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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 5/10/2016

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Steve Schmidt, Ken Cuccinelli, Rory Cooper, Catherine Rumpell, Ben Labolt, Jonathan Allen

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: May 10, 2016 Guest: Eugene Robinson, Steve Schmidt, Ken Cuccinelli, Rory Cooper, Catherine Rumpell, Ben Labolt, Jonathan Allen

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: But our coverage this primary night continues now with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, can you come join us for a little election chart?

MADDOW: Yes, I`ll be there --

O`DONNELL: Great --

MADDOW: On set --

O`DONNELL: Come on over --

MADDOW: All right.

O`DONNELL: Well, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are both projected winners tonight, but Bernie Sanders isn`t much closer to catching Hillary Clinton in the delegate-count and Donald Trump isn`t much closer to uniting the Republican Party.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think with somebody like Donald Trump, you would see a race to the bottom across our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Less than 48 hours ago, before Donald Trump meets with house and Senate GOP leadership.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It was a very bitter divisive primary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is not ready to endorse the presumptive nominee.

RYAN: It`s going to take more than a week just to prepare and unify this party.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: We have a nominee, it looks like he may well be very competitive.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Can Donald Trump win over the Republican establishment? I think he already beat them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Secretary Clinton is campaigning in Kentucky today.

CLINTON: There are real differences each win, what I believe and what the presumptive Republican nominee believes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Donald Trump has no views about a slum --

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: Well, Trump is an internet troll --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, you don`t have to vote anymore, save your vote for the general election, OK? Forget this one, the primary is gone.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Yes, it`s an inspiring message, it reminds me of Patrick Henry`s immortal battle cry, "give me liberty or don`t, forget this one, I don`t give a crap."



O`DONNELL: It`s another big night for the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party Donald Trump.

The latest from the Nbc News decision desk shows votes, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have projected wins tonight in West Virginia.

Bernie Sanders picking up a comfortable win over Hillary Clinton there, and a much bigger win for Donald Trump who was essentially running unopposed in West Virginia.

Donald Trump also picked up more delegates tonight in Nebraska where he is the projected winner in the Republican primary.

Bernie Sanders` victory speech will be delivered tonight in Salem, Oregon, where Senator Sanders is campaigning for next week`s Oregon primary.

He is expected to be speaking there soon and addressing his win in West Virginia.

We`ll go to that when he does speak. Joining us now, Msnbc political correspondent Steve Kornacki, Steve, what are the exit polls telling us tonight?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Yes, two interesting things on this Democratic race revealing things, one in West Virginia.

Take a look at this. We broke this down among Hillary Clinton voters in West Virginia tonight, we asked them, who would you vote for in the Fall if it was Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump?

Just about all of them saying they`d vote for Clinton, a few saying they`d be for Trump.

But now, check this out. Bernie Sanders voters in the Democratic primary in West Virginia, if it`s Sanders against Trump, who would you vote for?

Look at that, more than a third of them said Donald Trump. You have Donald Trump supporters in this Democratic primary voting for Bernie Sanders tonight.

And overall, look at this, self-identified Trump voters in the Democratic Party, we asked who would you vote for in this primary? Seventy three for Sanders, 13 for Clinton.

O`DONNELL: Steve, we`re going to have to leave it --


O`DONNELL: There for the moment. Bernie Sanders is speaking in Oregon. Let`s pick up what he has to say.



Thank you, Salem!


Thank you! Salem, thank you! And it sure sounds like Salem, Oregon, is ready for the political revolution.


This is a great turnout, and I want to thank all of you for being here. Let me begin by giving you all some pretty good news.


Last week -- last week, we won a really great victory in Indiana.


And tonight, it appears that we`ve won a big victory in West Virginia!


And with your help, we`re going to win in Oregon next week!


And I want to -- I want to take a moment to thank the people of West Virginia for the tremendous victory, I think it ends up being a double- digit victory tonight.


And this is a state, West Virginia, where Hillary Clinton won by over 40 points against Barack Obama in 2008!


West Virginia is a working class state. And like many other states in this country including Oregon, working people are hurting.

And what the people of West Virginia said tonight, and I believe the people of Oregon and Kentucky will say next week is that we need an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.


The people of this country are sick and tired of working two or three jobs.


They are tired of working longer hours for lower wages.


They are worried to death about the future of their kids, and they do not want to see almost all new wealth and income going to the top 1 percent.


The people of West Virginia, of Kentucky, of Oregon, want an economy that works for all of us!


They want to have the United States join every other major country and guarantee healthcare to all people as a right!


They want to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create 13 million jobs!


And the people of West Virginia, and the people of Kentucky, and the people of Oregon, understand that in the year 2016, we have got to make public colleges and universities tuition-free.


And at a time of massive income and wealth inequality where the top one- tenth of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

The people of Oregon, the people of Oregon and Kentucky, and West Virginia know that it is high time for the wealthy and large corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes.


With our victory tonight in West Virginia, we have now won primaries and caucuses in 19 states.


And let me be as clear as I can be. We are in this campaign to win the Democratic nomination.


And we are going to fight for every last vote in Oregon, Kentucky, California, the Dakotas.


Now, we fully acknowledge we are good in arithmetic, that we have an uphill climb ahead of us.

But we are used to fighting uphill climbs.


We have been fighting uphill from the first day of this campaign, when people considered us a fringe candidacy.


And our message to the Democratic delegates who will be assembling in Philadelphia, is while we may have many disagreements with Secretary Clinton, there is one area we agree, and that is, we must defeat Donald Trump.


And I am very happy to tell you we will defeat Donald Trump.


And if you look over the last month or six weeks, in every national poll, Bernie Sanders defeats Donald Trump by big numbers.


But it is not only national polls where we defeat Trump by bigger numbers than Secretary Clinton, it is state poll after state poll after state poll.

Just in the last day -- just in the last day, two national polls have us beating Trump by bigger margins than Secretary Clinton.

Four state-wide polls in Pennsylvania --


In Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and New Hampshire. And everyone of those polls, we beat Trump or do better against Trump than does Secretary Clinton.


But the reason that our campaign is the strongest campaign against Trump, it`s not just the polls, it is that our campaign is generating the energy and the enthusiasm that we need to have a large voter turnout in November.


Democrats and progressives win national elections when the voter turnout is high. When millions of people are prepared to stand up and fight back.

That is what our campaign is all about.


I am very proud to tell you that taking on virtually the entire Democratic establishment, senators and governors, and members of Congress and mayors.

Despite all of that opposition, we have now received well over 45 percent of the pledge delegates.


O`DONNELL: Bernie Sanders has now entered the familiar stage of his speech. Rachel, you were with him in Vermont on Friday, here he is with another victory speech tonight.

And why change what`s working? He said we`re in it to win it.

MADDOW: Yes, you know, it`s interesting at this point of the Sanders campaign.

He says we`re in to win it, he told me that if they don`t have the pledged delegate lead at the end of the race, they will go to the convention anyway and fight for the platform.

And so, that will become the fight --


MADDOW: You know, it will be interesting to see if at the end of this race, he does stay in all the way through, not just California and New Jersey and the Dakotas, but all the way through Washington D.C. on the 14th.

I don`t know what he wants other than to win. He is not running a protest campaign. He`s not running a message campaign, he is not running an asterisk campaign.

He is running to win. If and when I think he does not win because I think that Hillary Clinton does have a realistically insurmountable lead.

I don`t know, honestly, what he`s going to try to get. His stump speech hasn`t changed one iota.

He hasn`t made a specific ask, and he does not seem to be building a sort of organization that would be trying to directly capitalize on what he is doing.

That`s why he continues to be super news worthy, even as the delegate --


MADDOW: Map isn`t changing --


MADDOW: And part is, we don`t know how this is going to end for him, we don`t know what he wants yet.

O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, what more can you tell us about the Democrats tonight?

KORNACKI: Just a bit of news in Nebraska, and I don`t want to make this one too complicated.

But what you`re looking at here is what happened in Nebraska back in March. They had caucuses there, Bernie Sanders won the caucuses big.

This is the one that count. This is binding, they gave out delegates from this. But they also had a primary today in Nebraska.

Democratic primary, it`s nonbinding, there`s no delegates at stake, but it gets to the heart of a major argument the Clinton campaign has been making.

They`ve been saying we have primaries and not caucuses, you have more people voting, and when more people vote, it helps Hillary Clinton and it hurts Bernie Sanders.

Let me show you what happens. So, this is the caucus for March. Bernie Sanders wins it by 14 points.

Right now, they are still counting the votes, about 40 percent is in right now in Nebraska.

But Hillary Clinton right now is getting 59 percent of the vote, Bernie Sanders is getting 41.

Now, I can tell you, the decision desk here at Nbc is not going to be calling this race.

They`re just going to let the returns come in and see what happens. But the "Associated Press" about 15 minutes ago looked at the returns, and they said, they are calling Nebraska for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

This is significant because the turnout here looks like it`s going to be three to four times larger than it was for the caucus that Bernie Sanders won.

So, you think of those small states where Bernie Sanders racked up big margins in caucuses. Whether it was Idaho, Alaska, Utah, places like that.

The Clinton campaign has been out there saying, look, if those states had primaries where you don`t have to give up hours of time, maybe get off work, whatever it takes, you can just show up and vote.

They`ve been saying more people vote, we do better. If you look at these results in Nebraska, what we are seeing right now, and again, they`re still counting them.

Our decision desk is not going to touch this, only the "Associated Press" has.

But if you go by what the "Associated Press" is saying, this really bolsters what the Clinton campaign has been saying.

A primary in Nebraska, a completely different result at least from what we`re seeing than the caucus.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Steve. In addition to Rachel and Steve, we`re also joined by Eugene Robinson; Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the "Washington Post".

Also with us, Catherine Rampell also with the "Washington Post", and by satellite, presidential campaign veteran Steve Schmidt.

Gene, here we have this mixed results for Hillary Clinton tonight, in a campaign that seems inevitable if you do the delegate math.


O`DONNELL: But there is something about watching Bernie Sanders go out there and give victory speeches that has to be unnerving to the Clinton campaign.

ROBINSON: Got to be unnerving, it`s got to be --


ROBINSON: Annoying --


It`s got to be a lot of things that`s not fun, right? I mean, this was not actually -- you know, I understand what Steve Kornacki said, and I think that`s a -- that`s a good and valid point to make.

However, this was a beauty contest tonight in Nebraska, it did not count.

O`DONNELL: No one campaigned --

MADDOW: Yes --


ROBINSON: Exactly, so, it`s not exactly --


O`DONNELL: About getting to the polls that day.

ROBINSON: Exactly, and when it counted, I mean, you know, Bernie Sanders won. So, this is not a great night for Hillary Clinton.

Even though because Bernie Sanders is going to gain what, three delegates? You know, a matter of three delegates --

MADDOW: Yes, in the Fall --

ROBINSON: So, I mean, it`s just insignificant progress in trying to erode her big delegate lead.

So, that`s basically unchanged, and there`s another primary off the board, so she`s got to feel good about that.

Yet, it`s hard to feel good when your opponent is delivering a victory speech.

You can`t get rid of this guy, he keeps going and as Rachel just said, you don`t quite know what his end game is.

You don`t know what he -- what he wants. He runs as if he intends to win, yet, there doesn`t seem to be a way for him --



MADDOW: And he`s --


MADDOW: Not asking for anything other than winning.

RAMPELL: At the very least, he keeps Hillary from pivoting toward the center, right?

I mean, in another -- in another atmosphere, she at this point in the campaign, at this month, she would probably be pivoting towards the center.

She`s been pulled leftward by Bernie throughout the primary, and he wants to keep her tattered there.

MADDOW: Yes, maybe, you know, it will be interesting though. Like if Trump does try to run to Clinton`s left a little bit, maybe her pivot has to go the other direction. You know what I`m saying?

O`DONNELL: Where is the center?



MADDOW: Yes --

ROBINSON: Where`s the center? Where`s -- that`s my question, I don`t know where --


ROBINSON: The center is.

MADDOW: She came out --


She came out renewed for the public option today, right? She`s half way to Medicare for all --


MADDOW: At this point, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Let me see if there`s a center from the Republican perspective. Steve Schmidt, where is the center if either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as a nominee wanted to find it?

STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look at the carried interest loophole as an example, Lawrence.

You know, Republicans have made this a major point of conservative orthodoxy against any type of tax increase including justifying and it is very difficult to justify it.

Essentially different tax rate if you work in the financial services industry. Donald Trump said no to that.

He`s rejected the free trade premise of the modern Republican Party. He is to the left of Hillary Clinton as we conventionally define it with regard to the Iraq war, with regard to the Libya intervention.

So, as we`ve gotten used to presidential politics over the last several cycles with a pretty predictable issues that pretty good sense where the 50 yard line on.

This election scrambles a lot of that up.

O`DONNELL: And Rachel, it seems to me that the Trump campaign is such a fog of -- I don`t even know what you call it.

You know, statements, you can`t call them positions --


O`DONNELL: Exactly, but the -- I don`t -- it`s not clear to me that voters have a fixed notion on the map of right to left --

MADDOW: Right --

O`DONNELL: Of where Donald Trump is --

MADDOW: Yes, and then to Catherine`s point, I mean, not ends up being super interesting because you end up --


MADDOW: Having the play out of the play book. It means you tack to your party`s ideological edge --

ROBINSON: Exactly --

MADDOW: In the party, and then in the general, you come back to the center --

ROBINSON: Right, true --

RAMPELL: And I think it --

MADDOW: In this case it`s going to be scramble.

RAMPELL: So, I still have a slightly different view than that. I think Trump is a Rorschach test. You know, he lets people project whatever they want to project upon him.

If you want to hear that he`s going to raise tax rates on the rich, he has said something to justify that belief.

If you want to hear that he wants to lower tax rates on the rich, he`s going to find that in what he said as well.

And I think that`s why it`s so hard to pin him down on policy because he wants to be everything to everyone.

He wants to let people project whatever their fantasies and desires -- not only on policy issues, but on the greatness of America yet to come.

And that`s his strategy.

MADDOW: When he writes stuff down though, he tends to write down really right-wing stuff. Like his tax --


MADDOW: Policies are really --


ROBINSON: Then he talks about it in a way that makes it sound --


Then he takes it back, then he takes it back. And you know, I think there`s some -- that was a great way of putting it.

Because he is kind of a Rorschach test. At the same time, I think we have an idea of the traditional left-right spectrum.

And I think to some extent, Trump just doesn`t play on that access. He plays on a different access. He --

MADDOW: Celebrity access.

ROBINSON: He takes some from this, and some -- yes, that`s part, the celebrity access. I don`t -- you know, populist access, you know, I mean, he --

O`DONNELL: But isn`t Hillary Clinton stuck though with the more traditional frame that the people used to look at politicians.

Meaning, they actually are mapping her in left-right, because they can, because her positions are coherent and clear and you can actually catalog - -

MADDOW: That is explicit --

O`DONNELL: What she --

ROBINSON: Of course --

O`DONNELL: Thinks about everything.



ROBINSON: Coherent and clear.

MADDOW: I mean --


MADDOW: Honestly, when you -- when it comes down to it, I was looking back today, you know, some of the criticism that Donald Trump has levied against Republicans in the past few years.

And the way he`s criticized Paul Ryan, the way he criticized Mitt Romney. You know, and he basically, always criticize Republicans from the left.

I don`t really know the way that he is going to criticize Hillary Clinton other than by being super sexist.

Which we`ve seen, I don`t know that we can predict what his line of attack is going to be. I`m not sure it`ll be predictive of all of what his governing behavior would be like.

I do feel like he`s a little bit uncaged, the stuff he`s committed to is right wing, he doesn`t like to talk about it in right-wing terms.

And when you`ve got an opponent like that, I think Hillary Clinton has to sort of ignore that and run her own campaign and make the best positive case for herself regardless of this unknowable beast that she`s running against.

ROBINSON: I think you also kind of have to redefine the phrase committed to. Because --

MADDOW: Yes --

ROBINSON: In fact, he has made it clear that his commitments are not --


O`DONNELL: Day to day, hour to hour --

MADDOW: Right, he is saying I can --


MADDOW: Change, I should be --

O`DONNELL: Right --


MADDOW: Write this, too --

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to have to take a quick break here, Rachel, thank you for staying all the time --

MADDOW: Sure, I`m happy to, thanks for having me --

O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it, Gene, thank you for joining us, really appreciate it.

ROBINSON: All right --

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the struggle for Republican Party unity. What does Paul Ryan need to hear from Donald Trump this week?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see any way to compromise with Donald Trump, that will not be a betrayal of conservative ideals and policy --

RYAN: Of course --


RYAN: Of course, absolutely, I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who do you suggest conservatives vote for?

RYAN: Well, look, we`re going to get into this whole thing. That`s why this whole conversation is.

What I want to see is all conservatives rally together to win this election and defeat Hillary Clinton and make sure that we put conservatives in the Supreme Court, make sure we keep Congress.

This is the mountain we have to climb.


O`DONNELL: That is house Speaker Paul Ryan today in an interview with the "Wall Street Journal".

Msnbc`s Steve Kornacki is back with us with a look at what the exit polls tell us tonight about how Republicans feel about party unity.

KORNACKI: Well, they feel their party is divided right now. You can see in West Virginia, a third of them say this is a party that`s going to stay divided after this primary process in Nebraska.

That number is nearly half of the electorate on the Republican side. Same thing though when you turn around and ask them what do you think that`s going to mean for the Fall?

The vast majorities of Republicans say, well, we`re going to win anyway in the Fall. They expressed confidence about that.

Something else we can tell you for a context here, take a look at this. This is Donald Trump.

This is a number that`s going to have to be adjusted when all the votes come in tonight. It will go up because he won big.

But coming in to tonight, he won 40.2 percent of all the votes in the Republican primaries.

You say, well, that`s a lone number, a lot of non-Trump votes there. It couldn`t be read that way, but keep this in mind.

Look at the last Republican nominee, four ago, Mitt Romney, when he clinched the nomination, when his last remaining viable opponents dropped out of the race, he was basically where Trump was, 41.5 percent.

And look at this, if you go back to 2008, when McCain clinched it, he was under 40 percent. So if you look at the 40.2 for Trump to 41.5 for Romney, to 39.9 for McCain, Trump basically followed a model we have seen a bunch of times. Nothing that unusual when you look at it that way, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Steve.

And joining us now, Rory Cooper, senior adviser for the Never Trump Super Pac. Also with us Ken Cuccinelli, former attorney general for the state of Virginia who supported Ted Cruz in the primaries.

Rory Cooper, where does Never Trump go now?

RORY COOPER, SENIOR ADVISER, NEVER TRUMP SUPER PAC: Well, you know, first I`d look at a couple things. On the exit polls tonight, that`s largely a self-selecting group of Trump supporters in an uncontested race. So I don`t know what we can pull from that.

And I will say one interesting thing. If you look at the exit polls on the Democratic side, and this affected voters who are looking at Bernie Sanders as an alternative, I think Hillary Clinton might owe Donald Trump a big thank you for her primary win. Because you are looking at a race that probably would have been lost by her if it isn`t, because Donald Trump is sucking up all the media attention away from her own character flaws.

And so what we are going to be doing at, at the Never Trump pack, is to continue to shine a light between what the conservative movement is all about and what Donald Trump is all about, which we feel there is, you know, a football field worth of distance between those two things.

O`DONNELL: Ken Cuccinelli, how is that football field worth of distance going to be closed?

KEN CUCCINELLI, SUPPORTED TED CRUZ FOR PRESIDENT: As is typically the case, that lies really in the hands of the presumptive nominee.

What is he going to do? What positions is he going to take? And I would note, Eugene Robinson said something interesting earlier. He said, we`re going to have to redefine committed. Talking about Donald Trump`s positions.

You all asked what does he have to say to Paul Ryan? Well, it isn`t the saying that really is going to cut the mustard here. We need to see over a long period of time and under fire a commitment to smaller government, more freedom type principles, conservative principles. And that`s not something that Donald Trump has really excelled at in the past.

And so that`s how you attract disaffected Republicans, it`s with principles. It isn`t with more, you know, more showmanship. That isn`t going to cut it.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen what Paul Ryan said today about the upcoming meetings.


PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don`t go into Thursday with huge expectations, other than just to have the kind of conversation that we need to start having so that we are getting ourselves on the same page as a party.

We don`t know each other. We don`t -- we talked once a few months ago on the phone. It was a very good conversation. I walked him through, you know, what our agenda project was in the house. And a very pleasant exchange with him.


O`DONNELL: Catherine, we have never seen anything like this. And I`ve got to say, I think Paul Ryan is handling it just perfectly from his perspective, distancing himself from Trump. His mission is to remain speaker. He not only does that, if they win the House of Representatives. That`s what matters to him. If Trump wins, OK. But the most important thing for him is winning that house. And if that means separating from Trump, that`s what it means.

RUMPELL: Well, especially if he is afraid that Trump is very high on favorables. They`re going to hurt the down ballot races.

And if he aligns himself with Trump, then that could potentially put himself in trouble, but also the broader view of the party. And those other House and Senate campaigns as well, who might be in trouble, who could potentially be hurt by again the very negative views of Trump.

O`DONNELL: Well, Steve, here are couple of things that we can be sure Donald Trump does not know.

Number one, the speaker of the House is more powerful than a presidential candidate.

Number two, the speaker of the House is more powerful than the president of the United States, whenever the speaker of the House chooses to be on matters of legislation.

Is there any possibility that anyone can make that understood by Donald Trump before he walks into the speaker`s office?

KORNACKI: Well, I suspect what Donald Trump is counting and if he is counting on anything beside his gut instinct, it`s that the Republican electorate, the actual rank and file voters, there is some evidence out there that they are a lot further along when it comes to rallying around Donald Trump, getting behind his candidacy than the leaders in Washington.

A lot of the sort of the group leaders out there that we`ve seen. And there`s this national poll out there that shows right now put Trump against Hillary Clinton, Republicans, how are they voting?

84 percent of Republicans say they are going to vote for Trump over Hillary Clinton. Now that`s not quite where he needs to be. But that`s getting close.

McCain was at 90. Romney was at 93. That`s basically where you need to be, in the low 90s. So he is already pretty close to that. Like we just showed you there.

If you look through his path to nomination, there`s been a lot of noise about, well, you didn`t get 50 percent. But, again, he really is in line with what we`ve seen before. So I suspected we start seeing a couple of polls. And we saw a few today.

We will see if there are outliers, but if we see more like we saw today, that show him within striking distance of Hillary Clinton, there`s going to be a lot of pressure from the rank and file of this party that wants to beat Hillary Clinton on the leaders to get on board and beat Hillary Clinton.

[22:35:11] O`DONNELL: Rory Cooper, Donald Trump is finally revealing what I`ve been saying for many, many years, which is he cannot afford a presidential campaign. He`s going to go for fundraising just like everybody else has before him. But there is no real Trump apparatus for fundraising in the kind of big money that they`re going to need to fund raise.

How to they make up that gap?

COOPER: Well, I don`t think that they are going to. And I think that they are going to have a big problem with fundraising.

And to Steve`s point, I don`t think that Romney or McCain or anywhere near Donald Trump on unfavorables when it comes to women, or Hispanics, or especially married women, which is a group that Republicans have to rely on to win elections.

And with the Paul Ryan meeting, listen, when it comes to the fog of Donald Trump, he can come and say that he will support any policy position that you might like, but you really don`t know whether or not he`s going to change his mind five minutes later when talking to someone else.

What he has to demonstrate is that he has serious contrition over his major character flaws. Conservative movements, not just a set of policy principles, although that`s a major part of it.

It`s also about having moral leadership, having the values, to be somebody who you don`t have to turn the TV off, when your children are in the room. That`s something that is going to be very hard for him to demonstrate to Republican leaders, that`s something that they want to tie themselves to. And that`s going to, ultimately, I think what`s going to hurt him with the Republicans in the general election and independents, which is, is this somebody that we believe should be president of the United States.

O`DONNELL: Ken, quickly, before we go. I just want to turn this thought exercise in the other direction.

Let`s imagine that Paul Ryan wants to support Donald Trump. Really, really wants to support him.

What would be the principles and the policy positions Paul Ryan would have to publicly abandon in order to support Donald Trump?

CUCCINELLI: Well, certainly, it isn`t so much any particular position, except that Donald Trump has been on both sides of so many issues, whether it`s taxes, whether it`s various parts of immigration, trade, life. Certainly, a core issue for Paul Ryan.

I mean, what is he today? And proving some constancy and some expectation of consistency after Election Day is critical. And I don`t know how Donald Trump does that, except to power through for five months and not give ground when he is being beaten on by the media and by Hillary Clinton.

O`DONNELL: Ken Cuccinelli, Rory Cooper and Steve Kornacki, thank you all for joining us. I really appreciate it.

COOPER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, in the war room.

Has the Clinton campaign figured out how to respond to Donald Trump`s attacks?


[22:40:42] O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s war room. The presidential campaign war room is where the top campaign officials plan the strategies to handle their candidates` most important challenges. It`s where you want to be in a campaign. The Clinton war room strategy has been to avoid having their candidate respond directly to Donald Trump`s attacks.

Here`s how Hillary Clinton handled it tonight.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Insulting women, I don`t care what he says about me. But I do recent what he says about other people, other successful women.

Women who have worked hard. Women who have done their part. We are after all 51 percent of the country.


O`DONNELL: Today, Donald Trump tweeted, "The Clintons spend millions on negative ads on me. And I can`t tell the truth about her husband? Don`t feel sorry for Crooked Hillary."

Butt he Trump war room shifted its attacks to Benghazi with a new Instagram video captioned, "Hillary has bad judgement."

Here it is.


CLINTON: We`ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She lied to me. She told me it was the fault of the video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said, we are going to have the film maker arrested, who is responsible for the death of your son.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So she did say to you that the Benghazi attack was caused by protests.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know why that`s funny.


O`DONNELL: With 183 days left for campaign war rooms, joining us tonight in the last war room, Steve Schmidt, veteran of the George W. Bush and John McCain war rooms and Ben Labolt, veteran of the Obama campaign war room.

Ben, what do you make of the Clinton war room strategy to not directly respond to these kinds of Trump attacks.

BEN LABOLT, FORMER NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY, OBAMA 2012: Well, if I were in the war room tonight, what I`d say is the strategy so far has been Donald Trump goes low and we go high. We focus on substance and the urgent issues before the American people.

But winning campaigns are also that compelling contrast and compelling choices. And we didn`t make a further pivot to make clear that when Donald Trump attacks women, he doesn`t respect women, and therefore he`s not going to stand up for you with his policies.

He`s attacked Hispanics. He`s attacked many others during this campaign. And taking each one of those moments to say, this is Romney`s 47 percent tape on steroids. I think it`s really important the campaign responds to those sorts of moments.

O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt in the Clinton war room. Obviously, you are looking at the game films of the Republican primaries.

Do you see any attacks against Donald Trump or responses to Trump attacks that worked?

SCHMIDT: Not by any of the Republican candidates, but the general election will be different. There are five outsize moments, Lawrence. It`s coming up.

The vice presidential pick, the convention speech and the three debates. And Donald Trump is going to have to clear a plausible commander-in-chief threshold.

So Hillary Clinton, when she look at the demographics of the race, when you look at the states, Democrats have won five out of the last six elections. There are 282 electoral votes, 12 more needed to win.

If she can keep him from recovering with women voters, very difficult for him to win. If she can disqualify him as a plausible commander-in-chief on grounds of fitness, and that is the real issue that is holding these Republicans back from endorsements.

It`s not an ideological issue. It`s not that he put out mean tweets about this person or that person. It`s real questions about his temperament. And that`s how I expect that she will go at him. And she will do everything she can to open the door, I suspect. Moderate Republican women to moderate Republican saying, hey, we haven`t always agreed, but there`s a home for you in this campaign. We can make the country better together.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Hillary Clinton said tonight. It fits a little bit to what Steve was just saying.


CLINTON: When you are running for and serving as president, you better mean what you say. So when he casually says he doesn`t care if more countries get nuclear weapons, I shudder.

[22:45:00] When he says he wants to withdraw from NATO, the most successful military alliance in history, I say, and what are we going to substitute for it?

So I got to tell you, I am, if I am fortunate enough to be the nominee, I am looking forward to debating Donald Trump come to fall.


O`DONNELL: Ben, they are obviously working on a lot of the polling that indicates there is a lot of fear of a Donald Trump presidency out there and an inordinate amount of fear among voters.

LABOLT: Yes, well, and I think from a message perspective. It`s important to lock in to one narrative. So either Donald Trump is extreme or he is unsteady. And it`s important to stick with that singular critique of his foreign policy throughout the campaign because he has said some very extreme things. At the same time, he`s been all over the map, would suggest he would be an unsteady commander-in-chief.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at what a pro-Clinton Super PAC is doing. They are using some bits of Trump from Howard Stern, that sort of thing.

Let`s take a look at this.


TRUMP: Because nobody respects women more than Donald Trump.

She came to my wedding. She ate like a pig. And, seriously, the wedding cake, it was like missing in action.

Does she have a good body now?


TRUMP: Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely.

I just don`t respect her as a journalist. I have no respect -- I don`t think she`s very good. I think she`s highly overrated.

When I came out, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.


O`DONNELL: Steve, that`s not from the Clinton war room. That`s from a Super Pac that they can`t coordinate with. But is that helpful?

SCHMIDT: I don`t know that it`s helpful or unhelpful. I suspect that most -- every American woman in this country who is going to vote has made an impression on Donald -- made an impression of Donald Trump over the course of the campaign.

And I think what we have seen is the real diminishing effect of the 30 second ads as conveyors of negative information; the back and forth between the candidates, on the hourly basis, in the news cycle. The massive amount of free media coverage, social media, that`s what`s driving the narrative, not the Super Pac ads.

O`DONNELL: Veterans of the war room, Ben Labolt and Steve Schmidt, thank you both for joining us tonight.

I really appreciate it.

LABOLT: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, with new polls showing Donald Trump tied with Hillary Clinton in battle ground states. Just how worried should Democrats be?

Is it time to stop celebrating Donald Trump being the Republican nominee?


[22:53:20] O`DONNELL: A new poll of three battleground states. Three important states shows Hillary Clinton virtually tied with Donald Trump, shows Bernie Sanders doing a little bit better against Donald Trump, but it is not good news for Democrats in that poll. That`s next.


[22:55:14] O`DONNELL: Should the Democrats celebrate Donald Trump`s being the Republican presumptive nominee or should they fear it?

"Washington Post" editorial page editor Fred Hiatt comes down on the side of fear saying, Democrats, quote, "Need to be running scared, smart, but scared, now for the next six months."

Joining us again now, Catherine Rumpell, opinion columnist for "Washington Post." Also with us Jonathan Allen, head of community and content for "Side Wire." He is the co-author of "HRC," a book about Hillary Clinton.

Jonathan Allen, we`ve got these new battleground state polls in three states. I think we`re going to get them off on the screen here: Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio.

And what we are seeing there is Donald Trump basically tied with Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania and Florida. And in Ohio, we see, if they put it up, Hillary Clinton falling behind Donald Trump.

The margin of error on that poll was three points. So she`s actually outside the margin of error behind it.

Bernie Sanders doing better in Pennsylvania. He will lead over Trump. And in Ohio and Florida, Bernie Sanders is essentially tied with Donald Trump within the margin of error in both of those states.

So, Jonathan, that`s -- if that kind of polling holds, that`s a whole new story for the Democrats.

JONATHAN ALLEN, HEAD OF COMMUNITY AND CONTENT, SIDE WIRE: I think a lot of Democrats thought through the Republican primary that it would be a great thing for them to get Donald Trump. And what we`ve seen is Donald Trump has decimated everyone in his path.

Now the Republican primary electorates are very different than the general election electorate. He has alienated a whole lot of people. But I think Democrats are making a huge mistake if they think that this is going to be an easy election for them.

They think it`s going to be an easy election for Hillary Clinton, whose favorable numbers are very bad. They`re not as bad as Donald Trump`s, but they are still pretty bad.

O`DONNELL: Catherine, that battleground poll, you know, they would have to get more of them. You can`t just make, you know, assumptions based on one. But there`s been a consistent -- Bernie Sanders has had much bigger leads than that over Donald Trump and we`ve seen his lead narrow now.

But those numbers for Hillary Clinton are very alarming.

RUMPELL: They are very alarming if you are Hillary Clinton, or if you`re aghast at Donald Trump and to the many things that he stands for or doesn`t stand for --


O`DONNELL: There`s 47 percent who are afraid of Donald Trump.


You know, I think what it comes down to is that, as Jonathan said, Hillary`s unfavorables are quite high. You know, if not for Donald Trump, she would be historically at the extreme end in terms of favorability -- rather unfavorability.

But beyond that, you also have the fact that the American population has historically high levels of distrust in the government, in Washington, D.C. I mean, we actually have poll data going back like 50 years that shows that Americans are very, very unhappy with their political leadership. They are very unhappy with the direction of this country is going.

And there`s poll data to confirm that as well. And to some extent, Hillary Clinton -- or not to some extent, to a large extent, Hillary Clinton is associated with the establishment, with the status quo, with Obama`s policies. If Americans are unhappy with the direction the economy that the country is going in, and Hillary Clinton represents that, regardless of what Donald Trump stands for, they are going to be a little bit turned off by her.

And they`re going to vote for the candidate who claims to be putting his thumb in the eye of the establishment.

O`DONNELL: Jon, as the super delegates stare at these polls, and if we do as I say, this is one poll. If three or four weeks from now, five weeks from now, there`s a bunch of polls indicating this same kind of thing, at some point, the superdelegates are going to start to get nervous about what`s happening to their presumptive nominee.

ALLEN: I think Democratic elected officials by their very nature of nervous people, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Yes, they are. Yes, they are.

ALLEN: I think David Flop used to call them bed wetters. The Democratic Party ringing their hands and, well, wetting their beds, according to him.

I think that the Bernie Sanders polling is generally viewed among Democratic elites as something that would change if he suddenly started getting hit.

The Democratic campaign as acrimonious as it has been among the supporters of the two candidates, it actually hasn`t been that negative by historical standards.

So I think there are some concern that if Bernie Sanders were to get into a general election against Donald Trump, those numbers might fold pretty quickly.

I don`t see or hear, nor am I able to report any movement among super delegates at this point, nor, do I expect it.

O`DONNELL: Catherine, the Sanders campaign, still though, insist as they did at the beginning of the show, Bernie Sanders himself.

RUMPELL: He`s in it to win it.

O` it to win it. And so, and no one has figured out what else he might be in this for.

RUMPELL: That`s true. You know, as I mentioned before, I think part of what he might be angling for is to keep Hillary Clinton from tacking toward the center. I think that might be part of it. And not just Hillary Clinton but the Democratic Party. He`s explicitly said that if he doesn`t have the delegates going into the convention, that one thing he will be pushing for is to shape the party platform more in his image, in his more progressive mold, you know, fighting for universal health care, for child care. You know, $15 an hour minimum wage, things like that.

So even if he`s not ultimately victorious on that, perhaps he`ll have some influence on those other matters.

O`DONNELL: That`ll have to be our LAST WORD tonight. Jonathan Allen and Catherine Rumpell, thank you both for joining us. Appreciate it.

MSNBC`s live primary coverage continues now with Chris Hayes.