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'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, March 28th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: March 28, 2015
Guest: Jack Jacobs, Michael Kay, Katie Packer Gage, Perry Bacon, Jr.,
Robert Costa, Kate Zernike, Jim Manley, Sahil Kapur, Manu Raju


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Whose side is the U.S. really on in the high
stakes battle for control of the Middle East?

And good morning. Thanks for getting UP with us. The news definitely not
taking a break this weekend. It`s turning out to be a very busy morning
here and around the world with U.S. rescue of two Saudi pilots who ejected
their fighter jet in the waters over Yemen. And the President of Yemen
already fleeing that country by boat. There is word as we come on the air
at this hour that Saudi Arabia is now evacuating Western and Arab diplomats
from Yemen, nearly 100 of them.

Also by sea, this is U.S. as Saudi airstrikes continue. In just a minute
we will going to go try to untangle the high stakes, highly complicated
situation on the ground in Yemen and in the Middle East. There is also
another stunning twist this morning in the investigation of that
Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps. Did the co-pilot hide an
illness from his employers, as prosecutors are now alleging. Our live
reports from France and Germany. They are ahead this morning. We`ll also
look at what needs to be done to keep this kind of crash from ever
happening again. The worst nightmare for any plane traveler.

We`ll also be travelling to the world of presidential politics here at
home, amid a new report this morning that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is
set to officially enter the race for president just days from now. His
team may not have confirmed that report to us this morning, but more
importantly they didn`t deny it either. We`ll going to be taking a closer
look at how Marco Rubio and others have a shot at shaking up things against
Jeb Bush who is a lot more vulnerable what people think. We`ll show you
why. What about Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton preparing to kick off her
own campaign. Is the vice president taking any concrete steps, any steps
at all to launch a run himself?

Plus, in the Senate democrat Bob Menendez from New Jersey still waiting for
that impending criminal indictment. Why hasn`t it happened yet? What are
prosecutors trying to prove before they make their case in public? But we
begin this morning with that rapidly escalating chaos and confusion in the
Middle East. As we just mentioned "The New York Times" reporting at this
hour that Saudi Arabia is evacuating diplomats from Yemen by sea. Both
Arab and Western diplomats. We`ll have more on that situation as it
develops. President Obama spoke with King Salman of Saudi Arabia last
night. This after the U.S. Air Force and navy rescued two Saudi pilots in
the gulf of Aiden. Pilots ejected from their F-15 fighter jets due to what
they say were mechanical problems.

The jet was part of the combat operations against Iran backed Shiite rebels
in Yemen. This after that country`s president was forced by the rebels to
flee by boat on Wednesday. So in that conflict, in Yemen, the United
States is supporting the Sunni governments of both Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
It is supporting them against forces backed by Iran. But here is where it
starts to get confusing, at the same time the U.S. is doing this. At the
same time in Iraq, the U.S. is on the same side as Iran. The same side as
those Iran backed Shiite fighters. Both the U.S. and Iran warning to kick
ISIS out of the key city of Tikrit. All of this playing out with the U.S.
simultaneously holding nuclear talks with Iran. Secretary of State John
Kerry describing those negotiations this morning as tough, as we see the
story of the Middle East today.

All sorts of violent conflicts and puzzling alliances not just between
nations, but between sects and confusion too. The United States is against
Iran in one fight and with them in another, or whose side are we on here?
Here is an illustration that appeared in the Atlantic Magazine trying to
show just how complicated and confusing and just plain messy the Middle
East is right now. But we have some good news for you.

NBC News Foreign Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin is here in the studio at the
big board to bring us clarity and light. Ayman, that picture you see right
behind you there. When I try to figure out the Middle East right now,
that`s what my mind does. All those lines, all those sort of confusion
entanglements. Can you untangle it for us?

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: I`m going to say, it`s
probably the most accurate description out of the Middle East so our
viewers can get a sense of what`s really happening there. But yes, I know,
you`re absolutely right. It is a very complex situation. We wanted to
start off show by showing our viewers why this is so important. And you
take a look at the map. This is Yemen right here. Yemen sits on one of
the most important parts of the world, the geo-politically significant
Arabian Peninsula. It`s oil rich. So much of the world`s oil flows from
the Persian Gulf down through the southern tip of Yemen, all the way up to
the Red Sea, Suez Canal onto the western parts of Europe and elsewhere.

That is why it matters what`s going on right now in Yemen. You`re talking
about that coalition of countries, well, let`s show you exactly where those
countries are. We`re going to talk about this region. Right now you have
countries as far away as Morocco, Pakistan and all of the GCC countries
that are involved in that coalition. Not all of them are involved
militarily. Some providing just diplomatic support, but others like Egypt,
the UAE and Qatar are actually providing troops, Egyptian military has
deployed its navy, to secure that waterway off the coast of Yemen where
those tankers pass through. But as we move on to the next part, we have to
understand why this matters for the United States. The U.S. for a very
long time had a major counterterrorism operation in Yemen. It still
insists that it will act. But it had to withdraw its Special Forces from
that country as the situation continued to worsen.

Now, as we were talking about the Houthi rebels, they have been in the past
allegedly supported by Iran. Receiving financial support, money, as well
as training. Certainly, seeing Yemen fall to the Houthi rebels would mean
that Iran has once again put in another Arab country under its fear of
influence so to speak. But more importantly the U.S. and its neighboring
allies would be concerned if Yemen totally became a failed state with no
central government that would lead it with a huge power of vacuum and that
would be rightful groups like al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS
to set up shot there and try to exploit that for their own gain. They have
been doing it for decades, at least al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

They would continue to do it if there was a completely failed state. But
you talked about that point about what is happening in Iraq and yes the
roles there are reversed. There the United States is fighting against
ISIS. On the ground, though, you have Iranian-backed Shia militias as well
as the Iraqi government fighting under U.S. air support. So, it is the
irony of all ironies that in one country the United States and it`s in the
Arab allies like Saudi Arabia are fighting against Iranian backed rebels.
But in other country, like Iraq, they are actually providing air support.
Unofficially but they are providing air support to those Iranian-backed
Shia militias fighting against ISIS.

KORNACKI: All right. Thanks for that Ayman. And this week is only the
latest example of the head spinning situation that the Obama White House
faces. "The New York Times" writes, quote, "The administration finds
itself trying to sustain an ever-growing patchwork of strained alliances
and multiple battlefields in the aftermath of the Arab Spring four years
ago. The momentary moral clarity of demands for democracy across the
region has been replaced by difficult choices among enemies and unappealing
allies who have rushed to fill power vacuums."

For more on all of this, we turn to MSNBC military analyst, and Medal of
Honor recipient, retired army colonel Jack Jacobs, Michael Kay, a retired
British senior officer and foreign affairs correspondent. And Ayman
Mohyeldin who has just explain all that, to us brilliantly with the big
board of course back at the table with us now, so well, I`m not sure where
to begin here. But let me start with this, and Ayman raises this
possibility in the presentation there. And I wonder Colonel, when you look
at this, when you look at Yemen right now, you look at this Iranian backed
rebels. If they succeed, if they take control of the country, if
essentially Iran gets a toehold in Yemen, what does that mean?

COL. JACK JACOBS, U.S. ARMY (RET): Well, first of all, they don`t have to
take control of the whole country to take control of the country. It was
suggested earlier that perhaps things are headed in that direction. But
they are already in control of quite a few chunks of the country. And the
geopolitics of the place being what they are, that`s -- they`re in charge
of a lot of it. What the Saudis are terribly worried about is that their
border is so porous, and Iran is trying so desperately to control the
region, and they`re being very, very successful about it so far. That that
border won`t mean anything whatsoever. And they`re terribly concerned. As
a matter of fact, everybody in the region is terribly concerned about it.
Which is one reason why they`re all meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh right now in
order to determine whether or not they can put a coalition together.

KORNACKI: Yes. So, Michael, what is the -- you look at this, you look at
the situation in Yemen and all the different factions and into the
country`s difficulty in any sense. But like, what can the United States be
doing? What should the United States be doing? What should the west be
doing in response to this?

MICHAEL KAY, RETIRED BRITISH SENIOR OFFICER (RET): I think, let`s go back
to the initial framework that you presented on the top of the show. We
need to look at this in terms of what the threat is. And the threat is
very different. We go to Iraq, the threat is all about ISIS. It`s about
this institution that wants to set up an Islamic caliphate across North
Africa, across the Middle East and through Asia which operates under Sharia
law. And basically espouses the ideology of the extreme creed of Sunni
Islam called Wahhabism. Now, ironically, Saudi Arabia is responsible for
exporting Wahhabism for decades. That`s the first thing. So, there is a
common threat in Iraq which the U.S. is engaged in. The government of Iraq
forces are engaged in. The Peshmerga forces are engaged in. And the
populist mobilization forces, Shia factor is engaged in.

Now, there is no official working on the ground in Iraq between the U.S.
and Badr (ph) organization and Hezbollah brigades and populous mobilization
forces. We spoke about it a couple of weeks ago. There is no official
working together on that. It`s just the Badr organization are benefitting
from U.S. air strikes on Tikrit and Mosul.

KORNACKI: In the situation -- the condition here, for the United States
doing this was, they had to stand down, right? They had to back off?

KAY: Well, they have decided to back away. The Hezbollah brigades and the
Badr organization have decided to back away from trying to get ISIS out of
Tikrit. And that is now been left to the U.S. led coalition in Tikrit.

KORNACKI: So, there is like -- it seems like there is sort of battle here
-- almost, in one sense there`s a literal battle, but on the other hand
there is a battle for credit. If they get ISIS out of Tikrit, is this the
United States trying to get credit in the minds of people in the Middle
East for doing this as oppose to hey, it was Iran that did this?

KAY: Well, I think what we need to be cognizant of, when we`re talking
about ISIS is the Badr organization, the Hezbollah brigade have in some
sense been responsible for stopping the spread of ISIS through Iraq in
terms of the way that they have risen up. When the government of Iraq
forces capitulated last summer, it was the Hezbollah brigades and their
populist mobilization forces that stood in and helped prevent the continual
spread of ISIS. So, that`s important for us to recognize. If we don`t
agree with it fine, but we have to recognize that. When we come to Yemen,
the people in the ground in Yemen, the Houthis, the Shia-backed, you`ve got
the government aligned forces that pledge allegiance to Houthi. And then
you have AQAP and the Salafis forces, and it is known and it is well-known
that Saudi Arabia has had a dog in the fight with the Salafi forces in
Yemen for a long time.

And Iraq has had a dog in the fight with the Houthis. But the Yemen
situation is all about the National Dialogue Conference and how that has
capitulated. And that was supported by the U.N., it was supported by the
U.S. and it was supported by the GCC. And I think that really is the
conundrum here. And that is why we see U.S. and 11 coalition countries,
150,000 troops from Saudi mobilize over 200 fighters come together within
48 hours. I think that`s why you`re seeing that. Is because it was
capitulated to something that was being supported by the U.N., U.S. and
Saudi Arabia and the GCC. And that is what they`re trying to prevent from
worsening.

KORNACKI: Well, let me ask you about this. In terms of the big picture
strategy here. Because Ayman, you just took us through this, as we talked
about. So, look, obviously, getting ISIS out of Tikrit is a shared
priority for the United States and for Iran. Then you look in Yemen, and
there`s horrible implications potentially for the United States with Yemen.
Not a shared interest with Iran right there. This was, President Obama`s
former ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey, who was asked about the U.S.
tragedy in the Middle East. His quote this week was we`re in a God damn
free fall here. That`s what James Jeffrey said this week. I mean, how do
you -- is there a big picture simple way of describing what the United
States strategy is when you look at the tangled alliances?

MOHYELDIN: There is the U.S. has its own set of red lines, things that
matter to it. And that is going to be the decisive factor in how and when
it gets involved. Look, ISIS has been fighting in Syria now for some time.
The country has been a state of free fall, Syria has been in -- for four
years a state of civil war. Similar to Iraq. But the U.S. has not been as
eager to allow Sunni Arab countries like Saudi Arabia to get militarily
involved there. If Saudi Arabia was really concerned as much as it was
about the Houthi chair rebels in Yemen as they were in Syria or as they
were Iraq, there is no reason why Saudi Arabia and Egypt could not have
intervened and could have not encouraged the U.S. to intervene in Syria to
prevent that bloodshed.

But the difference is that, now you are on the border of Saudi Arabia in a
hostile way. The Shia government in Baghdad is not actually hostile to
Saudi Arabia. Although they are close to Iran, they are walking a very
fine line because of the geo-politics. So, the government, the prime
minister in Iraq is striking a balance between having the support of the
Iranian military. But also knows that he relies heavily on American
military support for his own sovereignty in his own country. In Yemen it`s
a different situation. The rebels are very hostile to Saudi Arabia and the
Saudi dynasty. And so they pose from the Saudi perspective an existential
threat. And as a result the U.S. is willing to support that military
campaign aggressively. But it`s not purely a sectarian issue where we`re
going to stop the Iranians here, we`re going to support them here, and not
accept them in one country and the others. So, the U.S. does have its own
red lines and it`s probably playing every country purely based on that
metric alone.

JACOBS: But I would argue that, all of that notwithstanding, I think if
you would take an administration official and pushed them up against the
wall and threaten with bodily harm unless he told you exactly what our
overarching military strategy is, or what our overarching strategy is, he
would honestly tell you we don`t have one. We have objectives. We would
like to see all the things that you`re talking about --

KORNACKI: Well, I don`t --

JACOBS: But if you ask -- okay how are we going to get there, he won`t
have an answer.

KORNACKI: Is it possible, you think to put a big picture strategy --

MOHYELDIN: Yes, exactly, that might be --

JACOBS: I think there is. I would agree. I think there is.

(CROSSTALK)

MOHYELDIN: With all of these alliances actually crumbling and shifting and
the things that we`ve relied on our past are pillars if you will of
interest in the region no longer as cohesive as they once were, it`s hard
for us as the United States to develop a consistent strategy across the
board. We will going to get involved in Syria, we`re not going to get
involved in Iraq, we`re going to get involved in Yemen.

KAY: If I could jump in there, the strategy has to be consistent with what
the priority of the threat is. And the priority of the threat that is
destabilizing not only that region but globally at the moment is ISIS. I
don`t think it`s Iran. Iran is an issue. And it certainly something that
needs to be address. But ISIS is the thing that we need to counter at the
moment. I would have loved to have seen 150,000 Saudi troops mobilized in
200 fighter jets across the GCC coalition, mobilize to tackle the threat
that has been spreading from Syria. And you`re absolutely right, I mean,
it`s Syria that needs to be addressed. We need to understand what the
political road map is for Syria before we move forward. Because that is at
the center of instability within this region.

KORNACKI: All right. We have to thank MSNBC military analyst Colonel Jack
Jacobs, former British Officer Michael Kay, NBC`s Ayman Mohyeldin. I
appreciate that.

Still ahead, why at least one prominent republican who is trying to stop
Chris Christie from running for president, thinks it`s time to give up that
fight.

And next, the shocking new twist in the Germanwings plane crash
investigation. Amid developing reports that the airline is getting ready
to make preliminary payments to the families of the victims. Those
details, live report from the crash site right after this break. Stay with
us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: The investigators in Europe are still searching this weekend for
clues about the physical and mental health of the co-pilot of that
Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday. Prosecutors
say it appears the co-pilot crashed that plane deliberately. A
spokesperson confirming to NBC News this morning that the airline, a
Lufthansa subsidiary is now offering up to $54,000 to the family of each
victim. This in a preliminary payment meant to cover their immediate
expenses.

NBC News` Claudia Lavanga is live in France for us this morning. Claudio,
what is the latest from where you are?

CLAUDIO LAVANGA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Steve, we just spoke to the chief
press officer of the national police. He gave us some more details about
the recovery operation that continues here. While he said that yesterday
the recovery operation was slowed down by very strong winds. Today it is
still windy but it`s a bit better. The operation resumed this morning. He
said that there are about 30 investigators who have been winched down the
cable from a helicopter. It`s an 80 meters drop on that crash site.
Fifteen of them are in charge of collecting DNA samples from the body
parts. Let me remind you. That the police told us yesterday that not one
single body was found intact because of the impact of that crash. The
other 15 are looking for evidence.

Of course, they`re trying to find debris that may be useful for the
investigators and, of course, the priority for those 15 are to find the
second black box. Which is the flight data recorder which contains
technical statistical information on that flight from takeoff to the point
of impact. Well, we were told that yesterday 600 DNA samples were
collected on the sites. They have been flown to then to Paris so they can
be matched up -- they`re trying to match it with the DNA samples that the
family left when they came here. And they`re still coming to visit the
memorial site that was set up about two miles from the crash site. But the
most emotional information that we got today from this police officer is
that we are told that 20 local mountain police officers and, of course,
helicopter pilots are helping out, of course.

The investigators, and they are receiving psychological counseling.
Because this has taken its toll on them. They are used to saving and
rescuing hikers lost in the woods or skiers implicated in avalanches. And
they have never seen anything like it. Of course they have to witness a
dramatic seen of the mass murder in that ravine. And especially those who
are camping there every night. Setting campfires to protect the site from
animals -- Steve.

KORNACKI: All right. NBC Claudio Lavanga live for us in French. I
appreciate that report.

Still ahead, how will Harry Reid be remembered? What President Obama has
already told the democratic leader of the Senate? In a wake of Reid`s
announcement that he`s going to be retiring. That`s coming up. But first,
quite week for Jeb Bush on the campaign trail. But the other candidates in
the republican field are now trying to steal his thunder. Stay with us on
that and a whole lot more as we continue on a busy Saturday morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: This week, it became official. Texas Senator Ted Cruz becoming
the first republican out of the gate announcing his run for the White House
at Liberty University. He raised a million dollars in the first 23 hours
after that announcement. Most of that money coming in small donations.
So, is that going to be enough to make Ted Cruz a formidable challenger to
Jeb Bush, the presumed front runner and establishment favorite? Well,
party insiders in New Hampshire and Iowa would tell Politico they are
skeptical that Cruz could manage the pull off a victory and there state let
alone in the general election against a democrat. But there is clearly an
opening for someone to knock off Bush on the republican side. After all,
Jeb Bush is only running at 16 percent. Sixteen percent. In the latest
national poll of republican voters.

Hardly an overwhelming frontrunner there. So, who could it be? How about
Scott Walker? On Wednesday the conservative magazine national review cast
doubts on the Wisconsin governor`s chances on the national stage. Writing
that quote, "Opinion in elite circles is that the Walker organization is at
best, not yet firing on all cylinders, even though the polls do not reflect
these problems." Ohio Governor John Kasich who seemed to be having a
moment this week while touring New Hampshire. Well, he`s not being met
with much enthusiasm by his party either. Because according to NBC`s Perry
Bacon, Jr. Chris Christie, is he in a position to make a comeback? Is
there a surge yet to come for Marco Rubio? Well, a new report last night
from one of Florida`s top Politico reporters and indicated that a
presidential announcement for Rubio could come as early as April 13th.
Just a few weeks from now.

How about a surge could come perhaps for Indiana Governor Mike Pence,
embroiled in controversy this week over his state`s new religious freedom
law that some theory will cause denial of services to gays and lesbians.
It may play differently with some of the hard edged republican base though.
Jeb Bush spent his week raising money, even more money at private
fundraisers in Pennsylvania and Texas with expectations now growing that he
will shatter all existing fundraising records. Possibly bringing in as
much as $100 million in just the last three months.

Again, for all of that money, the polls are still clear right now. There
is a lot of resistance to Bush among republicans. But is there a candidate
out there who can capitalize on it? For that, let`s get today`s panel.
Katie Packer Gage, republican consultant, deputy campaign manager for Mitt
Romney in 2012. Toure, he`s the co-host of MSNBC`s "The Cycle." Perry
Bacon, Jr., senior political reporter with NBC News. And in D.C. joining
us now is Robert Costa, national political reporter with The Washington
Post.

Robert, thanks for taking a few minutes this morning. So, this question
of, who this sort of anybody but Bush candidate could be, if a consensus
candidate is able to emerge there and take advantage of all that resistance
that exists to Jeb Bush, who is it going to be? For the last few months it
looked like Scott Walker had the inside track. We`re showing you some of
the clips he`s been getting recently, some of the press coverage. Even
among conservative publications not that favorable. Is Walker sort of
hitting the rocks here?

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: Checking in with some of the top
republican donors this week, I got some private messages that they`re
really are looking at Rubio. Is Rubio going to have a moment especially if
Walker fumbles? They wonder if Christie really has missed his time on the
national stage. He`s had such a rough period since the bridge episode.
And so, they`re looking to see who is going to be that Bush alternative.
They think Rubio could be that person.

KORNACKI: What is it they see in Marco Rubio in particular?

COSTA: A generational difference, an ability to communicate, an ability to
win a major state like Florida, Hispanic lineage and background. And that
he can be a fresh face contender. However, Cruz he is also trying to make
that generational argument. He looks at Iowa, that is his launching path,
Huckabee, Santorum. They`re retreads in some sense for many conservative
voters. He thinks he can be their favorite.

KORNACKI: And when you look at the rest of the field here, is there
anybody else you see like -- right now Walker is sort of getting the
tryout. Rubio may be waiting in the wings. Christie has got his baggage.
Is there anybody else you look at, you say this person really does have
that potential to rise up and challenge Jeb here?

COSTA: The most intriguing name right now, when I spoke to donors and
their associates, is Ohio Governor John Kasich. He`s been making these
trips to early primary states. He`s not taking any active role right now
in the campaign. But they believe in conversation with him that he`s going
to wait until the summer, see how this all unfolds and then perhaps make an
argument that he could be someone like Bush and Walker who could appeal to
all parts of the party.

KORNACKI: Those late summer entrances in the presidential race, it seem
dangerous to me. That Rick Perry, Wesley Clark, Fred Thompson, they got --
one of them may be a workout in delivering the panel. And it`s interesting
that Robert says that. Because Kasich has been the one I`ve been saying
just on paper for a year makes a lot of sense to me. See if anything
happens there. But Perry, you did some reporting this week, Kasich getting
a cold reception for some of the people he might need with them if he
wants.

PERRY BACON, JR., NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, there was a big
dinner Wednesday night here, of conservative activists, Larry Codlow (ph),
remember people who were there. And the reception was not great for
Kasich. One thing is he`s been a strong defender of Medicaid. He expanded
Medicaid in Ohio. And he`s been -- part of ObamaCare. He`s been talking
about how, you know, basically wrapping it along in with his faith and
saying I`m a Christian, this is something I do for the poor. And
conservatives are not excited about expanding ObamaCare in the first place,
they`re really not excited about being Kasich`s implication they`re not
Christian enough for not doing it. So, that`s where he`s got a lot of
resistance there. The point where one of the activists said, Kasich in the
meeting said, I want to repeal ObamaCare but I want to keep the Medicaid
expansion had. And people in the room were sort of laughing at him.
That`s impossible to do logistically and logically that doesn`t make a lot
of sense. And they wondered if he`s ready for this and what you think in
that way.

KORNACKI: And so, Katie, how do you read this right now? I mean, based on
what Robert is saying there and this is sort of how I`ve been looking at
is, there`s sort of about peaking order of anti-Jeb candidates. And Walker
is right now in that top slot. We`ll see if he can hang on. And it does
seem to me that Rubio -- and it`s amazing because a year ago you were
talking to a lot of conservatives and they were saying, you know, we`re
done with Marco Rubio. They might be coming back to him here.

KATIE PACKER GAGE, ROMNEY 2012 CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Yes. You know, I think
at this stage of the game, you have a lot of voters and you`re seeing them
in the national polls, that are just sort of voting with their heart. They
don`t have a lot of information. They haven`t really examined the records
of these candidates. And they`re kind of voting with their heart, and they
like what they hear from Scott Walker. They might even like what they hear
from Ted Cruz. But over the course of time, they are going to start to
examine more closely. And something about Marco excites people because he
is conservative and so they can sort of scratch that itch. But he does
sort of expands the playing field for republicans. And that`s important in
a general election.

And I hear, you know, the interesting thing I hear from a lot of people, is
that Marco is kind of everybody`s second choice. And that`s a strong
position to be in. You know, I think Jeb certainly has sort of, you know,
done the work he needs to do within the finance community. I think Chris
Christie is going to have a second act. He`s a very talented politician
without a doubt. And, you know, I just wouldn`t count him out. You know,
what? I do think we`ll going to see is, I hope we`re going to see
republicans nominate somebody that`s not a grumpy old man. That`s not
going to be a winning combination for us. And we need somebody that can
draw a contrast with Hillary.

KORNACKI: Well, Jeb is the oldest one, is he a grumpy old man?

GAGE: Not necessarily. I`m just saying that, you know, they don`t have to
be old to be a grumpy old man.

KORNACKI: Right. Right.

GAGE: You`ve got --

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: I can be a grumpy old man. You know that. Toure, let me put
this one up. This is by the way, we`re talking about Scott Walker. It`s
been a rough, you know, about six weeks ago people looked up and said,
well, holy cow this guy is challenging Jeb Bush. He has a real chance
here. He`s had some self-inflicted wounds since then. So, how about this?
This is how Perry actually tweeted this this week, that Scott Walker who
used to take questions from the press all the time is now sending staff
written readouts of his events like his border trips. So, Scott Walker is
a curious one to me, Toure. Because I started saying -- I`ve been looking
at this opening that exists here for a non-Bush candidate. So, will Scott
Walker will going to check all their boxes? Because he, you know, he went
to war with unions and he won. But he can also say, look, I`ve run in
Wisconsin, I`ve run in this blue state and I`ve run three times.

TOURE, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": I know some folks from Wisconsin, deep
in Wisconsin politics and they`re like, please, once we start to open up
this guy`s closet he will completely fall apart. You talk about grumpy old
men. Republicans love macho. Right? Scott Walker really macho, the sort
of guy that we typically see, republicans fall in love with? I don`t think
so. I don`t think Jeb is that guy either. I`m not quite sure who on this
side ticks that box. But when I see these guys who`s sort of a lack
charisma. And I think Scott Walker lacks a lot in the way of charisma and
lacking in machismo. I`m not sure that this guy is going to be able to
make it over the long haul in this nomination conversation.

KORNACKI: Let me ask Robert Costa about another name here. And this is in
the news this morning, this is in the news this weekend. Down in Indiana,
Mike Pence signing this religious freedom law there. All sorts of
controversy around that. Mike Pence`s name sometimes comes up in the 2016
conversation. I guess one way of reading what he`s done in Indiana is,
it`s a pretty strong play to the sort of the Christian conservative base of
the Republican Party nationally, at least potentially. Is there a
possibility of Mike Pence trying to go national this year?

COSTA: Mike Pence certainly has presidential ambition. Look back to 2011,
he almost got in the 2012 race that summer a year before the campaign. He
wants to be president of the United States. But I sat down with him a few
weeks ago. And you get the sense that he really wants to run for
reelection in Indiana in 2018. But he wants to be on the radar. He`s
doing things what he`s doing with the state legislature now. He continues
to be -- nationally because he really wants to be there in 2020, 2024.

KORNACKI: All right. We will have more to this weekend, today, tomorrow
on what`s happening out there in Indiana. All sorts of a controversy as we
say around that new law.

For now though, thanks to Robert Costa with The Washington Post. I
appreciate the time.

And still ahead, charges that were reported to be imminent against New
Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, well, they still haven`t been filed. What
is that delay all about? We`re going to tell you about that coming up.

But first, the Sheldon Adelson vote in the millions and donations that
usually come with it, why Jeb Bush does not appear to be on the Sheldon
Adelson short list. That`s next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right. There is a lot going on this morning. Let`s get
caught up on some of the other headlines making news with today`s panel.
This is our "Catching Up" segment. Our index card segment. I got a bunch
of index card, bunch of headlines from around the world here. Let`s see
what`s going on. Start with this, this is in the "New York Times" this
morning, the headline, GOP hawks upset with Bush after Baker speech on
Israel. This is a really interesting story that`s been playing out the
last few days. So, there is this group, J Street which builds itself a
sort of a more progressive pro-Israel group, a rival to AIPAC. They had
their big conference. James Baker, former, you know, first Bush president
secretary of state. Confidante of the old Bush family, you know,
associate. Well, he spoke and he`s been very critical of Israel through
the years.

And the reaction on the right, the reaction from the Republican Party has
been vicious, has been hostile. It includes now Sheldon Adelson, the top
donor, the mega donor -- you don`t if you`re a republican, Adelson against
you. Well, he`s expressing concerns to Jeb Bush about this. Basically
saying you want to run for president, you have ties to James Baker, this
gives me doubts about you. This is really the interesting story, I think
one thing that tells you about is the direction the Republican Party has
taken on Israel. Because again, this is George H.W. Bush`s secretary of
state. He said these things as the secretary of state and republican
administration. Now he says 20 years later suddenly he`s a pariah in the
party.

BACON: You saw Jeb Bush had to criticize James Baker who is not a former
secretary of state, he`s one of his dad`s closest friends. He helped his
dad get in the White House. So, that fact that Jeb --

KORNACKI: He helped W. get into.

BACON: He helped W. --

(CROSSTALK)

So the fact that Jeb Bush went out of his way to say James Baker, A, should
not have spoken to James in the first place, and then B, made the wrong
comments, it shows you how, you know, support for Netanyahu and support for
Israel is required in the republican primary. You cannot criticize
Netanyahu and win this primary. That`s what you`ve learned this week.

KORNACKI: I want to know what the conversation was like. So, after Jeb
went and did that. What did James Baker and George H.W. Bush say? You got
to let the -- it`s a fascinating thing --

GAGE: Well, you do have to let it happen. If you remember what happened
back in 2012, you know, Mitt Romney pretty much had things sewn up and then
Newt Gingrich won in South Carolina. And what kept him afloat through
South Carolina, through Florida and through Nevada was Sheldon Adelson.
And I mean, it cost Mitt Romney upward of $10 million to win in Florida and
Nevada.

KORNACKI: Yes. This is the guy -- you can`t just --

(CROSSTALK)

GAGE: Absolutely. So, this is not an insignificant problem that Jeb`s got
and he`s dealing with it.

TOURE: Getting back to the J Street point and AIPAC point. I don`t want
to see -- become too much to be partisan issue where -- on totally
different types and proposing different things. If we`re not working
toward a two state solution, then we`re not working towards true potential
for peace over in that area. And if we get into situation where this are
proposing one thing and ours are proposing something else, that`s not
positive for anybody certainly over there.

KORNACKI: Yes, I know, it feels like we might be at a turning point. It`s
a partisan issue. It may be changing. Here now is the headline.
Washington Post, how about this? The 13 words that you can`t write about
Hillary Clinton. A group called Clinton super volunteer. They`re
promising to track the media`s use of sexist code words when referring to
Hillary Clinton. What are the sexist code words here? Some of them,
polarizing, calculating, disingenuous, insincere, ambitious, inevitable,
entitled, over-confidence, secretive. Will do anything to win. Represents
the past and out of touch. I got to tell you --

GAGE: Every word that describes Hillary Clinton.

KORNACKI: Okay.

TOURE: Whoa.

KORNACKI: Let me just say though, I have used these words, I have used a
lot of these words probably to describe Hillary Clinton. But I`ve used
these words to describe basically every politician I`ve ever written about.
Are you kidding? Disingenuous.

GAGE: Former first lady. Woman.

TOURE: Reasonable for you to use. There is this sort of sexist coded
language that we talked about. We had somebody on the cycle, I think when
you were on, where somebody referred to Hillary as shrill. Right? And we
all understood that as one of these code words that people use against
women that they`d never use against men. That list to my ear does not
include those sort of words. But we have to be careful about the way we
talk about female politicians and sort of using though code words. Hey
remember, she`s a woman.

GAGE: That`s fair. But isn`t it true that it would be rare for a man to
be shrill? I mean, it is something that more normally describes a woman.
And to say that it`s sexist to, you know, all of those words on that list
could be used to describe anybody in the field. And to suggest that you
can`t say that is saying -- you can`t say she`s a woman, you can`t say
she`s a former first lady. I mean, it`s a number of words that frankly,
just do describe her.

KORNACKI: We`ll see what happens as the campaign unfolds. As those words
will be invoked, I`m sure by a lot of people dealing with a lot of
candidates. We are running out of time. Let`s get one more headline in
here. Let`s put this one up. I love this one. The Hollywood reporter
making its weekly appearance on UP. Craig T. Nelson to star in coach
follow up series. Anybody else seen "Coach"? They`re bringing it up like
20 years later. He`s coming out of retirement, he played the football
coach. There is Jerry Van Dyke. He`s son is coaching a team now, he`s
going to be the assistant. I`m excited, I hope they bring back more
sitcoms. I want to get that one.

And still ahead, what are federal prosecutors possibly cooking up that
explains the delay and their expected indictment of Bob Menendez, the
senator from New Jersey on corruption charges.

And next, is Amanda Knox`s eight-year legal nightmare finally over? Her
emotions reaction right on the other side of this break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Late last night, Amanda Knox finally spoke about the apparent
end to her eight-year legal battle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANDA KNOX, MURDER CONVICTION ANNULLED: I`m incredibly grateful for what
has happened for the justice I have received. For the support that I have
had from everyone. From my family, from my friends, to strangers, to
people like you. I -- it -- you saved my life. And I`m so grateful. And
I am so grateful to have my life back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Now, yesterday, Italy`s highest court overturned Knox`s murder
conviction. She and her then boyfriend were originally convicted of
killing Knox`s roommate in 2007. An appeals court acquitted them in 2011.
That acquittal though was overturned last year. The third suspect in the
case remains convicted and in prison. And Knox and her boyfriend have
always maintained that third suspect acted alone.

Still ahead, replacing Harry Reid in the Senate. How Chuck Schumer
positioned himself for the job. He`s probably now going to get it.

Next, the looming indictment of Senator Bob Menendez, why hasn`t it
happened yet? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: I have always conducted myself
appropriately and in accordance with the law. And I am not going anywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That was New Jersey Senator Menendez just weeks ago amid reports
that he would soon be indicted on federal corruption charges. Attorney
General Eric Holder was said to sign off an indictment of the senator for
allegedly using his office to further the business interests of Salomon
Melgen, a donor and personal and friend in exchange for gifts and
vacations. Three weeks later, charges still have yet to come. Report in
the "New York Times" this week says it`s because federal investigators are
trying to flip that donor. The meeting with his lawyers to turn him into a
potential star witness against Menendez. But Menendez is also having his
own talks with senior Justice Department officials. His lawyers urging
them not to bring charges at all. The times reporting that prosecutors had
planned to bring charges this week but delayed while they considered what
Menendez had to say.

Joining us now, New York Times national correspondent Kate Zernike, and our
panel with us. So Kate, two completely different directions suggested by
the reporting this week. One that Melgen, this Menendez friend and donor
might be on the verge of flipping into a star witness or a new sort of push
by Menendez to get the charges not even brought in the first place. Where
is this going?

KATE ZERNIKE, NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think to the
idea that his lawyers have been in there to argue not to bring charges is
not that unusual in a case like this. You know, usually the Justice
Department give lawyers a chance to see why their client should not be
charged. So, that`s not that unusual. I do think the Melgen thing is more
interesting, and if that`s actually happening. My sense from the story was
that Melgen was not likely to flip. I think what -- over here is, first of
all, the prosecution of Ted Stevens, right, which was, everyone says look
at that, you know, that case --

KORNACKI: This was the former Alaska senator in 2008, right.

ZERNIKE: Right. Failed spectacularly. But, you know, the flip side of
that is Bob McDonnell. Right? So, you know, in Virginia where it was
really just a gift. He almost didn`t have to prove that there was a quid-
pro-quo there which really the gift. That is the problem for Menendez. I
think what a lot of people are saying is, what Bob Menendez did was that
just the ordinary business of being a U.S. senator.

KORNACKI: And that`s the other thing, you talk about the potential, if
they`re trying to flip this guy, they`re trying to flip Melgen, it occurs
to Menendez in all his public statements about this has gone out of his way
to talk about, this is my great friend.

ZERNIKE: Right.

KORNACKI: I`ve been to meetings, I`ve been to funerals, our family
vacations together. It`s almost now in this context reads to me like
Menendez sending a very public message to Melgen like hey, you know, we`re
in this together. We`re friends, don`t turn on me.

ZERNIKE: I think that`s part of it. But I also think what he`s trying to
say is, this is just a friendship. These are just gifts. This is nothing
more, you know, okay, I forgot to report those two flights. But that was
an oversight, I was not trying to hide anything. He reported the flights,
18 months later I think it was and paid them back. So, I think what he`s
saying is I think his argument is going to be, this is a friendship. And I
was doing the ordinary work of legislating when I argued on his behalf in
favor of different Medicare rates. And, you know, this is not anything I
would have done for any constituent.

KORNACKI: And do we have any sense on the timetable on this now? So, the
reporting saying, they were expecting this week the charges, now who knows?

ZERNIKE: Well, we know, we`ve been watching Bridgegate, so I mean, you
know, we can go on about that. I think, you know, it`s probably this
month. But I think again, they`re trying to be very careful about this.
Because there have been disasters in the past.

KORNACKI: Well, let me ask the panel about this. Sort of the broader
politics of this. And I want to put a quote up here because when the news
broke a few weeks ago that potentially indictment coming against Bob
Menendez. Bob Menendez of course has been very vocal against the
administration as it pursues this deal, this nuclear deal with Iran. And I
started hearing quotes like this from a lot of people, especially on the
right. This is Lindsey Graham on the potential indictments saying, all I
can say is they were leaks, this is a report, he`s been a champion on the
Iranian nuclear issue. It just doesn`t smell right. Suggesting basically,
hey, the Obama Justice Department. The Obama administration is taking this
problem democratic senator and they`re paying him back now for all the
grief he`s getting them at. And I`ve seen this -- there was a full page ad
taken out in the "New York Times," I forgot the name of the group, it`s a
pro-Israel group took out a full page ad saying, hey, stand with Senator
Menendez. He stood with us. He`s getting a lot of support here from sort
of unlikely places.

TOURE: Yes, I mean, you know, Lindsey Graham criticizing him, criticizing
Obama and I mean, you know, when does that not happen, right? I mean, I`m
going to take that with a grain of salt. I just want to know, can they
prove that there`s a quid quo pro here? Right? I mean, that`s the
question. When he says we`re friends and we trade back and forth, that is
not necessarily graft. Right? But if they prove -- I mean, do they have
anyway that they can prove this is a direct quid quo pro here?

ZERNIKE: Well, we don`t know that. Right? We don`t know what they have.
But what they`re saying, I think what they are focusing on this Medicare
meetings that Menendez arrange meeting for the centers for Medicare and
Medicaid and tried to, Melgen was upset about a certain billing procedures.
Now, this was affecting thousands of doctors. Menendez, who knows? And
what Menendez was arguing against that. The argument against Menendez is
that this was not a constituent of his, this is someone who has given him
many gifts over the years. This is not some New Jersey resident who was
looking for help from his senator. So, but I think that`s where, you know,
we don`t know what it was at this point.

KORNACKI: Yes. If it ever gets to a trial, if it ever gets to a jury and
it`s basically the government saying, well, look, the bottom line is, you
got all these gifts, you got all these freebies. And these are the
official actions that took place. And it`s Menendez saying, hey, trust me,
one had nothing to do with the other.

ZERNIKE: Right.

KORNACKI: I got to think in this day and age the tide goes against the
politician in that situation like that. And we`ll see if that gets to that
point. As we say, the indictment has not come down yet. Maybe there will
not be an indictment. Let`s see. Thanks to Kate Zernike from the New York
Times though. I appreciate that. Another full hour of news and politics
still ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Another day, another stunning twist in the plane crash
investigation.

(MUSIC)

KORNACKI: All right. Thanks for staying with us this busy Saturday
morning.

There are new and intriguing clues into what may have led the co-pilot of
Germanwings Flight 9525 to intentionally crash that plane, as prosecutors
allege. We`re going to be going live to Germany and talking through the
evidence with a former pilot in just a minute.

Also ahead, the Senate`s most powerful Democrat stepping out of the ring.
His legacy and the big names jockeying to replace him feature prominently
in our rundown this hour.

Plus, it wasn`t the first time, it won`t be the last time. Republicans in
the Senate fighting amongst themselves, Republican presidential candidates
potentially there. Who was involved, what they were fighting about, what
it tells us about 2016 and the future of the Republican Party. The play-
by-play from a reporter who was there for that drama still.

And what about Joe? Does Vice President Joe Biden still want to run? And
if he does, what has he done about it? Our reporting is coming up.

We begin this hour with the still unanswered questions about that doomed
Germanwings flight that crashed into the French Alps on Tuesday, including
the health of the co-pilot who prosecutors say intentionally brought down
that plane. Investigators searching both his apartment in Dusseldorf,
where the flight had been headed and his home -- his parents` home, excuse
me, in Montabaur, Germany.

For more on what investigators have found so far and what they believe it
tells them, NBC`s Katy Tur is Montabaur this morning -- Katy Tur.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATY TUR, NBC NEWS: Steve, investigators are trying to piece all of this
another. Who was Andreas Lubitz and what exactly was going on in his head?
As workers are trying to recover all these remains and all of this debris
from the French Alps, investigators are combing through Andreas Lubitz`s
life. They`ve been through his apartment here in Montabaur, his family
home. They`ve been to his apartment in Dusseldorf. They`ve taken away
evidence.

They did find doctor`s notes that were torn up in the trash can, doctors
notes excusing him from work on the day of the crash. Doctor`s notes that
were not given to Lufthansa or Germanwings.

Now, "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting the doctor`s notes were from a
neuropsychologist treating depression. But NBC News has not been able to
confirm that.

Also today, the German tabloids are reporting of an ex-girlfriend who told
him allegedly that he was planning something big, that he would be
remembered for. NBC News also not able to confirm that one. But what
investigators are doing, is that they`re taking all this into account to
get a better picture of who he was, why he did it, and whether or not they
can stop it in the future.

Steve, back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KORNACKI: All right. Thanks for that, to Katy Tur of NBC in Germany.

Airlines around the world have already started changing their procedures in
the wake of Tuesday`s crash. Four airlines say they will now require at
least two crew members to be in the cockpit at all times during any flight.
This is a regulation that has been in place here in the United States for
years. These things changes after it was revealed the co-pilot of the
Germanwings flight locked the captain out of the cockpit when that pilot
left to use the restroom, setting in motion the horrific and deadly chain
of events.

Joining me now is a Captain John Cox, MSNBC aviation analyst and a retired
commercial airline pilot.

John, thanks for joining us this morning.

So, let me first start by asking you just about this issue of mental health
and pilots. It seems to me this is an issue that`s sort of out there and
maybe hasn`t gotten that much attention until right now. How is this
something, in your experience in the airline industry, how widespread are
the kinds of problems we`re not talking about, potentially this pilot
having?

JOHN COX, MSNBC AVIATION ANALYST: Steve, for the pilot community, a
problem like this is extraordinarily rare. In all the pilots that I know,
I do not know of anyone that is battling a severe depression like this.
It`s not a job environment that is very conducive to somebody that is
struggling with a severe depression problem. It`s too intense. And it`s
also -- the fact that pilots work very closely and close proximity with
each other.

So, if somebody is not performing well, other crew members will bring that
first to their attention, but then to the attention of the company. And
they will be given an opportunity to get their life back in order.
Typically, this is for life crisis events, and not somebody that is
struggling with a severe depression issue and is under treatment. They
typically are not in the flight decks.

KORNACKI: Because I mean -- I think this is something -- just from the
airline passengers standpoint -- I mean, obviously, it`s a tragedy, and
everybody watching this I think says, well, the next time I get on a flight
how can I have assurance that the pilot of my flight doesn`t have these
same issues? Do you look at this and say is there anything else the
airlines can be doing or should think about doing in the future? I know
you`re saying it`s rare, but to prevent this. Is there another step that
could be taken?

COX: Well, I think two things are important.

One, let`s talk about the rarity for just a second. In 2014, about 3.5
billion people flew safely on the world`s airlines, on about 40 million
flights. And so, the aviation system is the safest form of transportation
ever designed by mankind. So, events like this -- yes, they have happened,
but they are extraordinarily rare.

And so, the likelihood of someone getting on an airplane and actually
having a pilot that was fighting a depression issue of the magnitude that
this first officer was, is almost unheard of. It certainly -- I can think
of two or three cases in the last say, 30 or 40 years.

So, that said, aviation safety and security, procedures, are regularly
reviewed and updated. They are always evolving. And I think as an
outgrowth of this investigation, of this event, we`re going to look and see
how we maintain the best balance between protecting the flight deck from
someone that has the intent to hijack and do harm, and also make sure that
the right people can gain access at the right times to the flight deck.

And that balance, I think, is something that having two people in the
flight deck is a step in that direction. But those processes are going to
be reviewed and they will be better at the end of it.

KORNACKI: All right. Thanks to John Cox, a former commercial airline
pilot, appreciate the time and the insight this morning. Thank you for
that.

COX: My pleasure.

KORNACKI: Our panel is back with us right now: Republican consultant Katie
Packer Gage, Toure, co-host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE", Perry Bacon Jr. with
NBC News.

So, let`s just -- look, obviously, this was the biggest story anywhere this
week, was this crash. And let`s just talk about it for a minute. I think
we`ve had a few days to digest it. We heard the retired airline pilot
reassuring us how rare this is. You know, I know, I`m somebody personally
with a great, you know, fear of flying.

And I just -- I`m curious your reactions to this in terms of how this makes
you feel? Does this change at all the way any of you feel about air
travel?

TOURE: No, not at all. It`s an extraordinarily rare event. We`ve had
John Cox on the show, on this network all this week, we keep telling people
-- 40 million flights landed safely last year, 3.5 billion people got to
where they wanted to go safely. You are safer flying in the air than you
are driving to the airport.

And media, correctly perhaps, spends a lot of time talking about these
stories. There is not a plane malfunction here. There is not a lot we can
do in terms of rules to deal with this. This is massive needle in the
haystack, this is getting struck by lighting.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: Wasn`t it chilling in a way that there wasn`t an obvious
mechanical explanation for this? It`s something embedded within a person`s
mind. You know, a mechanical thing you can always learn a lesson, you can
always say, this is a part we need to fix.

TOURE: We`re going to have any number of pilots beyond one in a generation
who is going to go through all that training, and all that time to gain the
level of trust, to get in the cockpit, to say -- as soon as that other guy
leaves I`m crashing this thing and taking it. It`s just not going to
happen, Steve. I know you didn`t fly for like, 17 years, or something,
it`s OK, come back.

KORNACKI: No, I`ve done it a few times.

What do you think, Katie?

GAGE: It makes sense in your head. But I have to say, I`m not a fearful
traveler. I fly a couple times a week. When I got on the plane earlier
this week and the pilot kind of cut in front of me to get in the cockpit, I
did have a moment where I thought I don`t know anything about this guy and
I`m putting my life in his hands.

So, you have to push that down. I do think we put a lot of trust in people
and we don`t know anything about them. It was a horrifying tragic thing.
It is a freak, freak thing, that, you know, the likelihood of it ever
happening again is infinitesimal. But --

KORNACKI: That is the part I have a problem with, that scares me so much,
is giving up control. You`re giving up your life to the pilot. You`re
trusting the pilot. You`re trusting all of the mechanical systems in that
plane. I mean, you`re at 30,000 feet, if anything goes wrong, you know,
there`s fender benders on the ground. You don`t have those in midair.

PERRY BACON, JR., NBC NEWS: I mean, Toure is right. A drunken driver you
have no control over. He could hit you and you could die.

TOURE: A distracted driver.

BACON: A distracted even. But I did find this chilling. I fly a lot as
well, for my work as well. And I will think if I see the pilot, maybe
think about the pilots. You are putting your life in the hands of people
you don`t know.

And the guest before talked about how we assume most pilots don`t have
depression issues. And I`m sure that`s true. At the same time, I don`t
think this is something we openly talk about. You have to quit your job
afterwards.

KORNACKI: I got --

TOURE: In the community of folks who have depression, the vast majority of
them are not suicidal and the vast majority of them are not homicidal. So,
even where we have a massive global depression issue that we have to be
more cognizant of, I`m not afraid of those people either. We need to help
them and not run from them.

KORNACKI: Just to talk about how much the culture of air travel has
changed. So much has to do with 9/11. But this made me think of it this
week. One of the last -- I don`t fly that much. When I was a kid, about
12 years old, it was like 1992 or so, my parents took me to England.

We`re on a flight overseas. I was panicked. I`m asking the flight
attendant every 20 minutes where are we, where are we? I had this theory
if we crashed in the water and it would be safer. It turns out this does
not true.

But I kept asking, if she would go to the pilot and she`d come and say,
we`re over Newfoundland or whatever, after the fifth time the captain
thinks you`re interested in flying and would like you to come up in the
cockpit. This is a 1992 commercial flight to England. My dad was like,
flown planes in the Navy and everything, he`s really, geez, can I come up
too, no, just the kid. They brought me right into the cockpit. Opened the
door, strapped me into the seats. I was there for the landing of the
plane. That -- that is walled off like a fortress.

TOURE: You are still a nervous flier. I mean, I would think information
would make you a more relaxed flier. I didn`t even know that about your
dad. How could you do that to your dad, to be nervous about flying?

KORNACKI: I mean, the fear of flying is a completely irrational thing.
But then, it`s based on anecdotes. You get an anecdote like this week and
that`s the sort of thing --

TOURE: Aren`t you afraid of driving around the city? The pilots have --

KORNACKI: Irrational.

GAGE: You`re just not drinking enough before you get on the flight.

KORNACKI: That`s what they tell me. Maybe in general too, I don`t know.

Still ahead, is Joe Biden playing a long game? Why a run for office may
still be in the cards for the vice president.

And next, President Obama surprises Harry Reid with a call in radio
appearance. Stay with us.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello? Is this Harry Reid?

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: It is.

OBAMA: Harry, this is Barack.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REID: I think I owe something to it state of Nevada. I am looking forward
to running for the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That was then-Congressman Harry Reid all the way back in 1986 --
what a year -- when he was running for the U.S. Senate. All these decades
later, Reid is the most powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill. But not for
long, announcing yesterday that he will retire at the end of his term next
year, ending one of the runs in history as the Senate`s Democratic leader.

Now, in that role, Reid was critical in passing healthcare reform against
staunch Republican opposition a few years ago. He also came to infuriate
Republicans in the Senate and Republicans around the country really with
his hard nosed tactics, including a controversial change to the Senate`s
rules two years ago that`s made it harder for Republicans to kill some of
President Obama`s nominations with the filibuster.

President Obama surprised Senator Reid by calling in to Nevada`s KNPR radio
yesterday where Reid was taking live calls from constituents about his
announcements. Take a listen to this exchange.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

OBAMA: Hello. Is this Harry Reid?

REID: It is.

OBAMA: Harry, this is Barack.

REID: Well, I`ll be damned. I`ll be damned.

OBAMA: Are you allowed to say that on live radio?

When the story is written and when all is told, you`re going to have
somebody who has done more for Nevada and for this country as anybody who
has ever been in the Senate.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KORNACKI: And to talk more about Harry Reid`s legacy, one of the men who
knows him best, Reid`s long time spokesman and advisor, Jim Manley, and a
reporter who has covered the Hill extensive, "Talking Points Memo"
congressional reporter, Sahil Kapur.

Welcome to both of you.

Well, Jim, you worked with him so closely. Let me start with you. He had
this injury. In the last couple of months, everybody has seen him he`s
wearing shades in public. I guess this was working out in Nevada, a really
bad injury. He made some reference in his statement yesterday to this
giving him time to think.

Do you look at this and say without this injury, Harry Reid is still going
to run for reelection next year?

JIM MANLEY, FORMER SPOKESMAN, SEN. HARRY REID: I`m not convinced that is
the case. I think after thinking about it long and heard, he just wasn`t
sure whether he wanted to go through it again.

Look, he`s been majority leader for 12 years. By the time he ends up, it
will be 14. He`ll be short of Mike Mansfield`s 16 years, I believe it is.
That`s a pretty good run as leader in this day and age. It may have been a
factor but it wasn`t the only factor.

KORNACKI: So, Sahil, talk about if you would, just Reid as a leader in the
chamber. We mentioned Republicans -- look, in general, that`s the way
partisan party politics works. The leaders of the other party become the
targets, you know, for the other party.

But Reid seemed to attract a particular form of scorn from Republicans that
you didn`t see necessarily from other leaders. What was it about his
leadership in the Senate that brought that out?

SAHIL KAPUR, TPM: I think in the era of President Obama, he grew to
realize a few years in that Republicans -- or at least he decided that
Republicans simply wanted to stop the president for the sake of stopping
the president. So, he decided he was going to respond by using
extraordinary tactics in the Senate, that, you know, in his mind, were kind
of responsible Republicans were doing. So, you had filling the tree, which
means blocking amendments. You had him preventing votes that the other
side wanted to do. And then, that culminated with him changing the rules.

So, he did take a number of extraordinary steps. But one thing
conservatives will not deny or dispute about that is he was effective.

KORNACKI: He`s effective. What you`re saying there too is he fought fire
with fire.

KAPUR: Right.

KORNACKI: So let`s talk about this. The other big news out of yesterday
besides the retirement announcement is he announces he`s retiring. Within
like six hours, we know the succession plan. Chuck Schumer -- he endorses
Chuck Schumer to replace him. Chuck Schumer, the new majority leader, you
know, Dick Durbin backs out of that.

How did this play out so quickly?

KAPUR: It`s not surprising that Chuck Schumer is the next in line or will
likely replace Harry Reid as Democratic leader. I think just everyone in
the conference over the last two years have come to this recognition.
Schumer plays a much better inside game. But it is surprising how quickly
and this is Reid facilitating it. He doesn`t want there to be a battle.
He wants to focus on the business of what they`re doing.

KORNACKI: So, Chuck Schumer, the senator from New York, the senior senator
from New York, who it seems likely now will become the next Democratic
leader. Very close to Harry Reid. The "Politico" is reporting on Friday
that Reid and Schumer speak to each other multiple times. The first and
last person Reid talks to apparently is Chuck Schumer.

Here`s a quote from somebody close to Reid, "He and Chuck are like
brothers. They are so close. They talk all the time."

Jim, can you talk a little bit more about that relationship, about where
that comes from? And in general, with what kind of a majority leader or
minority leader, whichever it is, Chuck Schumer ends up being?

MANLEY: Sure, a couple of things -- first of all, Senator Reid has a 10:00
rule. He doesn`t take phone calls after 10:00 at night.

Two people are allowed to break that rule, the president of the United
States and Senator Schumer.

So, how do they become so close? They came so close -- working together
very closely, coordinated very closely in 2006, and 2008 as they worked
methodically to pick up the seats necessarily for Senator Reid to become
majority leader. Remember, Senator Schumer was then the head of the DSCC.
And together, like I said, they worked to pick up, what was it the 12 to 14
seats over that four-year cycle that allowed them to gain a comfortable
majority margin.

Regarding the style and leadership, what can I say? I mean, the fact of
the matter is, is that the caucus is much more progressive than it`s been
in recent history, due in part, again, to the efforts of Senator Reid and
Senator Schumer to elect all of those folks. I don`t expect that to
change. I don`t expect that to change.

KORNACKI: All right. That`s one of the Chuck Schumer`s goals I guess.
He`s looked for all these years, now in sight. That`s January 2017. They
established in March of 2015. Record time, I guess.

Thanks to Jim Manley and Sahil Kapur for coming in this morning. I
appreciate that.

Still ahead, the presidential candidates thought to be dead for 2016 and
the undead getting new life on cable television. Details on both stories.
We`ll somehow connect those two things, still ahead.

Plus, it was built as a brawl on the floor of the Senate, even though we
know that`s not a literal description of the fight. It was still very
important. That`s next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Well, we admit it, we`re suckers for any headline that says
there`s been a brawl on the floor of the United States Senate. So, this
one caught our attention this week.

Normally, debates over defense spending are like watching paint dry. But
not the one that played out in the Senate this week -- a fight on the floor
that put three Republican presidential candidates on the spot. That pitted
them against each other. And it exposed a deep and widening fracture in
their party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: My amendment increases defense spending, but
pays for it with spending cuts. It is irresponsible and dangerous to
continue to put America further into debt. Even for something we need. We
need national defense, but we should pay for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: That was Rand Paul on Thursday, chewing out his signal
colleagues for reckless spending in the name of defense, speaking in favor
of an amendment he had proposed to cut tens of billions of dollars from
many parts of the federal budget.

Marco Rubio, meanwhile, had his own amendment that would raise defense
spending without any cuts elsewhere to pay for it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The national security of our country is the
predominant obligation of our government. It is the one thing that only
the federal government can do and it is the first thing that it is tasked
with doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: And then there was Ted Cruz who didn`t know whose side he was
on.

As "Politico`s" Manu Raju reports, I thought we had a sound there, sorry.
"Cruz was clearly torn. The Texas senators stood quietly at the well of
the Senate chamber for several tense minutes, reading the text of the Rubio
amendment and checking his smartphone. Finally, with this colleagues
watching, Cruz gave a thumbs up sign, siding with Rubio."

Now, neither of those amendments from Cruz or Rubio passed. Both lost.
But in a way, that`s not really important here.

The larger question is who ends up winning this fight within the Republican
Party? Is it Rubio, the hawk who wants to pour more money in defense, or
is it Paul, the budget slasher who doesn`t think the Pentagon is
necessarily so sacred?

"Politico" senior correspondent Manu Raju joins us now from Washington.

Manu, so, let me tell you what I thought I was seeing. Tell me if this is
a good read or not. A couple years ago, we were talking about how the
Republican Party might be making this turn. Where it had been very big on
defense spending, very hawkish on national security, and after Iraq and
after Afghanistan, it was turning towards Rand Paul`s direction on this.
What we saw this week is Marco Rubio saying, hey, the threat of ISIS and
all the events in the last year has changed that, and hawkishness and
defense spending is now a winning issue again for Republicans.

MANU RAJU, POLITICO: Yes, I think it is. And I think it particularly is
in a lot of those early states, particularly a state like South Carolina,
one of the first states on the map, as well as even New Hampshire. You`ll
see kind of those defense hawks playing a big role in that primary.

To that extent, I think that`s why you see Rand Paul kind of showcase he
could appeal to that hawkish element of the party. If you look at his
amendments, Steve, it would actually increase defense spending by $190
billion. Now, Rand Paul will say that he`s not an isolationist. What he
actually supports is a less aggressive United States presence in the world,
but having a robust defense. And his argument is that we need to find a
way to pay for it.

So, his amendment, what would offset that $190 billion increase throughout
various accounts of the federal government. But then, you hear folks like
Marco Rubio say that, look, if you do that, it`s going to be much harder to
increase defense spending, because offsetting, finding spending cuts is
very, very difficult to agree upon. But the one thing that Congress should
agree upon, in his view, is hire defense budget.

And that is a key debate that`s going to play out and will actually test
whether or not voters believe that either of them could be commander-in-
chief in 2017.

KORNACKI: Did one of them -- I mean, look, neither of the amendments
passed. In terms of they`re both basically presidential candidates, did
one of them get the better of this, this week?

RAJU: It`s an interesting question. I talked to Rand Paul about this
immediately after his vote. And he said to me, this was a very, very
important distinction. It shows that there is one camp that cares about
the debt and there`s another camp that does not. Clearly, he saw this as a
beginning as an effort to differentiate himself from both Cruz and Rubio,
because Cruz, of course, sided with Marco Rubio. He was clearly on the
offensive after this.

But as you saw, Rand Paul`s vote was trounced in the Senate. It lost 4-96,
OK? So, there was hardly any support for it, whereas Rubio`s did better,
had 42 votes, which also showcases that there are far more Republicans
willing to side with Rubio`s position even if Rand believes this is better
for him in 2016.

KORNACKI: And 96-4, those are the margins his father used to get in the
House when he proposed stuff, runs in the family, I guess.

Let me bring the panel in.

So, this is -- it`s interesting to me because I looked at Rand Paul, and I
think he`s in a bad spot politically as he tries to run for president. A
different spot that he was in two years ago for the reasons I was just
saying. What it says to me, as Manu say, it`s not just that he`s looking
for budget cuts here. He`s looking to -- he`s trying to play the game that
Marco Rubio is playing here. He`s trying to appeal to them and say, hey, I
want to raise defense spending, too, I just want to have offsets. He`s
playing on their turf.

When you`re playing on the other guy`s turf, I think you`re losing.

GAGE: Well, I think what you saw this week play out, is, you know, Rand
Paul appealing to the people that are already with Rand Paul. You know, I
don`t think he grabbed any new voters with that speech on the floor.

Marco Rubio, on the other hand, has used this opportunity, he used the
opportunity a couple of weeks ago with the Netanyahu speech that he gave on
the House floor to put himself out there as a real statesman on, you know,
international issues.

And on this particular issue, Republicans want a strong national defense.
They`re not going to wait, for cuts to education and things that are
incredibly unpopular, you know, in a general election to make sure that our
national defense is secure. I think Rand Paul was on the wrong side of it
in terms of the majority of Republican primary voters.

TOURE: Not yet ready to call Marco Rubio a national statesman. I`m not
there yet.

But I just wish that politically, it was possible for people on either side
to talk about -- let`s cut the defense budget or keep it study. We have by
far the largest defense spending in the world by a multiple, right? Do we
need that to do what we need to do to keep the world safe, keep the nation
safe?

I don`t think we need to spend as much as we do to keep our world, to keep
our nation safe. And would it be politically possible to say we need to
spend more money to take care of the poor in America.

KORNACKI: I think your -- I think the argument you`re making had some
real resonance a couple years ago. When people said, look, we -- no, there
may be validity to it. But I think the politics of this have changed so
much, especially with the Republican Party, which I think is hawkish to
begin with.

We ask about boots on the ground in the Middle East right now. I`m
imagining five years ago, 10 percent of the country might have supported
that. I may be a little dramatic there. Now it`s two thirds. Two thirds
--

GAGE: We saw a real shift the last year, midway through the year when ISIS
started decapitating our citizens. There didn`t seem to be a plan to stop
it. And the American people, we might be spending more money than we ever
spent before, but the American people don`t feel safer than they`ve ever
felt before.

And so, it`s a critical issue. And Republican primary voters are not going
to back down on making sure we have a strong national defense. I think
Marco understands that a little better than Rand Paul did.

BACON: I think Steve has the politics right, which is that the electorate
has moved to national security focus, ISIS, Yemen, and Marco Rubio is a
better candidate. We`re talking about national security that Rand Paul is.

I do want to give Rand Paul credit. The Republicans have been talking
about how big the debt and the deficit are growing for a long time. His
position, if you think about the intellectual argument of it is, we want to
raise spending and cut spending here. It`s what Republicans have been
asking Obama to do for years.

This is actually -- he was advocating a better way to spend less money
which was Republicans were for until it became they didn`t care about it
anymore. So, I think he has more consistency. Rubio is where the
Republican electorate is going.

This is a sign -- he`s rising among elites right now, and this is one of
the reasons why, is because Rubio, more than Scott Walker, is able to speak
to security issues in a coherent and fluent way.

KORNACKI: All right. And I imagine what we saw on the Senate floor, what
Manu you reported on, is something we will be probably seeing in the months
ahead, whether it`s Rubio or rand looking to the Senate to make a point
about the presidential campaign. I`m sure we`ll have you back when that
happens.

But for now, thank you to Manu Raju from "Politico" for that. Great
reporting this week. Appreciate it.

RAJU: Thanks, Steve.

KORNACKI: All right. Up ahead, Joe Biden is still going to Iowa. Is he
still thinking about a White House run? We will discuss.

And next, Chris Christie has a little less opposition in the Republican
Party. The reason for that may surprise you and disappoint him.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: All right. There is a ton going on this morning.

Let`s get caught up on the other headlines making news with the panel,
Republican consultant Katie Packer Gage, MSNBC`s Toure, NBC News` Perry
Bacon, Jr.

I got the index card. We call this one catching up.

Let`s see the first headline. It is from "The New York Times." Headline:
No copies of Clinton e-mails on server. Lawyer says here we go again. The
House Select Committee on Benghazi has been told by a Clinton family lawyer
there are no e-mails on that server other than what she has submitted.
Hillary Clinton submitted her e-mails to the Department of State. They
said the settings were then changed to kill e-mails after 60 days.

So, here we go. We will not be getting any -- I mean, unless there`s a
computer trick I don`t know about here, I`m sure if there was, they
wouldn`t do. We`re not getting anymore Hillary e-mails. This falls to --
who do you trust?

GAGE: Well, team Hillary has said we cannot use the word secretive,
because that is sexist. This does reinforce the sense that she is
incredibly secretive.

KORNACKI: Toure?

(LAUGHTER)

TOURE: I never wanted to put a lot of stock in this non-scandal, or
whatever. Do you really think this person with this level of experience in
government, knowing she`s going to run for president, do you think she
wrote something down that she shouldn`t have?

KORNACKI: That`s why -- I don`t want to rehash this. I don`t. That`s why
I say, why did she go to such extraordinary lengths to shield these things
from public view? Because it makes people thing something is there.

TOURE: It`s not -- it was not an intelligent political move, right?
Lawyers are aware of like, I want to not appear, right, you know, to do the
wrong thing.

But, I mean, come on, do you really think there`s a there there? You
don`t. You said you don`t.

BACON: It`s just a bad practice. She should not have done it.

(CROSSTALK)

KORNACKI: Next one. Here`s a headline from MSNBC -- I wonder how we got
this. The headline is: Tancred dumps Stop Chris Christie PAC since he`s,
quote, "stopped already".

So, basically, former Republican congressman of Colorado, Tom Tancredo, the
anti-immigration activist, has started this super PAC to destroy Chris
Christie. And he`s basically saying -- well, he said, we have not tried to
raise any money, because now, nobody believes has the guy has a chance.
So, no more super PAC.

GAGE: Well, I`m sure Chris Christie was shaking in his boots that Tom
Tancredo was going to try to be stopped. So, they`re resting easy now. I
mean, come on -- no there, there.

KORNACKI: Just the fact -- whether he was going to have an impact. The
fact he reached that conclusion --

GAGE: I think it`s a great line for somebody who couldn`t raise any money
for their super PAC.

KORNACKI: OK.

TOURE: I mean, that`s a fair point. But I think that also, Tancredo is
right, Christie doesn`t have that much of a chance to get that far. As we
were saying before, looking forward to seeing him in the debates, he and
Ted Cruz being in a debate together will be very interesting television.

But do you really think that when America really gets to see who Chris
Christie is, they`re going to be more interested?

KORNACKI: Well, can I tell you, you gave us a great segue. Speaking of
Ted Cruz, and how interesting things get. Here`s one from "The Washington
Post": Republican congressman said Ted Cruz supporters are making boorish
calls to my office.

This is Peter King, the Republican form New York, he put out a statement,
he says that, quote, "the puerile language" -- I think that means boyish,
that`s Latin, -- anyway, the immature language is what most kids outgrow
and move beyond when they reached sophomore year in high school. And the
fact that women and -- young women in my office has to listen to this
perverse rantings is particularly awful. Cruz`s spokesman declining to
respond.

BACON: Let me steal Katie`s line here and say, I think Ted Cruz is not
expecting Peter King`s endorsement.

(LAUGHTER)

BACON: I mean, Peter King is a fairly moderate Republican. Ted Cruz is a
very strong conservative. They disagree on policy on a lot of really
important issues.

So, I don`t think this is going to have any -- are Ted Cruz`s supporters
meaner than Jeb Bush`s? I don`t really think there`s any evidence of that.
I think they`re more conservative. I don`t think they`re more mean.

KORNACKI: They kind of play off each other well. You could always raise
money off of it. A cynic, you might say.

Let`s get one more here, we`re setting a record. This is the fourth
headline we`ve gotten in here. This is from Deadline Hollywood. "Walking
Dead" companion Series titled "Fear the Walking Dead". AMC announcing a
companion series for the hit show "The Walking Dead", it will be called
"Fear the Walking Dead". It will be set in Los Angeles.

I guess that means it will be about the L.A. Lakers, Toure.

(LAUGHTER)

TOURE: Very nicely done.

KORNACKI: That`s why I wanted to get that one. Everybody loves the
walking dead.

GAGE: I thought this was about the Gary Hart/O`Malley story.

KORNACKI: You know what? I don`t have the index card, but that`s a fun
one, too.

TOURE: Not only does the walking dead do incredibly well, the talking dead
where they talk about the episode that aired, that does well.

KORNACKI: Is that an actual show?

TOURE: Yes.

KORNACKI: Is that a Meerkat or a Periscope?

TOURE: No, no, after "The Walking Dead", they have a comedian talk to
actors about the show they just watched. It`s a brilliant idea. It does
extremely well. So, of course, they`re going to do -- I mean, this show is
already approved for two seasons before it`s even aired. They are fully in
this.

KORNACKI: Which is why I`m pleased to announce after this show, Alan Alda
and Charles Grodin will be hosting a special episode to talk about what we
had. That will be a great --

(LAUGHTER)

KORNACKI: Maybe I put an idea out there.

Up next -- we did four stories there. That was fantastic.

Up next, what one astronaut is attempting to do what no American has ever
done before in space. Where else? Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Astronaut Scott Kelly waking up this morning on board the
International Space Station. Morning number one of 342. That`s right. He
is going to be there. He is going to be in space for almost an entire
year. This is NASA`s first attempt at a one year space flight.

Captain Kelly chosen in part because of a fellow former astronaut, his twin
brother, Captain Mark Kelly. You may know him better as the husband of
former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

The scientists want to measure the effect of long term weightlessness, what
effect that will have on the human body. They`ll be using his twin birth
brother as a comparison. It`s a unique and fascinating opportunity for
research. More details on the 342 days to come, although I have to wonder,
if you want to do 23 more days, do a whole year. Why not?

Anyway, up next -- he first announced a run for president three years ago.
Is another campaign right around the corner? The evidence is next. Stay
right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Joe Biden has been running for president in one form or another
for over three decades now, which makes it hard for some to believe that he
actually won`t be running in 2016.

But while there are abundant signs that Hillary Clinton is planning to
enter the race and soon, for Joe Biden, there are none of those signs. As
MSNBC`s Alex Seitz-Wald reports this week, Biden has taken none of the
steps necessary behind the scenes to prepare for a presidential run. The
vice president created some 2016 chatter with visits to Iowa, New Hampshire
and South Carolina, but he has not done any of the groundwork and legwork
necessary to set up actual campaign in those states.

Does that mean that Joe Biden couldn`t still enter late in the cycle of he
wanted to? What if Hillary stumbles? And if Joe Biden is waiting to see
what happens in the Democratic field, what does he do in the meantime?

Here to help us answer some of those questions is the author of story we
talked about, MSNBC`s Alex Seitz-Wald.

Alex, thanks for joining us.

So, I feel like this has got to be killing Joe Biden, in the sense -- as
you say in your article. I mean, you go back, in the `80s, he ran for
president in `88. He thought about it before then. He ran again in 2008.
He`s always wanted this. He got to number two. He got to be vice
president and now, it looks off limits.

ALEX SEITZ-WALD, MSNBC POLITICAL REPORTER: So close. I mean, this is a
guy who`s one of the youngest people ever elected to the U.S. Senate. And
you know that little joke, I can give you a list of 100 senators who want
to be president. So, presumably, he`s been thinking about this for 30
years plus. And now, he`s so close, he can picture himself.

He wrote in his 2008 memoir, he can picture what to do in the Oval Office,
and that was before he was just on the hall from the Oval Office.

So, yes, it`s clearly a guy, he also recognizes reality. He recognizes
that reality. He recognizes that, you know, it`s not his year. And even
if Hillary Clinton wasn`t in this race, I`m not sure a guy that just turned
72, a white man, for a party that really is about young people, it`s about
minorities, just wanted to make history again, I`m not sure it`d be his
year anyway.

KORNACKI: So, he has had that moment, because publicly, he`s doing enough
to keep chatter out there. He goes to Iowa, he does some of these events.
If he`s ever asked about it he says he`s keeping his options open.

But your reporting privately, he`s sort of come to terms with this, with
the idea that he`s getting boxed out here.

GAGE: Well, I mean, you know, I`m calling it a pilot light. He wants to
keep the pilot light out there. Why wouldn`t you? If you`re a smart
politician, you also want to keep your options open. There`s a lot of
benefit to him in having this hanging out there. You know, politically, it
ups his leverage, it ups his profile, for the same reason that Elizabeth
Warren or Bernie Sanders or anybody who wants to introduce some idea some
policy, you know, issue, in the 2016 discussion. He`s going to keep it out
there.

And for him, it`s about defending the Obama-Biden legacy. This is
something he`s adopted and gone around the country telling Democrats that
they need to run on this. They need to embrace this.

And he knows that Clinton is going to contrast herself. She`s going to
have to with the president. She wants to lay down a marker, and say, you
know, we`re defending this. We want to go down in history as a great
administration.

But, of course, she stumbles, something, you know, God forbid happens,
something changes, he wants to be ready to go out the gate.

KORNACKI: Yes, it`s such an extraordinary situation, because I mean, we
always talk about how strong Hillary Clinton looks. I can`t think of a
time, I think you`d have to go back to Alvin Barkley, who was Harry
Truman`s vice president, wanted to succeed him, always wanted to be
president and was basically told, this was 1952, he was 75 years old, he`s
told, you`re too old. That`s what the party told him.

That`s the last time I can think of a vice president who really wanted it
and couldn`t have a shot of it. It`s a crazy situation.

GAGE: Well, nobody dreams more of being president, except maybe Julia
Louis-Dreyfus from "Veep" than Joe Biden. I think he`s smart to keep the
pilot light on, because if Hillary Clinton does stumble, six months from
now, eight months from now, Joe Biden is the one guy that could turn it on
overnight.

You know, he would have a network and would have organization out there.
It doesn`t really behoove him to try to compete with her right now. There
is not really a space for him. But the only opportunity he could have is
if she gets tripped up. He`s the guy that could step up quickly.

TOURE: You are so afraid of Joe Biden being the leader, the guy under the
microscope. I mean, the guy is a gaffe machine just a regular person.
Incredibly folksy, love the guy, but he`s so often saying things he
shouldn`t be saying.

Under the presidential microscope, Perry? That guy is going to be some
whoppers.

BACON: Democrats don`t want him as their candidate. This is not -- like
you said, Steve, if Hillary was not running, there would be a search for
other candidates to run against Joe Biden. This is the reality. If he
ran, he didn`t do very well.

(CROSSTALK)

TOURE: If Hillary wasn`t running, it would be Elizabeth Warren.

KORNACKI: Here`s numbers we can show you. This is the latest NBC
News/"Wall Street Journal" poll. This was asking Democrats to question,
could you see you feel supporting these people or not? Hillary, 86 percent
saying they could see themselves supporting her, only 13 saying no. Take a
look at that list there -- 54 percent say they could support Biden. Look
at the no, 40 percent. That is double anybody else on there.

I do think it probably has a lot to do with what Toure is saying about the
gaffes. It`s interesting to me because Joe Biden somebody in the Senate,
30, 35 years before he`s vice president, he really did have a reputation as
being a serious guy, a really knowledgeable guy with a deep grasp for
policy, especially foreign policy, and now, he`s sort of, this "Onion"
caricature that people think of first.

SEITZ-WALD: Yes, but this is a guy who was chairman of the judiciary
committee, chairman of the foreign relations committee, you know, one of
the most -- Hillary Clinton has a very strong resume. He probably has just
as strong, even a stronger resume. It`s the seriousness factor.

And I think even Democrats, as that poll shows, just don`t take him
seriously to be president of the United States. It`s fine for him to be
vice president, to be the lovable sidekick to Barack Obama, even a heart
beat away from the presidency. It`s hard for people to get passed that and
really picture him as, you know, proverbial finger on the button.

KORNACKI: Perry, if there were the Hillary stumble and one and a thousand
chance or whatever it is, is Elizabeth Warren then you see the front
runner?

BACON: I don`t know the answer. I think there will be a big push for her.
I think you`d see. But I think the sort of more establishment Democratic
part of the party would like to see Kirsten Gillibrand get in, I think they
talk to -- try to figure out, like a Deval Patrick, want to get in. I
think there would be other people in that mix. I don`t necessarily think
she would be the automatic -- she`d have like, the most public support, I`m
not sure that she would get the nomination.

I think some donors -- particularly like Wall Street gives a lot of money
to Democrats. Wall Street is not big on Elizabeth Warren. I think there
would be discussion about, is she too left? Is she too unelectable? I
don`t think that myself. I think there would be a discussion she`s too
left to be the nominee.

KORNACKI: It is a fascinating story to think about and it has .0002
percent of happening. But if it does, we will be all over it.

Anyway, my thanks to today`s panel: Katie Packer Gage, MSNBC`s Toure,
MSNBC`s Alex Seitz-Wald, Perry Bacon, Jr. with NBC News -- appreciate you
all being here.

And thank you for getting UP with us today. Join us tomorrow Sunday
morning starting at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time, with some of the kids who took
part in the White House science fair this week. They are going to be here
on set for our very own science fair. I`m bringing my lab coat and
goggles. They will demonstrate for us what they showed the president.
You`re not going to want to miss that.

But, first, you`re going to want to stick around for Melissa Harris-Perry.
She is coming up next.

We will see you tomorrow.


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