Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: May 24, 2016 Guest: Joel Benenson, David Corn, Catherine Rampell, Rick Tyler, Richard Clarke, Rick Tyler, Maria Teresa Kumar, Susan Del Percio RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, I know why you`re not going to the Donald Trump thing tomorrow night.
MADDOW: Well, I can come up with a number of reasons.
O`DONNELL: It`s because you`re really busy. It`s you`re not going.
You`re just not going. MADDOW: Very important hairs that need washing, that`s right.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Polls will be closing in Washington State. An hour from now, we will have live coverage of the results of the Republican primary there tonight. I was speaking today to a 22-year-old voter who will be voting in her second presidential election this year and she has never heard of Vince Foster. Donald Trump is trying to change that. And "New York Times" international affairs columnist Tom Friedman says that he thinks he knows who ISIS wants to win our presidential election. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Have you noticed that there`s talk about this Trump fellow?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All he does is tear down people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Revisiting decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct against Bill Clinton.
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: It`s kind of tawdry stuff.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to fight back the way I have to fight back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Questioning the 1993 suicide of Clinton aide Vince Foster.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do you think this stuff they said about her is bad? They accused me of murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This subject of widely dismissed conspiracy theories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we`re in 1993 conspiracy theory territory right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump does not seem to be able to distinguish between a credible source and, say, a chain e-mail.
BILL BRADLEY, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: I don`t trust him with his finger on the nuclear button.
TRUMP: I`m only responding to what they do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was he really making America great when he said I`m kind of excited about the housing crisis?
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You and I together, we`re not going to let him bankrupt America. (CHEERS) TRUMP: She`s been very nasty.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Democracy is messy.
TRUMP: Hillary cannot even put away Bernie. Crooked Hillary, she can`t put him away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will the convention be messy?
SANDERS: Well, of course it will be.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We`re an hour away from polls closing in Washington State where Republicans are holding their presidential primary tonight. Washington State operates its elections through a mail-in system. They began receiving mail-in ballots on May 6th, that was two days after John Kasich dropped out of the race, leaving Donald Trump alone in the race for the Republican nomination. We will have live coverage of the election results in Washington State tonight beginning in the next hour hosted by Chris Matthews. Donald Trump is on his way to the Republican presidential nomination, largely because millions of Republican voters apparently have difficulty separating facts from fiction. No one has more difficulty separating facts from fiction than Donald Trump.
He has been diagnosed as a pathological liar by Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, as well as some mental health professionals who have written about what they think that they`re seeing when Donald Trump speaks. When a political candidate can`t separate facts from fiction, there is no limit to what he might say about his opponents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: I know the Republicans have been mean to her and they say terrible things. You`ve got to respect them. They`re good at this. You think this stuff they said about her is bad, they accused me of murder. (LAUGHTER) I mean, our memories are short, it`s what they do.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: While he was serving as White House Counsel in the Clinton administration, Vince Foster committed suicide in a park in Virginia. The death was ruled a suicide. Conspiracy theorists have long claimed that Vince Foster was murdered and now Donald Trump thinks they have a point. He told the "Washington Post", "I don`t bring Foster`s death up because I don`t know enough, really, to discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don`t do that because I don`t think it`s fair." And that is the classic Donald Trump move of saying I don`t talk about the thing I am talking about right now. Yesterday, the Trump campaign released a video with comments from women who claim to have been sexually abused and assaulted by Bill Clinton. And last night on "Fox News", Donald Trump explained to Bill O`Reilly that he had no choice, just no choice about releasing that video. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`REILLY: I understand the Clinton attack machine, I got it, and I think it has to be dealt with somewhat. But I think maybe caution -- TRUMP: Bill, I don`t like doing that, I don`t like doing that, but I have no choice. When she hits me on things, I just have no choice, so, you have to do it, it`s unfair. And you know, they`re dirty players, they`ve been dirty players historically and I have to fight back the way I have to fight back. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We`ll be joined tonight by our panel including David Corn, Rick Tyler and Catherine Rampell. But first with us tonight, Joel Benenson, senior strategist for Hillary Clinton`s presidential campaign, he was also a senior strategist for President Obama`s campaigns in 2008 and 2012. So, there`s Donald Trump saying no choice about that video, absolutely no choice. Had to do it. The election is in 2016, but I had to bring up stuff that the candidate`s husband was allegedly involved in decades ago.
JOEL BENENSON, CHIEF STRATEGIST, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Yes, I think people see through with a phony argument.
This is -- I think they know what kind of campaigns Donald Trump has been running. He`s kind of slammed and slammed at every one of his Republican opponents, he`s going to try and do the same thing now. We`re going to stay focused on the issues that matter to people`s lives. I don`t think people put any currency in what has been a discounted, highly dismissed allegation about what was a tragedy for someone in Washington a couple of decades ago. I think what`s happening with Trump right now, he`s unraveling a bit, I think he`s been called out on being unqualified when it comes to his credentials on foreign affairs, calling for more nuclear weapons in the world. And he`s doing what he does, he lashes out and starts name-calling and assailing people for a host of things. I think the American people want to know what are you going to do for me right now for -- O`DONNELL: So -- BENENSON: My life --
O`DONNELL: So, is the campaign strategy to not comment on those kinds of accusations coming from Trump? I mean, if that is the strategy --
BENENSON: Oh, I think I just did.
O`DONNELL: Let me put it that way -- BENENSON: I think I characterized -- O`DONNELL: No, I`m right -- BENENSON: Them pretty well.
O`DONNELL: But there`s Bill Clinton, I mean -- BENENSON: They`re discredited -- O`DONNELL: Bill Clinton -- BENENSON: Discounted -- O`DONNELL: But Bill Clinton -- BENENSON: Attacks --
O`DONNELL: There and what we saw him say. He was referring to the Vince Foster references that Donald Trump was making, wasn`t he? That`s what he was doing.
BENENSON: Sure he was.
O`DONNELL: So, is Bill Clinton -- BENENSON: He was talking about --
O`DONNELL: Is Bill Clinton going to continue to deal with those things as Donald Trump mentions them?
BENENSON: Well, I think as I just did, it`s to let people know these are, you know, attacks that have been highly examined, been dismissed, are not based in facts at all, and they`re typical of Donald Trump. Look, this is a guy who`s been kind of pretending and being a bit of a phony all the way through his campaign. He tells Mitt Romney to release his tax returns in 2012 --
O`DONNELL: That was then.
BENENSON: And now he won`t release -- O`DONNELL: Come on -- BENENSON: His tax returns, and when we find a couple of them what do we -- O`DONNELL: You know -- BENENSON: Find out? -- O`DONNELL: What the difference is? BENENSON: He paid zero in taxes -- O`DONNELL: Those are Romney`s returns and that is then -- BENENSON: Right -- O`DONNELL: A totally different case -- BENENSON: Zero in income taxes for a guy who claims to be a billionaire.
O`DONNELL: Right -- BENENSON: You know, I`ll give him credit, maybe he`s a billionaire, but zero taxes, you know what voters think when they think that? This is a guy who`s trying to scam the system. He`s a guy who`s trying to get by to take care of himself. He`s a guy who rooted for the housing crash in 2007 who said I`ll swoop in and I`ll profit on the backs of people who are losing their homes.
O`DONNELL: Social media has never been more active, more important in campaigns. We`ve never seen somebody who`s more active himself personally on social media if you just look at Twitter every night than Donald Trump. So, in your experience in dealing in campaigns in the past, most of the material you`ve had to deal with would come in the way of negative TV ads. Now, he can just put something up on Instagram. He can just tweet something -- it`s a different level of engagement with kind of a different threshold to get over. How do you choose what you respond to in that and what you don`t respond to? And do you -- BENENSON: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Worry about what seems to have been the mistake of the Bush campaign which was not responding directly to Donald Trump?
BENENSON: Well, look, I`m not going to comment on where Republicans went wrong in dealing with Donald Trump.
What I think we know and have known on the Democratic side for a while is that the free media and social media plays a very big role, notwithstanding the money we spend on paid TV. You have to be disciplined. We`re very focused on what we want to talk to the American people about. Presidential elections, Lawrence, at their core are a choice between two candidates. Voters are pretty savvy, I never underestimate the American electorate. They`re going to look at these two people and say which one of these two candidates I`m looking at is talking about my life, making a meaningful change and difference in my life going forward. And building the future I want for my family and the children -- and the children I`m raising. As opposed to someone who`s railing against everybody, talking about banning Muslims, saying hateful, bigoted things in the campaign. That`s not the America people want. They know we`re a diverse country.
That`s our strength and that`s the kind of candidate that I think Hillary Clinton will represent to them. And we have to stay disciplined and stay focused on their lives because that`s what this election is ultimately about.
O`DONNELL: I want to ask you, before you go, one thing about the Sanders support -- BENENSON: Right -- O`DONNELL: And the interesting comparisons between Hillary Clinton supporters at this time eight years ago, they were expressing more reluctance about voting for President Obama -- BENENSON: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Than the Sanders supporters are. But there`s a big difference because there`s a policy overlap between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders that did not exist eight years ago. I mean, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama agreed on every single thing except maybe one sentence of the healthcare plan --
BENENSON: Oh, we only had some differences -- O`DONNELL: OK -- BENENSON: On trade -- O`DONNELL: But let`s just -- (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: Let`s just listen to the policy overlap between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Let`s listen -- BENENSON: Yes -- O`DONNELL: To this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: Our trade policies for decades, NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR, PNTR with China, the TPP has been a disaster for working families.
TRUMP: The TPP is a horrible deal. It is a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble. SANDERS: I am sick and tired of the greed of corporate America and the greed of Wall Street. TRUMP: These bankers are not the nicest people in the world, just don`t feel bad. Somebody said, but you hurt the bank, I said the bank is vicious.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: So, there is that policy overlap on TPP, it is conceivable that a Trump voter or a Sanders voter might move to Trump over things like TPP.
BENENSON: Look, I think when it comes to our economic future, what Hillary Clinton has argued for, against Bernie Sanders, and let`s keep in mind she`s got 3 million more votes than Senator Sanders, is saying that America has to compete and win in a global economy. The way we do that is by investing in manufacturing, making things here that we sell to 95 percent of the world`s consumers that live outside of the United States. It`s why states like Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, have actually had record exports because they`ve been able to get the funding they need to make things and sell them overseas. We have to compete and win. We believe and Hillary Clinton believes we can win in this global economy. We`re not going to have a trade-free world, we`re going to have to sell our goods to the rest of the world. And that`s a solid, sound, trade policy that will help create jobs in America. We have to enforce tough trade agreements, we have to negotiate them. And if they`re not working, we`ve got to renegotiate them. And that`s been her position all the way through. The difference between her and Senator Sanders has been Senator Sanders says he opposes all trade agreements, Hillary Clinton doesn`t. O`DONNELL: So -- BENENSON: She evaluates -- O`DONNELL: Right -- BENENSON: Each one and they have to be in our interest economically and in no national -- (CROSSTALK)
O`DONNELL: So, if she`s elected president, she will still have the fast- track authority that President Obama achieved because it over -- it runs past his presidency. Does that mean she will drop TPP when elected president or pick it up and try to push it forward?
BENENSON: She has said there are provisions in that agreement that she would want to renegotiate and make stronger. In particular, the nations of orange provisions which she feels gives him advantages to China that they shouldn`t have in a global economy. We can compete with China and we can win, we just can`t give them a free pass and that`s what she`ll get tougher on when she`s president.
O`DONNELL: Joel Benenson, thanks for joining us tonight -- BENENSON: Thank you, Lawrence -- O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it -- BENENSON: Great -- O`DONNELL: Thank you. Back with us now, the panel actually getting their first word in here. David Corn, Rick Tyler, Catherine Rampell. David, I don`t know that we`ve seen this in campaigning before, what Donald Trump is trying to do in the reach-backs into Bill Clinton`s past and putting it on Hillary Clinton. And I don`t see that Hillary Clinton has ever had to deal with it at this level in her Senate campaigns or the past presidential campaigns.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: I mean, you have to go back a century or so to when they were campaigns talking about whether a presidential candidate had fathered a child illegitimately or not. But what we see with Donald Trump really is, he`s trying to create a toxic stew surrounding the Clinton campaign. And it doesn`t matter what he says, he uses the words, murder, you know, women, abuse, enabling, it`s all about creating an impression because ultimately, I think this campaign is boiling down to two major themes. On his side, it`s anger, it`s anger, it`s attitude. If you like him, you - - if you like his attitude, you support him. And what Hillary Clinton is offering is, you know, not as, you know, motivating emotionally, it`s confidence. I can do the job, here are my priorities, I`ll get things done. And so, he wants to keep this campaign on emotional terms, about passion and about fear. Whether you should fear ISIS or fear the Clintons because they kill people.
And it`s all part of the same thing.
O`DONNELL: Catherine, the younger voters and the voters who don`t, you know, study their flash cards of political memories all day are going to have trouble with names like Vince Foster that they`ve never heard of. And a lot of the way Trump presents this is in that quick code language that worked --
CATHERINE RAMPELL, OPINION COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: The dog whistle --
O`DONNELL: It worked in, you know, 1996 when those kinds of names -- RAMPELL: Well, I think -- O`DONNELL: Were fresh.
RAMPLELL: You know what? I`m not even sure it was so successful in 1996, especially on the sex scandal stuff. I mean, if you remember, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton`s approval ratings went through the roof in the late `90s when they were under heavy attack as a result of these various sex scandals. So, it`s not clear that repeating the same strategy is actually going to be so effective today, especially when memories are not as fresh.
O`DONNELL: Rick Tyler, Joel Benenson doesn`t want to refer to the lessons learned by Republicans running against Donald Trump. Are there lessons learned by Republicans running against Donald Trump that Hillary Clinton should be applying here?
RICK TYLER, POLITICAL ANALYST & CO-FOUNDER, FOUNDRY STRATEGIES: Yes, and some -- I`m not sure that our economy -- you know, look, Joel is brilliant, I respect him, I like him. But I think in one respect he`s -- he may not be right and that is, he says we`re going to talk about the issues people care about. We`ve not been talking about almost nearly any issues -- O`DONNELL: Right, yes -- TYLER: And Donald Trump is a master of the new media. He`s also used many of the network programs, he calls in early in the morning and begins to drive the day. He knows how to -- what we call in the business, win the day, win the day in the media.
He calls in early and gets to -- with his Twitter feed early, calls into the shows and they`re talking about what he wants to talk about all day long.
And Hillary struck back a little bit, but the big problem that Hillary has is as David referred to, the voters are angry. And what they`re angry at is politicians. It doesn`t matter what politicians say anymore. That`s what we learned in the Republican. You can reason with them, you can use the greatest eloquent rhetoric, you`re a politician. You`re not telling the truth, they want someone who`s not a politician, and that is I think most of Donald Trump`s -- a lot of Donald Trump`s success beside that -- CORN: So, that -- TYLER: For being a celebrity --
CORN: That`s certainly true within the Republican electorate which has been angry for years, I think that anger has been fuelled --
TYLER: Have you been to a Bernie rally?
CORN: Yes, but I still think that Bernie -- you know, if you ask Bernie`s supporters, if they`ll support Hillary, a lot do say yes -- TYLER: Yes -- CORN: And what are they listening to when they listen to Bernie? They`re actually listening to policy ideas. This guy is policy-driven, he`s message-driven. Donald Trump`s campaign is anger-driven, it`s anger over any analysis, anger over any policy. So, I do think that`s true for the Republican electorate and we`re going to have this great political science experiment this Fall about how farther that extends to independents and to the Democratic electorate.
TYLER: The base is, Bernie is talking about NAFTA, Hillary supported NAFTA, Bill Clinton put it into place. I think that`s going to be a real stumbling block.
O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to have to take a quick break here.
Coming up, Donald Trump as commander-in-chief. Why the "New York Times" columnist Tom Friedman says in his words, there is no question that ISIS wants Donald Trump to be president. And former national security and counterterrorism official Richard Clarke will join us. President Obama`s approval rating is the highest it`s been since he began his second term. Steve Kornacki will join us at the big board tonight to look at just how that might affect the general election. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: North Korea`s ambassador to the United Kingdom said today that his country has no interest in Donald Trump`s offer to open nuclear talks with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t take it as a meaningful one. We see it as nothing but dramatics of a popular actor to create a juncture favorable to his election campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Swing and a miss by the greatest negotiator of all time. Up next, Richard Clarke joins us to discuss Donald Trump as commander-in-chief and what it would mean for national security.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: American voters aren`t the only ones with an abiding interest in the outcome of the presidential election. People around the world watch our presidential campaigns and have their favorite candidates. And though our polls try to tell us in great detail what every segment of our society is thinking about the presidential election every week, what the rest of the world is thinking is largely guess-work. And what the Islamic State is thinking about our presidential election is something pollsters will never be able to tell us. Here is "New York Times" columnist Thomas Friedman`s educated guess.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) THOMAS FRIEDMAN, AUTHOR & JOURNALIST: I fear that ISIS, you know, would believe that Trump would radicalize the situation even more. So, I`m not blaming Trump for that, I`m simply saying that`s how they would see the dynamics of it.
DON IMUS, RADIO HOST: You mean, you think ISIS wants Trump to be president?
FRIEDMAN: Oh, no question about it. You know, they would want someone who they think would, you know, would do something more extreme than the other. You know, push America back into the Middle East and therefore inflame the situation and the ways that ISIS thinks would benefit them.
(END AUDIO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now, Richard Clarke, he served the last three presidents as a senior White House adviser on issues from cyber security to counterterrorism. He is also the author of the book "Pinnacle Event". Richard Clarke, first of all, your reaction to Tom Friedman`s guess about the Islamic State`s favorite candidate?
RICHARD CLARKE, AUTHOR & FORMER SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, I think Tom is probably right, but for a different reason than what he said. ISIS wants to recruit people in the Muslim world by telling them that the United States hates them. Hates the Muslim world. By saying that the United States is at war with the Muslim world.
We and our Arab allies have spent a lot of time and effort trying to persuade people that that`s not true. But Donald Trump win or lose is going to get tens of millions of votes for president and that will allow ISIS and al Qaeda to say look, I told you so, Americans hate anybody in the Islamic world and they are at war with us.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Bill Bradley said to Chuck Todd today about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRADLEY: I look at Donald Trump and I say who do you trust with your life? I think people ask themselves that question. I don`t trust my life with Donald Trump. I don`t trust him with his finger on the nuclear button. Just look how impulsive he`s been throughout this whole campaign. You need steadiness if you are the President of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Richard Clarke, Bill Bradley at this point is just a voter, that`s his responsibility here. But there will be people if Donald Trump walks into that White House on inauguration day, there will be people whose sworn duty it is working there and the kind of jobs that you had serving a president to advise a president facing these international terrorism. How do you suppose those people, the people in the kinds of jobs that you used to have there will deal with someone like a President Trump?
CLARKE: Well, first of all, it`s hard to know who they will be because most of the experts have said they won`t work for him. And it`s difficult to know what his policy is on these issues like terrorism. He said about ISIS that he has a secret plan to end the war with ISIS. He`s going to destroy ISIS, but it`s a secret how he`s going to do it. And I`m old enough to remember the last time we had a Republican candidate saying he had a secret plan to end the war, that was Richard Nixon in 1968. And his secret plan caused more Americans to die in Vietnam after he got elected than before. I`m very distrustful of secret plans.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Hillary Clinton said today about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: What he`s saying is being heard all over the world. And we just had proof that ISIS and other terrorist organizations are using his words to recruit. They just take it off the media, and they put it in their online propaganda. And they say this man is running for president. He`s the presumptive Republican nominee, look what he`s saying about Muslims. This is not just offensive, this is dangerous.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Richard Clarke, your reaction to that?
CLARKE: Well, they don`t even have to put it in their propaganda because it`s out there in regular media. And 1.3 billion Muslims are seeing it every day, and being reminded of it in all of their television broadcasts and all of their talk-shows. They`re reminded that one of the two American candidates for president has said that he won`t let Muslims into the United States. That`s turning off a very large number of people, perhaps turning some people into ISIS supporters. It`s losing ground that we have fought hard to regain against al Qaeda and against ISIS.
O`DONNELL: I`d like you to listen to something that Perry O`Brien said yesterday, he`s one of the veterans who protested at Trump Tower yesterday.
Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY O`BRIEN, VETERAN: I think many of us gathered here feel that Donald Trump as commander-in-chief would put American lives at risk and particularly put our fellow U.S. troops who are still serving overseas in greater danger. He`s shown to be reckless, impulsive and combines inexperience with bravado and confidence which is a deadly combination as many of us who have served overseas know. It`s guys like that that get people killed on battlefields.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Combines inexperience with bravado and confidence. What`s your reaction to what Perry O`Brien said?
CLARKE: Well, and indecision. We don`t know and I don`t think he knows what he would do. One day he said he would send 20,000 to 30,000 more troops to fight ISIS, and the week later he said, no, he never said that. So, it`s very difficult to know what he would do because I don`t think he knows, and he`s not getting advice from anybody who`s an expert on the issue. So, if he is elected president, it`s very difficult to know. He`s very impulsive.
I mean, it`s a good thing the North Koreans are not going to meet with him, you know, if he becomes president because you can imagine that that meeting could break out into a nuclear war.
O`DONNELL: Richard Clarke, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
CLARKE: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Up next, Donald Trump, the $6 million man for veterans.
Remember when he said he raised $6 million for veterans? He didn`t. And remember when he said he gave a million dollars of his own money that night for veterans? He didn`t, that`s next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JERRY LEWIS, COMEDIAN: All right.
Break it up.
Break it up.
What is this here?
Break it up.
I think it is about time, do not you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Thank you.
LEWIS: I think it is about time.
(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was Jerry Lewis and a couple of guys who dropped by to help him with his telethon for muscular dystrophy in 1976. It is a telethon that Jerry Lewis did for 44 years, raising over $2 billion.
And, throughout the telethon, every telethon, Jerry Lewis kept you posted hour by hour on exactly how much money he was raising.
And, here is the amazing thing about Jerry Lewis telethon. There was always a difference between the number that Jerry announced at the end of the telethon and the actual amount that he ended up raising. And, the actual amount was always more than he announced on T.V. because when the telethon went off the air, the telephones kept ringing and people kept giving for hours.
And, so, as much credit as Jerry Lewis got for how much money he was raising on T.V., he never actually got the full credit for the full amounts he was raising in those telethons on television?
Jerry Lewis was able to keep track of every dollar he was raising every hour of the telethon.
But Donald Trump is no Jerry Lewis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a special night for me and I had no idea this was going to happen.
We started out literally 24 hours ago, maybe less, we had no idea and we went out.
We set up the website.
I called some friends and we just cracked -- the sign was just given.
We just cracked $6 million, right?
(AUDIENCE CHEERING AND APPLAUDING) (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Donald Trump gave $1 million, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: So, what happened to the $6 million that Donald Trump said he raised on January 28th? Back with us, MSNBC Contributors, Catherine Rampell, Rick Tyler and David Corn.
And, Catherine, the "Washington Post" did the home work on this, found out the most they could vaguely approximate was half the $6 million. RAMPELL: Right. O`DONNELL: $3.1 million and absolute zero from Donald Trump -- until, until apparently last night after veterans went to Trump tower, protested, after we were talking about it on this program.
RAMPELL: After his own spokesman claimed that the money had already been donated.
O`DONNELL: Yes. RAMPELL: Mind you. I mean it is interesting, if a candidate on "The Apprentice" had made the same accounting screw-up that Donald Trump had made, they probably would have gotten fired, I would say.
And, the only reason why he actually ended up giving the money is because members of the lame stream media held his feet to the fire and kept asking and kept asking and he kept blowing them off.
O`DONNELL: Let us listen to what U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Alexander McCoy said about this last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALXANDER MCCOY, U.S. MARINE CORPS VETERAN: There has been no transparency.
There has been no accountability.
The numbers that they have been quoting had been going all over the place.
At the fund raiser, he claimed for certain that they had $6 million raised.
O`DONNELL: Yes. MCCOY: Now, the campaign was saying $4.5 million.
Now, 4 to 6?
How much money?
We do not really know.
Where is it going?
They will not really tell us.
We have news organizations having to trying to track it down.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And, David Corn, as he was talking, Donald Trump was angrily tweeting about the media being so nasty about this.
CORN: Well, you know, it is not a screw-up. I will take a little issue with you. It is part of his general SOP. He is a con man. He has exaggerated every number that has ever come between his brain and his lips.
And, so, you know, he just throws numbers out.
It does not really matter and this is one reason why it is important to see his taxes, you know, to segueway here a bit. Because taxes are where you see how much money you make in charitable donations. He has a Trump foundation. He donates absolutely nothing. O`DONNELL: Yes. CORN: Not a penny to the Trump foundation. It is all from other sources and he says, "Well, I give it myself, well then you can see that on his taxes. O`DONNELL: Right. CORN: And, we can see how much he pays on his taxes. There is no number he has ever used that you should take at face value. And, so that is why the taxes and any returns from these veterans groups, to some groups he supported in the past are not even real veterans groups, according to our other organizations and charitable watchdogs.
RAMPELL: And, when he released a list or his campaign released a list of all of the charitable donations that he had made over, I do not know, the last several years or something like that, it was basically free rounds of golf --
O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes, no cash.
RAMPELL: -- that his many clubs had given. All in kinds.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Rick Tyler, so, the question here obviously becomes political. I mean, here is Trump, and that night he was, of course, skipping the debate. RICK TYLER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That is right. O`DONNELL: The FOX News debate because he was afraid of another Megyn Kelly question, Fox News debate in Iowa. He was skipping it and saying, "I am going to do something more important. I am going to raise -- I have raised $6 million," which he did not.
So, he gets up there and he lies about how much money they are raising that night. He allows his spokesperson to lie for the last few days about him having given the million dollars already. Then when he tells the "Washington Post" today, "I just gave the million dollars yesterday." He then says that his campaign manager, who was lying about it already, would have had no idea whether I gave the money before or not.
So, in the way that whole thing plays out, after Marco Rubio labelled him a con man, after Ted Cruz called him a con man, after others have called him a con man, Hillary Clinton Clinton`s Super PAC has an ad calling him a con man. The one thing you do not want to get caught doing in the campaign is being a con man. Would not that be the one thing you are trying to avoid.
TYLER: It is except that the voters think the politicians are actually the con man. So, there is a natural tension between Donald Trump, where everybody is looking at him as a con man. By the way, he is famous for coming into this town, leaving a fundraiser and saying, "Put me down for 20 and that is the end of it. (LAUGHING) O`DONNELL: Yes. TYLER: We have heard that story many times. But, look, he is running against established politicians. He vanquished 14 of them in the republican primary. Now, he is running against the quintessential politician, who has been around for decades and he is reminding them that they are the con men.
O`DONNELL: Talk about the difference, though, between the dynamics in a republican primary -- TYLER: Right. O`DONNELL: -- versus where he is now in the general election. Are you saying that there really is not a difference between?
TYLER: I think there are some differences. A lot of people -- there is a certain segment of the population who is going to vote for Hillary Clinton for many different reasons. But, there is a large population, I believe, and we do not know yet, that is right now attached to Bernie Sanders.
The population that is turning out and the thing that this campaign is centered on ironically is white working class and two candidates have them.
Donald Trump has them and Bernie Sanders has them. And, if Hillary Clinton cannot maintain them, Donald Trump will get them. So,the question to your question is which con man do you believe?
O`DONNELL: David, does this have traction? Every time one of these crazy Trump things comes up -- CORN: Yes. O`DONNELL: We say, "Will this affect the voters?" What we have been saying up to now is, "Will it affect republican primary voters?" CORN: Yes. Yes. O`DONNELL: Now, we are talking about a different group. What has changed?
CORN: Well, it is a group of people who have decided not to vote in republican primaries. And, will they be susceptible to these sort of lines of argument? Well -- especially on the women`s issues, when they hear more of the ads, more of the clips from Howard Stern when he is dissing women in the worst terms, ways that seem to be misogyny to me.
You know, if you hear enough of that, will that keep him toxic? I mean, I think that is what -- you know, we talked with Joel Benenson earlier, you did, about what their goal is. Because I think they have to keep making him toxic, radioactive, unacceptable in every term, because otherwise, there are parts of his appeal that are appealing.
TYLER: Except people who were making the accusations are politicians.
CORN: Well, that is a problem, but there is also some -- the media and the media has a role in vetting both candidates.
TYLER: They would come in second.
(LAUGHING) O`DONNELL: But Catherine specifically to the veterans, he has made such a big deal of Donald Trump will be the greatest ever for the veterans. And, here he is --
RAMPELL: He is going to be the greatest ever for everyone.
O`DONNELL: Yes, but the veterans he has been very specific about and this is a very specific accusation about him and veterans.
RAMPELL: This is not the only way that he has let down the veterans, mind you. He dissed P.O.W.s, remember? O`DONNELL: Yes, right. RAMPELL: He, you know, not only did he dodge the draft himself, he has made light of people who served in Vietnam talking about how his womanizing and potential exposure to STDs was his own personal Vietnam. I mean these are not things that are respectful of people who actually wear uniforms and defend our freedoms overseas.
O`DONNELL: All right. Quick break here. David Corn, Rick Tyler and Catherine Rampell, thank you all for joining us tonight.
Coming up, how President Obama`s popularity could affect the general election.
(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: We are 17 minutes from poll closing in Washington state tonight, but first here is how it looks on the campaign trail today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSE DIAZ-BALART, NBC ANCHOR, "NIGHTLY NEWS" PROGRAM: More than five months to go till the election and the race is already getting, well, down into the mud.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Donald Trump going for the jag already.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: It started with Donald Trump unleashing an Instagram ad swiping at Bill Clinton`s sexual past.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR, "MTP DAILY" PROGRAM: Trump also reviving a years old conspiracy theory over the death of former Deputy White House Council Vince Foster.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KRISTEN WELKER, NBC WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The Clinton campaign is continuing to insist they are not going to engage in these personal attacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Hillary Clinton will be so bad for our economy, so bad for jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: Facts are the facts. You are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts, right? (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: She is in a two-pronged fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC HOST OF "MSNBC LIVE" PROGRAM: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are battling for votes in California.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are 475 delegates up for grabs.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: Thank you, Riverside! (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WELKER: How can you argue that this primary battle is not in some ways hurting her? (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Would Bernie Sanders be hurting Hillary Clinton if it turns out that she is the nominee?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Actually, he is. I mean some people would argue yes, some people would argue no. I think there is a lot of people that just are not going to support Hillary.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: We are going to win here in California and win big.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WELKER: Your main goal is to defeat Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: Donald Trump is toast.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WELKER: Do you feel a sense of loyalty to the Democratic Party?
SANDERS: I have a very strong sense that Donald Trump would be a disaster if he were elected president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Well, the disapproval ratings for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are reaching record highs. President Obama now has the highest approval ratings he has had since his second inauguration. MSNBC Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki joins us mow with a look at what that could mean for the presidential campaign.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is a big wild card, Lawrence, because there is this thing where it is tough for one political party to control the White House for three consecutive terms. That is what democrats -- that is what Hillary will be trying to pull off here.
So, we thought we could take a look at the last several two-term presidents like Barack Obama is right now, where they stood at this point in their presidency, this point in the campaign to replace them and what it meant for how that campaign turned out.
So, you start with Barack Obama, as you say, his numbers have ticked up over 50 percent right now, 51 percent approval rating. He had been stuck in the mid-40s for a lot of his term. So, sort of a high watermark here for Barack Obama.
Let us compare it, though, obviously a lot better than the last two-term president. This time in 2008, George W. Bush`s approval ratings were south of 30 percent. Remember, he did not even appear at the republican national convention that summer.
His endorsement of John McCain was an event where it seemed like John McCain was trying to keep as much distance as he could. Bush stayed off the campaign trail in 2008. If you look back in 2008, here is Bill Clinton. He was at 60 percent, but this comes with a big asterisk, this was in the aftermath of the Monica Lewinsky affair.
There were all sorts of controversy among democrats. Should Clinton be campaigning for Al Gore? Should he stay on the sidelines? In the end, Al Gore decided, there is too much risk. Bill Clinton is going to stay on the sidelines with that 60 percent approval rating, because he was afraid that the personal shortcomings of Bill Clinton will offend voters. And, then, you can go back to Ronald Reagan, 1988. Reagan was at just 48 percent. This was actually lower than Obama is right now. Reagan, though, he was on his way back up. He had been weighted down by the Iran-contra scandal of 1986 to 1987.
Certainly, in the fall of `88, he was very active on the campaign trail for his vice president, George Bush, Sr., who won. So, actually, if there is a comparable one here, it is probably is Reagan.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Steve. Fascinating stuff.
Coming up, will Donald Trump`s attacks on Bill Clinton hurt Hillary Clinton? Joining us next, Susan Del Percio and Maria Teresa Kumar.
(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) TRUMP: We cannot have four more years of Obama and I think it is going to be Obama-light. If it is Hillary, it is Obama-life. If this group ever gets into the White House again, we are not going to have a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Susan Del Percio, a republican strategist who served in the administration of New York Mayok Rudy Giuliani and MSNBC Contributor Maria Teresa Kumar.
Susan, the Trump attacks on Hillary Clinton via her husband, you remember the `90s. You remember the dynamics of that. I do not know what the models are to use for this. I am not sure whatever the lessons of the `90s were work now.
SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There are no models.
O`DONNELL: Yes. DEL PERCIO: It does not apply. We have also never seen the two leading candidates has such high negative numbers going into the general elections.
So, the models have been broken. I would argue just with Donald Trump in the race that probably breaks every model to mankind. O`DONNELL: Yes. DEL PERCIO: The fact that he has done this, everyone -- you know, it sounds surprising, did he jump the shark? Did he go too far? Not in Donald Trumpland. And, he is still right now, trying to get the Republican Party united. And, the best way to unite the Republican Party is to go after Bill and Hillary Clinton. And, that is what he is doing.
O`DONNELL: Yes. So, there is that, Maria Teresa, that he is still in that process of bringing in the Cruz voters, bringing in those people, who did not want to vote for him. And, he is showing you, "Look, this is how hard I will hit her."
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, "VOTO LATINO": Right. And, I think that, that is actually was unfortunately appealing for mobilizing the space.
And, he has let a genie out of the bottle that whether or not he wins or loses, the next candidate is basically primed to reap the benefits of something that has become pretty ugly in politics. And, I do not think we have ever seen this, at least to the level of that.
The difference between why people do not like Hillary is that they have a fundamental problem and they feel like she is elitist. People do not like Donald Trump is because they feel unsafe in their communities. I mean it is a very stark difference.
DEL PERCIO: Wait, but the next candidate -- you know, the next race, they have to be a Donald Trump complete outsider to reproduce this. This has never happened before because no politician has ever dared gone there before because they do not even know how to run that kind of race.
KUMAR: Well, what is interesting is that there is -- I think everybody, the voting public, they all understand that Donald Trump, he, himself, has skeletons in his closet that might mirror a lot of these allegations. He does not seem to care. So, when you are trying to do opposition research, how do you compete against that?
DEL PERCIO: But, the public does not judge him and it must be driving the Hillary Clinton folks crazy. The public does not judge him the way they judge other politicians. They judge him whether as a celebrity --
KUMAR: As the outsider he claims to be.
DEL PERCIO: -- as a celebrity, as a businessman, they do not hold them to the same standards. So, he says -- he wants it to happen. I think he is using this debate, Bill Clinton, frankly, to really get him to explode on something.
(LAUGHING) KUMAR: No. I think he is actually trying to diminish Bill Clinton, so that Hillary pulls him back and does not use him, just similarly like how Al Gore did not use him. He has the `90s record that actually had the highest press for a lot of individuals right now, but cannot remember that or who are living with their parents and remember what their parents used to tell them what the `90s were like. So, it is tough.
O`DONNELL: You mentioned that the next candidate or the model -- what candidates are learning now is you have to be an outsider, which is awful bad news for senators. But look who the other big outsider is. A kind of a career politician, Bernie Sanders, you know, mayor -- DEL PERCIO: Right. O`DONNELL: Member of the House of Representatives, senator. And, he is playing the outsider role in a totally different way and doing it on substance. DEL PERCIO: Yes. And, that is why if you have someone who is not part of the political system they play by one set of the rules. And, even Bernie Sanders is still playing by a certain set.
Remember when he did that first debate and he said "No one cares about your e-mails" and he put that to bed really quickly. That is because he still was playing with some set of standard political rules -- KUMAR: Decorum.
DEL PERCIO: Yes. Decorum, then there is that.
(LAUGHING) O`DONNELL: Let us listen to what Donald Trump said tonight in New Mexico at a rally talking about Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: She is a total lightweight, believe me. I watch her speaking. She always uses the teleprompter. I watch her speaking. We are going to win north and south and east and west.
(AUDIENCE CHEERING) And, I will never say this, but she screams. It drives me crazy. I did not say it. I cannot listen. She goes "And Donald Trump is a terrible person. And, he wanted to buy housing when it was at a low point." Who the hell does not? Who does not?
(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: So, Maria Teresa, that is his defense of the Clinton campaign coming after him for trying to be a profiteer on the big housing loses that people suffered.
KUMAR: I think he is basically trying to tell people, "Look, you know, I basically went to bargain basement K-Mart and got whatever I wanted and you should, too." But he uses this as bait-and-switch because he actually does not have deep policy recommendations and actually I do not think he has solutions. But, when you are listening to him there. You actually feel like he is talking in code to people that had been in a marriage for way too long and they actually are tired of listening to their wife speak and all this and that gins it up.
You are like, "He is the guy I actually want to have a beer with, he may understood my marital problems." I do not know how effective that is in the long term, but he is ginning up his base.
DEL PERCIO: But, this is widely part of a strategy that the Clintons are going to use as far as saying they are going to go after his business dealings, whether his bankruptcies. This is going to -- they are basically going to try to bain capital him, exactly what Obama`s folks did to -- KUMAR: Mitt Romney.
DEL PERCIO: Mitt Romney. Yes, exactly. O`DONNELL: And, that will be our "Last Word" tonight. Susan Del Percio and Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you.
KUMAR: Thank you. DEL PERCIO: Thank you. O`DONNELL: We are seconds away from the polls closing in Washinton States Republican Primary. Chris Matthews continues our live coverage right now.