IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 5/18/2016

Guests: Geoff Garin, Michael Steele, Peter Wehner, John Fund, Steve Clemens, Karine Jean-Pierre, Steve McMahon, Jonathan Alter

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: May 18, 2016 Guest: Geoff Garin, Michael Steele, Peter Wehner, John Fund, Steve Clemens, Karine Jean-Pierre, Steve McMahon, Jonathan Alter

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Such a small world, Rachel, such a small world.


MADDOW: Thanks dear --

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel --

MADDOW: Thanks --

O`DONNELL: Well, millions of Americans have told pollsters that the possibility of a Trump presidency scares them.

There are new polls tonight that just might terrify them. And in breaking campaign news tonight, a former Republican governor says he would like to run for vice president.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a new national poll shows Trump leading Hillary Clinton by three points.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Put an exclamation point here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump released a formal list of 11 potential Supreme Court nominees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we trust Trump to stick with it?

PHIL ROBERTSON, HUNTER & BUSINESSMAN: I am happily volunteering my services for Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: You know --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy has a chimpanzee level of understanding of national security policy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Said sure, a President Trump would sit down with North Korea`s Kim Jong-un.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meeting today with Henry Kissinger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said one stupid reckless thing after another.



TRUMP: Excuse me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s hope we get back to people running that actually understand policy and can read a book.

TRUMP: I would love to sit down and read a book, but I just don`t have the time anymore.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Before we will have the opportunity to defeat Donald Trump, we`re going to have to defeat Secretary Clinton.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: Sanders defiant.

SANDERS: State after state, the people have stood up and helped defeat the establishment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a way to deal with frustration over process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has been working against Bernie Sanders and there`s no doubt about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are not going to just sit back and accept business as usual.

SANDERS: We`re going to take our fight into the convention.



O`DONNELL: According to the latest national poll, America is now closer to a Trump presidency than it has ever been.

After the Clinton campaign squeaked out a one-point victory in Kentucky last night, and then lost to Bernie Sanders by 12 points in Oregon, the Clinton campaign is staring at a shocking new national poll tonight that shows Donald Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton.

The "Fox News" poll released tonight shows Donald Trump at 45 percent and Hillary Clinton at 42 percent with a three-point margin of error.

That poll is a statistical tie. It is a reversal of fortune for Hillary Clinton from the last "Fox News" poll which showed her at 48 percent and Donald Trump at 41 percent.

In tonight`s "Fox News" poll, Donald Trump still trails Bernie Sanders as he always has with Bernie Sanders at 46 percent and Donald Trump at 42 percent.

If the "Fox News" poll results are duplicated by other reputable polls, the Clinton campaign will be in full-on crisis mode because Hillary Clinton as a candidate has never been able to reverse a polling trend in any of her campaigns.

In her first Senate campaign in New York, Hillary Clinton polled at 56 percent a year and a half before the election with her opponent Rick Lazio then polling at 23 percent.

On election day, Hillary Clinton won with 55 percent of the vote and Rick Lazio had gained 20 points to 43 percent of the vote.

In other words, over a year of campaigning and $30 million spent, it did not change the minds of more New York voters in favor of Hillary Clinton.

She simply held on to her original large lead as her opponent narrowed that lead.

In her second Senate campaign in New York, Hillary Clinton polled at 67 percent a year before the election, and on the election night she won 67 percent of the vote against a totally unknown Republican named John Spencer.

A year of campaigning then and $36 million spent did not turn any more voters in favor of Hillary Clinton.

In the Fall of 2007, Senator Hillary Clinton was polling 33 points ahead of Senator Barack Obama in the "Abc News"-"Washington Post" poll of the Democratic presidential campaign.

Senator Clinton`s poll numbers went straight down from there for months, and by the beginning of January, Hillary Clinton had only a five-point lead in that "Abc" poll.

By the end of January, she was tied with Barack Obama in a "Cbs" poll, then during February, Clinton and Obama traded leads in the polls until late February when Barack Obama opened a small lead over Hillary Clinton which then became a double-digit lead.

A lead that rose above 20 points in some polls toward the end of the primary season. The polling history of Hillary Clinton indicates that she needs an enormous lead in the polls in order to hang on and win in the end.

And 2008 showed that a 33-point lead wasn`t enormous enough against Barack Obama. Tonight`s "Fox News" poll is just one poll, I`m going to say that again, just one poll.

But the "Fox News" poll historically does conform to the basic findings of other major polls.

If the "Fox News" poll is an accurate snapshot of the electorate at this time, it contained some devastating internal information for the Clinton campaign.

On the question of, are the candidates honest and trustworthy? Hillary Clinton actually does worse than Donald Trump.

Sixty six percent of voters say Hillary Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, 57 percent say Donald Trump is not honest and trustworthy.

Two years ago, before she was officially a presidential candidate, in that same "Fox News" poll, 54 percent of voters said Hillary Clinton is honest and trustworthy.

Only 42 percent then said she was not honest and trustworthy. And in tonight`s "Fox News" poll, this is the first time that Donald Trump doesn`t have the highest unfavorability rating.

In tonight`s poll, 61 percent have an unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton and 56 percent have an unfavorable view of Donald Trump.

Earlier today, another disturbing poll result for the Clinton campaign, this one from the state of New Hampshire which Barack Obama won by 10 points in 2008 and 6 points in 2012.

A WBUR poll of New Hampshire voters shows Hillary Clinton at 44 percent and Donald Trump at 42 percent which is a statistical tie within the margin of error.

In that same poll, Bernie Sanders, who won the New Hampshire primary beats Donald Trump by 16 points, 54 to 38.

Four years ago at this time, President Obama held a 12-point lead over Mitt Romney in New Hampshire.

The President then went on to win New Hampshire by six points. Joining us now, Michael Steele, former Republican Party Chairman and an Msnbc political analyst.

Peter Wehner, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, he worked in the Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush administrations.

Also with us, Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research, a public opinion research firm, he`s an adviser for the Priorities USA, the Super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton.

Geoff Garin, what do you make of tonight`s "Fox News" poll?

GEOFF GARIN, PRESIDENT, HART RESEARCH: Well, we have said for a while now, for a couple of weeks that this is going to be a close and competitive election.

We weren`t saying that as spin. It`s because that`s what our polls were showing us then and there is something structural about this race that makes it close and competitive.

You know, in some ways, it is a good thing that people are seeing this now.

On the one hand, I think it tells Democrats loudly and clearly that they`re going to have to work very hard and come together to defeat Donald Trump in November.

And the other thing it does is -- can be -- you were alluding to at the beginning is that Americans are going to have to start reckoning with the reality that Donald Trump could be president and start to think very seriously about the consequences of that.

And I think as time goes on and people think more and more about those consequences, he will be a more difficult choice for voters to accept.

O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, again, just the parentheses, it`s just one poll.


O`DONNELL: But when you look at the way the polls charted in 2007 in Hillary Clinton`s last presidential campaign, just one poll became many polls.

STEELE: Yes --

O`DONNELL: If this is a trend, if we see three of these, what does this mean to Washington`s reception of Donald Trump?

How does that change Paul Ryan`s calculations and others in Washington?

STEELE: Well, I think it`s already began to change that calculation. I think a lot of internal polls that are being taken by Super PACs and other groups out there for and against Donald Trump are showing this very same trend line.

Now, I think you make very important point, Lawrence, and that is, does this trend line that we see really mean something nationally as going on, when other polls confirm that or augment that.

That`s what I think Geoff and others are going to be looking at on the Clinton side and certainly Paul Manafort is going to be drilling down on the GOP side with Donald Trump.

But here`s the rub. This is May, OK? And so, I am not one of these after my years of experience in politics to hang my hat on one poll or even on trending polls in the months of May, June, and July.

I`m really looking to see where we wind up post-nomination, post-convention late August, certainly Labor Day.

That window kind of gives you a trend line, to Geoff`s point of how the voters begin to really settle down on this race.

It`s important now to get everybody geared up for what`s to come.

But I don`t think you`re going to, you know, end or, you know, run away excited when you see these polls because of what they`re saying right now.

O`DONNELL: Peter Wehner, eight years ago in May, Barack Obama, three points ahead of John McCain.


O`DONNELL: Four years ago in May, Barack Obama, three points ahead of Mitt Romney. May, certainly told the story then of what was going to happen in November.

WEHNER: Yes, it does, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn`t. Remember, Walter Mondale was ahead of Ronald Reagan at points in 1984 and we`ve had a whole history of races where they appear to be close.

And not even Jimmy Carter, a week before the election with Reagan was up by one point in the Gallop poll, they lost 40 states.

It is very early, look, I`d say a couple of things. One is that, there are real structural advantages I think to the Democratic Party, any Democrat.

Democrats are winning national elections, they have huge demographic advantages than others.

So, I think that starting out a Democrat is going to be favored against a Republican.

Secondly, Donald Trump is a target-rich environment and they really haven`t turned their guns on him yet.

The third, and this is important. Hillary Clinton is just a very weak candidate and she seems to be getting weaker.

She`s weaker than she was in 2008. I think she`s mechanical and uninspiring and viewed as inauthentic as well as that poll number that you underscored which is the untrustworthy and dishonesty numbers.

I think she`s a kind of ethical wreck. So, I think she`s a very weak and beatable candidate.

I just think that Donald Trump is in the end more toxic, and so I don`t think that he is going to pull this out.

But we`ll see. It`s a very weird time and there`s a distemper in this country politically, unlike anything I have seen and that may play to Trump`s advantage.

O`DONNELL: Geoff Garin, address -- please, address my initial point that I made about Hillary Clinton`s polling history.

Which in her campaigns shows no ability for her to gain ground. No ability -- she`s never shown an ability in her campaigns to increase support by campaigning.

GARIN: Well, when you started -- I`m not sure that really holds when you started 67 percent, there`s only so far to go.

O`DONNELL: No, I`ll grant you that on the 67, but what about the 55? --

GARIN: Even the 55 in her first race, I think, that`s, you know, the fact that she was able to sustain a substantial majority as a first-time candidate, as a -- and, you know, her running as a first lady in New York was controversial at the time.

To me that represented an accomplishment, not a -- not a sign of political weakness and I`ve worked with Secretary Clinton.

The one thing that I know about her, she is extraordinarily resilient. She rises to challenges.

I think she`ll rise to this challenge, but it is a real challenge. Let me just note one thing about the "Fox" poll and other polls said --

O`DONNELL: Can I just ask you one more thing, Geoff? And I want you to know that --

GARIN: Yes, please.

O`DONNELL: But to continue with the model that I was using. And then what about the 2008 presidential campaign where she started high, more than a 33-point lead and just went straight down, she never built support.

GARIN: Well, I think that, that -- you know, I think, a -- she was running against a phenomenal candidate in Barack Obama, but the reality of that race is that I believe she won seven of the last nine primaries that she actually did increase support in the later primaries up until the very last one.

She won in Ohio, she won in Texas, she won in Pennsylvania. She actually did very well at the end of the campaign.

So, there in terms of the pattern of the primaries she did better as the race went on, not less well.

She obviously had a -- her greatest problems were, you know, that -- you know, in the month of February and March but as April, May and April and May, she was a very strong candidate and I think that speaks to the resilience she has.

She was -- I think people admired that about her. She was -- she was down, but not out and she fought -- fought back in a way that people really admired and respected.

And I think that that`s the Hillary Clinton Americans will see. Let me just make one polling --


GARIN: Note, is that part of what`s happening in this structurally is that Donald Trump has secured the Republican nomination, the party has rallied around him and he`s not dealing with these negative attacks any longer.

And Hillary -- and you know, for better or worse, Bernie Sanders is staying in the race and the way he is has a consequence.

Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee, and if we`re serious about electing her in November and I think we ought to be serious about electing her in November because the consequences are dire.

I think Senator Sanders has an important choices to make in this regard.

GARIN: Yes, let -- can I say a couple of things, Lawrence? Look, I think at the end of the day, that she does have a problem as a -- as a presidential candidate which is the more that people see her, the more they don`t like her.

That`s just there. You know, this is sometimes the dog just doesn`t like the dog food. And I just -- she may be an impressive person.

I think her record is sketchy, I don`t think she was very successful as a - - as a Secretary of State and she was the author of Hillarycare.

But look, at the end of the day, she is just not somebody who is, you know, an overpowering political figure. Even her own campaign people admit that she is an awful candidate.

O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, I want to get a quick last word from you there.

STEELE: Sure --

O`DONNELL: I got to say, this is not something I understand. I see the polling numbers --

STEELE: All right --

O`DONNELL: But I cannot see what it is in a Clinton campaign that as Peter just put it, the more people see her, the more they don`t like.

That is what you`re seeing in the tracking of these numbers, but I don`t get it. I don`t know what it is that they`re seeing.

STEELE: Well, what they`re seeing is 30 years of Hillary, 30 years of Hillary and Bill.

They`re seeing a lot of things that has accumulated and it`s not -- it`s not selling for them and it`s going to be a hard sell this year.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to have to leave it there --

GARIN: Lawrence, I don`t think they`ve really seen her yet, and then -- and when they do see her, they do like her.


WEHNER: They`ve seen her for a lot of years.

O`DONNELL: All right, that`s going to have to be the last word for this segment. Thank you very much, Michael Steele, Geoff Garin --

STEELE: All right --

O`DONNELL: Peter Wehner, thank you all. Next, coming up, breaking campaign news. A former Republican governor wants to run for vice president -- just not with Donald Trump.

And Republicans terrified of Donald Trump`s foreign policy ideas are eagerly awaiting word from their hero Henry Kissinger about what happened in that conversation today with Donald Trump.




CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Can you tell the Middle East we`re not using a nuclear weapon on anybody? --

TRUMP: I will never say that.

MATTHEWS: How about Europe? We won`t use it in Europe.

TRUMP: I`m not going to take it off the table, but listen --

MATTHEWS: You might use in Europe?



O`DONNELL: So, did Donald Trump tell Henry Kissinger today that he might use nuclear weapons in Europe? That`s next.


O`DONNELL: Modern presidents don`t really choose Supreme Court Justices, the Senate does.

The constitution gives the President the power to choose the justices, and the Senate, the power to confirm the justices.

But the President lost the power to control the process decades ago.

And so, in the first year of Bill Clinton`s presidency, when a vacancy opened up on the Supreme Court, New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who I was working for at the time, found himself in the company of the president on other business when Bill Clinton asked him who he would recommend for the Supreme Court.

Senator Moynihan had only one suggestion -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The President in no doubt consulted at length with Joe Biden who was then the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in charge of confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court Justices.

Senator Joe Biden probably also suggested Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I`m not sure how many other senators might have suggested Ruth Bader Ginsburg or how many other names were suggested to the president.

But soon enough, the president nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Joe Biden and Pat Moynihan were not a bit surprised.

That`s the way it usually works. Call it a consultation with the Senate if you like, but depending on your perspective, it can often look like the Senate is telling the president what to do.

That is, telling the president who the Senate can confirm and confirm easily. But to all public appearance, Ruth Bader Ginsburg appears suddenly as the president`s idea.

Today, Donald Trump made the transaction more transparent than it has ever been. He announced a list of 11 potential Supreme Court nominees.

He is in effect submitting that list to the Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and all other Republican senators for their approval.

Chuck Grassley applauded the move, calling it an impressive list today. And it was a measure of how much Donald Trump is distrusted by Republicans that his campaign felt compelled to release this list.

Something no other presidential campaign has done. It was in effect Donald Trump genuflecting in front of the Senate saying, I know you`re in charge, here is my list.

Which it turns out wasn`t really Donald Trump`s list. It is basically the same list a Republican think-tank in Washington came up with.

A think-tank that reflects the thinking of Republican senators. Also today, the candidate who was described on this network last night as being an ignoramus on foreign policy had an important foreign policy meeting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he is a stunning ignoramus on foreign policy issues and national security which are the issues I care most about.

Nuclear arming South Korea, pulling out of NATO, the guy has a chimpanzee level of understanding of national security policy.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump met with former Republican Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at Kissinger`s home in New York City.

Neither of the men made any comment about the meeting before or after the meeting. Joining us now, Steve Clemens; Washington editor at-large for "The Atlantic" and an Msnbc contributor.

Also with us, John Fund; columnist for the "National Review". John, so, imagine yourself in the room there with Dr. Kissinger and candidate Trump.

Here is someone who has said could use nuclear weapons in the Middle East, it`s OK with me if Japan gets nuclear weapons, so we don`t have to spend so much money defending areas of the world like Japan.

That he`s going to sit down with North Korea and on and on and on. What would Dr. Kissinger have said?

JOHN FUND, COLUMNIST, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, Dr. Kissinger knows Donald Trump, and if you know Donald Trump, you know that if you don`t like something he says, wait five minutes, he`ll say something different.


FUND: And if you do like something he says, wait five minutes, he`ll say something different.

Donald Trump has now said, for example, on the Muslim ban to the United States, it was only a suggestion.

I changed my mind, I change my mind all the time. So, I think if Donald Trump was smart, he`ll just listen to Dr. Kissinger, maybe took some notes.

If he wasn`t smart, he`ll talk a great deal.

O`DONNELL: Steve, give me your -- what you would guess, Henry Kissinger in an hour with Donald Trump would say to him based on everything Henry Kissinger has heard Donald Trump say already.

STEVE CLEMENS, WASHINGTON EDITOR AT-LARGE, THE ATLANTIC: Look, I`m probably in the -- in the track right now where the distance and gap between Donald Trump and how he imagines his foreign policy, though he really needs to go to school and learn from Kissinger, is less than people think.

Donald Trump is a populist realist, Henry Kissinger is an elite realist. And where he may say to him, you know, wrecking NATO, wrecking international institutions across the board really minimizes and reduces American power and American ability to do things, you need to be more cautious.

But Henry Kissinger is no great believer in international institutions. He is a -- he is one of the kingpins of American realism that Donald Trump tried to outline in a speech at the center for national interest of which Kissinger is an honorary chairman.

So, while Kissinger has become seen as a mainstream guy who helped found and build the international order as it is, he`s someone not wed to that.

And I think that he is probably going to -- in a humble way and probably a respectful way, you know, going to see Kissinger as like doing the New Hampshire primary for GOP candidates, you`ve got to do it.

But I think there`s less distance between them than many people think.

O`DONNELL: And John, on China. Donald Trump`s talk if ever put into action could easily lead to a trade war with China that could lead to more than a trade war with China.

Surely, Henry Kissinger who opened our relations with China would have said something to him about that.

FUND: Well, Trump probably would describe it from his point of view as the art of a bluff.

He has said, we`ll never --


FUND: Ever trade war with China because I will convince them that I mean business, and therefore they will make concessions on their currency and other things and therefore we`ll never get to the trade war.

Now, Henry Kissinger, who is the modern (INAUDIBLE) of American secretaries of state would probably say if you can get away with that, that would be a good thing.

O`DONNELL: Yes, Steve, what about that? Do you -- do you imagine that Henry Kissinger gave Donald Trump any personal advice about dealing with people like Putin actual personal insights to them.

CLEMENS: I think absolutely -- I think we`re just -- on your China question, I mean, Henry Kissinger has written a book called "On China".

And in that book he talked about how vital getting that relationship right, you know, right is for the United States, the world and for China itself in which he`s invested so much.

And so, I think he would counsel him on that. That doesn`t mean becoming a flak or acquiescing to China, but it does mean meeting them robustly and the same thing with Russia.

And again, in the speech that Trump gave, the only organized speech I`ve heard him give on foreign policy, the two countries he talked about in a -- in a semi-more respectful way than most of our allies in Europe were China and Russia.

Where he said, we basically need to look at whether we can square a deal. And that is at its core somewhat Kissingerian and somewhat part of engaging foreign leaders that are important in the world that we don`t get along with and that we have problems.

And I`m not trying to legitimate Trump, I`m not trying to white-wash stuff that he`s been doing.

But you need to look carefully at what Kissinger has really said over his life and I think it is that we need to deal with the bad guys, not just the good guys.

And I think that`s to some degree what he`s trying to counsel Trump.

And trying to also tell Trump don`t be as erratic, don`t be as unpredictable in the world, you do need to deal with these people, but you know, I think he`s probably saying dial it down a little bit.

O`DONNELL: John, quickly on the Supreme Court, the list of 11, this -- it seems to me, would calm Republican senators and official Republican Washington about a Trump presidency, certainly in regards to the court.

FUND: Well, you know, originally, Donald Trump said that Diane Sykes and Bill Pryor who were two circuit court judges would be top of his list.

He`s added nine other names, this is an outstanding collection of people. However, back in March when he said, I will produce this list, he said, this is the list I will choose from.

Per your point, now when the list is out, he says, this is representative of the kind of people that I would -- a big difference.

So, Donald Trump is not surrendering much, he is suggesting, once again, not policy, suggesting these people not promising these people.

O`DONNELL: We will have to leave it there for tonight. John Fund and Steve Clemons, thank you both for joining us tonight. I appreciate it.

CLEMONS: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Clinton and Trump campaigns, using their candidates` own words against each other. That is in tonight`s war room.



O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s war room. It is going to be a long night in the Clinton campaign war room tonight after the release of two disturbing polls today for the Clinton campaign. The Fox News National Poll that shows Donald Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton but within the margin of error for a statistical tie.

In the New Hampshire poll that shows Hillary Clinton slightly ahead of Donald Trump, but again still within the margin of error for a statistical tie. New Hampshire was not supposed to be a battleground state for the democrats.

Barack Obama won it twice. Today, Hillary Clinton`s Super Pac launched its first T.V. ads in the battleground states of Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and Nevada. The ad`s target Donald Trump`s statements about women.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, wherever.



TRUMP: Does she have a good body, no? Does she have a fat ass, absolutely?



TRUMP: You like girls that are 5`1", they come up to you know where.



TRUMP: If Ivanka were not my daughter perhaps I would be dating her.



TRUMP: I view a person who is flat chested is very hard to be a 10.



TRUMP: And, you can tell them to go [EXPLETIVE WORD] themselves.


O`DONNELL: The conservative Super Pac our principles launched a similar ad in March during the republican primaries that also attacked Donald Trump`s statements about women.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER (1): Real quotes from Donald Trump about women. A person who is very flat chested is very hard to be a 10.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER (2): I would look her right in that fat ugly face of hers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER (4): Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER (5): She had the height. She had the beauty. She was crazy, but these are minor details.


O`DONNELL: With 174 days left for the campaign war rooms, joining us tonight in the Last Word War Room, Steve McMahon, a veteran of three democratic war rooms, most recently Howard Dean`s war room and Karine Jean- Pierre, a veteran of the Obama war rooms and Martin O`Malley`s war rooms.

Karine, what surprised me about the Clinton Super Pac ad is it was basically a copy of the republican ad, which means where is there idea? Where is their own way of approaching this.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, FMR. DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MGR., O`MALLEY, 2016: Right, well, I think what they were trying to do is they were trying to remind voters, right?


JEAN-PIERRE: Donald Trump is a wolf in sheep`s clothing, right? They are trying to remind them, "Hey, this is still a wolf that is dressed in sheep`s clothing." And, so, it is really as they try to pivot to the general election but still have Bernie Sanders in the primary, they are trying to say, "Hey, let is not forget who this guy really is," and they did this ad.

But, I think to remember is that what made it successful against Mitt Romney in 2012 is that we had one charge, right? All the democrats had one charge and it stuck and it really worked on Mitt Romney. This time around, there is so much dirt on Donald Trump that it is harder to find anything to stick and we have to figure out what to that is?

O`DONNELL: Steve McMahon, the Clinton war room tonight with these two polls coming out, New Hampshire is now something they are going to have to fight for and to be behind Donald Trump in a national poll.

You know, only one poll, only one poll. But we heard Geoff Garin polling for the Clinton Super Pac, basically, say he was not surprised by the Fox Poll. He is saying we basically kind of saw this coming in our own polling.

STEVE MCMAHON, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, PURPLE STRATEGIES: Yes. It all depends on the sample that you draw and the assumptions you make for instance about the white vote. But when you are in the war room, Lawrence, you are sitting there and you are saying, OK, if you take the Fox News Poll, for instance, Donald Trump has a 14 -- there is a 36 percent gender gap in the Fox News Poll, which is much bigger than it was in 2012.

Trump leads among men by 22. Hillary leads among women by 14, which is a little bit better than President Obama, but she is only at 50. So, when you are in the war room, you are sitting there saying, "Do we attack our weakness and try to mitigate it or do we leverage our strength?" "We think we have a strength with women. We are only at 50. We think we can take that number up to 56, 57. And, if we can, we put it out of reach."

So, what they are doing is, they are playing to their strength right here. They have a 14-point lead in the Fox Poll among women. They are going to try to drive that lead up to 16, 18, 20 points from 50 percent of the vote, which is where she is among women to 54, 56.

That makes it very difficult for Donald Trump if they can get that done. So, that is what they are probably thinking in the war room tonight and that is why they are going after these attacks on women that Donald Trump has made over time.

O`DONNELL: Karine, I would expect if there was a Clinton campaign spokesperson here tonight that kind of dismiss this poll and try to push it somewhat. But in the war room, do not you take these polls and assume they are right? Meaning you take -- you always want to work from the worst-case scenario?

JEAN-PIERRE: Right. Well, look, a poll is a snapshot of what is happening right now. We are in May, you know, the election is not until November. So, that, we have to keep that in mind, like things are going to change. The convention has not happened. We still need to pick a VP nominee, but you do have to dig in a little bit and take a look at what is going on.

Look, it is not a surprise that Donald Trump is where he is. The Republican Party has coalesced behind him. They have come home, but he has not expanded his base. If you look at where African-Americans are in this poll, there is an 83-point spread, right? And, so, that looks good for Hillary Clinton. So, she needs to hold on to that. Where I saw there was the problem there was the Latino vote.


JEAN-PIERRE: Which is she needs to build -- continue to build on that.

O`DONNELL: She does not yet have the margin with Latinos took this vote in that poll that Barack Obama had.

JEAN-PIERRE: Right, where Barack Obama was. And, also with the white vote, the thing that I thought about, because Bill Clinton did this for Obama in 2012, she is going to have to put him out there to help her with the white vote because Donald Trump is certainly commanding that.



O`DONNELL: On this point of -- I have always looked at the Clinton -- Hillary Clinton candidacies even when she was running for senate as the first time as behaving like incumbent candidacies.


O`DONNELL: And, that is why I make the point that her number never goes up. That is the way it works with the incumbents. If an incumbent starts off with 55 percent of the vote a year out, it is not surprising if they end up with 55.

Whereas Barack Obama when he was running against Hillary Clinton, he did not have that incumbency sense to him. So, his numbers rose while hers went straight down. And, Jeff made the point in the first block that, "Well, yeah, but Hillary Clinton won some races at the end of the primary schedule."

But in every one of those, her number had gone down from where it started the first time they did a poll in that state. And, so, how does she deal with the weight of that. There is an extra weight that comes with that incumbency sense that is on a campaign, how you make a number go up.

MCMAHON: There is an extra way and you got to deal with it and it has gone down a little bit. But the way you deal with it is by disqualifying your opponent, which is the way to take your number up. Because a vote against Donald Trump is a vote for Hillary Clinton and that is what she is going to do here and you will see a lot of that.

O`DONNELL: That is going to have to be the "Last Word" on tonight. Karine Jean-Pierre and Steve McMahon, thank you both for joining us tonight.

MCMAHON: Thank you.

JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, breaking campaign news. Vice president news, a former republican governor has agreed to run for vice president, just not as a republican. And, an eyewitness to what happened in Las Vegas will join us.



O`DONNELL: Senator Bernie Sanders has just taken the stage in California. Let is listen in.


BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will win at least half or more of the states in our country.


As of today, we have won over 9 million votes and almost 46 percent of all of the pledged delegates, the real delegates that were voted on by the people.


SANDERS: Now, I do not deny for a moment that we have an uphill fight in order to win a majority of the pledged delegates. But, we are going to fight in California and the remaining five other states to get every vote and every delegate we can.


And, let me say something that I think is enormously important and for me very gratifying and that is that in every state contest that we have been in, we have won and often by large margins the votes of young people.


And, that tells me and should tell everyone that our vision -- an America of social justice, economic justice, racial justice and environmental justice.


That, that is the vision of the America of the future.


And, let me also mention something to you, and that is that every n every state pole, and in every national poll that I have seen in the last two months, we defeat Donald Trump.



O`DONNELL: That is Bernie Sanders in Vallejo, California. That is just north of San Francisco and Berkeley in the bay area. And, he is certainly right about that result tonight in the polls that we have been looking at. He does do better against Donald Trump. We will be right back.


O`DONNELL: We have been struggling to get connected by satellite to Las Vegas where Angie Morelli, Bernie Sanders` supporter who is going to join us and explain to us what happened at that democratic convention out there that got a little bit out of hand, but we have not been able to make that connection work.

In the meantime, I just want to report breaking news here about a presidential candidate, whose many of you met on this program recently, Gary Johnson, libertarian presidential candidate. He is included in the new Fox Poll, national poll tonight and it shows a surge for Gary Johnson.

Donald Trump at 42, Hillary Clinton at 39. And, with Gary Johnson in there, he gets 10 percent of the vote. He ran for president four years ago on the libertarian ticket, got 1 percent of the vote.

Also, in libertarian news tonight, former republican governor of Massachusetts, two-term governor of Massachusetts, Bill Weld says that he would proudly serve as the vice presidential nominee of the libertarian party if nominated. That is the latest on libertarian news and the possible third party alternative that republicans have been looking for. We will be right back.


O`DONNELL: We are back. Let is listen to more of Bernie Sanders in Vallejo, California. He is speaking live to a rally audience there now.


SANDERS: -- Than anyone in this country who works 40 hours a week should not be living in poverty.


That means that we are going to raise the living wage in this country to a living wage, $15 an hour.


And, that means we are going to end sexism which forces --

(AUDIENCE CHEERING AND APPLAUDING) -- which forces women to earn $0.79 on the dollar compared to men.


And, I know that every man here will stand with the women and the fight for pay equity.


I was in Flint, Michigan, several months ago. And, what I saw there was hard to believe that it was occurring in the United States of America in the year, 2016. What I saw where children being poisoned by the lead in the water they were drinking.


But if anyone thinks Flint, Michigan, is the only community in America, which has unhealthy drinking water, you would be wrong. Hundreds of communities in America have, if not to the same degree have serious problems with their water.


O`DONNELL: That is Bernie Sanders campaigning in California tonight. We are going to be coming back to it if there is anything more coming up there. We are joined by Jonathan Alter, political analyst -- MSNBC Political Analyst.

Jonathan, Bernie Sanders made the point earlier in his comments that he consistently polls better than Hillary Clinton does against Donald Trump. You have a Fox News Poll out tonight, a rough one for Hillary Clinton with her behind Donald Trump in a national poll, but Bernie Sanders ahead of Donald Trump in that poll, polling better than Hillary Clinton.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. You know, it reminds me, Bill Clinton in 1992 was running third in national polls behind George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot. So, the polls are not really that material right now. Hillary Clinton has this nomination won.

It is just a question of letting Bernie Sanders have his people go all the way through the primaries through the beginning of June. He owes that to them to stick with it until then, that time they really do have to close rank.

And, Lawrence, you know, a friend reminded me of a bumper sticker in a campaign that Edwin Edwards was running for governor of Louisiana against David Duke, the KKK wizard. And, the bumper sticker said "Vote for the Crook, it is important."

So, if you are a Bernie Sanders supporter and let is say you think Hillary Clinton is terrible, you may even think like Donald Trump, that she is a rcook, it is still extraordinarily important for your country, that you set aside whatever differences you have with Hillary Clinton and get down to the business of preventing this man from taking office because he is a menace. And, it is serious --

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, what about the Sanders supporters whose number one issue is American jobs and trade. And, I have played on this program before things that Donald Trump has said about that and Bernie Sanders say about that and Bernie Sanders says it eloquently. But Donald Trump is saying the same thing in rough Trump language.

ALTER: On that particular issue, yes, and the politics of trade are very much in flux and Sanders now has a big group of people who can pressure a President Clinton on TPP and other trade issues, but trade is not the only issue.

The first question you have to ask is, is Donald Trump a con man? And, if you believe he is a con man, as I do and I think anybody who has taken a look at his record does, you have to protect our constitution and our country from him. So, that is job one. And, it is like that Edwin Edwards, you know, David Duke race. You got to take the lesser of two evils if you are a Sanders supporter.

O`DONNELL: We are going to have to leave it there for tonight. Jonathan alter gets tonight`s last word.


O`DONNELL: Thanks, Jonathan.

ALTER: Thank, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.