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'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, October 11th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Sunday show

Date: October 11, 2015
Guest: Katie Packer Gage, Charles Rangel, Lola Ogunnaike, Eleanor Clift,
Ann Lewis, John Nichols

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC ANCHOR: A new Benghazi bombshell? Good morning.
Thanks for getting up with us this Sunday. I`m Jonathan Capehart. This
morning we are bringing you the latest out of Turkey where an explosion at
a peace rally yesterday has left hundreds dead or wounded. Turkish
officials are still looking for who is responsible for this attack. We`ll
have more on this story in just a minute.

Plus, weeks after Congressman Kevin McCarthy`s characterization of the
Benghazi commission wreaked havoc within his party, a new lawsuit from a
former committee investigators suggests that damaging Hillary Clinton`s
reputation was a key objective for the panel.

We`ll bring you his claims. Plus, while the Republican race for president
is all caught up with Trump, Carson and Bush, is Marco Rubio in the best
position to win?

And the first Democratic debate just two days away. What issues will be
the fire starters in Las Vegas? All that still ahead this morning. But we
begin with the latest on those bombings in Turkey yesterday. The death
toll is now up to 95 in the two explosions, which rocked a peace rally.
President Obama has offered his condolences to Turkey`s president. For the
latest, let`s turn to NBC News`s Keir Simmons in Ankara.

KEIR SIMMONS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Jonathan, good morning. The number
of 95 dead could yet climb with 48 people described as in a serious
condition out of the 245 who`ve been injured ISIS considered the prime
suspect in an attack, which is chillingly reminiscent of the Boston
bombing. Like in Boston there were two explosions, bombs put in a crowded,
a public place and like in Boston it was caught on camera. This time
people were protesting for peace linking arms when the explosion went off.
One witness describing the aftermath as like a sea of blood. And Turkey
goes into three days of mourning, the pope this morning has held a minute`s
silence and called this a massacre while Presidents Obama and Putin have
offered Turkey their condolences. Meanwhile, out on the streets there are
fresh demonstrations, fresh clashes with police as Turkey, which borders
Syria descends into recrimination and anger. Jonathan?

CAPEHART: That was NBC News` Keir Simmons.

Now, onto the chaos within the Republican Party, a party that`s still
searching for its leader in the house. Paul Ryan says he`s spending this
weekend contemplating his next move, a move a growing number of Republicans
hopefully include running for House speaker. That position, of course, is
still vacant after a majority leader, Kevin McCarthy stunned everyone by
dropping out of the race on Thursday. For the latest on that we go to
NBC`s Kristen Welker who is in Washington at the White House. Kristen, how
are you?

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jonathan I`m great. Thanks for
having me. Look, Congress is on recess for a little more than a week and
Congressman Ryan is expected to use that time to discuss a possible
decision with family, friends and colleagues, and there`s broad agreement
that the House really needs to reach a decision soon in order to restore
order, but here`s the problem. Ryan, who seems to have enough support to
get elected as you pointed out has expressed that he`s not sure he wants
the job. He`s called his current position his dream job, he`s currently
chairman of the house Ways and Means Committee. Now, the unrest in the
House is reflective of the broader divisions within the GOP, essentially
you have a conservative grassroots uprising in the House and we are seeing
something very similar on the campaign trail. You have these non-
establishment candidates like Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and, of course,
Donald Trump who are surging. And I think what`s happening, Jonathan, is
that the activist branch trying to change the party that is known for
traditionally elevating the next in line. Candidates like Jeb Bush and
Chris Christie who are struggling right now. Establishment Republicans are
looking at all of this, they are expressing concerns that ultimately the
unrest could hurt their chances to taking back the White House. And by the
way, just to put this into a broader context, this is all coming at a
critical time for the House, they are facing (INAUDIBLE), including needing
to pass a spending bill to keep the government open and raising the debt
limit or facing default. It`s expected that this will be the first order
of business when Congress gets back from recess, naming a new speaker.

CAPEHART: Kristen Welker at the White House. Thanks.

WELKER: Thanks.

CAPEHART: Kevin McCarthy first got into hot water during a Fox News
interview more than a week ago, in which he suggested the panel`s purpose
was to hurt Hillary Clinton.


KEVIN MCCARTHY: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?
But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What
are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.


CAPEHART: Now the "New York Times" is reporting a former investigator for
the Republican committee plans to file a complaint alleging that he was
fired because his superiors oppose his effort to investigate the attack and
they wanted him to focus primarily on the role the State Department and
Hillary Clinton played.

Here to discuss this Eleanor Clift, a Washington correspondent with "The
Daily Beast," Katie Packer Gage, a deputy campaign manager on the Romney
2012 team, now a political consultant. Lola Ogunnaike, an anchor with
Arise 360 and joining them at the table, Congressman from New York, Dean of
the congressional delegation in New York, Congressman Charlie Rangel.
Thank you all for being here.

Congressman Rangel, let me start with you. Could this Benghazi issue, this
new story, could it backfire on Republicans and actually help Hillary

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: There is no question about that, but,
you know, I`m more concerned about the accusation that the House of
Representatives and the Congress was used in violation of the
constitutional oath for political purposes. This is a very, very serious
allegation. No matter what we politicians try to do you`ll find some
political implications, but to have eight hearings and to have people
believe and that is Republicans, not partisan Democrats that the sole
purpose of this was not to find out how four American heroes lost their
lives, but to destroy a Democratic candidate is a very, very serious

CAPEHART: Now, these allegations are being, the committee is pushing back
hard against these allegations saying that in due time it will release what
its side of the story in all of this. Do you think that, leave aside
Hillary Clinton, what does this do, do you think, to the credibility of
Republicans running the House?

RANGEL: You know, they are taking on Democrats with them and they have
within their group a handful of Republicans that don`t mind destroying the
Republican Party, the Congress or even the president when we talk about
debt ceiling and other issues as it relates to the budget. And the only
reason that good people are running away from the speakership is because
they don`t mind taking them down politically and personally, so there`s
absolute chaos on their side and it`s really time for reporters and the
news media, and not to be concerned with what is exciting and what viewers
would like to see, but ask the question can a republic like the United
States of America long survive in the chaotic position and what impact
that`s got to have on our domestic and our national security programs. It
is very serious.

CAPEHART: You know, everyone is, we`ve been reporting, everyone`s
reporting, everyone wants Paul Ryan to do this, the congressman from
Wisconsin, the 2012 vice presidential nominee, chairman of House Ways and
Means. And you were a chairman of House Ways and Means. Why on earth
would he want to step into this mess as house speaker? Do you think he
should do it?

RANGEL: Isn`t it ironic that the most prized position that one can aspire,
third from the president of the United States, five people running away
from it? I told Paul before we left whatever he decided, I hope it would
be best for him and his family. However, as a politician when everything
that Paul Ryan is, is due to the Republican Party, it would seem to me that
a time when Republican Party needs him and someone so badly that he has a
political obligation and this idea about running for president we don`t
know what`s going to happen in 2016. It`s hard for anybody to plan their
future five years from now.

CAPEHART: Well, let me open it up to the table. And Kevin, let me bring
you in on this. Should Paul Ryan do this? He does have presidential
aspirations. Wouldn`t being House speaker in a position that does anyone
think that whoever is the next House speaker is actually going to survive
being House speaker with the way things are going? Why would Paul Ryan
want to willingly walk his career into the danger zone like that?

everybody wants him to. Paul is a really, really good guy. He`s a good
patriot, he`s been an outstanding member of the House of Representatives
and chairman of the committee, he was an outstanding candidate for the vice
presidential position. And I do think that he`s very conflicted, he`s got
a very young family back in Wisconsin. He wasn`t really prepared to spend,
you know, the kind of time away from his family that this job would
require. The vice presidency was a little different. He would have
brought his family to Washington with him. And so I do think he`s really
conflicted over it. My hunch is he will do it, because he`s that kind of a
guy that will step in and as Congressman Rangel said, you know, he`ll do
what the party needs and what the country needs at a really difficult time.

CAPEHART: You know, I hear that, Eleanor and Lola, but even though
everyone says basically that Paul Ryan is like, you know, this magician,
this savior for the party and for the House, him taking the position I`m of
the opinion that whoever takes the job Paul Ryan on anyone else is doomed
from the start.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, ARISE 360: It`s clearly a thankless job, the job that
nobody wants. If the Republicans could outsource this job they would.


OGUNNAIKE: Unfortunately, they can`t. I think Paul Ryan will actually
take this job with the understanding that he`s doing a solid for the
Republican Party and in turn when push comes to shove and he needs them to
back him that they will be there for him but only with that understanding.

CAPEHART: Eleanor? What do you think?

CLIFT: I`m a fan of tipping points. I think it`s a point that the
Republicans in the Congress are going to rise up against this minority on
their side that is basically holding them hostage and the country hostage.
And I think there were reports that two members of the Tea Party caucus
have left.

CAPEHART: Yes, Congressman Dribbel (ph) was one. We had him on yesterday.

CLIFT: Right. Right. And so, we are assuming that if Paul Ryan takes
this position that he`ll be destroyed by the same minority. Well, maybe
not. Maybe people are going to say enough. I would also hope that John
Boehner stays on long enough and do what he says that he`d like to do, and
that is clean the barn in other words raise the debt ceiling, do a two-year
budget. I mean it`s unfair to the country, really. I mean we are very
entertaining watching this party at odds with itself. But these are
serious matters, they affect people`s lives and at some point it ceases
being funny and it`s extremely serious matter. I agree with the
congressman on that.

CAPEHART: Yeah, you know, you are saying cleaning the barn. I`d looked at
- because I`m trying to remind myself what date it was, it`s the 11th. And
Speaker Boehner wants to leave on the 30th. That gives us what, 19 days -
to raise the debt ceiling by November, Fifth, which is exactly one week
after he leaves the House, and then do a new budget by December 11 when the
current CR runs out? How likely is that Congressman Rangel, that Speaker
Boehner can clean the barn out in 19 days?

RANGEL: You know.

CAPEHART: And you guys are on recess for like the next eight.

RANGEL: You know, the United States of America is not just those of us
down there in Washington. I recall vividly when the Republicans drove the
country to the break of the debt ceiling. We vote.

CAPEHART: Back in 2011.

RANGEL: Yeah. And the economy and the international economic system was
fragile. I looked down my hob and I saw all these New Yorkers from Wall
Street, I thought they were going to come to see me. They were right by my
door, and went to Republican leadership. It comes a time when a handful of
people that run this country financially get scared to death. That`s what
can happen when the handful of people in Washington holding up the
Republican Party, the Congress and the United States of America. And when
people truly understand what happens when we don`t reach the debt ceiling,
and how in fact that will Main Street and the international community you
can bet your life that it won`t take the pope to have to come down. They
will come down to protect their interest and America`s interest.

CLIFT: Yeah, it`s all - also, it`s very noble that Paul Ryan wants to be
home with his family, but this Congress, they work a three-day week,
they`re there ...

OGUNNAIKE: On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

CLIFT: You know, not in the - not too distant past people brought their
families to Washington and they - and it wasn`t this terrible place that
you - against. Actually, it`s a nice place to raise families. And so, I
mean I think that needs to be rethought. These people are working for the
taxpayers and most of us don`t get three-day weeks.

PACKER GAGE: Well, I don`t think it`s quite fair to say that they work
three-day weeks just because they`re in session for three days. Most of
these members travel home, they`re traveling throughout their district on
the days that they`re not in session. Certainly, that`s the schedule Paul
Ryan keeps. And I don`t think John Boehner is somebody that is able to
work a three day week as speaker of the House. I mean it`s a very, very
demanding job and Paul has a very, very young family. They are young kids.

CAPEHART: Right. And that`s one of the things. I mean it`s not just, you
know, handling the legislative calendar of speaker. You`ve got to raise
money for a house candidates. You`ve got to do a whole lot of things that
will keep Paul Ryan ...

PACKER GAGE: Nobody thinks this is a part-time job.

CLIFT: It`s raising, raising the money that is also really so corrosive.

RANGEL: I wish my family thought it was a three-day week. I`d never


PACKER-GAGE: I`ve never seen the member of Congress.

OGUNNAIKE: No. I don`t - still, the number of recesses, the three-day
weeks. I think that sticks ...


PACKER-GAGE: Do you think Paul Ryan should take the job? Do you think he
should do it?

CLIFT: You know, Charlie and I were chatting before and he said, you know,
at some point when it matters to your country, it`s more than just his
party, it matters to the country that somebody with a credible face has
that position and I think yes, I think it`s very difficult for him.

RANGEL: But Jonathan said he has to get - they should - be requiring
commitments from American businesspeople, from the Chambers of Commerce
from those who finance these people who don`t mind dying politically. He
should lay out the conditions, in which the country is going to survive and
he`s going to be a part of that economic survival.

CAPEHART: And we are going to have to move this conversation along. Still
ahead we`re just two days away from the first Democratic debate of the
cycle. What to expect from Hillary`s challengers? And next, waiting in
Wilmington. Has Biden given us any clues into what he`s thinking about you
know what? You know what we are thinking about. Stay with us.



DONALD TRUMP: And we`re doing great in the polls. Every poll. We`re
leading in every state, every single state. We`re leading in every state
including where we`re running against people like Florida, we`re running
against the sitting senator. We`re running against the governor. And we
are leading by a lot.


CAPEHART: You know who that was, Donald Trump yesterday touting his lead
in the 2016 Republican primary specifically targeting two of his opponents,
Senator Marco Rubio and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who are sitting
fourth and fifth respectively behind the outsider candidates, according to
a national polling average. A recent NBC News poll showed 63 percent of
Republicans could see themselves supporting Senator Rubio eventually. 55
percent of Republicans said the same of Governor Bush. When Senator Rubio
was asked about his lackluster fundraising numbers this week, he had this
to say to NBC`s Hallie Jackson.


HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I`ve got to ask you about your
fundraising numbers that are out. There is folks saying that there`s a
concern that they`re low. Are you worried that you`re not able to compete

fact, we`re right on target with our plan. Our plan was to be at the state
we are out today. We`re very pleased with the amount of money we have on
hand and we feel very optimistic.


CAPEHART: According to the "New York Daily News" the Koch brothers are
eyeing Rubio`s campaign and may be close to putting a billion dollars
behind his candidacy. And on the Democratic side, speculation continues to
grow around Vice President Joe Biden who is spending the holiday weekend
with his family in Wilmington, Delaware, where he could be -- could be
making a final decision on a presidential run. Here`s what happened
yesterday when NBC campaign embed Shaquille Brewster tried to ask Biden
about 2016.


SHAQUILLE BREWSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Vice President, everyone wants
to know ...

JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Get out of my way, will you?



CAPEHART: Get out of my way, will you? I mean, of course, the vice
president is joking. But a quick around the table, Congressman Rangel, you
first, Vice President Biden gets in this or not?

RANGEL: No, he`s not going to get in. But it`s hard if you waited for the
opportunity for so long to say no has to be very emotionally difficult.

CAPEHART: And you`ve run twice before.


CAPEHART: Eleanor, what do you think?

CLIFT: He has to be really tempted. But I think he understand that if he
gets in, he just makes it harder for Hillary Clinton to win. And I don`t
think that, especially given the trade deal that was just announced, he`s
got to be for that and it`s a poison pill in the Democratic primary.

CAPEHART: What do you think, Katie?

PACKER GAGE: I think he doesn`t get in. Because Joe Biden wants to be
loved. And he is -- has never been more loved than he is at this moment.
And he knows the minute he actually becomes a candidate, then it sort of
goes downhill from there. So, I think he`s enjoying this moment.

CAPEHART: Yeah. No one is as loved as they are one minute before they say
and I hereby declare myself the candidate. What do you think?

OGUNNAIKE: I don`t think he gets in. I think he enjoys the conversation.
But I do still think he is mourning the loss of his son. If his son was
still alive, I think he`d definitely get in, but the fact that he lost his
son recently and is still in such pain about that, I don`t think he`ll get

CAPEHART: You know, Eleanor, you brought up something just a minute ago,
if Vice President Biden were to get into this, that he would hurt Hillary
Clinton and judging by the stories, I mean, Hillary Clinton`s hurt whether
he`s in the race or not. There`s a poll, Hillary support drops 13 points
if Biden gets in. And there`s another story, I don`t know if we have a
full screen of that. But the former secretary`s ratings have dropped
another five points with a certain demographic group. Vice President Biden
in or not, the secretary is in trouble, isn`t she?

CLIFT: Well, first of all, he would take more support from her than he
would from Bernie Sanders.

CAPEHART: From Bernie Sanders.

CLIFT: So, therefore, he would hurt her. And, you know, in trouble? It`s
all relative. She`s got, what, a 20-point lead over any of her Democratic
rivals nationally. I believe in all the matchups with the Republicans,
except maybe there are one or two kind of outlier polls, but she defeats
all the Republicans. I think it`s good for her that the debates are
finally going to start. She`s been shadow boxing with herself and,
frankly, and fighting with the media. Now she`s got some real honest to
God combatants on the stage.


CLIFT: And so, the phony war ends and the real war begins. And I think
she`s going to do much better.

CAPEHART: What about all the policy reversals that`s we`ve seen, Secretary
Clinton take? She`s against keystone pipeline, she`s come out against the
Transpacific Partnership. There is one other maybe one of you can remember
this, another reverse -- oh, parting with the president on Syria.

PACKER GAGE: Cadillac tax.

CAPEHART: And yes, and the Cadillac tax on the Affordable Care Act. How
is that going to go down on the debate stage and also with the Democratic
primary voting public?

OGUNNAIKE: Well, Bernie Sanders and Martin O`Malley are going to be quick
to paint her as a flip-flopper. And they`ll be able to stand on her words
and use that against her. It will be interesting to see how viciously they
attack her, though, if they give her a pass or if they go - they go for the
gut and really knife her. And she`s handed them a weapon.

PACKER GAGE: I think she hoped that she could get through this primary
without having to sort of lunge to the left. But Bernie Sanders has proven
to be a formidable opponent. And it has sort of forced her hand on some
issues that I think she hoped to kind of skate by on.


OGUNNAIKE: But unfortunately, what also plays into this narrative that she
makes -- all of her moves are made -- are political calculations.

CAPEHART: And we`re going to talk about that.

CLIFT: She plays into Kevin McCarthy`s word that she`s untrustable.

RANGEL: Right.


CAPEHART: And we`re going to talk more about this. We`re going to talk
more about this later. I`m going to talk about the Republicans.

RANGEL: I would like to find out how our distinguished guests can tell
which is conviction and which is done by some kind of political

OGUNNAIKE: Well, what you ...


OGUNNAIKE: ... Based on what I know so far --

CAPEHART: We`re going to talk about this. We are going to talk about


OGUNNAIKE: We have an edge on it.


CAPEHART: No, no. We can`t. We can`t, because we have got to talk about
Republicans. We have to talk about Republicans. And, you know, Marco
Rubio is having some fund-raising issues.


CAPEHART: You have the Koch brothers jump behind him, these fund-raising
issues disappear. Here`s what I`m curious about. Ben Carson, do you see
that? Ben Carson raised $20 million in the third quarter. Ben Carson
who`s been saying some really wacky things, especially this past week.
What`s that about?

OGUNNAIKE: I don`t know.

PACKER GAGE: Well, Bernie Sanders raised $25 million. So, you know, and
whacky things can raise you a lot of money.

CAPEHART: I mean - You cannot yet - you can`t compare Bernie Sanders to
Ben Carson. You can`t.

PACKER GAGE: I sure can. One is extremely far left, one is extremely far
right. And they`re appealing to those wings of their party.


OGUNNAIKE: One wants to arm kindergarten teachers with pistols so they can
take out mad men. That is really troubling.

PACKER GAGE: That sounds very troubling as well, and they`re appealing to
an element within both of the party`s bases that will give a lot of money
and will give again and again. One thing that you have to pay attention to
with Ben Carson though ...



CAPEHART: Wait ...

PACKER GAGE: One thing that Ben Carson is not going to be our nominee, so
I`m not too troubled by it. But ...

OGUNNAIKE: You never know.

PACKER GAGE: But Ben Carson had an extremely high burn rate to raise that
money. So, I think one of the important numbers to pay attention to with
all of these candidates is the cash on hand that they have moving forward.
And I think that that`s something that is going to be a difficult thing for
Ben Carson to do.

CAPEHART: And it`s not - Wait. Wait.

OGUNNAIKE: Ben Carson is proudly inexperienced. I could not walk into
John Hopkins today and say I want to separate conjoined twins and somebody
would hand me a scalpel. The fact that we`re willing to allow this person
to potentially have the keys to the Oval Office is truly troubling.

CAPEHART: And one more - wait, one more question.

PACKER GAGE: Just because he`s a candidate doesn`t mean we`re handing him
the keys to the Oval Office.

CAPEHART: And so Donald Trump, will he be the nominee?

PACKER GAGE: No. He will not be the nominee.

OGUNNAIKE: So, who will be the nominee?

PACKER GAGE: It will not be Donald Trump or Ben Carson. I`m very
confident of that. Based on ...

OGUNNAIKE: It could be Carly.

CAPEHART: I was about to ask, will the nominee be someone who`s in -- who
has political experience? So you think Carly Fiorina could be?

PACKER GAGE: I think she has got a shot. I think it will be somebody that
has some natural appeal to both, you know, the very conservative sort of
outsider wing of the party and also some folks that, you know, that sort of
control the establishment purse strings and have some establishment. In

CLIFT: Carly Fiorina.

PACKER GAGE: So, I think it will be somebody with appeal to ...

CLIFT: Carly. Carly ...

CAPEHART: Real quick, Eleanor.

CLIFT: Carly Fiorina can`t stand the scrutiny. Because she can`t keep
lying her way through the position that`s she`s taking. So she`s not going
to be the nominee either. But I want to say something in the defense of
Bernie Sanders and Carson.

CAPEHART: Real quick.

CLIFT: They raise their money, I believe, at least Sanders did through
small contributions.


CLIFT: He doesn`t have a super PAC. I mean there is something very
positive about that.

CAPEHART: And congressman, since you`re going to be leaving us, last word
real quick?

RANGEL: Well, the Republican lineup looks more like "Saturday Night Live"
than anything else.


RANGEL: But quite frankly, I do believe ...

OGUNNAIKE: Well, they`re certainly younger than the Democratic line.

RANGEL: There is nobody going to sleep at night worried about what the
Republicans are talking about at this point. And I`m afraid that the TV
debates to get advertisers, they get people and, but you know when you take
a look at this system we have, it`s going to be a handful of states, a
handful of rich people and they`re going to determine in a purple state who
is going to be president of the United States. I think we ought to --
what`s happening today means we ought to take a whole different look at
Citizens United, about the Electoral College system and the primary system

CAPEHART: And on that note, Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York, thank
you for joining us.

RANGEL: Thank you so much.

Still ahead, Hillary Clinton unveils her wrath of progressive positions
just days before the first Democratic presidential debate. And next, we`ll
bring you the newly released findings in the investigation into the police
shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland.


CAPEHART: We`ll get back to politics in a few minutes, but we want to
update you on a story we`ve been following for months now in Ohio. Newly
released reports from outside investigators now say that Cleveland police
officer acted reasonably, when he`s shot and killed 12-year old Tamir Rice
last November. Rice was carrying what turned out to be an air gun at the
time. The Cuyahoga County prosecutor released documents yesterday, which
included reports from a Denver prosecutor and a retired FBI agent. He says
his office is not drawing any conclusions about the findings and that it
will be up to a grand jury to evaluate the reports. The prosecutor has
also commissioned other reports, which will be released publicly at some
point. We`ll be talking more about this story later this hour.

But still ahead, the Democratic contenders are getting ready for their big
turn on the debate stage. We`ll preview what we can expect from their
Vegas debut.

And next, Hillary Clinton breaks with her former boss on another big issue.


CAPEHART: Hillary Clinton made another major break with President Obama
this week. Just days before the first Democratic debate, Clinton declared
her opposition to President Obama`s signature trade deal the Trans-Pacific


HILLARY CLINTON: What I know about it as of today, I`m not in favor of
what I have learned about it. I don`t believe it`s going to meet the high
bar I have set.


CAPEHART: It`s part of a growing list of issues, in which Clinton has
bucked her former boss. On Monday, she took on the administration over


HILLARY CLINTON: I think we have to go back to being a much less harsh and
aggressive enforcer. We need to, of course, take care of felons and
violent people. I mean that goes without saying. But in the meantime, I`m
not going to be breaking up families.


CAPEHART: She also came out against the Keystone XL pipeline which the
Obama administration is still reviewing.


HILLARY CLINTON: And I think it is imperative that we look at the Keystone
pipeline as what I believe it is, a distraction from the important work we
have to do to combat climate change. Therefore, I oppose it.


CAPEHART: Recently she took a more hawkish stand on Syria which drew a
rebuke from Obama himself.


advocating now for a no fly zone and humanitarian corridors to try to stop
the carnage on the ground and from the air.

running for president and being president. And the decisions that are
being made and the discussions that I`m having with the joint chiefs become
much more specific and require, I think, a different kind of judgment.


CAPEHART: So why is Hillary Clinton breaking so much in recent weeks with
President Obama? Joining the panel, Ann Lewis, the former senior campaign
adviser for Hillary Clinton`s last attempt at the White House and informal
adviser to Clinton`s current campaign. Ann, thank you very much for being

morning, delighted to be with you.

CAPEHART: So, as Secretary of State in 2012, Hillary Clinton had this to
say about the trade deal. She wrote, "This TPP sets the gold standard in
trade agreements to open free transparent fair trade, the kind of
environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field." Comparing
those words to her recent statements, some voters might think, this is a
candidate who`s willing to say anything on trade. How do you respond to
what some critics say is a flip-flop?

LEWIS: Because Hillary Clinton has, in fact, been very consistent in what
she said. In fact, I went back and looked at her book "Hard Choices",
which came out after she was Secretary of State and she said because these
negotiations are still ongoing, it makes sense to reserve judgment until we
can evaluate the final proposed agreement. And if you look at Hillary
Clinton`s record as a senator, very consistent. She said I enforce some
trade deals that meet the right bar that are good for American workers,
good for the American economy, and I`m against others.

For example, she voted against CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade
Agreement. I think the same month she voted for a free trade agreement
with Australia. There is not a single blueprint. It`s not a cookie cutter
approach, if you will. It is look at each deal, look what`s in it and
here`s the bar. Is it going to be good for the American economy? Is it
going to be good for workers? And as you`ll notice when she looked at TPP,
and she went on to say she is concerned no currency manipulation rules,
that`s very important to our economy. Worried about what it means for
pharmaceuticals, cost of drugs. That`s another issue she`s been talking
about. So I think that standards and the principles are there.

CAPEHART: Ann, let me ask you one more question before I bring in the
panel. Secretary Clinton`s proposed several executive actions she would
take as president that would go further than President Obama on gun
control, immigration, and campaign finance. "Vox" calls Clinton`s
executive power agenda unprecedented. What is your response to that?

LEWIS: My response is that some of the challenges we see are
unprecedented. Like the latest gun shootings. How many of these massacres
of our young people do we need to sit back and watch and say oh, gee we
can`t do anything? So, I`m glad you brought that up, Jonathan, because I
think when you look at Hillary`s policy positions, you see someone who is
proud to have served in the Obama administration. She was happy to be a
member there and to work alongside the president. But she also says now we
have got to move forward. Let`s go with what we`ve already done and build
on it. And again that, executive action on guns where you would take major
dealers, close the gun show loophole. We now have people who are dealers
in a fairly large amount, but they don`t list themselves as dealers.
Consider them as dealers and they would want to then have to go through
again the kind of background checks that other dealers do.


LEWIS: It`s an example of how we can make a difference.

CAPEHART: Right. Let me bring in the panel real quick, because we`re
running out of time. How does Secretary Clinton avoid the flip-flop label
when it comes to all of these things?

CLIFT: Well, I think there is a different answer for each one of those. I
think on trade, she clearly is vulnerable to flip-flop. And frankly, if
she`s elected president, I would imagine that she would probably be for
this trade deal. I don`t believe -- I really find her -- that is a
political decision.


CLIFT: And it`s an understandable political decision she`d be killing
herself for off in the primaries if she supported the deal. But on Syria,
she has consistently wanted a harder line.


CLIFT: And the president has resisted that. And I think the president
looks at her and feels that she and others in part pushed him into Libya.
Libya turned out to be a disaster. This is an ongoing policy dispute
within the Democratic Party.



CAPEHART: Katie and then Lola, we have to go real fast.

PACKER GAGE: The bigger challenge she has is the broader challenge. That
there is a perception that she is making all of these decisions by focus
grouping voters. And that they are not her felt positions, and I think
that`s why you`re seeing the impact it`s having on the polls. That she has
started to drop. Because there isn`t a sense that she has a soul on these
issues. She is simply reacting to what focus groups are telling her and
her team is telling her. And it`s not something she actually believes in
her heart.

CAPEHART: And Lola, you`re nodding in agreement here.

OGUINNAIKE: And the key word we keep hearing over and over again is
authenticity. And people do not believe that Hillary Clinton is authentic,
unfortunately. And when she ...

PACKER GAGE: Totally agree.

OGUINNAIKE: And when she - but she has given herself in terms of TPP some
wiggle room. She said what I know about it as of today, I am not in favor.
So after the ...

PACKER GAGE: It sounds like hedging your bets.


OGUNNAIKE: You know, in two weeks, she might be in favor.


CAPEHART: That debate.

OGUNNAIKE: But she gave her some room. After the Tuesday debate.

CLIFT: As Ann Lewis knows better than any of us here at the table, Hillary
Clinton has been at the forefront in a lot of these fights for a very long
time. And she`s got to get that - in the debate. She`s not a Johnny-come-
lately on any of these issues.

CAPEHART: And that`s absolutely true. Ann Lewis is staying with us, so
we`ll see you in a moment, Ann.

Still ahead, California set to register potentially millions of voters with
a brand new strategy just in time for the 2016 election. We`ll tell you
about their new plan ahead.

And next, the first Democratic debate is just two days away. Bernie
Sanders hinting about his debate strategy versus Hillary Clinton. We`ll
show you what he is saying. Stay with us.


CAPEHART: We`re just two days away from the first Democratic debate of the
2016 cycle. The candidates engaging in final debate prep this weekend.
Now while the Republicans have faced each other twice already, the debate
this Tuesday in Las Vegas will be the first featuring Hillary Clinton,
Bernie Sanders, Martin O`Malley, Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb. "The New
York Times" reporting how Hillary Clinton is planning to distinguish
herself from Bernie Sanders in Vegas. Her debate preparation is touching
on how Mr. Sanders would accomplish some of his ambitious proposals if he
was elected president. Former Martin O`Malley, former governor of
Maryland, Martin O`Malley snatched himself planking while doing his debate
prep. Okay. That is a little random. And Bernie Sanders, according to
Political, has been reluctant to even do any prep at all. Only starting
just over a week ago when "his two top aides sat him down and asked him
about whether he had a plan." Sanders has said he really only wants to
focus on the issues, something he reaffirmed when asked about Hillary
Clinton on "Politics Nation" with Reverend Al Sharpton this morning.


BERNIE SANDERS: We have real differences of opinion. And to my mind, the
major issue is at a time when the American middle class is disappearing and
we have more wealth and income inequality than any other major country on
earth and it`s getting worse. Which candidate is prepared to stand up to
corporate America, Wall Street, and the big money interests who have so
much power over our economic and political life?


CAPEHART: We`re bringing back Ann Lewis for this discussion. And joining
her is John Nichols, writer at "The Nation." Joining us from Madison,
Wisconsin. Thank you. And the panel is also still here. But let me start
with you, John, what are you watching out for from Hillary Clinton on

JOHN NICHOLS, "THE NATION": I think Hillary Clinton has sent a lot of
signals going into this debate. What you were just discussing. She has
taken out relatively stronger positions on the TPP, on banking reform, on
Keystone. A host of issues that Bernie Sanders has emphasized at his
rallies and in his campaigning across the country. That`s smart politics.
In fact, you know, I was a little struck by the discussion on the panel a
moment ago where people are saying, you know she`s just following the mood
or following the polls or following, you know, what focus groups are
saying. Yeah. The energy of the moment is toward a host of progressive
positions on these issues. And so I think Clinton has been smart in that
regard. She has gone where a lot of the movements within the party are.
Now, people who expect it to be some sort of nasty yelling match or
something like that are going to be unsatisfied. Because I don`t think
Sanders is going to come in and say, hey, Hillary just stole all my issues
and Hillary is - I don`t think anyone is going to say, oh, Bernie just did
this. What I expect is that they`re going to have a pretty smart
discussion about nuance differences and, frankly, I actually think it could
be relatively illuminating debate.

CAPEHART: Hey, Ann, you are an informal advisor to Hillary Clinton`s
current campaign. Is that the kind of debate Hillary Clinton wants, one on
substance and the issues and drawing distinctions not only with Bernie
Sanders, but with the other three or four fellows in the race?

LEWIS: Absolutely. What`s important about this debate is that for
Hillary, you get to talk to millions of Americans who are watching about
the issues that matter in their lives. Whether it is the cost for college
education, whether it is how we get middle income wages up. This is the
biggest audience you`ll have this far in the campaign. Let`s use it. And
I think, I hope all the candidates will. But for sure, Hillary will.
Let`s use it to talk about what those issues are and, very important and,
what you would do about them. And can I just say, Jonathan ...


LEWIS: Obviously, as a supporter of Hillary`s, I`m excited about this
debate. But as a Democrat, I`m thrilled that people are going to see the
difference between our Democratic candidates, who are going to talk about
these real life issues and I hope real life solutions and the Republican
debates that we have seen so far that were mean, that were divisive, that
seemed to concentrate on who could get furthest to the right.

CAPEHART: You know, John, let me ask you this question. When it comes to
the Democrats, it`s really basically shades of gray here. They`re all
pretty much in unison on most of the issues. So I`m trying to wonder - I`m
trying to figure out what will probably - most likely be the most
contentious issue in this debate between the Democrats?

NICHOLS: Well, you know, I love you, Jonathan. But I`m going to suggest
that it isn`t actually shades of gray. There are some real differences.
And in some senses, because we don`t always cover politics the way we
should. One of the things we need to understand is, that, you know, what
we may see as a shade of gray difference is really a signal on emphasis,
where somebody is going to be politically or where they might be as
president or a candidate. And for Sanders, the emphasis is so strongly on
these economic inequality issues. That volume is going to be way up there.
Now Hillary Clinton is going to bring a lot of different perspectives into
this. She will be talking about the issues as Ann has just emphasized.
But she`ll also be bringing a big foreign policy component in. And that is
actually where I suspect we might see some major differences in this
debate. That`s because Lincoln Chafee is there. And Lincoln Chafee is
dramatically undercovered in this race, as is Martin O`Malley, it is
important to recognize that Lincoln Chafee really disagrees with Hillary
Clinton and maybe with some of the other candidates on some foreign policy
issues. He`s heavy duty into diplomacy. Very, very critical of military
adventures abroad. You might see some real distinctions there.

CAPEHART: We`re going to have to leave the conversation there. We are
running out of time. Now that we only have an hour. Thank you, Ann Lewis
and John Nichols. Thank you both for joining us.

LEWIS: Thank you.

NICHOLS: Thank you so much.

CAPEHART: Up next, Donald Trump isn`t the only one who wants to build a
wall. We`ll have the details. Stay with us.


CAPEHART: There`s a lot going on this morning, as you can tell. So, let`s
get caught up on some of the other headlines making news with today`s
panel. So, in "The Washington Post," the venerable "Washington Post",
Canadians want to build a wall, too. To keep Americans out. And you can
pretty much figure where that`s -- why they want to do that. Judging by
the debate. I don`t blame them. MSNBC, California set to automatically
register millions of voters. We talked about this earlier. Democratic
Governor Jerry Brown signed a sweeping new law allowing all eligible
Californians to be automatically registered to vote when they get or renew
a driver`s license which I think is terrific. And then "USA Today," asking
the question, should schools embrace e-days to make up for weather? I like
that idea.

OGUNNAIKE: I do, too. It`s already going online to learn how to do the


OGUNNAIKE: So, they should learn how to do some algebra.

CAPEHART: Well, speaking of learning, really quickly around the table,
what you are hoping to learn out of the presidential debate, the Democratic
debate in Vegas?

CLIFT: I want to hear what Jim Webb stands for. Because he`s barely
campaigned. And I think he could be the real wild card in this debate.
Coming at Hillary from the right, the left? I`m not really quite sure.


CAPEHART: Right. Wild card, but not like a Carly Fiorina wild card.


CAPEHART: What he does so well ...

CLIFT: Substantively. Substantively.

PACKER GAGE: I think Hillary`s real challenge is going to fight her
annoyance that being sort of stopped on her way to the coronation by the
candidates that are actually throwing some real hurdles in her path.

CAPEHART: Okay, Katie.

OGUNNAIKE: I want to see if they handle Hillary with kid gloves or not, I
don`t expect to have the same fireworks that we`ve seen at the Republican
debates, but you never know. They might take off the gloves and it might
be a real brawl.

CAPEHART: Right. You never know. But this much I do know, we have to go.


CAPEHART: Thanks to Katie Packer Gage, Lola Ogunnaike and Eleanor Clift
and thank you for getting up with us today.

Up next is Melissa Harris-Perry. Stay tuned. We`ll see you next weekend.
And have a great week.



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