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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/17/2016

Guests: Mi-Ai Parrish, Donna Brazile

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 17, 2016 Guest: Mi-Ai Parrish, Donna Brazile

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: And thanks to you at home staying with us for the next hour. Happy Monday.

The governor of the great state of California is Jerry Brown. His dad was also a Democratic governor of the state of California. His name was Pat Brown.

Pat Brown was first elected governor of California in 1958. And he won by such a huge margin that the county by county results map from that governor`s race when Pat Brown first became governor, even though it was 60/40, you look at the map of the state, it makes it look like it was almost a unanimous decision. That was 1958.

Then, four years later, not by quite as resounding a margin, but still by a pretty good margin, he won again. 1962, he beat a guy by the name of Richard Nixon.

But then, four years after that, 1966, he went for a third bite at the Apple. He ran for a third term as governor of California and he did not get it. Not only did he not get his bite, he was himself basically eaten alive in that election.

Look at this. Look at that results map from 1966. The Democratic, right, the guy who`s represented by blue on this map, he was the incumbent, but look at how badly he got beaten. And the man who beat him in that election was, as you see there, Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan won his first term of governor in 1956. He beat Jerry Brown`s dad. He went on to serve two terms after governor, and then he ultimately ascended to the presidency.

But the kick-start for Ronald Reagan`s political career really was that huge, resounding, overwhelming victory that he had over the incumbent governor in California in 1966. And he kick-start to that campaign, the thing that made Ronald Reagan a national conservative darling, not just a normal conservative Republican, but the man at the head of a national movement, the thing that put him on the conservative map coast to coast and laid the groundwork for first resounding huge win in 1966 was this: this is two years before he won that governor`s race so hugely. Two years almost exactly before he won that race.

This was October 27th, 1964. It was exactly one week before the 1964 presidential election.

Now, people who love Ronald Reagan love this speech. Honestly, people who just love American politics love this speech. This speech from Ronald Reagan a week before the election, 1964, it`s come to be known as the time for choosing speech. Ronald Reagan delivered it as a paid ad on national TV exactly one week before American voters went to the polls in November 1964 to choose between LBJ and Barry Goldwater.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: You and I have a rendezvous view with destiny. We`ll preserve for our children the last best hope of man on earth or we`ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Even if you disagree with the political philosophy, even if you disagree with the case that Ronald Reagan laid out in that speech, it`s funny, going back and listening to it now, I forgotten how sarcastic and snarky and snide it was. I mean, that speech gets talked about like it was Reagan receiving heaven`s wisdom on stone tablets. But he was up there throwing shame, throwing insults for half of that speech.

But regardless of what you think of Reagan, regardless of what you think of that speech itself, that speech -- that speech from October 1964, it will always be seen as one of the classics in modern American politics, one of the things that defined the new era of televised American politics because that speech really did launch Ronald Reagan as a political candidate. It really did lay the groundwork for blockbuster win in California governor`s race two years later -- and that blockbuster race in the California governor`s race two years later started him inevitably on his road to presidency.

So, it is one of the classics just in terms of impacts. If you love politics, you definitely know that "Time for Choosing" speech. If you love Ronald Reagan, you probably know that speech by heart -- Mike Pence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Men and women, I have to tell you, this is not a choice in this election between one candidate who will take America this far up and another candidate who will take America maybe this far up. This is a choice in this election between as Ronald Reagan said in 1964, between up and down, not between left and right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Mike Pence today in Ohio quoting Ronald Reagan`s famous 1964 speech, "The Time for Choosing".

Here`s why that`s a bad idea -- what that speech did in 1964 turned out to be great for the man giving the speech. It was a great nationally televised launching pad for Ronald Reagan the conservative icon, Ronald Reagan the speech communicator, but the guy on whose behalf gave that speech was Barry Goldwater, the Republican Party`s candidate for president that year. And exactly one week after Ronald Reagan gave that great speech on TV, this is what happened to Barry Goldwater -- one of the worst electoral disasters in the history of modern presidential elections.

Barry Goldwater, he just -- he just got erased. He just got creamed. I mean, he did win the little handful of states in the Deep South largely on the basis to the opposition of Civil Rights Act, and then you see on the lower left side of your screen, he did also win his home state of Arizona. But that was it.

If in fact 1964 was a time for choosing, as Ronald Reagan said that year -- well, America decisively chose that year. They chose not Barry Goldwater.

But the Arizona factor here is interesting. I mean, clearly in 1964, Arizona picked Goldwater when almost nobody else did because he was their home state guy. But Arizona is also just remarkably consistent in the way they vote for president.

Only once since 1948, even when the whole rest of the country was voting blue in 1964, no, not Arizona, only once since the end of World War II has Arizona picked a Democrat for president and that one did seem like a fluke, that was 1996. Democrat Bill Clinton running for re-election, he squeaked out this tiny win in Arizona. He beat Bob Dole, but Ross Perot took about 8 percent of the vote, right? So, there was this 1996 win by Clinton by hair. But other than that, Arizona all the way back to World War II has voted red in every single presidential election, including `64.

Here`s the thing though: you might remember last summer, July 2015, one presidential candidate went to Arizona and shocked everybody by turning out the largest crowd that any candidate in either party had turned out anywhere in the country in the presidential race thus far. Now, this was at a time last summer when Donald Trump was bragging on turning out thousands of people and in fact Trump had gone to Phoenix, Arizona, and he turned out just over 4,000 people for a rally there.

But one week after that, one week after that 4,000-person rally for Trump in Phoenix, Arizona, one week later at that same venue, another candidate almost tripled Donald Trump`s numbers. The other candidate turned out 11,000 people in Phoenix, Arizona, in July of last year, breaking everybody`s record for biggest crowd of the entire campaign and that candidate was Bernie Sanders. Interesting for such a supposedly red state, right?

Bernie Sanders beat everybody`s record when he showed up in Phoenix, Arizona, and 11,000 other people showed up. You know, and Bernie Sanders, of course, didn`t go onto win the primary against Hillary Clinton, but his incredibly enthusiastic base of support, his ability to energize and turn out huge numbers of excited people, particularly young people, there was this lingering question at the end of the Democratic primary as to whether or not Bernie Sanders really meant it when he endorsed Hillary Clinton, whether he really meant it when he said he would work his heart out all over the country to get her elected.

Well, he`s been working his heart out, it`s true. He started campaigning for Clinton really in earnest, basically as a full time gig a couple weeks ago. He appears really to be flooring it for Hillary Clinton. Over the first five days, Bernie Sanders spent on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton, over five days, he did 14 events for her -- Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, 14 events in five days.

Yesterday and today and tonight, he`s stumping for Hillary Clinton in Colorado, on Wednesday, he`s going to Nevada for her. Tomorrow, though, he is spending all day and all night in red state Arizona. Bernie Sanders doing a rally for Clinton tomorrow in Flagstaff at 2:30 and he`s doing another rally for Clinton in Tucson at 7:00 p.m.

This week, Hillary Clinton is off the campaign trail doing debate prep for Wednesday night, but if you look at her campaign schedule, there`s a ton of Arizona in it. Red state Arizona. It`s gone blue in the presidential elections once since World War II. But tomorrow, Bernie Sanders is going to be there for those two big events. The day after that, Chelsea Clinton is going to be in Arizona. The day after that, Michelle Obama is going to be in Arizona.

Again, Arizona has only gone Democratic in a presidential race once since 1948. They even went for Goldwater in 1964 when nobody else did. But the Clinton campaign apparently looks at Arizona and sees a blue state this year. They held a conference call with reporters in which they announced they would be spending an additional $6 million in these last three weeks over and above what they had already announced and already planned in these seven battleground states. They announced today $6 billion additional to what they previously planned on spending in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire. One, two, three, four, five, six -- that`s seven states, all right.

But in addition to the $6 million they`re spending across those seven states, they`re also announced today so they`re spending $6 million across all of those -- they`re also spending $2 million alone in Arizona. And historically speaking, that`s nuts, but with surrogates, with money, with campaign attention and now with an official pronouncement from the campaign, they appear to be going for it in Barry Goldwater`s Arizona.

And part of the reason they think it`s worth the while, despite Arizona`s totally red voting history is because the Trump campaign may have taken Arizona for granted. Now, Trump himself has done a lot of campaign events in Arizona, but events are just events. And according to NBC News reporting this weekend, there are only five staffers in total in the whole state of Arizona working for the Trump campaign there. Five staff for that whole state divided between the Trump campaign itself and the Arizona and the RNC and the Arizona Republican Party.

One Republican state operative who`s a former senior staffer for Governor Jan Brewer, he tells NBC News about Trump, quote, "I think he`s going to lose Arizona. Barring something unforeseen, Trump is going to lose Arizona and you`re still not seeing the type of activity you would expect to see if he expects to save it."

So, the Clinton campaign is going for it -- multimillion dollar effort in red states now. And they`re not doing it just by trying to appeal to Republican voters to cross over, they`re doing it by sending folks like Bernie Sanders and first lady, Michelle Obama to go wake up and mobilize and organize the Democratic vote that has been lurking inside red state Arizona all these years.

In addition to this big new investment in Arizona, the Clinton campaign announced that they will also -- announce today, they will be splitting $1 million in new investment between red state Missouri and red state Indiana.

And now, part of this may be just strategy to try to help the Democrats in Senate races and governors races, right? This is the state of the Senate race in Arizona where it`s John McCain against Ann Kirkpatrick. But she`s running a very aggressive campaign.

This is the state of the Senate race in Missouri. See how close that is, with incumbent Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Jason Kander.

This is the state of the Senate race in Indiana where it`s former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh versus Republican Todd Young.

So, all of those Senate races are ones Democrats would love to win on November 8th. And they`re close enough if the election strongly goes in Clinton`s way, a little investment in those states, even if it was theoretically for the presidential race, might have a knock on effect in those lower state, in those lower ballot races, right? It would be so freaking important to the Democratic Party if the Democrats could sweep those Senate races blue while putting Hillary Clinton in the White House.

It may also be a similar calculation with the governor`s race in Missouri and the governor`s race in Indiana, both of those in reach for the Democrats.

So, part of what the Clinton campaign is doing with the red state spending, it may be about down ticket races. But it may also be she`s confident enough she`s going win that she`s now just trying to win big.

In terms of electoral probabilities, right now, the "New York Times" they give Hillary Clinton a 91 percent chance of winning the election. At FiveThirtyEight.com, they give her an 88.7 percent chance of winning the election. Predict Wise, that prediction market, they give her a 91 percent chance of winning. The Princeton Election Consortium says Hillary Clinton`s chances of winning the election on November 8th are 97 percent for whatever that`s worth.

So, maybe she`s going for red states because she`s looking for a Goldwater style landslide. Maybe that`s what they`re trying to do.

There`s a bunch of interesting news in terms of newspaper endorsements, which is one of the historically unique things about this election that we`ve been tracking from the very beginning. We`ve got the publisher of the Arizona Republic here tonight. She has an absolutely riveting and scary tale to tell about the cost of that paper`s unique presidential endorsement this year.

One of the most unexpected newspaper endorsements for Clinton this year came from the "Dallas Morning News" in Texas. Today, you want to know how confident the Clinton campaign is? Today, the Clinton campaign, they got so cocky about their chances of winning this election, they started running an ad touting their "Dallas Morning News" endorsement -- they started running an ad to -- it`s not even a web ad. They`re paying to run that on TV in Texas.

Texas, the Democratic presidential campaign dumping -- I mean $2 million into Arizona, right? That`s enough of doo-wop. But when the Democratic presidential candidate is running TV ads in Texas three weeks before the election -- either that is a remarkable bluff or Democrats are about to put the hurt on the Republican Party in a way we have not seen since Ronald Reagan set up Barry Goldwater for his rendezvous with destiny.

I almost cannot believe the Democrats are as confident as they`re behaving right now. I almost have to believe this is a fake-out. But let`s see if we can figure it out. We`ve got the chair of the Democratic Party here live tonight.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Up until Friday, we had been watching this historically unprecedented phenomenon that we noticed in the presidential race, in which Hillary Clinton got the newspaper endorsements you`d expect her to get, but then she also got a whole bunch of newspaper endorsements you would not expect her to get like from Republican papers and papers that never endorse anyone while all the while Donald Trump racked up this incredible record of zero daily newspaper endorsements. You`ve never really seen that before. The presidential nominee of one of the two major parties getting zero newspaper endorsements.

But then on Friday, Donald Trump got his very first endorsement. Very exciting. He got it from a daily paper in California that you probably have not heard of. It`s called "The Santa Barbara News Press".

So, one strange thing about that endorsement was that it was the first -- first general election daily endorsement of Donald Trump by any paper.

One of the other strange things about that endorsement is that it had no content. The paper did not actually write an argument or an explanation for their endorsement. They just accomplished this. Our endorsements, president, Donald J. Trump. That`s it.

But still, even with that little effort put into it, it was their distinction on Friday to become the first and at that point only paper to endorse Trump against Clinton. But then this weekend, Trump got another one. On Sunday, Donald Trump got the backing of "The Saint Joseph, Missouri News Press". It`s the news press of northwest Missouri, no relation to "The Santa Barbara News Press" of coastal California, which is another paper that picked him on Friday. Just a coincidence.

Now, the Missouri papers did make an argument for their endorsement. They sort of dinged him for what they called his course and even crude behavior. They went so far as to say he should not be seen as a model for young people, but, quote, "his business successes far outweigh failures and he could use his knowledge and insights to accelerate our historically slow recovery from the recession." So, that was their argument.

And that means overall Donald Trump had gone from zero on this chart to two.

If you spot a third one, please let us know. Let us know via sendittorachel.com. Please.

All right. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: All right. This is a pretty incredible story.

June 2nd, 1976 was a very busy day for "The Arizona Republic`s" investigative reporter, Don Bolles. Don Bolles had to cover a hearing at the state capital. It was also his eighth wedding anniversary. So, he had plans with his wife to see "All The President`s Men". That tremendous classic movie about investigative reporters at "The Washington Post" who broke the Nixon Watergate story.

But in addition to those conflicting responsibilities, Don Bolles also had one piece of reporting business to attend to. He himself was an investigative reporter. He was working in Phoenix, and he had to meet up in phoenix with an informant who said he had a tip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Don Bolles was an investigative reporter for "The Arizona Republic". He would follow every lead in search of a story. His managing editor says he was doing that kind of digging the day a bomb exploded beneath his car.

HAROLD MILKS, MANAGING EDITOR: He got a tip on some information on a land fraud case and being a long-time investigative reporter, he decided to check it out. It`s quite obvious now that tip was a setup, but he was given some information which tended to involve some Arizona officials in a land fraud case.

REPORTER: When he went to meet his informant, the bomb exploded. Bolles lost an arm, both legs and 11 days later, he died. But on that day, when ambulance attendance pulled him from the car, he spoke one name. He said, "John Adamson. John Adamson was the man. Find him."

Adamson was first booked on a fraud charge. Yesterday, he was charged with the murder of Don Bolles. Adamson owns racing dogs and is an alleged associate of gamblers.

Bolles told a fellow reporter Adamson was the informant. Bolles told associates he doubted the story, but had to check it out.

His newspaper has made a front page promise not to forget Don Bolles. Under the story telling of his death, an editorial is bannered in red. It says that death shall not go unavenged. It concludes, "We could not rest if Don Bolles had died utterly in vain."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: This newspaper vowing revenge for his murder. Six sticks of dynamite tore through the bottom of Don Bolles` car. As that report mentioned, he hung on in the hospital for 11 days as he lost an arm, he lost both of his legs. They tried desperately to save his life, but he died on day 12.

But Don Bolles` last words as he was being lifted into the ambulance, the last thing he said was the name of the man who was mentioned in that news package. The man Don Bolles named as he was being lifted into the ambulance. That man was later convicted of Bolles` murder.

He claimed that he carried out the murder as a hit, on behalf of a prominent businessman who was angry with Don Bolles` work as an investigative reporter. We have this sort of remarkable footage of Don Bolles` car because it`s on display today at the museum in Washington, D.C. They`ve got an exhibit about reporters in the United States being assassinated for journalism and Don Bolles` car is there. They`ve cleaned it up some, but its windshield is blown out. Its hood is all distorted and bumped up. And there`s a huge hole in the floor with the dynamite was strapped under his driver seat.

Don Bolles was murdered 40 years ago while he was working for "The Arizona Republic".

You may recall that last month, "The Arizona Republic" made news when it endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. It was the first time in the paper`s 126-year history that they endorsed a Democratic instead of a Republican for president. "The Arizona Republic" used to be called "The Arizona Republican". It is as Republican a paper as they come.

But since they decided to break that line this year for the first time ever, the paper and its publisher have been getting threats. And one of the threats was an anonymous caller calling the offices of the paper invoking the name of Don Bolles, threatening that because the paper didn`t endorse Donald Trump this year, more "Arizona Republic" reporters might meet the same fate that Don Bolles did.

Yesterday, the president of "The Arizona Republic", Mi-Ai Parrish, she responded in print and it is a remarkable response.

She says, "As someone who spent a career in the business of words, it`s unusual to find myself speechless. Yet there I was a little more than two weeks ago.

What is the correct response really to this? "You`re dead, watch your back. We will burn you down. You should be put in front of a firing squad as a traitor."

She writes, "To the anonymous caller who invoked the name of Don Bolles, he`s "The Republic" reporter who was assassinated by a car bomb 40 years ago, and threatened that more of our reporters will be blown up because of this endorsement, I give you Kimberly. Kimberly is the young lady who answered the phone when you called.

She sat in my office and calmly told three Phoenix police detectives what you had said. She told them that later, she walked to church and prayed for you, prayed for patience, for forgiveness. Kimberly knows free speech requires compassion.

To those who said we should be shutdown, burned down, who said they hope we would cease to exist under a new presidential administration, I give you Nicole. Nicole is our editor who directs the news staff independent of our endorsements. After your threat, she put on her press badge and walked with reporters and photographers into the latest Donald Trump rally in Prescott Valley, Arizona. She stood as Trump encouraged followers to heckle and boo and bully journalists and then she came back to the newsroom to ensure our coverage was fair. Nicole knows free speech requires an open debate.

To all of you who asked why we endorsed or what right we had to do so, I give you my mother. She grew up under an occupying dictatorship with no right to an education, no free press, no freedom of religion, no freedom to assemble peaceably, no right to vote. No right to free speech. She raised a journalist who understood not to take these rights for granted.

The journalists I introduced you to here walked into the newsroom every day to do their jobs. When they do, they pass by an inscription that fills an entire wall floor to ceiling. It`s 45 words long. It`s an idea that is in my thoughts a lot these days. It is the First Amendment."

Joining us now is Mi-Ai Parrish. She is the president of "The Arizona Republic" and Republic Media.

Ms. Parrish, thanks very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate you making time to be here.

MI-AI PARRISH, THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: Let me ask first about your decision to write this remarkable response. Obviously, there`s -- you have to consider that you are publicizing the threats that you have received. I wonder how your own thought process figured into this and how you decided to do it?

PARRISH: Initially, I wasn`t going to write about them. That isn`t something we do, as you know and as journalists know, that is part of -- that`s part of the deal. You know, I don`t say that they`re commonplace and I`m not taking them lightly, but our journalists understand that that is part of what happens.

When we receive those threats, we -- I spoke to the police. I spoke so Homeland Security. We spoke to FBI, and we took additional precautions because you just never know.

But as time went on and threats accelerated, as well as extended outside of the building, beyond or journalists who again do understand that`s part of the work they do, and those threats included people heckling, threatening, hassling, spitting on our really kids who go door to door selling newspaper subscriptions --

And people in the stores who were selling subscriptions were having guns flashed at them and try to threaten them not to subscribe, and calls were coming in saying they would stop the carriers from driving through the streets. And to me, the idea of people being so dark that they would threaten kids just selling newspapers door to door for disagreeing with an opinion that wasn`t even expressed by them, it was time to talk about that.

MADDOW: Can I just ask how you`re staff is doing? And I guess I would have to define your staff broadly there if the threats are going so far as to go after kids selling subscriptions. How`s everybody doing?

PARRISH: Right. You know what? They`re amazing. I am so incredibly proud of them, and that was part of it as well in seeing how they responded.

When I talked about Kimberly, she`s someone who answers the phones for us and, you know, assists us in the newsroom. She`s not a journalist. You know, she`s a partner for us.

And after she took dozens and dozens of calls with hateful language and vile threats, you know, she went across the street and prayed. And then she came back and she answered the phones again. You know, and answered the e-mails again.

And for people like Kimberly and so many others, the journalists, but all of them, I`m just so proud of them and -- because they are mission driven every single day. We believe the heart of everything we do is the First Amendment. And whether we`re selling advertising or marketing or answering the phones, there are hundreds and hundreds of people who support that endeavor to have a free press and have free speech and have a robust democracy.

So I want to stand up for them and for all of us.

MADDOW: Mi-Ai Parrish, president of "The Arizona Republic" and Republican Media -- thank you for writing what you did, but thanks for coming here to talk to us about it. I`m sorry what you have been through. Thanks for being here.

PARRISH: Thanks so much. I appreciate it.

MADDOW: All right. Stay with us. Lots more to come tonight, including the chair of the Democratic Party joining us live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: This weekend, FOX News landed quite a scoop about the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. The headline said new FBI files contain allegations of quid pro quo in Clinton`s e-mails. It included this from House Republican Jason Chaffetz. Quote, "This is a flashing red light of potential criminality."

The way Congressman Chaffetz told the story to FOX News is basically this, as the State Department was releasing Hillary Clinton`s e-mails from her private server, a senior State Department official went to the FBI and asked the FBI to not mark one of those e-mails classified. In exchange, the State Department would do the FBI a favor and secure additional space for FBI agents posted overseas. Quid pro quo, you do this for us, we`ll do this for you. At least that is what Jason Chaffetz had heard.

According to the FOX News article, quote, "Chaffetz has not read the new documents, but based on a briefing from staffers, Chaffetz said there are ground for four hearings after the recess." I wonder if the hearings would be before or after he had time to read the documents.

Donald Trump and Paul Ryan were among the Republicans who immediately jumped on this news as proof of a scandal. And that FOX News report has been driving headlines all day.

But also today, we all got to see the documents in question for ourselves. And if the scandal was the State Department offering something to the FBI, well, it turns out the State Department never offered anything to the FBI. The FBI says it was actually one of their agents who brought up this issue of the space for FBI agents overseas and then that FBI agent suggested to a colleague that a quid pro quo might be possible.

So, it`s not the State Department asking the FBI for favors and offering actions in response, it`s that backwards.

An FBI official tells NBC News today the FBI has now launched a serious internal investigation into its own agent who is now retired.

To be clear, that e-mail in question, it stayed classified just as the FBI wanted and the State Department never gave the FBI anymore space for agents overseas. If any quid pro quo was ever offered, it certainly never took place and it didn`t come from Hillary Clinton State Department.

That said, more Clinton e-mails and more FOX News headlines about them will continue to drip out as more FBI investigations notes and all of these things. These are not even the documents that have been hacked from Democrats. But how is this party dealing with this constant flood of internal documents all coming up one way or another?

A person to ask that, a person right in the middle of that joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: This election is three weeks from over. And we`re coming to a point if you`re Hillary Clinton, you`re honestly starting to think about not just whether you will win, but how big your win will be. One option is to play it as safe as possible -- defense, right? Focus on the places you know can get you to 270 electoral votes and focus on making your wins in those states as solid as possible.

So, stay laser focused on swing states that Barack Obama won in 2008 -- Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio. Build up your margins in those states, win them all by as much as possible. That`s defense strategy. Defend the ground you need to win, allow no Trump encroachment on that ground. That`s one option.

Then, there`s the offense option. Don`t just go for a win, go for a blowout. Hand the Republicans their own butts. Try to win everywhere.

That could be the strategy that we see at work in the Clinton campaign`s small recent moves in Texas and Utah and Georgia. Texas actually looks kind of close right now. And in Utah, Utah, who knows?

We`ve had two polls out of Utah. One had Trump by one. One had Trump by 17. So, maybe it`s close, maybe it`s not. But it`s complicated by a third party candidate who appears to be competitive in Utah and sort of nowhere else.

In Georgia, the polling there similarly explicable right now. Georgia also hasn`t gone for a Democrat since 1992, but early voting started today. That`s why John Lewis was out there today. Democrats are chomping at the bit to win Georgia.

So, option one, defense. Go maximum in just the states you know you need to win.

Option two: offense. Go for the red states. Try to win the whole freaking country.

Or there`s option three, split the difference. Shore up what you need, but go for states that might be reached, but maybe even if you don`t win there, they could give you some down ballot momentum. Give your down ballot candidate a boost -- states particularly where there might be senators that you`d like to pick up, Arizona, Missouri, Indiana. Maybe Clinton won`t win those states, but maybe she could spend enough there to move all the rest of the down ballot candidates up.

Which would you pick at this point in the race if you were Hillary Clinton? If you believe the oddsmakers and thought your odds of winning in November 8th were 90 percent, which of these strategies would you pick?

The person who perhaps can answer these questions with the most insight other than Hillary Clinton joins us now for the interview. Donna Brazile is interim chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Ms. Brazile, it is nice to see you. Thanks for being here.

DONNA BRAZILE, INTERIM CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: It`s great to see you too, Ms. Maddow.

MADDOW: Are those three scenarios, is that a reasonable way to look at it in terms of the strategic thinking for you at this point?

BRAZILE: Absolutely. Look, we`ve always stated from day one that we would not just focus on the battleground states. They`re very, very important. I want to make sure that they`re adequate resources, staff, field offices, as well as media, mail, you name it. But also the expansion states.

I was very excited when I heard about six weeks ago that we had resources to begin to look at Georgia, look at Arizona, look at Utah. Look at more states, including Texas.

So, it`s very important that we spend resources. We have critical races in many of these states. Down ballot races that will determine control of the House and the Senate. And I was delighted today when Robby told me that more resources were going to states like Missouri and Indiana because as you all know, gubernatorial, as well as senatorial, and some House targets.

So, we`re also spending money to help with the state legislative races. We`ve been able to get volunteers to travel to those states and, of course, supply resources. So, I think you`re going to see a lot of big surprises on Election Day.

But more importantly, we`re out there early as you know. Our early voting program, vote by mail program, all of those programs are robust and while Donald Trump is out there talking about a rigged election because he`s not reaching out to voters where they live, work, play and pray, we are reaching outs to voters. We are giving them the necessary information so that they can go and cast their ballot.

MADDOW: When he talks about that rigged election, it`s something that he`s doing for weeks and months now. It`s now starting to get a lot of attention I think on the Republican side because they`re worried that the more he says that, the more he may be suppressing and demoralizing even his own vote. But we`re also starting to see even some Republican officials say, whoa, whoa, like campaign however you want, but don`t cast dispersions on our election, our election itself is something we all ought to hold up and have faith in.

Do you think it`s actually dangerous? Do you think it`s strategic in any way?

BRAZILE: I think it is tactical. Look, voting is a lifeblood of our democracy. When you have secretaries of state, Republican secretaries of state saying, "hello, we are conducting a free, fair, open and honest election," when you have board of election officials, when you have others who have been deeply involved in preparing for Election Day, many of them ascribed in their heads and say, what is he talking about? I think every time that Donald Trump face some scrutiny or is challenged by Secretary Clinton on his policy ideas or releasing his taxes, you go to these tactics to try to frighten people, divide people, he`s run a very divisive campaign, it`s time that he makes a better closing argument than calling upon -- I guess calling our election process.

Look, I`ve been involved in more campaigns and many Americans and I can tell you that we have tried to make voting more accessible. That`s why we urge officials to allow us to give people, especially working people two, three days to cast their ballot. We want people to have time to cast their ballot. We don`t want everybody just to show up on election day, because as you well know, sometimes it`s difficult to get the polls at a certain period of time.

So, I`m very cognizant that we`ve got a lot of work to do. This election is not over. Twenty-one days and the campaign is a long, long time.

And let me tell you what I tell folks every day -- don`t worry about what WikiLeaks is saying. Don`t worry about Donald Trump is saying. Don`t worry about anything. Keep your eyes focused on getting out the vote on Election Day. And that`s what the staff and all of our volunteers are doing all across the country.

MADDOW: You said don`t worry about what WikiLeaks is saying, but I have to imagine that it`s a daily -- sort of it`s a daily opposite of Christmas, every morning waking up and wondering what WikiLeaks has published in terms of new Democratic documents.

I want to ask you about that. First of all, how you`re dealing with that on the day-to-day basis, whether you have any sense of what`s going to come out on the day to day basis survey (ph), is it just a surprise. But I also have to ask you, they leaked an e-mail that you reportedly sent to the Clinton campaign in March in which you said, "From time to time, I get the questions in advance and included a question about the death penalty."

Now, you`ve said you never had access to CNN questions. You never shared them with the Clinton campaign ahead of one of those town halls that happened the next day. Can you just explain to us what happened there?

BRAZILE: Well, to the best of my knowledge, because I don`t read anything postmarked from Russia. I`m not -- I`m not anxious to destroy anymore of my computers. I don`t have the kind of resources that some people to keep replacing documents and keep replacing computers every time you open up one malware or spyware.

But here`s what I have to say, Rachel -- I love CNN. CNN gave me a platform for over 14 years. And throughout the 14 years, I covered both Republican and Democratic debates as a commentator. Not as an analyst and not as a moderator.

And so, the notion that I was privileged to anything other than a glass of water and my own pencil and paper is ludicrous. But I can tell you one thing about me, and that is before I go on any show, before I prepare for anything, I call around to my colleagues both on Democratic side and also call around Republicans. I just saw Michael Steele.

Look, I know nothing about the Republican Party. So, when I think about the topics, when I think about what might be covered, I want to know where the candidates stand. And I communicated with not just Secretary, Bernie Sanders, Senator Sanders, Martin O`Malley, because if I had some idea what the topics were going to be, I want to know exactly where they would come out so that I could -- I can be on the panels before or after the show.

But, no, CNN has never shared anything with me. That`s the God honest truth.

Now, are you asking me if I ever supplied potential questions to journalists and others? Hell yes, I do that all the time. I wish I can supply some to Chris Wallace on Wednesday night. I have all kinds of ideas.

Rachel, I`m a writer, I`m a talker, and some people know that I can garden and do other things with my life. So, I like to -- I like to stir it up and I like to submit stuff to everybody. But no, CNN never supplied me with any questions.

MADDOW: Donna Brazile, interim chair of the Democratic National Committee -- thank you for your time tonight. It`s good to see you.

BRAZILE: But, Rachel, I got a favor to ask. If you ever moderate another presidential town hall meeting, why don`t you just get me as your researcher, because I have a lot of good questions to ask these candidates? I care about issues like the death penalty, mass incarceration. I want to make sure those questions are asked in the debate, because sometimes we cherry pick and, we never get to the bottom line on what`s on people`s minds. I like to share and I like to also provide some feedback.

MADDOW: Advocating for those questions to be asked is one thing that a lot of people do out of the goodness of their heart and out of the right politics. And it`s a reason that before you moderate anything like that, all smart people turn off their phones for several days so we can`t get that advice.

BRAZILE: I know.

MADDOW: Thank you, Donna. It`s good to see you. Thanks for being here.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: We have been in this thing together for so long now, the rallies and the protests and fist fights and the teleprompters and the "Access Hollywood" freakin` bus and the all of the accusations and the denials that have followed. We have been in this together for so long that I`m just going to tell you this flat out -- I think we need a reminder of how our politics are supposed to work. And today, we got one. In today`s news, it is good news and it is coming from a good place, and that story is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Couple of really unfortunate things happened this weekend in our politics. The first happened in Bangor, Maine. It was outside the Donald Trump rally that was held on Saturday and somebody vandalized more than 20 vehicles for people who were attending that rally. Not all the victims were Trump supporters, but those who were told reporters they are sure that the spray painting was done by people who are politically opposed to Donald Trump. So that was in Maine.

And 900 miles away in Hillsboro, North Carolina, this happened to the state Republican headquarters. Somebody threw a bottle of flammable liquids through a window, and they set the room on fire, that is a fire bombing. It did not destroy the office entirely, but it did burn up the inside of the room. It burned up lots of campaign signs and the furniture, and frankly, it was terrorizing.

That fire bombing happened and on an adjacent building this graffiti turned up with swastika there and it says, "Nazi Republicans, leave down or else."

Thankfully, nobody was in the office when the firebombing happened. Nobody was hurt. But, obviously, this is an ugly, ugly event, it`s disgusting. It`s not what American politics are supposed to be. Local police say they are working with the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on their investigation. They`re trying to figure out who did this.

In terms of the candidates, Donald Trump, master of subtly, he immediately blamed Democrats and what he called the animals supporting Hillary Clinton. Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Democrats in North Carolina, just fire bombed our office in Orange County because we are winning.

For the record, it may or may not be related news that North Carolina Democrats say that on the same night that fire bombing happened, a Democratic office was also vandalized with spray paint, even if it wasn`t bombed.

But there is a silver lining in this story from North Carolina, and it comes in response to that fire bombing. In terms of the other candidate, Hillary Clinton came out after the news broke and said that the attack was horrific and unacceptable. In a normal year, that`s what you would expect from a nominee frankly of either party.

But here`s the part that to me resonates as a silver lining -- within hours of this attack being reported this weekend, a group of Democrats launched a crowd funding campaign, a Go Fund Me campaign. And what they said was they wanted to raise a lot of money, $10,000 to help the other side, to help North Carolina Republicans rebuild and repair their headquarters that was attacked.

Within 40 minutes, they had blown through their goal. They had raised $10,000 but $13,000 in 40 minutes.

A little goodwill across the aisle cannot erase what happened in North Carolina anymore than it can take the paint off those vandalized cars in Maine. I for one am willing to be heartened for the reminder that our political system was built and depends on respect between rivals. That is how our politics are supposed to be, that is how it works, that is sometimes how it works even after bad things happen, sometimes particularly after bad stuff happens.

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