'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, August 2nd, 2015
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Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: August 2, 2015
Guest: Dick Harpootlian, Sahil Kapur, Angela Rye, Nan Hayworth, Norm
Ornstein, Dan Kildee, Maria Hinojosa
CHRIS KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: The Biden bombshell.
All right. Good morning. Thanks for getting up with us this Sunday
morning, a morning with the possibility of a Joe Biden run for president is
getting a fresh look now. If it happens, this could pose a threat to
Hillary Clinton`s claim on being the inevitable Democratic nominee. Much
more on what`s going on with Joe Biden in just a moment.
We`re also waiting this morning for a brand new poll on the race for
president. This is a critical poll with all those Republicans scrambling
to make the top ten so they can be on that stage for that big first debate
this coming Thursday night. We`re going to have that brand new NBC
News/"Wall Street Journal" poll for you at the top of the next hour. So,
make sure to stick around for that.
But we begin this morning with the bombshell that has the political world
buzzing, reports that Vice President Joe Biden is considering a late entry
into the race for president, all because one report says it`s what his
dying son wanted him to do. "New York Times" columnist Maureen Dowd
kicking off the speculation late yesterday by writing that Biden is
actively talking to friends, family and donors about getting into the race
because his son, Beau, who died in May, implored Biden to do so in his
final days. Quoting from Dowd`s column here, "Beau was losing his nouns
and the right side of his face was partially paralyzed, but he had a
mission. He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the
White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be
better off with Biden values." Hunter, the vice president`s other son also
pushed his father telling him, "Dad, it`s who you are." Dowd`s column was
quickly followed by a "New York Times" story. One that did not appear on
the opinion page and also reports in "The Washington Post," "The Los
Angeles Times" and by "The Associated Press," all of them saying in one way
or another that Joe Biden is taking a fresh look at a 2016 campaign for
president. The vice president`s press secretary was coy when asked about
all of this saying only as the Biden family continues to go through this
difficult time, the vice president is focused on his family and immersed in
his work. Yesterday, out on the campaign trail, NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell
asked Biden`s long-time friend Senator John McCain about all of this talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R) ARIZONA: I think that he sees this trust factor of
Hillary Clinton in a steep decline. And I think that he is examining his
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, new polling shows Biden holding his own against the top
Republican contenders in head-to-head hypothetical general election match-
ups, the vice president just ahead of Jeb Bush, tied with Scott Walker, far
in front of Donald Trump. He`s basically faring no better or worse than
Hillary Clinton is against those big name Republicans. But Biden`s overall
favorability score is now better than Clintons, that 49, 39 percent
positive rating for Biden you see there. That is his best mark in years.
Likely, it can be attributed to the outpouring of sympathy and goodwill in
the wake of his son`s death.
Now, let`s be clear. This is a big story. And if Joe Biden were to enter
the race it would be a very big deal. But there are also some very good
reasons to be skeptical about whether he will actually do it. For one
thing, it`s very late in the game right now. Clinton has already put
together a formidable organization, she`s locked down many key
endorsements. Biden, so far, has taken no steps to create a campaign
organization. In fact, one of Biden`s closest political confidantes Ron
Klein, his former chief of staff, just recently signed on with Clinton`s
campaign. It`s not something you would expect to happen if Biden were
about to jump in this race.
There`s also the question of legacy, there`s a real chance that Biden would
not just lose to Clinton in the primaries that he would lose badly. A
sitting vice president denied his own party`s nomination in a lopsided and
embarrassing rout. The prospect of that has got to weigh on Biden as well.
Still, this is a man who has always coveted the presidency, he has been
angling for it for pretty much his entire adult life. Biden nearly ran for
president all the way back in 1984. He actually did run in the 1988 cycle.
He flirted with running again in 2004 and he did run again in 2008. And
now he`s 72 years old. And this is it. The last time he can ever take a
real serious look at running for the job he has always wanted.
So, will that be enough to override all of the factors staring him in the
face and telling him not to do this? Before we get to our panel this
morning I first want to bring in Dick Harpootlian, former chairman of the
South Carolina Democratic Party. He was quoted in "The New York Times"
article about a potential Biden run saying "It`s not that we dislike
Hillary. It`s that we want to win the White House. We have a better
chance of doing that with somebody who is not going to have all of the
distractions of a Clinton campaign." Dick Harpootlian joins us now by
telephone. Dick, interesting comment there. I wonder if you can elaborate
why do you think Joe Biden would be significantly more electable than
Hillary Clinton? We see in the polls we put up on the screen, they do
roughly the same right now against all those Republicans.
DICK HARPOOTLIAN, FMR. CHAIR OF SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, I
think Hillary comes into the race, as she did in `08, with all kinds of
baggage. I mean she - it`s plus and minus. There`s going to be the
distractions of -- I mean, just we saw again this week, "The Wall Street
Journal" about payments, money raised to the foundation and speeches given
prior to her becoming secretary of state. Then a secretary of state
assisting -- it would appear assisting the same folks that made those
contributions. It`s that kind of record and those kinds of distractions
that will keep her off balance and the Democratic Party off balance
throughout a Clinton campaign. Joe Biden is pristine. There is probably
not too strong a word to explain his financial entanglements over his
entire career. He is not a rich guy, he has never made a lot of money.
He`s never, you know, charged anybody for a speech. So, I mean I think
it`s very important to understand. She will die the death of 1,000 cuts,
as I said some time ago, while Biden can focus the voters on him and on
what he proposes to do. And one last thing I think is important to
understand. Joe Biden is an inspirational figure. He gives a great
speech. He talks to people in a very inspirational way. Bill Clinton had
that. Barack Obama has that. Even George W. Bush has that. Hillary
Clinton does not have the ability to inspire people. She gives a very
flat, a very business-like discussion. And that`s not to be critical of
her. Some people have it. Some people don`t. She ain`t got it.
KORNACKI: Dick, we say Biden right now has not taken any formal steps to
set up an organization. There`s a lot of mystery about what exactly he`s
thinking here. You have his long-time confidante who has now signed on
with the Clinton campaign. You want him to run in this race. What do you
think it`s going to take to actually get him into the race for president?
HARPOOTLIAN: I can tell you, in my discussions with him prior to Beau
getting sick and obviously passing, he was very focused on running. But,
you know, he understood at the time Beau was sick, he had family issues to
deal with. Isn`t it refreshing, isn`t it a positive thing to have somebody
who`s considered a possible candidate thinking about his family first,
thinking about his personal situation first? That he`s not so blindly
ambitious, that he puts all that concern for his family and love for his
family to the side and makes a purely political decision based on the money
and the poll numbers? And I think right now, he still -- look, his son
died less than 90 days ago. He`s still suffering from that pain and I
think he has got to work his way through it. And you know what? All of us
out there that want him to run for president of the United States
understand it`s a very personal decision. He has got to make it. And
hell, if he gets in December 1st, I`m for him. I`ll raise money for him
and I`ll campaign for him, just like I went door to door for Bill Clinton
in `92 in New Hampshire and just like I went door to door for Barack Obama
in `07, `08 and `12. So, I mean there`s plenty of folks like me. I get -
from every day across the country. They`re waiting for Joe Biden, you
know, to try to heal the wounds that he has to deal with. And if he does
that analysis and says I just can`t do it, I`m too emotionally distraught
or I`m too old, I want to make sure my grandkids and his widow are taken
care of, we all understand that. We`re not sitting - we are not - this
isn`t a bunch of political hacks thinking around thinking about what can I
get out of this administration, Clinton campaign, or Bush campaign or
Donald Trump campaign or Scott Walker campaign. And by the way, I live in
a Republican state and we have the 49th worst -- 49TH in education. 50TH
in health care. So, I mean I understand what a Republican administration
would look like. That`s why I want Joe Biden to run.
KORNACKI: All right. Dick Harpootlian, former chairman of the South
Carolina Democratic Party, wants Biden in the race. We`ll see what
happens. Thanks for joining us this morning. I appreciate that.
HARPOOTLIAN: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Time now to bring in our panel here on set with me this morning.
We have Sahil Kapur, reporter with Bloomberg Politics, Angela Rye,
political strategist and former executive director of the Congressional
Black Caucus, former Republican congresswoman Nan Hayworth also. She`s
working as a volunteer co-chair here in New York for the Carly Fiorina
This news about Joe Biden, I`m still trying to figure out what to make of
it. We heard Dick Harpootlian there on the phone. He wants Biden in the
race. I guess the question is, who else does, who else in the Democratic
Party right now feels the way he does. He has some strong feelings there
about the Clintons. I looked this morning, though, Hillary Clinton`s
current favorability rating, excuse me, among Democrats is 81 percent. All
of the big name endorsements right now have gone basically to Hillary
Clinton. So, who is out there that feels the way Dick Harpootlian does?
SAHIL KAPUR, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: Very few people awkwardly. There are
number of Democrats I`ve spoken to, operatives, people, you know, who help
run the machinery of the Democratic Party who are nervous about Hillary
Clinton in the general election, not so much the primary, because partly -
because of the emails, mostly because of the money to her foundation.
They`re not saying it outwardly. She is by all counts the most likely
nominee. They recognize that. But I think behind the scenes there`s some
nervousness. I don`t think it`s nearly enough, though, to make a Biden
candidacy likely. I think something would have to happen with her in terms
of a scandal, dropping or something very damaging happening to her.
KAPUR: ... to have his options open.
KORNACKI: Let me put this up on the screen. This is the Quinnipiac took
this poll last week. If Biden were a candidate on the Democratic side,
this is what they found again. Put this all in perspective. Look at this.
Clinton way in front with 55 percent, but Joe Biden not even in second
place - put this on the screen. Joe Biden at 13 percent. Bernie Sanders
in second place at 17 percent. So, again, the sitting vice president,
Angela, you put him in right now, he doesn`t even beat the socialist
senator from Vermont for second place.
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Sure. I think there`s so much
speculation surrounding a run that people aren`t going to give you an
honest answer in a poll. I think that to Dick`s last point, that this is
someone who, you know, has been part of the federal government for so long.
He has been making friends and has been, you know, the friend in chief for
this president for two terms, since he was a senator at 30. And so, I
think, you know, even though he is a part of Washington, he`s still not
deemed an insider. And there is something very care charismatic about him.
There`s something that`s very contagious about him being not only - being
brilliant, that I think is attractive to a lot of people off the record. I
think that it is scary at this stage that Hillary Clinton has been deemed
not so trustworthy. That is the part in the polls that`s hurting her the
worst. But I think overwhelmingly, what we are comparing that to is the
fact that the country is saying that they`re ready for a woman president.
At this point, no shame to Carly Fiorina, it just seems like she`s the most
viable woman option.
So, I just - I think we have a lot of really tough questions to wrestle
with at this point.
KORNACKI: So, as Republican, look at this. I mean Dick Harpootlian there
is making the electability case for Joe Biden saying look, he thinks
Hillary Clinton is not as electable as Joe Biden. When you - which would
you rather face?
FMR. REP. NAN HAYWORTH (R) NEW YORK: Well, I think probably as a
Republican, I think I would rather face Hillary Clinton. You know, Hillary
Clinton represents, and increasingly so, a cynical approach, transactional
politics. And to the extent that identity politics Trumps other much more
salient factors to my mind that go into electing the president, we really
need the most capable person. And the other aspect to bring into this,
regarding Vice President Biden, is that he has always had a reputation for
being strong in foreign policy. We are facing currently a lot of
challenges to Hillary Clinton`s service as secretary, obviously, of state.
Questions about her - not only her trustworthiness, but actually her
effectiveness. And I think that those could be brought very effectively
against her by a Biden team, were one to form.
KORNACKI: I wonder, though, how Biden could make the case. Hillary
Clinton was the secretary of state in the Obama administration. He is the
vice president in the Obama administration. She`s trying so hard right now
to tether herself to the Obama administration. He obviously would be
running as the candidate of continuity. How would he attack Hillary
Clinton? Where is the opening? Electability, OK, you can take the
pragmatic question. But on a policy basis where is the opening for the Joe
RYE: That, I think, is the challenge. I don`t think that Joe Biden
because of their friendship is going to be willing to attack Hillary
Clinton. If this is a decision that he decides to make this is going to be
a very emotional one because Beau Biden asked him. If that is indeed what
happened. Of course, that`s reportedly - we don`t know. That`s not
confirmed. I think the other piece of this is, for whatever reason, Steve,
and I don`t know if you ever go on air kind of defending Hillary Clinton`s
record or whatever, there are a number of attacks that I receive in my
Twitter feed. And I do believe that she was a very effective secretary of
state so I disagree there. But they see Joe Biden as more part of this
administration. Of course, he`s the vice president. Maybe it`s because
he`s spending the full eight years. But that I think is also very
KAPUR: Steve, I think you asked exactly the right question. There`s no
space for anybody else to breathe in that primary, because Hillary -
Hillary Clinton, for all her flaws and all her weaknesses is so strong with
a Democratic Party. Moderate conservative and self-identified liberal
Democrats across the board. The one area where she has some weakness is
that very staunchly progressive activists are not fully on board with her.
KORNACKI: Bernie Sanders.
KAPUR: Exactly. They have Bernie Sanders. And that`s why you have
someone like Martin O`Malley who has a great resume and an ordinary
primary, ordinary presidential election would be doing a lot better. But
he has no space to breathe.
KORNACKI: Right. He`s sitting there at half a percent. We`re going to
return to this a little bit later. I have to say, the one thing I keep
thinking of with all of this is we`re trying to figure out where these
stories are coming from, how serious it is. Now, I`m wondering, if Joe
Biden is having a little bit of fun with this right now, putting this out
there, tweaking Hillary a little bit, I`m thinking back to 2010, 2011, how
many stories did he have to read back then about Hillary Clinton replacing
him on the Democratic ticket in 2012 and I wonder if there`s a little bit
of payback involved there at all. But again, we`ll pick this up a little
Anyway, turning to a developing story in California where a wildfire has
force more people from their homes. The fire near Sacramento has already
destroyed dozens of homes and killed a firefighter. NBC`s Gadi Schwartz
has been covering the story all week, and the situation is so tenuous, he
was not able to catch up with his camera crew. He was able to call in,
though. He joins us on the phone from Lake Port, California. Gadi, a very
scary situation out there. What can you tell us?
GADI SCHWARTZ, NBC: Yeah, we`ve been trying to meet up with our crew, but
we`re kind of cut off by this fire. It`s a lot of extreme fire activity
overnight. We`ve been out along the fire lines. You are seeing these
flames shooting up hundreds of feet in the air. This is normally a time
when fires tend to settle down a bit, but we`re not seeing that out here.
Right now, we`re along highway 20 where the fire is burnt right up to the
edge of the highway earlier. We watched as fire crews held a line all
along the highway. They were watching for any hot spots that might fly
over and allow the fire to jump the road. Now, a lot of people have been
forced to evacuate because of this fire. This is the rocky fire. About
12,000 people are under mandatory evacuation and there are reports of homes
burning. And this is just one of the 21 active fires burning in
California`s drought. Conditions only expected to get worse at this point
throughout the day. We`re looking at dry thunderstorms coming in, the
types of thunderstorms that bring a lot of lightning and a lot of wind, but
not a lot of rain. Steve?
KORNACKI: All right, Gadi Schwartz, stay safe in Lake Port, California. I
appreciate that report.
Still ahead, we are waiting that new polling information that`s going to
tell us who is in and who is out of Thursday night`s big Republican debate.
We also want to look at how the candidates are preparing to take on the
Donald. Donald Trump, and what is it that Republican has - Republican
primary voters responding so favorably to him. We`ll tackle that mystery
next. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: All right, we turn now to who else? Donald Trump as we wait.
Because new polling numbers from NBC News that are going to be out later
this morning, they should give us a fresh look at where Trump stands, where
the rest of the pack stands. As we await for all of that, Trump is back
now in the United States from Scotland, Scotland where he was attending a
tournament at one of his golf courses. He arrived back on U.S. soil in the
same position he was in when he left last week. First place among
Republicans in recent polls. His lead actually growing this week in some
instances. In interview that aired yesterday, Trump said he credits at
least part of his success to his vast fortune.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP: I think one of the reasons I`m doing so well in the polls,
nobody is going to tell me what to do. I`m not going to have the donors,
and the special interests and the lobbyists tell me what to do because I
don`t need their money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, another billionaire with
no political experience sharing his own explanation of Trump`s appeal
writing this week that Trump is, quote, "probably the best thing to happen
to politics in a long, long time. I don`t care what his actual positions
are. I don`t care if he says the wrong thing. He says what`s on his mind.
He gives honest answers rather than prepared answers. This is more
important than anything any candidate has done in years. And Cuban is not
alone in that assessment. Bloomberg Politics put together a focus group of
a dozen Republicans and independent voters in New Hampshire who like Trump.
Here is a taste of what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He speaks the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what truth is that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he talks about especially immigration control
and the border, he really - He doesn`t care what people think.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Un-choreographed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is honest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like his roughness and little Reagan-esque.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: All right, so let`s figure out what exactly it is that Donald
Trump is tapping into. Nan, there was an article this morning in "The
Washington Post" that looks at the Trump platform and finds that basically
is no platform.
KORNACKI: He wants to make America great again. That`s what he says. But
there`s no details.
HAYWORTH: He`s just going to do it.
KORNACKI: Yeah. Saying that has vaulted him to first place. What is it?
HAYWORTH: Well, he`s tapping into the frustration that most Americans
feel, and certainly, you know, I heard it when I was both in office and a
candidate for Congress. We have - it is true. We have a federal
government that at this point in our nation`s history commands so much of
our resources and yet is so ineffectively deploying them. And look at the
failures in the V.A., in the IRS, the data breaches that have occurred in
the federal government`s database and exposed millions of people`s
information. I mean just over and over again, this steady stream of news
that tells us that the federal government is not performing for us. We do
have - yeah, we have unprotected borders. I mean we do have all kinds of
reasons and all kinds of suffering that`s going on that isn`t getting
results for this country. He`s tapping into that. But as Chris Christie
pointed out - and I thought this was a terrific counter in a town hall
meeting, I think it was this past week - he said look, you know, Mr. Trump
is accustomed to being the CEO of his own company. If he says something,
he can make it happen. That isn`t the case even if you`re the chief
executive of the United States. And he`s right about that.
KORNACKI: But I wonder, do Republican voters - and voters in general, do
they understand and then agree with what Nan is saying there? Because they
seem to be - right now rallying around him.
RYE: I think that`s 100 percent right. I think that we do know this,
right? Like civics is no longer taught in this country, as a core
requirement in elementary school and many people don`t remember what they
learned, apparently. So I think that because we have been conditioned now
to watching reality television.
And he had, one, of course, that ran for ten years. This is like he`s the
real deal. And he`s not. Like he`s a caricature of American politics, he
has no experience in running for office at all. And I think that all he
has - experience in running, this is now. He is the Trump card, pun-
intended, because he can do all of that undisciplined because he doesn`t
have to rely on anyone else`s resources. But I think the real challenge is
what the Republican establishment will do because he is polling so well.
Steve, I`ve counted him out so many times. And like OK, there`s no way
that he`s going to turn in his financial disclosure. He does that. I was
like - there`s no way that he survives this McCain debacle. And he
RYE: So, I`m just anxious to see what happens on this debate stage because
I can`t figure out when he`s going away.
KORNACKI: And it`s - it`s the - style that he channels towards not just
the political system. Every part - It`s a cliche in politics to say I`m
fed up with the system. But he makes it so personal and it resonates.
RYE: He - as a beggar.
HAYWORTH: Like what?
KAPUR: Ideological element to this that Republicans do not want to talk
about, which is that he`s channeling anxieties about immigration, anxieties
about race, anxieties about the way the country is changing that
Republicans leaders have been sort of carefully stoking for a while, and he
just gives it to them raw, primal, unvarnished and they love that. I don`t
think that`s the majority of the base. I think, you know, right now he is
at 20 to 25 percent. Maybe he tops out there. But that is the aspect of
his candidacy that people don`t want to talk about. That is very, very
real. That Republicans are very afraid of.
KORNACKI: And I think - I do want to play this - this was Trump this week
talking about political correctness and what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Which I think we`re so politically correct in our country that
people are sick and tired of it. And things aren`t getting done. So, I
don`t think -- certainly, you want to be diplomatic. I mean we`re
diplomatic in our country and everybody hates us all over the world. We`re
politically correct and the world hates the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Yeah, Nan, that idea that - he`s talking about, that we talk so
much about the changing America, the demographic changes in this country
and you look at that that overall Trump is not that popular right now. But
you look at him with that core Republican base, older, white, more
culturally conservative, maybe uneasy with these changes, is that a big
part of this?
HAYWORTH: Well, if you look at the town hall that you put on, I think that
was John Heiland, right from Bloomberg Politics? There were women there,
there was a woman with a prominent tattoo. A young woman, there were - you
know, it was ...
KORNACKI: It was very white, though.
HAYWORTH: Well, but - fair enough, that was maybe how Bloomberg put it
together. But ...
KORNACKI: But it`s New Hampshire as well, which - is probably 95 percent.
HAYWORTH: Right. But nonetheless there is -- look, you know, I have
African-American friends who have expressed extreme frustration with the
way this country is running. So, I think there is an element of fear,
perhaps, about where this country is going, what it`s becoming versus what
some folks perceived it to have been. But I think we can all take
something from this. Namely that we really do have to have a leader who
will effectively take the federal government and make it work. And if we
take that home, I think that`s a ...
RYE: I think - sorry, just really quick, I think that one thing that we
just need to be really candid about - and you hit on this - is the fact
that he`s tapping into white fear that I think overwhelmingly exists in the
Republican Party that says we don`t like the way the country is going
because we`re going to be the minority in 2020. This doesn`t have anything
to do with Barack Obama politics or a Democratic-run presidency. This has
everything to do with the changing demographics.
HAYWORTH: I would submit to you that I think it is an expression of
frustration with the status that we see the United States have in the world
versus where it was for most of the post war - post World War II, 20th
century. There is -- definitely, we hear the news every day about failures
of the federal government. I mean this is fundamentally what it is about.
You know ...
KORNACKI: The slogan that he`s using, make America great again.
KORNACKI: It`s sort of up to you to decide where you think the decline
comes from. And you want to make it great again, too.
KORNACKI: In other words, that slogan - we have - at this point.
HAYWORTH: It`s irrespective of race.
KORNACKI: We will see.
RYE: I don`t think that`s right. It started with take our country back in
2010. And that also had racial undertones. I`m sorry.
KORNACKI: We`ll pick this up a little bit later as we are going to have
some more - we`ll have more Biden talk, more Trump talk. And we say, we`ll
have those new poll numbers coming in about a half an hour, we`ll tell you
how Donald Trump is doing right now, how the rest of the field is doing
Still ahead, though, King Kong, no longer the only beast to make it to the
top of the Empire State building. The strange sight that illuminated the
New York City skyline last night.
And next, new developments in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370.
What investigators found on a remote island of Reunion.
KORNACKI: Investigators are spending this Sunday combing the beaches of
the remote island of Reunion, looking for more clues in the disappearance
of Malaysia Airlines flight 370. They did find a piece of metal, although
they now say it is a ladder, probably not from the plane. The search comes
just days after a piece of a Boeing 777`s wing was found on the island.
That island sits off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. The
piece is now being examined in France to see if it was part of Flight 370,
which vanished 17 months ago.
As we continue on the show, the Koch brothers still figuring out who
they`ll support this election. They`re holding a big conference in
California this weekend. We`re going to peek in there, see if they`re any
closer to making a decision. But next, the 2016 candidates are prepping
for Thursday`s big debate. So, to make sure to do my homework as well, our
resident debate coach is going to join us for a crash course. That is
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): You`ve got the Donald Trump debate. Everybody
is going, how will he perform, what will he say? Well, when I`m in the
first debate, which is the happy hour debate at 5:00, start drinking, by
9:00, Donald may make sense to you if you drink enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham on the trail yesterday
speaking to NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell. Graham, as he mentioned there, is
likely not going to make the cut to be in that first Republican debate four
days from now. For the candidates who will be there, crunch time is
setting in, though. They`re hunkering down with their teams this weekend
to work out a game plan for the debate. Jeb Bush huddling in Miami with
his top advisers. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker fine-tuning policy
positions with his team, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul spending his prep
time by sparring with an aide who is playing the role of Donald Trump.
This may be the most anticipated primary debate we have ever seen, so how
will the big names who will be on that stage Thursday night stand out?
What are the risks for them? And how should they handle the guy in the
middle of it all, Donald Trump?
We decided to ask Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American
Enterprise Institute, to play the role of debate coach today, to tell us
what he would tell the candidates they should do and they should absolutely
not do when they`re on that stage Thursday night.
Norm, welcome back to the show.
NORM ORNSTEIN, AEI: Great to be here.
KORNACKI: Let`s start right now. Debate coach Norm, you`re talking to Jeb
Bush. He has to be on the stage with Donald Trump and all these others.
What do you tell Jeb Bush?
ORNSTEIN: The first thing, Steve, is we have to remember that the debate
is not about an audience of people like you and me. These people who are
debating are aiming first at a Republican primary electorate, those who
will be watching, which includes a whole lot of people who are angry
populists, but others that Jeb Bush is going to be appealing to.
The second audience is the big funders. So for Jeb Bush, his candidates,
the ones that he`s worried about are not the Donald Trumps or Rand Pauls of
the world. They are the other establishment candidates. And he wants to
establish himself as the choice, not Marco Rubio or Scott Walker or Chris
Christie or John Kasich. So he has got to show he can be consistent, where
he can contrast himself with the inconsistencies on issues like common core
by Scott Walker, immigration by Marco Rubio, and also he has to try to at
least deflect the idea for a whole lot of those primary voters that his
positions on common core and immigration are, perhaps anathema to them, but
that they make sense.
And what I would also tell Jeb Bush is that you have got to really work on
that answer on immigration, because Donald Trump is going to have much more
traction after -- in Ohio, the place of the debate, this latest incident
with an undocumented immigrant attempting rape and then murdering people,
to be able to show that you`re tough on the borders.
KORNACKI: What about -- you mentioned the name of Chris Christie there.
Chris Christie -- big part of this comeback strategy he has involves these
debates, having one of those Chris Christie moments, one of those Chris
Christie outbursts on the stage. But now he will be on the stage with
Donald Trump. What does Christie do here?
ORNSTEIN: Christie I think is in a very difficult position. Trump has
stolen his thunder in a couple of ways. Christie got out there as the guy
who would tell it like it is, and the guy who could tell others to sit down
and shut up. Now you`ve got Donald Trump, who has really taken all the
oxygen out of that room. And Christie has to show, hoping that Trump
begins to fade, where are those voters going to go? And can he still
straddle the line enough that he could be acceptable to the establishment,
that he is the responsible Donald Trump? He knows how to govern. Donald
KORNACKI: A responsible Donald Trump. I like that slogan. Let me ask you
about Rand Paul. Rand Paul, is he somebody who -- there was a lot of talk
about his potential at the start of this campaign. He faded into the
background here, talk of maybe chaos in his campaign. What do you think
Rand Paul can do on that stage Thursday?
ORNSTEIN: Rand Paul rhymes with free fall. This has not been a good time
for Rand Paul. He has not found the niche he thought he would have. He I
think needs to establish his libertarian credentials.
Paul is not going to be able to compete for the angry populist vote with
Ted Cruz or Donald Trump. Or, for that matter, Chris Christie. What he
has to do -- he hasn`t even been able to win over his father`s supporters
in the libertarian base. His issue, one of his main issues, prison reform,
has pretty much been co-opted by others, and his foreign policy positions,
the angry populists are mostly just reacting against Barack Obama. He`s
weak. We need to be strong.
I think he just has to show that he`s a libertarian, try to make himself
relevant. At least get enough traction that he can stay in the game, and
then hope that that isolationist libertarian focus out there that`s been
lost in the shuffle for now comes back. Tough job, though.
KORNACKI: Well, Rocky in the movies had Burgess Meredith in the corner,
giving him advice. The Republican candidates have Norm Ornstein, our
resident debate coach expert here. We`ll see how this plays out Thursday,
but Norm, thanks for joining us today. Appreciate it.
ORNSTEIN: Absolutely, Steve.
KORNACKI: Still ahead, new poll numbers for the presidential race hot off
the presses. Numbers that could shape that debate Thursday night. Who is
on stage and who isn`t?
And next, how in the world did we ever get to 17?
KORNACKI: So just why is it that so many Republicans are running for
president? It`s a question we get asked a lot around here. It`s a question
that we have been asking a lot. Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore
becoming the 17th contender on the Republican side with his announcement on
Thursday. 17, that is almost double the number of candidates that made a
run for the GOP nomination back in 2012. That`s when nine major candidates
made it to the ballot for the Iowa caucuses. And until this year, that was
the largest field for either party going back at least two decades. In
fact, just two Democrats vied for the nomination back in 2000, Al Gore and
Bill Bradley. So why are so many fighting for Republican nomination this
Nan Hayworth, 17 candidates on the Republican side. There`s another name
out there that I think we might even end up at 18 still, potentially.
What`s the reason for this?
HAYWORTH: I think there is tremendous energy on the Republican side.
There`s no denying it. We have had -- we will have completed two terms
with President Obama, and a very -- you know, a strong leftward bent in the
administration that I think a lot of folks who talked about the frustration
with the federal government, I think there is a lot of reason why a
Republican would -- who is -- an executive, a senator, a Carly Fiorina, who
has had extensive, obviously, executive experience in business, would want
to try to get into this race. Because I think there is a great opportunity
there. I think 2016 is a great chance for a Republican to be elected
KORNACKI: I also feel like we`re picking up on something happening within
the Republican Party here, where none of these candidates are intimidated
by anybody. In the past, you think of George W. Bush back in 2000. He
raised all that money, he got all the endorsements. All these candidates
scattered. We can`t beat this guy. We won`t run against him. I think
John Kasich himself even said it a few weeks. He was like, at the
beginning of the year I thought Jeb Bush was going to run away with this
thing, and it just didn`t happen. So I think everybody kind of looks at it
and they say, why me -- well, why not me?
KAPUR: I think there are three reasons for this. One, as you point out,
it`s wide open. The second is a lot of these candidates are products of
the 2010 Tea Party wave. Walker, Christie, Rubio, they all came to
(inaudible), and this is really the first presidential election they could
run. It seems like that was the plan all along for them. So we`ll see
what happens. You`re going to have some of them on the kids` table.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not the kids` table. They`re the lucky ones.
KORNACKI: Lindsey Graham is calling it happy hour.
KAPUR: For some of them, it`s the why the heck not reason, right? They`re
going to get the publicity, they are going to get some more book sales,
they might get a nice contract with Fox News. There`s nothing to lose.
RYE: I think the other thing we really need to take into consideration is
the fact that Republicans got their butts handed to them in 2008 and 2012.
And I think they`re at a point where they`re like, I`m not listening to
what you all tell me to do anymore. I`m not listening to who you say is
the person who is absolutely going to run. McCain looked like the heir
apparent. That didn`t go so well. They picked a terrible vice
presidential candidate that I think really helped to sink the race for him.
I think also with Mitt Romney, you have someone who is off the cuff, but in
a very private setting. And I think that 47 percent comment caught up to
them. They`re no longer waiting for someone to say this is who we`re
picking. It may not even go like that for the Koch brothers. They didn`t
invite Donald Trump to this summit.
KORNACKI: The other thing I wonder about, too, how many Republicans -- we
talk about the potential in these debates to have that breakout moment.
How many of them looked at that and said, look, if I could just get up on
that stage, just get that moment in the spotlight, and have a moment, I can
zip up from 2 percent to 20 percent overnight. But then it raises the
question, if you`re going to have this cap at ten candidates, let`s see
what happens. I`m curious if some of those candidates who are at the kids`
table, Lindsey Graham calls it the happy hour. Whatever you want to call
it, I am wondering if some of them will reassess if they`re denied that
spotlight from the debate? But we`ll see what happens there.
Still ahead, the latest on those reports that Joe Biden is considering a
late entry into the 2016 field. And up next, the Obama administration is
giving George W. Bush`s art work a prominent display. We`ll show you what
that`s about. Stay with us.
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.
Let`s turn first to the New York Times, the headline George W. Bush
painting to hang in Washington`s Blair House. Blair House, this is
directly across from the White House, this is the president`s guest house,
foreign leaders stay there when they`re visiting. The oil painting by
George W. Bush is titled "Bovines on the Brazos." It`s not yet been
revealed. A lot of suspense there. The Brazos river winds through Texas,
passes near his Dallas home and Texas ranch. This is an interesting post-
presidential hobby. They`re all giving speeches or whatever, but here he
is, he has become a painter.
KAPUR: He has been very private in his post-presidential life and very
gracious. To be honest, he has never criticized his successor. He has
been a little bit in the background.
KORNACKI: Which is what that is -- the custom too that his father adhered
to, would not say anything negative about Bill Clinton all those years.
Although you do wonder with the Bush name baggage, maybe Jeb is happy he`s
being quiet these days. Let`s see what else we have here.
This is the picture of the Empire State Building. Check this out. This is
from last night, it was lit up with projections of endangered species. The
Empire State Building here in New York, 160 species were displayed over a
33-floor span of the building. The filmmaker behind the project also
included an image of Cecil the Lion, that was the lion in Zimbabwe that was
illegally hunted last month, you can see some of those pictures, towering
above New York City last month. Something very interesting to see.
HAYWORTH: I hope they extradite Dr. Walker to Zimbabwe.
KORNACKI: The Zimbabwe government is now calling for that, huh?
HAYWORTH: It`s inexcusable, it is absolutely inexcusable to do that to an
endangered species. And I`ve got to say, I think hunting for food,
perfectly legitimate. Trophy hunting of these beautiful animals, I can`t
morally justify it.
KORNACKI: A lot of sympathy this week for Cecil the Lion.
Let`s see what else we have here. This is from the Associated Press. How
about this, at 93 years old, TV producer Norman Lear seeks to keep pushing
boundaries. The TV legend says he is actually working on a new show, 93
years old here, a Hispanic version of the classic single-parent sitcom "One
Day at a Time." Lear says he doesn`t see enough diversity on the air these
days. It`s been 21 years since his last sitcom. That`s incredible.
RYE: He`s a hero. I got to hear him speak at a People for American Way
event. And just to hear the fact that he was pushing boundaries before, so
many minds were even on that, it`s just amazing. So I`m looking forward to
HAYWORTH: And at 93.
KORNACKI: We had him on the show last year. Totally with it. Totally
quick. You think of those great sitcoms too from the 1970S "All in the
Family," "The Jeffersons," "Maud."
HAYWORTH: I`m the only person here that actually watched "All in the
Family" when it was first broadcast.
KORNACKI: The thing I love about those Norman Lear shows too is they were
entertaining, but they were about something. They were political.
HAYWORTH: And they weren`t pedantic. They got the message across with
humor, with satire, and they did it in a way that didn`t feel as though now
you`re going to sit down and get spoon fed.
KORNACKI: We`re beating you over the head with it.
KORNACKI: Let`s see what this new show is all about. Let`s squeeze one
more here, this is from the Chicago Tribune, my favorite story of the day,
the hitchhiking robot. This cross-country trip. Have you heard about this
thing? Its cross-country trip finally ends in Philadelphia. It was damaged
beyond repair after just two weeks into this cross-country journey. It was
called hitch bot, it was a social experiment launched by researchers, who
relied on strangers to pick up and successfully make it across Canada in 26
days. They tried to do it in the United States. Again, damaged beyond
repair. Poor hitch bot.
Anyway, more news and politics still ahead, including we`ve been teasing
all morning, we are minutes away from showing you the results of that brand
new NBC News poll for the Republican race for president. Is Donald Trump
still number one? Who will be in the top ten for that debate Thursday
And will Joe Biden launch a late run for president? The latest on that,
much, much more, as we continue, stay with us.
KORNACKI: Who`s in and who`s out?
All right. Thanks for staying with us as we continue this Sunday morning.
We are going to have the latest on that bombshell report that Vice
President Joe Biden is considering a late entry into the presidential race.
Talk about that in just a few minutes. But we want to get started right
away this hour with some breaking news for you. Brand new NBC News, Wall
Street Journal polling numbers that, once again, have Donald Trump in the
lead in the Republican race for president, and they will almost certainly
be used to determine who will take the stage and who won`t on Thursday
night for that first big Republican debate.
Let`s take a closer look at these numbers. Again, these are brand new, hot
off the presses. NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of the Republican race
for president. And you can see it. Donald Trump in there at first place
at 19 percent, Scott Walker behind him at 15. Jeb Bush behind them, third
place at 14 percent.
Draw your attention to a very specific part of this poll. It`s right here.
This is critical. We`ll get to a closer look at this in just a minute.
Right now this is ninth, tenth, 11th place, a three-way tie right here
right around tenth place. Remember the rules for that first debate coming
up on Thursday night. You have to be in the top ten in an average of the
five most recent polls. So this poll will probably be part of that
average. You can see that cut line. A tie right there. Kasich, Perry,
Christie, these are the three candidates who are fighting for their lives
right now when it comes to this debate. Two of them are going to be in
that debate, it would appear. One of them will not be. This poll shows a
tie between the three of them. That`s how close this is.
Let`s take a closer look then when it comes to this debate. So again, the
rules here, it`s an average of the five most recent national polls as
recognized by Fox News. A lot of guess work here in terms of what Fox News
is and isn`t going to recognize. They haven`t said publicly. The polls
have to be published before this Tuesday at 5:00 pm. So there is still a
chance for more polling numbers to come out between now and Tuesday at 5:00
pm, and to be included in Fox News` criteria.
We`ve been trying our best to do an average, a rolling average of the five
most recent polls. The polls we think are likely to be used for this, to
give you a sense of who will be in that top ten and who won`t be. Let`s
take a look now, based on our estimate right now, based on the new poll we
just showed you, factored in with all the others. It shows that the last
candidate in would be John Kasich right now. 3.2 percent is his average in
the most recent polls. He would be number ten. He`d get the tenth and
final ticket to that debate. Chris Christie would be at number nine, at
3.4 percent. Who would miss the cut? You can see this right here, Carly
Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, and
just missing out on that 10th spot, Rick Perry. Rick Perry, who many people
say is running again in 2016 for redemption, for redemption of his image,
because of how poorly he did in 2012, especially in those debates. Right
now on our estimate, Rick Perry would be the first one out. He would not
even make the debate. He would be edged out by John Kasich, who just got
into this race, and now would claim that tenth spot in our estimate of what
will be in these polls.
So again, the highlights from the brand new NBC News Wall Street Journal
poll, you got Donald Trump up there. He remains the front-runner. John
Kasich appears to be solidifying his spot on the debate stage, with Perry
looking like he`ll be the first candidate shut out. But again, could be
some new numbers between now and Tuesday, and a shift of just a few points
either way could mix all of that up, so keep a close eye on that. For
right now I`ll walk over and get reactions from my panel this morning to
all these new polling numbers. So we got with us, Sahil Kapur, with
Bloomberg Politics. We got political strategist Angela Rye, former
Republican Congresswoman Nan Hayworth, who again, we should state is the
co-chair in New York for the Carly Fiorina campaign.
HAYWORTH: Volunteers for it.
KORNACKI: Volunteering for it. So let`s talk about -- Donald Trump still
out there in first place. I guess that`s not a surprise at this point.
But we`re coming up on this debate. And there is this critical question of
who makes the stage and who doesn`t. The headline from this, it`s starting
to look like Rick Perry may not be on that stage. John Kasich may be.
KAPUR: It`s almost tragic for him, because Rick Perry just a few days ago
took the most fierce swing at Donald Trump of any Republican candidate that
I`ve seen. He called him the cancer on conservatism; a few days later he`s
knocked off that stage, at least it looks like. John Kasich also clearly
helped himself with a late entry. He`s all the way up to third in New
Hampshire in a recent poll, and nationally, he appears to be gaining
traction as well.
What really strikes me about that, Steve, is who is not going to be on that
main stage. You have the two most experienced governors in the Republican
field, George Pataki and Rick Perry, currently not on the stage. The only
woman candidate, Carly Fiorina, not on the stage. The only Indian American
candidate, Bobby Jindal, not on the stage.
KORNACKI: It`s fascinating too. I mean, for Kasich, this was -- there was
a risk here in this late entry. This debate is in his home state. If he`s
not on stage for that first debate in his home state, this could have been
a very short-lived candidacy. But now I think there are some questions
about Rick Perry as Sahil was saying, Rick Perry has been trying very hard
to get attention here off this Donald Trump story, and he`s falling.
RYE: I`m sad for my tweets that he won`t be in the race -- or in the
debate. I know he would say something funny. I know that that`s not what
he was hoping to do. But he can`t help himself. I think for Kasich, you
talked about how embarrassing it would be for Perry. I think it would be
horrible for him, again, because it`s in his home state.
I think the other thing that we have to note in that poll is that Donald
Trump`s numbers are a little down. He has been hovering in the low 20s.
But that may mean he`s vulnerable enough for them to really hit him hard.
He`s going to overtalk them. Collectively they all have about eight to ten
minutes to really make their pitch to say why they are the candidate of
choice. They should use at least 30 seconds of that to knock Trump down a
notch. I think that may help with the next round of polls.
KORNACKI: The ganging up strategy there. Nan, let me ask you this, as a
Carly Fiorina supporter, it looks like she is not going to be on the stage
for this debate. What does it mean to her candidacy, to the candidacy of
any of these people who do not make the cut to be on stage?
HAYWORTH: If you take a look, we have basically five candidates who
command more than close to 10 percent or better, with Trump obviously being
at 19 percent right now in your poll. The remaining part of the field, 3
percent versus 1 percent in this kind of a field is not necessarily such an
enormous barrier. And I think it is still early. Obviously, someone like
a Carly Fiorina, for example, has a big name recognition challenge to
overcome. But more than that, I think there is real opportunity, actually,
for these distinguished folks who are in the second group, if you will, to
-- you know, they`re going to be on at 5:00 on Fox. They`re not going to
have the distraction of Donald Trump. They`re also not going to have --
KORNACKI: The audience.
HAYWORTH: But, you know, I think this -- you know, this isn`t over yet.
There`s a lot of opportunity. Of course, we`re also looking at what`s
going to happen to the vice presidential slot on this ticket. There were
some very important things that are going to happen beyond this debate.
KORNACKI: You know, the tradition in Republican presidential politics,
until this cycle, was this Iowa straw poll, the Ames straw poll every four
years. A lot of the candidates would go out. They had to buy all these
tickets up, but if you didn`t do well in the Ames straw poll, that would
winnow the field. You`d drop out. Tim Pawlenty dropped out four years ago
because he didn`t do well there. Sam Brownback as I remember in 2007 did
poorly. He dropped out after that. Do you think, is this debate, the
criteria for this debate potentially going to perform that same function
now and winnow this field?
KAPUR: I think the people who aren`t in the top ten in this debate are
certainly going to have a much harder bar to climb. I don`t think it`s
necessarily dispositive. And the other thing, Steve, that I would point
out in that poll that really struck me, Marco Rubio, by all estimations a
top tier candidate, he was all the way down to eighth in that poll. He has
really been hurt by Donald Trump`s rise.
KORNACKI: You can see, Trump at 19 percent, we`re talking, Angela, you`re
saying down a little bit.
KORNACKI: Potentially could be a margin of error issue as well. But also
look, first place is first place. At the same time, people look at Donald
Trump`s numbers and they say, we focus so much on the 20 percent who are
for him. Does that mean that 80 percent of the party is against him?
HAYWORTH: As a Republican, my biggest concern is this. That we have such
a fragmentation of resources at this point, with 17 candidates in the race.
I just hope that we can have all of those resources collectively --
whenever we concentrate, and we eventually will, obviously, choose a
candidate, I hope that all this effort collectively will serve to advance
our cause for 2016. My biggest concern is that we obviously have a
circular firing squad and waste a lot of resources against each other.
RYE: Are you talking about the resources? I just read something, I think
yesterday, talking about the amount of money that Republican super PACs
have compared to Dems, and I think Dems are about $18 million, and
Republicans are over $200 million. So your resources--
HAYWORTH: I`m delighted to hear that, Angela. I`ve got to say.
KORNACKI: Half of that is Jeb Bush, I think.
KAPUR: The nightmare scenario for Republicans is that all the other
candidates beneath Trump split their vote 16 different ways and he comes
out the winner. Imagine that.
HAYWORTH: I don`t foresee that.
KORNACKI: Let`s see how he does first on that debate stage. Again, right
now, the headline out of that poll, as we say, it looks like John Kasich
will squeeze in there and make that debate stage. Rick Perry will be
squeezed out. Although again, there could be new numbers in the next two
days that change that. But that is the trend right now. Very interesting
We also want to find out the latest at this hour on those new reports.
We`ve been talking about them all morning, that have Joe Biden considering
a last-minute entry into the presidential race. For more on that, we`re
going to go to the White House now, where Kristen Welker is standing by in
our Washington bureau. So, Kristen, Joe Biden -- the reports are out there
that he`s considering it. How serious is this?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: Well, that`s really the big question this
morning. Look, just a little bit of background. The speculation first
started with the report in the "New York Times" yesterday, which ran the
headline that Vice President Joe Biden is taking what the paper called a
new look at a potential run. And I`ll read you a little bit from that
report, Steve. It said, quote, "Mr. Biden`s advisers have started to reach
out to Democratic leaders and donors who have not yet committed to Mrs.
One possible factor you have to take into account, Biden`s late son, Beau,
who passed away in May from brain cancer at age 46, reportedly urged his
father to run before he passed away. The vice president`s press secretary
sent me a statement downplaying the speculation. She says, quote, "As the
Biden family continues to go through this difficult time, the vice
president is focused on his family and immersed in his work."
Here is the reality check. Some of Biden`s key aides have actually been
working with helping Secretary Clinton. Clinton, as you know, as we`ve
reported, has broad support among Democrats, she is still polling very
well. And Democratic sources tell me that Biden would likely only really
seriously consider running if she were to stumble in a big way. That, of
course, has not happened.
Having said that, one source also makes this point. The bottom line is
once you run for president, you always have that inherent desire. So we do
know that these are conversations that Biden is having with family, friends
and associates, and Biden has said publicly that he is going to make a
decision at the end of the summer. And we`re told he will take a big
family vacation, and then at the end of that family vacation, he will
likely make his final decision.
KORNACKI: Right. And as you say, the appetite, the desire, the drive to
be president has been there with Joe Biden for so long. Then you magnify
it with the fact that this really is the last time he has a plausible shot
Let me ask this, though, Kristen. I think back to the Democratic primary.
The last time we had an outgoing Democratic president, Bill Clinton, after
two terms, his vice president ran in 2000, Al Gore. Bill Clinton was
behind that campaign from the very beginning. He saw it as part of his
legacy. He wanted Al Gore to succeed him and win the Democratic primary.
Joe Biden, sitting vice president of Barack Obama, if Joe Biden were to get
in right now, he wouldn`t have that kind of support from the White House, I
don`t get that sense.
WELKER: I don`t get that sense either, Steve. President Obama has been
fairly robust in terms of his support of Secretary Clinton. Having said
that, I think it`s really interesting if you look at the optics. Vice
President Biden has been next to President Obama`s side recently at almost
every public announcement that President Obama has made. They are very
close. So you would have to imagine that if he actually did throw his hat
into the ring, that is something that would be really difficult for
President Obama. He would have to really think about how he would handle
that and straddle that line. He obviously has given some tacit support to
his former secretary of state. They did that outgoing interview together
when Secretary Clinton was leaving her post at the State Department, and a
lot of people thought that was essentially President Obama endorsing
Secretary Clinton. So if Vice President Biden were to actually decide to
run, it would be very difficult, and I would assume very complicated for
President Obama, because, again, the two have a very close relationship.
KORNACKI: It`s such an odd situation to have a sitting vice president who
is overshadowed in so many ways by somebody else for his own party`s
nomination. Kristen Welker in Washington, thank you for joining me this
morning. I appreciate that.
WELKER: Thank you for having me, Steve. Appreciate it.
KORNACKI: More on this developing story with our panel on the other side
of the break. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: We`re back now with this morning`s big developing story.
Reports that Vice President Joe Biden is considering a late entry into the
race for president. According to the "New York Times," the vice president
is once again weighing a run with his late son, Beau, cited as a possible
factor in having prompted this second look at the race. That report has
been followed by others from the Washington Post to L.A. Times, the
Associated Press. A late entry by Biden would be tough, of course.
Hillary Clinton has locked up a lot of support on the Democratic side. The
vice president has yet to do any of the work it takes to build a campaign.
The panel is back with me now. Let`s talk a little bit more about Joe
Biden. We were talking earlier in the show about scenarios that would get
him into the race. The one you look at right now, I guess a little bit is
Bernie Sanders has gotten so much traction on the Democratic side.
Surprising traction on the Democratic side. He still trails Hillary
Clinton, obviously. But you look in New Hampshire. He`s within 15 points
of her right now. You look at Iowa, it`s a little further out there. But
Iowa is a state that there could be room for growth for Bernie Sanders
At the same time, I think a lot of Democrats look at Sanders and say, we
can`t put up a 75-year-old self-declared socialist as our candidate in the
general election. So if Bernie Sanders were to knock off Hillary Clinton
in one or both of those early primaries next year, is the moment there for
Biden, where the party panics and says, Hillary`s a goner, we can`t have
Sanders. We need a third option. It`s Joe Biden?
RYE: I think that`s highly possible. But here is the reality of this.
The reason why he`s going to take as much time as he is to consider a run
is because he doesn`t want to just run again for a third time. He wants to
win if he gets into the race. I think the one thing that Democrats would
really need to consider is the path. What is the real path? Joe Biden, I
think, out of the other candidates involved, yet to be named -- but when
you think about like a Jim Webb or Lincoln, who are just not getting any
real traction, Joe Biden gets blue collar white male workers easily because
of his background in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I think he also would get
overwhelming support from African-Americans. The president just joked on
his trip to Africa last week about a third term, telling him of course that
he doesn`t have a third term. But there are a lot of people in this
country that would love to see an Obama third term, and Joe Biden is
probably the most likely path to that.
HAYWORTH: I think it`s interesting, because we were just talking about the
fragmentation of the Republican field, but we really have the converse of
that have on the Democratic side, and it illustrates the potential dangers
of concentrating all your resources very early. Hillary Clinton owns the
machinery and yet she is a deeply flawed candidate, getting more so every
day. And I think the president subtly is worried about that.
KORNACKI: It`s interesting. The slippage that Clinton has had in the
polls is not really on the Democratic side, still within the Democratic
Party, she is so strong.
HAYWORTH: That`s right.
KORNACKI: It sets up this question of one calculation Biden has to make
here, is look, I have run for president several times before, I got to be
vice president, which was this great, everybody thought, career capping
experience. To run now as the sitting vice president, if he goes out there
and he loses Iowa to her by 40 points, if he goes and runs in Iowa and he
doesn`t just lose to Hillary, he loses to Bernie Sanders, he comes in
third. Then his legacy -- he has to think about that, he`s saddled with
that forever. That`s humiliating.
KAPUR: I think where Biden is right now, as we discussed, he realizes
correctly that he would be the national successor to President Obama if
something were to happen to Hillary, if she were to stumble, if something
were to sink her poll numbers. Short of that, I think he`s just building
an operation. He`s gauging his support. He`s getting an outpouring of
support. He wanted something his whole life, and people are saying do it,
it`s hard to just ignore that. He wants to be ready to jump in if that
moment comes. That`s how I read this latest news here.
KORNACKI: It seems hard to read it as anything but a personal thing on Joe
Biden`s part, too. Not just that he`s wanted it so much, but the bond with
his son, this report of his son telling him this on his death bed, saying
dad, I want you to do this. There`s a strong personal tug that we can talk
about all the political calculations. I think it`s a really tough road for
him politically, but does the personal override it at some level?
RYE: I think the personal may override it, but I think it only overrides
it if he really sees a pathway. I think that this was going to be an
emotional and logical decision, and he has got to have people in his camp
that are telling him about the truth about their numbers. I don`t know
where they are right now. I think it`s kind of early.
HAYWORTH: The other thing, he seems to be -- Hillary Clinton projects --
everybody talks about it. It`s talked about on the Democratic side. She
has this artificiality. She doesn`t seem genuine. She`s doing this
because she`s entitled to this position, because she`s the woman, and it`s
time for a woman and I`m the woman, and so on, and I have all the money.
Joe Biden seems sincere. There`s a genuineness about him.
RYE: I don`t know that she seems entitled as much as, I said this earlier,
as much as there are people that really are ready to see a woman president.
We`ve elected now the first black president. It`s her time, and I think
it`s her time is the narrative that has played in many of our minds.
RYE: 2008 through 2012.
HAYWORTH: But is that enough to elect somebody president?
RYE: I admit it`s a not.
KAPUR: Hillary Clinton is not behaving like an entitled candidate.
RYE: I don`t think so, either.
KAPUR: Not the way she did it in 2008.
KAPUR: Her slogan in 2008 when she ran was, I`m in it, I`m in it to win
HAYWORTH: Keeping the press away at arm`s length.
KORNACKI: There is a challenge, though, of running as a Clinton in America
in 2016. This country has seen Clintons for a generation now.
There are so many built-in perceptions about who they are, and what they
represent, that it almost doesn`t matter. I think that`s one of the things
we`re seeing with this campaign. It almost doesn`t matter what she says
and what she does, because everybody has -- whatever side you`re on,
everybody has this filter through which they see every action that the
I got to get out of this segment, but (inaudible). Up next, we have some
breaking news we have to tell you about this morning also. Breaking news
out of Memphis, where a police officer has been shot and killed. And a
manhunt is under way. Those details when we return.
KORNACKI: We`re following some breaking news this morning out of Memphis,
where a manhunt is now under way for a suspect who shot and killed a police
officer. It happened during a traffic stop last night. Memphis police say
the officer was rushed to the hospital and died from multiple gunshot
wounds. The victim was 33-year-old Sean Bolton. He joined the force five
years ago. Police are said to be searching near an apartment complex for
the gunman. Meanwhile, the mayor is asking people to pray for the
officer`s family and for the city.
Still ahead as we continue, why Florida was the epicenter of the
presidential campaign this week. And next, the clock is ticking on Capitol
Hill. We`ll tell you why. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: With Congress about to head off on vacation for a month, the
clock is ticking on Congress` 60-day review of the Iran nuclear deal. The
clock won`t stop while they`re away. Secretary of State John Kerry and
other officials appearing before House and Senate committees this week for
a few final pre-vacation rounds of heated questioning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ED ROYCE, R-CALIF.: I`m just seeing big picture. Big picture. When
we end up with a bottom line where in eight years, they get the missile, it
doesn`t look like a victory to me. It looks like an own goal. They may
not get the missile at that time, but they can buy the technology at that
time. The embargo is lifted.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Actually, they can`t, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Do our allies in Israel across all party
lines believe this is a bad deal, Secretary Kerry?
KERRY: No, not everybody believes that.
GRAHAM: Name one political party in Israel.
KERRY: A political party?
GRAHAM: Yes, people who are actually governing the country. Name one
political party in Israel that is for this deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: President Obama hosting a two-hour working reception for House
Democrats at the White House on Wednesday night, where he answered specific
questions about the agreement with Iran. One member telling Politico,
quote, "it`s a different White House. He`s working this differently than
I`ve ever seen him work anything, and I think it`s making a difference."
Joining me now, Congressman Dan Kildee. He attended Wednesday`s meeting
with President Obama. The Michigan congressman also represents an American
who has been held hostage in Iran since 2011. Congressman, thank you for
joining us this morning. You have now come out and announced your support
for this deal. What was it the president said to you that won you over?
REP. DAN KILDEE, D-MICH.: Well, it wasn`t just what the president had to
say, although that was a factor. I have engaged in a pretty exhaustive set
of steps to learn more about the agreement, read the agreement, look at the
classified documents, consult with people outside of government. One in
particular, Graham Allison (ph), who is a professor at Harvard University
and is really an internationally known expert on nuclear weapons.
But the president and his cabinet, obviously, I consulted with them.
Bottom line is this. There are problems with any agreement that is
negotiated. In this case, though, we have to evaluate the agreement
against what we think the rational alternatives are. And I think there`s a
lot of fantasy about what the alternatives might be. But when I look at
this agreement and the protection that it provides for the next decade,
decade and a half, as opposed to the possibility of Iran being able to
develop a nuclear weapon, say, in the next three months, it was clear to me
that on balance, we`re better off dealing with Iran and all of its bad
behavior with the ability to contain them and to prevent them from
developing a nuclear weapon in the near term.
KORNACKI: Let`s put a poll up on the screen here. This came out in the
last two weeks. Should Congress approve or reject the deal with Iran? And
actually, a slight majority there, 52 percent saying it should be rejected.
44 percent saying to approve this deal.
Congressman, let me ask you about, we played that clip of Lindsey Graham
there talking with Secretary of State John Kerry. Lindsey Graham making
the point that Israel, our ally in the Middle East, if you go across the
board, the major political parties in Israel, across the board you`re going
to find opposition to this deal. And some very sort of urgent warnings
about the necessity of killing this deal. Where do you think that across
the board opposition comes from, and does that weigh on you at all?
KILDEE: Well, if you live in Israel, if you are in the -- particularly in
the Israeli political spectrum, the idea of accepting anything that has to
do with Iran, I understand why there would be not just a reluctance but a
real reaction, negative reaction to anything from Iran. I think it`s best
for us though to take a look at the deal as opposed to the alternatives,
and when you still hear voices within Iran calling for the elimination of
Israel, which you would hear no matter how good this deal was, I understand
why particularly in the Israeli political structure, there would be great
reluctance to embrace any agreement with Iran at all.
KORNACKI: One of the key objections that had been raised too involves a
24-day period for inspections that Iran basically gets a heads-up and
basically has up to 24 days to prepare for any inspections. Critics say
that basically gives them all the time they need and more to hide anything
that they don`t want inspectors to see. What do you say to that?
KILDEE: There really needs to be an honest assessment of what the
agreement says. The 24-day inspection is for sites that have yet to be
determined to have anything to do with their nuclear program, where we
would then have 24 days after those are identified, we would give notice,
and there would be a process that would allow access to those locations.
So on one hand, the identified sites, there is immediate access, no 24-day
clock that runs before we can see them. We would actually have immediate
access to those identified sites.
But the second and most important point about the 24-day notice is that
when speaking to Secretary Muniz -- or if you don`t want to accept anybody
from within the Obama administration, speaking to Graham Allison, who has
spent his career looking at this, or other experts, they say there`s no way
that Iran could keep clandestine any activity that would deal with
weaponization of nuclear material. That material would leave traces that
are still easily identifiable 24 days later, 48 days later, months and
years later. So I don`t see that as an objection that ought to stop the
deal. It`s just a practical part of the process of getting access to sites
that right now we don`t even have any suspicion about in Iran.
KORNACKI: Congressman Dan Kildee, Democrat from Michigan, thanks for
getting up with us this morning. Appreciate it.
KILDEE: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right, and still ahead, Iowa may hold the first nominating
contest of the election year, but there was an unofficial primary over the
weekend, and it may be just as important to some of the Republican
But first why one Republican candidate is striking a different tune on
immigration. That`s next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: It`s time for their leaders to either get on board or get out of
the way. The Cuba embargo needs to go once and for all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Hillary Clinton on Friday, taking her campaign to Miami
and calling on Republican leaders to get on board with lifting the Cuba
embargo and re-establishing diplomatic relations. Not just Republican
leaders, by the way, some Democrats also opposed to that still. It`s a
stance intended to emphasize how she believes GOP candidates are failing to
evolve with the times on this issue. Republican candidates taking a
different approach to securing the Latino vote in the Sunshine State this
week. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush sat down with MSNBC`s Jose Diaz
Balart for an interview that aired on the Spanish language network,
Telemundo. Speaking entirely in Spanish, Governor Bush outlined his plan
for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (SPEAKING SPANISH)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush both addressing issues deeply
personal to those in the Latino community. But how do those issues
translate to voters nationwide? Democrats overwhelmingly support
normalizing relations with Cuba. Among Republicans, well, they support it
too. 56 percent of Republicans say they are in favor of re-establishing
diplomatic ties, and 59 percent want to get rid of the trade embargo.
But when it comes to immigration, attitudes change, especially in the early
caucus and primary states, according to the most recent NBC News Marist
poll. 56 percent of Iowa Republicans say they are less likely to vote for
a candidate who supports a pathway to citizenship. Same goes for a
supporter of legal status. In New Hampshire, the number jumps to 63
percent on both of those issues. So Jeb Bush appears to be in a
particularly tough spot here. Republican primary voters believe his
support for legal status goes too far, and they would like to be -- they
would like to be -- they would be less likely as a result to vote for him.
But Latino voters, those he tried to reach this week, could say his
positions don`t go far enough.
Joining the table now is Maria Hinojosa, anchor of Latino U.S.A. on NPR and
president of Nutoro (ph) Media Group. So Maria, this is something the
Republicans themselves identified after the 2012 election, they did this
autopsy report and said one of the areas we need to change is immigration.
I think it was the only specific policy proposal that was in there. Now
we`re basically -- we`re into the 2016 campaign right now, and it seems
that the temperature in the Republican Party is even cooler toward
immigration reform now than it was three years ago. Do you see looking at
the 2016 election right now, do you see any path for Republicans improving
their standing with Latino voters without immigration reform?
MARIA HINOJOSA, LATINO USA ANCHOR: Without immigration reform? No.
Actually, I mean, I think that`s central. I think people sometimes forget
that this is something that is really personal for Latinos. And, let`s be
clear also that the role that the media plays into this. I think about the
Iowa voters and I think about the enlightened northeast of New Hampshire,
with those very high numbers, and I think what is the image that they have
of the people who would be attempting to become citizens of our country?
Someone like me, for example, who was an immigrant and became a citizen.
Do they know the number of Canadians or Irish immigrants who are living in
our midst? And if the conversation was different, would there be this
uproar if it was Irish, if it was Canadian?
I was with Congressman Luis Gutierrez on a panel yesterday at the ABA. He
said, let`s call this what it is. He said it was racism. So if the
Republican Party really wants to connect, they got to be outfront, and
frankly with a candidate like George -- I mean, sorry, like Jeb Bush, it
could be theirs. He`s very -- the authenticity that you hear when he is
speaking Spanish. I agree he hasn`t gone far enough. That`s what I`m
hearing from Latinos out there. But --
KORNACKI: That`s a question that I`m curious about, too. There is much
more diversity in the Republican presidential field now than we`ve seen
really in any presidential field ever before. And there`s some talk of
could the Republican Party, if they nominated Jeb Bush, with a wife from
Mexico, Jeb Bush who speaks fluent Spanish, if they nominated Marco Rubio,
from a Cuban family, if they nominated maybe even Ted Cruz from Texas, if
they nominated somebody with a different background, that speaks to this
sort of emerging new America, could that override a party platform that
doesn`t change on immigration?
HINOJOSA: But if they`re going to speak to this America, then they`re
going to have to talk about the issues that these Latino voters want to
hear about. So it`s not just Marco Rubio, we`re going to vote for him.
It`s much more complex than that. And I think that the big worry with
Latino voters is kind of what they`ve been through over the last eight
years, which has been a series of promises.
I`ve been doing a series of reports in the last two weeks talking to
Dreamers and the kind of depth of depression they felt in 2010 when the
Dream Act didn`t push through. So there is a real opportunity now, but
they need to connect with this issue.
And, again, people think that I care about this because I`m an immigrant
and because I am proud Mexican. But really, I care about this because I`m
an American citizen. I really want democracy to grow. If you have a
Republican Party that is not connecting and you have a Democratic Party
with a president that is -- you know, the deporter in chief, how does that
look to the Latino voters? My concern is that they look at that and say,
well, maybe we sit this one out again. Although what I am hearing and what
we have seen is that the Latino electorate can be energized. That in and
of itself is exciting. It is an electorate that can be energized if you
tap into it.
KORNACKI: Another way of looking at this, too, is the Republican Party
position on immigration, did it turn off Latino voters in 2012, did it also
turn off non-Latinos, did it turn off white voters who are not comfortable
with a party that has, you know, sort of nativist tinges in it? We look at
-- sometimes I wonder if we look at the immigration issue almost too
directly. We say it affects Latinos but also that kind of rhetoric --
HINOJOSA: That`s why I talk about the Irish, and the Canadians and your
neighbors and say, well, let`s talk about this.
KAPUR: Asian Americans in 2012 voted for President Obama at a higher rate
than Latinos. The reason for that is the rhetoric on immigration, even
though they were talking about illegal immigration, they`ll say at the
time, extended; they perceived it as a slight. My question for you would
be, do you think Jeb Bush, or Marco Rubio, when they support something like
a legal status, Jeb Bush especially, legal status without the possibility
of citizenship, could they make an inroad when they`re facing Hillary
Clinton, who not only supports a full comprehensive reform, path to
citizenship, but also expand President Obama`s executive actions? It seems
like she`s making an offer to them that no Republican could possibly match
without destroying themselves with the primary electorate.
HINOJOSA: This is really the space that we`re in. I mean, when I think
about Hillary Clinton, I think about the opportunities that she has to
really connect with this electorate now, and make it really clear that she
understands. The expansion -- this is again, it`s not law. This is a
problem to just say we`re going to expand it. But Hillary Clinton, when
she spoke to NCLR, the National Council of La Raza, was it a forceful
speech? Have you really heard her say I repudiate what Donald Trump is
saying? I am going to have a national speech? I`m going to create a moment
to talk about immigrants and Latinos? Kind of like one of those watershed
This is hers. She could do that. I`m not saying that Latinos will
immediately just fall into lockstep, but there`s a moment here. When you
see Jeb Bush kind of being very open, connecting, speaking in Spanish, not
going the extra mile of saying, you know, path to citizenship guaranteed.
There`s a space there that I think is interesting right now.
RYE: Him speaking in Spanish, I think, is definitely charming. But,
again, if his policy positions still don`t even go as far as President
Obama`s now -- I know you`re calling him the deporter in chief, I would be
really eager to see what you would call a Republican president, because
their policies would dial back. Again, what you said isn`t even law now.
The reason why it isn`t even law now -- I think you would have to agree
with this -- is because the Republicans control both the Senate and the
HINOJOSA: I agree with you. Let`s not --
HAYWORTH: The Dream Act didn`t pass under Democratic House and Senate.
KAPUR: Because of a Republican filibuster.
KORNACKI: It`s an interesting --
KORNACKI: It`s an interesting situation. If Republicans were to nominate
say Marco Rubio, Marco Rubio played a big hand in the demise of
comprehensive immigration reform.
RYE: When he was the champion initially. He got slapped down.
HINOJOSA: But this is the fascinating moment we`re living in our country
right now with this fascinating moment of demographic change and the
complexity of voter, right, that of course they`re going to be thrilled to
hear Jeb Bush speaking in Spanish. That`s cool. But what is he actually
delivering? What is he actually going to deliver? And that, I become more
and more convinced in terms of this Latino --
KORNACKI: We`re out of time on this one, unfortunately, but NPR`s Maria
Hinojosa, thank you for joining us this morning, appreciate it.
And up next, comedian Amy Schumer gets serious for a cause.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLY FIORINA, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As we know, she as well lied
about Benghazi, and Libya is now a failed state and a haven for terrorists.
In the world I come from, track record counts. Track record counts. Mrs.
Clinton`s track record is one of failure. We have festering problems in
Washington, D.C. I think my question to Governor Bush would be, why do you
think you are the Bush who can change that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Carly Fiorina going after Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush
at the Koch brothers summit in Southern California last night. Scott
Walker also addressed the crowd of wealthy donors last night. Jeb Bush,
Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, they will take their turns later today. At
yesterday`s event, Charles Koch making news himself by denouncing corporate
welfare and reckless spending by both parties. Let`s talk about this Koch
summit and the other headlines making news this morning with the panel.
Nan, I know you`re a Carly Fiorina supporter. She is there. The big news
though out of this Koch summit I think is who was not there. Donald Trump.
Not invited by the Kochs. This is not their candidate.
HAYWORTH: That`s right. Well, look, the Kochs are running this with money
that they`ve contributed and they`ve gathered, and they can invite whom
they wish. I think it is a measure of their seriousness about this, and
their assessment of Donald Trump`s seriousness as a candidate.
KORNACKI: Can the Kochs stop Donald Trump?
KAPUR: Maybe. But it speaks to Donald Trump that he doesn`t need to care
what anyone thinks. He`s not going to be indebted to anybody, unlike, you
know, Bush, Walker, Rubio, all these others that they`re talking about.
KORNACKI: Let`s see here, we have another headline here. This is from the
New York Daily News. This is Amy Schumer. She pledges to act against gun
violence. Thinks about the Louisiana theater shooting victims every day.
Of course, it was her hit movie "Trainwreck," that was playing when a
gunman killed two people at a theater last month. She responded on Twitter
right after, she said, I`m on it, you`ll see. And then yesterday she
responded to the daughter of a Sandy Hook survivor who wrote an open letter
begging her to take action on gun violence.
RYE: What a responsible way to use her platform. I think that`s tragic
that of course her movie is now associated with this very tragic crime, but
I think it`s also great to see when entertainers will sign up for social
causes and political changes and policy changes like this, when they`re so
important. We`ve been talking about this for so long and we couldn`t even
get a background check provision passed in the Senate, so it`s just time.
KAPUR: President Obama has called the issue of gun violence, the inability
to do anything about it, the greatest frustration of his presidency.
KORNACKI: Again, we think back to Sandy Hook, always sort of the standard
there, of 20 children, and that didn`t provoke any political response. You
wonder what could.
Another headline here. This is from the AP. An investigation by the
Associated Press. They find, look at this, the Olympic teams next year to
swim in Rio de Janeiro`s filth. The Associated Press found dangerous
levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage. Some of the venues for
next summer`s Olympics, some of the athletes training in Rio have already
gotten sick. Brazil and the Olympic Committee are promising everything
will be safe when the games begin next August. I saw some of the pictures
here. I don`t want to be --
HAYWORTH: Speaking from supposition (ph), that is a hideous hazard to
these Olympic athletes. And you cannot inoculate them or protect them from
everything that`s in that water. And that`s the situation.
KORNACKI: They got a year to really clean this up. You think of some
polluted, dirty bodies of water around the world, it takes a lot more than
a year. The Charles River in Boston is barely swimmable now.
HAYWORTH: It goes back to the corruption at the Olympic Committee.
KORNACKI: Yeah, we`ll see. Today`s panel, I want to thank them for being
here. Sahil Kapur, Angela Rye, former Congresswoman Nan Hayworth, I
appreciate it, and thank you for getting up with us today. A programming
note that I`m going to be at that Republican presidential debate in
Cleveland this week. I`ll be reporting on that big event right here on
NBC. Debate night is Thursday night. Hope to see right here. For all of
our coverage and analysis. But first, up next, Melissa Harris-Perry. I`m
going to be sticking around for part of that, too. So stay tuned. We will
see you next weekend. Have a great week.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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