Feedback
Meet The Press 24/7

Meet the Press - April 17, 2016

Meet the Press - April 17, 2016

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, a $353,000 ticket to a Hillary Clinton fundraiser. My exclusive interview with the host of that event, George Clooney.

GEORGE CLOONEY:

I think it's an obscene amount of money. And it's ridiculous that we should have this kind of money in politics.

CHUCK TODD:

George Clooney on Clinton, Trump, and all that money in politics.

GEORGE CLOONEY:

But I think there is a difference between the Koch brothers and us.

CHUCK TODD:

Plus, the Republican party at war with itself.

DONALD TRUMP:

This is a rigged system, folks. The Republican system is a rigged system.

CHUCK TODD:

The Trump campaign is trying to be more disciplined. But is it too late for the candidate to change the script? Republican chairman Reince Priebus joins me.

Also, North Carolina's new so-called "bathroom" law. Does it discriminate against the L.G.B.T. community? I'll ask the governor, Pat McCrory, if he now regrets signing a bill that has cost is state so much money.

And joining me for insight and analysis are MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post, radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, and Perry Bacon of NBC News. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. Donald Trump got wiped out in the delegate race in yet another state yesterday. In Wyoming, Ted Cruz won all the delegates that were up for grabs at yesterday's Wyoming state convention. Now Trump says it would have been a waste of time and money for him to campaign there, claiming, "The system is rigged," and that the Republican establishment is simply trying to take the nomination away from him.

We're going to get to that story later in the show. But we're going to begin with the Democrats and the intersection of money, politics, and Hollywood. And my surprisingly frank conversation with George Clooney. Last night in Los Angeles, and the night before in San Francisco, George and Amal Clooney hosted fundraisers for Hillary Clinton, where the top ticket sets you back $353,000.

For that price, you got to sit at the same table with Hillary Clinton and the Clooneys. It was very much an event for the 1 percent of the 1 percent. This big-money fundraiser did not escape the attention of the Bernie Sanders campaign or his supporters who last night threw dollar bills, real ones, at Clinton's motorcade.

Sanders, of course, has made opposing Wall Street and money in politics the centerpiece of his campaign. I got a chance yesterday to talk to George Clooney from his home outside of L.A. And he was very open and candid about what he thought about all that money that is pouring into campaigns at events like the one he hosted.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Clooney, welcome to MeetthePress.

GEORGE CLOONEY:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with dinner you co-hosted on Friday night, a big fundraiser. I know that you have plans for later tonight. Do you look at how much is being raised and, I think the cost of the friday night dinner $353,000 a couple to be a co-chair, do you look at it yourself and think, "That's an obscene amount of money?"

GEORGE CLOONEY:

Yes. I think it's an obscene amount of money. I think that, you know, we had some protesters last night when we pulled up in San Francisco and they're right to protest. They're absolutely right. It is an obscene amount of money. The Sanders campaign when they talk about it is absolutely right. It's ridiculous that we should have this kind of money in politics. I agree completely.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it was interesting. We caught, our camera caught you having a conversation with the protesters last night. What did you say to them?

GEORGE CLOONEY:

Well, it was a funny thing. I went over to try to talk to them and you said I was some corporate shill which, you know, me that's one of the funnier things you could say about me. And then he just said, you know, "You sucked as Batman." And I was like, "Well, you kind of got me on that one."

And then I walked away and that was basically it. But, you know, I think what's important and what I think the Clinton campaign has not been very good at explaining is this and this is the truth: the overwhelming amount of money that we're raising, and it is a lot, but the overwhelming amount of the money that we're raising, is not going to Hillary to run for President, it's going to the down-ticket.

It's going to the congressmen and senators to try to take back Congress. And the reason that's important and the reason it's important to me is because we need, I'm a Democrat so if you're a Republican, you're going to disagree but we need to take the senate back because we need to confirm the Supreme Court justice because that fifth vote on the Supreme Court can overturn Citizens United and get this obscene, ridiculous amount of money out so I never have to do a fundraiser again. And that's why I'm doing it.

CHUCK TODD:

So you don't enjoy doing these fundraisers?

GEORGE CLOONEY:

No, I don't think anybody does. I don't even think politicians do. You know, I'm sure you've covered them before. It's not the most fun thing to do. You know, I spend probably a quarter of my time now raising millions and millions of dollars to fund my foundation which is basically chasing and looking for money that these corrupt politicians all around the world are hiding.

The Panama papers have been actually incredibly helpful. We have forensic accountants so this is all a very big part of things that are important to me. I really want Citizens United. I think it's the worst, one of the worst laws passed, since I've been around.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Bernie Sanders, obviously you've noted that his campaign was criticizing this and he was asked about your fundraiser specifically and he tried he backed off and he said this:

BERNIE SANDERS:

"It's not a criticism of Clooney; it's a criticism of corrupt campaign finance system where big money interests and it's not Clooney, it's the people who are coming to this event that end up having undue influence over the political process."

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think people that are coming to your event tonight and went last night, that they think they're gonna get extra access to Hillary Clinton, to a President Clinton?

GEORGE CLOONEY:

No. I actually don't think that's true. I think there is a difference between the Koch brothers and us, you know? The difference is if I succeed, if we succeed in electing an entire Congress which would be quite a success but a Senate and a President, you know, the tax policies that they would enact would probably cost us a lot more money quite honestly.

The Koch brothers would profit if they get their way and that's what, you know, there's no profit for us in this. You know, understanding this: Koch brothers have said that they're gonna spend $900 million not on the presidency but on the down-ticket, on the senators and the congressman and the gubernatorial races and local races. And so our job is to try and counter that in some way.

CHUCK TODD:

You actually have plenty of nice things to say about Bernie Sanders. I think you did an interview with TheGuardian where you said you like the issues he was bringing up, you thought he was actually pushing Hillary Clinton in a certain way. I am curious; why did you pick Clinton over Sanders?

GEORGE CLOONEY:

Well, I've worked with Secretary Clinton as Secretary particularly when the Sudan and South Sudan were looking to vote for their own independence and it was an incredibly dangerous time for that country. And there were, you know, hundreds of thousands of people's lives at risk.

And between the Secretary and the Security Council and some of the people on the ground and Kofi Anan and Jimmy Carter and people like that and thousands of people on the ground, we worked very hard to make sure that that didn't happen. She understood it. She understood the issues even though we don't have any great reason to pay much attention to Sudan. We don't trade with them. We don't get money from them. I found her to know, to be knowledgeable and to be-- and to care about the issues. And we've worked together since then and I've been a very big fan of hers. But I want to say this: I really like Bernie. I think what he's saying in this election is important if you're a Democrat. Again to have these conversations, I hope he stays in for the entire election and if he were to win the nomination, I will do whatever I can including if asked a fundraiser like this again to try to give him or her, Hillary, I hope she wins a Senate because honestly we see what happens when a President tries to get their Supreme Court justice confirmed without the Senate.

CHUCK TODD:

You have minced no words about your feelings about Donald Trump. I think you called him a, "xenophobic fascist." I hope I'm quoting you correctly.

GEORGE CLOONEY:

I think you're pretty close.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. Fair enough. What have your interactions been with him? You ever have any personal interaction?

GEORGE CLOONEY:

I met him once. I've met him once. I was sitting down at a table and he was nice. And we talked a couple of times, I think. And then he went on Larry King and told everybody I was very short. I wish I had said "I met you sitting down."

But, no. It's not about that. You know, here's the point about what's going on right now on the other side. Trump and Cruz are making this a campaign of fear. We have to be afraid of everything. We have to be afraid of refugees. We have to be afraid of Muslims.

We have to be afraid of minorities. And the question is and this is an important one, are we really going to be scared of the very things that have made our country great? And if the answer is, "Yes," then we have history to answer to because we're not afraid. We are not a country that is afraid and I refuse to accept that.

CHUCK TODD:

Why do you think fear has been working at least in the Republican party?

GEORGE CLOONEY:

Because fear's always worked one way or another. In elections, fear has always been a great -- one of the great tools of any election. But the reality is we are not the descendants of fearful people. We're not. So no, we're not going to ban Muslims from this country. That's never going to happen.

And we're not going to go back to torture and we're not going to kill the families of terrorists or suspected terrorists because that is not who we are. And if we did, our grandparents and their parents would be ashamed of us.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm curious; Hollywood and a lot of movie studios were very aggressive in putting pressure on the governor of Georgia to veto a bill that would have perhaps made it easier to discriminate gays and lesbians and transgender folks. Some of that same pressure is being applied to North Carolina. First of all do you approve of pressure like that, number one, and what do you make of the North Carolina law?

GEORGE CLOONEY:

Well, I'm a protester from way back. I got arrested in DC a couple years ago with my father protesting. I'm a big believer in protests. I think it matters from the '56 Montgomery bus protest to the apartheid protests that I was a part of when I was a young man.

But I find these to be really effective because these are big corporations that are protesting. And when you have IBM and Walmart of all people and General Electric and people like that coming at you, it affects people. And you can see it because we saw it with Mike Pence in Indiana. We saw it with Jan Brewer in Arizona. I think they can have some great effect and I think the law is ridiculous, of course.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. George Clooney, I've kept you long enough. Thanks for coming on. Appreciate it.

GEORGE CLOONEY:

Thank you, Chuck, I appreciate it.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it.

CHUCK TODD:

As you saw there, that was George Clooney, a Clinton supporter, striking an unusually conciliatory tone towards Bernie Sanders these days. But Thursday night's debate between the candidates got pretty heated and it was not so conciliatory.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

HILLARY CLINTON:

You know, wait a minute, wait a minute, come on.

BERNIE SANDERS:

That's just not accurate.

HILLARY CLINTON:

Come on. I have stood on the debate stage--

BERNIE SANDERS:

Wolf! Wolf! Can I--

HILLARY CLINTON:

--with Senator Sanders eight prior times. I have said the exact same thing--

BERNIE SANDERS:

Wolf. Wolf. Excuse me, Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER:

Secretary, Senator, please.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

There you go. The New York primary is on Tuesday. Joining me now is the chair of the Democratic party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, as well as our panel is going to be joining in here with the questioning. But Madam Chairman, nice to see you.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Nice to see you, too.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with what George Clooney said. He agreed this fundraiser, which benefits a big chunk of the DNC, obscene. Do you agree with him?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Absolutely. We agree as a party that there is an obscene amount of money in politics. And that's why our members, I'm a co-sponsor, along with many of my colleagues of a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United. We need to make sure that we can keep elections that, like we did with changing congressional districting and redistricting across the country, that voters can choose their representatives and that we don't have outside undue influence come in and swoop in and, uh, make decisions on behalf of the majority of voters.

CHUCK TODD:

As I said, people see the panel is here. Chris Matthews of Hardball, Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post, Perry Bacon of NBC News, Hugh Hewitt, the radio program Hugh Hewitt Show. Chris, fire away.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Well, I think one thing Bernie Sanders is saying in his ads I don't think is true. He's talking about members of Congress, people in Washington, taking money for speeches. You're not allowed to do that.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

You’re not allowed to do that.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

You guys voted that out years ago.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

That's right. They're not allowed to do that. There are no honorariums. And, look, the bottom line here is that we have two candidates who are at the more narrow end of the funnel now as we end the primary election contest. And it's going to get more heated.

But look, compared to the Republicans who are in utter chaos, our two candidates have been substantive and robust, they've kept largely to the issues that are important to the American people, talked about how they want to build on President Obama's congressional delegates, uh, congressional Democrats' legacy, and we want to move the country forward and help people reach the middle class. And they have slightly different approaches to how to get there, but it's been a substantive discussion.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, slightly. Okay. Perry, go ahead.

PERRY BACON:

Chairman, Bernie Sanders this week has really attacked the 1990s in some ways. He says the crime bill of '94 and the welfare reform bill of 1996 were bad legislation. Do you agree with that?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

You know, I think that the impact of the crime bill has had some important effects and some detrimental effects. And so, you know, both of our candidates voted for the crime bill. And I think most Democrats would agree that there needs to be reforms so that we can make sure that sentencing and the way we manage our criminal justice system is a lot more equitable and fair than it is today.

CHUCK TODD:

Kathleen?

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Yeah, going back to the financing of political campaigns, everybody loves to talk about how much we dislike Citizens United, you'll find people on both sides, Republicans dislike it too, at least a lot of them do.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Certainly, but that’s certainly not reflected in how they vote--

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Well, Mitt Romney was one who spoke out about, you know, how much he disliked it because it gives so much power to people who are sort of marginal participants

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

While benefiting from it handsomely.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

But that's not really my question. I'm just laying that out as the prefatory note. What I want to know is, is there ever any serious consideration given to a possibility of just limiting campaigns as other countries do, to two months, say? And make them completely publicly funded. Is that ever anything that gets serious consideration and would it be possible?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Only by Democrats. I mean, certainly, Democrats have supported public financing of campaigns, I know I do, and many of my colleagues do. And we do need to, you know, have an effort that both sides come together, and try to make that reform. But Republicans have no interest in changing the campaign finance system. They support the hundreds of millions of dollars of outside undue influence swooping in and weighing heavily on the outcome of any election contest. It's obscene and we need to elect majorities in Congress so Democrats can make a difference in changing it.

CHUCK TODD:

Hugh, last question.

HUGH HEWITT:

Chairwoman, let me bring up something that did not come up in the more cowbell debate from Thursday night. And that is if after Lewandowski was charged, many Democrats and many Republicans said of Donald Trump's campaign manager that he should be fired, and he wasn't. If any of Secretary Clinton's aides are indicted in the F.B.I. server investigation, should they also be fired? Should the same standard apply?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

That is a question that I'm not even going near. I don't think that's going to happen. And at the end of the day, we are going to have a campaign that will play out. Our nominee will ultimately be elected president of the United States because we are on the side of the American people, and ultimately our candidate--

HUGH HEWITT:

It's not about whether or not it's going to happen, it's about the standard. If a senior aide is ever indicted in a campaign, as Mr. Lewandowski was, should they be fired immediately?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Again, I don't think that that's going to happen. So it's not a question that is one that I think makes sense to answer. I'm focused on making sure that when we get to the end of our primary, we're preparing for the general election and we can and will elect our nominee, the 45th president of the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm going to leave it there. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Madam Chairwoman.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Thanks for coming in.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Thanks for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

And coming to the table.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Absolutely. Any time.

CHUCK TODD:

And I appreciate it. All right.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Thanks.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, the Republican race. Donald Trump loses a delegate contest, and yet another state at a convention. If he can't stop the bleeding, can he beat Ted Cruz at this summer's convention if he can't win on the first ballot?

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

If you want to know why Donald Trump is so frustrated with the delegate selection process, here's yet another example. Yesterday in Wyoming, Ted Cruz, without a primary or a caucus, won all 14 delegates available at the state convention. It means Cruz wound up with 23 pledged delegates from Wyoming with Trump and Marco Rubio each receiving just one. So what happened in Wyoming has been typical of this campaign. Though Trump is winning the overall battle for votes, and delegates say in primaries, he's losing the hand-to-hand combat over delegates that are awarded at state conventions. And as a result, Trump has ricocheted between trashing the Republican National Committee and trying to make peace with it. And it's clear now though that Donald Trump realizes the game is about winning on the first ballot at the convention, or he's doomed.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

The Republican National Committee, they should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this kind of crap.

CHUCK TODD:

The fight between the Republican frontrunner and the Republican party, smoldering for days, is turning to an all-out war.

DONALD TRUMP:

The system, folks, is rigged. It's a rigged system. Because it's a rigged system, folks. The Republican system is rigged, okay?

CHUCK TODD:

An on-again/off-again feud with party leaders is ratcheting up, even as Trump tries a campaign reboot. After a crushing 13-point defeat in Wisconsin, Trump turned a page, sidelining campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

DONALD TRUMP:

He wasn't quite as effective for the past couple of months.

CHUCK TODD:

Hiring a new delegate wrangler, Paul Manafort, and a political director with close ties to the R.N.C. Reaching out to members of Congress, and limiting exposure to the media to just friendly interviews.

DONALD TRUMP:

When I take them out, I will be so presidentialyou won't believe it.

CHUCK TODD:

But even as Trump's new team attempts to keep him scripted--

DONALD TRUMP:

Get him out. Don't hurt him. See how nice I am? I'm saying don't hurt him.

CHUCK TODD:

--putting out a Wall Street Journal op-ed, promising to work closely with the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and top G.O.P. officials to reform our election policy, Trump himself shows no sign of letting up.

DONALD TRUMP:

The Republican National Committee, they better get going. Because I'll tell you what, you're going to have a rough July at that convention.

CHUCK TODD:

But can Trump afford to alienate the party insiders he needs to unite the party and win a general election? He's already struggling with swing voters.

DONALD TRUMP:

Who's going to pay for the wall?

CHUCK TODD:

79% of Hispanic voters now view Trump unfavorably.

DONALD TRUMP:

No, I'll use the word "anchor baby." Excuse me. I'll use the word "anchor baby."

CHUCK TODD:

So do 67 percent of suburban women, and 72 percent of moderates.

MEGYN KELLY:

You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account--

DONALD TRUMP:

Only Rosie O'Donnell.

CHUCK TODD:

Three years ago, after Mitt Romney's defeat, the party charted a path back to the White House that imagined a big-tent Republican party, and recommended new appeals to women and minority voters.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

A welcoming attitude that we need to have in our party. I think that we had some biologically stupid things that were said in the last election.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

I'm joined now by the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. Chairman Priebus, welcome back to Meet the Press.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Good morning. Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with your Republican frontrunner continually calling the process that you're overseeing rigged. How do you tell Republican voters you are running a fair process when the frontrunner is calling what you're doing rigged?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

You know, look, I don't know what the motivation is. There's really nothing that's rigged or being changed or altered. These are the same rules that were in place basically for over a century. But at the very least, there's no way around the fact that all of these states submitted their delegate allocation plans by October 1st of 2015. And not a single thing has changed about it.

These conventions that people talk about, number one, it's not common. But a few states out West use a convention system where delegates start competing at the county level a month ago, and they go through the county, the precinct, the congressional district in a state convention. And the candidates participate the whole way through.

And no one was complaining, except for when it was all over. And look, every state is different. And you can reform the system. I mean, look, this has been an ongoing debate. But you have to go state by state by state. It's a pretty extraordinary task.

CHUCK TODD:

How concerned are you when Donald Trump says, "The R.N.C. better be prepared for a rough July." And are you concerned about reports of threats being made to delegates? What do you say to any campaign doing that?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, sure, I mean, look, there's no room for threatening the delegates or the convention or anybody that would be going to our national convention. But I also think some of this is rhetoric and hyperbole. And the truth is, is that the delegates themselves are the ones that write the rules for the convention. The R.N.C. doesn't write any rules. The R.N.C. has basically an administrative role at the convention. It's by majority rule, the delegates can run the convention. So it's on them to decide what they want to do about a lot of these issues, not us.

CHUCK TODD:

Who's picking this nominee? The voters or the delegates?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

You know, I think it's a combination, but it's empowered by the voters. So the voters empower the delegates. But ultimately, the delegates who, in most cases are bound by the outcome of caucuses and primaries and conventions, make the decisions at the conventions. Think about this, I think we lose sight of what the word "convention" means.

It's not a four-day party. A convention, in its legal sense, is the members of the party coming together every four years to write the rules of the party, to elect officers of our party, and a nominee. It has a legal value. It's no different than when, like, you know, the boy scouts have a national convention. They do similar things. And that's what's happening. But the media never covers the fact that we actually do a lot of business at the convention. But now everyone's interested in this business of a national convention.

CHUCK TODD:

Yes, they are. That's for sure. Look, we just have a brand new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out. Among Republican voters, we asked this simple question who should be the winner. Should it be the candidate with the most primary votes, regardless of whether it's a majority, or the candidate who is the choice of the delegates. By two to one, Chairman Priebus, Republican voters say it's got to be the one who has the most primary votes. And that's going to be Donald Trump by a lot. What do you tell those voters if it's not Trump?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, look, if Donald Trump, if he was winning the majority of votes, he'd likely have the majority of delegates. But that's not actually what's happening. He's winning a plurality of votes, and he has a plurality of delegates. And under the rules and under the concept of this country, a majority rules on everything.

Majority rules on the electoral college. Majority rules at the D.N.C., at the R.N.C. And I don't know too many places where majority doesn't rule. And I would suppose that if people were asked a question like that, it makes sense, but it only tells you half the story.

CHUCK TODD:

Very quick chariman-- very quick, I've got a couple of campaigns that are worried you're going to allow Trump to bully you. What do you say to that? Bully you and cave to his demands.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

No, listen, the rules are set. I've been pretty clear. I think I've done more TV in the last two weeks than I have in two years, and it's because I'm not going to allow anyone to rewrite the rules of our party.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Chairman Priebus, thanks for coming on Meet the Press this morning, good to see you.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

You bet.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, check out this sign. "Welcome to North Carolina. Due to our stance on LGBT rights, please set your clock back 100 years." Obviously a protest sign, and that of course refers to the bill that North Carolina's governor Pat McCrory signed into law, that many critics say discriminates against the LGBT community. Governor McCrory joins me next exclusively.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has found himself on the frontlines of the latest battle for LGBT rights. Here’s what happened: the state’s largest city, Charlotte, passed an ordinance that prevented businesses from discriminating against lesbians, gays and transgender people. In response, Governor McCrory quickly signed into law a bill that’s being called by some, anti-gay -- the so-called “bathroom law.”

The law does a few things. First, it invalidates the Charlotte ordinance and prevents other municipalities in the state from passing similar protections. Second, it requires that transgender people use the bathroom and locker room matching their birth-certificate gender, rather than the gender they identify with.

Governor McCrory has been forced to defend and clarify the law's intent, which goes much further than just repealing the Charlotte ordinance. All while he faces a tough reelection fight this November, and the governor of North Carolina joins me now. Governor McCrory, welcome to Meet the Press.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

CHUCK TODD:

Uh, since you signed the executive order, and it was intended to try, I think you were trying to ratchet back some of the controversy here, you still had more companies joining the boycott here, Bloomberg, Capital One, United Airlines, William Sonoma. That's just on Friday. 160 companies have called for its repeal. You still have an NBA commissioner that is not yet committing to keeping the All-Star game in Charlotte.

Any estimates we have of lost revenue so far, we have come up with calculated, conservative calculations, $39.7 million, $186 million perhaps in revenue, and some have suggested billions in lost revenue. All of this now, do you have regrets signing this law?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

I'm going to, as governor, as I did with mayor, I will always call out government overreach. And this example, the city of Charlotte, where I was mayor for 14 years, did government overreach. And what your pre-clip didn't mention was it was the left that brought about the bathroom bill, not the right in the city of Charlotte, like the city of Houston tried to do and was rejected by 61 percent of the vote.

The city of Charlotte passed a bathroom ordinance mandate on every private sector employer in Charlotte, North Carolina, one of the largest, 15th, 16th-largest cities in the United States of America. And I think that's government overreach. It's not government's business to tell the private sector what their bathroom, locker room, or shower -- um -- practices should be. Not only the private business, but also the Y.M.C.A. and other non-profit organizations. And by the way, this is what 29 other states also do not have, these types of restroom, locker room, and bathroom policies. So--

CHUCK TODD:

But I thought, you know, you talked about overreach. Okay, you say Charlotte overreached.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

How did the state of North Carolina, the state government, not overreach in just the same way. You mentioned Houston. Voters made that decision.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

You can make a case, voters made the decision in Charlotte. Charlotte rejected it, then elected two new members of the city council. This has been a long debate in the city of Charlotte, this is where they came down. You guys debated for, like, ten seconds. I mean, don't you regret the time of debate?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Actually, Charlotte's vote was a very little debate. They just had a lot of public speakers speaking for and against--

CHUCK TODD:

No, that night. But this has been months -- this has been months of a debate.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Look, when Charlotte had originally turned it down, just like Houston has. And there hasn't been outrage, there wasn't outrage towards Charlotte when they turned it down initially. There was an outrage towards Houston, Texas, when they turned it down recently. But I tell you what I have learned through this, is we've got to have more dialogue and not threats.

You know, I was in Hamlet, North Carolina, a small town that can be at any town in the United States of America. I walked into a buffet restaurant, African American buffet restaurant, and the people just welcomed me with open arms and said, "Thanks for protecting us." I got back in my car, and I got a call from someone in corporate America going, "Man, you've got to change this. We're getting killed."

And it showed me the disconnect we have between the corporate suites and main street on a very complex subject, and a very personal subject regarding government policy of all things, which didn't exist before this group brought this up.

CHUCK TODD:

It's a very thoughtful thing for you to say about dialogue. Where was the dialogue in this? I mean, first of all, you didn't--

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Well, let me tell you.

CHUCK TODD:

Your legislature--

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

I didn't want to--

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

But legislature, to their defense--

CHUCK TODD:

What dialogue?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

We had an April 1st deadline in which the Charlotte law was coming into effect. And they had to pass the law prior to--

CHUCK TODD:

But you had said you weren't worried about that deadline.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

I wasn't. The legislature, according to their lawyers, were, because they were afraid once it became into effect, it would be harder to overturn. And we can have the debate a longer time. But again, I don't think government should be telling the private sector what their restroom and shower law should be, to allow a man into a woman's restroom, or a shower facility at a Y.M.C.A., for example.

However, in government, and I'm not going to tell the private sector any manufacturing plan, any bank can have their own policies. NBC can have their own policy in Charlotte, North Carolina, or anywhere in North Carolina. But I do believe in our high schools, in our middle schools, in our universities, we should continue to have the tradition that we've been having in this country for years. And we have a women's facility and a men's facility. You know, it's worked out pretty well. And I don't think we need any further government interference.

CHUCK TODD:

But this, as we talked about, this law went further than that. It wiped away the city of Charlotte's ability to govern, to do some things on their own. For instance, they can't even have their own minimum wage now. Why'd you do that? Why'd you sign that? You're a former mayor of Charlotte. Could you accept all these limitations that big-state government has put on city and local control?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

I made a point when I was mayor of Charlotte for 14 years, we dealt with fire and police and airports and roads and light rail lines, we didn't impose new regulations on businesses. And I don't think the government ought to be the H.R. director for every business, whether it be in Charlotte or whether it be in Greensboro or whether it be in Boone, North Carolina.

And this is that fine line between how much does government tell the private sector in a regulatory way what to do, and in this case, a city which I still proudly call home, I think overstepped. And, you know, I've called out my own Republican legislature in the past, with magistrates and I've said no the magistrates need to marry after the Supreme Court case, and what the Supreme Court said.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that. But you didn't, you know, in your executive order, you didn't, and you're not calling for a passage of protecting gay North Carolinians from discrimination if they're fired in the private sector. Why?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Because I'm not the private sector's H.R. director. I am the H.R. director and the governor of all state employees. And I signed an executive order which protects all state employees, in the ninth-largest state in United States of America, the same executive order that the Louisiana governor just signed, and got praised for it. I just happen to be a Republican governor, and I got criticized for doing the same thing. I have to say, there are a little bit of politics involved here.

CHUCK TODD:

But with all due respect--

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Sure.

CHUCK TODD:

Barry Goldwater had said this when they were debating whether to have the Civil Rights act, and debating whether government should be involved in dealing with racial discrimination. And he said, "I am unalterably opposed to discrimination of any sort. But not law that embodies features like these provisions which fly in the face of the constitution, and which require for their effective execution, the creation of a police state."

The same argument was used to try to defeat laws that would -- are now considered untouchable, right? Laws that protect minorities from discrimination in the private sector. Why don't gays and lesbians qualify?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

I don’t -- first of all, I don't know of any business right now in North Carolina, and very similar to what Nikki Haley said about South Carolina, that is doing this. But at the same time, what we've got to do is deal with this extremely new social norm that has come to our nation at a very quick period of time, and have these discussions about the complexity of equality while also balancing the concept of privacy, including even privacy in the most private of areas of our life, which is a restroom, locker room, or shower facility in our high schools.

CHUCK TODD:

But gender identity is the same privacy. It's the same issue --

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Well, now, the folks that are-- if that’s the case --

CHUCK TODD:

It's dealing with that same privacy. I mean, do you want somebody who identifies as a woman, born on their birth certificate as a man, may look like a woman, going into a men's bathroom?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

All I'd say is we have 27 states--

CHUCK TODD:

Is that fair to them?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

We have 27 states, not just -- this is not just a North Carolina debate. This is a national debate that's just come on in literally the last three months. No one had heard of this debate until the Houston ordinance was defeated by the people of Houston. We have 27 to 29 states that also don't have this type of mandate on private business, including the state of New York.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm curious about due diligence.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Sure.

CHUCK TODD:

Did you meet with any transgender people?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

I have.

CHUCK TODD:

Before you signed that law?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Not with -- but I’ve met with transgender people in the past, and I've met with them since, and have had very positive conversations. Now the conversation with a very powerful group called the Human Relations, uh, Human Rights Council, my gosh, they're more powerful than the N.R.A., and they have millions of dollars, which makes me want to overturn United, ‘cause I don't know who their donors are either.

But they are putting on a lot of pressure, instead of having good dialogue. And I had wonderful dialogue with a transgender woman who was, and we talked about each other's issues. There's passion on each side of this issue.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, but does it bother you at all though, Georgia defeated it, South Carolina--

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Wait a minute.

CHUCK TODD:

Does it bother you at all that basically North Carolina and Mississippi is the only other state to side with you on this.

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Well, let me correct you. Georgia and Mississippi was religious freedom bill. This was not a religious freedom bill. In fact, we have not had any religious freedom bill introduced in the state of North Carolina. One reason is because I'm governor. So the confusion by the national media and The New York Times of the Indiana religious freedom bill, Mississippi, and Georgia religious freedom bill, that's not the case.

This is basically a restroom privacy issue, versus equality. And these things need to be discussed, not threatened by Hollywood or anyone. You know, Hollywood, with all due respects to the Hollywood, the new Batman and Robin movie is playing in China, which has anti-gay, terrible, terrible human rights violations. This is not like an issue of bathroom privacy or restroom privacy in North Carolina. And let's have this dialogue and I welcome that dialogue.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Governor McCrory, is there any way this gets repealed?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

I don't think the restroom, I do believe that--

CHUCK TODD:

But you'll repeal other parts of this bill?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

There is one part of the bill that I do disagree with, where I signed it, and that is you're not able to sue within state courts. And that needs to be repealed. It was very poorly thought out.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, we'll be watching for more. Governor McCrory--

GOV. PAT MCCRORY:

Thanks for bringing me here, appreciate it.

CHUCK TODD:

Appreciate it. When we come back, we'll have much more on the 2016 race. And then there was this, last night on S.N.L.

(BEGIN TAPE)

LARRY DAVID:

Once I'm elected president, I'll have a nice schvitz in the White House gym, then I'll go to the big banks, I'll sit them down and yada yada yada, they'll be broken up.

JULIA LOUIS DREYFUS:

What? No, no, you can't "yada yada" at--

(END TAPE)

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back the Republican party has 31 governorships, the most senators since 2005 and the most members of the House since the Hoover presidency. So why does it seem the party has the death wish when it comes to trying to win the White House?

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Panel is back, we’re going to discuss the Republican presidential race, we’ve got a lot going on in this show. Hugh Hewitt, Reince Priebus is trying very hard to claim that the process is not rigged. Donald Trump is trying very hard to paint it as rigged. Who has got the better PR case?

HUGH HEWITT:

RNC has the better facts as Reince Priebus pointed out in your interview. They have instructed the committee this week not to make any rule changes. Any rule changes will be done by the delegates themselves. Look, Donald Trump does very well building skyscrapers ,not building state delegation majorities. He got beat in Georgia last night, cue Vicki Lawrence the night the lights went out in Georgia, I think the Cruz campaign has won twelve consecutive victories over five states, including delegations.

CHUCK TODD:

I’ll put up a little graphic right now actually we put together. He has beaten on delegates 2 to 1 since March 22nd. He’s netted 66 but guess what, that advantage is erased on Tuesday with New York.

HUGH HEWITT:

Trump is coming back because Ivanka has returned to the trail. I think she is a tremendous, there is a piece in the New York Times this morning by Jonathan Moller, on how she is poised and disciplined and bringing that to her father’s campaign. So the solution here is a fusion ticket Cruz Trump but Ivanka is the Vice President.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

That’s insanity. Let me tell you, Trump has got the same trump card that Bernie has-- democracy. Ever since at least since the Kennedy-Humphrey fight over the nomination in Wisconsin and West Virginia. Certainly through Reagan against Bush, certainly Obama against Hillary. We watched the primaries to see who the nominee is and now we’re told don’t watch the primaries anymore, there’s this thing at the convention with the rules and you have to have a majority vote.

The numbers do show overwhelmingly, the Republican people believe in democracy and Trump makes that case. Bernie makes it against the billionaires and Citizens United and it’s the same argument, the people should vote.

CHUCK TODD:

You know the problem Perry, is the political parties modeled their nominating process after the electoral college which, by the way, isn’t one person one vote either.

PERRY BACON JR.

But I think Trump has had a really good week in making this argument. If you look at, we have these primaries for a reason and they’re not for fun. The idea is that they matter to some extent. I disagree with Chris a little bit in that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are winning the most delegates and the most states. And I think that for most people that’s who the winner is and I think Reince has got to make a better argument than the rules are the rules are the rules.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

How do you disagree with me?

PERRY BACON JR.

Because Chris, because Hillary Clinton not Bernie Sanders is the one winning the primary so I don’t think democracy is for…

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

No I said the rhetorical argument is for one man one vote.

CHUCK TODD:

They have the same rhetorical argument, yes.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

For the record I agree with Chris on that because it is a good argument. Look we care about people's’ votes right, oh no not really. But I think Trump is actually going to have a very good week and, actually a couple of really good weeks, because he’s obviously going to take New York. He’s predicted to get 85 to 90 of the 95 delegates and the leftovers are out in Staten Island and who knows. But, you know, after that he goes out to Pennsylvania and Maryland and on and on and Indiana going in so he’s going to build some fresh momentum and I think that’s going to make a difference.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way guys we’ve got more of our NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, a little taste of it. Maybe it doesn’t surprise people, but the two most popular presidential candidates by the American public overall are John Kasich and Bernie Sanders.,

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Right. Because they’re good peopleCHUCK TODD:The lowest negative rating among all Republican candidates is Kasich. Look at that. Trump’s at 65 percent negative rating among all voters, Ted Cruz at 49 percent. Hugh Hewitt, those are tough numbers man. And by the way let me put up Hillary Clinton, 56 percent negative rating. Again, Sanders-Kasich is what the people want apparently.

HUGH HEWITT:

Parties are continuing bodies, they are not the public. They stand for an ideological set of principles. I was at the Republican Jewish committee in Nevada where Ted Cruz got four standing ovations from a decidedly not ideologically strong conservative.

I believe he’s going to be the nominee because he is more consistently with the ideological spectrum that is the continuing Republican party. Donald Trump’s had a good week, Kathleen’s right he's going to have a good couple of weeks. He ain’t getting close to 1237.

CHUCK TODD:Wow.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:He’s going to win. Trump will be the nominee, probably for the opposite reason you say. Why is every conservative radio guy basically for Cruz? Explain the culture to me.

HUGH HEWITT:Actually, they’re not. They’re all over the place--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

It’s overwhelming--

HUGH HEWITT:

The only guy who’s come out actually, formally, is Mark Levin. Who has an enormous-- And I’m very neutral, I’m completely--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:You are?

HUGH HEWITT:I’m Switzerland. I don’t endorse anyone

CHUCK TODD:No and he’s been-- You said if Trump’s the nominee you said you’d support him.

HUGH HEWITT:

I said I’d support him.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

All I hear is radio talk for Cruz.

HUGH HEWITT:

You’ve gotta listen. Only on Mark Levin is he strong that way. But I will say, those in the local markets who are long-term ideological conservatives, like Charlie Sykes in Wisconsin, like Ted Cruz because of his policies.

PERRY BACON JR.:

I want to add, I thought after Wisconsin maybe Ted Cruz was starting to get more popular among moderate Republicans. And the polls are showing Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Ted Cruz is not broadening his coalition and that’s a problem. He’s not really doing as well as he should.

CHUCK TODD:Kathleen, very quickly, I think New York Values kneecapped him--

KATHLEEN PARKER:Totally.

CHUCK TODD:

And he couldn’t figure out a way out of it.

KATHLEEN PARKER:No, you can’t get out of it. I mean, I think he’s eating alone in a fried chicken joint in the Bronx (LAUGHTER)CHUCK TODD:I think now the Cruz campaign wishes they said, hey, New York is yours Trump, we are going to camp out in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:Remember the guy who did that before, Gary Hart he’s eating L.A. with a gay group, and he’s sort of making fun of New Jersey aesthetically. I’m sure glad I’m here and not New Jersey in some solid waste dump.

CHUCK TODD:

And guess what happened? New Jersey's delegates went to Walter Mondale, and he was the nominee.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

Quick programming note, we're going to take a quick break here. A quick programming note, my colleague Lester Holt's going to be anchoring Nightly News live from the Middle East tomorrow, and with it, he'll have an exclusive interview with the Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter. Remember, there are serious issues that we are facing besides the way we argue about this election. And when we come back in 45 seconds, we'll have Endgame and the debate over the so-called "bathroom law” in North Carolina.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Endgame time. Panel is here. Obviously I had Governor McCrory on earlier. Kathleen Parker, you and he sparred via column. You had a column that hit him pretty hard. He did a letter to the editor hitting back at your column.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

And we may not make up.

CHUCK TODD:

Good to hear. What did you make of the governor’s response?

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Well, besides the fact that Governor's from Ohio, he's certainly mastered the southern arts of sweet talk and finesse. You know, the fact of the matter, as you pointed out, there is still in place this prohibition that local municipalities can have their own anti -- sorry -- discrimination laws. Now he's backing off of that now, and I think calling it more or less it was hasty, poor writing, crafting of the bill.

And so that's good. I give him credit for that. But still, you're allowing, the state is allowing private businesses, for example, to say, "I'm sorry, but we don't serve gays here." Or, "We don't let gay people spend the night in our hotels." You know, there's no recourse for those people, because unless these municipalities can pass their own anti-discrimination laws, then, you know, they're out of luck.

But on the bathroom bill, this to me seems to be such a bogus issue all together. I don't know what they're afraid of, you know? It's not as though you're going to have-- on the one hand, I'll hear from readers in North Carolina say, "So in other words, you, Kathleen Parker, think that perverts, men, ought to be able to come into bathrooms and assault ten-year-old girls," right? So they're being fed some kind of crazy false narrative about what this is.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

The crazy thing is, this is nanny state at its worst, if you think about it. Where do they want the transsexuals to go? If someone identifies, dresses, looks like a woman, that person shows up in a men's room at National Reagan Airport. What happens then? I mean, if you follow the law the governor signed, what goes on then? You know, confusion and everything and probably a lot of disruption.

CHUCK TODD:

Hugh, you know, one thing that I'm going to point out here is that, I don't know if this is true or not, but this yet another Republican governor that I feel as if his legislature did something that maybe he didn't want to do, and he felt as if he had no choice but to sign the legislation. Do you think that's at work here?

HUGH HEWITT:

It's possible. I mean, he did very well in his interview. He leaned into the problem, quoting Chris Matthew, "Hang a lantern on your problem," showing up at Meet the Press on the Sunday after the controversy is very smart. He'll probably be reelected. But this is not the terrain the Republican party wants to fight this election on. Going back to your Clooney interview, and by the way, I thought he was a better Batman than Ben Affleck at least, so--

CHUCK TODD:

The bathroom debate and batman debate here today, okay.

HUGH HEWITT:

I want to argue about campaign financing.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Absolutely, Michael Keaton.

HUGH HEWITT:

I want to point out that Charles Koch lives in Wichita, Kansas, in the same house that he has since 1974. I want to argue that Tom Steiner is trying to buy. I don't want to argue about bathroom bills. I want to argue about ISIS and Libya going downhill. This is not our terrain. We should not fight.

CHUCK TODD:

You know I heard somebody say to me, Perry Bacon? "This is what happens because Republicans overdid it on redistricting." And so yes, these folks are listening to their constituents, but only their constituents. Almost a narrow band of them.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

That’s right.

PERRY BACON:

I'm not sure in this case that’s even true. As you pointed out though Georgia, South Carolina, Nikki Haley said, "We're not doing that law here." She was very explicit about that. I just think the Governor of North Carolina, the legislature missed the boat here. He used the phrase "changing social norms." He's right. People who are transgender are more accepted today. Last year was a big year for gay rights.

I just think he might have, you know, you asked him, "Have you talked to anyone who was transgender before this bill passed?" And he all but said, "No." I just think he made a political mistake here without sort of thinking through the contours of the issue. Any time you have to send an executive order to a bill you signed three weeks before, you probably didn't think about it through the first time very carefully.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright. Let's lighten things up a little bit, besides our Batman debate. Before we go, last night's S.N.L. was a real treat for Seinfeld fans, which by the way now we're getting two decades old. With Larry David as Bernie Sanders encountering Julia Louis Dreyfus's Elaine. Take a look.

(BEGIN TAPE)

LARRY DAVID:

Once I'm elected president, I'll have a nice schvitz in the White House gym, then I'll go to the big banks, I'll sit them down and yada yada yada, they'll be broken up.

JULIA LOUIS DREYFUS:

What? No, no, you can't "yada yada" at a debate. Also, you "yada yada'd" over the best part.

LARRY DAVID:

No, I mentioned the schvitz.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

That's all we have today. I'm going to go have some lobster bisque. We'll be back next week. Because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *