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Meet the Press - April 23, 2017

NBC News - Meet The Press

"4.23.17"

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, President Trump and the first 100 days. He's now rejecting the deadline, calling it a ridiculous standard, while at the same time rushing to meet it.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.

CHUCK TODD:

There's no big legislative victory, like repealing Obamacare.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

We were very close. And it was a very, very tight margin.

CHUCK TODD:

But the president got his man on the Supreme Court.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

The most important thing is appoint people to the United States Supreme Court.

CHUCK TODD:

We've got a big lineup of guests: White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Marco Rubio; plus our brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, what the voters think of President Trump. The numbers are record setting. Also, who should be happy about that Georgia special election, Democrats who came close?

JON OSSOFF:

We have defied the odds. We have shattered expectations.

CHUCK TODD:

Or Republicans who forced a runoff? The answer may tell us a lot about 2018 and the fate of the House. And The O'Reilly Factor.

BILL O'REILLY:

Caution: you are about to enter the no-spin zone.

CHUCK TODD:

What Bill O'Reilly did for the conservative movement and what his departure could mean now. Joining me for insight and analysis are Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of The Today Show; Robert Costa, national political reporter for the Washington Post; Peggy Noonan, columnist for the Wall Street Journal; and Democratic pollster, Cornell Belcher. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the longest-running show in television history, celebrating its 70th year. This is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. After Ed Koch was first elected mayor of New York, he walked the streets of the city asking people, "How am I doing?" Well, so, how is President Trump doing? President Trump has both dismissed the 100-day mark and raced to meet it.

But for better or worse, it's part of our political culture. And this morning we have our brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll to tell us just how Americans think the president is doing as we approach day 100. In short, not well. Just 40% of those polled approve of President Trump's job performance so far, 54% disapproving. That's a bit of a drop from the 44/48 split from just two months ago. And it's by far the lowest we've recorded at this stage of any presidency in our 25 plus year history of this poll.

35% say the president is off to a good or great start, while 64% say Mr. Trump is off to a fair or poor start. At the same point in his presidency, 54% said Barack Obama was off to a good or great start, while 46% chose fair or poor. And finally, 46% say they feel more hopeful with President Trump. 52% say they feel more doubtful.

Compare that to President Obama's 64 to 30 split on that question as he approached the 100-day mark. Now, keep in mind most of Mr. Trump's term is still ahead of him. So, he has plenty of time to turn things around with voters. But for now, he's searching for the kind of big win that will allow him to declare 100-day victory.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

No particular rush, but we'll see what happens.

CHUCK TODD:

On Friday, President Trump tried to minimize the 100-day benchmark, calling it a ridiculous standard in a tweet. But that didn't stop the president from announcing a big rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night, the 100-day mark. And he's been scrambling to declare early success.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.

CHUCK TODD:

On the campaign trail, in a contract with the American voter, candidate Trump promised to introduced ten specific pieces of legislation in his first 100 days and fight for their passage.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

We're going to have the biggest tax cuts since Ronald Reagan. The Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act. Impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall. We will cancel every illegal Obama executive order.

CHUCK TODD:

But though Republicans control the White House and both chambers of Congress, they have failed to pass any significant piece of legislation. The Obamacare repeal Republicans promised for seven years was yanked from the House floor. Mr. Trump's travel ban is stalled in the courts. And the treasury secretary has pushed the deadline for tax reform from the summer to the end of the year. The president's one big accomplishment, the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, was largely delivered by Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

In a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, confidence in Mr. Trump's presidential qualities has eroded, even on the attributes where he performs best. He's down by seven points since February on being firm and decisive, down six on changing business as usual in Washington. Just 25% of Americans give Mr. Trump a good rating on being honest and trustworthy. Now, the president is scrambling for a legislative victory on health care, but signaling it might not get done.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

Doesn't matter if it's next week. Next week doesn't matter.

CHUCK TODD:

Still, in an interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Trump promised to roll out a massive tax cut next week.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

We'll be having a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform.

CHUCK TODD:

But Capitol Hill will be focused on funding the government, which will shut down at midnight on Friday, President Trump's 99th day in office, unless Congress can pass a spending bill. Compounding Mr. Trump's problems is a jittery Republican Congress, returning to Washington after two weeks of facing down constituents at town halls.

FEMALE AT TOWN HALL:

Yes or no on high risk pools?

SEN. DEAN HELLER:

I want to make sure that you have health care.

FEMALE AT TOWN HALL:

--no, don't give me a fuzzy answer.

CHUCK TODD:

And increasingly, Republicans have become comfortable criticizing their own president.

SEN. JONI ERNST:

With the trips to Florida, I do wish that he would spend more time in Washington, D.C. That's what we have the White House for.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is President Trump's Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus. Mr. Priebus, welcome back to the show, sir.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Good morning, Chuck. Thanks for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

Good to have you here. Look, the president did tweet this on Friday: "No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, it has been a lot, parentheses, (including S.C.)," I assume he means Supreme Court. "Media will kill."

And maybe that will be your response to my question here, but just before the election, I want to put up. He made these legislative promises in the first 100 days: tax reform, offshoring of jobs, infrastructure, school choice, health care, child care, immigration, ethics reform, more funding for the military, and dealing with crime and drugs.

All of them were supposed to be legislative action that was announced, not necessarily the expectation that it would be passed. But only one of those legislative priorities has even come close to a vote, health care. Why does he say it's a ridiculous standard, and yet promise all this action before day 100?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

All right, so let me try to unpack that, Chuck. First of all, if you look at the promises he made on immigration, you have border crossings down by 70%. You look at TPP, one of the first executive orders the president signed was getting out of TPP. You look at ethics, that was one of the bullet points you had. Every employee of the West Wing signed an ethics pledge that said you're not going to lobby for five years after you leave this place, and you're never going to lobby for a foreign country.

Look at Neil Gorsuch, first 100 days, a Supreme Court justice is sworn in, first time since 1881. And if you just give me one minute, and I won't drone on, but this idea about major legislation not being passed within the first 100 days, Barack Obama had a pre-baked stimulus package that started in October of the election year which was passed in February. It was pre-baked. George Bush didn't get any major legislation until June; Clinton, August 10th.

Bush 41, a year and a half later; Reagan, August 13th; Carter, 658 days after he took the office; Nixon, one year; Johnson 225 days. Here's the deal. The president signed over 28 bills already. Health care may happen next week. It may not.

We're hopeful it will. You said the military. We have right now in the CR negotiating one of the biggest increases in military spending in decades. So, he is fulfilling his promises and doing it at breakneck speed.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. But let me give you one standard that really is, I would think, potentially troubling. So far, for Senate confirmation, just filling the jobs, filling the empty positions in government, he's only nominated 45 people. Only 22 of them have been confirmed. Two have failed. At this same point in time, George W. Bush had 85 nominations; H.W. Bush, 95; Obama, 190; Clinton, 176. What is taking so long for you guys to just fill the political appointments? You are way down here.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Actually not. Let me clear this up. First of all, Chuck Schumer and the Democrats have done something that even many Democrats and even Democrat leading pundits have said is inexcusable, which is to hold up one nominee after the next to fill secretary positions. Wait a second.

CHUCK TODD:

But, Reince, these are not nominated.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Let me get to it.

CHUCK TODD:

You haven't nominated.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Let me get to it.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Let me finish. I know what the question is. Let me finish. Look, even on David Shulkin who passed 100 to zero in the Senate, Schumer still took up to 30 hours of debate. I'll get to that. We have hundreds of people in the queue. Here's what happens when you slow down these nominations.

When you slow down the nominations, you can't actually clear someone for a nomination into the Senate. So, when you talk about who we have for assistant to the secretary - let’s just throw assistant to the secretary at HUD - or in the State Department, those people have been chosen. However, when you choose one of those people, the process is you have to send that person to O.G.E. clearance, the Office of Government Ethics clearance. And they have to get an F.B.I. background check. You can't get the clearance for 30 or 40 days after you choose the person. So, those people are in queue. And when they get the clearance from O.G.E., they get sent to the Senate.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand. But you acknowledge you're behind?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

But we're behind, but because of historical unbelievable obstruction from U.S. senators that are acting inappropriately.

CHUCK TODD:

I don't want to get stuck on this question. But I don't understand how the Democrats have anything to do with who you nominate.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

You look at a guy like Rex Tillerson. The president said that the secretary of state is going to have direct authority over the people that he chooses to fill the positions within the Department of State. Well, Rex Tillerson gets submitted back in December. He doesn't get confirmed until later in the year.

Or, for example, we've got a secretary of commerce that was chosen in November, not confirmed until February. That person is going to take the time to choose who his undersecretaries are. Those undersecretaries that are chosen need 30 days to go through clearance.

CHUCK TODD:

I have to move on.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

No, but this is very easy.

CHUCK TODD:

It doesn't make a lot of sense.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

How doesn't it make sense? When you don't have a nominee?

CHUCK TODD:

These folks aren't preparing for their own staff to who they're going to decide to bring into office. But let me move on.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

If you don't have a nominee?

CHUCK TODD:

We’ve got to keep the government open. Let me ask you about the government shutdown, run out of money if a bill isn't passed by the end of the week. Your budget director said you want to have a down payment on the border wall in that government funding bill. If you don't get it, will the president veto the government funding bill?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

We've already seen progress in regard to getting money for border security within the CR, so I'm pretty confident we're going to get something that is satisfactory to the president in regard to border security within current negotiations.

CHUCK TODD:

But it may not be the wall itself?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

It will be enough in the negotiation for us to move forward with either the construction or the planning, or enough for us to move forward through the end of September to get going on the border wall and border security in regard to border patrol.

CHUCK TODD:

And Speaker Ryan has signed off on this, saying it's not going to gum up getting this funding bill done?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

No. We expect the priorities of the president to be reflective in the CR. So, we expect a massive increase in military spending. We expect money for border security in this bill. And it ought to be. Because the president won overwhelmingly. And everyone understands the border wall was part of it.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you okay if the money is not designated specifically for the border wall? In fact, if the money's designated for border security but not for the border wall, you'll sign that bill?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I think that as long as the president's priorities are adequately reflected in the CR and it allows us to get moving with an increase in military spending, and a rebuilding of our military as he promised in one of your bullet points, and there's enough as far as flexibility for the border wall and border security, I think we'll be okay with that. But we're still negotiating this weekend with appropriators in the House and the Senate.

CHUCK TODD:

Health care: do you have to have a vote this week? Or are you comfortable if Speaker Ryan says, "Hey, I need more time to find the votes"?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I would like to have a vote this week. And I think the leadership knows that we would like to have a vote this week. But on Monday, we're still going to be here working for the American people. So, whether health care Repeal and Replace comes on Friday or Saturday or on Monday, in the grand scheme of things, it's a marathon, not a sprint. So, we're hopeful for this week. But, again, it's not something that has to happen in order to define our success.

CHUCK TODD:

Has the president taken sides in the French election? Is he unofficially hoping Marine Le Pen gets into the runoff?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

No, not at all. He is going to support whoever the winner is. We've got a long-term relationship that's historical with the French people and the French government. No matter who wins, that relationship is going to continue.

CHUCK TODD:

So, his tweet should not be interpreted as him showing preference for Le Pen?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

No, not at all. I think he may have some opinions, as far as who he thinks might win. But he certainly doesn't have a preference, other than a right-of-center person who believes in the free market.

CHUCK TODD:

Can I ask you this? It costs $200,000 to be a member of Mar a Lago, $300,000 to be a member of Bedminster. Shouldn't the American people know about anybody that bought a membership to one of those two clubs where they could get access to you when you're with the president on one of these working trips or the president himself? Shouldn't the American public know who those people are, if they have bought memberships since the president took office?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

No. This is a private business. It's a private organization. It's a private club. I don't think that has anything to do with it.

CHUCK TODD:

So, if somebody decides this is the best way to get access to you or the president, there's nothing the American people can do about it?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

One thing that the American people I think know about President Trump is that he's the boss. And as you saw in the New York Times article today, they listed out 20 different people that have all this access. Some of these folks the president doesn't even talk to.

But the president talks to a lot of people. That doesn't change his ultimate views. If you go back on YouTube and you look at Donald Trump talking about trade in the 1980s, in the 1990s, this is the same person today. He's no different. So, while a lot of people like to talk and argue about who's talking to President Trump and who's influencing him to make decisions, it's Donald Trump. It's his agenda. It's always been his agenda. And it always will be his agenda. And over time, people are going to see that he's the guy that's going to deliver to the American people, putting America first and making the future better for everyone across the country.

CHUCK TODD:

Reince Priebus, I'm going to leave it there.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

You bet.

CHUCK TODD:

I know you are going to have a busy week ahead of you.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

We do.

CHUCK TODD:

Government’s going to stay open?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I believe it will.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, we'll hold you to it. Thank you, sir. Joining me now is the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi of California. Leader Pelosi, welcome back to Meet the Press.

NANCY PELOSI:

Good morning. My pleasure to be with you from Texas.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you since you are coming from a state that might be impacted by a border wall. Is there any scenario that you will support or that Democrats will help keep the government open if there is money designated to build the wall?

NANCY PELOSI:

The Democrats do not support the wall. I think that the Republicans on the border states do not support the wall. The Republicans have the votes in the House and the Senate and the White House to keep government open. The burden to keep it open is on the Republicans. The wall is, in my view, immoral, expensive, unwise, and when the president says “well I promised a wall during my campaign,” I don’t think he said he was going to pass billions of dollars of cost of the wall on to the taxpayer.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this though. Look, the budget director of the United States said “hey, elections have consequences. Republicans are in charge,” as you just pointed out. But there are some Democratic spending priorities you want to push for, including to help make sure that while Obamacare is still law, it is fully functioning. What’s wrong with giving the president his money for a border wall in exchange for a priority that is not his, keeping Obamacare fully functional and funded, as a priority that’s important to you? What’s wrong with that kind of horse trading in Washington?

NANCY PELOSI:

What is wrong with it, that scenario, is the wall. The president talks about how tall it is, who’s going to pay for it, and all the rest of that. But you have to understand this part of the country. There’s a community with the border going through it. The president, I think, talking about this wall is expressing a sign of weakness. He’s saying, “I can’t control our borders. I have to build a wall.” We certainly would like to-- We have a responsibility to control our borders. Building a wall is not an answer, not here or any place.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let me move on to sort of the state of the Democratic Party now. I think there’s, obviously depends on where you sit on the Georgia result, on whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing for the party. But let me ask you this. Is the energy inside the Democratic Party a bit overstated if Jon Ossoff gets the same number that Hillary Clinton got in that district?

NANCY PELOSI:

No, not at all. Hillary Clinton is a very famous person running for president of the United States in a high-profile election. Jon Ossoff is run-- ran and is running in an off-year election, low turnout and the rest. The enthusiasm for him, young man, Georgetown 2009. We're very proud of that, and really just someone who has attracted personally such support. He made a remarkable showing. It's about him and the commitment he has made to the people of that district. We feel very confident.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you. What should unify the Democratic Party? What should make somebody a Democrat and not a Democrat? And I ask it in this way. There's been a lot of back-and-forth, especially among abortion rights activists, about a decision of the Democratic Party to support a candidate for mayor in Omaha, a Democrat, who happens to be pro-life.

And there are some that, and at some point, the Democratic National Committee chairman actually had to put out the following statement after three days of back-and-forth. He said, "I fundamentally disagree with Heath Mello's personal beliefs," the candidate for Omaha mayor, "about women's reproductive health. It is a promising step that the candidate now shares the Democratic Party's position on women's fundamental rights. Each candidate who runs as a Democrat should do the same. Because every woman should be able to make her own health choices, period." Can you be a Democrat?

NANCY PELOSI:

Why don’t you interview Tom Perez? You’re interviewing me.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this. But can you be a Democrat and the support of the Democratic Party if you're pro-life?

NANCY PELOSI:

Of course. I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive, my family would say aggressive, position on promoting a woman's right to choose. But what you asked, the first part of the question before you went off, was about what unifies Democrats.

And people say to me all the time, "Oh, you do such a good job unifying the House Democrats." I say, "I don't. Our values unify us. We are unified with our commitment to America's working families about job creation, about budget policies that invest in the future, good-paying jobs."

And that's what we'd like to see a debate on vis-à-vis with the president of the United States. He promised jobs. Show us the jobs. Where's his infrastructure bill? There are many promises, made promises, broken. And here's the thing: where's the infrastructure bill? The president was supposed to have a strong infrastructure bill coming in. The infrastructure bill is one of the biggest secrets in Washington, D.C., second only to the president not showing us his tax returns.

We need to see those so we can see how his tax policy will affect his own tax situation. We need to see them so we can see what is the hold that the Russians have on him politically, financially, and personally. So this is about job creation, job creation for the middle class and working families who aspire to it. That is what unifies Democrats.

CHUCK TODD:

Very quickly, I want to show two clips of TV ads that were run against Democrats in Georgia and Montana. Take a look.

(BEGIN TAPE)

COMMERCIAL VOICE OVER:

Nancy Pelosi's liberal agenda put America twenty trillion in debt. And Jon Ossoff is on her side.

COMMERCIAL VOICE OVER:

Rob Quist talks folksy, but his record is more Nancy Pelosi than Montana. Can you trust Quist and Pelosi with your money?

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Are you at all concerned that you could play an outsized role, that if you're more unpopular in a specific district, you could contribute to the loss of a Democrat?

NANCY PELOSI:

Well, when Republicans put forth these ads, it shows the bankruptcy of their own initiatives. The voters in their districts want to know what they are going to do for them. But since you brought it up, and I'm glad you did, I think it's really important for the voters in those districts to know who the candidates will be voting with.

Will they be voting with Paul Ryan, who wants to eliminate the guarantee of Medicare, who has voted to privatize Social Security, who's there to dismantle Medicaid? And, so, it's not a question of the person, just as it isn't about the president.

It's a question of the policy. So, if you want to vote for someone like Paul Ryan for speaker, and that is a vote to dismantle Medicaid, it is a vote to eliminate the guarantee of Medicare. Medicare is a guarantee. You take away the guarantee, you eliminate Medicare as we know it, and to move on, to privat-- And by the way, those views are shared by the president's appointees to his cabinet.

CHUCK TODD:

Leader Pelosi, I will leave it there, unfortunately. I have more questions, but never enough time. I appreciate you coming on and sharing your views coming from Texas. Thank you.

NANCY PELOSI:

My pleasure. Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Coming up, Russia, Syria, North Korea, and today's big elections in France. How is President Trump doing on foreign policy? I'm going to talk to somebody who is a bit of a foreign policy hawk in the Senate, Marco Rubio. And later, that tight congressional race in Georgia: they say close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but we may want to add special elections to that. Why Democrats do have some reasons to be optimistic.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

We are back, panel is here. Democratic pollster, Cornell Belcher, Peggy Noonan who just took home the Pulitzer prize, how about that? Never going to take that away from you Pulitzer prize winner. By the way, you are with the Wall Street Journal. Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of the Today show, the chief legal correspondent for NBC News. It’s nice to have you here. And Robert Costa, the national political reporter for The Washington Post who has just been named the moderator of Washington Week on PBS. Moderator....nice

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

I know, where is the champagne?

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let’s get to this 100 days business. Peggy, we haven’t seen you in a while, so I’m giving you the first hit on this. Obviously every president loves to talk about the 100 days when they run--

PEGGY NOONAN:

Yes--

CHUCK TODD:

Hate it when it actually happens--

PEGGY NOONAN:

They do.

CHUCK TODD:

How should we be looking at it?

PEGGY NOONAN:

For one thing, we all love politics. We focus on it everyday. So we are watching literally everyday, he’s up, he’s down, he’s on the side. We are seeing lots oF trends, I think it’s fair, first of all, to say that of those who support the president , their event horizon is longer. They're taking the long view. I didn't find the poll today to be that dramatic. I kind of thought after the first 100 days he's had, not so bad. Look, the big thing he had was in your tape opening the show: Neil Gorsuch worked brilliantly, went straight through, will have implications for a generation, big win.

Failure legislatively of the Obamacare replacement, a bit disastrous. Now, I think what is most threatening at the end of the 100 days is the sense of confusion. Is the White House really talking to the Congress? Is there really a tax bill that's being put together? I mean, a sense of, "Wow. What's going on here?"

CORNELL BELCHER:

I was shocked by those numbers. And I'm sorry, Peggy. You look at these sort of unprecedented numbers in a honeymoon period, and you said it Chuck, there's time to recover. Well, historically, no. Historically, we won't have a president's numbers getting better over time than it is at the honeymoon period.

You know, you have a majority of Americans right now who don't think he's accomplished very much. 44% plurality in your polling that think that he's been less effective than other presidents. And this should be problematic for Republicans. You have a real erosion of his brand, from his brand of decisiveness and strength, you know. All those numbers are down, Chuck. If I'm the White House, I look at these numbers and I am shocked by it. And the 25% honesty number, we've never seen that before.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me point to something that both of you sort of alluded to here: Paul Kane. You guys will enjoy this. He writes this about this idea of what issue. "The model of strategic chaos, creating many different targets and never taking on much bloodshed, worked well in the campaign. But in governments, it doesn't work. There's a good chance that the week ahead becomes a lot of sound and fury, but not much productivity." Savannah?

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Well, and that's the issue. And Bob can speak to it better than I can, as someone who's out there covering the House every single day. But is he talking to Congress? Do they have a legislative path out there? It's kind of shocking, but then nothing's shocking anymore, that on Friday he said, "Hey, we've got a big tax reform deal coming next week."

CHUCK TODD:

What?

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

And apparently, according to reports, surprised even people within the administration. And that gets me back to the 100 days. Remember when we were covering the Obama administration, or, frankly, any administration? They always would say, "Don't hold us up to this stupid standard, this 100 days."

CHUCK TODD:

That damn F.D.R.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Yes, count it as another flip-flop for Trump. But he's right, the 100 days is a ridiculous standard. Too bad for him that he actually embraced it all through the campaign, and up until and including when Neil Gorsuch was sworn in. And he said, "Hey, we did this in the first 100 days." So, live by it, die by it.

CHUCK TODD:

Bob?

ROBERT COSTA:

When I was talking to some House Republicans on Saturday and getting some text messages in, they're all grumbling. They're saying the White House wants to move on taxes, is trying to move on health care, and as Paul wrote about in the Post, they're trying to keep the government funded.

On health care, the White House is negotiating with the hard-line Freedom Caucus, trying to come up with its own deal. But when you negotiate with the Freedom Caucus, you lose moderate votes. On tax reform, they're just probably looking at tax cuts. That's probably the only thing that can happen. And government funding, that alone is a major issue for this coming week.

CHUCK TODD:

But Peggy, I heard flexibility in Reince. I heard flexibility. He was very careful.

He was very careful what he said about the border wall. Border security, it was clear to me he was never going to say the word "wall."

PEGGY NOONAN:

They don't want to add to their problems in the White House a government shutdown. They don't need it.

CHUCK TODD:

Can you imagine that on day 99? That's crazy.

PEGGY NOONAN:

Yes. It will just make no sense for anybody. So, I don't think that's going to happen. Can I say, however, part of the context here, as we talk about the 100 days, you mentioned it's extraordinary that Mr. Trump has these numbers during this honeymoon. I don't think Trump ever had a honeymoon. This was not a honeymoon presidency.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, it depends on your definition of honeymoon.

PEGGY NOONAN:

This was Brace Yourself Bridget. It was nutty from the beginning. And it's a most historical moment. And I'll just say it doesn't compare well poll wise with other previous moments. That's all I'll say.

CORNELL BELCHER:

I'll give you that. I think that's fair. But there's something uniquely divisive and unpopular about this president. And I think if you look at what they've been doing over this last 100 days, I don't think he's been helping and expanding his base. He's at 46%. His base is sticking with him. But I think you and I both agree.

PEGGY NOONAN:

Yes, I think fair enough.

CORNELL BELCHER:

He needs to expand that.

CHUCK TODD:

We're not expanding. I think that's fair. All right, we're going to pause the conversation. We've got a lot to get to. We'll get to that after the break. When we come back, I'm going to turn a little bit to the president's record on foreign policy. And we're going to speak with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida on that score.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:Welcome back. President Trump’s first almost one hundred days in office have been marked by a series of foreign policy reversals. Among them, his decision to strike Syria, to not call China currency manipulator, to acknowledge NATO’s relevance. All of which makes him look more like a president eager to preserve the status quo than to break it up. Joining me now is Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who of course sits on the Senate foreign relations committee, as well as the intelligence committee. Senator Rubio, welcome back to the show, sir.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

Before I get to sort of general foreign policy issues, I want to ask about this story that may or may not have involved you, about two former Colombian presidents going to Mar-a-Lago, having some sort of meeting with President Trump all over the controversial peace deal between the rebel groups, FARC, and the current elected Colombian government. The questions are about how did these Colombian presidents get this meeting with the president, who set it up. Miami Herald said you were involved in setting it up. I know you have since denied it. Did you have any role whatsoever in forging a communication between these former presidents and the Trump administration?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

No. I mean-- You'll have to ask the White House whether there even was a meeting or what happened. And you'll have to ask the former presidents. By the way, former President Uribe is now a sitting senator in Colombia. And I'm a sitting senator in the United States. I've met with foreign heads of state in my travel abroad. So, I'm not sure what the big deal is in that regard. But that said, you'll have to ask them. I didn't even know they were in Florida.

CHUCK TODD:

Is it something you think the U.S. government should play a role in deciding whether this deal is approved or not in Colombia?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

No. That belongs to the Colombian people. They had a vote in Colombia. They voted it down, the people did. Then, the president came back and got it through the congress. And they have elections in that country. And those leaders are accountable to their people there. So, that's not our issue.

Our issue is what part of it are we being asked to pay for? And I do have concerns about us, American funds winding up in the hands of FARC or former FARC officials. I do have concerns about FARC officials becoming members of congress over there. Because they're now guaranteed X number of seats. And now, these criminals and these thugs and these narco terrorists are traveling to the United States on diplomatic visas. So, those are the things I care about. But ultimately, our relationship with Colombia is a very important one, one that I strongly and will continue to strongly support. It's a democracy. And ultimately, their leaders make decisions. That's an internal matter for them.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I want to move on here. I'm curious. Your colleague, Democratic colleague on the Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, said this earlier this week of Trump's foreign policy: "In Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, they are recalibrating their strategies. You can't deny it. Because they don't have any idea of how Trump will respond. That might be great in the short term, but it's not really a long-term strategy for asserting leadership in a world desperate for American leadership." Do you find anything to disagree with Senator Warner on that?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, I disagree in the sense that I guess from that statement it implies there isn't going to be a long-term strategy. And I know that there is. And they're working on it, and they have great people working on it. The National Security Council is going back to its appropriate role, which is like an internal think tank that designs big, strategic objectives.

Just Friday alone, I had a conversation with folks over at the National Security Council about the Western Hemisphere and their strategy towards it. So, we've had a lot of debates in American politics over the last two years about tactics. I think what's important to understand is you have to have a strategy, and then the tactics should be driven by the strategy.

And I know they're working through it. And I do not anticipate that a year from now you're going to be able to say the same thing. And if we are, then that'll be, obviously, opportune for criticism. But I don't think that's where we're going to be.

CHUCK TODD:

On this reversal on whether it's NATO, the issue of currency manipulation, the decision to strike Syria, these reversals are, in some ways, probably comforting to you on the specifics. But how do you know he won't reverse himself again? Do you just take more comfort in the fact that he's coming to the sort of status quo? Or are you concerned he could flip again?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, here's what I take. And I said this during the campaign. I think when you're running for president, especially someone that's never held elected office, there's one set of things that you may view the world through-- a lens that you may view the world through. Then, you get elected and you get good people.

And those good people bring you the facts. And they bring you, "Here's what's going on. Here are our options. Here's what happens if you do this. Here's what happens when you do that." And that reality begins to assert itself. And you have to react to that. You're now the president. You're no longer a candidate. You're not a pundit. You have to actually make decisions that have real impact and consequence. And I think that's what you're seeing here. I think you’re seeing a president--

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think he's moving away from maybe the isolationist rhetoric and tendencies that he had as a candidate?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

I think he's dealing with the reality of being president of the United States. I think he's dealing with the reality of our options oftentimes on foreign policy are not a choice between a good one and a bad one. It's a choice between two less-than-ideal options.

And you're trying to figure out which is the least harmful of the two. And I think that's something we should be encouraged by, not something that we should be critical of. This whole flip-flop thing is a political thing. It's something people use in campaigns.

But in every other aspect of our life, people change their minds or make different decisions when presented with a set of facts that, perhaps, are different from what they thought. Why should that not be the case, especially for something as important as the presidency?

CHUCK TODD:

Does that mean you'll never run a flip-flop ad against an opponent ever again? If you think it’s an unfair--

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Excuse me I didn’t hear. A flip-flop ad?

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, I'm half teasing. But are you saying you'll never use flip-flopping to attack an opponent again?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

It depends who the opponent is. It depends who the opponent is, right?

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough. Let me ask you about the French elections. It appears that both President Trump and former President Obama have expressed a preference unofficially, if you will. You talked about, look, Europe. Senator, you meet with foreign leaders. You certainly have an opinion on what's happening in Colombia. Is there a point, though, that that goes too far?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, I haven't heard the president express a preference. I think what I heard the president express was his belief that the terrorist attacks may help a particular candidate. Ultimately, bottom line is the people of France are going to decide it. And I doubt very seriously whether my opinion or the president's opinion or the former president's opinion is going to have an influence over how they vote.

And there's going to be a runoff. And there's going to be a runoff between two candidates, it looks like, with very different points of view. And then, the French people are going to make a decision. And we'll need to react to that one way or the other, in terms of how it impacts our relationship with them. But I'm not sure that the views of an American policymaker are going to have much sway over a French election.

CHUCK TODD:

Your-- The chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Republican Senator Richard Burr said there's a lot of evidence that the Russians are playing a role in the French election in the same way they did in the U.S. election. Are you investigating that as well in the Intelligence Committee, sort of this overall role that the Russians are trying to do in Western democracies beyond the United States?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Well, I think there's plenty of open-source reporting to reach that conclusion. And the French will tell you that. I was in France about two months ago. And they openly said they're involved, particularly in undermining Macron, who is one of the, I guess, the independent candidate that's running there. And they're trying to prop up Le Pen. And that, of course, is open source as well. She's taken out massive loans in order to fund her campaign and her political operations.

As far as the general behavior of the Russians, sure, that's something that we're focused on in both foreign relations and also in the Intelligence Committee on an ongoing basis. That's not new. That's always. But let me just say that I don't think I have ever any doubt that these active measures have existed for a long period of time. I think they've just been weaponized to a greater extent over the last two to three years because of the ability to use the internet and social media and fake news outlets and all sorts of things. And so that is most certainly-- you saw that in the open hearing of the Intelligence Committee. But, quite frankly, multiple committees are looking at that stuff.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Senator Marco Rubio, would love to have gotten to more. But time is of the essence. I appreciate you coming on and sharing your views, sir.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Thanks.

CHUCK TODD:

Always good to talk to you.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO:

Thanks.

CHUCK TODD:

Coming up, you've probably seen this picture of the New England Patriots at the White House this week. A lot was made over who wasn’t there, including a number of African American players. When we come back, how fans of different sports view President Trump. And this question: in which of these two places are you most likely to find Trump supporters? We’ll be right back.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

And we are back. Data Download time. This show is mostly, of course, devoted to the sport of politics. But what about the politics of sports? A new poll released this week by our pals at Marist and HBO’s Real Sports gives us a little bit of insight, so let’s get our heads in the game.

When it comes to the partisan divide among different fan bases, here’s what we can tell you: Democrats are the most likely to be tennis fans, 42%, followed by basketball, football, then baseball. On the right it’s Nascar fans who are most likely to be Republican, 38% of them, followed by baseball, hockey, then football. And what about the independents? Ready for this? Might surprise you a little bit. They’re most likely to be hockey fans, sitting at 38%.

Now on the issues. It’s Nascar fans who think President Trump is doing the best job. Basketball fans who like Obamacare the best, and tennis fans who are most opposed to President Trump’s travel ban. Oh, by the way, Nascar fans are the most in favor.

So what does your fandom say about your politics? Well, if you’re a basketball fan, chances are you are a Democrat and more likely to live in a major urban or suburban center. If you’re a Nascar fan, you’re probably part of President Trump’s base. Why? You’re more likely to be or live in rural, southern, or conservative America.

And maybe most surprising, it’s football. Because it has the broadest fan base, it actually looks the most like America now. It slightly leans Democratic, which may make some sense given Hillary Clinton slightly won the popular vote.

All of it is great news for political reporters. Why? Especially if you’re a football fan, because the best way to measure President Trump’s support this fall may just simply be to show up at football stadiums. So you know what that means, we’re going to be taking Meet the Press to Lambeau. A little frozen tundra action.

When we come back, what’s more important to Democrats? Economic justice or abortion rights? It’s actually a big fight inside the party right now, and good ole Bernie Sanders is right in the middle of it.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with the panel. Alright, you guys had your shot at President Trump. He’s had a rough hundred days. But the Democrats, what looked like the start of a great week for the Democrats, Cornell, with what happened in Georgia, then I look at these headlines from this Dem Unity tour, between the DNC Chair Tom Perez and Bernie Sanders. New York Times, “At a Unity Stop in Nebraska, Democrats Find Anything But.” “Sanders Unity Tour with DNC Chair Exposes Rifts But Also Suggests Common Goals.” New Republic - “Why Bernie Sanders’ Unity Tour Failed.” Why is the chairman of the Democratic party appearing with someone who’s not a Democrat?

CORNELL BELCHER:

Well, because they in fact share a lot of the same ideals and a lot of the same values. There is right now a disconnect between what you see the grassroots sort of uprising and energy on the left. And you know, PP put out a poll this week that shows 11 point enthusiasm advantage for Democrats. But there is a disconnect. And I think the Democratic party, so the DNC in particular, they have to work really hard to reach out and bring in a lot of these young voters who were Obama voters, not necessarily Democratic voters from the jump, and bring these protest sort of voters back in. It’s not gonna be an easy job.

CHUCK TODD:

I have to say, I mean, they’re fighting over Omaha mayor. And you saw that Tom Perez spent his entire week having to backtrack on it. And you heard Nancy Pelosi there, Savannah, no, no, no, no. We welcome pro-life Democrats.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Well it’s interesting. I mean Tom Perez takes the position that is something close to a purity test of a litmus test, saying if you wanna be a Democrat, you have to hold pro-choice views. Nancy Pelosi didn’t go there. But Democrats have to work out these politics for themselves. They’re going through something that the Republicans have gone through, and arguably still are going through, where you have the grassroots, all the energy is on the far left. Just as on the right, all the energy is on the far-right. But are you gonna win elections like that? That’s the big question.

CHUCK TODD:There’s a donor-voter split too, Peggy.

PEGGY NOONAN:

It is the real story. I mean the, if I can put it this way, those who profit from abortion or health services - women’s health services however you put it, they give a lot of money to the Democratic party. The Democratic party should say, “Thank you very much, but you know what, we’re going back to be a big-tent party. Broad on social issues like this, we are declaring, go with your heart if you truly feel that you can be, that you are pro-life, and you wanna be pro-life, and a Democrat, go for it.” The Democratic party has I think been hurt very badly in terms of its national reputation with this narrow, sort of, you can’t be in our party if you don’t hold the right views on abortion. It would be a brilliant political move if they opened up.

ROBERT COSTA:

The challenge for the Democrats, and I saw this up close when I was in Atlanta this week covering the special House election, is how to win over suburban voters. Some of these moderate Republicans and independents in places like Shambly, Georgia, where there are young professionals going to Starbucks, young parents, and they may be skittish about President Trump. At the same time, though, if the Democrats wanna win over, and win back Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, they need that Bernie Sanders populism, that energy. So it’s gonna be a balance ahead of 2018, the suburban outreach versus the populist pitch.

CHUCK TODD:

And these Southern suburbs, I mean I think the thing that I took away from Georgia is that it’s real. Southern suburbia is the battleground for American politics in 2018.

CORNELL BELCHER:It is, and if Democrats, and really quickly - in 2006 when we had a sea-change election, we had a lot of pro-choice Democrats win. Pro-life Democrats win. That’s gonna - this is an absurd argument for the Democratic party to be having. Now, talking about Georgia 6, if Democrats are gonna have a success, it looks like these districts where you do have, you know, an affluent, college-educated white group of voters. Because those were voters, quite frankly, Hillary did better among them and Donald Trump did worse among them than typical. If I were sitting at the RNC, this would be a problem for me. If you look at Kansas, and if you look at Georgia, there’s a double digit swing from Republican to Democrat. Now, these are still Republican districts and I think we’ll do well in Georgia. But this 10-point swing should be really troubling going into the midterms.

CHUCK TODD:

Well here look, we saw in 2010 there were a lot of fights inside the Republican party on purity, and while they were fights inside the Republican party, it didn’t take away from the bigger win. And maybe that’s what Democrats end up with - they’ll have a fight and win.

PEGGY NOONAN:I just think it’s better for the country when each party looks like it stands for something serious, for some big things, but they’re not narrow and they’re not bought.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

I agree, can we please, someone speak up for the radical middle here? I mean I think it’s great if we have competitive districts that could swing back via election. Where compromise is not a dirty word. I want swing voters back.

CORNELL BELCHER:

Gerrymandering conversation -

ROBERT COSTA:

You know what’s tough for the Democrats? When Republicans won all these state legislatures in 2010, they lost a lot of their farm team. And so when they’re looking ahead, who are the candidates? Where’s the recruitment?

CHUCK TODD:

And if you shut the door, then you limit maybe people who wanna come and run.

CORNELL BELCHER:

And the gerrymandering conversation at some point, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:Oh Gerry Mander. We will talk to Dr. Mander at some point. Anyway - we’ll be back in 45 seconds with End Game and “The O’Reilly Factor.” What does the departure of Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes from Fox News mean for the conservative movement going forward?

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with End Game and a sea change in our media landscape. Peggy, you wrote about this a bit. You said this about FOX News, referring to Ailes and O'Reilly , ‘I don’t know what was in the water over there, but it wasn’t good, it was poisonous, and I'm glad they’re doing environmental cleanup.” And at some point you even referred to it as “piggish.”

PEGGY NOONAN:

Yes, I think, you know, we’re all having sort of a journalistic or ideological looks that we’re taking at what has happened at FOX News in the past year. But, I think the big headline actually is it was a serious setback for sexual harassment in the workplace. That is a cliche, but it is a story that continues and I think sexual harassment took it right on the chin with the fall of Bill O’Reilly and I am happy about it.

CHUCK TODD:

There are some that say though that all that money means he didn’t pay a price. The payout--the golden parachute for it--

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

I think if you are against sexual harassment, you have to take your victories where you can. And, I’ll quote Peggy too, she said, “piggishness is not conservative” and we have to get past where being against sexual harassment

CHUCK TODD:

Is somehow part of a political correctness--

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

It’s some partisan category, can we just be against it? And I think, to quote Peggy again, I mean I think that’s what the victory was this week.

CHUCK TODD:

You cannot though not look at what is going on over at FOX and just say, look, Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes. Jim Pinkerton writes a very provocative column about this in Breitbart. I don’t want to quote it right now, we’re short on time. But essentially saying, hey they understood how to talk to the Trump voter before Trump figured it out and now they’re not there.

ROBERT COSTA:

When you look at Barry Goldwater, and so many conservatives coming up with Ronald Reagan in the 60s, 70s and 80s, the Republican party, the conservative movement, were ideological. It’s become, in many parts because of FOX news, a grievance-politics oriented movement. More about political correctness, railing against the media than any kind of ideology. And that’s really where the Republican party has found its trouble in recent years. It doesn’t have this cohesive ideology anymore.

CHUCK TODD:

And the question is, will that be there anymore? I wish we had more time but we don’t. Sorry, before we go, You’ll get it on Twitter, I promise. We’d like to mention that New York women in Communications are going to honor my pal over here, Savannah Guthrie tomorrow with the Matrix Award. Other winners have included Meryl Streep, Gwen Ifill, and our own Andrea Mitchell .

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Closest I’m going to come to an Oscar speech, and Gretchen Carlson is one of the honorees as well.

CHUCK TODD:

There you go.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

And Gretchen Carlson as one of the honorees as well.

CHUCK TODD:

And Gretchen Carlson as well, speaking of that, congratulations. That is all we have for today, we will be back next week. Thanks for coming in. If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

You can see more End Game in Post Game, sponsored by Boeing on the Meet the Press Facebook page.

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