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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 4/6/2016

Guests: Doug Heye

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: April 6, 2016 Guest: Doug Heye RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. In 2012, in the last presidential race, Super Tuesday was on March 6th. Initially, these were all the states that were supposed to vote on Super Tuesday in the presidential race in 2012. Before we got to Super Tuesday, though, before we got to March 6th, Texas dropped off that list. It`s very interesting. Texas wanted to be on Super Tuesday, but they were embroiled in a court fight over just exactly how racist their redistricting could be in that state, just how much the Republican legislature in Texas would be allowed to dilute all the Hispanic and black votes so the Hispanic and black representatives would never get elected in Texas. Because of a court fight, an ongoing court fight over that, because nobody was quite sure what the congressional districts or the legislative districts were going to be in the state of Texas, they couldn`t hold their primary when they wanted to. They were initially supposed to hold their primary with everybody else on Super Tuesday, March 6th, but in Texas, they had to push that primary back and they initially got pushed back about a month, instead of March 6th, they were going to vote on April 3rd. Then they still hadn`t settled it enough to hold the primary so they got pushed back again. Ultimately, the Texas primary didn`t happen in 2012 until really, really late and it had a huge impact in terms of Texas` role in the presidential race. Texas thought they were going to be in the thick of it, Super Tuesday, you know, competing with everybody else, most important night on the primary calendar, they`d be getting tons of attention from the candidates, they`d be the biggest state voting that day, they`d get all that ad spending, they`d get all that attention the state needs. They thought they`d be -- the beginning of March, they ended up May 29th when it was all completely over on the Republican side, at least, I mean, it was before the end of April when the RNC had already declared Mitt Romney the de facto nominee of their party and started putting national resources behind him. It was cooked. It was done, by the time Texas Republicans got to vote at the end of May. And that was terrible news for anybody who really wanted Texas to be a Republican battleground in the presidential race in 2012. It was bad news for people who were sort of rooting for Texas in that way. But it was also particularly individually terrible news for this one guy in Texas, this one statewide officeholder in Texas who if nothing else has brought us, I believe, the greatest campaign song of our generation. Now, this -- it starts off a little slow. There`s, like, eight seconds of buildup here, but stick with me. You have to hear the eight seconds of buildup. You have to hear those first eight seconds or so in order to appreciate it when the groove kicks in. So, just work with me here. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) MADDOW: Savin` babies, protecting ladies -- it`s like a basement synthesizer funk antiabortion Republican song. But that guy with the greatest -- you think I`m bad at dancing in a chair, you should see when I stand up. This guy with the greatest campaign song of all-time, David Dewhurst. He in 2012, he was the Republican establishment candidate for a U.S. Senate seat that opened up in Texas. Kay Bailey Hutchison was -- will you get rid of it, please? Away. Stop it. Thank you. He was the establishment candidate for the U.S. Senate seat that opened up in 2012. David Dewhurst, the lieutenant gov you got to love. Kay Bailey Hutchison was leaving her Senate seat and, of course, any Senate seat from the state of Texas is a safe Republican seat, right? Texas hasn`t sent a Democrat to the United States Senate since I think the `80s, since 1988. So, seeing the Senate seat come open, they knew the general election wouldn`t matter for that seat. Yes, the Democrats would run somebody run for it, but it wouldn`t be a competition. Basically, all you have to do is win that seat in the United States Senate from Texas is to win the Republican primary in Texas and that was 2012 and David Dewhurst, he was considered to be basically a shoo-in for that seat. He basically thought of as the guy -- stop it. Thank you. He was thought to inherit that Senate seat from Kay Bailey Hutchison. David Dewhurst was Rick Perry`s lieutenant governor. Rick Perry endorsed David Dewhurst and campaigned for him. Dewhurst has a ton of money. He`d already been elected four times statewide. He was maybe not a household name, but he was very well-known in Texas. He was absolutely the establishment choice for that Senate seat in 2012. He was going to win it. So, if you wanted to stop that from happening, if you wanted to prevent that establishment choice from taking that U.S. Senate seat, how would you do it? Well, two-step process. The first step would be to keep him below 50 percent in the primary, right, because this was an open seat and because it was a safe Republican seat, every Republican and their mother was running for this seat in that primary. There were nine people in the Republican primary for that Senate seat in 2012. So, the first step was actually kind of an easy one mathematically speaking, with nine people in the race, that means everybody`s splitting the vote at least a little bit. If you want to keep him from getting to a runoff, step one for stopping David Dewhurst from getting that seat is just to keep him below 50 percent in that primary. You don`t have to beat him. You can still come in first, but he has to be below 50 percent so that he`ll be forced into a runoff. All right? David Dewhurst is the most establishment candidate running. The conservative sort of insurgent candidates who were running against him wanted what conservatives always want in a situation like this. They wanted as low a turnout as possible, the smaller the turnout, the more conservative the election results. It`s true in Texas. It`s true everywhere. Had that primary been on a huge day like Super Tuesday, had it stayed on Super Tuesday as Texas initially intended in 2012, that probably would have meant a giant voter turnout. Super Tuesday in Texas, that would have been great for David Dewhurst, would have been bad for all the conservatives trying to topple him. Even if they picked the first date they delayed it to, April 3rd, that still would have been pretty good turnout. I mean, at least at that point when people are turning out to vote for Mitt Romney or not Mitt Romney, there were still technically some not Mitt Romneys in the presidential race, Texas may still have had some conceivable impact who the Republican Party was going to nominate for president. Even April 3rd that would have drawn some people to the polls. But if you`re one of these insurgent conservatives running against David Dewhurst, you really needed a day on which nobody was going to vote. You needed the smallest possible voter turnout. You needed a terrible day for an election. And that`s what they got. When they got their primary on May 29th. I mean, at that point, the Republican Party already overtly had their presidential nominee. There was no reason to turn out to vote for the presidential primary. There was literally nothing else going on in national politics that day. The May 29th primary, if you look at it in context, it was, I think, four days before the Democratic caucuses in the Virgin Islands, right, so maybe there would be some no momentum for that. Yes, right. If you were looking for a nothing day, if you were looking for a low, low, low, low turnout, no-interest election, so you could have the smallest electorate possible, so you could have the most conservative result possible, so you could knock off a guy like David Dewhurst, May 29ths that was going to be perfect. And it worked. There were nine people in the running. This is a state with more than 13 million registered voters at the time. Less than 1.5 million people turned out to vote that day. It was terrible news for David Dewhurst. It was good news for his conservative challengers. David Dewhurst did not get 50 percent in the runoff, even though he came in first in that primary, even though he came in first, that meant he had to go to a runoff against his top finishing challenger. So, it was just one-on-one. And, again, in that one-on-one runoff, the same principle would apply. David Dewhurst is the establishment candidate. He`s the more well-known guy. You get low -informed, low-engaged voters turning out in big numbers, he`ll probably win. On the other hand, if you get a tiny electorate, smaller electorate, the fewer the people turn out, it`s going to be the hardcore activists who really care, and harder it`s going to be for this establishment, household name guy, already holding statewide office. All right, it`s going to be harder for him. The bigger the turnout, the more likely David Dewhurst is going to win. The smaller the turnout, the better it is for his conservative challenger. So, if you`re his conservative challenger, you`re waiting to find out what the runoff date is going to be, you`re hoping for something super obscure. Could we possibly have this on the 45th of June? Basically, I mean, you`re hoping on a day when, like, nobody`s ever voted in the history of voting.. You`re hoping for a day when you have to study to even know if there`s something going on that you could conceivably vote in. I mean, in your wildest dreams, you might hope for a day like July 31st. OK. It`s the dead of summer in Texas, 93 degrees that day. Absolutely nothing going on. The only thing in the news at that time was the summer Olympics in London and it had already started and we were already sort of into the boring part. And in that little runoff election which nobody noticed, great news for the guy trying to knock off David Dewhurst, nobody turned out to vote. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FEMALE TV ANCHOR: Political interest tonight, the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. Our political reporter Josh Hinkle (ph) joins us live. Josh, this is a close one to watch for everybody, but especially for Republicans. REPORTER: That`s right. It`s pretty dead here right now, but rest assured Republicans will be packing this space later on to watch those runoff results roll in. Not really a question about if a Republican will win this November, but it is a question of what kind of Republican will win. On one side of this, U.S. Senate GOP race, you got Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, he faces a major threat from former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz. The biggest challenge has been getting people to the polls in the dead of summer. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The turnout in that dead of summer runoff election dropped another 23 percent from what had been the terrible turnout in the invisible primary that led to that runoff. Nobody turned out. And the results of that, the reason that ends up being of national, if not international importance today in 2016, is because in the end, that process that I just explained, that was the process by which we effectively got a new U.S. senator from one of the largest states in the Union. Thanks to incredibly fortuitous timing that gave him the benefit of an almost unbelievably tiny electorate, that`s how he got a U.S. Senate seat from this giant state. He got a U.S. Senate seat from this giant state with fewer voters than you have in your average congressional district. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The people who show up and vote in a runoff, particularly a runoff in the middle of the summer on July 31st are the most passionate, the most motivated primary voters. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And he knew it. Thank god there really weren`t that many super passionate, super motivated voters who knew to turn out that July 31st, 2012. With that tiny electorate, basically a million people turning out in total, Ted Cruz effectively got elected to his U.S. Senate seat. He got 630,000 votes. Your average congressional district has over 700,000 population. But that little tiny election, 600,000 votes, that`s how he became U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. After that weird primary in May, bizarre runoff in July. He did in November have to run in a general election, but honestly in Texas, that doesn`t really count. No Democrat has won statewide office of any kind in Texas in 22 years. No Democrat has been elected to the U.S. Senate from Texas in 28 years. Even at that time, even though there would be a Democrat technically running for the Senate seat, these are the kinds of headlines that you saw about that race in Texas. "U.S. Senate race a GOP-only battle." So, with that one race, with 600,000 people voting for him in total, I got to tell you, that`s the entire electoral history of Ted Cruz. That`s the only election he`s ever won, which raises an interesting question as to how well he`s ever really been tested in an electoral way. I mean, he did beat David Dewhurst that one time in the heat of the summer in 93-degree day on July 31st. But that`s it. That`s how he got to be who he is. And now, as he gets this close to the Republican nomination for president of the United States, this is the part of the game when Republicans are starting to wonder whether they like him or not. Starting to wonder, has this guy really been vetted? Has this guy really been thoroughly tested as he tries to ascend to the biggest electoral contest of all as the standard bearer of the Republican Party in a national presidential election? Before you tell me that Barack Obama was also a first-term senator when he ran for president and he did fine, there`s -- come on, more to it than that. Barack Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate in `96, he was re-elected to the Senate in `98. In 2000, he ran in a Democratic primary for congressional seat and he lost which is good experience in itself. He got clobbered 2-1 by the incumbent congressman. He was then re-elected to his state Senate seat in 2002. In 2004, he decided to run in the Democratic primary for a U.S. Senate seat. There were seven candidates in that race and he won. And then, yes, ultimately he walked in an easy general election contest against Alan Keyes of all people that November, but by the time he got to that easy peasy race against Alan Keyes to get into the United Senate. It`s not like Barack Obama had never run for anything before. Ted Cruz has never run for anything before. Ted Cruz to become a U.S. senator, he`s only ever run in that one election. And to win it, honestly, he counted on the fact that almost nobody showed up. I mean, had Texas kept their primary on Super Tuesday that year, it would not have changed who got the Republican Party`s presidential nomination in 2012, right, but it would almost certainly have changed who would be in the running for the Republican presidential nomination this year in 2016. Because that accident of timing, that very fortuitous political calendar that brought us the lucky, lucky fairytale story of Ted Cruz`s political career so far, the micro turnout in the weird dead of summer primary and runoff, that`s how we got Ted Cruz. And now, as we pass halftime in this year`s Republican presidential primary process, honestly, do you believe we`re only at halftime? It`s been -- count of the days, it`s 65 days since the first contest in the Iowa caucuses. It`s 62 days until the last contests on June 7th in California and New Jersey and all those places. We`re at halftime. And at this halftime mark thus far, there has not been a lot of sustained national media attention on who Ted Cruz is or how we got him in the U.S. Senate or what else he has ever done in his life before he became a very controversial somewhat high-profile first-term senator and now a possible Republican presidential nominee. But Ted Cruz`s political ascent is very unorthodox. Before this presidential campaign, he only ever competed in one competitive electoral contest and it was one where it was absolutely critical that there was an incredibly and abnormally small turnout. I mean, significantly more people voted in some big-city elections for mayor last year than voted for Ted Cruz in the election that got him his Senate seat. And so, now, after Wisconsin last night, that crunching, that creaking, that shrieking of metal sound that you hear, that`s the giant battleship of the American national media turning its attention to -- who`s this guy, Ted Cruz? I mean, it`s not that his past is unknowable or somehow hidden. The honest truth is, as far as I can tell, nobody in the national media has much focused on telling the backstory of how we got Ted Cruz because before now, it was absolutely inconceivable somebody like Ted Cruz could be viable as a possible nominee for the Republican Party. Now that he has won his first large-state primary outside of his home state of Texas in the presidential race, now that he`s got his first win in Wisconsin last night, you can hear the Googling and LexisNexis searching starting up on him. If the Republican Party looks like it might seriously consider giving Ted Cruz the nomination, you should expect to very quickly learn a lot more about Ted Cruz`s past because now everybody is going to be trying to figure out who he is. And I think there`s a lot of substantive reporting to be done there because he has had sort of a strange rise to power. Honestly, there`s also a lot of junk out there about him. Like today`s "National Enquirer" running their second big Ted Cruz story today which has no sourcing, it makes no specific allegations, it has no quotes, but it sure sounds salacious and it`s on the front page of the "National Enquirer." We`ll have more on that later. But as we start this second half of the presidential nominating process, Wisconsin`s results last night does sort of make us feel like we`re in a different place. I mean, Ted Cruz seems like a potentially viable contender for the first time. John Kasich on the other hand does not. Not only did John Kasich come in a distant third place last night in Wisconsin, he came in third place by a lot in every congressional district in the state last night. He came in third place in every county in the state last night. The next states on the electoral map are supposed to be favorable for a John Kasich-like candidate -- New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, these kind of places. But if he was going to perform in those kinds of states, he probably would have performed at least a little last night in Wisconsin and frankly John Kasich tanked last night in Wisconsin. As for the overall front-runner, I think one of the underappreciated facts about Donald Trump in his second-place finish last night in Wisconsin is that it was foretold a little bit by him losing his mojo in terms of his campaign rallies. The night before the Wisconsin primary, Donald Trump held what was expected to be a large event at a theater in Milwaukee that seats about 7,000 people. He ended up turning out more like 2,500 people. There was no line to get in. This was not a security problem. There were lots of empty seats inside. Some parts of the theater, there were more reporters than supporters, thousands of empty seats. Was that just a bad sign for Donald Trump in Wisconsin? Was that a sign that things are pooping out for him more broadly? Here`s your latest evidence from tonight. Donald Trump rallying tonight in Bethpage, Long Island. This is at a venue that holds 10,000 people. These were the crowds that were waiting to get into that venue today. The crowd estimate in terms of the number of people who turned up tonight is -- this venue is at capacity, it`s full. Did I mention it seats 10,000? I mean, tonight, if Long Island is any indication, it sort of looks like whatever Donald Trump did not have in Wisconsin, he`s got it back in New York. It`s almost enough people at that Donald Trump event tonight in Long Island to elect Ted Cruz to the United States Senate again. More ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hey, there used to be more candidates than this running on the Democratic side. The last one standing after reduced down to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton was Martin O`Malley. Tomorrow night on this show, we`re going to have the first TV interview with Martin O`Malley since he dropped out of the Democratic presidential race. He`s done no other TV interviews. He`s going to talk to us first tomorrow. Next, though, we have some big news on the Bernie Sanders campaign with the great Steve Kornacki who`s going to be here. Bernie Sanders just said moments ago at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania tonight that he says he believes former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, quote, "is not qualified to be president". That and more from the Sanders campaign next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I`m standing up so you know this is going to be weird. All right. Great state of Wisconsin has 72 counties. Last night in the three-way contest for the Republican presidential nomination, John Kasich won zero of Wisconsin`s 72 counties. He didn`t even place second in a single county. He came in third in every single one of them. Most of them weren`t even close. However, that hardly matters for John Kasich`s strategy to win the Republican presidential nomination because his strategy for winning the nomination, which his campaign has repeatedly described to reporters, it`s very simple. And it`s not about winning. It`s not about how many delegates he gets or how many states he gets. His whole strategy instead is based on neither of his rivals winning, neither of his rivals getting enough delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican convention. So, John Kasich doesn`t even appear to be planning to win anything before the Republican convention. He just plans to go to the convention and then when neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz wins that first ballot, the Kasich plan is that the delegates at the convention will then just turn to him because he`s there and technically he`ll still be running for president at that time and they will choose him at that time because he`s awesome. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we get to the convention, they`re going to wonder who can beat Hillary, which I consistently do and they do not, and then they also are going to look about who could be president. Now, we have one guy with no experience and the other guy whose experience amounts to shutting down the government and calling the majority leader a liar. That is not the way in which you get things done in this country. In the fall, I will be able to run a very aggressive campaign in the state of Wisconsin and nobody else can. I mean, I beat Hillary in the fall in Wisconsin by 14 and everybody else gets slaughtered. It will all be fine over time. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It will all be fine. Nobody worry, I`ve got this. They`ll just pick me at the convention because I`m a better choice. And, you know, the rules by which the Republican Party chooses their presidential nominee, those rules could absolutely allow that to happen, but you can hear why this is a hard argument to make. You know, sure, Republican voters gave virtually all their votes to other people but the Republican Party will pick me because I am better than the other candidates who beat me with the voters. I mean, it should be noted in fairness to Governor Kasich, this is the only argument he can make. There`s literally no other way he can become the Republican Party`s nominee. So, if he is staying in this race, that is the one argument that is available to him. That`s all he`s got. No such problems on the Democratic side, though, right? On the Democratic site, after all, there are only two candidates. When there`s only two people running, obviously one of them will get a majority, almost by definition, right? Or maybe not? This is interesting and it`s an interesting turn in the race. Fresh off their victory last night in Wisconsin, the Bernie Sanders campaign is now making a new case for Senator Sanders and how he will get the nomination and honestly, it sounds a little Kasich-esque at least on the surface. Senator Sanders` campaign manager has now told CNN that the campaign`s working assumption is that neither Democratic candidate will get a majority of delegates. Neither one will get to 2,083, and that, therefore, neither of them will win the nomination in the primary process. The campaign says that they believe the Sanders campaign, Bernie Sanders, himself, will win at the convention, because at the convention the superdelegates will decide that Bernie Sanders should win and not Hillary Clinton. Quote, "This is what superdelegates have to grapple with. They want to win. Many of these people are elected officials, party insiders. At the end of the day, they want the candidate who`s going to be able to beat the Republicans and polling consistently shows that`s Bernie Sanders." Bernie Sanders` campaign manager saying nobody`s going to win the Democratic nomination before the convention and then at the convention, the superdelegates ought to pick Bernie Sanders because he`s better. He`s just a better bet for the Democratic Party, which is why it sounds Kasich-esque. Here`s my question, though: why could the Sanders campaign feel like they needed to make a Kasich-esque argument? Why would the Sanders campaign be making an argument that generally reserved for candidates who have mathematically can`t make any other argument, who mathematically can`t win the nomination any other way? What`s the Sanders campaign seeing when they look at the electoral map that`s driven them to a strategy that makes it seem like all this primary and caucus stuff is pretty hopeless? There`s only one man I trust to guide me through an electoral map this year. That is the great Steve Kornacki, political correspondent and host of "MEET THE PRESS DAILY" on Mondays here on MSNBC. Steve, thank you for doing this. STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sure. MADDOW: OK. The Bernie Sanders campaign to winning the nomination before the convention? KORNACKI: So, here -- when they`re saying there`s no mathematical way, what you have to understand is what they`re referring to in particular here. So, we divided the delegates into two categories. The superdelegates, people know about these, the elected officials, the party leaders. They automatically vote at the convention. However, they are not technically committed right now, even if they say they`re for Clinton or say they`re for Sanders. The key for what the Sanders` campaign is saying is this category, allocated delegates. These are the ones given out in primaries and in caucuses. So, what they`re saying is nobody when you go through all the primaries and caucuses in this column will hit this number, 2,383, the magic number. And there maybe something to be said for that. They`re basically saying if nobody gets to that, then you`re going to have what they`re calling a contested convention. The contested convention would mean a fight for the superdelegates. They`re basically saying the fight for the superdelegates will start when the primary is over. MADDOW: And that part of their argument, you think that is feasible that neither one of them under reasonable assumptions what`s going to happen in the primary, that neither one of them is going to get 2,338? KORNACKI: So, that part is possible. In the allocated category, it`s very possible Hillary Clinton is short of that. However, what the Sanders campaign needs to do at that case, what they`re up against is this. The superdelegate lead that Hillary Clinton has right now, it doesn`t mean everything, but it doesn`t mean nothing. These are elected officials who all things being equal, clearly would like Hillary Clinton to be the nominee. So, Sanders needs to force their hand. He needs to make them see something that`s going to force them to go with him even if they want to go with her. And what`s generally agreed on, the first thing he has to do to make that happen is he has to win the pledged delegate, he has to win the allocated delegates so he can save the superdelegates. The will of the people is being expressed here. In the primaries and caucuses, I`ve won more of these than Hillary Clinton. Therefore, you have to go with me. And that`s the problem right now. If you look at this category, if you look at this right now, I`ll erase it so you can see him clearly. We have him down 246. This is after Wisconsin. The good news for Sanders is the state of Washington, he won big there, it`s not all allocated. When it`s all allocated, that 246 is probably going to drop to 210. So he`s down 210 in the allocated category. MADDOW: OK. KORNACKI: Keep that number in mind because we`ll take a look here. This is what`s left on the Democratic side. For Sanders to be able to make that argument, these are all the states left. The number there is the number of delegates, allocated delegates that are up for grabs. He needs to erase 210. Now it may not seem like a lot, but it really is because the way they give out these delegates is proportionate. MADDOW: None of these states are winner take all. Nobody can win 475 delegates in California. KORNACKI: Right. Couple pieces of bad news, he`s done so much better in caucuses than primaries. Only two states left have caucuses. They`re small states, Wyoming, North Dakota. The rest are primaries. That`s helped her generally. Also, a lot of these primaries, closed primaries, that`s a further hurdle for him. You can`t have independents, Republicans voting. When that`s been the case, Sanders has done better. But look, the way to look at it is this, 210 is the number. He needs to raise 210. There`s a couple of states, California, mid-Atlantic, New York which is next, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and Maryland. You add these states together, this is 2/3 of what`s left on the Democratic side. Just in the mid-Atlantic and out here. So, if you follow me for a second here, if you take every other state, forget those big ones, take every other state and give Sanders big wins in these states, doesn`t lose any of them. MADDOW: Wins them all by double digits, by landslides. KORNACKI: Yes, worst case gets a draw in the District of Columbia, because it`s hard to see him doing any better than that. Otherwise, we`re talking big wins. He`s going to raise 125 of the 210. He would still need to make up 85 at that point. Again, being really optimistic. Here`s the problem, take New York, for instance. That`s the next one up. He`s trailing in the polls right now. He`s made up ground. He`s still down double digits. Demographically not the best fit for him. Let`s say he has a great two weeks. He wins New York. It`s 52/48 Sanders, 53/47. He wins it by a couple points. Huge upset if he does that, by the way. Two hundred forty-seven delegates, how would those break down? It`s probably be something like 130 for Sanders and 117 for Hillary Clinton in the absolute best-case scenario. So, huge state, huge upset, huge win for Sanders. All he does is take 13 off of that. You go down, look at these other states, it would be the same for Pennsylvania. He`s trailing huge in the polls right now. He gets a monumental comeback, wins a closed primary in a big diverse state, what does he get for that? He might make up 11 delegates on a great night for him. You look at Maryland, demographically very large population there, closed primary. This looks like a disaster in the making potentially for Bernie Sanders. That`s the other risk here. If he loses any of these states -- let`s say he loses Maryland. Let`s say he keeps it close, but loses it, it`s 55-40 split in the delegates, he`s losing 15 delegates. So, you got -- that 125, that target goes up to 140 just by losing Maryland. So, basically, look, the Sanders -- mathematically it can happen. You have to believe in momentum, though, for it to happen. This idea that the demographic hurdles he faces, they`re going to disappear in the face of this abstract thing called momentum. That`s what you have to believe. MADDOW: This is all toward him still not having the number of delegates you need in order to clinch the nomination but simply having a lead so he can make a case to the superdelegates they ought to support him as the pledged delegate leader even though he hasn`t clinched it. KORNACKI: If he erases 210, he can start the conversation. MADDOW: He can start the conversation even though a lot of the superdelegates right now are very heavy toward Clinton. Wow, that`s a steep path. Steve Kornacki, thank you for helping me understand this. I could not -- I literally couldn`t understand it without you. KORNACKI: It`s fun stuff. Sure. MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOWE: So, there`s all this jabber in the press today about things entering a rough new phase between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race. And honestly, I did not believe a word of it. But then, lo and behold, turns out it`s true. At least we`ve got some evidence. Senator Sanders has just within the last few moments unveiled what is apparently going to be a new part of his stump speech. He`s done this tonight in Pennsylvania. And it is -- he`s now, well, he`s now making the argument that Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be president of the United States. That is legitimately new. That means this is a whole different kind of race than it used to be. We just got the tape in. We`ll turn it around for you in just a second. Hold on. (COMMERICAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. So here it is. We got it. This is Bernie Sanders speaking tonight in Philadelphia -- the speech is still going on -- going after his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in a way that we have not heard before in this Democratic fight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She has been saying lately that she thinks that I am, quote/unquote, "not qualified to be president". (BOOS) Well, let me -- let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton, I don`t believe that she is qualified if she is -- (CHEERS) If she is, through her super PAC taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds. (CHEERS) I don`t think that you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC. (CHEERS) I don`t think you are qualified if you have voted for the disastrous war in Iraq. (CHEERS) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Now, what we think this is about, you heard him say at the top of his remarks there, "She has been saying that she thinks I am, quote/unquote, `not qualified to be president`." What we think this is about, what we think he`s referencing there, Secretary Clinton saying today in an interview that Bernie Sanders had not done his homework on some issues that have come up in the campaign, specifically in a sort of rough interview that he had with the editorial board of "The New York Daily News" in the last few days. But Bernie Sanders is responding to that characterization tonight by saying that Hillary Clinton is not qualified to serve as president of the United States. So, there you have it. This is what you call a tipping point. This is when the Democratic presidential contest suddenly becomes a very different contest with a very different aim from the way it started out. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight when the Republicans adopt their convention rules, there will be an interesting argument. It will be this: Rule 16 now has two paragraphs, "A" and "B." "A" says nobody can be put in nomination without the support of five states. "B" says all votes must be by roll call and all speeches for all candidates finished in 15 minutes. The Reagan squad now wants to add another paragraph, 16C. It says, "Each nominee must say by tomorrow morning before tomorrow night`s vote who he will recommend for vice president." REPORTER: As Reagan was making his last round of delegate hunting this morning, he ran into chanting Ford supporters. CROWD: We won last night, we`ll win again! We won last night, we`ll win again! REPORTER: "We won last night, we`ll win again", a reference to the defeat of Rule 16C, which would have required President Ford to name his running mate today. The Reagan forces lost that fight by more than 100 votes. The Pennsylvania delegation gave Reagan only 14 votes on the issue. About ten less than Reagan`s running mate, Senator Richard Schweiker, had promised. RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Senator Schweiker frankly told me this morning, the number of people have had given him that word and on that bill last night. He said one of them was in tears when he called and said he couldn`t keep his word, the pressure was too great. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Ronald Reagan`s defeat over Rule 16C, that was the turning point of the last time we had a truly contested convention in this country in 1976, which is a date you could identify from the width of all the ties. Ronald Reagan had hoped that he could force with this new rule, he hoped he could force President Gerald Ford to choose a running mate at the convention and we think he wanted that because he hoped that whoever Ford chose, it would alienate at least some Ford delegates. So Reagan hoped that he could then persuade some of those alienated Ford delegates to cross over and support him and he could get the nomination. And the Reagan camp got very close on this. This new rule that they came up with where they were really trying to box Ford in on this vice president thing, that rule had been passed by the rules committee the week before the convention but then it got to the convention floor and the whole thing fell apart. Reagan adviser Ed Meese said it was basically curtains after that. Quote, "That was pretty much the end of our campaign until the end of President Ford`s acceptance." Another Reagan staffer says, quote, "When we lost on that, we knew we were dead." So, it was convention Rule 16C that basically ended Ronald Reagan`s bid for president in 1976. If the Republican race this year does end up being decided at the convention, the rules will once again be key. That`s why candidates are hiring convention gurus who are going to understand how the rules get made and how the rules work, even though the rules themselves are malleable and will not get decided until the convention, itself. I mean, even as we`ve all come to understand there are no set in stone rules for convention conventions, the one thing we thought was a rule is you need a majority of delegates to win the nomination, right? It turns out that`s not a hard and fast rule, either. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For example, the rule says you have to have a majority of delegates to win, that rule is subject to amendment just like the other rules that we`ve been talking about. MADDOW: Hold on. Really? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It is in the rules of the convention that can be changed. They could make it a plurality -- MADDOW: They could make it a plurality. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Donald Trump controls the rules committee, could be a plurality. By the way, it could also be a supermajority. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Could be a plurality, could be a supermajority, could just decide you need to get this one name delegate, a nice lady named Deborah from North Dakota and that makes you president. There really are no rules. And that must have made this a very interesting coffee today. This was supposed to be a secret meeting at RNC headquarters that ended up getting reported on "Top officials at the RNC committee explained the intricacies to 2,000 GOP operatives." What are the intricacies to the rules that don`t exist? One of the people who was there, who was at that close door meeting joins us next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You see the dishonesty. You see where I won Louisiana, and then I find out I`m not supposed to get as many delegates as the person I beat. What kind of stuff is that? And somebody said, well, there`s a rule and another rule -- I don`t care about rules, folks. I go out. I campaign. We win. We win and we get the delegates, right? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I don`t care about the rules, folks. That was Donald Trump on Monday night. The rules do matter, though. At least they`re supposed to. And the national Republican Party held a closed door meeting yesterday to talk with a select few influential Republicans about how exactly contested conventions work just in case we should expect one this year. Joining us now is someone who is inside that meeting yesterday, Doug Heye, former RNC communications director. Doug, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here. DOUG HEYE, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: Did you get any secrets. HEYE: Well, let me tell you. First off, it was an off the record meeting, so I`m not going to be able to tell you all the beans are in it. But the other thing is, but I forgot to bring my pen, so I wasn`t able to take a lot of notes but, you know, I can walk you through some of the rules and how Republicans are trying to move forward. MADDOW: Let me ask you this. I know it was an off the record meeting, so you won`t tell me the exact content of it. But can you tell me why the RNC is holding an off the record meeting like this. Is this going to be one of a series? What`s the aim of bringing somebody like you and other Republicans in to start talking about this stuff now? HEYE: Well, I think there`s obviously a lot of questions about how this is going to proceed. We -- you were playing clips earlier from 1976. It was 1976, 1948, the last two times Republicans have dealt with this, and, you know, I was 4 years old in 1976, so I wasn`t keeping up with the rules back then. So, there are a lot of people need to know with the campaigns exactly how this will move forward. I believe all three campaigns were invited. But also to make sure that, you know, folks like myself who have to go out and answer questions about this don`t sound like complete idiots, that we only sound at least by kind of sort of idiots as we`re trying to figure out the process moving forward. MADDOW: Is this part of what we should see as a public education effort on this subject. I don`t mean to be controlling by saying this, but I do worry about what the consequences might be in terms of people`s faith in the system, people`s faith in the political process if they feel like there`s a grand theft nomination at some point. So, is part of this to try to increase public knowledge and therefore acceptance that this -- about what it might look like this summer? HEYE: Sure. You know, the Republican National Committee, I can`t speak for them anymore, but they put out a video this week. They put together a website,, so that anybody who has questions, whether they as you played the Trump clip care about rules or not, they know what the rules are. And, obviously, rules will change as the way that the convention is structured. The week before -- and this is what, you know, we talked so much about what`s going to happen at the convention. We need to remember that the rules committee meets in Cleveland the week before the convention. Normally, that`s something that nobody pays a lot of attention to. Only the reporters who are plugged into the RNC follow closely, but this is something where it will get a lot of attention. So, it`s important that the RNC starts to, as they have, explain this process. I`d encourage people to go to the website and to watch that video. MADDOW: And I would encourage you if you are planning on getting there for the rules committee in time to book now, because we are seeing hotel rooms in Cleveland fly off a week ahead of the convention because of that specifically. Doug Heye, former communications director for the RNC, Doug, thanks my friend. It`s nice to see you. HEYE: Thank you. And, Rachel -- MADDOW: Yes? HEYE: Merle Haggard, rest in peace. MADDOW: Yes, God bless him, man. Absolutely. Thanks, Doug. HEYE: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. Lots more ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Debunktion Junction, hoot, hoot, what`s my function? Last week, as you know, the lawyer in the D.C. madam case filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court asking that he`d be allowed to release some never before seen phone records from the D.C. madam escort service back in the day. That lawyer, Montgomery Blair Sibley, says that those records, those phone records from the escort service are somehow relevant to this year`s presidential election. So, last week, he said time is of the essence. He asked Chief Justice Roberts to lift a lower court gag order that prevents him from releasing these records. Yesterday, it was widely reported that the Supreme Court had denied that request. No dice, done. Is that true or is that false? (BUZZER) False, at least in the sense that things are not settled and down for sure, at least not yet. Also, that lawyer, Mr. Sibley, is not done asking the Supreme Court to rule on this case. Supreme Court Rule 22 says after you get initially turned down for a request like this, you`re allowed to ask one more time. You`re allowed to renew your request with any other justice on the court. Mr. Sibley tells us today that he is now renewing that application to Justice Clarence Thomas. So, his case technically is still alive at least for now. Whether or not the Supreme Court rules in his favor and lifts this gag order, Mr. Sibley has made it clear that he wants this phone records out there. He says if his requests are denied, he`ll release these files anyway. Already, there`s plenty of speculation about whether one of the presidential candidates might be mentioned in these records. Today, the front page of the blessed "National Enquirer" makes insinuations about Ted Cruz`s name being there, which, of course, sounds raunchy and implicating, right? But the article itself amounts to absolutely nothing. There`s nothing substantive in it at all. Sooner or later, though, the story is going to get settled if Mr. Sibley has these records and they do have what he says they have in them and he releases them, it`s just a matter of time. It remains to be seen whether this thing is going to get settled in the courts or outside of it. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Good evening, Lawrence. END THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.END