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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 9/13/21

Guests: Maria Echaveste, Jeff Merkley


President Biden speaks at a rally for California Governor Newsom. President Joe Biden campaigns for Governor Gavin Newsom on the eve of California recall. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced today that Democrats have apparently reached an agreement on a new voting rights bill and that Senator Joe Manchin is trying to win some Republican support for that bill.



And I was listening intently to your discussion with Steve Kornacki about the timing of results reporting tomorrow night on the California recall election because, of course, I was wondering how late I`m going to be working tomorrow night.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Yeah. I have been thinking along the same lines myself. I have to say we`re all so allergic to polling predictions, even to polling averages at this point. I feel like even with Steve`s like reasoned math-based projections about it, I hedge all bets. I don`t believe anything. I`ll plan to be here until 6:00 in the morning.

O`DONNELL: And recalls are nutty, as you were accurately describing.

So, I don`t trust the polling in recalls because it is a weird structure of a so-called election. If this was simply an election of Democrat Gavin Newsom against Republican Larry Elder, I would trust a huge lead being indicated for Gavin Newsom, but it`s not what it is exactly. It is a weird variation on that, so we will see.

MADDOW: Yeah. It`s going to be a fun one to watch because it is so unique. But in terms of planning ahead, there will be none of that.

O`DONNELL: Yeah. So we might be around later tomorrow night. We`ll see.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

Well, Gavin Newsom is hoping that Joe Biden will be the closer for him tonight with California voters. President Biden is campaigning with governor Newsom tonight to try to close the deal with California`s Democratic voters who, if they turn out, have the electoral power to keep Gavin Newsom as governor.

After every California received a ballot by mail, 37 percent of California voters have already voted in the election to recall Governor Gavin Newsom and to remove him from office. That does not mean they have voted to do to remove him from him from office. It just means that`s what the election is about. That`s what the vote is about. Do you remove him from office?

Presumably, most of the Democrats voted in this election are voting no on that question. Tomorrow is Election Day in California. And voters who have not mailed in their ballots can go to the polls tomorrow and vote. We`ll see what that turn-out is tomorrow.

Democrats were given a major scare by the mid-summer polling in "The Los Angeles Times" that showed only 50 percent of voters opposing the recall of the governor, and 47 percent supporting removing the governor from office. Those uncomfortable close numbers brought Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vice President Kamala Harris to California to help campaign for Gavin Newsom.

"Los Angeles Times" poll released on Friday now shows 60 percent of likely voters in California opposing recalling Governor Newsom, with 37 percent who want to remove the governor.

The Republican candidate leading the field to replace Governor Newsom is Trump supporting radio talk show host Larry Elder who refused to answer a simple question by NBC`s Jacob Soboroff today about accepting the results of the election tomorrow.


JACOB SOBOROFF, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Is that a commitment to accept the results of the election tomorrow?

LARRY ELDER (R), CALIFORNIAGUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Let`s all do that together. Let`s work together, both sides of the aisle to make sure the election is a fair election.

SOBOROFF: Is that a commitment to accept the results tomorrow?

ELDER: Let`s all work together to do that.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussions tonight, David Plouffe, former campaign manager and White House senior adviser to Barack Obama. He`s an MSNBC political analyst.

Also with us, Maria Echaveste, a former deputy chief of staff to President Clinton. She is on the board of Mi Familia Vota, a Latino civil engagement group.

And, David, let me begin with you since you have been our recurring correspondent on this. You spent most of the time in California during this recall campaign. You saw Larry Elder basically telling Jacob Soboroff, of course, we`re not going to accept the results of the election no matter if Gavin Newsom is not recalled.

What do you see happening tomorrow?

DAVID PLOUFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Lawrence, I agree with you and Rachel that we should ignore polling averages. That being said, the trend here is very clear. So, let me give a big. If Newsom wins this in wins by a margin, these polls suggest he way wind by as much as he won his first election back in `18.


What does that mean? Well, it means that, what can we learn about this? Because this isn`t just about California. First of all, it means that Larry Elder, being the best example, that in the last 24 hours, 20, to 24, maybe even 26. If Republicans lose the elections, they`re going to say they didn`t lose it, it was stolen, our democracy continues to be under great threat.

Number two, you know, the Newsom campaign, shows the wind about 20 percent of Republicans in the Bay Area, 80 percent of the people who vote in California are going to be vaccinated. I think you`re looking at `22, two it shows that Democrats can make an appeal, not just to their base, not just a Democratic meeting in, but independents for Republicans that are vaccinated, that Republicans have been irresponsible, you cannot trust them.

So not to mention, there is massively important races in 2022, that will be a big part of the story about whether Democrats can hold on to my House majority. And looking at the results in those congressional districts I think will be. So, I hope Democrats don`t say California, recalls are funky, let`s leave the lessons to California, I think we have to look carefully, because I actually think Democrats need to go on the offense with vaccinated Americans, and say, you can`t trust this other crowd.

And a lot of those are seniors, by the way, who in many states are up to 90 percent vaccinated, who know it`s safe, who want their grandkids and grandkids to get vaccinated and are upset of Republican elected officials who made that harder.

So, again, let`s wait for the votes to be tallied. It looks very -- last six weeks, Newsom`s open up a big lead.

The other thing I`d say, Lawrence. Republicans, clearly no matter what you think about polling. Democrats are way ahead in early polling. Republicans need massive same day turnout. It is historical malpractice to be shouting days before an election, when you need irregular Republican voters to turn out to say, you know what, the election is rigged, almost if it doesn`t matter.

I think this is a big part of `22, we saw it in Georgia, are they going to pay a price for maligning elections, saying that peoples votes don`t count. I think that`s the answer to that is yes. The question is to what degree?

O`DONNELL: Maria, what changed in California from mid-summer where we saw this very tight polling, within the margin of error, on the question of removing the governor, and where the governor seems to be standing in the polls tonight?

MARIA ECHAVESTE, FORMER DEPUTY OF CHIEF OF STAFF, CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: Actually, I`d like to pick up on something that David said, that is the lessons to be learned from this recall, is that the governor in this campaign, waited until the last minute to start talking to some of the key constituencies that he needs to win tomorrow. And, the thing is, let`s be clear, this recall is a Republican effort, to have an off-year election, because they know they cannot win in a general election.

Think about it, it is California taxpayers have to spend more than $200 million for an election for governor, when the regular election for governor`s next year. It`s because Republicans cannot win statewide.

Having said that, unfortunately, I think some folks in the Newsom campaign, either did not take the recall seriously enough, or just waited too long, and that is something that Democrats across the country have historically done, especially with communities of color, with constituents who need that extra touch, and on this, he needs Latinos to come. Latinos are 40 percent of the population of the state, about 20 percent of the electorate, they`re finally talking about big investments in advertising, but also door knocking and phone calls.

Look, Latinos are very worried right now. They have a lot of other things on their minds, COVID, delta. They`ve taken the brunt, a big chunk of the consequences of the pandemic in terms of loss of jobs, and illness, and deaths. So, he needed and I believe he is making now in his campaign, that effort, to talk to voters, and that is what Democrats across the country need to be paying attention to.

And that`s what Georgia taught us, as well as the results in a number of House races in California, especially in the Central Valley, and in Orange County. You need to be talking to people, not six weeks before the election, but long before that,

O`DONNELL: We`ve got a split screen going here, with the live image of the rally, for Gavin Newsom in long beach California. President Biden expected to speak there any moment now.

And we are seeing as the poll indicates, Maria, a massive Latinos support for the governor, 66 percent in this most recent poll, about this.


And, David, the point Maria was making, it`s complicated in this, recall because it seems to me, the Newsom strategy for a while, was to stay quiet about it. On the theory that if people don`t even know about this election this recall election, that`s one way for Gavin Newsom to win.

PLOUFFE: Right. I think they`ve had a very strong last six weeks. The poll certainly did raise a lot of bells and focused attention.

Back to Maria`s point, I think any election, you want to unpack the results. I my guess is what you`re going to see in this election, is strong numbers that Democrats will like in a lot of these swing house districts. You`ll see outside support amongst Republicans, but you may see weakness if not in Latinos votes and Latino turnout

And given what happened in `20 with the Latino vote, no Democrat running for office can treat the Latino vote as a base vote. You got to work for it just as you would a swing, steel worker in Wisconsin, or a young person voting for the first time. If we don`t do, if we don`t make the investments in speaking on the policies, and lift up young leaders, we`re not going to lake where we are over the next decade.

But my sense is, this is turning into a race, it`s one of the reasons Newsom opened up a big lead, I do think their strategy, just have people focused on voting no, I know that was controversial, I think will be proved to be smart. And I think ultimately the fact that everybody got mailed a ballot, after 2020, people in California been voting by mail for a long time, but after 2020 where everybody got mailed a ballot, there`s some experience, there and I think that matters.

And, again, Republicans need to have massive turnout, tomorrow at the polling places, if they have any chance of making this close. What their voters are hearing, from Donald Trump to Larry Elder to basically the entire Fox News lineup, is that if Newsom holds onto the election it`s rigged. That`s a disincentive to vote.

And the life of me, I can`t understand given what we saw in Georgia and we may see tomorrow, why they`re going to continue to that forward, Lawrence, but they will. This has become an article of faith. It`s in the GOP talking. Ninety percent of their candidates are going to say, I`m not sure if I can trust the election results, if I don`t win, it was probably stolen for me.

Obviously, that`s first and foremost, fatal for democracy, or at least near fatal, but I think it`s going to hurt them. Because they are going to be very reliant in `22 on people who love Donald Trump, who came out and work for him and voted for him, but he`s not going to be on the ballot.

O`DONNELL: We`ve got in this split screen now Governor Gavin Newsom at the rally in long beach California, he is basically the warm up man for President Biden. He will not get the last word at his own campaign tonight.

Maria, bringing in the president here on the last night, is obviously all about turnout tomorrow. How do you get turnout for Democrats tomorrow, people to show up at the polls, people who have not mailed in those ballots, it is seems the Gavin Newsom campaign believes, the best turnout drive they can get tonight`s with the president of the United States speaking a long beach.

ECHAVESTE: I think I would defer to David on where that`s the bright sort of last 24-hour thing to be doing. I do know that the investment in radio, and advertising, in phone calls, seems at least recent results, it paid off.

I do think that after the election, we better unpack both Democrats did because (AUDIO GAP) my talking over the? Governor I don`t want to do that?

O`DONNELL: Maria, we`ll try to do the TV trick of letting the audience know that he is actually speaking while we are, in fact, listening to you. But we are going to let the governor speak directly to the audience for a minute here. Let`s listen to what he has to say.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: And at our best, we celebrate our diversity in the United States of America. What makes California great is that we can live together and advance together, and prosper together across every conceivable difference. It`s a remarkable thing. It really is.

And I want you all to know that that issue, the issue of diversity, pluralism, the issue that defines so much of our politics, that`s all on the ballot tomorrow night. Racial justice is on the ballot tomorrow night. Economic justice is on the ballot tomorrow night. Social justice is on the ballot tomorrow night. Long Beach environmental justice is on the ballot tomorrow night.

I just came back from northern California, the privilege of being with the president. And we took a flight of Marine One over Grizzly Flats, California. If any of you have been paying any attention to what`s going on in northern California, a lot of folks all across the country are, not surprised why we begin the day up there -- 2.2 million acres have already burned in the state of California, so far this year, 7,400 fires.

We currently have 13,000 personnel, firefighters, land crews, 13,000 working 15 active wildfires right now. Four of the top 20 largest wildfires in California`s history have occurred just in the last few months here in the state of California. The hots are getting a lot hotter, not just in this state but around the globe. We just experienced the hottest summer in California`s recorded history.

And yet, we still have people that are in complete denial that don`t believe climate change is real. People that still call it a hoax. Larry Elder who calls it a myth. Larry Elder who says his solution to the climate issue is more offshore oil drilling off the coast of Long Beach.

It`s a remarkable moment in our state and nation`s history. With all the progress we have made, to define ourselves not by our differences but by the things that bind us together, to be a majority/minority states. California. To make the progress we have made over the course of the last number of decades, to lead the nation, in a series of issues, all of that is at risk, if we don`t turn out and vote no on this recall tomorrow.

You`ve heard this. You`ve heard it from others. You`ve not heard not just from my cheering section over there, you`ve heard it -- you`ve heard it from others.

I love Long Beach. I don`t need to wind this crowd up for the president.

Long Beach, Long Beach, and the other side of this recall, and the other side of this, recall if we fall short.

O`DONNELL: David Plouffe, I want to get your reaction on what we fall short. One of the concerns I`ve had at the beginning of the recall, situation in California, was how you get voters motivated. How do you get them back out there, the year after a presidential campaign? It seems like there is some excitement there tonight.

PLOUFFE: Right, sure thing.

NEWSOM: Sometimes believe that women don`t have a constitutional right.

O`DONNELL: Let`s go back to the governor

NEWSOM: That is on the ballot. Think about this, we have someone on the other side of this ballot that thinks women are not as smart as men. He actually wrote an op-ed saying women aren`t as smart and politics, and civics, and issues of economics. Tell my wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom, that.

Man. Thinks there`s no glass ceiling. Don`t believe him pay equity loss. Thinks women complain too much about sexism. Thinks minorities complain too much about racism.

I don`t know if you saw in the you can`t make it up file, did you see the video that just came up? With Larry Elder reflected on the fact in the state of California became the first state in the country that begin to afford the issue of reparation? He said, well, I`ll be a little more cautious because, he said, what about reparation. This is what Larry Elder said, what about reparations for slave owners.

This is 2021. And a candidate for governor of the state of California said that. Does it surprise though, any of you that we have had somebody on the other side of this, that is to the right of Donald Trump? To the right of Donald Trump?

Now he said this, Long Beach, we said this, and I want to get to the main event and introduce you to the president of the United States.


But I want to make a few final points. We said to you last year, we said this to you. We said every one of us said to each other. We all stepped up and we said the most important election in our lifetime. The most important and impactful election in our lifetime was defeating Donald Trump in 2020.

And you did. We did. And I got proof coming here in a moment. President Joe Biden.

But you saw what happened. You saw what had happen on election, the big lie. You saw what happened in a few months later, January 6, the insurrection. You`ve seen what`s happened across this country, and voter suppression, across the United States of America. You saw what happened in Texas, and the fact that we have other Republican governors that hope to model that Texas legislation as it relates to deny women the right of choice.

We may have defeated Donald Trump, but we have not defeated Trumpism. Trumpism is still on the ballot in California. And that is why it is so important. Not just for all of us here 40 million Americans strong in the nation`s largest and most popular state, but also to send a statement all across the United States of America, that Trumpism has no place here, and Trumpism will be defeated all across the United of America because we`re better than that. We`re better than that as a nation.

Start to focus on the things that unite us. Come together across our differences. Dr. King said it better than everyone else, we are all bound together but well of neutrality. We`re all better off and world better off.

And that`s the spirit that defines the Biden administration. That`s the spirit that defines the Democratic, and our Democratic principles. Those are the principles, those are the values we hold dear in the state of California.

So, Democrats, I`m asking you, knowing that you understand what`s at stake. I`m asking you, nonetheless, to reconcile a fundamental fact, the future is not just something to experience, the future is something to manifest. The future does not just happen. You have to make it so. It`s our decisions, not conditions that determine our fate and future.

So I am asking you, over the course of the next 24 hours, to go out, to make phone calls, to send those text messages, to do the social media posts, to continue the door knocking, and continue to vocalize with all kind of energy that you have out here tonight, to vote no to this Republican recall.

And with that powerful admonition, and with your voices united in opposition, to this recall, let me ask you with that same level of intensity and purpose, and passion, to introduce, as I introduce, someone of character, of honor, a decency, someone that meets the moment, and defines the dream. And as I introduced the president of the United States, I want to remind you of the simple fact, there are two dreams, there`s the American dream and the California dream.

No other state in the United States attaches to the dream. And so, let me introduce to you, someone that defines the dream, defines the American dream, someone whose faith and devotion to the cause of democracy, whose faith and devotion to the cause of what`s binds us together, someone whose character and dignity, someone who believes in each and every one of you and the power of possibility -- ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States, President Joe Biden.




It`s good to be back. Thank you.

Well I`ll tell you what -- thank you. Thank you. You`ve all been standing a long time.

And I`ll tell you what? You know, the governor and I have a lot in common. We`ve both married way up.

Jennifer, thank you for the welcome. Thank you for what you do and thank you for becoming friends with Jill. I`m Jill`s husband, Joe Biden.

And folks -- Mayor Garcia, it`s good to be back in your town. Last time out here we were talking about infrastructure, now we got a lot of money coming this way, we`ve got a lot of working, we`ve got an infrastructure bill that we passed, and we`re going to do a lot more to built this incredible, incredible economy.

You know, someone was saying to me earlier today, the most diverse state in the nation, matter of fact I think it was your senator, the most diverse state in the nation, the most different state in the nation, the most biggest state in the nation, and has the -- one of the largest economies in the world, and no one sees any inconsistency there. It`s because we`re diverse, that you have a large economy in the world.

Senator Padilla, thank you for your leadership in the United States Senate. You`re doing an incredible job.

And I know she was here last week, but I have to give a shout-out to my favorite daughter of California, was always taking -- talking about you all the time, talks about you all the time like I talk about Delaware. She loves you. As a matter of fact, she thinks is the only state in the nation -- Vice President Kamala Harris.

Of course, the reason that I`m here, and that you are all here, is to thank and support our friend, Governor Gavin Newsom, the best governor in the country.

California, I`m not sure if you know it, but if you didn`t know it, you should. The eyes of the nation -- this is not hyperbole -- the eyes of the nation are in California because the decision that you are about to make is going to have a huge impact on California. It is also going to reverberate around the nation, and quite frankly, not a joke, around the world.

And here is why -- all of you know that last year, I got to run against the real Donald Trump.

Well, this year, this year, the leading Republican running for governor is the closest thing to a Trump clone that I`ve ever seen in your state. No, I really mean it. And he`s leading the other team. He`s a clone of Donald Trump.

Can you imagine him being governor of the state?

You can`t let that happen. There`s too much at stake. And here is why it`s so important for y`all to vote no on recall.


First, voting no will be protecting California from Trump Republicans trying to block us from beating this pandemic.


BIDEN: COVID-19. Gavin Newsom has had the courage to lead, stand up for science, for the very thing he`s been one of the leading governors in the nation, protecting people and vaccinating his state.

Meanwhile -- meanwhile, we see something else in parts of America. Right now, there are certain Republican governors like the governor of Mississippi who was talking to me about being dictatorial about demanding the people get vaccinated or tested. People are doing everything they can to block or undermine the life-saving mandates we propose, putting their people at risk, putting their children at risk, putting their states at risk.

And here`s the worst thing. For these Republican governors, it isn`t about public health, about the health of the people, it is about politics.

Look folks, just look at the hypocrisy. The same governors who are attacking me and your governor for COVID-19 mandates are in the states with some of the strictest vaccine mandates for children attending school in the whole country.

Talk about inconsistency. In Mississippi, children are required to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, hepatitis B, polio, tetanus and more. It is a state requirement.

Now in the midst of this pandemic that has taken over 650,000 lives, I propose a mandate for COVID-19 vaccines and it is an outrage. It is an infringement on freedom.

Look folks, we don`t need politics in this battle against COVID. We need science. We need courage.


BIDEN: We need leadership. We need Gavin Newsom.

A governor who follows science has got the courage to do us right. And I apologize for coughing.

Last week I laid out a six-part plan for the fall to beat this pandemic. First, vaccinate the unvaccinated with new vaccine requirements. Two, protect the vaccinated. Three, keep children safe in school. And four, increase testing and masking. And keep our economy going strong and take care of people with COVID-19. That`s what the science tells us. We have to beat the delta variant of COVID-19.

Gavin Newsom will be a governor who will help us finish the job.


BIDEN: Folks, send a message to the nation. Courage matters. Leadership matters. Science matters. Vote to keep Gavin. Get vaccinated to save lives.

Second, by voting no, you will be keeping a governor who respects women instead of -- instead of someone who wrote that women know less about politics and economics than men. He hadn`t met my wife.

Look, if you have any doubt about how important it is to have Gavin, who respects women`s rights, just take a look at what`s happening in states like Texas. They just passed a law empowering complete strangers to become bounty hunters, going after women who exercise their right to choose. A law that the United States Supreme Court refused to stop.

Now other states say they`re looking to replicate the Texas law. If you don`t think women`s rights are under assault, you`re not looking.

California -- keep Gavin Newsom and send a message to the nation. Women are to be respected. And their rights protected.

Third, by voting no, you will be protecting California from another Trump climate denier, who said global warming is, quote, "a crock" and depicts it as a myth.

Look, it is hard to believe there is any climate deniers left in America. Let me tell you something. There are. The last place you want someone like that is in the governor`s office in California.


BIDEN: You all see what`s happening. Why are fires burning two million acres in California this year alone? Five million acres have burned, 5.9 in the region. That`s bigger than the state -- the entire state of New Jersey, and it is a big state.

The governor and I were just in Sacramento for a briefing on the Calder fire. The Calder fire.

Last week I saw the destruction and the death caused by Hurricane Ida in New York, New Jersey and Louisiana.

Folks, extreme weather is here. The climate crisis isn`t going away. It`s getting worse. We have to deal with it, not deny it.

So, California, you`ve got to keep Gavin Newsom as governor.

And send a message to the nation that we have to deal with the climate crisis now. We can`t wait any longer. When I got elected president, I immediately rejoined the climate -- the Paris Climate Accord. Just since we put that together and it`s in our administration and Barack`s administration -- just since then everything has collapsed even further.

We don`t have much time. Not a joke. We`re talking about nine to ten years before we pass the point of no return. You know, our children need it. The planet needs it.

Fourth, by voting no, you will be standing up for a governor who protects workers, rather than one who believes there shouldn`t be -- I can`t believe this guy -- there shouldn`t be a minimum wage? The leading Republican candidate thinks the minimum wage should be zero.

Look, working people have taken it on the chin too long. We need leaders like Gavin who will respect them, hear them, fight for them.

To me it is pretty basic. If you`re working a 40-hour week, you shouldn`t be living in poverty. That`s why I support a $15 minimum wage. Gavin is leading the way in California. I`m so tired of trickle-down economics. It`s about time we build from the bottom up and the middle out.

So, California, keep Gavin and send a message this time. Give working people just a fighting chance. They have never, ever, ever, ever, ever let the country down. All they want is just an even shot. They have never let the country down.

Folks, I could go on, but here`s the deal. I`m going to make this as simple as I can. You either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor or you`ll get Donald Trump.

It`s not a joke. Republican governor blocking progress on COVID-19 who is also anti-woman, anti-worker, a climate denier who doesn`t believe in choice. The choice should be absolutely clear -- Gavin Newsom. You have a governor who has the courage to lead.

In Gavin Newsom you have a governor who shares the state`s values. In Gavin you have a governor to make sure Donald Trump`s dark, destructive, divisive politics never finds a place in California.

So please, not a joke. On behalf of the people of Delaware and Pennsylvania and Minnesota and all across America, don`t take anything for granted. If you are registered, you`ve got a ballot in the mail. If you haven`t opened it, open it. Mark "no" and put it in the mailbox tonight.

If you want to vote in person, make sure you know where you a going to vote in your county. If you already voted, make sure your family and friends are voting tomorrow.

California, I mean this is sincerely. The eyes of the nation are on you. I`m not joking. I`m not joking about that. You have got to vote no on the recall. Keep Gavin as governor. The rest of America is counting on you, and so am I.

God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.



LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: David Plouffe, it seems we have now seen the last act of the drama of the California recall election. It is now just a question of turnout tomorrow and counting the votes tomorrow night.


I think that -- an effective pitch by Biden. But I think, what you saw tonight I think is going to carry forward into next year because I found in politics you obviously want to give people something to vote for. But it is also important to give your base something to be against.

I think here in California, you know, Elder played the Trump clone role President Biden talked about. But I think all over the country, you`re going to have candidates who are COVID, you know, deniers being irresponsible about vaccines, who don`t think that we should be a democracy, who think we`re riddled with fraud, who don`t believe in in climate change.

So I think you can see, I think, really strong foundation for next year, which is obviously you I want people to vote to say the Democrats did a good job on COVID, on rebuilding the economy, on climate change, on health care.

But these other folks are no better than Trump. In many respects they`re worse than Trump. And we saw how powerful that was both in 1820.

So I think what you`re going to see tomorrow, again, we need to study the results, the tactics, the strategies, the messages. But I also think that it`s clear that it`s not just a California issue.

I will point out too, Lawrence, you know, out here we call them no party preferences, used to call them decline (ph) the state. They`re independents as they`re known in other states.

My understanding of the data is about 90 percent of those voters are vaccinated. About 95 percent of Democrats out here are vaccinated. And Newsom is likely to win two-thirds of those Independents.

And again, I think when you look outside of California after this election in terms of what can we learn about this leading into `22, I think that`s really, really important. Particularly if he`s able to win 15 percent, 20 percent of vaccinated Republicans and you dominate independents like that on top of doing what you needed to do with the base, which is no guarantee. We have to work really, really hard I think to get the kind of turnout we`ll need to survive `22 and maybe gain some seats.

But I think there is a lot to be learned about what is going to happen next year when you unpack these results in California tomorrow and in days to come.

O`DONNELL: Maria Echaveste, the president began by saying I ran against the real Donald Trump and Larry Elder is the Trump clone now running for governor of California. So Donald Trump obviously a large part of the closing argument to save Gavin Newsom as governor of California.

MARIA ECHAVESTE, MSNBC COMMENTATOR: Right. But I actually think we need to look very carefully, and as David says unpack the tactics because what I`m hearing on the street is there are a lot of ads that were coming out of the Newsom campaign that were all about sort of this is another version of Trump, this is fear. They`re coming for you.

And people actually want to hear -- you have to give people something to vote for. And Newsom has a record. There is really tremendous things he`s done in this case for all Californians, but for Latinos as well that you could do a very positive message that this is what`s on the line, the programs to expand early childhood, to invest huge amounts in education, to expand health care for undocumented. All of that is a positive record.

I think Hillary Clinton made one of the mistakes that was made was to think that only fear an just fighting against Trump was the way to win Latino votes. And I think we should all understand that Latinos are just like every voter.

It is more than just one thing. We`re not just about immigration. And we`re not just about afraid of right wing. We care about education, health care, housing, work, employment. Talk to us about those issues. That`s what we need to learn from this election.

O`DONNELL: Maria Echaveste, David Plouffe -- thank you both for joining us in this live coverage of President Biden`s closing argument in the California recall campaign. Really appreciate you both being here.

Thank you.

Well, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced today that Democrats have apparently reached an agreement on a new voting rights bill and that Senator Joe Manchin is trying to win some Republican support for that bill.


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Senator Manchin has been having discussions with our Republican colleagues to try and garner support for this important legislation.

This is a good proposal, and I encourage all my Senate colleagues to support it. I intend to hold a vote in the Senate early as next week on voting rights legislation. Time -- time is of the essence.

I yield the floor.



O`DONNELL: And "Rolling Stone" is reporting, quote, "President Joe Biden and his advisers have said in recent weeks that Biden will pressure wavering Democrats to support reforming the filibuster, if necessary to pass the voting bill. According to a source briefed on the White House`s position, Biden told Schumer, Chuck, you tell me when you need me to start making phone calls."

Today the White House did not deny that report. White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, "as for the filibuster when or if the president has something to say about it, you will hear about it directly from him."

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. He`s a member of the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Budget Committee.

Senator Merkley, thank you for joining us. I know you have been a leader in the -- to try to get a voting rights bill through the Senate. What is the situation as of tonight?

SENATOR JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR):Well, right now, I`m so pleased that a group of seven senators have come together, that includes Joe Manchin. We have worked to address a whole variety of issues that had been raised by various secretary of states or election officials regarding automatic voter registration, voter ID, gerrymandering, public financing and we reached an agreement.

And so we anticipate that a bill will be introduced tomorrow. That`s the plan as of tonight. Of course things are always shifting in the Senate.

And the fact is it will have the support of every Democrat and Joe will be working to solicit the support of Republicans. After all the integrity of our elections is fundamental to our constitution, fundamental to our republic and this should be something that all hundred senators should sign on to.

So hopefully we will have that Republican support. But if not, then we`ll be looking at how to get it done with 50 Democrats because we 50 Democrats are determined to defend the constitution.

O`DONNELL: Well, the only way you can get it done with the 50 Democrats is there will have to be a change in the Senate 60-vote threshold. That`s the reporting we were just quoting from "Rolling Stone" that President Biden is ready to go forward pushing a change in the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

Is that what we`re going to see if the Republicans do not join this bill?

MERKLEY: We have seen such things in the past. The Republicans changed the 60-vote threshold on the Supreme Court. They changed the 60-vote threshold so that they could pass tax breaks for the wealthy. They changed the number of hours for considering lower court judges so they could stuff more judges, right wing judges into district and appeal court positions.

And what we`ll see is really the question of how do you proceed to do the responsibility we have as the majority in the Senate to make sure that we stop billionaires from buying elections, that we stop the evisceration of the concept of equal representation through gerrymandering.

How do we make sure that every citizen has access to the ballot when state after state after state, 18 states and 30 laws so far are designed to prevent targeted groups from being able to vote?

How do we do that? Well, maybe it is a carve out from the filibuster like some of these previous carve outs and maybe it is restoring the filibuster to be one that creates a balance.

And by a balance what I mean is something like the talking filibuster, which says there will be no tyranny of the majority. The minority will have time to pursue amendments, make sure the public can see the bill, that they have seen the bill that seeks compromises.

But there also won`t be the tyranny of the minority right now where the minority exercises a veto. That is a profound corruption of the democratic process that has to end.

O`DONNELL: So the sequence seems to be Senator Schumer is already saying he`s scheduling this bill to come up for a vote in the Senate as early as next week. Could it possibly even at the end of next week but certainly next week.

And it seems that if that fails -- if that fails to get the 60 votes, if Joe Manchin fails to get 10 Republicans to join this bill, is it at that point that Senator Schumer would then ask the senate, in effect ask Democrats in the Senate to vote to change the rule on the 60-vote threshold?

MERKLEY: Yes. I don`t think it will happen at that moment. That is that the dialogue will begin with the 50 Democrats, with the president of the United States saying how do we honor our responsibilities and the fundamental rights of all Americans?


MERKLEY: Is it through this carve out. Is it through a talking filibuster? Is it through some other mechanism? And that`s going to take some time to work that out.

But I really believe that we have to before the month of October is out, we have to get this voting rights legislation done. After all the states around the country are already redistricting with the new census data, and we need to have time for the states to prepare.

So the clock is definitely ticking, and a failure of that vote, if it`s held next week is what we anticipate will, in fact, say ok, Republicans are not going to join us. They`re not going to protect the rights of Americans. They`re too invested -- they support billionaires buying elections. They support gerrymandering to distort the representation of Americans in Congress. They support blocking targeted groups from being able to vote.

It`s like we`re going back pre-1965. So we must stand up and figure out how to get it done with 50 votes and a vice president.

O`DONNELL: You`ve been discussing this and working with Senator Manchin on this bill. And you just described an urgency, a timing urgency about this voting rights bill, that is related to the timing of the next elections obviously.

And I raised this question of urgency with Senator Manchin. And I`m wondering what his sense of urgency is on voting rights because over the weekend, of course, he said he doesn`t see an urgency about the completion of the Biden infrastructure package through the reconciliation process. He would like to actually slow down that process.

Does Senator Manchin see the same urgency in voting rights legislation that you see?

MERKLEY: Well, I certainly haven`t asked him that question in that fashion. But the fact that he has been deeply engaged in this working group to rewrite the bill and try to improve it in a variety of ways suggests that he sees the urgency.

After all, he was very busy with the bipartisan bill, he still carved out time to do this. He`s a former secretary of state so he understands how much lead time is required to be able to put a framework in place for the next election, so I certainly my impression is he shares the sense that the time really matters in this. And so I certainly hope so.

O`DONNELL: And is there a kind of legislation, legislating timing conflict now between voting rights and the completion of the reconciliation bill that would contain the remainder of the Biden infrastructure package?

MERKLEY: Yes, so we have the budget framework for the Build Back Better bill or reconciliation bill, and that goes out to the committees, and they have to put all the details in place.

This is incredibly complicated because of the size and significance and the number of topics that are addressed. Early childhood education, great. We`re going to pay for two years, how are we going to do it? Tuition free community college, what are the details? Addressing the Medicare and expanding it include eyes and ears and teeth. How are the details of that done?

So that`s going to take us absolutely through October, probably into early November I imagine, which leaves space right now for the intense floor discussion and caucus discussions regarding voting rights.

Remember, at the same time we still have to in the next couple of weeks get a continuing resolution because the fiscal year ends at the end of September. So that is there.

There`s a debt ceiling issue that we have to address as well. So it`s a crowded agenda, but I think there`s plenty of room to address voting rights while the committees are working on the Build Back Better bill.

O`DONNELL: What was your interpretation of what Senator Manchin said this weekend about the -- what he perceives to be the lack of urgency to the reconciliation bill?

MERKLEY: Well, Senator Manchin was focused on the numbers this weekend. His concerns about inflation. I`m hoping that what we`ll have is a caucus, or discussions that speak to and remind us of the urgency of the big challenges that Americans face, that working families cannot afford child care, that young people cannot afford college, that Medicare is incomplete by ignoring some of the most fundamental issues of sight and hearing and dental treatment, that the cost of drug prescriptions is outrageous, were being gouged and this bill addresses that.

So I hope those conversations will bring to the forefront how these things are deeply, profoundly supported by the American people and so important to the health of our nation.


MERKLEY: So I think that`s the pivot that I hope the discussions will take.

O`DONNELL: The interesting thing over the weekend is that Senator Manchin is now uncomfortable with the total number target in the budget resolution, but that`s actually something he voted for. He voted for the budget resolution.

Are his Democratic colleagues confused about his position now?

MERKLEY: You know, Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema both announced that basically at the time we were voting on that that they were supporting the framework to get the process moving but they were not comfortable with the number. So I don`t think there was any particular surprise there.

The question that we have is for a large part of the caucus, this number, $3.5 trillion was already a compromise. We started with $6 trillion. The Budget Committee worked very hard to get that $3.5 trillion compromise.

And so -- and we think that`s the number that`s needed to do these profound changes.

O`DONNELL: Senator Jeff Merkley, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

MERKLEY: Welcome. Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

We`ll be right back.