Michael Bennet slams DNC. TRANSCRIPT: 8/23/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Chris Hayes, my friend, I feel like I have seen the future of "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes.  I feel like I have just seen the future of cable news.  This was freaking fantastic. 

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Thank you very much. 

MADDOW:  I`m sure nobody in the room will be able to hear you when you say this.  Just between you and me, did you dig it? 

HAYES:  I loved it.  It`s weird.  I had this weird thing where I like when lots of people applaud me all the time. 

MADDOW:  That`s what makes me barf. 

HAYES:  I know, I know.

MADDOW:  That`s the difference between us. 

It was incredible.  It was so much fun to watch.  You should do it all the time.  I will never do it.  I will always want you to do it. 

HAYES:  Thanks you very much. 

MADDOW:  It was great.  That was spectacular.

All right.  So, that was awesome.  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  Super to have you with us here. 

As we close in on the third round of Democratic presidential primary debates, the acute angle of the funnel that the candidates are going through right now is starting to pinch a little bit.  Now, I think it`s fair to say that the Democratic Party knew that a lot of people were going to get into this presidential primary to try to earn the right to challenge this incumbent president, right?  It`s not rocket science to figure that out. 

You know, it`s nothing personal about the president.  When you are the president with the lowest average approval rating of all U.S. presidents of all time, when you are the most scandal-plagued president in the history of the country, not just since Watergate but in the history of the country, when you have literally been named by federal prosecutors as individual one in the commission of multiple felonies, when your business, your foundation, your inaugural committee have all come under criminal investigation while you are serving as president and your foundation, in fact, was shut down by authorities as an illegal fraud, when you literally had to start your presidency by paying a $25 million settlement to settle other totally unrelated allegations about another one of your alleged frauds, when your long time personal lawyer has just gone to federal prison, when your campaign chairman is in federal prison, when your deputy campaign chairman is awaiting sentencing and so is your national security adviser, when literally your sister had to resign from the judiciary because of her apparent involvement in a long-running multi-million dollar criminal tax fraud scheme, a scheme that appears to have been basically run by her brother, which is you the president -- I mean, when all those things are true about the sitting president, yes, yes, you are going to get some challengers.  You are going to get some challengers for that job that you now hold. 

I mean, with a record like that, with just that balance sheet, you would get a lot of challengers for your job, even if you weren`t a president who frequently went online and started ranting like a living, breathing, evil dark side version of the label on a bottle of Dr. Bronner`s soap. 

So, yes, I think it`s fair to say the Democratic Party knew -- I love Dr. Bronner`s soap.  I`m positive on Dr. Bronner`s.  I`m just saying, the president these days, today in particular, sounds like he is being translated through a few different foreign languages all in caps and -- anyway. 

Needless to say, the Democratic Party knew a lot of people were going to get into the primary to try to run against Trump, to try to earn the right to challenge this president on behalf of the Democratic Party.  But I think it is also fair to say that the Democratic Party did not know that they would be fielding the largest presidential primary of all time.  I mean, we thought that 17 candidates in the 2016 Republican field was nuts.  Democrats this year blew through that record and kept going.  Not 17.  We will go 18, 19, 20, 21 -- how high can they go? 

I mean, I don`t think the Democratic Party could have anticipated with even a field this large that the inclusion rules that they set for their first two debates would result in 20 Democratic candidates making it on the stage for those debates, 20.  But that is just how it worked out. 

Once that remarkable result was clear though for those first two debates, the Democratic Party took steps to make sure the third debate would be a tougher ticket.  You would have to up your fund-raising base to 130,000 donors.  In addition, you would need to hit 2 percent in national polls or early state polls, at least four polls you need 2 percent. 

Those are not terrible rules.  Those are not onerous on the face of it.  But those are tougher rules than were in place for the first two debates. 

And these new tougher third debate rules thus far look like they are going to result in significantly fewer Democratic candidates making it on the stage, maybe like roughly half. 

Now, I mention the acuteness of the funneling angle here and how it is starting to pinch this field a little bit.  Part of the way you can see that as the number of candidates goes from this big to this big is that the candidates who are losing out, who are being squeezed out as a result of the stricter rules, they are mad about it, as you might imagine.  But they`re not just stewing on it.  They are publically saying so. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I am proud to be a Democrat.  And I stand here grateful for the work you do day in and day out to strengthen our party.  I`m ready to lead our party and our country to victory next November. 

But I got to be honest, and I say it with love.  The DNC process is stifling debate at a time when we need it most. 

We`re rewarding celebrity candidates with millions of Twitter followers, billionaires who buy their way on the debate stage and candidates who have been running for president for years.  It forces campaigns to force over millions of dollars to Facebook, the same platform that let the Russians interfere in 2016 instead of harnessing the resources to talk to voters. 

If be wanted to be the party that excluded people, we`d be Republicans.  These rules have created exactly the wrong outcomes and they will not help us beat Donald Trump.  I`m not going to be on the debate stage next month.  But I am going to be out in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina and Nevada building the constituency for change this country needs. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Colorado Senator Michael Bennet at the Democratic National Party`s big summer meeting in San Francisco, saying that while the Democratic National Committee chairman sits right next to him looking on while he lambastes the process that is resulting in him, among others, not getting into the third round of debates. 

So, the Democrats who are not going to make the September debate, some of them, are expressing their anger and their frustration and their argument against this process, which is having the effect of winnowing them out of this process.  And, you know, as the Senator Bennet alluded to, when he said I`m not going to be on the stage but I`m going to be out in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, I mean, it is possible that campaigns can build support and momentum some way other than the debates, right, when candidates don`t make it on the stages. 

But that`s a heavy lift.  The candidates know that.  So, in addition to that kind of angry statement that you got now from Michael Bennet and from some of the other candidates who are getting squeezed out for the third debate, in addition to that, the other thing that the September debate rules are doing is they are pushing some candidates out of the race entirely, when those candidates confront the realization that they are not going to make it on to the next debate stage. 

And so, that looming September debate, that looming third debate has started a sort of shedding season where candidates are now starting to take themselves out of the running.  And, you know, the parties will always have to have some way to determine who makes it on the debate stages and who doesn`t, right?  Otherwise, would you have a debate stage with 1,000 candidates and a ton of also-rans and prank candidates.  I mean, there has to be some criteria.  That`s always been the case in every campaign for both major parties.  There will always be some controversy that attends to that in terms of the parties, you know, constraining who gets into the debates. 

But the aggressive winnowing that`s happening right now between the first and second debates and these next debates that are coming up, this is also -- it`s obviously really shaking the Democrats who aren`t going to make that next stage.  It inevitably has the knock-on affect of shining a brighter spotlight and directing more scrutiny to the smaller number of candidates that is making it through that funnel, that`s going to be in contention on that soon to be much smaller stage.  So tonight, I wanted to take a look at the strength of that field. 

And part of my thinking about this tonight is that things are crazy right now in the news, and everybody is able to follow the headlines over the course of the day.  There`s a lot that I feel like we can offer on the daily news of everyday and every bit of craziness that emerges from this administration.  But when it comes to the Democrats who are trying to replace this president, talking about them just on their own terms I feel like sometimes stopping, looking at what the president is doing and looking at what these Democrats are offering instead gives you a clearer view rather than trying to see him, see them.  Just focus on them for a second. 

And the reason I wanted to do this now is because we did this once before.  We actually got more positive feedback on it from you guys than anything else we have done on this TV show in this hour this entire year.  It was right after the first debate, the one hosted by NBC and MSNBC and Telemundo, the one we did in Miami.  The night after that first debate in Miami, basically on this show, we did a whole show that was the Democratic candidates put their best foot forward. 

Because the reason these debates are such a huge deal at this point in the race, the reason it`s such a fantastically high stakes decision for the DNC to be progressively making rules harder and harder so that there are higher barriers for candidates to get into these debates, the reason that`s a potentially determinative thing is because it`s not just a killer to be absent from that stage, it`s because once you do make it on that stage, I swear, you can do yourself so much good.  I swear. 

Every single night, every single candidate has given themselves something to build on.  Some moment, some high point, some glimpse of the best of what they have to offer.  Not every candidate is going to be seen as winning every debate, but every candidate has at least one winning moment in every debate -- a moment that gives their supporters reason to cheer and maybe send another five bucks.  A moment that gives someone who might not be supporting them yet to turn their head and pay that person some mind even though they aren`t been thinking about them before. 

And I know that pundits and newspaper headlines, you know, have to give these global takes on who won the debate or who was flat or who made an impression or who didn`t.  I get that.  I mean, I`m part of that ecosystem, too. 

But I also recognize that more than ever before, the media environment and the political environment that we`re in right now is such that a good, well-run campaign doesn`t need to count on the headline writers or the cable news hosts or the big overview stories on the network news about who is winning and everybody else who isn`t winning, right?  More than ever before, in the kind of media landscape that we`re in right now, what a candidate needs to move ahead, to expand his or her campaign, to raise money, to make you see them even if you have not been willing to see them before, more than anything what candidates need are good moments -- capturable, reflectable, tweetable moments that they can build on. 

And we have seen this already from every single one of these candidates.  We think of these debates in terms of winners and losers.  But being on the stage means you win at this point of the campaign.  And I can prove it. 

We have done there on the show once before.  We did it when we had one debate.  Now we have two under our belts, and as we are heading into this crucial third one, which is going to have a wildly different cast of characters, right?  This is probably going to be half the candidates we saw in the first two. 

I will prove it to you that being on that stage has already given every one of them a chance to do themselves some good, all of them.  And that`s why making this third debate is so priceless. 

Here, I will show you.  Look.  The hat. 

All right.  Randomly -- drawing at random.  I will show you.  Any candidate from the list.  Pick one.  I will prove it to you. 

Bernie Sanders.  All right.  Senator Sanders, let`s start with him in the first debate.  In the first debate, Senator Sanders knew he was going to get these questions about Republicans framing the Democratic Party as socialist, right?  As the general election being a contest Donald Trump and socialism. 

The problem with that framing, when you put it to Bernie Sanders, is that that framing works in a bad way if the person you are asking is uncomfortable with the concept or feels defensive about the concept or if the Republican framing on this issue is working on that person somehow.  When instead you put that question to Bernie Sanders, what you get is a candidate who absolutely positively knows who he is, who isn`t defensive about it at all, who lives comfortably in his own skin and has for decades, and who will take your epithet and turn it around to make it into the best parts of his own pitch for his own campaign. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MODERATOR:  What is your response to those who say nominating a socialist would re-election Donald Trump? 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I think the responses at the polls, last polls had us ten points ahead of Donald Trump because the American people understand that Trump is a phony, that Trump is a pathological liar and a racist and that he lied to the American people during his campaign. 

He said he was going to stand up for working families.  Well, President Trump, you are not standing up for working families when you try to throw 32 million people off their health care that they have, and that 83 percent of your tax benefits go to the top 1 percent.  That`s how we beat Trump.  We expose him for the fraud that he is. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  And that`s what I do with your socialism question.  Senator Bernie Sanders in the first debate having I think his best moment of that debate ripping up this idea that the socialism word is some sort of kryptonite against him and kryptonite against the Democratic Party.  That was Bernie Sanders. 

In the second debate, I think Senator Sanders` standout moment was a very different interaction.  It was when he basically turned into a human shredder of the poor candidate out there on the wings who made an ill- considered decision that he would try to wander into and insert himself into Senator Sanders` own very well-worn wheelhouse. 

Senator Sanders, you know, knows who he is.  He runs on his own stuff.  He didn`t throw a lot of lightning bolts at other candidates when he doesn`t need to.  But if he does throw a lightning bolt at you, it tends to explode when he does that. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MODERATOR:  Can you guarantee those union members that the benefits under Medicare for All will be as good as the benefits that their representatives, their union reps fought hard to negotiate? 

SANDERS:  Well, two things.  They will be better because Medicare for All is comprehensive.  It covers all health care needs for senior citizens.  It will finally include dental care, hearing aides and eyeglasses. 

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  But you don`t --

SANDERS:  Second of all --

RYAN:  You don`t know that, Bernie. 

SANDERS:  I will come to you in a second, Congressman. 

SANDERS:  I do know.  I wrote the damn bill. 

Second of all, many of our union brothers and sisters -- nobody more pro- union than me up here -- are now paying high deductibles and co-payments.  And when we do Medicare for All, instead of having the company putting money into health care, they can get decent wage increases which they are not getting. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Actually, kudos to CNN for keeping the split screen up there for Paul Ryan -- excuse me, for Tim Ryan being on the receiving end to see him pop the gills once.  Hold breath for 40 seconds.  Pop the gills one more time.  Then go back down.  It was just -- that was it. 

So, Senator Bernie Sanders night one and two in the debates.  I will prove it -- Andrew yang. 

All right.  Andrew Yang, entrepreneur, tech guy.  Andrew Yang will definitely be in the next debate.  He is running a campaign that does not sound like any of the rest of the campaigns.  That`s on purpose. 

That means that the pundits and national press still haven`t quite figured out what to do with him.  But meanwhile, he is definitely connecting with donors.  He`s got a slam bang social media presence that runs circles around a lot of the more traditional candidates. 

He pretty easily made it into this next debate.  It wasn`t like he was cutting it close.  In each of the debates so far, it`s been interesting to watch.  Andrew Yang -- they add up the amount of time that each candidate has spoken.  Andrew Yang is the shortest, or close to the shortest.  He doesn`t take up a ton of time. 

But he doesn`t need to, because he`s not saying the same kind of stuff that the other candidates are saying.  And when he talks, it lands, in part because he is saying things that are unique. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I am proof that our democracy still works.  Democrats and Americans around the country have one question for their nominee.  That is what can beat Donald Trump in 2020.  That`s right question. 

And the right candidate to beat Donald Trump will be solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected and will have a vision of a trickle up economy that`s drawing thousands of disaffected Trump voters, conservatives, independents and libertarians, as well as the Democrats and progressives. 

I am that candidate.  I can build a much broader coalition to beat Donald Trump.  It is not left.  It is not right.  It is forward.  And that`s where I will take the country in 2020. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That`s Andrew Yang in debate one.  At that point, admit it, he is really introducing himself to the country.  Obviously, he has enough supporters, you know, enough donors to get himself into that first debate. 

But for the broader audience watching at home, millions of people watching at home, they`re like who is this guy, Andrew Yang?  Well, that`s his out of the gate introduction night one.  Strong.  Different, right?

In Detroit, in debate two, Andrew Yang even stronger performance.  He not only got big applause in the room, he also again talked about stuff, including the economy, in ways that just didn`t sound like a single other candidate on the stage, but it didn`t make him sound weird, it`s just set him apart and works in the room.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YANG:  If you go factory in Michigan, you will find wall to wall immigrants.  You will find wall to wall robots and machines.  Immigrants are being scapegoat for issues they have nothing to do with in our economy. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Mr. Yang.

YANG:  The problem is that so many people feel like the economy has left them behind.  What we have to do is we have to say, look, there`s record high GDP and stock market prices.  You know what else is record high?  Suicide, drug overdoses, depression, anxiety. 

It`s gotten so bad that American life expectancy has declined for the last three years.  I talk about my wife at home with our two boys, one of whom is autistic.  What it does her work count at in today`s economy?  Zero, and we know that`s opposite of the truth.  We know that her work is among the most challenging and vital. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Entrepreneur, tech guy, Andrew Yang, one of the Democratic presidential candidates.  He has made the cut for the third debate coming up. 

I showed you those two clips from his debates.  One from his first debate, one from his second debate, to show you how much good he has done himself at his debate performances. 

I can prove to you that all of the candidates who are going to be on the stage have done themselves good in their previous appearances.  That`s part of why this next debate is so important. 

We`ve got more ahead.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  All right.  These are candidates who have qualified for the third debate.  How have they done in the previous two dates? 

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana. 

All right.  So, Mayor Pete has introduced himself to the country by this campaign, right, teaching the whole country how to say his name, boot edge edge, or Buddha judge, however you like it.

The whole country, the whole Democratic Party has learned to say his name, learned who he is.  He has distinguished himself in a hurry by his eloquence among other things, but also by his willingness and his facility to talk about issues like faith, which he did here at the first debate to great affect. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The Republican Party likes to cloak itself in the language of religion.  Now, our party doesn`t talk about that as much, largely for a very good reason, which was we are committed to the separation of church and state and we stand for people of any religion and people of no religion. 

But we should call out hypocrisy when we see it.  And for a party that associates itself with Christianity, to say that it is OK to suggest that god would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages has lost all claim to ever use religious language again. 

(CHEERS) 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Listen to the room, right?

Mayor Pete Buttigieg debate night one. 

Now, here is a clip from debate two.  And honestly, this clip, I don`t know why this hasn`t gotten more national play since the second debate.  Just watch this.  Watch the part where he pivots from answering the question to talking directly to the camera, when he addresses Republican members of Congress who may be watching the debate. 

Just watch the effectiveness of this gauntlet he throws down to them and how the room just erupts. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUTTIGIEG:  We have to be ready to take on this president and by the way something that hasn`t been talked about as much tonight, take on his enablers in Congress.  When David Duke -- when David Duke ran for Congress, when he ran for governor, the Republican Party 20 years ago ran away from him.  Today, they are supporting naked racism in the White House or are silent about it. 

If you are watching this at home and you are a Republican member of Congress, consider the fact that when the sun sets on your career and they are writing your story, of all the good and bad things you did in your life, the thing you will be remembered for is whether in this moment with this president, you found the courage to stand up to him or you continue to put party over country. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana.  That was from the second debate.  I don`t know why that hasn`t gotten more play since then.  I think it was just a phenomenal moment. 

All right.  Joe Biden.  Former vice-president Joe Biden. 

All right.  Frontrunner in the polls.  Night one, first debate, he knew, of course, he was going to take shots from the other candidates.  And he did most effectively from Kamala Harris.  We will get to that. 

But Vice President Biden starts out the first debate night sort of not assuming that you know who he is, and reintroducing himself to the American people, showing the human empathy and human experience that has made him such a beloved and hard to beat figure in the Democratic Party for decades. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  When my wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident, my two boys were very badly injured, I couldn`t imagine what it would be like if I hadn`t had adequate health care available immediately.  And then when my son came home from Iraq after a year, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and he was given months to live, I can`t fathom what would have happened if, in fact, they said, by the way, the last six months of your life you are on your own, we are cutting you off, you have used up your time. 

The fact of the matter is the quickest, fastest way is build on Obamacare, to build on what we did. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Joe Biden in the first debate.  He would go on in that debate you remember to get pummeled by some of his opponents, which is going to happen when you`re a frontrunner.

But watch that.  Look at his opening gambit for the second debate, after what he went through in the first debate, with everybody coming after him, opens the second debate with this magnanimous embrace of all of his rivals.  And then a turn to President Trump, that brings down the house. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN:  I`m running for president to restore the soul of this country.  You know, we have a president, as everybody acknowledged here, every day is ripping at the social fabric of this country.  But no one man has the capacity to rip that apart.  It`s too strong.  We`re too good. 

Just look at this stage made up of diverse people from diverse backgrounds, went on to be mayors, senators, governors, congresswomen, members of the cabinet.  And yes, even a vice-president. 

Mr. President, this is America.  And we are strong and great because of this diversity, Mr. President.  Not in spite of it, Mr. President. 

So, Mr. President, let`s get something straight.  We love it.  We are not leaving it.  We are here to stay.  And we`re certainly not going to leave it to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  A stacked applause line is a difficult thing in any performance, to get the big applause and to push through it, knowing that by the time you get to the end of that delivery, there`s a bigger applause line coming and you have warmed them up. 

Vice President Joe Biden in the second debate.  All right.  I`m telling you, you can do this for every single one of them. 

OK.  Beto O`Rourke, all right?  Beto O`Rourke, Texas congressman, in the first debate, the biggest thing that Beto O`Rourke got attention for was negative, was the way that his home state rival Julian Castro came for him like a repo man.  I have come to reclaim the title of vital Texas Democratic contender.  I take it from you, right?

And that moment in the first debate definitely went to Julian Castro.  We will get to that.  It plainly bewildered Beto O`Rourke. 

But on Beto O`Rourke`s own terms, even in that same debate, talking about things his own way, asking people to think big the way he does, he also brought good stuff that first debate night.  It didn`t hurt that this was one of the only times that first debate night that anybody raised the issue of impeachment. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  One of the most powerful pieces of art in the United States capitol is the Trumbull painting of General George Washington resigning his commission to the Continental Congress at the height of his power, submitting to the rule of law and the will of people.  That has withstood the test of time for the last 243 years. 

If we set another precedent now that a candidate who invited the participation of a foreign power, a president who sought to obstruct the investigation into the invasion of our democracy, if we allow him to get away with this with complete impunity, and we will have set a new standard, and that is that some people, because of the position of power and public trust they hold are above the law.  And we cannot allow that to stand.

So, we must begin impeachment now so we have the facts and truth and we follow them as far as they go and as high up as they reach.  We save this democracy.  If we have not been able to do that in this year or the year that follows and under my administration, our Department of Justice will pursue these facts and ensure there are consequences, there`s accountability and there is justice.  It`s the only way that we save this country. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Congressman Beto O`Rourke in the first debate. 

Now, this next clip from the second debate, this is really something.  And I`m not sure that other people have talked about this at all.  But this moment in the second debate happened on a Tuesday night, the last Tuesday in July, July 30th.  And just listen to what he says about race here and the president`s anti-immigrant rhetoric.  Listen to what he says about El Paso, and how El Paso has basically antidote to that. 

Beto O`Rourke made this next statement I`m about to play on a Tuesday night at the end of July.  The following Saturday, the following weekend, four days later is when a professed white nationalist drove himself to El Paso, citing the president`s anti-immigrant rhetoric to go kill Latinos and immigrants.  This was just before that happened. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`ROURKE:  Doesn`t just offend our sensibilities when he calls Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, or seek to ban all Muslims from the shores of a country that`s comprised of people from the world over, from every tradition of faith.  It is also changing this country.  Hate crimes are on the rise every single one of the last three years. 

On the day that he signed his executive order attempting to ban Muslim travel, the mosque in Victoria, Texas, was burned to the ground.  So, we must not only stand up against Donald Trump and defeat him in this next election, but we must also ensure that we don`t just tolerate or respect our differences but we embrace them.  That`s what we have learned in El Paso, Texas, my hometown, one of the safest cities in the United States of America not despite but because it`s a city of immigrants and asylum seekers and refugees.  We will show that our diversity is our strength. 

MODERATOR:  Congressman O`Rourke, thank you very much.  Governor Hickenlooper?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  It is almost uncanny, it`s unsettling, frankly, to see how prescient Congressman O`Rourke was on those comments at the second debate.  Again, that was Tuesday night.  By the Saturday of that week, that is when a gunman would drive across Texas to target El Paso, specifically to go kill Latinos and immigrants there, to kill 22 people there after posting an online diatribe quoting the president`s attacks on some kind of immigrant invasion at the border. 

That weekend, four days after those remarks, when that came home to El Paso, Congressman O`Rourke actually left the campaign trail for a couple of weeks.  He is back on the campaign trail now.  He will be on stage at debate night three. 

We`ve got more ahead.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  The remaining contenders for night three of the Democratic debates, how did they do in debates one and two?  Amy Klobuchar, senator from Minnesota. 

Senator Klobuchar, I think, counts as a sort of sleeper candidate.  She`s not getting, you know, the kind of buzz, bust, buzz, bust cycles some of the others are.  Steady, solid, hitting her targets, one after the other. 

It`s almost like a pneumonic device for her pitch as a candidate, right?  That type of steady, steady performance she`s offering as a candidate is also what she`s offering to voters as a potential president, right?  I will also tell you that her campaign knew way out in advance that they were definitely going to make this third debate, and they did.  They are just steady.  And that is what she`s offering, practical, getting it done. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The president literally went on TV, on Fox, and said that people`s heads would spin when they see how much he would bring down pharmaceutical prices.  Instead, 2,500 drugs have gone up in double digits since he came into office.  Instead, he gave $100 billion in giveaways to the pharma companies. 

For the rest of us, for the rest of America, that`s what we call at home all foam and no beer.  We got nothing out of it.  And so, my proposal is to do something about pharma, to take them on, to allow negotiation under Medicare, to bring in less expensive drugs from other countries.  And pharma thinks they own Washington.  Well, they don`t own me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Well, they don`t own me.  Senator Amy Klobuchar has won ever race she`s run.  She`s a former prosecutor.  She`s a practical legislator who passes bills.  She`s both a progressive and a realist. 

She`s got as this sort of Midwestern plug away at it-ism, which she`s not running from, which makes for moments like this one from the second debate which frankly is the kind of stuff she can run on until the end of time. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KLOBUCHAR:  I have had it with the racist attacks.  I have had it with a president that says one thing on TV that has your back and then you get home and see charges for prescription drugs and cable and college.  You`re going to hear a lot of promises up here. 

But I`m going to tell you this.  Yes, I have bold ideas.  But they are grounded in reality. 

And yes, I will make some promises: I can win this.  I`m from the Midwest.  And I have won every race, every place, every time.  And I will govern with integrity, the integrity worthy of the extraordinary people of this nation. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Senator Amy Klobuchar, senior senator from Minnesota.

All right.  Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

All right.  So, Senator Warren, debate one makes a splash because she`s a good candidate but also because she just happens to have a background as a debate champion, literally.  I think she had a debate scholarship to college. 

And so, debate one, her sort of biggest moment I think in debate on.  When she takes a negative question about her health care plan being too much too soon, something that might hurt her with voters in the general election, and she turns that into a chance to sell her health care plan, to dispatch with the idea of it being a political liability and to sort of bring the house down while she`s teaching everybody about what her plan is for health care. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I spent a big chunk of my life studying why families go broke.  One of the number one reasons is the cost of health care, medical bills.  And that`s not just for people who don`t have insurance.  It`s for people who have insurance. 

Look at the business model of insurance company.  It`s to bring in as many dollars as they can in premiums, and pay out as few dollars as possible for your health care.  That leaves families with rising premiums, rising co- pays and fighting with insurance companies to try to get the health care that their doctors say that they and their children need. 

Medicare for All solves that problem.  I understand, there are a lot of politicians say, oh, it`s just not possible, we can`t just do it, have a lot of political reasons for this.  What they are telling you is they just won`t fight for it. 

Well, health care is a basic human right.  And I will fight for basic human rights. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Senator Elizabeth Warren night one. 

Here is Senator Warren from the second debate.  Interestingly, the punchiest moment in the second debate, where she brought people out of their seats, when she basically dispatched John Delaney, the moderate Maryland congressman who the moderators kept going to basically as a foil for more progressive candidates like her and Senator Sanders. 

I mean, poor John Delaney in this instance, but this is what happens when you have a debate scholarship champion on stage. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN:  I get it.  There`s a lot at stake and people are scared.  But we can`t choose a candidate we don`t believe in just because we`re too scared to do anything else.  And we can`t ask other people to vote for a candidate we don`t believe in. 

Democrats win when we figure out what is right and we get out there and fight for it.  I am not afraid.  And for Democrats to win, you can`t be afraid either. 

MODERATOR:  Congressman Delaney? 

JOHN DELANEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  So, I think Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible promises.  When we run on things that are workable, not fairy tale economics.  We need to encourage collaboration between the government, private sector and non-profit sector, and focus on those kitchen table, pocketbook issues that matter to hardworking Americans, building infrastructure, creating jobs, improving their pay, creating universal health care, lowering drug prices, we can do it.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Congressman. 

Senator Warren?

WARREN:  You know, I don`t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can`t do and shouldn`t fight for.  I don`t get it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  John Delaney, poof, right there on stage. 

All right.  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  All right.  Three remaining candidates who are definitely on the stage for the third debate -- Senator Kamala Harris. 

Senator Kamala Harris had what is probably the biggest moment of her campaign so far when she rocketed into the top tier of Democratic candidates after this moment, this direct confrontation with former Vice President Biden that apparently nobody saw coming.  And at least for a while, this changed the weather in the whole Democratic field. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There`s not a black man I know, be he a relative, friend or co-worker who has not been the subject of some profiling or discrimination.  Growing up, my sister and I had to deal with the neighbor who told us her parents couldn`t play with us because we were black. 

And I will say also that in this campaign, we have also heard -- I`m going to direct this as Vice President Biden -- I do not believe you are a racist.  And I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground.  But I also believe -- it`s personal. 

I was actually very -- it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.  And it was not only that but you also worked with them to oppose busing. 

And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public class to integrate her public school.  She was bused to school every day.  And that little girl was me. 

So, I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats.  We have to take it seriously.  We have to act swiftly. 

As attorney general of California, I very was proud to put in place that all my special agents would wear body cameras and keep those cameras on. 

MODERATOR:  Senator Harris, thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That moment in the first debate was so devastatingly effective. 

Senator Harris` campaign actually faced some questions in the days and weeks afterwards that maybe she had been too effective.  It was almost basically like a call for mercy, because of how hard that hit. 

But she became a top tier contender in that moment, and it put center stage that she is good on her feet.  She is a former prosecutor and attorney general, and she has a story that will be at the center of her campaign about that as well. 

Here is debate night two, Senator Harris. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS:  My entire career I have been a person opposed to the death penalty, and that has never changed.  I dare anybody who`s in a position to make that decision to face the people I have faced to say I will not seek the death penalty.  That is my background.  That is my work.  I am proud of it. 

I think you can judge people by when they are under fire, and it`s not about some fancy opinion on a stage, but when they are in a position to actually make a decision, what do they do?  When I was in the position of having to decide whether or not to seek a death penalty on cases I prosecuted, I made a very difficult decision that was not popular to not seek the death penalty.  History shows that and I am proud of those decisions.

MODERATOR:  Senator Harris, thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Senator Kamala Harris debate night two. 

Obviously, debate night one was a breakout moment for her.  But look at her hold the stage in debate.

All right.  Two more candidates, definitely on the stage for debate night three, how do they do in debate nights one and two.

Julian Castro, former housing secretary.  Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro had his breakout moment in the first debate as well.  His campaign in the first 24 hours after that debate, they raised triple the amount they had raised on any other day of his campaign, including his launch day. 

It came largely on the strength I think of this performance which showed him to be at that first debate the first Democrat willing to throw big and unrelenting punches from unexpected directions in ways that really made everybody do a double take. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The reason that they`re separating these little children from their families is they`re using section 1325 of that act which criminalizes coming across the border to incarcerate the parents and then separate them.  Some of us on this stage have called to end that section, to terminate it. 

Some like Congressman O`Rourke have not.  I want to challenge all the candidates to do that. 

I think it`s a mistake, Beto.  I think it`s a mistake.  And I think that if you truly want to change the system, then we`ve got to repeal that section.  If not, you might

MODERATOR:  Thank you. 

O`ROURKE:  Let me respond to this very briefly.  As a member of Congress, I helped to introduce legislation that will ensure we don`t criminalize those who are seeking asylum and refuge in this country. 

(CROSSTALK)

CASTRO:  I`m talking about everybody else. 

O`ROURKE:  But you are looking at one small part of this.  I`m talking about a comprehensive rewrite of our immigration laws.  And if we do that - - 

(CROSSTALK)

CASTRO:  I`m talking about -- I`m talking about millions of folks.  A lot of folks that are coming are not seeking asylum.  A lot of them are undocumented immigrants, right?

And you said recently that the reason you didn`t want to repeal section 1325 was because you were concerned about human trafficking and drug trafficking.  Let me tell you why, section 18, Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Title 21 and Title 22 already cover. 

(CROSSTALK)

CASTRO:  I think you should do your homework on this issue.  If you did your homework on this issue, you could repeal this section. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  It is one thing to know your stuff on policy.  It is another thing to know your opponents record and to be able to quote it back to them in a way that former Housing Secretary Julian Castro had that big moment on night one.  People were like, dang, who`s guy? 

Then on the second debate, we saw that same confidence again, that same surefootedness.  Here he was debate two engaging on the issue of impeachment.  He`s asked about the Republican impeachment of Bill Clinton in the `90s and it didn`t lead to Clinton`s removal from office.  Shouldn`t that be a cautionary tale about Trump? 

And Castro kind of hits this one out of the park.  But watch the very, very end.  Watch the last line he gets in and then the smile. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASTRO:  I think that too many folks in the Senate and in the Congress have been spooked by 1998.  I believe that the times are different.  In fact, I think folks are making a mistake by not impeachment.  The Mueller report clearly details that he deserves it.

And what`s going to happen in fall of next year, of 2020, if they don`t impeach him, is he`s going to say, you see?  You see?  The Democrats didn`t go after he on impeachment.  You know why?  Because I didn`t do anything wrong. 

These folks that always investigate me, they`re always trying to go after me, when it came down to it, they didn`t go after me there because I didn`t do anything wrong. 

Conversely, if Mitch McConnell is the one who lets him off the hook, we`re going to be able to say, for sure --

MODERATOR:  Secretary Castro, thank you.

CASTRO:  -- they impeached him in the House, but his friend Mitch McConnell, Moscow Mitch, let him off the hook. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Any time you say Moscow Mitch, it should be followed by that. 

All right.  One more.  We`ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  One last candidate who is on the debate stage for debate three.  How did he do in debate one and two?

It is Senator Cory Booker, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.  Long been seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party basically ever since he first stood for office.  Democratic voters have heard of Senator Booker.  They know something about him. 

But in this campaign, particularly in the first debate, I think a lot of people learned for the first time that Cory Booker still lives in inner city Newark.  When he talks about his community, he`s talking about a community where other national political candidates don`t set foot, let alone lay their head at night.

Here he was on the first debate. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  If I hear gunshots in my neighborhood, I think I`m the only one, I hope I`m the only one on this panel here that had seven people shot in their neighborhood just last week.  Someone I knew, Shahid Smith, was killed with an assault rifle at the top of my block last year. 

For millions of Americans, this is not a policy issue.  This is an urgency.  And for those who have not been directly affected, they are tired of living in a country where their kids learn about reading, writing, arithmetic and how to deal with an active shooter in their school. 

This is something that I`m tired of.  And I`m tired of people, all they have to offer is thoughts and prayers.  In my faith, people say faith without works is dead, so we will find a way. 

But the reason we have a problem right now is we have let the corporate gun lobby frame this debate.  It is time we have bold actions and a bold agenda.  I will get that done as president of the United States because this is not about policy.  This is personal. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  This is personal.  Senator Cory Booker, debate night one. 

In debate two, this was a moment, right?  I`m glad this is last.  He sort of hit the jackpot with this.  Remember, debate two, in Detroit, in Michigan.  We all know what happened in 2016 to elect Trump. 

And debate night two, Cory Booker goes there, he names it.  And you could basically feel the debate audience going, yes, finally, exactly.  Thank you. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOOKER:  Look, this is one of those times where we`re not staring at the truth and calling it out.  And this is a case for the Democratic Party, the truth will set us free.  We lost the state of Michigan because everybody from Republicans to Russians were targeting the suppression of African- American voters.  We need to say that. 

If the African-Americans were voting in this state had been like it was four years earlier, we will have won the state of Michigan.  We need to have a campaign that is ready for what`s coming.  An all-out assault especially on the most valuable voter group in our -- in fact, the highest performing voter group in our coalition, which is black women. 

So, I will be a person that tries to fight against voter suppression and can activate and engage the kind of voters and coalitions that are going to win states like Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW:  Corey Booker in debate night two.  The Democrats who are going to be on stage in debate night three have done themselves a lot of good, every single one of them, in each of the previous two debates, making that debate stage is crucial.  And it`s the best opportunity any of them will have to make their campaigns bigger and more effective than they`ve even been yet. 

That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again on Monday. 

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight.

Good evening, Ali.

  END

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