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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript, 8/9/2016

Guests: Scott Rigell, Jake Sherman

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: August 9, 2016 Guest: Scott Rigell, Jake Sherman

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: All right. Norm Ornstein, Tina Turner, thank you both for your time.

That`s "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now with Steve Kornacki in for Rachel.

Good evening, Steve.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Good evening to you, Chris. Thanks for that.

Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. As Chris said, Rachel has the night off.

You`re looking live right here at Janesville, Wisconsin. Janesville, Wisconsin is home of House Speaker Paul Ryan, and polls have just closed there today. And all across the first congressional district of Wisconsin, there`s a primary taking place there, a Republican primary. Paul Ryan being challenged by an anti-establishment candidate named Paul Nehlen. And it was just a week ago that Paul Nehlen was being praise said by Donald Trump, the Republican nominee per president.

We are going to bring you the results from that race, from Paul Ryan`s primary, as soon as we get them. Again, polls closing right now. Results should be trickling in very soon.

We are expecting to hear from Paul Ryan once this race is called. He`s expected to take some questions from the press. We will show you what they ask, what he says, when that happens. Keeping a close eye on that corner of Wisconsin right now.

We also have some rather stunning new poll numbers to take you through tonight. These are numbers that are making political analysts reevaluate from long-held wisdom with presidential election politics in this country - - specifically the truism that electoral landslides just don`t happen anymore. All of those numbers and what they mean, that`s all ahead.

But we start tonight with a question. How is that Donald Trump reboot going? Seems like just yesterday, in fact, it was just yesterday that we were right here talking about a possible reboot of the Donald Trump presidential campaign. It was coming off of what was very probably the worst week Donald Trump had had as a presidential candidate.

And coming off that, Trump went yesterday to the Detroit Economic Club in Michigan. He read his prepared remarks about his plan for the country`s economy, his message appeared designed to win over some of the reluctant establishment Republicans, some of them had been threatening to desert his campaign. Trump seemed to be talking to them yesterday.

He had tried and failed before to remake his image with a sober policy speech, but maybe, just maybe this was the time his campaign reboot would stick. And now, 24 hours later, here`s where we are.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The breaking news, Donald Trump goes unscripted again and sets off a stunning new controversy.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: Today`s one of those days that felt like maybe the dam broke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even Donald Trump`s most rabid supporters may be shaking their heads in bewilderment tonight.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Just minutes ago, Trump has said something that has so many Democrats, so many Republicans aghast.


KORNACKI: And that thing, the thing that has so many people aghast right now, it`s from a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina this afternoon. At that rally, Trump appeared possibly to suggest that Hillary Clinton could be assassinated as a way to stop unfriendly justices (AUDIO GAP) Supreme Court. That was certainly how his remarks were interpreted by, as Donald Trump himself might put it, many people.

So, here are Donald Trump`s complete unedited comments from that rally in North Carolina today. You can take a listen. You can judge for yourself exactly what he was saying.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: So, you know, I just wrote this down today. Hillary wants to raise taxes. It`s a comparison. I want to lower them. Hillary wants to expand regulations, which she does big league. Can you believe that? I will reduce them very, very, very substantially. Could be as much as 70, 75 percent.

Hillary wants to shut down energy production. I want to expand it. Lower electric, lower electric bills, folks.

Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick -- if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don`t know. But I`ll tell you what, that will be a horrible day.


KORNACKI: Again, that was Donald Trump earlier today in Wilmington, North Carolina. Those comments you heard, those comments from the very end of that segment we just played, they are stirring an enormous amount of controversy tonight.

Now, the Trump campaign, for its part, its explanation is that Trump was talking about political action, they say, political action, and not actual violence. His campaign statement on, quote, "dishonest media." It reads, quote, "It`s called the power of unification. Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power. This year, they will be voting in record numbers and it won`t be for Hillary Clinton. It will be for Donald Trump."

That`s the statement from the Trump campaign earlier, after that controversy started to kick up. That statement doesn`t quite track with what Trump actually said, though, since Trump was talking about what could happen after Hillary Clinton is elected. It wasn`t about voting in this election. It was about what happens after the voting is done in this election.

But, let`s be honest here, Donald Trump say rambling and imprecise speaker. Maybe that is what he was trying to say. He makes shorthand references in his speeches all the time. He jumps around erratically, he starts thoughts, leaves them, trails off, doesn`t finish. Lot of times leaves people just plain scratching their heads.

So, yes, maybe it is possible he was trying to spit out some kind of platitude about the power of Second Amendment advocates and it just came out in that weird, nonsensical way. But, of course, when you`re Donald Trump and you have said so many provocative, so many inflammatory things, on purpose, in this campaign -- well, even if you didn`t mean it the way people are taking it tonight, that is how a lot of people are going to take it.

Ross Douthat at "The New York Times" speculating, not reassuringly, that may be Trump meant people could shoot the judicial nominees and not Hillary Clinton. The editor of `The Washington Examiner" thought Trump was floating the idea of an armed rebellion against bad Supreme Court decisions. But the overall consensus amongst critics is that Trump was hinting at some kind of gun violence.

And the responses have been coming fast and furious all day. Hillary Clinton`s campaign manager calling Trump`s comments, quote, "dangerous". "A person seeking to be the president of the United States should not suggest violence in any way. That from the Clinton campaign."

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut, calling it, quote, "an assassination threat, seriously upping the possibility of a national tragedy and crisis."

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeting, that Trump, quote, "makes death threats because he`s a pathetic coward who can`t handle the fact that he`s losing to a girl."

Hillary Clinton`s running mate, Tim Kaine, condemning the remarks. So did the Brady Campaign and the Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly, their gun control group, they also condemn this. The daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. weighing as well. She tweeted, quote, "As the daughter of a leader who was assassinated, I find Trump`s comments distasteful, disturbing, and dangerous."

And on a purely political level, Trump`s latest comments are just the latest headache he`s causing for down-ballot Republicans. The Democratic senatorial and congressional campaign committees, they work on behalf of candidates all over the country, they put out a statement right away, tying Republicans running for the Senate, Republicans running for the House directly to Donald Trump`s words today. And right on cue, the Democratic Senate candidate in that tight race in Pennsylvania, one of the races that`s going to determine control of the Senate this year, the Democrat taking to Twitter to essentially dare her Republican opponent, incumbent Senator Pat Toomey to stand by Trump in the face of these remarks.

There was also, we could tell you about this tweet. This is from United States Secret Service. Of course, the Secret Service tasked with investigating threats against presidential candidates. They say, quote, "The Secret Service is aware of the comments made earlier this afternoon." No further comment there from the Secret Service. That`s all they said tonight.

The Trump campaign insisting that any interpretation of his remarks as encouraging violence is a dishonest media narrative. Mike Pence, Trump`s running mate, telling NBC`s Philadelphia station that Trump was talking about gun rights supporters voting against Hillary Clinton. Asked whether Trump was making any reference to violence related to Hillary Clinton in any way, Pence replied, quote, "Of course not, no."

Introducing Trump at a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, tonight, his first rally after the one in Wilmington where he made those remarks, Donald Trump introducing Trump, defended him aggressively. Told the crowd that gun rights advocates have the power to speak out against Hillary Clinton. Giuliani accusing the Clinton campaign of twisting that into an assassination threat and saying the media is backing her up.

For his part, Donald Trump made no reference to the controversy at his rally tonight. He made remarks about Clinton in the Second Amendment, very similar to the remarks at his early rally, but he left out that comment he made about Second Amendment people.

So, the bottom line here is this: whether you think Donald Trump actually was suggesting violence or joking about possible violence against Hillary Clinton or against anyone else, or if you think it was an innocent slip of the tongue, or if you think it was something in between, the bottom line is, if you`re the Republican nominee for president, and you`ve just given a major economic speech yesterday and you are down double-digits in a bunch of polls, you`re campaigning in a crucial swing state, you`re facing an uphill climb to 270 -- well, if that`s who you are and where you are in this race, you don`t want this to be the kind of day you`re having.

Joining us now from Raleigh, NBC News correspondent Hallie Jackson. She`s been covering the Trump campaign.

So, Hallie, the second rally is in the books now. Donald Trump speaking publicly against after kicking up this fire storm of controversy. He did not address it in his speech tonight. What are you hearing from the people around him, what are you hearing from his campaign? I`ve heard a bunch of different explanations offered by Trump supporters. What are they telling you?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: So, let`s start with what the candidate is saying, Steve, and then we`ll move to what his top advisers are telling NBC News.

So, Trump was out tonight doing his interview with Sean Hannity who asked him about this particular question, and Trump said, reiterated what his campaign statement was, this idea that he was talking about the political movement, the political unification of Second Amendment supporters or advocates, the people he called Second Amendment people in those remarks, coming together to use the power of their unity to try to stop Hillary Clinton from her agenda were she try to abolish or take away some second amendment rights or institute more gun control, right? So, that`s what Trump is saying, it`s about the political movement.

His campaign is reiterating that. I had a top adviser tell me it`s totally ridiculous, in this person`s words, that anybody would think Trump was talking about, let`s say, a death threat, as Elizabeth Warren put it. Or as the Democratic senator from Connecticut, Chris Murphy, said, an assassination threat, if you will, that could up the potential for a national tragedy.

Here`s what the campaign and what Trump himself are doing. It`s two things. Number one, they`re trying to blame this on Hillary Clinton`s team, talking about the Democratic spin, as you heard Rudy Giuliani say in Fayetteville a couple hours ago for his rally. Number two, they`re working to blame the media as well, calling this a dishonest narrative from the media.

Again, what we have done, Steve, and what you have done, you play the sound bite for yourself, you listen, and you can make your own decision about what Trump was talking about.

KORNACKI: I guess it`s sort of a tactical question from the Trump campaign standpoint -- why doesn`t Trump himself come out and say, listen, I hear how people are interpreting this, that`s the wrong interpretation, it`s not what I meant, I disavow any concept, any notion of violence? Why wouldn`t there just be an affirmative statement like that from him?

JACKSON: You know, it`s interesting you asked that, because I think that is what Trump believes he`s doing when he comes out in these interviews, like, for example, the one he did tonight, and say that it`s spin, that`s not what he was talking about essentially. But it`s not necessarily as concrete as what you`re talking about, which is why you follow-up, as we`ve done with his campaign team.

The question is, and for Trump the question is, when you have to go to the campaign team to then re-interpret Trump`s remarks, you got to question why you`re doing that in the first place, right? Now, I`ll tell you this -- there are some Republicans texting and on the phone with them all night, who say, what`s the deal?

I had somebody say to me, just talk about the economy. What is so hard about that? Focus on the economy, focus on the issues and don`t get wrapped up in yet another controversy, as he has been right now.

KORNACKI: And just -- what is the overall mood around the Trump campaign? We talked about what a rough week he had last week, the poll numbers and we`re going to show some specific numbers that will blow some people`s minds I think, about where the race stands at least right now. What`s the mood you`re picking up on around the Trump campaign?

JACKSON: Defiant, I think, is one. I think there`s a sense that they feel good about how they did in the primaries. They feel like Trump is a candidate who can overcome some of these really rough moments that he`s been having over the last week -- rough moments being an understatement when you look at the poll numbers and the controversy he`s been involved in.

And I think there`s a defiant sense that they will survive and they will end up potentially stronger in these places where he needs to be stronger, places like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio.

The mood on the ground, though, from Trump supporters, I would say, is different. When you look at where the numbers are. We were talking about a lot of folks today all over the country, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, we had teams everywhere, and we heard from some former Trump supporters, people that were his demographic.

I spoke with a man in North Carolina today who voted for Donald Trump in the primary. And he said, I can`t vote for him again come November right now. This is this man`s word, he says, "I`ve moved him into the idiot category if you will, because I don`t believe he has the right temperament to be commander-in-chief." Now, that`s somebody who picked Donald Trump in the primaries here who backed him, who supported him, who is now seriously questioning that.

So, it`s a little bit of a tale of two candidates, the campaign`s perception of one candidate and some of his former supporters` perceptions.

I will say this -- when you go to his rallies, he still has very intense support from people who love him, from people who frankly blame people in the media for perpetuating some of these controversies in their view. So, I think there`s a window when you talk with Republican operatives that he has, until maybe Labor Day and after that, the first debate, which he now says he will do. And after that, those are the last couple of times to try to change the narrative for Donald Trump.

KORNACKI: All right. NBC News correspondent Hallie Jackson in Raleigh, North Carolina -- Hallie, thanks for joining us.

JACKSON: Thanks, Steve.

KORNACKI: All right. We got lot more to get to tonight. We are keeping an eye on that primary in Wisconsin`s first district. We`re going to bring you results soon as we get them.

And I just mentioned this a second ago, we have new poll numbers that are going to surprise a lot of people. We`ll show them to you. That`s ahead. Stay with us.


KORNACKI: All right, we got a jam-packed show for you tonight. As I said, we are awaiting those results. They`re going to be trickling in any minute now. Paul Ryan in the Republican primary challenge he`s receiving in his congressional district in Wisconsin. We`ll bring you the numbers soon as we get them. He`s also expected to talk to the press. We`re keeping an eye on that.

Also, we`ve got a Marine Corps veteran and Republican congressman from Virginia who has come out and said, he will not vote for Donald Trump. He`s going to join us. We`ll talk to him in just a few minutes.

And we also have some polling hot off the presses here with some stunning numbers out of some very red states.

All of that and much more still ahead. Stay with us.


KORNACKI: So, one of the major stories this month is the steady stream of high profile Republicans who are now coming out against their own party`s nominee for president. That was before Donald Trump generated more headlines today for a Second Amendment quip that many are interpreting as a threat against Hillary Clinton.

Late last night, Senator Susan Collins of Maine became the latest Republican to announce she will not vote for Trump this November, although she did defend him today over those Second Amendment comments.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I`ve been very critical of Donald Trump, but I actually don`t think that`s what he was saying. I think he was suggesting that the Second Amendment advocates across the country might be able to come together to pressure the Senate to reject her nominee, should she become president.

That`s how I interpreted it. But it is an example of Donald Trump`s looseness with language that can lead to interpretations such as the one put out by Secretary Clinton`s camp.


KORNACKI: Still, Susan Collins` announcement that she won`t be voting for Donald Trump, it puts even more pressure on vulnerable Republican incumbents who are running this year, like New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte. She`s been dancing around questions about Trump for a long time now. But today, because of the Collins news, she was forced to address what was clearly her least favorite subject.


SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: You know, obviously there`s a presidential race going on. I`ve said that I`ve going to be voting for our nominee, but I`ve always been quite clear when I`ve had disagreements with him, which I will continue to do.

REPORTER: Is there anything Donald Trump could do that might make you rethink your position?

AYOTTE: Well, I mean, obviously I`m going to continue every day to evaluate my support for anyone. So, there`s nothing different here than there would be in any other situation. I am working and doing what I`m doing whether I`m running for office or not running for office, which is, focusing on getting things done.


KORNACKI: So, Ayotte is hardly alone here in offering qualified, tepid support for Donald Trump, at least among Republicans. But Collins` clear defection makes her the sixth Republican senator to take a step further and to say, not only does she had issues with Donald Trump, but she`s not going to vote for him in November. Those six senators saying that, join at least ten House Republicans who have also come out against their party`s nominee for president.

One of those ten is Scott Rigell of Virginia. He`s going a step further than that. He`s announcing he will cast his vote for the third-party ticket, the libertarian ticket that`s led by former New Mexico Gary Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld.

And joining us now is Republican Congressman Scott Rigell. He announced he will not support Donald Trump for president.

Congressman, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

Well, let me ask you first about Donald Trump and these comments we`ve been talking about tonight. Do you take what he said today about Second Amendment people, do you think he was saying something ominous here, or do you think it`s something benign and being misinterpreted?

REP. SCOTT RIGELL (R-VA), REFUSES TO ENDORSE TRUMP: Well, I think it`s consistent with his pattern of saying things that can be misinterpreted. But overwhelmingly, the sum of everything that he said makes clear to me that he doesn`t have the temperament, the judgment, or the character to be commander-in-chief.

And I`m 56 years old. I`ve been a Republican all my life. I find myself now in this untenable, really rough situation. And, look, I`m joined by literally millions of Americans across this country who are equally offended by the choice on the Democratic side and on the Republican side.

And as for me, as I evaluated the two options there, I evaluated a third. And that`s a two-term governor, Gary Johnson, and I am firmly behind him, and I will cast a confident vote this fall for Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate and I think that`s the right vote.

I would just ask others to just consider his background and experience. I think we`ll find a lot more momentum building for the Johnson campaign.

KORNACKI: Hey, I want to ask you more about that in a minute. But I was struck listening to that clip we played there of Kelly Ayotte, Republican senator from New Hampshire. That`s a swing state, obviously. She`s up for re-election.

Clearly, she doesn`t want to be talking about this subject. She`s making her disdain for a lot of Trump`s comments clear, but she`s ultimately saying she feels compelled to support him.

You`re not running for re-election this year. So, you`re in a slightly different political situation than her. I just wonder if you could step into her shoes for a minute, if you were facing re-election, if you were facing sort of a swing state, swing district electorate -- do you think you`d be taking this additional step still of saying, I`m not voting for Trump? Or would you be doing the dance we`re seeing Kelly Ayotte do?

RIGELL: Well, I`ve always shared with my staff that I want to serve without fear and leave without regret. It`s a very difficult decision.

I think it`s a legitimate thing to wrestle with, because, my virtue of an elected office within a party and as an elected official, obviously, we are leaders within our party and there`s a certain degree of fidelity and responsibility that comes with that to the party itself. That there can be times and there are exceptional moments, and this is one of them, certainly for me, where my own principles are so in conflict with where our party`s gone, in terms of who we`ve nominated, to say this person best represents our values.

And when I think that that person is Donald Trump, you know, it`s just like, my head explodes. I mean, you just can`t think this is the person that should lead our country. And so, it`s different for each person. The struggle that Kelly is going through right now is a legitimate one.

I know there are many House members who are right on the edge of maybe flipping and really coming to where they`ll be public in opposition to the Trump candidacy. It`s a matter of deep principle. We`ve got to have a clear conscience at the end of the day. Each and every one of us, as fellow Americans, and for me, that meant, as a Republican, voting for the libertarian ticket.

KORNACKI: You just said others might be coming to this. When we get to Election Day, we say there`s about ten House Republicans right now, about six Republican senators saying affirmatively, "I`m not voting for Donald Trump". What do you think those numbers will be on Election Day?

RIGELL: Well, to some extent, it depends on how Donald Trump conducts himself from now until then. There was a hope, it was a fleeting and false one, and even I held on to it for just a little bit, to think -- well, maybe if he gets the nomination, he`ll somehow, you know, start to glow with wisdom and he`ll conduct himself as a statesman.

He did anything but that. And it reinforced my view that he wasn`t qualified for the office. I spoke out very clearly on this matter prior to the Virginia primary. I did my very best to influence the outcome.

My influence wasn`t enough. And I acknowledged that. Even in my own district. My own district voted -- about 40 percent of them for Donald Trump.

But now that he`s the nominee, he`s embarrassing the Republican Party. The Democratic option is not a clear alternative, at least a favorable one. I believe the record is so clear that Secretary Clinton has misrepresented, that`s a nice way of saying that she`s been lying to the American people on so many things. She`s promising to spend more money on virtually every program within the federal budget. She will wreck our fiscal situation that`s already horrible.

So, where are Americans to go with these two, really unpalatable, unacceptable options? And in all candor, it was one of my young interns that was driving me somewhere and I was talking about how conflicted I was, and he said, well, congressman, have you given a good look at the libertarian ticket?

I think it`s neat that a young person actually had some influence there, because I had not really considered that option. But the more I looked at the governor, Governor Johnson, and his running mate, Governor Weld, these are two fine, Republican governors, each of whom were elected not once but twice in their states. This is a ticket that clear-thinking Democrats, clear-thinking independents, and clear-thinking Republicans can get behind.

Finally, if we can get 15 percent in the polling, and he`s around 11 percent, if we can get to 15 percent polling, then he`s going to be in the debates and that`s a game-changer.

KORNACKI: That`s the question we`ll know in mid-September if he gets there.

Congressman Scott Rigell from Virginia, endorsing the libertarian ticket, the Johnson-Weld ticket -- thanks for the time tonight. We appreciate it.

RIGELL: Thank you, Steve.

KORNACKI: All right, next, the word that people who study election polls are never supposed to say, ever. It`s forbidden. Landslide.


KORNACKI: All right. We said we`ve been watching for results in Paul Ryan`s congressional primary out in Wisconsin. And now, we`ve got some numbers to tell you about. Let`s put them on the screen for you.

Just a small amount of the precincts are in right now, this is about 3 percent, but Paul Ryan leading by 80 percent. And guess what, this will shock you. "The Associated Press" just called Paul Ryan the winner of this race. He`s leading again by 80 points. There had been some pre-election polls that pegged his lead about 65 or 70 points.

Of course, we live in the age when Eric Cantor just two years ago lost his primary in Virginia, the number two House Republican at that time, in an absolute shocker that nobody coming. And so, even though every sign was pointing to a sizable Paul Ryan win in this primary before tonight, everybody still had that slight bits of hesitation that maybe there was something we weren`t seeing.

But now, the numbers are out there, we weren`t missing anything. Paul Ryan has been nominated again by the Republican Party in the first district of Wisconsin. He survived his primary challenge easily, a comfortable win for him.

He will go on and fight in the general election. Of course this district is not an overwhelmingly Republican district. Paul Ryan, four years ago when he was Republican nominee for vice president, he simultaneously ran in this district to re-election to his House seat, got 55 percent of the vote. Could still be a little interesting for him in November.

But again, the headline, Paul Ryan survives the primary.

Much more, stay with us. We`ll be right back.


KORNACKI: All right. You know what we haven`t had in a presidential election in a long time? A real landslide. I mean, yes, we`ve had some elections that were lopsided.

Barack Obama won by seven points in 2008 against John McCain. That was a solid, lopsided win for Barack Obama. But McCain still won 22 states in that race.

What I`m talking about, when I say a landslide is something bigger than what we saw in 2008. I`m talking about a real thorough, honest to goodness beat-down.

That`s something we used to see all the time actually. Richard Nixon carrying 49 states and more than 60 percent of the vote back in 1972. Ronald Reagan taking 44 states in 1980, 49 in 1984, winning by nearly 20 points. That was a massive blow-out. Even George Bush Sr. burying Michael Dukakis and taking 40 states in 1988.

That was four presidential elections right now, four out of five, from 1972 to 1988, where the winning candidate took at least 40 states and 400 electoral votes. Those were landslides.

But since then, we haven`t had any on that scale. Supposedly, it`s just not possible anymore. The country is more polarized now. There`s red America, there`s blue America, there`s almost nothing in between. Only a handful of states are really up for grabs in any given election. That`s what we`ve become used to.

But -- and I don`t want to oversell this here, but at least right now, in this moment, we`re seeing an interesting possibility in this presidential race. Our new NBC News/Survey Monkey poll is out today. It puts Hillary Clinton up by ten points over Donald Trump.

And this is not the first poll since the conventions to give Clinton a double-digit lead. This is actually the fourth -- four polls -- that have Clinton up by more than ten points or at least ten points. Her lead is reaching levels we didn`t see in the past few campaigns.

Now, maybe this is just a temporary thing. Maybe Trump is going to recover and a month from now, we`re going to be talking about a razor-thin race all over again. Totally possible.

But there`s another possibility. What if we`re seeing something else, something deeper? A more permanent separation, between Clinton and Trump?

Could we be seeing our first true landslide in a long time? A double-digit landslide? That is Clinton`s lead in four polls now. And the last time an election ended with a candidate winning by double-digits, you`ve got to go all the way back to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re watching a really phenomenal development tonight as Ronald Reagan continues to roll through the country. So far, Walter Fritz Mondale has won only the District of Columbia. All those states that you see behind me that are colored blue are the states we have projected Ronald Reagan the winner in tonight.

Here`s the Electoral College vote as we have it right now, 405 votes for Ronald Reagan. He has exceeded the Electoral College total that his pollster said he would get, 400. Fritz Mondale with only three. So, that makes it an Electoral College landslide alone.

And here`s what`s going on with the national vote, 27 percent of the precincts have reported in so far. The Reagan margin has dropped a wee bit. Down from 21 points down to 18 points. Still in the landslide proportions.


KORNACKI: It`s dropped from 22 points down to 18 points. That`s what counts for suspense when you`re talking about a landslide. So, that was `84. Reagan won 49 states.

Look, nobody`s talking about it being a 49-state landslide, but some interesting things are happening with this electoral map. Again, at least right now, I want to take you through them. So, what you here -- these are basically how the states voted in 2012. We`ve taken five of them and made them gray. What are these five gray states? These are basically Rust Belt states, industrial Midwest states that Donald Trump thinks he can flip. They were blue states in 2012.

If you look at Trump`s strategy, if you look at the blue collar voters he`s going after, these are the kind of states he thinks he can flip and get to 270. So, the first question is, how is he doing in these states that are the most promising for him to flip, at least his strategy?

So, let`s take a look. First of all, we have a poll out of Pennsylvania, this is a brand-new that`s came out a couple of hours ago. NBC News/Marist, look at this, a double-digit lead for Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, hardly the first double-digit lead for Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania. This is the third one we`ve seen in a week for her.

So, Donald Trump, Pennsylvania`s a big target, but all the evidence we have now says Pennsylvania is still favored to be a Democratic state.

What about Ohio? We have a brand-new poll out of Ohio. Trump doing better here, but still down in Ohio, a five-point gap. So, again, right now, Donald Trump targeting Ohio, just like he`s targeting Pennsylvania, but he`s not there right now. Clinton still leading in Ohio.

Another one, brand-new NBC News/Marist poll out of Iowa today, again, a little bit closer, but a four-point lead for Hillary Clinton. This is supposed to be a ripe target for Donald Trump. He had his convention, he`s had his convention, he`s had chances here, he was there for the caucuses early this year, he`s still trailing in this poll in Iowa. Closer, he could turn it around but again, for right now, is Donald Trump ahead in Iowa? Not in this poll.

We don`t have new polls today, but Wisconsin, Michigan, these are other states Donald Trump has talked about flipping with the Rust Belt strategy. We have not seen a poll that puts him ahead in these states.

So again, the burden is still on Donald Trump to show that he can do something Mitt Romney and a whole bunch of other Republicans over the last generation or so, couldn`t do, and that is actually win these states. That`s the first thing that`s going wrong for Trump.

The bigger problem is this. These are the blue states he thinks he can flip. How about the red states he needs to hold? How about the states Romney won in 2012 that Trump is maybe assuming he`s going to hold?

Well, check this out -- brand-new numbers out of North Carolina. North Carolina was a Mitt Romney state in 2012. Well, right now, in this poll, Hillary Clinton has the lead. Very close, certainly, Donald Trump could still win it. I`d call it a s toss-up state, but we have seen polls putting Hillary Clinton ahead there. It is possible Hillary Clinton could flip North Carolina, make it a blue state.

Trump`s problem gets a lot worse than North Carolina. Look at this -- Georgia, new poll, seven-point lead here for Hillary Clinton. Not the first poll that we`ve seen putting her ahead in Georgia. This is a state that last went Democratic back in 1992.

Again, Donald Trump could still take Georgia, but Hillary Clinton certainly has a chance to flip Georgia. All this talk about Trump turning blue states red, we could see the opposite happening with Hillary Clinton having a double-digit lead nationally.

But it`s not just North Carolina, it`s not just Georgia. Look at this. This came out just about two hours ago. Kansas. Kansas! One of the most Republican states in the country, the margin here was more than 20 points for Mitt Romney in 2012. Donald Trump leading by just five points in Kansas.

Remember, there`s a lot of big suburbs right outside of Kansas City, on the Kansas side. You got suburban, moderate, professional, college-degree Republicans there. That`s the type of Republican Trump has been struggling with.

And when Trump is struggling with that type of Republican, you`re going to see this type of result. He could be vulnerable in a state like Kansas. It`s still a real stretch to say Hillary Clinton`s going to win it, but there`s the possibility there that Donald Trump is going to have to fight for it.

So, again, you would take that and say, not a sure thing for Trump. Just like we`ve seen polls that say Utah is not a sure thing for Trump, just like we`ve seen polls that say Arizona, not a sure thing for Trump. In fact, there have been polls putting Hillary Clinton ahead there. When you get to a ten point race nationally, which you have four polls in the last week saying, Donald Trump could have to worry about Indiana, he could have to worry about Missouri, if this holds up, and it`s a big if, again, Donald Trump could close the gap, could be a different story in a month.

But if Hillary Clinton could sustain the kind of lead, she has leaped into this race, you could see other states that suddenly get crazy, states you wouldn`t have even imagined, like a South Carolina, even a Texas, they could at least become competitive. What it would mean, doesn`t mean Hillary Clinton`s going to win all these, it means we could have more competitive states than we ever imagined.

That`s the lay of the land right now at this low moment for Donald Trump.

We`ll be right back right after this.


KORNACKI: OK, we continue to wait out in Janesville, Wisconsin, Paul Ryan expected to address supporters and the media, take questions from the media. He has been declared the winner in his congressional primary. Half the vote now in, in Paul Ryan`s district. His lead is 69 points. He`s been declared the winner.

We`re waiting on him to take the stage. We`ll bring you that as soon as it happens. Going to squeeze in a quick break. We`ll be right back after this.


KORNACKI: All right. The margin is 69 points. Paul Ryan leading his Republican primary challenger in the first congressional district right now, overwhelming margin out there. Any thought he would be the next Eric Cantor, and might get shocked, might get upset, might caught sleeping in the primary, it`s not going to happen. He`s been declared the winner. He will be the Republican nominee for another term in Congress from the first district of Wisconsin, assuming he wins re-election this November, he`d return. And if the Republicans do retain their majority, he`ll be the speaker of the House, it looks like, heading into the next Congress.

Again, we are waiting on Paul Ryan to address his supporters to, address the media. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say about Donald Trump, not just in light of his comments today about Second Amendment people and all the controversy that stirred up, but also in the face of what`s happened in the last week.

Donald Trump had flirted with not endorsing Paul Ryan in this primary. He had said he wasn`t ready to endorse Paul Ryan. This was just a week ago, Donald Trump had nice words to say about Paul Ryan`s Republican challenger, the one who is losing by about 70 points. Trump reversed course after taking plenty of heat from Republican Party leaders last Friday night at an event in Green Bay, he endorsed Paul Ryan formally. So, that`s the backdrop of what`s happening tonight in Wisconsin.

Let`s bring in now, Jake Sherman. He`s a senior writer from "Politico", someone who`s been covering Congress and Paul Ryan for a long time.

Jake, thanks for joining us tonight. I appreciate it.

So, Paul Ryan had a little bit of a dust up, I guess you could say with Donald Trump in the last week. Certainly, Paul Ryan gets the last laugh with this result tonight. With this primary now out of the way, and again, this is a big win for him in terms of scale. But with the primary now out of the way, is this going to free up Paul Ryan to do or say anything to approach Donald Trump in any way that he wasn`t free to do so before?

JAKE SHERMAN, POLITICO: The biggest storyline -- forget the election which I think reporters gave too much credence too, there was never a shred of evidence Ryan was going to lose, despite his huge cash advantages people give this guy Nehlen a lot of attention. But the big story, it seems like Trump -- I`m not saying he`s doing this, but he just keeps jabbing Paul Ryan who is somebody who is a policy guy, somebody who is a mild-mannered politician and he keeps jabbing him with things like the gun incident.

I mean, it`s just -- it seems like he can`t -- he`s prodding him. He`s really -- he`s almost pushing Paul Ryan to un-endorse.

Now, I talked to senior Ryan officials tonight who kind of laughed at the idea that he would walk away from Trump. Ryan sees it as his obligation to stick behind Trump. Now, the interesting thing will be if Republicans keep their majority, how the conservative people in the Freedom Caucus and other parts of the House Republican conference kind of absorbed the loss? Do they look to Ryan and say you could have done more and been fully behind him. That will be the big storyline starting in October. So, just a couple of months away when House Republicans start processing if Donald Trump, if the polls hold and Donald Trump loses.

KORNACKI: So, that`s an interesting thing, let`s talk about that a little bit more. There are right now about 250 Republicans in the House. And, look, Paul Ryan is the speaker because he`s got their vote. He serves at their pleasure.

So, what is he hearing behind the scenes. If you look at the 250 roughly Republicans in the House, how would you break them down, how many of them are truly, even behind the scenes pro-Trump and expecting their leadership to be behind Trump, how many of them are sort of where Ryan is, where they`re clearly uncomfortable with it but they feel compelled to go along. And how many you think are actually anti-Trump?

SHERMAN: Well, I think there are about 50 in the House Freedom Caucus. The interesting thing the House Freedom Caucus is not fully behind Trump itself, some members cringe at Donald Trump. But there are a huge pocket of Republicans who look at their districts and Donald Trump has won them by 30 and 40 points, so they have to be with Trump.

But, as the House Republican conference will get smaller after this election, which it`s sure to do, it`s going to be a lot of moderate members that go by the wayside and conservatives who stay and that will give Ryan a lot less negotiating room, a lot less wiggle room when he has to go to the floor and get 218 votes to remain the speaker of the House.

So, it`s going to be a really tricky situation for him. Behind the scenes, he`s hearing, I think two things, he thinks if you talk to Team Ryan, Ryan world he thinks he`s giving his members who don`t like Trump, the ability to criticize him. But other people think that he`s being soft, he`s not being firmly enough behind Trump.

So, it`s really like everything else in Congress, especially in the House, two opinions, huge split between the two wings.

KORNACKI: And do you think -- you said people around him are pretty adamant that he feels an obligation ultimately to support Trump. But do you pick up in talking to them, that there is any breaking point? Does a breaking point exist with Paul Ryan?

SHERMAN: Yes, it absolutely does, but we don`t know what that is at all.

KORNACKI: OK. Jake Sherman, senior writer at "Politico" -- thanks for the time tonight, appreciate it.

SHERMAN: Thanks.

KORNACKI: All right. And again, we`re expecting to hear from Paul Ryan any minute. We`re going to bring you his remarks as soon as they come.

And up next, two questions, one guess which big money conservative donors are giving to Donald Trump? And two, give which big money conservative owners are giving to Donald Trump`s opponent? Details, next.


KORNACKI: All right. We`ve got a couple of minutes left here, you know what I`m going to do I`m going to borrow one of Rachel`s segments, "Chart Imitates Life". Are you ready?

Here we go. So, we`ve already discussed Donald Trump`s latest polling woos. Not only is he falling down nationally. He`s in a fight in Kansas, the deep red state of Kansas, that`s trouble for Donald Trump.

But here is more trouble for him, today, "The New York Times" came out with a new measurement that maybe more distressing for Donald Trump and his campaign. Now, he`s in the FEC`s June filings they have compiled a list of donors who gave to Republican primaries. And they look at where their money went after their first choice candidate dropped out.

Now, historically, donors to losing candidates in the primary just turn around and give the money to the party`s eventual nomine. The party unites, everybody is together in the end. We all know how that works.

And with many of the hard line conservative, libertarian or evangelical candidates, that is what we`re seeing, donors to candidates like Ted Cruz and Ben Carson and Rand Paul and Scott Walker, those donors have largely transitioned to giving money to Donald Trump, that`s what we`re use to seeing happened.

But that is not what is happening to donors to the established candidates. Now, Marco Rubio is a bit of an outlier here. More of his donors have gone to Trump than to Clinton, but a still big chunk actually have gone to Clinton. So, that`s significant.

And when it comes to the donors of Lindsey Graham, and Chris Christie, John Kasich and Jeb Bush, when it comes to those donors, people who gave them money in the primaries, well, those who decided to donate to a second candidate have not been choosing Donald Trump, they`ve been choosing the Democrat. They`ve been giving their money to Hillary Clinton -- think about that for a minute.

Jeb Bush donors, John Kasich donors, Chris Christie donors, they`re not uniting around the Republican Party nominee for president. They`re uniting around Hillary Clinton. That`s what "The New York Times" found in its review of their donation.

So, yes, Donald Trump is having some problems. When you look at the polls, winning over some rank and file Republican voters. He`s got most of them. He`s not doing that bad with rank and file Republicans.

But he does have a real problem inside the Republican Party, and it`s with the Republican donor class, the people writing big checks so many of them are so uncomfortable with Donald Trump representing their party as their nominee, that they`re willing to give their money, instead, to the Democrat, to Hillary Clinton. That`s the kind of election year we are watching, ladies and gentlemen. You don`t see these every four years.

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


Over to you, Lawrence. How are you doing?