Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: June 20, 2016 Guest: Frank Rich, Dan Gross
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: It`s good to have you back, my friend. Missed you.
HAYES: Good to be back. Thanks.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour. Happy summer. It`s officially summer.
If you are truly a dork for politics, if you`re really into politics not just as a citizen in terms of a responsibility and a person who votes and that kind of stuff, but if you`re also into the spectator sport of politics, if you really just like paying attention to what`s going on in political news, then for you, politics is interesting all year round, right? And when it comes to a presidential election year, you like start stocking up on popcorn and cutting back on your normal nonpolitical social responsibilities a full year before the election even happens, right?
Not everybody is a politics dork but if you are, you know what I`m talking about. And I do not sympathize with your plight, I empathize with your plight. I am right there with you.
For the rest of the country, though, for people who are not politics dorks, the rule of thumb for when everybody else starts paying casual attention to a presidential election is basically at the conventions, right? The conventions happen in high summer, they are designed for TV, they`re basically week-long partisan infomercials for each party and for each party`s presidential candidate. So, even people who just have a casual interest, who don`t live and breathe politics but they`ve got a casual interest, they start to care a little bit around the conventions. We`re about a month away from those conventions starting this year. So, your friends who have not been super into the election, they`ve got about a month to go before they may start to notice what`s going on.
But if you really drill down with political practitioners, if you talk to people who make their living doing this stuff, you talk to campaign strategists, people who manage big, national elections, the people who plan political ad buys and stuff like that, the actual operatives, people who need to make strategic decisions around this stuff, they will tell you that although political junkies care all year long and casual political observers start caring at the conventions, they will tell you that if you really want to reach an absolute majority of the country, if you want to drill down, narrow it down, focus on the time when the election is locked in, everybody knows who`s competing, everybody knows the basic strengths and weaknesses of the two sides, everybody in the country is paying attention even if they don`t care most of the time -- well, that time, if you want to really focus, that time, crunch time, the sprint to the finish time, starts Labor Day.
Once you hit Labor Day, you`re not even -- OK, baseball metaphor, ready? You`re not even rounding third base anymore. Once you hit Labor Day, you have already rounded third base, you have started your dive to slide into home plate. Everything you`ve done for the first year or even years to get you to that point has to be kicking at full speed after Labor Day, right? Your whole campaign is not only in place, it`s going full blast. From the day after Labor Day until the election, that is it.
And yes, it feels like campaigns start earlier and earlier every year. Feels like campaigns in some weird way kind of never end now. But that Labor Day rule, that everybody in the country doesn`t start paying attention until the day after Labor Day, that has been true for decades. It continues to be true now.
And that is why in 1996 it was such a huge, surprising, big, hairy deal when the Republican candidate for president that year, 1996, Bob Dole, he decided the week after Labor Day that he was going to fire the people who are running his campaign. That`s like being in the middle of a diving slide toward home plate and in the middle of your slide, you decide to tuck and roll and turn it into a somersault and start running back to third. I mean, that was nuts.
After Labor Day, on September 5th, 1996, Bob Dole fired the guys who were running his campaign that year. And then just over eight weeks later, no big surprise, Bob Dole got shellacked in the general election. He barely broke 40 percent of the vote that year.
And Bob Dole isn`t the only guy. It`s not unheard of for candidates to fire the top people running their campaign. It actually happens to at least somebody every election cycle. Just this past year, you might remember it was New Year`s Eve -- the New Year`s Eve implosion of the Dr. Ben Carson campaign. December 31st this past year, Ben Carson`s campaign manager and his deputy campaign manager and his communications director were all out all at once.
And after that, Ben Carson did manage to hang on and stay in the race until the beginning of March, but by the beginning of March he was gone.
Back in the 2004 race, you might remember Howard Dean running his very high-energy anti-war campaign in the Democratic primary that year. He showed a lot of strength early on. Had a ton of energy. Particularly had a ton of support from young people.
And what everybody remembers as sort of the bottom line of the Howard Dean campaign in 2004 was the way he screamed into that microphone after losing the Iowa caucus, right? The Dean scream.
What we forget looking back on it now is by the time of the Iowa caucuses, by January of that year, Howard Dean was already working on his third campaign manager. He kept firing the old one and hiring a new one right through January of that year. He was on his third and final one by January, and within a month of hiring his third and final one, he was out of the race.
So, firing your top staff in the middle of a presidential campaign, sometimes that is the last gasp of a campaign that`s about to die. And that makes sense to a certain extent, right? If you`re losing and it`s too late to get a new candidate and it`s too impossible or too late to reinvent your candidate somehow, make them seem like they`re somebody else, in that case, sometimes the easiest thing to do to make it look like you`re making a big change is fire the top staff. Hope that changes things somehow.
Sometimes, it`s just the thing you do right before your campaign dies. But sometimes, candidates fire their top campaign staff and it works. Sometimes, it`s actually a sign of strength and confidence and even good judgment in a candidate that they believe in themselves, that they themselves are the right candidate. They believe they ought to be winning that campaign they`re in. But they know they`re not being well served by their staff, and so, they fire that staff and that institutes a course correction and it`s the right course correction and it pays off.
That happens too sometimes. That`s what happened with John McCain`s campaign in 2008. The summer before voting started in the Republican primary that year, John McCain`s campaign was broke down and busted, totally out of money, nobody would take him seriously, he was nowhere in the polls and John McCain took charge. Cleaned house, got rid of his top campaign people, installed all new people, came roaring back, and won the Republican nomination in 2008.
Same thing happened on the Democratic side in 2004. While John Kerry was facing that unexpectedly strong showing from the anti-war candidate Howard Dean, John Kerry took action in November of that year. November before the voting started in January. John Kerry swapped out his top staff, brought in a new team, and then he went on to win the nomination.
Ronald Reagan did it back in 1980, in a particularly bold move from Reagan. Reagan actually fired his campaign manager not when he was losing but when he was winning. On the day that Ronald Reagan won the New Hampshire primary in 1980, he fired his campaign manager anyway, even though he was winning. He brought in people who he liked better and he wrapped up the nomination later that year.
Arguably, it was even a good move when Hillary Clinton did it in 2008. In February of that year, in her difficult primary against Barack Obama, I think team Clinton had not expected that Barack Obama was going to do as well as he did in the early states and after Obama won three in a row in February, Clinton in 2008 fired her campaign manager. She brought in a new team and then proceeded to take it all the way.
She waged one of the longest, closest, hardest-fought presidential primary battles ever. She did not end up winning. She didn`t end up beating Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008, but she came as close as you can humanly come to doing so without actually winning. So, even though she didn`t win, that shakeup in her campaign I think is probably seen as a good move by her, not a bad move.
So, there`s a lot of history for this sort of thing. And the news today that Donald Trump fired his campaign manager this morning, it is very dramatic news. It has dominated political news all day. But history honestly does not tell us any one thing about what that might mean.
I mean, a lot of Democrats, a lot of Trump critics, were very gleeful today that this shows how badly Donald Trump is flailing in his presidential campaign. That may be true, but firing his campaign manager may also be a sign that the Donald Trump campaign is about to stop flailing. What if the reason they were flailing was the guy who they just fired?
I mean, how much of the incredibly poor management of the Donald Trump for president campaign is attributable to the candidate himself and therefore intrinsic to any campaign staff and how much of it was due to bad campaign management? Because honestly, a "C" student sixth graders could probably manage a campaign better than the Donald Trump general election campaign was being managed.
And I don`t say that to be ad hominem, and I`m just throwing that out there. Just look at the known facts here. If you want to know if the Trump campaign is about to get better, consider some of the details about how bad they are now. I mean, this can be improved upon even if they bring in new campaign staff from a temp agency that rolls over every four days so nobody ever has to get paid benefits.
I mean, look what they`ve got in place now. If you doubt the Trump campaign`s going to get better, think how much worse they can be than this. "The Associated Press" reports that as of this past Friday, the Trump campaign has a grand total of 30 paid staff on the ground. Now, that is not 30 paid staff at headquarters, at Trump Tower, overseeing a nationwide operation of other paid staffers. They mean 30 paid staff in total for the whole country, for this country.
There are 320 million people in this country. That means if you just wanted to divide up the population of the country among Trump staffers, you`d have one of those 30 Trump staffers covering the entire population of Wyoming, Vermont, D.C., Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire combined.
And that is kind of how they`ve divvied up the country, including the battleground states. The "A.P." also reports there is one paid Trump staffer in charge of, quote, "an 11-state southeastern bloc, including the battleground states of Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia." One staffer in total for 11 states, including Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.
In a country with 320 million people, I mean, heck in a country with 50 states, how do you run a nationwide campaign with only 30 people trying to do the whole thing? "The Washington Post" made this I think helpful graph showing the Trump paid staff, the Trump payroll over time, compared to the paid staff payrolls of the Clinton campaign which is in dark blue and the Sanders campaign which is in light blue.
The Trump numbers, see down there on the bottom, looks like kind of a pimple on a large face. That`s the Trump payroll compared to the Democratic payrolls for the Democratic primary thus far.
"Washington Post" also put out this rather dramatic graph showing ad spending in the battleground states. And this is actually what you`re seeing right here on your screen, this is the comparable numbers from 2012. So, this is comparable to now. This is June 2012. This time in the race back when it was Barack Obama running against Mitt Romney.
This shows the eight hottest swing states in terms of what was going on with ad spending at this time four years ago. It`s an interesting story, a lot of the states it was really close. Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire, really close. Romney outspending Obama in North Carolina, you had Obama outspending Romney in Ohio and Florida. Interesting, swing state numbers from the 2012 general election.
Now, these are the comparable numbers from this year`s general election. And this is actually a comparable graph. This is Republican spending and Democratic spending in these same states -- Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, New Hampshire.
And as in 2012, these blue bars represent Democratic spending this year, spending by or on behalf of Hillary Clinton in the swing states, and the reason you don`t see any red bars on the 2016 part of the graph is because Donald Trump has spent nothing so far on ads in the swing states.
So, that`s kind of stunning, right? I mean, it`s already June in an election year. We`re heading into the conventions in just a couple of weeks. Donald Trump has a total of 30 people working for his campaign nationwide. He`s just fired his campaign manager so maybe that means we`re down to 29 today.
And you look at the swing states. Hillary Clinton is running the table. Trump is not even trying to compete in the swing states in terms of ads, which is the other big thing that campaigns spend money on besides people. It`s very easy to look at all of that as a Trump critic or as a worried Republican or as a Democrat or Clinton supporter, it`s very easy to look at all that data and be very smug about what`s going on with Donald Trump.
But there`s a couple of problems with that smugness. Number one, we have no idea if Hillary Clinton`s $20 million plus ad spending in the swing states and the gigantic advantage she`s got in terms of size of her campaign nationwide and in the swing states, we don`t yet know if that`s working.
In the last swing state polling we got in any of states where she`s so radically outspending him on ads is the PPP poll we got last week from Virginia. That poll did show Hillary Clinton winning in Virginia but only by a whisker. She had three-point lead. That`s within that poll`s margin of error.
If ad spending and size of your campaign on the ground, if that was predictive for 2016 politics, then Jeb Bush or Scott Walker or somebody would be the Republican presidential nominee. Not this guy who spent basically 5 cents to win the Republican primary and who made it this far in presidential politics and dispatched 16 other rivals with a national campaign team that honestly could all fit into two elevators if everybody inhaled and you don`t mind squishing up next to the political director guy on your left whose name you can never remember because wasn`t there a new one last week?
So, I don`t -- I don`t mean to be my habitual cloud in Democrat silver lining. I mean, firing the campaign manager in June once you`ve already got the nomination? That is undeniably some sign of desperation in the Trump campaign. It`s definitely the biggest campaign change that Trump has implemented since he started running for president more than a year ago.
Corey Lewandowski being fired has also resulted so far in one other high- profile resignation from the Trump campaign after another Trump adviser gleefully tweeted, "ding dong the witch is dead," when reports first surfaced that Corey Lewandowski was out. That guy quits and that was a bad move.
But you know what, even the circumstance of that guy having to quit too, that itself is a bad sign for the Trump campaign. Not just because of the indiscipline shown by the "ding dong the witch is dead" tweeter guy. He showed undiscipline and that`s bad.
But more than that, considering the fact that everybody on the Trump campaign only found out their campaign manager had been fired when they read about it in the press. Corey Lewandowski was reportedly today marched out of Trump Tower by security. There was no staff e-mail, no staff memo explaining what was going on. Everybody inside the Trump just read about it in the newspaper like the rest of us schmoes. That is not a good sign.
And there are other things about this firing and about what`s going on in the Trump campaign right now that are at least weird if not bad signs of whatever`s going on over there. "New York" magazine and "The New York Times" were the first to report the impetus for firing the Trump campaign manager may have come from Mr. Trump`s children. Really? That`s weird. His kids are the ones running for president?
But then, there`s the Trump campaign`s immediate plans. This week with only 30 paid campaign staffers on the ground while they`re being radically outspent to the tune of $20 million in the Clinton campaign in the swing states, while the Trump campaign is sending out emergency requests for donations like they did this weekend, telling their supporters they needed to raise $100,000 in one day in order to start running anti-Clinton ads, with a campaign manager being fired, with their convention less than a month away, this would seem like an inopportune time for candidate Trump to leave the country.
But he`s in fact about to leave the country. He`s planning on going to Scotland this week to attend to some business matters. We`re going to have more on that in just a moment.
It is a weird decision for somebody running for president right now.
So, there are a lot of things going on with the Donald Trump for president campaign which would seem to indicate that it is being poorly run. But there are two notes of caution here.
First of all, we don`t know if this means his campaign is failing even if it is poorly run. This poorly run, barely staffed, cheap, outgunned mess of a campaign is how they got this far. So, don`t feel too, you know, smug that the Trump campaign is going to fail given their record of absolutely not failing thus far. That`s part of it.
Here`s the other part of it. If you are heartened by the Trump campaign being poorly run, it should be bad news to you that the guy who was running it so poorly has just been fired. If you want Trump to lose, you should have been rooting for the guy who`s been running this mess of a campaign to stay right until the end. Is this actually, with the campaign manager being fired, is this actually day one of the Trump campaign getting their act together? And if so, how will we know?
MADDOW: We`ve got a big show tonight. The great Frank Rich is here live in just a moment. And we think we have found a place where Donald Trump is afraid to go but where the rest of us can go boldly.
Plus, we`ve got the Brady campaign here tonight after tonight`s four no- votes on proposed gun reforms in Congress.
Big show tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s a good man, we`ve had great success. You know, I got more primary votes than anybody in the history of the Republican Party by a tremendous amount. Not by a little bit.
I think Corey`s terrific. I watched him before. He was terrific toward me. Said I was a talented person. And he`s a talented person. He`s a good guy. He`s a friend of mine.
But I think it`s time now for a different kind of a campaign. We ran a small, beautiful, well-unified campaign. It worked very well in the primaries. I think I`m probably going to do some of that. I want to keep it a little bit very much in control.
As an example, I have 73 people. Hillary Clinton has like almost 900 people. And we`re in the same position. So, you know, there`s something nice about that. I got criticized for that. I said, wait a minute, I`ve spent much less money than her and the result so far is the same. I should be credited for that.
But with Corey, I`m really proud of him. He did a great job. But we`re going to go a little bit of a different route.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Donald Trump speaking earlier this evening on FOX News. My single favorite part of that is, "I think Corey`s terrific, he said I was a talented person." So, obviously, that`s terrific about him. He`s obviously very bright, or at least he can see clearly, because I -- it`s amazing.
After the "Associated Press" reported days ago the Trump campaign had a grand total of 30 staffers nationwide in total, one other bit of news there is Donald Trump telling FOX News tonight that he doesn`t have 30 staffers, he has 73 people. And I assume that 73 is not including his children.
But I should probably check for sure before I assume that because who knows.
Joining us now is Frank Rich, writer at large for "New York Magazine".
Frank, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
FRANK RICH, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Great to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: How do you assess this news that Donald Trump, in late June, has fired his campaign manager?
RICH: I think pretty much the way you just did. I don`t think it really means much. As you point out, in history, it`s gone either way when people have had late firings of their campaign gurus.
But also, everything that`s been said about him when he breaks a rule has proved to be wrong. How could he survive attacking or ridiculing the most famous war hero in the Republican Party? Or saying the last Republican president is responsible for 9/11? Or saying bigoted remarks about every conceivable minority group and one majority group, women? And yet, none of it`s made a difference in terms of where he`s gone.
So, this to me means very little. Also, let`s face it -- we know he runs the campaign. This is a guy who has really not changed since he began his career in the late -- when he was in his late 30s as a real estate guy, or his mid-30s. His modus operandi never changes. So, he`s going to make the orders and do whatever the hell he wants.
MADDOW: Do you have the same sort of breaking all the rules feeling about what we think of as political science fundamentals now, right? Like ground game, staff on the ground, and ad spending. Like that`s supposed to be not determinative but it`s supposed to tell you who`s seriously competing. Does that not count either anymore?
RICH: We don`t know. We just don`t know. He got away with a lot of this during the primary against what was supposed to be the greatest Republican field in history. Maybe those 73 or 30 or whatever -- maybe they`re geniuses, maybe they`re all like Steve jobs, reinventing politics for America.
You know, the odds would seem to indicate it`s preposterous, he might as well be using monopoly money for the campaign, he`s spending so little. But we don`t know. He`s defied everything. I think we`re wrong to predict doom because of the usual rules.
MADDOW: Well, the one thing that he has said, the argument that he has made, not explicitly, but sort of on background and implicit, that is part of the reason he doesn`t need to run a campaign nationwide, he doesn`t need to be in all the swing states, he can have one person running North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, and eight other states without any other paid help, he says, don`t worry about it, RNC is going to do it. Like RNC has this big campaign apparatus, bigger than they`ve ever had, let the Republican Party run it, and I`ll just be Donald Trump. I`ll just tweet. I`ll tweet, visit any golf course in Scotland when they have a ribbon cutting or whatever, and the RNC can do it.
RICH: Well, I think he may believe it and I think putting Paul Manafort in there shows that that`s what he thinks because this is a guy unlike the previous one who has long-time connections with the Republican infrastructure, going back to the Reagan years. So maybe he sort of -- Trump has sort of realized, maybe that`s not happening, not getting done, so I`ll put him in a room with Reince Priebus and somehow they`ll figure it out.
But he doesn`t give a damn about details, Trump. He wouldn`t be involved with it anyway. He just wants to give speeches and talk about other people think he`s so great, and congratulating himself after a mass murder. You know, he just wants to have his narcissistic orgy.
MADDOW: There is potentially a big opportunity cost for other Republicans running, right? Because the RNC runs their presidential candidate. But they also have to worry about everybody down-ticket. The RNC has to worry about every federal race in the country to a certain extent.
If they`ve got to run the presidential campaign, then presumably that`s bad news for senators like Mark Kirk, and Kelly Ayotte, and all these other people who were counting on party help for them, not just the presidential candidate.
RICH: Right, it is bad for them. And they`re stuck. They have no power in this situation. And they`re just sort of going to be stuck in the middle of it, in no man`s land.
MADDOW: I can see the glee on your face watching this fall apart.
There is a question as to whether this means it`s completely going to fall apart or whether this means they`re going to stop falling apart and get their act together.
RICH: It could stop falling apart. And we have the convention to look forward to.
MADDOW: Frank Rich, writer at large for "New York" magazine -- Frank, it`s always great to have you here. Thanks.
RICH: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. We got lots more to come tonight, including the four votes in the Senate tonight on gun reform issues. That`s still ahead.
But, first, one more thing, about the Trump campaign and its staffing changes. You may remember in Michael Moore`s movie "Fahrenheit 9/11," there was this legendary scene where the Iraq War architect Paul Wolfowitz slurped spit all over his comb before running that comb through his hair, and it wasn`t like a little dobbly-doo, you know, he like full-on loogied the comb and put it in his hair.
And then there was a second part, remember he had this young staffer, he`s touching him. Young staffer whose job apparently was to help with the spit thing. After Paul Wolfowitz slurped his own comb that wasn`t enough, the staffer put his own spit on his own hand and started touching Paul Wolfowitz`s hair and head as well. Just amazing scene, totally burned into my brain.
Now the Trump campaign has just hired the kid who had to lick Paul Wolfowitz`s hair. Turns out he`s a real person, he`s still in politics, his name is Kevin Kellums (ph). He will be in charge of organizing Donald Trump supporters to go on TV.
Let`s hope he won`t be personally prepping them for each appearance. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: OK, this story think is fascinating.
On June 26th, 1963, President John F. Kennedy gave one of the most famous speeches of his presidency. He was in West Berlin, height of the Cold War, he proclaimed, "Ic bin even Berliner," "I am a Berliner" before a crowd of 100,000 people. And yes, there has since been some snarky concern that technically he was declaring himself to be a delicious German pastry, ein bear liner what is you call German jelly donuts.
But come on. What it really was, was a moving gesture of solidarity to the people of West Berlin, in the part of the world literally surrounded by the threat of communism. Ich bin ein Berliner, one of the most iconic moments of the Kennedy presidency or the Cold War. June 26, 1963.
And then there was the next day. Right after his epic speech in West Berlin, President Kennedy went to Ireland as the first Irish Catholic president of the United States. And in so doing, he blew Ireland`s mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The town has never seen a day like this before. The Irish wit flows like tea. Jokes like people talking like (INAUDIBLE) in Ireland, but they were all in Washington. The president cut quite a figure. And a cake.
This is a pleasant interlude on his four-nation working tour. And who knows, secretly the president may consider it the highlight of his trip. Mr. Kennedy noted he was there to see a few cousins who didn`t catch the vote.
At (INAUDIBLE), where his great grandfathers have sailed, and the ancient borough of Wexford, thousands cheered with the enthusiasm that only Irish men can muster for one of their own. He was made a freeman of the city. Among other things, this would entitle him to a bed in the poor house if he`d ever be after needing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President John F. Kennedy went to Ireland 20,000 people turned out at the airport to greet him when he landed at Dublin. The city threw him a ticker tape parade which may not seem like much until you consider they had never, ever done that before for anyone. It was the first ticker tape parade in the history of Ireland.
Everywhere he went, people just lost their minds. Nuns went wild. Little kids went wild. Commentators called it the country`s biggest moment since national independence. JFK was the first sitting U.S. president to visit Ireland, 1963.
Then a generation later, in 1995, we had the first sitting U.S. president visit Northern Ireland. And this is when the Northern Ireland conflict was still really bad. When Clinton went in 1995, the North was in the midst of historic and serious and somber peace negotiations.
The crowds who greeted him, though, they were not somber. I don`t know how worried the secret service was about President Clinton`s safety on that trip but the news footage from then shows crowds literally pushing back police for a chance to get close -- for a chance to get close enough to maybe shake President Clinton`s hand. The city of Belfast arranged for Van Morrison to be a warm-up act for President Clinton before he lit the city`s Christmas tree. Van Morrison, President Clinton`s warm-up.
In Dublin, he spoke before tens of thousands of people waving Irish and American flags. Look at this in a local paper, "A Bill-ion Welcomes".
Our current president made it to Ireland in 2011 by which time the Irish had already dubbed him O`bama, 25,000 people turned out to see him on the streets of Dublin. In the town where President Obama`s great-great grandfather was from, crowds lined up 15 deep in the streets, 15 deep, in a town with a population of 300.
When President Obama went to the local pub to drink a Guinness, it genuinely looked like 299 of those townspeople crammed into that pub to witness the moment, to witness the drink. They were very, very psyched to have him there.
Earlier this month, Donald Trump announced that he would be visiting Ireland this week as the Republican nominee for president this year. This time, the Irish do not appear psyched to have him. The Irish prime minister initially said he was pretty sure that he just wouldn`t have time to meet Donald Trump if in fact Donald Trump found his way to Ireland. The prime minister later revised his stance to say, actually, he would be happy to meet with Donald Trump in Ireland but only so he could tell Trump off to his face about his, quote, "racist and dangerous" views.
And it`s true, Republicans as a rule, they are not as warmly received in Ireland as Democratic presidents have been. Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush faced protesters on their presidential visits to Ireland. But you know what? At least they still went. They still showed up even if they did get protested.
Now, though, there are reports that Donald Trump is scrapping his plans to visit Ireland this week. What had initially been announced as a Scotland and Ireland trip for Mr. Trump actually has no Ireland stop on the official itinerary. The Trump campaign recently released their final travel plans and they show Mr. Trump appearing to have canceled his Ireland trip. And that is being viewed somewhat triumphantly in the Irish press.
But it conceivably might not be a done deal. The Trump campaign spokesperson told us this, quote, "Mr. Trump`s schedule is still being finalized, we do hope to make a stop in Ireland."
If he does, who knows, maybe the road will rise up to meet him, maybe Ireland will love Donald Trump. Maybe Ireland will turn out for him the way they did for JFK, Clinton, Obama, and set a great standard for how Donald Trump will be greeted all over the world if he becomes the next American president. Ha. Or maybe he`ll just cancel his trip. We`ll see.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: Tonight for the first time since January, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was back on Capitol Hill to cast a vote. In fact, all 100 U.S. senators tonight showed up for work and got themselves counted, which is about as rare these days as a full moon happening at the same time as the summer solstice. That is also a thing that happened today.
And these two eventualities are absolutely unrelated. But we are having what they call a strawberry moon on the summer solstice far solstice for the first time in my lifetime, and senators did show up with 100 percent attendance to vote tonight.
It turns out one of those things was beautiful when it arrived. The other one ended up as ugly as you would expect. And that story is the one we`ve got next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I will admit I was kind of stunned when I saw these numbers. In downtown Orlando, Florida, last night, look at that -- 50,000 people turned out for a vigil, 50,000 people. They read the names out loud of the 49 victims of last week`s Orlando massacre. The crowd, 50,000 people, responded en masse, "we remember them".
Forty-nine people killed, dozens of people wounded. Of the wounded survivors, 19 people are still in the hospital today and four of them are still in critical condition. People, of course, praying for them nationwide.
Today, eight days after the attack, the United States Senate voted no on four proposed gun reforms. Two of those proposed reforms related to people on the terrorist watch list being able to buy guns. Two of those proposed reforms related to loopholes in the background check system that let people buy guns without having any background check.
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy filibustered last week for 15 hours in order to force these votes tonight and he got those votes but none of the measures passed, not the two Democratic measures nor the two Republican ones.
That said there is something going on that`s different on this issue. Tonight, two of the most vulnerable senators who are facing re-election this year, two of them voted for the Democratic amendment that would have made it harder for people on the terrorist watch list to buy guns. Republican Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois and Kelly Ayotte New Hampshire both tonight voted in favor of Dianne Feinstein`s amendment to make it harder for people on the terrorist watch list to have guns, or to buy guns. They voted for it even though it failed overall.
Senator Rand Paul is another Republican who`s up for re-election this year. He voted no on the Feinstein amendment. He also voted no on the Chris Murphy amendment on background checks tonight. But even with Rand Paul, I think you can start to see the tide shifting a little bit around him. Rand Paul, of course, represents the state of Kentucky.
As recently as two years ago in Kentucky, the Democratic candidate for Senate was running ads promoting her Senate candidacy on the basis of her shooting skills. Well, now, just two years later, Rand Paul may have the same gun politics he always had, but Rand Paul also has a general Democratic election opponent out for his own senate seat who`s just out with a new ad lambasting Senator Rand Paul for his pro-guns, no questions asked position. That`s the sort of ad you run when you think it`s going to resonate with voters even in a state like Kentucky.
Congress is not yet acting on gun reform at all, but the politics on this issue do appear to be shifting and shifting fast enough that it`s no longer clear who benefits politically when gun reform fails. Party line votes on gun issues are still basically predictable. But whether those party line votes help or hurt Republicans, that no longer seems predictable at all. When we`ve lost predictability on that, it may mean that we`re rounding the corner toward someday getting federal gun reform.
Joining us is Dan Gross. He`s president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Mr. Gross, thanks very much for your time. I appreciate you being here.
DAN GROSS, BRADY CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, Dan, I know you were at the Senate tonight for those votes. What`s your reaction to all of these four measures failing?
GROSS: You know, obviously -- well, first of all, two of them were bad measures, so they deserved to fail. But two of them were very important measures that would have saved lives and it shows the disgraceful disconnect that still exists between what the American public overwhelmingly wants and what our elected leaders at the highest level are doing about it in Congress.
The very encouraging thing though as you point out is, I completely agree, the tide is turning. We`re in the middle of a sea change. These people are on the wrong side of history just like they`ve been at other issues. You look back and you see, you know, there`s a moment when things clearly started to turn.
And that`s what`s happening right now with the gun violence issue. The political calculus on this issue is clearly changing. So, you know, we feel surprisingly upbeat and optimistic. Obviously, we`re incredibly disheartened. People die as a result of the vote that was taken today or the votes that were taken today and failed. But we`re as hopeful as we`ve ever been about the future on this issue.
MADDOW: There`s been a sort of immunity from public opinion that I think antigun reform legislators have benefited from. I just wonder how durable that is. We just got new CNN poll numbers tonight showing national support for expanding background checks at 92 percent in favor. I mean, we`ve seen overwhelming numbers among Democrats and independents and Republicans and even among gun owners on this background checks issue forever.
Is it -- is the sort of legislative immunity from that sort of public opinion, is it forever? Do those numbers eventually start to erode it?
GROSS: No, we are eroding it, and it`s clear how we`re eroding it. It`s always been about closing that disconnect, and closing what`s been called the intensity gap.
You know, when I first got to this organization four years ago, almost to a person when I would meet with a member of Congress, they would say, you know, listen, I get it, I get how passing background checks has nothing to do with the Second Amendment rights of a law-abiding citizen to buy guns, but I`m getting calls ten to one from constituents on the other side.
Well, during Senator Murphy`s historic filibuster we put in 150,000 calls into Congress in 24 hours.
GROSS: So, we`re flipping that narrative absolutely on its head. It`s for a couple of reasons. One is we`re effectively framing this issue based on our common ground. Whether you love guns or hate guns, you agree that a convicted violent criminal, a domestic abuser, somebody`s who`s dangerously mentally ill, or a would-be terrorist or hate criminal shouldn`t get them. And we`ve been hammering that positioning.
And then the other thing that`s really changed the playing field is social media and some of the organizing tools that go along with it. You know, it used to be the gun lobby would put these memes out there and we would be helpless because of all the money that they have and the national rifle and magazine and all that media outlets that they had at their disposal, you know, and they`d turn into bumper stickers.
But now, I kind of think, we can act like white blood cells because of social media and immediately converge and attack and attack as in the case of white blood cells, toxicity, in this case, the toxic rhetoric that comes out of Congress.
MADDOW: Well, I can hear it in your voice and I can see it in your word choice that you do have optimism, even after losing these votes tonight. I guess part of the success is forcing these votes and getting them.
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence -- stay in touch. Let us know what to expect next.
GROSS: Will do. Thanks, Rachel.
All right. Lots more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here`s something to watch. Bernie Sanders, obviously, is still technically a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. All the primaries and caucuses are over. But he is still in the race.
He says he`s going all the way that convention and one of the things he wants at the convention is that he wants to demand changes in the way the Democratic Party conducts its presidential primaries in the future.
Now, whatever else is going on with Bernie Sanders and his calculation about how to end his bid and his potential leverage over the Democratic Party and whether that is waxing or waning right now, well, today Sanders` quest to change the way the Democratic Party runs its primary. That part of what he`s asking for suffered a serious political blow, and that`s because the Congressional Black Caucus came out officially against Sanders` two big ideas, his structural ideas for how to change the primaries.
Specifically, they came out against the idea of getting rid of the super delegates, and they came out against his idea of opening up all the Democratic primaries to not just Democratic voters but also independent voters, people who are not registered in either party. The Congressional Black Caucus says it is against both of those changes because each of them would hurt minority voters and would minority political leaders.
Now, the Democratic Party as an institution, if forced to choose between Bernie Sanders and the Congressional Black Caucus, it`s possible they`ll go with Bernie Sanders but it is not probable. So, we`ll see how the party reacts. We`ll see who else weighs in on these issues about how the primaries will change. But the CBC being against him is a hard thing in Democratic politics. This is going to be a real test of what kind of power Senator Sanders still wields by continuing to be a presidential candidate.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: We`ve got some breaking news, and I`m actually just still trying to absorb this. I sort of didn`t believe the numbers when I first saw them. But we just get some breaking news, some sort of amazing news from the Donald Trump for president campaign. Today is a big deadline for all the campaigns. This is the day, the 20th day of the month when they have to report how much money they raised and spent last month. So, this is fundraising and spending numbers for May. They have to file these reports with the Federal Elections Commission at the latest by midnight tonight.
Sometimes, campaign release that information publicly way ahead of the deadline, especially when they have good news to share. That`s so we know that Hillary Clinton raised more than $28 million in May. She started the month of June with $42 million cash on hand.
But just in the last few minutes, we were watching for this tonight, but the Trump numbers appear to have which in and they`re almost unbelievable. Let me tell you. Last month, this time when we got numbers from Trump, it was incredibly bad in terms of their cash on hand. Last month at this time, they said they started May with only $2.4 million cash on hand. This month, it`s worse. They started June with only $1.3 million cash on hand. Remember, Hillary Clinton started June with $42 million. Donald Trump, $1.3 million cash on hand.
This is -- I mean, compared to Mitt Romney for example in 2012, Romney at this time in the campaign had $17 million cash on hand. Again, right now, Donald Trump is at $1.3 million.
In terms of the total amount that he`s raising -- this is just crazy. I`m just making sure I`m not missing a decimal point here. In May, Hillary Clinton raised $28 million. For comparison sake, Mitt Romney raised $23 million in May four years ago. Donald Trump just reported that he raised in total for the entire month, $3.2 million, and $45,000 of that for Donald Trump was from himself.
This is -- I mean, we know that the Trump campaign has been preparing everybody to be very impressed by how shoestring this is. But they have $1.3 million on hand to be running a campaign as of June 1st, as the nominee. I don`t -- maybe they`re going to do it by magic. I don`t know.
The other thing to watch for is that by midnight tonight, Bernie Sanders also has the same deadline to release his fund raising and his cash on hand. But these numbers from the Trump campaign are absolutely devastating.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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