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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 09/14/15

Guests: Sam Stein, David Frum, Maria Teresa Kumar, John Heilemann, LawrenceLessig, Richard Engel

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC: Well, this week`s Republican presidential debate moderators have a very big challenge. They are working on their questions right now, but will any of them be able to come up with a single question that actually forces Donald Trump to face reality? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATIONS & FOUNDER, TRUMP ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: We were really killing it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump is taking his political show to Dallas. TRUMP: We`re going to have so many victories, they`re just going to be coming out of your ears. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Braggy, brash and self-important; those are considered virtues in Texas. TRUMP: I have a little debate coming up. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who can we expect to lead the charge against Trump? TRUMP: I hear they`re all going after me -- whatever -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s so hard to attack Donald Trump because he`s not playing by the rules. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He picked a fight with Carly Fiorina`s face. CARLY FIORINA, FORMER BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: I am proud of every year and every wrinkle. HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Mr. Trump, I`d rather you stop cherishing us and start respecting us instead. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans cheered Trump and Carson -- TRUMP: I don`t think Ben has the energy, he apologized -- BEN CARSON, AUTHOR & RETIRED NEUROSURGEON: You don`t have to be loud to be energetic. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The latest person to take on Donald Trump, Miss Alabama. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Donald Trump is an entertainer. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I agree, and my question is, when is the show over? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to take over as the new host of "Celebrity Apprentice" -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who replaces Donald Trump, he is replaceable. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ACTOR & FORMER CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: You`re fired. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We now know what Donald Trump`s concession speech is going to say when he finally loses his campaign to be president of the United States. He will tell us it`s been a total waste of time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: But I haven`t won. We haven`t won anything. What have I won? I mean, I`m having fun and all, but I haven`t won! There`s been no victory unless I win. It`s been a waste of time for me, folks, I`ll be honest with you. Been a total waste of time. (CHEERS) I really mean that, too. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump tonight in Texas where he gloated as usual about the latest polls. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I went up to 40 percent today in New Hampshire, you saw that, 40 percent -- (CHEERS) Second is, I think, 11 or 12, right? Eleven or twelve. And I won`t mention names because he`s actually a nice guy. I won`t mention names. Why shouldn`t I? Should I? Yes, right? It`s Ben Carson, he`s a nice man. I think he`s in second place at 11 percent or 12 percent. Now, I`m at 40, so Ben Carson, good guy, I think he`s 11 percent or 12 percent and they`re saying Carson -- here`s the headline. "Carson Surging". (LAUGHTER) I said, what about me? (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The first "Cbs News" poll of New Hampshire, Republicans shows Donald Trump at his highest number yet in a New Hampshire poll, 40 percent, Ben Carson at 12 percent. John Kasich running third in New Hampshire at 9 percent with Carly Fiorina at 8 percent, Jeb Bush all the way down at 6 percent tied with Rand Paul. Tonight in Texas, Donald Trump told his audience a fairytale that he likes to tell most of his audiences. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: What would President Trump do? President Trump. (CHEERS) What would President Trump do? So I`d call the head of Ford or whatever company, but I`d call the head of Ford, I`d say congratulations, I understand you`re building a massive plant in Mexico and you`re taking a lot of jobs away from us in Michigan and other places. Now, I don`t like that. (LAUGHTER) I don`t like it. I just don`t like it. And he`ll say, well, Mr. President, it`s wonderful, wonderful for the economy -- oh, great, just great. It`s wonderful for whose economy? Not for our economy. So what I`d say is the following: I don`t want you to do that, and if you do it, you`re not going to have any cars coming across the border unless you pay a 35 percent tax. That`s it. (CHEERS) (APPLAUSE) That`s it, no, that`s it. And they`re going to say -- they`re going to say to me, Mr. President, please -- now, I guarantee you, let`s say I make this call at 9:00 in the morning, by 5:00 in the afternoon I think the deal is done, they move back to the United States. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Donald Trump and his audiences do not seem to know that in the imagine scenario of President Trump in action, he would not be able to do any of that. He first of all, of course, would have to repeal NAFTA which would require a bipartisan vote in the United States Senate, a vote in the House of Representatives. He would then have to get Congress to pass a whole new law since a 35 percent tariff that he dreams about is not a presidential power. That`s something only Congress can impose. And so the challenge for debate moderators Wednesday night will be trying to force Donald Trump out of that kind of realm of fantasy and force him to acknowledge at least some of the realities of actually governing. No one questioning Trump has been able to do that yet. But Wednesday night, will that be the night when the other candidates finally start fact- checking the frontrunner? Joining us now, Sam Stein, senior politics editor and White House correspondent for the "Huffington Post". He`s also an "Msnbc" analyst, Maria Teresa Kumar, president of Voto Latino and host of "CHANGING AMERICA" on shift by Msnbc. And David Frum, former Bush 43 speech writer and senior editor for "The Atlantic". So, Sam Stein, the -- SAM STEIN, SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR & WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, HUFFINGTON POST: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Fairytales that Donald Trump tells in any one of those 45- minute speeches are so many and -- STEIN: Yes -- O`DONNELL: So long that the media has given up on them. No one is bothering to work on the innards of those fairytales and try to take them apart for audiences. Is -- do you think any of the candidates will try to do that on the stage and do you expect that the debate moderators have a chance of fashioning some kind of question that boxes him into reality? STEIN: Well, you`re the exception to the rule, Lawrence. In fact, checked him on this one a couple of times as I remember. And I do think that -- O`DONNELL: No, but -- and I do it just as an example because he tells -- STEIN: Yes -- O`DONNELL: These kinds of stories all the time and I don`t mean to harp on it, but it`s -- STEIN: No -- O`DONNELL: One of the easiest ones to demonstrate, you know -- STEIN: Absolutely. And I think part of the problem here is that there`re so many of them -- O`DONNELL: Yes, just over run -- STEIN: They`re numerous, so vast that you try to fact-check one and he`s on to another. My favorite is -- someone point out my colleague Michael Caldon(ph) and say, which is that he was against the Iraq war in 2004. The war was a year old by the time that he spoke out against the Iraq war and no one has actually in the moment of the interview fact-checked that. So, to answer your question, I do think there`s a potential for a moment like that to happen, whether it comes from a fellow candidate or the moderator. I mean, there`re basically previewing the fact that they`re going to pile on the guy anyway, and so perhaps they make it less personal and more policy-oriented. And I think you could -- you could easily ask the question, well, what if Congress doesn`t go along to any of this? Because his whole agenda is premised on the idea that he can just make things happen on a win when, in fact, as we`ve known -- as we know about Washington, it`s a grinding battle with Congress. O`DONNELL: And yes, David Frum, if you ask him about Congress not going along, he will just say, I will get them to go along. I will force -- DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Right -- O`DONNELL: Them, I will persuade them and they`ll do it in five minutes, they`ll do it by the end of the day. FRUM: Streets of the United States are filled with people making large promises. And most of them do not go on to be the frontrunner for a major political party. What -- why do -- why do one set of incredible promises get traction when others don`t? He`s selling something that I think resonates with people. Which is, here is this seemingly very successful, accomplished person who says I really -- I`m going to take your concerns to heart. And I don`t think you`re going to get very far by proving that he`s wrong about this or wrong about that. Because he`s competing with a bevy of people in both parties who a lot of Americans think that they don`t really have my interest at heart. And even though they may be "factually correct", that factual correctness is sort of an excuse of justification for the fact they don`t want to help me and this guy at least seems to want to. That`s very powerful. O`DONNELL: All right, let`s listen to what he said tonight once again about the babies of immigrant parents being born in the United States. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I don`t mean to be disrespectful. But when a man has a problem and he`s got his wife or his girlfriend and they move her over to the border for one day, has the baby on the other side of the border, our side, now that baby is a citizen of our country for however long the baby lives. (BOOING) Hopefully a long -- it`s wrong, it`s wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We have now the clearest reading yet in a poll about how that`s working with Latino voters. This is an Msnbc Marist Telemundo poll. Feelings toward Donald Trump among Latinos, 70 percent negative, 60 percent of that very negative. And Maria Teresa Kumar, no -- MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, VOTO LATINO: Is that bad? O`DONNELL: No -- (LAUGHTER) Well, here`s what -- here`s what might be bad about it, Sam. No one has come up with a math, a mathematical route to the presidency that allows you to have that kind of negative number with Latino voters. Maria Teresa, we -- you know, some of the polling I think has been too indirect about this. This is the very clear answer, feelings toward Donald Trump, 70 percent negative. KUMAR: Right, I have to say that the fact that you could be in L.A. or you can be in Colorado in the middle of the day and you have bilingual -- Latino millennial radio host going after Donald Trump, you know, you`re in trouble. These are folks that usually don`t pay attention until the very end and they`re paying attention now. But let`s take a step back. What worries me and I think it worries a lot of folks is the tone that he`s talking about when it comes to American-Latinos. Because these are Americans. And the tone in which all of a sudden, his crowd starts booing, and you`re creating this really divisive nature within the -- within the Republican Party and within this election. And I think that the Republican Party, regardless of where Donald Trump, whether he rises or falls, that`s the actual -- the damage that he`s doing right now, is the perception of the GOP among Latino households is very poor. And whoever is going to be able to actually get them out of that hole is going to be someone that has a shot at the White House but a real long shot at the White House. O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, do you expect a residual effect here that would hurt the Republican nominee? KUMAR: Absolutely. I mean, the very fact that you have the head of the RNC basically not going against Trump but if anything, having him sign a commitment that he will support whoever runs. You`re basically saying that whatever Trump does, he`s the one that`s going to be the frontrunner and basically he`s leading the party. I have a really hard time finding anyone with the exception, I would say, of Kasich. Kasich has been playing this very well. He`s been threading the needle when people ask straight up about immigration. He doesn`t say no, but at the same time he doesn`t say yes. Everybody else you caught them -- their hand in the cookie jar, calling individuals anchor babies, trying to remove birthright citizenships. Go down the list, there`s very few of the Republican nominees that actually have this shot at the Latino vote with the exception of Kasich at this time. O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to have to take a quick break, when we come back, Joe Biden had a secret meeting here in New York City last week, a meeting that could be very important to a Biden presidential campaign. John Heilemann broke that story this morning, he will join us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Tonight, George Will explained to Fox News viewers that if Bernie Sanders is a socialist then everyone in Washington is a socialist. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE WILL, COLUMNIST: The caucuses with the Democrats, he gets his committee assignments from Democrats, he votes with the Democrats and he`s seeking the nomination of guess what? The Democratic Party. Then he says he`s a socialist -- no, Mr. Carbon(ph) in London, that`s a socialist; he wants the government to own the commanding heights of the economy. Mr. Sanders is called a socialist because he believes in what everybody votes for every year when they vote for a budget, the entitlement structure of the United States. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And yes, that would mean that Donald Trump is a socialist, too, because he also does not want to get rid of Social Security and Medicare and any of those programs that George Will was just talking about. John Heilemann is next with some details on a secret meeting that could be a big help to Joe Biden`s presidential campaign. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Joe Biden picked up a big endorsement of sorts last week. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: I just want to say that I think that your experience and your example of suffering and service is something that would be sorely missed in the race. Not that there aren`t good people on both sides running, but I think we`d all be very happy if you did run and if you don`t, I know that your service to the country is something we should all salute. So, thank you so much, thank you. (APPLAUSE) Ladies and gentlemen, Vice President Joe Biden! (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The morning after Stephen Colbert encouraged Joe Biden to run for president, Joe Biden had a secret meeting in New York City that could be critical to a Biden for president campaign. That meeting is no longer a secret, thanks to a report by John Heilemann in "Bloomberg Politics". And joining us now conveniently is John Heilemann, managing editor of "Bloomberg Politics" and journalist for "New York Magazine". John, so secret meeting the next day, tell us about it. JOHN HEILEMANN, CO-MANAGING EDITOR, BLOOMBERG POLITICS & JOURNALIST, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, you know, you`ve got Biden giving this performance on Colbert where his anguish and his struggle with the emotional burdens that he`s dealing with. Trying to decide whether he`s going to run gave to a lot of people the impression that he was saying I`m not going to be able to do this. And then, 12 hours later, in his hotel room in midtown, Manhattan, he invites Robert Wolf, a former president of UBS, America`s big investment banker, huge Obama bundler in 2008, 2012, someone who split with -- from -- did not go the way of the rest of Wall Street. Did not do the Clinton thing in 2008, sided with Obama, has become very close, personal friend with Obama, rare among business people and Wall Street people in Obama`s term. Publicly for the Clintons currently, for Hillary Clinton, but has not raised any money for her yet, as all he`s done is written her a check. So, if you`re thinking about -- if you`re Joe Biden, you need to raise some money and you would really like to get some defections from Clinton world. This is maybe the kind of guy you want to see. And this meeting takes place 90 minutes, just the two of them, no ask is made but a lot of discussion of family. O`DONNELL: You talked -- HEILEMANN: A lot of cover -- O`DONNELL: You thought this guy who was in a meeting with a -- HEILEMANN: Yes -- O`DONNELL: That`s true -- HEILEMANN: Right, I start to talk to Robert Wolf about it and he confirmed that it had happened. He said that Biden did not definitively say he was running, he made no direct ask. But as you know, Lawrence, in politics, you don`t start to make the ask until you know you`re in and Joe Biden does not know yet that he -- O`DONNELL: Well, and also, all we know about this discussion is what he told you about this -- HEILEMANN: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Discussion, they could have -- HEILEMANN: Yes -- O`DONNELL: They could have planned out the whole financial -- HEILEMANN: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Structure of the Biden campaign in that -- HEILEMANN: That is -- there -- what -- that is entirely possible -- O`DONNELL: Right -- HEILEMANN: And if you think about the idea that Joe Biden at this moment while he is waiting this decision makes this call to this guy who he barely knows, both of them understanding what it would mean if Robert Wolf were to side with Biden. Both, because it would be a repudiation of Hillary Clinton, but also because everyone in the political world would assume and correctly that Wolf would never do this without the blessing of President Obama because they`re so close. So, it would be a huge symbolic get in addition to all the money it would mean. O`DONNELL: You know, my attitude about these things is that announcement day is one of the least important moments -- HEILEMANN: Right -- O`DONNELL: In a campaign. That the decision to run is made years -- HEILEMANN: Right -- O`DONNELL: Before announcements -- HEILEMANN: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Usually. My belief has been Joe Biden is running for president, has been running for president, four years. Now, sometimes very rarely, the candidate never gets to the announcement -- HEILEMANN: Right -- O`DONNELL: Because something derails the campaign before the announcement. Like for example, if Hillary Clinton was running at 75 percent in the Democratic polls right now, that would have closed off -- HEILEMANN: Right -- O`DONNELL: The Biden plan to run -- HEILEMANN: Right -- O`DONNELL: For president, but that`s not what we`re seeing. HEILEMANN: Well, look, I believe that it is the case on the basis of my reporting that Joe Biden in the Summer of 2013 had decided he was going to run in 2016 -- O`DONNELL: I think before that, but -- HEILEMANN: And -- O`DONNELL: Go ahead -- HEILEMANN: But he -- but he -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- HEILEMANN: Was -- he was decided -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- HEILEMANN: It`d be -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- HEILEMANN: I am going to run -- O`DONNELL: Right -- HEILEMANN: And then -- O`DONNELL: Right -- HEILEMANN: And then his son -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- HEILEMANN: The son Beau got sick, was diagnosed with cancer that August. And that human thing threw off everybody`s timetable -- O`DONNELL: Absolutely -- HEILEMANN: And now, there was also that people did not know whether he would survive and if he did, how long it will take. But it was all on hold, and then Beau expired tragically, of course, and suddenly the window is now open. The possibility is now on the table, it`s not too late to get in. And if you`re looking at what`s happening to Hillary Clinton`s campaign, you`re looking at the general atmosphere of politics in America right now where authenticity is prized more than ever. His people and the Vice President are looking at Donald Trump and seeing encouraging signs in that because here is a guy who is rising unexpectedly on the basis of telling it like it is. And it`s showing that the atmosphere right now, there`s this greater tolerance for the kinds of screw-ups that the Vice President has been famous for. You can make mistakes, Donald Trump is showing us, and still do well in this world where people just want the authentic. That to Biden, it`s like, hey, there`s something in that for me. O`DONNELL: And I just want to clarify what -- I think with, you know, with the death of his son, he rethought everything -- HEILEMANN: Everything -- O`DONNELL: In his life. Rethought whether he could continue -- HEILEMANN: And still is -- O`DONNELL: To go to work as vice president -- HEILEMANN: And still is, and still is -- O`DONNELL: Every time. But what I -- where I think we are now is back with his original -- HEILEMANN: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Decision which is he made years ago that of course he should run for president, he`ll be positioned to do that. And I think what we`re seeing now is simply him airing out a lot of the thought process -- HEILEMANN: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Much of which he`s already gone through, especially when you consider that one of the very first entries in this whole story was this quote in Maureen Dodd`s column -- HEILEMANN: Yes -- O`DONNELL: About Beau Biden literally on his death bed asking his father to run for president. So, if -- HEILEMANN: Beau -- O`DONNELL: Go ahead -- HEILEMANN: Beau Biden in 2012, in 2013 told me that he wanted his father to run -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- HEILEMANN: For president. He always wanted his father to run for president again, that meant a lot to Joe Biden back then, it meant a lot to him in that death bed moment which is true and did happen. He is still grappling with this other thing, which is not just his grief but with the fact that Joe Biden is -- as a very close friend of his, put it to me, an old-fashioned patriarch. He sees his -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- HEILEMANN: Primary duty as caring for his family, his wife, Jill, his sister Valerie, his -- the daughter-in-law, now widow, Beau`s former wife, his grandchildren. He does not know whether they are ready even though they say it`s OK for him to run, whether they are really prepared to go through this. In the end, if he does not run, I think it will be mainly because he thinks that his primary duty is to take care of them. But here is the thing that we do know, he believes he`s more qualified than anybody in the Democratic Party to be president, including Hillary Clinton. He believes he has things to offer that she can never offer. He believes in a lot of ways this is his time. And everyone around him, even those who will tell you they would be -- not to be surprised if he runs or if he doesn`t run, everyone around him says that over the last month he has gotten every day closer to running. He is more gung-ho now than he was yesterday or the day before that and the day before that. The momentum is towards yes. O`DONNELL: And he may have lined up some real money the other day. HEILEMANN: That would be an important thing. O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it -- HEILEMANN: Always happy -- O`DONNELL: Thank you -- HEILEMANN: To be here, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Coming up, a new poll shows Joe Biden doing better than Hillary Clinton against Republican candidates. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My mom had an expression. She`d say, as long as you`re alive, you have an obligation to strive and you`re not dead until you`ve seen the face of God. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Running for president may be the only way that Joe Biden can keep striving. And if he does run for president, he`s going to have to find room in a field that includes two candidates who are already pulling strongly, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Today, Bernie Sanders made an appearance at Liberty University founded by Reverend Jerry Falwell, a place familiar to Republican candidates but rarely visited by Democrats. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: Let me be frank, as I said a moment ago, I understand that the issues of abortion and gay marriage are issues that you feel very strongly about. We disagree on those issues. I get that. But let me respectfully suggest that there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and, in fact, to the entire world, that maybe, just maybe, we do not disagree on. And maybe, just maybe, we can try to work together to resolve them. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Here`s what Hillary Clinton said today about the competition for the Democratic presidential nomination. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: I don`t have any issue whatsoever in having a really good, strong contest for the Democratic nomination. We`re going to have some debates and we`ll be able to talk about where we agree and where we disagree. And I think that will help voters make up their minds. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We`re back with Sam Stein, Maria Teresa Kumar and David Frum and we have a new "Washington Post-Abc News" poll shows Hillary Clinton at 42 percent, Bernie Sanders at 24 percent and including Joe Biden at 21 percent. And, Sam Stein, that`s Joe Biden at 21 percent without having done a thing. I suppose it`s two ways to look -- STEIN: Yes -- O`DONNELL: At it, he hasn`t done anything and he`s at 21 percent, the other way to look at it is, he is the Vice President of the United States and he`s only at 21 percent. STEIN: And the third way to look at it is that, once he gets in the race and gets involved in politics and campaigning, you know, it`s very reasonable to conclude that his numbers might actually go down like Hillary`s have. You see these comparisons of him and her against members of the GOP field and he always does significantly better. I think it`s because in part, he hasn`t been involved in partisan politics the way that she has. And, you know, I think her numbers are -- I am of the belief of the Occam`s razor theory about Hillary Clinton right now. Her numbers are dipping, primarily, because of one basic thing, which is the only story that people are hearing about her has to do with her handling of her e-mails at the state department. And, so as long as this is in the news, yes, there is an opening for Joe Biden. But, like you said, you know, 21 percent, is that a floor or ceiling? I am not entirely sure. O`DONNELL: You mentioned the way they do against the republicans. Joe Biden against Donald Trump in this poll, 56 to 38. Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump is 50 to 44, and so it goes. Generally, Joe Biden does slightly better one or two cases significantly better than Hillary Clinton against any of the democrats. And, Maria Teresa, that has to be the Biden argument if he is having, you know, secret meetings with campaign financiers. Here, looking at this. Look at this general election match-up. MARIA TERESA KUMAR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF VOTO LATINO: Well, and I also know -- I know Robert Wolfe. I think -- and he is someone that loves to be in the political mix. That is what he enjoys. So, it is not surprising that is one of the first people that Biden would go to, because not only is he resourceful, but likes to gain things out. So, for him, I think it is an opportunity to see, "Well, where is Biden and where is the bigger landscape? But, it is what we have talked about earlier, is that Biden -- this type of signal that Joe Biden -- the Vice President Biden is sending to the larger folks within the Clinton world, and I think that is what -- if anything, that is what she should be worried about. Because there is a lot of folks that still have not written their checks to Hillary Clinton. And, they are trying to see, well, let us just wait and see. Will the other shoe drop? And, I think that is what Biden is waiting for. Because he, himself, is waiting for the other shoe to drop, and that is when he would jumps in. Lawrence, it takes a lot of money In order to run for office but it also takes infrastructure. And, I just do not see that Biden has that right now. O`DONNELL: But, David Frum, there is no one in a better position to get that stuff started quickly than a Vice President, especially one who knows the machinery having run twice. DAVID FRUM, THE ATLANTIC: Well, especially one who is in a party that is confronting the vulnerability of the previous frontrunner. Now, Sam said the economical theory to say it must be the e-mail that is weighing Hillary down. I do not think that is right. I mean just think of a few blocks ago when we are talking about Donald Trump. I mean every day, there is some big story, negative story about Donald Trump. It bounces off him. When people have decided they are going to trust you, that you are on their side, they can ignore a lot. When they do not make that decision, a story about e-mails, which I think probably many people who watch this network would regard as trivial is nonetheless crushing Hillary Clinton`s support among democrats. What is most striking to me is the collapse of her support among democratic men. Hillary Clinton has made the opposite mistake of Donald Trump. She has assumed that it is cost free to run a campaign that says, "I am running as a woman for women in the interest of women" and "Vote for me because I am a woman." "One of my merits is that I am a woman." And, that would not have a consequence for people on the other side of the ledger. And, it looks like it is having a consequence. STEIN: If that was her actually campaign slogan, that would be a terrible slogan, but it is not her actual campaign slogan. That is not her slogan`s message. (LAUGHING) KUMAR: And, I think, historically, women actually outperform -- FRUM: Things can be your message without being a slogan. KUMAR: No, but women, actually, outperform men at the polls. I do not think it is a wrong slogan. I think that she is trying to embrace it. When you have a misogynist on the republican side, I think it is a lot easier for you to actually embrace the whole movement there. FRUM: But, her problem is not with republican side right now. Her problem is with her own party where she is sinking day by day, week by week. KUMAR: But, I think as what Lawrence was saying -- STEIN: Yes. I agree with that. But -- KUMAR: But, I think as what Lawrence was saying is the fact that with the exception of Bernie Sanders, there is no opposition. And, she is having a really hard time breaking as you mentioned into the news cycle because every day it is Trump. Her biggest challenge is actually having someone to talk away from the E- mails and she brings out a policy position every single -- practically every single week and no one is talking about her policy positions. O`DONNELL: And, you know, when we talk about -- FRUM: Look, Democrats are able -- Democrats are able to ignore -- O`DONNELL: And, you know, when we talk about Donald Trump saying things or getting in trouble and having it bounce off him, let us just remember that Donald Trump`s polling number is nowhere near Hillary Clinton`s polling number. And, if Hillary Clinton ever fell down to the Donald Trump level, that would be -- FRUM: Look at the -- Look at the trajectory. O`DONNELL: -- in the polls, that would be a serious crisis for the Clinton campaign. FRUM: Look at the trajectory. Look at the arch -- look at what is happening -- And, again, Donald Trump is not going to be the republican nominee. It is just comparison. But, look at Hillary`s downward trajectory. Why? When democrats in the 1990s were able to shake off much more scandals involving her husband, seemed to be weighing down by these scandals involving her. Why? STEIN: I do not disagree. I, actually, do not disagree with David here. I think the simplest explanation of that saying is the e-mails issue. But there are other contributing factors, of course. But when you bring up trajectory, I mean, you do have to start with where they actually started. And, she started at sort of astronomical highs and he started at pretty dismal lows. So, that helped contribute to the trajectory. But, you know, on the other hand, I think we do need to take a deep breath. This is still early September. Anyone who studies the polling data will tell you that these things change. I do not need to go into all the people who were up at this point in time in past cycles because it is a list of losers. And, so, I think that we should just step back for a second. The big problem that Hillary has, as I was saying at the beginning, is that she really desperately wants to change the conversation. And, putting up policy papers was one way to do it, but it has not really worked in this media climate. And, there is not anything until at least mid October when she goes before the Benghazi committee that will allow her to pivot away from this conversation. And, that is pretty far away. O`DONNELL: All right. Sam stein gets the "Last Word" on it tonight. STEIN: Yes. (LAUGHING) O`DONNELL: Sam Stein -- and Sam Stein is always the happiest to get the "Last Word." STEIN: Yes. Of course. O`DONNELL: It is a big honor for him. STEIN: Yes. O`DONNELL: Sam, thank you very much for joining us. Mari Teresa Kumar and David Frum, thank you all for joining us tonight. Up next, Kentucky County Clerk, Kim Davis, goes back to work and she has decided. She is definitely not going back to jail. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Kim Davis has decided that stopping same-sex marriage in her Kentucky County is not worth another day in jail. Kim Davis is the county clerk who was jailed for five days by a federal judge after defying his court order by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She was released from jail after her deputy clerks chose to issue the marriage licenses instead of going to jail themselves. When Kim Davis was released her attorney said, he was not sure what she would do when she went back to work. The judge in effect threatened her with a return to jail if she tried to interfere with her assistant clerk`s issuing same-sex marriage licenses. And, so, today Kim Davis stood by and watched 21st Century marriage proceed in Rowan County, Kentucky, where she announced she planned to spend her workday doing next to nothing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KIM DAVIS, ROWAN COUNTRY CLERK WHO REFUSES TO ISSUE MARRIAGE LICENSES TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: To affix my name or authoritative title on a certificate that authorizes marriage that conflicts with God`s definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman violates my deeply held religious convictions and conscience. For me, this would be an act of disobedience to my God. I do not want to have this conflict. I do not want to be in the spotlight. And, I certainly, do not want to be a whipping post, but I am no hero. This morning, I am forced to fashion a remedy that reconciles my conscience with Judge Benning`s orders. Effective immediately and until an accommodation is provided by those with the authority to provide it, any marriage license issued by my office will not be issued or authorized by me. I, too, have grave doubts whether the licenses issued under these conditions are even valid. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear, told NBC News today that there is no need to call a special session of the Kentucky state legislature to accommodate Kim Davis and said that the licenses issued without her signature are, of course, valid. Since Kim Davis` arrest her Deputy Clerk Brian Mason has issued a dozen licenses, eight of those to same-sex couples. Up next, the newest candidate in the race for the democratic presidential nomination will join us. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (MUSIC PLAYING) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You need a president and I am volunteering who will appoint Supreme Court Justices, who will overturn citizens united. (AUDIENCE CHEERING AND APPLAUDING) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That is not what campaign finance reform sounds like from the democratic presidential frontrunner. Here is what it sounds like from the republican frontrunner tonight in Texas. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am self funding my campaign. I am not taking all of this blood money. I am not doing it. (AUDIENCE CHEERING AND APPLAUDING) I am not doing it. And, I feel a little bit awkward and a little stupid. I have guys offering me millions and millions of dollars. You know, when you are in number one place then the bloodsuckers come out; the lobbyists, the special interests, the donors. "Don, we love you." You know, guys you have not heard from in ten years. I turned down $5 million last week. $5 million. I said, "I cannot take it." You know, I go like this. I just close my eyes. You know, it is really sort of not natural to me to turn down money. Is that right? But I turn it down, because once I know the game. Once they give you, you sort of owe them. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The newest candidate for president is the ultimate cause candidate, the cause being campaign finance reform. A Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig is going to announce his candidacy for the democratic presidential nomination with the promise that if elected, he would resign and hand the presidency to his vice president as soon as he passed a new law on campaign financing. Joining us now is Presidential Candidate Lawrence Lessig. So, tell us about how your proposal would change campaign financing? LAWRENCE LESSIG, (D) PRESIDENTIALC CANDIDATE: Well, let us call it what it is. It is not campaign finance. It is democracy. Right? The problem with our democracy right now is we have concentrated the influence into a tiny, tiny number of people. 400 families have given half the money in this presidential election cycle so far, creating a system where nothing can get done because there is always enough of these big funders to block any change. What we got is a democracy that does not work. And, what we need first is to change the rules, so we can get a democracy that works. So, that when Bernie or Hillary talks about all the fantastic things they are going to do, things that excite me, too, it is even credible because right now it is not credible. The system cannot work so long as we are captured by this kind of funding. O`DONNELL: What about, is it credible when Hillary Clinton says, "I want Supreme Court Justices who will overturn citizens unites?" LESSIG: So, she can certainly appoint those people. And, those people could overturn citizens united. That will not solve the problem. The problem is the way we fund campaigns. Citizens United created the Super Pac, which is another layer on that problem. But we got to address the fundamental problem, which is the fact the tiniest number of people are dependent upon to fund these campaigns. So, they bend over backwards. Members of congress spent 30 to 70 percent of their time raising money. O`DONNELL: So, how do you change it and does it require a constitutional amendment as Hillary Clinton is now suggesting? LESSIG: Well, it takes, first, a system of small dollar public funding. Like for example, New York has with matching funds for electing city officials or vouchers where you could get every voter -- O`DONNELL: So, you can do this stuff without constitutional amendment? LESSIG: Perfectly constitutional. O`DONNELL: OK. LESSIG: We could do this tomorrow. And, if we did this, we can radically change the way campaigns are funded. Meaning, they would not be bending over backwards to address the interest of their few funders. They would instead be focused on -- O`DONNELL: Could we still have the board billionaire enter the race and self fund and outspend everyone else? LESSIG: Right now, we could. And, it is a terrifying prospect because of course, you know -- O`DONNELL: Unless you like the billionaire. LESSIG: Well -- O`DONNELL: Unless it is a billionaire you agree with. LESSIG: Right. But, let us imagine Donald Trump becomes the next president. O`DONNELL: No, we cannot do that. LESSIG: Now, let us just be imagine that -- O`DONNELL: OK. Go ahead. We will do it. LESSIG: And, then Donald Trump decides -- O`DONNELL: How are we going to do this for a minute? LESSIG: By getting 37 seconds left. O`DONNELL: Donald Trump-then imagines, you know, the next election cycle, he is going to spend a billion dollars to take out every one of the opponents to what Donald Trump wants. Right? Very quickly, we have a system looks a little bit like Soviet Russia. I mean like current Russia, right? We have a system where the power of this one financier can radically change the way American democracy works. We got to change that. We got to get a democracy back. Donald Trump`s solution to the problem he is identified and he is rightly identified it, is that we just have billionaires running our government. But, I believe we had a revolution about that idea. Right? We said that the aristocrats should go home and we should have a representative democracy, wherein fact, all of us are equal citizens in that democracy. We have nothing close to that right now. O`DONNELL: Would your system allow the self funder? LESSIG: Yes. We cannot change that, until we address the constitution. O`DONNELL: Because that is where you get into the first amendment. LESSIG: Exactly right. O`DONNELL: The problem -- explain why you say you want to run for president, you want to do this giant thing, which would be a huge accomplishment. Why that president who did that amazing thing should then quit the job? Why would not we want that president, who did what everyone said was impossible to stay on the job? LESSIG: It is the dilemma or frotto. Right? I mean the point is, if you are going to have enough power to take on the most powerful people in Washington, to force that congress to finally give the American people what the american people demanding, you have to focus the mandate on this single issue. If I ran for president like Bernie Sanders is and talked about seven or eight things that I am going to do, everything from dealing with immigration, dealing with student loan, dealing with climate change. Then the mandate of that president split among all those separate issues. And, then when he comes in and he says I want to take on the problem of money in Washington, then the lobbyists say, "No, no. Bernie, you were here to deal with the problem of climate change" or you were here -- so these power, his capacity to take on these incredibly important issues gets divided. And, what I am saying is if we can concentrate the mandate, so there is no ambiguity. Here is why this president is here. And, then that president achieves that single thing, which is to get us our democracy, fix the democracy, then turn this over to someone like Bernie or Hillary who has 10 or 12 great ideas about what they would like to do. They would have a chance to do those great things because we would actually have a democracy that could be responsive to the people. Right now, we do not. The biggest empirical study of actual decisions by our government finds there is no relationship between what the average voter wants and what our government does. There is a tight relationship between what the elites want, the economic elite want and what our government does and what special interest groups want and what the government does, but there is no relationship with the average voter. That is because the basic mechanism of this representative democracy has been lost. And, until we fix that we will not get these other great fantastic ideas. And, that is why I think we have to focus on this reform first and get a reform that could make democracy possible. O`DONNELL: And, I guess nothing could prove your commitment to cause more than, "I will resign as soon as that cause is achieved. I am not in this for the president glory" and then -- which makes the vice presidential debate really interesting. LESSIG: Yes. O`DONNELL: Because they are going to have to cover all the subjects that you are refusing to talk about it. LESSIG: Well, I am happy to talk about them. I am happy to say what the right answer is and then to show you why this right answer is nothing we can get until we fix this point up. O`DONNELL: Professor Lawrence Lessig, thank you very much for joining us tonight. LESSIG: Thank you so much. O`DONNELL: I really appreciate you coming in. O`DONNELL: Coming up, NBC`s Richard Engel has the latest of a Serbian border where armed guards are preventing migrants from entering the European Union. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do we have a moral responsibility to work with the rest of the world in providing help, bringing some of those people into this country? The answer is absolutely, yes. Absolutely, yes. (AUDIENCE CHEERING AND APPLAUDING) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Tonight, Hungary closed its border fence using a rail container lined top to bottom with razor wire. NBC`s Richard Engel is in Serbia with the latest. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RICHARD ENGER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is the Serbian side of the Hungarian border. And, today, Hungary and several other European countries took dramatic steps to try and reduce the flows of refugees, who have been pouring into Europe. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ENGER (voice-over): With a deadline looming, refugees streamed toward Hungary today. At 6:00 P.M., just hours before the border was scheduled to close, they began to run, but they were too late. Hungarian police had blocked the border. They tell Mohammed to try another gate, so he, his wife Safa, eight months pregnant with twin. Their 5-year-old Zana, begin to walk. Mohammed, a Syrian, tells me if they are sent back, they have nowhere to go. Their house in Aleppo was bombed. Climbing under a fence the family is confronted by another shock. The second crossing is blocked, too. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MOHAMMED, SYRIAN REFUGEE: You cannot imagine what I feel. I do not know. Now, I have no feeling at all. I am surprised. I am shocked. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ENGEL (voice-over): Many fear their dream of reaching wealthy Europe is over. Suddenly, cheers erupt. An opening. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MOHAMMED: People only have a hope. Nothing else. They hope now they will open the doors for them. That is why everybody run. Maybe they will do nothing. Maybe. ENGEL (on camera): They are not giving a lot of information. They are not giving any information. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ENGEL (voice-over): The police were allowing people in. Just a few at a time. Mohammed crams into line. Pregnant Safa is pressed up against a fence. Temporarily separated, the family eventually makes it through. Where they will end up though is far from certain. The river of refugees runs north from Syria through Turkey, Greece, Hungary, all of the way to Germany and Sweden. Today, Hungary put up a partial dam, so did several other countries. Tonight, this narrow fenced in path leads to Europe. And, they are ling up to squeeze through because no one knows when the gate will close again. (END VIDEO CLIP) ENGEL (on camera): Lawrence, the lack of information here has been a big problem. The Hungarian authorities have not been saying much. Serbian authorities have not been saying much. There are not many Arabic language translators here. Most of the refugees and migrants arriving speak Arabic. They, do not know if this border is going be to open tomorrow, for how long, will people who are Syrian be given preferential treatment, will families be getting preferential treatment? What we know now is that the border is closed. It is expected to reopen tomorrow. And, there is a funnel effect here. What has been for weeks and months an enormous river of migrants flowing all of the way from the Middle East into Europe has been reduced to one passageway in this gate. A passageway that is three shoulder widths wide and that is the only route left, legal route left into Hungary. It is expected that in the coming days and weeks from now, there will be very large crowds gathered here trying to get in to Hungary and then deeper into Europe. Lawrence? (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: Richard Engel, thanks. Chris Hayes is up next. END