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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 11/03/15

Guests: David Corn, Ben Labolt, Joseph Gerth, Matthew Yglesias, StuartStevens, Matthew Yglesias, Ben Labolt, Stuart Stevens, McKay Coppins, JacobSoboroff

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC: Good evening, Rachel. It is super Tuesday here on MSNBC. RACHEL MADDOWS, MSNBC HOST OF "THE RACHEL MADDOW" SHOW: Super, super. WAGNER: So super. One year away until we find out who will be the next president of the United States. Tonight in an NBC news exclusive, President Obama talks about the 2016 election and why it is critical for his legacy. And the stakes for Obama Care, the Supreme Court, and the balance of power on the local level all tonight. Plus, breaking news tonight in one of those state races, a surprise, an outsider republican candidate for governor just flipped another blue state red. Is it an early warning sign for the Democratic Party? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR FOR THE "NIGHTLY NEWS" PROGRAM: If the election were held today -- (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST OF "HARDBALL" PROGRAM: A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll showing -- (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOLT: Hillary Clinton would beat all the GOP candidates but one. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Is tied with Dr. Ben Carson, both getting 47 percent of the vote. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: A year ago, did you think you would be leading the presidential race? DR. BEN CARSON, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. No, I did not think that at all. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that Ben just does not have the experience. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEB BUSH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have experience. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRES. BARACK OBAMA, (D) CURRENT U.S. PRESIDENT: Political season is always a little bit of a silly season. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Some of the people who are not winning -- BUSH: I can fix it. MADDOW: -- are looking around at the people who are winning. TRUMP: Bu-bu-but -- MADDOW: And, they are like, "That guy?" (LAUGHING) (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: Everybody is a conservative. They just do not know it yet. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. I am a democratic socialist. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE INTERVIEWER: Do you see a candidate out there? UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Not in great measure. (LAUGHING) (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Do I think it is time to have some of the other republican candidates drop out? Yes. BUSH: I am not trying to run for the head of the school board. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: None of them are going to drop out. They are all going to mutiny, it is going to be super fun. (AUDIENCE LAUGHING) UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Yes. MADDOW: Yes. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Good evening, I am Alex Wagner in for Lawrence O`Donnell. We are nearly one year away from Election Day 2016. And, who better to hear from one year out than the person currently holding the biggest job on the ballot. In an NBC news exclusive interview, Lester Holt spoke with President Obama during his recent trip to Newark, New Jersey. The president weighed in on this campaign season, the republican field and what he has learned since January 20, 2009. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOLT: All right, Mr. President, we are one year out from the elections. The Americans will increasingly, you know, drilling down on this. Tell me, not as a democrat or a politician, but as a second-term president, tell us what the American people and your successors need to know about this job? PRES. OBAMA: Well, number one, we have a lot of challenges that we are going to be facing, whether it is making sure that we are creating even more jobs and increasing wages and incomes, dealing with issues like climate change, obviously keeping the American people safe. And, I think what is most important is to pay attention to what the candidates are saying, not in simple bumper sticker form, but that they have a sense that these issues are complicate, that they are hard, that they are not silver bullets. And, I think the problem with election season is sometimes, folks want to devote a lot more time to sloganeering and stirring folks up emotionally, but they are not spending enough time, you know, really trying to explain to the American people what exactly are you trying to do? And, hopefully that is what every citizen is going to be paying attention to. HOLT: And, on that note, describe the climate to me. Is it any different, the political climate, the election climate than when you ran eight years ago? PRES. OBAMA: You know, political season is always a little bit of a silly season, particularly during primaries. I think by the time each party chooses its candidates. They are forced, maybe, to be a little more serious and speak to the broad public as opposed to just a narrow part of their base. I do think that what is different this time is that particularly in the Republican Party, you have the most disgruntled or suspicious of Washington portion of the electorate that is driving the process. And, you know, I think what we are seeing that side at least is a lot of folks who are good at social media or getting attention, but there has not been, maybe because of Super PACs a win-knowing down of the process where people are forced to really talk about the issues in a more serious way. I suspect that will change over time, but right now, at least, you do not get a sense that anybody is presenting a new set of ideas around the very real challenges that we face. HOLT: All these people want that oval office. Give me a reality check of what it is like to finally be there. If you could write a note to yourself and tell you what it was going to be like, what to expect, what would it say? PRES. OBAMA: You know what I would say would be that this is a big diverse country, and that is a good thing. And, democracy is messy and that can be frustrating as president. But what you want to be able to do is to stay with it and have a sense of where it is you want to go. When I came in the office, I knew there were a set of principles I cared about, that I wanted to make a more inclusive economy that allowed middle class folks to get ahead, that I wanted to make sure that everybody in this country had health care, that I wanted to make sure that we were keeping the American people safe but also being consistent with our values, that I wanted to protect the environment. And, so you have a set of principles, but what you discover as president is that you got to constantly navigate all kinds of different unexpected events. You got to deal with the problems that are in front of you, that you are not going to get 100 percent your way. And, I think you were asking earlier about what is different about this climate, this political season. I really think it is important for folks to understand that in a democracy, you have to have a set of principles, but you also have to practically be able to work with people who disagree with you and compromise. And, that is viewed as, I think, a negative among partisans in either party. But, the fact of the matter is that is how America has always worked. And, the one thing that I am more firmly convinced of than ever after seven years in office is that when the American people with their good instincts and their good impulses and their basic decency are paying attention, getting involved, voting, that the outcomes are better. And, when they pull back and they are disinterested or cynical about what happens in Washington, then the vacuum gets filled by special interests and extremes and nothing gets done. So, if you really are sick and tired of gridlock regardless of what your party is, you got to get involved. You got to listen to what folks are saying. You have to, by the way, make sure that the candidates are being willing to take tough questions. You know, I would be interested in seeing some of the republican candidates, who say they are so tough they are going to stare down the, you know, Chinese and the Russians. And, somehow CNBC scares them. You got to be able to field difficult questions. And, that is what citizens should expect. And, if people are paying attention and involved, I think they are going to make good decisions. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Joining us now, Ben Labolt, a founding partner of the Incite Agency and Former National Press Secretary for President Obama`s Re- Election Campaign, and David Corn, The Washington Bureau Chief for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC Political Analyst. David, let me start with you. There is a moment in that interview when the president talks about the difficulties at hand. Difficulties you do not necessarily foresee when you become president. He says, "You discover that you got a constantly navigate all kinds of different unexpected events. You got to deal with the problems that are in front of you." And, I guess I wonder, you know, you think about the president coming into office and all these unforeseen issues that he had to tackle immediately and throughout his presidency, whether in the Middle East, whether with the economy, whether with an opposition party, that was more recalcitrant than ever. And, I guess I wonder in the 2016 race, what do you think the lessons, the takeaways are for democrats and republicans looking for the White House? DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean I think -- and Ben can speak to this certainly, because he was there, that you know, reading between the lines and the president, his nice -- you know, let us play friendly way was basically saying that he did not count on that obstructionism. And, that he -- you know, came in, yes, he had a set of principles. But, saying, go back and remember the Stimulus Bill. He bent over backwards to try to bring in republican ideas and plans and they still said, no to that. And, they said no again and again and again. And, that makes it very hard for anyone to govern, even if you got a republican in there who may want to work with democrats and policy. I mean he tries to make it seem like this is a sort of even-Steven both sides do-it type of problem. But, recent polling and polling for the last year or two has shown that about 2/3 of republicans do not want their president or the person they pick for president to compromise and work and divide the government and cut deals. While about 2/3 of democrats say, yes, they would like to see their guy or gal, you know, put together a coalition and compromise. So, there is a real imbalance here that works against anyone coming in and trying to get things done. WAGNER: Ben, I would expect that we are going to see a lot of the president on the 2016 trail, not just because he thought the 2014 strategy of candidates distancing themselves from him was a bad one, but also because so much of his legacy hinges on having a democrat in the White House. BEN LABOLT, FMR. NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY, OBAMA 2012: I think that is exactly right. I mean, look, we have seen the strongest private sector job creation of all time. We have seen millions of Americans have health insurance for the first time. He is going to be out there making sure that those pieces of his legacy are intact, and you see the republicans -- the republicans who are ahead, at least, Trump/Carson are running against the theory of government itself. I think President Obama in that interview made very clear that he is always been a believer in politics is the art of the possible. Not just two parties shouting into the wilderness, but coming together and figuring out, what can be achieved on behalf of the American people. WAGNER: David, to that end, the president last night was invoking his old slogan, "Yes we can," and that he still thinks that the democracy rests on us, not one particular person, not one party in congress. Do you think that the American people share that sense of optimism about what is possible at the grassroots level? CORN: Well, right now, you know, the polls show that a lot of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. And, if you look at the polls on the republican side, they basically think that hell has happened already and they have been living through it for the last seven years. And, they are not very optimistic about putting together anything other than destroying what others have worked on for the last seven years. Yes, it is the president is job not to be a naysayer, or too gloomy and try to inspire people to, you know, serve our better -- the better natures. And, so, I do not expect them to sort of, you know, talk about this in those terms. But, I do think there is a very, very significant divide that we are going to see in the 2016 race between the two different sides, the democrat and republican on what to do about the government and the purpose of government. WAGNER: Ben, do you think that any of the tactics that the republicans used will be in turn used by democrats should -- and I specifically mean congressional republicans -- do you think any of those tactics will come back if there is a republican in the White House and democrats gain control of the senate? LABOLT: Look, there have been times when both parties have been obstructionist over the years. But, I think what was different here is that on the eve of the inauguration, you had Mitch McConnell and others getting together and saying, "Our top priority is defeating President Obama." It is not pulling back the economy from the brink and making sure that there is not another great depression. And, I think that is where you hit some of the points that David made earlier. You know, they would not even negotiate on the stimulus. So, I do not think anybody saw that as good for the country and I do not think democrats would pursue a strategy like that. WAGNER: We are going to take a short break, but when we come back, the looming, really big problem for democrats that nobody is talking about. And, it was being dubbed Obama`s last war. Who did Kentucky voters side with in the race for governor? We will have the breaking election results. Plus, who do republican voters trust most to deploy America`s nuclear weapons? Maybe not who you think. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) WAGNER: Tonight`s Super Tuesday election results start with a shocker. In the Kentucky Governor`s race, Republican Matt Bevin is the projected winner after trailing in the polls with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Bevin has 52 percent. Democrat Jack Conway has 44 percent. And, democrat turned independent Drew Curtis has 4 percent. Health care reform was front and center in this campaign. . (MUSIC PLAING) MATT BEVIN, (R) KENTUCKY, GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: To call Kynect a shining example is another blatant lie. JACK CONWAY, (D) GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: If my opponent is elected nearly half million Kentuckians are going to lose their healthcare. BEVIN: They already have, Jack. That is the point. You got to move on. CONWAY: No. I am not talking about it. I am talking about the Medicaid expansion. BEVIN: Yes. CONWAY: I am not talking about -- I am talking about the Medicaid expansion. We have not shot straight to the people. BEVIN: There is not enough free money in the liberal pot, Jack. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Here is Bevin tonight in his Victory speech. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BEVIN: We as a state, we as a party, we as a people, and frankly we as a nation in some measure, but specific to this moment in time in the commonwealth of Kentucky, we need a fresh start. We truly do. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Joining me now by phone is Joseph Gerth, Reporter for the Louisville Courier Journal. Joseph, thanks for joining me. What is happening in the bluegrass state? How did Matt Bevin perform this upset given where he was, the amount of money that was being spent by his opponent, Jack Conway, and the fact that Governor Beshear, a democrat, his son looks like he is the projected winner for the Attorney General race in the same state. JOSEPH GERTH, LOUISVILLE COURIER JOURNAL REPORTER: Right. And, in fact, the Associated Press has called that race for Andy Beshear, the Governor`s son. So, the Attorney General will be a democrat. And, the way that Bevin did this though is that Kentucky is turning republican and has been doing this probably for the last 21 years. And, this is further evidence of how republican Kentucky has gone after a long being a very solid democratic state. WAGNER: How much of this was a referendum on the president`s health care law, which Matt Bevin is no fan of? And, how much of this was a sort of cultural schism? I know that Matt Bevin aligned himself with Kim Davis. And, given all the changes, especially within the Supreme Court this summer, I wonder how much that affected were drove folks to the polls? GERTH: You know, I think it probably has more to do with Kim Davis and the social issues, and also with coal mining. Obama has been hammered for his environmental protection agency and rules on coal here in Kentucky. And, I think that really played into it. While the issue of Obama Care came into play, you know, the state`s version of Obama Care was something that polls very well in the state. So, it is hard to say how much that would have played into this. WAGNER: Well, we will certainly keep our eyes trained on the future of Kynect. That is Kentucky`s health care exchange. Joseph Gerth of the Louisville Courier Journal, thank you for your time. GERTH: Thank you, Alex. WAGNER: We will have more Super Tuesday election coverage coming up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BEVIN: This is the opportunity for Kentucky to be a beacon to the nation, the values that we hold, the principles that we hold, the work ethic that we hold, the high road that we will take, this will change the tenor of what happens in the 2016 race, it truly will. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Hours ago, Kentucky elected its first republican governor since the year 1947. Tea Party favorite Matt Bevin defeated Democrat Jack Conway in a race that has been called the last Obama war, because it was seen on a referendum on who Kentucky voters like less, President Obama or the Tea Party. But, Kentucky is part of a much bigger story, a story about how badly democrats have faired in state level elections in the last several years. Before the 2010 midterm election, democrats controlled both houses in 27 state legislatures, while republicans controlled both houses in just 14 states. Going into tonight, democrats controlled the legislatures in just 11 states. Republicans controlled them in 30. In 2010, there were 26 democratic governors and 24 republican governors. Going into tonight, there were just 18 democrats and the number of republican governors had grown to 31, including four in states where democrats controlled both houses of the state legislature, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Joining us now are Matthew Yglesias, Executive Editor of Vox, and Stewart Stevens, the Columnist for "The Daily Beast" and the former chief strategist for Mitt Romney`s presidential campaign. MSNBC`s parent company, NBC Universal has made an investment in Vox. Let me start -- and David Corn, of course, is still with us. Matt, let me start with you (LAUGHING) CORN: No investment. (LAUGHING) WAGNER: Just wait. Matt Yglesias, let me start with you. Just the results coming out of Kentucky tonight, and we were talking with someone from the Louisville Courier Journal in the last segment, and he said the election in Kentucky has more to do with social and cultural issues, including Kim Davis, than it is a referendum on the ACA, on Obama Care. But the implications for those Kentuckians who have gotten access to health care, either under Kentucky`s exchange or through the expansion of Medicaid is fairly serious tonight, is it not? MATTHEW YGLESIAS, VOX EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Yes. I mean, especially for people on that Medicaid expansion. We have seen in a number of states, particularly, in the south where republicans have strong control that there is federal money on offer that will give health care essentially at no cost to the state government to low income people through the Medicaid program. But, many republicans including Matt Bevin have said they are opposed to doing that. We have not yet seen an example of a state, actually flipping and going from covering those people the way Kentucky currently does to not covering them. But, it has been implicit in some of the things Bevin has campaigned on that he would do that and naturally rescind the insurance for those people. And, then there is also the question of what will happen to the people, who are on Kentucky`s Kynect exchange. They should continue to have insurance coverage in one way or another, but if they pull the plug on that exchange, there is going to be some disruptions as they have to move over into the federal system. So, even if that was not the reason that Bevin was able to win the election, it is one of the most important consequences. WAGNER: Yes. Stuart, and I feel like it is sort of a risky proposition for newly elected governor, Bevin. The idea of flipping the state as Matt says, is one that seems like there could be fairly serious repercussions, especially in an election year. STUART STEVENS, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Look, I think what is fascinating is a larger picture that you are pointing to. There is sort of a dichotomy here. Democrats have won the last two presidential elections, but it has just been an absolute devastation across the country. Most times, off-year elections do not go well for the party in power, but this is more than twice the normal losses that have been sustained. It is historic. We never had these kind of losses. 12 governors, 13 senators, 69 members of congress, over 900 state legislators. So, I think that there is a split here that is occurring. Personally, I think a lot of it is driven by economics. You still have, as David was pointing out earlier, only 27 percent of the country think that we are going in the right direction, and that is largely driven by economics. Despite the stock market being up, most people are having a very hard time. And, just as hard or harder than they had seven years ago. WAGNER: Yes, David, let us talk about -- I mean there is some discussion about the congressional races, the senate races, the balance of power in Washington, but there is almost no discussion on the left about how democrats are getting trounced. And, the implications here in terms of state legislatures being dominated by republicans or -- republicans controlling both the governorship and the state house. I mean, this is where conservative legislation is happening. And, this is where the movement is, and democrats do not seem to be doing anything about it. CORN: I mean I agree with my good pal Stuart that it is historic what we have seen in the last eight years in terms of these state elections. And, the key thing is, right now due to the way things are gerrymandered with the congressional seats, it would take the democrats -- they would have to win about 54 percent of the national vote for house elections to win a majority of the house. That seems patently unfair, but that is the way the system is because of the gerrymandering that has been done by the republicans. And, if they control the governor`s seats and the legislatures, by the time we get around to redistricting again, it is going to continue this problem for the democrats. WAGNER: We are going to take a very quick break. But, all of you hang with me. And, when we come back, Senator Al Franken has a plan to take back the senate for democrats. And, up next, Donald Trump had a whole lot to say today about his biggest opponents for the republican nomination. But, he drew the line at doing an impression of Jeb Bush. And, we will tell you why, coming up next. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) WAGNER: The GOP has put its full faith in Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson. In a new Reuters/Ipsos poll of republican voters, Trump is the most trusted candidate to handle the economy with 59 percent support. Ben Carson comes in second with 36 percent and Marco Rubio is in third at 27 percent. Republican voters say that Donald Trump is also the most trusted to deal with foreign leaders, with Carson and Rubio close behind. And, in one of the most unnerving poll questions of this election cycle, republican voters say Dr. Ben Carson is the candidate they would most trust with America`s nuclear weapons. Donald Trump comes in second on that question and Marco Rubio is third. The only establishment candidate to garner major support in this Reuters/Ipsos poll is Marco Rubio. Unsurprisingly, with Rubio the new favorite of the establishment, Donald Trump is taking aim during a press conference today for his newly released book. Trump slammed the former senator and just about every other republican candidate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You look at Marco Rubio, very, very weak on illegal immigration. He has a very bad record of finances if you look at what happened with his houses. I think that really Marco is overrated and frankly, had Bush been a better messenger, he has the better message. My Jeb impression? No, I do not want to do that. I do not like showing a person sleeping at the podium. You look at Ben, he is very weak on immigration and wants to get rid of Medicare. I mean Ben wants to get rid of Medicare. You cannot get rid of Medicare. So, when a man is weak on immigration and wants to get rid of Medicare, I do not know how he stays there. Do I think it is time to have some of the other republican candidates drop out? Yes. There are too many people. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Donald Trump may not be impressed with the current crop of GOP candidates and neither is one of the party`s most influential backers. In an exclusive interview with "Morning Joe" today, republican mega donor, Charles Koch, says he is not pleased with anyone in the 2016 field. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST OF "MORNING WITH JOE" PROGRAM: Do you see a candidate out there? CHARLES KOCH, REPUBLICAN MEGA DONOR: Not in great measure. I am trying to be diplomatic. (LAUGHING) SCARBOROUGH: That is a very tactful way. KOCH: Do you know what I am saying. SCARBOROUGH: Yes. That is pretty good. KOCH: I am retired on that. (LAUGHING) (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Back with us, our Stuart Stevens and Ben Labolt. Stuart, here is my question. Does Koch -- Does major donor support -- Does Koch support matter at this point in the race? STEVENS: I think it is always better to have people for you than against you, but I do not think that it is going to be a tipping point. I do not think anyone donor here or anyone donor group is going to decide this. Look, this is going to come down to, I think, who is going to win these first four states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. And, I do not think that the difference there between having a big donor like the Kochs are going to make a difference there. WAGNER: Ben, when you look at those poll numbers from republican voters, Donald Trump and Ben Carson with the nuclear codes. What is your reaction to that? LABOLT: Steady hands. (LAUGHING) WAGNER: Yes, that is true. Definitely steady hands. LABOLT: It is a little scary. And, I think the interesting thing is you talk to establishment republicans, and they will look at these numbers and they will say, "Oh, that does not really matter because Trump or Carson are not going to be the nominee." Well, if you combine their numbers they have been above 50 percent during the entire primary process, as the establishment republicans fight over whether they are supporting Bush or whether they are supporting Rubio. So, I think we need to prepare ourselves for the real possibility that one of them could be the republican nominee. WAGNER: OK, so Stuart to that end, it seems like establishment media attacks on Donald Trump and Ben Carson had no effect. Is the inverse true? Does Donald Trump -- do Donald Trump`s words about Marco Rubio have an effect? STEVENS: Listen. First of all, I do not understand how we live in a world where a billionaire builder is not considered establishment. This is not some populist figure like rose up like -- out of the desert. I mean he is a vastly wealthy individual with vast power, who is running for office. He is the establishment. Now, you can say he has not run for office before, so he is a different kind of establishment, but for heaven sakes, this is not Mr. Smith goes to Washington. WAGNER: But Stuart, he has convinced people somehow or maybe it is through unpredictable rhetoric that he is a populist, right? STEVENS: Listen, what happens in these polls -- and Ben knows this, is when you are for someone, you are for them all the way. You are not going to be for Dr. Carson and say, "Well, but he would be bad on the nuclear codes." It does not make sense. When you are for your candidate, you are for your candidate to be president. You are going to be for it -- When you are for your candidate -- you are for your candidate to be president. Now, these things changed. I, personally, do not think that the party is going to nominate anyone who has not been elected to office before. I could be wrong. I am wrong all the time. I do not think I am going to be wrong on this one, though. WAGNER: Well, but I mean -- so, Ben, to that end, I mean there is a lot of talk about how practical -- Whether these poll numbers translate to a practical reality of votes, right? And, we are looking tonight in Kentucky where Matt Bevin, who is an insurgent candidate, who was trounced by the establishment candidate last time he is in for office is now the governor of Kentucky. And some people are saying, that is backdrop from a Trump and Carson rise, an anti-establishment fervor that has seized the grassroots. I guess I wonder if you think Donald Trump and Ben Carson can take Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina? LABOLT: It is a good question. You know, the question translates too. There is a difference between picking up the phone and saying yes and getting out of your house in a cold Iowa night and attending a caucus. I think what we are going to look at is a very protracted primary on the republican side. Certainly, the establishment republicans do not seem to be planning to get out of the race anytime soon and Rick Santorum, as you remember, has won the Iowa caucuses the last time. So, I do not know if the winner of these first four states will be the same in any state. And, I think we are going to see this play out for a long, long time to come. WAGNER: Stuart, do you think we could stand the chance of having a brokered convention on the right? STEVENS: Well, you know, we always talk about it and it never happens. It rarely happens, `76 was the last time, which is not to say it could not happen. When you really look at these numbers, there is a hunger games scenario where, as Ben was saying, you could have a different person win each of these four and roll into the subsequent -- first four, and roll into the subsequent states with no clear front-runner, with a number of people with resources and they could fight it out. And, that would be a scenario where you could go into the convention with a brokered convention. WAGNER: So, Ben, does that mean using Stuart`s analogy, that Donald Trump is Katniss Everdeen? (LAUGHING) LABOLT: I got to tell you, I have not been reading a lot of young-adult books lately. WAGNER: Oh, come on! Yes, you have. (LAUGHING) LABOLT: Stuart is the writer. I got nothing for you. WAGNER: Gentlemen, it is always good to see you. Ben Labolt and David Corn who is with us earlier, thank you for your time. LABOLT: Thanks, Alex. WAGNER: Coming up next, Senator Al Franken is on a mission to take the senate back for the democrats. So, how is he doing it? Plus the little known story of how Iowa became the first in the nation caucus state. (MUSIC PLAYING) WAGNER: Senator Al Franken is not afraid to use his star power as a comedian turn Senator to help fellow democrats try to take back the senate in 2016. 34 seats are up for election in 2016. For democrats, the stakes are high since they lost control of the senate in the 2014 midterms. In next year`s race, republicans are tasked with defending 24 seats in the upper chamber. Democrats have to hold on to ten seats that are up for grabs and pick up five more. Republicans presently control 54 seats, democrats 44 and independents two. According to politico, this year`s Senator Franken has already helped raise money for democratic candidates in Washington State, Illinois, Ohio and Nevada. He will also join us on "The Last Word" this Thursday, which you will, of course, not want to miss. Joining us now is McKay Coppins, Senior Political Editor for BuzzFeed News. It says BuzzHead in the prompter. MSNBC`s parent company, NBC Universal has made an investment in BuzzFeed. Matthew Yglesias and Stuart Stevens are back with us. SO, McKay, can Al Franken win this back for the democrats. I just -- but actually, I mean -- 2016 looks like a much, much better year for democrats. MCKAY COPPINS, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER BUZZFEED NEWS: The math is much more favorable for democrats, as you noted, republicans are defending a lot more states. It is difficult for them. Although, Matt Yglesias actually wrote a good piece about this on Vox, where republicans do have built-in advantages here. One of them that he noted that I think is true and does not get as much attention as it should is, republicans at the state level actually show a lot more ideological flexibility in the candidates that they nominate. We have heard a ton about the Tea Party and kind of the right wing populist elements that are driving these races. And, that is true in many races and it is certainly true in the national presidential primaries so far as we have seen. But, at the state level, we actually do see republicans nominating pragmatic candidates, who can appeal to moderate and liberal left-leaning voters. And, that could be a thing -- something that democrats have to contend with. WAGNER: Well, yes, Matt to that end, I mean you write that, that republicans will sometimes downplay their social conservatism when it is a state that favors more sort of economic business conservatism and vice versa, depending on the landscape. The democrats, meanwhile -- I mean, we are looking at a party that is shifted decidedly left. And, you know, a primary process that sees Bernie Sanders giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money on progressive issues. And, I guess I wonder if you think the issue has been further exacerbated for democrats on that level. MATTHEW YGLESIAS, VOX EXECUTIVE EDITOR: I mean, I think it is certainly true in terms of governor`s races. You see republicans mounting winning campaigns in places like Maryland, Massachusetts, you know, very liberal states -- where republicans have had to put forward relatively moderate nominees and it has worked for them. I do think in senate races, right? We are looking at 2016. It is a presidential election year, so democrats will actually show up, which they do not do in midterms. WAGNER: OK. YGLESIAS: And, there is going to be races in places like Wisconsin, places like Pennsylvania, you know, where democrats have won in presidential election year after year after year. And, where republicans have very conservative nominees in those states. I mean, particularly, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania is one of the most conservative senators. And, Pennsylvania is not close to being the most conservative state. So, you know, I think democrats do have strong pickup opportunities there, but it does go back to a fundamental question of, you know, republicans vote every two years and democrats really only vote every four years. And, that is a huge advantage for the Republican Party because, you know, showing up is a really important part of politics. And, democrats have not really been able to motivate their supporters to do that in a consistent way. WAGNER: Yes, Stuart, it is almost kind of almost a nauseating back and forth. You just have this constant vacillation between democrats taking control of one part of the government and republicans taking control of another part. And, if you look at the senate, 2014 is a good year for republicans. 2016 is a good year for democrats, 2018 is a good year for republicans, and on and on and on it goes. STEVENS: Yes, I think Matt is right that -- the presidential race, I think, is really going to be the key in which the senate races are played in. If you look at 2012, only Senator Heck in Nevada in a contested race ran above Mitt Romney. You know, really, I think it is going to depend what kind of election are we in. Are we going to have an election like 2008, where it was the incumbent president was definitely a drain at the top of the ticket, or are we going to have one like 1998, where you could have -- run on a -- or 1988, where you could run pretty much as a third term. Right now, it looks like that with 28 percent wrong track -- right track, you are going to have a definite drain at the top of the ticket for President Obama. And, you see that being navigated and fought out in the democratic primary, where Sanders is really running way to the left. And, what he is saying about the last seven years is a complete indictment of the Obama economic record. So, I think it is going to be a real test for these senate candidates on the democratic side how much they embrace the president and where the president is favorable numbers are. You know, if you sort of tell me what the right direction, wrong direction of the country is and what the president`s favorables are the day before the election, I think we can predict most of the senate races. WAGNER: And, yet, McKay, Hillary Clinton has made no secret her allegiance to President Obama the fact that, you know, she would continue and further many of his policies. It seems like their strategy is, "Do not worry about the swing voters. We are going to try to get the progressive base out to vote, because, look, when they come out, we win". COPPINS: Yes. That is a strategy at this point. I mean, it is a long way and we have a year until the actual election, right? I mean, we have to remember that Hillary Clinton has actually genuinely kept her word in terms of saying she is going to focus on the democratic primaries and run an honest, good faith campaign, right? And, she is focused -- she spent most of her time in Iowa and New Hampshire. She spent a lot of time courting progressives. I am reluctant to say that come general election season she is still going to be sounding the same aggressively liberal and progressive messages that she is right now. I think that on some issues, she will probably tack back to the middle. But it also depends on who the republicans are putting up against her, and it is impossible to know at this point what is going to happen there. (LAUGHING) WAGNER: Yes. Matt, I mean I guess when you think about the head to head matchups and Hillary Clinton and -- you know, it is anybody`s guess what is going to happen in the republican primary, you know. Does that afford her, and democrats, more opportunity to maybe be a little bit further into the center of the spectrum at some of these state races? YGLESIAS: Yes. I mean I think certainly if you see something like a Donald Trump or a Ben Carson or a Ted Cruz win the nomination, you know, that does change the landscape nationally. I think, you know, I am still in the view that probably republicans are not going to go in that direction, but those are the people who are leading in the polls, and I do not think you want to write them off. And, that would be, you know, a real X-factor. I mean, we do see examples, historically, 1964, 1972, of a party picking a national nominee, who is really just not viable. And, it does tend to drag the ticket down all the way across the board. Now, on the other hand, you know, Marco Rubio could very well lose a general election, but would be an extremely difficult candidate. WAGNER: McKay Coppins, Matthew Yglesias and the ever giggling Stuart Stevens, gentlemen, thank you all for your time. STEVENS: Thank you. COPPINS: Thank you. WAGNER: Coming up, it has not yet been one full week on the job, but Paul Ryan is already warning democrats about a possible government shutdown. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (MUSIC PLAYING) WAGNER: We have more Super Tuesday Election results. In Ohio, voters have overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to legalize pot. On Ohio issue 3, a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana at 10 in-state facilities and create state regulations for its production, sale and recreational use, 35 percent voted yes. 65 percent voted no. Even supporters of legalizing pot like former Governors Ted Strickland had concerns that the small numbers of facilities would create a monopoly. Ohio native Nick Lachey, who was an investor in the campaign to legalize pot tweeted just a few minutes ago, "While I may not agree, the people of Ohio have spoken, and that is the way it is supposed to work. Change takes time. #Democracy #Respect." (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) WAGNER: The bipartisan budget bill was supposed to take the threat of a debt default and a government shutdown off the table. But, today, in his first press conference as speaker, Paul Ryan opened the door to another shutdown showdown when he was asked about policy writer amendments like the one to defund Planned Parenthood and whether he would allow them into the omnibus spending bill next month. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: How are you going to approach the issue of writers? Are you prepared to have a confrontation over those writers? PAUL RYAN, (R) WHITE HOUSE SPEAKER: We have a tough deadline December 11th. We got not a lot of time between now and then. So, we are going to have to put together appropriations, but this is the legislative branch and the power of the purse rests within the legislative branch. And, we fully expect that we are going to exercise that power. Thank you, everybody. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MIKE CONAWAY, (R) TEXAS, HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE: If they insist on inserting poison pill writers into the Omnibus Bill. They will be dragging us in to another government shutdown. Power of the purse does not give republicans the right to hold government hostage unless we repeal Dodd- Frank or defund Planned Parenthood. We are not going to let that happen. We are not. (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: And, we have breaking 2016 news. Donald Trump says he plans to launch his first ads in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in the next few days. Super Tuesday continues after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAX: Hi. My name is Max. I am from Iowa City. And, I am actually here on behalf of -- this is Clarabelle, the dog. She is going to be a first- time voter, and she is trying to meet every candidate to figure out, who it is she is going to caucus for. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely. Now, is her full name Clarabelle? MAX: Clarabelle. Yes. CLINTON: Clarabelle, that is -- I love that name. Is she a rescue dog? MAX: She is. CLINTON: Now, what are her issues? (LAUGHING) (END VIDEO CLIP) WAGNER: Only in the state of Iowa could a dog like Clarabelle dream of meeting all the 2016 candidates. Today, Hillary Clinton hosted town halls in Coralville and Grinnell, Iowa. There are just 90 days until Iowa`s first in the nation caucus. But, how did Iowa get to be first? Joining us from Des Moines is MSNBC`s Jacob Soboroff. Good to see you, Jacob. JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: What`s up, Alex. I did not get to meet Clarabelle, the dog. I was there. I am very disappointed about all of that. But, I did get to hang around at the event today and I did get to meet over the last couple of days a lot of voters here in the Des Moines area and also in Coralville here in Iowa. And, this is a place obviously, Alex, that is in, you know, full campaign mode. But, one of the things that I discovered and I want to show you a little something about this is that even the people that are the most diehard political folks here in Iowa are puzzled by their very own caucus process. Take a look at this. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SOBOROFF (voice-over): Iowa, is mostly rural state in America`s heartland is home to just over 3 million people. It is America`s third most productive agricultural state, home to the biggest cereal plant in the world and the only state to start with two vowels. It is also ground zero for American presidential politics. Do you have any idea which state votes first when it comes to picking a president? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SOBOROFF (on camera): Do you have any idea what state gets the vote first when it comes to picking a president. UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: I have to be honest to you, I do not. CAROL (ph): I thought it was Iowa. (LAUGHING) SOBOROFF: You are right, Carol. Do not doubt yourself. Do not doubt yourself. (END VIDEO CLIP) SOBOROFF (voice-over): Iowa goes first because of a scheduling accident. In June 1972, hotel rooms were booked up in Des Moines when democrats would normally nominate a candidate, so the process was just moved earlier. Both parties liked the idea of being first so much that they wrote it into state law. This year, Iowans caucus, their version of a primary election, February 1st. That is why everywhere you look here, there are already presidential candidates. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (1): We had Rand Paul. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: We saw the Trump bus. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (2): Ben Carson. (END VIDEO CLIP) SOBOROFF (voice-over): Iowa`s slogans have included both life changing and fields of opportunity. But they do not exactly hold up when it comes to presidential candidates. Since Iowa moved to first, only three non-incumbent candidates have won the caucus and the presidency. One thing Iowa has done a great job of, elevating candidates you might not otherwise hear much about. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: I am for Hillary. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (1): Dr. Ben Carson. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SOBIOROFF (on camera): Would you let any presidential candidate take a ride in this car? UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (2): Probably Ben Carson. SOBOROFF (on camera): Would you let Fiorina in this car? UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (2): Sure. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SOBOROFF (on camera): Who are you going to vote for? UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (3): Bernie Sanders. (END VIDEO CLIP) SOBOROFF (voice-over): According to our recent poll, the top three issues for Iowa republicans are the deficit, defense and taxes. Democrats pick energy, income inequality and infrastructure. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SOBOROFF (on camera): What are the issues you want to hear the candidates talk about this time around? UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (1): Education would be the big thing. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Abortion, gun rights. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (2): Trying to get the economy, you know, stable and on track. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SOBOROFF (on camera): What if Hillary really wanted a ride. UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (3): She would have to walk behind us. (LAUGHING) (END VIDEO CLIP) (END VIDEOTAPE) SOBOROFF: I would give Hillary Clinton a ride. I would give any of the candidates a ride, Alex. I think a lot of people look at Iowa and they think if the leader of the free world was hanging out in this small state in the middle of heartland, it is a very bizarre thing. But to people here, as you know, Alex, it is just sort of old hat. WAGNER: As the daughter of an Iowan who was very involved in that 1972 race, I can tell you, there is a lot going on in Iowa that is worth checking out. Jacob Soboroff, good to see you, my friend. Thanks for your time. That does it for us. SOBOROFF: Thanks, Alex. WAGNER: Chris Hayes is up next. END