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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript, 8/8/2016

Guests: Patrick Murray, McKay Coppins

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: August 8, 2016 Guest: Patrick Murray, McKay Coppins

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. Rachel Maddow has the night off.

Well, nine years ago, nine years ago in the summer of 2007, John McCain was running for president. Now, McCain had begun as the frontrunner in this presidential campaign. He was a war hero. He was a celebrated political maverick.

He was also next in line. Next in line, that`s something that used to matter a lot in Republican presidential politics. Remember, McCain had lost a bruising primary battle to George W. Bush eight years before back in 2000.

So, 2008 was supposed to be John McCain`s time. He had come in second before. Now he`d run and he`d win. But McCain got into the race in early 2007. After that, well, just about everything went wrong for him.

By the summer of 2007, John McCain`s campaign looked dead. His poll numbers had collapsed. His fundraising evaporated. He was shedding staffers. People were abandoning the campaign like a sinking ship.

Political guru Charlie Cook declared, quote, "It`s effectively over. The physicians have left the hospital room and it`s the executors of the estate that are taking over."

That was the diagnosis of the McCain campaign in the summer of 2007. But, of course, John McCain`s campaign was far from over at that point. He reorganized. He concentrated his efforts on the New Hampshire primary. He gave new policy speeches. He put out an ad focusing on his prisoner of war experience. He debuted a feisty new persona in debates. It was a classic example of what they call the campaign reboot.

In McCain`s case in 2007 and 2008, it worked. He went on to win New Hampshire. He went on to win the Republican nomination for president. It was a successful example of the campaign reboot, but most reboots are not nearly as successful as John McCain`s was back in 2007 and 2008.

Back when his campaign was struggling last fall, Jeb Bush would frequently invoke the example of McCain, promising that he, too, would bring his campaign back from the dead. But when Bush attempted a reboot in October of last year, when he embraced his father and embraced his brother after months of trying to distance himself from them and from their history, when he tried that, it didn`t get him anywhere.

In 2012, Mitt Romney made so many attempts to refashion his campaign that the onion ran the headline "Romney campaign reboots for 72nd consecutive week." Now, if there was ever a candidate seemingly in need of a reboot, a big reboot, it had to be Trump at the end of last week. That week was full of so many perceived problems for the Republican nominee, providing so much material to his opponent that Clinton made a web ad more than a minute long. It was a list of all the things that Donald Trump had said, or done, or caused.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Actually, I was only kidding. You can get the baby out of here. I think she might believe me that I love having a baby crying while I`m speaking.


TRUMP: I always wanted to get the purple heart. This was much easier.



KORNACKI: So that was Donald Trump`s week last week as seen through the eyes of the Clinton campaign and as seen through the eyes of plenty of Americans. The polls were brutal for Donald Trump in the face of all that. Clinton leading in every single national poll that came out last week. Pretty much all of the swing state polls that came out last week too.

In fact, Trump was down 15 points in a poll that came out last week. That was a bigger margin than Mitt Romney had faced at any point during the 2012 election. By the way, the polls haven`t gotten any kinder for Donald Trump today. We`re going to get to that in just a few minutes.

Last Friday night, though, in the face of what had been the worst week his campaign had endured since he came down that escalator and got into the race, last Friday night, Donald Trump seemed to make a gesture toward trying, at least, to repair all of that damage from the week. He was in Wisconsin for a rally and on stage there he read haltingly from a prepared statement. He took a piece of paper and read from a statement endorsing Paul Ryan and John McCain and Kelly Ayotte. Those are some of big name Republicans he had refused to endorse and even attacking just days earlier.

And so, that scene right there, Donald Trump doing something he`d been refusing to do, Donald Trump reading from a script, Donald Trump seeming to make the advice of his political advisers of the voices around him. All of that got some people wondering did all of the bad news finally get to Trump. Did it shake him up just a little bit? Did it convince him he needs to adopt a different style, a different approach?

That was the question raised of how Friday night went for Donald Trump. At the next day, in New Hampshire, at a rally on Saturday, Trump was right back to his old freewheeling, unrestrained self, unleashing what maybe his most vicious attack on Hillary Clinton to date. He went after her mental health.


TRUMP: She is a totally unhinged person. She`s unbalanced. All you have to do is watch her, see her, read about her. She will cause, if she wins, which hopefully she won`t, the destruction of our country from within.

The people of this country don`t want somebody that`s going to short circuit up here. OK? Not as your president. Not as your president.

I`m going to spend a minute more on Hillary Rodham Clinton. Honestly, I don`t think she`s all there.


KORNACKI: So, that performance may have revved up Trump`s supporters in the room. But today, it appeared that even Trump knew going after Clinton`s mental health wasn`t going to be enough to dig him out of that deep hole that he got himself into last week. So, today, it was time for a reboot.

And for the reboot, Trump went to Detroit, Michigan, to the Detroit Economic Club. There he delivered a speech on his economic agenda, and he stayed pretty much entirely on the teleprompter for his speech today. He was reading through prepared remarks and he sounded -- this is a relative term with Donald Trump -- measured standing there at the podium and reading this speech, even kept his cool during the 14 interruptions by protesters during the speech.

If Trump looked and sounded like more of a traditional presidential candidate, one may be listening more to his advisers than he had been before, the economic agenda that he laid out sounded like a traditional Republican candidate than anything we have heard from him before.


TRUMP: I am proposing an across the board income tax reduction.

We will work with House Republicans on this plan using the same brackets they have proposed, 12 percent, 25 percent, and 33 percent.

Under my plan, no American company will pay more than 15 percent of their business income in taxes.


In other words, we`re reducing your taxes from 35 percent to 15 percent.

I am going to cut regulations massively, massively.


Finally, no family will have to pay the death tax.


KORNACKI: Now, the death tax that Trump is referring to there is the estate tax. That`s its more formal name. This is a favorite and time honored target of Republicans, although it only affects his estates worth more than $5 million.

That said, Trump also spent some of his time on his signature populist economic issue that`s getting out of trade deals like NAFTA. But mostly this was traditional Republican economics that he was preaching today, and it was greeted enthusiastically by the largely corporate audience at the Detroit Economic Club.

Hillary Clinton, for her part, she is due in Detroit for her own economic speech later this week, but she wasted no time going after Trump`s speech in St. Petersburg, Florida, this afternoon.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Today in Detroit, he`s got -- I don`t know -- a dozen or so economic advisers he just named, hedge fund guys, billionaire guys, six guys named Steve, apparently. So they wrote him a speech and he delivered it in Detroit.

Now, they tried to make his old, tired ideas sound new, but here`s what we all know because we heard it again. His tax plans will give super big tax breaks to large corporations and the really wealthy just like him and the guys who wrote the speech, right?


KORNACKI: So, the Trump reboot, the Trump version of a reboot, on display in Detroit today. Time will tell if it has staying power or if Clinton`s narrative will overtake it or if it will only last until the next time Trump veers off script.

And the other question is whether this kind of reboot is the kind he needs, whether appealing to the more traditional, economic ideas of his party is what it`s going to take to help Donald Trump bounce back.

Joining us now is the NBC News correspondent who has covered Donald Trump ever since he started his run for president, Katy Tur. She was at Donald Trump`s today earlier in Detroit. She joins us now.

Katie, thanks for taking a few minutes.

So, let me just start by saying it is sort of remarkable. It`s after the Republican convention. We`re in the general election season now, and we`re watching this speech today saying it is remarkable that a majority party`s nominee is reading a prepared text. And yet that is a commentary in a way on how unusual the Donald Trump campaign is.

What is it that convinced Donald Trump to go out there and do something conventional today? That`s not been the Donald Trump recipe.

KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, he had a chorus of folks try to tell him he needed to get back on message. But, ultimately, if you`re going to ask me from how I`ve observed this campaign for the last 14 months, I think ultimately it was the poll numbers. Donald Trump is down in almost every poll right now, including double digits in national polls and double digits in some important swing states like New Hampshire. Also in Pennsylvania down by quite a bit.

So, for somebody who has been watching the polls as closely as he has for the last year and a few months, I think the fact that he is down suddenly is the impetus to get him to start changing, getting back on message. I spoke to a number of folks, Trump supporters at his rallies and I asked them what would their one piece of advice would be if they were to talk to Donald Trump about his campaign. And they said to get away from the controversies, to get back on message, to talk about the economy, job creation, national security, the sort of things you heard him talk about today, but it`s Donald Trump. Ultimately, there`s very little expectation from those in the GOP at least that he`s going to be able to stay on message for very long.

KORNACKI: Yes, case and point, Katy Tur, he gave that speech this afternoon. Within a few hours, he was tweeting about this case in Iran of the nuclear scientist who was executed there, convicted of spying, convicted of giving information to the United States. Donald Trump tweeting, "Many people are saying that the Iranians killed the scientist to help the U.S. because of Hillary Clinton`s hacked e-mails."

Now, we should stipulate that is a debunked claim Donald Trump is putting out there and yet he`s putting it out there. This is exactly the kind of conspiracy theory sideshow that his advisers are pleading with him to avoid. It took him six hours to do it.

TUR: You know, Senator Tom Cotton was the first one to float this the other day on a Sunday show. And the Drudge Report picked it up, and now, Donald Trump is tweeting about it.

He`s been prone to tweeting about it and talking about -- not controversies, but conspiracy theories. Remember, he talked about Ted Cruz`s father being linked somehow to the assassination of JFK. He`s also one of the first birthers out there trying to say President Obama wasn`t born in this country, so conspiracy theories has always been something that Donald Trump has been -- has enjoyed peddling essentially.

And this is what he is doing today. Why is he doing it on this day when he is trying to reset his campaign? Well, he is often trying to change the subject. The only thing that I could think of that could have happened today that he would want to divert attention away from is the fact that 50 leaders, 50 national security leaders in the Republican Party came out and said he was reckless and not qualified to be president of the United States.

Donald Trump released a statement pushing back on them, saying they were the ones who got us into the war in Iraq and they were the ones who basically enabled ISIS` rise. But right after that is when you saw him tweeting about this, you know, Iranian nuclear scientist. If you`re going to ask me who have covered him for the past 14 months, what could he possibly be doing -- well, changing the subject away from something that could potentially damage him.

KORNACKI: All right. NBC News correspondent Katy Tur covering the Donald Trump campaign -- Katy, thanks for the time.

TUR: Thank you.

KORNACKI: All right. We all knew about Hillary Clinton getting a bounce from the Democratic convention. That popped up in a bunch of polls last week. We were just talking about them.

But while those polls were coming out last week, that whole second controversy with the Khan family was playing out. Now we have our first poll on the effect of that. The results are astounding. They`re straight ahead.


KORNACKI: All right. We have some breaking news. This happening just in the last few minutes. We have heard rumblings from all sorts of Republicans about being uncomfortable with Donald Trump. We`ve had some Republicans, a couple members of the House, say they`re not going to vote for Donald Trump.

But now, the biggest Republican defection yet from the Trump campaign. Learning about this in just the last few minutes. We`re learning about this going to tell you who it is.

Stay with us right after this break.


KORNACKI: OK. Here`s that breaking news we started to tell you about just a second ago. This is a Republican member of the United States Senate, Susan Collins from Maine. She`s represented that state in the Senate since 1996.

And just in the last few minutes, she has published an op-ed in "The Washington Post" with the title, "Why I cannot support Trump."

Susan Collins writing, quote, "I will not be voting for Donald Trump for president. This is not a decision I make lightly, for I am a lifelong Republican, but Donald Trump does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country."

Again, this is Susan Collins, Republican senator from Maine, writing in the "Washington Post". This will be presumably in the print edition tomorrow. It just went up online in the last few minutes.

More specifically, Susan Collins saying in this op-ed that there are three reasons she ultimately decided she could not support Donald Trump. Number one, she said it was his mocking of the disabled reporter. That`s something he had done on the campaign trail months ago. Also, the controversy with Donald Trump and his comments about Judge Curiel. And the most recent controversy in the last two weeks with the Khan family, the war of words Donald Trump engaged in with the Khan family.

Susan Collins saying that Donald Trump has shown, quote, "a complete disregard for common decency." She also said she`s been troubled by his, quote, "constant stream of denigrating comments that she hoped that Donald Trump in emerging from the Republican primaries with the nomination that there would be a new Donald Trump, somebody she could get behind. She now says she is convinced that is not the case and that she will not vote for Donald Trump.

Another key point here, though, Susan Collins does not say in this op-ed who she will vote for. No mention of Hillary Clinton. No mention of the libertarian. No mention of any other candidates.

So, Susan Collins, Republican senator from Maine, saying tonight she will not vote for Donald Trump for president. Her state, by the way, Maine, that is a state that Donald Trump visited in the last week. He was in Portland, Maine, last week.

There is a chance the way they give out electoral votes in Maine, they give them by congressional districts. One of the state`s two congressional districts is one that the Trump campaign is targeting. He was in the state, and now that states -- one of its U.S. senators says she will not be supporting Donald Trump.

Again, that is the breaking news. Susan Collins with that announcement. More as we learn it, we will bring it to you.

Going to squeeze another quick break in. Please stay with us.


MADDOW: OK. More on the breaking news we`ve been telling you about. Senator Susan Collins, Republican senator from Maine, saying in an op-ed that was published in the last few minutes on "The Washington Post", that she will not support Donald Trump for president.

A correction to one thing I said in the last segment. We say it is breaking news and we are reporting to you as we get it. There is one line in this op-ed where she does say that she will also not support Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.

Susan Collins writing about the passions that are igniting grassroots voters. She says, "As we have seen the dissatisfaction with both major party nominees, neither of whom I support, these passions are real and the public will demand action."

So, Susan Collins seeming there to rule out an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Of course, it leaves open a possibility of one of the independent candidates in this case. Libertarian Gary Johnson is running. He might be more closely aligned with Susan Collins.

There`s another conservative option that may be entering into the mix. We`ll bring you more on that later.

Again, Susan Collins also seeming to rule out in this op-ed tonight supporting Hillary Clinton, on top of her own party`s nominee, Donald Trump.

Much more on this as we learn Susan Collins and her reasoning, and also reaction -- I`m sure there will be plenty of reaction to this news tonight. Susan Collins not supporting Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, more to tell you about, more to keep tabs on this race for president, the evidence has been in for a while now. It`s clear Hillary Clinton received the convention bounce, a very big convention bounce. Certainly one that`s bigger than Donald Trump`s bounce from his convention, that bounce pushed Clinton into a lead of somewhere in the high single digits. Maybe even into the double digits.

So, that was the convention bounce. That was something we saw pop up in polls last week, but remember, after the convention came Donald Trump`s war of words with the Khan family. That`s something that dominated the news last week while all of these polls came out.

And now, now, we have our first polling read out of what that controversy with the Khan family may have done to his campaign. And it`s trouble for Trump. Check this out, a Monmouth poll out today puts Hillary Clinton up 13 points now over Donald Trump. And this marks the first time that she`s hit the 50 percent threshold in a four-way contest.

This also includes Gary Johnson, the libertarian, and Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. Hillary Clinton hitting 50 percent with all four of them in the sample ballot. The poll shows Clinton not only holding onto the key groups that helped her re-elect Barack Obama four years ago, but also crucially, it shows her eating into Donald Trump`s advantage with white voters.

Now, back in 2012, white voters made up 3/4 of the electorate all around the country. And Mitt Romney actually beat Barack Obama by 20 points with whites. But because of Obama`s overwhelming advantage with non-white voters, Romney still lost the election by four points.

Well, check this out, today`s Monmouth poll shows Donald Trump shows Donald Trump winning white voters, but by a much, much smaller margin than Mitt Romney did. Remember, it was 20 points for Romney four years ago, and now, just a five-point lead for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

And the reason for that? It`s the college degree gap. Trump is hemorrhaging college educated white voters and more specifically college- educated white women. They are fleeing the Republican Party with Donald Trump as its standard bearer. The Monmouth poll showing Trump continuing to hold big leads among both white men and white women without college degrees, blue collar whites basically.

Those results resembling what we saw four years ago when Romney won those groups with those margins. Trump also leading Hillary Clinton among white men with college degrees. But here comes more trouble for Trump. His 11- point lead over Hillary Clinton with that group of voters today, that`s basically cut in half from what Romney had four years ago. Romney won by 21 points with white men with college degrees. Trump, though, leading only by 11. So, again, Hillary Clinton eating into Donald Trump`s support there and to his base there.

But the really big news in this poll is right here, white women with a college degree. This is a very big group of voters. This is a group that Romney won by six points in 2012. Now, Trump is losing them by 30. That`s the biggest single reason why he is so far behind Hillary Clinton in this new poll today.

Joining us now is Patrick Murray. He is the founder director of the Monmouth Polling Institute and he joins us now in studio.

Thanks for being here.


KORNACKI: So, we have heard a lot this year about this college/no college divide. It`s blue collar versus, I don`t know what you want to say, cosmopolitan, I`m not sure what the flip side, blue collar versus white collar maybe.

So, among white collar women in particular, what is it that is driving them away from Donald Trump?

MURRAY: Yes, and it is mainly among women. I mean, that`s a huge swing of over 30 points from Romney to Clinton`s advantage now with this group.

Who are these women? They look a lot like Senator Susan Collins. These are women who are telling us that they really are uncomfortable with Donald Trump`s temperament. In fact, in Susan Collins op-ed, she said that he does not have the temperament to be president, right? That`s exactly what these voters are telling us.

In fact, we saw the number of voters who say Donald Trump has the temperament to be president went down from 32 percent to 27 percent, but the number said Hillary Clinton has the temperament to be president went up from 52 percent to 61 percent, from right before the conventions, to right after convention.

KORNACKI: This is more than doubling him when it comes to the number of --

MURRAY: Her unfavorability rating didn`t move all that much. It was the idea that I might not still like Hillary Clinton, but when I see the two of them side by side with these two conventions, there`s no contest in who I feel comfortable with their hand on the tiller.

KORNACKI: And this is -- I think it is an interesting story that`s developing here to understand the election because we have spent a lot of time talking about Donald Trump`s support among blue collar voters, blue collar white voters, and the possibility he could grow that support beyond what Mitt Romney had four years ago. But we`re seeing the flip side of that, the things he`s doing to appeal to blue collar white voters are turning off white collar white.

MURRAY: Right, and we`re not seeing that growth in fact. We`re seeing Donald Trump get the same number of white collar -- excuse me, blue collar white voters that Mitt Romney got. He`s not expanding that base. Hillary Clinton is racking up a close to 60-point win, which Obama got among black and Hispanic and Asian voters. It is these white women with a college degree that are looking at Donald Trump and saying, you know, he is going on the attack.

Everything you were just talking about is what`s turning them off. And the things that they`re not hearing that they want to hear about, we`ll see. He talked about today in his economic speech, which is, you know, child care credits and taxes and paying for education, all these things that are a concern to them, they`re not seeing that from Donald Trump. And so, these are women who are inclined to vote Republican on those bread and butter issues, but what they`re getting from Donald Trump is these ad hominem attacks against whoever disagrees with him and they really turns them off.

KORNACKI: And the disclaimer with your poll or with any poll we have seen in the last week is we`re still in August. Things can change. We might look up a month from now and Donald Trump will be back down two or three points, and we`re saying, this is close to a toss up race again.

But at the same time, the margins we`re seeing in your poll, the margins we`ve seen in some of the other polls this week are taking us to a place we weren`t four years ago. This race is reaching a level at least right now of lopsidedness that it didn`t have four years ago, which suggests to me at least the possibility we`ve seen some kind of more permanent separation here.

MURRAY: Yes, I think so because the things that people don`t like about Hillary Clinton are already baked into the pie. We`re not seeing anymore movement on that, but they`re there, they`re always going to be there. But Donald Trump can keep moving the needle and moving it in the wrong direction.

If he can change -- and, you know, we have had more president pivots from Donald Trump than when Thomas Jefferson invented the swivel chair, but if he can change and talk about those policy issues that he talked about today and that`s all -- and then stay away from the attacks on people, including Hillary Clinton, he might be able to start winning some of those women back. But based on what we have seen in the past, that`s a big if.

KORNACKI: All right. Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth Polling Institute, thanks for the time.

MURRAY: My pleasure.

KORNACKI: All right. So, the national polls not looking great for Donald Trump right now, but that may not be the worst news that he got today. That`s next.


KORNACKI: Today, 50 presidentially appointed national security officials signed a letter sounding the alarm over the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, saying that not only are they not going to vote for Donald Trump, but that, quote, "from a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be president and commander and chief."

Now, to hear 50 top foreign policy appointees of the current president say this about Donald Trump probably wouldn`t be that surprising. But these aren`t Obama appointees we`re talking about here. Many of them are George W. Bush appointees. Fifty Republican officials, including top aides and cabinet members from Bush`s presidency, including former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden, former director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, Homeland Security Secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, Dick Cheney`s national security adviser, Eric Edelman, former Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, as well as Bush national security council member Robert Blackwell and James Jeffrey.

All of them writing together, quote, "Fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be president. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. In addition, Mr. Trump has demonstrated repeatedly he has little understanding of America`s vital national interest. He continues to display an arming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics."

They conclude, "He would be the most reckless president in American history."

Now, obviously, this is something Democrats have to be happy about, top members of Republican administrations stepping forward to repudiate in no uncertain terms the Republican candidate for president and to suggest that the country would be better off in the hands of a Democrat, Hillary Clinton.

Then, again, the writers of this letter, these Republican foreign policy luminaries, they are also in many cases people who Democrats have been castigating for more than a decade. For example, Hillary Clinton has criticized Michael Chertoff for, quote, "his unhelpful, ambiguous rhetoric" on terror.

Tom Ridge also in his own book, he said he was pressured to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush`s reelection, something he says he almost resigned over, something that`s caused quite a bit of suspicion in Democratic circles for years now. Many in this letter, they were the very people who pushed the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

The Bush era foreign policy that brought us the Iraq war, that created a grassroots uprising among Democrats, these are many of the architects of that foreign policy. These are the people who today are blasting Trump.

And it`s a fair question for Democrats. Yes, they want to beat Donald Trump. Yes, they`ll take pretty much every edge they can find to do that, but this? Is this too much for them? Is it too far?

Tonight, Donald Trump is responding to this letter. Look at how he frames it. Quote, "The names on this letter are the last ones the American people should look to for answers on why the world is a mess." And he says, "Along with Hillary Clinton, they are responsible for, quote, "the disastrous decisions to invade Iraq, allow Americans to die in Benghazi, and they are ones who allowed the rise of ISIS."

So, for those keeping score at home, that was Donald Trump attacking some of the Republicans who championed the invasion of Iraq and who are now condemning Trump and are suggesting that for all their doubts about her, they`d rather Hillary Clinton be president.

Sometimes politics is enough to make you dizzy.


KORNACKI: All right. We showed you some of the speech earlier tonight. Donald Trump, his big economic speech in Detroit today. Detroit, Michigan. Of course, that setting is important when you talk about Donald Trump and his strategy to get to 270 electoral votes to try to become the president of the United States winning in the Electoral College.

Donald Trump, we have talked about this before, is pursuing what you might call a Rust Belt strategy. Let me show you what that looks like on the board here.

So, right now, you`ve got the red states and the blue states as they finished up in 2012. We have given Clinton the Obama states. We`re giving Donald Trump the Romney states.

Now, the problem for Donald Trump is his path to 270 has narrowed a bit. States like Virginia and Colorado, these are states that are more white collar populations, more suburbanites, a rising Latino population in Colorado. These states look grim for Donald Trump right now.

So, he really does have to look more and more to the Rust Belt. So, where would that path for Donald Trump go? He`s talked about it all the time and makes no secret about it. Pennsylvania is key to it. Ohio would be key to it. How about the state where he was today? Michigan would be key to it. Now, you get them close. You know, if he could get Wisconsin, if he could Iowa, some combination here, that could get him over 270.

So, that`s sort of what the Rust Belt strategy would look like if it works. But think about this for a minute, Michigan, the state he was in today, a state that would be crucial to getting to 270 if the Rust Belt strategy pays off for Trump, how do things look in Michigan right now?

Check this out. Latest poll we have out of Michigan, Donald Trump is getting blown out. Four-way race here double digits. There were a couple of polls that came out in Michigan last week. Donald Trump is down ten points in Michigan right now. He`s going to need to see significant movement to even put the state in play.

As it is though right now, Michigan does not like it`s going to red. It looks like, at this moment, it`s going to stay in Hillary Clinton`s column. You see right there that would knock Donald Trump under 270, even if he got all these other states, which could be stretches as well.

Think about Pennsylvania. How about Pennsylvania? Look at this. Last week, a poll there Donald Trump down 11 points. Again, we talk about that college/no college divide. Donald Trump is doing well with blue collar workers in Pennsylvania, but in those suburbs outside Philadelphia, those white collar suburbs, he is getting absolutely massacred by Hillary Clinton.

So, again, go back to that 270 map. Donald Trump wants Pennsylvania. The polls, though, right now say Pennsylvania is a real reach for him. It`d go on and on. It looks the same for him in Wisconsin.

You see, the path Donald Trump wants to take is through the Rust Belt, but he`s got to get these states into play right now. Right now, all it is for Donald Trump is a theoretical path. It`s not a path that`s backed up by polling in these states.

So, Donald Trump`s got a lot of work to do in the Rust Belt. But here`s the bigger problem for Donald Trump. All of this talk about the Rust Belt, all this talk about what states could get him to 270, it assumes something big. It assumes that he holds all the Romney states from 2012, all those red states from the 2012, it assumes he holds them and adds to them.

Here`s the real problem for Donald Trump. He`s got trouble in some of the Romney states. Some shocking Romney states. We`re going to tell you about them when we come back.


KORNACKI: OK. So we were just talking about why Donald Trump was in Michigan today and what that means in terms of the path he`s trying to follow to the White House, the rustbelt path. We told you, there`s a big problem for Donald Trump. There`s two big problems. One, he`s losing in the Rust Belt right now, but the second one is Donald Trump has trouble in the red states, the Romney states from 2012.

Check this out. Let`s take a look here at states that went from Romney in 2012 that Trump assumes he`s going to be able to hold in 2016, that Trump assumes he`s going to be able to hold in 2016, but that right now he is in trouble in.

Let`s highlight them for you starting in North Carolina. There have been polls out in North Carolina that show Hillary Clinton ahead or tied. Georgia, there is a poll out of Georgia today that has Hillary Clinton up by seven points. Georgia, a state that last voted for a Democrat back in 1992 with bill Clinton.

You could go to Arizona. There`s a poll that has Trump up. There`s a poll that has Clinton up. This is a state, if nothing else, that looks like it is in play.

There was a poll believe it or not in Missouri. There was a poll that made Missouri look like it might be competitive. Some say Indiana could be competitive. Maybe even a congressional district in Nebraska, the one around Omaha.

But there is one shocking red state, Romney state, Republican state that looks like it is in play this year. It is the state of Utah. Utah, which may be the single most Republican state in the country. How on earth could that one be in play?

Well, let`s show you. Let`s take a look first of all at what the battleground looks like in Utah right now. Here is a weird situation. Donald Trump is leading, but with only 37 percent of the vote. Hillary Clinton second place. The last time a Democrat carried Utah 1964, LBJ. The libertarian Gary Johnson, he`s at 16 percent. Other 14 percent.

You say who could other be? It looks like all the candidates are up here. Do you know what this is? Fourteen percent of the respondents to this poll volunteered the name of Mitt Romney. They told the pollsters, you know what I`m going to do? I`m going to go write in Mitt Romney for president.

That is the inversion of Donald Trump. That`s how severe it is in Utah. Fourteen percent of the folks out there telling the pollster, we`re going to write in Mitt Romney. They didn`t have to be told it was an option. We have seen how bad Utah is for Donald Trump.

We saw it back in the primary season. This was his single worst state. Ted Cruz got nearly 70 percent of the vote. Donald Trump only 14 percent in the Utah Republican caucuses.

Remember, this was the same day Donald Trump won Arizona, but he got absolutely crushed in Utah. This is a state, the story here of course is Donald Trump`s relationship with Mormon voters. Utah is the heart of Mormon Americans, 60 percent of the population, Donald Trump has had severe trouble winning over Mormon voters and, of course, a new wrinkle that`s being introduced into this today.

We mentioned this earlier. This man, you probably never heard of them before. You probably never seen them before. His name is Evan McMullin. He`s a former House staff, a former CIA officer, and he said today he`s going to run as a conservative alternative to Donald Trump.

Now, Evan McMullin is a Mormon. He went to school in Utah. The campaign is going to be headquartered in Utah. He looks like he has a good shot to get on the ballot.

This is going to take a strange situation and it`s going to make it much stranger, another candidate that can take off some of the votes. There`s all sorts of possibilities. There`s a possibility that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee could lose the state of Utah, that`s shocking.

There`s a possibility Hillary Clinton, the Democrat, could win the state. That hasn`t happened in more than half a century. It`s a possibility, a third party candidate could swoop in and win the state of Utah. We haven`t seen a third party candidate win a state in the presidential election, since all the way back in 1968.

Donald Trump, he`s aware he`s got a problem in Utah. He`s been trying to talk his way out of it. This is what he`s been saying.


TRUMP: And do I love the Mormons, OK? Do I love the Mormons. I have many friends that live in Salt Lake. I have a lot of friends -- no, I have a lot of friends -- by the way, Mitt Romney is one of them.

Did he choke? Did this guy choke? He`s a choke artist, I can`t believe it. Are you sure he`s a Mormon? Are we sure? He choked, he choked. It was so sad.


KORNACKI: Well, that was four days before the Utah caucuses, that`s where Trump got absolutely clobbered.

Joining us now is McKay Coppins, senior political writer at "BuzzFeed News". McKay has written extensively on Donald Trump and the Mormon vote.

McKay, I made my way back in time to get the jacket back on.


KORNACKI: Please don`t take it personally. I would normally dress up for you.

COPPINS: I know you do.

KORNACKI: I heard a lot of theories about what it is that is turning off Mormon voters from Donald Trump. I`m curious, what do you think the answer is?

COPPINS: Well, there`s a number of things. The obvious ones are that his whole lifestyle is -- is anathema to the Mormon lifestyle. He`s twice married. He`s profane, he`s rude to people. It`s not the Mormon style.

But the more interesting ones are that the things that rally a lot of conservative voters, especially conservative Christians who would otherwise will be repealed by Donald Trump, are immigration and his tough talk on Muslims. Both of those issues are things that don`t work with Mormon voters, conservative Mormon voters. Immigration, Mormons have been found to be twice as likely as evangelicals to say they support more immigration to this country.

When it comes to Muslims, they report by large numbers more warm feelings towards Muslims. They`re against his Muslim ban.

KORNACKI: Is part of that is because of the history of Mormons --

COPPINS: Yes, yes.

KORNACKI: -- in this country with discrimination?

COPPINS: Totally, and I actually just talk to Evan McMullin, the candidate you mentioned, just right before I came here I was interviewing him. He laid that out. He said he`s especially troubled by the talk about Muslims, because if you look back at the history of the Mormon Church, there`s a lot of government sponsored persecution of early Mormons, and he`s afraid that when you see a demagogic presidential candidate come up and talk about Muslims the way he does, you have -- a lot of Mormons have flashbacks to their faith`s early history.

KORNACKI: So, we put the poll up, and I`ve never seen something like this I can remember in the presidential race where you`ve got Trump, you`ve got Clinton, but you also have Gary Johnson getting votes, you have this new guy, Evan McMullin who could get votes. You have Mitt Romney, you have 14 percent of respondents in this poll saying I`m going to go in and I`m going to write in Mitt Romney`s name.

That suggests a couple of things to me, but one of them is if Mitt Romney chooses to weigh in on this race, he could swing Utah.

COPPINS: Now, Mitt Romney has said already that he`s looking at the libertarian ticket. He`s a big fan of Bill Weld, who`s the running mate of Gary Johnson, of course.

And I will tell you that people in Evan McMullin`s campaign they are plugged into the Romney network. A lot of disaffected Mormon donors and fundraisers, wealthy Mormons, who are saying they`re going to support this new bid. They think he`s interesting. And they don`t want to -- they`re not going to support Trumkp.

So, that is another way in to kind of the Mormon audience that Romney has rallied obviously over the last eight, ten years.

KORNACKI: I guess one of the theories, though, of Evan McMullin is what effect his entry in the race could have, though, is it jumbles it up so much, you`ve got some conservatives who are going to, you know, vote libertarian, you got some who vote for him, maybe some writing in Romney, it jumbles it up so much, it actually helps Trump that he could maybe win with 35 percent.

COPPINS: Right. And one of the first reactions I heard from people on the ground in Utah, this might not hurt Trump as much as it hurts Gary Johnson. One remarkable thing, I think we need to step back here, both Gary Johnson`s campaign and Evan McMullin`s campaign are headquartered in Salt Lake City.

Utah has now been a battleground state in 50 some years. And now, we see two presidential third party candidates headquartering their campaign there. That says something about the state, but it could end up helping Trump, but only time will tell us.

KORNACKI: All right. McKay Coppins from "BuzzFeed", expert all things Utah politics.

COPPINS: That`s right.

KORNACKI: That is perfect guest for this. Appreciate that, McKay.

And still ahead, how Donald Trump`s recent numbers are putting a real damper on Hillary Clinton`s vacation plan. Stay with us.


KORNACKI: Today, President Obama spent day three of his two-week vacation on Martha`s Vineyard, hitting links with NBA star Steph Curry, his last summer vacation as president.

But the same cannot be said of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee spent her 2015 summer vacation spent it in a $50,000 a week beach front rental on the Hamptons. That was last week. But it turns, there`s not going to be a repeat this -- that was last summer, excuse me. No repeat this year, though.

"Politico" reporting tonight, the Democratic nominee is skipping her annual August vacation in the Hamptons. Instead, Clinton is going to travel to the Hamptons but with a different goal in mind, squeezing in up to nine big fund-raising events over the course of three days, at the end of this month. This comes as Clinton`s campaign manager Robby Mook admitted in an email to big money donors that the campaign had been caught off guard by Donald Trump`s surprisingly strong July fund-raising numbers, Trump raising $80 million last month. That was just $10 million shy of the Clinton camp`s total.

So, to try and build on that advantage this month, Hillary Clinton, along with her husband Bill and her running mate Tim Kaine, they`re going to spend August headlining over 80 fund-raisers in 25 different states. That`s according to donor schedule obtained by "Politico". That`s how they`ll be spending their summer vacation.

That`s going to do it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.

And now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."

Good evening to you, Lawrence.