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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 8/22/2016

Guests: Joshua Green

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: August 22, 2016 Guest: Joshua Green

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: They`re a fun bunch.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: You`re going to miss them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just (ph) in time.

MADDOW: Sure (ph). Did you have a good time?

HAYES: I had a wonderful time.

MADDOW: Did you have time with your families where you talk to them in ways that didn`t involve the mediation of the television screen?

HAYES: Yes we talked like human to human, it was wonderful. They`re a fun bunch.

MADDOW: You`re going to miss that so much when you come back to this job.

(CROSSTALK)

We really did miss you. Welcome back Chris.

HAYES: Thank you.

MADDOW: And thanks you around (ph) for being with us as well this hour, happy Monday. Today is been kind of a weird day in the news, so sort back to school time. And I feel like to a certain extent, we`re all wired for a back to school calendar, all of us who went to a normal school year growing up as kids.

And so, it always sort of feels like this is the time of year when things ought to be a little unsettling and changing. And I think this sort of -- this part of the calendar year is always a little strange.

So, I was expecting today to be a little strange and I feel little weird. I didn`t expect it to be weird in the exact way that it has turned out to be.

The Donald Trump for president campaign continues to run against Hillary Clinton by insinuating that there`s something terribly wrong and secretly wrong about her health. Donald Trump has been saying it repeatedly himself, criticizing Hillary Clinton for reportedly having no stamina, not having any strength, she needs to sleep, he likes to hit her for needing to sleep.

Mr. Trump`s campaign spokesperson recently casually described Hillary Clinton as brain damaged, as if that is a just commonly understood diagnosis for what`s obviously so terribly wrong with Hillary Clinton`s health. Rudy Giuliani is the latest Trump surrogate to go on national T.V. and advance this conspiracy theory that the Trump campaign has invented that there is something secretly wrong with Hillary Clinton.

But, in the middle of them sticking with this very strange attack about Hillary Clinton`s health, her supposed literal physical unfitness for the office, in the midst of that, it`s the Trump campaign tonight that canceled without explanation, a whole bunch of upcoming Donald Trump campaign events.

Starting this weekend, it had been widely reported that Donald Trump is going to give a major immigration speech in Colorado on Thursday. The Trump campaign announced late today they are no longer planning on Donald Trump giving that campaign speech on immigration on Thursday.

Then, the following day on Friday, Donald Trump had been scheduled to give a rally at a whole rally in Las Vegas. The Trump campaign tonight, also without explanation, canceled the Donald Trump Las Vegas rally that was scheduled for Friday.

Then, next week, the Donald Trump campaign scheduled a major campaign rally for Portland, Oregon. Admittedly, that`s a kind of weird place for a republican presidential candidate to be wasting time. But, Trump has claimed publicly and repeatedly that Oregon is one of this blue state that he`s quite sure is going to win.

Well, if he`s going to win Oregon, he has going to have to do without that rally that he scheduled on Wednesday in Portland because that mail has been canceled, too. All without explanation. This whole rash of campaigns events today, all called off, nobody knows why.

The other major news story that the Trump campaign has been selling about itself right now, not about Hillary Clinton`s supposed terrible health, but the story have been trying to tell about themselves and Trump himself, is that he is changing his hard line stance against immigration and against immigrants.

This past weekend, he had a meeting with Hispanic leaders, reporting out of that meeting, gave rise to a whole bunch of stories and his campaign manager supporting those stories that Donald Trump`s immigration policy was influx. And yeah, where he was on immigration in the past may not be where he`s going to be on immigration in the future.

That`s part of why the expectations for this Thursday`s speech in Denver were so high. Maybe Donald Trump is going to change fundamental campaign planks that he`s running on concerning immigration. They`ve been stoking that story for 2.5 days.

And then, they canceled the Denver speech and then Donald Trump did walk into a speech to the campaign rally tonight in Akron, Ohio. And at that event, he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We`re going to build a wall folks. We`re going to build the wall. We`re going to build a wall. Don`t worry, we`re going to build the wall. That wall will go up so fast. Your head will spin. And you`ll say, you know, he meant it. And you know what else I mean? Mexico is going to pay for the wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDDOW: We`re going to build the wall, don`t worry, don`t worry, we`re going to build -- whatever you might have heard these last couple of days with this campaign story, my campaign has been selling, we don`t mean that, I`m totally going to build the wall and nothing has changed on immigration.

That was Donald Trump tonight speaking in Akron, Ohio, saying basically we`re assuring this almost all white crowds in Akron, Ohio that he`s not changing his hardline anti-immigrant position. And him, not changing his position on immigration wouldn`t be news.

Write up the definition of not news, something hasn`t changed. All right, nobody would be talking about that except for the fact the Trump campaign itself started this weekend to raise expectations but he would be changing his stance on immigration and now he`s on changing his stance on immigration.

Is he going to come at out with a new policy? Is he not going to come out with the new policy? I do not know. I cannot tell you what`s going on inside the head of any candidate.

I can only tell you what the candidate and the candidate`s campaign say and do. And in this case, on this issue of immigration, what they are saying and what we`re doing makes no sense. So, I don`t know and you don`t know and whatever they`re trying to sell us, I don`t know how to redeem it for anything of value.

And then, there`s the issue on top of all that, of money. We just got the fund-raising and spending filings for last month. And at one level, the numbers for July are what you would expect. The Clinton campaign raised more money than the Trump campaign.

The Clinton campaign has more cash on hand than the Trump campaign. Interestingly, the Democratic Party also raised more money last month than the Republican Party raised last month. The strange stuff though is not about how much money these campaigns are raising right now.

I think, those numbers are pretty much in keeping with expectations. The strange thing that`s going on right now with the Trump campaign that canceling all these events. They`re absolutely confusing in terms of their biggest policy issue which is being anti-immigration.

Now, we got this new data on how they are spending their money. And it`s really weird. The Trump campaign radically increased their overall spending last month compared to all previous months in the campaign. They`re spending way more money than they ever had before but what they`re spending it on isn`t what you`d expect them.

And if you blindly looked that these list of expenditure that knowing it was for a presidential campaign, you`d never guess it was really a campaign. Nearly 10 percent what they spend their money on is merchandise like hats and stickers and stuff, like they`re a promo tour for a new product or something.

I mean after locking up the republican nomination at the convention last month, you`d expect that July would be the month that they would really start investing in staffers, right, building up their campaign, staffing out, getting ready to compete nationwide for the presidency.

But, no, they spent 10 percent of their money on merchandise. And when you look at other major line items, the "New York Times" noted when the filing first came out, "Trump spent more money on renting arenas for his speeches than he did on payroll last month."

When you`re spending all your money on renting venues and printing t-shirts and hats you do end up with something that looks more like a culture tour than the presidential campaign. So, Donald Trump has scaled up in one sense. He is raising money and spending money now. But, he is not running anything that looks very much like a campaign. And maybe that`s fine.

I mean the Trump campaign and Trump supporters continue to argue that maybe they don`t need to run their own big national presidential operation or maybe they don`t even need to run a big presidential operation on all the swing states. They`re sort of lying for explaining, well that`s not a big deal that they think the Republican Party can do it.

The Trump campaign will just let the RNC run it. Let the Republican Party come in and run the campaign. Meanwhile, Donald Trump will tour the country giving away hats. That`s apparently the plan. That`s the operation.

And it`s possible it could work. It the novel way to do it, you never know. But, on the ground, stuff does seem a little crazy. I mean, we don`t know tonight why the Trump campaign just canceled Donald Trump`s next three major campaign appearances.

No explanations, we don`t know why. We don`t why. And this campaign said, he was moderating his anti-immigrants stance and then they apparently took it back. We don`t know which side of that story to believe. They both come from the Trump campaign.

Does it make any sense? And look how things are working on the ground in important states. Consider for example the state of Colorado where Donald Trump apparently was going to give a major immigration speech, moderating his immigration position this Thursday before he decided not do that at all.

Colorado nominally is a swing state. It does look pretty blue this year, Michael Bennet was supposed to be a vulnerable democratic senator of this year in Colorado but the latest NBC Wall Street Journal Marist poll in that state has been leading by 15 points. So, that`s (inaudible) is not going to at risk.

The last four presidential polls in Colorado, all show Hillary Clinton not only leading but leading by double digits in Colorado. Clinton`s campaign, they`re so confident. They`re going to win Colorado but the main super pac supporting Clinton and the campaign itself have decide not to run pro- Clinton adds in Colorado anymore.

They`re just not bothering to waste their money there because they think they got Colorado in the bag. That said, the Trump campaign can`t write it off. The Trump campaign with its electrol map, they can`t afford to give up on a place like Colorado. They`ve really got to get in there and reverse that situation in that state. They`ve really got to win states like that.

Both Donald Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, have made Colorado campaign appearances. The campaign has clearly prioritized that state along with handful of others and despite their big numbers in Colorado. The fact that the Trump campaign has prioritized the state, the attention from the Trump campaign and from the candidate themselves, it has led to some good local press coverage in Colorado.

MARK BOYLE, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Before Republican vice-presidential candidate, and Governor Mike Pence, took the podium yesterday at the Town Hall, the 12-year-old Trump supporter just brought the house down. Denver 7`s Mike Boyle caught up with kid whose rallying Trump supporters who can`t vote yet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WESTON IMER, TRUMP`S SUPPORTER: I believe we must make America great again. That is why I founded Colorado kids for Trump.

BOYLE: He`s a young kid with big ideas.

IMER: Kids and parents should have free school choice across the nation.

BOYLE: And 12-year-old Weston Imer is rallying other children now to support Donald Trump`s campaign to his newly form Colorado kids for Trump.

IMER: We are group of kids that support Mr. Trump and Mike Pence`s ideas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: He`s very cute, right? Sweet, he`s like nice little grace note. However chaotic and disorganized and occasionally nonsensical, the Trump campaign can sometimes be, you can get good press and they are still cute heart-warming stories out there like a kids for Trump group forming in Colorado. That was 2.5 weeks ago in the local news in Colorado.

If you want to get a sense of just how well the Trump campaign is operating in a crucial state like Colorado, consider that today, that 12-year-old boy, who was the subject of that heart-warming local news story about his enthusiasm for Donald Trump 2.5 weeks ago. That 12-year-old boy today is no longer just running kids for Trump which is admittedly adorable.

He is now running Jefferson County Colorado for the Donald Trump campaign. One of the most populous counties in the state that includes part of Denver metro area, the co-chair of the Donald Trump campaign in that major critical part of swing state Colorado is a 12-year-old boy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IMER: Hey, Jefferson, I`m good, you?

BOYLE: And one of the most important elections of our lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand you signed up for volunteer for the Trump campaign.

BOYLE: In one of the most important counties in the state.

IMER: Yeah.

BOYLE: The Donald Trump campaign is relying on 12-year-old Weston Imer

IMER: I am the co chair for the Jefferson county Trump campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: You know, it may be that the kids for Trump kid is a political servants and it makes total sense to have a 12-year-old boy running the presidential campaign for one of the two major party candidates and one of the most populous counties in a swing state.

It may also be that the Trump campaign is a little weird and that`s a weird decision. But, having been through three complete changes in campaign leadership in five months, with campaign filing showing that financially and organizationally, they`re running something that looks more like a nationally touring cover band within a presidential campaign with a 12- year-old in charge of one of the most populous counties and one of the swing states in the country.

Even if the reason no one is supposed to worry about all that stuff is because the Republican Party is going come in and run this campaign ultimately. And the campaign himself isn`t really going to be running anything at all once it really counts. Even if the Republican Party is supposed to swoop in and take care of all of this, how do you factor into that? The prospect that the Republican Party might not be welcome doing that even if they try to come in and take over because with the latest changes that had just happened that is a distinct possibility. And that story is straight ahead tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Two years ago, June, 2014, Republican House majority leader, Eric Cantor lost his seat. Remember that he was next in line to be Speaker of the House, number two republican in all of Washington. He was one of the "Young Guns" who supposedly the future of the whole Republican Party. And it shocked everyone when Eric Cantor lost his seat by getting defeated in a republican primary in his home district by somebody nobody had ever heard of.

Well, the guy who`s now running Donald Trump`s campaign was one of the top conservative media figures in the country who made that happen, who introduced to the country to the guy running against Cantor, who fanned the flames of the anti-Eric Cantor movement, who did everything he could to promote criticism of Eric Cantor and to promote the alternative story of the guy who ultimately beat Eric Cantor.

This was from before Eric Cantor`s primary election that year at Breitbart.com, conservative group blasts Eric Cantor for amnesty deception. And this one, Eric Cantor primary challenger Dave Brat receives national attention, as in national attention from that article, from that publication. Here again, they feature Eric Cantor`s otherwise unknown challenger Dave Brat, says illegal immigrants pouring into USA after Cantor announced kids are welcome.

And when Eric Cantor lost that year, Dave Brat beat him, Breitbart.com celebrated that like nobody`s business. And in fact, they are still celebrating it now two years later. The guy who`s now running Donald Trump`s presidential campaign, who up until five minutes ago was running Breitbart.com, earlier this summer when he was hosting a Breitbart radio show, he was still bringing Dave Brat on to his show to crow over the fact he beat Eric Cantor, to call him the giant slayer.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STEPHEN K. BANNON, RADIO HOST: We`re going to come back: Dave Brat, Congressman Dave Brat from Virginia, Richmond Virginia, the giant slayer, the guy that put the being Cantored in the political lexicon.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was 2014 that Eric Cantor got beat. The year after Eric Cantor got beat, the next giant that got slaved within the Republican Party House Speaker John Boehner, forced out as speaker, basically forced to resign from congress by a right wing revolt within his own party that was orchestrated in part and cheered on enthusiastically by the guy who`s now running Donald Trump`s campaign.

Here again from his website Breitbart.com. Crowd stands and cheers at news John Boehner resigns. And this one, John Boehner`s huge unpopularity forces his resignation.

So 2014, Eric Cantor, 2015, John Boehner, 2016 this year, they tried to do it again. The guy now running Donald Trump`s campaign decided this year that he would adopt someone else to run against the top leadership of the Republican Party. In this case, he`d recruit somebody to run against Paul Ryan in his home district. And I say recruit, in the sense that he claimed credit for personally inspiring the guy who ran against Paul Ryan, personally inspiring him to get into the race and run against Ryan.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BANNON: Paul Nehlen, I got to tell you, you`ve already put a big dent into Paul Ryan. You smoked him out of his rabbit hole, his badger hole. He had to come out and face the light of day.

PAUL NEHLEN, PAUL RYAN`s GOP PRIMARY: You had it right first time Steve. It was a rabbit hole or it was skunk hole. He is definitely not a badger. He is definitely not a wolverine. He does -- he is not a badger. He is not a Wisconsin badger. He is a snake. He`s a soulless globalist snake and we smoked him out of the snake hole.

BANNON: Paul Nehlen running for congress. Today is decision day in the Badger state. Paul, thank you so much for joining on us Breitbart News Daily.

NEHLEN: God bless you guys.

BANNON: Great news about Nehlen. He`s a -- he started as a listener. This is that took it. This is a listener got motivated and got into it. I mean Paul Nehlen started as a listener to the weekend show and started listening to the daily show, and guess what? He`s now one of the most prominent political figures in the world because he took it to the Speaker of the House. And I tell you, it`s a dainty brook out there, regardless on what the outcome is. Paul Nehlen has actually in one regard won. His forced Paul Ryan to face all the lies and misrepresentations.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: He has in one regard won him. Paul Nehlen did not win against Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan beat him that day by more than 60 points. But the loudest cheerleader for Paul Nehlen, running against Paul Ryan, the guy who made it a national story that there was a right wing challenger, the Paul Ryan home that was the right Breitbart guy. It was the guy who`s now running Donald Trump`s campaign.

And I`m sure that is very exciting. If you are a republican insurgent or for any reason you`re somebody who does not like the Republican Party leadership like Eric Cantor or John Bhoener, Paul Ryan, if you hate those guys, if you hate, you know, the Republican Party has been run by then you must be excited that this is the person who`s running the presidential campaign for your party this year. But if you`re the Republican Party, if you`re facing the prospect of the presidential campaign for your party being run by the guy who`s destroying all of your parties` leaders for the past three years was succeeded in throwing a couple of them out of public life.

Well, then what? I mean if that guy is now running a disastrous failing presidential campaign. Everybody is saying on the right, "Oh don`t worry, the Trump campaign is running terribly but the RNC will come in and run it in the end." Is the Republican Party really going to feel comfortable stepping up to help this guy out in particular? When the guy who`s running the Trump campaign is the guy who tried to kill Paul Ryan and who did help kill Eric Cantor and John Boehner. This been throwing about it ever since.

If you are the Republican Party, how comfortable are you going to be to stepping up to help that guy in his hour of need? Joining us now is really excellent national reporter who`s coverage Steve Bannon more deeply than anybody else in the national print press. Joshua Green, the Senior National Correspondent for Bloomberg Business Week. Mr. Green, thanks very much for being here. It`s nice to have you here.

JOSHUA GREEN, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK: Good to be with you.

MADDOW: I feel like from looking at his output both on the radio and at the website that he ran, the Breitbart media empire that he ran, I know a lot about what Steve Bannon thinks about the Republican Party. I don`t know very much what the Republican Party thinks of him and whether there`s any prospect they could work together?

GREEN: Probably not. I mean they loathe him as they should. I mean what gets him out of bed in the morning is not -- I don`t think is as much going after democrats as it is going after the republican establishment. In Ryan, in particular, if you read this over the past six months, has been the object of their loathing and scorn ever since they dispatched with John Boehner. It really was Breitbart and the crowd, and congress that they speak to. I think that drove out Boehner and he`s making lie. This is unpleasant for Ryan.

MADDOW: In terms of what you understand from Bannon`s background, from he -- the way he operated at Breitbart.com, his previous relationship with the Trump campaign, is it important that he`s never been involved in over electoral politics before? He`s never been a campaign manager, and never run somebody for president, and never been -- never operated at this level, is that important to understanding what he`s going to do in that position?

GREEN: You know, I think it is. I think for someone like Trump, that`s a mark of purity and probably works in Bannon`s favor. But the we`re so far into bizarre world here that the idea that well, if he only had, you know, a little electoral seasoning maybe he`d be doing things differently. I think we passed that point a long, long time ago.

Bannon is an ideological warrior and what`s so interesting about and drew me to him originally was that he has a critique of how you fight these political battles. You know, he actually studies people on the left and not to right. And so, he thinks people on the right are all about opinion and hot air and actually deconstructs the liberals, he thinks are most effective including you in particular Rachel.

You know, I went back and look at my notes and he watches your show every night, he said he deconstructs your show because "Maddow leaves marks on people." And what he meant was that the idea of going after people with the kind of a rigorous fact-based indictment again and again, and again. He sees as the key to knocking them down and winning. I mean in a sense, if you look at the people, he is mowed down on the republican side of the aisle from Eric Cantor to John Boehner to Jeb Bush, he`s kind of had some success in that regard.

MADDOW: That is unsettling and a lot of different levels for me to hear.

GREEN: Are you flatter?

MADDOW: Joshua, let me just ask you one last question, a lot of people are starting to talk about that this Breitbart connection and that Steve Bannon in particular, maybe a sort of vehicle for really bringing a lot of super fringy racial politics in particular into mainstream republican politics and the Trump campaign. Do you think that`s true? Do you think there`s a little playing with fire aspect of what`s going on with race issues in Bannon`s past and at Breitbart?

GREEN: I don`t think that Breitbart and Bannon or the few people bringing those people in. I think Trump has attracted them from the get-go and that makes a certain kind of sense that those would rally behind Trump`s banner. So I don`t think that there`s anything particularly new or different about the coalition that`s going support Trump just because the former head of Breitbart is now in charge of his campaign.

MADDOW: Joshua Green, National Correspondent for Bloomberg Business Week. Your profile in -- you`re profile of Bannon is the only must read thing that exists about him. I thank you for you repressing (ph) it. But knowing, he was coming in order to do that great work. So we had you to turn to once he was here. Thanks for doing it.

GREEN: Thank you.

MADDOW: Much more the company (ph), stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: President Obama and his family have come home from vacation. Tomorrow, President Obama will head off to Louisiana to review the damage from the floods there and talk about recovery plans in that state. But in case, the President was thinking he might have any sort of gentle reentry back into the working world after his vacation. Well, one of the vulnerable republican senators running for re-election this year just described President Obama as, "The drug dealer in chief."

Welcome home, Mr. President. No, politics didn`t get any more decent while you were gone. The senator calling President Obama, a drug dealer, and more, that straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: In 2008, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama competed for the Democratic nomination for President. Obama, of course, won. He became President, and then in 2012, he ran for re-election. And that is essentially just like running for president again. And (inaudible) you don`t have to be winning of primary again in addition to the general election because incumbent presidents tend to run unopposed in the primary.

That`s basically what happened in 2012. But there were just a couple of little wrinkles in that story line that year.

One of the stranger ones was in West Virginia. There really wasn`t a Democratic presidential primary contest in 2012. But when West Virginia held its Democratic primary that year, President Obama only won 41 percent of the vote. The other 41 percent of the Democratic vote in the primary that year went to this guy, Keith Judd. Keith Judd is a convicted felon, who, at the time was sitting in a Texas prison serving a 17.5 year sentence for extortion. Despite being in prison, despite being in a prison not even in West Virginia but in Texas, Keith Judd won 73,000 votes in West Virginia while President Obama won just over 100,000.

Washington Post wrote up that shock result with a succinct bottom line, "Simply put, West Virginia does not like Obama."

West Virginia is a reliably red state now in terms of presidential voting. But West Virginia also regularly votes in Democratic officials as governors and senators as long as they`re not too Democratic or too much like Democrats in other states.

In the 2012 election, West Virginia Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin, right, famous for shooting a climate change bill -- literally shooting it with a gun in a campaign ad. In 2012, Joe mentioned didn`t endorse President Obama for election.

West Virginia`s Democratic Governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, also didn`t endorse President Obama for reelection in 2012. And more then 70,000 West Virginia Democrats voted for the convict, instead of President Obama. West Virginia is a little bit of a weird duck when it comes to Democratic politics.

Well, this year, in terms of intra-party dissatisfaction with the candidate, this year, the shoe is mostly on the other foot. I think there`s a fair to 0:03:34 pretty well known least that Republican elected officials who don`t like Trump, weren`t going to support their party`s nominee this year for president. The shifting list are currently, I think, includes roughly six of the Republican Party`s 54 senators, roughly a dozen or so, House Republicans and those defections within the Republican Party have been well-documented against the Republican nominee, Donald Trump. But what about Democratic defections against Hillary Clinton?

Today, we got our first high profile Democrat saying he cannot support Hillary Clinton for president this fall. And surprise, it`s West Virginia again. It`s the Democratic candidate for governor in West Virginia. His name is Jim Justice. He says he will not support Hillary Clinton.

Now, in fairness, a, this is West Virginia, b, Jim Justice was a Republican until last year. He flipped his registration from Republican to Democrat three months before announcing he would run for governor as a Democrat in West Virginia.

The other extenuating circumstance to note here is that Jim Justice is the richest man in the entire State of West Virginia. West Virginia has precisely one billionaire and he`s it. He`s a coal mining billionaire.

So, surprised he`s not endorsing Hillary Clinton? For what it`s worth, just to underscore the West Virginia of it all. Jim Justice`s closest opponent in the Democratic primary for this governor`s race, that Democrat also said that he couldn`t bring himself to support Hillary Clinton for president either.

At this point, we can all say, West Virginia, you`re getting predictable, even in your weirdness. And for those keeping score at home, we do now have one major Democrat saying he cannot support the Democratic nominee. If we get any more, we will let you know. Watch this base (ph).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: After the 2012 election, after President Obama beat Mitt Romney and Democrats picked up seats and vote the House and the Senate. The first thing that was going to happen after that election was immigration reform.

Remember the Republican Party did their famous autopsy on the election and they decided that they should not only reach out to minorities, they should endorse one particular policy to turn around their fortunes as a national party. They should endorse immigration reform.

And for a hot second, people believed Republicans wanted that and it would happen. Ha. Then, enter, the heritage foundation and heritage action, Former Republican Senator Jim DeMint had left the Senate in order to turn heritage into the main conservative institution fighting against immigration reform making sure no elected Republicans would support it.

To start that process after the 2012 election, Jim DeMint turned in part to this guy. His name is Jason Richwine. He`s the author of "I.Q. and Immigration Policy." "The average I.Q. of immigrants in the United States is substantia substantially lower than that of the white native population and the difference is likely to persist over several generations.

I.Q. and Immigration Policy was basically an academic argument that non- white people are genetically inferior to white people, so immigration policy should be managed to keep America as white and therefore as great as possible. "Hispanics are in fact substantially more likely than whites to commit serious crimes."

After that, Jim DeMint hired Jason Richwine at the Heritage Foundation to write the heritage`s report on why immigration reform was a terribly expensive idea for the United States.

In the heat of the battle over immigration reform, it did come out pretty quickly that heritage should hired a guy who says immigration should be restricted because non-white people have lower I.Q.s. Eventually, heritage had to distance themselves from Jason Richwine and form his report. But in the end, heritage won, right? Immigration reform went nowhere.

And old Jason Richwine turns out he did not go away. He did not disappear in a puff of pure lily-white, racially pure high I.Q. smoke. And resurfaced writing new reports for the center for immigration studies which sounds like a normal group but it`s a group that was founded by a white supremacist, a new genesist (ph), which is minor scandal when Donald Trump cited that group on screen in his first national T.V. which started running on Friday.

Jason Richwine writes for the immigrations studies. He said the brown people have low I.Q.s guy from the heritage scandal to run immigration reform. He`s also been a repeat guest in recent months on the Breitbart news radio show, hosted by the man who`s now running Donald Trump`s presidential campaign.

And Washington Post reporter, David Weigel, also found Jason Richwine this weekend. So Jason Richwine could offer on the record fulsome praise for what`s going on Trump campaign right now. "I`m honestly delighted," he says, "That Trump is putting a team together that has such reasonable views on immigration." It`s clear that Trump has opened up space to talk about immigration in a way we haven`t been able to before. Yeah, the way we haven`t been able to before without nationwide scandal about the involvement of white supremacists in the discussion.

He`s delighted by Donald Trump on immigration just like so many white nationalists have been throughout this election campaign. I mean, in a normal campaign with the normal candidate, that would be bad news about your immigration politics and your immigration policy, right? That the brown people have low I.Q.s guy, that Jason Richwine and all the most famous racist and white supremacists in the country are super-psyched about it and willing to tell reporters on the record how safe they are about it.

For a normal candidate and a normal campaign, that would be bad news. For Donald Trump, it`s not clearly seen that as bad news. But something is going on around Trump in immigration right now which is confusing, literally confusing. I think a lot of people, including myself, are confused as to what the campaign is saying, let alone what they are doing.

This weekend, Donald Trump met with Hispanic leaders at Trump Tower. And out of that meeting, he got headlines like these. Trump now says he plans to legalize some undocumented immigrants. Or this one, in reversal, Trump indicates to Hispanic leaders` openness to legalization for immigrants.

OK. People who were in that meeting with Donald Trump told reporters that he was not only going to support legalization of people who are here illegally in this country which is a big reversal from wanting to deport 11 million people and put up a wall. Those people who are in that meeting with him also told reporters that Trump was doing a big speech in Colorado this Thursday to lay out his new radically different immigration plan.

On Sunday, his campaign manager said that Donald Trump`s policy on immigration should be thought of as to be determined. If she said was to be determined, whether her candidate still wants millions of undocumented immigrants to be deported.

Then today, The Denver Post was trying to report out this big immigration speech that was apparently coming to their city this week, and they learned that actually there will not be a speech on immigration from Donald Trump this week in Colorado. They`re going to hold of a campaign e-mail to supporters that said, "The speech Trump was planning on giving is still being modified." Modified, like it`s a physical thing. It`s got unusual something welded on that.

We`ve asked the Trump campaign tonight whether there ever was an immigration speech actually planned for Denver, we have not her back.

And then, of course, there`s the other rally cancellations that we have just learned about tonight. Trump also, in addition, to whenever just happened with Denver, he`s also canceled the Las Vegas rally that was planned for Friday. He`s canceled a Portland, Oregon rally that was planned for early next week. What`s going on? Why there`s such mess?

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: What people don`t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country. Bush, the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I`m going to do the same thing and I just said that.

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MADDOW: I just said that, right. To the list of different positions Donald Trump and his campaign have taken on immigration over the last 72 hours. As of tonight, you can now ad that one. I will do what President Obama has done.

I`m legitimately confused as to what`s going on, on this issue right now. Joining us now is Hallie Jackson, NBC news correspondent covering the Trump campaign. Hallie, thanks for being here tonight, I really appreciate it.

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: Did Donald Trump plan to give an immigration speech on Thursday in Denver? And was that canceled or were we all wrong to think that was going to happen and it was never scheduled in the first place?

JACKSON: Right. So what happened with that, right? So here`s the deal. A -- by all accounts, he was intended to give a speech in Denver on Thursday about immigration. But I`ll say (ph), there`s a couple campaign sources, sources close to the campaign, inside the campaign, are telling me tonight, that after he met with his Hispanic Advisory Council over the weekend, remember that was a meeting that happened on Saturday, there was discussion about different issues important to that community, important to demographic.

One of the things mentioned in me was, for example, small business lending, that Trump was trying to work this into the speech and that it just became a lot to craft. I am told, in a short period of time -- the relatively short period of time before that speech on Thursday. Take that, Rachel, with a little bit of spin grain of salt.

MADDOW: Yeah, five days -- five days they can`t write a speech.

JACKSON: And I would say this, I -- the question was put directly to some of these folks, was this because of the remarks that you played earlier in your show from new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, where she said, to be determine on whether there would be this so called deportation force that Trump has been talking about for month in his campaign.

Now, I`m told that it really didn`t come into play for this, that it was more discussion of, you know, how to modify this speech that it wasn`t rushed and there would be time for it. I do think coming into play a little bit is the idea that the schedule had been set before some of these new team members came into place. And there are some question marks about the scheduling in the first place, so perhaps this was a little bit of turf issue here.

But, you know, it certainly raised some eyebrows given her comments, Sunday morning, yesterday morning, and with that less than 36 hours ago, and the cancellation of the speech or we should say, the postponement of the speech because by the indications that we are given he will give some sort of immigration policy remarks.

The thing is you`re a little confused, as you said, about what his policies are on immigration. His advisors are talking about softening some of his positions, potentially or at least maybe opening the door to that, but Trump himself hasn`t said it. So, I think we`d be careful to not give too much credit to Donald Trump or detriment to Donald Trump for changing or modifying some his positions when he himself hasn`t come out and talked about it yet.

MADDOW: And -- I mean, there`s a few different things going on, right? One of that is campaign scheduling. And at this point, scheduling is a very interesting and very important part of the campaign, right? So, we`ve got .

JACKSON: Yeah.

MADDOW: . if he was going to be in Denver for that immigration speech on Thursday, he`s now not going to be giving that speech. He`s also canceled a rally in Las Vegas for Friday. He`s also canceled rally next week in Portland, Oregon, that`s one level this is operating.

The other issue was whether or not he is changing his policy. I mean, the reports from that meeting people who are in that meeting with him this weekend, they suggest that he for a path to legalization.

You know, and in 2013, Benjy Sarlin was writing tonight that he met with a bunch of immigration activists then and those activists walked away from the meeting thinking he was for the remix (ph) when, of course, he`s not. I mean, it`s part of what`s going on here that he tells people he`s for one thing in a meeting, and then he`s not willing to stick to it in public.

JACKSON: One of the things that we`ll see from Donald Trump behind close door, in publicly Rachel, of this idea that he is -- listen, we`ll look into that. We`ll take look at it. That is something we`ve heard him saying interview after interview even when prompted like by the news media on questions of policy.

So, it`s possible that that is the response that Donald Trump gave and that people in those kinds of meeting sort of share what they want to hear from that. I think, you know, you`re right to bring a Benjy Sarlin`s great piece pointing out that even back in 2013, people were still kind of confused about what his policy actually was which kind of ring the bells to where we are now in 2016.

MADDOW: Hallie Jackson, NBC News Correspondent covering the Trump campaign. Hallie, thank you. You have not clarified anything, but you have illuminated what is confusing about it which is as best as we can do.

JACKSON: OK.

MADDOW: Thanks a lot. All right, we`ll be right back. Stay with us tonight.

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MADDOW: One Republican senator who is up for re-election this year is urging voters in his home state to not vote for Donald Trump. Instead, he`s urging voters in his home state to vote in a way that makes no practical sense at all. And that you have to go some distance toward inventing to even think it up let alone tell anybody to do it. That candidate, that weird choice, and what he wants, next.

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MADDOW: Back in March, the Trump campaign abruptly called off a rally that it had planned to hold in Chicago. When I say abruptly -- I mean, the venue was already packed to the gills before they called it off. Thousands of people were already inside, hundreds more people were gathered outside and the Trump team pulled the plug. And it was clear why they did. Fist fights were breaking out in the stands and on the arena floor between Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters.

Police did clear the venue, but the chaos spilled into the streets that night. And it wasn`t just people yelling at each other and being rude. It was real flesh and blood fighting and injury. It was bad in Chicago that night.

Since one day when -- when this was the Trump campaign, these were the images that were coming off the campaign trail for Trump land. I mean, if you had to pick a single day when you wouldn`t want your own name associated with the Trump campaign, that would be the day, right? March 11th, that would be the day.

Unfortunately, that was the day that Illinois Republican Senator, Mark Kirk, decided he would endorse Donald Trump on camera.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you support Donald Trump if he was the nominee?

MARK KIRK, (R), SENATOR OF ILLINOIS: If he`s the nominee, I certainly would.

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MADDOW: That was March 11th. Tough start, right. Mark Kirk, difficult re-election battle this year, little hinky to be associated with Donald Trump anyway, but that day, for the on camera endorsement, really?

Three months later in June, Senator Kirk became the first and only Republican U.S. Senator to withdraw his endorsement of Donald Trump. He said, "Donald Trump is not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world." So, he endorsed and then he unendorsed -- but wait there is more, because instead of just leaving it there, Senator Kirk then told the local press that he would write in his choice for president. He would write in retired U.S. Army General, David Petraeus. OK? So Trump and then not Trump and then David Petraeus. And then he changed his mind again saying, no actually, he was going to write in somebody else entirely.

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BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Un-endorsing Trump, but not endorsing Clinton, correct?

KIRK: No, not at all. Because Hillary Clinton was for the Iran agreement and I can`t support someone who was for the Iran agreement.

BALDWIN: So, who will you be voting for, or who will you be writing in?

KIRK: In my case, I will be writing in Colin -- General Colin Powell, that I think would be the best person.

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MADDOW: Writing Colin Powell, because I can`t support somebody who`s for the Iran agreement. Colin Powell is pretty enthusiastic supporter of the Iran agreement. So now Senator Kirk is back to supporting David Petraeus again?

This time now, Senator Kirk is telling all of his supporters in Illinois that they should also cast write-in votes in the presidential election, just like he`s going to. The re`s one problem with that though, Senator, in Illinois write-in ballots are not counted for people who are not officially registered as candidates in Illinois.

So, Senator Mark Kirk is now encouraging millions of people in Illinois to cast a ballot that will not be counted. Leadership. And also happens in Senator Mark Kirk is locked in a very tough race of his own. He`s at real risk of losing his senate seat to Democratic challenger, Tammy Duckworth, this year. Maybe that`s why Senator Kirk said that president -- the president`s policy in Iran had him acting like the drug dealer in chief. That`s what Senator Kirk said today about President Obama. Maybe that will help Senator Kirk, calling President Obama a drug dealer.

In this business of trying to pick someone to endorse for president has turned out to be very, very difficult for Mark Kirk to master.

Endorsing Donald Trump, un-endorsing Donald Trump, saying he would vote for David Patraeus, saying he would vote for Colin Powell. Now back to saying he`s going to vote for David Petraeus and telling everybody in Illinois within the sound of his voice that they too should cast a vote that will not be counted in November.

Right now, at least, Mark Kirk is not making the case that he definitely needs to go back to the U.S. Senate this year, not that they`re counting on his leadership in that job.

I will -- I know I always say watch this space in this case, definitely watch this space. You`re nearly guaranteed that the story will change again some time very soon.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END