updated 8/12/2015 9:33:39 AM ET 2015-08-12T13:33:39

Show: HARDBALL

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

since "Oops."

                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

night`s debate.

                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

RNC.

                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

be saying?

                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

front-runner status.

                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

Robert`s described.

                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

fabulous whiner.

                (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

televised debate."

                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

points.

                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

to speak.

                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

anybody.

                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

to them.

                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

said.

                (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

again."

                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

fences.

                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.

                (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

                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.

                (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

                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

different events.

                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. 

Could happen.

                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

election!

                STEELE:  Hey!  I`m there, baby!  Look...

                (LAUGHTER)

                STEELE:  ... this is the new America!

                KORNACKI:  Where are the swing states in that one?  I want to know!

                (LAUGHTER)

                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

that point?

                KORNACKI:  I`m wondering if that is the recipe for a third party

candidacy.

                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...

                STEELE:  Yes. 

                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

clear eyes. 

                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?

                STEELE:  Yes. 

                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

then?

                (LAUGHTER)

                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

could go. 

                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

the polls? 

                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. 

                (CROSSTALK)

                KORNACKI:  Yes, he said he was for single-payer, right?  That came

out. 

                STEELE:  Right.

                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. 

                KORNACKI:  Right. 

                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. 

                STEELE:  Yes. 

                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. 

                (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

                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

problem. 

                Yes.  Yes, sir. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                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

by. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                TRUMP:  Excuse me? 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                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

compete. 

                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. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                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. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                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. 

                Yes, ma`am. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                TRUMP:  Race relations are at an all-time high or all-time low? 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                TRUMP:  Well, that`s certainly -- yes. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                TRUMP:  Jobs.  Spirit.  There`s no spirit. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                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. 

                Yes, ma`am. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                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)

                TRUMP:  Huh?

                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. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                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. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                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. 

                Yes, sir. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                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...

                (CROSSTALK)

                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. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                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. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                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

well. 

                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. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                TRUMP:  I know what it is, yes.  I know what fair is.  And I think

that`s happening. 

                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. 

                QUESTION:  (OFF-MIKE)

                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?

                TRUMP:  Yes. 

               

                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 --

               

                TRUMP:  Yes.

               

                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.

               

                REPORTER:  (INAUDIBLE)

               

                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 corner. 

               

                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. 

               

                (LAUGHTER)

               

                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. 

               

                (APPLAUSE)

               

                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.

               

                (APPLAUSE)

               

                I`m also leading in the regular vote like 32 percent. 

               

                (APPLAUSE)

               

                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?"

               

                (LAUGHTER)

               

                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 -- 

               

                (APPLAUSE)

               

                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

president. 

               

                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

populist. 

               

                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

thinking about.

               

                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

he said. 

               

                (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.

               

                (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

               

                KORNACKI:  That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.

               

                "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. 

               

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END   

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