Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), held their first event together as running mates. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is interviewed. Susan Rice, the former national security advisor and U.N. ambassador also speaks out.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us today.
Vice President Biden today recounted the story which he has told before. But he recounted the story of what he agreed with President Obama when President Obama asked Biden to be his running mate in 2008. Now, Biden has told this story before. It's part of Joe Biden's lore, right, him talking about getting that call and the discussion he had with President Obama when they agreed to become a ticket and run together in 2008. We've heard Biden explain this.
But today, with his own newly minted running mate by his side this story very much took on new resonance because Joe Biden today said that what he asked President Obama 12 years ago about becoming Obama's running mate, that's also what he's asking Kamala Harris now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: When I agreed to serve as president Obama's running mate he asked me what I wanted most importantly. I told him I wanted to be the last person in the room before he made important decisions. That's what I ask Kamala.
I ask Kamala to be the last voice in the room, to always tell me the truth, if she will, challenge my assumptions if she disagrees, ask the hard questions because that's the way we make the best decisions for the American people.
Kamala, you've been an honorary Biden for quite some time.
You know, I came first to know who Kamala was through our son Beau Biden. They were friends. They served as attorneys general at the same time. They took the same big -- they took on the same big fights together. Kamala in California, Beau here in Delaware. Big fights that helped change the entire country.
I know how much Beau respected Kamala and her work, and that mattered a lot to me to be honest with you as I made this decision. So now we need to get to work, pulling this nation out of these crises we find ourselves in, getting our economy back on track, uniting this nation, and yes, winning the battle for the soul of America.
My fellow Americans, let me introduce to you for the first time, your next vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It will always be an odd artifact of this time, of this presidential election, of this year in history that there isn't any applause at those moments, right? There isn't a cheering crowd even for an event like this.
I will tell you, some people apparently did nevertheless show up outside this closed Biden and Harris event today. Even though the public wasn't invited in for it, people showed up just to hold a sign supporting them or to run to catch a glimpse, to try to catch a glimpse of one of them as Biden and Harris drove up to go to the event. Look at people running to go to see as they drove up.
But the public couldn't come inside. Inside it was just the candidates and their families and the press, and that, of course, is because of the epidemic.
After she was introduced by Biden at this event today, Senator Kamala Harris took the podium as a vice presidential candidate for the first time. She hopped up on the little box at the podium because she is not as tall as you think and Joe Biden is taller than you think.
But when she began to speak she proved immediately that the one thing no one likes to admit a vice presidential pick is for. The one thing everyone knows but doesn't like to talk about which is that a vice presidential pick must be able to go on the attack against the other side. Senator Harris today showed immediately right out of the gate that, yeah, that's not going to be a problem for her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a moment of real consequence for America. Everything we care about, our economy, our health, our children, the kind of country we live in. It's all on the line.
We're reeling from the worst public health crisis in a century. The president's mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And let me tell you, as somebody who has presented my fair share of arguments in court, the case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut.
Just look where they've gotten us -- more than 16 million out of work, millions of kids who cannot go back to school, more than 165,000 lives that have been cut short, many with loved ones who never got the chance to say good-bye.
It didn't have to be this way. When other countries are following the science, Trump pushed miracle cures he saw on Fox News. While other countries were flattening the curve he said the virus would just, poof, go away, quote, like a miracle. So when other countries would open back up for business, what did we do? We had to shutdown again.
This virus has impacted almost every country, but there's a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation. It's because of Trump's failure to take it seriously from the start. His refusal to get testing up and running, his flip-flopping on social distancing and wearing masks, his delusional belief that he knows better than the experts. All of that is reason, and the reason that an American dies of COVID-19 every 80 seconds.
It's why countless businesses have had to shut their doors for good. It's why there is complete chaos over when and how to reopen our schools. Mothers and fathers are confused and uncertain and angry about child care and the safety of their kids at school, whether they'll be in danger if they go, or fall behind if they don't.
Trump is also the reason millions of Americans are now unemployed. He inherited the longest economic expansion in history from Barack Obama and Joe Biden. And then like everything else he inherited, he ran it straight into the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He ran it straight into -- you know, I don't think this part of the running mate job is going to be a problem for senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris. The part where the candidate talks about where he wants to do for the nation and the vice presidential candidate takes on the job of defining and attacking the other side. Yeah, no worries. She's going to be fine at that.
Kind of seems like she was actually sort of made for that at least in this moment. The right and the Trump campaign clearly haven't decided how they want to try to attack her yet. The president literally tonight sent out an e-mail saying she's, quote, horrible.
OK. I actually laughed out loud quite hard when I saw the conservative magazine "The National Review" say that in choosing Kamala Harris, Joe Biden was choosing authoritarianism as his running mate. Really? Her?
I mean, here's President Trump literally calling for election to be postponed and ordering federal agents without name badges or notification to go attack and gas peaceful protesters in the streets, but Kamala Harris is authoritarianism personified? Really "National Review"? Her? OK.
Yeah, I mean, they -- doesn't she look like authoritarianism personified? Yeah, they don't know how they want to run against her yet. Calling her horrible is a nice start I suppose, but they'll come up with more adjectives. They'll come up with something. They'll come up with everything. Who knows?
Tonight, we're going to be joined by two women who were themselves considered for this gig. Susan Rice, U.N. ambassador, and national security advisor to President Obama. She was in high profile important national security positions for all 8 years. She's a long time trusted colleague of Vice President Biden. She enjoys a very close relationship with him. She was reportedly in contention for the vice presidential slot until the very last.
Susan Rice has already issued congratulations to Senator Harris, has congratulated Vice President Biden on the pick. She has said that she thinks Biden and Harris will be unbeatable as a ticket. Ambassador Susan Rice is going to be joining us here live in just a few minutes.
We're also going to be joined tonight by Senator Amy Klobuchar who, of course, herself ran hard against both Biden and Harris to try to win the nomination for herself. Ultimately, she took herself out of the running as a potential vice presidential pick for Biden. She said Biden should instead pick a woman of color to run with him.
Senator Klobuchar didn't just issue a statement of support when Biden announced Kamala Harris as his running mate. She says she was, quote, filled with joy about the fact that Senator Harris was the pick. Filled with joy. Senator Klobuchar is going to join us live in just a moment as well.
Senator Klobuchar I should tell you also is deep in the fight of what is turning out to be one of the very dark turns the president and his administration are taking to apparently try to mess with the election. Senator Klobuchar is the lead author tonight of this letter from all 47 Democratic U.S. senators pushing President Trump's newly appointed head of the Postal Service to reverse the things he's already done to slow down the mail and to take back and rescind his threats that the delivery of ballots in advance of what's about to be our country's first mostly mail-in ballot election, he's threatening that the delivery of ballots and the return of ballots is at risk by policies he wants to change in the Postal Service in terms of how political mail is handled. Senator Klobuchar taking the lead on this.
Quote: Many state deadlines allow voters to request absentee ballot applications and absentee ballots within a few days of Election Day. So it is vital that standard delivery times remain low and pricing remain consistent with past practices to which election officials and voters are accustomed. That letter tonight from all the Democrats in the Senate helmed by Senator Klobuchar is going to join us in just a moment.
The Democrats in the House are pushing the same way now in this which was just sent to Trump's postmaster general from the House tonight. They say, quote, it is always essential the Postal Service be able to deliver mail in a timely and effective manner. During the once in a century health and economic crisis of COVID-19, though, the Postal Service's smooth functioning a matter of life and death and is critical for protecting lives and livelihoods and the life of our American democracy.
And they get very specific. Quote: The House is seriously concerned you're implementing policies that accelerate the crisis at the Postal Service, including directing post offices to no longer treat all election mail as first class. If implemented now as the election approaches, these policy changes will cause further delays to election mail that will disenfranchise voters.
And this may sound like a picayune thing, right? Treating election mail as first class mail as opposed to not first class mail, but this is -- like this is really big deal. It is the long-standing practice of the Post Office to treat election mail, to treat political mail as first class mail. And the Trump administration really has just stopped that, less than 90 days out from this election that is going to be the first mostly vote by mail election that we've ever had.
And that change that they have implemented could be the difference between us all getting ballots on time and getting them counted on time or not. And it's by design. "The Washington Post" tonight has this from a postal worker in Michigan who's sort of blowing the whistle but on the condition of anonymity.
Quote: Every political season we treat political mail like first class mail. It was always the priority to go out. Now they're treating it like bulk rate mail.
First class mail, we always try to get it to you. We forward it to you if you moved, we try to find you. But the bulk rate mail that doesn't go out, we recycle it. Now, we are recycling political mail. And by recycling they mean throwing it away.
For accountability reasons, the way things worked in the postal service before now just in case something went wrong in an election just because something got screwed up in the political mail around that election, right now the Postal Service operation manual says managers and postmasters have to keep a log any political mail their office receives to make sure stuff doesn't go wackies (ph), right? To make sure there aren't shenanigans.
But according to postal workers, under the new Trump guy installed, the new rules and practices that he's put in place, they're not even doing that. They're not even documenting what political mail they're handling, despite the fact the postal service says they have to.
According to postal worker in Michigan, speaking with "The Washington Post" tonight, quote: Keeping up a log of political mail is the lowest form of accountability. It's lowest form of keeping track of this mail, but now, we are not doing it.
So, again, the revelation here is that these changes are not just proposed. They're not just something that's potentially worrying about how they're going to mishandle political mail deliberately in order to slow it down and in some cases ensure it gets thrown away instead of delivered. It's not just a threat to do this. Postal workers are now saying that's what's happening.
So we're going to talk with Senator Klobuchar about that and more. Coming up, again, she's kind of taking point on this in the United States Senate. In related news, you should know that in the perennial swing state of Ohio, they've got their own new trouble. There's a Republican secretary of state there who today announced that local officials are not allowed to put any new drop boxes for people to drop off their ballots, right?
That's one of the safeguards just in case the mail is slow in getting people their ballots or in case people are worried it'll be too slow for sending back their ballots. If you're worried about that or something's gone wrong in terms of the mail being screwed up with you, requesting and receiving a ballot, filling it and mailing it back in, one of the safeguards that Ohio had put in place and lots of states had put in place is that instead of putting your completed ballot in the mail, you can drop it off at a drop box specifically setup for this purpose.
That's the way they do it in states all over the place that have lots of experience voting by mail. But in Ohio where they're going to be voting by mail this year, as per the secretary of state today no new drop boxes are allowed to make it convenient for people to drop off their completed ballots. You can have one drop box at the local elections board but no more, that's it.
According to the Republican secretary of state today he says, quote, boards of election are prohibited from installing a drop box at any other location other than the board of elections. Now, why is he saying that? That is not like in the law in Ohio. He's not telling you what the law is. He's just declaring that. The Republican secretary of state in Ohio just decreeing that today on the basis of nobody knows what, right?
But you can -- you can see the flowchart here. You know, screw up the mail and then screw up any chance of people being able to circumvent any problems they have with the mail, right, by taking away or making it convenient for them to submit their ballots in some other way. And, of course, they're doing it in Ohio, right?
This is going to be a wild election everywhere that Republican and pro-Trump officials have any control over the way the election is conducted. I mean that said it's turning into a wild year for Republicans anyway. You might have seen there's lots of national attention today to the very far right, very vocally racist anti-Semitic QAnon conspiracy candidate who just won a congressional primary in Georgia. When her track record and the sort of eye-burning quotes she had issued about black people and Jewish people and other things came out during the campaign, there was this moment when the Republican leadership in the House all denounced her and supported her opponent in that primary, but she won that primary very easily, and President Trump today immediately gave her a hardy endorsement. And that is a really Republican district in which she won in Georgia, and so she is expected to become a new member of Congress in the fall.
Up the eastern seaboard, in the great state of Connecticut, the Republican Party is also saddled today with a congressional candidate who was literally arrested on the night, before the primary charged with strangulation and unlawful restraint in what was apparently a serious domestic violence incident. Excuse me, he withdrew from the race upon being arrested, but eastern Connecticut Republican primary voters appear to have maybe voted him in as their candidate anyway. He at least appears to be in a virtual tie for the win there.
The Connecticut Republican Party had naturally endorsed him in that congressional primary before he was arrested for strangulation. The weird saga continues as well over the sort of straw candidate the Republican Party and the Trump White House are trying to run for president in multiple swing states.
I'll give you an allegory here, the only one here I can come up with and it's about Vladimir Putin. Putin did something like this in 2018 when he was, you know, running for president in Russian elections. His popular, well-known telegenic opposition in that campaign, in that election was Alexei Navalny, he was running quite hard against Putin, and Putin wasn't at any real risk of losing anyway, given his longstanding experience and stuffing ballot boxes and otherwise cheating on elections.
But he went through the trouble in 2018 of picking his own replacement opposition candidate who he preferred to run against rather than Alexei Navalny, just because he kind of wanted to muddy the waters about whether there was any real opposition to him. He picked a TV personality in Russia who happened to be the daughter of one of Putin's best friends, and he stood her up as his preferred opposition candidate. He decided he wanted her on the ballot as his opposition instead of the real opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, who he ultimately had arrested and banned him from the ballot.
So in that presidential election in Russia in 2018, Putin ran himself for president but he also ran his hand picked fake opposition, too, thinking tat the people of Russia wouldn't understand what he was doing. But he was more comfortable with that than he was with a real opponent. That's the only sort of allegory that I know for what the Republicans and Trump White House are doing now. In 2020, in our country, it's kind of the same play book but it's, you know, Republican operatives and lawyers, and people associated with the Trump campaign and now it's apparently the Trump family themselves who this year in our case, they're trying to stand up the troubled pro-Trump rap star Kanye West as President Trump's preferred fake opposition candidate.
"The New York Times" reporting today that Mr. West met in Colorado last week with Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law who apparently is running the president's campaign. Kanye West met with Jared Kushner in Colorado just as Republican and Trump affiliated lawyers who Kanye West never had anything to do with before were working hard in multiple states to get him on the battle both in Colorado and elsewhere.
If you can't -- if you don't think you can win fairly, then, you know, bamboozle them. You know, run fake candidates. Stop people from voting. Tell people in advance that the election isn't legitimate even before the first results come in. What else you got?
Today, we have been continuing to watch some very worrying developments in Belarus, the nation on Russia's western edge, the eastern edge of Europe. The dictator in charge there claims this past week to have been re-elected with over 80 percent of the vote, but his country doesn't believe him. BBC reporters in the city in southwestern Belarus today reported that security forces have started using live fire. They started using ammunition, live ammunition to shoot protesters in the streets now.
The opposition candidate, the real opposition candidate who ran against Alexander Lukashenko, who gave him a run for his money, she has now fled the country after she posted what appeared to be a hostage video in which she alluded to threats against her children, and she told people in a very terse monotone that they should no longer protest.
Tonight, protesters -- actual protesters from the streets of Belarus who appear to be regular young people lined up on state television in this footage that you see here, looking terrified, many of them visibly wounded and hurt. In this footage, they all one by one renounced their participation in the protest while someone off-screen is clearly menacing them. And this is happening in 2020.
Our country used to be the kind of country that would lead international condemnation and pressure to protect people in that circumstance, standing up for their democracy in their own country, right? To try to stop what may be shaping up to be a massacre or at least a mass use of military force against civilians in that country on the edge of Europe. We used to be a country that would stand up and make a difference on things like that.
Joe Biden is just a candidate now, but he has released this about that situation in Belarus. He says, quote, democracies are built on the simple concept that citizens have a right to elect their leaders and have a say in their country's future. After suffering systematic repression for the past 26 years under the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenka, the people of Belarus are now demanding their voices be heard. After a presidential election marred by electoral fraud, citizens peacefully protesting to demand an accurate count are now being met by riot police using stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets.
The Lukashenka regime has cut Internet access, arrested protesters and independent journalists and tried to muzzle foreign observers. These are not the actions of a political leader confident that he has won a fairly conducted election. But thanks to brave citizens, journalists, activists and ordinary people documenting these extraordinary events we know the truth about the assaults on democracy being committed by that regime. I stand with those who are calling for a transparent and accurate vote count and the release of all political prisoners.
I call on President Lukashenka to respect the rights of peaceful protesters and to refrain from violence against them. My administration will never shy away for standing up for democratic principles and human rights, and we will work with our democratic allies and partners to speak with one voice in demanding these rights be respected.
And I know that Joe Biden is talking about Belarus there, but my god does this echo differently in our own country right now, right? Does this echo in our country right now in a way it never has before in our lifetimes?
Susan Rice joins us tonight live, and Amy Klobuchar is here as well. We've got lots to come.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): If you feel tired of the noise and the nonsense in our politics, and if you are tired of the extremes you have a home with me. And I think you know you have a home with Joe Biden.
It is up to us, all of us to put our country back together, to heal this country and then to build something even greater. I believe we can do this together. And that is why today I am ending my campaign and endorsing Joe Biden for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You can hear the crowd chanting there let's go Joe, let's go Joe. Senator Amy Klobuchar in March, it's the eve of Super Tuesday, ending her own campaign but also taking all the forward momentum she had accumulated and giving to Joe Biden for his campaign. Senator Klobuchar, of course, ended up on Biden shortlist for potential running mate, for all the obvious reasons.
But then she made a surprise announcement in mid-June when Senator Klobuchar said she no longer wanted to be considered for that job. She says she told Vice President Biden that this is a moment to put a woman of color on the ticket. And now here we are.
Joining us now is Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
Senator, it's great to see you. Thank you so much for being here.
KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: So everybody else who is known to have been considered for this job put out a statement, you know, praising this choice by Joe Biden, praising him, praising Senator Harris. You alone said this pick filled you with joy, and I don't think of you -- I know you're kind of poetic, but I don't think if you as I'm filled with joy regularly an effusive person like that.
I want to ask you why you were uncharacteristically effusive and excited there?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, every step of the way, I felt this joy in this process, and I mean. When I stood there in Dallas and it was so fun to hear we could go to rallies, it was so fun to remember that moment. As I said, it's hard to end a campaign, but this was actually a moment of joy because I knew that Joe Biden would stand up for people in this country, he would get things done and he would stop this divide Donald Trump creates every single day.
And then, my friend Kamala Harris who we campaigned against each other, and a lot of times these campaigns, of course, tear people apart. They don't even talk to each other when it's done, but she and I became closer friends. And I have a very fond memory of that debate where you were moderating it, Rachel, and it was so cold in that room. Remember when we were in Atlanta, and she and I on the breaks would huddle together going would someone turn up the heat now, man? It's hard when you're a woman, it's freezing out there. And she and I have a lot of good memories from that campaign.
And most of all I would say adding to the historic moment for a woman of color, yes, the fact she can make the case against Donald Trump with this economy that he's left in shambles, with people in assisted living isolated, with people getting sicker and with no testing standards for this country. But the third part about it is she's going to be able to govern. She ran a Justice Department that was in size second only to the United States justice department. And she's been able to govern and get things done, has a zest for life, a zest for government.
And I think we need that kind of feeling we got today as the two of them stood together. We need that back in our politics.
MADDOW: Vice President Biden was very consequential vice president to president Obama. He had a big brief. Obviously they worked close together. There was never any daylight between them, but he had a lot of responsibilities in the national security field and on the issue of Iraq specifically and on the stimulus. And it just seemed like it was a constructive relationship in which the vice presidency was a big deal. There wasn't any like, you know, just weird, long cabinet meeting shots where the vice president just praised the president the way that Mike Pence often does with this one.
Having seen those kinds of models of the vice presidency, having worked along side Senator Harris in the Senate, is there anything you can tell us about what she's like to work with, and what we should expect in terms of a skill set from her and interest from her if she ends up in the vice presidency? I mean, you see her up close in a lot of different contexts.
KLOBUCHAR: Sure, well, I think we saw it today. We've certainly seen it in the hearings in the United States Senate and that is she has a passion in what she believes in. We need that now. We need someone that has empathy for the people that they represent.
So, when she and Joe Biden go in there, they're going to be able to get the job done. She's able to explain things quite well, complex things, and she's going to be able to work with Congress. We already know her in the Senate.
I think all of those things are going to matter because those first 100 days will be critical. Her role as serving on the Intelligence Committee, she's going to be able to bring that to the table in terms of helping him with foreign relations. All of that's going to matter.
But what most matters, of course, is that he trusts her. Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey both from Minnesota where a state of vice presidents, good vice presidents, and Walter Mondale always told me that the key thing was there was trust. I really liked that moment at the beginning when Vice President Biden talked about his relationship with Barack Obama and he said he wanted her just like he was for Obama to be that last voice in the room, to be the one that he listened to, that would have his back.
MADDOW: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, ran her own strong Democratic campaign for president. Senator, I really appreciate you being here tonight. I know that one of the things you're working on in the Senate right now is the issue of protecting the postal service, protecting vote by mail. As this evolves over the next few days we'd love to have you back to talk specifically about that because it seems that's really coming to a head.
KLOBUCHAR: I'll take -- I'll take you up to with Postmaster DeJoy or as I call him postmaster no joy for anyone looking for their mail. So, we've got to really get this done, Rachel. You can't have more delays. They've got to come back to the table so we can work on an agreement and get the funding we need for our elections, for our states, as well as the postal service. Thank you.
MADDOW: Senator Klobuchar, thank you.
All right, we've still got a lot to get to tonight. We are also as I mentioned at the top of the show, we're going to be speaking with another top contender for Biden's vice presidential choice, Obama national security advisor Susan Rice was reportedly in contention for the position right until the very, very last.
We are going to be speaking with Susan Rice. We've got lots more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Joe Biden's list of possible vice presidential picks reportedly started out with 20 names. When he narrowed that down to finalists, there were still nearly a dozen women in the running. But in the final days of the search process, there were only a handful of people still under consideration in the final days. One of them obviously was Senator Kamala Harris, but another was Susan Rice, U.N. ambassador and then national security advisor in the Obama-Biden administration.
In her memoir published last year, Susan Rice wrote that as national security advisor her, quote, favorite unannounced visitor at her West Wing office was Vice President Joe Biden. Rice's former deputy, Ben Rhodes, pointed out to "The Washington Post" that, quote, Biden spent years essentially beginning his day with a briefing from Susan Rice.
When Biden announced his decision yesterday, Susan Rice immediately offered her warmest congratulations to Senator Harris. She called Senator Harris a tenacious and trailblazing leader. She said she will, quote, do my utmost to help them win and govern.
Today, that history making Democratic ticket spent their first full day on the trail. Biden-Harris 2020 has launched, and they have launched with the loud backing of long time friends who also happen to be among the country's most accomplished public servants.
And although Susan Rice will not be Biden's vice president it seems quite reasonable to think that her history with Joe Biden is not over yet.
And joining us now is Susan Rice, former national security advisor and U.N. ambassador. She's also author of the recent book "Tough Love: My Story of Things Worth Fighting For."
Ambassador Rice, it's really nice to see you. Thanks for making time tonight.
SUSAN RICE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Thanks for having me, Rachel. It's always great to be with you.
MADDOW: So you have never run for office yourself. You are not, therefore, by dictionary definition a political animal, but I know you understand politics as well as anybody if not better than anybody. You've been very vocal even though you yourself are in contention to the very end. You've been very vocal about the fact you think Senator Harris will help Biden win in November.
I wanted to hear from you why you think that is, why you think she's such a strategic asset to the ticket in terms of the general election?
RICE: Well, Kamala Harris is warm. She's empathetic like Joe Biden. She communicates very powerfully in small groups and before a large audience. She's substantive and serious and ready to govern.
I also happen to know her quite well. She's somebody that I consider a friend, so I'm excited to see her join Joe Biden on this ticket. I think they're going to be a winning combination.
And that's what we need right now, Rachel, more than anything. We have got to elect Joe Biden and put competent and decency and integrity back in the White House so that we can restore our economy, put people back to work, turn the curve on the coronavirus and get our kids back into school. And every day Donald Trump is in there he's postponing that reality.
MADDOW: I want to ask you about the part of the process that you have seen up close. I feel like I kind of can't believe that nobodies written the book yet about the alternate future in which John Kerry and John Edwards got elected, and then once they were in the White House, it was revealed that John Edwards had a secret second family, which we didn't find out about until after that election was over and they had lost.
I mean, there have been some absolutely off the hook vetting failures when it comes to vice presidential choices. I think when John McCain chose Sarah Palin, lots has been written about why he chose her and how, very little written about the fact John McCain didn't seem to know she was a little bit crazy when he picked her to be vice president. I feel like vetting failures happen.
Was this -- in all honesty, was this a good vetting process that the Biden campaign laid out? I know you went through it to the end. Did they do a good job?
RICE: In my experience they did an excellent job, and this was a long incredibly thorough comprehensive detailed, tireless, painful process for all of us who went through it, but painful only because of its thoroughness. It was so professionally executed. I have to say that the folks on the campaign who were in charge of the legal side of this as well as the political side were incredibly discreet, supportive I believe of each of us.
And the fact that we got through what was a 2 1/2 month long process or something of that magnitude without the selection leaking and we got to the moment of the announcement uncorrupted is an extraordinary feat, and reflective of the fact they took this very seriously. I think when you have somebody like Joe Biden who's been through the process and understands, you know, how sensitive it is, his guidance to the team was don't screw this up and don't embarrass anybody. And make sure you get every last piece of information you possibly can.
So I believe it was quite thorough. And I say that having been vetted twice for cabinet level positions. I've never experienced anything quite like this.
MADDOW: Wow. That is -- that's comforting. Worrying and comforting in the same way. Let me ask you something else which you've been really outspoken and that is what we should sort of expect over the next I guess 83 days and the small "D" democratic threat that the president will try to delegitimize the election, that he will try to mess with peoples ability to vote, that he will defy the results of the election if it turns out he loses his office.
How are you thinking about those things now? After a lifetime in national security positions knowing Vice President Biden as well as you know him, facing down these kinds of challenges and threats, what do you think we should all have in mind or what do you think the country should be working onto try to shore ourselves up and brace ourselves for the worst-case scenario in terms of what this president might do with a peaceful transfer of power?
RICE: Well, Rachel, this is an extraordinary circumstance we find ourselves in. We've never at least in our lifetimes had a president of the United States who has told us that he may not abide by the results of the election, has told us that he may seek to delay the election itself, has told us that he's going to cast doubt on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots and go out of his way to make it as hard as possible for Americans to exercise their constitutional right to vote. It's unbelievable.
And then he sends troops into the streets of our cities to attack peaceful protesters. The range of possible threats that he poses to our democracy is truly quite mind-boggling. And I think it's really important for the American people to be aware of this. And that's before you get to what we understand now from our intelligence community, the Russians continue do and have stepped up their efforts to interfere in our elections with it seems the blessing of Donald Trump who said he would accept foreign help in the election, and has refused to call out Russia on any number of things, least of all its involvement in the 2020 election.
So the American people first of all have to be aware. Secondly, I believe we have to come out and vote no matter what, hopefully through absentee ballots where that's deemed to be the safest way through early voting, but we have to vote, and the result should be overwhelming. The more resounding the outcome the harder it is for Donald Trump to manipulate and obscure a potential loss.
And we just have to be super, super vigilant to all of these different scenarios. I believe that, you know, we have bipartisan interest in elections being fair and transparent. It affects candidates up and down the ballot not just at the presidential level. So even if Republicans think that it's in their interest for Donald Trump to retain power by any means necessary it may not be in their interest because the same tools that he uses to his own advantage can disadvantage members of both parties.
So the American people just need to be on top of this. And we need to be vigilant, and we need to not let anybody Republican or Democrat get away with any games. And we know in Joe Biden we have somebody we can trust in that regard as well as every other.
MADDOW: Susan Rice, national security advisor and U.N. ambassador in the Obama administration, the author of "Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For", Ambassador Rice, it is really good to have you here tonight. Thanks very much for your time.
RICE: Thank you, Rachel. Take care.
MADDOW: All right. We'll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: There's something to keep an eye on. I should probably know we're now as a country at more than two straight weeks now an average over 1,000 coronavirus deaths every day. The state of Georgia and the state of Florida just both recorded their worst daily death tolls yet.
Florida also today reported another 8,000 plus coronavirus cases, which is bad, more than a half million infections in Florida alone. And the bad news out of Florida follows reporting yesterday that the number of cases in Florida kids, Florida children has more than doubled just in the past month.
Now, you might think that the rise in cases among kids in particular would make the Florida state government rethink some of the stuff they've decided around schools. For example, the emergency order they issued schools last month. The state education commissioner you might think might want to reconsider mandating schools to open their doors in August, which is what his emergency order says.
Well, the state is apparently not reconsidering that despite the numbers that they're seeing of spiking infections in kids. And so, the teachers are now taking action. The Florida Education Association, which is the teachers union in Florida, they're now challenging that order from the state education commissioner in court.
Their lawsuit says the order that states -- excuse me -- that schools must open up in August violates the states constitution which guarantees Floridians the right to safe and secure public education. But they're asking a judge to decide. They're asking a judge to weigh in and block that order.
Well, tomorrow a state judge in Tallahassee is going to hold a hearing on that lawsuit, that potentially hugely consequential lawsuit.
We will keep you posted. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In the one hour after the Biden campaign announced Kamala Harris as the running mate for the Biden ticket, they apparently have their biggest fund-raising hour ever which then turned into their biggest fund-raising day. The Biden campaign now saying they raised $26 million in the 24 hours after they announced Kamala Harris would be on the ticket. They then raised another $9.6 million tonight at a fund-raiser. Off to the races.
That does it for us tonight. We'll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it's time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O'Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.END
Content and programming copyright 2020 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.