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Transcript: The ReidOut, August 17, 2020

Guests: Cornell Belcher; Neera Tanden, James Clyburn, Nancy Pelosi, Doug Jones


DNC is ready to kick off America's first virtual convention. Trump says, withholding USPS funding means they can't have universal mail-in voting. Trump attacks mail-in voting as DNC preps for convention. Trump tweets 'save the post office' after dismantling the post office. Trump shares tweet saying Democratic cities should be left to rot. Joe Biden will speak tonight on criminal justice issues. First-ever virtual DNC convention kicks off amid pandemic. Democrats will present message of unity on day one of convention. Virtual convention are headlined by Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, Andrew Cuomo, John Kasich. Democrats demand answers on Postal Service delays. Postal Service chief agrees to testify before House. Senate remains in recess as Pelosi calls House back to fund USPS.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Hello and welcome to MSNBC's coverage of the first night of the Democratic National Convention, the very first virtual convention in American history, of course, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gone are the crowded convention halls with delegates gathered elbow to elbow to cheer their candidate to victory. Gone are the balloon drops, the signs, silly costumes and all the pageantry and fanfare we've come to associate with in-person events.

The truth is we don't quite know what to expect this time around. But while the format has certainly changed, Democrats are doing everything they're supposed to be doing. They're showcasing the unity and passion of their party.

Here is how tonight's headliner, former First Lady Michelle Obama highlights Joe Biden's competency and character in a preview of her speech.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: His life is a testament to getting back up. And he is going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up, to help us heal and guide us forward.


REID: This year, however, Democrats are staging their convention against a candidate who better resembles an autocrat, an incumbent who has made clear he'll try to win by any means necessary.

Donald Trump and his Republican enablers are leading an unprecedented assault on the pillars of our democracy, whether rigging the U.S. census, destroying the Postal Service or colluding with a third-party candidate, Trump is dismantling our democratic process before our very eyes.

Over the past several days, he's been playing keep away with the American voter saying, nope, you can't have mail-in voting, as he and his postmaster general slow down the mail to suppress the vote. And he openly that he wants to block money for the Postal Service to stop millions of mail-in ballots from being counted.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: They want $25 billion for the post office because the post office is going to have to go to town to get these ridiculous ballots in.

If we don't make a deal, that means they don't get the money, that means they can't have universal mail-in voting. They just can't have it.


REID: But he's also attacking the ballot drop boxes that voters could safely use to bypass the post office and cast their votes. So you can't do A and you can't do B, good luck voting me out.

Today, he made the unfounded claim that ballot drop boxes could be subject to tampering, asking, well, who is going to collect the ballots and what might be done to them prior to tabulation? Trump continued to attack the Postal Service and vote by mail today in a series of events and interviews.

Then he just went full George Orwell, claiming that he actually wants to save the post office, the old break it by save it strategy. And then Trump even topped that going for what you might call the full Putin, telling his supporters that the election won't be legitimate unless he wins.


TRUMP: Just make sure your vote gets counted. Make sure because the only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged. Remember that.


REID: Joining me now is Cornell Belcher, Democratic Strategist and Pollster, Neera Tanden, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, and Malcolm Nance, MSNBC Counterterrorism and Intelligence Analyst.

And, Malcolm, you might have wondered why THE REIDOUT producers were calling you on night one of the convention, right? That's not a normal booking. As much as I love you and love talking with you, you're my friend, you're not really the first go-to guest I think people think about when it's election coverage.

But we have a president here who's essentially saying, I'm going to break every means to defeat me. I'm going to make it so that you physically cannot vote me out. I'm going to break every means of you voting me out. And then he adds, oh, I also like to meet up with Putin. I think that would be a nice thing before the November election.

So you really were the right person to call. What do you think about all of this?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC COUNTERTERRORISM AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, obviously, he needs a lifeline, and he wants to have a face-to-face meeting with the guy who's been giving him all the hints on how to run things.

Look, the United States is not going to be the first nation this year that's going to have trouble that's been engineered by Russia. Right now, Belarus is a country that is in full-scale uprising against an authoritarian leader who was put in by Moscow who rigged his election and gave himself a modest 79.9 percent of the vote.

And now, every business in Belarus is on strike. They just had a protest of millions of people. That country is probably going to go the way that Ukraine did, which is a people power revolution that will put him out because he obviously stole the vote, carried out secret police arrests in daylight and used riot police to beat their own people.

Does any of this sound familiar? Donald Trump is not taking notes. He is receiving calls, and he is executing policy that he believes that other authoritarian leaders will approve of. And that if he has to cheat and steal this election, he will steal it.

REID: And we need to show these Belarus protests because they've actually -- this is nine days that there have been mass protests over these supposed results of this August 9 election. But it's not just there. It's Russia where suddenly Putin says he's going to be in until 2032. I don't know if you have that video, there's Poland where Andrezj Duda pushed through and won a recent election despite concerns it was not safe, Hungary where we know Viktor Orban, which a lot of on the far right in the United States admire.

I mean, Neera Tanden, knowing that this already happened in 2016, I think this is what scares a lot of people, right? It scares a lot of Americans that all of the effort and all that we're going through with COVID on top of everything else. If they're just going to steal it, it's terrifying to a lot of people. So what would you say to voters that are afraid that we're going to become Belarus?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I think the most important thing is that we have a free press so far that is actually telling us about the post office. We can be prepared, and I am prepared for worse to happen before the election because Donald Trump is like a trapped animal.

These polls are making him feel like a trapped animal. He feels like he's going to lose so he's striking out more and more. And he's the most dangerous because he looks like he's losing. And that -- and he has a lot of power as president to dictate terms. So that is what the post office strategy is really about. It's to essentially be large-scale voter suppression.

Now, the most important thing is we're aware of this, if we can respond. And the most important thing for all of us to do is vote early. If the -- the mail is a problem if you're voting late. But you can vote early for this. If you are healthy, they can vote in-person.

Most important thing in this democracy still is that we have information that allows us to act and mobilize and organize. And I hope we have the spirit this election like the people of Belarus do now, which is we don't need to go to the street just yet. We need to go to the voter polls. We need to vote in mass mobilization.

REID: Yes, absolutely. And, Cornell, this is the first night of the Democratic Convention. And it's happening in the same 24 hours that Donald Trump re-tweeted somebody saying, leave the Democratic cities, let them die, right? And so the contempt for anything that isn't governed by his cronies is there.

And so Democrats are doing this convention sort of in this moment of deep contempt from the president of the United States. And so what do you think is the message that's going to be the most salient and the most -- that's going to produce the most motivation among people who are afraid of what Donald Trump might do?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER AND STRATEGIST: Well, there's a couple things. I think, broadly, we have to call to our better angels and show that Americans have more in common than not and that whole idea of bringing people together to solve problems, which is something that is keen on Americans' minds right now.

And I think the other part of this is, look, the importance of conventions are this. You get a week where you focus on your story. And, Joy, I think this is really important because Donald Trump dominates the news so much with his just craziness. And, every day, you're overwhelmed by the lack of normalcy. And it's hard for you to get a story or your conversation to break through.

I think when you look at the enthusiasm gap here, and, by the way, I don't think you'll ever see enthusiasm gap completely shrink because Donald Trump is catering to a more narrow group of voters than the majority that Biden is trying to do, but Biden has to tell his story.

And I think that starts tonight with people telling the story of Joe Biden, how he's a fundamentally good man who's going to do the right thing. And I think a lot of us say we know Joe Biden and we're familiar with Joe Biden. But so many Americans don't know his story of a man of faith, of a family man.

And I think it's important for us to tell those stories tonight unfiltered in a way that breaks through to Americans and they say, oh, I understand who Joe Biden is right now. And you know what, I'm going to be a little bit more excited about supporting him, because, you know what, he is fundamentally a good man.

REID: To stay with you just for a second, Cornell. I mean, the thing about Joe Biden that strikes me is that people don't know him, but they think they do, right? It's the reason that trying to redefine him with all of these epithets that Donald Trump -- it doesn't work because, no, people don't know a lot of fundamentals about him. They know about his losses. But they don't really know him but he's a guy that you feel like you know him. Is that an advantage that makes him less susceptible to what was done to Hillary Clinton? Because people also felt like they knew her, but they knew her from a caricature that was 40 years in the making. Biden doesn't have that.

BELCHER: Well, it is fundamentally unfair to Hillary Clinton because Republicans have spent several decades and probably billions of dollars attacking her and defining her in a way that Joe Biden has. And in our MSNBC polling right now you see -- the post-polling, you see that Joe Biden right now his favorable, are still higher than his negatives, which was different than what Hillary Clinton was at this point going back into 2016, really two candidates with tremendous unfavorables at that point.

REID: And, Neera -- and she's a woman. So Biden just has so many sort of built-in advantages that make him less susceptible to what happened to Hillary Clinton. It is unfair that she had to deal with all of that extra stuff. But other than that, all of the other components of the 2016 election are being built, right?

So Kanye is Jill Stein. Putin is still doing Putin. Like they've got a match for match on everything they try to do. It's harder to do it with Biden, I think. And I think having Kamala -- I sense just talking to people that having Kamala Harris on the ticket was a very smart move because it makes it even harder. I don't know if you feel that way.

TANDEN: Yes. I would say there's a few major differences. First of all, Trump is an incumbent. In 2016, we didn't know what he was going to do. Now, no one has the excuse. And just to go over the last few days, I mean, he's a chaos machine.

I think Cornell is absolutely right, this is an opportunity for people for Joe Biden to define himself and for everyone else to define Joe Biden in positive terms about what he is and the kind of leadership, the kind of strong and steady effective leadership he will offer to the country and how our lives will be better with him.

But it's also we should be clear that Donald Trump has spent tens of millions of dollars attacking Joe Biden over the last several months, and it hasn't worked. And I think you're right. People are familiar with him, they know him, and there hasn't been this multibillion dollar decades-long campaign against him.

I also think that Kamala's selection has electrified people. And you see the same kind of attacks. We know better now. They're not working. The attacks on her are nasty, all those things, they are actually, I think, strengthening him with women, strengthening Biden with women.

REID: Absolutely. And, Malcolm, I wonder if you could just walk through -- there are things that can be done in terms of messaging and in terms of tactics that can blunt what happened to 2016 now that we know, now that we -- and your book is out and we know what happened. What do you think, messaging-wise, Democrats need to do to explain to the country how to prevent another 2016?

NANCE: I am so glad you asked me that because I spent a lot of time with information warfare experts and we discuss all of these meta-narratives that the Russians help craft and that the Trump campaign amplified with the use of Cambridge Analytics to create this meta-narrative in the 2016 campaign of Hillary evil, B, and Donald Trump, great guy, what do you have to lose, and Russia good.

In this particular campaign, as Neera said and Cornell said, Joe Biden has his own meta-narrative that no one seems to be able to get around because you can't demonize him because they didn't spend 30 years doing that. So his meta-narrative is very, very good, which is, you know, save America, make America as great as it possibly can be. Donald Trump's is I hate everyone.

So we need to harness that meta-narrative and take it and we need to say this man crazy, America must be saved.

REID: That will be a bumper sticker probably.

TANDEN: That's pretty good.

REID: Cornell Belcher, Neera Tanden, Malcolm Nance, thank you guys very much. I appreciate you all.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins me on her fight to stop Trump's authoritarian attack on the post office.

Plus, the coronavirus brain drain, Trump pushes Fauci and Birx to the sidelines, and his new experts, a Fox News talking head and the My Pillow guy.

THE REIDOUT will be back with more on night one of the Democratic National Convention after this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a CPAP machine and once a year, I have to trade out the mask. For 20-some odd years, I've never had initial (INAUDIBLE). It's now been three or four weeks and I'm still waiting.

LEE PILLOW, MILITARY VETERAN: This disruption is killing us. There are thousands of people just in terror right now because of what this is doing to their health.


REID: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee next Monday about the changes that he has made to the U.S. Postal Service that have led to delays in mail delivery throughout the country. This comes as two Democratic members of a separate committee. The House Judiciary Committee have called for the FBI to open a criminal probe into DeJoy of accusing him of deliberately slowing the mail to give Donald Trump an advantage in the November presidential election.

And The Washington Post reports that attorneys general from at least six states are huddling to discuss possible lawsuits against the administration to block it from reducing mail service between now and the election.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is bringing the House back from recess to vote on an emergency bill that would provide $25 billion in aid to the U.S. Postal Service and bar any changes to the way it functions until next year. Mitch McConnell's Senate remains on recess.

I'm joined now by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Speaker Pelosi, have you had a conversation -- thank you for being on with us again. We always appreciate you being here.


REID: Have you had a conversation with Mitch McConnell about whether he will match the action that you have taken and bring the Senate back to vote on the House bill?

PELOSI: Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, has called upon Mitch McConnell to bring the Senate back. And we will see how he responds to his own members.

But, remember, when we're bringing the House back, the Congress back, we expect to receive bipartisan support on our legislation, send it to the Senate, and see if they reject the will of the people.

The president says he wants to save the post office now. We have to save the post office from the president now.

REID: Yes.

But do you expect to get any Republican votes on this bill to save the post office?


REID: You do?

PELOSI: I do, because, Joy -- again, it's my pleasure to be here with you. Thank you for your attention to this post office issue, which is a matter of concern to Americans across the country.

REID: Sure. Yes.

PELOSI: It is, to use a word, volcanic.

It has been explosive in terms of the response that members, Democratic and Republican, all over the country have received to this assault on this connection that they have, Americans have, with each other, this matter of access to health care; 1.2 billion prescriptions were sent through the mail in 2019, even before the coronavirus, that is.

And way, overwhelmingly, 82 percent or higher of VA drugs are sent to our veterans through the mail. So, that's just two examples of meeting the health needs of the American people.

And that -- I mean, when those medicines come a week, six days, that we just keep hearing examples of how late that medication is coming. That's just one connection.

REID: Yes.

PELOSI: It's about the health of the American people. It's also about the health of our democracy, as they do this to make an assault on the mail in terms of absentee balloting and the rest.

REID: Yes.

Well, the reason I ask you about whether or not any Republicans will come over, because, first of all, most of them have been very quiet, even though I'm quite sure their own constituents are also hurting from not getting their prescriptions and their Social Security checks and their paychecks on time. They haven't said a lot.

And Mark Meadows, who used to be the head of the Freedom Caucus -- and so he's friends with a lot of those guys -- I just want you to listen to it. I'm sure you have heard this, because it's been played a lot on cable television.

This is what he said about claiming that there's voter fraud tied to mail-in elections. And this is the justification they are using to try to destroy mail-in voting by breaking the post office.


MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Sending ballots out just -- just based on a voter roll, registration?

Any time you move, you will change your driver's license, but you don't call up and say, hey, by the way, I'm re-registering.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Right. But there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud, though. But there's no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

MEADOWS: There's no -- there's no -- there's no evidence that there's not either.


REID: I mean, in just talking with members of the House on the other side, who's more influential over them, their constituents or the Trump administration?

PELOSI: Let me just -- let me, if I just may, with all due respect to reporting and the rest, don't pay any attention to them.

Their purpose is to frighten people from voting. The more chaos they can create, the more fear they can instill about, well, your vote's not going to count anyway, it won't matter, and you're -- it's probably corrupt and get caught up in something, that's their purpose.

Their purpose is not to have -- to remove obstacles of participation, to honor the vision of our founders that we would have the sacred right to vote.

It's to scare people. So, ignore them. Just ignore them.

I have on now my California Democratic Party hat, which I was years ago. And, again, you can't let the other side kind of frame the climate in which the election will take place.

We will have vote by mail. It will be successful. We will not depend on the president to anoint it. But we will vote early. We will have our organization. We don't agonize. We organize.

And don't pay attention to their scare tactics, because that's a victory for them.

REID: And what do you anticipate you are going to hear tonight?

This is the opening -- this is a very different kind of convention. And you have been to them. I have only been to a couple. But they are a theatrical event. And this is being staged in a very different way.

What should we expect to hear tonight? What do you think is going to be the difference between the way that the messaging is done for the voters you're talking about?

PELOSI: Well, I think it's going to be very exciting.

This is my 15th convention. My first one, when I was 12 years old, went with my father, who was mayor of Baltimore at the time, went with our family.

And this is my 15th since then. I have been the chair of the convention. I have been chair of the platform committee. I have been chair of the host committee. I have played almost every role in it.

And so I see -- I welcome this as just another version of inspiration and hope. And I'm so excited. I can't wait to go home to watch what -- the proceedings tonight.

And I do think, with all due respect to all of our presentations, the succinctness of it will gain impact and the clarity of message.

REID: Yes. No one has to get played off of the stage, right?


PELOSI: Again and again, musically or otherwise.

But I do think that Chairman Perez and the Biden and now Kamala Harris campaign, they know how they want to use time. They want to use time to show the talent, to show the vision, to show the plan on how we're going to win.

I think it's going to be marv -- really a wonderful, wonderful week. And I'm excited to see it and to participate in it later in the week on behalf of the House Democrats.

REID: All right. Well, we look forward to watching as well.

I am a convention nerd, so I cannot wait to see how it comes out. And we will definitely be watching for those hearings on -- that hearing on Monday. I think a lot of Americans are going to be interested to see what happens.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you so much. Really appreciate you being here.

PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you, Joy.

REID: Thank you very much.

PELOSI: Thank you.

REID: Meanwhile -- thank you so much.

And how Democrats united behind Joe Biden -- Congressman James Clyburn joins me, as THE REIDOUT continues.



MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don't stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.



REID: That was first lady Michelle Obama back in 2016.

And here is an excerpt of tonight's speech for her husband's former veep, Joe Biden.


OBAMA: I know Joe. He is a profoundly decent man guided by faith. He was a terrific vice president. And he listens. He will tell the truth and trust science. He will make smart plans and manage a good team. And he will govern as someone who's lived a life that the rest of us can recognize.


REID: The most admired woman in America, according to Gallup, will be the big headliner on the first night of the Democrats' virtual convention.

Tonight's theme, "We, the People," will focus on party unity for Joe Biden. The coronavirus pandemic and America's reckoning on racial injustice will also take center stage.

There will also be some dichotomies among tonight's speakers. We will hear from a slate of Democratic elected officials, including Senator Bernie Sanders representing the progressive wing of the party.

At the other end of the political spectrum -- that will also be on display -- four Republicans will speak, including Donald Trump's 2016 rival former Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Since this is still the Democratic National Convention, tonight's speakers will highlight the leadership of the party, including a big name who helped set Joe Biden on his path to his party's nomination.

And I'm joined now by House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, who will be addressing tonight's virtual convention.

OK, tell us what you're going to say. Give us a full preview. Don't be shy, Congressman. Really appreciate you being here.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Oh, I'm not shy at all.


CLYBURN: We will talk about unity.

Thank you so much for having me here, Joy.

REID: Sure.

CLYBURN: We are going to talk a whole lot about unity.

Joe -- as we just heard from Ms. Obama, we know Joe. This country knows Joe. And I think that this country knows exactly why they want in a president. And we believe that what we have got to do now is get the rest of the country to buy into the fact that Joe Biden is a guy who can get us to where we need to be.

They already know what to expect from the current occupant of the White House. And they are rejecting that. A lot of them have not seen fit to come our way yet.

And that's what this week is all about...

REID: Yes.

CLYBURN: ... allowing the people of this country to take a hard look at the Democrats, take a hard look at Joe Biden. And I think that they are going to come away pleased with what they see.

And to have four Republicans participating and urging their fellow travelers to join up with Joe, I think that says a lot.

REID: Well, let me talk about that just a little bit, because we know that Joe Biden, bipartisanship is very important to him. It's one of his calling cards. It annoys some people on the progressive end when he talks about the fact that he feels like he could work with Republicans as president.

The four who are speaking, Christie Todd Whitman, John Kasich, Meg Whitman, and Susan Molinari, former congresswoman from New York, are speaking.


REID: What should progressives make of that?

I mean, John -- Governor Kasich, former Governor Kasich is not exactly progressive when it comes to women's issues. Meg Whitman, stop and frisk is part of her kind of background and support for it.

What should progressives make of that?

CLYBURN: I would hope progressives will do as the rest of us progressives do, and that is recognize the fact that this is a country made up of a plethora of people who sometimes disagree. The fact of the matter is, we have to find common ground.

And I often talk about the 58 years I spent in marriage with my late wife. We often disagreed. But the fact of the matter is, we looked for common ground to make that marriage successful.

And I think that that's what we need to recognize as a country, recognize the fact that we will not (AUDIO GAP) on everything. But let's see, can we find common ground?

My problem with the Republicans, that they still consider a compromise is when you come around to their way of thinking. That's not the way the world works.

And there are times when I agree with my progressive friends. Sometimes, I may disagree. It's not on the goal. It's how best we get there.

So, that's what we're all about. And I would hope that we would come together as a party, pull ourselves out unified as a party. And that way, we can get the country to unify behind us.

REID: And, you know, we know that Eva Longoria is going to be the emcee of tonight. But there has been some, you know, complaint that there are not that many Latinx speakers. People like Julian Castro are not speaking, you know, no Muslim speakers.

Do you think that that's something that might change over the course of the four days, and that maybe more Latinx and Muslim speakers will be added? There are plenty available.

CLYBURN: Yes. I have no idea who put the convention together.

I would hope that whoever did it did it in such a way that they would bring all these thoughts into -- under the tent, so to speak, so that we can really hold ourselves out to the American people as a group of people who understand the necessity of being responsible leaders and the necessity of respecting people's backgrounds, people's experiences.

I always say, we can be no more or less than what our experiences allow us to be. And we have a group of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. And the Democratic Party embraces all of that.

And that's what we want the American people to understand about us, that we are a party that respect people who may disagree. We may not agree with them, but you have got to respect them, listen to them.

And that's what Joe does. He listens. He has listened to me a whole lot and go off and do it differently from the way I suggested.


CLYBURN: You know, but that's what it's all about.

REID: Yes.

Well, he listened to a lot of people who wanted him to pick a black woman as his V.P., and he sure did. Kamala Harris is exciting a lot of people. So, it's going to be interesting to see this ticket come together, together on stage at some point.

CLYBURN: Absolutely.

REID: Well, together virtually.

Congressman James Clyburn, thank you very much. Really appreciate you for being here tonight.

CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me.

REID: Thank you.

And our very own Steve Kornacki, he is already at the Big Board. He's going to be there to take us through the latest 2020 polling.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: With the DNC set to kick off in just a little over an hour, let's get the latest polls from Steve Kornacki, NBC News national political correspondent.

Take it away, Steve.

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we got our brand new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, Joy. And it showed overall Joe Biden with a nine-point lead over Donald Trump. But we wanted to take a look, because this election is going to look like no election we've had before.

There's different methods of voting. You know, voting by mail. There's so much talk about that right now. There's in-person early voting. We've had that for a while. Maybe on a Saturday you vote that way.

Then there's good old-fashioned show up on the polls at Election Day, vote that way. Three very different types of voting. And what you're finding here is based on which candidate you support, that might have a lot to do with how you're going to vote. Let me show you what we're finding in our poll here.

So in our new poll, of those who say they plan right now to vote by mail, look at this. Overwhelmingly the folks who are saying that 78 percent of them are Joe Biden supporters. Only 15 percent Donald Trump supporters.

Of course, vote by mail has become such a hot-button issue right now. The president has been out there talking against this. Not surprisingly, I guess, His supporters by and large saying they're not going to be voting by mail. So among those who say they plan to vote by mail, Biden -- overwhelming, these are Biden supporters. Now, the next method early in-person. You know, a week or two ahead of time you go to a designated location.

Again, those are heavily Biden supporters who say they plan to do that. That takes you to the third one. That is at the polls on Election Day. And here's where it's overwhelmingly Donald Trump.

So what does that add up to? That adds up to that overall result we're talking about in our poll here. 50 percent for Biden, 41 percent for Trump. But look at it very, very different methods of voting in the complication there for election night, we're starting to talk about this -- election night, election week, election month potentially. We're going to get potentially at least the vote that comes in at the polls. That might come in first on election night in a lot of places. This the mail vote, that might take days in some cases might take weeks in some cases.

So, you could have an overall result that looks like this. But it could be in some cases on election night you're getting more from this pile than from that pile. That could make a very big difference. As you can see there, the methods by candidate, very different.

REID: Well, and here is you have gotten now to one of my many anxieties, but one of my anxieties is that because Donald Trump has flipped the way that Republicans vote. I worked on a couple of campaigns in Florida. Republicans were the vote by mail voters. Democrats were to vote on election day and early vote voters.

And so, what would happen is you'd have this big vote come in on Election Day and you'd say, okay, it looks like the Democrats are going to win. And then the absentee would come in later and it would flip it, right?

And so, and usually when I'm watching you, Steve, and you're doing the board, you'll do this thing where you're like, OK, this percentage of the vote is in, therefore we can make a prognostication that because this wouldn't flip the vote, this person won versus that person. Will you be able to do that?

Because one of the anxieties is that Trump will use what you just showed us there and say I win, I win because Election Day vote favors him and try to say ignore everything else, declare me the winner right now?

KORNACKI: So the answer at this point is, there is no simple answer to that question because 50 states, 50 different sort of combinations here of rules when it comes to all of these different things here. So I think what we're looking at right now is there are probably going to be some states where, for instance, you'll have folks who go out and vote that day at the polls.

You'll count them up that day. You'll have the early in-person vote. And in some states and I'm thinking of Florida right here. The ballots have to be received by Election Day. And they can begin counting those ballots before Election Day.


KORNACKI: So the potential in a state like that is you could get just about all the vote potentially counted on election. That's not going to be all 50 states. That's not going to be nearly all 50 states.

REID: But some of that absentee will be in. It's not like none of it will be there. There will be a certain percentage of the absentee that's already in and you can start to project where it's going.

KORNACKI: I think we may get a few states where we basically have the bulk of the vote and we might be able to see where the election's going, but there's going to be a lot of blind spots there, a lot of states where you just --

REID: I think the most important thing and the lesson for the media is, don't say any -- don't make those decisions on election night, right? And don't listen to what Trump says on election night. Look at the data because -- and you're the man for that. You're great,

Steve Kornacki, nobody does that like you. Thank you so much.

KORNACKI: Appreciate it.

REID: Always appreciate you.

All right. And as you get ready to vote, be sure to check out the new online interactive tool from NBC News, the plan your vote tool can help answer your questions on registering voting by mail, voting in person and more, check it out, and plan your vote.

And up next, why is the president paying more attention to what the MyPillow guy has to say about the pandemic than his own medical experts?

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: As the nominating conventions get underway, it should not be lost that the reason that both will be mostly virtual is because of the Trump administration's failure to control the coronavirus pandemic. Now, instead of listening to the country's top infectious disease experts, Trump is enlisting the advice of a frequent medical guest on Fox News who, while having no experience in the health expertise is telling Trump what he likes to hear.


DR. SCOTT ATLAS, HOOVER INSTITUTION: There's no reason for a lockdown when we have something happening that we actually have no problem with. We're doing very well with this. It doesn't matter if children get the disease. They don't get sick from this. Schools must be in-person, no masks, no spacing because children are not at risk. There's no real good science on general population widespread in all circumstances wearing masks.


REID: Ooh, OK. And Dr. Scott Atlas is not alone. Trump is also getting infectious disease advice from the MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell. Yes, you heard that right. Lindell gets invited into the Oval Office where he's helping to push a plant exact as a miracle cure for COVID, despite the lack of any evidence that it works, or any medical expertise.

Did I say that the guy sells pillows on TV?

What's scarier is that Lindell told "Axios" that in the meeting, Trump basically said the FDA should be approving it.

Joining me now is Democratic Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, who is a convention speaker tonight.

Any thoughts, Senator, on the idea that the FDA will approve the miracle plant extract from the MyPillow man?

I hate to have to ask you that.

SEN. DOUG JONES (D-AL): They won't.

REID: OK. That's good to news.

JONES: That's all I can say, Joy. I mean, it is just not going to happen.

I mean, you know, what's so sad is the desperation of the president to look for something to, kind of, make up for the failed leadership that he's had. If anything is out there that some of his supporters might say may work, he latches on to. And it's only said, but it can be dangerous.

REID: Yeah, at least it's not bleach, though. I think we should probably be thankful.

The latest coronavirus cases and deaths, 4,454, 329 cases, 171,493 deaths, the CDC is now forecasting we could surpass 200 deaths by Labor Day.

I want to let you listen to what Dr. Birx who Donald Trump is I guess not listening to anymore said about why the U.S. is not leading the world in stopping the spread of this virus.


DR. DEBORAH BIRX, CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: We have learned what Americans were willing to do in combating the virus. I'm asked this question all the time, and I wish that when we went into lockdown we looked like Italy. Americans don't react well to that kind of prohibition.


REID: What do your fellow Alabamans -- you know, why do you think so many still supportive of this president? I can only imagine that, you know, the tragedy is not any less bad in Alabama than it is anywhere else.

Can you explain why people would rather believe that the MyPillow guy has a magic potion than believe Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx?

JONES: Well, I think there's a difference now. When you talk about supporting the president versus believing what's going on, I'll tell you, our numbers in Alabama seem to be going down the last few days. We're keeping a watchful eye on that. But that's directly because of our governor's mask order that went into effect about a month ago, about the same time that many of our cities did the same thing. So people are getting that message.

Now, they may like the president for any number of things. And they're not really holding him responsible, as I think they should, for the number of cases, for the number of deaths, for those kind of things.

But the fact is, they're beginning to do a lot better job in Alabama, I think, of wearing masks and doing those things. Now, I've got real concern with schools opening and with our colleges going back. We saw Chapel Hill having to close today. I worry about our schools and colleges opening up and not wearing those masks.

REID: What message do you want to give to the Democratic National Convention? What should we expect to hear from you?

JONES: You know, my message is going to be one of unity. One that, you know, my campaign theme is one Alabama, and why I don't talk about that. I think the message comes across.

In Alabama, we have a painful history, but we have moved so far in so many years but we still have so far to go. I'm going to try to talk about the unity, and my friend Joe Biden who I've known and how he can unify this country, how he's got the experience, but he also got the compassion and empathy for people and understands and knows not only how to talk to people but how to listen to people.

I'm going to talk to talk about, you know, how Kamala Harris as part of this ticket. You know, she's got that same kind of unification spirit. She's a great senator, a great friend of mine. We've worked on HBCUs together. We've done so many things.

She also listens to folks and understands how to get things down. That's the unification. I want to see the messages from all walks of life across this country this week to tell the people of America this is how we come together. This is how we pull out of this pandemic, out of that economic crisis, out of the crosses of inequality.

This is how we do it, together.

REID: And, you know, you won your race, it was in part because you were running against somebody who is banned from hot topic, basically. So a lot of people were horrified by your opponent. But there was a lot of interest in your background as a civil rights lawyer who, you know, worked on some very heroic cases. And black voters really came through for you to ensure your election.


REID: Does Kamala Harris on that ticket with Joe Biden give you your best shot at holding on to your seat?

JONES: Well, I will be candid with you, Joy. I think we have a really good shot anyway. I thought we were going to win even before Kamala got on the ticket. But I will tell you that there is now a super enthusiasm in the state of Alabama, she -- especially at this moment. You know, hers was a historic choice and a great choice anyway, but to have that choice at this moment in our history when so many people are understanding the multigenerational failures that we've had in this country, for this country to live out its full creed of being equal for all people, this is our time.

This is a moment that we cannot let pass, and I think Kamala Harris best represents that better than anybody Joe Biden could have picked. And that's why I think that this is going to be such a successful ticket and why she will help a lot in Alabama.

REID: You are one of many really possible winners obviously and you are an incumbent. Is the South changing? Are we seeing another sea change in the South?

JONES: I don't think there is any question that the South is changing. But now I want people to be patient. We didn't get to this point overnight and we're not going to change the South overnight.

REID: Yeah.

JONES: But you look at the demographics and everything going on in Alabama and elsewhere, we are clearly changing and people are looking at these kitchen table issues.

REID: Indeed, indeed. Senator Doug Jones, good luck to you. We look forward to your speech tonight. Thank you.

And that is THE REIDOUT for tonight. We are just getting started, though, on this first night of the Democratic National Convention, a week in which Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will officially become the Democratic Party's nominees for president and vice president.

The official event begins in just one hour. Speakers tonight include Michelle Obama, Senator Bernie Sanders, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and several Republicans who are supporting Biden, including John Kasich.

After the break, I'll be back with my colleagues, Rachel Maddow and Nicolle Wallace. It's going to be great.



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