Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: May 6, 2016 Guest: Bernie Sanders
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You are not mistaken. It is perfect in every way here, Chris. You should be here more often.
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: It is a great town.
MADDOW: Yes. Thanks, my friend.
And thanks to you for joining us tonight, from Vermont.
Today`s executive order signed by President Obama, it is a stark freaking thing. Did you see this today?
Look, quote, "Executive order -- facilitation of a presidential transition."
Quote, "By the authority vested in me as president by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows. Section 1, policy. The peaceful transition of power has long been a hallmark of American democracy. It is the policy of the United States to undertake all reasonable efforts to ensure that presidential transitions are well-coordinated and effective without regard to party affiliation.
Section 2 subsection A. To facilitate the presidential transition, including assisting and supporting the transition efforts of the transition teams of eligible candidates, it is established that there is a White House Transition Coordinating Council."
And there`s lots of details about who`s on this Transition Coordinating Council, when they meet, who they consult with. At the end it`s basically like, so ordered. It`s signed. Barack Obama, the White House, May 6th, 2016.
Because it`s six months out from there being a new president elected. This thing is on.
The de facto Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, today announced that his son-in-law will be the person who runs his transition planning team. Young man, married to his daughter. Sounds legit.
Today, former presidential candidate and South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he will not vote for Mr. Trump this fall, neither will former presidential candidate and former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, which now means if you`re counting that Mr. Trump will apparently have the support of zero Bushes in his run for the presidency, even though Dick Cheney and Bob Dole both said today they will support Mr. Trump in the fall, Mr. Trump will have no Bushes, he will not have either of the two past Republican presidents.
Super PACs supporting Hillary Clinton just made a $91 million ad buy to run ads in seven states starting next month, running through Election Day, $91 million for Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump. They`re apparently going to focus heavily on Florida and Ohio. They`re going to start in June. They say they`ll dial back over the summer then ramp up through Election Day, $91 million.
Priorities USA has made this huge $91 million buy even though they only have half that amount of money on hand right now. That is how confident they are that the money they need is going to roll in. It also shows how confident they are that Hillary Clinton is basically already the Democratic Party`s de facto nominee.
But the Democratic primary`s not over. And if Hillary Clinton has started running a general election campaign against Donald Trump, what about the other Democrat still in the Democratic primary? Now that Republicans have their nominee and it`s Donald Trump, is Bernie Sanders also turning his campaign to the general election? Should we expect Bernie Sanders to start running against Donald Trump now too?
Well, like Chris said, we`re in Burlington, Vermont. Let`s ask him.
MADDOW: Senator Sanders, thank you for doing this. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My pleasure. MADDOW: It`s really nice to be here at your gorgeous home in Burlington. I would have gone to Guam to meet with you there.
MADDOW: And the Guam caucus is -- you`ve got Guam tomorrow, a bunch of states that look good for you coming up, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon. SANDERS: We think we`ve got a shot in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon, and which are the next three states, and frankly, Rachel, I think we -- you know, who can predict, but we -- I think we have a shot to win the majority of the primaries and caucuses remaining.
MADDOW: In terms -- including California and New Jersey, all those tough ones on that last day?
SANDERS: New Jersey is a hard one for us. But I think we have a good chance to win California and that`s something I very much want to do. We have a good organization there. We have a lot of support and we`re going to fight as hard as we can to win the largest state in this country.
MADDOW: We`ve heard today about the super PAC that supports your opponent, Secretary Clinton. They`ve just made a $91 million ad buy. But it`s a -- it`s general election stuff. It`s anti-Trump and pro-Clinton stuff. They`re not advertising in any of the rest of the Democratic states.
SANDERS: Well, we`ll see what they do in California. That`s what they say. We`ll see what the reality is. We are going to spend a modest amount of money in West Virginia and in Kentucky on ads and we`ll see where we go from there. But our main focus will be on the ground. And we would like to win a majority of the remaining states. And by the way, if we do that, it is possible that we can end up having won half of the states in this country, some 25 states.
MADDOW: Is it within reach for you to get a majority of pledged delegates?
SANDERS: It is a steep climb uphill and I will not be dishonest with you. We`re going to have to win about 65 percent of the remaining votes. Is it possible? Yes. It is a very hard fight. But we`re going to wage that fight.
Look, when I began this campaign a year ago, we were at 3 percent in the polls. We have come a long way and we`re going to fight for every last vote and we`re going to try to win the pledged delegate majority. MADDOW: And if -- I know you`ve talked about this a lot, but I -- I feel like I`ve got sort of two different answers in mind and I`m not sure what your plan is now. If you don`t have a pledged delegate majority on June 14th, which is D.C., is that a time when you would assess and -- and potentially wrap up your campaign, make a decision about what you do with regard to Secretary Clinton? Or would you not assess on that day and go to the convention? SANDERS: We`re going into the convention. Look -- MADDOW: Even without a majority?
Look, if we do not win the majority of pledged delegates, if we do not win the nomination, we will go into the convention with who knows, 45, 48, 49 percent of the pledged delegates? Those are the real delegates that people voted for.
And if that happens, we`re going to wage a very vigorous fight at the convention for a progressive agenda, which says that the United States should join every other major country in guaranteeing health care to all people, paid family and medical leave to working families, raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, being really vigorous in combating climate change, including a tax on carbon, making public colleges and universities tuition-free. That`s the agenda that millions of people have supported. And if we end up with 48, 49 percent of the pledged votes, I think we can win those fights on the floor of the convention. MADDOW: In terms of getting that into the Democratic Party platform, I don`t know what`s in the Democratic Party platform now. And I -- I -- the reason I don`t feel guilty about that is because I feel like the platform of the party is something that doesn`t have a shelf life much beyond the convention. It doesn`t feel like a binding --
SANDERS: The answer is yes -- MADDOW: -- agreement.
SANDERS: -- and no. I mean that`s certainly true. No one thinks that the -- a Democratic president is going to abide by every word in the Democratic platform. That`s for sure.
SANDERS: But on the other hand, it does say something. It does reflect what the base of the Democratic Party believes should be the future of this country. And I intend to do everything that I can to make that the most progressive document that we possibly can.
And I think, by the way, that is the document that the Democratic grassroots people really want to see.
MADDOW: You wrote a letter to the DNC chair today, basically saying that you feel like you are being underrepresented in some key committees in terms of -- SANDERS: That`s not what I feel. MADDOW: -- (INAUDIBLE) that kind of thing. SANDERS: I mean that is the objective fact. I think she selected three of our delegates, and I believe the total number is 60 there.
What we want is a fair representation at the convention. We want our people to be in a position to help shape the document of the Democratic -- the platform of the Democratic Party. When we have three delegates and Clinton and the Democratic establishment have far, far more than that, that is simply unfair and we don`t accept that. MADDOW: And you`re sort of -- the or else that went, with this argument in your letter to the DNC chair basically said that if you aren`t treated fairly, you will demand extensive and as many as necessary, four votes and a floor fight --
SANDERS: We will use the rules of the Democratic convention to make certain that there is a vigorous debate on the important issues facing the American people. All we are asking for here is fairness, not to have the deck stacked against us. So far, the deck is outrageously stacked against us. So, again, if I end up with 45 percent or 50 percent of the pledged delegates, we want 45 or 50 percent of people -- our people -- to be on the key committees. And I don`t think that that`s an unreasonable request. MADDOW: And the kind of fight that you`re talking about though, in that circumstance, is over who gets the nomination or is over who gets the platform?
SANDERS: Well, if we don`t have the votes to get the nomination, we`re not going to get the nomination. That becomes, then, the platform fight. (END VIDEOTAPE)
MADDOW: That becomes the platform fight.
When Senator Sanders` campaign sent a letter to the Democratic Party threatening a floor fight at the convention, that set a lot of hair on fire in Democratic circles. But the senator tells me today that the floor fight he is promising will be over the platform, not over who gets the Democratic presidential nomination. But -- it turns out there`s a but. That`s next, and a lot more besides.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: But let me say this in terms of the nomination --
SANDERS: So, again, if I end up with 45 percent or 50 percent of the pledged delegates, we want 45 or 50 percent of people -- our people -- to be on the key committees. And I don`t think that that`s an unreasonable request. MADDOW: And the kind of fight that you`re talking about though, in that circumstance, is over who gets the nomination or is over who gets the platform?
SANDERS: Well, if we don`t have the votes to get the nomination, we`re not going to get the nomination. That becomes, then, the platform fight. MADDOW: OK. SANDERS: But let me say this in terms of the nomination. We`re going to try to get a majority of pledged delegates. And that`s going to be a hard fight, but we`re going to try to do that in the next nine contests.
But we`re also going to appeal to super delegates. What`s not widely known is that well over 400 of the super delegates who are supporting Clinton today came on board her campaign before I was even in the race, before the first vote was cast. And the point that I make to those super delegates is look, take a look at the polling, the national polling and state by state polling. Bernie Sanders versus Trump, Hillary Clinton versus Trump. In virtually every instance, Bernie Sanders does better against Trump than does Hillary Clinton. And the reason for that is that we are reaching out and winning a lot of independent votes, not just Democrats. You`re going to need Independents to win the general election. I believe that I am the strongest candidate against Trump. And we`re going to make that point to the super delegates. MADDOW: A couple of points on that. You have already articulated that you think that in the Democratic nominating contest, that there shouldn`t be closed primaries, that Independents should be able to vote in all of them. SANDERS: Right. MADDOW: You talked about that very strongly around the New York issue, but across the board. SANDERS: Yes. MADDOW: Do you also think, in terms of reforming the process, should the Democratic Party get rid of super delegates? SANDERS: I don`t know that you get rid of super delegates in their entity. I think there is a role for established people to play. But as I mentioned a moment ago, it is absurd that you have 400 establishment Democrats on board Hillary Clinton`s campaign before anybody else was in the race. That stacks the deck in a very, very unfair way for any establishment candidate and against the wishes of the people.
MADDOW: So you don`t want them to go away as an institution --
MADDOW: -- you just think that they should hold their fire in terms of --
SANDERS: Well, that`s one thing. I don`t know --
MADDOW: -- who they`re going to commit to.
SANDERS: We`re going to think it through.
SANDERS: There should be a role for super delegates, but not the kind of role that exists right now. Today, they have much too much power and it makes it very difficult for an insurgent campaign of the people to take on the establishment the way it is constructed right now.
MADDOW: It seems to me like the other sort of small D, democratic problem in the -- in the way the Republican -- the way the Democrats and Republicans pick their nominees are the caucuses.
And, I know caucuses have a strong history and they have their adherents. But they`re pretty anti-democratic. They`re complicated. They`re for insiders. They are -- they take a lot of time. They exclude, in effect, a lot of people.
That`s -- and you`ve done very, very well at caucuses. What`s your view on them?
SANDERS: The answer is yes and no. Everything you`ve said is true, but there`s another side to that. I happen to believe that we have to really reinvigorate American democracy, not only getting a much larger voter turnouts than we have in the past.
The last general election, as you remember, midterm election, 63 percent of the people didn`t vote. This is unacceptable.
So we need to figure out ways to bring people into the process. We also have to figure out a way to engage people in a very deep sense in American democracy. And what caucuses do do -- you`re right, it does take time to come to a caucus and to argue with your neighbor about which candidate is the better candidate.
But you know what? I kind of like that. You know, I understand there are negatives to it. But I do like the idea of the American people becoming more engaged in the political process. Yes, you`re spending a -- a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. But this is -- you are helping to determine the future of America.
So, you know --
MADDOW: It has its up -- it has its ups and it has its down side.
SANDERS: It has its ups and its downs, right. But I don`t think we should dismiss the caucuses.
MADDOW: Caucus states, you`re safe. Senator Bernie Sanders says he thinks he could win 25 of the 50 states this year, even if he doesn`t win the Democratic nomination. Even if he does try to take a campaign that successful and turn it basically into a reform machine for the Democratic Party, he says caucuses are safe and so are superdelegates.
Me, it turns out, not so much. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sometimes as an interviewer, you must poke. But sometimes, the interviewee is pretty pokey himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I think the American people are sick is tired of establishment politics and economics. By the way, a little bit tired of corporate media as well.
MADDOW: What`s the solution to corporate media?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was awkward. But in a good way, I think. I`ll check and see if I`m still here after the commercial break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: NBC is owned by who?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And I was struck on the night of your Indiana event -- your Indiana win. You said that delegates are going to conclude that you`re the candidate who can best defeat Donald Trump, who we now know will be the Republican nominee, because your campaign is generating the enthusiasm, the excitement and the voter turnout needed to beat him.
But even though you won Indiana, voter turnout there was down 50 percent --
SANDERS: You`re right --
MADDOW: -- from 2008.
SANDERS: You`re right.
MADDOW: And it`s been down in state after state on the Democratic side.
SANDERS: Well, not in state after state. In a number of states, remember, very often, we`re being compared to Obama`s historical campaign of 2008.
MADDOW: That`s the comparison I made.
SANDERS: Right. Where the voter turnout was off the charts.
SANDERS: And yet there are, as I recall, five or six states where the voter turnout in this election was actually higher than Obama`s.
But you`re quite right. In Pennsylvania, it was a disaster. And in Indiana, it was very low. And I think that has a lot to do with the fact that a number of independents ended up going into the Republican camp, which scares me very much.
And I think I would repeat that as the general -- in the general election, we have a shot to win those independents back.
MADDOW: There is -- there -- there is an argument going on within Democratic circles, because I`ve been making this case, basically, publicly, that the Democrats voter turnout compared to 2008 is something that Democrats should probably worry about.
I`ve heard from other people inside the Democratic establishment that it doesn`t matter, the fact that Republicans are turning out in record numbers now in the primaries and Democrats aren`t has no bearing on the general election.
I feel like it`s a sign of worry that neither you nor Secretary Clinton have been able to turn out enough voter turnout to compete with what happened in `08.
SANDERS: I think it is a sign of worry, but I would indicate that we`re up against Obama`s historic, unprecedented campaign in 2008, which brought out unbelievable turnout. But yet we have done, in five or six states, actually exceeded those turnouts.
But here is what the challenge is. In 2014, nobody voted -- 63 percent of the people didn`t vote.
SANDERS: Republicans won a landslide victory.
That will happen again in this general election. Our job is to create excitement, to create energy, to get working people who might not have voted in the past, young people who might not have voted, into the political process. That`s what we have to do.
If there is a large voter turnout on election night, you can turn off the TV, because the Democratic candidate will have won.
If there`s a low turn -- voter turnout, I worry about the outcome.
And one of the reasons why I think I am the stronger candidate is that we have been generating a significant amount of interest among young people and working people, people who traditionally may not have been voting.
MADDOW: So, even if the raw numbers aren`t greater than we saw in `08, you think the types of voters that are turning out --
MADDOW: -- it`s a new -- it`s a new reach for the Democratic Party.
SANDERS: I believe so. And I -- I`ve got to say this --
SANDERS: -- as we go into the Democratic convention, the Democratic Party has got to open its doors to those young people, to those working people who now do not feel much allegiance to the Democratic Party. And that means the Democratic Party has got to be very clear about which side it is on.
Is it going to be on the side of Wall Street? Is it going to be on the side of the drug companies?
Or is it prepared to stand with working families and low income people and demand a government that represents all of us and not just the 1 percent.
When you do that, I believe when you have that agenda, you create excitement at the base.
MADDOW: When I look at your -- your overall diagnosis of the big problem in the United States and when I`ve heard you explain why it is you decided to run, I mean you -- you are the most popular senator in America, according to your constituents. They polled every state in the country and nobody likes their senator more than Vermont likes you.
And you were -- you have a Senate seat for life in Vermont if you wanted it.
And when I`ve heard you explain why you`re running for president, it is this big problem of the economic divide, this new Gilded Age that we`re in, concentration of wealth at the top.
If your political revolution comes to fruition and you get to make the changes that you have talked about on trade, on taxes, on the banks, on minimum wage, on health care, everything, how long does that plan take to fix the problem, as you see it?
SANDERS: I think we can do it a lot quicker than many people think. The key to that is to rally the American people to stand up and fight back. And have a willingness to take on the 1 percent today that has extraordinary power.
But can we break up the large banks on Wall Street and create a financial system where it works for small and medium sized businesses fairly quickly? Yes, I think we can.
Can we make public colleges and universities tuition-free? Yes, I think we can.
Can we rebuild our crumbling infrastructure? Yes, we can do that. We have to do that by eliminating these outrageous corporate loopholes that now exist and help the states and municipalities rebuild their water systems and their wastewater plants, yes, we can do that.
Can we come up with a tax proposal which says to large corporations, you can`t simply put your profits in the Cayman Islands and in Bermuda, you`re going to have to start paying your fair share of taxes. Yes, I can -- I think we can do it.
Now, the trick to all of this thing is that it`s not going to be done just inside the Beltway. It`s not going to be sit -- sit -- it`s not going to occur with me talking to Paul Ryan. It`s going to happen when millions of people are actively engaged in the political process and determined that America is not the country -- should not be the country where almost all new wealth and income goes to the top 1 percent and the middle class continues to decline.
Now, can we do that? Well, that`s tough. I don`t know. That`s hard. That`s hard stuff.
But I think we can. I think the American people are sick and tired of establishment politics and economics.
And, by the way, a little bit tired of corporate media, as well. They want real changes in this country and I think as president of the United States, we can ignite those changes.
MADDOW: What`s the solution to corporate media?
SANDERS: I think we have got to think about ways that the Democratic Party, for a start, starts funding the equivalent of Fox television.
Number two, I think that pressure has got to be put on media to say that you know what, maybe as a nation, the American people are entitled to hear real discussions on real issues.
You tell me, you`re in the media, what percentage of the media discussions in this campaign is about process? Who`s going to win in West Virginia? How many delegates does Hillary Clinton have? What dumb thing did Donald Trump say yesterday? Rather than why are we the only country in the industrialized world not to guarantee health care to all people?
How much discussion have you heard on TV about the fact that the top 1/10 of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent?
That`s the kind of discussion we need and the American people need to be engaged in that. So we have got to demand of corporate media, and that`s going to be hard, because this is against their own best interests.
NBC is owned by who?
MADDOW: Comcast, our overlords.
SANDERS: All right. Comcast is not one of the most popular corporations in America, right?
SANDERS: All right. Et cetera. Et cetera.
And I think the American people are going to have to say to NBC and ABC and CBS and CNN, you know what, forget the political gossip. Politics is not a soap opera. Talk about the real damn issues facing this country.
I was in McDowell County, Virginia, West Virginia, yesterday. People`s life -- male life expectancy there is 18 years less than it is in Fairfax, Virginia. Eighteen years. People`s male life expectancy is the equivalent of Guatemala.
Do you think this should be happening in America? I don`t think so. But we don`t discuss those issues.
So I would hope that the corporate media understands they have a responsibility to our democracy, and without a serious discussion on serious issues, not looking at politics just as a horse race.
MADDOW: As a candidate, you have raised those issues consistently --
SANDERS: Yes, I have.
MADDOW: -- over and over and over again.
SANDERS: Without much success, I must say.
MADDOW: Well, it`s plenty of success. I mean you`ve raised a quarter of a billion dollars, right? You`ve -- you`ve driven the --
SANDERS: No, but I mean in terms of the corporate media, I have not --
MADDOW: Every time you get into the corporate media, the voice of the birds that you (INAUDIBLE) say --
SANDERS: Well, I try to jump in.
MADDOW: That`s right. Here they go.
SANDERS: People want to talk to me -- I -- I know. Sometimes people, they`ll get weird. Some commentator on CNN will ask me a question, of course, I talk about something else, because I think it is important that we do focus on the issues facing the working families in this country.
MADDOW: And clearly, what I mean to say about that is that you have brought that focus to those issues as much as you can through the vehicle of this presidential race.
SANDERS: Yes (INAUDIBLE).
MADDOW: But what you -- when you talk about how things get fixed in the long run --
MADDOW: -- you -- over and over and over again talk about not just yourself and what you want to do, but the movement and the people and people getting engaged.
MADDOW: There is only a very small club of people who have turned insurgent, interesting presidential candidacies into ongoing movements that then had an ongoing effort. President Obama tried and it really didn`t happen with Organizing for America.
The best example that I know of is actually on the right, is Pat Robertson, who turned his presidential campaign into the Christian Coalition, which ended up having a dramatic effect on the Republican Party.
MADDOW: It made them get very hard line on social issues for a very long time and they`re reaping the benefit in the states right now.
MADDOW: Do you have that kind of -- whether or not you win the nomination and win the presidency, do you have that kind of an organizing model in mind?
SANDERS: Well, obviously, it would be a lot easier if I were elected president. I mean just in Indiana last week, where United Technologies threw 2,100 workers out on the street, moving to Mexico, where they`re going to pay people three bucks an hour, after giving their former CEO $171 million severance package, I would love, as president of the United States, to be on the picket line with the United Steelworkers. That`s never happened in American history.
And I think I would love to be on the picket line with the Communication Workers of America, the CWA, who are taking on the greed of Verizon, OK.
And a president can galvanize the American people against the economic injustices, the racial injustices that are currently existing in America. That`s what I would love to do.
Now, if I do not get elected president, are we going to continue the movement and work with our allies?
Absolutely, we will.
MADDOW: Will you form an overt organization of some type?
SANDERS: It`s too early to say, because right now my mind is on the next nine primaries and caucuses.
MADDOW: Super interesting, right? I mean, he`s definitely really invested in the idea of an ongoing movement, ongoing involvement by the people he has motivated, by his campaign. But he`s at this point not working on anything like that right now, at least not yet. But he would love to walk picket lines as a president. He says he wants the Democratic Party to fund a Democratic equivalent to Fox News.
Senator Sanders also turns out to have an active plan in place to stop something else that is otherwise churning on the edge of our politics right now, and that`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I will do everything in my power to make sure that that absurd, hateful proposal never occurs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, we ended up tonight in Burlington, Vermont, which is awesome. You know what happens when you come to Burlington, Vermont? Steve Benen picks you up at the airport.
Thanks, Steve, very nice to see you. Yes.
Also, Steve Benen takes you to the beer store on your way to work. For real. God bless you, Vermont.
But before we got to Burlington we did have to leave New York City. Guess who they parked us next to on the tarmac at LaGuardia this morning? Look, the Trump plane. Literally out our window from our plane.
We were just on a little Delta Airlines, hello, there`s Air Force Trump. Trump Air right there next to us.
Apparently, no party where I go these days, 2016 follows very, very closely. I love it.
MADDOW: Today, one of the great cities of the world, um, the capital of our greatest over -- our closest overseas ally, um, London elected its first Muslim mayor today from the Labour Party.
If the Republican nominee, Mr. Trump, is elected president, the mayor of London would not be allowed to visit the United States.
MADDOW: Under any circumstances, because of his religion.
MADDOW: Which is almost impossible to believe, right?
MADDOW: But it`s -- but it`s true. And Mr. Trump says he not only believes it, but he`s going to do it in his first 100 days.
MADDOW: Do you think that our country has been hurt already by just virtue of the fact that the Republican Party has picked him to be their nominee for president?
SANDERS: Of course, it has. And first of all, A, Trump is not going to get elected president. You know, we, my campaign is running the latest poll ending 16 points ahead of him nationally.
And, B, us, as a United States senator, I will do everything in my power to make sure that that absurd hateful proposal never occurs.
What your question is really asking is, all over the world, people are looking at America, you`ve got the Muslim population all over the world. This is a major religion.
And they`re saying what is going on in -- in the United States? Why do they hate us?
I think that is awful. It`s the same thing going on in Latin America, where Donald Trump refers to Mexicans as criminals or rapists or drug dealers. He is managing to antagonize large sections of this planet against the people of the United States.
That is unacceptable. That is incredibly destructive. And that`s why this guy will not become president.
MADDOW: Did you -- did your campaign change at all, did you hear anything different from supporters, did you get a fundraiser bump or anything when he -- when he got nominated, when that -- when the Republican primary sort of unexpectedly clattered to an end on Wednesday, did you -- were there consequences of that for you in your campaign?
SANDERS: Well, in terms of fundraising, you know, where we got a real boost was after the -- much of the media had decided that our campaign was over, we ended up winning Indiana. We`re probably going to win West Virginia, maybe win Kentucky, probably win Oregon. And our people are saying, hey, Bernie, are you going to fight for every last vote?
And we did actually fight well in fundraising after Indiana.
MADDOW: Do you feel like you need to sort of start running against him, in a way?
MADDOW: Do you need to start running against Donald Trump now?
The Hillary Clinton supporting super PAC put out word they`ve already reserved $91 million worth of ad time, Clinton versus Trump. Is Senator Bernie Sanders also starting to run against Trump now? Or is his contest still just with Clinton? That answer is next.
MADDOW: So this is the part about people getting Bernie Sanders tattoos. Yes, he`s aware. And where those tattoos are going to turn up down the road in American history.
It`s also the part about Senator Sanders running against Donald Trump now, even if the Democratic primary isn`t yet over.
MADDOW: Do you feel like you need to sort of start running against him, in a way? I mean part of -- the reason I ask is just because part of what you said about how this -- your primary may end is basically in you appealing for what a better general election candidate you`d be against the Republican candidate --
MADDOW: -- in the fall. So do you need to start running that campaign against him now?
SANDERS: Yes, we do. And frequently, in our speeches, we talk about not only his incredible divisiveness, insulting Mexicans and Muslims and women and veterans and African-Americans, but we also talk about his economic policies.
And this is a guy who is a billionaire, who thinks it`s a great idea that we give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 2/10 of 1 percent by repealing the estate tax.
This is a guy who wants to end the Affordable Care Act and throw millions and millions of Americans out on the street without any health care without coming up with an alternative.
This is a guy who has horrendous foreign policy ideas. So, yes, no, we do. And we will continue to talk against and the idea that Trump becomes president of this country.
MADDOW: Your proposal on health care, which is Medicare for All, got a big boost yesterday. Two thousand doctors --
SANDERS: That`s right.
MADDOW: -- endorsed the idea in "The American Journal of Public Health."
MADDOW: Colorado voters are about to have a referendum on whether or not that state is going to go to single-payer system.
MADDOW: That was -- that was sort of ventured in -- here in Vermont, as well, but it didn`t end up coming -- coming to pass.
Do you feel like that may happen in the states and that may be how we approach that as a country?
SANDERS: Well, you know, that`s what happened in Canada. You know, that Saskatchewan against tremendous pressure from the medical establishment, went forward and passed a single-payer system. It worked so well that other provinces began to pick it up and then it -- it went forward nationally.
So you`re asking me, do I think if a major state, whether it`s Colorado or California or whatever, goes forward and it works well, other states say, hey, you know, I`ve got a brother over there in Colorado, he`s getting the health care, great health care and it`s less expensive than the current system -- yes, I think that is one possibility absolutely.
MADDOW: When I think about change coming that way, we`ve seen that a lot - - happen a lot in things like the minimum wage --
MADDOW: -- and other things.
SANDERS: That`s right. That`s right.
MADDOW: When I think about change happening that way and I imagine it happening over the course of the next decade, 15 years, I imagine people with Bernie Sanders tattoos underneath their suits --
MADDOW: -- secretly being behind a lot of efforts like that.
You know, and you were mayor of Burlington for eight years. You have been in the House. You were in the Senate. I would venture a guess that there were no Bernie Sanders tattoos until --
SANDERS: That`s right.
MADDOW: -- until you ran for president. But now, there really are.
I wonder if that, um, if you -- you think about your most ardent supporters, the people who -- for whom your candidacy has absolutely changed their life and their view fundamentally about their role in this country. What are -- what`s your hope for them after this campaign? What do you want to see from them?
SANDERS: Well, you know, I was just in McDowell, as I said, West Virginia, the poorest county in this country. We had a few hundred people out to a town meeting. It wasn`t a rally. And you look at the eyes of the people there who so much want to see our country be more than it is right now.
And we have had rallies, 25,000, 28,000 people and it really makes me feel extraordinarily positive about the future of this country, looking into those eyes and seeing hope and a willingness to get involved in the struggle.
So, to answer your question, I think what we have done is make people realize that there is no rational reason why we have so much income and wealth inequality, such a high rate of childhood poverty, why we`re behind the rest of the industrialized world on health care, paid family and medical leave, why we are not doing more to combat climate change.
And if this campaign has made those people realize that they can stand up and fight back and create a government that works for all of us, then I will have accomplished a great deal and be -- am very proud of that.
MADDOW: On the issue of climate change, which you have -- you have put climate change not just on a top 10 list, you`ve put it at the top in terms --
SANDERS: That`s right.
MADDOW: -- global challenges and what needs to be an American priority.
Has President Obama been a disappointment to you on that issue or do you think he`s done everything he can?
SANDERS: No, I don`t think he has done -- he`s not been a disappointment, but I don`t think he has done everything that he can.
Look, we are taking on a Republican Party that has rejected science, where the vast majority of Republican congressmen and senators do not even accept the reality of climate change, let alone the need to do what has to be done to transform our energy system.
The president obviously recognizes the reality and the dangers of climate change. He has tried.
Has he done as much as he can in rallying the American people to demand that we transform our energy system? I think probably not.
I think one of the areas -- you know, when I was a young man, the issue of our time was civil rights. And that`s where millions of young people became engaged.
The issue of this moment, I think, is likely climate change, where the young people understand that we cannot allow the fossil fuel industry to continue to make very large profits at the expense of this planet for our kids and jour grandchildren. And they are being mobilized.
Do I think the president has used that energy on the part of young people quite as much as he should have? Probably not.
MADDOW: When you were a young man, you said civil rights was the issue of your time. Did you have any heroes who were politicians?
I mean, I say I think -- I`m thinking now about the -- your followers today and how strong the movement is in support of you.
SANDERS: Well, my political heroes was not a politician, Martin Luther King, Jr. was an extraordinary leader, because he not only had the incredible courage to take on racism and lead the fight against segregation and for voting rights, he also understood that he had to take on the economic establishment and deal with income and wealth inequality.
And you remember when he was assassinated, he was just -- he wasn`t a, quote/unquote, "civil rights" demonstration, he was working with some of the most --
MADDOW: Sanitation workers.
SANDERS: -- exploited workers in -- in Memphis, Tennessee, the sanitation workers and also was organizing a Poor People`s March for African-Americans and Latinos have poor whites, et cetera.
So, I have an enormous respect for Dr. King.
Also, you know, for Eugene Debs, who was the great Socialist Party leader in the early part of the 20th century.
And also, for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt came in and defied his own class. He was from the upper class. And he transformed what American government should be in terms of protecting the interests of working families.
He revolutionized the role of government and he had the courage to stand up to what he called the economic royalists, who I call the billionaire class today, and look them in the eye and say, you know what, you hate me and that`s fine, I accept your hatred. I accept it with pride because I`m going to stand with working families.
So, FDR was a hero, as well.
MADDOW: The Democratic Party may be about to get a windfall. You just said with confidence that Donald Trump will not become president. And I can`t see the future, but certainly all the ac -- all the -- all the political models say that he`s not a great top of the ticket for them, at least looking from here.
MADDOW: If that`s true, that will likely have down ballot consequences in the Senate, maybe even the possibility of flipping the House, depending on if it`s a wave election or not, it will certainly have consequences in states across the country.
SANDERS: Governors races, yes.
MADDOW: Yes. And so that`s going to be a little bit of a windfall for the Democratic Party if that happens. And it may be a short-lived windfall if it`s just because of something happening on the other side and it`s not about a fundamental transformation of the Democratic Party like you`re talking about.
But if there is a windfall where the Democratic Party basically has a couple of years with room to run in terms of policy, what should be at the top of their to-do list that they can get done if -- with control of the government, which, even if it doesn`t --
SANDERS: What they -- you know, I was mayor of this city and, two years after I was elected, we came close to doubling the voter turnout because we initiated policies that impacted the lives of working people and low income people.
And they looked around them and said, you know what, actually, government can do something for me. And Bernie is actually improving my lives -- my life and the life of my kids.
That`s what the Democratic Party has got to do.
So what do you do?
For a start, you fight for and you succeed in raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour in 50 states in this country. And you`re going to have millions of workers who today are making 9, 10, 11 bucks an hour and saying, Democratic Party, thank you. You`ve made it a little bit easier for me to raise my kids, to live with dignity, OK?
You change these disastrous trade policies and you tell corporate America - - you know what, you`re going to invest in the United States of America and not just pay people in Mexico three bucks an hour. And we start creating decent-paying jobs.
You rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Nobody argues that our roads and our bridges and our water systems -- Flint, Michigan may be the worst, but it is not the only city. Put millions of people to work. Deal with criminal justice.
Rachel, these are not far-flung ideas that will take decades to implement. We can do it if we have the guts to do it, if we have the guts to mobilize the American people to stand up and fight with us for those changes.
Everything that I am saying is supported by the American people. Let`s mobilize those people. Don`t worry about hustling campaign contributions from Wall Street or from the fossil fuel industry. Forget about that.
Speak to the needs of the American people. Mobilize them. We can transform America.
And do you know what?
They will reward the Democrats by voting for them in the future.
MADDOW: I told you there was a lot of news in this interview.
So far, Senator Sanders has laid out his to-do list for states that may turn blue this election, because Donald Trump`s at the top of the Republican ticket. He says if he doesn`t get the majority of votes for the nomination, he`s going to take his campaign to the convention, not to try to finagle a nomination in a floor flight, but improve the party platform in a floor fight.
He`s pledged that as a senator, he will block any effort by a President Trump to implement his Muslim ban. He said he`s not working on a post- campaign organization for his supporters, but he kind of seemed to like the idea. He also said the Democratic Party should fund a Democratic equivalent to FOX News!
But what he`s about to say next, what he`s about to pledge for the fall campaign in this last segment of the interview that`s coming up right next, this thing is about to go off like a rocket in Democratic circles. That`s next. That`s last.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is campaigning in California. She`s in Oakland, California, tonight. Yesterday, she campaigned on a college campus in Los Angeles.
And at that Clinton rally in east L.A., a couple of hundred protesters turned out, including Bernie Sanders supporters, chanting that Clinton should get out of the race, calling her a liar, calling her a warmonger, and in one case, saying she should go to prison.
Inside the venue, NBC counted five disruptions, with protesters removed from the Clinton event. Outside, the protesters shouted at Clinton supporters as they left.
And I asked Senator Sanders today about the contest and the conflict between him and Secretary Clinton at this stage of the race -- really interesting response from him. Watch this.
MADDOW: I have one last question for you, and I have -- we`ve talked about this concept before, but I just sort of want to know where your head is on it right now, heading into these last -- these last primaries.
People who like both you and Hillary Clinton, and who want the Democratic Party to win and beat Donald Trump in November are worried that the two of you will not be pulling in the same direction on behalf of that November goal, that this primary is too hard, that your messages have grown to a point where they`re too different, with supporters, it`s become too acrimonious.
Yesterday, it was very acrimonious, protests --
MADDOW: -- in East LA when Secretary Clinton was speaking with some people who are supporting you, holding up signs, calling her a liar and screaming at people who were there to support her.
SANDERS: Let me just say a word on that.
SANDERS: We have never asked -- and I`m not comfortable with people disrupting other people`s meetings. And I think the right to protest is absolutely right. Go on outside and protest. Bring out thousands of people.
Not my style to see people disrupting other people`s meetings. I`ve had meetings disrupted. I don`t like it.
MADDOW: If they`re not disrupting inside, do you want your supporters protesting outside Hillary Clinton events?
SANDERS: I don`t want it. That`s -- we had nothing to do with that. I mean that`s what people -- you know, we have millions of supporters and people all over the country do their thing. If people want to protest outside -- absolutely, that`s their right to do that.
MADDOW: You`re not encouraging it or discouraging it?
SANDERS: We`re not encouraging people to disrupt meetings. That we certainly are not doing. I`m not a great fan of that.
MADDOW: Let -- I`m -- so let me just be clear, though. In terms of people turning up and protesting outside and not disrupting --
SANDERS: Absolutely. If they want to do that, that is absolutely appropriate.
MADDOW: You`re neutral on the subject?
SANDERS: Absolutely. Why not? That`s what, you know, the -- you know, freedom of speech is about, freedom of dissent is about. People standing outside by the hundreds, by the thousands, saying look, we disagree. I think it`s exactly appropriate.
MADDOW: When I see people standing outside a Hillary Clinton event, though, holding "Feel the Bern" signs, the people next to them holding signs that say, "Liar, Liar, Liar", and "Hillary Clinton for Prison 2016," that is what leads to these concerns that you and Hillary Clinton, worthy as you each may be with -- in each of your messages, won`t be pulling in the same direction for --
SANDERS: Well, let me just say this. You know, Donald Trump represents a whole lot that I passionately hate and I will do -- if I`m not the candidate, I will do everything that I can to make sure that Donald Trump does not become president of the United States. I think he would be a disaster for this country in so many ways that it`s just almost unthinkable that a man like that could become president.
So I will -- if we do not win the nomination, do everything that I can to make sure that he does not become president.
MADDOW: Senator, it`s really nice of you to make time, especially on such a beautiful day in such a beautiful place.
SANDERS: Thank you for visiting us.
MADDOW: We`ll get out of your hair.
MADDOW: Thanks, again.
SANDERS: OK. Thank you.
MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders today, pledging to do everything in his power to stop Donald Trump from ever becoming president. Also wanting his supporters to know that he doesn`t want them disrupting other candidate events, but protesting outside, not discouraging that at all. Just the inside.
Senator Bernie Sanders, Guam tomorrow, West Virginia Tuesday, Philadelphia at the end of the road.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again Monday.
Now, it`s time for a special Friday night edition of "THE LAST WORD" with Ari Melber, sitting in tonight for Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END