The factor is -- can I do it? Can my family undertake what is an arduous commitment that we`d be proud to undertake under ordinary circumstances? But the honest to God answer is I just don`t know. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Vice president speaking moments ago. He went on to say, "There`s no way to put a timetable on this. If I can reach the conclusion we can do it in a fashion that would make it viable, I will not hesitate to do it, but I have to be honest with you, I can`t look you in the eye and say now I know I can do it." As always, heartfelt comments from Vice President Biden, not clarifying whether he`s going to run but clarifying how he`ll decide. That does it for us tonight. We`ll 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