Date: August 11, 2015
Guest: Robert Costa
STEVE KORNACKI, HOST: The Trump show must go on.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews.
Hillary Clinton looks to pulverize Republicans on women`s issues, Jeb
Bush goes back to Iraq, and Rick Perry`s campaign hits its lowest point
But we begin with the best reality show on television these days,
Donald Trump. We are waiting right now for Trump to speak to reporters in
Michigan. This is going to be his first campaign appearance since Thursday
NBC`s Katy Tur joins us from the Trump event in Birch Run, Michigan,
Robert Costa, national political reporter with "The Washington Post," and
Michael Steele is an MSNBC political analyst and former chairman of the
Well, Katy, you`re on the scene out there in Michigan, so let`s start
with you. We`re expecting him any minute now. Any idea what he`s going to
KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: If anyone tells you they know what Trump
is going to say at any given point, then they`re lying to you, Steve. No
one really has any clue what`s going to come out of his mouth.
But if you were going to guess, I think he`s going to hit a lot of the
major points that he keeps on hitting. He`ll address the debate
controversy. I think he`ll address the Megyn Kelly comments. I think
he`ll address the Fox News controversy and how Roger Ailes came back to him
and apologized, he says, and how he`s making nice with Fox News.
I think he`s going to hit the media once again, saying they haven`t
been fair to him, that he`s just trying to run a campaign, but that people
are attacking him.
I think then he`s going to go on to touch on some of his major issues,
if you will. He`s going to talk about his immigration stance. He`s going
to talk about where he stands on getting jobs back from China and Mexico.
And he`s going to hit all of his major points.
But if you`re asking me what exactly he`s going to say, Steve, I don`t
know. He always manages to surprise.
KORNACKI: I should know better than to ask that question.
Robert Costa, though, you`re plugged in with the Trump world, too.
Let me ask you this. I mean, sitting here in New York, looking at this
event right now, I mean, I`m expecting there`s going to be a triumphant
mood to Donald Trump when he appears here in a few minutes. I mean, this
is a guy for, what, the third or fourth time now in the course of his
campaign watched, basically, his presidential campaign obituary get written
after that debate.
Now he`s sitting here. Fox News has come running back to him. Roger
Ailes called him. All the polls we`ve seen that have come out since
Thursday say Donald Trump didn`t take a hit, maybe he even got stronger. I
imagine that`s going to show in his mood here.
ROBERT COSTA, "WASHINGTON POST": This is confrontational politics.
This is combative Donald Trump. I`ve been on the phone with his associates
all day. They truly believe that they can turn a corner at this moment and
start to become a more organized campaign, a more serious campaign when it
comes to policy.
It`s going to be difficult for them, a small infrastructure around
Trump at the moment, but he`s starting to make hires in places like
Michigan, Nevada, different key primary states. He knows he needs to get
beyond the gaffes, beyond the controversy and start really embracing his
KORNACKI: Yes, well, Michael Steele, I mean, can he do that? We saw
one of his top campaign aides, longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, leaving
the campaign under disputed circumstances this weekend. This is a
candidate, obviously, as Katy says, you never know what he`s going to say
until he opens his mouth. Maybe he doesn`t know what he`s going to say
until he opens his mouth.
Can a candidate like that, with a personality like this, put together
the kind of operation, the kind of disciplined operation that Robert
Costa`s talking about?
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you
know, I think, quite honestly, Steve, we`re in an uncharted area here. I
mean, this is the campaign that is not a campaign. And it goes outside of
the traditional model, starting with the candidate all the way down to what
And I think this is going to be the next test for them. I mean, this
is a big test because if all of this momentum has been gathered into this
one spot for Trump, if after the gaffes and all the mistakes and the missed
opportunities, he`s still in the position he`s in, someone inside the
campaign has got to say, Look, this is our opportunity, this is our moment.
After this, this doesn`t go anywhere. I mean, you`ve got to be able
to take on and actually show the country you`re ready to lead as president.
And I`m sure that`s a little bit of what Robert`s been hearing on some of
the struggle inside the campaign, but we don`t know.
So you know, if this turns to be another stream of consciousness kind
of discussion by Trump at this time, as opposed to hitting or at least
giving some taste of some specifics on policy -- it`s not that we`re all
(INAUDIBLE) hungry for policy, by the way. We just and a -- give us an
idea of what you`re thinking beyond you want to build a wall, or Russia is
this, or Putin is that. So I think this is a big test for him right now.
KORNACKI: Well, despite all the flak that Trump has taken from some
in the media, some in his part, the Republican Party, their voters remain
in Trump`s corner. This morning on CNN, Trump gloated that he is the most
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: and I am the most
fabulous whiner. I do whine because I want to win, and I`m not happy...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are whiners winners?
TRUMP: And I am a whiner. And I`m a whiner and I keep whining and
whining until I win. And I`m going to win for the country, and I`m going
to make our country great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Well, whatever Trump is saying and however he`s saying it,
it is keeping him on top. The results from today`s Reuters/Ipsos poll
finds that, quote, "There is no sign that Donald Trump`s raucous first
presidential debate is hurting his support among party voters. Trump led
the party`s 17-strong 2016 presidential field with the backing of 24
percent of Republican voters. That is unchanged from before Thursday`s
According to a new Suffolk University poll taken after the debate,
Trump remains on top in Iowa. He leads Scott Walker there by 5 points,
Marco Rubio by 7 points, and new polling out of New Hampshire taken after
that debate also has Trump in first place. He leads Jeb Bush there by 5
Well, Robert Costa, let me ask you then about these other candidates.
The strategy we`ve seen from quite a few of them looking to get some
attention -- Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham -- has been to go -- Rand Paul --
to go after Donald Trump. They have clearly, to this point, gotten no
traction with that strategy. Maybe they`ve even been hurt by it.
Are the other candidates recalibrating how they approach Donald Trump?
COSTA: They`re all watching the Trump spectacle. At the same time,
they`re watching the other dozen-plus rivals in the field. There`s a lot
of concern among these campaigns, especially in New Hampshire. John
Kasich`s picking up speed in the Granite State. So`s Marco Rubio. If
you`re Jeb Bush and you need a bounce out of New Hampshire, it`s going to
be hard to get it in a crowded field.
Trump could overwhelm in Iowa. He`s got a pretty good network in
South Carolina. If you`re more center-right, New Hampshire is important.
Now it`s more crowded than ever. People are picking up momentum.
KORNACKI: Yes, I -- you know, Michael Steele, I`ve been wondering
about this, too. I mean, the untold story, I think, or the less told story
of the debate last week wasn`t just Trump and his apparent resilience now.
To me, it was Jeb Bush needs to break through, needs to compete not just
with Trump for some of this oxygen, but a lot of these other candidates.
So far, we`re not seeing that from Jeb Bush.
STEELE: No, we`re not. And you know, I don`t think the Jeb Bush
campaign is as worried to the extent that they`re, you know, sort of
sitting there, trying to figure out, What do we do next. I think they`re
playing more of a long-ball strategy here.
I think they`re looking down the road, and I don`t think the
expectation was that they would win Iowa out of the box, or even New
Hampshire, for that matter, but looking to the bigger states that come on
Super Tuesday or Super-Super Tuesday now with the SEC primary in there. So
there`s some opportunities for Jeb down the road.
But you`re right, the narrative that is formed right now is just as
important as anything else. And so if the perception is that your campaign
is faltering, you`re not showing any strength, you lost poll position from
being at the top to now the middle of the pack, yes, that kind of wears
down on the campaign. They got the stockpile of cash. They may have to
start using some of that sooner than they may want to simply to keep
themselves afloat in the narrative.
KORNACKI: Again, we are just -- we are waiting right now out in
Michigan where Donald Trump`s expected to be talking to the press. This
will be the first time he`s spoken to the press. Not one of these
telephone call interviews we`ve been seeing on these various shows. This
is going to be Trump in person, first time since this debate last Thursday
night. That is out in Michigan, expected to start any minute. We`ll bring
it to you live as soon as it begins.
And Katy Tur -- we talked to her a minute ago. Let`s go back to her
now. Katy Tur is on the scene in that room where Donald Trump is expected
And Katy, let me ask you if you could tell us -- set the scene a
little bit. The people who are at this Trump event -- who are turning out
to see him? What kind of things are they talking about? What is the mood
in that room right now?
TUR: The mood is pretty excited, as you can hear. People have out
for this, this 2,000, 2,300-person event that`s been completely sold out.
I`ve spoken to a number of people on the trail who professed their support
for Trump, and they all say pretty much the same thing, that they like that
he`s so outspoken, that they believe that he`s not going to be beholden to
But I was speaking with some younger voters today, and they said they
were coming out partially because he`s a celebrity and he has the name
recognition, but they do want to see what sort of policy plans he has,
details that he has, specifically on education and jobs, stuff that matters
They say they`re still open to Democrats, to Hillary and to Bernie
Sanders. They say they like the ideas that they`re putting forth for
education. They would like to see Trump do that, as well.
But that`s just some of his supporters. Others supports I`m speaking
with say that, pretty much, he can`t say anything wrong. The only thing
that he could say that could potentially be wrong is to support Obama.
Otherwise, they say, he doesn`t need to lay out detailed policy plans
because he`s the kind of person who will hire the right people for the
jobs, and he`ll let them do that.
That`s what the mood is so far in here. But I do think there is some
anticipation that people are going to hear more details from him. Not
clear, though, if that`s what they`ll get.
KORNACKI: Yes, I could put a pretty good bet here down that he`s not
going to be saying anything nice about Obama. I mean, this was the guy
asking for the birth certificate just a couple years ago.
Trump, though, continues to dominate the airwaves. Last night, Fox`s
Megyn Kelly responded to Trump`s attacks on her. Let`s watch what she
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: Mr. Trump did interviews over the weekend that
attacked me personally. I`ve decided not to respond. Trump, who is the
front-runner, will not apologize. And I certainly will not apologize for
doing good journalism.
So I`ll continue doing my job without fear or favor. And Mr. Trump, I
expect, will continue with what has been a successful campaign thus far.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, Trump and Fox CEO Roger Ailes spoke yesterday. Both
say they have cleared the air, but "New York" magazine is reporting that
Trump had the upper hand. According to two high-level Fox sources, Ailes`s
diplomacy was the result of increasing concern inside Fox News that Trump
could damage the network.
Immediately following Thursday`s debate, Fox was deluged with pro-
Trump e-mails. Trump apparently threatened to boycott. In a phone
conversation, Trump told Sean Hannity that quote, "he was never doing Fox
Robert Costa -- Donald Trump versus Fox News. I was watching Fox News
when that debate ended last Thursday, and Donald Trump was getting
absolutely destroyed on Fox News`s airwaves. Now, since then, he`s made
those comments about Megyn Kelly and blood. They apparently were barely
reported on Fox News. He`s patched things up with Roger Ailes. He`s been
back on the network. Megyn Kelly offered some comments there, but she
didn`t exactly go after Donald Trump.
It looks to me like Donald Trump has done something I never thought a
Republican politician could do, he won a staredown with Fox News.
COSTA: I`ve spoken with sources close to Fox News today and close to
the Trump campaign. And my sense is on the Fox side, Roger Ailes wants to
protect his big talent, Megyn Kelly, be on her side. At the same time, he
never wanted this confrontation, this fight with Trump to unfold into this
long, lingering drama, wanted that to end.
And Trump -- it`s not that he has any hate for Fox News, is that he
was unhappy with the debate. But he was willing to come back. And so this
was a meeting of two major personalities, Ailes and Trump, trying to mend
KORNACKI: All right, again, we are continuing to wait for Donald
Trump in Birch Run, Michigan. This`ll be his first campaign appearance
since last week`s debate in Cleveland. When it happens, of course, we`re
going to bring it to you live.
We`re going to take a quick break right now, be right back after this.
KORNACKI: All right, again, to reset, you`re looking live at scenes
from Birch Run, Michigan, Donald Trump expected to appear at that podium
any minute now for his first public campaign appearance since Thursday
night`s debate in Cleveland. We`re going to bring it to you live as soon
as it happens.
Sneak in another quick break right now. Be right back.
KORNACKI: All right, we`re back, and you`re looking live at a scene
from Birch Run, Michigan. Donald Trump -- again, we`re waiting. Any
minute now, he`s expected to step forward, appear at that podium. This is
his first public campaign appearance since that debate in Cleveland last
week. We`re going to take you right out there as soon as it starts.
Let`s get back to our panel, Robert Costa, Michael Steele still with
us. And Robert Costa, let me turn to you. You have spent time with Donald
Trump, flying around in that jet that he flies around the country to these
And I want to ask you about your up-close, personal view of Donald
Trump because I`m imagining this is a guy who`s known for his ego. And in
the last two weeks, this guy has been written off so many different times
and has emerged stronger in the polls.
I don`t mean this in a derogatory way, but what does that do to the
ego of any politician, let alone Donald Trump?
COSTA: Well, he`s certainly paying attention. When you`re around
Trump, you sense something immediately. This is someone who has a huge
personality but he`s also very plugged, unusually plugged in for a
politician -- monitors, Twitter monitors, articles, has them printed out by
a spokesperson, and is very attuned to poll numbers. He does not have a
pollster, doesn`t want to pay for a pollster. That`s not his style.
So public polls matter very much for Trump. You can be sure he`s read
everything today. It`s not that he gets riled by polls. But as you say,
every interview, he talks about, I`m leading the polls, I`m leading the
polls. This is important to him. If he starts to slip a little bit, it`s
going to be a test. He is still leading, though, in most of them.
KORNACKI: Eugene Robinson writes in today`s "Washington Post" that,
"Trump`s rise is evidence that the political for both parties is broken.
The Republican Party," he writes, "is in total chaos. Democrats aren`t
there yet, but may be approaching the neighborhood. It`s time to
acknowledge that our political system simply isn`t doing its job."
Michael Steele, That does seem to be where we`re looking for sort of
what`s the ideological core of Donald Trump? What`s the issues platform?
It really seems like the platform is -- you know, he`s saying to the
political system, to the political establishment, to these politicians, you
know, Go screw yourselves.
STEELE: Well, yes, basically And I think the reality of it is the
political system`s been broken for a while, Steve. This is nothing new.
It`s nothing that, you know, is earth-shattering to the public. They`ve
been feeling this and sensing this and knowing this for close to 15 years
now, and particularly in this modern era, since 2000, and all of the angst
and anger that flowed out of the Bush v. Gore presidential race.
People are just, you know, realizing, you know, this is not the system
that America should be built on and we should be using. And in some sense,
I think -- and what I don`t think a lot of people in, you know,
intelligentsia, political intelligentsia are doing is looking and saying,
Hey, maybe these folks are -- Donald Trump is reflecting us and showing us,
you know, how frustrated we really are. And that`s the gravitational
force. That`s the pull that a lot of people have towards him.
KORNACKI: Michael, do you think he can win the nomination?
STEELE: You know what, Steve? If you`d asked me that a week ago I`d
say, No, not really. But today? I have to sit here and go, it is within
the realm of probability that the base of this party could be such that,
yes, this is the guy that we want in the trench to fight for us.
He`s a business guy. He`s untethered to anything other than his force
of nature and force of personality that is pushing him to do these things.
Look, the same could happen on the left with Bernie Sanders. I mean,
this guy`s drawing 27,000, 30,000...
KORNACKI: You`re calling for the Bernie Sanders/Donald Trump general
STEELE: Hey! I`m there, baby! Look...
STEELE: ... this is the new America!
KORNACKI: Where are the swing states in that one? I want to know!
STEELE: What would we do? What would the political class in this
country do with Bernie Sanders as the nominee for the Democrats and Donald
Trump as the nominee for the Republicans? What would America be saying at
KORNACKI: I`m wondering if that is the recipe for a third party
But Robert Costa, let me -- let me -- I got to say, like, I`ve
resisted adding my voice to the chorus of "Trump will never win the
Republican nomination." I seem to hear that from everybody. I was
certainly -- I`m in Michael`s camp on this. I was very skeptical.
But I`m sort of glad right now I`ve held back because I`m looking at
this, Robert, and it`s not just Trump`s resilience in the polls, but it`s
when you look at our new NBC/Survey Monkey poll, for instance, that came
out after the debate. When you look at that, you look at second place,
it`s Ted Cruz. You look at third place, it`s Ben Carson. And you start to
look at the rhetoric and the appeal of a Ted Cruz and a Ben Carson...
KORNACKI: ... and you say, I`m not so sure -- I`m sure those aren`t
necessarily Trump voters when push comes to shove.
COSTA: You have got to look at this as a reporter. Look at this with
And I think for me and for many other reporters, a different picture
appears. Is he on the ballot in most states? He`s moving in that
direction? He`s got Corey Lewandowski working for him from AFP trying to
get Trump on the ballot.
He has a very small budget. He`s flying around in his plane, and
that`s his main expense. Doesn`t have a big staff. Could he survive with
little money? Rick Santorum did it for months in 2012. Trump believes he
doesn`t need to do much, come out with some policy positions eventually.
But he has the infrastructure and the organization slowly building in
these states to maybe be the nominee. And if you just look at it this way,
it is possible.
KORNACKI: Could this -- Michael, could this party, could Republican
Party get behind Donald Trump as its presidential candidate?
STEELE: Well, if their rhetoric is true, yes, because the idea is we
support our nominee.
Look, as a county chairman, state chairman and even as national
chairman, there were candidates out there that I did not think were the
best candidate for the broader efforts of the party. But as the chairman,
you have got to stand with the party and with your candidates.
And yes, so the party`s got to be there for the nominee. What are
they going to do? They`re going to go out and try to find a third-party
candidate to run against him? It doesn`t make any sense. So, yes, does
that -- do we get to that point, Steve? I still don`t think so. But,
heck, man, you know, after the next debate and if Donald Trump has sort of
built, continues to build on what he`s doing now the way he`s doing it,
everything is off the table at that point.
KORNACKI: I`m thinking back to that scene in Cleveland, that debate
stage, that first question on Thursday night, all those candidates asked,
will you rule out running as a third-party candidate?
KORNACKI: How many of them, I wonder, would rule it out if they
realized Trump could be the nominee? Might it be a little bit different
KORNACKI: Speaking of those other candidates, earlier today, in New
Hampshire, Rand Paul continued his assault on Donald Trump. Let`s listen
to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want to elect
somebody who says people are bleeding or stupid or pigs, go right ahead.
But I want to fix the country. Because someone can stand up and say you`re
stupid and you`re ugly does not equate with a vision for the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Robert, I think Rand Paul might be exhibit A in the perils
of going after Donald Trump. A year ago, I think we were all saying -- it
was probably about a year ago Rand Paul was on the cover of "TIME," the
most interesting politician in America, all sorts of talk about how far he
His numbers have been dropping in the last few weeks. It doesn`t seem
like these attacks on Trump -- I mean, he was the first guy in that debate
to go after Trump. He`s getting nothing from it.
COSTA: If you`re Rand Paul, if you`re Ben Carson, you`re a Mike
Huckabee, even a Scott Walker, and your whole political brand is to be a
political outsider, you`re frustrated.
All these allies of these outsider-type candidates are frustrated
because they`re getting no political oxygen. And they`re actually right
now starting to think maybe they should do more interviews, maybe they
should take a cue from Trump and start to run more of a media campaign
because that seems to be the only way this summer to get a headline.
KORNACKI: Well, what does it take? We have asked this question
before, Michael. And I think the answer probably changes every time we`re
forced to ask it, but what would it take for Donald Trump to actually take
a hit in this campaign?
He can say whatever he wants about John McCain. He can say whatever
he wants about Megyn Kelly. He can bash FOX News, which is the leading
media source for the conservative movement in this country. He can do all
of that and not drop in the polls. What would actually make him drop in
STEELE: I think probably something that`s akin to embracing some
aspect of Obama`s policies would begin to eat away.
I think one of the things that I -- and everybody is talking about
Donald Trump on policy and what is his views on this. Donald Trump already
has some stuff out in the ether that you can go and take a look at if
you`re the opposition candidate.
KORNACKI: Yes, he said he was for single-payer, right? That came
So, and that New Hampshire focus group, that was a little bit of an
Achilles` heel, the fact that he was -- at least one point supported or
advocated a single-payer system.
Health care is a big button in the GOP. And particularly with all the
energy that`s been pushed behind repealing Obamacare, to have a Donald
Trump say something that is in the view of many worse than Obamacare, and
it`s just literally nationalized health care, then I think that, you know,
that may begin to do it.
But short of something like that, I don`t know.
COSTA: And, Steve, I have spoken to Trump about this. I said, why
did you raise your hand in that debate? He says, honesty is everything.
He really believes if he starts to act like someone who is
calculating, he will drop.
COSTA: And so he`s just himself. That`s what he -- that`s his
strategy. That`s why he doesn`t surround himself with advisers. He is the
campaign. He is the message.
KORNACKI: It`s smart, I have to say. I mean, it`s also this idea
that he doesn`t apologize and he doesn`t back down. There`s this pattern
where -- it`s like Pavlovian. We`re so conditioned in politics.
Politician says something edgy, all hell rains down upon them, they take it
back, they apologize.
And I think there`s just something about the spectacle of watching a
candidate who refuses to apologize for anything, even things that he
probably should be apologizing for. I think there are people that
resonates with, again, because they hate the system so much. They`re so
sick of it.
KORNACKI: Anyway, we continue wait for Donald Trump. We`re told it`s
just a few minutes away to make that first campaign appearance in Michigan
since that debate. Going to bring it to you live in just a minute.
Also, some breaking news to report to you right now. The Hillary
Clinton campaign says tonight that the former secretary of state has
ordered her team to turn over her personal e-mail server and thumb drive of
her personal e-mails to the Justice Department. We`re going to monitor
that story as we learn more about it as well.
Be right back after this.
KORNACKI: All right, welcome back to HARDBALL.
Donald Trump is appearing at that podium. Let`s go live and listen to
what he has to say.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have a very, very --
you have another party that has got some big problems.
I just saw today coming over the e-mail situation for Hillary Clinton
is a big, big problem. If this they judge it fairly, she`s got a very big
Yes. Yes, sir.
TRUMP: No, not at all, not at all. I have been proven right. I have
absolutely been proven right. Yes.
QUESTION: In all candor, do you think during this campaign there have
been some times where you feel you have gone over the top?
TRUMP: I have what?
QUESTION: Gone over the top.
TRUMP: I don`t think so at all.
I look at the polls. I can only go by the poll. A new poll came out,
32 percent. That`s the highest for anybody yet. So I can only go by the
polls. The people that we`re dealing with and whatever has happened, it is
what it is. You just look at results.
I guess Iowa just came out a little while ago, and leading in Iowa,
leading in New Hampshire, leading in North Carolina, leading in South
Carolina, leading in Nevada, leading everywhere. So that`s all I can go
TRUMP: Excuse me?
TRUMP: Oh, that`s the best question. China. China.
I think you have to do something to rein in China. They devalued
their currency today. They`re making it absolutely impossible for the
United States to compete, and nobody does anything. China has no respect
for President Obama whatsoever, whatsoever.
Well, you have to take strong action. How can we compete? They
continuously cut their currency. They devalue their currency. And I have
been saying this for years. They have been doing this for years. This
isn`t just starting. This was the largest devaluation they have had in two
decades. They make it impossible for our businesses, our companies to
They think we`re run by a bunch of idiots. And what`s going on with
China is unbelievable, the largest devaluation in two decades. It`s
honestly -- great question -- it`s a disgrace.
TRUMP: Major. Fantastic. I watched you with President Obama two
weeks ago. He was not thrilled. I`m sure I will be more thrilled.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) How would you grade his leadership? (OFF-MIKE)
TRUMP: A very fair question.
There are two ways of looking at it. You could have let it go and
rebuilt itself through the free enterprise system.
TRUMP: You could have let it go bankrupt, frankly, and rebuilt
itself. And a lot of people think that`s the way it should have happened.
Or you could have done it the way it went. I could have done it
either way. Either way would have been acceptable. I think you would have
ended up ultimately in the same place.
TRUMP: Race relations are at an all-time high or all-time low?
TRUMP: Well, that`s certainly -- yes.
TRUMP: Jobs. Spirit. There`s no spirit.
TRUMP: Well, certainly, I would.
But in terms of what would you do to address the -- and, really, they
aren`t. I don`t know about all-time, but certainly they`re doing very
poorly, if you look at what`s going on in everyplace, I mean, everyplace.
And we have powder kegs all over the country waiting to explode. You
need spirit, esprit de corps, cheerleading, and you need jobs. We have to
take our jobs back from China. We have to take them back from all these
other countries that have taken our jobs.
That`s why when the question was asked about China, it`s just
terrible. It`s just terrible what`s happening. More jobs are going to go.
TRUMP: Well, I think so. I think we`re going to do very well with a
lot of votes.
We`re going to do very well with the Hispanic vote. We`re going to do
great with the women vote. If you look at -- in Nevada, they did the poll
and I`m leading in the Hispanic vote, because I create jobs. And I`m going
to go and do -- I will be creating tremendous numbers of jobs. So I think
we`re going to do great. And then the women`s health issues, I`m for that.
I watched Jeb Bush give the worst answer the other day. I think that
is going to be his 47 percent. Romney possibly lost the election -- there
are a lot of reasons, frankly, that he lost, but one of the big reasons was
his 47 percent. That was a disaster.
I think that Jeb`s answer the other day on women`s health issues is a
disaster for him. And I don`t -- now he then went and he said he misspoke.
How do you misspeak about that?
I will be great on women`s health issues. I cherish women. And I
will be great on women`s health issues, believe me.
QUESTION: Mr. Trump.
TRUMP: Oh, hello, David.
QUESTION: You have said right now you`re going to be great on women,
you`re going to be great on China, you are going to be great on ISIS, you
are going to be on jobs.
TRUMP: Hopefully everything.
QUESTION: Fine. We haven`t heard a lot of (OFF-MIKE) I talked to
people outside the venue today. And they say, where (OFF-MIKE) When are
you going to tell us what you will replace Obamacare with, how you will fix
China, how you will bring jobs?
TRUMP: OK. Well, first of all -- and ISIS. You didn`t bring up
ISIS. What happened?
QUESTION: I did. (OFF-MIKE)
QUESTION: But where`s the plans?
TRUMP: I think you`re going to see lots of plans and you are going to
see also -- and you have to understand, when you`re coming up with a plan,
in business, you have to be flexible. There`s got to be flexibility.
And I recently bought something -- not so recently -- but Doral in
Miami. Everybody wanted it. If I would have sat down and said here`s a
12-point plan in order to get Doral -- I didn`t do that. I went in and
punched and punched and beat the hell out of people, and I ended up getting
it. Everybody wanted it.
All of the smart money wanted it. The Old P.O., the Old Post Office
on Pennsylvania Avenue, everybody wanted it. I got it. In the Obama
administration, I got it, which is pretty shocking, considering that
Pritzker wanted it, which is Hyatt, and lots of other people.
I got it. And I got because I know how to get things. I know how to
get things done. You can`t sit down and say, well, I`m going to come up
with a 19-point plan to get the Old Post Office and create it into a great
hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The most-sought after property, I think, in the history of the General
Services Administration, Trump got it. I`m not an Obama person. You
probably heard that. You have to be able to have flexibility. You have to
be able to do certain things.
QUESTION: But now you`re just asking people to trust you. (OFF-MIKE)
TRUMP: Well, I think there has to be a trust. There actually does
have to be a trust. If you don`t trust, you`re not going to do very well.
Major, go ahead.
TRUMP: Well, Jeb Bush doesn`t have (INAUDIBLE) be great on jobs. Jeb
Bush will not be able to negotiate against China. Jeb Bush will not be
able to negotiate against Mexico. Jeb Bush with Mexico said people come
in, they come in, it`s an act of love. OK?
It`s not an act of love. We need a wall. We need a wall. You see
what`s happening with illegal immigration. And, in all fairness, if it
weren`t for me, they wouldn`t even be talking about illegal immigration.
You see Kate in San Francisco. You see what happened yesterday in
California, which was horrible.
The whole situation with Jeb Bush, with his act of love, it`s not
working. And I took a lot of heat that first week, and then people
realized I was right, and they apologized to me.
TRUMP: We`re going to be announcing over the next two weeks the
numbers and specifics, knowing what I just said is right. You really have
to be flexible on jobs and everything else.
But we will be -- and I`m going to be speaking about it later. We`re
going to be taking jobs outside. We`re going to be taking them away from
China, away from all of these countries that are stealing from us. They`re
stealing our base, our money, our manufacturing. We`re going to be
bringing them back into the United States.
And I`m going to be talking about this. Ford, as an example, is
building a $2.5 billion automobile plant in Mexico. How does that help us?
I went to the Wharton School of Finance. How does that help us? They`re
spending $2.5 billion to build a car plant in Mexico.
Cars and trucks and parts are going to go all over the place, but
they`re coming into the United States, no tax. How does it help us, except
they will be closing plants in Michigan and lots of other places? So we
are going to be talking about -- we`re going to be bringing back jobs to
the United States.
TRUMP: OK. Let me tell you something.
Ten years ago, everybody wanted the wall. The Democrats, the
Republicans, they couldn`t get it. You know one of the reasons they
couldn`t get it? Environmental impact statements. Did you know that?
There were toads. There were the -- it`s the most incredible thing. We`re
going to get the wall built and it is going to be built right.
And Mexico`s going the pay for the wall. Mexico is making a fortune
off the United States. Mexico...
TRUMP: Excuse me.
Mexico is going to pay for the wall. And they`re going to be happy
about it. You know what? They`re going to be happy about it, because the
cost of the wall is peanuts compared to the kind of money they`re making.
Mexico is becoming the new China. I have a great love for Mexico. I have
love for the Mexican people.
I have so many -- I have thousands of Mexico people over the years.
Mexicans have worked for me. And they are now, thousands. They`re
fantastic people, great spirit. But their politicians and their leaders
are much smarter and sharper and more cunning. And I say the word cunning.
They`re more cunning than our leaders. They will pay for the wall.
They will be happy about it. They will continue to do well, but not as
well as they`re doing right now. They`re taking too many of our jobs.
QUESTION: You said during the debate that you couldn`t guarantee that
you would support the ultimate Republican nominee.
TRUMP: Third party.
QUESTION: Now, there are others in the Republican Party who say, if
you`re the nominee, they may not support you. Are you concerned?
TRUMP: Well, that could happen.
You know, that could happen. That`s their choice. But, you know,
when you talk in the debate -- it came out on one of these networks today.
So, there should have been two million people watching. You agree? About
two million. That`s been sort of standard, two million people. They had
24 million people.
And the 24, I think, is going to go to 28 or 29 and maybe even 30 when
the final numbers come in. Who do you think they`re watching? Jeb Bush?
Huh? I don`t think so. OK.
TRUMP: I hope not. I mean, I want to run as a Republican. That`s
what I`m doing. I`m leading in every poll, the local and the national
polls, leading, and by substantial margins.
I hope that I will be the Republican nominee, because that`s the best
way to win. I`m going to keep the door open on the other, if I`m not
treated fairly. And the word is fairly. It doesn`t mean well. It means
fairly. If I`m not treated fairly, we will see what happens.
TRUMP: Fairly means fairly. I want to be treated fairly. I want the
establishment -- look, I was part of the establishment.
Let me explain. I was the establishment two months ago. I was like
the fair-haired boy. I was a giver, a big giver. Once I decided to run,
all of a sudden, I`m sort of semi-anti-establishment. Now, leading in all
the polls, they`re treating me very well. I mean, I`m being treated very
Reince Priebus has been terrific. His people have been terrific.
They`re dealing with my people. They`re dealing with Corey. We have a
great relationship. I want to run as a Republican. I don`t want to run a
third party or as an independent. I want to run as a Republican. As long
as I`m treated fairly, that`s going to be the case.
And fairly is an instinct. It`s an instinct. I know what fair is.
You know what fair is.
TRUMP: I know what it is, yes. I know what fair is. And I think
And, by the way, win, lose or draw. I`m not just saying I have to
win. Now, I guarantee you this. If I win the Republican nomination, I
guarantee you all sitting there, I will not run a third-party candidate.
Do you agree? OK. One more question.
Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
TRUMP: I would never give up my microphone. I thought that was
disgusting. That showed such weakness.
The way he was taken away by two young women -- the microphone, they
just took the whole place over. And the audience, which liked him, I mean,
they were him. They`re saying, what`s going on? How can this happen?
That will never happen with me. I don`t know if I will do the fighting
myself or if other people will, but that was a disgrace.
The way they -- I felt badly for him. But it showed that he`s weak.
You know what? He`s getting the biggest crowds and I`m getting the biggest
crowds. We`re the two getting the crowds. But, believe me, that`s not
going to happen to Trump.
QUESTION: One more, sir?
REPORTER: You could win it, you`re way in out in front.
TRUMP: I agree. Did you hear what he said? You could win it.
You`re way out in front. I agree.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) vice presidential material --
REPORTER: Having said, I`ve been trying to get in your car to talk
about it, my resume --
TRUMP: You want to be what, vice president? Now, his question`s no
longer as good. He had great credibility until he said that. Now it`s
like, where did he come from?
OK, go ahead, one more. Go ahead.
TRUMP: One hundred percent. Mark it down, 100 percent. OK?
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you. We`ll go, make a speech, and then
you go home. Have a good time.
OK. Thank you, thank you all very much.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Donald Trump wrapping up a press
conference in Birch Run, Michigan. That`s his first appearance in front of
the press since that debate in Cleveland last week. Trump there a couple
of highlights from that. He was asked if any of his rhetoric had been over
the top in the course of the last several months. He said absolutely not.
Take a look at the polls.
He took credit for the monster television ratings for that debate last
week, an estimated 24 million people watching that. He asked at one point,
what do you think, do you think they watched for Jeb Bush?
Let`s bring back in Robert Costa and Michael Steele.
So, let me start with you, Robert Costa. You`ve been up close and
personal with Trump a couple of times. Look, the guy never lacks for self-
confidence. The guy never lacks for ego.
But I felt that that was a slightly different Trump, as a politician,
at least. That was a little bit more relaxed. He was joking with the
press. That`s a guy to me who thinks he`s got this figured out.
ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: Trump`s people have kept telling
me, Trump`s going to turn a corner. That seems like a Trump who is turning
The tone was different. He was talking about policy position papers
that are on their way. This is a Trump who is comfortable in the spotlight
answering the questions. I mean, this is someone who is not talking about
FOX. He talked about FOX ratings, but he didn`t go into the Megyn Kelly
thing. He showed discipline here and that`s important.
KORNACKI: He was also at one point that question that opened up the
debate last Thursday about whether he would run as a third party candidate
if he doesn`t win the Republican nomination, he again would not commit to
not doing that, but he was emphatic tonight that it was all about fairness.
He said his perception of fairness, if he`s treated fairly in the
Republican process, he says he will not run as a third party candidate.
Michael Steele, what did you think of that answer?
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYS: Yes, OK.
STEELE: Well, you know look, the fact -- I think at the end of the
day, whether Donald Trump runs as a third party candidate or not is just
irrelevant to the conversation. He`s going to do what he`s going to do.
Everybody else just needs to do what they need to do to get in front of
him. Good luck with that.
I just don`t see right now, and I think Robert`s really hit it on the
head. You saw and heard him begin to turn that corner. He`s settling down
into the front-runner status, into the position that you want to, you know,
be in to become the nominee of the party.
So, all the conversation about third party runs and Megyn Kelly and
all that, he`s now realizing, that`s just a distraction. I don`t need to
talk about that. I`ll stay focused on my message and I`m going to stay
focused on what I`m going to do to win this thing without all the hoopla
and the noise of pundits and the press, I`m going to stay connected to
people the way I have been so far. And I think he`s comfortable with that.
KORNACKI: Robert, we also heard him there, he was back to attacking
Jeb Bush. He was pretty merciless in the weeks leading up to that debate
going after Jeb Bush then he`s standing shoulder to shoulder with him on
the stage. He was given the chance to repeat the criticisms in the debate.
He wouldn`t do that.
But we just heard him going after Bush hard and repeatedly for Bush`s
comments about illegal immigration being an act of love, going after Jeb
Bush on negotiating with China, negotiating with Mexico, as Trump says,
negotiating against Mexico, and obviously sort of ridiculing him there,
saying nobody really cares about Jeb Bush. Nobody would have watched that
debate if it wasn`t for me, Donald Trump.
COSTA: Another fascinating aspect on bush critique, on women`s
health. Trump painted Bush as someone who is more to the right and painted
himself as more of a centrist, almost looking ahead to a general election,
the kind of voters he needs to appeal to, and he kept presenting Bush is
weak. He`s trying to make that narrative sink in with a lot of these
conservative primary voters who may still skeptical about Bush.
KORNACKI: What effect is that having -- when you talk about Trump and
his chances, but is he sinking Jeb Bush here?
STEELE: Yes, you and I are on the same page here. That`s exactly the
point I want to get to. It`s fascinating to me to watch the strategy that
I think Trump is implementing right now. His biggest obstacle at the end
of the day is Bush. Not because of money, not because of anything other
than his status and his position in this race.
And the reality for Trump is, I need to continue to take him down at
every turn I possibly can because the other characters, as he would put it,
not a threat to him. The other candidates, not a threat to him. His
biggest obstacle is Bush. And I really think that for him right now, is to
get Bush to the middle or the lowest parts of this pack so that he can keep
that momentum going in his direction as opposed to having it disperse
towards a Bush or someone else.
If it looks like Bush is the second guy, the second choice, that`s not
good for Trump right now. He wants to push him further down. And I think
that`s part of what you saw him do in this press conference.
KORNACKI: It appears that Donald Trump now, he`s switched rooms,
speaking again. Let`s check this out.
TRUMP: We owe China $1.4 trillion. And I love China. Nothing wrong
with China. Their leaders are so much smarter than ours. Mexico`s leaders
are so much smarter than ours.
They laugh at our people. They tell me -- because I have, as an
example, with China, they buy my apartments, they spend $50 million, $40
million, $30 million, $15 million, they`re the cheap ones.
When I sell a $15 million apartment, it`s like China pays so much
money to Trump. I have the largest bank in the world from China. They`re
my tenant. I don`t have to worry about the rent, believe me.
Many, many, many times you take our biggest banks, Citibank, take
JPMorgan Chase, many, many times the size, and you know what? It`s
amazing. People tell me they come over, they give me a lot of money and we
talk. They didn`t know I`d be running for president, otherwise they
wouldn`t have talked so much. It`s true. And they say, we can`t believe
we get away with it.
People from Mexico. I love the Mexican people. They have tremendous
spirit. Amazing spirit. They have amazing spirit. They`re great.
No, they`re great. And I was just telling the press, there was a poll
in Nevada that was just a -- I`m leading in the Hispanic vote. And I`m
going to win the Hispanic vote. Sure.
I`m also leading in the regular vote like 32 percent.
But when you look at what`s happening, whether it`s Mexico or China or
Japan or Vietnam, which is doing unbelievable business right now, their
leaders are so smart and so sharp and so much more cunning. And I use the
word "cunning" a lot because the word "cunning" is very important. They
know what they`re doing.
And we have people, they`re babies. We have Caroline Kennedy in
Japan. I saw it on "60 Minutes." They said, "How did you get the job?"
"Well, I went to the White House."
I mean, this is pretty much the way it is. "I went to the White
House, and I was looking for a job, and I said, do you think I could do
something for the administration?" And they said, "Oh, how would you like
to be ambassador to Japan?"
And she said, "Really? Wow. Are you serious?" This is what we have.
So, here`s what I did. I called Carl Icahn last week. Great guy.
Killer. We don`t care? Do we care that he`s a killer? Does anybody mind?
He`s a tough cookie. But he`s a friend of mine. I said, Carl, if I
make it and we`re leading in every poll, which is really -- you know, it`s
been a very exciting couple of --
I said, Carl, you know, he`s made a fortune, he`s a great negotiator,
talented guy, very smart guy, went to Princeton, one of the top students at
Princeton. A lot of people don`t know that about Carl. And there are
other people like Carl that are brilliant people and great negotiators.
They don`t sleep at night.
Like me, we toss and turn and toss and turn. We`re thinking, always
thinking, ay yi yi. It`s not easy on the family.
But we`re tossing and turning and scheming. That`s what we are.
There`s no 18 hours of sleep. Does that make sense?
So I said, hey, Carl, in fact now the press will call Carl, I`m sure.
But Carl Icahn, great, I said, "Carl, if I get this thing, I want to put
you in charge of China and Japan. Can you handle both of them?" OK?
China and Japan.
He said, "Yes, I`ll do it. I`ll do it. I want to do it."
You know what? Just relax. Everything will work out fine. We`ll
make great deals.
Right now with China, I have a friend, he`s a great manufacturer. He
can`t get his product into China. Can`t get it in. They devalued today
the biggest valuation in two decades -- two decades.
You know what devalue means, right? Devalue means suck the blood out
of the United States. That`s what devalue means, OK?
Our companies won`t be able to compete. They can`t compete now. And
what happens is they send their product over, no tax, no nothing, and I
don`t want tax. I want free trade.
The problem with free trade, it only works when you have really smart
leaders. When you have leaders that are incompetent, oh, it`s a disaster.
It`s a disaster.
So, China sends its stuff over. It dumps everything. Whatever they
make, we`ll take it. With us, we can`t get our product over there.
When Boeing goes over there, we want the technology before they buy
the plane, because they`re opening up their own factories to produce
aircraft. They want Boeing, and I said I don`t think Boeing should do it.
But when you think about it, it doesn`t matter because even if they
didn`t they`ll take it anyway and build it anyway, so what difference does
it make? OK?
KORNACKI: That`s Donald Trump at a Lincoln Day event in Birch Run,
Michigan. Lincoln Day, one of those Republican Party fund-raising events
you`ll see around the country.
Bring back in now Michael Steele and Robert Costa.
So, we saw, Robert, a minute ago Donald Trump working a much more
relaxed, joking Donald Trump, cracking one-liners with the press corps. He
moves over to this other room, familiar themes he`s pressing on there --
trade, China and currency devaluation.
The style, though, what did you see? The Donald Trump you`re seeing
right there. Is that -- you`re talking about him maybe turning a corner.
Is that what you`re seeing there?
COSTA: He`s at ease. He just made news. Trump said he`s going to
make famed investor Carl Icahn, the head of trade policy for the United
States, at least when it comes to China and Japan. He`s already sending
signals about his cabinet, about the people he would surround himself as
This is someone who`s making calls to Carl Icahn and thinking about
his administration. This is someone who sees it now as a viable reality
rather than just some kind of dream like it may have been a few months ago.
KORNACKI: Michael, I mean, I guess they called Ross Perot a
generation ago the first populist billionaire. But there is Donald Trump
talking about teaming up with Carl Icahn and his appeal is totally
STEELE: Yes. No, it is, and it is an amazing combination of forces
that this billionaire has the effect on people that in focus group after
focus group and poll after poll their response when it comes to Donald
Trump, he`s like me. He`s one of us. And so, to the extent that, as
Robert said, he`s reaching out to others in that network and bringing them
in to his orbit, that says a lot about where his head is and what he`s
But the one thing I do know, and I think we need to pay more attention
to, it goes back to an earlier conversation, Steve, about organization and
planning and strategy. These opportunities in front of the faithful of the
party at Lincoln and Reagan dinners around the country, the one thing I`m
looking out to see, is Donald Trump calling for action? Is he making a
call to action to join him in this effort?
I was at the Maryland dinner a month or so ago and he began to bring
people into that orbit. That is -- that is also a big part of this puzzle
that`s going to come together for Donald Trump over the next few weeks as
he continues this conversation around the country, bringing people,
grassroots activists, into his orbit to work for him to help make him the
next president of the United States.
KORNACKI: In the press conference we were showing you earlier, Trump
said that he wouldn`t run as an independent if he thinks he`s treated
fairly by the Republicans. Now, what does fairly mean? Let`s watch what
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`m going to keep the door open on the other. If I`m not
treated fairly -- and the word is fairly. It doesn`t mean well. It means
fairly. If I`m not treated fairly, we`ll see what happens.
I don`t want to run a third party or as an independent. I want to run
as a Republican. As long as I`m treated fairly, that`s going to be the
case. And fairly is an instinct. It`s an instinct. I know what fair is.
You know what fair is. I know what it is, yes. I know --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Well, Robert, do we know what he thinks fair is? He didn`t
think the FOX News debate was fair. He didn`t think the questions that
were asked of him were fair.
Do you know what his definition is going to be in terms of did he get
a fair shake?
COSTA: There`s a lot of political intrigue behind that statement by
Trump. A "Washington Post" report a few weeks ago, Reince Priebus calls
Trump, asked him to tone it down. Who was listening to that press
conference, more than anyone? Trump mentions Priebus by name and says, I
wanted to be treated fairly. I`m in touch with the RNC. I want this to
work and the party to be there.
He was sending the memo in that press conference, the party
establishment, I won`t mess with you. Treat me OK. And that means when
it`s OK, share your contacts, share your infrastructure.
KORNACKI: Yes, Michael, go ahead.
STEELE: Yes, I was going to say keep in mind, folks, there`s a
history here not necessarily with Trump but with the way the party has
treated candidates who they did not like or who were outside of the
establishment. Remember what happened to Ross -- not Ross Perot -- to Ron
Paul at the 2012 convention. Not afforded an opportunity to address all
those delegates he brought, not afforded the opportunity to really have a
part or role in the end game.
And so, Donald Trump has taken note of that and has recognized that
the party can be pretty harsh to guys like him. And so, he`s got that
Trump card, if you will, in his back pocket, and he intends to use it when
it comes to that opportunity.
KORNACKI: All right. Michael Steele, Robert Costa, thank you both
for sticking with us this hour. Really appreciate that.
We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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