Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: March 28, 2016 Guest: Nicholas Kristof, David Sanger, Robert Costa, Ben Ginsberg, Steve LaTourette
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel, thank you very much.
MADDOW: Appreciate it, thank you my friend --
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Well, my first guest tonight is ashamed, ashamed of how the media has covered Donald Trump. And he`s in the media.
And my other first guest tonight because they`ll both be here at the same time is not part of that problem.
He conducted an important substantive interview with Donald Trump. Well, at least, the questions were substantive.
Also tonight, you will hear from the local Milwaukee radio talk show host who finally, finally showed Trump TV and radio interviewers how to handle Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The anger and the rage against Donald Trump especially from the right --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s blinding --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grows by the day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is in fact, you know, a vulgar narcissist. I don`t think that he`s temperamentally suited to be president.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No candidate should be doing what Donald Trump did last week, which is attacking my wife and attacking my family.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Again, I didn`t start it, he started it.
CRUZ: What, are you 12 years old? Is this a playground? You`re running for president of the United States.
CRUZ: I am always amused when Donald doesn`t know what to do and so threatens lawsuits.
TRUMP: I won Louisiana, and now I hear he`s trying to steal delegates -- you know, welcome to the Republican Party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My favorability is plus 19 when everybody else is under water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not frustrated at all. I`m loving life.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Every leader I meet, they ask about what is happening in America. They cannot believe it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s completely uneducated about any part of the world.
TRUMP: I love the poorly educated.
KERRY: It`s clear to me that what`s happening is an embarrassment to our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: It wasn`t supposed to be this way. According to a Trump campaign insider who has turned against Donald Trump.
As of tonight, all the polls indicate that the Republican Party is on its way to nominating the weakest possible candidate to run against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in a general election.
A candidate so weak, so disliked by a big majority of voters that he could sink Republicans on the ballot with him, causing Republicans to lose control of the Senate, lose house seats.
And it wasn`t supposed to be this way because Donald Trump wasn`t supposed to be the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.
"I sat in Trump tower being told that the goal was to get the Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count. That was it."
That`s according to Stephanie Cegielski, who was the communications director of Make America Great Again Super PAC that was created and disbanded last year.
The Trump camp would have been satisfied to see him polling at 12 percent and taking second place to a candidate who might hold 50 percent.
His candidacy was a protest candidacy. It pains me to say, but he is the presidential equivalent of Sanjaya on "American Idol".
President Trump would be president, Sanjaya, in terms of legitimacy and authority." And there`s no reason to think that Sanjaya would have done any worse than Donald Trump in a series of interviews conducted in the last few days.
Last week, Donald Trump did what most serious candidates for president do. He went to the "Washington Post" for a policy discussion with the editorial board.
And since there`s not a single Trump voter out there who cares what the "Washington Post`s" editorial board thinks about anything, it is not clear why the Trump campaign chose to do that.
In fact, in the middle of that "Washington Post" interview, Donald Trump himself wondered why he was doing it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: I read some of the stories coming up here, and I said to my staff, I said, why are we even wasting our time?
The hatred is so enormous. I don`t know why? I mean, I do a good job, I have thousands of employees. I work hard.
I`m not looking for bad for our country. I`m a very rational person. I`m a very sane person.
I`m not looking for bad. But I read, you know, articles by you and others, and you know, we`ve never -- we don`t know each other.
And the level of hatred is so incredible. I actually said why am I -- why am I doing this? Why am I even here?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump sounded a bit lost in trying to respond to serious domestic and foreign policy questions from the "Washington Post", something he rarely faces in televised interviews.
And he gave this extraordinary answer when asked about a threat that he issued to the Ricketts family in Chicago because they contributed to a stop Trump Super PAC.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said a few weeks ago after a family in Chicago gave some money to a PAC opposing you, you said, "they better watch out, they`ve got a lot to hide."
So, what does it mean, they better watch out?
TRUMP: Well, it means that I`ll start spending on them. I`ll start taking ads telling them what a rotten job they`re doing with the Chicago Cubs.
I mean, they`re spending on me. So, am I allowed to say that? I`ve been -- I`ll start doing ads about their baseball team that is not properly run or that they haven`t done a good job in the brokerage business lately.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, a presidential candidate wants to use some of his campaign money to buy ads against the owners of a baseball team.
None of whom is running for president. Yesterday, the "New York Times" published a front-page story based on a 100-minute interview with Donald Trump on foreign policy conducted by phone by Maggie Haberman and David Sanger.
Reading the full transcript of that interview is like taking a world tour of Donald Trump`s rank ignorance about foreign policy.
When David Sanger asked Donald Trump what`s your impression of Xi Jinping, there was no indication in Donald Trump`s answer that he knew they were talking about the president of China.
He talked about China a bit, saying, "I think they are in a very interesting position, the economy is going to be, I think actually very strong.
But the economy -- they`re doing better than the people. Understand, nobody has manipulated -- blah, blah.
No indication, no personal word at all about the president of China when asked specifically about that.
Donald Trump made no attempt to answer that question. But apparently, since that name sounded Chinese enough to him, he did say a few words about the Chinese economy before moving on to the basic elements of his stump speech about international trade.
Maggie Haberman asked, "would you be willing to withdraw U.S. forces from places like Japan and South Korea if they don`t increase their contributions significantly?"
Trump answered, "yes, I would." When Donald Trump said that Iran is the number one trading partner with North Korea, David Sanger corrected him and said, "Mr. Trump, with all due respect, I think it`s China that`s the number one trading partner with North Korea."
Donald Trump said, "I`ve heard that certainly, but I`ve also heard from other sources that it`s Iran."
China`s trade with North Korea is more than triple Iran`s trade with North Korea.
In that same Sunday edition of the "New York Times", Nicholas Kristof`s op- ed piece analyzed how the media has contributed to Donald Trump`s rise in the Republican Party.
Noting the $1.9 billion worth of free publicity Donald Trump has received from the media.
Nick Kristof wrote, "Trump`s pattern of prevarication is what we in the media, especially television didn`t adequately highlight.
Leaving many voters with the perception that Trump is actually a straight shooter. We in the media empowered a demagogue and failed the country.
We were lap dogs, not watchdogs." Joining us now, "New York Times" National Security correspondent David Sanger.
Also from the "New York Times" Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. Nick, you said, "I have never met a national politician in the U.S. who is so ill-informed, evasive, puerile and deceptive as Trump."
Reading David Sanger and Maggie Haberman`s interview, did you get any reason --
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Oh --
O`DONNELL: In there to change your mind about that?
KRISTOF: Boy, I mean, the question -- David`s questions were very well informed --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
KRISTOF: And -- but I mean, it was striking that Trump was extraordinarily ill-informed and he was evasive.
The Maggie and David kept having to try to bring him back to the topic. But it also just struck me how dangerous some of his ideas are.
I mean, the possibility of encouraging Japan and South Korea to develop their own nuclear deterrents.
The idea that we would, you know, completely allow Saudi Arabia off on its own perhaps to collapse the idea that we would withdraw from NATO.
The idea that we might lightly use tactical nuclear weapons -- you know what? It also just strikes me that obviously it would be incredibly dangerous to have a president do these things.
It`s also dangerous frankly to have a leading candidate for the presidency say these things.
These undermine our position in the world. And I think they create doubts around the world as well.
O`DONNELL: David, before we get to the substance of the interview, I have to ask you how did it come about?
You know, when you -- when you hear Donald Trump saying to the "Washington Post" editorial board, you know, "I wonder why I`m here", you know, because it`s kind of hopeless with you guys.
I would think he could ask the same question about doing this interview with you and Maggie Haberman.
What -- how did it come about? What do you suppose he thought he had to gain by it?
DAVID SANGER, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, he came about it in a very straight-forward way. Maggie who covers Mr. Trump covered national security affairs for "The Times".
We wrote him a letter. And we said, look, traditionally, the "New York Times" has sat down with leading candidates and discussed a broad range of foreign affairs issues.
We usually do it later in the election cycle, but this is obviously an unusual election year and there are a lot of questions about Mr. Trump and his own views.
But it took a little while. It took a week or two, but they came back and he did it and he did it without aides present and so forth.
So, you know, on the one hand, you got to give him credit that he was willing to go do this and give the time.
It was a considerable period of time to go do it. On the other hand, as Nick has suggested, there were many moments in the interview where you sort of wanted to ask, and I did at several points.
You know, the -- what Bob Gates used to say, Robert Gates, the former Defense Secretary used to say is that, at least ask question in Washington which is -- and then what?
So, you know, you decide that you`re going to show your pique at NATO or the Saudis and ditch them in some way.
How does that change the international order? Well, in the case of Saudi Arabia, it would probably empower Iran.
In the case of NATO, if we actually did pull out of NATO or change it in a significant way, it might well embolden Vladimir Putin.
If you let Japan build nuclear weapons, you may well trigger arms race we`ve been trying to avoid for 50 years in Asia.
So, you know, he`s got a set of answers to his questions, but he hasn`t spent enough time on these issues to sort of think about the next set of consequences.
O`DONNELL: David, I have to say, in terms of technique, I admire everything about the way you and Maggie conducted this interview.
And I am wondering, you know, for example, you would ask a question, Donald Trump would not answer it.
But he`d give you a good 800 words of stuff without answering it. And then you would point out that he hasn`t answered the question and you`d go back to it.
And I`m just wondering if you -- have you been watching television interviews with Donald Trump and watching his techniques of evasion that made you kind of ready for this and sit there waiting for these various maneuvers and just sticking with your questions?
SANGER: You know, I`ve seen him a bit obviously. But you know, in terms of doing interviews with presidential candidates or presidents, this wasn`t the first time we`ve done this.
And I`ve done interviews like this back since the Clinton administration and the races that followed with the presidential candidates.
And so, you know, usually when candidates are uncertain of their topic matter, and I remember this happening with George W. Bush before he took office, they`ll go back to very familiar lines from their campaign, their stump speeches, their debate preparation.
They`ll try to steer the conversation to something they`re comfortable with. And you just have to hear them out and then guide it back to where you need to go take the conversation to get an answer.
O`DONNELL: Nick, what we saw I think with David and Maggie`s interview, the "Washington Post`s" interview with Donald Trump.
And this local radio interview in Milwaukee this morning, is in those instances the media finally turning a corner and doing the interviews that I for one have been craving.
KRISTOF: Great --
O`DONNELL: I think a lot of people in the audience have been -- have found that TV interviews Donald Trump has done maddening because they don`t pursue lines the way --
KRISTOF: Right --
O`DONNELL: Especially policy lines. I mean, the great thing about the "Times" interview, there`s not one poll -- there`s not one poll question.
There`s not one question --
KRISTOF: Right --
O`DONNELL: About how are you going to do in California, New Jersey, any of that stuff.
You know, how are you going to bring the -- none of that, you know, stuff. No sloganeering stuff. Just pure policy all the way through.
KRISTOF: Yes, and I mean, one of the things that is striking about Trump is he never really talks about policies, he talks about outcomes.
OK, you know, we`re going to solve the deficit, we`re going to stop immigration. We`re going to have a great relationship with China.
But he never talks about how we actually get there. And it`s really important in Maggie and David`s interview in the "Washington Post" interview to watch him being pushed.
To watch him resist and then be tugged back. And I think it is terrific that both the "Times" and the "Washington Post" didn`t just write an article or editorial about it, but they published the transcript.
And that enables us I think to get a deeper sense of just how extraordinarily slippery and uninformed this candidate is.
O`DONNELL: David, Donald Trump`s --
SANGER: But Lawrence --
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, David --
SANGER: And Nick, if I can just interject on that point, I think Nick makes a good point.
But you also have to think hard about why it is that the Trump message resonates so well.
Something that we`ve all gotten wrong over the past nine or ten months.
And I think one of the reasons is that whatever you think of his prescriptions and the outcomes that Nick refers to.
His diagnosis of what`s going on has echoes of things we`re hearing from very mainstream politicians.
So, it was President Obama who told Jeff Goldberg at "The Atlantic" that the Saudis for example are free riders.
Pretty close to what Donald Trump is saying. Now, Trump then has an extremely different way that you would go deal with it than President Obama does.
If you think about the past times that we`ve had American leaders including American defense secretaries saying NATO has got to learn how to contribute more because if they don`t, they`re going to lose faith with the American people especially those who don`t remember the cold war.
O`DONNELL: David --
SANGER: There are echoes in his prescription of things that many Americans have heard before.
O`DONNELL: David Sanger, thank you for this extraordinary interview. Thanks for joining us tonight, Nick Kristof, thank you.
I share your pain about how the media has been struggling to do this job. It`s been a difficult --
KRISTOF: I hope we do a better job next time --
O`DONNELL: It probably may have turned a corner this weekend, thank you, Nick. Coming up, Charlie Sykes; that radio interviewer who taught everyone today how to interview Donald Trump.
Everyone on TV and radio should listen to that one. And how Ted Cruz got more delegates in Louisiana even though Donald Trump got more votes.
And tonight`s campaign fact check. Who is telling the truth about who started their latest feud, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz?
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s campaign fact check.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: And by the way, he`s the one that started it. And from what I hear, he and his campaign went out and bought the cover shoot -- she did a -- Melania did a cover shoot for "GQ".
From what I hear, somebody bought the rights to it and he was the one or his campaign bought the rights and they gave it to the Super PAC.
And just so you understand, that Super PAC is very friendly to Ted Cruz. He knew all about it a 100 percent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did anyone within your campaign, you, anyone else connected to you, coordinate in any way or have communications with that group?
Did you know anything about the ad?
CRUZ: Not remotely. It was a group, I don`t know the person who`s involved. As far as I know, I`ve never met them, I`ve never spoken to them.
They`re completely disconnected from our campaign. The ad they put out was deplorable. He used that as an excuse.
The fact that someone else who I don`t know and have no involvement with used a deplorable ad. He used that as an excuse to go after my wife, Heidi --
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Liz Mair; the Republican strategist in charge of the anti-Trump Super PAC Make America Awesome has claimed full responsibility for the ad that included a photograph of Melania Trump.
The ad that started this latest feud between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Liz Mair tweeted, "hi, Donald, I know you`re really upset about that ad but it was Make America Awesome`s, not Ted Cruz`s."
The photographer who owns the rights to the "GQ" photograph says that no one purchased the rights to that photograph.
So, he got -- he`s the one that started it and somebody bought the rights. Let`s see -- Donald Trump says that -- he says he was the one or his campaign bought the rights and gave it to the Super PAC.
None of that, none of what Donald Trump has said about this has been proven true. Up next, Donald Trump won the Louisiana primary but is losing the delegate count there.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: I won Louisiana and now I hear he`s trying to steal delegates. You know, welcome to the Republican Party.
What`s going on in the Republican Party is a disgrace. I have so many more votes and so many more delegates and frankly, whoever at the end, whoever has the most votes and the most delegates should be the nominee.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump won the Louisiana Republican primary by 3.6 percent over second-place finisher Ted Cruz.
But now Ted Cruz might end up with as many as 10 more Louisiana delegates than Donald Trump.
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz each won 18 delegates based on the primary vote results, but five delegates awarded to Marco Rubio are now expected to support Ted Cruz as are Louisiana`s five unbound delegates.
Another problem for the Trump campaign is that the Louisiana delegates who will become members of the rules committee of the Republican convention are mostly Ted Cruz supporters.
The "Wall Street Journal" reports that Kay Kellogg Katz(ph); a Trump supporter who failed to get a spot on the convention rules committee said, "I do not know Mr. Trump, I do not know his staff people.
Quite frankly, we don`t have much of a campaign in Louisiana, all we have is voters."
Joining us now, Ben Ginsburg; political analyst for Msnbc and a partner at Jones Day, he specializes in election law.
Also with us, Robert Costa; national political reporter for the "Washington Post" and an Msnbc political analyst.
Robert Costa, there`s been a lot of speculation about how sharp the Trump campaign is on all of the real details of running for president including amassing your delegates.
That quote we just heard from that woman in Louisiana about the -- she doesn`t know any staff people, she doesn`t know Trump and all they seem to have in Louisiana are voters, not campaign professionals.
That seems to be how this got away from Trump.
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Organization has always been a question for the Trump campaign. And there has been an area of improvement in terms of grassroots operations.
That`s partly why Trump has had success in many of these contests. But the organization that really matters now is not just winning a state, but it`s about after the contest moves on and how do you go to a state convention where they actually select these delegates and have an organization at that gathering.
And that`s where the Trump campaign has struggled and the Ted Cruz campaign has done much better.
You see Trump now trying to adjust, bringing on former Ben Carson advisors. And he just brought on Paul Manafort, a long-time delegate counter this evening do his campaign but it`s still a growing experience.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Barry Bennett said today on Msnbc. He is a Trump campaign adviser. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARRY BENNETT, CAMPAIGN ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: There`s a process to deal with this. And it`s in the certification process.
And I`ve been with our legal team most of the morning now and we are moving forward with a complaint to decertify these delegates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ben Ginsberg, talk us through this. Donald Trump tweeted another, you know, I`m going to sue them threat.
But Barry Bennett seems to clarify that what they intend to do is to complain within the party structure to get what happened in Louisiana decertified.
BENJAMIN GINSBERG, LAWYER: Right. What they`ve said is they`re going to bring a challenge under the established convention procedures, a challenge to the delegates and the delegation.
There are always a number of credentials challenges at each convention. The complaints go first to the Republican National Committee 30 days before the convention starts.
That triggers a process that concludes just before the convention begins.
O`DONNELL: And the Louisiana -- the executive director of the Republican Party in Louisiana said today, "we feel good about what we`ve done, we followed all the rules, we followed our processes, and on and on."
And Robert Costa, that has been the challenge for the Trump campaign, is not apparently knowing those rules in time.
Not knowing what those processes are, not knowing what kind of personnel you need on the ground to make these -- to get these outcomes the way you want them.
COSTA: Trump has run a campaign based largely on his own instinct, and he has a core team of political advisors who have tried to expand the delegates strategy.
But it`s been an incremental experience for Trump as he builds. And what you`re seeing now, it`s really important to think back to 2012 and how the Ron Paul activists were able to go to the convention in Tampa and challenge some of the credentials and try to get some delegates.
They actually didn`t win at the ballot box, but they won at the state conventions. That`s the inside baseball but it`s a very important process within the Republican Party if you want to be the nominee.
O`DONNELL: But Ben, this is an indication of just how out of their depth, the Trump campaign team is.
His campaign manager`s never been a presidential campaign manager before, never been near the top of a presidential campaign before, and prior to now probably had no idea that these delegates don`t just automatically show up with your name on them.
GINSBERG: I`m not sure I`d read that into it. Actually, they`ve got a number of really good people on board now.
The truth is frontrunners are often cut short at the state convention level, especially the early ones.
The reality is that 44 of the 56 states and territories don`t let the candidates have a say in who the delegates are.
That`s done at these state conventions or state executive committee meetings. I think what you`re seeing in the -- in the Trump campaign with the hires that Bob mentioned are -- is really an effort to step up.
And I think that the battles that are going to take place at the upcoming state conventions are going to be crucial for seeing what Cleveland looks like as proceeding.
O`DONNELL: Ben Ginsberg and Robert Costa, thank you both very much for joining us tonight, appreciate it.
COSTA: Thanks --
GINSBERG: Thank you --
COSTA: Coming up, Sarah Silverman talking about her candidate for president.
O`DONNELL: Wisconsin`s the next big stop in the presidential campaign, so our team of correspondents are all over Wisconsin tonight. Here are the highlights of the campaign day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, Donald Trump was told by Charlie Sykes that Wisconsinites in this state value civility and decency who gave him some free advice. Has this been a civil race?
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No candidate should be doing what Donald Trump did last week, which is attacking my wife and attacking my family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, there`s no evidence at the moment that Ted Cruz had anything to do with this Super PAC and the image of Melania that went out to Utah voters.
CRUZ: Who cares? Who cares what Donald is tweeting late at night?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Kasich is really trying to remind voters he`s got the fight to try to keep pushing this toward some sort of an ultimate decision at the convention.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there one state from now on that you think you could actually win?
GOV. JOHN KASICH, (R-OH) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yeah. I mean, we`ll see. Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which state could you win?
KASICH: No, I`m not going to be predicting because every time I predict it ends up with you people coming -- throwing my words back in my face. The key is for us to pick up delegates.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bernie had landslide victories over Hillary Clinton in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington State. But, he does have to win these bigger primary states with the kind of margins that he was winning these caucuses if he hopes to catch up to her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary Clinton continues and increasingly taking on Donald Trump on the trail. It`s a sign that she is ready to pivot to this general election.
KRISTEN WELKER, MSNBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Secretary Clinton, has the FBI contacted you to set up an interview yet? Not yet?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure.
WELKER: Do you have any reaction today to the "L.A. Times" story?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is generally like no other year, of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Wisconsin`s Republican Governor Scott Walker is scheduled to make his big endorsement in the 2016 race tomorrow morning in Wisconsin.
Donald Trump, such a good mind reader. He tweeted tonight, "After the way I beat Governor Scott Walker and Jeb, Rand, Marco and all the others in the presidential primaries, no way he would ever endorse me." Correct.
Donald Trump got a big surprise this morning when he called in to a Wisconsin radio talk show. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: There are protests tonight in Paul Ryan`s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin where Donald Trump is scheduled to appear tomorrow.
Protesters have occupied the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express where Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a town hall tomorrow afternoon. The protesters say Donald Trump incites racism, hatred and violence and they want the Holiday Inn to cancel the Trump campaign event.
Here is how Donald Trump was welcomed to the Wisconsin campaign this morning, by conservative radio talk show host Charlie Sykes in Milwaukee.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHARLIE SYKES, CONSERVATIVE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Last week, you tweeted out a threat to spill the beans on the wife of Ted Cruz, Heidi Cruz. You followed it up by tweeting out a picture that insulted her looks.
You know, wouldn`t it be a good way to start off your Wisconsin campaign by saying that wives should be off limits and that you apologize for mocking her looks?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And that was just the first question. Of course, Donald Trump did not apologize and he just did his usual semi-coherent stream of consciousness stuff. And then Charlie Sykes finally showed T.V. and radio interviewers how to really handle a live Donald Trump interview.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SYKES: You`ve given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Clintons, to Harry Reid, to John Kerry, Chuck Schumer, Charlie Rangel. In your book you insulted Ronald Reagan, you praised Obama`s stimulus as terrific.
You`ve called for the largest tax hike in history. You`ve endorsed universal government-run health care. You`ve endorsed abortion on demand, gun control.
So my question is, why shouldn`t conservatives here in Wisconsin think that your claim to be a conservative now is just a giant fraud?
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, let me just explain that as a businessman I`d never even thought of many of the things you`re talking about. I was never even asked questions about many of the things you`re talking about.
I gave money to all politicians. I was Republican, but I gave money to all politicians, which was frankly a thing that you would do and every businessman would do and I never thought I was going to be running for office. And I`m a very straight shooter.
And I`ve said this. I gave money to, you know, I gave money to Democrats and I gave money to Republicans. And I built a great fortune, a great, great company, which I think everybody acknowledges. That`s one thing pretty much everybody does acknowledge. Not even pretty much.
Some of the great assets of the world was very, very low debt with tremendous cash flow and frankly, I built a great company. And it`s an international company. I deal all over the world. And when you do that .
SYKES: You`re not answering my question.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, our former Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette, who was endorsed John Kasich for president. Jonathan Alter, columnist for "The Daily Beast" and MSNBC Political Analyst.
And Jonathan, just that part there, you`re not answering my question. I wish we could just run the whole Sykes` interview because first of all, he stayed on a subject, he -- whenever Trump didn`t answer the question he identified clearly that Trump hadn`t answered the question. He pressed it further. It`s what we haven`t been seeing in interviews up to now.
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I mean, this is must listening .
ALTER: . for any television anchor and really for anybody who like all of us, so I think a lot of people watching are obsessed with this very strange development in American politics because it -- in it`s entirety and it was only about 15 minutes, I think.
ALTER: But, it`s a textbook example of what you should do when confronting him with the facts.
In this case, it happens to have been a conservative radio talk show host, but it could be any anchor on any show and they should go to school on this that the interviews have -- I think you and I agree on this. They`ve been disappointing so far.
It`s hard to interview Donald Trump. So I have sympathy for the anchors who have been trying to do it. But, they have not been effective and that needs to change.
I also got the sense that Trump was a little bit subdued. He`s damaged goods, and I think he now knows that he`s damaged goods, which will affect his confidence and maybe his bluster a little bit going forward. You can hear it a little bit in his voice.
I don`t think he`s going to do well in Wisconsin and he might win, but he`s not going to win convincingly. And I would bet that Ted Cruz is more likely to win because in Wisconsin the conservatives are very conservative and the liberals are very liberal. And I also think John Kasich will do better than expected in Wisconsin.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to one of my favorite parts of this interview where someone finally confronted him about his crazy ideas for having 45 percent tariffs, which are just sales taxes on Americans. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SYKES: What would happen to the price of goods if in fact a President Donald Trump were to impose 45 percent tariff on goods coming in from China?
TRUMP: Well, it will never happen. But, what -- it will never happen. Wisconsin would end up doing much, much better than it`s doing right now. That would never happen.
But, you have to have the threat out there because what they`re doing is currency manipulation. They`re devaluing their currencies and they`re making it virtually impossible .
SYKES: You`re a much better negotiator than I am, but you just said it will never happen. So you basically given away that your negotiating ploy is a bluff. Didn`t you just say you`re bluffing?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So Steve Latourette, the first interviewer on radio or T.V. to really confront Trump on this tariff idea shows that the whole thing is nonsense because he publicly says it`s just a bluff.
STEVE LATOURETTE, FORMER OHIO CONGRESSMAN: Well, I think that`s right. I think one of the disappointing things to me as someone who spent their entire adult life in politics is that -- and I`m sorry that I have to say this to you in the media, Lawrence. But, I think that a lot of these interviews of all of the candidates have really lacked substance.
I really can`t tell you a lot about what Ted Cruz would do, for instance, as president of the United States and if we watch the debates, it was a lot of name calling. People were fat, stupid, ugly. I`m going to build a really big wall. And I think it`s high time that we got down and really found out -- we`re trying to elect the leader of our country, not the next high school president.
Jon Alter, the, you know, I personally believe any question you ask a candidate about a poll is a wasted question, especially candidate for president. I mean, that means you`ve exhausted every question you can think of about Ukraine or about these tariffs and so forth?
But, if we have seen a turn, and I hope we have, with the "Washington Post" editorial board interview, with the "New York Times" interview, with this radio interview, if we have seen a turn and it`s not a good turn for Donald Trump if interviewers stay on policy and listen to what he says.
ALTER: Absolutely. I mean the only real question between now and November of any significance is how would he or she govern.
ALTER: Everything else is .
O`DONNELL: There`s plenty of governing to do.
ALTER: And so what you have in these interviews, Donald Trump has basically gone after the concept of collective security, not just with his criticism of NATO but his, you know, belief that go ahead, nuclearized (ph) Asia.
The other consequences of what he`s talking about, they undermine the idea of collective security that came out of World War II in Franklin Roosevelt and have kept us from having another world war for the last 70 years. And so he`s going right at that with his ignorant, careless comments on foreign policy and every reporter needs to go after that.
O`DONNELL: Steve, going into the Republican convention, if no one has a majority, what do you think the likelihood is of your guy, John Kasich, being able to move up from where he is onto the top of that ticket?
LATOURETTE: Well, at the moment, you know, it`s going to be difficult. His win in Ohio is pretty convincing.
I agree with Jonathan. I think he`s going to do pretty well on April the 5th in Wisconsin and I think he`s going to surprise some people because he`s really the only adult left standing on the Republican side of the equation.
And the thing that troubles me, the statement that Mr. Trump keeps making if you go to Cleveland, my hometown, with the most delegates, you should be the nominee. Well, that isn`t the way it works. You know, you have to get 1,237.
And it`s going to be in the shadow of the memorial for James Garfield, our 20th president and he was nominated on the 24th ballot of the Republican convention when he was elected president and I believe the record is held by the Democrats in 1924, 123 ballots. So, it could be a very long night.
O`DONNELL: Abraham Lincoln got it on the third. But 24 ballots, that could be fun to watch. Former Congressman Steve LaTourette and Jonathan Alter, thank you both for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.
LATOURETTE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Later in the show, we will hear from Charlie Sykes about how he felt today about his interview with Donald Trump.
But first, Bernie Sanders had a winning weekend. We`ll check the Democratic delegate math (ph), next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SILVERMAN, BERNIE SANDERS SUPPORTER: So this is what you scream, "But, he`s a socialist." Yeah. He is a socialist Democrat.
Now, let me explain what that is. He`s a Democrat. He just believes that people who don`t have the same advantages as you and me should be given the same advantages as you and me.
Good Lord, don`t worry. Under President Sanders you can still become a super rich as (inaudible). It`s just that your fellow hard-working citizens don`t have to feed their children cat food in order for you to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporter Sarah Silverman, whose enthusiasm was contagious in three states this weekend where Bernie Sanders won caucuses, Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington. Bernie Sanders won 35 more delegates than Hillary Clinton this weekend.
Here`s Steve Kornacki with the latest on the Democratic delegate count.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: All right, Lawrence. It`s a big weekend for Bernie Sanders. He just had. But if he`s going to catch Hillary Clinton, he still has to do a lot more. What you`re looking at here, these are the contests yet to come on the Democratic side.
Here`s the real number to keep in mind, 230. He is about 230 pledged delegates behind Hillary Clinton. He`s got to beat her by more than 230, then, in these remaining contests. That`s really what he`s got to do to have a chance.
First piece of bad news for Sanders, I`m exing (ph) two states here, Wyoming, North Dakota. What are they? They`re caucus states. Just about all of Bernie Sanders` wins so far have been in caucus states. Bad news for Bernie Sanders, only two caucus states left on the board. The rest of these are all primary states. He`s had a lot more trouble in primary states.
Second problem for Bernie Sanders, the biggest most delegate-rich area left the mid-Atlantic. This is almost 40 percent of all the delegates left. Each one of these four states I just marked off, Hillary Clinton leading by about 30 points in the polls. If that holds, 230 is going to become 430, thereabouts.
And if that happens, then in all the states that are left, Bernie Sanders has got to be getting 70 percent, Lawrence, 70 percent in big primary states. He has not shown he can do anything near that yet. He`d have to do in all of those states if that holds. So it is a steep order for Bernie Sanders, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Steve. "The Last Word Tonight" on Bernie Sanders` big weekend goes to Sarah Silverman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SILVERMAN: A lot of people will vote for Hillary because they don`t think Bernie can win. That is what my shrink would call a self-fulfilling prophecy. All you have to do is look at his track record. He`s been on the right side of history every single time.
O`DONNELL: The secret service responded today to an online petition that called for the Republican National Committee to allow people to openly carry firearms at the convention this summer in Cleveland. What could possibly go wrong?
A spokesman for the secret service wrote, "Individuals determined to be carrying firearms will not be allowed past a predetermined outer perimeter checkpoint, regardless of whether they possess a ticket to the event."
So far, exactly zero Republican members of Congress have refused to attend the convention because firearms have been banned.
Up next, MSNBC`s Tony Dekoupil interviewed a conservative Wisconsin radio talk show host who questioned Donald Trump this morning and gave him a very big surprise.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: I became a celebrity in a sense and talking .
SYKES: Are the rules different for celebrities? Are celebrities allowed to insult women?
TRUMP: But I will start different, but certainly I never thought I would run for office and many people, you know, like Howard Stern would interview me and everybody would be having fun and the women would be laughing and .
SYKES: Well, but you`re saying the same thing. I mean, you have mocked Megyn Kelly. You have mocked Carly Fiorina and .
TRUMP: Well, I`m not a fan of Megyn Kelly. I mean, I`m allowed to say that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Milwaukee conservative radio talk show Charlie Sykes interviewing Donald Trump this morning, an interview that has gotten instantaneous national reaction because it is now a model of how to interview Donald Trump on live T.V. or radio.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY DOKOUPIL, MSNBC NATIONAL REPORTER: I guess I`m surprised that there have not been more in interviews -- I mean, I thought I was direct with him. I didn`t think it was that challenging. So the fact that people were surprised said, "Wow, we`ve gotten this far with nobody challenging Donald Trump seriously?" Are people afraid to take on Donald Trump? Are they afraid? What are they afraid of to be able to do this?
So I think that, you know, one would hope that this would encourage other people on radio and television, look, the stakes are high. We`re talking about the president of the United States. He should be able to answer some tough questions, and that`s your job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now from Janesville, Wisconsin is MSNBC National Reporter Tony Dokoupil who interviewed Charlie Sykes this afternoon.
And Tony, I was struck by Charlie`s reaction there that he was surprised that there haven`t been more interviews like his with Donald Trump. I am too. And he was a little bit surprised that Donald Trump showed up for this interview, wasn`t he?
DOKOUPIL: Indeed he was. I mean, before we beat ourselves up, too much for not challenging Donald Trump in the same way that Charlie Sykes did. That we have to remember that Charlie did a one and done. That`s a term of art here in the journalism world.
He knew he had one shot at Donald Trump. He didn`t even think he was going to get it because he assumed somebody from the Trump campaign would Google Charlie Sykes and see that for almost a year now, Charlie`s been calling Trump a vulgar buffoon, saying that he needs to build a firewall here in Wisconsin to stop the Trump train as it moves through toward November, doing everything he can to block that mans nomination.
He didn`t think he was going to get the interview. He got it. He pushed it as much as he could. He started off very polite. "Happy Easter, congratulations on the new grandchild, but oh, by the way, here in Wisconsin we value civility and decorum and truth telling, conservative principles and we don`t really think you have them." And then he calls him a bully. He reminds him multiple times that your answers remind me of a playground, not a campaign for the president of the United States.
So Charlie Sykes, he took his opportunity. He knew it was going to be a one and done. He does not have to go back to Donald Trump ever again. People who are on the beat, people who work for our network, they have to keep that relationship going for a long, long time. Charlie did not have that burden. And as a result, he had the luxury of being incredibly blistering.
O`DONNELL: Well, I don`t think the fact that you have to cover Donald Trump means that you then play softball with him so that you can guarantee he will speak to you another time.
Once the mission of an interview is to get the next interview with the same person we know how soft that interview`s going to be. But Charlie -- Tony, Charlie said to you that he thinks Donald Trump has a talk radio problem within Wisconsin with the local radio talk show hosts.
DOKOUPIL: Yeah. He did. And, you know, Charlie was not playing this interview today to get a bump in Twitter followers or to get, you know, a bump in attention, maybe some more listeners.
He was playing to win. He truly wants to stop Donald Trump. He thinks he`s wrong for Wisconsin, wrong for the country, and he told me today after the day had passed, the whole cycle of reaction had passed he told me he thinks he won. He thinks Donald Trump will lose Wisconsin.
And let me just explain to you why because it`s a pretty compelling argument. There are three counties around Wisconsin. They call them the WOW counties. These are some of the reddest and most active voting counties in America. We`re talking about turnout rates like 79 percent, 83 percent, 84 percent.
Donald Trump`s negative rating in those counties, 3 out of 4 voters fail to see him positively. 2 out of 3 have an actively negative view of him and that is in large part because people like Charlie Sykes have been pushing this argument not for days, not for weeks, but for months now. It`s not only him. It`s across the dial.
O`DONNELL: Tony Dokoupil on the campaign trail in Wisconsin gets tonight`s last word. Thank you, Tony.
Chris Hayes is up next.