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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/16/2016

Guests: Guy Cecil, Yamiche Alcindor

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: May 16, 2016 Guest: Guy Cecil, Yamiche Alcindor

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Thank you for coming here. That is ALL IN for this evening. Tomorrow night, MSNBC`s primary coverage starts at 5:00 pm Eastern, goes for the evening. I`ll be hosting the midnight show, so make sure you stay up for that.

In the meantime, you can catch "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starting right now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend, and thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Sometimes in life, you run into headwinds, literally. This video was taken this morning. This is on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. The top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire is known for its heavy weather. But there`s an observatory right up at the summit of Mt. Washington and two guys who were working at the summit today, working as weather observers, naturally, they decided they would take it upon themselves to take a video camera outside and document what it looks like for humans to be on top of that mountain in the middle of hundred plus mile-an-hour wind gusts. This is this morning. And that kind of footage is amazing, right, for any time of year, any place, any time of year. It`s particularly amazing that this is happening in mid-May. But, you know, sometimes, even in unexpected times, life gives you headwinds. Just ask this guy.

If that guy is not familiar to you by sight, it`s OK, don`t feel bad. He`s only been a U.S. Senator for about five minutes, but tonight he is giving a big high profile speech at one of the nation`s highest profile conservative think tanks. He`s at the American enterprise institute tonight giving a primetime address in an effort to capitalize on what Senator Ben Sasse, that`s his name, what Senator Ben Sasse hopes is his own newfound national kind of prominence. Even though it is unavoidably true that only his friends and family members and staff members could pick him out of a lineup, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska has been getting his name in the paper more recently than he used to, and that`s because he is one of only three Republican U.S. senators who has said that he wil not support Donald Trump as their party`s nominee for president this year. And that has punched Senator Ben Sasse`s dance card a little bit. He`s only been a senator since last year. He does not have much national name recognition. Half the people who have read his name think his last name is pronounced "sassy" instead of "sass", but the fact that he is anti-Donald Trump when there are so few actual elected Republicans who are anti-Donald Trump, that has given Ben Sasse a little umph that has now resulted in this previously unknown Nebraska senator, Ben Sasse, has resulted in him now getting courted personally by Mitt Romney to run as a third party candidate for president. It`s the world`s tinniest political uprising. Ben Sasse for president. Even though it really is only like Mitt Romney and three columnists who are involved in this movement, if you are senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, even this little bit of attention must be kind of thrilling, right?

That said, this sort of movement is facing headwinds. The headwinds are strong on this one. And here`s what I mean. Ben Sasse`s home state is Nebraska and Nebraska is one of eight states that held Republican Party state conventions this weekend. Eight states doing that all on one day, eight states all doing that on Saturday, that`s a lot. One out of every six delegates to the Republican National Convention this summer was chosen this weekend at the state conventions. There were also a few other big Republican meetings that happened in a few other states where they picked delegates, but a lot of the delegates from the RNC were picked this weekend. And what happened at the state conventions this weekend should probably put to rest once and for all the myth that there is any meaningful, widespread, substantial resistance to Donald Trump in the Republican Party. Not only did all of these state conventions and meetings roll over quite peacefully this weekend for Donald Trump, in Ben Sasse`s home state of Nebraska, Republicans there not only rolled over for Donald Trump, they also went out of their way to take some extra time at their state convention to overwhelmingly rebuke their brand new home state Republican senator, Ben Sasse, for his adorable little pointless resistance to Donald Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s campaign 2016 coverage. Now a big rift forming in Nebraska`s Republican Party. Delegates today approved a resolution aiming at stopping what Senator Ben Sasse wants, a third option for president. Today, Sasse`s own Republican Party in Nebraska took formal steps to stop his movement, voting here to adopt a resolution opposing any elected Republican official`s effort to draft a third party candidate like Sasse has done.


[21:05:10] MADDOW: So Senator Ben Sasse tonight speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, Senator Ben Sasse this weekend getting phone calls from Mitt Romney. Not just phone calls from Mitt Romney but phone calls from Mitt Romney telling him to run for president. Ben Sasse is having to have his staff put out thoughtful statements insisting that he`s not interested in running for president at this time but is very respectful of the clamor on his behalf. This uprising of four guys on K Street who want him to run for president, it must be very thrilling. But in the real world, back home in his own home state, his own Republican Party and his own home state, they`re telling him to shut it when it comes to him saying no to Donald Trump. Shut it when it comes to planning any sort of desperate, last ditch, desperate, independent, third party campaign of any kind to try to keep Trump out of the oval office. Senator Ben Sasse is getting lots of beltway attention for being against Donald Trump, but when it comes to persuading, the actual Republican Party at large, or even just his home state Republican Activists to be with him on this. The word here is headwinds. Take a seat on this invisible chair, senator. Don`t worry, it will hold you. It might even blow you off the top of the mountain.

Technically speaking, if you just look at the headlines for Donald Trump right now, it looks like it has been a bad few days for the Republican frontrunner. On Thursday, he had his D.C. summit with the top leadership of the Republican Party in Washington, despite almost embarrassingly breathless coverage of that summit, there was no manifest outcome from that summit at all. There was no result, nothing, and within24 hours, "The Washington Post" had posted online the transcript and audio of a bizarre incident from years ago in which a person who really sounds like Donald Trump appears to use an alias and pretend to be someone named John Miller while he spoke with a reporter from "People" magazine specifically about how many women wanted to sleep with Donald Trump. Although Mr. Trump reportedly admitted to "People" magazine shortly after that recording was made that it was in fact him on the tape pretending to be someone named John Miller while he talked about himself, Mr. Trump now denies that the voice on the tape is his own, and denies that he ever impersonated other people or used false names in business and in the press even though that is something he has previously admitted to, not just to reporters at the time but under oath in court proceedings. He now denies it entirely.

Then that same day, Mr. Trump announced that he has no intention of releasing his tax returns during the election, although every major party presidential nominee for the past 40 years has done that. He just says he doesn`t think he will. But Saturday night, "The New York Times" have published online a lengthy story about Mr. Trump`s sexist interactions with female business associates and pageant contestants and ex-girlfriends. By yesterday afternoon, Mr. Trump had a starring role in President Obama`s commencement address at Rutgers University. And on the one hand, it must be flattering to have a president of the United States talk about you in something like a commencement address, on the other hand, I`m guessing it drives Donald Trump a little bit nuts to know that the way President Obama uses him now in his speeches is as a punch line. Whenever he needs to get a little laughter along with the applause, he goes to Donald Trump.


BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So class of 2016, let me be as clear as I can be. In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue. (applause) It`s not cool to not know what you`re talking about. That`s not keeping it real or telling it like it is. That`s not challenging political correctness. That`s just not knowing what you`re talking about.


MADDOW: That was yesterday at Rutgers University. By this morning, Mr. Trump was in a full-blown war of words with David Cameron. The prime minister of America`s closest European ally, not to mention also the mayor of Britain`s largest city, who Mr. Trump has now challenged to an I.Q. test.


QUESTION: Would you like David Cameron -- would you like him to withdraw the particular comments that you`re stupid, divisive, and wrong with your view about Muslims?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, number one, I`m not stupid, OK? I can tell you that right now.

QUESTION: We have a new mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. He`s the first Muslim mayor.

TRUMP: Congratulations.

QUESTION: He`s been quite critical of you, as you know. He`s attacked you for being ignorant. He says that if you`re president, it would make both of our countries --

TRUMP: Let`s do an I.Q. test. Ignorance.


[21:10:07] MADDOW: By any measure, the Republican presidential de facto nominee has had a rough few days. I mean, pretending to be the fake PR guy, talking about his own sex life to "People" magazine, the tax returns thing, the big pointless summit, the sexism exposee and him getting into this fight with the Mayor of London where the mayor calls him ignorant and he doesn`t know the difference between the word ignorant and the word unintelligent and so now they`re going to have an I.Q. test off to settle the matter? (laughter) On the surface, this has been a bad few days for Republican presidential de facto nominee, Donald Trump. But even right through the middle of this, even right through the middle of this ostensibly terrible few days that he`s having, you know what? The Republican Party, they convene their activists in meetings and conventions all over the country and they just line up behind him, solid as a rock. Whatever else the Republican Party is right now, they are for Donald Trump, and these pitiful little efforts to oppose him, within the Republican Party, at least, they look like the pitiful doomed-to-fail efforts of skinny little weather observers sprinting into 100 mile an hour gales on the top of Mt. Washington. And given the prevailing weather, given this is what the Republicans have been like resisting Donald Trump, here`s my question -- is this also what the general election looks like? Republicans running against him both during the primary and now, in this weird interregnum between the primary and the convention, they have gotten nowhere.

Why shouldn`t that be seen as foreshadowing for how the Democrats are going to fare against him as well? Is the Hillary Clinton campaign going to sitting in that same invisible chair when it comes to running against Donald Trump? Well, we are about to find out and I don`t mean that in the generic sense. I mean that in the specific sense, because we have got some exclusive news here tonight. One of the things that Bernie Sanders has criticized Hillary Clinton for during the Democratic primary is the support that she has received from Super PAC`s. Well, I`ve got news about that. The main Super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton is called Priorities USA. Priorities USA did do a little bit of spending during the Democratic primary campaign against Bernie Sanders, but most of what they have been saving up for is to run their general election campaign against Donald Trump to benefit Hillary Clinton. Now what had previously been reported about this Super PAC, this big Priorities USA Super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton is that they were going to make an absolutely mammoth, like historic ad buy for the general election against Donald Trump. We and others reported that starting June 8, starting the day after the California primary, Priorities USA would be spending $130 million on ads. That is a huge amount of money. I know all big numbers, to some degree, kind of sound the same, but remember, Jeb Bush was supposed to scare all the other Republicans out of the race with $100 million raised. This one Super PAC that`s for Hillary Clinton has already placed ad buys for $130 million against Trump pro-Clinton. Of that $130 million, about $5 million of it was to be mostly for Black and Hispanic radio. About $35 million of it for online/digital advertising. We think that may be the largest digital ad buy in political history. But the rest of it, almost $100 million, was to be spent on TV ads in these seven states, all swing states -- Ohio, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire, Florida.

Before tonight, what we had been told was that that gigantic ad buy was going to start, again, the day after California on June 8. Well, what we can now report tonight is that that gigantic ad buy is still in place, $130 million to be spent between June 8 and the election, the bulk of it actually later. The bulk of it will come between the end of the Democratic Convention in July and actual election day on November 8, but we can now report in addition to that, in addition to that ad buy, Priorities USA has decided to start their campaign against Donald Trump and on behalf of Hillary Clinton three weeks early. We can now report that they are dropping over $6 million for ads that are going to start running on Wednesday, this week in four states -- Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada. Even though the Democratic primary is not over, they`re starting their campaign against Trump now and we have got the first look at these ads that they are going to be running. They say they looked at all of the Republican ads that were run against Donald Trump this year. They focus grouped and tested all those ads to see what might work in the general election and what would not. So some of what they`re doing, you will see in just a moment, has a little echo to those anti-Trump ads that you saw during the Republican primary, but one of their ads which we are also about to show you is something very new that you have not seen at all.

[21:15:05] The Democrats` general election campaign against Donald Trump starts on Wednesday morning. We have got the first worldwide exclusive look at what that campaign is going to be, next.


MADDOW: So, breaking news here tonight. We`ve got an exclusive first look at the Democrats big general election campaign against Donald Trump. The Democratic primary is obviously still underway, but the big Super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton gets to make its own decisions. They had previously indicated that they would wait to start their general election ad campaign against Donald Trump until the Democratic primary was basically over. They had previously announced they were going to make a huge, huge $130 million ad buy to start running ads as of June 8. That`s the day after the California primary. Now though, they have decided to early it up. Instead of waiting until June, they`re starting about 27 hours from now-ish. Their campaign starts Wednesday morning and we`ve got their ad campaign here exclusively tonight, their first two ads. Now these have not been released anywhere. This is the first time they have appeared on TV or anywhere. We`ve got two of their ads. The first one I`m going to show you in just a second. You`ll notice, it sort of looks more conventional, looks like the kind of ads that we saw a lot of different folks try to run against Donald Trump this year during the Republican primary, but the pro- Hillary Clinton Super PAC folks say that they basically benefited from those anti-Trump ads that ran in the Republican primary because they were able to test them to see what messages worked and what messages did not. So one of them is a more conventional-looking ad but it`s got some interesting testing behind it in terms of what might be the most effective anti-Trump messaging. That`s one.

The second one is not a conventional looking ad at all. It`s weird actually but I think it`s probably weird in a good way. We`ll see. This is it. They have never played anywhere before. I`m going to play them both for you now. We`re going to do the conventional looking one first. Here it is, world debut.


TRUMP: Nobody respects women more than Donald Trump, that I can tell you.

QUESTION: Would you cut off funding for Planned Parenthood?

TRUMP: Yes, I would.

You know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?

TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

TEXT: Donald Trump is wrong for us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Priorities USA Action is responsible for the content of this advertising.


MADDOW: That`s one of the two. That`s the more conventional looking ad, just unveiled from Priorities USA based on what they think will work best against Donald Trump. You see echoes there of some of the other kinds of ads that were run against Trump in the Republican primary. But that ad is debut here tonight, as is this next ad. This is from the same group. This one, not at all conventional looking. This one I think they were really going for it. See what you think.


[21:20:11] TRUMP: You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.

Does she have a good body? No. Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely.

You like girls that are 5`1, they come up to you know where.

If Ivanka weren`t my daughter, perhaps I`d be dating her.

I view a person who is flat-chested is very hard to be a ten.

And you can you tell them to go (bleep) themselves --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does Donald Trump really speak for you? Priorities USA Action is responsible for the content of this advertising.


MADDOW: Millions of dollars spent against Donald Trump, did not stop him from becoming the Republican Party`s de facto nominee for president, but those two ads are the start of the Democratic multi-million dollar effort against him for the general election. Will those work any better? Priorities USA will start running those ads in four battle ground states as of Wednesday.

Joining us now exclusively is Guy Cecil. He`s chief strategist at Priorities USA which is the leading pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC. Mr. Cecil, it`s nice to have you here.


MADDOW: First of all, let me -- what I explained there about your spending plan and your strategy, did I misstate any of that?

CECIL: No, that was just about right.

MADDOW: Why do I know all that? It feels a little bit like you`re opening your play book and letting everybody see.

CECIL: Sure. Well first of all, it`s really important that we make ad reservations early because we actually save significant resources by reserving early. It`s one of the advantages that Democrats have decided to use in this election cycle because we still expect to be outspent by Republicans. Sheldon Adelson last week said he was going to spend $100 million alone, almost the size of our entire reservation. So it`s really important that we make those reservations early. And the fact of the matter is, we`re not saying anything new about Donald Trump, we`re just saying it at time when new voters are starting to pay attention. We`re moving beyond the Republican primary, beyond activists and primary voters paying attention, to the general election at large paying attention. And so it`s important that we talk about these issues now as they`re starting to clue into what he happening for November.

MADDOW: And when you guys say that you sort of benefited from the unsuccessful anti-Trump efforts in the Republican primary, obviously they weren`t successful in the end because he`s the nominee. Do you think that any of the anti-Trump effort actually took anything out of him in the primary? And when you guys say that you sort of tested those messages, how do you test them?

CECIL: I think the important thing to recognize about their efforts in the primary is that they were too little and too late. The fact of the matter is, the reason we`re going up now and not waiting until June is because we know we need to start prosecuting this case right away. The other difference is, we`re not dealing with a Republican primary electorate. We`re dealing with an electorate that is more diverse, not only among race but among age. We`re dealing with an entirely new set of people who haven`t been paying attention to the back and forth of this election. You`ll be surprised at how much our research shows most people know very little about Donald Trump. He has 98 percent name I.D. but what people know is a mile wide and an inch deep. They don`t know about his record on women. And so when we tested a lot of the never-Trump ads, we realized very quickly, they really had no idea what Donald Trump had been staying on the stump and what his record had been in business or towards women, and so it`s our job to make sure they see it.

MADDOW: Both of these ads, both focus, obviously, on women, what he said about women and how women may perceive him. Is that going to be a through- line right through the election to you, or is that going to be your sole area of focus or is that just what you`re starting with?

CECIL: It will definitely not be our sole area of focus. This is the beginning. It is not the end. And we know there`s still a lot of education to do, and so we`re going to focus on this issue, but we`re also going to take a look at Donald Trump`s business record. We`re going to take a look at the con he`s trying to pull on his economic record, attacking Hillary Clinton on trade while he brags about making ties in China and hiring people in Bangladesh. We`re going to talk a lot about the impact he would have on national security, which we think will be a really important issue in this election, that people are beginning to clue in on, whether they really want somebody who believes we need more countries with nukes, which I think most people would think that`s not a really good idea. And so they`re just clueing in. The other thing, Rachel, is, most independent Democratic groups have focused solely on undecided moderate voters. Before I got into politics, I was in the ministry and we had a term, preaching to the choir. We`re going to do a little preaching to the choir also. We need young people and people of color, African-Americans, Hispanics, we need folks that are in the working class, in the middle class, to recognize what`s at stake in this election. Not just to convince people that are already going to turn out, we plan on communicating with people who we need to turn out in order to build the type of coalition we need to win, not just in the traditional states, but expanding the map beyond the states that the president won.

[21:25:06] MADDOW: In terms of that choir, are you worried at all about putting off people who are supporting Bernie Sanders right now who don`t think it`s time to turn to the general because they think that Bernie Sanders is going to end up being the Democratic nominee?

CECIL: As you probably know, I worked for Hillary in 2008. She went all the way to the end. I think Senator Sanders has every right to go all the way to the end, and we have never run against Senator Sanders. Our focus is on making sure that whoever the nominee is -- now we think it`s likely it`s going to be Hillary Clinton -- but we want to make sure that we are talking about Donald Trump. That will be the focus of our work, it`s the focus of our ads, and ultimately, it will accrue to the benefit not just of the presidential race but senate races, house races, governor`s races, everyone up and down the ticket.

MADDOW: Guy Cecil, chief strategist at Priorities USA joining us from the bright side of dark money. Guy, thanks for being here.

CECIL: Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

MADDOW: All right. This is going to be a fascinating general election campaign. The Republicans I know are in supposed despair. Some of the Democrats I know are hiding under the bed, but we are about to get to the part of the presidential campaign that involves throwing chairs so at least there`s that to look forward to. Stay with us.


MADDOW: You can boo, you can spit, you can spray your half finished beer around -- sometimes when you want to truly express a white hot righteous anger in a public setting, it takes furniture.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chairs! Oh, my god!


UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Glad we`re in the sky box.


MADDOW: Throwing chairs in significant enough numbers, that`s even a big deal when it happens in wrestling. When it happens in politics, which it did this weekend, that`s kind of a whole new level. That story`s coming up. Duck.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chairs! Oh, my god!





SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: .future of the country is at stake, that when you book me you`re booing Bernie Sanders. Go ahead. You`re booing Bernie Sanders.

MADDOW: California senator, Hillary Clinton supporter, Barbara Boxer, got booed off the stage this weekend by supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders. This happened at the Democratic party`s state convention in Nevada. The booing was so loud and so sustained and so aggressive that she seemed to cut her speech short before she left the stage.

This year, we`re used to focusing on discord and discontent and division on the Republican side of the presidential race, but judging by what happened in Las Vegas this weekend, I have to wonder if it`s not the Democrats who might now need to be more concerned.

Nevada had seemed like a nearly done deal. In February, right at the very start of the primary campaign, Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucuses by about five points, pretty comfortable margin. She led Bernie Sanders by 3 delegates heading into the convention this weekend, where another 12 were due to be decided.

But at the convention, chaos. The whole thing seems to have fallen apart in a hurry. In a debate over convention rules and voice votes. Sanders supports, as best as we can tell, expected that they would outnumber Clinton supporters at the convention.

But then a bunch of the Sanders crowd apparently didn`t show up and then several others missed a registration deadline for being registered Democrats. And then when things didn`t go their way in terms of decisions made at the convention, they were mad about it. They were really, really mad about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of Democracy is this?

CROWD: Recount! Recount! Recount! Recount! Recount! Recount! Recount!


MADDOW: The night ended in that hotel ballroom with reports of chairs being thrown at the front of the stage. Law enforcement came in, shut the whole thing down. The lights in the room ultimately got shut off by the venue.

The next day, somebody chalked the outside of Nevada Democrats` headquarters. Party chairwoman Roberta Lange said she got death threats. The Nevada Democratic Party offices were closed today because of what they described as concerns about security.

Ugly, ugly stuff coming out of the Democratic Party in Nevada, and all of it over essentially a handful of delegates in a state that one of the candidates clearly won at the statewide caucus. I mean for all that -- Democrats are throwing chairs at each other in Las Vegas.

Democrats really could lose in the general election in Nevada if they don`t get it together. Nevada does lean blue, but it is still a swing state.

We were just talking with Guy Cecil from that big pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC. One of the states, one of the few states where they are running their ads is Nevada, which is seen as a swing state.

George W. Bush won Nevada by four points in 2000 and then by two in 2004. Barack Obama won it by 12 points in 2008 but then by half that amount four years later.

Democrats could use a little unity everywhere come November, but right now they are nowhere near getting it in Nevada. Not nearly. Watch this space.





MADDOW: This is my friend Art Robinson. Self-proclaimed scientist. He runs his own self-proclaimed scientific institute in Oregon, which is kind of sort of a family compound. He publishes a direct mail newsletter.

Mostly what he studies is pee. P-e-e. Pee. You can do the job when you`re in town. Right. Pee.

Art Robinson for years has been engaged in a large-scale, long-term direct mail campaign to convince people to send him their urine. He wants people to send him as much of their pee as they are willing to part with through the U.S. mail all the way to his compound in the great state of Oregon. I`ll bet his mailman loves him.

As of earlier this year, his self-proclaimed Art Robinson Scientific Institute was storing 14,000 urine samples in military-grade freezers on site. Art Robinson has also said that global warming is a secret plot to make the American people into slaves. He`s argued that HIV does not cause aids, that aids, in fact, is a government conspiracy. He says we should sprinkle nuclear waste in the oceans not just because we need a place to put our nuclear waste but because it`s good for them.

And most remarkably of all, Art Robinson is the immediate past chairman of the Oregon Republican Party. It`s a position he had until last year, until February 2015. And he once even came on this show, and he and I spoke. We tried to speak I should say. It didn`t work.


MADDOW: One of the things that happens in satellite interviews is that there`s about a 1.5 second delay --


MADDOW: -- between me asking a question and you hearing it. So you can interpret that as sarcasm or interruption --

ROBINSON: Fine, but when I start answering, you know that I`m in the middle of the answer. Don`t you?

MADDOW: -- but it`s actually just the way the medium works. I`m sorry it`s been so awkward for you.


MADDOW: I would like to --

ROBINSON: No, your interruption was not caused by the delay. That`s just the speed of light, madam. It`s much faster than that.


MADDOW: Back in 2010, when I interviewed Art Robinson, he was running as a Republican to unseat Democratic incumbent congressman Peter Defazio. And he has been trying to unseat Peter Defazio ever since.

And since today is Monday, that means tomorrow is Tuesday. And on this particular Tuesday, there is a primary in Oregon. That means my friend Art Robinson is running again. He`s running for the Republican nomination to challenge 13-term congressman Peter Defazio again.

So that`s something to watch for down ballot on the Republican side tomorrow night. Former Republican Party chairman, Art Robinson challenging Peter Defazio. Yes, he would still like your pee. That`s down ballot.

At the top of the ballot on the Democratic side in Oregon, it`s supposed to be a close race between Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton in Oregon. But there is not much polling in the state, and there are some wildcards.

Last year, Oregon`s governor Kate brown signed an automatic motor voter law, which means you get automatically registered to vote in Oregon when you go to the DMV. Secretary of State`s office is reporting that Oregon has a record-number of people registered in that state to vote because of that new law. For the first four months of this year, more than 50,000 people were automatically registered to vote because of that new law.

One other thing about the Oregon elections that makes them interesting to watch and hard to predict is that it`s all mail-in. Nobody goes to the polls in Oregon. It`s a -- it`s a postmark election. Or you can drop off your ballot by hand in a box on the last day.

Either way, ballots must be received by the county clerk no later than 8:00 p.m. local time tomorrow, so that`s 11 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow. That`s Oregon.

The other place where there`s a primary tomorrow, this time just on the Democratic side, is the great state of Kentucky. In Kentucky, we know that Secretary -- former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a late decision to spend ad money in that state. Her campaign had previously decided they`d pull all of their ads out of all of the remaining Democratic primary states, but for whatever reason, they decided to go back into Kentucky and start spending money there.

Secretary Clinton also seems to have decided to go all in when it comes to in-person campaigning in Kentucky. Today marks her fourth day on the ground in that state. She`s made dozens of campaign stops across Kentucky.

Even though people are expecting the race to be close between her and Senator Sanders in Kentucky tomorrow, it`s interesting, today, Senator Bernie Sanders was not there. Not in Kentucky today. Today he was in Puerto Rico. Puerto RICO doesn`t hold its caucus until June 5th. What`s the strategy there? What`s going on with that?

Joining us now is Yamiche Alcindor. She`s a national reporter for the "New York Times." She`s been closely following the Sanders campaign.

Yamiche, thanks for being here.


MADDOW: Senator Sanders is in Puerto Rico and not Kentucky the day before the Kentucky primary. In the abstract, I would take that as a sign that he does not expect to do well in Kentucky. He`s cutting his losses and moving on to somewhere else where he either thinks he can win or has some better reason to campaign there. Is that the right thing to read into this?

ALCINDOR: I think it`s not the right thing to read into it, mainly because when I talked to the campaign today, they said that he had spent a lot of people in Kentucky. He`s talked to at least, they say, 17,000 people. He held four rallies there. He did a bus tour through there. He was making canvas stops. He was stopping at his field offices.

So he`s really put a lot of time in Kentucky. He`s attacked the Kentucky governor, talking about the fact that he was against the Affordable Care Act and saying that I`m going to be the exact opposite. So he`s actually spent a lot of time in Kentucky.

And I think what we`re seeing is Hillary Clinton is stepping it up there because of that West Virginia win that he had last week. While these wins aren`t going to probably change anything, it`s kind of embarrassing, I think -- I would think, for Hillary Clinton to lose in Kentucky. It`s kind of Clinton country. Bill Clinton was elected there from -- won Kentucky twice.

Hillary Clinton won it in 2008, even though she didn`t win the nomination. So Kentucky has supported the Clintons in the past, and I think it would just be really hard for her to loss Kentucky, just to be able to say that, that she lost that state.

MADDOW: That`s why I would expect Bernie Sanders to be trying to run through the tape, though, in Kentucky. Having put in all that effort, especially for him to be gone from there the last day and for a place -- I mean Puerto Rico isn`t until June, right? Isn`t until June 5th. Do they see that as such a big prize that they`ve got to get there now?

ALCINDOR: Well, one of the things that I`ve seen with Bernie Sanders -- I`ve kind of followed him for -- I`ve probably watched over 150 speeches. Sometimes I find myself in a different state, and I`m wondering what am I doing here in Oregon, what am I doing here in Kentucky or Indiana.

But for whatever reason, they kind of have a schedule that they`re keeping, and I think part of it is the fact that he does feel like he`s overcoming this name recognition. He feels like he always has to introduce himself and then kind of go back. So he was in Kentucky earlier this week -- I mean earlier this month, and then he went back this weekend in Kentucky.

So I think right now, what you see him doing is now in Puerto Rico, he`s kind of introducing himself, introducing his idea. All day today, he was talking about the issues of Puerto Rico, which is the kind of the depression there, the idea that there`s a lot of people out of work, that there`s a high childhood poverty rate. So I think what he`s really trying to do is just kind of kick off his Puerto Rico stance.

But I think the biggest prize is still California, which is here he`s going tomorrow, which is where he`s going to be when we hear about Kentucky and Oregon`s results tomorrow.

MADDOW: Real briefly on California. The last thing we heard from him is that he was not planning on running any ads, at least any time soon, in California. Is that still the stance of the campaign right now there?

ALCINDOR: That`s been my understanding. The interesting thing about that is that, as you may know -- I`m sure a lot of people -- I mean your viewers know, he let go of his California State director, because I interviewed him and talked to him about this. He said that he was pushing kind of for more money going toward field offices, more money going toward field staff and kind of the operations on the ground and that he got into this tussle with the campaign who wanted to spend more money on television ads.

So it`s kind of interesting to see whether or not they, at some point, kind of pivot to that way, because that`s why they -- the story is that they departed with their California State director over this issue.

MADDOW: Right. The state director loses, because he doesn`t want them to focus on ads. They drop him, and then they say they`re not going to run ads.

Yes, it`s mystifying. That`s why we need you there every day, so we can try to understand it. Yamiche Alcindor, national reporter for "The New York Times" covering the Sanders campaign closely.

Thanks, Yamiche. Nice to see you.


MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Programming note. Tomorrow night, as just heard, talking with Yamiche there -- tomorrow night is Oregon and Kentucky. Here`s what you need to know about how you`re going to spend tomorrow night.

Chuck Todd`s going to start us off at 5:00 p.m. Chris Matthews will take over from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Eastern, and I will be hosting from 9:00 p.m. Eastern to midnight Eastern. And I`ll be joined by all of your favorites. And then the great Chris Hayes will take over the late shift at midnight into the wee hours.

The reason the wee hours are important is because the poll closing times tomorrow. Poll start to close in Kentucky at 6:00 local time. In Oregon, as we`ve been talking about, voting is done by mail, and ballots need to be turned in by 8:00 p.m. local, which is 11:00 p.m. Eastern. And then we need to wait to start getting results.

So it`s going to be a late night. It`s going to be a fun night. I`ll probably be up all night tonight waiting for it to start.

In the meantime, though, can we bring back the windy video? Right. OK.

So we used this video earlier in the show, super high winds at the top of Mt. Washington this morning, as a metaphor -- as a metaphor for Republican efforts to go against Donald Trump so far. Well, tonight, we have for you a far less metaphorical news, a bit of far less metaphorical news of what happens when the wind wins against our founding fathers. That`s coming up. Stay with us.


OK. Yesterday in Boston, an eight-foot tall bronze statue of Benjamin Franklin, which stood in the courtyard of Boston`s old city hall, it got knocked down by high winds. A wind gust hurled some sort of tent into the statue of Ben Franklin, and that sent our bifocaled founding father crashing to the ground from atop the giant plinth on which he was mounted at Boston`s old city hall.

Apparently, though, Ben Franklin was not going down without a fight, because he hit the cement with such force that he cracked the sidewalk. Look. He shattered the stone with his head.

But you know what? It`s one thing to have high winds. It`s one thing to have winds so high that a statue that`s stood for 100 years topples right over. It`s one thing to have winds so strong that that statue hits the ground and destroys the sidewalk. But it is quite another thing to have this poor guy, these -- well, yes, to have -- yes, this is -- look. Do you see what`s wrong there?

The people who had the clean -- the poor people -- the city of Boston. What do they -- somebody had to go pack up the father of the Constitution in a body bag. That`s how they cleaned him up. That statue has stood since 1856. Because of those high winds, the whole schlemiel schlimazel had to be dragged out of the courtyard wrapped up in a makeshift body bag that they fashioned out of garbage bags and duct tape.

I bet he always thought it was going to be lightning that got him.


MADDOW: All right, this one starts somewhere kind of normal, but it ends with the best new thing in the world. All right?

Today, jury selection started in the federal corruption trial of somebody named Mike Hubbard. Mike Hubbard is the speaker of the House in the great state of Alabama. His corruption trial is taking place in his home district. It`s an area he`s represented in Alabama`s legislature since 1998.

Right before the elections in 2014, so right before the last elections, October 2014, Mike Hubbard was indicted on 23 felony corruption charges. That was in October. The election was in November. Twenty-three felony corruption charges.

His home district reelected him anyway. Ta-da! So it`s been an interesting turn of the speakership. Right?

Well, during today`s jury selection, four potential jurors said they knew Mike Hubbard personally. If the whole jury pool is that well connected, as he gets tried in his home district, it may also get really awkward when the sitting governor Alabama is also called to testify in this case.

Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama is now facing his own impeachment proceedings, as well as multiple state and federal criminal investigations, all springing from his alleged affair with one of his staffers. But now the governor joins 18 sitting state legislators as potential witnesses for the prosecution who have been subpoenaed to testify in this trial of the sitting speaker of the House.

So this is Alabama government right now. Right? I mean in Alabama`s government, like all other governments that we`ve got, including the federal one, we`ve got an executive branch, a legislative branch and a judicial branch. All three are in crisis.

The governor, head of the executive branch, he`s like -- as I said, facing impeachment in the House, and he now has to testify at the corruption trial of the speaker of the House. If the speaker is convicted, he will have his appeal heard at the Alabama Supreme Court, which is also in crisis, because the Alabama Supreme Court just lost its chief judge to an ethics scandal involving gay rights where the chief judge of the Alabama Supreme Court told people throughout the state, told people in the judiciary throughout the state they should disregard all higher court rulings on the issue of gay rights and just do what he says instead.

The governor may ultimately have to appoint a new chief justice to replace Roy Moore. But if the governor has to do that, he`d better hurry, because it`s going to be a hard thing to do once he`s being impeached, right, by the House speaker whose trial he`s just been subpoenaed to testify in.

That`s the mess in Alabama right now. Just astonishing. Right? All three branches of government simultaneously blowing up. Speaker of the House, chief judge of the Supreme Court and the governor, all simultaneously exploding.

Happily, though, Alabama also brings us our best new thing in the world today. Last week we introduced you on this show to an Alabama born and bred drag queen performer called, "Ambrosia Starling." For months, she has been one of the leading voices in the state, calling for the removal of the state`s chief justice due to his weird anti-gay stance.

And since Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended and thrown off the bench in this ethics scandal, he has blamed the drag queen. He has blamed Ambrosia Starling for this whole mess he`s in. He`s obsessed with her.

But now, now with the chief justice and the speaker and the governor all blowing up, my dreams have come true. Because it turns out Ambrosia Starling is thinking about running for governor.


AMBROSIA STARLING, DRAG QUEEN PERFORMER: If you want Ambrosia Starling for governor and you think that that`s what it`s going to take, baby, I am on there and all for it. But between now and then, you remember, (INAUDIBLE). If you don`t ever see me again and they were never looking at me with these cameras. Liberty and justice is for all, not some.

MATTHEWS: Starling says her only political agenda is three words -- have good manners.


MADDOW: "Have good manners" is her political camapaign. Ambrosia Starling considering a run for Alabama governor. Alabama might need a new governor soon. Obviously that`s the best new thing in the world today.

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.