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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 8/23/2016

Guests: Jamie Harrison, Yamiche Alcindor

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: August 23, 2016 Guest: Jamie Harrison, Yamiche Alcindor

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: Michael Cohen and David Sirota, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I`ve got a kinetic charge from that, Chris. My blood pressure got up to healthy levels with that. Well done, my friend.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Once upon a time a popular, spunky, slightly iconoclastic Democrat in Congress, a Democrat from Oregon, he got an unexpectedly well-funded, slick challenge in the general election. This happened in 2010, and it turned out to be a fascinating story.

The reason the slickness and well-funded nature of this congressman`s challenge, the reason it was such a surprise was not because of anything having to do with the congressman. It was because his challenger was not someone from whom you would expect a slick, well-funded challenge.

The challenger to this member of Congress was an older man. And I don`t mean this in a bad way, but he was kind of eccentric. He was a self- employed scientist. He published a direct mail, sort of pseudo scientific newsletter with graphics that looked like they were made on an Atari.

He ran what he called his own research institute on a sprawling compound in rural Oregon, and from that self-proclaimed research institute, he made direct mail solicitations to the general public in Oregon. And in those direct solicitations, he asked people to please mail him samples of their urine. He had this ongoing, long-term, scientific project for which he said he needed pee samples from as many people as possible. So, he asked for them.

He also had unusual theories about radiation being good for your health. So, maybe we should think about spraying radioactive material around on playgrounds and in backyards.

He also contended for a time that HIV/AIDS was not really a virus. HIV was more of a government plot, a conspiracy, a man-made catastrophe.

This guy`s name was Art Robinson. He was a really unusual cat.

And if you`ve ever had the time to read the fine print about everybody who`s ever run for Congress in your home district, no matter where you live, probably not terribly surprising to find out that an eccentric guy like that convinced himself that he ought to be in Congress and he made a run for Congress.

It`s not surprising that he ran. What was surprising about Art Robinson`s run for Congress is that it turned out to have a ton of money behind it. He was able to absolutely blanket that huge congressional district in Oregon with advertising material. He was able to run very slick, very well-produced TV ads.

And again, no offense intended, but where does a pee-collecting, rural Oregon, old-guy mad scientist get buckets of money to run a high end, super slick, national look campaign. Well, it turns out, he got the money from New York City. Specifically from a hedge fund billionaire who had made this race his personal cause.

His personal cause did not appear to be to support Art Robinson, right? I don`t think this hedge fund billionaire was all about supporting these efforts to run a large-scale, ongoing urine collection organization in rural Oregon. I don`t think he was out to prove that HIV was invented by the CIA.

But there`s no evidence that Robert Mercer, this hedge fund billionaire in New York, there`s no evidence that he cared about who he was shoveling his money to out in Oregon. What appears to be the back story behind that super weird race in 2010 was that this hedge fund guy didn`t care about Art Robinson, he just wanted to fund someone, anyone, who could get rid of the Democrat who held that seat out there in Oregon.

That Democrat who Robert Mercer wanted to get rid of it was Congressman Peter DeFazio. And among other things, Peter DeFazio at the time had been pushing for a transaction tax on financial trades.

This hedge fund billionaire, who funded Peter DeFazio`s opponent, he ran one of these Wall Street firms, hedge fund, that made its money, by having high-end computers and proprietary computer algorithms that orchestrated massive volumes of super high speed financial transactions. This was not an outfit that does long-term investing, right? This is high -- at least a significant portion of their business is high speed, mega trading at the speed of light, totally computerized operation.

And at a firm like that, if you add on a transaction tax to every single individual trade, even if it was a really small tax, that might add up for a firm like that. That might actually take a little nibble out of the bottom line for a hedge fund billionaire like Robert Mercer.

And so, yes, in 2010, Robert Mercer sent some of his hedge fund money all the way across the country to that rural district in Oregon to try to kill off Peter DeFazio, Democratic member of Congress, and he missed. Peter DeFazio is still in Congress.

Art Robinson, as far as I know, still wants your pee. But if you want to send it to him, you do still have to send it to Oregon. Please don`t send it to Washington, D.C. With security the way it is right now, you`d probably shut the whole place down for a week.

So, we might remember, we covered that at the time. It was such an interesting story. That was 2010, the case of Robert Mercer, the weird congressional race in Oregon. It was like a side bar to that whole election. It was like a campaign finance, Wall Street, human interest story from the 2010 congressional election. That`s how we covered it at the time.

But we can now see that story as chapter one in a much more specific and much more significant ongoing personal story, because Robert Mercer`s appetite for politics has only grown since those weird misfiring beginnings six years ago. Initially during the Republican presidential primary this year, Robert Mercer, hedge fund zillionaire, was one of the Republican donors who was thought to be a never Trump guy. He supported Ted Cruz to the tune of millions of dollars in the Republican primary.

But after Ted Cruz flamed out, Robert Mercer, despite earlier suggestions that he`d never support Donald Trump, Robert Mercer has now become the single biggest donor in the country, in the effort to elect Donald Trump to the presidency. Robert Mercer has made his donations through a PAC that`s called -- I kid you not -- Make America Number One.


Given his history with the "send me your pee" guy in Oregon, I don`t know if Robert Mercer gets how funny that is. But he`s the sole multimillion dollar donor to "Make America Number One."

I`m sorry. I`m 8 years old.

But the millions of dollars that he has put into Make America Number One, the millions of dollars he`s put into that PAC to help Donald Trump, makes Robert Mercer as of right now, according to the "Associated Press", makes him the single largest Donald Trump donor in the whole country. And here`s where it gets really interesting. Number one.

Here`s where it gets really interesting. Because Robert Mercer, in addition to having that really interesting back story from 2010, in addition to being the biggest donor in the country to the Donald Trump for president effort now, in addition to that, Robert Mercer is also, reportedly, the main funder of, whose chairman was just moved over from Breitbart to start running the Donald Trump for president campaign, and reportedly, he made that move directly at the suggestion of Robert Mercer.

He`s been funding Breitbart. He`s been funding Trump. He`s apparently the guy who brought the chairman of Breitbart over to run the Trump campaign.

And, you know, as we and lots of other people have been reporting for the last few days, since the Breitbart guy took over at the Trump campaign, putting Breitbart`s chairman in charge of the Trump campaign, it does raise all sorts of interesting, hard-to-answer questions about the Republican Party and whether the Republican Party is going to feel comfortable jumping in there, into that campaign, to help Trump and help Trump`s campaign, when the guy who`s running that campaign is from Breitbart, and Breitbart is one of the outlets that`s been leading the charge to destroy all the best known Republican leaders in the country, to fire the Republican majority leader Eric Cantor, by costing him his seat with the Republican primary challenger in Congress.

They also helped lead the charge to fire John Boehner as the Republican speaker of the House, and ultimately forced him out of Congress altogether. Breitbart more than anyone, tried this year, to cost Paul Ryan his speakership. By trying to drum up national support for the Republican challenger to Paul Ryan in his home district. That was just a couple weeks ago.

The man running Trump`s presidential campaign has championed all those efforts to take out and humiliate the Republican Party`s top elected leaders. Is the Republican Party really going to feel comfortable working with him closely to elect Donald Trump, to run the Trump ground organization, for example?

Well, now, the ante is up because now, today, "The Arizona Republic" reports that Donald Trump`s top donor, Robert Mercer, the hedge fund, the main funder of, the man who reportedly brought the chairman of Breitbart onto the Trump campaign, to put him in charge of that presidential effort, "The Arizona Republic" reports today, that Robert Mercer, Trump`s top donor, is now also leading the charge in Arizona to get rid of John McCain.

A week from today, John McCain has a primary in his home state of Arizona. Early voting has already started in that race. His main challenger is a heart-right Republican named Kelly Ward. She`s been boosted all along by, and by the head of, who is now running Trump`s campaign. You see some of the headlines here from Breitbart, they`ve been running headlines boosting her for weeks and months at Breitbart -- boosting John McCain`s challenger, trying to make it a national conservative cause to throw John McCain out of office.

Now in Arizona, with one week left before that primary, John McCain`s challenger is reportedly being boosted by what appears to be a huge, late new ad buy, that is funded by a PAC, that is funded by Robert Mercer, Donald Trump`s biggest donor.

It`s an amazing thing, right? I mean, the chief pursuer of all the Republican Party`s top leadership, the top pursuer of every household named leader in the modern Republican Party, up to and including their supposed savior, their speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. Their chief antagonist, for all of the Republican Party`s top leadership is now running the Republican Party`s presidential campaign.

I mean, it`s true in terms of who is running the Trump campaign. It`s also true in terms of who is more responsible than anybody else, other than Donald Trump for funding the Trump campaign. How is it possible that`s all happening in one party? I mean, I know the Republicans are supposed to be a big tent, but right now, that tend feels like it`s on fire and somebody`s kicking the poles down.

That said, here is their bright spot today. There`s new polling just out yesterday and today that shows surprisingly good numbers, not for Donald Trump, but for some of the other Republican Senate candidates around the country who have been seen as vulnerable, including Republican senators in swing state Ohio and maybe swing state Missouri.

Monmouth polls in both of those states over the last 48 hours, show Republican Senator Rob Portman in Ohio leading in his race over Ted Strickland by a healthy eight points. In Missouri, new poll shows Roy Blunt leading his Democratic challenger, Jason Kander by a healthy five points. So, Ohio and Missouri.

It`s interesting, though. Those are both states where Karl Rove`s network and the Koch Brothers have been spending enthusiastically and for months on those Senate races. Because here`s the other thing that`s going on in what used to be Republican politics and now feels like it needs another name, because for every Robert Mercer out there who didn`t like Donald Trump but is now spending millions on him, for every one of those, there really are a bunch of other big Republican donors who truly are not spending on Donald Trump, who will not spend on Trump, who will not spend in the presidential, who will give money, but they only want their money spent down-ballot, particularly on the Senate races.

And that is going to push a tremendous amount of Republican money into tremendous down-ballot races, particularly into contested Senate races, and that has created a really interesting dynamic where Hillary Clinton is very well-positioned against Donald Trump, both in terms of the polls and in terms of money for the presidential race. Both of those Monmouth polls showed Hillary Clinton doing well against Donald Trump in Ohio and Missouri. She`s within a point of him in red state Missouri and she`s up by a handful of points in Ohio. Even with those Republican Senate candidates doing well there.

But with all of that Republican dark money, big super PAC money not going into the presidential and instead going into the Senate races, we don`t yet know if the Democrats are going to be able to keep pace in these Senate races. They`ve been pretty confident about their prospects for taking back the Senate if Hillary Clinton is elected president, having a Democratic Senate will be a huge part of whether or not she`s able to get anything done. We don`t know if Democrats can keep pace with those Rove network, Koch Brothers network funds going into the Senate races instead of the presidentials. It`s weird dynamic this year.

The winds are blowing in a weird direction. There`s Trump Republican money that`s going strange places like trying to knock off Paul Ryan, and trying to knock off John McCain next week in Arizona. There`s non-Trump Republican money that`s flooding at an unexpectedly high races into Senate races in places like Ohio and Missouri.

But then the other strange breeze blowing through all of this, this year, is this issue and open question of whether the presidential math is going to be so different this year, as compared to a normal year, that it puts everybody`s baseline expectations at risk.

I think that`s what the Clinton campaign wanted you to think when you saw this headline today about the Clinton campaign opening up a campaign office in Utah, in Salt Lake City, Utah. They`re putting their money where their mouth is. They`ve been talking a big game about Utah, now they`re opening an office there.

You know, the last time a Democrat won a presidential race in Utah was 1964. The best recent performance by any Democrat presidential candidate was in 1992 when Bill Clinton lost there by 19 points and didn`t even come in second, he came in third, both to Poppy Bush and Ross Perot. That was the best a Democrat had done there in the modern era.

And honestly with Utah, it`s not clear the Hillary Clinton campaign thinks they have a shot there this year, even though they are opening this campaign office. A new poll just came out from Utah, it shows terrible numbers for Donald Trump. He`s only getting 39 percent of the vote. But Hillary Clinton is still 15 points behind that, less than a quarter of the vote in Utah. If you take the minor candidates out and you just set up Trump versus Clinton head to head in Utah, this latest PPP poll shows him leading in that state by 20 points. So who knows if they think they can make a go.

I mean, the Clinton campaign did open up that campaign office in Salt Lake City. It is meant to be a shot across the bow, a sign of confidence.

Here`s the thing, though. If the Clinton campaign and the Democrats in general really want to change the map, if they really want to plant a flag and move in and say they are, in fact, gonna win a state that nobody thinks a Democrat reasonably could have a shot -- well, it might not be Utah. We have some exclusive new data tonight that shows a different state, a different supposedly deep red state all the way across the country, where Hillary Clinton looks like she`s got a way better shot than she does in Utah. She`s got a way better shot than I think anybody would have expected anytime this year, even when we knew Donald Trump was going to be the Republican candidate. We have that exclusively here, breaking news, next.


MADDOW: Hot off the presses, we are breaking this news right here, right now. You`re going to think I`m kidding, but the presidential race appears to be tied in South Carolina.

Yes, I said South Carolina, not North Carolina. South Carolina.

And maybe we should have seen this coming a couple weeks ago. Couple weeks ago, South Carolina Democrats hired PPP to do a presidential poll in South Carolina. They came up with an unexpectedly close result.

Again, this was a couple weeks ago again, South Carolina, PPP. This is a poll commissioned by the South Carolina Democratic Party. They found Trump leading in South Carolina by only two points, 41-39. That`s with other minor candidates included.

Well, now, we can exclusively report tonight that brand-new polling from the Feldman Group, new polling that we`re reporting for the first tonight shows that the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in South Carolina is not only close, it is literally tied at 39-39. That is in a four-way race with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and the minor candidates from the Libertarian and Green parties, 39-39, Trump-Clinton.

If you make it head to head, if you have it, if you exclude the minor party candidates, instead just have it be Trump versus Clinton, this new poll in South Carolina does find that Trump ahead. But again, leading only by two, 45-43. That`s well within the margin of error, which in this poll is plus or minus four.

And again, this is a brand-new poll, commissioned by the South Carolina Democratic Party, and this is a Democratic polling firm, but this is a real polling firm. This is legit methodology, and they`re finding a tie? In presidential politics in South Carolina?

No Democrat has carried South Carolina in the presidential since Jimmy Carter. Pollsters who carried out this survey tonight told us this. Quote, "Clinton could win South Carolina this year, if her campaign chooses to contest the state." Clinton could win South Carolina.

Every campaign season turns up new strange bedfellows. Races you wouldn`t expect to be competitive that are. Races that ought to be competitive but they`re not.

But if this year, not just North Carolina but South Carolina might go blue, then I`m telling you, no matter what else happens, everybody`s math is wrong.

Joining us now is Jamie Harrison, chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party which again commissioned this new poll.

Mr. Harrison, it`s really nice to see you. Thanks for being with us.

JAMIE HARRISON, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: It`s great seeing you, Rachel. Thank you for having me on.

MADDOW: So, the first thing I thought, the cynical me in this thought, well, this is bleed over from North Carolina. That the Hillary Clinton campaign and some of the other hotly contested races, including the governor`s race and the Senate race in North Carolina are producing so much red hot advertising there, it`s bleeding over the border and affecting the South Carolina race as well.

Is that part of this?

HARRISON: You know, Rachel, we might get some residual from that. But you have to remember, in 2008 and 2012, South Carolina and Georgia really literally looked the same. Georgia was probably one point better in terms of their performance than South Carolina.

So, when we started to see that, you know, things were changing in Georgia, we thought, well, you know, maybe there`s similar things going on in South Carolina. And that`s what we found. I mean, more and more, the young people in the state are relating to the progressive values of the Democratic Party than, you know, the rhetoric of hate and vitriol and all of that, that`s coming out of the Republican Party.

And so, the future is bright for the Democrats in South Carolina. But, you know, Donald Trump has accelerated the progress. Many people said maybe two cycles, three cycles down the road, then South Carolina will turn blue. Well, Donald Trump is really accelerating that process. And we`re really excited about it.

MADDOW: Jamie, on that point, one of the things that I found that your pollster actually polled out about this as one of key findings, younger people, people under the age of 45, have a very -- basically break very positively for Clinton.

HARRISON: Yes, 45-37. So, a nine-point lead by Secretary Clinton in terms of younger people. So, we`re really, really excited about that. And when she asked about certain issues, from background checks to the minimum wage -- overwhelming majority all in support of those things, reducing student loan debt, all very important things to young people and millennials.

MADDOW: Let me ask one last question about a stark difference they didn`t necessarily expect to see from this polling and I`m not sure I`ve seen it in other surveys, which is that, there was a very stark difference in terms of engagement, how engaged people feel with the election, along the lines of race.

This poll in South Carolina that you commissioned tonight finds that African Americans are significantly -- said they are significantly more engaged in this election this year than white South Carolinians are. The group that is least interested in the election is white independents.

What do you attribute that to and what could either campaign make of that?

HARRISON: There`s a huge enthusiasm gap, and that`s part of it. Donald Trump is sending whites and independent moderate and Republicans out of the Republican Party at a very, very fast pace. It`s incumbent upon us Democrats, Democrats in South Carolina and across the South to have open arms for them.

And so, Rachel, I`m telling everyone, if there`s a political venture capitalist out there, who wants to play in something that`s interesting, invest in the future -- well, invest in South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina because young people are ready to come over to us. But we just need the resources and the infrastructure in order to welcome them.

MADDOW: I think the Democratic Party broadly has heard that message on North Carolina. I don`t think they`ve heard it on South Carolina. And that`s why I think this news tonight is going to blow a lot of people`s minds.

Jamie Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democrats -- thanks for being with us tonight.

HARRISON: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Appreciate it.

Again, this breaking news tonight, which we are reporting here for the first time. South Carolina poll, again commissioned by the South Carolina Democratic Party -- so if you want to take that grain of salt with it, you may -- but it finds a shocking result, a race involving Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and the two minor party candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tied, not in North Carolina, but in South Carolina.

Lots more to come tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: If you start in the Continental United States and you head east, let`s say you get to the East Coast, but then you keep going east, you will land first in the Atlantic Ocean. You then keep going further over and up and you will get eventually to the North Sea. And then if you keep going just a little further over and up, you will get to the Baltic Sea. And if you keep going just a little further over from there, east of the Baltic Sea, you will get to the Baltic states, three of them. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.

And those three countries are small. They`re equivalent population as countries is about the same as Maine, New Mexico, and Kansas. Baltic states, lovely places, interesting part of the world, really small population.

But after 9/11 happened, those really small countries in that far-flung part of the world, they decided to step up in a big way, for us. When 9/11 happened, those countries had not been made part of NATO yet. They all got admitted to NATO alliance in 2004. But after 9/11.

The big deal about NATO, the heart of it is called Article 5. Article 5 says if any country that`s a member of NATO gets attacked, the other countries in NATO will come help. That`s the alliance. You attack one of us, you attack all of us. That`s the treaty. That`s Article 5.

And the first and only time Article 5 has ever been invoked was after we were attacked on 9/11. And those small Baltic countries who were on their way to joining NATO, who weren`t even in NATO when the attacks happened, they stepped up and they punched way above their weight.

Take, for example, the teeny tiny Baltic state of Estonia. Population: 1.3 million in the whole country. That whole country has less population than San Diego. But even so, they deployed a combat force of about 150 soldiers into some of the most dangerous combat zones in Afghanistan, to go fight the Taliban.

They lost a total of nine soldiers, which might not seem huge numbers wise, but per capita, based on the size of their population and ours, per capita, they lost about the same amount of soldiers as the United States did in Afghanistan. They not only sacrificed a lot, the Baltic countries are really valuable in the fight.

Take this one tactical decision. In 2007, Lithuanian special forces were deployed to Afghanistan. They were frustrated that their soldiers in armored vehicles kept getting ambushed by Taliban fighters on motorcycles. The Taliban guys on the motorcycles could outrun them, they were faster and nimbler. They couldn`t catch them when they tried to go after them after these attacks.

So, Lithuanian special forces made a decision, they traded in their armored trucks for their own motorcycles. They put their special operators on dirt bikes. It became their signature thing about the Lithuanian commandoes. They rode souped up Yamaha motocross bikes. They set up a training area, they taught themselves to ride like basically armed motocross bandits, how to maneuver these light, nimble, totally unprotected bikes, in rough terrain, offroad, while chasing down the enemy.

And the lightness of those bikes, ended up being a key adaptation for that particular fight. In that part of Afghanistan, the Taliban would regularly set pretty stiff springs on the pressure plates that they used as triggers for their hidden IEDs. So, they`re planting bombs in the road, but they set the pressure plates to be pretty stiff. The idea was that random civilian traffic and foot traffic wouldn`t set it off.

But you send across one of those trigger plates, a big, heavy, armored vehicle, like all the foreign troops use, well, yes, that would be heavy enough to set it off. Here come the Lithuanian special forces riding these light motorcycles like the Taliban did, it was one of the ways they beat that critical tactic.

Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, these three tiny countries, when Article 5 was triggered after 9/11, they stood up, they sent troops to go fight and die alongside the United States in Iraq, in Afghanistan as a response to the 9/11 attacks, no questions asked. We`re in a treaty together. That`s what NATO means. We`re there.

That is part of why it is a big deal that during this presidential campaign this year, Donald Trump said if Russia invaded those three little countries, those Baltic states, those three countries we`re in a treaty with, who came to our defense in aid after we were attacked, that`s why it`s a big deal that he said, yes, if they got attacked by Russia, we might not come to their defense. If they ever needed us -- eh, not sure.

And granted, that`s just one of a million things that Donald Trump has said that`s controversial since he`s been running for president. But it`s also the sort of thing that has consequences, international consequences that may not be dependent on whether or not Donald Trump gets elected. It`s the kind of comment that can do harm right now to our alliances, to our relationships between us and our allies, especially small countries like these that gave up so much when we asked.

That is why Vice President Biden went where he did today. Vice President Biden today went to the Baltics, he went to Latvia and he met with the leaders in Latvia and Estonia and Lithuania, he basically went there and talked to them to try to clean up this mess that Donald Trump made, to try to reassure those countries that regardless of what you might have heard, we are not going to abandon them.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Despite what you hear in this political sea, there say wide, deep, bipartisan commitment to NATO in my country. Don`t listen to that other fellow. He knows not of what he speaks. And he doesn`t know of what he speaks.

We will never forget that Article 5 was triggered for the first time after the United States was attacked on 9/11. So, America will never fail to defend our allies. We will respond. And with Russia once more taking aggressive action and threatening the sovereign rights of its neighbors, NATO remains as vital today as it ever has been.


MADDOW: Don`t listen to the other fellow -- which gets kind of a gasp and a laugh from the room. Just ignore that guy, he has no idea what he`s talking about.

Vice President Biden having to go all the way to Latvia today, to the Baltic States, to go tell them, to reassure them that this other fellow running for president has no idea what he`s talking about and what he threatens and what he says will never come to fruition.

Clean up on aisle five.


MADDOW: For months, Senator Bernie Sanders is going to be doing a big launch event for his new political operation, tomorrow night, I think. That is what is supposed to be happening, but there`s apparently trouble in Bernieville. Potentially very bad trouble for what is supposed to be his next big political act.

This is still an evolving story. It is potentially a huge deal for the Democratic Party, particularly for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

We`ve got the latest on this coming up next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: What you see right here is a political map. Seen a lot of these this year.

But this isn`t the typical road to the White House map you see these days on cable TV. This is something different. The makers of this map are hoping this shows a way to victory for progressives in down-ballot races across the country. They`re hoping for new seats in state legislatures, new progressive mayors, even new seats on school boards, right down the line to the bottom of the ballot.

This map was tweeted out by Vermont senator and liberal hero, Bernie Sanders, last night. And all those dots on the map, those are the 2,300- plus house parties that are planned for tomorrow night when they were officially going to launch Bernie Sanders` new organization, which he is calling "Our Revolution."

Senator Sanders announced Our Revolution was going to be formed last month. He made that announcement after he endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, but before he spoke at the Democratic convention. And the idea of Our Revolution was that yes, Senator Sanders was getting out of the presidential race by necessity, but the legacy of his run would continue, he would hit the ground running with this new thing. Our Revolution, which would recruit and train and fund progressive candidates all over the country, everywhere, 50 states, and all the way to the bottom of the ballot.

Now, it was announced last month, the big official kickoff is tomorrow night with the house parties and the live-streamed speech by Bernie Sanders. But tonight, with less than 24 hours to go until that big kickoff, the reports from Bernie Sanders` new organization are not good.

(AUDIO GAP) new group is already in turmoil. This headline, "Bernie Sanders` new group hits major trouble on the launch pad." This one from "BuzzFeed", "Sanders brings former manager to run new manager, staffers quit."

Eight staffers, more than half the original crew of staffers apparently quit en masse over the weekend. Reportedly resigned all at once in protest after Bernie Sanders` campaign manager from the presidential run, Jeff Weaver, was brought in to run things at Our Revolution. Several staffers tell NBC they had been assured personally by Senator Sanders that Jeff Weaver wouldn`t be running the new effort. The staffers told NBC that they believe Our Revolution should run on small donations like the Sanders campaign did, and they were upset that Jeff Weaver also wanted to solicit big checks from billionaires.

Now for context on that, consider where they`re at with this overall idea thus far. Last week, on a conference call with Democratic Party officials, Jeff Weaver made an appearance on that call and he reportedly said that since Bernie Sanders announced our revolution last month, the group had already raised $300,000 for liberal, Democratic and down-ballot congressional candidates -- $300,000, which is impressive, unless you`re the Bernie Sanders` operation, which in the primary raised over $228 million.

Now, you`re going to run races all over the country, up and down every ballot with $300,000? That`s enough to buy every progressive candidate in the country a corn dog and a beer maybe if it`s cheap beer.

And then we got this view today from the trenches. In that Florida Democratic primary, where a candidate endorsed by Bernie Sanders is challenging the outgoing chair of the Democratic Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for her House seat, that Democratic primary is a week from today. And the challenger, Tim Canova is currently trailing in the polls by double digits.

Well, today, Tim Canova said that despite Bernie Sanders holding him up as the poster boy for his Our Revolution movement for his down-ballot effort, actual help from Senator Sanders or his outfit has been slow in materializing.


TIM CANOVA (D-FL), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We need all the help we can get. Look, when Bernie endorsed me, he called me and gave me his number and said, stay in touch and please call. And I have, and I`m waiting for Bernie to return my call.

So, you know, we are hoping that the Sanders campaign does still come through, that Bernie comes through and makes an appearance for us, or at the very least, helps us raise some more money during such a critical period down the home stretch. And that is our hope.


MADDOW: Tim Canova running against Debbie Wasserman Schultz said he`s thankful for the Bernie Sanders endorsement, but also, he would like a visit or some help with the campaign or some money.

So, on the one hand, we`ve got, you know, one of the hugest stories of 2016. Bernie-mentum, the evident yearning of thousands and thousands and thousands of people to keep it going. On the other hand, over half the staff for the new operation just quit and its highest profile supported candidate says he`s not getting any help at all and can`t even get a call back.

What`s going on with the Senator Bernie Sanders` revolution? Which way from here?

Joining us now is Yamiche Alcindor. She`s a political reporter for "The New York Times." She`s covered the Sanders campaign all through the primaries.

Yamiche, great to see you again. Thanks for being with us tonight.


MADDOW: What I explained there, is that your understanding of the current situation, is that pretty much your understanding of what happened over the weekend and what the upset is?

ALCINDOR: That is my understanding. I`ve been on the phone call day talking to staffers who quit. And really they`re saying the reason they quit was because Jeff Weaver is seen as two things. One, he`s seen as a bully. They say he doesn`t treat his staff very well, that he really doesn`t understand the role that digital staffers did, the organizing that really needed to go in to build in movement.

And they said they`re really scared because it`s a 501c4, that he`ll take money from anonymous donors and that he`s going to able fill the coffers with money from billionaires, which is the opposite of what Bernie Sanders has been telling all the people who believed in his revolution.

So, they`re very worried about the future of it. There`s going to be a launch tomorrow, but people are saying without an organizing staff, you can say, you know, come join the revolution, but there`s no one there to tell people what to do next.

MADDOW: Was -- does this indicate, I mean, I don`t want to be the dead horse, this upset and this en masse resignation over Jeff Weaver being involved here, does this reflect back into the primary, that there was real resistance, real resentment against Jeff Weaver during the whole Bernie Sanders run? Was he a problem inside that organization that we didn`t know about at the time?

ALCINDOR: I think for most people, I would say for me, we knew about that, I knew about the fact that there were a lot of people who had issues with Jeff Weaver. I talked to a lot of people who talked to me on background, because they were fearful of backlash they might have. But the people have said that Jeff Weaver really mismanaged a lot of the money they were collecting. They said one of the things he focused on was TV ads and really focused on kind of filling the airwaves with Bernie`s message, but really the majority of people that he need to turn out don`t really own TVs but are really in digital spaces.

So, while there were staffers, you can remember that in California, there was a high profile person that quit in California ahead of the primary there, and the main reason was because he wanted to go after digital operations and he wanted to go after organizing efforts and wanted to spend money in that realm, but Jeff refused. So, it`s been something that I`ve heard about for a while.

And also, I should say that staffers have said for a while that Jeff is a hard person to work for. The bully that we see and in some ways he was great with going after Debbie Wasserman Schultz and really great with kind of being the attack dog that the campaign needed. On the flip side, people said he was also someone who would attack staffers and someone that would berate them. So, I think that`s what I`ve been hearing.

MADDOW: It will be interesting to see if -- it sounds like they are going to go ahead with the launch event tomorrow night. But it will be interesting to see if the senator himself, senator and his wife, as other advisers come in and try to reset this effort to start it in a way that is less acrimonious.

Yamiche Alcindor, political reporter for "The New York Times" -- Yamiche, thanks for being here. Appreciate seeing you tonight.


MADDOW: All right. Next up, the quiet humiliation of being utterly unknown in politics. Stay with us.


MADDOW: This one I could watch on a loop.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need a haircut, Bernie.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Don`t take much off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bernie, what`s your style?

SANDERS: You know my style.


MADDOW: You know my style.

Senator Sanders getting a $7 haircut in Kansas back in March. Is this strange kind of cute that candidates sometimes do, pile into a barbershop somewhere with all the press and the entourage and the Secret Service looking, while you do the necessary work of getting a hairdo.

Well, today was Donald Trump`s running mate, Mike Pence`s turn. Mike Pence went to barber shop in Norris Town, Pennsylvania and of all the things that could go wrong when vice presidential nominee gets an unexpected haircut on tape, what happened with his photo op haircut might be about the worse. I don`t know.

He spent 27 minutes getting the haircut, chatting with the barber the whole, Henry Jones. But when it was all over, watch?



HENRY JONES, BARBER: What`s your name, sir?

PENCE: Mike Pence.

JONES: Mike Pence.

PENCE: Yes, sir. I`m the governor of the state of Indiana running for vice president of the United States.

JONES: Vice president.

PENCE: Yes, sir.

JONES: Oh, boy.

PENCE: I`m running with Donald Trump so I`m his running mate.

JONES: OK, all right.

PENCE: He`s tapped me a month ago. So, we`re just in town doing rally campaigning and I heard you were the place to come for haircut. And you`re very gracious.

JONES: Oh, boy.


MADDOW: OK. All right. Oh, boy. And you are? That barber may have had no idea who Mike Pence is, he did seem to know who Donald Trump is, you can tell from the cringing and the wincing. Oh man.


MADDOW: Moment of personal privilege, we`ve got some news today here at this show that I`m very, very excited to tell you about. This is something that I hoped would happen. Honestly, a few days ago I more or less got on the TV machine right here and begged it to happen. Even though begging on TV almost never works. This time, I apparently have got my wish, I`m about to get something on this show that I never ever, ever get. I cannot wait to tell you about it. That`s next.


MADDOW: In June, Donald Trump did 27 interviews. Fourteen of the 27 were on FOX News. In July, Donald Trump did 18 TV interviews, 12 of which were on FOX News.

This month, in August, there have been 12 Donald Trump TV interviews up through tonight, want to guess how many were on FOX News? How about all of them? Twelve out of twelve.

Now, in fairness, he did call in once to CNBC, but I don`t know if that counts as being on TV. There was nothing else to any other major networks on this month.

Now, his opponent Hillary Clinton doesn`t give a lot of interviews, but she does at least spread them when she does them. In June, she did 13 interviews. Some networks got more than others. CNN and ABC got three. But everybody else got at least one, including FOX News.

In July, she did seven interviews, again, spread out pretty evenly among the networks. Last night, she appeared on Jimmy Kimmel, which has been her only network appearance, but at least when she does do interviews, she doesn`t just stick to one place like Donald Trump apparently now.

And it`s a shame because there are so many questions that I think people outside of FOX News channel, there`s a lot of questions outside of FOX that people have Mr. Trump.

Well, tomorrow, I`m very excited to say, that -- no, I will not have Donald Trump on this show. But I will have his campaign manager. Yay! Donald Trump`s campaign`s manager, Kellyanne Conway has graciously agreed to be on this show live with me here tomorrow night.

I am excited. I probably wasn`t going to sleep tonight any way, but now, I`m definitely not going to. Please don`t cancel, please don`t cancel, please don`t cancel.

That does it for us tomorrow. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell.

Good evening, Lawrence.