'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show' for Saturday, October 3th, 2015
Read the transcript to the Saturday show
Show: MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY
Date: October 3, 2015
Guest: Christina Greer, Katon Dawson, David Cay Johnston, Alexandra
Chachkevitch, Charlene Carruthers, Larry Rich
DORIAN WARREN, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good morning, I`m Dorian Warren. Melissa is
off this week. This morning, we have a lot to get to, including Grover
Norquist on Donald Trump`s tax plan. Plus, the different ways Governor Jeb
Bush and Senator Elisabeth Warren address black voters. But first, we are
covering two big developing news stories for you this morning. We have
team coverage of both the Thursday shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, that left
nine people and the gunman dead, and the looming weather threat parting
parts of the Eastern seaboard at risk this weekend. Let`s begin with NBC
News meteorologist Bill Karins.
BILL KARINS, NBC NEWS METEOROLOGIST: Good norming to you, Dorian. And of
course, we`re still watching the Hurricane Joaquin and we`re also now going
to start getting updates in from the Bahamas to see just how bad that was.
So, here`s Joaquin up here. It`s finally moving away from the Bahamas.
Still a category three, still, but it`s quickly moving away. So clearing
skies there. And it`s great. Now, this photo just came out from the Coast
Guard in Miami. They`re actually going to be sending up this aircraft,
this HT-144 flying to the Bahamas. They`re going to fly low over all the
islands that were devastated just to assess the damage. We don`t even know
how bad it is there until this aircraft gets there this morning. So, all
they - they take it up and doing that.
Now, back to our country here. We are watching devastation on the coast
from coastal flooding. And we`re also watching significant flooding now
from rains and storm surge in areas of South Carolina. This image came in
from - This is North Wildwood, New Jersey. This isn`t even down in the
southeast. Not even related to the hurricane. And this house last night
tumbled down into the ocean and is going to be battered by waves and high
tide for about 2 or 3 more days in a row here. As far as the coastal
flooding goes, this weekend, tropical storm forced gusts will continue on
the coast. We`ll have flooding at the high tide cycles. We`ll also have
dune erosion. A lot of over - done to the roads. I don`t think we`re
going to have epic coastal flooding. I don`t think we`ll see a lot of
homes into the water like that one, but isolated cases like that are
definitely a possibility.
Now, further to the South, it`s a different story. We`re close going to
have to monitor what happens in areas of South Carolina. Especially the
Charleston area is under a flash flood warning for the rain. And the
coastal flood warning. If you`ve ever been to Charleston, it`s right there
on the water. And they are very scared this afternoon. One o`clock is
their high tide, already about a half a foot to a foot of water right
through downtown. And that water will only go up because of the rain and
the ocean water that`s going to be headed in.
Here`s some of the pictures over the last hour. Paddle boarding down the
streets. And the water levels, you can see it here. Here`s the buildings
in the downtown. And you can see, it`s about only about 6 to 12 inches.
But that could easily go up another foot, maybe two feet in some spots, and
that will cause a lot of devastation. And as I mentioned, flash flood
warnings. And the rain just continues over this area. So, Dorian, you get
the picture. We got a lot of problems on the East Coast all weekend long,
but the major concern for life and for property right now is down here in
WARREN: Thank you to Bill Karins. And let`s now turn to NBC News
correspondent Sarah Dallof in Columbia, South Carolina. Sarah, the
National Weather Service is keeping a close watch on the Congaree River not
far from where you are right now.
SARAH DALLOF, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that is correct, Dorian. Flood
stage four. That river is at 115 feet. This morning it was already at 114
feet. And if those river levels continue to rise, which obviously is very
likely, seeing that it hasn`t stopped raining, well, that could cause
flooding down at the Congaree National Park. Now, here in Columbia proper,
they`re expecting anywhere from 12 to 18 inches of rain through Monday.
We`re in the Five Points, which is an entertainment and shopping district
that is historically very prone to flooding. And businesses owners not
taking any chances, you can see here, they have sandbagged their doors, up
and down the street. Taking all of the merchandise out of the floor.
They`re prepared for the flooding. Talked to the mayor just a few minutes
ago, he detailed some of the preparations. They`re going into - they are
letting water out of dams to clear some room. They`ve cleared it out the
storm drains. They`re advising people to stay off the roads. Already here
in South Carolina, one death is being attributed to this bad weather. And
officials want to make sure, Dorian, there are no more to add to that
total. Back to you.
WARREN: Thank you to Sarah Dallof in Columbia, South Carolina.
It`s been 48 hours, and there`s still no word from a U.S. flag
containership battling the massive waves that Hurricane Joaquin is churning
up in the Bahamas. At daybreak, the Coast Guard resumed its search for El
Faro, which has 28 Americans and five Polish nationals on board. When the
ship left Jacksonville, Florida on Tuesday, Joaquin was just a tropical
storm. We`ll continue to bring you updates on this missing cargo ship as
we have them this morning.
Let`s turn now to the other big story we`re following this morning. The
latest developments out of Roseburg, Oregon, where a gunman shot and killed
nine people at Umpqua Community College, Thursday. Nine others were
wounded. Law enforcement officials say the shooter was shot and killed
during a standoff with responding officers. Though Douglas County Sheriff
John Hanlin has refused to use the shooter`s name, other officials
identified him as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer. He was reportedly armed
with multiple guns, including one long gun, and left behind a multipage
note. Authorities have since recovered six weapons from the scene of the
shooting and seven from Harper Mercer`s home. According to one survivor,
the shooter asked students their religion before firing. Still,
investigators say they cannot yet identify a clear motive. The
investigation is ongoing. For more now, let`s go to MSNBC correspondent
Jacob Soboroff in Roseburg, Oregon.
JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Dorian, it is an extremely
somber and reflective scene up here in Roseburg. Which is completely
different feeling to the be - when we arrived here on Thursday, when it was
basically chaos. Complete kinetic energy up here. And as information
starts to come out, and we`re getting that information from the public
safety building behind me there in Roseburg, the tone, the feeling, is
starting to change here. Most importantly, we got the names of the victims
yesterday from Sheriff John Hanlin. And I want to share them with you.
The nine victims ranged in age, and some of them were very, very young,
including Quinn Glenn Cooper who was 18 years old, he had just graduated in
June from Roseburg High School. Yesterday was his fourth day of college.
Lucero Alcaraz Roseburg was 19 years old. Lucas Eibel, 18 years old. His
parents said he loved the future farmers of America. He was a volunteer at
the wildlife safari here and Saving Grace animal shelter. Jason Dale
Johnson of Winston was 33 years old. And his family said he was proud to
be a Christian, and he recently enrolled and had finally found his path at
Umpqua Community College. Lawrence Levine was the teacher in the
classroom, in which the shooting occurred. He was 67 years old. Sarena
Dawn Moore of Myrtle Creek was 44. Treven Taylor Anspach of Sutherland was
20 years old and the son of a firefighter, one of the first responders here
in the community. And Rebecka Ann Carnes of Myrtle Creek was 18, the niece
of a paramedic here as well in Roseburg. That has hit the community
particularly hard here. And today, we are looking forward, because we are
expecting a news conference again at the public safety building behind me
where we hope to get more information from law enforcement officials here
in Douglas County.
WARREN: MSNBBC`s Jacob Soboroff, thank you.
In addition to those killed, there were more people injured in Thursday`s
shooting. And for more on their story now, let`s go to MSNBC News
Correspondent Morgan Ratford who was at the Mercy Medical Center there in
MORGAN RADFORD, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dorian. As you
mentioned, we are here at Mercy Medical Center where two of the survivors
are being treated. Three others are being treated at Sacred Heart Hospital
just up the road. And one was released last night. We`re also learning
new detail about the suspected shooter from those recently released
survivors, one of whom told the local newspaper here in Oregon that the
shooter actually asked students to gather in the center of the classroom.
But he didn`t target Christians specifically. Instead, he asked what their
religions were, if they believed in God, and then chillingly said, I`ll
meet you there. Suggesting that he knew he was not going to leave that
altercation alive. We`re also hearing heroic tales about Chris Mintz who`s
30 years old. He was in the Army. He`s from Randleman, North Carolina.
And witnesses say that he actually used his body to block the door to
protect the students who were inside the classroom with him. The shooter,
however, shot through the door, struck him seven times and both of his legs
are also broken.
Local media here have also reported that 19-year-old Julie Woodworth is
also being treated at Sacred Heart Hospital with gunshot wounds to her
arms, to her legs and to her head. She`s been in surgery in the past 24
hours. And right now, we`re waiting to get even more updates on those
WARREN: Thank you to NBC`s Morgan Radford in Roseburg, Oregon. And coming
up in the next hour, the mayor of Roseburg, Oregon, will join me to discuss
what comes next for this devastated community
But up next in this hour, we`re going to turn our focus to politics.
Because this week Donald Trump did something extremely important. And no
matter what you think of Donald Trump, what he did this week was a very
good thing for all of us.
WARREN: This week marked a turning point for Donald Trump`s campaign. A
campaign that has so far been based largely on ego and insults, tried
something different. A real proposal of policy. On Monday, Donald Trump
said he wants to transform the American tax system and told us just how he
hopes to do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP: It`s a tax reform that I think will make America strong and
great again. There will be a major tax reduction. It will simplify the
tax code. It will grow the American economy at a level that it hasn`t seen
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Trump`s plan would reduce the current seven tax brackets to just
four. Zero percent, 10 percent, 20 and 25 percent. Which means the
poorest Americans at the bottom of that ladder would owe nothing to the IRS
except for a one-page form that says "I win." But analysts from both ends
of the political spectrum agree that the biggest winners in Donald Trump`s
tax plan are, well, people like Donald Trump. The conservative leaning Tax
Foundation found that Trump`s proposal would give the wealthiest one
percent of Americans a 21.6 percent boost in their after-tac income,
compared to just 1.4 percent for the poorest ten percent of Americans.
A disparity that along with the estimated $12 trillion price tag may add up
to be the real value of Donald Trump`s tax plan. And the value in this
presidential campaign of Donald Trump himself. Remember, back in that
first GOP debate when he made this claim?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP: If it weren`t for me, you wouldn`t even be talking about
illegal immigration, Chris, you wouldn`t even be talking about it.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: It was a moment of typical Trump hyperbole. But now that Trump
has waded seriously into the tax policy debate, the bright spotlight that
follows him may be shedding renewed light on to another issue. The one
that was supposed to be this election single biggest issue before all that
attention turned to its single biggest personality. The ever growing chasm
between the haves and the have nots. As this election cycle was getting
under way, America`s wealth gap had already reached record levels, and is
on track to continue expanding even wider.
And while low and middle income families are still waiting on the return of
their wealth that was destroyed by the recession, the richest Americans are
wealthier than ever before. Today, the top ten percent of wealthiest
Americans hold 76 percent of all the country`s wealth. And let me say that
again, the top 10 percent of wealthiest Americans hold three quarters of
all the country`s wealth. They`re doing so well, in fact, that Forbes
Magazine in its recent tally of the country`s 400 richest people found so
many billionaires making so many billions that the magazine made the list
extra competitive by increasing the price of entry from $1.55 billion to
And that brings us back to the guy sharing a spot at number 121 on that
list. And the obvious question about restoring equity to the imbalance of
wealth in the hands of Donald Trump and others like him. What of the idea,
to take some money from those who have it and give it to those who don`t?
Now, of course that "r" word, redistribution, is unspeakable in American
politics. Because if you`re a candidate running for office, even
entertaining that notion is political dynamite. Remember this guy from the
2008 campaign, Joe the Plumber? Who, by the way, as it turned out, was
neither named Joe nor was a licensed plumber. He became the poster boy for
the I got mine, your get yours working man credo. Because he`s the one who
got then Senator Obama to say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA: If you`ve got a plumbing business, you`re going to be better
off if you`ve got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you.
Right now, everybody`s so pinched that business is bad for everybody. And
I think when you spread the wealth around, it`s good for everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: It was one comment during a five-minute exchange in which Senator
Obama spoke in detail about his tax plan. But Republican nominee Senator
John McCain was able to spin it into a got cha moment, evidence of his
opponent`s misunderstanding of a fundamental American notion. When you
work hard and earn what`s yours, it`s just that, it`s yours. In 2012,
President Obama found himself the target of similar criticism when he said
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If you are
successful, somebody along the line -- gave you some help. There was a
great teacher somewhere in your life.
OBAMA: Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we
have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.
If you`ve got a business, you didn`t build that. Somebody else made that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: And Mitt Romney and the GOP moved quickly to respond as though
what President Obama was saying was referring to a business of some kind.
Instead, what the president really meant, the public infrastructure that
has an exponentially larger financial benefit to those who are positioned
to capitalize on it versus those who aren`t in that position. And he said
it in a speech that called for a change of a system where although everyone
may work hard, not everyone`s hard work pays off.
We`ve often heard our politicians couch their approach to fixing economic
inequality and the politically safe rhetoric of the American dream. The
language of education and jobs as a ladder to the middle class. Except we
know that even a middle class is barely hanging on to that bottom rung.
And that when the wealth got this complicated by race, not even a great
education, nor a good job, are enough to make much of a difference. But
there`s another alternative that`s not only legal, but so fundamental to
our democracy that it`s even enshrined in our Constitution. The
government`s right to tax. A right that would allow the state to take from
the few for the good of the many. Or as the Constitution puts it, the
general welfare of the United States. And that is the question we begin
with today, if the government can play Robin Hood to reverse our country`s
profound economic inequality, then should it?
Joining me now is David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist,
professor at Syracuse University`s College of Law and author of "Divided:
the Perils of Our Growing Inequality." Perry Bacon Jr. NBC News senior
political reporter, Christina Greer, professor of politics and author of
"Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration and the Pursuit of the American Dream,"
Katon Dawson, National Republican Consultant and former South Carolina GOP
chair. And joining us from Washington is Grover Norquist, president of
Americans for Tax Reform. Thanks all of you for joining me this morning.
And Grover, I want to start with you, because Politico is reporting that
your organization assisted the Trump campaign in putting together his tax
plan and you`ve praised the final plan released this week. Tell me why
this plan checks all the boxes for you.
GROVER NORQUIST, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Well, one of the things that he
did was he took the corporate income tax, which is 35 percent in the United
States. We compete in a world against China at 25, the communist are at
25, we are at 35. We compete with Europe, which has an average of 25
percent. Many European countries have a lower business tax. We`re at 35.
We compete with the Brits at 20, with Canada at 15, and then you add the 5
percent average state corporate income tax. And we are really not at 35,
we are at 40. So, we have an uncompetitive business tax. And then people
complain to the business community, how come you`re not doing better and
hiring more people. After they shoot you in the foot. So step one, taking
that rate down to 15. Add 5 percent for state taxes, you`re at 20. You`re
at least competitive. We`re not really ahead of the team, but we`re
competitive. So it`s a good -- gets rid of the alternative minimum tax,
which Richard Nixon and Ted Kennedy thought up in a fit of stupidity. And
then we have -- gets rid of the death tax as well. It does a lot of things
that will help economic growth.
WARREN: So, David, tax cuts for everyone, and it always sounds like a
great idea. But you said this week you literally laughed out loud when you
read it. What was so funny about the Trump tax plan?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR "DIVIDED": Well, the tax foundation, a group
that`s with Grover generally on taxes says that over the first ten years
they estimate revenues would fall by $12 trillion. How much is that?
Well, that`s more than a third of the expected revenue from the income tax
and the corporate income tax over the next ten years. You kill revenue by
a third and then you put in all of Trump`s spending plans and if you think
that our federal budget debt, a debt is not too big, this is what you want.
Because it`s going to balloon beyond belief. That`s the fundamental
WARREN: So Katon, I want to get to the larger question here and I want to
read Article 1, section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Obviously, the tax and
spending clause. Quote, the Congress shall have power to lay and collect
taxis, duties and post an excises to pay the debts and provide for the
common defense and general welfare of the United States. So, if we agree
that profound economic inequality is not in the country`s general welfare,
what role should the government play in using its taxing power to improve
KATON DAWSON, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I think what we are missing
here is, get the Constitution, I understand that. And what role there is.
What we get in there, the 2700 pages of the IRS, this is a political
campaign. You hear about taxes every time. I can`t tell you how many
times we`ve lined up a politician by the 70,000 pages of legals that match
the 2700 pages of IRS code and say, do you like the IRS?. That`s what this
is about. I`m not sure that every voter`s going to understand 35 to 25.
I`m not sure they`re going to get that. But it gets you votes because the
IRS is an easy target. On the other question of wealth redistribution,
wealth inequality, the middle class, this election is going to have a lot
to do with that. Because there`s a lot of pain out there. There`s a lot
of economic pain out there. We`ve had the president for seven years.
We`re still having this conversation. We had the conversation when he
started with Joe the Plumber. We still haven`t gotten an answer to it yet.
He had the Congress. Now we have the Congress. We`ve got a major change
in the Congress coming up that we`ll address later on about what the
Republicans are going to do with Kevin McCarthy as speaker. But I can`t
give you a solid answer on are we going to raise taxes, because I don`t
think you`re going to find a lot of people running, including the
Democrats, who are going to be either advocating and beating the drum for a
more tax burden on the American public.
WARREN: Grover, I want to come back to you for a second, because obviously
since 1985, you have advocated for tax cuts, and it seems that, whether
we`re in good times or bad times, the solution is always cutting taxes.
What about this issue of the Constitution and looking out for the general
welfare? Do you think there`s ever any condition under which we should
raise taxes to stop growing economic inequality?
NORQUIST: Well, right now, we don`t need to raise taxes because the
government, federal state and local, take about a third of the income of
the American people. That`s too high. We need to spend more wisely. And
we need to reduce the total cost of government. Taking money from Fred and
giving it to Mary doesn`t have anything to do with the general welfare. It
has to do with Mary`s interest at the expense of somebody else. So, when
you talk about general interest, it`s general interest is something that`s
in everybody`s interest, like we should have national defense, or we should
have a judicial system. But taking money from one person and giving it to
another is what European kings did for a long time and we didn`t want to do
WARREN: So really quickly, Perry, I want to come to you, because you`ve
been covering Donald Trump on the campaign trail. How are people
responding to this first moment of policy substance over style from Trump?
PERRY BACON JR., NBC POLITICAL REPORTER: It is the second moment. He had
the immigration plan, which we should - which also did change the dynamic a
little bit, as he said. This moment .
WARREN: You call it a plan.
BACON JR.: It was a plan. We don`t think it was a good plan. It was a
plan. I would say this moment told me Donald Trump is very serious about
winning the Republican nomination. His tax plan is so similar to Jeb
Bush`s that Jeb Bush said, Donald, thank you for, you know, thank you for
following my plan. It tells me that Trump`s plan is very much in the
mainstream of the party. And actually, the change in him - in August, he
was saying, I`m going to tax the rich. I`m going to take from the rich.
He was giving the Robin Hood idea himself.
WARREN: And going after hedge fund guys.
BACON JR.: For a while Trump sounded like Bernie Sanders. Now his plan
showed me, he looks like Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush or George W. Bush. So he
may really be serious about winning this now.
WARREN: All right, everyone stay with us because up next Donald Trump says
his plan will be a rocket ship. Get ready for blast off, everybody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are going to be reducing code for taxes. Jobs will be created.
The economy is going to expand tremendously like it hasn`t since Reagan,
but probably even before that. This will be a rocketship for the economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: That was Donald Trump on Tuesday calling into the "Today" show and
explaining his proposal to let corporations to keep more of their cash.
His plan would slash the top corporate tax rate by more than half from 35
percent to 15 percent. Christine, I want to get you in here and ask you,
in terms of the research, what do we know about what happens with the
economy and around issues of inequality when we have a Democrat in office
versus Republican in office in terms of the presidency?
CHRISTINA GREER, PROFESSOR OF POLITICS: Well, we know that the role of the
presidency has been expanding over time, right? When we think about the
intent of what a president should do during the time of George Washington.
It`s much smaller and narrower than what we`ve seen today. Each president
essentially expands the office. With George Bush, we saw the expansion of
the presidency. And so much so that even Republicans said, you know, slow
down, you`re spending money like a Democrat. Until - the issue, though,
that we`re seeing that oftentimes Democratic presidents try to implement
larger widespread governmental programs to provide a safety net for
Americans. And we saw this obviously, very largely with the new deal. And
then we saw it again with the great society. Bill Clinton had some highs
and lows. I don`t think many major hits. But then Obama and Obamacare.
And we`re seeing this. And so, when Trump comes out with his sort of third
grade rhetoric, which I see in many ways is like a three-card Monty of
saying it`s going to be huge, it`s going to be major, don`t worry about it.
We know that the Republicans oftentimes have not been great about looking
out for poor Americans. They`re really great about rallying poor Americans
to think that these other people who are enemies are stealing jobs and
doing other things. But they really actually aren`t the ones who provide
the safety net historically.
WARREN: Grover, I want to get your response on that. Because we do have
some research that shows that under Republican administrations the economy
grows much slower versus Democratic administrations in terms of the
presidency. What makes you think that this Trump tax plan if he were to
become president would somehow be a rocketship for us?
NORQUIST: You can to the joint economic committee website and take a look
at the economic growth from the bottom of the recession when Reagan took
over and the bottom of the recession that Obama inherited. And if we had
grown during the Obama presidency from the bottom of the recession at the
same rate of growth we did under Reagan, there would be 12.2 million
Americans working today. Who today are sitting at home not working? So,
there`s a lot of damage done to poor people. There`s a lot of damage done
to young people. There`s a lot of damage done to communities by bad
policies that put 12 million people out of work, compared to what happened
when Reagan took a different viewpoint. People who say taxes don`t matter
should talk to those 12 million Americans who are out of work because Obama
thought it was funny to raise their taxes, and Reagan reduced them and
created jobs and opportunities. Big difference between the Reagan recovery
and the Obama recovery. And Reagan did it while crushing inflation, which
was not a problem that Obama had as much motive. And balancing the Soviet
Union. Is a lot more difficult, period that he had, than Obama ever picked
up on? Twice the growth, four percent, not two.
WARREN: David, this is Grover, right?
JOHNSTON: No. First of all, Reagan had a cooperative Congress. And we
have Republicans who, the very night of the inauguration in 2009 got
together and said, we`re going to make sure this man fails as a president.
Reagan imposed 11 tax increases -- they called them revenue enhancers --
that fell heavily on the middle class and on the poor. Reagan had the
benefit of a whole bunch of other circumstances that we don`t have today.
But the underlying issue, tax rates are not the issue we should be talking
about. I`ve shown that multinational corporations literally turn a profit
off their taxes. They literally make money off the tax systems that exist
today. What we want to have is a system that encourages investment and
encourages hiring. When I hire people, I expect to pay higher taxes
because they`re doing work for me that`s going to add value that`s going to
lead to my paying more taxes. You don`t hire people to get a tax cut.
That`s nutty. So, I think we need to recognize that we have to have a very
large well-done foundation of commonwealth. Our infrastructure`s falling
apart. Our grid is the third grade. Our Internet is less than that of
Bulgaria. And recognize that these investments in commonwealth create the
foundation to build private wealth. I want us to build private wealth.
But you can`t do it by stripping away the foundation.
WARREN: Katon, how do we balance the need to create jobs, the need to
create an economic environment that encourages robust business growth and
investment with the collective good of growing the economy so everyone
benefits? Because clearly everyone has not been benefiting from this
DAWSON: You see it in the numbers that everyone is not benefiting. And
that`s probably what this election is going to be about. And that`s where
the votes are going to come from. Is people who are looking for some
opportunities? Who are looking for some policies? And not that they look
- not that the voter looks that deep into the policy basket. The
inequities are there. And I agree with you. There`s nothing wrong with
people opening businesses, hiring people and creating wealth. I mean,
there`s nothing wrong with that.
DAWSON: That creates jobs. And sometimes I think that gets mixed up into
all the misnomers about the wealth gap, the inequities in the middle class.
I think we have to have something, a structure to where our country is more
competitive. And I think that`s what Donald Trump is tapping into. Now,
are they going to believe him or not, I don`t know. That`s yet to hear.
I`ve got some numbers for that later on.
WARREN: All right. I want to thank Grover Norquist in Washington, D.C.
for joining us this morning. We`ll go live to those potentially life
threatening floods in South Carolina next.
WARREN: A state of emergency has been declared in several states along the
East Coast, even as Hurricane Joaquin remains east. The real focus right
now is a major potentially life-threatening rain event just getting
started, and especially in the Carolinas. Joining me now from Greenville,
South Carolina is NBC News correspondent Kerry Sanders. Kerry, forecasters
say the light rain now is just the beginning and the winds are also
beginning to pick up. What do the roads look like?
KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we`re actually in a
vehicle right now driving along so you can get a view. Let`s take a look
straight out the front of the car here now. You can probably see that
we`re going down. And this is the real problem here. The hilly areas.
And when we get to the lower areas, this is where the water is likely to
collect. We`ve already had some heavy squalls come through here. The real
concern in South Carolina, I`m in Greenville, is that we`re going to get
about three months of rain in three days. In fact, we`re going to -- try
to turn here. Let`s take a turn down here, and we`ll get you down. We`re
near the Saluda River. We are not too far from the Reedy River. These are
areas that are expected to crest in some places as much as 12 feet over the
flood stage. In fact, we`re going to come right here now and just sort of
-- we`re discovering this as we`re on the air. Here`s a road that looks
like it`s already been closed off. You can see where it says "Road
closed." Let`s pull up a little bit more. I`m going to get the other
camera out the window here and just take a look and see what we can see.
OK, so as we look right here. I can see that -- there we go. Well, we
don`t see any rain gathering here. This may be one of those cases where
they`ve closed it off in advance because they know what`s happening.
Meanwhile, in portions of South Carolina, we have -- come back over here.
In portions of South Carolina and North Carolina, Duke Energy already
reports as many as 30,000 customers have lost electricity. One of the
problems is the ground is getting saturated. And when it gets saturated,
it`s a little clay around here, the weight of the telephone poles, in fact,
stop right there. You can see a telephone pole right in front of us there.
The weight of the telephone poles as we continue up here, the weight on
that becomes so much with the saturated soil, it causes the telephone poles
and the electrical poles to go over and it takes the electricity out. They
know it`s going to get worse before it gets better. Dorian.
WARREN: Thank you to NBC`s Kerry Sanders in Greenville, South Carolina.
Up next, it`s the one phrase considered political dynamite. So, what
happens when a presidential candidate is willing to go there?
WARREN: Even during your presidential election, in which candidates from
both parties agree that economic equality is a key issue, any explicit
mention of wealth distribution remains the Voldemort of political rhetoric.
It is that which shall not be named, unless, of course, you`re the one
candidate who is not afraid to go there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the last 30 years,
there has been a huge redistribution of wealth from the middle class and
working families to the top one-tenth of one percent. Our job is to
reverse that, redistribute wealth back into the hands of working families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: OK, Pat, I want to take a look at some data here. This is from
Gallup polling earlier this year asking Americans about wealth
distribution. So, when asked if money and wealth should be more evenly
distributed among a larger percentage of people, 63 percent said yes. And
when asked if the government should redistribute wealth by heavily taxing
the rich, 52 percent agrees with that. So, Christi, there seems to be
political will for wealth distribution. The question, is there a political
way for this?
GREER: It`s difficult, as Katon said, in an election, right? No one wants
to say explicitly the ways that they will do it, right? Oftentimes it will
be raising taxes. Or let`s be clear, Democrats benefit from big money in
ways that Republicans do as well. And so to say, I will tax super rich
people, is very difficult, right? I mean I think the intent is stronger in
the Democrats. But the implementation in many ways can look similar. It
can look similar in sort of the implementation phase once we get to the
presidency and how he can or cannot work with Congress.
WARREN: I want to bring you on this, too, because the public is very clear
on this. The public believes there should be more evenly distributed
wealth. And so the political will is -- it`s broadly distributed, so to
speak. Why can`t we get there in Congress?
BACON JR.: Well, the politics are -- the public supports of gun control,
too. There`s a lot of things that public supports that are not getting
through. You know, money interest and interests that are very well
organized tend to dominate - tend to dominate how politics work. It`s not
surprising to me that the Bernie Sanders plan is not moving even though he
has lots of support for it. On some of the rhetoric of Bernie Sanders is
supported by lots of people in America. But even Hillary Clinton doesn`t
use it. Barack Obama doesn`t speak this way. The Republicans don`t. We
are really heading where Sanders is talking about -- talking about
redistributing wealth in a very bold and aggressive way. I would say,
Clinton talks more about income, social mobility and things like that. The
Republicans talk about social mobility. You`re almost having two different
discussions. One is about whether redistributing the wealth and one is
about, how do we help the bottom go up. And that`s kind of how Clinton
views it. So, Sanders is really saying something that a lot of Americans
agree with. But still feels radical and unlikely to happen in our
WARREN: OK, between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, we`re at least
getting back to issues and away from personalities in this election cycle.
What would a real substantive debate about wealth distribution inequality
look like in this election?
DAWSON: I think both compare Trump and Sanders, both are speaking to a
definitive base. And Donald Trump has offered hope in the "I`m going to
get you rich."
WARREN: Like me.
DAWSON: Yeah, well, I don`t think you believe it either.
DAWSON: But - and so Bernie Sanders has done the same thing. I`m going to
make your life better. I contend that if you think the government was
going to make you better, you`re going to get in a really long, long line
waiting to do that. And I think that`s what the voter finally unpacks, is
do I really believe that can happen. And Trump is doing it, too. He - and
it`s going to be great.
You are going to - I will make you better, and there is a base on our side,
just like there`s a base on the Sanders side just saying, you know what, I
think I`m going to take a look at that. I think most reasonable people are
saying, you know, I`ve heard it before. It`s not going to happen. The
government`s not going to make my life better. I can make my life better.
I can make better opportunities. So I think that`s where this election is
right now. Do I think Bernie Sanders is going to be the nominee? No. Do
I think Donald Trump is going to be the nominee? No, I don`t. I think
that once - once that both parties sober up and get into rehab, which is a
real election, they`re going to figure out, OK, this is who I want this is
who can make my life better, and this is who I like.
GREER: Well, I think also it`s - we`re in the primary season, too, and so
the types of people we`re paying attention are very different. And so, we
think about it as the distribution curve. The Bernie Sanders people are on
the far left, the Trump`s are in the far right, and we`ll start focusing a
lot more on the middle.
WARREN: Remains to be seen. OK, everyone. Everyone at the table will be
back at the next hour.
But up next, the gun rampage five times as deadly as this week`s shooting
WARREN: We continue to mourn the lives lost in Thursday`s mass shooting in
Roseburg, Oregon. And the nation pays attention for a good reason, when
shocking mass shootings in presumed safe environments occur. But imagine
the death toll in Oregon times five. That`s what Chicago is facing after
what "The Chicago Tribune" calls the city`s deadliest September in 13
years, with at least 60 homicides. This week started on a particularly
grim note in Chicago. On Monday, six people were shot and killed and at
least eight others were wounded over a 15-hour period. The first shooting
took place Monday evening when a family on its way back from an outing was
gunned down in the back of the yard`s neighborhood on the south side of
Chicago. The shooting left three wounded including an 11-month-old boy and
two dead. The boy`s pregnant mother and his grandmother. Chicago deputy
chief of detective Eugene Roy told reporters in a second two generations of
that child`s family were wiped out. Residents in the community were
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something needs to be done or the community needs to
be policed may be a little bit better. When you have babies that`s out
here getting shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: A second multiple shooting occurred five hours later at a
playground in the Follow (ph) Park neighborhood where two men and the
mother of a four-year-old were killed. These stories don`t garner the
national attention like the mass murders in Roseburg, Oregon or Newtown,
Connecticut or Aurora, Colorado. But maybe they should.
Joining me in studio now is Alexandra Chachkevitch, reporter for "The
Chicago Tribune" who has been actively logging shootings and been at the
crime scenes in the city. And from Chicago, Charlene Carruthers, national
director of the Black Youth Project. Charlene, President Obama when taking
questions after announcing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan`s resignation
yesterday mentioned Chicago violence in the context of the Oregon shooting.
I want to play that for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I`m deeply saddened about what happened yesterday, but Arne`s going
back to Chicago. Let`s not forget this is happening every single day in
forgotten neighborhoods around the country. Every single day. Kids are
just running for their lives just trying to get to school.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Charlene, do you share the president`s frustration that more is
not being done to stop violence in your community?
CHARLENE CARRUTHERS, NATIONAL DIRECTOR BYP100: Well, I think it was
absolutely appropriate to lift up violence in Chicago while talking about
the secretary of education. Because right here in Chicago, our young
people, yes, they`re running to get to school, but so many of them don`t
even have a school to run to or it`s a different school to run to because
we`ve witnessed over 50 school closings. And so our children are facing
violence, not just between folks who look like them, but also from the city
of Chicago that tells them that, you know, your education and your life
doesn`t have that much value. And it`s disheartening. And it hurts. I
grew up on the south side of Chicago. I grew up in a city that has
experienced and witnessed decades of divestment from black communities.
And so we`re told every single day. Our children get these messages every
single day that their lives have less value than the children, say, on the
north side of Chicago. And so, when I hear the president talk about what`s
happening in the city and what our children have to face, there has to be
some responsibility for the systemic violence that our young people face
and that responsibility absolutely lies from the mayor`s office to the
WARREN: So, I want to come back to the systemic problem. But first, Alex,
because you`ve been reporting on this, tell me a little bit about what you
see at the scene of these shootings.
ALEXANDRA CHACHKEVITCH, REPORTER, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Depending on what
happened at a particular crime scene, neighbors might be out. Family
members of the people who were wounded or dead. Sometimes the bodies are
lying there in the crime scene. And little kids and other people, and they
witness that and they have to deal with that. I try to talk to people,
whoever is willing to talk about what is going on in their community as
part of what I do.
WARREN: And tell me why you think crime is significantly higher in Chicago
than in other parts of the country from what you`re seeing and reporting
CHACHKEVITCH: So it`s a combination of different factors. The crime rate
has been going down since the 1990s. But it`s very much persistent in
Chicago still. As you said. So, one big factor that people talk about, is
the persistence of gang activity and the closing of public housing projects
around the city and over the past years enforced gangs to fight with each
other over the territory a lot of the times in some of these communities.
WARREN: So, Charlene, Alex just mentioned the closing of public housing.
You mentioned schools. I want to get you to respond to the question about
the effect on the kids and teens that are exposed to these crimes in their
communities. What are you seeing in terms of the people you talk to in
CARRUTHERS: So, what I see every single day as I mentioned, I grew up on
the south side of Chicago. I currently live in the Kenwood neighborhood,
which is right up the street from the high school where Hadia Pendleton was
shot and killed. And so, our young people, they see these things. They
don`t just see it on the news. They see their friends. And they also
think about themselves. I see myself in, like, young women who are killed
like Rakia Boyd, I just can`t help but think about Rakia Boyd, by the
police. And I can only imagine what young people are thinking when they
hear that Chicago is a dangerous place, black people are killing each
other, all of these things. And they don`t actually see people talking
about with as much energy about the value of their lives. What they do see
are concerned mothers in neighborhoods like Inglewood. You see black
mothers standing up every single day and taking control over their
neighborhoods and demanding that these things stop. At the same time,
these are the same mothers who oftentimes have no job or the job they go to
is actually a low-wage job. And they are living in communities.
WARREN: I have to cut you off right there, because we`re out of time but
thank you so much for joining us from Chicago.
CARRUTHERS: Yes, no problem.
WARREN: And here in New York, thank you to Alex Chachkowitch, thanks for
your reporting on this for "The Chicago Tribune."
Coming up next, the threatening weather bearing down on the East Coast this
weekend and the mayor of Roseburg, Oregon, on the latest we know about
Thursday`s deadly shooting. Stay with us. There`s much more at the top of
WARREN: Welcome back. I`m Dorian Warren, in for Melissa this morning.
And we have much to get to this hour. But, first, let`s get the very
latest from NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins on the weather putting parts
of the East Coast at risk this morning.
KARINS: Yes, the storm is -- unfortunately, my friend Jim Cantore just
said, he just said we finished the first quarter. I mean, that would -- I
hope not. I hope we`re at halftime. Because we`re only in the first
quarter, this is going to be a horrendous nightmare in the area.
So, let me just take it to it. First off with the hurricane up here, this
is exiting the Bahamas. The Bahamas finally gets to assess just how bad
and how devastating the storm was. This is our U.S. Coast Guard aircraft
that`s now in the air flying over the top of the Bahamas islands just doing
damage assessment to help the government there, because they don`t even
know how bad it is. There`s a blackout because there`s no power. We
haven`t gotten word or many pictures out the devastated islands.
This is where we`re dealing with Charleston, South Carolina. There are
people on paddle boards going through the city. It`s right along the
river, right along the waterfront. They`ve had six inches of rain in the
last 12 to 18 hours. And the water levels are coming up in the rivers too
because of all the flooding.
So, here`s another view of the downtown area. It doesn`t look catastrophic
at this point. High tide`s not until about 1:00 to about 3:00 this
afternoon. So, these water levels are going to continue to go up and we
are going to see water, unfortunately, in some people`s homes. Let`s go
over to the big monitor here.
This is what we call a hose -- atmospheric river, hose, choose your term.
But this is torrential rain. You see right like this, but usually it`s
progressive with a cold front or thunderstorms. Now it`s focused right
into the Charleston area. If we`re only halfway or less through this
event, I can`t imagine what it`s going to look like by midnight tonight if
we keep this hose focused right over Charleston, right up 26, heading
towards Orangeburg and the conditions from Orangeburg up to Columbia will
continue to get worse too.
These are estimates of how much rain has fallen into the region. When we
start to get to pink and bluish and purple-like colors, that`s what we`re
talking up to 8 inches estimate. At the airport, we`ve already had six
inches of rain. Of course, we`ve had flash flood warnings up in this
region for a while. They`ll probably be extended through midnight tonight
as we keep up with the rainfall.
Unfortunately, here`s the predictions: still another ten inches of rain is
possible. We could get another ten inches on top of that? I mean, talking
about historic, as we said, once in 200, once in 500-year rainfall event
there in South Carolina.
WARREN: Bill Karins, thanks so much.
And later in the hour, we`ll be going to our correspondents for reports
from the ground.
We`re also following this breaking news story. A U.S. flagged container
ship is missing in the Bahamas among the massive waves of Hurricane
Joaquin. It`s been 48 hours since communication with the ship was lost.
At day break, the Coast Guard resumed its search for El Faro, which has 28
Americans and 5 Polish nationals on board. When the ship left
Jacksonville, Florida, on Tuesday, Joaquin was just a tropical storm.
We`ll continue to bring you updates on this missing cargo ship as we have
them this morning.
And right now, we turn to the other big story we`re following this morning.
That is the latest developments on the deadly shooting on Thursday in
Roseburg, Oregon, where ten people were killed, including the shooter, and
nine others were injured.
Just yesterday, Douglas County Sheriff Hanlin released the names of the
people killed in the shooting and shared statements from their families.
We also learned more about the shooter, 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer.
Law enforcement officials revealed that Harper Mercer suffered from mental
illness for several years, and left a multi-page note celebrating mass
killings at the scene of the crime.
Joining me now from Roseburg, Oregon, is MSNBC correspondent Jacob
SOBOROFF: Dorian, as you said, we`re starting to get a more complete
picture of who this man was, the shooter here in this rural Oregon
community of Roseburg. He was actually a student in the class where the
shooting occurred at Umpqua Community College.
And as NBC News has reported, officials saying, he was actually discharged
from Fort Jackson, from the U.S. Army, for failing to meet the minimum
requirements to serve in the U.S. Army. We also learned yesterday from the
sheriff at the public safety building behind me that he owned 13 guns, 6 of
which were recovered at the crime scene.
We do not know yet the cause of death of the shooter, whether it was self-
inflicted or otherwise or possible motives. We hope to learn those later
today at a news conference again at the public safety building behind me.
What`s really incredible right now is you`re seeing the community come
together. We`re seeing groups of people come in, bringing foot, treats for
the first responders of this community, including a group of people who
were wearing t-shirts in support of a young man named Emilio Hoffman (ph)
who was killed in a school shooting in 2015 elsewhere in Oregon. We`re
also hearing the blood drives have been overwhelmed here in the area. Lots
more information coming today. We will be here the entire time.
Go ahead, Dorian.
WARREN: Thank you to Jacob Soboroff in Roseburg, Oregon.
And we`re going to go right to South Carolina where officials have breaking
news about the hurricane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scheduled to see up to 7 more inches of rain. At
particular risk are counties, Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender County in
the southeast as well as counties west of Asheville.
I`m now going to review the current situation regarding flooding caused by
our heavy rains. On Thursday, the governor declared a state of emergency
for all 100 counties. He also directed that the state emergency response
team provide a full spectrum of response capabilities. This team includes
all state agencies, as well as our private sector partners and our
Governor McCrory`s guidance and Secretary Perry`s guidance to me was to
mobilize the necessary resources that would enable us to provide timely and
decisive support to ensure public safety. To that end, we activated the
EOC here at a level 3, as well as two NCEEM commodity warehouse, seven
swift water rescue teams, one urban search and rescue team, one ambulance
strike team and over 150 national guardsman that have a very different
types of skill sets.
We`ve deployed these assets strategically throughout the state so we can
ensure speed to the need wherever an issue arises. We`re constantly
adjusting locations in order to remain tactically sound.
FEMA`s also working with us in the state at the EOC, although at this time,
we don`t anticipate needing any federal resources. I think it`s important
to note that these resources are only a small part of the team. Our local
partners at the county and municipality level have multiple highly skilled
resources that can be brought to bear against any hazard or threat by their
emergency services director. The state augments their team upon request.
So, let`s move to the current weather situation. Over the last 24 hours,
the entire state has received significant amounts in some local areas
almost up to a foot of rain with the most being in the extreme southeast.
We`re experiencing minor flooding in various rivers across the state. But
generally speaking, our rivers are holding up well.
We will have a break in the heavy rainfall in the eastern and central part
of the state today, but we feel like that`s going to be coming back here
later on during the weekend.
Western North Carolina`s going to receive up to 5 inches today. So, over
the next 3 days, what we see our rural spots to watch, southwestern North
Carolina and southeastern North Carolina. They`re going to receive the
heaviest rainfall totals, anywhere between 3 and 10 inches.
You have to look at that knowing that they`re already water logged and have
a high level of water all over the place in their counties and
Other important information that I need to share with you is that last
night in Brunswick County, due to some localized flooding in the townships
of Calabash and Carolina Shores, there was an evacuation where it was
somewhere between 400 and 500 people. Although the number of these people
were evacuated, there`s currently only eight people in a shelter that they
opened in West Brunswick High School --
WARREN: OK, we`re going to continue to bring you updates on the storms
putting Carolinas at risk today.
But, right now, we`re going to return to the shooting story from Oregon
this week. Joining me now is the mayor of Roseburg, Oregon, Larry Rich.
Mayor Rich, good morning and please allow me to extend my condolences to
you and the people of your community.
MAYOR LARRY RICH (R), ROSEBURG, OREGON: Thank you. We appreciate it.
WARREN: Would you please tell us more about how the residents are grieving
and coping at this time of loss.
RICH: Well, we`re coming together as a community. The names are starting
to be released. People are starting to realize they either know them or
somebody that they`re close to knows the victims or those who have been
deceased or injured. And we`re going to be coming together as a community.
WARREN: On Thursday and Friday, President Obama expressed his frustration
with the nation`s current gun laws. Let`s listen to a portion of his
remarks from yesterday`s press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will not change until
the politics changes and the behavior of elected officials changes. And
so, the main thing I`m going to do is I`m going to talk about this on a
regular basis. And I will politicize it because our inaction is a
political decision that we are making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Mayor, what do you think your state might do about gun control
after this tragedy?
RICH: Well, I think at this point, we need to grieve as a community.
After that, people need to come together, start talking about the issue.
And I hope that we look at the entire picture, don`t just focus on gun
control. We`ve got mental health issues. We`ve got copycat issues. We
need to look at the entire picture and figure out how are we going to stop
WARREN: Mayor, the sheriff leading this investigation, Sheriff John
Hanlin, has been a vocal opponent of gun control measures and he even
reportedly penned a letter to Vice President Biden after the Sandy Hook
shooting, saying he would not comply with gun control laws from the Obama
How confident are you in the sheriff`s ability to lead the investigation,
given his stance?
RICH: I think you`ll find that all of us want the problems solved. We`re
going to look at what works. To quickly say any one individual thing is
the cure-all I think is crazy. You need to look at the entire picture and
make sure you deal with the entire package to solve that problem.
WARREN: We know that authorities recovered 13 guns from the shooter`s
homes and from the school. They say all the firearms were purchased
legally and seven were purchased by the shooter and family members.
How does this illustrate the functionality of our current gun laws?
RICH: Well, you can buy one gun, you can buy a number of guns, as long as
it`s legal. There`s no rule as to how many you have. All it takes is one
gun to create a mess like this.
So, I don`t get too worked up over how many guns somebody has. I deal with
the individual, what`s happening and how do we put a stop to it.
WARREN: Thank you so much to Mayor Larry Rich in Roseburg, Oregon, and,
again, our condolences.
RICH: Thank you.
WARREN: Up next, the different ways we`ve seen former Governor Jeb Bush
and Senator Warren address issues particular to black voters.
WARREN: Turning now to politics and how politicians address issues related
Our focus this morning is on two politicians in particular. One of the
politicians is running for president. The other has been repeatedly urged
to run for president and has repeatedly declined. Both addressed the need
for equal opportunity but in very different ways.
First, there is Republican presidential candidate and former Florida
governor, Jeb Bush, speaking at a recent campaign event in South Carolina.
When a supporter asked Mr. Bush how he planned to reach out to the African-
American community, the candidate toted his support for school choice and
offered this assessment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our message is one of hope and
aspiration. It isn`t one of division and get in line and we`ll take care
of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting that says you
can achieve earned success.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Sunday, Mr. Bush tried to explain his comments but seemed to end
up doubling down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We need to make our case that an aspirational message fixing a few
big complex things will allow people to rise up. That`s what people want.
They don`t want free stuff. That was my whole point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: On that same day, we heard a different approach from Massachusetts
Senator Elizabeth Warren. In a speech at the Edward Kennedy Institute,
Warren connected Black Lives Matter activists to the civil rights movement
the 1960s and the struggle against structural inequality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: In the same way that the tools
of oppress were woven together, a package of civil rights laws came
together to protect black people from violence, to insure access to the
ballot box and to build economic opportunity. Or to say it another way,
black lives matter, black citizens matter and black families matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Two very different approaches on the issue of equal opportunity
and the role of government. One that is sure to be an ongoing story line
in the 2016 race for the White House.
At the table with me this morning, David Cay Johnston, professor at
Syracuse University College of Law and author of "Divided: The Perils of
Our Growing Inequality", Perry Bacon Jr., NBC News senior political
reporter, Christina Greer, professor of politics and author of "Black
Ethnics: Race, Immigration and the Pursuit of the American Dream", and
Katon Dawson, national Republican consultant and former South Carolina GOP
Welcome back, panel.
Christina, I want to start with you, because I thought Elizabeth Warren`s
speech was incredibly remarkable. She called for a comprehensive reform on
almost every major issue affecting black Americans from voting to policing.
Will the Democrats have to match her passion to win black votes?
GREER: No. We do know black voters are incredibly savvy. I think what
we`ve seen in the past, especially with Hillary Clinton, is that she`s not
a leader on these issues, but she will adopt certain rhetoric. Bernie
Sanders is pretty much there, but as we mentioned in the previous segment,
he`s so far to left, I really can`t see him being the nominee, but he will
force Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden to speak more clearly and succinctly
about not only these issues but the implementation of how we can develop
policies to make that happen.
I unfortunately, you know, because Elizabeth Warren isn`t running, we have
to make sure that we put pressure on the Democratic candidates. The
Republicans right now have not shown any candidates that would attract
African-American voters. So, we know on the large scale in presidential
elections, African-Americans vote for the Democratic Party around 91 and 93
percent historically. Republicans have not provided any acknowledgement,
message, plan, for attracting African-American votes, besides saying we
don`t want to give you free stuff.
WARREN: I want to go back to the Republican question, but I want to stay
on Democrats for a second.
And, Perry, I want to take a listen about what Elizabeth Warren said about
Black Lives Matter and get you to respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. WARREN: Listen to the brave, powerful voices of today`s new
generation of civil rights leaders, incredible voices. Listen to them say,
if I die in police custody, know that I did not commit suicide. Watch
them, when they march through the streets, "hands up, don`t shoot", not to
incite a riot but to fight for their lives, to fight for their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: So, Perry, the Democratic presidential candidates from Hillary
Clinton to Bernie Sanders to Martin O`Malley, they`ve all struggled in
their responses to Black Lives Matter. What can they learn from that
speech by Senator Warren?
BACON: I think she learned something from watching their failures.
One thing she noted, Sanders in his campaign kept saying racial deaths will
be solved why solving economic problems. You saw in her speech, she said,
explicitly, racial justice is not the same as economic justice. Those are
different issues. I think she`s learned from them. I would say on the
policy, I would say, Hillary Clinton has talked a lot about getting rid of
voter idea laws, making it easier to vote. She`s pretty much where Warren
was in terms of the policy.
I would argue, if you watch, Hillary and that video with the Black Lives
Matter activists, I think her approach to the movement was probably not as
good and not as supportive as Warren`s was. I think in terms of her
approach, learned something from Warren speech, I do think in terms of the
policy, Warren, Sanders, Hillary pretty much all in the same place, much
different than the Republicans, of course.
WARREN: All right. So, finally now to Republicans.
And, Katon, Jeb Bush`s comments not only echo past comments by candidates
like Mitt Romney but also Republican voters. And if we were to look at the
data, so a Pew survey found the majority of Republicans in the country has
done enough to achieve racial equality. Most Democrats do not.
Clearly, Jeb Bush with those comments is playing to his base. But what
will happen come the general election?
DAWSON: There`s a divide when you have the Republicans versus Democrats.
The Republicans are going to use the facts, $668 billion federal dollars a
year spent on poverty, $228 billion in Medicaid, $75 billion in the food
stamp program, $55 billion --
WARREN: Is that mostly white Americans or black Americans?
DAWSON: I can`t tell you who all is getting -- the recipients of that. I
know in food stamp --
WARREN: It`s in the reddest counties in terms of food stamps.
DAWSON: Could be.
So, at the end of the day, I think Governor Bush, never underestimate his
ability when the light really shines. I think he is a caring individual.
I think he`s talking to the electorate that`s going to make the decision on
who`s going to be the nominee.
But I think early on, I think Jeb has talked about what it takes to win the
election in general. There was a lot of criticism. It gave Donald the
room to come in and capture 21 percent of the vote.
So, don`t -- I`ve got the criticism of what Jeb said. But what Jeb is
talking about the opportunity to create what he created in Florida as
governor which is a pretty good record he hasn`t talked enough about.
WARREN: OK, David, Jeb Bush maybe has a point on poverty programs.
Because as Ronald Reagan once said, we fought a war on poverty and poverty
won. Again same question, how is this going to play in the general
election when he has to attract more than white voters in the south?
JOHNSTON: I honestly don`t know. What I do know is rich white people get
lots of free stuff from the government. They get a step up on assets for
their heirs. They get to use of the courts. They have a whole set laws to
protect their property and their interest, regardless of your race if
And that we have put barriers to people being successful. You know, we
have spent tens of billions of dollars to move jobs out of inner cities and
then not provide any public transportation to them. We have set up a whole
system of raising the cost of public education after high school to cut
people out who aren`t already well off, and then burdened those who managed
to make it across with debt that will continue until your hair is gray.
So, we need to do a lot and we never fought a war on poverty. We had a
skirmish with poverty.
WARREN: Your hair`s a little gray, so some of you are still paying off
Still more to come, because something incredible happened in the United
States Senate this week. This story is real. It`s important. It once
But it happened this weekend because of all the other news, hardly anyone
even knows about it. That story is still to come.
WARREN: As Hurricane Joaquin churns in the Atlantic, rich tropical
moisture is creating a potentially historic rain event. States along the
coast are bracing for a double hit of fresh water and ocean water flooding.
There are already reports of water entering homes in the coastal South
Carolina city of Charleston.
And even 100 miles inland, rivers are starting to swell.
Joining me now is NBC News correspondent Sarah Dallof in Columbia, South
And, Sarah, you just spoke to the mayor. How are they preparing?
DALLOF: They are doing a number of things, Dorian. They`ve cleared out
storm drains. They`re sandbagging businesses in flood-prone areas, and
they`re letting water of dams to make room for all these rainfall.
Now, no evacuations in this area has been ordered, the South Carolina
governor however encouraging people in low-lying areas to relocate. Here
in Columbia, the mayor is urging people to stay off these waterlogged and
potentially dangerous streets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR STEVE BENJAMIN, COLUMBIA, SC: So, all the things we can control, the
folks who are in authority are working to control those. Those that we
can`t, we remain cautiously optimistic that things will continue to go our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DALLOF: Now, the rain has been a steady drizzle over the last hour or so.
Right now, the storm drains are keeping up. The forecast however still
calling from anywhere from 12 to 18 inches of rain through Monday, and
winds could also factor in to potential damage. The trees haven`t shed
their leaves yet. So, we could see some tree damage leading to some
widespread power outages. Just another thing to keep your eye on as we
continue into this weekend of wet weather.
Back to you.
WARREN: Thank you to NBC`s Sarah Dallof in Columbia, Carolina.
And going even further, in Greenville, South Carolina, with NBC News
correspondent Kerry Sanders.
And, Kerry, emergency management officials are already reporting one death
connected to flooding in the upstate. Do you see people out trying to
drive in these conditions?
SANDERS: Yes, there are folks out, because really it`s a little early for
them to be overly concerned about the safety of being out. As you look out
the window here, we`re driving down what is a relatively low lying area.
You can see the roads are open. We`ll slow up and let this car go in front
Folks are taking care of what they need to do. Hopefully, in many cases,
they`re preparing for what is going to be potentially a real serious
Understand how much rain is expected here. They believe it could be as
much as 12 inches. Maybe top out even at 15 inches. That would be about
three months worth of rain in a matter of three days. And the problem is,
of course, the ground is already saturated and is getting worse.
Some of the trees we`re looking at right now may come down because the
winds could gust up to 35 miles an hour, saturated ground. All of that
adds together with potentially a real problem of trees coming down. We
already know that there are some electrical lines that have come down.
Duke Energy says that between 20,000 to 30,000 folks right now are already
So, what we`re going to do is I`m going to take you, Dorian, up here. I`m
going up a little bit to get into a position to sort of take you for a
quick view of the ready river here that runs through the area. I`m going
to hop out of the car. I`ll take this camera out with me.
Here we go. Let`s take a look here. I think what you really get a sense
of, this is -- here we go. This is before the really big rains come. As I
take a shot down there.
So, remember this shot where we see the water flowing, because I have a
feeling later today and tomorrow, we`re going to see a completely different
picture. In fact, Dorian, as you can see through the trees there, you can
see already some of the water is running off. So, that`s sort of a
snapshot of what is going to come but is not here just yet. OK.
WARREN: Great, thank you to NBC`s Kerry Sanders in Greenville, North
And, Kerry, please be careful out there on those roads.
Up next, the thing the U.S. Senate did this week that could change the
lives of millions of Americans, and the most interesting part are the ones
WARREN: So, it was quite the scene this week. A bipartisan coalition of
top lawmakers, not just agreeing on something, but shaking hands, cracking
jokes, even hugging.
The reason: a criminal justice breakthrough announced on Thursday when
Senate Republicans and Democrats introduced a broad measure that would make
sweeping changes to criminal justice in the U.S., including the ditching of
some harsh sentencing rules and a limit to solitary confinement for
It is a major victory for sentencing reformers and perhaps the most
important federal justice overhaul in a generation.
The bill comes at a time when sentencing reform has emerged as a key issue
in the presidential election and as the Obama administration continues to
forge a new course on criminal justice.
Here is Republican Senator Charles Grassley, the powerful conservative
chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose support is critical
introducing the bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: For the first time we`re cutting back the
mandatory minimums so that they apply more fairly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: The legislation is known as the sentencing reform and corrections
act of 2015. Proposals include reducing the line imprisonment penalty
under the federal three strikes rule to 25 years, a limit to the use of
mandatory ten-year sentences for nonviolent offenders, giving judges
greater sentencing discretion and improved prisoner rehabilitation
The measure also includes steps to expunge records for nonviolent juveniles
not tried as adults or convicted of domestic violence, a step prioritized
by Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat who was instrumental in
adding provisions that could help eliminate some of the racial disparities
in the prison system.
So, Perry, I want to come to you and ask, what is the overall climate in
Washington, D.C., when something like this receives bipartisan support?
And is this indicative of some important tectonic shift even?
BACON: Not much on other issues, but on this particular issue, the crime
levels went down, there`s bipartisan agreement in the states and nationally
as well. This sort of war crime, the harsh sentences needed to go down.
It`s a rare issue where I would argue there`s bipartisanship in part
because the Koch brothers were working on it and so were the Center for
The danger now is this is not a priority for a lot of Republicans. You saw
four Republicans there at that press conference. But it`s not a -- like
defunding Planned Parenthood is a big priority for Republicans. So it`s
not clear to me anybody who knows if the House is going to take this up, if
Jeb Bush or Rubio will support. I think we should be cautious about
thinking this bill will actually become law.
WARREN: OK. Katon, I know you`re proud of your fellow North Carolinians
on this question. What about the presidential campaign first? And then,
second, what about the presidential campaign? I mean, don`t Republicans
risk appearing soft on crime, the usual dog whistle they use on
presidential elections. What`s going to happen in terms of the
DAWSON: I think you`ve seen a shift in it because conservatives who come
from Texas and Governor Rick Perry`s no longer in the race, who put in drug
courts, who didn`t open three brand-new prisons.
It`s more of a conservative idea now, nobody`s in favor like they were in
the `80s and 90s of more bricks and mortar, more wire, more prisons. I
mean, we`re looking -- and I think you saw with Tim Scott, especially
people getting to know him. You saw people who said, you know, people
deserve a second chance. That`s what this is about.
So I think it`s a little bit about the presidential election. People also
would like to see Washington do some things. This is a thing I think will
not hurt Republicans. The crime bills of the `80s and `90s, everybody`s
culpable of three strikes, turned out to be very expensive, 24,000
incarceration rate for South Carolina. Very expensive.
So, I think it started with Texas and other states. It started with drug
courts giving people the second chance. And I think it shows there`s a
piece of humanity in Washington. I hope you see with the leadership change
this is something they can all get together and do.
The American public would like to see the Republicans and Democrats in
general. The ones who matter in the next election would like to see
something like this happen and it makes sense.
WARREN: Christina, Katon just mentioned this is a shift for not just
Republicans but also for Democrats. There`s a bipartisan consensus in the
`90s in the crime bills. How do we understand this shift? Why did the
politics in this shift did for both parties?
GREER: We know the Republicans see this as an economics issue. Democrats
largely see this as more of a moral, theoretical fundamental American
democratic issue, small "D" democrat issue.
So, the fact that, you know, I don`t think it`s lost on us that Cory Booker
is one of the people spearheading this. He has a record of working across
the aisle when he was mayor in Newark. I don`t think it should be shocking
that Tim Scott`s working on this, in the sense they`re new to the game,
right, so they aren`t as hardened.
So, I think we should be excited about it. It reminds me of the LBJ days
where, you know, it doesn`t really matter what`s really in your heart. If
you`re getting it done and it`s helping the American people and will
decrease the millions of fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers who
are in the criminal justice system, then we need to run with it.
I don`t want to be a Debbie Downer, but hopefully, this will become a
priority in the presidential campaigns as well.
WARREN: It`s something like 13 percent.
JOHNSTON: Yes, we need to get states to do this and it`s a great first
step in the right direction. We also got to get rid of mandatories
WARREN: All right. To be continued. Of course, never enough time.
I want to thank David Cay Johnston, Perry Bacon, Jr., Christina Greer, and
Up next, we have a remarkable foot soldier story to bring you this week.
Forget the bills, forget the politicians, the men taking criminal justice
reform into their own hands, in this case, and they`re winning.
WARREN: Last Sunday, one of the most memorable scenes of his U.S. tour,
Pope Francis met with inmates at the Curran-Fromhold correctional facility
in Philadelphia to offer a message of hope and support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE FRANCIS (through translator): This time in your life can have but one
purpose. To give you a helping hand to get back on the right path. To
give you a hand to help you rejoin society. All of us are part of that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: The pontiff`s call for the public to invest more in the
incarcerated added a spiritual dimension to the groundswell we`ve seen in
favor of prison reform, which reached new heights Thursday as a group of
bipartisan senators proposed groundbreaking criminal justice reforms,
including more emphasis on re-entry programs for the recently released.
That last component is vital as a five-year study by the bureau of justice
statistics found that nearly 57 percent of re-arrested prisoners were
arrested in the first year of their release from prison.
Now, what this often means is recently released prisoners lacking the
social material resources to survive as civilians return to criminal
activity to sustain themselves. Our foot soldiers of the week, the first
72-plus, an all volunteer group of formerly incarcerated individuals know
this reality firsthand and step in to help Louisiana`s incarcerated
navigate an unfamiliar world, even something as simple as riding in a car.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That beeping is letting you know I don`t have my seat
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes, it wasn`t doing that when I left the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, that`s the remote that lets you in the car but
also as long as this is close to the car, you can start the car up. And
this is the backup camera for folks who can`t back up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you can see what`s behind you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This must be a real expensive car, huh?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a regular car, bro.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Our full report when we come back.
WARREN: Louisiana has become a microcosm for the American prison
industrial complex. The Pelican State has the largest per capita prison
population in the world, with some 15,000 individuals being released from
incarceration annually. Nearly half those released will return to prison
because they lack the resources needed to acclimate to civilian life.
Our foot soldier of the week, the organization First 72 Plus is working to
help recent prisoners fill that void through training and outreach.
And this MSNBC original report, producers went to New Orleans to follow the
group`s work with a new client, Gregory Finney, during his crucial first
three days of freedom.
GREGORY FINNEY: I`m not going back to prison. I ain`t going back. I gave
them 16 years. Ya`ll got that. You got 16 years of my life. I`m on
another road now. As long as I stay in the shelter of God, I`m going to be
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re here to pick up Gregor Finney. It took him a
week to process the paperwork. But he`s being released. We`re on our way
to pick him up.
NORRIS HENDERSON: When I was inside, I was helping people get out, and now
I`m outside and I am still helping people get out.
If there is any joy of visiting a prison, the joy of coming out is the
reality that I`m coming to extract somebody from here. I am coming to
literally do a jailbreak. I am coming to do a domestic takeout. Finney is
in jail for a distribution of heroin, and he had a life sentence, but we
were able to get the laws changed for him to be eligible for parole. So it
is exciting that we are going to get him.
Just less than a dozen years ago I was on the other side of this fence,
hoping and praying that one day somebody would come and get me and that day
Hey, you know.
HENDERSON: You out, brother. That`s it. You out, brother. Ain`t no more
of this. Just something that you had to pass through, bro.
FINNEY: It is a beautiful feeling. I can`t breathe. Oh, Lord have mercy.
This is beautiful. This is beautiful.
HENDERSON: That beeping?
HENDERSON: That is letting me know that I don`t have the seat belt on.
FINNEY: Yes, it was not doing that when I left.
HENDERSON: Right. That is the remote to let you in the car, but as long
as this is close to the ka, it will start the car up. And this is the
backup camera for folks who cannot see behind them.
FINNEY: So you can see behind you?
FINNEY: And this is an expensive car, huh?
HENDERSON: No, this is a regular car, bro.
Well, big boy, it is about time we get you back home.
FINNEY: This is my home. It has changed.
BEN SMITH, CO-FOUNDER, THE FIRST 72+: And the first 24 to 72 hours that an
individual is released, it is the most critical time of his life, and that
is going to determine whether or not he is going to make it out here in
society or wind up right back in the penitentiary.
But these guys are coming at you with $10 and a bus ticket, and if you
don`t have any help, you can help but fail.
HENDERSON: All right. Brother, this is the temporary life.
Oh, man, it is nice.
SMITH: If you have family support, well then you will make it, and you can
make it, because you will have the help that you need, but a lot of people
don`t have that support.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me, we will be here, bro. This is where you will
SMITH: For the last seven years when the guys come home, they come
straight to us, and we provide them with the wrap around services that they
need. Get them the IDs and the birth certificates and the Social Security
cards, and each one of us go in our pockets to give them $100 or $50, bring
him shopping, give him some outfits, shoes, clothing, whatever they need.
HENDERSON: All of the guys in our program is doing good. I mean they
ain`t doing great, but they are doing good.
SMITH: And I am looking for Finney to really, really excel. That the life
sentence that he had scared him straight. He knows that he has to stay out
here on the street, because if he goes back, he is going back to die.
He has a life sentence, and so he will go back to the penitentiary to die,
and so he has no other choice but to come out here and do the right thing.
The majority of the guys that we have dealt with so is far are guys that we
were in the penitentiary with, and it makes all of the difference in the
And how we roll with this, Finney.
FINNEY: Talk to me.
SMITH: One strike and you are out. And you have been down 16 years, and
you know the rules, and you know what it is from the other end.
SMITH: And take Finney for instance, I am talking to him as a comrade,
because I have been in his shoe, and I`m still in his shoes, because we are
just free now. We still formally incarcerated people.
FINNEY: This is my first time here. How are you?
UIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s up?
FINNEY: I tell my family that they have the confidence that my old life
have passed away and they have not seen the side of me.
My street life affected my life at home, and being incarcerated, bro, for
16 year, you think that I`m going back to that? Huh? No, indeed, no. I
would prefer to have anything other than that.
I gave the system 16 years, and that is all they can get from me. My grand
kids have my time, and I have seven of them, and my time is for them. I
can`t change my past, I can`t be the father that I could have been, but I
can be the grandfather that I am going to be.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you, papa.
FINNEY: With the strength of the family, I`m going to be all right.
WARREN: Special thanks to the producers of this story, David Zulnik (ph)
and Andre Robert Lee. To view the entire feature, visit the docket on
That`s our show for today. Thanks to you at home for watching. I`ll see
you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m..
And now it is a preview of "WEEKENDS WITH ALEX WITT" -- Alex.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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