Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 5, 2016 Guest: Michael McFaul
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: Good to see you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Wednesday.
We think of them as presidential debates, but they were not presidential debates. There were seven of them in a row, all between the same two candidates. The first one was in late August and the whole string of all seven of them, they went right through mid-October. And these seven debates were held in seven different towns.
By the end of it, there was such a frenzy around these debates that tens of thousands of people were turning out in person to try to see them. In fact, in Galesburg, Illinois, at Knox College, which was the site of the fifth debate out of the seven, the crowds there were so thick on the grounds of the college, so thick at the site of the debate. But the debate organizers worried they weren`t going to be able to get the candidates safely through the giant crowds and up on to the stage, at least in enough time to start on time.
So, they improvised a solution. They had the candidates at Knox College, they had them evade the crowd and just mysteriously pop up on the back of the stage as a kind of dramatic surprise by climbing through a window in the building nearest to the stage. That`s how they got to the stage. And you see that re-enacted here because C-Span in C-Span`s infinite wisdom in 1994, they went through the trouble of re-enacting all seven of those debates.
And that is as close as we ever got to a televised version of what are still regarded as the greatest American political debates of all time.
It was 1858. It was Stephen Douglas, the short guy, the Democrat, versus Abraham Lincoln, the tall guy, the Republican. Each of their debates were hours long. They did do this series of seven in a row in seven different towns.
They covered a range of topics but mostly what they debated was slavery, Lincoln`s opposition to slavery versus Douglas` belief that individual states should decide what they want to do on the issue.
And at the end of those absolutely legendary seven debates, Abraham Lincoln lost because the legendary Lincoln/Douglas debates of 1858, those were not presidential debates. Those were debates for an Illinois Senate seat. Stephen Douglas was the incumbent senator from Illinois, Lincoln was trying to take his seat.
And at the end of those epic seven debates, with tens of thousands of people to see them, with newspapers sending reporters from all over to attend the debates and transcribe every word of them and publish them in the newspaper, with whole swaths of the country hanging on this performance between these two candidates -- at the end of it all, at the end of the series of seven debates, Lincoln did win the popular vote on election day in 1858. But at that time, the popular vote didn`t choose who your senator was. Senators were actually decided by the state legislature. And the state legislature in Illinois that year, they didn`t pick Lincoln. They picked Stephen Douglas.
That was 1858. And then two years later, the same two guys, Lincoln and Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, they squared off again. Second time, though, it wasn`t for an Illinois Senate seat. Second time, it was for the presidency.
By that point the Lincoln/Douglas debates had been published not just in newspapers all over the country, they`d been published in book form and Abraham Lincoln`s national stature as a man standing against slavery, his stature had only grown. And so, even though Stephen Douglas beat Lincoln in 1858 for that Senate seat, two years later when the contest was for the presidency, Lincoln beat Douglas.
And it`s interesting, in that presidential race in 1860, Stephen Douglas did not come in second to Abraham Lincoln. He came in fourth, because the politics of slavery had basically blown up party politics in this country. And Abraham Lincoln stood as a Republican for the brand-new Republican Party and Stephen Douglas stood as a Democrat.
But the Democratic Party had split in two. There was another presidential candidate besides Stephen Douglas who ran as a Southern Democrat that year. There was also a third candidate that ran, something called the Constitutional Union Party ran a candidate. That`s a party that basically existed just for that election. They fielded a candidate who more than tripled Stephen Douglas` vote at the end of that day for the presidency in 1860, but then instantly that party just disappeared. We never heard of it again.
But that is how Abraham Lincoln became president. And then between the day he was elected and the day he was sworn in, seven states seceded from the Union and we headed down the path toward a civil war in this country over the issue of slavery.
Talk about a consequential election, right? By the time that election was being held in 1860, there was a relatively new anti-slavery magazine, publication, that was becoming influential called "The Atlantic Monthly". And in 1960, three years after they were founded, the founding editor of that magazine decided that "The Atlantic Monthly" would make a presidential endorsement. They in fact endorsed Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860.
And, you know, to endorse Lincoln that year was to go out on a limb in terms of party politics, because the Republican Party was brand-new at that point. They never had a presidential -- president from the Republican Party before.
All the parties were sort of falling apart, even the old ones were fracturing and splitting and renaming themselves and popping up in new iterations and then disappearing. I mean, slavery was just tearing the country apart including all of our political institutions. But "The Atlantic Monthly" that year in 1860, they decided to plight their troth with this young Abraham Lincoln from Illinois, the Republican Party.
And they did for a very clear reason. They were coming at it for a very clear reason. They said, "It is in a moral aversion to slavery as a great wrong that the chief strength of the Republican Party lies."
So, I mean, yes, they liked Abraham Lincoln well enough. He has experience enough in public affairs to make him a statesman and not enough to make him a politician, which was kind of a nice cute thing to say about somebody, right? But the passion behind that endorsement was about the issue, was about trying to stop slavery, and they recognized that that`s what that election was about in our country. And so, they made that endorsement in 1860. They endorsed Lincoln for president.
And that same magazine, "The Atlantic Monthly", they went more than a hundred years before they ever made another presidential endorsement. They waited until not even 1960, but 1964, 104 years later before they did it again. 1964, of course, the year after JFK was assassinated in office, Lyndon Johnson was the brand-new incumbent president running for his first full term in his own right.
In that year, 1964, for the first time in 104 years, that magazine got off the pot again for the first time since Lincoln. It`s interesting. They said sort of nice enough things about LBJ. They said, for example, that they admired him for, quote, "the continuity with which he has maintained our foreign policy", which is nice. That clearly would not be enough of a reason for them to make a presidential endorsement that year for the first time since Lincoln.
What drove them that year turns out was not their enthusiasm for LBJ but rather their quite opposite feelings about LBJ`s opponent. It was their horror that Barry Goldwater might become president. Goldwater was the Republican nominee that year. And at "The Atlantic", they worried about, according to their endorsement that year, they worried about Goldwater`s cavalier attitude toward nuclear weapons.
On civil rights, they worried that his proposal to let states in the Deep South make their own decisions on segregation and civil rights, they worried that that would ultimately establish a kind of American apartheid. They said it would have us, quote, "Stumbling down the road taken by South Africa." Which I think actually is a very good point and probably true.
They clearly disagreed with Barry Goldwater on the issues of the day. They were frankly just scared about the prospect of him being president. They said they distrusted his capacity for judgment. So much so that he became -- he was at least the cause for the second presidential endorsement in the history of that magazine, that was founded in 1857. The first endorsement was Lincoln, second endorsement was against Goldwater and sort of incidentally for LBJ.
Well, now, with that their entire history since they were founded in 1857, now they have made their third endorsement. This afternoon, "The Atlantic" crossed the presidential line for only the third time in its history. With what honestly again were sort of measured words of praise for Hillary Clinton. They`re not exactly doing back flips over Hillary Clinton.
They say, quote, "We are impressed by many of the qualities of the Democratic Party`s nominee for president, even as we are exasperated by others." She has flaws, they say, quote, "but she is among the most prepared candidates to seek the presidency. We`re confident that she understands the role of the United States in the world. We have no doubt she will apply herself assiduously to the problems confronting this country. She has demonstrated an aptitude for analysis and hard work."
Sort of sounds like a kindly diplomatic fifth grade teacher explaining in the comment section of a write-in report card why Junior has earned that B- plus-plus this year, right? Like, you know, hard worker. That counts.
Clearly, that`s not what is moving the editors of "The Atlantic" to make only their third presidential endorsement since 1857. It is not that they have political lust for Hillary Clinton.
In fact, they spell it out. "If Hillary Clinton is facing Mitt Romney or John McCain or George W. Bush or for that matter any of the leading candidates that Donald Trump vanquished in the Republican primaries this year, we would not have contemplated making this endorsement."
Because they don`t make endorsements, right? I mean, two since 1857? They don`t make endorsements.
But the reason they broke that rule and made this endorsement today is because, of course, who Hillary Clinton is running against. They describe Donald Trump as, quote, "The most ostentatiously unqualified major party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency." And that`s the part where they`re being nice.
Ready for the rest of it? Buckle up. Check this out.
Quote, "Donald Trump has no record of public service and no qualifications for public office. His affect is that of an infomercial huckster. He traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective.
He`s appallingly sexist. He`s erratic, secretive and xenophobic. He expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers and he evinces authoritarian tendencies himself.
He`s easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America`s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse, he is ignorant of and indifferent to the Constitution; he appears not to read."
It does go on, but this is how they close, "We believe in American democracy, in which individuals from various parties of different ideological stripes can advance their ideas and compete for the affection of voters. But Trump is not a man of ideas. He`s a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing and a liar. He is spectacularly unfit for office. And voters should act in defense of American democracy and elect his opponent." Woof.
Nobody believes that newspaper endorsements or certainly magazine endorsements make the difference between a candidate winning election and not winning election, especially at the presidential level. It just doesn`t work that way.
It`s turning out to be an interesting thing about this election that when the history of this election is written, it will record that a great many American publications, not just liberal and mainstream publications but even conservative publications, a great many American publications decided this year that for their own purposes, for their own honor, for their own sense of their own values, for their own place in history, for the way they want themselves to be seen in history as publications, publishers and editorial boards across this country with astonishing unanimity have decided to break with all their various traditions and go out of their way to be on record saying no to the Republican nominee this year.
I mean, all these publications say a range of things from very positive to neutral to even mildly negative about Hillary Clinton, but the unanimity with which they`ve said absolutely no to Donald Trump, they put themselves on record as saying "no to Trump", that will be a striking part of the history of this election. I mean, we`re still watching every day. But as far as we can tell here on this show, there still has not been a single newspaper endorsement of Donald Trump in the general election. And we believe that is unprecedented maybe not just in the modern day but in the history of running for president.
Now, because of it history with endorsements, because of the freaking Lincoln factor, I think this particular endorsement today from "The Atlantic", I think that went off like a firecracker in Donald Trump`s mailbox. But that turned out to be just one point in what was a very different day for him and his campaign.
Also today, investigative reporter Kurt Eichenwald at "Newsweek", he obtained and published portions of yet more Donald Trump tax documents. Among other things, these new tax documents seem to suggest that Mr. Trump not only owed a lot of money and wrote off a lot of financial losses, he also apparently, according to these documents, had very, very, very little income for a number of years after he first went into business which may undercut Mr. Trump`s accounts of his own success in business.
He also appears to have been rescued in those early years repeatedly by his dad, by cash infusions and large loans arranged and organized for him by his rich dad.
In addition, "BuzzFeed News" today published thousands of pages of documents from some of Mr. Trump`s multiple bankruptcies. These are documents that were theoretically available in the public record but never before been posted online. And now that "BuzzFeed" has posted them online, it will presumably lead to a whole new round of reporting on the ways in which Donald Trump`s business interests have failed over the years.
This all, of course, comes on the heels of "The New York Times" publishing three pages of Donald Trump`s tax returns this past weekend. I should tell you that the man who is on record as the preparer of those taxes from that time, he`s going to be a guest tonight on "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
So, all of his financial stuff, none of this is welcome news for Mr. Trump and his campaign particularly as his campaign is sort of getting boiled down to its essence at the end here and he is focusing more and more on his stance as a businessman and a nonpolitician. That said, all of this stuff is coming at a particularly difficult time, I think, in part because of the way that this stuff is sort of stepping on the tail of what was otherwise a fairly good showing for the Trump campaign last night at the vice presidential debate.
Donald Trump`s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, did well on the stage versus Democratic Senator Tim Kaine last night. That said, he did well mostly in the way he was personally perceived on that stage. Mr. Trump, I think, broadly was not seen as necessarily helping his running mate, Donald Trump. He may have done a good deal to help his future political prospects for himself.
Also, the Clinton campaign made a lot of hay out of Governor Pence`s repeated refusals to defend Donald Trump`s record. Those reminders of things that Trump has said that Mike Pence didn`t want to didn`t last night or denied that Trump said, those will go on for a few days on the Clinton side as they continue to sort of beat the drum for what happened last night.
Even so, whether or not Pence continues to enjoy the good reviews from last night or the Clinton campaign continues to beat them over the head with the way that Mike Pence kind of hurt Trump last night, one way or the other, whoever is going to try to make the most advantage of this thing, nobody expects that last night`s vice presidential debate is going to move the needle all that much in either direction. And that`s in large part because it turns out nobody watched last night`s debate.
Last night`s debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine was the least watched vice presidential debate since Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman sat down for a sleepy chitchat in the year 2000. The only one less watched than that one was Al Gore versus Jack Kemp in 19 -- (SNORING) sorry. Late night. Lost my train of thought. Sorry, who?
There are two reasons why it is bad news for the Trump campaign that last night`s vice presidential debate is probably not going to make more of a splash and those two reasons became very, very, very apparent today. One of them the beltway press has figured out, one they have not. But that story is next.
MADDOW: So, heading into last night`s vice presidential debate, Democrat Tim Kaine`s job was to basically hold steady. Don`t rock the boat. Try to leave things as they are. Leave no trace.
Republican candidate Mike Pence had a harder job last night. He actually needed to move things. He needed to try to fundamentally change the direction of the race overall. And the reason they had different jobs is because heading into last night`s debate, one side is on track to lose the election right now and one side is on track to win.
The Republican side is on track to lose. And so they can`t afford to just tread water on these big nights or do no harm. What they need is a shock to the system. They need to change the numbers right now because the numbers look like this.
"The New York Times" number crunchers every day assess the latest polling, both nationwide and state to state. They boil it down to one predictive number in which they say how much of a chance each candidate has of winning the election. In recent weeks, that number of the likelihood of winning the election has stayed in favor of Hillary Clinton but has been as low as 70-30.
At "The New York Times", it`s now back up above 80 percent in terms of Hillary Clinton`s chances of winning the November election. "New York Times" tonight has her at an 81 percent chance of winning.
Over at fivethirtyeighth.com, which is Nate Silver`s outfit, they do something similar, theirs a multiple times a day, at least twice a day. Towards the end of September, they had Hillary Clinton`s chances of winning as low as 55 percent. The number was 55-45, Clinton over Trump.
Well, now at fivethirtyeight.com they have Clinton way back up. As of tonight at FiveThirthEight.com, they say it`s a 77 percent chance that Hillary Clinton will win and a 23 percent chance that Donald Trump will win.
Now, down ticket, I should tell you the Senate prospects are also looking better for the Democratic Party. When "The Washington Post" launched their Senate forecast a couple of weeks ago, you might remember us reporting on that. They forecast their initial Senate, you know, their initial Senate estimate in terms of who was going to control the Senate next year, their initial forecast was that Republicans were likely to hold on control of the U.S. Senate.
Well, now, "The Washington Post" is predicting that the Democrats have what they call the slightest of edges when it comes to predicting who will control the U.S. Senate after these elections. "The New York Times" today puts a number on it. They say there`s a 56 percent chance that Democrats will win control of the Senate in November. They had previously said that the Republicans were likely to regain control or to hold on to control.
So, that`s one reason why it is bad news for the Trump campaign, that last night`s vice presidential debate wasn`t more watched and it wasn`t more lopsided, wasn`t anything that`s going to amount to some kind of shock to the system. There`s just simple fact that the Republican side is not winning right now. So they need a game changer.
Polling right now is not in their favor. The trajectory goes toward them losing. That was one reason.
The other reason was just not enough for them is the calendar. They`re just running out of time. And I think this is less appreciated in terms of the difference between these two sides, but I think it`s important. Since the first presidential debate last week, here are some of the headliner rallies and the events that the Clinton campaign has advertised. These are not exhaustive. These are just once that we noticed.
They had -- the day after the debate, they had Joe Biden campaigning for Clinton in Pennsylvania. That same day, Bill Clinton did two different events in Ohio. The following day, it was the first lady, Michelle Obama, who held two rallies in Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton herself appeared alongside her primary rival Bernie Sanders at an event in New Hampshire that day.
This week, Vice President Biden was out for Hillary Clinton again with two more stops in Florida on Monday. Bill Clinton had two stops in Michigan that same day.
Then, the following day, Bill Clinton started a bus tour through Ohio. That same day, First Lady Michelle Obama held two Clinton rallies in North Carolina. Bernie Sanders held two events that day in Minnesota. Elizabeth Warren held a Hillary Clinton event in Nevada.
Just today, Bernie Sanders held three different Hillary Clinton rallies in one day. He was in Des Moines, Iowa, and Madison, Wisconsin, then Green Bay, Wisconsin, all in one day today. Bill Clinton did two events in Ohio.
Tomorrow, Bernie Sanders has four Clinton events all in Michigan. Bernie Sanders will do three more events for Hillary Clinton on Friday. When he said he`ll do all he can, he`s doing all he can. Elizabeth Warren will do two events for Hillary Clinton that day in Wisconsin. Joe Biden back on the trail in Pennsylvania again.
Then, next week, look for President Obama to be back out on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton as well.
And the one thing that all of those Hillary Clinton headliner events have in common is that those are not just Hillary Clinton`s events or Tim Kaine`s events. I mean, they have each got their full scale schedules of, you know, debate prep and fundraisers and private events, but also rallies and get out the vote stuff and organizing days as well.
I mean, the public events schedule for the Clinton campaign is all those events I just listed in addition to the door knocking, phone banking, voter registration, early voting, get out the vote efforts. And when you`re in the last month of the campaign, that`s exactly what you hope it would look like, right?
Yes, you got the presidential candidate out there and you have your vice presidential candidate out there but you`ve also got the sitting president, the first lady, sitting vice president, unprecedented high profile popular surrogates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders -- I mean, they`re all out there blitzing.
On the Republican side, it is not working that way right now. Donald Trump and Mike Pence do events -- oh, yes, they do. Donald Trump had two events today. Mike Pence had two events today as well. And that`s the list because they`re it.
There is no equivalent of President Obama and Vice President Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders out headlining their own rallies and their own public events for the Trump campaign. I mean, yes Donald Trump has people who will speak for him on television, people like Rudy Giuliani or used to be Chris Christie before the whole Bridgegate thing got too awkward and, of course, they`ve got people who work for their campaign who get booked on television to do interviews about the campaign.
But in terms of people out there in the field, right, rallying the Donald Trump faithful and inspiring people to come out to the local auditorium and to put their name on the dotted line and fill out a voter registration form and sign up to volunteer, getting involved with the campaign, become a door knocker, get their training to be a blah, blah, blah. All that stuff that happens in person at these campaign events, two people do that on the Republican side, Trump and Pence. That`s it.
And the rallies they do, which again are just the two of them, those rallies, those are the alpha and the omega for the Trump campaign in terms of how they`re organizing their get out the vote, voter registration, volunteer efforts. They send people out in these green shirts to encourage people at Trump rallies to register to vote or cast their votes early when they show up for the Trump-Pence rallies, and that`s great. They ought to be doing that at these rallies.
There are, in fact, Donald Trump and Mike Pence rallies, those exist. But that`s all they`ve got. They`re basing their whole nuts and bolts turnout operation on the number of rallies they can do. And they have increased the infrastructure of how to get people register to vote at rallies and stuff.
But the total number of rallies they can do is constrained by the number of them that they are. On the Trump campaign side, it is basically just Hall and Oates, right? It`s just the two.
I mean, on the Clinton side, it`s like we are the world. On the Clinton side, its` like Lyle Lovett and his large band. It`s like remember when Parliament and Funkadelic became Parliament-Funkadelic and it was like, wait, how many of you are actually playing instruments right now? Or are you just up there having an amazing time?
There`s two of them on the Republican side that are trying to do a rally- based ground operation. Democratic side isn`t trying to do a rally-based ground operation but they`ve got an entire family of high level surrogates who are a big enough deal in their own right that they can run their own events, separate and independent from whether or not Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are out there themselves. And oh, by the way, they are.
So this is not the election of 1860, all right? This isn`t civil war or not civil war. This is not even the election of 1964, LBJ versus Barry Goldwater. But this one is its own big deal that`s moving people to do stuff they`ve never done for previous elections. And all signs point to the one direction in which this is going to turn out. Tick tock.
MADDOW: Above and beyond everything else going on in the news, we and everybody else in this hemisphere are monitoring and mourning the progress of Hurricane Matthew. Matthew, worryingly, is not just a big hurricane, it is a slow moving hurricane.
It`s right now bearing down on the Bahamas with sustained winds of 115 miles an hour. That storm has already killed at least 25 people across multiple Caribbean countries and was particularly destructive in Haiti. It`s being called the worst disaster in Haiti since the horrible earthquake that devastated that country in 2010.
So, Hurricane Matthew is already terrible. It has already done fatal damage in the Caribbean. It is currently expected to intensify as it moves closer to our own Atlantic coast.
I mean, there is still a lot of urn certainty. It`s still unclear if and when this hurricane can make landfall directly in the United States. The latest computer models tonight do show the possibility that this storm could reach the Florida coast early Friday, possibly as a massive category 4 hurricane.
States of emergency have been declared in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina -- lots of coastal communities are being ordered to evacuate ahead of, again, what is expected to be a sniff storm and surge flooding. This is worth keeping an eye on if you are anywhere within the reach of my voice. But we`ll keep you updated throughout the night as this develops.
MADDOW: Deadliest catch. Yeah.
Imagine that your job is fishing for crab. It`s something you do regularly. You know exactly what it`s like out there at sea fishing for crab.
One day, you go out just like you always do and something very surprising happens. Something you did not see coming. Watch.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: A Russian submarine just pops up while you`re out fishing for crab, strolls on by -- a new nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine. These guys were so surprised at the sight of this submarine that we had a Russian speaking producer translate what they said in response when they saw it.
It turns out I can`t even describe to you what the translation is. Suffice to say, it`s along the lines of, this is bleeping bleep, this is bleeping bleep, this is bleeping bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep. And then at the end they say, "Let`s go get drunk."
Yesterday was the first and only vice presidential debate of this election. It is not unheard of for candidates on the same ticket to have different approaches to policy or different viewpoints. In 1980 when they were both running for the Republican presidential nomination, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush disagreed over taxes and economic policies. Bush called Reagan`s tax plan voodoo economics. Then, when Reagan won the primary and he asked bush to be his running mate George Bush stopped accusing Reagan`s economic plan of being voodoo. He got on board.
When Al Gore and Joe Lieberman competed in the primaries they disagreed on school vouchers. They disagreed on abortion. But when Gore in 2000 invited Lieberman to be his running mate, Lieberman started to defer to the guy on the top of the ticket. Quote, "Lieberman defers to gore on matters of disagreement."
That`s what usually happens. You don`t start agreeing on everything, but then one of you wins and if you`re the guy who gets asked to be on the team with the guy who won, you agree or you at least pretend to agree that you agree.
United front, right? Steady waters. That`s what they have seen all of these years. That`s what we expected last night. Until boom, here comes a submarine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: After the Russian reset, the Russians invaded Ukraine and took over Crimea and the small and bullying leader of Russia is now dictating terms to the United States. The provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength, and if Russia chooses to be involved and continue, I should say, to be involved in this barbaric attacks on civilians in Aleppo, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike military targets of the Assad regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bullying leader of Russia dictating terms to the United States, the U.S. should be prepared to use military force to -- so says Governor Mike Pence, Donald Trump`s running mate.
And that`s the exact opposite of what Trump himself has been saying on the same subjects.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I look at Assad and Assad to me looks better than the other side. Russia wants to get rid of ISIS as much as we do if not more. Let Russia take care of ISIS. How many places can we be?
Wouldn`t it be great if we actually got along with Russia? Wouldn`t it be great?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, the top of the ticket, wouldn`t it be great if we got along with Russia. Top of the ticket says I wouldn`t have fought so much against Assad. We have bigger problems than Assad. His running mate says Russia`s terrible run by this tiny terrible little bully also let`s bomb Assad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: The United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike military targets of the Assad regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s not that weird for running mates to disagree with each other on policy. It is weird for the number two person on the ticket to not abandon his or her previously held position and get in line with what the presidential candidate is running on. But it is truly weird for the vice presidential candidate to run completely opposite to their presidential candidate`s position and then just pretend that the presidential candidate agrees with him.
But that`s what Mike Pence did last night on foreign policy. It seemed to even confuse the Trump/Pence campaign. Trump deputy campaign manager was in the spin room and was asked after the debate about this surprise pronouncement that at least the Pence campaign wants to bomb Syria. And maybe bomb Russia. And Vladimir Putin is now small and bullying.
The deputy campaign manager was asked whether that is, in fact, the new position of the Trump/Pence campaign, he responded, quote, "I didn`t hear that exact line, so I`d have to look at it."
There are not all that many surprises in politics, but this one is a surprise. The presidential candidate and the vice presidential candidate having opposite and incompatible foreign policies? That`s a surprise. That`s a submarine in your fishing trip. This is something they`re going to have to sort out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Wouldn`t it be great if we actually got along with Russia? Wouldn`t it be great?
PENCE: The provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength. And if Russia chooses to be involved and continue, I should say, to be involved in this barbaric attack on civilians in Aleppo, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike military targets of the Assad regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So which is it wouldn`t it be great if we actually got along with Russia? Or the provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength? Which is it?
And what does it mean when a candidate for president and vice president on the same ticket run on opposite foreign policies? And they`re not hypothetical foreign policies about something that`s not really going on right now. It`s non-hypothetical foreign policies about something we face as a country.
Can they run on opposite policies? Which one counts as what we vote for?
Joining us now is the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. He`s a professor of political science at Stanford.
Mr. Ambassador, it`s nice to see you. Thank you for being with us tonight.
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Sure. Thanks for having me. I know what those Russians were saying about the submarine.
MADDOW: Was --
MCFAUL: Those were pretty nasty words they were using.
MADDOW: Was I accurate in quoting it as bleeping bleep, bleeping bleep, bleeping bleep?
MADDOW: We had a producer very far overseas that we had to do a lot of audio file drama on that one. But thank you.
In terms of Mike Pence and Donald Trump on Russia and Syria, were you clear that they have the same policy or opposite policies? Is there a space between them where they both make sense?
MCFAUL: There`s nothing that unites them. I mean, seriously, what Mr. Pence said last night has absolutely nothing to do with what Donald Trump has been saying, not just for one sound bite, I want to point out, but for several months now.
You know, Mr. Pence said, "We need to stand up to the bully." Mr. Trump has said, "I want to get along with Putin. I admire Putin. I think he`s a great leader."
And he uses this phrase that, for a former diplomat, drives me nuts. He said, wouldn`t it be nice if the Russians, we could get together with the Russians and bomb Syria? And I would add to that, wouldn`t it be nice if we could get the Russians to leave Ukraine and Crimea? And wouldn`t it be nice if Mr. Putin democratized the Russian political system?
But that`s not a policy, that`s an objective. It`s categorically against what his vice presidential candidate said last night.
MADDOW: I`ve been trying to put this into historical context if only for my own understanding trying to get at how important it is to have a vice presidential candidate and a presidential candidate giving diametrically opposite messages, proposing totally incompatible policies on the same thing. I mean, you`ve been involved in high level diplomacy and have been very close up to high level politics for a long time.
What happens when you`ve got two contrary messages like that? I mean, presumably it`s the presidential candidate whose message wins out in something like this, right?
MCFAUL: Well, first of all, we should wait and see. I mean, I think it`s important now for journalists and maybe on the debate on Sunday for someone to ask, as you said earlier, which is the official policy of the Trump/Pence candidacy. But there`s a bigger problem here, which is let`s pretend or suppose or think about the future where they might be in the White House situation room together.
You can`t have people with diametrically opposed positions on something as fundamental as how we`re going to deal with Russia. That is just a recipe for disaster in terms of American national security.
MADDOW: From a Russian perspective, let`s say that Trump and Pence were elected and this difference between them is never resolved and that`s how they get sworn in, that`s how they take office next year, how would Russia view that? Would they see that as an opportunity for themselves? Would they see that as worrying?
MCFAUL: Well, of course, the Russians have been delighted with there Trump for several months, right? Their media loves him, their twitteratti love him. Mr. Putin has complimented him. They think this would be just a breakthrough in terms of Russian national interests if Trump were to become president.
Last night on Twitter and in the media, they were taken aback. They were like, whoa, maybe Trump is just some phantom candidate and Mr. Pence represents the more traditional Republican line that they`ve had it out for Russia for quite some time.
That was really interesting to watch that in real time. And this morning, they themselves, of course, are confused just as you and I are about what is the actual policy of the Trump campaign.
MADDOW: We are the world, I say it for the second time tonight. Not without a lot of worry.
Michael McFaul, thank you so much for your time tonight, sir. It`s good to see you.
MCFAUL: Yes, thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight with us. Stay here.
MADDOW: We have a few rules around here on this show. Wild turkey bourbon is better at 180 proof than 80 proof. The syllable in Oregon is pronounced gun, not Oregon. It`s Oregon.
And it`s never Nevada. It`s Nevada, no matter who or where you are. Nevada.
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TRUMP: Heroin overdoses are surging and meth overdoses in Nevada, Nevada. And you know what I said? You know what I said? I said when I came out here, I said nobody says it the other way. It has to be Nevada, right? And if you don`t say it correctly, and it didn`t happen to me, but it happened to a friend of mine, he was killed.
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MADDOW: That is a thing that happened today. That was very strange. Donald Trump going well out of his way to get it ostentatiously wrong, and then he gets corrected by the crowd and he doesn`t get that they`re correcting him. He is in Nevada when he does it, and they`re yelling Nevada!
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TRUMP: Nobody says it the other way. It has to be Nevada, right?
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MADDOW: There is a lot going on in the world at the time. The president had a lot on his mind. But he found himself talking to the press about vegetables.
And you could kind of hear the reporters laughing at him as he did it. But President George W. Bush did not stop himself because he was dead serious. He was dead serious about it. He freaking hates broccoli.
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GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I do not like broccoli. And I haven`t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I`m president of the United States, and I`m not going to eat any more broccoli.
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MADDOW: He is not laughing. George H.W. Bush hated broccoli so much, he banned it from Air Force One. That got the whole country worked up about the president`s preferences in roughage. You didn`t know there is a broccoli lobby, there is a broccoli lobby. Vegetable politics are a real thing in Washington.
It turns out this year too. And you should hold that thought because there is a really great story about that next.
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BUSH: For the broccoli vote out there, Barbara loves broccoli. She has tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that is coming in to Washington.
REPORTER: Lima beans!
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MADDOW: 1933, FDR installed a pool at the White House. He, of course, had polio. He used the pool for physical therapy.
When JFK got to the White House, he had the pool touched up. His dad added a nice mural of sailboats.
That pool is no longer in use. It`s now covered up by the White House briefing room. In 1970, Richard Nixon had the briefing room built right on top of where the pool was.
And he was within his rights to do that. One of the things you get to do as president is make the White House your house. Some of that has to do with the basic decor, the rug, statues, paintings.
But some presidents make larger structural changes. FDR built the indoor pool. Gerald Ford built an outdoor pool. Richard Nixon paved FDR`s pool and built a one-lane bowling alley.
Dwight Eisenhower installed a putting green, which has had lots of use over the years. Jimmy Carter put up solar panels. Ronald Reagan took them down.
President Obama added basketball hoops and a put lines on the tennis courts so he could play fuel court games.
And each of the decisions does offer a small glimpse into the personality of a president. None of them has created any kind of lasting responsibility for the presidents who come afterwards. That, however, might be about to change. Tomorrow is the final harvest of the White House kitchen garden.
The kitchen garden at the White House is the project, of course, of the first lady. It`s planted on the south lawn of the White House. And if you didn`t think Michelle Obama was nails and had a good political sense, let me tell you, she is nails and she has a good political sense.
Today before the final harvest, the first lady cemented the garden`s place at the White House using some actual cement. She unveiled an expanded garden. It`s now more than double the size of the original plot. The updates include wider stone walkways and concrete and steel planters, you know, the kinds of things that tend to last a long, long time.
She also announced that maintenance of the garden will be paid for by a multimillion-dollar grant, not taxpayer money. In other words, if somebody in the future wants to argue that that garden is an unnecessary expense -- well, that angle just got tossed into the wood chipper. And more insurance, the garden has now been planted with broccoli and kale and collard greens, which means those vegetables will be ready to pick next year. Hint, hint, you know, don`t let that good food go to waste. What are you going to do, turn that under? Plow it under? Really?
And it may be hard to imagine Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Bill Clinton or Melania Trump out there dutifully tilling the dirt out there on the South Lawn. But with one final power move, the First Lady Michelle Obama has almost guaranteed that one or two of them will be expected to be doing exactly that. Do not plow that garden under.
It`s called the kale offensive. I call it the kale offensive.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL"
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END