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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 10/8/21

Guests: Steve Schmidt, Eric Swalwell, Barbara Lee, Charles Graham , Abby Finkenauer, Rachel Pearson


Former President Trump and the Republican Party should be held responsible for damaging the democracy in America. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D- CA) answers questions on Trump`s corruption, lying about the finances his hotel gained while in office. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is interviewed about the Texas anti-abortion law going back in effect. In just three days, North Carolina congressional candidate`s campaign ad has been viewed by more than 5 million people. In the ad, North Carolina State Representative Charles Graham, a Democrat, describes what happened when his hometown came together to stand up against hate and what good citizens can do today in the wake of the attack on Capitol Hill.



RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: All right. That is going to do it for us for tonight. I`ll see you again on Monday. Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD where the great Zerlina Maxwell is in for Lawrence O`Donnell tonight. Good evening, Zerlina. It`s good to see you.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC HOST: It`s good to see you, too. Thanks, Rachel. And this is such important breaking news about abortion. It reminds us how important it is to protect the federal bench. Mitch McConnell prioritized it and progressives should think about doing that.

MADDOW: Exactly. Seriously. Thanks, my friend.

MAXWELL: Thank you. We`re going to be talking to Congresswoman Barbara Lee momentarily about that breaking news. But I want to begin tonight by talking about where we`re at. We`re at an inflection point because Donald Trump might be gone, but the stress test he`s putting our democratic system through is still very much in progress.

And what we do right now in this moment will have a lasting impact on our democracy. And it will dictate whether our democracy survives. You think I`m being melodramatic? Trust me, I am not melodramatic. Ask yourself this question. When else in our history has one party been so concerned only about winning and completely consumed with one single man`s ego?

So much so that they`ve been willing to lie, cheat, and steal just to stay in power. That`s the Republican Party in 2021. Sure, politicians in both parties have been corrupt before, but never have we seen an entire political party bend to the corruption.

So what we do now matters to our democracy in the long run. More specifically, what Democrats do now matters. And that`s why it`s so refreshing to see them stand up and have the power to stand up. Today, the democratic effort to protect the rule of law landed on President Biden himself.

The Biden White House formally blocked an absurd attempt by former President Donald Trump to withhold documents from Congress about the January 6th attack. Congress could soon have access to a trove of documents from the National Archives related to the Capitol insurrection. And that`s only because there`s a Democrat in the White House.

You better believe Donald Trump would have blocked those documents if he was still the president. And it`s only because Democrats have the majority in the Se0nate that we learned new details about Trump`s relentless and shameless crusade to bully the Justice Department into helping him overturn the 2020 election results.

And it`s only because Democrats have a majority in the House that we just learned that Trump lied to hide his corruption involving his hotel in Washington, D.C. Today, the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee uncovered that while Trump was in office, his hotel received $3.7 million in payments from foreign governments, which means Donald Trump possibly violated the law and illegally profited off of the presidency.

In this moment, the survival of our democracy depends on whether or not we hold officials to account for a corrupt and anti-Democratic behavior. No one is above the law, not even a former president. It would be awesome if members of both political parties wanted to do this.

But aside from Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, Democrats are out here all by their selves. The rest of the Republican Party is either looking for another way of actively blocking attempts to save our democracy, like how Donald Trump directed former officials to not comply with subpoenas from the January 6th select committee, a request that Steve Bannon complied with.

Where`s the GOP outrage that subpoenas are being ignored? Where is the GOP outrage that their president was actively working to use the levers of government to overthrow the election that he lost? Where`s the GOP outrage that a president might have illegally profited from the presidency?


Where is the GOP that was all about law and order? Let`s remember that if we survive this moment and if our democracy survives, it`s because Democrats did the hard and necessary work to save it. And the Republicans? Forget good government. Even basic democratic government does not seem to be a party priority after Donald Trump.

Leading off our discussion tonight is Steve Schmidt. A former Republican strategist, he is the co-founder of the Lincoln Project. And Steve, the Trump hotel story is really the canary in the coal mine. It`s one of those stories that comes back around to the beginning. And you can`t be a little pregnant and you can`t be a little anti-democratic.

There is no country on earth where a strongman or a dictator oversees a fair law-abiding society. So, why don`t Republicans see how dangerous this is for all of us?

STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think that we crossed that bridge five years ago, Zerlina. We have a Republican Party that by order of magnitude is more radical and more extreme than it was on the day of the insurrection. I think it bears mentioning that in the hours afterwards, even Kevin McCarthy expressed regret, condemned Trump`s actions, assigned blame to him.

He wavered momentarily, but very quickly got his sturdy sea legs under him. And so whether it`s the hundreds of pieces of legislation that seek to restrict voting rights, even more worrying than that, to nullify the results of valid elections at the whim of Republican legislatures, all of this is aimed at the next election at this point, not last one.

Donald Trump is the Republican front-runner. He`s the presumptive nominee of the party. We see the intimations of violence being mainstreamed in the party. And so when we look at all of it as we come up on the year anniversary of Joe Biden being elected the 46th president of the United States, we have one of the two major political parties, the third oldest in the world that has given over -- given itself over completely to this autocratic project.

And in doing so, has broken faith. He`s broken the compact that we Americans have had with each other since the beginning about how we share power.

MAXWELL: One of the things I`ve been thinking a lot about is, you know, we`ve been talking a lot this year about the filibuster and Senate tradition. But what about the tradition of our democratic system? What have Republicans done to protect our democracy? They`re standing in the way saying they care about the filibuster and Senate tradition, but what about American tradition and our democracy?

SCHMIDT: I think the -- I think the question, Zerlina, is what have the Democrats done to harden the infrastructure of American democracy? It was self-evident that the filibuster was going to have to go when Joe Biden took the oath of office, at least as it pertained to all of these voting rights bills that are being passed all over the country.

On any one of a number of issues, what ethics laws have been hardened? What has been strengthened? What has been confronted? What has been dealt with? When you look at this honestly, Republicans have had a very, very good year.

They have been able to whitewash the insurrection. They have convinced 80 percent of the members of their party that the election was stolen and have turned a huge segment of the country against democracy. Huge segment of the country is fully invested in an autocratic movement, in a political extremism, and it has not been met.

Winston Churchill before the Second World War said this. He said the malice of the wicked was aided by the weakness of the virtuous. And at the end of the day, life isn`t fair and it`s not fair for the Democratic Party in this moment.

They have to govern. They have a lot of responsibility, but there`s no higher priority and responsibility than protecting democracy. And the reality is, after someone tells you who they are for the 10,000th time and shows you that they`re operating towards you with malice and bad intent, take them seriously.

And the simple fact is, the Democratic Party has been reluctant to exercise all of the tools in the kit, to exercise all of the power at its disposal, and the result of that is that this autocratic movement has gotten worse, not better, over the course of the last year when we would have hoped that in the shock of the aftermath of all of it that it would have receded.

MAXWELL: Well, we will see if Democrats heed your message and certainly we`ll see if Joe Manchin is listening to the words -- your words tonight. Steve Schmidt, thank you so much for joining us tonight. And joining us now is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He served as a House Impeachment Manager in the second impeachment trial of President Trump, not to be confused with the first impeachment trial of President Trump. And he`s a member of the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

Congressman Swalwell, do you agree with Steve that the Democrats need to use all the levers of power to do everything they can to protect our democracy? Essentially, I think this moment is an inflection point, as I said in the open, and a stress test for the other branches of government.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Absolutely, Zerlina. And right now we are squarely in extra innings. We thought -- and I`ll use that analogy as the Giants are beating the Dodgers right now here in the Bay Area. But we thought that the 2020 election would resolve this matchup between Trumpism and democracy. Instead, we are in extra innings and everything matters.

And making sure we protect access and voter rights at the polls that matters. Making sure we understand what happened on January 6th so that no candidate can ever aim a mob violently at the capitol. That matters. And those have to be the priority. And I cannot stress enough to our president that getting the Senate to break the filibuster to pass voting rights, we have to do that in extra innings.

Getting this January 6th commission to press these subpoenas, even if it means criminal contempt, we have to do that because if we lose, we don`t just lose an election, we lose everything.

MAXWELL: And when you think about all of the different investigations that are out there, obviously we got new information today from the house oversight committee as well that found that Donald Trump reported his hotel in downtown D.C. brought in $150 million in income while he served as president. But the hotel actually incurred more than $70 million in losses.

And this was an issue that came up during the campaign, in the beginning of his presidency in terms of potentially profiting off of the presidency. He also received in a postponement of payments from Deutsche Bank, the permission to postpone a $170 million loan. What is wrong with this picture? This feels very much against what the founders had intended.

SWALWELL: That`s right, Zerlina. Even though Donald Trump is no longer in office, corruption, sexism, racism, misogyny, they`re still at play. And yes, they were manifested in Donald Trump as president, but there will be more competent, corrupt, sexist, racist, misogynistic president who could take the Oval Office.

And if we don`t learn from what Donald Trump did, it`ll be much worse. And so Adam Schiff`s legislation, the Protecting our Democracy Act actually go a long way to preventing what Donald Trump was able to do financially, benefiting from being president while he was in the Oval Office, having foreign actors stay at his hotels. So, there`s an urgency here. We can`t just say, well, that`s the past, we should move on, because a more corrupt, competent president could come into the Oval Office.

MAXWELL: What do you think your House colleagues on the Republican side would say if President Hillary Clinton profited off the presidency in a hypothetical world?

SWALWELL: That`s right. There would be endless hearings after hearings. We`d never stop hearing about it. And so that`s why I think it`s actually in Republicans` interest to join us in making sure that we have more good government legislation in place. If they have any concerns about Joe Biden, I certainly don`t. I think he`s one of the most honest persons to be president.

But if they have concerns and want to hold him accountable, well, this is not aimed at Donald Trump anymore. It`s aimed at the current occupant and future presidents. So join us and make it bipartisan in our interests to make sure you no longer have a corrupt president benefiting from the Oval Office, not only personally, financially, and politically, but also for what it means in their ability, as I said, to try and aim a mob at the capitol to hold on to power if they were to lose an election.

MAXWELL: And to that point about the insurrection, the January 6th committee has sent out many subpoenas. Steve Bannon defying the subpoena. I mean, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are the two Republicans on that committee, so it`s bipartisan. What do Americans need to know about the rationale behind Steve Bannon defying the subpoena and Donald Trump`s efforts to use executive privilege in a moment where a bipartisan committee is trying to prevent another attack on the capitol?


SWALWELL: If he was innocent, he would cooperate. The reason he`s not cooperating is because he does not have an innocent explanation for his conduct that day, plain and simple. It`s a consciousness of guilt. And Americans need to know that Republicans have to own the two deadly lies they continue to spin, the lie that the election was stolen that continues to lead to political violence in this country, and the lies about the vaccines that make our children vulnerable to getting sick where 700,000 Americans have died.

Two deadly lies are what the Republicans must own, and that`s what`s at stake and it`s on us to make sure Americans know when they go to the ballot box next November that those two deadly lines, if we give them the right to govern, will continue to make us vulnerable at the ballot box where we could lose our democracy and at hospital beds where we could lose family members.

MAXWELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you for joining us tonight on this Friday night and enjoy the game, the rest of the game. Good luck.

Coming up, breaking news, Texas extreme anti-abortion law is back in effect tonight after an appeals court stay. We`ll have more on that after this break.



MAXWELL: Breaking tonight, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed Texas to temporarily resume banning most abortions just one day clinics across the state began rushing to serve patients again for the first time since early September. On Wednesday, U.S. District court judge Robert Pitman issued an order suspending the Texas law, calling it an offensive deprivation of constitutional rights of women to have abortions.

But tonight, the appeals court quickly granted Texas` request to set aside Judge Pitman`s order for now while the case is reviewed. And joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California. And I just want to get your reaction to this breaking news. You testified recently about your own experiences. What is your reaction to the latest out of Texas?

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Well, I`m glad to be with you tonight. Sorry about this horrible news that we have just learned. Let me tell you, women`s lives are at stake. And, you know, women, people all over the country are sick and tired of our lives being in jeopardy in so many ways.

And it almost feels like the courts and the state laws are just playing games with us. These are our bodies, our lives, and we have the right to make our own personal decisions about our own reproductive health care, including abortions.

And so forth for these courts to continue to put women in jeopardy and to really force them to scramble to who knows what will take place next in terms of what they do when in fact they want to and have made a decision to have an abortion.

Finally, I`ll just say, yes, I remember the days of back-alley abortions. I always said last week, you know, at age 16, I had to go to Mexico. Fortunately, it was a clinic and compassionate and competent doctor, but so many women died during that period and now people are going to die again to find new ways of trying to have abortions if in fact these laws are not taken off the books and the courts need to be on the side of people everywhere and on the side of the constitution.

So, this is a very, really, dark moment, I think, for people in the country and for our constitutional rights.

MAXWELL: I think it`s so important for people to understand what it was like before Roe v. Wade and that`s why your testimony about the pre-Roe realities was so, so important to this conversation. You know, what do you want voters out there to do in this moment, the Women`s Health Protection Act passed the House of Representatives, but, as we know, it`s held up the same way all the other bills are held up in the Senate.

So going forward, you know, in the state of Texas, women are not able to get abortions, but as soon as the Supreme Court decides, there are trigger laws that will affect about a dozen other states. So, what is the recourse in this moment for voters who support abortion rights?

LEE: Well, first, we`ve got to get -- you know, make sure the senators understand that they need to support the Women`s Health Protection Act. And this involves, Zerlina, political action. This result (ph) of grassroots action. This involves making sure that we hold members of Congress, both House and Senate accountable to people who deserve to be able to exercise their constitutional rights.

What they`re trying to do is turn the clocks back to the days that I know so well, that so many people know so well where women died. And in fact, we have to move forward and make sure we hold the elected officials accountable. And in these states we need to elect members of state houses who are going to support reproductive freedom and we need to make sure that those who don`t are not re-elected.

I mean, this boils down to a political struggle. We`re in a war. This is a fight for our lives. This is a fight for our freedom. And they`re playing with our lives. They`re playing with our bodies. And I am telling you, people are going to die if these states continue with what they`re doing and if these courts continue making these decisions against people`s reproductive freedom, their constitutional rights.

And finally let me just say it`s your personal decision. And as I said in my testimony, it`s nobody`s darn business what I do with my body. The only reason I came forward is because I want people to understand what it was like before Roe v. Wade.


And to know that I shouldn`t have to even slip there and talk about it. Nobody should`ve to do that. But I was compelled to do it because I`m sounding the alarm on what can happen. So many women died. That was the primary reason for the deaths of African-American women, septic abortions, during days. So, this is a really sad and dangerous moment, but it better compel us to engage in political action like we`ve never done before.

MAXWELL: Before it is breaking news, we had scheduled you to talk about the Build Back Better agenda. And one of the things I think is related is one fact and one question, which is a majority of women who have abortions in this country already have children. One of the central components of the Biden agenda is child care.

Child care is central to the Biden agenda. Talk about why it`s so important for families to have affordable child care, especially since in Texas and other places you don`t have access to abortion that you may need because it`s an economic consideration.

LEE: Sure. And then they try to deny us access to contraception also and family planning and comprehensive sexual education in our schools. What the heck do they want? I mean, this is crazy. It doesn`t make any sense. And so we just got to make sure that as we move forward we insist that people are respected and that our rights are respected and that election officials are not going to destroy our lives.

And that`s what they`re trying to do. And when you look at our Build Back Better bill, yes, child care, women want to work. Black and brown women especially are disproportionately low-wage workers. Child care is expensive. And so why in the world are those who are trying to stop our reproductive freedom and our rights to have an abortion, why are they now denying us access to good quality child care and trying to stop the Build Back Better bill.

They don`t want us to have child care either. They don`t want women to get back into the workforce. I mean, come on. This has got to go. This is an inflection moment. This is the time when we have to fight on all fronts for our rights on so many efforts -- in so many efforts.

MAXWELL: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, it`s been great to have you tonight. Thank you so much for joining us and please stay safe.

Coming up, one Democrat has an idea of how to beat back the Trump insurrectionists. This ad is already a candidate for the best political ad of the 2022 campaign. We`ll show it to you next.



MAXWELL: In just three days, a North Carolina congressional candidate`s campaign ad has been viewed by more than 5 million people. In the ad, North Carolina State Representative Charles Graham, a Democrat, describes what happened when his hometown came together to stand up against hate and what good citizens can do today in the wake of the attack on Capitol Hill.


STATE REP. CHARLES GRAHAM (D-NC): When I was a young boy, the KKK announced a night rally in my home county. A cross burning with hundreds of Klansmen to terrorize the blacks and Lumbee (ph). We were a poor farming community - - black, white, and Indian. My parents and grandparents were sharecroppers like many.

The police chief warned the Grand Dragon, these people don`t want your trouble. The Klansmen called us mongrels, half breeds, and told him the Klan would him how to handle people like us.

That night they rolled with their cars, their crosses, and a single light bulb hooked to a car battery. 50 Klansmen, not a bad turnout on a cold night. The problem is, they were surrounded by 400 Lumbees.

Simeone Oxendine had been a tail gunner in a B-29 during the war. Verdia Locklear was four months pregnant. Neil Lowery was the local barber. Hundreds of normal folks deciding to stand together against ignorance and hate.

Lowery shut out the light. The Klansmen scattered. By the time the sheriff arrived to fish them out of the swamp, the press was running with the story. The battle of Hayes Pond where one town beat the Klan.

A piece of forgotten history worth remembering, especially today. In Washington, lies turn to violence, and the biggest lie is that America is at war with itself. That you can`t trust your neighbor. That they want something that`s yours. That you must live in fear of them.

But the people who stood up at Hayes Pond refused to be afraid. I grew up with their story. And the lesson is, human dignity is a human right.


MAXWELL: Joining us now is State Representative Charles Graham, a Democrat from North Carolina. He`s running for congress in North Carolina`s 9th district.

So your ad clearly hit home with people who watched it. It`s super cool to see that part of American history, especially for those who hadn`t heard it. What do you want voters to take away from that ad? What does a Hayes Pond response look like in today`s very divided political climate?

GRAHAM: Well, thank you Zerlina, for having me on your program tonight. First of all, let me say I`m a proud Lumbee Indian and the son of sharecroppers. I would be the first American Indian elected to congressman of North Carolina.


GRAHAM: Now let me tell you about the story of Hayes Pond. This story is about my community, a community that came together in 1958 to fight hatred and bigotry.

And what we`re seeing today is the same fight like on January 6th. The only difference is the insurrectionists were not wearing sheets. My representation will be about unifying our country against bigotry and hatred and in my congressional district. My campaign will be about working and promoting working families and supporting businesses.

MAXWELL: In terms of the divided nation and the way Hayes Pond can be a lesson, I think one of the lessons is evolution and evolving on certain issues. You`re running against Republican Representative Dan Bishop who sponsored this so-called Bathroom Bill back in 2016. That`s the bill that prevented trans individuals from using the restroom of the gender that they identified with.

You voted for that bill. This week you apologized for that vote. Is that an example of the possibility of evolution on issues and why do you think that was important for you to do?

GRAHAM: Well, you know, part of that evolution is, Zerlina, that I voted to repeal that bill. You know, the HB2 bill after the fact, after I had cast that vote, I realized that it was hurtful. It was hurtful to the transgender community. And that is exactly why I worked hard to repeal HB2.

I am an indigenous person. I`m an American Indian. As I was growing up in my developmental years I confronted discrimination, as a young man who enjoyed playing sports, baseball in particular. As I played and most of my teammates during that summer, I can remember it very vividly. They were Caucasian, and what those young men did during that time -- and I was the only person of color on that team. They shielded me from discrimination. They protected me from discrimination coming out of the stands. And I will never forget that.

It was as if there was just recently that those folks were screaming racist remarks to me, against me, and that`s why I`m running for Congress as someone who will unite and not divide. But, you know, of course I`m proud of where I`m at today on HB2.

MAXWELL: In terms of your particular race, your district is actually a district that Donald Trump won. How do you think you can turn that around? What message are you going to bring to the campaign trail in 2022 that will attract that voter that came out in 2020 and supported Donald Trump?

GRAHAM: Yes. Thank you. That`s a good question, Zerlina.

You know, one of the things that I`ve been successful at -- and I`ve served in General Assembly of North Carolina. This is my sixth term. I`ve been able to get out and work in a primarily minority House district.

This past election I was the only Democrat from all the candidates -- state, national, that was re-elected in my county. My message has always been that I will stand strong and listen to my constituents. And that has been my motto throughout my tenure in the North Carolina General Assembly.

And I just want folks, whether it`s the 9th congressional district or any other district, to know I will be a representative of the people, and that`s where our campaign is going to produce. I`m going to put ideas out there that I think are uniting our communities.

For example, my opponent, if it`s congressional district 9, did not support the (INAUDIBLE) legislation. One of the things that`s important to my community and important to rural North Carolina, Zerlina, is broadband. He voted against that.

So my message is going to be, throughout the campaign is, I`m going to compare and contrast myself to what we can have as a congressional member to what we`re getting right now, and that is not very much. And that will be my message throughout the campaign. And I am very proud of that.

MAXWELL: I can`t overstate the need for broadband expansion in rural areas.

North Carolina State Representative Charles Graham, thank you so much for being here tonight and please stay safe.


MAXWELL: Coming up, Senator Chuck Grassley is going to rally with Donald Trump tomorrow in Iowa after putting his name on a Republican report yesterday that made the claim Donald Trump did not exert improper influence over the Justice Department after the November election.

How did the state that launched Barack Obama`s presidency in 2008 become Trump country? And what can Democrats do to win it back? That`s next.


MAXWELL: Donald Trump will hold a rally in Des Moines, Iowa tomorrow, fueling speculation about whether or not he`ll run for president in 2024. Iowa, of course, is the traditional launch pad for the presidential primaries of both political parties.


MAXWELL: Joining Trump at his rally will be Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, rankings member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who just yesterday signed a report excusing Donald Trump for his attempts to overturn the election and subvert the will of American voters. Trump`s visit to Iowa comes on the heels of positive polling in the state.

The latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa poll shows 53 percent of Iowans, including 91 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of Donald Trump. 45 percent have an unfavorable view. Democratic Party leaders in Iowa are critical of Republican support for Trump`s visit with Iowa Democratic Party chairman Ross Wilburn saying at a news conference, "For now we`re just focusing on reminding Iowans why Donald Trump is not just bad for Iowa, but he`s toxic for our democracy. And it`s been well established that he did nothing to stop his supporters from violently attacking our capitol, even while his own vice president was inside."

So what will it take for Democrats to reclaim the state that launched the presidency of Barack Obama but voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in the last two election cycles?

Joining us now is former Democratic Congresswoman, Abby Finkenauer. She`s running for the U.S. Senate in Iowa in 2022. And Republicans in Iowa may have a favorable view of Donald Trump, but actually that doesn`t mean they think he should run for president.

This is from "The Wall Street Journal". "My preference perchance that Donald Trump has a role in the direction of our country and party and some influence over candidates, but I think it would be best for someone else to become the standard bearer." And that was Mark Lundberg a financial adviser and former Republican chairman in northwest Iowa`s Sioux City. And that`s one of the more conservative areas of the state.

I mean, he was twice impeached. Is he really, you know, a popular figure for president in Iowa now?

Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I watch him and I know that Chuck Grassley tomorrow is going to go stand on a stage with the former president. This guy, who told his supporters on January 6th to march to the Capitol while they were wearing Trump hats, Trump T-shirts, and they beat our Capitol police officers with Trump flags and American flags.

And Chuck Grassley saw that. He saw that happen. Our governor saw that happen. And now tomorrow, they`re going to go stand on a stage with him and essentially endorse that behavior. It`s despicable. It is not who we are.

That is why this race is so dang important. I mean, I know Iowa. I grew up here. I know what we did in 2018 when Donald Trump wasn`t on the ballot the last time. We flipped two congressional seats. We had three out of the four congressional seats that went to Democrats. Three out of the six statewide races went to Democrats, and the Republicans in Iowa know that they can`t win without Donald Trump. And love it or hate it, he`s not on the ballot in 2022. And we`re going to make sure that we win this thing.

We need folks with us. Please go to and join us. And make sure we hold these folks accountable. They are afraid.

They know they`re vulnerable and they`re selling essentially democracy down the line because of the fact that they cannot stand up to Donald Trump. The lies that led to that day and they`re now going to stand on stage next to him endorsing it.

MAXWELL: What do you think it is about the Iowa voter that leads them into Donald Trump`s camp twice? You grew up there. What happened between 2008 and 2016 and 2020?

FINKENAUER: Again, you know, 2020 was tough, but it was tough everywhere. In 2022 Donald Trump isn`t on the ballot. In 2018 we flipped these seats. We were able to win in Iowa as Democrats, and we can do it again.

These folks are my friends and my family in Iowa. I know who we are. I`m somebody who grew up a daughter of a union pipe fitter welder. My mom was a public school employee. I`m a first-generation college grad here. And I know what it`s like to have people in Washington, D.C., look down their nose at you and think they`re better than you and go think that they know the policy that`s actually going to help move your life forward.

I am fighting for those people in Iowa. It is who I am. It is who I fight for, and it is how we`re going to win in 2022 because Chuck Grassley has gone to Washington, D.C. for nearly five decades and has become the Washington politician that Donald Trump has told all his supporters to hate over these years.

He is in the pocket of big special interests like the pharmaceutical companies. And as I was in Washington, D.C. as a congresswoman passing historic prescription drug reform, Chuck Grassley was over in the U.S. Senate stuffing it.

This is the type of stuff where we can hold him accountable. We will win here, but we need folks with us as we do it.


MAXWELL: Abby Finkenauer, candidate for the United States Senate in 2022 in the state of Iowa, thank you so much for being here tonight. And please stay safe.

Coming up, the vaccine for kids 5 to 12 could be available by Halloween. But there`s one thing doctors and parents should be doing right now before the shots are available.

We`ll talk about what that is, next.


MAXWELL: We`re ending on some good news tonight. Pfizer has officially asked the Biden administration to authorize the use of their COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. And I know parents out there, it`s like music to their ears.

And while some of those parents are more than ready to set up vaccination appointments, surveys suggest a larger number still need maybe a little bit more convincing.


MAXWELL: A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted last month found just 34 percent of parents of children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old are ready to vaccinate their child immediately after the vaccine is authorized. 32 percent want to wait and see. 24 percent are firmly opposed to their child getting the shot.

Last month in "The Washington Post" Dr. Rachel Pearson, a mother and pediatric hospitalist wrote about what she says to convince parents to vaccinate their children. She says in part, "My feelings are unhelpful, and beside the point. The point is that kind, consistent factual communication from physicians might help lift us from this nightmare. So instead of unloading my feelings or telling the stories of worst-case scenarios, I try to offer something useful. A conversation focused on this parent`s child, this specific child, who will probably be fine either way but who will enjoy a near 100 percent certainty of not being hospitalized with or dying of COVID if she gets the vaccine. The child`s flourishing is our shared goal always."

And joining us now are Dr. Rachel Pearson, a pediatrician in the Long Island Long School of Medicine and UT Health San Antonio and Dr. Ebony Hilton, MSNBC medical contributor and associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the University of Virginia Healthcare Systems.

Dr. Pearson, I`ll start with you. Tell us what you see in the hospital when children get COVID-19.

DR. RACHEL PEARSON, PEDIATRICIAN: Thank you, Zerlina. I see a mix. I see little kids under the age of one who often come in because they`re having trouble breathing, and they need oxygen.

The other big group we see is teenagers, some of whom also have difficulty breathing and some of whom have severe complications from COVID.

MAXWELL: You said under the age of one. That`s a baby.

DR. PEARSON: That`s babies, yes.


DR. PEARSON: Can be as young as a few weeks old.

MAXWELL: Oh wow. So Dr. Pearson, just a follow up to that, are parents asking you already for the vaccine for those young children or any of the younger children that are coming in?

DR. PEARSON: Not yet. A lot of parents have questions about the vaccine in general, though. Most parents know that kids 12 and up can get vaccinated now. And like you talked about in that Kaiser report, a lot of parents have questions or worries.

They want to talk to a pediatrician about it. And they want to know, are there -- what are the side effects like? They really want to know more than anything else, is this right for my kid? And that is the question that we`re here to help you figure out.

MAXWELL: And Dr. Hilton, we`ve had conversations often on my Peacock show about how these conversations need to happen in communities of color. So what is the nuance here? How are these conversations happening in communities of color?

Because you`re not only going to have to convince the parents to get vaccinated who are hesitant, but also the children of those hesitant parents.

DR. EBONEY HILTON, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Right. I think what we have to do is, for one, we have to counteract the narrative that we push early in this pandemic that children were immune or some type of way protected from COVID-19.

What we know is that in the last four weeks alone, a million children were diagnosed with COVID-19. What we know is that although largely, kids are protected from dying from COVID-19, we do have individuals and babies like Mikaela (INAUDIBLE) in Mississippi, eighth grader, within days of starting school, who is now no longer with us. And that`s a tragedy that we should avoid at all costs because kids at large do not die in childhood, right.

So how do we approach this in a way that we`re making parents aware that at this point, six million children have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and we know there`s long standing impact of just infection alone, not just death.

MAXWELL: And just yes or no, you know, folks are saying the delta wave is over. Do kids still need to get this vaccine, Dr. Hilton?

DR. HILTON: The answer is yes. And the reason why is again, what we know is that delta will not be the last variant that we see.


DR. HILTON: What we also know is that if we`re thinking about other countries, we have not done a great job of vaccinating globally. In fact at this point, for the poorest income countries, only 2.4 percent of those people in those countries have actually received one dose of the vaccine.


DR. HILTON: So we have a ways to go. So the best thing that you can do is prepare your child for, if there is another variant that comes through that makes delta look weak, that their body is already prepared at day one to be able to fight.

MAXWELL: Absolutely.

Dr. Rachel Pearson, and Dr. Ebony Hilton, we`ll have to leave it there. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us on this Friday night.


MAXWELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD.

Thank you for watching. You can catch me every week night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on The Choice from MSNBC exclusively on Peacock.

"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts right now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again.

Day 262 of the Biden administration.