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All In With Chris Hayes, Friday, September 18th, 2015

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Date: September 18, 2015
Guest: Paula Johnson, Dave Weigel, Nate Silver, John Fetterman, Avi Selk


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a problem in this country. It`s called
Muslims. We know our current president is one.

HAYES: Donald Trump cancels at least one appearance as the firestorm from
last night rages on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When can we get rid of them?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re going to be looking at a
lot of different things.

HAYES: Tonight, Trump in trouble. Can he control the monster he himself
helped create?

TRUMP: Maybe it says he`s a Muslim. I don`t know.

HAYES: Then, a trip down memory lane. How do you shut down Donald Trump?
Watch the expert.

focusing on the issues that matter. Like did we fake the moon landing?

HAYES: Plus, the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed, his suspension over, will he
return to the school which had him wrongfully arrested?

And you may not know the mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, but you should.
He`s running for Senate, and he`s my guest tonight when ALL IN starts right


HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.

For the first time in his campaign, Donald Trump is truly playing defense,
after what may be the most significant moment in the presidential race so
far. Today, Trump canceled an appearance at a Heritage Foundation
candidates forum according to his campaign because of a, quote,
"significant business transaction that was expected to close Thursday."

Just a day after receiving this now infamous question at a town hall in New


TRUMP: OK. This man, I like this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m from White Plains. Amen. OK?

We have a problem in this country. It`s called Muslims. We know our
current president is one.

TRUMP: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know he is not even American.

TRUMP: We need this question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Birth certificate, man.

But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us.
That`s my question. When can we get rid of them?

TRUMP: We`re going to be looking at different things. And, you know, a
lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad
things are happening out there. We`re going to be looking at that and
plenty of other things.


HAYES: The backlash to Trump`s response and his failure to correct or
rebut or distance himself from any of the assertions of the questioner,
that has been the subject of bipartisan and severe condemnation. On the
campaign trail today, Hillary Clinton called him out for failing to push
back on the question.


known that what that man was asking was not only way out of bounds, it was
untrue. And he should have from the beginning repudiated that kind of
rhetoric, that level of hatefulness in a questioner in an audience that he
was appearing before.


HAYES: Chris Christie told the "Today" show he would have handled the
situation differently.


and say, no, the president`s a Christian and he was born in this country.
I mean, those two things are self-evident. I wouldn`t have permitted that
if someone brought that up in a town hall meeting of mine I would have said
listen, no, before we answer let`s clear some things up for the rest of the
audience. And I think you have an obligation as a leader to do that.


HAYES: Bernie Sanders had some pretty harsh words about what happened.


to again question whether or not the president of the United States was
born in this country, whether he`s a Christian is -- I thought we were
beyond that. It`s an outrage.


HAYES: But perhaps the strongest response came from the White House, which
linked Trump`s silence to deeper problems within the GOP.


Republican politician to countenance these kinds of views in order to win
votes. You`ll recall that one Republican congressman told a reporter that
he was David Duke without the baggage. That congressman was elected by a
majority of his colleagues in the House of Representatives to the third
highest ranking position in the House. Those same members of Congress
blocked immigration reform. Those same members of Congress opposed
reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. Those same members of Congress
couldn`t support a simple funding bill because they`re eager to defend the
Confederate Flag. So those are the priorities of today`s Republican Party.


HAYES: Trump campaign later told NBC News, quote, "Mr. Trump was referring
to the need to protect Christians` religious liberties and nothing more."
Their candidate is a guy who first gained popularity with conservatives by
accusing President Obama of a grand conspiracy to falsify and hide his
birth certificate, who launched his presidential campaign with attacks on
Mexican immigrants, calling them criminals and rapists and who said things
like this about Muslims long before last night.


TRUMP: There`s something out there that brings a level of hostility that
I`ve never seen in any religion. I mean, you can say what you want about
the Koran. You can say what you want. There`s something there. There is
tremendous hatred and tremendous hatred of us.


HAYES: Joining us, Paula Johnson, former New Hampshire state rep, now part
of the state`s Women for Trump Coalition who was at last night`s event.

Ms. Johnson, do you understand, having been there, why people are upset,
worked up, angry that Donald Trump wasn`t more forceful in rebutting what
this man had to say?

PAULA JOHNSON, WOMEN FOR TRUMP: Well, first of all, I want to say thank
you for allowing me on your program.

You know, the only people I`m hearing that are upset is the media and other
politicians that are running against Mr. Trump. I hear Hillary Clinton
upset. I hear Bernie Sanders. I hear Chris Christie. And I hear the

I don`t hear anybody on the streets, the average person upset with Mr.
Trump because Mr. Trump did nothing wrong last night.

HAYES: Ms. Johnson, let me ask you this.

JOHNSON: He did absolutely nothing wrong.

HAYES: If you think he did nothing wrong, let me just change the question,
if someone got up in that audience and said we`ve got a problem in this
country, it`s the Jews, and Donald Trump had responded in the same way,
would you be OK with that?

JOHNSON: You know what, Chris? I`m Jewish. And I wouldn`t have been
offended with that question at all because of the fact that the person has
-- it`s our First Amendment right. He asked a question. Mr. Trump said
that he`ll look into it. He`s heard other issues, other people speak about

He said nothing wrong. He didn`t offend the president but he said nothing
wrong last night. You know what happens here? If Mr. Trump had defended
the president, you would have attacked him on that. No matter what he says
or he doesn`t say, there`s always an attack by the media and other
politicians against Mr. Trump because --

HAYES: Can I ask you --

JOHNSON: -- because the silent majority likes him.

HAYES: Why do you like -- first of all, let me ask you your views on this.
Do you think the president was born here and do you think he`s a Muslim?

JOHNSON: You know what? I really don`t care. I`m looking at who is
qualified to run this country.

I find that the president is not qualified to run this country. First of
all, I guess I am offended in my opinion that the president has no respect
for the prime minister of Israel. So you know --

HAYES: But do you have -- I understand that. But just as a factual matter
to establish, the president was born in the U.S. and is a Christian. You
agree with that, right?

JOHNSON: That`s what he says he is.

HAYES: Do you have reason to doubt him?

JOHNSON: Does anybody have reason to doubt that I`m Jewish? No.

HAYES: OK. So then tell me a little bit more about why it is that you
like Mr. Trump, why you`ve chosen to support him.

JOHNSON: I`ve chosen Mr. Trump to support him. I met him around four
years ago when he first came to Nashua, New Hampshire. I was very
impressed with him with "The Apprentice", and I heard him speak and he
talked about that he was thinking about running for president.

I think it`s about time we get a non-politician to run this country, a
businessman. We need somebody who knows how to negotiate contracts and
bring jobs back and create jobs in this country, which we can`t expect that
from a politician, and he`s not bought and paid for by any special

HAYES: So how central was his performance in "The Apprentice," his role
there, you seeing him be in "The Apprentice," how central was that in his
appeal to you and how central do you think that is to his appeal to voters
more broadly?

JOHNSON: Well, you know, I`ve been to all his meetings. And every time we
have another gathering of just I guess a small friends in the state it`s
not just 1,000 or 100. You`re getting 22,000 people -- 2,000 to 3,000
people that are coming. Look what happened in Texas. What did he get,
30,000 people?

I mean, it`s growing. The people in this country are fed up with
politicians. We are fed up with the money running Washington. What about
us the people?


JOHNSON: That`s what it`s all about, we the people of this country.

HAYES: One of the things you`re articulating is people supporting him, you
supporting him, you`re fed up with politicians, you`re fed up with big
money. It also seems there are people who are supporting Mr. Trump because
they`re fed up with Mexicans, they`re fed up with immigrants, and they`re
fed up with Muslims. Do you --

JOHNSON: Well, that`s not true. If you listen to everything --

HAYES: That`s what the polling indicates. That`s what you see from the

JOHNSON: Well, when you listen to it, the reality is he`s not talking
about Mexicans.

HAYES: Uh-huh.

JOHNSON: And immigrants that come to this country legally. We`re talking
about illegal immigrants.

HAYES: Right.

JOHNSON: Illegal aliens. Undocumented the way the politically correct
people want to call them, undocumented. We`re talking about people who
came here that have no right to be in this country, that are taking our
jobs, taking welfare --

HAYES: Let me ask you one more thing. Let me ask you one more thing, Ms.

OK, let me ask you this one more thing, do you think the reaction to Donald
Trump last night and that questioner, do you think that`s political
correctness, people being angry about that?

JOHNSON: I think it is political correctness.

I`ll tell you something. The question was asked. Nobody booed. Nobody
cheered. And Mr. Trump I think handled it the right way.

But you know what? No matter what he said, the media was going to gang up
on Mr. Trump and there was no reason to.

And you know what? Some of these politicians should think, people who live
in glass houses shouldn`t throw stones because they`ve got skeletons in
their closets and we know what`s happening with Mrs. Clinton here. And you
know, it`s about time that they all grow up and they work on their own
campaigns and worry about themselves --


JOHNSON: Mr. Trump is well liked out there. The lines form out there
hours before --

HAYES: We`ll see how long that continues. Ms. Johnson, thank you very
much for joining me tonight. I really appreciate it.

Let`s bring in Dave Weigel, national political correspondent for "The
Washington Post."

All right, Dave, you are a veteran of let`s say fringe-inflected questions
at town halls. I feel like if there`s a Dave Weigel beat, this is really
one that you own. What would -- I don`t know if you were in the room last
night. If you were or were not, you`ve seen the tape. Your reaction as
someone who`s been to literally hundreds of these events and seen questions
like this before?

DAVE WEIGEL, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, Donald Trump is sort of a unique
character in this town hall setting because he does not employ coherence
when he responds to questions like this. I`ll put it that way.

If you try to parse his answer, it`s not even clear what position he took
or what he thought he saw. It was people are talking about something and
we`re going to look into that or we won`t look into that. I had to check
with the Trump campaign myself. I got a slightly different answer than the
one you were quoting, which is that he didn`t hear the question as saying
we`re going to deal with and get rid of all the Muslims. He heard it as
saying we`re going to get rid of these potential training camps in the
United States.

Other politicians I think might indulge the training camp question. I have
heard that. I`ve heard that question in other forums.

But Trump was just -- he`s been rolling and not responding or not being
very specific to all manner of questions. I think this one in one sense
caught up with him and went further than he thought. In another sense, I
don`t think it`s been that bad for him. He changed the conversation once
again from Carly Fiorina.

HAYES: It is amazing, right? Here`s this moment that happened I think
organically, although who knows? They haven`t found the guy --

WEIGEL: He did say he likes the guy. But he says that of a lot of people.

HAYES: Until they find this guy, there`s some little part of me that says
it just felt so theatrical. Until they find the guy I`m going to reserve
judgment on the origins of the question.

But the other thing is this conspiracy theory, this is something you`ve
encountered before and I think people that don`t consume a lot of
conservative media have encountered it. This idea that there are active
militant jihadi training camps in America that the FBI won`t shut down.

WEIGEL: Right. There`s an element of the conservative base. You see it
on World Net Daily and a couple other conservative sides that believe it`s
pretty much been proved that radical training is happening in this country.
Supporters of ISIS are being trained in this country and Barack Obama`s
government is not doing anything to camp it down.

Just last week, I was with Ben Carson supporters. And again, you have a
conversation that`s not representative of everyone. But chosen at random
were telling me that Barack Obama is a Muslim and he`s trying to undermine
this country from within.

I saw a lot of commentary today comparing what Trump did and how he reacted
to this question to the way John McCain reacted to a similar question in
2008 as if they`re equal or maybe as if McCain`s is the norm.

I don`t think there`s a norm. I actually think that this comes up a lot
and it`s pretty representative of what an active part of the Republican
base thinks.

I`d also add just tonight, Rick Santorum was asked questions about the
Trump question in Greenville, South Carolina, where it`s part of his
Heritage forum, and he just refused to answer it. He refused to say how he
would respond to a question like this because it`s a gotcha and it`s not
his place to judge what voters think. Because he knows a lot of voters
think this.

HAYES: Well, let`s all remember, first of all, it was in South Carolina
that Rick Santorum got one of the most amazing questions of this campaign
cycle which was about --

WEIGEL: Charleston.

HAYES: Yes. That Obama had a secret plan to nuke, drop a nuclear weapon
in Charleston. Here I think we have that Santorum sound from earlier today
of him dodging the question. Take a listen.


REPORTER: How do you think Donald Trump should have answered that

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, my focus is on my
campaign, not on doing what -- what y`all love to do in the press, I
understand the press wants to get Republicans throwing rocks at each other.

REPORTER: If you`d been asked the same question that Donald Trump was last
night, would you have denounced the man or --

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: I don`t think it`s my job or
anybody`s job to correct any questioner. I got this question all the time.
That somehow we have to police the questioners as to what they say.


HAYES: So there you see both of them -- I mean, both of them not taking
the bait. That`s Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum. But I just refuse to believe
that that`s true across the board. I mean, the thought experiment I`ve
been saying is if someone got up at a Republican event tomorrow and said
the problem in this country is the Jews, there`s just no way the candidate
sits there and warmly nods and does not address it.

WEIGEL: I`ve not seen it come up recently. I think those kind of people
are reserved for C-Span call-in shows, not so much Republican town halls.
But I think you`re right.

Again, I don`t think -- pandering might be the word to use here, but I feel
a lot of candidates react to these sort of questions by I guess a tacit
acknowledgment that there might be a lot of voters out there who will be
angry if they go the other way.

There are casualties on the field from 2010 and from other years of people
who tried to make some bold statement to align themselves with moderation
or reason and then got defeated. And I think there are Republicans who are
conscious that they go overboard in being reasonable that they`re going to
get hurt.

HAYES: Yes, that`s an excellent point. Dave Weigel, thank you very much.

Still to come, some people still believe President Obama is conning us
about his identity. I`ll talk with Nate Silver about just how prevalent
that belief is.

Plus, we`ll have an update on the community response to Ahmed Mohamed`s

And later, if someone were to say candidate for U.S. Senate the image in
your mind probably doesn`t look like Mayor John Fetterman. But that is not
stopping him. He`ll join me live ahead.


MAYOR JOHN FETTERMAN: It`s been a long process. You know, ten years as
mayor. Braddock is a road map, to begin to build it back up to build a
stronger Pennsylvania.


HAYES: It would be completely unfair to assume that everyone who showed up
to that Donald Trump event last night in New Hampshire agreed with the one
questioner who thinks Obama`s a Muslim. The numbers might tell you that
only 54 percent of them do. More on that coming up.

But we noticed a few facial reactions in the moment from people we assume
to be in the other 46 percent in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a problem in this country. It`s called Muslims.
We know our current president is one.

We have a problem in this country. It`s called Muslims. We know our
current president is one. You know he`s not even an American.

It`s called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he`s
not even an American.

TRUMP: We need this question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But anyway. We know our current president is one. You
know he`s not even an American.

TRUMP: We need this question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But anyway. We have training camps growing where they
want to kill us.


HAYES: I particularly like the jaw drop dude there in the bottom left
quadrant. Not everyone agrees. But how many do? Is Bill from white
plains representative of most Republicans or just the voice of a loud,
ignorant minority? Nate Silver is here next to break down the numbers.


HAYES: You can look at the man who assert odd to Donald Trump that Obama
was a Muslim and say those are the ideas of just one guy. But they plainly
are not. They are views of a significant part of the GOP base. Take for
example last night when FOX News host Megyn Kelly asked her town hall panel
about the Trump town hall exchange.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a lot of changes in a lot of things that
have been exposed about Obama and, you know, his past history and Reverend
Wright and all these other things. When McCain was --

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: He`s not a Muslim.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we don`t --

KELLY: Well, we do know.


HAYES: You saw that, right? You saw the silence in the room when Megyn
Kelly said he`s not a Muslim.

The idea that Obama is lying to the American people about his faith is part
of a larger ideological framework in which Obama has pulled off a massive
deception on the American people in order to infiltrate the highest office
of the land and bring America down from the inside, weakening it for its

So how many people really buy into it and how fringe is that population?

It`s a question people have been wrestling with since 2008. When
conservatives were coming to McCain-Palin rallies and saying all sorts of
things about then Senator Obama.

A recent CNN poll found that 43 percent of Republicans believe the
president is a Muslim. That same poll found the number jumps to 54 percent
when looking at just Trump supporters. In total almost 1 in 3 Americans,
29 percent, think Obama is in fact a Muslim. Here`s the point where I
interject that obviously nothing would be wrong with that if he were.

Meaning over 60 million people, almost six years into his presidency, think
he has pulled a massive con on the American people.

So, what are we to make of these polling numbers?

I spoke with Nate Silver, founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight,
and asked him what he thinks of the data.


NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: I mean, I tend to -- this is maybe my
editorial bias. I tend to prefer explanations for the vote that don`t as a
default invoke race and Islamophobia and whatnot.

And there are reasons why people support Donald Trump apart from those
reasons. He is something different. There are voters who might be
conservative on immigration but still kind of like Social Security and
Medicare and wouldn`t mind a bigger health care system. Those people
exist. They might not be people who vote Republican a lot but they exist.

There are also Trump voters who jump on the bandwagon, he`s a winner, he`s
huge in the polling. But yes, there`s another element of it too which I
think PPP not my favorite pollster, but 2/3 of Trump supporters believe
that Obama is a Muslim. That`s 54 percent of voters overall in the GOP
primary electorate. It`s pretty high overall. It`s a little bit higher
among Trump supporters.

HAYES: Well, you said PPP, and PPP has been polling on this forever, and
PPP is a Democratic-leaning firm and I think they do poll sometimes like
troll polls. But we`ve got other polling -- CNN polling that shows 43
percent of Republicans --

SILVER: It depends on how you ask the question, right? Some pollsters say
what do you really think deep down versus those they ask in different ways?

It does seem like, you know, maybe when you get into people who are highly
politically engaged it becomes more extreme. It`s extreme on both sides,
by the way. People tuned into politics right now are not in the center.
It`s people on the wings who are very passionate in all sorts of ways
productively and unproductively, positively, negatively.

But yes, the people who are going to be at a Trump rally or any rally are
going to be very impassioned at this point.

HAYES: Well, so here`s the question. Do you think it is true that 40
percent, 50 percent or some chunk of Republican voters think Barack Obama`s
a Muslim, that basically he has pulled off a huge deceptive con on the
American people? And again, you have to connect this to a broader theory,
right? I mean, it`s not just, oh, he`s a Muslim, that`s just his faith.
It`s that that`s part of him kind of snookering the American people and
being sort of a fifth column to destroy the country.

I mean, do you think that`s a true statement, to say 40 percent of
Republicans believe that?

SILVER: Probably. I mean, I have no reason to disbelieve the polls. I
also think, though, that it`s easy to kind of characterize voters for the
worst of what they believe and not the best of what they believe, right? I
mean, I don`t know.

HAYES: Well, here`s my question. It always seems to me that one of the
mistakes we make when we think about beliefs and voting is that people have
beliefs and then they vote -- they pick their candidates based on what
those beliefs are as opposed to picking their candidate and their
affiliations, I`m with these people and against those people and deriving
their beliefs from that.

SILVER: That`s right.

HAYES: That basically saying Barack Obama is a Muslim is some sort of
proxy way of registering your frustration with them.

SILVER: For sure, yes. And other questions about like -- that affect
racial divides and so forth, there isn`t as much of a split as on questions
about President Obama himself. I mean, I would say people sometimes sort
out in the end. We had the last two Republican nominees were people who
had relative to where that party is right now in the more moderate half of
that party.


SILVER: You know, in 2012, 2014, rather, they picked a fairly moderate set
of candidates for Senate and gubernatorial races and that served them well
in the end. And lo and behold, Obama did get elected twice. And his math
is not that different from the one that John Kerry had or Al Gore had. Of
course, he did better on average.

But it wasn`t as much of a factor as race is. There are a lot of things
that weigh on voters` minds.

HAYES: Do you think -- is your sense of the polling as someone who sort of
studies this and has been really remarkable in kind of talking about what
we know and don`t know, that what -- the polling gets more accurate the
further we go in this race as a general rule?

SILVER: For sure. It is the case that record numbers of people are paying
attention to this campaign. It`s exciting. But still, it`s only a
fraction maybe a fifth or a third as much attention as they`ll be paying
even two months from now. Even more when the bandwagon rolls up to their
state, Iowa, New Hampshire, they much more intensely study the process.

That seems hardest of all as a journalist or pollster or an analyst is
you`re studying this stuff every day, talking about it every day.

And most voters have a very casual interaction with the race. They`re
hearing little snippets here and there. A shiny object like Donald Trump,
maybe they play more to their worst instinctive impulses versus a more
considered decision down the line, because even though this was very
passionate, the ones who will vote in Iowa and New Hampshire are also high
knowledge voters. They`re going to spend a lot of time thinking about the
race, talking about it with their friends and families, interacting with
the candidates.

You have had some in the GOP, Lindsey Graham and whatnot, who repudiated
what the commentator said in Trump`s town hall.

HAYES: We`ll see. Again, the question always becomes how will this affect
the polling, which we`ll see shortly enough?

Nate Silver, thank you so much.

SILVER: Thank you, Chris.


HAYES: Still to come, how President Obama`s definitive mike drop on the
birther movement four years ago definitively affects the campaign. I`ll
explain ahead.



OBAMA: As some of you heard, the State of Hawaii released my official long
form birth certificate. Hopefully, this puts all doubts to rest. But just
in case there are any lingering questions, tonight I`m prepared to go a
step further, tonight for the first time I am releasing my official birth


OBAMA: Now, I warn you, no one has seen this footage in 50 years, not even
me. But let`s take a look.


OBAMA: Oh, well. Back to square one.


HAYES: One of the great subplots of Obama`s first term was Donald Trump
running around the country claiming the president was not born in the U.S.
Obama finally responded in the spring of 2011 in what stands up as one of
the greatest political smackdowns of our time.


OBAMA: There`s a vicious rumor floating around that I think could really
hurt Mitt Romney, I heard he passed universal health care when he was
governor of Massachusetts. Someone should get to the bottom of that. And
I know just the guy to do it, Donald Trump. Who`s here tonight.

Now, I know that he`s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one
is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald.
And that`s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that
matter like did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell?
And where are Biggie and Tupac?


OBAMA: All kidding aside, obviously we all know about your credentials and
breadth of experience. For example, seriously, just recently in an episode
"Celebrity Apprentice" at the steakhouse the men`s cooking team did not
impress the judges from Omaha Steaks and there was a lot of blame to go
around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of
leadership and so ultimately
you didn`t blame Lil John or Meatloaf, you fired Gary Busey and these are
the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.


OBAMA: Well handled, sir. Well handled.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you willing to meet with the school? The school
said they wanted to meet with y`all this week and they haven`t been able

transferring schools. So I don`t see a point in that.


HAYES: Ahmed Mohamed`s suspension for bringing a clock to school is over
but it doesn`t seem to matter since his family has confirmed he will not be
returning to MacArthur High School. The Texas Academy of Mathematics and
Science, a magnet school for math and science students has offered Ahmed a
full scholarship through their alumni association. his family said they`re
still exploring options.

The principal of Ahmed`s former school has yet to apologize for suspending
him on Monday and for writing a letter to parents that acknowledged no
whatsoever on the school`s part.

Irving police chief Larry Boyd, who I spoke with last night, also has not
apologized. His officers questioned Ahmed for an hour and a half on
suspicion his clock might be a bomb, though they realized very early on it

So he was arrested on suspicion of building a hoax bomb despite the fact
Ahmed never claimed it was a bomb. Shortly after speaking with me and
refusing to admit his officers may have gotten this one wrong, Chief Boyd
had this to say at an Irving City Council meeting.


LARRY BOYD, IRVING, TEXAS CHIEF OF POLICE: I am pleased to inform you,
mayor and council, that the Irving Islamic Center leadership is committed
to a positive relationship with the Irving Police Department, and I will
pledge to you that I`m committed to that as well.


HAYES: There`s Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyn whose Facebook posts after
Ahmed`s arrest seem to imply that he was the one at fault for the whole
thing. A petition
with more than 13,000 signatures demanding Mayor Beth Van Duyn apologize
reads in
part, quot, "Mayor Van Duyne has misused Christianity to create a climate
of fear and Islamophobia. Now that climate has resulted in the arrest of a
14-year-old boy
for the crime of using his god-given gifts of curiosity and inventiveness."

Van Duyn has basically become a rallying point for people online with
images like this one circulating that read "Thank you Mayor Beth Van Duyne
for standing up
for the police and standing up against Shariah in Irving, Texas

There is at least one Texas official who is not defending the school and
the police for their actions and that`s Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who the
Dallas Morning News quoted as saying "the last thing we want to do is put
handcuffs on a kid unjustifiably. It looks like the commitment to law
enforcement may have gone
too far and didn`t balance all the facts."

Joining me now, Avi Selk. He`s the staff writer for the Dallas Morning
News and whose reporting helped break Ahmed Mohamed`s story.

Avi, it`s great to have you. Great reporting.

How is all this playing in the town of Irving, Texas? I mean, there`s been
a tsunami of media attention, obviously, and it`s a place that is not a
stranger to
controversy around Islam. How is it playing out there?

AVI SELK, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: It has absolutely upended politics in the
city of Irving, which for most of the year, as you kind of referred, to the
mayor of the city was making what a lot of people took to be inflammatory
remarks about the very small Muslim community in that city. She was giving
speeches across the region, even in New York City, kind of pinging off
false rumors of a sharia court in the city that doesn`t exist and gaining

And Irving is sort of a city where not a lot of people vote or pay
attention to politics, and it was all kind of humming along like that, and
then Ahmed happened and it has just flipped everything on its head and you
see a lot of city officials seem to be in damage control mode, including
possibly the mayor.

HAYES: Well, you wrote a story also in 2012 about a school board where --
the school board of the school system where Ahmed was suspended
commissioning a report to make sure that the curriculum was not too pro-

SELK: Yeah. And if it gives you any indication, it`s something I didn`t
even remember writing until I saw it on Slate or something, you know, a
days ago. It was -- I didn`t even think that much of it because politics,
you know, local politics in this part of Texas, there`s sort of a lot of --
there`s a lot of influence from groups where fear or possibly
discrimination of Muslims holds
a lot of sway and a lot of rumors go around and nobody`s really batted an
eye in the local political scene until now.

So that did happen. It was sort of a one-off thing that I forgot about.
But it`s kind of crazy now that I think about it in retrospect.

HAYES: Is there any indication in terms of -- my understanding is that
Irving has a small but active Muslim community there. Is there organizing
happening there? Is there some sort of rallying happening around this

SELK: I haven`t seen anything really formally organized by the Muslim
community per se. There`s rallies outside MacArthur High where Ahmed
attended today. I did see some people in head scarves and stuff. But I
don`t get the sense that the Islamic Center of Irving, which is the major
mosque in Irving is coordinating that.

In fact, you know, like you kind of referred to, the mosque has always sort
of tried to kind of stay away from controversy, even when the mayor and
other public officials in Irving were making a lot of, you know, possibly
inflammatory remarks about Muslims. The mosque would do things like invite
her to dinner.

So I don`t know if they`re going to organize protests or not. I haven`t
seen it.

HAYES: Finally, are there folks there who are embarrassed by this event,
who sort of want to send a message that Irving -- this is not the sum total
of Irving,

SELK: There`s a lot of people in city hall that I talked to privately,
that they don`t put their names out there for fear of losing their jobs,
but they`re absolutely mortified. Irving is actually a pretty normal city.
You know, the politics can get a little crazy, but the people in city hall,
the people in the
police department even are -- they`re not bigots. They`re not racists.
They`re just trying to run a city. And this has happened and it`s
embarrassed them.

HAYES: All right, Avi Selk, thank you so much.

Still ahead, my interview with John Fetterman. He`s a steeltown mayor
making a bid for senate. You do not want to miss it.


HAYES: In a republican presidential field that is still as of today being
led by the offensively anti-Mexican immigrant Donald Trump it`s good when
Republican presidential candidate says something positive about Latinos.
And presidential candidate John Kasich, governor of Ohio, tried to do just
that at a luncheon at the Shady Canyon Golf Club in Irvine, California

Kasich was praising Latinos for their family values and work ethic.
According to the Los Angeles Times. But then his comments veered a little
off track, quote "a lot of them do jobs that they`re willing to do and
that`s why in the hotel you leave a little tip."

As noted by the L.A. Times Kasich appeared to be conflating Latinos with
service industry workers. So, it was getting a little bit uncomfortable.
Then he goes on, "this lady wrote me in my hotel there in L.A. She wrote
this note. It said, I really want you to know that I care about your stay.
I mean, isn`t that just the greatest thing, he said."

"So, you know, we can learn a lot. And she`s Hispanic, because I didn`t
know it at the time but I met her in the hallway, asked her if I could get
a little more
soap, said a chuckling Kasich."

Kasich`s spokesman later told the Times he was talking about how great the
service was and how we should respect everyone in our society, no matter
what their job might be.

I agree with that. That`s fine. But just a note of clarification for
other candidates, and for John Kasich, not all Hispanics are hotel workers
and not all hotel workers are Hispanic.


HAYES: Allow me for a moment to show you some photos of sitting U..
senators. Here`s Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. That`s Roger Wicker of
Mississippi. This is John Barrasso of Wyoming. If you knee needed to fill
role of senator in a movie perhaps you`d cast one of those guys.

Now I`m going to show you a photo of a guy who wants to be a U.S. senator.
This is John Fetterman. He`s the 6`8" tattooed mayor of Braddock,
Pennsylvania, a town of less than three people -- 30,000 people, 10 miles
from Pittsburgh.

Fetterman didn`t grow up in Braddock. He ended up there after earning a
master`s degree in public policy from Harvard and going on to run a GEd
program for
Braddock`s underprivileged youth.

Now Braddock is a struggling steel town and has been for decades. And it`s
lost nearly 90 percent of its population since the middle of the last
century and nearly 40 percent of Braddock`s residents live below the
poverty line.

Fetterman has served as mayor since 2005. It`s a role limited in official
powers, but Fetterman has been trying to build the community back up from
encouraging development to starting a nonprofit to save properties.

His devotion to the town is literally written on his body. One one arm
Fetterman has tattooed Braddock`s zip code, on the other the dates marking
the murders of Braddock citizens during his time in office.

This week John Fetterman announced his candidacy for senate and he faces an
uphill battle in Democratic primary running against more established
candidates like former Congressman John Sestak who ran in 2010 and Katie
McGinnity a former chief of staff to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

And the winner of that primary will go on to face incumbent Senator Pat
Toomey in a presidential election year. John Fetterman thinks he can win
that primary, and he will join me next.



UNIDENITIFIED MALE: The 6`8" tattooed head-shaven goateed mayor has a
master`s from Harvard and served in Americorps.

John FETTERMAN, MAYOR OF BRADDOCK, PA: i do not look like a typical
politician. I don`t even look like a typical person.


HAYES: Joining me now, John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania,
candidate in the Democratic Party for U.S. Senate. You look like -- you
don`t look
like a freak but you stand out in a crowd.

FETTERMAN: What`s there not to like, you know?

HAYES: OK. Why are you going to run for Senate?

FETTERMAN: Well, really, Chris, my entire career has been about my desire
to confront inequality and disparity in all its forms. And that`s why I
ran for mayor in the first place. I started out as a program director in
Braddock helping
young people get their GEDs and move on to a better place in life. And I
reached a point where I wanted a bigger platform to continue with these
issues. And that`s why I ran for mayor.

These last ten years we`ve worked confronting all sorts of inequality,
whether it`s income inequality, housing inequality, health care inequality,
even inequality in the air that we breathe.

And now we`ve reached a place where I`d like to take that to an even bigger

HAYES: So Braddock is another one of these sort of classic Rust Belt towns
that was a boom town, jobs for everyone...

FETTERMAN: Really historic. It`s actually where Andrew Carnegie built his
first mill, the Yeager Thompson plant. And actually is the last functional
and operational steel mill in the Pittsburgh area. And I live directly
across the
street in an old renovated car dealership.

HAYES: OK. So -- but what`s the -- first of all, have you had success? I
mean, this is a very poor place.

FETTERMAN: absolutely.

HAYES: You`ve been there for ten years. What can you do to as mayor to
improve things?

FETTERMAN: Well, the first thing we did was we made it a safe place again.
And the thing I would say I`m most proud of we accomplished in Braddock is
we went over five-and-a-half years without the loss of life through
violence, which is unprecedented in any community certainly facing the
issues that we have. We`ve brought in new business...

HAYES: Had it been a violent place?

FETTERMAN: Oh, absolutely.

HAYES: And you have those -- those are the dates.

FETTERMAN: Well, yeah. And even then they`ve -- we`ve brought in new
businesses. We`ve restored health care to the community. And we`ve made
it a much more -- we`ve turned it around, but there`s still a lot of work
to do and there always will be.

HAYES: I`ve got to say, I mean, it seems like you`ve done great work
there, but it`s a town of 3,000 people. I mean, that is a very big leap.
What makes you qualified to be U.S. Senator going from this position, which
is a pretty on the ground position.


I mean, I think it makes me uniquely qualified because all of the issues
that we have dealt with in Braddock -- again, inequality, safe community
policing, and health care, all these different challenges are just the same
issues but we`re going to scale it up to statewide. It`s the same game
played in a bigger stadium.

HAYES: What have you learned about what the solutions are for a place like
Braddock and for an America that I still think a large part of America
pines for a day when jobs like steel jobs in that town were plentiful and
available and even in the midst of this recovery we see median wages
declining, we see folks not being able to get good unionized living wage
jobs like those steel jobs.


Well, I mean, the story of Braddock I think is a lesson for the entire
state. How many people in Pennsylvania are living in a community now where
they can say the town`s best days were a generation behind it? You know,
Braddock is a great story. And the things we`ve been able to accomplish
are the things that we need to accomplish in a larger level at the state.

So what -- at the end of the day every Democratic candidate makes their
candidacy about the middle class. And we`ve spent the last 14 years in
Braddock building back and supporting people in a way facing some of the
most severe challenges of anybody in the commonwealth.

HAYES: Your -- I read that your wife is Brazilian, is that correct?


HAYES: And she came here undocumented.

FETTERMAN: Yes. Yeah. I was watching your show in the green room. And
you hear how ugly the rhetoric is on the other side of the political aisle.
You know, my wife lived many, many years and her family as undocumented in
this country where she cleaned homes for 10 to 12 hours a day, they never
received a dime in public
assistance, paid their taxes. I`m proud of the immigration story. And we
as a country should be ashamed of ourselves the way we are allowing half of
the political process to speak about this.

HAYES: What do you say to people -- there are people out there who say
your wife broke the law...

FETTERMAN: And you know what I`m so glad that she did because I wouldn`t
have her in my life and I wouldn`t have our three beautiful children.

It`s like immigration is what helped make this country great, and it sure
helped me -- our community great and it sure has made my life incredibly

HAYES: You`ve got to raise a lot of money for a statewide senate race in a
presidential year in Pennsylvania. Who are you going to get money from?

FETTERMAN: Well, the thing is, Chris, is that I`ve already raised a lot of
money over the last ten years, but the thing is it`s all gone to help fix
our community. I haven`t been running this race, I`m just two weeks in,
but we`ve already -- we`re getting hundreds of donors and we`re raising
money right from it.

But the thing is that the shame of it is why aren`t we talking more about
the issues? It should be a competition of ideas and and whose story best
makes for the best candidate. And that`s -- we`re in this race.

I have an incredible team behind me. And I`m look forward to getting out
across the commonwealth.

HAYES: All right. Mayor John Fetterman, really nice to meet you.

FETTERMAN: The pleasure is all mine.

HAYES: That is all for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right


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