Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: August 9, 2016 Guest: Boris Epshteyn, Katie Packer, Mike Murphy, J.R. Martinez
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence -- every four years. That`s going to do it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, and now time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell.
Over to you, Lawrence, how are you doing?
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Steve, very much, we might have Paul Ryan any minute now, so we`ve got to get right to it.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. We have breaking news tonight. Another big loss for Donald Trump, we`re waiting to hear from Paul Ryan at any moment after he just won his re-election primary after Donald Trump flirted with Paul Ryan`s opponent before very reluctantly.
And I don`t know, looked sort of painful when he endorsed Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan takes questions tonight, he will surely be asked about Donald Trump`s comments today.
And a Trump campaign spokesman will join us in one of those rare appearances here by a Trump campaign spokesman. We`re very grateful for that.
He`ll probably defend -- he will defend Donald Trump`s comments today about his Second Amendment supporters finding a way to end Hillary Clinton`s presidency after she is elected.
And according to polls out last week, if the election were held last week, Hillary Clinton would have won in an electoral college landslide.
And new polls out this week, right now tonight indicate that a lot more land would slide on to Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don`t know, but I`ll tell you what.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If someone else had said that outside the hall, he`d be in the back of a police wagon now with the Secret Service questioning him.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Countenancing violence is not something any leader should do.
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Donald Trump is clearly saying, was that people who cherish that right should be involved in the political process and let their voice be heard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should understand that that`s not how most people interpreted it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is an example of Donald Trump`s looseness with language.
TRUMP: I think it`s time maybe for a little tougher tone, folks, you don`t know --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is insanity. It`s a sickness. It`s an evil.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I have no idea what he`s up to and I`ve stopped trying to figure it out. I really have.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: No one owns Donald Trump.
TRUMP: We have a person that shouldn`t be able to run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Secret Service agents take the same oath of office that thousands of other federal employees do. It`s the same one that I took working in the Senate.
To support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. There`s not a word in there about taking a bullet.
But Secret Service agents are the only people who, in effect, under that very same oath that other federal employees take solemnly pledge to take a bullet for someone else.
At any given moment, they might have to take a bullet for someone they like and respect or someone they don`t like. Someone they voted for or someone they voted against.
The President, the President`s family, the vice president, the vice president`s family, presidential candidates and their families, former presidents.
Just about every minute of the day, there`s a Secret Service agent somewhere protecting someone in public for whom that agent is ready to take a bullet.
There is no job with a greater burden than that. Through it all, through every minute of that vitally important position, the Secret Service holds in the middle of our politics, the Secret Service never comments on politics until today.
For the first time in the history of the Secret Service, the Secret Service felt compelled to officially comment on something one of the presidential candidate`s said. Here is what got the Secret Service`s attention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Hillary wants to abolish, essentially, abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick --
If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks, although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Everyone knew, and you can see this in the background there with some of those people. Everyone knew as soon as Donald Trump said that, that he had once again crossed a line that no one knew was there.
No one knew a presidential candidate would attack a gold star family as Donald Trump did last week. And no one knew a presidential candidate could make a reference to the possibility of their opponent being assassinated if the opponent is elected president and put in that position to select her judges.
That could never happen in America, that kind of talk. But the only reason it could never happen is that Donald Trump had never run for president before.
Social media lit up after Donald Trump said that with questions about whether Donald Trump had just committed a crime by saying something life- threatening about a presidential candidate.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: If someone else had said that outside the hall, he`d be in the back of a police wagon now with the Secret Service questioning him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Secret Service does not need to have proof of a crime to question people who threaten people under Secret Service protection.
The Secret Service has many times questioned people for less than what Donald Trump said today. As the public fury mounted this afternoon, the Secret Service issued this statement. "The Secret Service is aware of the comments made earlier this afternoon."
The Trump campaign had a choice. They could use the insanity defense which is increasingly credible with Donald Trump. They could use the "it was a joke" defense, but they didn`t choose either one of those.
They chose the old reliable Trump defense that you did not hear what you just heard. The campaign issued a statement that did not actually defend what Donald Trump said.
Presumably because the campaign was choosing to pretend that he didn`t say what you just heard, and what the Secret Service clearly heard.
Here is the Trump campaign`s statement. It`s called the power of unification. "Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified which gives them great political power.
And this year they will be voting in record numbers and it won`t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump."
The Trump campaign`s spin is that Donald Trump was talking about Second Amendment people voting for him so that Hillary Clinton never gets to become president and never gets to pick judges.
The problem with that, of course, is what Donald Trump actually said, which we`ll listen to again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick --
If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks, although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: OK, now let`s look at those words. "If she gets to pick" -- if she gets to pick her judges." Now, if she gets to pick her judges means, if she`s elected president.
Because she will never get to pick judges if she`s not elected president. So, if she gets to pick judges, Donald Trump`s words means if she is elected president, there is no other meaning to that.
And what does he say will happen in that future after those words, after those voters of his, those Second Amendment voters have failed to elect Donald Trump president, and Hillary Clinton is elected president.
In that future, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. And then, Donald Trump thinks about it in a way that only the twisted mind of Donald Trump could, nothing you can do, folks.
"Although, the Second Amendment people, maybe there is." The Secret Service heard those words exactly the same way I did, exactly the same way you just did.
Which is Donald Trump saying that if Hillary Clinton is elected, there`s nothing you can do. Which would have been a perfectly OK place to stop. But he didn`t.
And he then added, although "the Second Amendment people, maybe there is." In other words, for people with guns, maybe there is a way to stop President Hillary Clinton from selecting judges after she gets elected with guns.
Joining us now, Boris Epshteyn; he`s a senior adviser for the Trump-Pence 2016 campaign. Also with us Katie Packer, GOP strategist, founder of anti- Trump PAC Our Principles, she`s also an Msnbc contributor.
Boris, has the Secret Service question Donald Trump about what he said today?
BORIS EPSHTEYN, SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP-PENCE 2016 CAMPAIGN: I have no idea what the Secret Service has or has not done, I am not aware of any such questions. I`ll assume they have not.
And you know, based on their comment, all they said they were aware. So, let`s say for assumption is that they have not.
O`DONNELL: You`ve never seen -- you`ve been around a lot of campaigns, you have never seen the Secret Service comment on something one of your candidates have said.
EPSHTEYN: The Secret Service actually has commented on goings on the campaign events a lot including --
O`DONNELL: Not anything a candidate has said ever --
EPSHTEYN: Listen, I --
O`DONNELL: In the history of the service.
EPSHTEYN: Whether I have seen or I have not or know if they haven`t, I haven`t gone through the history of the Secret Service or the Treasury Department.
So, I can`t tell you whether they have or have not in the past. I mean their comment, which is whether there are no comment on Twitter saying that they`re aware of something.
O`DONNELL: So, Boris, are you going to do that thing -- you`re not going to use the insanity defense here, you`re not going to use the joke defense.
Are you going to use the Trump campaign official thing that we didn`t hear and the Secret Service didn`t hear what the Secret Service thought it heard.
EPSHTEYN: Here`s what I`m going to -- not going to do. I`m not going to parse words, I`m not going to go through a set --
O`DONNELL: We`re not parsing words --
EPSHTEYN: And talk about someone`s --
O`DONNELL: Pick any word you want, yes --
EPSHTEYN: Intonation and what he meant.
O`DONNELL: No, it`s not about intonation.
EPSHTEYN: Well, here`s what they`ll say. There are 90 million, over 90 million legal gun owners in this country, that`s a lot of people and those people make a huge voting bloc.
And they need to understand what the binary choice is in this election, and it`s for Donald Trump who respects the Second Amendment right, for Hillary Clinton who will not.
I`d also love to talk about issues like the Orlando killer`s father being at the Hillary Clinton event front and center with -- you know, in shock right behind -- right behind her.
And saying that he was invited there by the Democrat Party. What does that mean? What does that say about where she stands on terrorism and where she stands on safety for this country?
I think that`s probably more important than parsing words from somebody and discussing what his intonation meant.
O`DONNELL: Katie Packer, I didn`t parse words to discuss intonation, I simply quoted Donald Trump`s words which have a very clear, future tense implication in them that if Hillary Clinton is president, his Second Amendment people might be the only people who can do anything about preventing her from selecting judges.
You`ve been in a lot of campaigns, Katie, you`ve never had the Secret Service comment on anything your candidate had to say. What was your reaction to this unfolding today?
KATIE PACKER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know, I was absolutely horrified when I saw it. You know, working for Mitt Romney in 2012, I witnessed a lot of threats to our candidate.
I know how serious the job is that the Secret Service is charged to do. And you know, this is just another example of Donald Trump`s words, which are very careless and irresponsible.
And this was one of those times where it actually crossed the line into dangerous. His own spokesperson, Katrina Pierson responded by saying, well, nobody is saying there should be an assassination, but just that they could be which I mean, just compounded it.
So, very clearly she heard the same thing that we all heard. And you know, these spokes people for the Trump campaign can keep on being Baghdad Bob and pretending like these things aren`t being said.
But Republicans are growing really tired of having to defend this candidate and explain away the things that he has said every time he throws up all over himself.
And it`s very irresponsible, like I said, it crossed the line into dangerous when you have a lot of followers, some of whom, you know, are a little unhinged.
We`ve seen examples of this and you never know who is going to be guided by your words. And that`s why as a candidate you have to take responsibility and be very serious.
And Donald Trump should step up in this particular case and say, look, that is not what I meant to say and I am sorry. And that`s the way to fix this.
O`DONNELL: OK, Boris, you immigrated from Russia in `93 you came here, Garry Kasparov lives here too from Russia.
I want to read to you some of the things he said because he relates this very much to his Russian experience, something that you share with him.
Garry Kasparov today said, "Putin`s followers often joke about opposition leaders being killed. Posters with crosshairs et cetera. Then they are murdered and it`s no joke.
Trump joking about someone shooting Hillary is sick and dangerous, it`s how unbalanced people are inspired to murder, it trivializes violence.
When a Putin regime critic or opposition member is murdered, westerners say Putin wouldn`t do that, I make him -- I make him look bad as if he cares.
It`s not about giving the order to murder, creating cultural violence, hatred, impunity is enough." He goes on a little bit more. And there`s -- what about that Boris, the notion that you aren`t in control of your audience.
You know, the guy who shot Reagan went to see a movie that didn`t inspire anyone else to think that way.
EPSHTEYN: He wanted to impress a girl.
O`DONNELL: So, you`re not in control of the audience. Do you share any of Garry Kasparov`s worries there about echoes of the way Putin talks about things.
EPSHTEYN: Well, I think I disagree with --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
EPSHTEYN: Mr. Kasparov. And I think he`s playing into a left narrative of trying to tie Donald Trump to Putin which is, has no place whatsoever and has no real bearing.
In fact, Donald Trump very clearly today, actually giving an interview after that speech that you`ve quoted and said that I in no way was inciting violence. I was only talking about political hatch. And political hatch --
O`DONNELL: All he apologized? --
EPSHTEYN: Is voting, he doesn`t have to apologize. He was the one "Politico" asked him which is voting -- and by the way, if she were to get elected, there`s other political action you could take, there`s legal action as you know, right?
Because (INAUDIBLE) you could potentially before prevent --
O`DONNELL: There`s no legal action you can take to prevent a Supreme Court Justice from being selected.
EPSHTEYN: But when you --
O`DONNELL: Only the Senate can do that --
EPSHTEYN: But once they are elected and you are -- once the Justice is selected and confirmed, you could if there`s a decision you disagree with, you could petition the court or you could, you know, petition -- a sort of lawsuit that goes against whatever that decision that is.
So, there are a lot of non violent ways that you could deal with anything that`s out there that you disagree with as an American.
O`DONNELL: OK, we`re going to leave this where it is.
EPSHTEYN: OK --
O`DONNELL: I think the audience heard my reading of what this is. I think they understand the Secret Service reading.
They get what you`re trying to say about it and we`ll see how much of --
EPSHTEYN: Some will agree, some won`t.
O`DONNELL: Some will, some will agree --
EPSHTEYN: OK --
O`DONNELL: There are viewers out there who are going to agree with you, they`re on your side. I want to get to like a few other quick things.
The IRS audit of Donald Trump, there`s absolutely no proof this is going on. As you know, the lawyers letter that he put out never used the word audit.
Will he release the IRS audit letter that was sent to him, the form letter that the IRS sends to everyone who is being audited?
EPSHTEYN: Donald Trump is an individual, it`s his right whether to release his taxes or any tax-related information. But more importantly, he has released 104 pages of financial information, financial disclosure that every candidate has to.
And as you probably know, there`s much more information in any financial disclosure form than there is in any tax from, I, as a business owner, and I know that from my experience as well.
O`DONNELL: You worked on the Sarah Palin campaign.
EPSHTEYN: The McCain-Palin campaign.
O`DONNELL: That -- but you were primarily assigned to Palin when she --
EPSHTEYN: Well, she came on one of the campaign as a McCain campaign once Sarah Palin was selected -- as selected as the --
O`DONNELL: Who do you think is more fit for the presidency, Sarah Palin or Donald Trump?
EPSHTEYN: I think Donald Trump is extremely fit for the presidency. He is running based on his record, based on great new ideas for this country and the economy and national security.
So, I think he is perfectly fit for the presidency as Sarah Palin was in 2008 when she was running, now she`s a private individual.
O`DONNELL: I want you to listen to something that Donald Trump said today about his wife`s immigration status. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: By the way, they said my wife Melania might have come in illegally, can you believe that one? No, they said -- headlines "maybe she came in illegally".
"Maybe". Let me tell you one thing, she has got it so documented, so she`s going to have a little news conference over the next couple of weeks, that`s good. That`s good. I love it. I love it.
They said, Melania Trump may have come into our country illegally and how would that be for Donald Trump?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So Melania Trump, as he said is going to have a little news conference on this subject. Will she release all of her immigration records?
EPSHTEYN: Again, you`d have to ask Melania Trump. Those are personal documents. I know for my family, those are very, you know, documents and you`d have to decide what you will do with them.
She`s not running for president, she`s a spouse, usually spouses, you know, are outside of this discussion. But she obviously has taken this to heart and is willing to have a press conference at some point and discuss it.
O`DONNELL: Katie Packer, we have polls indicating increasing problems for Donald Trump, the last round of polls look bad, the new round the polls look worse.
Do you see any possible reversal of this momentum for Donald Trump especially if he`s going to -- at least once a week set off some kind of explosion like he did today?
PACKER: Well, I suppose it`s possible that, you know, Hillary Clinton could end up going to jail between now and November.
It`s not very likely under any other scenario. I don`t see a path for Donald Trump. I mean, he is starting to show weakness in states where Governor Romney won handily in 2012.
And we haven`t seen any of, you know, his big plans to turn states like Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin into Republican states.
This is a game of addition, not division and everything that Donald Trump does from week to week causes his support to erode further.
And so, you know, I think it`s looking pretty bad for him right now.
O`DONNELL: Boris, a quick last word about the polls. You`re in a campaign staff that was reported last week to be suicidal. You don`t look suicidal to me.
EPSHTEYN: I`m not suicidal, I`m very happy. And I was actually at headquarters that night, nobody was suicidal at the news conference --
O`DONNELL: But the polls have gotten worse since then.
EPSHTEYN: Since -- if you look at Ohio for example, the key state of Ohio. When you count in Johnson and Stein within 2 points.
Johnson was leading 2 points, 4 points, still within the margin of error, you do not count those two.
He`s either up or tied in Florida, that`s a very important state obviously. But some (INAUDIBLE) right now is about eight or ten, but 91 days to go to the election.
We are very confident. What I would love to see is some of these Republicans out there like Katie to come around to our side and realize that it is a binary choice between Donald Trump who represents the Republican Party and the 14 million voters who voted for him in the primary and Hillary Clinton who represents the same old field of politics --
O`DONNELL: Right, time is running, I`m going to have to speak for Katie, she ain`t coming around.
EPSHTEYN: Maybe --
O`DONNELL: You`re going to -- you don`t --
EPSHTEYN: You don`t know what she`s going to do --
O`DONNELL: You`re going to have to find --
EPSHTEYN: You don`t know --
O`DONNELL: Another Republican --
EPSHTEYN: You don`t know --
O`DONNELL: Quickly, before we go, why did Donald Trump lie about getting a letter from the NFL?
EPSHTEYN: It was not a lie, you`d have to ask --
O`DONNELL: What? He didn`t get a letter from the NFL --
EPSHTEYN: You`d have to ask him about --
O`DONNELL: Well, it`s a lie if that`s not a lie --
EPSHTEYN: I don`t check his personal mail.
O`DONNELL: All right, Boris Epshteyn, thank you very much --
EPSHTEYN: Thanks for having me --
O`DONNELL: For coming in --
EPSHTEYN: Appreciate it --
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it --
EPSHTEYN: Thank you --
O`DONNELL: Katie Packer, thanks for joining us again, I appreciate that. We are awaiting a news conference any moment from Paul Ryan after his win in Wisconsin.
Tonight, he`ll probably get a question about what Donald Trump said today. Also coming up in the war room, Republican campaign veteran Mike Murphy will read these polls and tell us if he sees a landslide in the making.
And on this day in history, Republican President Richard Nixon was driven out of office, forced to resign and pardoned by the incoming president for any crimes that President Nixon might have committed.
If Donald Trump was in politics back then, what nickname would he have come up with for Richard Nixon.
O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look inside the polls that are showing what could be a developing electoral college landslide for Hillary Clinton.
In two swing states, Hillary Clinton is ahead of Donald Trump. In a category that Democrats have not won since 1952, white college-educated voters.
A new Quinnipiac poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump in Ohio by 10 points and leading Pennsylvania by 15 points in that category among white voters with a college education.
In Florida, Trump is leading in that category by 9 points. Up next, Paul Ryan`s race in Wisconsin is news this hour. He`s going to be commenting at any moment.
He surely will get questions about Donald Trump if there are any questions, we`re going to be right back with that.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s LAST WORD campaign war room. The Clinton campaign war room is now investing in two states that have voted Republican for the last 20 years, Arizona and Georgia.
Hillary Clinton`s running mate Senator Tim Kaine was in Texas today, a state which has not voted for a Democrat since 1976.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAINE: The Clinton camp team, we`re serious about Texas. We are very serious about Texas --
Because we know the kind of work that you can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Clinton campaign may be expanding the map because it is confident that it is winning the traditional battleground states.
A new Nbc News polls in Pennsylvania shows Hillary Clinton leading 45-36 with Gary Johnson at 9, Jill Stein at 3.
A new four-way Quinnipiac poll also shows Hillary Clinton leading in Pennsylvania 48-39. A four-way Nbc poll of Ohio shows Hillary Clinton at 39, Donald Trump at 35.
A new four-way Quinnipiac poll of Ohio, Hillary Clinton is at 44, Donald Trump is at 42. And in the four-way Nbc News poll of Iowa shows Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump both at 35.
With just 90 days left for the presidential campaign war room, joining us tonight in the LAST WORD war room is Mike Murphy.
A Republican strategist who has been in many presidential campaign war rooms and now hosts the Podcast, Radio Free GOP.
Mike, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate having such a pro like you here. First, I want some guidance in the war room tonight.
In the war rooms tonight, there`s two kinds of polls. There are four-way polls showing Gary Johnson, Jill Stein on the ballot. Gary Johnson is going to be on all probably 50 ballots, Jill Stein going to be on almost 50.
Then they run two-way polls that show different margins between Clinton and Trump. Which poll is more valuable?
The one that includes everyone who is actually going to be on that ballot or the one that makes you focus on the two frontrunners?
MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: My feeling, Lawrence, is this early though, you know, it`s began after the convention is when you can really start polling.
So, I think the polls are realistic look at what`s going on now. But I think the two-way ballot has more weight.
If you know, the Johnson-well ticket or Jill Stein, if they can get into the debates and get some claim and public attention, then I think we can start doing four-way ballots that will be more predictive. But that`s the way is a way.
O`DONNELL: I mean --
MURPHY: Right now I watched that two-way and it shows a lot of trouble for Trump and some problems for Hillary.
O`DONNELL: So, show me what -- tell me what you`re seeing in these polls and what you see developing down the road?
MURPHY: Sure, I mean the best way to look at a poll is to, you know, break it into pieces. And you tend to look at what the poll says versus what history tells you of where voters have historically wound up.
Because that`s also really a good predictor at least by party. So, what these polls say is Hillary has Trump in real trouble with college-educated white voters which is a Republican constituency.
So, Hillary is playing on Trump`s field. She`s getting votes he should get for free. And most of the polling that`s out now, Trump is losing college- educated white voters, particularly getting wiped out college-educated white women.
A group he needs to win big to have any shot. So, unless either minority voters who really hate Trump dramatically change their point of view about him between now and the election.
Or college-educated voters Caucasians, particularly white women dramatically change their point of view. I`m talking about 30, 40-point swings here, he`s cooked.
So, could something happen in 90 days, sure? But these polls structurally all say the same thing, which is Trump is trapped in a demographic cul-de- sac of just non college-educated white voters, mostly men, and that`s not nearly enough to win a presidential election in modern America.
O`DONNELL: Mike, when I hear you talk about those voting groups have to dramatically change their view of Donald Trump. Doesn`t that mean he has to dramatically change his communication with them?
And I think --
MURPHY: Yes --
O`DONNELL: We now have a pretty big body of evidence that says, that is not going to happen.
MURPHY: Yes, see, I think Trump is kind of the atomic clock of Trump`s brand of crazy. You can calibrate to him.
So, the idea that Trump who is like -- like he was built in a lab to offend the very voters he needs most can change, you know, anything is possible.
But I`m willing to take bets against it. Trump doubles down on what`s not working every time. He is -- the problem with Trump is Trump. There`s no fixing that I don`t believe. So, all this staff stuff about pivoting your teleprompters is still Trump.
O`DONNELL: And what do you do in the Clinton campaign at a situation like this? You`re watching him attack a gold star family.
Days later, less than a week of dust is cleared after that, and here he says this thing today that gets the Secret Service interested in what he had to say.
Is -- I mean, is there -- is there something -- is there a way for the Clinton campaign just to kind of sit back and let this happen? --
MURPHY: Yes, well, yes, she`s a problematic candidate. So, they don`t want the spotlight on her, Trump does.
So, I think what they have to do is keep the heat on Trump because he`ll keep doubling down and picking fights with the media and being Trump, which is a gift to them.
I think they`re doing a good job. There are two trees they have to chop down, so-to-speak of perception.
O`DONNELL: Mike --
MURPHY: One is --
O`DONNELL: Mike, I`m sorry, I`ve got to interrupt you --
MURPHY: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan is taking --
MURPHY: Oh, yes --
O`DONNELL: The podium in Wisconsin. We all want to listen to this.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: First of all, I want to say thank you, and welcome to Glendale, Wisconsin. I want to recognize all the candidates who sought federal state and local offices in Wisconsin today.
It`s hard work and I am grateful that we had so many capable candidates to take part in a Democratic process. I want to highlight one candidate in particular who is on the ballot in Wisconsin tonight, Mike Gallagher.
Mike Gallagher just won the eighth congressional district Republican primary. He is a marine veteran with an impressive background in national security.
The eighth district is a seat that needs state Republican. It`s going to be a hard fought race and I am very much looking forward to campaigning with Mike during the fall in this campaign.
I also want to speak to the residents of southern Wisconsin. On behalf of Janna, myself, and our kids, thank you. Thank you for your trust. Thank you for your confidence. Thank you for your support in my efforts.
I`m a fifth generation Jamesville native. And I`ve been honored to serve this first congressional district since 1998. It`s been one of the best experiences of my lifetime. And I`m humbled that so many want to see me continue to work on their behalf.
People here, they know me well. I know -- they know I believe that they serve is to work to become part of the solution not part of the problem. They share my desire for political leadership that is inclusive, not divisive. They look at the horizon, and they look for hope not fear.
Most of all, they want someone who works to effectively advance our founding principles. Look, there`s a lot of real frustration in this country. There`s a lot of anger that Washington just isn`t working and that it seems irrevocably broken. The people want to see Congress and their elected leaders tackle those tough problems not duck those tough problems.
They`re sick of the paralysis and they`re hungry for the results, and all too often Washington fails to provide those results. In times as uncertain as these, it is easy to resort to division. It`s simple to prey on people`s fears. That stuff sells, but it doesn`t stick. It doesn`t last. Most of all, it doesn`t work.
Around here, we look beyond the noise and the static. Our strength comes from the principles on which our country was founded, self government and liberty. Our inspiration comes from the notion that the condition of your birth doesn`t determine the outcome of your life. And our desires to see everyone get ahead and make sure our children are left better off.
And so, because we want to bring people together, not divide them, because we want to break the gridlock, not perpetuate it. Because we want fresh ideas, not outdated ideas, Republicans are offering a better way to fix this country`s big pressing problems. By taking a better way, we can reignite our nation`s economic engine, we can lift people out of poverty and get them on the ladder of opportunity.
We can restore our Constitution. We can have real patient centered health care. And we can keep our country safe and free.
This is how we turn this passion of the moment into a hard-won future, through ideas, through inspiration, through inclusiveness, through an agenda that we can be proud of, through an agenda that can unite people.
So, we will take this agenda to voters across this country this fall and I`m confident they`ll reward our efforts. Between now and November, I am committed to doing everything I can, to make sure the status quo, which isn`t good enough is not continued because we can do better. We are going to make the case that House Republicans are offering a new idea for a new day. We can`t afford another four years like the Obama years.
And let`s be very, very clear, that is exactly what Hillary Clinton and her party are offering. We can get this country back on track. We can tackle our country`s biggest most pressing problems before they tackle us.
We can restore the optimism that is there in that small business owner from Jamesville. We can restore the optimism that`s in the heart of that farmer from Alcorn. That`s in that worker that gets up at 6:00 a.m. to work in Racine, or that`s in that college kid in Kenosha. They all want to find and reach their version of their American dream. And I`m going to do everything single thing I can as their representative of the first congressional district and as speaker of the House to try and make that possible.
I just want to end with this -- I want to thank my employers, the people I work for here in the first congressional district, for hiring me to fight on their behalf. I simply want to say thank you very much for your confidence, I appreciate it.
Charles Benson (ph), I think I see you. I thought I heard your voice.
REPORTER: You easily beat a guy who not only played the Trump card on trade and immigration but embraced him. Do you think your landslide victory here will send a larger message, even if Donald Trump can stay on message, that he`s doomed in November?
RYAN: Well, I don`t think it means he`s doomed in November. I think it means right here in Wisconsin, people know me very, very well. Look, you know me very well, Charles, I`m a local guy. People know who I am, they know what I believe in and they know what I mean what I say and I say what I mean. I don`t do it in a mean way.
I think that`s the kind of politics, that`s the kind of policies, that Wisconsinites, Republicans reward. That`s why I think I won. I wouldn`t ascribe anything other to it than that.
REPORTER: Mr. Speaker --
RYAN: Bauer, I want to get some local folks, I thought I heard Bauer. Yes?
REPORTER: Would you consider the presidential nomination in 2020 or even sooner, depending what happens --
RYAN: Yes, that`s not even a question I`ll even bother entertaining. There`s no point in having that conversation.
REPORTER: You had spoken up against Donald Trump. (INAUDIBLE)
What is your reaction today to Donald Trump saying that Second Amendment (INAUDIBLE)
RYAN: I`ve been a little busy today. I heard about the Second Amendment quote. It sounds like a joke gone bad. I hope he clears it up very quickly. You should never joke about something like that. I didn`t actually hear the comments I only heard about those comments.
REPORTER: National security officials (INAUDIBLE). What is your reaction?
RYAN: Look, I think it`s very clear that Trump/Pence ticket is going to be one that put good judges at the Supreme Court and we will find far better receptivity of our agenda that we`re trying to get on track to fix this country`s problem than Hillary Clinton administration. That --
RYAN: Let me get Frank and then Kelly.
RYAN: You get to the end zone you act like you`ve been there before.
RYAN: I don`t -- I haven`t thought about that. Look, we knew we were going to do well. We received the vote that we were hoping and expecting to get all along, and that`s just kind of how the outcome is exactly what we were hoping for and what we were expecting and, you know, desperate candidates do desperate things for attention and I think that`s what you saw here.
REPORTER: Mr. Speaker -- congratulations on the primary, here is the Donald Trump question. You have been a protectee of the Secret Service in the U.S. Capitol police. You know the seriousness of that. Do you think when you consider your blank check comment that you would not give the nomination of Donald Trump a blank check, has he gone too far here when he`s talking about matters of security?
RYAN: Manning`s question, I haven`t heard -- I`m not going to make a comment more than I did. No, I don`t want to do it that way. I`ve been pretty busy today.
The point I made before with any endorsement of anyone, they there are never blank checks. Look, let me say it this way, I believe here in Wisconsin, we have a unified Republican party. We have unified Republican Party because we tell people who we are, what our principles are and what we`ll do, like we had happen here in Wisconsin, we did it.
That`s exactly what we are trying to do here as House Republicans. We have taken our principles, liberty, self determination, upper mobility, equality of opportunity and applied them to the principles of the day and offered a better way, offered an agenda so that the country, which does not like the path we`re on, actually has a better pack from which to choose. That`s the kind of agenda we`re offering the country. We believe that`s what people are hungry for in this nation and that`s been validated right here in this first congressional district.
Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: That was Paul Ryan after his expected huge landslide victory in his Republican primary election. He got 84 percent of the vote. He said we want hope not fear in his statement. He said we want to look beyond the noise and static. We want to bring people together not divide them.
He never said the words Donald Trump when he was in his prepared remarks. But he was asked about Donald Trump and he was asked about Donald Trump about our own Kelly O`Donnell who was there at that press conference and will be joining us shortly.
Apparently, she`s with us now.
Kelly, what was your reaction to his answer to your question. You, of course, reminded the audience you didn`t have to remind him that he`s been a Secret Service protectee and he understands the importance and language that might in any way, effect the Secret Service mission. But he`s -- but he began he really didn`t know what Donald Trump said today.
KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you may have heard, I offered to read him the quote, I think because it was primary day, he can argue the fact that he was not tuned in to that. That question will come back again. I also acknowledged, you know his primary victory we know these officer holders don`t always want to answer questions about Donald Trump.
When you are the speaker of the House and you have been challenged by someone who has been a Trump backer and all of those sort of Trump effects were around this primary day, as well as the larger issues of Paul Ryan is trying to get this conservative agenda that, as he points out, doesn`t have a mean face before the American people. He made clear in his comments that he does not want to see Hillary Clinton become the next president.
But he was able to sort of deafly say that he was not specifically familiar with these comments and I reminded him about saying that he had offered an endorsement in support of Trump but not a blank check. And so, I was hoping to get at, was this a bridge too far. He was not willing to go there tonight.
But I think as you pointed out, Lawrence, sort of threaded through his prepared remarks was the contrast between Paul Ryan as the highest Republican officeholder in the land today and sort of many of the things associated with the candidacy of Donald Trump when he talked about fear and he talked about ideas and he talked about policy.
Those things, I think, speak loudly if you`re willing to listen to the whole message there about where Paul Ryan is. He`s in a very difficult place. He`s got to lead the party in an official capacity as the highest ranking member of the party.
And, yet, at the same time, he doesn`t want to spend every day contrasting himself with Trump. So, in more subtle ways, he again I think laid a line where he differs and where he hopes many House Republicans will differ from some of the bluster of Trump. I was hoping the protectee thing would be a way in, didn`t quite work out.
L. O`DONNELL: I thought you found it when I heard the way you were phrasing that, I love that.
Kelly O`Donnell, you asked the question of the night, thank you very much for joining us. Looks like you need to get out of there before they turn the lights off.
K. O`DONNELL: You know how that goes.
L. O`DONNELL: Thanks, Kelly. We`re going to take a break. We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: We`re back with Sam Stein, politics editor at "The Huffington Post", and MSNBC contributor, also back with us is Mike Murphy, who analyzed the polls for us earlier.
Sam Stein, we just heard Paul Ryan speak. This is the only day he could have gotten away with, "I haven`t read the quote" from Donald Trump, which I believe is less than 20 words.
SAM STEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Sure.
O`DONNELL: And I don`t know that he really got away with that just now, but the reporters let --
STEIN: You`ve got to let the guy have his day. He won 84-16 percent. I think it`s almost irrelevant whether he has a bridge too far enough, because if there is something that Trump says that is his bridge too far, the inevitable question what about XYZ, what about calling Mexicans rapist, what about going after Gold Star mom, what about suggesting, as he did tonight, that there was a Second Amendment remedy of sorts to Hillary Clinton appointing judges, are those not bridges too far?
And so, Paul Ryan is in a bind. I don`t think the tar of the Trump endorsement that he either made willingly or unwillingly is ever going to leave him.
O`DONNELL: Mike Murphy, he did offer the opinion, as he put it, it sounded like a joke gone bad. And then he just said that he wants to get the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would choose and not the ones Hillary Clinton would choose.
MURPHY: Yes, I mean, he`s in a tough position. If you look at his prepared remarks, which, you know, thought went into, it was a complete reputation of Trumpism. And he didn`t mention Trump at all.
So, I think the subtext was as clear as the candid shot, that Paul Ryan wants to be the opposite of Trump and thinks the Republican Party message ought to be opposite. His problem as head of the caucus is can he repudiate Trump? I think he should, but I think his window was about a week ago because then his win tonight would have been a referendum from that. But that`s easy for me to say, I`m not the speaker and I don`t have the Republican caucus.
O`DONNELL: Sam, there was one question he wouldn`t answer, that is, would he seek or accept the presidential nomination in 2020? And the question adding, more sooner, indicating that that indication might become open again this summer.
STEIN: I just don`t see it. Maybe Mike has more expertise than that. It`s impossible to see how they will dump Trump. I know there are ways to do using RNC members and petitions and all of that stuff. I read them and I think I understand them. But it just seems like this point, the Republican Party is sort of stuck with the nominee they have.
O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to leave it there tonight. Sam Stein and Mike Murphy, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
STEIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
MURPHY: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Next, an Iraq war veteran who was wounded writes an open letter to Donald Trump about the things Donald Trump has said about members of the armed services.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You have great military right here and our military --
Our military cannot be beaten.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s the same Donald Trump who has called that same military a disaster, that was his word. Here is more of what Donald Trump said today in South Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Take a look what`s happened to our country. Our military is depleted. Our vets aren`t taken care of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Same speech, our military cannot be beaten, our military is depleted.
J.R. Martinez served in the Iraq war and he was severely wounded in 2003 when his vehicle hit an IED. He posted an open letter to Donald Trump on Mic.com.
He wrote, "I`m proud post-9/11 U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient. So far, you seem to have denigrated a prisoner of war, disparage a four-star general who devoted his life to service and disrespected the faith and the grief of a Gold Star family. Any one of these actions alone would otherwise disqualify a person auditioning for the role of our commander-in-chief."
J.R. Martinez is here. He will join us next.
O`DONNELL: And we`re back with J.R. Martinez, the veteran whose open letter to Donald Trump we just read.
J.R., you were injured in 2003. How long was your recovery?
J.R. MARTINEZ, VET WHO WROTE TRUMP AN OPEN LETTER: I spent nearly three years in San Antonio, Texas, at the Brook Army Medical Center, which is the burn center for the military.
O`DONNELL: When you heard Mr. Khan, at Democratic Convention, say to Donald Trump on that stage, you don`t know what sacrifice is, that must have had some real meaning for you.
MARTINEZ: Absolutely. It`s something that a lot of veterans face, we have a tendency to kind of echo those same words to a lot of people, and not in a condescending way, but more kind of in a component saying, normal Americans don`t understand the sacrifices that so many families and service members make on a day-to-day basis, for that we should be forever indebted for that, we should be grateful for that, we should support them when they come back, whether it`d be through holding politicians, candidates, nominees accountable and making them speak about the issues that are -- that our veterans are facing and talk about solutions and we`re going to support good legit nonprofits that are doing really good to address these issues.
So, when he said that it resonated but then of course there were some following comment that is did not.
O`DONNELL: What was your reaction where he attacks a Gold Star family, something we did not know was possible?
MARTINEZ: You know, for me, I`m usually that stays out of the politics, so to speak, for me, what it did it ticked me off in a sense of where it bothered me because of the fact -- first and foremost, I don`t like the idea where he`s generalize, putting Muslims in this particular case, where he`s saying all of them are this particular way, I`m Hispanic, by saying all Hispanics are in a particular way, people that say veterans are all this way, it`s like generalizing it is not good healthy thing for our country in this time, especially when you see everything that`s happening with, you know, the shootings that have taken place over the summer. It`s just a lot of divide within our country.
So, that was the first thing that ultimately was like, okay, you don`t generalize, you don`t do that they came here legally and then they lost a son. He made the ultimate sacrifice, that I was on the verge, my family was on the verge of making that same sacrifice so many had.
But then for his inability to be able to understand his comments, to understand what he said and just to say, we can disagree, we can disagree on a lot of things at the end of the day, I am grateful. No, what does he do, instead, he has to defend himself because he`s Trump and he has to be the dominant one on top and everyone has to kind of praise him and be the follower and said, "Well, I`ve made sacrifices. I`m successful, I work very hard."
I`m sorry, Mr. Trump, as I stated in the letter, you don`t understand the difference between the sacrifice. You don`t understand between the difference.
I mean, your children have not served, no one in your family has served, you yourself have not served, it`s completely different sacrifice. It`s also with his comment to the Purple Heart recipient that gave him his purple heart, and he felt something and I want to be clear, a lot of people on social media, J.R., you don`t have a right to tell that purple heart recipient what he can and cannot do with his Purple Heart.
And that`s not -- if that`s what he wants to do, he can. Instead, Mr. Trump`s comments of -- I`ve always wanted one.
MARTINEZ: Let me tell you something, Lawrence, as you know, because I`m sure you`ve talked to a lot of veterans, no veteran in the history has ever said, "I want to get a Purple Heart recipient," and then they never say, "This is a much easier way to receive one." It`s his inability to hold himself accountable, it`s careless, reckless, and that is not something needs at this time.
O`DONNELL: Out of time for the night, J.R. Martinez, thank you so much.
MARTINEZ: Thank you so much for having me, Lawrence. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: We really appreciate it. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Last question for you, sir. I know Mrs. Clinton yesterday accepted the invitation to the debates. Will you be debating her?
TRUMP: Yes, I will be. And I look forward to it. I want to see what the rules and regulations of the debate. But subject to that, I will certainly do that.
I want to do it. I`ve had a lot of fun in the debate process in the primaries and I`m sure this will be interesting experience. But no, we want to do it. I want to see the rules and regulations are, though, before I formerly commit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s weird, not a word about the letter from the NFL. He must forget his own lies.
That`s the LAST WORD for tonight.
Special live edition of "HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS" is next.