Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: August 5, 2016 Guest: Wendy Sherman, Larry Sabato
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Good evening to you, Chris. Thanks for that.
Thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. Rachel has the night off.
And right now, we are watching Donald Trump. He`s speaking live in Green Bay, Wisconsin. And the big questions coming in before Donald Trump took the stage tonight is, was Trump actually going to go forward with endorsing Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, in his Republican primary in the House next Tuesday.
Earlier this week, Trump was not ready to do that. Just moments ago, though, he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will have disagreements. But we will disagree as friends and never stop working together toward victory, and very importantly, toward real change. So, in our shared mission, to make America great again, I support and endorse our speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Paul Ryan, good. He`s a good man. He`s a good man and he`s a good guy. And he may disagree on a couple of things, but mostly we agree and we`re going to get it done and we`re going to do a lot of wonderful things.
He`s a good man. And while I`m at it, I hold in the highest esteem Senator John McCain. For his service to our country, in uniform and in public office, and I fully support and endorse his re-election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Again, that was just moments ago in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Donald Trump not just endorsing Paul Ryan, the House speaker there, also Trump offering his endorsement for John McCain in his re-election bid to the Senate in Arizona. He also gave one to Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. She`s in a very difficult reelection race there as well. Donald Trump endorsing all three of them publicly. Also, you could see there, Trump reading that from a statement, staring down at the paper for most of those remarks we just showed you.
Now, notably, Paul Ryan, the House speaker who did get Donald Trump`s endorsement tonight, he was nowhere to be seen at this Trump rally tonight. And for that matter, also not there, Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin.
Ron Johnson, he`s a senator from Wisconsin, a Republican. He`s up for re- election this fall. He`s in a very, very difficult race. It`s a rematch of his 2010 race against Democrat Russ Feingold.
So, Ryan, as we mentioned, he is facing a primary challenge next Tuesday in his district. He`s being challenged by a man named Paul Nehlen.
There`s a new poll out tonight in that race shows Paul Ryan leading Nehlen by 66 points. So, Paul Ryan probably doesn`t need the endorsement of Donald Trump to hold on to his seat in that primary next week.
But this whole thing, this whole thing leading up to what Donald Trump just said a few minutes ago has become a major spectacle this week. Think about it, you have the Republican nominee for president of the United States essentially launching a public stand-off with the Republican speaker of the House at the height of a presidential campaign.
And backstory to this, you`re probably with it, Ryan formally endorsed Trump back in June when Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee. But Ryan has also made his discomfort with many of Trump`s comments and proposals very clear. And when Ryan weighed in on Trump`s war of words with the family of a slain American soldier earlier this week, that`s when Trump announced that he was, quote, just not quite there yet on endorsing Paul Ryan.
This was just a couple days ago. Trump saying, quote, "I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership, and I`m just not quite there yet. I`m not quite there yet."
That was just a couple days ago. When Trump said that, it sent shockwaves through the Republican establishment and created a major story about Republican party disunity in the middle of what was already a brutal week for Donald Trump. In fact, Donald Trump`s non-endorsement of Ryan happened on the same day that President Obama hammered Trump in a White House press conference for being far too prone to gaffes to be president.
The president saying, quote, "This isn`t a situation where you have an episodic gaffe. This is daily and weekly." That`s President Obama on Donald Trump there earlier this week.
President Obama, of course, is not particularly known for making gaffes of his own. You can say, the eight years of his presidency, whatever you think of him, they`ve been pretty much free of gaffes. But he has made a few along the way. Arguably, in fact, the biggest gaffe that Barack Obama ever made came not when he was president, but when he was a candidate for president. You had to go back a little bit more than eight years ago.
April 2008, Barack Obama, then a U.S. senator, competing against Hillary Clinton, just weeks before the Pennsylvania primary. At a private fund- raiser in San Francisco, Obama was describing his lack of appeal, the struggle he was experiencing at that time to connect to blue collar white voters.
That`s a big constituency in Pennsylvania. And it was at that fund-raiser in San Francisco, in comments he did not know that were being recorded that he made what became one of his most infamous comments as a politician, when he described some Pennsylvania voters as being bitter and clinging to their guns and their religion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2008)
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the job have been gone now for 25 years and nothing`s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate and they have not.
So, it`s not surprising then that they get bitter and they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren`t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Bitter people clinging to guns or religion. Remember when that happened? When those comments were posted online by "The Huffington Post", the political blowback was major for Barack Obama. Obama`s remarks were immediately pounced on by his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I saw in the media, it`s being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that`s not my experience. Pennsylvanians don`t need a president who looks down on them.
They seem kind of elitist and out of touch in talking about people who live in small towns and rural areas throughout America.
The people of faith whom I know don`t cling to religion because they`re bitter. In fact, they embrace their faith because it gives them so much in return, the spiritual rewards of faith and belief.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KORNACKI: That was Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries back in 2008. That feels like a lifetime ago now. But it wasn`t just Hillary Clinton who went after Barack Obama for those comments. When he ran against John McCain in the general election, McCain brought the comments up too. By that time, McCain was, of course, the Republican nominee.
His campaign said that Obama`s comments showed an elitism and condescension toward hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking. In an uproar over his clear misstep, his clear gaffe, Barack Obama went on to lose the Pennsylvania primary in April 2008. He lost to Hillary Clinton by ten points.
If you look at the map, the results from that particular Democratic primary in 2008, you see it right there, the only place really in the state of Pennsylvania there where Obama cleaned up, it was in the southeastern corner of the state, it`s in Philadelphia and the areas right around Philadelphia, some of those surrounding suburbs there. The only places he really didn`t get wiped out.
Seven months later, seven months after that primary, though, Obama did carry Pennsylvania in the general election. In fact, he carried it by a pretty strong margin. He beat John McCain by 11 points in the general election in 2008.
But, again, look at the map. While McCain won most of the county, if you just add them up, McCain took most of the Pennsylvania counties, Barack Obama had overwhelming strength again, right there, the southeastern corner of the state. You`ve got Philadelphia, you`ve got the Philadelphia suburbs. That is really where Barack Obama`s margin came from in 2008.
Four years later, Barack Obama wins Pennsylvania again. This time he beats Mitt Romney. And again you can see it there, the strength, Philadelphia, the Philadelphia suburbs, the southeastern corner of the state.
But the Republicans did make progress in 2012 in Pennsylvania. That 11- point margin from 2008, it was cut in half. Barack Obama won it by just five points. Now this year, Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, he has been making noise about winning a lot of states, but none of them more than Pennsylvania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I won the elections in landslides. You know, very important to say. I mean, you look at these elections. We go to New York, we win almost 62 percent of the vote with three people running. We then go to Pennsylvania, which is going to be, I think, a state that we`re going to do amazingly well.
You know, Hillary Clinton wants to put the coal miners out of business. They want to put the steel mills out of business. I think I`m going to win Pennsylvania easily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right, and while we were playing that clip of Donald Trump, I sprinted over here to the big board, because we want to talk about what`s happening in Pennsylvania right now. In that part of the state that I`m talking about, and how it connects to a much, much bigger national story about where this race stands right now, why Donald Trump has fallen behind, and why he faces a potentially enormous challenge in getting back into this race.
So, let`s turn to the big board for that. Of course, you can start with the new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll. We`ve got it at nine points for Hillary Clinton right now. We`ve seen other polls out there. One had it at 15, one had it at 10. They`re sort of all over the place.
But what you see clearly, Hillary Clinton, there`s a conversions here. She`s taken a clear lead nationally. What`s that all about? Well, take a look at this. The real fault line we`ve been seeing in the polls this year, the real movement we`ve been seeing -- it`s these two groups of voters here. It`s white voters without college degrees. These are blue collar whites. White voters with college degrees, more suburbanites, professionals, college-educated.
Well, look at this, Donald Trump is leading blue collar white voters by about 13 points. Now, that`s not the margin he needs in that group. He should be 20, 30, maybe even more ahead. It`s only 13.
But the real shocking thing we`re seeing here, it`s this -- white voters with college degrees. Look at this, Hillary Clinton is leading by seven points. Why is this shocking? I`ll tell you why, it`s because never, never in the history of exit polling have we seen a Democratic candidate win this group of voters. College-educated white voters, this has been a Republican constituency all the way up until maybe this year.
If Hillary Clinton wins this group, it will be the first time we`ve seen a Democrat doing it. And that gets right to the story we want to tell you about Pennsylvania. So, we have a new poll in Pennsylvania. And, look, Hillary Clinton`s up 11 points.
Remember four years ago, Mitt Romney brought it down to five points. Donald Trump said he brought it down to five. I`m going to get those blue collar voters in Pennsylvania. I`m going to do even better, I`m going to win the state. That`s what Donald Trump said. But yet, he finds himself 11 points behind.
There`s a very interesting story in why. Start here, southwest Pennsylvania, this is sort of the heart of the blue collar white voters that Trump has been talking about pitching his message to. Look, four years ago, Mitt Romney won this corner of Pennsylvania by 18 points. Donald Trump says, I can take what Romney did and I can do better. That`s how I`m going to win Pennsylvania.
Well, guess what? That new poll this week, Donald Trump is right, in this corner of Pennsylvania, where you`ve got a lot of those working class white voters, Donald Trump is doing better than Mitt Romney did. He`s leading by 23 here. Romney only won by 18.
So, Trump is doing what he said he would do here. But take a look at this. It may be coming at a cost. Southeast Pennsylvania, we were talking about it, those four counties outside Philadelphia, these are suburban counties where Republicans have been competitive, and if a Republican`s going to win Pennsylvania, they`re going to win it by at least being competitive here.
Take a look at this. Barack Obama, he won it by nine points four years ago. What is it right now? It was nine points for Obama four years ago. In this new poll, look at this, 40 points.
Hillary Clinton is leading the suburbs that are filled with those white collar white voters, college educated, more professional, she`s leading by 40 points over Donald Trump. So, yes, Donald Trump`s improving in the southwest corner of the state on what Mitt Romney did, but it`s coming at a cost right now. It`s costing him dearly with these voters, and that`s why he`s trailing in Pennsylvania.
And that`s not just a Pennsylvania story. That`s a national story. Donald Trump is alienating voters who Republicans have relied on in key states all around the country, suburbanite voters. So, that`s the story in Pennsylvania. It`s a national story. And it comes at the end, as we said, of what`s been a very rough week for Donald Trump.
Joining us now is Robert Costa. He`s national political reporter for "The Washington Post", and MSNBC political analyst.
So, Robert, we started with the big news, Donald Trump now, he has that speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, tonight. He endorsed Paul Ryan. He also endorsed John McCain, Kelly Ayotte too.
I noticed he was reading from a script. He doesn`t like to read from the script. We`re seeing a different version of Donald Trump there.
ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Trump has come under intense pressure in recent days to endorse Ryan. His heart, it seems, seems to be with Nehlen, who is here in Wisconsin, running a tough, uphill climb against the speaker, but you get the sense that the party wants to come together at its elite ranks. The officials in the party have balked at Trump`s reluctance to do so.
KORNACKI: Do you get the sense that somebody has gotten Trump`s ear in the last few days? Somebody in his inner circle and has said, look, this is a bad situation for you right now in terms of the polls, in terms of the headlines you`ve generated this week, you really need to do something different here?
COSTA: Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman, is someone who has cultivated relationships on Capitol Hill, in Washington, ever since he took over the reins of the campaign. And he`s someone who is constantly behind the scenes, making overtures to party leaders and reassurances, saying, look, Trump may be saying this publicly, but privately he`s still with you. He wants to work together. He`s someone who`s tried to usher this, according to my sources.
And he also has the party chairman, Reince Priebus, grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, it`s in Paul Ryan`s district. He`s been another force.
KORNACKI: And how much recognition -- what`s your sense of how much recognition Donald Trump has of the situation he`s in? Because, of course in the primaries, we all remember, every speech he gave, he started by reciting poll numbers, he`d be leading in this state and that state. He doesn`t talk about the poll numbers at his events that much anymore. Is he aware of the situation he`s facing?
COSTA: He is and he isn`t. I think the most telling moment tonight watching this event in Green Bay is the long, wind-up. The amount of time it took Donald Trump to get to the endorsement of the speaker and then to Senator Ayotte and Senator McCain, in this long, winding introduction. He talked about how independent he is as a political candidate, how he`s an outsider, though he says he acknowledges the need for party unity. So it was a reluctant endorsement tonight, one done with positive words, but not too much enthusiasm.
KORNACKI: I think, Robert, if past is prologue, the question is, will Donald Trump stick to this? Or are we going to have a story days or weeks from now where he`s at odds with Paul Ryan or another Republican leader all over again?
COSTA: I think when it comes to primary contests, the Trump campaign and my sources they don`t want to get involved in it. They want to plow forward in the less than hundred days left in the campaign.
I think, though, Trump, every day, he is running on gut instinct. This is a candidate who doesn`t have a 9:00 a.m. meeting and conference call every day to go over the talking points. The talking points come from his own response, his reaction. So, it`s hard to predict.
KORNACKI: And there also, I`ve always wondered, there seems to be a showman`s instinct with him, too, where he`s afraid of stepping out there and sounding too much like a politician. He likes the idea of being the anti-politician, of being unpredictable.
I always wonder how that factors into his strategy in a moment like this, where he`s forced to do something that`s very sort of conventional and political.
COSTA: It`s tough for a first time candidate, because he seems to relish his base, this populist, anti-TPP, anti-trade group, anti-illegal immigration that has roused his campaign, that has been really the energy behind the entire Trump candidacy. And he`s so resistant to anything that would anger that group or would cause a boo rather than a cheer at his rallies.
So, this is Trump adjusting to the general election.
KORNACKI: All right. Robert Costa with "The Washington Post", and MSNBC political analyst as well -- thanks for the time. Appreciate it.
COSTA: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. We`ve got a great Friday night show for you here. A lot of political news to get to. We`re going to talk about Hillary Clinton, what she`s been doing while all eyes have been on Donald Trump and the drama in the Republican Party.
We`re also going to talk about the House and the Senate, the table for control on both those. We`re going to talk to one of the best minds in the business. It`s going to be a pretty fun hour, looking forward to it. I`m excited to be here. I hope you are too.
Stay with us. We`ll be right back after this.
KORNACKI: Well, if past is prologue, then something that Richard Nixon did all the way back in 1972 could actually be instructive for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and also the fuel for nightmares for the Trump campaign. The Tricky Dick trick that could work for Democrats this time around. That is coming up next.
KORNACKI: So, if you go back in time 44 years to the 1972 presidential race, well, you would have seen a landslide, a huge landslide of historic scale. The incumbent president, Richard Nixon, he`s being challenged by George McGovern. He was a Democratic senator from South Dakota.
McGovern was the anti-war candidate. He was the activist candidate. He and his young volunteers seized control of the Democratic Party. And when they did that, it left the party`s establishment and its old guard feeling kind of left out with McGovern and his liberal platform suddenly defining their party. It meant that an unusually large number of Democrats were suddenly up for grabs, at least potentially. And that was something that was not at all lost on the Nixon campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: The McGovern defense plan: he would cut the Marines by 1/3, the Air Force by 1/3, cut Navy personnel by 1/4, he would cut interceptor planes by 1/2, the Navy fleet by 1/2, and carriers from 16 to 6.
Senator Hubert Humphrey had this to say about the McGovern proposal: It isn`t just cutting into the fat, it isn`t just cutting into manpower. It`s cutting into the very security of this country.
President Nixon doesn`t believe we should play games with our national security. He believes in a strong America, to negotiate for peace from strength.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The Democrats for Nixon. That wasn`t the only ad they ran like that back in 1972. The Nixon campaign did a whole series of ads, featuring Democrats turning on George McGovern, or aiming the message at Democrats who might have been turned off by George McGovern.
And those ads, by all indications, they worked. In 1972 election, President Nixon got one of the biggest shares of votes we`ve ever seen. He won every state, except Massachusetts, he got 61 percent of the vote. Look at that, George McGovern couldn`t even crack 40.
So that campaign that the Nixon people ran, the one that featured the Democrats for Nixon, that`s one of the most successful examples of poaching from the other side. And now, all these years later, Hillary Clinton is trying to do a version of it as well. She is looking for Republican validators. She is looking for Republican voices who will essentially step forward and give Republican voters permission to ditch Trump and vote for a Democrat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m Hillary Clinton and I approve this message.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: If he governs consistent with some of the things he`s said as a candidate, I would be very frightened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s been talking about the option of using a nuclear option against our Western European allies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not somebody who should be handed the nuclear codes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to ask yourself, do I want a person with that temperament in control of the nuclear codes? As of now, I`d have to say no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, the Clinton campaign started running that ad today, and it introduced another type of validator, not just the Republican validator, a different type her campaign is also pushing, call it the national security validator.
Now, these aren`t all necessarily Republicans who she`s turning to for validation. We`re talking about national security types. Many of them have served Republicans. They have bipartisan reputations, even if they are Democrats.
Last week, it was General John Allen, a marine general and former NATO commander. Also, Leon Panetta, former secretary of defense and head of the CIA. Both of them spoke at the Democratic convention, both of them endorsing Hillary Clinton.
And today, Clinton got another national security endorsement. This one with a different tenor, though. This is Mike Morell. He served as the acting director of the CIA under President Obama. He served as a senior officer for the CIA under George W. Bush. In fact, he`s the guy who briefed George W. Bush during the 9/11 attacks.
And today, he wrote this op-ed in the "New York Times." He said, "I ran the CIA and now, I`m endorsing Hillary Clinton."
But just look at what he said. He spent his whole life working in the CIA and he said, in this article, quote, "I`m neither a registered Democrat nor a registered Republican. In my 40 years of voting, I`ve pulled the lever for candidates of both parties. As a government official, I`ve always been silent about my preference for president.
The dangers that flow from their Trump`s character are not just risks that would emerge if he became president. It is already damaging our national security. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them.
That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump`s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated. In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation."
That was Hillary Clinton`s most recent national security validator, publicly making the case that Donald Trump is dangerous for our national security.
Joining us now is the former under secretary of state for political affairs in the Obama administration, also a Hillary Clinton supporter, Ambassador Wendy Sherman. Ambassador Sherman is one of nearly 40 former cabinet members, military officers and senior officials who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations that recently signed an open letter denouncing Donald Trump.
Ambassador Sherman, thanks for joining with us. Appreciate that.
Well, this -- I guess we`re using the term national security validator, maybe there`s another way to describe it. But it is interesting, I can`t remember a campaign from one party nominee has been able to rely on so many people with built-in credibility in the national security world, making the case not just against her opponent, but saying at a very basic level that her opponent is unqualified.
AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Indeed, Steve. And good to be with you tonight. And I think you`ve made really important comments. The letter that was signed by over 36 people included all of the people who have been under secretary`s political affairs for both Republican and Democratic administrations, such august people as Tom Pickering, Nick Burns, Bill Burns, Mark Grossman.
These are career -- I wasn`t a career diplomat. I was a political appointee. These are people of expertise and knowledge. John Bellinger, who was the legal adviser for national security council and for the State Department under President Bush, who thought that what Donald Trump has been saying, particularly about NATO, which he just doubled down on again, was reckless and dangerous.
You know, you mentioned 9/11, Steve. People talk about NATO and Article Five which says that an attack on one is an attack on all. And Donald Trump has said, we need people to pay their fair share, otherwise we shouldn`t protect them. Well, Article Five was invoked for the very first time after 9/11.
All of the NATO allies came to the defense of the United States of America. And went with us to Afghanistan to fight, to put their national treasure, their national lives on the line for what happened to the United States of America. So, these alliances, these partnerships, are not a construction transaction. They`re not transactions. They`re alliances. They`re the very fabric.
Since Truman, Republicans and Democrats alike, I`m out here at the Aspen Strategy Group, which is really the most bipartisan, most non-partisan collection of national security professionals, and people here think very hard about what we need to do to keep America safe. And I have heard from across the spectrum of policy analysts, of diplomats, of generals, of military, and Mike Morell, who is a superb intelligence professional, great fear about Donald Trump having his hand on the nuclear codes.
KORNACKI: Yes, I wanted to ask you about that, because we played that ad from Hillary Clinton. You had two voices there, Charles Krauthammer and Max Boot, conservative writer, both invoking that issue of the nuclear codes. I mean, is that -- is that your feeling, that this country with Donald Trump as president would be unsafe with him having the nuclear codes?
SHERMAN: Look, this is a man who appears to be so impulsive, to not have any monitor on what comes out of his mouth or what he does or how he acts. There`s no consistency in it. He`s incredibly impulsive.
He tells us one day that indeed, under his administration, Russia will not, absolutely not invade Ukraine, completely forgetting that Russia`s already tried to illegally annex Crimea. And then the next day, he says what a fine leader Vladimir Putin is, how great he is, how strong he is. And the next day, he says nothing`s going to happen on my watch. We`re going to make sure that NATO pays its fair share. Japan should be paying full freight. Japan`s security alliance with us is to keep us safe, not just to keep Japan safe.
So, if we`re talking about a man who can be so impulsive, change his mind from one day to the next, from one moment to the next, be for Paul Ryan, be against for Paul Ryan. Be against John McCain, and the most egregious to now endorsing him. We don`t know what we`re going to get with him. And there is not a check and balance.
The president of the United States is the commander in chief. He gets to decide if we`re going to launch nuclear weapons. He alone makes that decision, sort of scares the heck out of me that Donald Trump would have that responsibility.
KORNACKI: All right. Ambassador Sherman, former undersecretary of state for political affairs, a supporter of Hillary Clinton -- thanks for the time.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. Next up, the brief saga of fingers, stick boy, and bones. Just go with me on this.
KORNACKI: The band Compressorhead is from Berlin, Germany. They got a pretty good reputation, but if I have one criticism, it`s that they can be a little robotic.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
KORNACKI: So they`re a trio. They go by the nicknames, Fingers, Stick Boy and Bones. And these days it isn`t all that science fiction to see robots working alongside humans. But it`s always unsettling when a robot can do something a little bit less left brain, a little bit more right brain.
And we have a story coming up that could be a plot line in the next man versus machine movie. That`s ahead.
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: All right, our latest NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" national poll puts Donald Trump down nine points against Hillary Clinton. A FOX poll puts Clinton`s lead at ten points. Reuters has it a little bit closer. They`ve got Clinton by four.
There`s also this, though. A McClatchy Marist poll has her blowing Trump away by 15 points. Now, obviously, that`s one poll that has her up 15. But that 15 points would be a bigger lead than President Obama ever had in any poll during the entire 2012 race against Mitt Romney. This was Mitt Romney`s worst poll in 2012, he was down 13 points in one poll in June of 2012.
Of course, we don`t vote nationally as a country in presidential elections. We vote state by state. It`s a race to 270 electoral votes. But at a certain point, if you`re down nine points, 10 points, or 15 points nationally like Trump is now, you`re probably going to be down in a lot of states too. Your state by state path to electoral victory is going to be very narrow, maybe non-existent.
So, let`s take a look now at the end of a brutal week for Donald Trump, at what his path to 270 looks like. Right now, let`s turn to the big board. This is set to how the 2012 ended when Barack Obama had 332, Mitt Romney at 206. So, the question for Trump, how does he get from 206 to 270?
There`s been obvious path that`s been there. We talked about it a lot during the show. Donald Trump, he`s even talked about this himself. If you flip Pennsylvania, if you flip Ohio, and you flip Florida, and you`re Donald Trump, and you hold the Romney states, that puts you there.
Here`s the big problem for Donald Trump. We just talked about it. Hillary Clinton is up double-digits in Pennsylvania. Trump`s getting blown out in the suburbs there.
We also had a poll this week that had her up six points in Florida. He`s got to make progress there right now of those three states. Ohio is probably his best bet and that`s probably not 50/50 for Donald Trump. There`s worst news this week, though, for Donald Trump and that`s this -- all of this is about where Donald Trump needs to make gains, where he could improve on mitt Romney in 2012.
Well, it`s an open question how much improvement he can do. But this week brought fresh questions about whether he can even hold the Romney states from 2012. And specifically, we`re looking at a couple. We got a poll today out of Georgia.
Georgia, a state that hasn`t gone for a Democrat since 1992. Poll today puts Hillary Clinton ahead by four points there over Donald Trump.
How about Arizona? Arizona has gone for a Democrat once in the last generation. It was for Bill Clinton back in 1996. There`s a poll with Hillary Clinton leading there by three points.
So, all of this talk about where Donald Trump needs to flip states from blue to red -- well, he`s having a whale of trouble doing that right now, but his situation is getting worse because Hillary Clinton could be on the verge of flipping a couple of red states. Also, we`ve seen polls that have her in contention in North Carolina.
If she can flip those states from red to blue, you can forget about the Rust Belt strategy for Trump or the Florida strategy or any other strategy. If she`s flipping a number of states from red to blue, Trump`s not getting to 270.
So, that may be the ultimate reason why this was such a tough week for Donald Trump.
Back after this.
KORNACKI: Oh, hi there, sorry. I was just thumbing through my favorite classic children`s bedtime book, "Goodnight Moon." You maybe know this one. Here`s a trip down memory lane. Let`s open it up here. How do I get that in the camera? Goodnight, room.
Remember this one? Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Turn page. Goodnight light and the red balloon. Good night, bears, goodnight chairs. You get the idea.
We were reminded of goodnight moon today when a leading anti-Trump conservative Bill Crystal reacted on Twitter to a new poll that shows Hillary Clinton up by four points over Donald Trump in the deep red state of Georgia. Bill Crystal tweeting, quote, "Goodbye Senate, goodbye House, goodbye GOP."
Now, Bill Crystal may not have been channeling goodnight moon, although maybe he was. And that quote right there, though, it is a stuff of nightmares for Republicans. Not sweet dreams. The question is, could the GOP actually give up both the House and the Senate in 2016? I know just the person to talk to about that.
KORNACKI: So now that we know that Donald Trump has endorsed Paul Ryan in his race next week in Wisconsin, that`s the news of the hour. Ryan was already in good shape to win that primary next week. Trump actually lost Ryan`s congressional district by 20 points earlier this year. So Trump may not have had that much pull in that district, even with Republicans.
But there are plenty of districts around the country where Trump could have a lot of pull this November. If you look at the latest polls, Trump could at least potentially poll voters who would normally vote Republican away from the party and to the Democrats. And that could hurt Republican candidates all the way down the ballot, including races for Congress.
Now, this has some Democrats excited, but even if Trump loses big this fall, history is not on the Democrats` side when it comes to the House of Representatives. You go back to 1964, more than 50 years ago, Barry Goldwater was the Republican nominee for president. He won that nomination, after voting against civil rights. That was obviously a deeply unpopular stand outside of the south. And Goldwater got shellacked in November. He didn`t even break 40 percent against LBJ. That was a total landslide.
And it did help Democrats down the ticket, with LBJ crushing Goldwater at the top of the ticket, Democrats picked up 37 seats in the House of Representatives.
So, that`s probably the good precedent for Democrats today. But here`s the bad news for them if they`re hoping the same thing will happen with Trump this fall. That is the only time, 1964 is, in the past half century or so when a landslide in the race for president has trickled down the ballot into a landslide for the House.
Also, it`s bad for Trump that even if -- excuse me, also bad for Democrats as bad as things are at this moment, he is nowhere near as far behind as Goldwater back in 1964. Politics are probably too polarized these days for that kind of a landslide to happen again.
But if you`re watching the races state by state, here is one indication for you. Election forecaster Larry Sabato just changed his rating of the Colorado Senate race from leans Democratic to likely Democratic. He writes that since the Republicans in that state did not appear to be competitive this year, that battleground state is now leaning closer to Hillary Clinton which means that one Senate seat now appears even safer for Democrats.
For the rest of the lay of the land and battle of the Senate, the battle for the House and the question of the Trump effect, though, let`s turn now to Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
Larry, thanks for joining us.
So, why do we stipulate the House, to put it mildly, a real stretch for Democrats. Let`s look at the Senate, though, you`ve got a lot of Republican seats that are up this year because they had a very good year the last time this class was up in 2010. This time, though, they`re going to have to deal with Trump at the top of the ticket, those Republican candidates.
What`s that going to mean?
LARRY SABATO, UNIV. OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS DIRECTOR: It`s doing to mean the Democrats have a decent to good chance to take over the Senate, Steve, and by the time we get closer to November 8th, and let`s stipulate, it`s early August, you know, we`ve both been around a while and we know how things can change. But when we get closer to November, we may be asking ourselves can Democrats run up the score enough to protect themselves to what`s coming in 2018, midterm, possibly and President Hillary Clinton`s first term that could easily switch a lot of seats back to the Republicans in the Senate.
KORNACKI: That`s what Democrats learned in 2010, flip side of a big year in presidential election, you win that White House, you are vulnerable in that midterm election two years later.
But in terms of 2016 right now, I thought this week the two polls that caught my attention the most, Georgia and Hillary Clinton, not just that Hillary Clinton has the chance to win those states, but the implication of that, if Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket is winning these red states, you`ve got two senators there that could be at risk for the Republicans.
SABATO: Yes, I think of the two, believe it or not, John McCain is by far the more vulnerable. And I think that`s a shock to a lot of people. But in fact, Arizona right now, presidentially, is a toss up, some would argue that it`s actually leaning to Clinton.
We`re not quite there yet. We see that as very, very close. We`ve got Hillary Clinton and 247 electoral votes without Arizona, without Georgia. The fact that we`re even talking about Arizona and Georgia, if that actually continues to October, then, we`ll have to go back and revise what you said about the House, Steve.
KORNACKI: And you mentioned McCain the news tonight is that Donald Trump formerly endorsed John McCain for re-election in that speech in Wisconsin. This is about a year after he said war heroes who weren`t captured.
Put yourself, though, in McCain`s shoes just strategically -- the dynamics you`re talking about, on the one hand that`s a state Donald Trump did really well in the primary. On the other hand, general election voters not nearly as enamored of Donald Trump. If you`re John McCain, how do you thread that needle strategically?
SABATO: Well, you have to do what he`s doing, which is at age 80, tiptoeing through the tulips and doing an incredible dance, a dance on a very fine line, in which he`s trying to keep the Trump voters with him and at the same time win over Republicans who are anti-Trump, independents who are anti-Trump and maybe even a few Democrats who are upset with what Trump said.
Hey, that`s not easy and the John McCain faces problems that other incumbents who served a very long time have learned, when you reach a tough year, voters look on your career and say, it may be gold watch time.
KORNACKI: You know, bigger picture question, if Hillary Clinton is able to win the White House and they`re able to take back the Senate, all the gridlock we`ve seen, the story of Washington over the last six years or so, if the Democrats don`t have the House, if they only have the White House and they only have the Senate, are they going to be able to do anything, do you think?
SABATO: Well, they`ll be able to get some Supreme Court nominees on the bench. That`s a very significant thing, obviously, in and of itself, as well as cabinet appointments. You know, she won`t have to worry about getting confirmations there and the rest of it.
And, look, it gives you leverage. You know, there are still people in the House who want things, the number may be dwindling on the Republican side. But they want things.
And as a result, they have to make some compromises with the is that the. So it`s a much better position than having neither House ask President Obama.
KORNACKI: Yes, and as you say, though, any gains the Democrats make on the House side this year, if Hillary Clinton wins, they`ll be in danger of losing some in 2018. That`s just the nature of politics.
Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia -- always appreciate the time. Thank you.
SABATO: Thank you, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. And coming up a glimpse into our dystopian sky net future brought to us by the Olympics. I, for one, welcome our new robot editor in chief overlords. Stories ahead.
KORNACKI: Well, tonight marks the official launch of the Olympics. The opening ceremonies kicking things off in Rio. Members from each of the 207 delegations taking their lap around Brazil`s Maracana stadium. Now, if you don`t necessarily care about who wins what medal in pole vault, or the four-by-four relay, and for you the most interesting part of the Olympics might start tomorrow, it`s when the "Washington Post" is going to unveil its robot sports writers for the first time. I`m not kidding about this.
"The Washington Post", believe it or not, has developed a software program that will, quote, "automatically produce hundreds of real time news reports about the Olympics." The program is called Heliograf. It`s essentially an artificial intelligence platform that will pump out short sports updates a few sentences at a time for "The Washington Post" live blog. Also, for its Twitter account coming everything from the daily event schedule to who win what events in the overall medal count.
So, here is a sneak peak of what our future robot overlord tweets are going to look like -- well, check that out, I guess we beat China there. So, there is some good news. Keep hearing we never win any more anyway. So, apparently the future is now, at least for reporters.
I`m not sure if I want this thing to succeed or not, by the way. I think it will people out of work. Maybe it will save the industry, I can`t tell. Hopefully, "The Washington Post" is working on a robot that can update my resume.
That`s going to do it for us tonight. Now, it is time for "HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS". Have a great weekend.
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