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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript, 7/29/2016

Guests: Dan Rather, Connie Schultz

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: July 29, 2016 Guest: Dan Rather, Connie Schultz


Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Joy Reid, you are burning the candle at both ends.

REID: I get no sleep.

MADDOW: That is what this is called. You are going to be just wick, that`s all that`s going to be left.

REID: Just wick.

MADDOW: You are doing a great job, though. You`ve been such a pleasure to watch all week. I`m super, super looking forward to seeing you this weekend. Thank you.

REID: Thanks so much. I appreciate you.

MADDOW: Thanks, Joy.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday. It`s great to have you with us.

I`ve been looking forward to getting back to THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW for these couple of weeks. It`s been a big couple of weeks, it`s been fun to cover, but I`m happy to be here with you.

You know, the 1980 presidential election, at least in that election, in 1980, they had the excuse that Mississippi was kind of a swing state that year. Mississippi went for the segregationist George Wallace in the presidential election in 1968. Then four years after that, 1972, Mississippi went for the Republican, Richard Nixon. Then four years after that, in 1976, Mississippi went for the Democrat, for Jimmy Carter.

So, four years after that, in 1980, it was, admittedly, hard to predict how Mississippi was going to go that year. You couldn`t really see Mississippi in 1980 as a solidly predictable anything for that presidential election.

And in the presidential election of 1980, you`ll remember that Ronald Reagan won the Republican nomination in a walk. Right after he collected that nomination, the Republican Party nomination, that year in Detroit, which is where they held their convention, right after that convention, he and his campaign decided that straight away, what they were going to do is they were going to send their candidate to Mississippi, to Philadelphia, Mississippi, specifically.

And Philadelphia, Mississippi, is not a big place. It`s a little bit out of the way. It`s not the easiest place in the world to get to. But Philadelphia, Mississippi, then and now, still had a national profile. It was nationally known. It was a household name in some parts of the country. Because of one very dark episode in his recent past, which is that in 1964, Philadelphia, Mississippi, is where the civil rights workers, Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman, got abducted in the middle of the night and murdered and buried.

And the local authorities in Philadelphia, Mississippi, not only helped cover up the murder of those three civil rights workers, the local authorities participated in the murders. That is how Philadelphia, Mississippi became, as I say, in some places, a household name. That`s how Philadelphia, Mississippi, became this terrifying, nationally known touch stone from the civil rights era.

And Philadelphia, Mississippi, is where Ronald Reagan chose to kick off his general election campaign for the presidency in 1980. That`s where he went right after the Republican convention that year. He went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, and he spoke at the Neshoba County Fair.

And it wasn`t a coincidence. It wasn`t subtle. There was no subtlety as to what Ronald Reagan was doing there, or the case that he was making, or the voters that he was chasing. He spoke to a wildly enthusiastic all white crowd of about 30,000 people that day in central Mississippi, and he told them, quote, "I believe in state`s rights."

And in 1980, in that presidential election, there was no segregationist George Wallace on the presidential ballot that year. George Wallace had run in `64, `68, `72, `76, but in 1980, first time in 20 years, the segregationist George Wallace was not on the presidential ballot.

So, Ronald Reagan took that provocative to Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 19830, right after he got the presidential nomination, basically to make sure he could mop up any remaining George Wallace vote that might still be hanging around in the deep south, in a place like Philadelphia, Mississippi, that was famous for exactly what Philadelphia, Mississippi, is famous for. And come November that year, Ronald Reagan did win Mississippi. He won Mississippi over Jimmy Carter that year by one point. So maybe that trip was worth it for Ronald Reagan, for swing-state Mississippi in 1980.

Well, this year, 2016, Mississippi is no longer a swing state, to say the least. But this week, as the Democratic Party held its nominating convention for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Donald Trump, Jr. turned up in the other Philadelphia. He turned up this week in Philadelphia, Mississippi, at the Neshoba County Fair.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANCHOR: Democratic National Convention may be under way, but that doesn`t stopping Donald Trump from trying to steal the spotlight.

Thanks for joining us. I`m Emily (INAUDIBLE)

The Republican presidential nominee is sending one of his sons to North Mississippi to help campaign for him. There`s no better place in the Magnolia State to do just that, than at the Neshoba County Fair. WCBI was there for Trump Jr.`s big speech and has the details.

DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: I would ask you who you`re voting for, but it seems pretty apparent.

REPORTER: Donald Trump Jr. spend the day speaking in front of an enormous crowd at the Neshoba County Fair. The oldest child mingled with state leaders and supporters, as well as campaigning for his Republican presidential candidate dad, Donald Trump.


MADDOW: What`s he doing there? When Ronald Reagan went to Neshoba County Fair in 1980, whatever else he was trying to accomplish for his campaign, whatever he was trying to signal by going to the site of the Mississippi burning murders and saying, I believe in states` rights. I mean, at least in 1980, Ronald Reagan had the excuse that he was actually trying to win Mississippi, and that Mississippi was in play. It was a battleground state.

But now, in 2016, what`s the Trump campaign doing there?

As part of his visit to the Neshoba County Fair this week, Donald Trump Jr., he did speak out in favor of keeping the Confederate emblem on the Mississippi state flag. He told reporters who asked him about it, quote, "I`m for tradition."

So, we`re in kind of a weird place, with the official start of the general election campaign, to see who will be the next president of the United States. It starts today. Both candidates have formally won and accepted their parties` nominations, as have their running mates. It`s on. Today is day one.

But for one of the parties, for the Democratic Party, we can see pretty plainly what their campaign is doing, and we know why they`re doing it. Almost exactly like Bill Clinton and Al Gore did in 1992, after their successful convention in New York City, Hillary Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine, they started a bus tour together today. They`re going to do this bus tour. They`ll have multiple stops over the course of today and the next day and the next day in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Ohio. That`s what`s happening on the Democratic side.

On the Republican side, though, this is also day one of the general election, and we really don`t know what`s going on. I mean, while Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine were in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, today, there was Donald Trump Jr. this week campaigning in Philadelphia, Mississippi. How does that make sense?

The chair of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, said just ahead of the Republican convention that what Donald Trump would be doing right after the convention, right after he got the nomination this year, was that he would be starting a nationwide, Hispanic engagement tour.

And that makes sense, and it seems very necessary for the Trump campaign, right? If you memorize no other numbers in order to understand what the Trump campaign needs to do, in order to win this fall, memorize the numbers on the Latino vote. George W. Bush had nationwide support from Latinos that was over 40 percent. That`s how he won his election.

In contrast, Mitt Romney and John McCain, their Latino support was in the 20s and 30s. And that wasn`t enough. They both lost their elections.

Right now, Donald Trump is polling nationwide with Latinos at 14 percent, which means, if you know nothing else, unless this election happens on Mars, Donald Trump will lose the election, because of that number with Latinos. And so, right, it made sense, the chair of the Republican Party announced right before the convention, that what Donald Trump would be doing right after the convention, would be his nationwide, Hispanic engagement tour! Got it.

And in fact, the Trump campaign did schedule a Hispanic roundtable for Donald Trump to attend this week, on Tuesday, in Miami, Florida. And then they canceled it.

This is the headline in "The Miami herald." Interesting diction here. Interesting sort of take on it. Trump`s Miami roundtable for Hispanics isn`t happening.

That was apparently the only public event that had been planned and announced for Donald Trump`s supposed nationwide Hispanic engagement tour. But the Miami event got canceled. They said they`re going to reschedule it, but they haven`t said anything about when they`re going to reschedule it for.

And instead, on that day that they were supposed to be doing their Hispanic engagement tour roundtable in Miami, when they decided not to do that, instead, on that same day, the Donald Trump campaign sent the candidate`s eldest son to Philadelphia, Mississippi to speak at the site of the Chaney, Schwerner, Goodman lynchings and to speak about how the Confederate emblem should stay on the Mississippi state flag.

The campaign is making decisions that are not what the party said they were going to do. They`re not what strategically you would expect. The campaigning structure and schedule is a little weird. It`s a little weird.

Donald Trump did make two campaign appearances today in Colorado. One this afternoon and another rally that`s going on tonight, strategically that`s interesting, because Hillary Clinton`s campaign has announced as of this week that they`re so confident they`re going to win Colorado that they`ve pulled all their advertising out of the state. So, Donald Trump is campaigning today and tonight in Colorado.

But one of the things we`ll be talking about later on in the show tonight is how strange this upcoming weekend is going to be, at least on the Republican side. I mean, on the Democratic side, this is normal. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, doing what you expect them to do, taking a bus tour through two swing states, doing multiple events per day, in Pennsylvania and Ohio. That`s how they spend day one, day two, and day three of their convention. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we know what they`re going to be doing through the weekend.

But after today, Donald Trump has no events on his schedule. And so, maybe, this is genius. Maybe this is, you know, him playing three dimensional chess while everybody else is playing bean bag, or whatever that stupid saying is.

But as of today, day one of the general election, it`s a little weird that that`s what the campaign looks like. Because this is what the forecasters say as of day one. This is ahead of any polling bounce that Hillary Clinton may or may not get out of her convention this week.

But forecasting from the state by state polls as they exist right now, looking at the various forecasters out there, it`s not an exhaustive list, but this is ones I got off my head today, Rothenberg Political Report, they say right now, their forecast is Hillary Clinton winning the presidency with 332 electoral votes. Remember, you only need 270 to win.

The Cook Political Report has her winning with 304 votes. Larry Sabato, who`s the Virginia politics guru, he has her winning with 347 electoral votes. The Princeton Election Consortium, which is they have her winning the presidency with 320 electoral votes.

There`s also a whole group of forecasters that give each candidate a percentage chance of winning. They`re not forecasting this as the percent of the vote that each candidate will get, this is the percentage chance of each candidate winning. And all of them picked Clinton, "The New York Times" has her with a 69 percent chance of winning, 538. Both in their polls only forecast and in their polls plus forecast, have Hillary Clinton winning.

Predict Wise, which looks at the prediction markets, right now ahead of any Democratic convention bump that Hillary Clinton may or may not get. They`ve got her with a 69 percent chance of winning. All of them, all of forecasters now say Hillary Clinton is going to win the presidency in November.

All of them say that Donald Trump is losing, that he`s not going to win in November. So, what do you expect a losing campaign to do on day one of a election that looks like that from day one? Whatever you might expect a losing campaign to do in circumstances like this, what the campaign, what the Trump campaign is actually doing is cancelling their Hispanic engagement tour, taking their candidate off the campaign trail for the first weekend of the general election, and focusing the campaign resources they are expending on the deep red George Wallace territory of north central Mississippi.

It is easy to see what kind of game Ronald Reagan was playing after his convention when he did that in 1980. It`s creepy, but we know what he was doing and why. It`s not clear what kind of game the Trump campaign is playing right now at all.


MADDOW: Time to cue up the fighting gorillas. Hi, guys. Do it! Come on.

Our country has endured eight days of competing speech and speechifying, of politicians and politicking and also Scott Baio, poor guy.

But I believe we have a winner in the slug fest we`ve just been through. Not a winning candidate, not a winning party, not a winning campaign, but a winning testament. A winner for the most powerful moment that will be remembered for years and ought to be appreciated in fall, and that happens next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: In December in Minnesota, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke at a campaign event about Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004. She talked about him at that event.

And last night at the Democratic convention, the Democrats ran a short clip of Clinton making those remarks back in December, in which she explained who Captain Khan was and how he died. After they showed that clip, when the lights came up in the room and Captain Khan`s parents were there in person and they came up to the podium, the room erupted in a prolong standing ovation for them, that lasted over a minute. It was almost hard to control. It washed over them in waves and that was before Khizr Khan even started speaking.

And then he started speaking and he and his wife held it together, and he spoke with incredible sobriety and dignity. But, I think it`s fair to say, the rest of the country, everybody watching, basically fell apart as Mr. Khan spoke. It was a truly, truly extraordinary moment.


KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF FALLEN SOLDIER CAPT. HUMAYUN KHAN: Tonight, we are honored to stand here as the parents of Captain Humayun Khan, and as patriotic American Muslims --



As patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.


Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy -- that with hard work and the goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings.

We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams.


Our son, Humayun, had dreams, too, of being a military lawyer. But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers.

Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son "the best of America."


If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.

Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.


Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution?


I will -- I will gladly lend you my copy.


In this document, look for the words -- look for the words "liberty" and "equal protection of law".

Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending United States of America -- you will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities.


You have sacrificed nothing and no one!


MADDOW: Quote, for all the artifice surrounding politics, for all the self-conscious messaging from politicians, it is sometimes too easy to forget that this is the manner in which we as a people govern ourselves. But every so often, all of the stage craft falls away and we are left with a pure and singular American moment.

That`s how the great Dan Rather saw that moment last night. Personally, it was one of the most stunning moments I`ve ever seen at any convention. But Dan Rather has seen a lot more of them than I have.

Joining us now is Dan Rather, who has covered more than 30 conventions in his career, including this one, this DNC in Philly.

Dan, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.


MADDOW: I was struck by what you wrote about that, but also, what you wrote about it, given your perspective, and how many of these you`ve seen, a singular moment. I was so moved by that moment. I`m still moved by it now, watching it for about the sixth time.

But I was so moved by it in the moment last night that I couldn`t talk for the rest of the segment that we were on TV at that point. I was absolutely gripped by that.

RATHER: I would be very surprised if that were not the case with a lot of people, including a lot of Republicans. There`s a long way to go in the campaign. It is true that I`ve been going to these presidential nominating conventions since 1956. And I`ve seen a lot of stand-out moments. But unique moments such as this, that are chilling and historic, are really rare.

You can make an argument that Ronald Reagan`s speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater in 1964 was one of those moments for some people. I`m not equating them. I`m just saying there are certain times at a convention where you say, you know what, they`re going to be looking at that film 50 or a hundred years from now.

And this was one of those moments. Whether you`re a Democrat or Republican, you had to be moved by it. He touched something.

And it`s so difficult at these conventions. They`re mostly media messaging pageant spectaculars. And it`s very hard to craft moments like that. And every time the politicians try to craft one, it usually fails. People see through it.

But this was so genuine. And I will say that what a night it was.

Look, there`s a long way to go in this race, and it`s a dangerous time for Hillary Clinton, because the polls, as you showed earlier, show her leading the polls, widening out in the polls.

MADDOW: That`s not when she runs at her best.

RATHER: This is a perilous moment for her because they can exhale. They think they can. You need to exploit success. And the test for Hillary Clinton and her forces now are whether they can exploit the success.

But last night, I was struck. I like to think I`m a softie in some ways, but I try to be, you know, a tough-minded reporter. But here`s a night where you had this moment, which came out of nowhere, this wonderful man pulling the Constitution out of his pocket and saying to Donald Trump, you have sacrificed nothing, you have lost no one.

But then later in the evening, this same evening, if you will, I`ve seen all these moments at previous conventions, but there was never a woman standing at the end as the nominee.

And so, again, how are you going to vote in the end? Mark the moment. Because here we had this man and his wife standing, talking about their son, who gave his life in Iraq, and then followed by the very first time in history by a woman standing at the end as the nominee.

MADDOW: I was moved also after I got off the air last night and I was looking at some of the online reaction of the number of conservatives and Republicans, particularly men, who were talking about how much it meant to them to have their daughters or there are other female relatives see that. People who let their young kids, their young daughters and young sons stay up late to see this moment, you know, whether they were there in the room or watching at home.

Do you feel like, and this is somewhere in between your soft heart and your hard-edge reporting, do you feel like her being a woman is more of an advantage or disadvantage? It could be an advantage because it`s galvanizing, historic, and people want to be part of it. It could be a disadvantage because sexism will hold her back, imagining her as commander in chief, or they just won`t want to have a woman president for the next eight years.

On balance, what do you think?

RATHER: On balance, I think she`s the first woman nominee of any party. It`s an advantage, but it`s not enough. It`s not enough. I think her address was good. I didn`t think it soared. That she`s exuded strength. My question is whether she exuded warmth. And to ask the question is not to suggest that I know the answer.

I think based in my --

MADDOW: I`ve never seen a warm male acceptance speech either.

RATHER: You didn`t watch Donald Trump in Cleveland, apparently.

MADDOW: Did you feel cuddly about that? Did you want to give him a hug?

RATHER: You know, I think the key for Hillary, I don`t like to talk in terms of race, but we have to. The key for white women. Mitt Romney got about 56, 57 percent of white women in the last election. If Donald Trump -- it`s been said for months now, if Donald Trump can increase that to above 60 percent, flirt with 60, 65 percent, he will win.

Now, in answer to your question, there will be plenty of women, and not all of them are Democrats who say, it`s high time we had a woman. Good to give her a chance. Good for her.

But I think most women will be looking for more than that, saying, that`s good, but do I think she`s competent? And also, she didn`t touch too much on her record in support of President Obama last night.

MADDOW: That`s true.

RATHER: In politics, as in so many things in life, you are what your record is. And she`s going to be attacked unceasingly on her record. She`s going to defend that record.

So, bottom line, look, she had a great night, the Democratic Party had a great night. It`s not enough, it`s not nearly enough. And if they are thinking to themselves, OK, now the polls are up, and we can sort of coast between now and November, that`s a very dangerous moment.

MADDOW: And however that calculus works out in the end, Khizr Khan created a moment last night that we will remember as a country I think for years to come, even completely separate from this election.

RATHER: Let me close with this. There was last night, there was before, and there will be in the rest of the campaign. There`s more spinning cups than tea cups at Disneyland. And there will be the rest of the way.

But cutting through that spin and getting to such moments, as we saw with Mr. Khan and that moment when Hillary Clinton walks out, and you could see it in her face, after all these years, after half a century, finally, finally here.

MADDOW: Dan Rather is the host of the big interview on AXS TV, sir, it`s always an honor to have you here.

RATHER: Thank you so much, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Dan.

RATHER: Thanks a lot. Thanks for having me.

And an important programming note, Khizr Khan, the father of father of Captain Humayun Kahn, and his mother are going to be on TV tonight. They are Lawrence O`Donnell`s exclusive live guests tonight on "THE LAST WORD", which is right after the show at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. Boy, that is exciting.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: OK, watch this. Ready? This is Jeff Bridges. This is Jeff Daniels. This is Jerry Lewis. This is Jerry Lee Lewis. This is Dillon McDermott. This is Dermot Mulroney.

This is Pope Francis. And this is Jeffrey Tambor.

You know, mistakes happen. Mix-ups happen. We mix people up sometimes. We`re human. Usually, it doesn`t matter.

Sometimes, though, it really matters. Sometimes it makes for a huge political mishegoss. And that`s next.


MADDOW: Once upon a time, there was something called the United States Football League. It only existed for a hot minute. It was founded in 1983. It was dead by 1986.

But for that brief shining moment, with when there was an American Football League, not called the NFL, Donald Trump owned one of the teams. He owned the New Jersey Generals. They played at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. They were terrible. But they were technically a professional sports team in New Jersey.

And so, Donald Trump could be found at the time, in the mid `80s, in his USFL days occasionally hanging out with New Jersey officials like the governor of New Jersey at the time, a man named Tom Kean. It`s pronounced cane like candy cane.

And Tom Kean was a two-term Republican governor of New Jersey. After he was governor of New Jersey, he went on later to chair the 9/11 Commission. His son, Tom Kean Jr. is now the top ranking Republican in the New Jersey State Senate. So that`s Tom Kean, New Jersey Republican, former governor, famous family, distinguished career, and from the mid 1980s, one time political acquaintance of football team owner Donald Trump.

And now, you know what the craziest thing is about Tom Kean of New Jersey? Now, he`s Hillary Clinton`s running mate. What?


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Her running mate, Tim Kaine, who by the way, did a terrible job in New Jersey. First act he did in New Jersey, was ask for a $4 billion tax increase and he was not very popular in New Jersey and he still isn`t.


MADDOW: For the record, this is Tim Kean. No. This is Tim Kaine. There we go.

See, the mistakes, they can happen. This is Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton`s running mate. His name is Tim, his name is Kaine, and he`s from Virginia.

This guy is Tom Kean. Now, he`s not Tim Kaine. He`s the one who`s from New Jersey. He`s a Republican, he`s now 81 years old. Donald Trump might remember him from his New Jersey Generals failed football team years, but Tom Kean is not Tim Kaine. Tom Kean is not Hillary Clinton`s running mate. Different guy entirely. Tom Kean from New Jersey, Tim Kaine from Virginia.


TRUMP: He was not very popular in New Jersey.


MADDOW: This was this week that Donald Trump said that Tim Kaine was not very popular during his time in New Jersey. Donald Trump said that this week during the Democratic convention. He said it five days after Hillary Clinton named Tim Kaine of Virginia to be her running mate. Presumably, it`s somebody`s job at the Trump campaign to brief their candidate on stuff like who he`s running against, who Hillary Clinton has picked as her running mate.

I mean, I know they`re busy, maybe he didn`t get an in-depth briefing on Tim Kaine. But in five days, you might expect them to be able to cover some basic details, like, what is the man`s first name, what is the man`s last name, what state is the man from, and is the man the same 81-year-old Republican guy who Donald Trump knew in New Jersey 30 years ago?

But apparently, the Trump briefing on Tim Kaine didn`t get to that level of detail over the course of him being on the ticket for five days.

And so, we`re here to help. If you go online right now, to, You can do a photo flash card thing, where you can test yourself as to which of these people is Tim Kaine and which of these people isn`t Tim Kaine.

It`s helpful for the other party`s presidential candidate, helpful for anyone. You guys have a hundred days to get this right. Here`s how you can practice, We live to serve.


MADDOW: So, since early this afternoon, "The New York Times" has had this on its front page, computer systems used by Clinton campaign are said to be hacked, apparently by Russians. This follows initial Reuters reporting that as a part of what the U.S. government believes are recent Russian cyber attacks to steal data from the Democratic Party. The Clinton campaign may also have been targeted by the Russians, which of course, is creepy.

But it`s even creepier than you might think, trust me. That story is next.



HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I want to thank Bernie Sanders. Bernie, your campaign inspired millions of Americans, particularly the young people who threw their hearts and souls into our primary. Our country needs your ideas, energy, and passion. That`s the only way we can turn our progressive platform into real change for America!

We wrote it together, now let`s go out and make it happen together!


MADDOW: Hillary Clinton, in her acceptance speech last night, with not just a shout-out to Bernie Sanders and his supporters, but an argument, that the Democratic platform this year was written by Sanders and Clinton folks together. It`s got a lot in it that the Sanders folks really like. And so, Sanders and Clinton folks should now work together to get that program implemented by electing Democrats, like, for example, Hillary Clinton, who is the Democratic candidate for president.

The platform of a political party feels like it is mostly just for show these days. It`s not a binding document. But it does occasionally have real political use. Like this year for the Democrats, they used it to try to keep progressive Bernie supporters invested in the party and winning the election this year.

On the Republican side this year, it was a little different. There were no references to the platform at all, particularly from the candidate himself at his convention. Nobody in Trump land tried to use the Republican Party platform as a way to bridge differences in that party or anything. They basically ignored it.

And it`s interesting, because there are some ways in which Donald Trump has diverged from Republican orthodoxy, now or in the years past, on things like gay rights, abortion rights or some other issues, but when it came time at their convention to negotiate about that platform, about whether Republicans would take a super hard-line stance on stuff like gay rights and abortion, the Trump folks didn`t fight that at all. And the Republican Party platform this year, therefore, ended up being super, super hard line on those kinds of issues. They want conversion therapy to cure people from being gay, and they`re as hard line against abortion as they`re ever been.

Trump himself is supposedly moderate on transgender issues, transgender rights, but his campaign didn`t fight at all when the Republican platform went with super hardcore, anti-trans language in the platform. And, yes, the platform isn`t a binding document or anything. I know it`s not the most important thing in the world.

But this is still -- it`s a little weird that the Trump campaign didn`t fight on anything in that platform. Trump is the nominee. But on issue after issue, the platform doesn`t endorse his policy views. And that`s because his campaign didn`t fight for them. His campaign basically just didn`t flex its muscles to fight for anything or against anything in that platform.

Except for one thing. There was one thing, they let all that other stuff fly. But there was one thing that the Trump campaign jumped on with both feet. They let everything else slide, even stuff that was diametrically opposed to their candidate`s personal views. There was one plank in the platform to which they Trump campaign will not stand for this.

And that one thing on which they took a stand was Ukraine. Really? That`s the one thing?

Thumbnail version, Ukraine and Russia are at war. Ukraine throughout its pro-Russian leader, Russia threw a fit. They took over part of Ukraine and claimed it for Russia. They started an undeclared war on Ukraine.

Putin has been making noises that maybe Russia should take back all of Ukraine and control Ukraine from Moscow again the way they did into the Soviet Union. And in the West, and in the U.S. in particular, this seem as bad thing so the Republican platform, sort of unsurprisingly, had a plank in it, said the U.S. should provide lethal weapons to Ukraine so they can resist Putin, they can resist Russia.

And that, it turns out, is the one thing that the Trump campaign insisted had to be taken out of the Republican platform. That`s kind of weird, right?

Mr. Trump`s campaign chair lived in Ukraine for a while. He lived in Kiev. He was working for the pro-Putin dictator there, the one who got overthrown, and now, the campaign he`s running for Trump for president is taking the Putin side in that fight, even as they don`t care about anything else in that platform.

And in addition to that, the part of Ukraine that Putin invaded and took over and claimed for himself, Donald Trump himself said this week that, hey, maybe we should just call that done and consider that to be Putin, consider that to be Russian territory.


REPORTER: I would actually like to know if you became president, would you recognize Russian territory, and also if the U.S. were going to lift sanctions that are currently --

TRUMP: We`ll be looking at that, yes. We`ll be looking at that. Go ahead.


MADDOW: We`ll be looking at that. We`ll be looking at that. It`s a little uncanny, right? I mean, Crimea, which used to be part of Ukraine, and now Russia says it`s theirs, Crimea has formally invited Trump to come visit. And not the Ukrainian former government of Crimea, the new pro- Putin government of Crimea, kind of the puppet government. They`ve invited Trump for an international visit since he wants to recognize them as Russian territory.

And this is all separate and apart from Trump calling on Russia to mount a cyberattack on the United States to help him beat Hillary Clinton in the election.


TRUMP: Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.


MADDOW: He later said that was sarcastic.

But the Russia and Trump thing is getting a little weird when you consider all of the different components of it. And that weirdness about Russia and some other rattling things about Trump and national security generally, those are now a big part of how Democrats and the Clinton campaign are making the case against Trump. Specifically, how they are targeting Republicans to cross over and vote for Clinton.

National security, the Russia thing in particular, is now a big part of how the Democrats are targeting not just their own base in making the case for Hillary Clinton, they are targeting independents and Republicans who are freaked out by Donald Trump as an international figure. As the Democrats and the Clinton folks attack so much of their message now to the center with arguments like this.

Does it lessen the case they are making for Clinton to true blue Democrats in the Democratic base? Can you pitch yourself to Republicans and independents and to the Democratic Party all at the same time?

Joining us now is Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, syndicated columnist.

It`s great to see you, Connie. I saw you in our cutaway cams all week long at the convention. I was so being looking forward to talking to you. Did you have a good time?

CONNIE SCHULTZ, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Define good. It was fascinating, wasn`t it? It was a little overwhelming but yes, I had a wonderful time. I learned a lot and met a lot of great people.

MADDOW: Connie, you are a true blue Democrat, you are married to a liberal hero, Senator Sherrod Brown.

I wanted to get your take on whether you feel like the Democratic pitch for Hillary Clinton, either on national security issues or broadly, is starting to see him a little bit like a Republican pitch for Hillary Clinton.

SCHULTZ: Well, here`s what I -- I don`t think you`re ever going to peel off the right wingers, right? They`re never going to be whoever is running. But that`s not who we need at this point.

I do think that there`s a deliberate attempt, a good effort, but I want to see what language is going to be perceived from this convention. National security, we know that this has been a concern for mothers, for -- well, at least a decade now.

I remember -- I wrote a column last week about sitting in on a focus group in southern Ohio in 2006 and listening to mothers fearing -- really believing that terrorists could show up on their playgrounds and that`s when I first started to understand how fear can work -- that was the message of the Republican Party and it`s easy to make people afraid.

And when you`re afraid, it`s easy -- for a lot of people, it`s easy to give up control because you want to believe somebody can help you with something you feel is out of control in your life. So, I think the national security argument is going to benefit the Democratic Party because Donald Trump`s dangerous.

I mean, I was listening to -- I hadn`t heard that about the platform issue on Ukraine. Listen to that and think about this man getting national security briefings. But I also -- one of the things I loved, when you asked if I had a good time at the convention, Rachel, after the nomination went in for Hillary, when Bernie Sanders -- that was a wonderful moment and for the rest of the week, I kept asking almost any woman I had a chance to talk to, they want to talk about what happened and I`d ask them to tell them about themselves and why it matters and for the first time since I`ve been a journalist, I`ve been a journalist for 30 years, one woman after another dared to use the word "I" and talked about their own life. You know, when I was 12, when I had my first job -- and just started to talking about what had happened in their lives that made this moment, this milestone moment in our country and in the life of women so important to them.

And I think that is -- I believe this very strongly that this is a way to reach out to those that are not necessarily supporting Democrats, typically, because I`ve always objected to the term "women issues", I think every issue is a women`s issue. And women care about everything. They certainly care more about national security.

They care about -- you know, they watch Donald Trump and they listen about how he talks about women, they listen to him lie, they listen to him just dismiss any questions and they look at him and so many women at least of my generation are thinking, oh, I know you. I remember you. You`re the guy who stood in the way when I got the job. You`re the -- I think that`s where we`re headed with that. I think there`s a lot to be done there.

MADDOW: Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and syndicated columnist, Connie Schultz -- Connie, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here tonight.

SCHULTZ: Thanks.

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


MADDOW: Thank you for being with us tonight. I`m going to leave you now with two things to look ahead to. One strange thing, one awesome thing. The strange thing is that Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence have zero campaign events, zero public events scheduled for this whole weekend, which is a very unexpected way to start the general election. That`s the strange thing to look ahead to.

The awesome thing to look ahead to is interview that Lawrence O`Donnell has scored tonight. That is straight ahead. It is mandatory viewing.