'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, September 12th, 2015
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Show: UP with STEVE KORNACKI
Date: September 12, 2015
Guest: Rick Ungar, Michael Steele, Eleanor Clift, Kathie Obradovich,
Michael Skolnik, Amy Klobuchar, Daniel Garza, Doug Burns
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And then there were only 16.
Good morning to you. I`m Ari Melber in for Steve Kornacki. And the list
of candidates for the republican nomination has been growing for months.
But now it`s starting to shrink. Texas Governor Rick Perry dropping out
last night slamming Trump on his way out the door. We have a lot on how
that news impacts the field.
Today, also Joe Biden`s emotional interview and what it suggests about
Hillary Clinton`s path to the nomination.
And new surveillance video is out. The New York Police Department
releasing footage of its controversial mistaken arrest of James Blake, the
former tennis player tackling -- being tackled I should say by undercover
detectives in a case of mistaken identity.
Also, in Phoenix, we are following the disturbing highway shootings, police
now questioning a man in that investigation. But we begin this hour with
the first casualty of the 2016 race for president. Now, it wasn`t exactly
a surprise when former Texas Governor Rick Perry made the announcement that
he was bowing out, this was late yesterday over in St. Louis, but it was
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK PERRY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I gave my life to
Christ, I said your ways are greater than my ways. Your will is superior
to mine. Today I submit to you his will remains a mystery, but some things
have come and become very clear to me. That is why today I am suspending
my campaign for the presidency of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A little philosophy mixed with cold hard facts there. Perry`s
second bid for the White House never really gained any traction. He had
trouble raising money, couldn`t get out of the mid-single digits and all
the opinion polling and never made it onto that big coveted main debate
stage. Now, he believes only days before the big second debate, as he
departs, he leaves the Republican Party with some words of caution about
their current so-called front-runner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: My second warning is this. We cannot indulge nativist appeals that
divide the nation further. The answer to our current divider-in-chief is
not to elect a republican divider-in-chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And joining us today for a great panel on all this, Rick Ungar,
senior political contributor with Forbes and co-host of the show, "Steele
and Ungar" on Sirius XM along with the other half of "Steele and Ungar,"
Michael Steele --
RICK UNGAR, FORBES POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: The better half.
MELBER: -- MSNBC contributor and of course former chairman of the
Republican Party, also joined by Eleanor Clift, Washington correspondent
with "The Daily Beast." Good morning, everybody.
ELEANOR CLIFT, THE DAILY BEAST WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
MELBER: Eleanor, let`s start right there with Rick Perry saying basically
Donald Trump is a big problem, and on the way out the door, the only real
candidate-specific message he had was stop flirting with this guy.
CLIFT: Well, if the Republican Party is going to walk away from Donald
Trump, about eight or nine other candidates will have to suspend their
campaigns, because you have all the anti-Trump votes divided among a
multitude of candidates. And so, I mean, I think the 30 percent that Trump
is getting now is probably his floor and his ceiling.
CLIFT: And I must say that Rick Perry, to say a word about his campaign,
he never recovered from that oops moment. When you think what a touring
figure he was briefly in the `08 campaign, and he`s really a marvelous
retail campaigner, he`s very congenial. Also a former democrat and he kind
of understands the sensibilities of people who aren`t necessarily diehard
Republicans. So, but he never recovered, and I think he`s smart to get
out. And I love the word suspended the campaign. It`s such a euphemism.
CLIFT: What does that really mean? He`ll be back in four years, six
MELBER: If every other candidate falls apart, he`s ready.
MELBER: Michael, think about the oops moment, which is probably the one
thing that everyone knows about Rick Perry, whether you`re interested in
politics or not. As a republican, as a fellow user of glasses for
intellect, why do you think this dodged him --
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: I`m going to eat my doughnut.
MELBER: Did it ratify something that people are already concerned about,
some sort of minimum bar of intellect that he somehow --
STEELE: No. I don`t think it had anything to do with intelligence at all.
I think it really goes back to what Eleanor said. I think it was the
moment on the stage, it was that oops moment. And it just sort of weakened
people`s idea of him. He came back, he put the glasses on. I thought he
was stronger, better this time around. That was the guy I thought I would
have seen four years before. But there were so many other forces working
against him coming into this that to claim that space and to create that
new identity was just harder to do when you had the Trumps and the Rubios
and so many other forces that were on that stage with him.
UNGAR: You know, it`s a great story, it`s a great political story that
somebody is going to go right. Michael`s got it right. His presence going
back four years before the oops moment was extraordinary. I am still
somewhat amazed that a brain freeze, and that`s what it was, during the
debate, could completely trash a political career. The other thing that I
find unfortunate -- I`m not a supporter of Rick Perry`s, not likely to ever
happen, but you can tell he spent the past four years studying. He
actually studied to know what he needed to know to run for president, and
it got him nowhere.
MELBER: And Eleanor, I want to --
CLIFT: -- reassure people. You want to think that somebody running for
president is pretty well prepared, not that they`ve got to do this crash
course of studying. And also I think the longest serving governor ever.
MELBER: Yes. But we should mention, he`s also the only governor under
current indictment. You know --
CLIFT: Well, there was that, too.
MELBER: There were some problems there. The last thing I want to get to
before we go to some interesting Joe Biden sound, is Rand Paul here
responded to this and reading it again as a chance to say something about
Donald Trump. He tweets, what does it say about GOP when a three-and-a-
half term governor with a successful record of creating jobs bows out as a
reality star leads in the polls?
CLIFT: It says politics is entertainment and in the early stages people
want to be entertained. I don`t think the race has gotten serious, with
quotes around the word serious. I still think Trump is a long shot to be
elected president, although I think like others I now can see that he might
have a path to the nomination.
STEELE: Oh, he does.
MELBER: And let me say this. I want to, you said, it`s entertainment.
What you can`t be. What was interesting about this Joe Biden interview
that everyone is talking about, is on an entertainment show getting so
serious. Indeed, for folks who haven`t seen it, it`s incredible. And I`ve
seen it more than once. It`s worth watching here. But Biden just bearing
his soul, sitting down with Stephen Colbert on the new "Late Show." This
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, CBS, "THE LATE SHOW": I want to talk about the elephant
in the room which in this case is a donkey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have anything you`d like to tell us right now
about your plans?
VICE PRES. JOE BIDEN (R), UNITED STATES: Yes.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BIDEN: I think you should run for president again, and I`ll be your vice
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Biden shared his feelings and his thinking though in very direct
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Look, I don`t think any man or woman should run for president
unless, number one, they know exactly why they would want to be president.
And, two, they can look at the folks out there and say, I promise you, you
have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy and my passion to do this.
And I`d be lying if I said that I knew I was there. Nobody has a right in
my view to seek that office unless they`re willing to give it 110 percent
of who they are, and I am -- as I said, I`m optimistic. I`m positive about
where we`re going, but I find myself -- I understand that sometimes it just
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And the thing that is keeping Joe Biden overwhelmed and from
potentially not being able to give 110 percent, is he`s still mourning the
death of his oldest son Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware, who
died of brain cancer in May.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: My mom had an expression. He said, as long as you`re alive, you
have an obligation to strive and you`re not dead until you see the face of
God. It really, really has been imbued in me, my siblings, my mother, my
grandfather, it`s just -- life is -- no one owes you anything. No one owes
you anything. You`ve got to get up. And I feel like I was letting down
Beau, I`ve let down my parents, letting down my family.
COLBERT: How have you let them down?
BIDEN: If I didn`t just get up. You know, I mean, you just got to get up
and think of all the people you know who are going through horrible things,
and they get up every morning and they put one foot in front of the other
and they don`t have, like I said, anything like the support I have. I
marvel, I marvel at the ability of people to absorb hurt and just get back
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The Vice President also touching on one moment when he felt he`d
lost control of his emotions when he was working a rope line was, this
summer and he was speaking with military families that is based in Denver.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I was talking about them being the backbone and sin knew of this
country. It was going great. And a guy in the back yells, Major Beau
Biden, bronze star, sir, serviceman in Iraq. And all of a sudden, I lost
it. How could you, I mean -- that`s not -- I shouldn`t be saying this.
But you can`t do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Eleanor, you look at that, you`re looking at somewhat who a lot of
us didn`t know to some degree and people in the country feel like they
know. And in politics, you get to know the different cadences of these
folks. I mean, this is Joe Biden grieving.
CLIFT: Right. Major Beau Biden bronze star brought tears to my eyes.
And, you know, initially when it was floated that the Vice President might
get into the race, it was framed in terms that this was what Beau Biden
would have wanted. This was a death bed wish. I think there are lots of
complicated emotions here, but there`s also the reality of, is there a path
to the nomination for Joe Biden who has had eight pretty staller years as a
vice president. And I think those who, you know, love and admire him fear
that there may not be the ground swell out there. They`ll love him until
the day he announces, and then all the things they didn`t like about him
will come out.
CLIFT: And is that how he wants to cap his political career. On the other
hand, if there is a groundswell out there, then you`ve got a pretty
bruising fight between Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden who are friends.
MELBER: Talk about a team of rivals, rivals of rivals.
CLIFT: So, this is -- I`m sure they`re doing a lot of number crunching,
and then he`s got an emotional decision to make.
MELBER: And you look at him, talking to Colbert, Michael. Stephen
Colbert, as many people know follow his career dealt with incredible
personal tragedy. And Biden in his way because Biden is very direct. It`s
out there. He references that as well. Let`s take a listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: It`s interesting. The people I find who I`m most drawn to are
people who have -- who have been hurt and yet, I`m not going to embarrass
you, but you`re one of them, old buddy. No, no, no, no. Your mom, your
family, losing your dad when you were a kid and three brothers. I mean,
you know, it`s just -- it`s like asking what made your mother do it every
day? How did she get up every single day with, you know, 11 kids --
COLBERT: Well, she had to take care of me, you know. She did. That`s it.
We were there for each other.
BIDEN: And she did a hell of a job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I mean, that`s also, it`s a very human moment. But also,
something, we talk a lot in politics is, what`s your story? Why do you
care about what you care about? I mean, people around Joe Biden say,
that`s the big part of who he is.
STEELE: Well, it is the thing that makes him stand out in this field,
republican or democrat. It`s that every-man idea of Joe Biden, who he is,
the personal relationships. You know, you look at the parade footage of
him just breaking the line, going up to people, and shaking their hand,
immersing himself with people, riding Amtrak every day. You know, this is
the guy who lives his life despite all the trappings of office, the way the
rest of us do. So, in that sense when you put him up against someone like
a Donald Trump, that for me will be a very interesting contrast. Because
people look at Donald Trump as sort of the everyman billionaire.
Well, you know, this is blue collar Joe. This is someone who is even a
little bit more close to the salt of the earth. The pressure on Joe is
exactly what Eleanor said it is. The reality he`s facing is, I get the
emotion, everyone, you know, is with me, they`re feeling that empathy. But
the moment he announces, Washington takes over. And all that that means in
a presidential campaign becomes the focus. So all the crazy comments, all
the, you know, tensions in the past, all that stuff then becomes part of
the political narrative again.
UNGAR: Yes. I should say at the outset, full disclosure, I`m a one-time
Joe Biden fan. I very much want him in this race. But, you know, I came
away with two things from that interview. The first was, I`m amazed that
anybody has the ability to talk like that and express himself and show
those emotions in front of a TV camera. It just astounded me. But the
second thing I came away with is how much this horrible experience has aged
him and how much that showed on the Colbert interview. And that concerns
me in terms of whether or not he might decide to go forward.
MELBER: Right. And with a different type of candidate, you might say, oh,
is this some sort of pre-planned phase to the next thing, to the next
thing. With Joe Biden, this is who he is. This is his process. Cornell
Belcher who of course worked on both Obama campaigns as a pollster was
saying, I think he`s probably going to run, it feels like it. And after
this interview, a little bit like himself, it`s one of this Biden fan who
says, you know, it looks like he`s not running just from the way he`s just
letting it out and that`s how he`s feeling.
UNGAR: Life does things sometimes. It changes plans.
MELBER: Yes. We`re going to have a lot more on 2016 here. We do also
want to give our viewers an update on this big story in Arizona, a scary
one. Police questioning a man now overnight in connection to now what are
nearly a dozen shootings on the I-10 Interstate there, motorists calling in
for the last two weeks reporting basically as I`m sure you`ve seen on the
air, vehicles hit with gunfire, random shattered windows, bullet-pear
seats. A lot of scares down there. Authorities asking for the public`s
help as well before the situation escalates further.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TROOPER JASON SEEGER, ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: We`re taking
every tip that the citizens of Arizona are bringing into us. We do want to
say thank you for that. Those tips aid and help us with this further
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So, we are going to bring you the latest from Arizona, that`s in
our next hour. But still ahead, the drama at the U.S. open both on and off
the court. A lot to talk about. And first, the story of the summer in the
2016 race for president, that`s all ahead. Stay with us.
MELBER: There were two new polls released at the tail end of this week
that have really encapsulated what a wild summer it`s been in this race for
president, both for the Democrats and the Republicans. And here is how the
race looked at the start of this summer. Remember this, we had a
Quinnipiac Iowa poll, this was in June, Scott Walker at the top of the
crowded field, at the same time Donald Trump and Ben Carson, these two sort
of outsiders, people didn`t know what to make of them. And they were just
beginning to rise. Now, look at this now. Three months later Scott
Walker`s lead has fallen 15 points from first in the state and now sitting
in a comfortable tenth place.
Donald Trump risen to the top of the field. You know that. Ben Carson
though getting a real look here, trailing closely behind him in that key
state. And meanwhile, on the other side of the race, Bernie Sanders has
overtaken Hillary Clinton. At least by eight points. They are the margin
of error. Sanders had been leading Clinton in recent New Hampshire polls.
This is the first time he`s pulled ahead in that all important caucus state
of Iowa. The change of fortune result of a 12 point drop for Clinton since
the beginning of the summer. His numbers reflecting what`s been going on
in the national stage as well. CNN has a snapshot on that race, showing
Hillary Clinton once around 60 percent of the total vote, falling to within
ten points of Bernie Sanders nationally. Did you know there were that many
democratic socialists around the country? What a difference --
UNGAR: Define socialist, please.
MELBER: That`s what he says. And in fairness to him, he is not a
communist, he is not a traditional socialist. He is democratic socialist.
But this is not, Eleanor, this is not what people thought was going to
happen. Who does -- let me start with sort of the media question. Why
doesn`t the political media, the Washington Press treat Bernie Sanders the
way they treat Donald Trump as someone who came out of nowhere and is
polling up at the top of the race? He`s still not getting that kind of
CLIFT: Well, he`s not as entertaining as Donald Trump. I mean, Bernie
Sanders gets out there and he hits all his economic message points, and
democratic activists love it. And the crowds he`s getting, he goes mostly
to college towns and urban areas.
MELBER: A crowd is a crowd.
CLIFT: Yes. A crowd is a crowd. But I traveled with Howard Dean in 2004
and I though I was witnessing the next Harry Truman. I thought those
crowds were pretty spectacular. So, it doesn`t necessarily translate into
support where it matters. I think the Iowa poll, you know, the way the
votes are counted in the Iowa caucuses on the democratic side, if your
candidate doesn`t get 15 percent of the people in the room, and it`s all
very public. So the votes that, believe it or not, Martin O`Malley and --
principally Martin O`Malley will be getting, you`ll have Clinton and
Sanders vying for them. So, at least absolute --
MELBER: Well, a lot of political junkies talking about that O`Malley
bounce, that half a point to a point changes everything.
CLIFT: Well, exactly but it will go to Clinton or Sanders. And what I`m
saying is organization really matters in Iowa. So, I still think that, you
know, even if he overtakes her in Iowa, I want to say so what. Even if he
wins in New Hampshire, that`s more problematical. But then comes the
south, South Carolina, African-Americans. I don`t think Sanders support is
broad enough to carry him to the nomination.
MELBER: But by that thesis, Michael, that`s a non-fluid race thesis, that
she can take some lumps and still be the front-runner. The alternative is,
that she loses the first two states to Bernie and the whole party goes,
well, maybe we need to rethink this, maybe we need another candidate.
STEELE: And that`s the fear. I mean, they`re counting on the sort of
static approach that, okay, Hillary is going to have fun, a rough road in
Iowa, you know, or New Hampshire. That`s fine. But when we get to the
south, that`s her wall, the firewall that they`re counting on to protect
her. And she`s going to be looking to the black vote. Well, you know, the
black Democrats that I`ve talked to, they`re not jumping up and down about
Hillary at this moment. So, she`s got some work to do there. Bernie has a
solid civil rights record that maybe his team should talk to the black
community about a little bit more, and I believe they are. So, there`s a
lot of fluidity here in terms of how this thing will play itself out which
is great. I mean, I think the American people are saying, we want a
process that`s shaken up a bit. We don`t want this thing to be so sterile
that it`s automatic.
MELBER: And Rick, from a policy perspective, Bernie Sanders is running on
something people understand, that the economy and Washington are rigged by
Wall Street, and that`s the first thing, priority thing he`s going to try
UNGAR: I think that`s true. And he also, by the way, has the one thing
going for him that apparently is helping Trump. People think he`s an
UNGAR: I don`t necessarily think that about Trump, but this is where his
support is coming from. But I`ve got to say, Eleanor nailed it. Because
we can all talk about how Bernie has gotten ahead of Hillary in Iowa. You
know what? The only thing that matters in Iowa in the real world is the
ground game, getting people to the caucuses. Hillary has an unbelievably
good organization in Iowa. Hillary will win the Iowa caucuses. I don`t
know about New Hampshire. But she will go to South Carolina and pull it
off there. So --
MELBER: And you managed the ground game --
UNGAR: I don`t speak with that degree of certainty.
STEELE: That`s a lot of certainty.
MELBER: That`s a lot of certainty. I mean, Hillary was organized for the
Iowa caucuses in 2008. How did she do?
UNGAR: Not as organized as she is now. And by the way, a lot of the same
people that Obama had. Yes. And people are working for Hillary.
STEELE: I do not discount people`s emotions and how they feel about these
candidates in this race. I think that is a big driver. Hillary is not --
she is losing support among Democrats, not gaining it. Iowa is no
different. It is not immune from that emotion about her.
MELBER: Right. And you`re talking about the organizing piece, that`s
something we`re actually going to get to on both the democratic side which
has the 15 percent floor which makes a big difference as well as the
republican side where there`s certain people they`re crying to recruit.
We`ll talking about at this hour, a demographic in the race for that state
that could be getting more attention. That`s what I was mentioning. We`ll
talk about that.
Also, that deadly crane collapse in one of the holiest places on earth. We
have an update on that next as well.
MELBER: Officials in Saudi Arabia are saying it was high winds that caused
yesterday`s deadly crane collapse in Mecca. The accident killing more than
100 people, this was outside the Mecca`s grand mosque. It was just two
weeks before the start of the annual Hodges Pilgrimage to that holy city.
NBC News Keir Simmons has a report for us.
KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The terrifying moments caught on
cell phone video. A tower construction crane collapses, then panic. It
came down on top of one of the most holy places in the Muslim world,
Mecca`s grand mosque, smashing through the ceiling just before evening
prayer, causing carnage, too gruesome to show in full. At least 107 people
were killed, more than 200 injured, Saudi authorities say. Men in bloodied
robes, stunned simply to have survived. The mosque is surrounded by giant
construction cranes. A powerful storm apparently caused the collapse.
Mecca had been hit by high winds and heavy rains.
A view from above shows the base of a huge crane toppled. Emergency
workers flooding the area carrying away the dead. They died on a holy day
in a holy place, one believer said on Twitter. A martyr`s death, said
another. Mecca is just days away from a huge influx of visitors, the Hajj
Pilgrimage. One of the largest religious gatherings in the world. Last
year, two million people attended. Security forces often surround the area
to keep it safe. But what happened was apparently a terrible and
terrifying accident, killing people who were simply here to praise God.
Keir Simmons, NBC News, London.
MELBER: Such a tragedy. Thanks to Keir for that report.
And still ahead on our broadcast, she is the one of the leading voices in
the Senate, encouraging the President to accept more refugees from that
humanitarian crisis in and around Syria. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar
will join us live this morning just a little bit. But first, the subset of
a subset, is a small but influential group of voters that we should be
paying attention to in Iowa. We`ll going to be doing just that on the
other side of this break. So, stay with us.
MELBER: We want to dig into something we were just discussing with Eleanor
Clift earlier in the hour. Crowds matter more in Iowa than in other
states. And that`s because Iowa famously uses caucus meetings to pick the
nominee, not solitary voting. So, candidates need more than support. They
need organizers who can build their own crowds on that cold night in
February of next year. And that means people involved with their
community. For Republicans, it often means evangelical Christians, they
made up 57 percent of caucus-goers last time around. And some of the most
connected volunteers are a special subset of parents, the home schoolers.
And they may not get the media buzz of debates and rallies but they are
vital to this ground game.
And that`s probably why four candidates already made time for the Iowa home
schooler`s annual meeting, it was in April. As the AP`s Catherine Lucey
reports, they`re a well-organized subset of the evangelical population that
participates in the political process and quite effectively. So, as the
chase in Iowa rolls on and the Iowa caucus nears, who is making the most
headway with these Iowa home schoolers?
We`ll going to go right to the source here, to Kathie Obradovich, a long-
time reporter and political columnist for "The Des Moines Register." How
KATHIE OBRADOVICH, "THE DES MOINES REGISTER": Terrific. How are you?
MELBER: Fantastic. Happy to have you join us. I want to play a little
bit right at the gate from Rick Santorum who famously home schools his own
kids and did very well winning Iowa last time. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got the question the other
day, will you be the first president who home schools their child in the
White House because we home school our children.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
I reminded them that most presidents home schooled their children in the
White House. For 150 years, they home schooled their children in the White
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This certainly helped him there. Is it going to help any other
candidates right now if they connect with these organizers?
OBRADOVICH: Yes. You know, any candidate who is conservative evangelical
wants to connect with the home school crowd. That they are not only, you
know, very conservative, but they also work hard for the candidates. So if
a candidate is able to unify the home schoolers, that would be a big
difference in the caucuses. This is a pretty smart group of roughly 10,000
children. So, multi-child households, so we`re talking about, you know,
10,000 adults or less probably.
And so it`s not -- you`re not going to win the caucuses necessarily just by
having home schoolers. You have to have other coalitions as well. But
Mike Huckabee, for example, was able to substantially unify these home
school -- he was really the first one to tap this group, and I think it did
make a difference for them, in part because these folks, you know, actually
went out and campaigned for him. They make a bigger difference than just
the average caucus-goer.
MELBER: Well, yes, that`s the whole point, I mean, their ability to come
out and be priests and captains and stand up at their caucus meeting and be
visible and credible. And then there`s an interaction there, you mentioned
Huckabee, with the policies that some of the conservatives are advancing,
particularly an emphasis on pushing forward their ideas at that local
family level, not relying on a faraway federal government. Here is Mike
Huckabee speaking at that April event that I mentioned. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The decision for your
children`s education is not in the hands of the government. It is in the
hands of the mothers and fathers who are not only responsible for bringing
the children into the world, but who are responsible for training their
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Who is in your view doing best among this group right now in this
OBRADOVICH: So, there`s no way to really tell. There`s no polls of home
schoolers. I haven`t seen prominent endorsements from that group yet. And
they have a number of choices. First of all, Mike Huckabee, they still
like him. Rick Santorum, he still has home schooled kids. They still like
him. Ted Cruz I think has done well with this group. Some of them, they
have been interested in the Ron Paul campaign in the past and may come over
to Rand Paul, you know, the libertarian, you know, government leave me
MELBER: And then also, and then stay with me, Kathie. I wanted to bring
in Michael Steele. Ben Carson, his education, his approach to a big part
STEELE: Yes. No, it is. I mean, that`s why you`ve seen in recent weeks
more of a conversation with and among evangelicals in the party, because
that is a base of support that a number of these candidates who are trying
to get closer to Trump to sort of build the ladder towards the top of the
poll, they need that. They need that. I know when I ran in for the U.S.
Senate in 2006 in Maryland, the home school community was a big part of
helping me get organization. In fact, I had folks come in from
Pennsylvania who were interested in the campaign. So, they are a potent
organizational tool for a candidate.
MELBER: Absolutely. And Kathie Obradovich, thanks for given us a little
bit of your view directly from Iowa, from the Des Moines Register, thanks
for your time this morning.
OBRADOVICH: Thank you.
MELBER: I appreciate it. And now still ahead, business mogul,
presidential candidate and now fashion icon. We`re going to take a look at
what earned Donald Trump his latest distinction. It might not be what you
And next, will the mistaken arrest of tennis star James Blake lead to
further meaningful changes at the NYPD? We`ve got a great segment on that.
MELBER: Two big tennis stories heading into this weekend, that big upset
of Serena Williams and the continuing fallout to the mistaken arrest of
former tennis pro James Blake while he was en route to the open. Last
night fans cheered when he appeared on the video board. You see it right
here. During a semifinals match, a very public embrace of the star after
his very public run-in with the law. Here is what you need to know. Last
night the NYPD released this surveillance video shows how an undercover
detective stormed Blake and threw him to the ground. This was Wednesday.
Now, the video basically seems to confirm key parts of Blake`s account,
that officer made physical contact without identifying himself, a violation
of police rules and wrestled him to the ground. Now, Blake spoke out about
the incident saying, he recognizes he has a bigger platform than most
people that might face false arrest or police harassment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that a lot of people have no voice to have any
recourse. And I`m lucky enough to have the opportunity to be sitting here
with you, to be able to tell the story and let people know this happens too
often. And most times, it`s not to someone like me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: New York`s Police Commissioner Bill Bratton immediately, publicly
apologized to Blake and NYPD placed the arresting officer here on a
modified assignment, also an internal police investigation in progress.
But this controversy goes beyond special attention on one famous person`s
case. Many critics and legal experts say New York police are routinely
over aggressive. In fact, a federal judge ruled that the department`s stop
and frisk policy already amounts to illegal racial profiling, finding a
violated constitutional protections of equal protections and those against
unreasonable searches. In that ruling, in fact, the judge noted that in
about four million New York police stops over a span of eight years, most
suspects were not charged with any crime, and 80 percent of them, 80
percent of that four million were black or Hispanic.
Joining us now to discuss, Michael Skolnik, a documentary filmmaker who`s
focused on policing and criminal justice issues. Also president of Global
Grind. And back at the table, Chairman Michael Steele. You look at this
and you say, beyond the fact that we know about it and it got more
attention because it was a celebrity, what does it mean to the rest of New
MICHAEL SKOLNIK, GLOBAL GRIND: Well, there has not been one piece of
legislation passed in city council or the mayor since the death of Eric
Gardner, right? So, almost a year, over a year ago since the death of Eric
Garner, so here you have another instance of excessive force. Whether it`s
racial profiling or not, the minute they see him, they`re looking for a guy
who looks like him, fair enough. But then, how do they treat him after
they stop him. But how do they treat him once they have him on the ground?
James Blake is lucky to be alive. If James Blake resisted thinking this
guy is trying to like, you know, beat me up, I don`t know who it is,
doesn`t identify himself.
You know, he might be dead. They might put a bullet in his back for
resisting arrest, and trying to, you know, take down an officer. There is
a piece of legislation now that mayor will not support city council,
supports called the right to know act that makes police officers identify
themselves when approaching a suspect. Here is a case he did not and we`re
lucky to see James Black still alive.
MELBER: Well, that video, Mr. Chairman, you see it and it gives a picture
of something that we often hear after the fact where you`ve got to be very
respectful of police, and they are authorized to police. But this is a
case where you wouldn`t note -- it`s like you wouldn`t know who you were
STEELE: You wouldn`t know what you`re dealing with. You know, he`s
standing while black, as a friend of mine put it and he`s minding his own
business stand. Some guy bum rashes him. Throws him to the ground. And
you`re absolutely right. If he had resisted in anyway, this thing would
have escalated to a whole other level and the officer would have claimed
justification. Well, okay, let`s stop back before you get to that point,
did you come to us and say, excuse me, sir, New York P.D., can I have a
word with you? What is wrong with that process? What about that does not
work for the police is what a lot of frustration is about in the black
community when it comes to how the police deals with individuals in the
So community policing here. I mean, how the police want to engage even in,
you know, a lawful arrest or detainment situation, those things matter.
Those early steps matter in approaching members of the community to make
sure you`re safeguarding your rights under the constitution, you`re not
doing the level of profiling that is borderline racist, and people feel
that, okay, you`re justified in the ultimate action.
MELBER: Let me, I want to play one thing which is, a lot of this also
comes down to who is policing the police. Reportedly they didn`t even put
a record down of this incident, mistaken arrest which they`re required to
do. So, if he wasn`t a celebrity, we wouldn`t even know that the thing
went down. Now, I asked Manhattan D.A., about this. This week, he`s not
actually ready to do any kind of external investigation yet. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our office has always investigated police misconduct
where we have seen it, and if we believe it is criminal, we`ve proceeded to
charge. It`s happened in 16 or 17 police officer cases since I`ve been
D.A. I can`t speak to whether or not this will result in a criminal
investigation by our office, but I`m sure we`ll going to have more
conversations with the commissioner about it. And obviously, if police
officers are engaged in systemic misconduct or conduct which is outrageous,
this is a concern for the police commissioner, it`s a concern for the
citizenry and his concern for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So even in a case with this much attention, you still don`t have
an independent inquiry here.
SKOLNIK: Well, I think the problem here is, the conversation is shifting
because white America is seeing it. Right? We`re seeing videotape of
Walter Scott getting shot in the back by a police officer in South
Carolina, we see James Blake accosted in Times Square, New York. We`re
seeing Eric Garner getting choked out. And now, it`s that holy cow, it`s
actually real. And so, if you think this is happening to James Blake in
Times Square, New York, you better believe it`s happening to James Blake in
South Bronx, New York, in Brooklyn, New York. In Staten Island, New York.
In downtown Manhattan, New York. And these cops, they`re not even putting
in the arrest that it actually happened. You can`t believe this only one
case happened in Times Square to James Blake. It`s happening across the
board. This guy has been sued four times, this same cop, four times, and
written up five. And nothing has happened.
MELBER: Right. And you look at the data on profiling, I just want to put
this up mentioning this for the context. Thirteen thousand people stopped
by NYPD officers in the first half of 2015. Now, under a new mayor,
democratic mayor, 81 percent though not charged of anything, essentially
innocent, 73 percent minority.
SKOLNIK: Yes. And so, you have, as the chairman said, you have this
incredible frustration. Imagine if it was a 13-year-old kid in The Bronx
getting treated like that by a police officer who didn`t do anything wrong.
How does that 13-year-old child then perceived or look at the police for
the rest of his or her life.
MELBER: Right. And what`s the cycle.
SKOLNIK: And what`s the cycle on that. So, this excessive force, this
distrust of their own communities that they`re policing in, has caused an
incredible rift, not just in New York.
MELBER: Right. A nationwide, Michael Skolnik, thank you for coming in.
The chairman stays. Up next, a story about tennis from the U.S. open that
people are talking about as well. Serena`s stunning upset as we continue.
Also, telling her constituents they can always think of her as the senator
next door, Senator Amy Klobuchar is here. Stay tuned.
MELBER: And now we have a big headline for you that you`ve probably heard
about, Ciao, Serena. It`s what everyone is talking about. Serena Williams
losing that semifinals in the U.S. open to a player most have never heard
of and we`re going to talk about this with the panel. Because I know you
were probably watching that instead of your politics.
First, NBC`s Kristen Dahlgren is at the U.S. open with us on how it went
KRISTEN DAHLGREN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Ari. I got to tell
you. I don`t think I`ve ever seen as many stunned people in one place. I
talked to all the experts before the match. They said there was virtually
no scenario in which Serena Williams would have lost that match. People
who are with Roberta Vinci said, the Italian didn`t think she stood a
chance, and then she stunned everybody including herself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s done it. An extraordinary upset!
DAHLGREN (voice-over): For Serena Williams, it was the end of a year-long
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Italy`s Roberta Vinci ends Serena Williams Grand Slam
SERENA WILLIAMS, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER: I know how to talk about how
disappointing is it for me.
DAHLGREN: Just two matches away from the rare calendar Grand Slam, winning
four majors in the same year, what seemed inevitable to the world number
one until a little known Italian Roberta Vinci, ranked just 43 in the
WILLIAMS: I`m happy. I don`t know. It`s tough to explain my motion right
I thought she played the best tennis in her career, she played literally
out of her minds.
DAHLGREN: Williams wasn`t the only one shocked to see the unseeded player
to put an end to her 33-match winning streak.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is one of the hugest upsets in all of tennis
history. Roberta Vinci had not beaten Serena Williams in four tries.
DAHLGREN: For Williams, it was an exhausting week. She batted her sister
Venus on Tuesday and after that match admitted to being tired.
WILLIAMS: I have to wake up early to practice and not making it super
DAHLGREN: Williams has always been a fan favorite. A Cinderella story out
of the rough streets of Compton, California. She`s already won the so-
called Serena slam, four majors in a row, just not in a calendar year,
something she pointed out to journalists.
WILLIAMS: I did win three grand slams this year. So, yes, and I won four
in a row, so it`s pretty good.
DAHLGREN: Meantime, on the men`s side, in the semifinals, he`ll did few
surprises. Number one Novak Djokovic failing into a final against Roger
Federer. Looking for his record, 18th major.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger Federer, full force.
DAHLGREN: Still a lot of amazing tennis to come here. The women`s final
later on today, Roberta Vinci is going to be going against her country
woman, Flavia Pennetta. Another unheralded Italian neither expected to go
this far at all. But they were giant killers here at the U.S. open taking
down the number one and number two seeds. For ticket prices though, not
having Serena has hurt. Tickets that we`re selling for about $1400 before
yesterday`s match now going for less than half of that -- Ari.
MELBER: All right. Thanks for that report. Which everyone is talking
about it. We will talk about it, too. Chairman Steele, for our viewers
who are not tennis fans, this is like James Gilmore taking out Jeb Bush.
This is not supposed to happen.
STEELE: Yes. Or you can look at it, you know, Buster Douglas taking out
Mike Tyson, the idea that -- and I think it was mentioned in the piece,
Serena had a big week. She went through some tough matches, particularly
with her sister. There was a lot of focus in that. And I think she looked
past this one. I think, you know, she let her guard down enough for Vinci
to come in and go, gotcha.
MELBER: And the Italian prime minister now flying in New York to catch
this all-Italian U.S. open. I mean, this is global.
CLIFT: Great. It`s great for the Italians. I`m not so sure it`s so great
for tennis, at least tennis in America. Because Serena really was our
CLIFT: And we were just finishing taping the McLaughlin group yesterday
when Clarence Page fellow panelists check this phone and said, Serena lost.
And I gasped. I didn`t see it coming at all. And I don`t think she did
either. I think she let down her guard.
MELBER: Well, you mentioned, I love backstage, McLaughlin group --
CLIFT: No, it wasn`t.
MELBER: Scale of one to ten -- where Serena Williams win? I don`t think
anyone would put this, you know, as possible.
CLIFT: Right. Exactly. You know, even the greatest can have an off day.
CLIFT: And if you start examining her career, she has been a little
uneven. They say she comes in to match, into tournaments and she starts
out kind of rocky and then --
MELBER: Right. And that winning a lot and winning most of the time
doesn`t mean you win all the time. We got to take a break. And Senator
Amy Klobuchar joins us next. So, we`ll be right back.
MELBER: Is the U.S. doing enough to help?
MELBER: Thanks for staying with us. You are watching UP. I am Ari
Melber, in for Steve Kornacki.
And for weeks now, we`ve been seeing heartbreaking images out of Europe as
Syrians try to make their way to some sort of better life. President Obama
announcing the U.S. will be taking 10,000 refugees. Some are asking
whether that is enough. And Senator Amy Klobuchar will be along in just a
minute to discuss this with me live.
Also, the immigration controversy hitting closer to home. We`re going to
look at the harsh immigration policies that have been gaining traction with
some Republican voters as well as the role they`ve played in the ascent of
the candidate espousing those policies.
And later, we have an update on the political news you may have missed this
week -- a major figure departing in the wake of the Christie bridgegate
investigation. This one ran one of the largest airlines in the country.
But we begin right now with that staggering number people fleeing the war
in Syria, trying to make their way across Europe to some kind of better
life. Germany`s foreign minister calling the influx probably the largest
challenge in the history of the E.U. Yesterday, Hungary, the Czech
Republic, Slovakia and Poland, the countries of the continents east that
many of the migrants and refugees have been travelling through, well, those
nations actually rejected an E.U. plan that would have imposed refugee
quotas across Europe.
NBC`s Claudio Lavanga joins us. He is live at Keleti railway station in
Thank you for your time here. Why don`t you tell us what the scene is?
What are you seeing?
CLAUDIO LAVANGA, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ari, I can only describe
the scene here at the train station as positive and serene. Well, the sun
is shining. We have volunteers behind me, you can see them. They`re
helping out the refugees. Some are playing music, others are playing with
children. Many more are offering food, shelter and water.
But I can`t say the same as to -- in regards to the border with Serbia
where there is a refugee center where many refugees are crossing to the
border from Serbia, are being forcibly detained. Now, human rights
organizations have called conditions in that center abysmal. After
yesterday, we saw some pretty horrific scenes of tens or hundreds or
refugees scrambling to catch one of the plastic bags of sandwiches and
water thrown into the crowd by a handful of policemen.
And the situation is only bound to get worse, Ari, as the prime minister of
Hungary announced that from next Tuesday he will criminalize illegal
immigration, he will make it a crime, and he will arrest every refugee who
tries to cross the border into Hungary from Serbia -- Ari.
MELBER: All right. Thank you, Claudio Lavanga.
The U.S. response to this migrant crisis is, of course, one of the issues
confronting Washington. Members of Congress got back to work this week.
President Obama announced as we mentioned, that they`re going to take in at
least 10,000 Syrian refugees. That`s over a whole year. And it`s up from
the 1,800 the U.S. previously committed to. But a lot of folks saying it`s
not nearly enough.
Back in May, this was on the radar of 14 Senate Democrats who sent an
official in a letter asking the president to at least try to take in 65,000
more refugees from Syria. They wrote, quote, "Following the international
community`s failure`s shelter to shelter Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi
genocide, the U.S. played the leadership role in establishing the
International legal regime for the protection of refugees. In keeping with
this history, we urge your administration, they wrote, to accept at least
50 percent of Syrian refugees whom the U.N. is seeking to resettle."
Joining me now, Senator Amy Klobuchar, one of the voices behind that
letter, also the author of the new book "The Senator Next Door."
Good morning, Senator.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Good morning, Ari. Thanks for having
MELBER: You`ve been working the issue as I mentioned. What`s changed from
when you sent your letter and what more needs to be done?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, way back when Senator Durbin and I wrote that letter,
there were actually only 700 refugees that the U.S. had taken in. Now, we
had seen a commitment. First, they said 5,000 to 8,000, and now, as you
pointed out, 10,000.
So, that is a positive development and we are not advocating that the U.S.
be the lead here. We`re simply advocating countries like Australia and
others that we do our part.
I visited those camps in Jordan with Senator Graham and Senator Gillibrand,
Senator Hoeven. At that time two years ago, the rebels were at their
height, they were starting to advance. And I remember meeting with these
refugees, many of them very well-educated, many of them just wanting to go
back to their own country. And we told them then, oh, the rebels are going
better, I`m sure you`ll be out of there.
And that haunts me to this day, a woman saying how she watched her family
members and neighbors being killed. She said what she had seen would make
KLOBUCHAR: And that`s why I think we need to up our game. We are not
advocating for changing the security screening process, just that we should
be able and capable with a country as strong as ours, there`s a history of
taking in refugees, be able to up our game and take a few more refugees.
MELBER: In your letter, you cite lessons learned or not learned from
history including, of course, World War II and other genocides. What`s the
principle here and what do you say to Americans who think this is terrible,
but there`s many terrible things, why should the U.S. pick up the slack?
KLOBUCHAR: I think, first of all, going through history, the U.S., we are
built on the shoulders of immigrants and refugees. That`s just the case.
That`s what our country has been a beacon for these refugees. And it`s
made our country actually much stronger and is strong because of that.
Not only do we talk about World War II, to me I think about the Hmong.
Minnesota now has 66,000 Hmong. At the time, in the aftermath of the
Vietnam War, our country took in 90,000 Hmong over a period of years, who
were simply looking for freedom, looking to leave oppression, having fought
on our side. And so, they came into our country and settled down, had
families and are a vibrant part of our economy.
We have the biggest population of Liberians in Minnesota, again, legal
So, I say to people, number one, look at our history, and number two, look
at the security vetting process that is pretty severe and more severe than
it was in the past, that we are using that should protect us.
And number three, look at the fact that our allies in the region, countries
like Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, allies in the region are being overrun, and
that is a security risk for us as well if we have allies whose economies,
especially Jordan, are already fragile and can`t simply keep all these
And the last thing I would say is our economy is at a stable situation
right now. Certain parts of our country, we have jobs that are unfilled,
so there would be jobs for many of these refugees.
MELBER: And, Senator, I`m going to bring in Eleanor Clift, who also had a
CLIFT: Senator, Martin O`Malley has put out a number of 62,000, I think it
is, he would like the United States to accept. I`m wondering if you think
other Democratic candidates should be responding with equal numbers, and I
want to put that in the context of the letter that you signed along with
other female Democratic senators supporting Hillary Clinton. I`m wondering
how binding that commitment is, if you consider that an endorsement?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, yes, I`m supporting Secretary Clinton, and I`ve actually
discussed Syria with her in the past, many years ago after I went on my
trip in that region, and I have to say that she has shown a commitment to
refugees. And that number was actually the number that the senators put,
that Senator Durbin and I put out, way back in May before this became an
issue in the presidential race.
And I think another interesting thing from a Michael Steele point of view
is that, actually, several of the Republican candidates, they have not
attached a number that I have seen, but also called, as long as the
screening process is appropriate, for taking in more refugees. And that
includes Marco Rubio, that includes Trump, that includes Lindsey Graham.
STEELE: Lindsey Graham, yes.
Yes, yes, Senator, I think -- I think that`s a very important point. On
the Republican side, to Eleanor`s question, you have seen a number of the
presidential candidates come out and say we should be that country that
leads in this effort to help our partners in the region.
How do you, though, and you touched on the security aspect, because for
those other Republican candidates and those in the national security
business, there is a legitimate concern about the vetting.
How do you process and police effectively? I know you`ve talked about the
augmented system that`s in place. But this is something different if
you`re bringing in such a large number. If you reach your 65,000 or 75,000
folks coming in.
How do you see that process, addressing that?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think we know that will not happen all at once. That
it`s going to be over a period of years and that we would really have to up
our game in terms of the screening, and with numbers comes efficiency.
But as you point out, Michael, this is a different process that we didn`t
even use back when we had the Hmong coming in or the Liberians coming in.
This is a process involving an extra amount of security and checks for
security agency that actually asked for the process last week. It`s a 14-
step process involving different security questions and investigations.
So, I think it is very important. At the same time, we have a history in
Syria there are a number of different religious groups including
Christians, people of all religions that have professional backgrounds in
that country. I met construction workers, accountants, lawyers. There are
a lot of people with educated backgrounds as well that want to come in.
So I think it is very important to do that vetting, but people have to
remember that we`re dealing with people that are educated, 11 million
people in Syria have been displaced out of 23 million, 11 million. Most of
them are still in the country, but 4 million are in these countries
MELBER: The scale is incredible, and I think the public is only starting
to grasp it here in the U.S. where people feel farther away and appreciate
your efforts in talking to us about that.
I want to turn to domestic issues as well, both policy and politics.
On policy, I`ve been hearing from sources on the Hill that there actually
could be a bipartisan breakthrough on a criminals justice reform package.
That Senator Grassley is sitting with some of the Democrats who pushed
this. I think you know some of the background and the president has talked
about a more rehab-oriented approach, dealing with mandatory minimums.
It`s been an issue on the campaign trail. What are you hearing, what do
you want to see happen?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I serve on the Judiciary Committee, so I`ve been involved
in some of this. And the idea here in working with Senator Grassley, the
Judiciary Committee passed a bill reducing some of those top federal drug
sentences. I`m with three Republican votes, I believe, out of the
committee. As you know there`s a strange combination on the left and the
right working on this, from the Center on American Progress to the Koch
brothers, that support bringing the census down.
But very important to me and a number of senators who do a lot on drug
rehab when we have so many people getting addicted to heroin right now and
prescription drugs is to combine this with some work in that area. We have
a strong bipartisan bill with Senator Whitehouse, and Senator Ayotte,
Senator Portman and myself, that focuses on that kind of position
monitoring and other things. So, we`d like to see that go hand in hand
with the reduction of the drug sentences, as well as more on drug courts.
I`m a former prosecutor and I know that the carrot and stick approach has
worked really well. So, it`s actually a pretty interesting time and a
bipartisan effort to work on the criminal justice reforms, because we
haven`t done anything since we took the sentences for crack and cocaine and
made them more equal.
MELBER: Right. Well it`d be very interesting, a lot of us watching the
Judiciary Committee. We`ve done mostly policy. I will get to politics
before I let you go.
Your book talks a lot about what it`s like to be a woman senator, "The
Senator Next Door", breaking barriers, as well as beating back some of the
things that can come up in that kind of career. Looking at the news this
week, I want to know -- do you think Donald Trump has been sexist in his
remarks about Carly Fiorina?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, I thought that was pretty outrageous. I don`t know how he
can get by with saying, oh, I was just talking about her, you know,
personality or credentials when he actually said, "Look at that face." To
me, when you say, "Look at that face", you`re talking about someone`s
I know all women who are in office and all women everywhere should respond
to that, because he`s basically -- I don`t know what he`s saying, you don`t
look good enough? You look too old? I don`t know what he means. But to
me, he means something about her looks, that she doesn`t look like a
And one of the things women candidates battle whether they`re Democrats or
Republicans all the time is having that kind of credibility to show that
they can lead, to have voters and citizens actually imagine that they can
be in charge of something. And hearing those kinds of comments, I think
they boomerang and I think eventually they`re going to boomerang right back
MELBER: Wow. All right. Well, Senator Amy Klobuchar, appreciate you
spending sometime this morning. For viewers, I want to mention again, the
book is "The Senator Next Door."
Thanks for your time.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me on, Ari.
Now, we are also following a developing story in northern California, a
wildfire continuing to burn out of control. The pictures quite scary
overnight. That fire spread to nearly 65,000 acres, a few hundred acres as
recently as Thursday.
One firefighter saying it is exploding like a balloon. It`s forced more
than 2,500 people from their homes. Governor Jerry Brown there declaring a
state of emergency to shore up resources. Stay with MSNBC throughout the
weekend and we`ll have more on that story.
Now, still ahead for us here on UP, the bridgegate investigation taking the
surprising turn, a prominent head rolled but it`s probably not who you
Also next, a conservative Latino group taking on Donald Trump.
Stay with us.
MELBER: Republicans are gearing up for a big debate this week, but one
issue uniting most of the candidates on stage could also cost them the
election next year, we`re talking about the wall. Donald Trump has set off
a race for who can be the most anti-illegal immigration across the Mexican
border. And he`s moved the GOP base here with this effort. A majority of
Republicans now say the issue is crucial to their vote. That`s a jump from
39 percent when he got in the race.
But it`s worth remembering that the passion among partisans is not
reflected by the wider electorate. Look at this, in the first year,
President Obama took office, here was the breakdown on how many immigrants
the U.S. should accept. Thirty-two percent saying it should not change, 14
wanted more, and more people overall, 50 percent wanted some kind of
Those numbers have broadly turned more pro-immigration. The same Gallup
poll question this year finds now more people supporting the status quo or
increasing immigration of the U.S., that`s 40 and 25 percent, while the
crowd that wants a decrease actually drop, it shrunk 16 points.
When it comes to the subject of immigration, there`s another image now
beyond the wall that`s capturing the world`s attention in recent weeks,
it`s this one -- a Turkish official carrying the body of a 3-year-old
Syrian migrant who washed ashore. He slipped from his father`s arms when
their boat capsized. And that heartbreaking image has forced many around
the world to pay attention to the more than 4 million Syrians fleeing their
war-torn country, a migratory crisis of World War II level proportions.
Late this week, as we`ve been reporting today, President Obama expanded
immigration policy to take in another 10,000 refugees. And as some
Americans shift their attention from hypothetical border walls to these
real images of the reason people immigrate, because of danger, because of
poverty, because they feel they have to. A stridently anti-immigration or
even anti-foreigner position may not only be out of step with public
opinion, but out of sync with the real problems facing the world right now.
Joining me now to discuss is Daniel Garza, executive director of the Libre
Good morning to you.
DANIEL GARZA, THE LIBRE INITIATIVE: Good morning, Ari. How are you?
MELBER: I`m all right.
I want to talk broad policy and the Republican race with you. But before
we get to that, your thoughts and your expertise here on this migrant
GARZA: You`re talking about the one in Europe?
GARZA: Look, it`s an incredibly sad situation. It is failed states in the
Middle East that is causing this major crisis.
And, you know, it`s a complicated situation for a lot of European nations
and also for America. We have a long list of folks wanting to come to the
America. That`s just added to the line and the urgency. So, it`s going to
interesting to see who rises up with a plan that is acceptable to as many
people as possible. We`ll be watching for that.
MELBER: Right. And, look, these aren`t issues that have simple answers.
It`s one thing for people around the world to look at the humanity and the
suffering, and another thing to try to craft solutions to problems that are
escaping easy solutions. So, I want to be clear about that.
And, yet, at the policy level, it does relate to whether we look at this as
a human problem with people of goodwill in bad situations or whether there
is demagoguery -- which is something your group has pushed explicitly in
regards to Donald Trump.
I want to read from your letter. You say. "Immigrants willing to work in
the United States contribute greatly to our economy, society and culture.
May those who wish to work hard and contribute to the U.S. remain
welcomed." And you slammed the proposals on mass deportation.
What do you think is the right way to resolve this, and is Donald Trump,
ultimately in your view, going to cost Republicans potentially the
GARZA: So, to your first point, our concern is we are moving away from
realistic policy that can deal with the 11 million to 12 million folks here
currently without authorization, with their children, with our visa
And, look, you know, 40 percent of the people who are here without
authorization is because they overstayed their visas. That needs to be
dealt with. We have an economy where we need to respond to market forces
in the best way. The private sector needs workers to make a profit,
whether that`s low skilled or high skilled.
So, we need a comprehensive plan. And to just focus on border security is
not realistic either. That shouldn`t hold up the rest of the pieces, but
to say that you`re going to end birthright citizenship, to say you`re going
to seize the remittances of hardworking migrants who have come to America
and they`re sending it back to their mothers and grandmothers, you`re going
to do mass deportation, that is unrealistic and it`s bad policy.
MELBER: Right. And it`s not only unrealistic, I want to bring in Michael
Steele, former Republican Party chair, it`s also incredibly offensive to
many Latino Americans in their own words., many of whom are legal.
I want the read the favorability ratings. When you look at Hispanics and
the GOP right now, Jeb Bush doing well, he`s got plus 11. Marco Rubio, not
doing as well, a distinction based on name ID and other things, but plus
five. Ted Cruz minus seven. Donald Trump, negative 51.
STEELE: Yes, I mean, I think it`s not just how this resonates with members
of the Hispanic community but how it resonates with all Americans. And the
fact is, I`ve been waiting for some time to see if a Jeb Bush or Marco
Rubio would redefine the narrative on the party`s relationship to the
It`s one thing to say, oh, yes, we want more of you to come in and vote for
us. There they`re not going to come in unless there`s a reason to do that.
And what is that reason. And that`s going to be the articulation that Jeb
Bush in particular is going to articulate.
In the meantime, the party has to deal with the gap that`s increasing
between it and Hispanic leaders and activists, but more importantly the
Hispanic people across the country, but also how it resonates with others
The white female vote is a very sensitive voting bloc, because while the
subject may not be germane to them directly, they watch how people respond,
and how others responded that also drives those numbers.
MELBER: That`s a judgment of values. Many people a judgment of religious
STEELE: Yes, absolutely.
MELBER: I mean, Daniel, let me play to you Donald Trump talking to Bill
O`Reilly threading this needle, saying sort of without much evidence, well,
the refugees, what if they`re involved in ISIS. The evidence isn`t that
the people fleeing are ISIS warriors, so he may need a little homework done
But then he still says by the end, but we`ve got to do something because he
sees it in a humanitarian way as well. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just really, I wonder where all
these people are coming from exactly and what are they representing,
because, do you have people from ISIS in that group? You know, there`s a
lot of security risk with it. But something has to be done. It`s an
unbelievable humanitarian problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So, Daniel, what do you make of that? Again, connecting that all
packed together, that even the border wall, anti-immigrant voice is saying
something has to be done on the migrant issue?
GARZA: Well, look, Ari, you know, that poll that you showed that Americans
are now more open to more immigration is because I think we`ve understood
that throughout our history, there are estimates that show over 200 million
immigrants have come to America. They`ve contributed to America, they`ve
generated their own wealth and created opportunity for others in America
and made us the strong prosperous nation that we are.
And so, we are an open country that puts a value on talent and on skills
and that hard work ethic. That`s what they bring. And so, for someone to
go beyond the pale and to start talking about unrealistic positions, look,
I would warn Hillary Clinton, too. I mean, she said she was going to go
beyond Barack Obama on immigration reform.
Barack Obama has not got us consensus, has not got us real reform either.
For you to say you`re going to go beyond Barack Obama is not helpful to the
And so, I would just, you know, welcome a debate that is more sensible,
that is reasonable, that brings it back towards the middle, towards
consensus, and to get us to real reform which is what is needed in America
for a strong economy.
MELBER: All right. Daniel Garza from The Libre Initiative, thank you for
And still ahead on our show, it used to be a common credential on the
resumes of candidates has disappeared. Why is that?
Also next, a possible break in the search for a sniper in Phoenix. Stay
MELBER: In Phoenix, police are questioning a person of interest overnight
in connection with that bizarre string of shootings on a major interstate.
At least 11 vehicles have now been hit with gunfire or projectiles, this in
the last two weeks across the I-10. Authorities appealing for help and
warning that the situation obviously poses a potentially deadly threat to
MSNBC`s Scott Cohn has been on the story from Phoenix -- Scott.
SCOTT COHN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Ari.
It`s three -- it`s two weeks now since the first of these shootings. They
were three in one day last Saturday and then, as you said, eight since
then. It`s not clear police are a whole lot closer now than they were at
the very beginning to figure out who was behind it. There is what they
described as a person of interest, 19-year-old Oscar de la Torre Munoz who
was taken into custody yesterday, questioned about the shooting incident,
but then booked on an unrelated marijuana possession charge and it`s not
clear from what police are saying whether he`s still being questioned about
Meantime, authorities are looking into potentially different scenarios,
potentially multiple shooters. The reason for that is that some of them
were vehicles that were shot with gunfire, others shot with projectiles
like pellets from -- a pellet gun and the like, and one incident at least
that may have been related to road rage.
So, what authorities are looking at is the potential for multiple shooters,
whether they`re copycats or just similar incidents that are unrelated we
don`t know. The investigation goes on -- Ari.
MELBER: All right, Scott. Thanks for that update.
Still ahead, how the bridgegate scandal appears to have cost one of the
most powerful men in the airline industry his job. It is a wild story. We
have a good report on that.
Also next, Donald Trump compares going to a middle-style boarding school to
military service. We`re going to get into it. We don`t want to, but we`re
going to. We`re going to do that as journalists. What role will it play
in the bid for the White House? We have General Barry McCaffrey and the
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will be so good at the
military, your head will spin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was Donald Trump on the Hugh Hewitt Radio Show last week. He
was deflecting criticism that he did not know the difference between
Hezbollah and Hamas.
Now, Trump is obviously known for his bluster. He has defied the usual
political rules about the military. Here`s the latest example. There`s a
new biography in which he told author Michael D`Antonio that he always felt
he was in the military because he attended a military-style boarding
school. You cannot make it up, because he does.
Now, in an era in which less than 1 percent of the population is fighting
in overseas conflicts, it does raise the question of whether a candidate`s
potential military stance is important to general voting public anymore.
After all, Trump questioned former POW John McCain`s heroism in July and
basically avoided any major backlash.
Now, there`s this new one. Here to talk about all of it, retired four-star
U.S. General Barry McCaffrey, an MSNBC military analyst.
Good morning, General.
GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET): Good morning, Ari.
MELBER: You look at this. What`s your reaction?
MCCAFFREY: Well, it`s sort of humor. Look, by the way, all of us admire
the junior ROTC programs in high schools across America, just a terrific
way to provide some structure and development to young people.
Having said that, you know, Mr. Trump, God bless him, I would probably have
learned more about reading two issues of "Soldier of Fortune" magazine than
being a bad boy sent off to military boarding school.
So, I don`t know why he comes off with those kinds of lines. It`s sort of
The larger issue, though, is an important one. You know, World War II, 9
percent of the American population was in uniform. Today, it`s around 2
percent. So, in Congress we`ve seen the number of veterans go from 70
percent of Congress in the early `70s to today around 20 percent.
MELBER: We`ll put that up on the screen. As you say, 73 percent in the
`70s that was military veterans in our Congress, now has dropped all the
way down to 20 percent, a drastic shift in our elected representatives,
which as you point out, reflects some of the shift in the wider population.
When you look at a candidate like Donald Trump, though, you look at that
Hugh Hewitt interview which anyone can fire up. It`s on YouTube if folks
didn`t catch it live. You see someone who not only has no grasp of these
various terrorist groups, what the Quds force does in Iran, what`s the
difference between them and the Kurds, who`s in charge of what, and it`s
scornful of the idea that he should have to learn anytime soon -- does that
concern you from the standpoint of someone who would be commander in chief?
MCCAFFREY: Well, you know, I`m always somewhat sympathetic. People like
me follow national security and foreign policy issues day in and day out.
We`ve done it our entire life. So, I`m less concerned about him getting
the answers correct of who is the premier of some country than perhaps you
Having said that, look, military -- the U.S. Armed Forces have been in
combat almost non-stop for 15 years. We`ve had 60,000-some-odd killed or
wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, it is important for the White House
or Congress to either directly have military experience or to listen
closely to those who do.
But, you know, at some point, I don`t think it`s a prerequisite in any way
to being a political leader.
And, finally, what do you make looking more broadly at the other military
service candidates in the field? Lindsey Graham, who served with
distinction and actually under the rules had to pull back from that in
order to run, where he was JAG, Jim Webb, a veteran and, of course, served
in the Defense Department under Reagan, why don`t you think these
candidates are getting traction?
MCCAFFREY: Well, for a variety of reason. They have nothing to do with
their military service.
You know, Senator Jim Webb is actually quite a war hero, a tremendous
background, Naval Academy graduate, marine officer fighting in first line
combat units. And Lindsey Graham got 30 years looking at the armed forces.
So, you know, you back off the issue and say why are people voting yes or
no in primaries? That`s a whole different issue.
I would again go back to the general notion -- the terrible situation we
have with President Obama, such a good man, but he goes out in public on
Sergeant Bergdahl`s parents and releases five terrorists. I always thought
if they had a retired sergeant major working in the White House, they never
would have done that.
So, you do -- you know, the Armed Forces are the most respected institution
in American society, and people need to take that into account,
particularly if you want to be commander-in-chief.
MELBER: General McCaffrey, always appreciate your expertise. Thanks for
making the time.
MCCAFFREY: Good to be with you.
MELBER: And up next, as promised, the saga is continuing. How the
bridgegate investigation landed at United Airlines.
Stay with us.
MELBER: This week the federal investigation into the Christie
administration`s traffic jam scandal, bridgegate, led to a firing that no
one could have predicted when this all began.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: The chairman and CEO of United Airlines is
stepping down amid a corruption investigation. The feds are looking into
whether the CEO tried to improperly influence the former head of the Port
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Big national news there. And here is why: David Samson, appointed
to chair that Port Authority by Chris Christie, allegedly used his
government perch to pressure United executives to call for a special flight
between Newark Airport and Columbia, South Carolina. And he wanted the
route to make it easier for him to reach his vacation home and reportedly
pressed the top airline executives at a private dinner.
Now, why would a public company consider this bizarre somewhat private
favor? Well, it was at a time when United was trying to secure hundreds of
millions of dollars in investment for Newark Airport, one of its key hubs.
Three months later, United added that flight from Newark to Columbia, and
they ended it three days after Governor Chris Christie announced David
Now, as federal investigators dig into this suspicious and potentially
illegal government and corporate deal, United`s board arranged for the CEO
to leave this week, the company`s also alerted stockholders about the
ongoing federal probes into its so-called potential involvement in
Joining me now: Doug Burns, former assistant U.S. attorney for the eastern
district of New York, and Jonathan Dienst, chief investigative reporter for
WNBC, who has been all over this story.
Starting with you. How do we get to this point and are there any more
shoes to drop at United Airlines?
JONATHAN DIENST, WNBC CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: The investigation is
on going. The United Airlines says their internal investigation is
ongoing. The federal prosecutors and FBI, their investigation is ongoing.
Preemptive strike is how this has been categorized, United Airlines
stepping forward and removing top executives who are involved in these
alleged dealings. The question is coincidence, quid pro quo bribery, or
was United Airlines shaken down to provide this special flight for the
chairman in exchange for some of the huge improvements that were going to
go on that could have benefited the airline? These are the questions --
MELBER: The legal distinction you`re emphasizing there is a shakedown
being something that United might be less culpable for.
DIENST: That is the question investigators are looking into. They`re
nowhere near a decision as explain to us. But the investigation is very
much active and ongoing. The question, what did Chris Christie go, when
did he know it?
As of now, we`re told, again, nothing to suggest any direct involvement or
knowledge by the governor. But as in bridgegate, again, here are
underlings who he appointed, who he put in office where there`s real
troubling questions about their behavior.
MELBER: Right. The saying, Doug, where there`s smoke there`s fire, here
it`s where they there`s traffic and ridiculous flight routes, there is a
lot of discussion improper government abuse.
I want to put on the screen just so folks remember some of the other
players, David Wildstein, Bill Baroni, Bridget Anne Kelly. Wildstein pled
guilty. Bridget Anne Kelly and Baroni there, you know --
DOUG BURNS, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Trial on March 6.
MELBER: -- dealing with this as an indictment.
How, from your experience as an investigator, how do investigators get to
BURNS: Well, it`s interesting. You go up the tree, there`s a branch. OK,
we`re going to look at that branch. There`s another branch, we`re going to
look at that.
So, what happened was, in bridgegate, the bridge is part of the Port
Authority. So, it`s logical, Ari, that they`re going to start looking at
the Port Authority a little closer. So, now they look at Samson.
And what happened, it`s interesting, because, first of all, United did do
very much of a preemptive move and it was a good move actually because what
they did is they hired Jenner & Block, a very prominent Chicago law firm,
did an internal investigation and removed three executives. And now,
they`re in the position of saying not only are we cooperating 100 percent,
but look at this house cleaning maneuvers that we did.
MELBER: So, just pause, the feds are all over them and they got to deal
with that, but you`re saying they set up an investigation independent of
the CEO. Obviously, they`re not reporting to him and tell him to fire
BURNS: In-house, exactly. We don`t know what the report says. You`re
right. It may be a little different.
But let`s get back to this "chairman`s flight", because that`s what they
called it and it really was a ridiculous sort of arrogance/hubris move.
That`s the type of things that really comes back and bites you.
What happened was he wanted to initiate this flight with nothing more I
agree that`s not necessarily such a compelling prosecution. However,
critical fact, at one point, initially, United declined to put the flight
in. He took something off a board meeting agenda. That`s really
MELBER: So, what would make that illegal?
BURNS: Well, what makes that illegal is he`s -- first of all, it goes
almost into other criminal theories, he`s selling out, you know, his honest
services. I`m using that term on purpose because it`s part of the mail
fraud statute. In other words, he`s supposed to honestly have things on
the agenda and honestly and fairly consider them. And he`s doing self-
dealing for that.
Then you have bribery, but I agree with Jonathan, I think it`s much weaker
against United, particularly when you put the extortion gloss in there.
But I like the way you set that up. But, definitely, it`s illegal to say -
- I mean, it`s not sent me a 60-inch TV because you`re going to use it just
for yourself. The flight ostensibly is being used by other people. Does
that make it a little weaker? Possibly.
But at the same time, he`s asking for a personal benefit for doing his job.
And that`s sort of a quid pro quo.
MELBER: Where does this go from here?
DIENST: We know that the federal investigators are taking a hard look at
both the Port Authority officials who are involved and the United officials
who are involved. We are told at this point in time, the CEO who walked
away with $8 million in payout, golden parachute, he may have had knowledge
-- unclear how direct a role he played in it. I think some of the
underlings at United, former underlings may be in some serious legal
trouble. I think we may see something coming out of that down the road
months from now.
MELBER: You`re saying it`s possible, above and beyond all of this, the
bridgegate could lead to other executives being indicted?
DIENST: I believe there`s going to be charges -- possible charges of some
United officials, former United officials, and some charges out of folks at
the port authority and it`s also going to be interesting to see if this
investigation leads into a look at what were other airlines doing with the
Port Authority at Newark Airport.
MELBER: Well, you heard it here on UP. NBC`s Jonathan Dienst`s reporting,
as well as former prosecutor Doug Burns, thank you for your time.
BURNS: My pleasure.
MELBER: Up next, the summer`s hottest fashion accessory takes the trucker
hat trend to the next level. We will explain on the other side of this
MELBER: A lot going on this morning. We want to get you caught up on some
other stories making headlines with today`s panel. We will start with
fashion as we do.
If you`ve seen the "Social Network", you remember Mark Zuckerberg was
paraphrased as saying fashion is never finished. It`s a kind of a
metaphysical process, Chairman Steele.
STEELE: It does. That`s how you put it all together.
MELBER: Put it all together, how you interact. Well, it`s a little
interplay here, the politics running into the fashion. Trump`s campaign
hat according to "The New York Times" becoming an ironic summer accessory,
"Make America Great Again" spot on hipsters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as
well as L.A. Quote, "The hat`s appeal seems to rest partly in their
studied outmodedness, think of a 2.0 version of the trucker hats that were
also ironically repopularized by millennials, and partly in their uncanny
ability to capture the current absurdist political moment."
Mr. Chairman, I wonder if there`s something here because when you have a
bully, sometimes, you can`t take the bully seriously. Sometimes it`s more
effective to satirize or mock the absurdity of the bully.
STEELE: Right. Well, do you think the hat does that?
MELBER: I`m asking you. You`re the guest.
STEELE: Yes, look, I think the hat -- the hat is a way to sort of put the
brand out there. And Donald Trump, if he doesn`t know anything, he knows
how to brand. And I think that is better than the t-shirt, it`s better
than, you know, the sweatshirt.
MELBER: So, you think the hipsters are getting it wrong?
STEELE: I think the hipsters are getting -- I think they`re overthinking
MELBER: Is this because you hate Brooklyn and other hip enclaves?
STEELE: No, I love Brooklyn and those hip enclaves. You know, I`m the guy
who coined "hip-hop Republicans" now. Come on now.
MELBER: We don`t have time --
UNGAR: The only one who ever tried to live it.
MELBER: You don`t have time to get into all that but --
CLIFT: I was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Queens, so I have a little
bit of Donald Trump in me maybe. I don`t know. But better the hat than
the hair. And dermatologists like the fact you protect your skin a little
bit. So, I think it`s a good thing.
MELBER: Eleanor Clift going for the dermatology-fashion overlap.
CLIFT: The term that dermatology`s bump in Iowa.
UNGAR: I don`t have a drop of Donald Trump in me, and if the hipsters want
to wear the hat, I`m sure Trump will find a way to turn that into a
fantastic thing. But I don`t think it`s so fantastic.
MELBER: OK. Let`s play a little bit of our own colleague across NBC,
Jimmy Fallon, having Trump on. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY FALLON, NBC: How are you going to create jobs in this country?
TRUMP: I`m just going to do it.
(LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE)
FALLON: Right, right, but how?
TRUMP: By doing it. It just happens. Just by doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEELE: Just do it. I mean, that`s Trump and that`s the appeal of him.
People get that. As crazy as it seems to a lot of folks out there, they
get that moment.
And the joke -- I`m going to do it.
MELBER: It`s a joke but it`s also the truth, and maybe the joke is on us.
Chairman Steele, Rick Unger, and, of course, Eleanor Clift, thank you all
for joining us.
That is our show with UP. I will be back tomorrow. If you`re interested
in that kind of thing tune in at 8:00 a.m.
Up next, you`re going to want to watch "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY."
Have a great Saturday.
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