Feedback
Meet the Press

MEET THE PRESS 12/04/16

NBC NEWS - MEET THE PRESS

"12.04.16"

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, after a post-truth election, do the President-elect's words matter? Donald Trump's first campaign manager says maybe not.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:

This is the problem with the media. You guys took everything Donald Trump said so literally.

CHUCK TODD:

So when candidate Trump says--

DONALD TRUMP:

We're going to drain the swamp.

CHUCK TODD:

--what does he mean? What about repealing Obamacare? Or those conversations with the leaders of Taiwan, Pakistan, and the Philippines? This morning, my interview with the Vice-President-elect Governor Mike Pence of Indiana. Plus, post-election bitterness.

JENNIFER PALMIERI:

I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

No you wouldn't.

CHUCK TODD:

We’re bringing together top campaign figures from the Trump and Clinton campaigns, Kellyanne Conway and Joel Benenson. And why after losing 63 House seats in recent years did the Democrats choose the same leadership team?

NANCY PELOSI:

I have a special spring in my step today.

CHUCK TODD:

Can Democrats reach new voters with the same old team? Joining me for insight and analysis are Amy Walter, editor of The Cook Political Report, Rich Lowry, editor of The National Review, Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent of NBC News, and Heather McGhee, president of the liberal group Demos Action. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. There used to be an ad campaign on TV when I was a kid for the financial services company E.F. Hutton, whose tagline was, "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen." Well, when the president of the United States or the President-elect talks, people do listen. And what he says has real consequence. But now, whether it's about draining the swamp or fully repealing Obamacare or preventing companies from leaving the United States, we're being told by his staff and by Mr. Trump himself, "You shouldn't take him literally." Except perhaps when you should. Remember, when candidate Trump said this about President Obama during the campaign?

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

He is the founder of ISIS. He's the founder of ISIS, okay? He's the founder.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Next day, Hugh Hewitt assumed we were not to take Mr. Trump literally.

(BEGIN TAPE)

HUGH HEWITT:

I know what he meant. He meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace.

DONALD TRUMP:

No, I meant he's the founder of ISIS.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

So in that case, we were supposed to take him literally. The question is, after what many have dubbed the post-truth election, are we getting a look at a post-truth presidency?

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Trump's first campaign manager argued at a campaign postmortem this week that his words don't matter.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI:

This is the problem with the media. You guys took everything Donald Trump said so literally. And the problem with that is American people didn't.

CHUCK TODD:

And though Trump promised in April to keep Carrier jobs in the U.S.--

DONALD TRUMP:

We're not going to let Carrier leave.

CHUCK TODD:

--he actually said this week while announcing that half those Carrier jobs will stay, that he did not expect to be taken literally.

DONALD TRUMP:

I said, "Carrier will never leave." And that was a euphemism. I was talking about Carrier like all other companies from here on in.

CHUCK TODD:

The idea that Trump is not fully accountable for his words became a campaign trope.

BRAD TODD:

The voters take Donald Trump seriously as a candidate, but they don't take him literally. The press takes Donald Trump literally, but they don't take him seriously.

CHUCK TODD:

But as Trump shifts from campaigning to governing, his word will have legal, diplomatic, political and national-security implication. As past presidents have quickly discovered.

GEORGE W. BUSH:

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

BILL CLINTON:

I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

You like your healthcare plan? You keep your healthcare plan.

CHUCK TODD:

On Friday, Trump himself learned that words matter. After he broke with decades of diplomatic precedent and took the first call from Taiwan by a U.S. President-elect since 1979, angering the Chinese. Indians are befuddled, some are livid, after Trump, according to a Pakistani government readout, called Pakistan's prime minister a "terrific guy" and promised to visit the country.

So when can U.S. allies, enemies, members of Congress, and voters take Trump at his word? NBC counted 141 distinct shifts on 23 major policy issues during Trump's 511-day White House run. During the campaign, Trump said he was going to repeal Obamacare. Now he's promising to keep the most popular elements of the law intact. During the campaign, Trump pledged to dump the Paris Climate Agreement.

DONALD TRUMP:

We will cancel this deal so that our companies can compete.

CHUCK TODD:

Now he says he will keep an open mind. During the campaign, Trump promised to end pay-to-play politics in Washington.

DONALD TRUMP:

Drain the swamp.

CHUCK TODD:

Now former Governor Sarah Palin is calling the Carrier deal crony capitalism. Ultimately Donald Trump's success may depend on how literally his supporters take his promises.

MICKEY KAUS:

Politicians are always saying they want to drain the swamp and get rid of lobbyists and cast their briefcases into the Potomac. The lobbyists aren't going anywhere, but they do expect him to put the lobbyists in their place.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is the Vice-President-elect of the United States. And by the way, still governor of Indiana, Mike Pence. Mr. Vice-President-elect, welcome back to the show.

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Good morning. Good to be here.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with some foreign policy and the issue with Taiwan. Does the President-elect intend to break with One-China Policy?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well, I think the conversation that happened this week with the president of Taiwan was, was a courtesy call. She reached out to the President-elect and he took the call from the democratically-elected leader of, of Taiwan and it's one of more than 50 telephone calls that the President-elect has, has taken from and made to world leaders in the midst of a, of a historic pace in cabinet appointments and senior appointments, building a legislative agenda, even traveling the country and saving a thousand jobs in the state of Indiana. And so it's all a reflection of the tremendous energy and I think it's the kind of approach that you're going to see him bring to challenges at home and abroad.

CHUCK TODD:

So this was an intentional sort of challenge to the foreign policy establishment a little bit? To the U.S./Chinese diplomatic establishment?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

No, this was-- Chuck, this was a courtesy call of the democratically-elected president of Taiwan. A call to congratulate the President-elect. And as a gracious man who’s interested--

CHUCK TODD:

So nothing should be read-- Nothing new should be read into it?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well, I, I, I don't think so. I think that--

CHUCK TODD:

No?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

I honestly think that, that what, what world leaders are finding, those that have reached out to the President-elect, those that I've talked to, I've talked to, I’ve talked to several dozen world leaders, I spoke to King Abdullah just yesterday. And I think, I think there is a, there is a great sense of enthusiasm and optimism around the world because they're encountering in President-elect Donald Trump a strong leader with a clear vision--

CHUCK TODD:

Chinese government is very upset about this--

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

--with broad shoulders, who's going to advance America's interest. But he's also going to be engaging the world on behalf of America.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand, but the Chinese government is very upset about this. Do they have a right to be? Or do you tell them, "Back down, don’t, it’s, you're over, you’re over-worrying." Is that what you would--

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well--

CHUCK TODD:

What would your advice to your counterparts in China?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

I think, I think I would just say to our counterparts in China that this was, this was a moment of, of courtesy. The President-elect talked to President Xi two weeks ago in the same manner that was not a discussion about policy. And we're going to be preparing after January 20th to advance now what will be President-elect, President Trump's agenda on the world stage and we'll deal with policy at that time.

CHUCK TODD:

Have you or the team or President-elect Trump reached out to the Chinese government since this bubbled up officially yet?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Not to my knowledge.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

And--

CHUCK TODD:

Should we expect a call this week to calm the waters?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Chuck, I wouldn't, you know I wouldn’t expect so. But to be honest with you, the waters here seem like a little bit of a tempest in a teapot. I mean, it's striking to me that President Obama would reach out to a murdering dictator in Cuba and be hailed as a hero. And President-elect Donald Trump takes a courtesy call from the democratically-elected president of Taiwan and it becomes something of a thing in the media.

I think, I think most Americans and frankly most leaders around the world know this for what it was. And it's all part and parcel. I think, I think you're going to see in a President Donald Trump a willingness to engage the world but engage the world on America's terms.

CHUCK TODD:

So let me jump to Pakistan. The Pakistan prime minister on Thursday, here is the headline in the front page of the international news in Karachi, "Trump says ready to play role in resolution of issues." So let me ask you, is he offering to mediate border disputes? The pri-- I guess Pakistan wanted to imply that, that he was offering to mediate border disputes between Pakistan and India. Is that what he was trying to say?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well, clearly there's been great tension between India and Pakistan in recent days. It’s resulted in violence along the Kashmir region. And I think what the President-elect expressed in conversations with leaders from both countries was a desire for continued U.S. engagement on building the relationship with both of those countries. These are two nuclear powers--

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

--the President-elect recognizes that. And making sure that, that they know that when this administration takes office, that we intend to be fully engaged in the region and fully engaged with both nations to advance peace and security.

CHUCK TODD:

To be a mediator in deciding Kashmir?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well, I think, I think, I think in President-elect Donald Trump you've got someone who, who is prepared to advance America's interests here at home, to rebuild this economy, to fight for American jobs. But I think you're also going to see an energetic leadership in the world, prepared to engage and to look for ways that he can bring those extraordinary deal-making skills to bear on lessening tensions and solving problems in the world.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you guys using the State Department foreign service professionals, when you use these phone calls, you know, getting, getting the sort of the, okay, the protocol talking points that are not partisan ones, but as you know, sort of that have been accepted as sort of international norms?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Chuck, the President-elect and I have had the privilege now of receiving presidential daily briefs and we're receiving the, the formal briefings that come about national security during the course of the transition. And, and I know the President-elect has been briefed as he's been making these calls. I think I saw a report the other day that during this, his transition, President Obama reached out to about 22 world leaders.

President-elect Trump has already spoken to more than 50 leaders around the world. He's been briefed. Those have been courtesy conversations, but it's all part and parcel of beginning the kinds of relationships that will allow our new president to advance America's interests in the world.

CHUCK TODD:

Where are we on Secretary of State? When Donald Trump did the thank you tour in Cincinnati, there were chants of "No Romney." First of all, what did he make of that and is, and is Mitt Romney still a top-tier candidate for Secretary of State?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well, I think, I think what people are seeing in this transition, which it's really moving, it's outpacing all of his predecessors for the last 40 years, I mean, it really, to be around Donald Trump, as you know, having known him for, for a number of years, is to be around a man of boundless energy.

From literally the day after the election, a historic election where he won 30 out of 50 states, more counties than any candidate on our side since Ronald Reagan, we went right to work. And, and my job chairing the transition has been to bring together the, the broadest range of men and women with diverse backgrounds for him to be able to choose these key positions.

He's already chosen over a dozen senior positions even before the end of November. And with regard to Secretary of State, we've been winnowing the list. But it might grow a little bit. I think to talk to the President-elect is to know he's simply looking for the best men and women to advance the agenda that we know will make America great again.

CHUCK TODD:

It does seem as if, you know, you heard early names, and he keeps broadening out. What, what is it about the current field that he hasn't quite found yet?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well, it's not a reflection of the current field. I think everyone that he's talked to and has been talked about, whether it be Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney or, or General Petraeus or Senator Corker, John Bolton and others, have bring, bring extraordinary background and qualities to this.

But I think you're going to see, I think you're going to see the President-elect continue that process, to ensure that, that as he has a vision for really reengaging the world with an America-first agenda, advancing America's interests in the world economically and diplomatically that he's going to make sure that he has the right person in that role just like he is in every role.

CHUCK TODD:

Given how high profile the email situation was and the classified issue was for, for Secretary Clinton during the, during the presidential campaign, how significant is the conviction against General Petraeus in your thinking and the President-elect's thinking when it comes to Secretary of State?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well first, let me say that General David Petraeus is an American hero. Led forces in battle, acquitted himself with great distinction, and he paid a price for--

CHUCK TODD:

Did he deserve to pay a price?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well he paid a price for mishandling classified information and--

CHUCK TODD:

But you don't think that disqualifies him to be Secretary of State?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well, I think that will be up to the President-elect. I think the President-elect will weigh that against the backdrop of an extraordinary career in military service, whether it's in the role of Secretary of State or another role in this administration.

It'll be the President-elect's decision about the totality of General Petraeus's experience in background. But I first met General Petraeus when he was commanding the 101st Airborne in Iraq, and then I saw him martial the plan and the resources for what became the successful surge in Iraq. He's an American hero and he has our great respect.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this. Define the phrase "drain the swamp." Because I think people hear different things when they hear that phrase. What should the American people hear? What is your definition of "draining the swamp?"

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

I think "drain the swamp" is a commitment by the President-elect to once again have a government as good as our people. To have a direction in Washington D.C. that isn't working for the political class and the lobbyists, isn't working for Wall Street, but it's working every day for the American people.

It's one of the reasons why we've set the policies even in this transition. You know, from the time the President-elect asked me to take it over, we asked people that were active in the lobbying world to step aside from being involved in the transition. We're going to set into place a five-year ban on lobbying from the executive branch and a lifetime ban of anyone who serves in our administration from ever lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.

I think making sure that we have people in this administration that are deeply committed to the President-elect's agenda to bring a renewed commitment to America first and America's interests first is what we mean.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you say to folks that they look at the wealth of some of these individuals that have been named to the cabinet and say, "Boy, that seems like a different type of swamp. That that, you know, 'cause the wealthy are well connected, even if they weren't Washington players." What do you say to that criticism?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well, I say what the President-elect said in Cincinnati the other night, he said, "People have talked about some people that know how to make money being appointed to the cabinet," and he said, "It’s better to choose people who know how to make money than people who don't know how to make money." The truth of the matter is, you look at, you look at the selections in this cabinet, and those that have been named, like Steven Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross and others, Betsy DeVos. These are people of extraordinary accomplishment.

And they're people that are going to be able to bring the same caliber of intellect, the same quality of experience in the world economy that our President-elect is bringing, and we're going to be able to go out there and fight for American jobs and fight for America's interests.

CHUCK TODD:

Some conservatives though, not happy. Mark Levin says, "When it comes to Donald Trump's cabinet, it makes the establishment and Goldman Sachs great again. This is not Trump draining the swamp, this is the swamp draining Trump." What do you tell Mark Levin?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well, I would tell my friend is what I would tell everyone around the country is that all of these appointees are signing onto the Trump agenda. And whether it be the ethics reforms that we're going to advance, whether it be our commitment to cut taxes, to roll back regulations, repeal and replace Obamacare, we're going to have a team that is ready on day one to work with members of Congress to get this economy moving again and have America standing tall in the world again.

CHUCK TODD:

Very quickly, two more questions. On Carrier, why isn't this pay to play politics? You gave a tax break, some people could say you gave a tax break to Carrier so that they would only send 700 jobs overseas. Sarah Palin called it crony capitalism. Why isn't it?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Look, we were heartbroken back in February when Carrier announced that they were pulling up stakes and taking all of their jobs south of the border to Mexico, closing factories in a couple locations in Indiana. I asked them at that time whether or not the state of Indiana could offer any incentives that are very routine in the competition for jobs in the country.

And they said, "Don't bother. We won't even want to look at incentives." Make no mistake about it, the only reason Carrier is staying in the United States is because Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. And the leadership at United Technologies and Carrier.

CHUCK TODD:

This is the government intervening in the private sector?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

No. What happened here--

CHUCK TODD:

Why is this not government intervening in the private sector?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Well, first off, let's remember now more than a thousand Hoosiers have certainty in their jobs and in their futures going into this Christmas season because of the leadership of Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

Seven hundred don't.

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

And I couldn't be more grateful for that.

CHUCK TODD:

Seven hundred don't.

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

And the people of Indiana couldn't be more grateful for that. Well, look, I know the glass-is-half-empty tendency of many in the media.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, it's not about the media, sir.

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

But what you saw here, what you saw happen here--

CHUCK TODD:

The media, hitting the media is always a crutch for you guys. It’s-- This is not about the media.

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

It’s not a, it’s not a crutch.

CHUCK TODD:

There is seven--

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Yeah, Chuck--

CHUCK TODD:

There’s, what do you say to that?

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Chuck, here's the bottom line. I was in the room when he made the call. What the American people are going to have, and they have now in President-elect Donald Trump is someone who's going to be a champion for the American economy. He picked up the phone and he said to the leadership of this company, "Look, we are going to cut taxes. We're going to roll back the regulations that are driving companies just like yours out of the country. We're going to re-negotiate trade deals so that they put American jobs and American workers first."

And he just asked them very respectfully to reconsider their decision to leave. And as governor of Indiana and as a fellow American, I couldn't be more proud and couldn't be more grateful that now more than a thousand Americans have certainty in their economic future, more than a thousand jobs, even before he becomes president of the United States. But I think it's just the beginning.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Stay tuned. Be ready. And Donald Trump's going to be fighting for American jobs, going to be a champion for the American economy.

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Vice-President-elect, that's all the time we have. Would love to have more time with you. I'm guessing that’ll come in the future. Thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE:

Thanks, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Coming up, with emotions still raw, are Clinton campaign staffers being sore losers? And are the Trump folks being sore winners? We'll bring together top officials from both campaigns to see if they can hug it out.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The panel is here. Heather McGhee from Demos Action, Amy Walter from The Cook Report, Andrea Mitchell here, our chief foreign affairs correspondent of course at NBC, and Rich Lowry from The National Review. Andrea, let's start with this kerfuffle. Why isn't Donald Trump's tweet right about this? We give all this money to Taiwan, and everybody makes a big deal over a phone call. The average American sitting out there is going, "This seems like the typical Washington kerfuffle that means nothing to my life." Why are they wrong?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

It won't mean anything to their lives until something goes really, really bad with China, either economically or militarily. Look, this is arguably the most important relationship that the U.S. has. There has been no call, no conversation. It doesn't matter who made the call. The point is the conversation happened. And even here, someone as careful as Mike Pence referred to her as the president of Taiwan.

CHUCK TODD:

That's a no-no?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

That's a no-no -- of the One-China Policy, that was devised by Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon articulated and finalized by Jimmy Carter, it's been bipartisan, the Chinese are ripped but they are trying to seize, they will seize on what Mike Pence just said. "Oh, it was one of 50 calls, it was just a courtesy call." He tried to move on in a certain way. But they are now looking at Donald Trump in a very different way.

They were hoping this is a guy, a businessman, we can do business with him. This is not Barack Obama who's going to bludgeon us over human rights. And they really had an open mind. And now they're first signal is, "Wow, this is a new relationship and we have got to arm ourselves."

CHUCK TODD:

Rich, so Ari Fleischer tweeted, "I hope this was intentional." He would like it better if it was an intentional decision. Is that where you are on something like that?

RICH LOWRY:

Well, I'm the wrong guy to ask, because National Review opposed this opening in the first place. So we still consider China a province of Taiwan. But look, obviously, you consider these diplomatic arrangements that have been just accepted for decades. But you need to do it with some deliberation that appears to have been lacking in this instance.

AMY WALTER:

Well, and he even said in the interview with him that we're going to get policy when he's the president. Right now, this is about courtesy. But theoretically, you should be already having a policy and then everything you do from now through your presidency is moving forward on that. And so this is a candidate who ran as, “I’m unpredictable, you're not going to know what you're going to get.” Which a lot of voters liked about him. But when it comes to the world stage, unpredictability can be very dangerous.

CHUCK TODD:

Are we making too much Heather?

HEATHER MCGHEE:

No. And I think the other thing that sort of casts a shadow over every phone call he makes is the self-dealing, right? We know that so many of the conversations he's having are with countries and leaders where there are massive Trump corporate interests. So this is where the trust that he hasn't yet built by actually creating a blind trust, not just saying his kids, who are very close to him will run the corporation, it's actually undermining even the sort of benefit of the doubt that some people might give him.

CHUCK TODD:

What about this word issue, that when you take him literally on all this stuff. It really, I'm sorry, this is coming across to me as ludicrous. When, I heard Corey Lewandowski say what he said, "Well, you people in the media--" well, frankly, Rich, the words matter. I mean, lie of the year was Barack Obama, that was a case and it cost him, cost his party a lot of political problems. Words matter for George W. Bush, he got accused of lying to get into war. Can they really expect to govern this way?

RICH LOWRY:

Well, the kind of outlandishness and exaggerated way he expressed things was actually part of the key to his appeal, to a lot of his voters. And they're just going to have to get used to a president of the United States who is going to communicate differently. It's going to be more direct, it's going to be more informal. It's occasionally going to be bizarre.

But the one thing I think we need to focus on, Chuck, is the words are going to matter more, but what's going to matter most in a couple months is the performance. And if he delivers a more robust economy and there's not a blowup overseas, all these controversies are going to--

HEATHER MCGHEE:

I'm sorry, but we should never stop being appalled at the serial disrespect that this man has for the facts. There's a man headed to the White House that has a relationship to the truth that is unbefitting of our country. And the other sort of latent thing we're talking about, about whether we take him literally or seriously, is how dangerous he is.

And honestly, we are going to look back at this moment and ask how much backbone we all had at this moment. Are we going to follow those in his party, with Romney and Ryan and Cruz, who frankly ended up putting their love of power ahead of their love of country, or are we going to have the backbone to stand up for our neighbors, who are very much under threat right now, and stand up for our constitution and our values and the planet.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, let me just say one word also about the foreign policy aspects of this. That is why you have a natural security advisor, whether it's Brent Scowcroft, Steve Hadley, Sandy Berger, whoever it was, the national security advisor, Tony Lake, they tell you, "Here's what your Defense secretary wants, here's what your secretary of State wants, here what I believe, if you want. But these are the risks and the benefits."

If you want to change China policy, accept this phone call. But here's what's going to happen. You know, you're being told, John Bolton has written that this is a great thing to do. But this will be the aftereffect, and you now have to make that decision. That's the problem I'm not sure that he is getting that kind of advice.

AMY WALTER:

More so than the literally and seriously, I think Kellyanne Conway has a better way of saying this now, which is things that offend voters versus things that affect voters. Right? You can be offended by things that he says, but to Rich's point, if it affects me, I'm going to feel very differently about that.

And I think we also have to remember, so his policy and how it actually ends up in people's lives, affecting people's lives is going to be very important. But the other thing is to remember that we still have a very divided country. And so for all the talk about he won because he did this, he's still coming into a country where he got 2.5 fewer votes and where you still have to reach out to those people who didn't support you and show them that you're going to affect their lives positively.

CHUCK TODD:

Rich, I want to hit you with one more issue, and that is on this Carrier deal, and this idea that this is crony capitalism or -- if Barack Obama had done this, conservatives would have pounded him across the board. Peggy Noonan wrote this week that this is called economic nationalism but whatever its name it suggests a Republicanism in new accord with the needs of the moment, and a conservatism that sees a shrinking manufacturing landscape and, rather than quoting Adam Smith and wringing invisible hands says, "Hey, I know, let's start conserving something!" Do you accept this as new conservatism?

RICH LOWRY:

No. I will say that the positive thing is the G.O.P. needed to become the party of workers. And Donald Trump is forcing that change. And the tax incentive part of this, it's not ideal policy making. Governors do it all the time. The truly extraordinary, and from where I sit, disturbing part of it, is how the President-elect threatening companies for making business decisions he doesn't like. But the fact of the matter is, no one has the leverage to stop him from doing that, and it's probably going to be pretty popular.

CHUCK TODD:

Paul Ryan's House, are they going to roll over? He's threatening 35 percent tariffs. He did that again this morning in tweet. Is Paul Ryan's House going to put up with that?

RICH LOWRY:

Well, there are affirmative parts of Trump's agenda that won't pass the House. But I think Paul Ryan and others have this conception of President Trump as the guy who just signs their bills. And that's not the way it's going to work. And they will find themselves following his lead much more than they expect. We've seen it on the Carrier deal.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And we know that several hundred thousand jobs turn every week in the U.S. economy. These are 7,000 jobs. But I've got to say, he is a great storyteller. This is the narrative that has been very appealing to a lot of people.

HEATHER MCGHEE:

But this is a bad deal. I mean, the numbers are still coming out, but the latest, did you actually read the Carrier letter? It started out saying, "We're pleased to inform you," and then it ended up talking about all of the jobs that would still be shipped overseas. The numbers I'm looking at say less than half of them are actually staying. So he--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

That truth will not catch up with his plan--

HEATHER MCGHEE:

But he was actually using other people's money, right, because he doesn't actually like paying taxes. And it was a bad deal. So a better way to actually say that we are on the side of workers is to look at the tens of millions of service sector jobs that are not going anywhere. I'd like to see them go to a Target or a Wal-Mart or a McDonald's and say, "Yeah, I support $15 an hour."

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I'm going to pause it there. Interesting ways that you both don't like the Carrier deal for very different reasons. But it shows you I think the challenge that Trump is facing. When we come back, it's been nearly a month since Election Day. And as we found out this week, nerves are still pretty raw on both sides. We’re going to talk to campaign officials, Kellyanne Conway from Trump world and Joe Benenson from team Clinton.

And as we go to break, we want to remember Grant Tinker, former chairman and chief executive of NBC, who was once married to Mary Tyler Moore. He died this week at the age of 90. He revamped NBC and the entertainment lineup of the '80s as some memorable hits like Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, and well, the place where everybody knows your name.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. This week, Harvard hosted its traditional election postmortem with key figures from both the winning and losing campaign, not just in the general election, primaries as well. What's typically a thoughtful and reflective forum, sort of a second draft of history, soon turned hostile as tensions ran high in both of the general election campaigns. Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri accused the website Breitbart, once run by Trump campaign CEO and now incoming White House staffer Steve Bannon of promoting racist views.

(BEGIN TAPE)

JENNIFER PALMIERI:

If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am glad to have lost.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? Are you going to look me in the face and tell me that?

JENNIFER PALMIERI:

It did. Kellyanne, it did.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway also took issue with Clinton pollster Joel Benenson for bringing up Clinton's popular-vote lead.

(BEGIN TAPE)

JOEL BENENSON:

The fact of the matter is, is that more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. So let's put it in total context.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

And there was nothing that said the road to popular vote anywhere. It’s the “road to 270,” that’s where we all competed.

JOEL BENENSON:

Kellyanne, I started -- I premised my statement by saying that. But you can't--

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

You guys, we won. You don't have to respond.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Well, Kellyanne Conway and Joel Benenson join me now. We'll see if there's any yelling. They've both promised there won't be. But let me ask you both this, different versions of the same question. And Joel, I'll start with you. Are you being sore losers?

JOEL BENENSON:

No, I don't think we're being sore losers. I think we've acknowledged and I acknowledged in that exchange with Kellyanne right from the start that they won, he's President-elect. But I was also saying, taking issue with the notion that there was a mandate and that when you talk about connecting with people over America, Hillary Clinton had 2.5 million more Americans vote for her than Donald Trump.

I'm aware of the currency of presidential elections, the electoral college. I've been on three winning presidential campaigns. But a mandate is when you win big in the popular vote, when you win big in the electoral college vote, like President Obama did two times. I don't recall Kellyanne, she may say so today, that President Obama had a mandate or any Republican saying he had a mandate.

CHUCK TODD:

Kellyanne, are you being a sore winner? You've done this a few times, your own Twitter, I think, bio now just simply says, "We won." It's like a drop the mic.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Chuck, first of all, I showed great respect and grace to my colleagues from across the table for over two hours before this exchange happened. But the fact is that we are the ones who understood America. And the idea that we're going to talk about the popular vote I think answers your question about sore losers. The idea that Donald Trump doesn't have a mandate, after he got 100 more electoral votes than Mitt Romney did, he got 306 electoral votes, it wasn't close, he won states that had not gone Republican in decades.

And by the way, had this been a race for the popular vote, we would have won that too, because Mr. Trump would have campaigned in California, in New York, stayed in Florida, gone to Illinois, perhaps. These population-rich states. We did what we were supposed to do to become president, A) go and campaign in those states that was so-called "swing states," "battleground states," B) actually have an economic message that appealed to workers across the country, actually talk about patriotism, defeating radical Islam and terrorism, repealing, replacing Obamacare.

People open up their mailboxes and fire up their computers and see these premium increases. But, you know, the idea that he doesn't have a mandate, when on President Obama's watch they now lost the White House, 60 seats in the House, over a dozen Senate seats, over a dozen governorships, and over 1,000 state legislative seats, this Democratic party is having an identity crisis in a circular firing squad, and what I heard at Harvard is the same thing I hear all the time, "It's Jim Comey's fault, it's Bernie Sanders' fault."

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, but Kellyanne--

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Anybody but Hillary Clinton's fault.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this though. A lot of people look at what you've said and what others have said, including the President-elect at his rally in Cincinnati and say, "But team Trump, they can't seem to accept winning," that they haven't been gracious in victory. What do you say to that?

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Chuck, you know what, I'm going to hit back on that. I'm an incredibly gracious, humble person. And let me tell you something, every single media outlet, including this one, on good days ignored us, on regular days mocked us. And that included when I told you and your colleagues, "There is an undercover, undercounted Trump vote." "No there's not, maybe it's undercounted for Hillary," people said.

These rally sizes matter because it portends the enthusiasm and momentum that is owned by Donald Trump. We're the ones with the message. We're the ones turning these counties around that President Obama carried twice over 50 percent of the vote. We've switched 200 counties and we did that with messages that mattered to people. And he's the guy who talked about veterans, talked about defeating terrorism.

I mean, you know, we were mocked and ignored. Go back and look at the headlines two weeks out everywhere. And the talk on networks like this. We were completely dismissed. Secretary Clinton wasn't even mentioning Donald Trump's name most of the time.

CHUCK TODD:

Joel, let me turn to you. She brought up this, and it seems as if, we've gathered together all the different reasons that you and others have given to Hillary Clinton's defeat. James Comey, third-party candidate, sexism, young voters, the media, Obamacare premiums, Bernie Sanders, health rumors. What wasn't on there was the point that Kellyanne just brought up, Hillary Clinton. Does she accept any responsibility for this defeat on her own?

JOEL BENENSON:

Look, I think the reality here is that this was a strong campaign. Kellyanne Conway said they had a better message on the economy. When you look at voters who said they were voting for someone who cares about people like me, Hillary Clinton won those voters. When you look at voters who said the economy was their number-one issue, Hillary Clinton won those voters.

Look, I think the issue now going forward is, and I think Kellyanne Conway again today Kellyanne talked about his economic message, I think he's raised the bar very high. I mean, this is a guy during the course of the campaign, by the way, Kellyanne said built his businesses on the back of the little guy, and now voters are going to hear him as president call for giving the biggest tax cuts in history to corporations and very wealthy Americans.

CHUCK TODD:

You’re not answering my question, do you guys accept this--

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

He did answer your question. They never accepted--

JOEL BENENSON:

We did in the panel, by the way. I also said in that panel, when we were asked what we have to do differently during the course of that day, the Democratic party can't just keep winning the popular vote in presidential elections, we've won them five out of seven times. We have to rebuild at the state levels. They did a very good job in some of their states that they had a win. They did a good job, obviously in Michigan and Wisconsin by eking out narrow wins in those states where they hadn't won previously.

CHUCK TODD:

Joel, let me ask you this. If the election were-- Conway, I'll get you one more shot here, I promise. But Joel, if the election were the first Tuesday in January and you had another six weeks here, what's one thing you would do differently in the last four weeks of the campaign?

JOEL BENENSON:

Just probably do more.

CHUCK TODD:

More what though? What does that mean?

JOEL BENENSON:

I would do more states, I would hit more states more frequently. I'd probably ask for another debate, probably ask for a faith forum to hear Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both talk about their roots in faith and the strength of hers, which I think are dominant. I think we'd also probably keep talking about those tax cuts I just mentioned that we're going to hold him to during the course of his presidency.

The biggest tax cuts, twice as big as the Bush tax cuts. I don't think that's what working people think they're going to get from Donald Trump, or that that's going to help them. But that'll be the high bar. He's got it clear.

CHUCK TODD:

Kellyanne, I want to ask you this. He went on this thank you tour and he's going to continue it on states that he won. Does he have a plan, do you give him advice, I've asked you this before and you haven't really answered it, to go to some not just states, but meet with some voters who didn't vote for him? He is down in the popular vote. Say what you want, we are a divided country. The California vote counts as much as the Pennsylvania vote. Does, considering how divided we are, does he have plans to do that?

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Well, he does. I've answered the question many times, of course. He started on election night in those wee hours on November 9th, Chuck, saying, "I will be the president for all Americans, even those who do not support me." So he's not even inaugurated yet and he's going around doing this, bringing jobs back to, well, keeping jobs here in this country through Carrier in Indianapolis. He certainly will be a very actively-traveled president.

And Joel just hit on something that's absolutely correct that wasn't done by his campaign. You have to show up where the people are. You can't just have a flood of advertisements and this vaunted ground game that didn't work. You have to go where the people are. Secretary Clinton took off a lot in August.

We had, like, 137 events to her 88 or so events after these conventions. Donald Trump did not take five days off before that final debate on October 19th in Las Vegas. Secretary Clinton did. And everybody said, "Oh, she's so brilliant to take off five days." Voters looked at it and said, "Where are you? Come to me. Bring the message here." He will be a very active president. He will go to every nook and cranny of this country and he will be the president to all Americans. It's time for those who lost to say he's their president too.

CHUCK TODD:

Kellyanne Conway, Joel Benenson, you are correct, neither one of you yelled at each other, which is very respectful and very good.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

This is called the full Jersey. We're Jersey guys and gals--

CHUCK TODD:

A couple of Jersey people. Fair enough, all right.

JOEL BENENSON:

New York, Kellyanne, New York.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you both. A little less heated than Harvard. All right, in case you missed it just now, Hillary Clinton lost the election despite leading in the popular vote by more than 2.5 million and counting. When we come back, why we may be seeing that kind of result more frequently in the near term. We'll be right back.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

And we are are back, data download time. Only five times in American history has the person who won the popular vote not won the presidency, two of those have been in the last five elections, since 2000. And we might see it happen more frequently in the future. Here's why.

Of the six most populous states in the nation with 20 or more electoral votes, Democrats have won California, New York, and Illinois by double digits since 1992. And of the other three, Democrats have been making gains in Texas, it was big time this cycle, holding their own of course in super swing state Florida. Only Pennsylvania of the top six seems to be edging to the red column.

All of this helps explain Hillary Clinton's growing popular vote margin, over 2.5 million votes right now, actually. And of course, part of the reason for the popular vote/electoral college split is something we're calling superfluous votes. Because once a candidate wins a state, it doesn't matter in the electoral college how many votes they win it by. Anything more than one is technically unnecessary. So by that standard, Hillary Clinton had ten million extra votes. Ten million votes that made no difference to her electoral college totals. Donald Trump, by the way, had 8.3 million quote, "extra" votes. That's despite the fact that Trump won 30 states, while Clinton only won 20 plus the District of Columbia, for a final electoral-vote tally of 306 to 232.

So what does this mean? The Democratic strongholds are growing in population and size, growing more diverse. Which suggests they will continue to favor Democrats in the future. But it also means it could be a while until we see a Republican win the popular vote again. That doesn't mean they won't win the presidency, because it's been the states in the industrial Midwest where this election was decided, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. And if these states continue to be tightly contested with a slight shift, tilt to the right, we may continue to see this split between the popular vote and the electoral college when the Republicans win it going forward. When we come back, Democrats have been losing big time at the congressional level. So why did they just re-elect the same leadership team that was in charge of the House Democrats when they lost 63 House seats in six years?

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with the panel. Heather, I want to start with you because House Democrats this week had the first shot at sort of deciding a new leadership team or stick with the old leadership team. They decided to stick with the old leadership team when, if you just look at the metrics, they didn't seem to earn the right to stay. Why do you think they're there?

HEATHER MCGHEE:

I think the change at the top is always going to be the hardest. What you're seeing right now across the country is more grassroots mobilization of Democrats and would-be Democrats, right? We have to remember that a third of young voters voted for a third-party candidate.

But there's really sort of a roiling prairie fire going on right now across the country of activists who are saying, "We want Democrats to have some backbone." You've had young people sitting in the offices of Schumer and Carper and a bunch of other folks saying, "Don't actually shake hands with the white supremacist Republican party at this moment." I mean, there are trends going on right now that are not, I don't think, reaching up to the question of who, you know, the leadership roles and the Congress, but that you will start to see in 2017, '18, and primaries. There's as much-- energy at the base of the Democratic party right now that there was at the base of the Republican party before the tea party.

AMY WALTER:

But there's also a simple explanation for why she won. It’s the math problem for Democrats. Two-thirds of the House Democratic caucus comes from the West Coast or the Eastern Seaboard.

CHUCK TODD:

Touches an ocean.

AMY WALTER:

That’s who the base is, the base is not middle of America, Tim Ryan from rust belt Ohio. When we first started in this Chuck, there were a lot of these things called Southern Democrats, there were Midwestern Democrats, there were Blue Dog Democrats, they are gone. The base of the party--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Isn’t that the problem, given the electoral college?

AMY WALTER:

That’s-- that is the problem. So Democrats have a geography problem. Republicans still have a demography problem. But the geography problem is going to mean that they're not going to be back in control in the House.

CHUCK TODD:

I look at this election and it is always funny, I mean it's like Republicans want to say, "See, Democrats have a white working-class problem." And I look at the popular vote thing, like, look at Texas. And the Republicans have a Latino problem. Both things are correct.

RICH LOWRY:

Well, I think what Democrats will likely conclude is the way they try to reach Trump voters is with the Bernie Sanders-style economics. What I think they're going to have a much harder time grappling with is they actually need to make some nod to the cultural concerns of these voters.

If the Bill Clinton circa 1992 were running this year, someone like Colin Kaepernick would have be ripe for a Sister Souljah moment. A Democrat saying, "You know what, you yourself are a privilege person, the least you can do for this country is stand up during the national anthem." No Democrat would say that, except for bizarrely Ruth Bader Ginsburg and she had to apologize.

CHUCK TODD:

Heather, it's interesting. I've heard that from some other Democrats who don't want to be quoted on record saying that, because they are afraid that it would make the base angry by essentially saying what Rich just said. That a Bill Clinton would figure out how to close this gap culturally.

HEATHER MCGHEE:

And that's part of why particularly young people did not support his wife. Right? You -- we cannot just follow the conservative Southern strategy to try to split working-class people who are white from working-class people who are people of color. This is a moment for Democrats and progressives of all sort to recognize that when you have a strategy that is actually just propping up the 1 percent by dividing everybody else, you will always lose. It will always be close margins.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

It's also that it was a change election. And we saw it as early as New Hampshire primary. That she was not connecting not just to the working class-voters but to the young people and to the women, the young women. And that generation gap was a major problem for her.

RICH LOWRY:

I think another thing that will be difficult for Democrats, at the end of the Bush years, Republicans were really ready to move on from Bush, whereas Democrats still adore and revere Barack Obama and can't get their heads around the fact that the party was devastated under him.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, that hurt Republicans in the '90s, because they couldn't recover from Reagan, actually. It might be the same instance. All right, we'll be back in a moment. Endgame segment. Both campaigns are blaming the media for their problems. Is it possible they're both right?

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

End game time, at that infamous Harvard session, both campaigns, Andrea, you were there. You moderated. Both campaigns didn’t just tacitly blame the media. They unloaded on it and made it a central part of their, sort of, grievance from the winning side in Trump and from the losing side in Clinton. Is it possible both campaigns are right?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Or wrong, I mean I think, look, the media. We all missed it. We missed a lot of signals. But in terms of coverage, Donald Trump was live, unedited in all of these rallies on cable for months and months and months. He got his message through. Hillary Clinton did not get her message through and that is arguably a fair complaint. But that’s because of emails. That’s because of a private server. I mean there was a lot of blame that has not been acknowledged by them for her original decisions. And her lack of transparency.

CHUCK TODD:

Rich, do you-- do you buy that both--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And that they didn't have an economic message. I mean, there's, there’s a lot of blame. But I think the coverage can be faulted from both it, both sides, for not being substantive. For not forcing--

CHUCK TODD:Do you-- I know--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--both sides to talk about issues.

CHUCK TODD:

I know where you'll be on the quote, unquote "liberal media," but let me ask you this, do the Clinton people have a case? If you were in their shoes, would you be angry at the media?

RICHARD LOWRY:

Well, I think the Republican candidates in the primary felt this way, that Trump got extraordinary, direct access to the media. But in the general election, a lot of the coverage was extremely hostile. And I think Kellyanne is right, broadly speaking, people like us for a solid year treated them like idiots. So it's understandable that having pulled this extraordinary upset off, they might feel triumphalist about it.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

HEATHER MCGHEE:

Well, and part of the problem of the media going in, you know, until the night before the election saying it was pretty much impossible for Trump to won, win is that you actually had 25% of Trump voters, according to exit polls, who cast that ballot and didn't even think he was un-- fit for president. And so you have this sort of sense that there was a protest vote even within the Trump vote when people were looking at those polls and saying, "This is just going to be a message vote. I'm going to send a message because Clinton's obviously going to win."

CHUCK TODD:

Amy, do you think in 20 years, when historians look back on this, they will, the media's role will be as high, or it will be celebrity culture and our, that Trump took advantage of a cultural moment?

AMY WALTERS:

Well, there are going to be about a million books written about that by then. I'm going to say two things. The first is the Obama campaign did this in 2008, the Trump campaign talked about this this year, the media, remember, they like to go around the media. "We don't need the media. We have Twitter, we have texting, we have Facebook." So they on the one hand say, "It's the media's fault," on the other hand, "We don't need the media, we can make end runs--

CHUCK TODD:

Ok.

AMY WALTERS:

--around the media." And the second is what the media has done, and I think very poorly--

CHUCK TODD:

Ok.

AMY WALTERS:

Sorry, is to make Congress inept.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. All right.

AMY WALTERS:

Sorry.

CHUCK TODD:

That's all right. I've got to go. That's all right. We'll try to alert the affiliates for a second hour. It's not going to happen this week. We'll be back next week, maybe for two hours. Because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

You can see more Endgame in Postgame, sponsored by Boeing on the Meet the Press Facebook page.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *