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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, September 3, 2020

Guests: Ingrid Theresa Katz, Alex Wagner, David Plouffe, Marc Elias, Alex Goldstein


President Trump has turned the United States into a global embarrassment on his handling of the pandemic. President Trump's "law and order" messaging is not working for Americans according to a poll. President Trump in a speech urges his supporters to vote twice.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That he does about the substance, which is why I found my work so frustrating. We made a lot of progress at that practical subject matter expertise level, but we have we couldn't make the progress we needed to because he wasn't willing to focus on it.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Indeed, I wish I had more time with you. Elizabeth Newman, thank you very much for being here tonight. I really appreciate it -- and for speaking out. That it's tonight's REIDOUT. "ALL IN with Chris Hayes" starts now.



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me be clear, if President Trump and his administration had done their jobs, America's schools would be open.

HAYES: As the rest of the world begins the post-Coronavirus era, the unique American failure of Donald Trump. Then, a president pushing to Russia vaccine out by Election Day. We'll take a look at what happened the last time someone tried something like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White House aides are indignant. That suggestion is why some congressmen who say the swine flu immunization program is a campaign gimmick.

HAYES: Plus, top democratic election lawyer Marc Elias on the Trump call to cheat in North Carolina. And what happened when Joe Biden came to Kenosha with David Plouffe and Alex Wagner? When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I'm Chris Hayes. The fundamental conceit was that we are falling behind, that we are the laughingstock of the world. And so, I, Donald Trump, will restore us to preeminence, to our rightful place in the world. Make America great again. The core of that entire premise is was a con. The Trump campaign has now admitted as much when they coined the re-election slogan, "Make America Great Again, Again." It might be the single biggest admission of failure in the history of American presidential politics.

At first, the idea America was in utter shambles in 2016 was a ridiculous premise. But now, we are precisely what Donald Trump said we were before he was elected. It was the ultimate act of projection, indeed, of prediction. He said, we were the laughingstock of the world, and then he made us into the laughingstock of the world.

Coronavirus hit the whole world. You know, back in the early days of the pandemic, March and April, sitting here talking to you with this camera. We all struggled together. There was this incredible sense of international solidarity. I mean, we watched China shut down right when the outbreak started.

You read the stories of the quaint crazy quarantines and we saw the images of the empty streets in Italy, and then in France, and in Spain, and then it came here first in the West Coast and then to New York City. At one point, we had nearly four billion people under lockdown across the world. The empty plazas and the stores and schools, we were all in together.

Six months later, that is no longer the case. Almost everyone else has moved on. This is Wuhan, China, where it all started, at a waterpark. These are the Spanish steps in Italy. This is Bondi Beach in Australia, and a rugby match in New Zealand. People are going to concerts and sporting events, they're going to weddings and funerals. Most of these countries have basically beaten the virus but not here.

In the United States, our leadership failed. Donald Trump failed. The rest of the world was able to follow the advice of public health experts and suppress the virus. They are still fighting outbreaks, it's true, but the scale of those outbreaks pale in comparison to what we see on a daily basis in this country.

If you pay the price of vigilance and self-control, you reap the reward of freedom. We went through all the trouble and all the costs and all the disruption of closing down the country, the misery, the trauma, the dislocation, the economic pain. Once you go through all that, you have to push through those last few weeks of shutdown that seem excessive to really smother the virus because you only want to have to do that once.

And the places that did all that, they get to enjoy the benefits now. They're all moving on with their lives and we are not. One of the biggest ways this hits home is that they are sending their kids to school and we are not. Chinese state media released these images of kids returning to school in Wuhan, basically taunting us for our failures to do the same. Look at you, Americans. This thing started here, and we dealt with it. Now, look where we are and look where you are.

Instead of any kind of plan, coordinated public health response, Donald Trump just stamped his feet. He demanded that schools open. And his new Coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas talked about getting calls from around the world wondering why American kids aren't going to school.


SCOTT ATLAS, CORONAVIRUS ADVISER TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Look at what's happened in the other countries. The U.K., Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, England, Italy, Spain. They are all opening schools. We here in the United States, I have people all over the world calling me and e-mailing me, what is going on here?


HAYES: Yes, that's exactly right. Yes, they're opening the schools. They didn't have an enormous second wave like we did that freaked everybody out. They don't have 200,000 nearly deaths. They don't have 40,000 cases a day in perpetuity as their low-level plateau. The big reason people feel it's not safe for kids to go to school, or to go work in those schools for the teachers, is that the guy you work for, Scott Atlas, messed everything up so much.

The reality is a huge percentage of kids are not in full time in-person school in this country, which is really, really bad for kids. And the central contention of the Biden-Harris campaign, the thing that they're running on more than anything is, in the words of Joe Biden, it doesn't have to be this way.


JOE BIDEN: Let me be clear. If President Trump and his administration had done their jobs early on with this crisis, American schools would be open and would be open safely. Instead, American families all across this country are paying the price for his failures.


HAYES: His campaign has rolled out a plan to get life back to normal and schools back open. Joining me now, one of the people who is advising the Biden campaign on that crucial plan, Dr. Ingrid Theresa Katz. She's an infectious disease expert who teaches at Harvard Medical School. She serves as a research scientist at Center for Global Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and she advised on this plan.

It's great to have you, Dr. Katz. First, like, I guess I would start with the Scott Atlas point. I mean, I think it's a complicated question. I want to sort of dive into it. But there the rest of the world is sending people to school. The rest of world is doing a lot of things that we're not. What's the -- what's the reason that that's the case?

INGRID THERESA KATZ, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Well, thank you so much for having me on, Chris. It's a pleasure to be here. And I have to say that the points that you outlined are really critical that this has been a national disaster and we need to be extraordinarily focused at this point.

And if you go back and trace the landscape, it goes right back to the earliest phases of this pandemic, when schools really should have been involved right from the get go in terms of planning how we were going to reopen schools in the fall.

HAYES: There's right now -- I think the two things that killed off school this fall to the extent that we are not having in-person school was the second wave that freaked everybody out, completely understandably, in Arizona, and in Florida, and in Texas. And that happened right as that planning was happening. I mean, I watched as school system said we're going to be in-person, oh, we're no longer going to be.

And then, I think, combined with at that same moment Trump coming down and say, you have to open up, I think it scared a lot of people away. But I guess my question to you is, do you think that we're correct in our assessment of risk right now in areas of the country like New York City that have very low community transmission? I mean, is -- are people are overly scarred such that we should be having more kids in school than we do?

KATZ: So, I think that's a great question. And I think, you know, this comes down to basic bread and butter pandemic responses. We need, we needed, and we still need adequate testing across this country. And we need to be able to test as part of a reopening of schools program. And that's not just diagnostic testing -- and diagnostic testing, meaning just testing people when they're symptomatic. We need to be able to test people in a much broader way because we know that 40 percent of the transmissions occur among people who are asymptomatic and that's particular True among children.

So if we are going to protect these children and protect the adults that are part of the school system, whether they're educators or other people involved in the school, we absolutely need to be having widely available tests.

HAYES: So what would that look like in terms of -- I mean, if Joe Biden were the president right now, and had the resources at his disposal, what would -- what would a plan look like for really focusing the nation's power and government capacity on getting kids into school as much as possible as quickly as possible?

KATZ: So, I think you're absolutely right, that since we're behind the eight ball here, we have to play catch up. And that means a federal coordinated response at every level. We need a national plan. Right now, counties and states at every level have had to iterate on their own plan. And the virus as we know doesn't stop at a state border. It crosses from community to community. And outbreaks can happen so quickly we've seen how contagious these viruses.

So, a plan that would work well would be a national coordinated response, using all of the resources that a federal government can put behind an opening like this, because this is the critical piece to helping our economy get back on its feet and to helping ensure that our children get educated, which is such a critical piece of this moment.

HAYES: Yes. I think that -- I mean, I understand obviously the concerns about safety, but I mean, the lost -- the educational -- the lost hours of in-class instruction for children, particularly the equity distributional impacts of that, I mean, I don't think they can be overstated. I just read about a private school in New York City that has signed a very expensive contract with the testing apparatus so they can do rapid-fire test to get people in the school.

We know that the data we have shown is that inequities between children from lower-income households in terms of their attainment declined more than affluent households during the quarantine. I mean, this is an enormous, enormous problem for the whole country that we're seeing right now.

KATZ: Absolutely. It's a huge issue of equity. And we're talking about the digital divide. We're talking about exacerbating food insecurity. And we're talking about prolonged periods for caregivers cannot go back to work because they're caring for their children at home. It's a huge issue of disparities.

And you're right that wealthier schools are able to pay for things like testing for their staff and students. And of course, it also comes down to the infrastructures that schools have to keep their whole community safe, and that means cohorting students, that means social distancing, and that means of course, abundant masks for children and their educators to have available.

HAYES: Dr. Ingrid Theresa Katz, who worked advising the Biden campaign on the plan that they have to get us back in school, thank you so much for sharing some time tonight.

KATZ: Thank you so much for having me.

HAYES: With two months until Election Day, how voters are reacting to the polar opposite messages from the candidates. David Plouffe and Alex Wagner join me next.


JOE BIDEN: I made a mistake about something. I thought you could defeat hate. Hate only hides. It only hides. And when someone in authority breathes oxygen under that rock, it legitimizes those folks to come on out, come out front of the rocks. So, what's happened is that we end up in a circumstance like you had here in Kenosha and have here Kenosha.


HAYES: Joe Biden was in Kenosha, Wisconsin this afternoon two days after Donald Trump with a notably different message. He wore a mask, first of all. He spoke to community leaders. He talked to Jacob Blake himself by phone while meeting with Blake's family at the Milwaukee airport.

Biden's visit comes after a week-long news cycle about the unrest in Kenosha, particularly suggesting that the unrest was going to help Trump and hurt Biden. But then we got a bunch of polls that show that pretty clearly isn't and hasn't been the case. A new Quinnipiac poll released just yesterday found that half of likely voters say having Trump as present makes them feel less safe.

Given how worried many democrats were about this messaging, it's worth asking why Trump's message has failed to move the voters he needs and what it means for the messaging for both candidates for the last two months in this race. Joining me now is David Plouffe who ran President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and served as Senior Advisor to the President in 2012. He has a book out titled A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump. And my old friend Alex Wagner, co-host and executive producer of The Circus, which is on Showtime who just got back from doing some interviews from Wisconsin.

And Alex, since you just got back from Wisconsin, let me start with you because, you know, I didn't think -- I think there's this sort of permanent worry and liberal freak out about a certain kind of white populist backlash politics because it has worked in the past. And it did work in 1968, and it arguably was part of Reagan's appeal in 1980, and it was a huge part of Donald Trump's appeal in 2016.

So when people freak out about it, it's not like based on nothing. This freakout seems to maybe not have actually connected with what was happening in the polling and on the ground. I'm curious why you think the message hasn't worked or hasn't penetrated to the extent it has?

ALEX WAGNER, CO-HOST, THE CIRCUS: Well, OK, two things, Chris. I mean, I think the -- I will call it bedwetting, because I think it's part of the sort of cycle of American politics as we get closer to Election Day, the polls tight and people start freaking out. We're also talking about the state of Wisconsin which lives on in infamy after 2016, the thing everybody talked about in the wake of Clinton's defeat was, and she didn't even visit Wisconsin and the general.

So, when Wisconsin looks iffy, and when Wisconsin looks volatile, people start freaking out. And I think that's what happened a little bit in terms of the narrative that Biden could be in serious trouble. You know, what we saw this week was a study in two dramatically different responses. And Trump as he has gotten more bellicose, more dark, more down the QAnon conspiracy rabbit hole, Biden has sought to counter that by planting his feet firmly on terra firma, offering a sort of real talk, you know, I'm the guy, you know, I'm not a radical socialist, I'm here to help and uplift.

I mean, I think one of the most market changes in the Biden campaign in terms of dealing with all of this is to say, yes, we see the systemic injustice, yes, we want to fix it, but we are also doing our part to offer uplift. Because as I walked the streets of Kenosha, which are nothing like anything I've seen in American and American city in recent days, you know, it's not the doubleheader of the pandemic, and the unrest has turned the city into a shell of what it used to be.

People want out. They want to know that there is going to be light at the end of the tunnel, even if they can't see it. And I think the Biden campaign clearly understands that as much as they have to diagnose the problem and combat it, they need to offer people some glimmer of an idea that America can get back on its feet again, and that (INAUDIBLE).

HAYES: Yes, that's -- I think that's well said. You're obviously still in Milwaukee as the -- as the identifier shows. And I think it relates to something my sort of view of this, David. So my theory is the RNC, the four-day convention, as sort of aggressively disingenuous as it was, and all of it sort of like shockingly bad faith and lies, it was more pitch towards playing against type and the median voter than I thought. Like, the diversity of folks that came onto the stage and talking about criminal justice reform and the utterly gross spectacle of the swearing in ceremony for new immigrants, which, you know, was happened to the White House and didn't even tell the people, like, all of it was really gross.

But its messaging, it played against type in a way that I thought was actually probably at the margin effective. And then as soon as it was done, Trump's got right back to type. Like, he can't sustain any message that cuts against the type, and that to me has been the dynamic last few days. I wonder what you think of that.

DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, BARACK OBAMA 2008: Well, Chris, I think there were elements of the convention -- I still think most of that convention was aimed at their base, which I think tells you that they don't like where it is. And then their whole strategy here is to just jack turnout amongst particularly non-college white men in those upper Midwestern states.

But Trump is who he is. So, he actually behaved himself on Twitter for him last week, but come last Friday, he's back to his antics, and that's a problem. Re-election is different than the last one. He's an incumbent now. He's in charge. So, when he says there's -- things are out of control and unrest, people say, well, why don't you fix it? And he looks like he's compounding the problems behavior.

So, look at the two candidates in Kenosha. The base requirement of a president is when there's challenge or crisis or tragedy, to make us feel better, to console, to be compassion. Every time Trump has gone to where Obama, Bush, and Reagan, and Clinton, and Kennedy, and Eisenhower have gone, it's been about him and attacking people and I think people are tired of it.

So, at the end of the day, listen, some of these dark messages about socialism and crime and this isn't going to be the real America, we face them with a candidate named Barack Hussein Obama, OK. So, I think Joe Biden is very well positioned to fend these off.

And ultimately, this is, Chris, Trump's problem. He's behind in the race. I still think it's going to tighten, but he's behind. So, he's got to pull vote from Biden, and he's showing no ability with his interviews, which have been disastrous this week, his appearance in Kenosha, his social media activity to do anything than basically trying to grow the QAnon base.

And when you're down five or six points, and your opponent is at 50 or 51 percent, you have to pull vote from him. It's just mathematically impossible to just do it with the base. Although, I think he's going to do that well. I think people are coming out for this guy, and that's the one concern I have is can Democrats match that turnout.

HAYES: You're talking about sort of inability to display compassion. By the way, I have to note the B-roll we're showing where he's standing in the rubble of that business, talking to a guy who is not the actual owner of the business, he's one previous owner of the business because the actual owner of the business didn't want anything to do with Trump, so they found the previous owner to go play the role in the manufactured photo op. I just have to note that.

Alex, at the Atlantic, there's this remarkable piece by Jeffrey Goldberg today. And I think, you know, look, I don't think anyone is shocked by anything Trump says anymore at all. It was one week into him running for president that he said that of John McCain, I like people that weren't captured. But four senior military sources, just with one crazy quote after another, that basically show this persistent attitude of kind of contempt for military service as a kind of sucker's bet, not wanting to visit a U.S. military cemetery in France, saying why should I go to that cemetery. It's filled with losers. It refers to the more 1,800 Marines that lost their lives as suckers for getting killed. Asking John Kelly over the grave of his son, what did he get out of it? Talking about McCain when he died, he told a senior staff, we're not going to support that losers funeral. The guy was an effing loser.

I mean, I guess I don't think anything like this can change the dynamics of the race. But I do think it's interesting, Alex, that some people are talking to Jeffrey Goldberg now and that says something to me too.

WAGNER: Well, Jeffrey Goldberg gets lots of people to talk to him. But I agree with you, Chris. You know, I think there's this -- Trump has a categorical aversion to empathy. In Kenosha, he was asked by a reporter at that community event, what words do you have for the family of Jacob Blake, and Trump couldn't even muster a shred of kindness and just said, I would feel bad for anybody that lost their life that way.

I mean, this goes back to this original -- I think Adams Serwer also the Atlantic, the cruelty is the point. The cruelty has been always central to Trump's brand and empathy is up a rebuttal to cruelty. And so I think he you know both for tactical reasons and personal reasons is completely unwilling to open himself up to the crushing humanity of this moment.

And that is where Biden is so uniquely positioned. You know, the country is grieving on a number of fronts. And here, you know, Biden talks a lot about the loss of his family members, but he is uniquely positioned to talk about the mourning, which is really what we are in a prolonged period of, especially in contrast with the commander-in-chief who is -- will not do it, is more than reluctant to do it, just refuses to do it.

HAYES: I want to play this quickly for you, David Plouffe, this ad that that jumps off that point. In 2004, the only Republican to win a plurality of votes since 1992, incumbent George W. Bush, and he had this ad that was wildly successful. He played against type and it was all about this guy who, you know, had led the nation to war and the nation was in bad shape, showing how warm and compassionate he was. Watch this ad because I think it reminds me of how important it is for Republicans, I think in particularly, to do that. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He turned around and came back and said, I know that's hard. Are you all right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our president Ashley in his arms and just embraced her. And it was at that moment that we saw Ashley's eyes fill up with tears.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the most powerful man in the world and all he wants to do is make sure I'm safe.


HAYES: That was a woman who lost her mom in 9/11. That -- you know, Bush was -- that was not like what that campaign was about. It wasn't what the Bush administration was about. But that was an effective ad precisely because of everything Alex is saying, precisely because of like, projecting that level of compassion.

PLOUFFE: Well, Chris, I remember that ad exceedingly well. I think I was in Ohio when it came out, and it worked for him.


PLOUFFE: And I think George W. Bush ran for re-election in a very tough circumstances. Barack Obama did in 2012 when the economy was recovering, but still very high unemployment. People were open to hearing from these two incumbents. They were still interested in how did they talk about their first four years, what did they want to do.

This is Trump's problem. I think over 50 percent of the people, I don't want to say it's over 60, but it's 50, 55 percent, have basically tuned him out, and they don't think he's going to change. And that's his problem, particularly as you see every day he's doing more and more interviews and social media.

I think over the weekend, he did like 1,000 re-tweets. But when people aren't listening to you, not only are you not making progress, you're actually digging your own political grade. So again, I think he's going to do a job of finding people to register and turnout, but people are open to Bush, people are open Obama, people are open to Reagan, even after that bad first debate he had in '84. Right now, you have an incumbent that's probably more similar to Jimmy Carter, you know, in his re-election in the last (INAUDIBLE).

HAYES: Yes. I mean, the second time agenda, as far as I can tell, based on last 24 hours, the Presidents spend all four years explaining that he's not had many strokes or series of them. David Plouffe and Alex Wagner, thank you both for making time tonight. It's great to -- great to talk to you both.

Coming up, Trump's illegal suggestion that voters vote twice in North Carolina, how he's trying to cheat his way to re-election next.


HAYES: On a visit to North Carolina yesterday, the president appeared to break the state's election law when he literally instructed people to vote twice, prompting state officials to say, "attempting to vote twice in election or soliciting someone to do so, as the President did, is a violation of North Carolina law.

The grand irony of course being the president is out encouraging people to break election law in a state that has the one actual example of a systematic conspiracy to attempt to steal an election through election fraud and it was done on behalf of the Republican candidate. And not like, you know, a lifetime ago, in the 2018 midterms. Remember the story? We've covered it here.

Republican Congressional Candidate Mark Harris hired a man named McCrae Dowless to work on his campaign's "voter turnout effort." And then Dowless basically hired a bunch of people to collect unfilled out absentee ballots, and with later caught forging those ballots on behalf of his Republican boss. Like, signing in who they're going to vote for as part of an illegal absentee ballot gathering operation.

Now, he was caught. The election was overturned. They had to have a new one. Dowless was charged with multiple counts, including obstruction of justice, illegal possession of an absentee ballot. It's the one example of the kind of like nightmare scenario the president keeps telling us Democrats are pursuing, systematic election fraud, and it happened engineered by Republicans in a state where the President did an interview and basically encourage Americans to break election law. Which is why I wanted to talk to someone who knows both the ins and outs of election law and also who actually represented the Democratic candidate in North Carolina during that race, who is the victim of that fraudulent scheme.

Joining me now is Marc Elias, an expert on voting rights, one of the preeminent democratic election lawyers in the country. It's great to have you back on the program, Marc. So first, I just -- it is wild to me, years later, Republicans still talk about acorn, which never actually did anything wrong or violated the law. This -- the McCrae Dowless thing is the most brazen scheme I've ever seen in the federal election and it's been totally memory hold, but you were there for it.

MARC ELIAS, FOUNDER DEMOCRACY DOCKET: Yes. And it was really wild. I mean, the fact is that McCrae Dowless had engaged in essentially vote theft from African-American voters in a prior election. Mark Harris, the Republican candidate lost that election. And when he decided to run again, thought, hey, I know who to call. Let's call that McCrae Dowless guy. He can help me this time.

And they ran again an illegal vote-stealing scheme. And as a result of that all coming out in a hearing that I participated in, there wound up being new election.

HAYES: You know, one thing that's key here, and it segues to sort of the broader point here, is that was sniffed out and caught because it left a huge data fingerprint. I remember right at that race, people looking the returns and saying these absentee numbers make no sense. What is going on here? So, they can get away with it, which I think relates to the President's idea, this sort of nonsense from him and William Barr that you could pull off some grand conspiracy using absentee ballots and no one would be the wiser.

ELIAS: Yes, it's crazy. And it would be laughable if it weren't so dangerous. I mean, just, you know, take a step back for a second and realize what happened. The President of the United States told people to vote twice which is a felony, OK, number one. Then his attorney general, the chief law enforcement officer in the entire country was asked about it and said, you know, I'm not familiar with the state law. Like, I'm sorry, what state law couldn't possibly have been OK for people to vote twice?

So I mean, between the President of the United States suggested illegal conduct of the Attorney General being, Jesus, there are a lot of books someplace I can find where I can figure this out, it's not just laughable, it's terrifying. It is terrifying that this is what two months out the President of the United States and the Attorney General of the United States are willing to do. Just wait till we get closer.

HAYES: Well, that's -- I mean, I want to play you what the president just said, OK. He's in I think Texas tonight. This is what he just said just a few moments ago. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sign your mail-in ballot, OK. You sign it and send it in and then you have to follow it. And if on election day or early voting, that is not tabulated and counted, you go vote. And then if for some reason after that, it shouldn't take that long, it comes in, they're not going to be able to tabulate it, because you will have voted. But you have to make sure your vote counts, because the only way they're going to beat us is by doing that kind of stuff.


HAYES: It really seems like he's trying, essentially trying to break the system. Like there's no real -- there's no real rhyme of reasoning here other than just fundamentally in a way that is terrifying and horrific, destroy the legitimacy of the entire operation.

ELIAS: Yes. I mean, just listen to what he said, OK. This is a party by the way that right now is preventing states that want to be able to tabulate absentee ballots or process them before the election, keeping them from doing so. So, the very mechanism that he's telling people to do, which is to check to see if they're valid had been -- had been processed or received, his people are blocking from happening in states like Pennsylvania.

In states like Pennsylvania, the RNC is in court and his campaign is in court preventing people from being able to use drop boxes to return their mail-in ballots. So I mean, honestly, the President is one part liar and one part just desperate to prevent people from voting and to delegitimize the voting process. It's incredibly terrifying. It is incredibly dangerous.

And the fact that the Attorney General of the United States goes along with it, you know, only makes it worse.

HAYES: Well, the only -- I mean, I guess the sort of what can you do about it, people can vote early, if they have early voting. They can do in-person early voting to feel safer. They can make sure that they take the steps to get their ballot and mail it in soon. What else? Like, when people hear this and they feel despair, what do you tell them people should be doing?

ELIAS: Yes. Now, people should not be despaired. Number one, if you want to vote by mail, you should. You should make -- number one, everyone needs to make sure they're registered to vote. Number two, if you want to vote by mail, you should apply and get that absentee ballot as soon as possible and then vote it right away.

You know, you hear all this stuff about the Postal Service. One way you can deal with that is just get that ballot in. As soon as you get it, vote it and return. If you don't want to use the Postal Service, you know, if your state allows drop boxes, use drop box. If your -- if your state allows you to turn your ballot in in-person, do that.

If you go to my Web site,, you'll see we list four ways you can vote without using the Postal Service if you want to do by mail, and we also talk about the importance of in-person voting. So, for people who don't want to trust vote by mail and want to vote in person, find out where your polling places. If you can vote early, vote early. And if not, show up on election day and make sure you vote. But whatever you do, don't get discouraged from voting. Voting is important.

HAYES: That's the key. Because part of this whole con is to is to try to scare people away as well. Marc Elias, who is a fount of knowledge on this, as always, thank you so much.

ELIAS: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, as Trump tries to rush a vaccine to market before the election, a reminder of what happened the last time a president tried to do something similar. That's coming up.


HAYES: There is new reporting today about the possible political pressure coming from the White House to rush a vaccine for Coronavirus, a desperate move ahead of the election two months from today. The Washington Post reports a debate is raging among scientists and bioethicists over whether the FDA should use its emergency powers to clear a vaccine early before clinical trials were even done.

Now, there are a lot of reasons to be concerned about possible political interference with this vaccine. There's historical precedent for how rushing a vaccine can blow up in the president's face. The great historian Rick Pearlstein whose fantastic new book Reaganland is out now, tells the story in this op-ed for the New York Times.

In February 1976, hundreds of soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey, contracted a new strain of the H1N1 virus. President Gerald Ford decided to leapfrog the usual protocol for preparing the annual flu vaccine in the face of the news out of Fort Dix despite the fact the virus did not spread outside the base. It was after all an election year. Here's how NBC's John Chancellor covered it at the time.


JOHN CHANCELLOR, FORMER ANCHOR, NBC NEWS: President Ford today announced plans for mass inoculations next autumn against the deadly influenza virus. Mr. Ford said he will ask Congress for $135 million. He said that we'll make enough vaccine to inoculate every American who wants the vaccine against the swine flu virus.

GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one knows exactly how serious this threat could be. Nevertheless, we cannot afford to take a chance with the health of our nation.


HAYES: We cannot afford take a chance with the health of our nation. Ford administration moves forward with fast track plans. In August, less than three months before the election, the president signed a bill protecting the vaccine manufacturers from liability ahead of the planned September rollout. Here's NBC's John Cochran.


JOHN COCHRAN, FORMER CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: President Ford's aides applauded him for getting Congress to provide liability protection for manufacturers of swine flu vaccine. That insurance may be needed, according to some doctors, who claim the flu shots are unnecessary and possibly dangerous. The President says that's just not true.

FORD: Scientific and medical evidence continues to support the need for a swine flu inoculation program. A vaccine has been developed that is both safe and effective, with a very low risk of adverse reaction.

COCHRAN: The President's signature on the flu bill means we should start getting the shots late next month. White House aides are indignant that suggestions by some congressmen who say the swine flu immunization program is a campaign gimmick.


HAYES: Ford was accused of politicizing the vaccine, using it as a tool for his re-election. The government started running ads warning about the possible epidemic and pushing for all Americans to get their vaccine.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Getty's mother gave it to her best friend Dottie. But Dottie had a heart condition. She died. But before she died, Dottie gave it to her girlfriend, the mail man, the paper boy, and the vet when she went to pick up her Chihuahua.


HAYES: The whole thing, P.R. campaign continue in the fall, again, right up against the election with President Ford is the very public face of the push. The cameras are rolling as he received his swine flu shot in the White House in mid-October just a couple of weeks before the election, even became a Chevy Chase gag in the Saturday Night Live debate skit.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good evening, I'm Anne Revell, your moderator for this third televised debate between President Gerald Ford and the Democratic nominee for president Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter.


HAYES: And people listen to the Ford administration. They lined up at clinics and they got the shot. When you fast track a vaccine, there are risks.


THEODORE COOPER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HEALTH EDUCATION AND WELFARE: Beginning at the end of last week, we receive initial reports of an -- of an occurrence of a condition known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome from 14 states. I concluded that we needed to temporarily suspend the immunization program in the interest of the safety of the public and in the interest of the practice of good medicine.


HAYES: That's the thing about vaccines. You give them to a ton of people, so even small probabilities of problems, about 450 people out of the 45 million who received the vaccine developed a rare neurological disorder that can result in paralysis. At least 25 of them died. It's why it's so important to have rigorous safety and efficacy tests when you're going to give a vaccine to millions of people.

The question of whether it was rushed for political reasons hung over the whole episode. People lost a little bit of that foundational trust necessary for mass effective vaccination campaigns. A man whose wife fell ill explained his feelings to 60 Minutes a couple years later.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm mad with my government because they knew the facts, but they didn't release those facts because if they had released it, that people wouldn't take it. And they can come out tomorrow and tell me there's going to be an epidemic and they can drop off like flies next to me, I will not take another shot that my government tells me to take.


HAYES: This is exactly the doomsday scenario we may not be facing. I will not take another shot my government tells me to take. The government's credibility had been destroyed. Almost 45 years later, Donald Trump is destroying the credibility of the government on this vaccine.

This time 180,000 people are already dead. The stakes here are so high. There will be no several bullet. You have to put in the work to do this right and earn the trust the American people.


HAYES: We've lost more than 1,000 Americans today, today to the Coronavirus. Yesterday, we lost over 1,000 as well. Days, and days, and days, and days like that. Think about that for a moment. It is horrifying the degree to which the Trump administration has normalized this level of loss in a way that's trickled down throughout our society.

And one antidote to that, that I found to the numbness that we have developed to this ongoing tragedy is a Twitter feed called Faces of COVID, which just spotlights individuals who've succumbed to the virus. It tells the stories of their lives; it brings us into the grief of their loved ones. It's just one small way to puncture our complacency about the sheer toll of this.

And in just the last few days, I've read on Faces of COVID about Sarah Montoya, a mother of three, who begged people not to put their families at risk before passing away at 43 years old. And a 69-year-old former high school drama teacher named Jim Hilliker who co-founded a Shakespeare Festival and played Santa Claus every December. And Eli Sevener, a star baseball player who graduated high school just last year and whose team is dedicating its 2021 season to him.

Face of COVID page is just constantly reconnecting us to the human stories to what we don't see in the charts and the statistics. And so, joining me now is the person who started Faces of COVID, Alex Goldstein, former spokesperson for Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, and former Governor Deval Patrick.

Alex, thanks so much for being with me. And I'm glad we could we could find you and you agreed to come on because it's your -- what you're doing has really made a difference for me. It's a way to sort of personally stay connected to the reality of what's happening. I'm curious how it how it came about.

ALEX GOLDSTEIN, CREATOR, @FACESOFCOVID: Chris, first of all, thank you so much for having me. It really means a lot to have you lift this up and the work that we're doing. You know, like a lot of people at the start of the pandemic, I was really struggling with this feeling like the statistics were almost overwhelming and that they were also in a lot of ways dehumanizing.

And I really created this effort as really a way to affirm that these people were more than a statistic and that their lives mattered, and that they had dignity, that it meant something. And I also note that every single story we post, I think about and I say this was the center of somebody's world, and maybe the center of multiple people's world, and the extent of that loss is really hard to even begin to internalize.

I think it's also about accountability because I think every single one of these stories begs a really important question, which is, did this person actually have to die? Was this death preventable in any way? Could we have done anything different to avoid this? And we know that we could have made a lot of different choices, particularly at the federal level. I think the last piece that's really motivated it was wanting to lift up the local journalists who are the really the storytellers who have been carrying so much of this burden at a time when their industry is really being hollowed out.

And I saw this as a means of really lifting up some of those storytellers and making sure that their work was seen by as many people as possible.

HAYES: I'm curious how you -- how you aggregate this, how you how -- you how you find this. Is there -- is anyone -- is there anyone in the government or anyone doing a central repository of this?

GOLDSTEIN: Not that we've been able to find. We've really been relying primarily on local news outlets who are doing the lion's share of the work. I'm grateful I have a friend, Scott Zubac, who's been helping me, so I'm not the only person. But really, the last hour before bed in the first hour I wake in the morning is really devoted towards scouring local news sources and some national sources, as well as, you know, obituaries for family self-identify as having lost a loved one to COVID.

And, you know, I think that part of what's driving me is I know that right now there's people watching your show who have lost somebody. And in a deeply isolating time where mourning has really been essentially deferred because of our isolation, it seems like just a really small, tiny way to say that you're actually not alone and there's millions of people in this country who do want to mourn with you and mourn alongside you.

HAYES: Yes. We've been -- we've been doing these small and memoriam segments on the show throughout the last six months and we have people in the staff who've lost family members, close ones and loved ones. And you know, if you're in New York, you know, people that have succumbed or have been gravely ill because of it.

And one thing that people have reached out to us to say is that yes, in the absence of not being able to engage in mourning rituals, I mean, particularly in April and May in the in the sort of heart of the shelter in place orders, it's difficult. It's so hard not to be able to commune with people that you love in the wake of this, to get together to share grief and also laughs and reminiscences. And I think that part of this pandemic is a sort of underappreciated trauma a lot of people gone through.

GOLDSTEIN: Absolutely. And also, when you consider that a lot of these folks said goodbye to their loved one via FaceTime, right. They weren't even in the room. And then you know, one things that that's really hit me as we share a lot of these stories is, you know, the names of the people we're sharing, for the most part, are not famous household names. But yet in the communities where they lived, they very well may have been the most important, impactful person on that block, in that neighborhood, in that town, and every single person knows who they are.

The teacher you showed earlier, I've heard from five different people who had that teacher at some point or their child had that teacher at some point. These folks have an unbelievable impact on the lives of the communities they live. And it seems like deferring all of this grief to six or eight months down the road is going to have some really serious consequences that I don't think we've really even started to grapple with.

HAYES: Yes. You know, it's striking to me. One of the reasons that I wanted to have you on tonight -- I was thinking about this actually when I was -- someone had shown that the towers of Light Memorial in New York City to commemorating the people that we lost in September 11th was doing a kind of warm-up test, and reminding me that it's that time of year again.

And I've seen that -- I think Mike Pence is going to be visiting New York and obviously, you know, we have this national mourning for the 3,000 Americans that we lost on that day, still, 20 years later, appropriately and properly so. And maybe it's because it's happening around us so we don't have that, but basically, Faces of COVID is the closest there is right now to anything like that being done to kind of memorialize it in any kind of systematic way the people we're losing. So I'm really appreciative for the work you're doing. Alex Goldstein who runs @FaceofCOVID Twitter page, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

GOLDSTEIN: Thank you so much for the work that you do on your show as you commemorate these lives as well. It means a lot to us.

HAYES: Thank you. That is ALL IN on this Thursday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.



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