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Meet the Press - December 13, 2015

MEET THE PRESS - DECEMBER 13, 2015

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday morning, Donald Trump's call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country may have thrilled his supporters, but it's disgusted the establishment.

DONALD TRUMP:You really have no choice, it's so out of control, it's so terrible.

CHUCK TODD:

Why Republicans fear a ticket headed by Trump is a ticket headed for disaster. Plus, could we be looking at a contested convention? Our new NBC News Wall Street Journal Poll on the Republican race shows a serious three way contest developing, with new signs that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are on the move. Rubio joins me exclusively.

Also, a global deal on climate change. I'll talk to Secretary of State John Kerry about the agreement in Paris and about fears of homegrown terror.

And joining me this morning for insight and analysis are: veteran journalist and author of a new book about cyberterrorism, Ted Koppel; Helene Cooper of The New York Times; Molly Ball of The Atlantic; and Jerry Seib of the Wall Street Journal.

Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

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

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning, 50 days until voters actually start expressing their opinion. We have two new polls out on the Republican race for president. Including what might be developing into a three man race so let's get right into these new numbers.

Donald Trump is back on top in our new national NBC News Wall Street Journal poll, sitting at 27 percent, up four points since late October, and that's the highest number he's had in our poll so far.

Ted Cruz is surging now in second, sitting at 22, more than double what he was in late October. Marco Rubio also on the rise. And look at Ben Carson, the one time leader, believe it or not he led in the last NBC News Wall Street Journal poll, he has now dropped dramatically to 11 percent.

Here's the rest of the candidates who picked up at least one percent in our poll. Note that Jeb Bush is still stuck in single digits.

Then there's this bombshell out of Iowa, today's Des Moines Register Bloomberg News Poll has Cruz surging into the lead with 31 percent. It's a stunning 21 point gain since October. Trump is more or less holding steady at 21, followed by Carson who here too has crashed. He's down 15 points since October, then Rubio and Bush.

So, what we think we're seeing that's emerging here is perhaps a three-way race, with Trump and Cruz representing the insurgents at the Republican gate, and Marco Rubio counting on becoming the candidate of the faction he needs but is reluctant to acknowledge-- the Republican establishment.

I caught up with Senator Marco Rubio in Greenville, South Carolina yesterday. And I began with asking him if Donald Trump has been good for the Republican Party and for Rubio's candidacy.

(BEGIN TAPE)

MARCO RUBIO:

Obviously I don't agree with everything he says. There's a lot that we have a difference of opinion on. But we can't ignore that he's touched on some issues that people are concerned about. If you look at the statements he made this week, obviously I think he made them partially to recapture the limelight after having lost it.

And I do think we lost some of the focus on the attacks in San Bernardino and focused on a plan that isn't really a plan and is never going to happen. But he is reminding us in that process that people are really upset and they're really scared. And they're worried. And I think the president made things worse last Sunday with his speech, not better. And that's what he's focused in on.

CHUCK TODD:

You called his comments offensive and outlandish. That's a lot different than the tone you just took with me right now.

MARCO RUBIO:

It's offensive and outlandish in the sense that, for example, it's not going to happen. Number one. I think it violates a lot of the things that we think about our country. But also, the practical reality that in order for us to identify homegrown violent extremism and prevent it or root it out before it takes action, we are going to need the cooperation of Muslim communities in this country.

They may very well be the first ones to see it. They are the ones that going to see radicalization happening at a mosque or hear it in the community or even among their own family members. And the other part is that there is a narrative that ISIS and other jihadists pose that this is a war between Muslims and the rest of the world. And that sort of victimization narrative is something we shouldn't contribute to. On the other hand, we have to acknowledge that there is a radical element in Islam, jihadism, that needs to be called by name and needs to be confronted.

CHUCK TODD:

About three months ago, you were asked whether Donald Trump was qualified to be president. And you said so far you hadn't heard anything to make him qualified but that you'll give it time. Where are you today, three months later--

MARCO RUBIO:

Well, the most important thing a president will be is commander-in-chief. And that requires having an understanding of the complex issues on foreign policy. Foreign policy presents us often with hard choices, not black or white choices.

Oftentimes, your choices are down to two less than ideal outcomes, but you have to choose which one is the best one for the country. I personally believe he continues to struggle to articulate that.

CHUCK TODD:

So that makes him unqualified to be commander-in-chief--

MARCO RUBIO:

As of now, obviously I think I'm the most qualified. That's why I'm running--

CHUCK TODD:

I'm sorry, most qualified. But Is he qualified at all to be commander-in-chief?

MARCO RUBIO:

Again, I just have very strong reservations about what he's expressed up to this point about his understanding on some of these critical issues before our country. He still has another month before the Iowa caucus. So we'll see if we does it. But so far--

CHUCK TODD:

So you think in a month, he can--

MARCO RUBIO:

--I don't think--

CHUCK TODD:

He can learn?--

MARCO RUBIO:

He hasn't done it so far, but he's not alone. I think others in the field have confused us as well in terms of where they stand on some of these issues.

CHUCK TODD:

You just said that you thought the president's speech made it worse. If you were president in a moment like that, what would you have done? What would you have said--

MARCO RUBIO:

I first would have acknowledged--

CHUCK TODD:

--to the country?

MARCO RUBIO:

First, I would have acknowledged why people are concerned. And I would acknowledge that this is a--

CHUCK TODD:

He acknowledged it.

MARCO RUBIO:

But beyond just acknowledging it in the way he did, I would have honestly said, "Look, I know people that are afraid." I personally know people that have told me they're not taking trips this New Year's because they're afraid of what they're reading in the press. People that have always taken a trip at the end of the year.

So perhaps it's anecdotal, but I think it's happening.

But then I would have ended by saying, "But we can defeat them. What we're doing now is not enough. Here's what we're going to do in addition to it." And I honestly believe that, yes, we need more air strikes. You can't just defeat them from the air. You must do two additional things that we are not doing now.

Number one is put together a global coalition on the ground made up primarily of Arab Sunnis. Obviously, we'll work with the Kurds in the Kurdish areas and even with Christians to protect their cities and their families. But ISIS needs to be defeated on the ground and rejected ideologically by Sunni Arabs themselves.

And it will require embedding alongside them special operators from the U.S. and other international partners. And the second is we need to start cross-messaging these people, counter-messaging them. Propaganda has always played a role in every war, in every conflict.

And this is critical here because ISIS is portraying themselves as this extraordinary caliphate, that life is glorious under ISIS rule. Nothing could be further from the truth. And so we need to invest more time, for example, explaining to people what happens to non-Iraqis that join ISIS. They're treated as cannon fodder.

CHUCK TODD:

Everything you just outlined though, the administration would argue that's all part of their strategy. It sounds like you basically agree with the president's strategy. You might just implement some parts of it differently.

MARCO RUBIO:

I don't agree that's part of their strategy. Maybe rhetorically some of it is, but most of it is not.

CHUCK TODD:

We have a propaganda--

MARCO RUBIO:

For example, they don't--

CHUCK TODD:

--program that frankly outsiders have said hasn't worked. And maybe government can't be behind it--

MARCO RUBIO:

Well, I don't believe that we have one.

CHUCK TODD:

You think government can--

MARCO RUBIO:

I don't think a couple Twitter feeds--

CHUCK TODD:

--properly do an anti-propaganda program--

MARCO RUBIO:

I don't think a couple of Twitter posts from the State Department is a true anti-ISIS--

CHUCK TODD:

Would you model after--

MARCO RUBIO:

--propaganda--

CHUCK TODD:

--Radio Marti? You and I are familiar with it--

MARCO RUBIO:

Well yeah, absolutely. But it would also require us to work with Muslim communities around the world that are not Islamist to counter-message to young people, to counter-message to them about why this is not true Islam as these Muslim leaders argue and in fact what life under ISIS control is like. Much more widespread than what we're doing now. And on the ground, I do not believe that the president is doing what I'm outlining.

CHUCK TODD:

Your campaign has been pretty critical of one of your rivals, Senator Ted Cruz, for his vote on the U.S.A. Freedom Act. And Senator Mike Lee of Utah, somebody that you have a tax plan with, you guys are certainly allies on a lot of things, he has said that your rhetoric has been not based in fact and that it is not true, what you've been saying, that somehow federal officials can't use the U.S.A. Freedom Act, use the courts to track the phone numbers that are necessary.

MARCO RUBIO:

Well on this issue, not only is he wrong, but others that argue that are wrong. We had a program that allowed us to collect the phone records, basically the phone bill. Not the content of your conversations or your emails or anything like that. Just your phone bill of every American. And it was stored.

Only 16 people in the U.S. government could look at that. And they could only look at it if they got a court order from a privacy court, from a FISA court to go in and look at those phone records. And they retained them for a significant period of time. Under this new law, we are trusting the phone companies to hold those records.

And all of these phone companies have different periods of time that they hold it. Some will hold it for 18 months. Some will hold it for six months. This is a valuable tool. If in fact you have identified someone as a potential terrorist or if in fact someone carries out a terrorist activity, the ability to look at who they've been calling and who they've been talking to is part of a larger puzzle that you can put together to see what network they've been working with, who they've been communicating with.

We have now lost that capacity in many cases.

CHUCK TODD:

So is this a commander-in-chief test for Senator Cruz?

MARCO RUBIO:

I believe it is for all of the candidates. In the case of Senator Cruz, my argument is it wasn't just the intelligence vote. I mean, he talks tough on some of these issues. For example, he was going to carpet bomb ISIS. But the only budget he's ever voted for in his time in the Senate is a budget that cut defense spending by more than Barack Obama proposes we cut it.

He voted against the Defense Authorization Act every year that it came up. And that is the bill and I assume that if he voted against it, he would veto it as president. That's the bill that funds our troops. Even the Iron Dome for Israel. So I guess my point is each time he's had to choose between strong national defense and some of the isolationist tendencies in American politics, he seems to side with the isolationist. And this is an important issue to have a debate over. It's not personal.

CHUCK TODD:

There's been some questions by even your supporters and people that are pulling for you that say, "Where's Rubio going to win? He's not playing to win Iowa. He's not playing to win New Hampshire." And at some point, Donald Trump aside, you have to win if you're going to win the nomination.

MARCO RUBIO:

Look, we'll all be judged at the end of this race. So if at the end of this race things don't work out, then obviously we'll be subject to criticism. Let's wait and see how the votes are counted. I feel very confident in our plan. To be honest, I'm--

CHUCK TODD:

Are you trying to win Iowa?

MARCO RUBIO:

I'm trying to do well and win everywhere we campaign. I'm not running for second, third place in any state in this country. Obviously, these races are very different--

CHUCK TODD:

So you, you're trying to Iowa?

MARCO RUBIO:

I'm trying to win--

CHUCK TODD:

You're investing--

MARCO RUBIO:

--everywhere that we campaign--

CHUCK TODD:

--in Iowa.

MARCO RUBIO:

I always strive for first place. That doesn't always work out that way. And in many of these elections, a strong second place is viewed as a first place. But you can't campaign to finish second or third.

CHUCK TODD:

You are now viewed as the establishment favorite. How do you handle the word establishment?

MARCO RUBIO:

Well, I know that it's meant as a slight. And quite frankly, I've had my share of run-ins--

CHUCK TODD:

Do you feel like that is an attack--

MARCO RUBIO:

Look, I don't think it--

CHUCK TODD:

--when people say establishment?

MARCO RUBIO:

--accurately reflects my history. I wouldn't be in the Senate. The establishment didn't want me in the United States Senate. I have consistently voted against many of the things that some people who you would identify as the establishment are for. When I chose to get into this race, I had a lot of people come forward and tell me I shouldn't run, that it wasn't my turn.

And, by the way, if I was the establishment favorite, I would have raised a lot more than $6 million in the last quarter. That all being said, the truth is we ultimately will need to unify this party. The Republican party cannot be elected unless it is together, working together in the same direction.

And that alone is not enough. We can't win without unifying our party. But we can't just win by unifying our party. We must also attract new people to our cause. And we do that not by changing our principles but by applying our principles of limited government, free enterprise, and a strong national defense to the hopes, and dreams, and concerns of everyday Americans, some of whom have not heard from Republicans in a very long time.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you going to work to overturn the same sex marriage?

MARCO RUBIO:

I disagree with it on constitutional grounds. As I have said--

CHUCK TODD:

But are you going to work to overturn this?

MARCO RUBIO:

I think it's bad law. And for the following reason. If you want to change the definition of marriage, then you need to go to state legislatures and get them to change it. Because states have always defined marriage. And that's why some people get married in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. And in Florida, you have to wait a couple days when you get your permit. Every state has different marriage laws. But I do not believe that the court system was the right way to do it because I don't believe--

CHUCK TODD:

But it's done now. Are you going to work to overturn it?

MARCO RUBIO:

You can't work to overturn it. What you--

CHUCK TODD:

Sure. You can do a constitutional amendment.

MARCO RUBIO:

As I've said, that would be conceding that the current Constitution is somehow wrong and needs to be fixed. I don't think the current Constitution gives the federal government the power to regulate marriage. That belongs at the state and local level. And that's why if you want to change the definition of marriage, which is what this argument is about.

It's not about discrimination. It is about the definition of a very specific, traditional, and age-old institution. That definitional change, if you want to change it, you have a right to petition your state legislature and your elected representatives to do it. What is wrong is that the Supreme Court has found this hidden constitutional right that 200 years of jurisprudence had not discovered and basically overturn the will of voters in Florida where over 60 percent passed a constitutional amendment that defined marriage in the state constitution as the union of one man and one woman.

CHUCK TODD:

So are you accepting the idea of same sex marriage in perpetuity?

MARCO RUBIO:

It is the current law. I don't believe any case law is settled law. Any future Supreme Court can change it. And ultimately, I will appoint Supreme Court justices that will interpret the Constitution as originally constructed.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

And you can see the complete and extended version of my sit down with Senator Rubio, including a long exchange we have on healthcare. He's getting a lot of credit these days from the right for helping to undo a big portion of Obamacare. And the question of whether he's putting Florida special interests ahead of his conservative principles on the issue of big sugar.

That's all on our website, MeetThePressNBC.com. When we come back, fear and loathing on the campaign trail; why so many in the Republican Party fear Trump and loathe the idea of what a Trump nomination could do to the party.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

There a truism in American politics: Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line, so we thought, not this year. The opposite is happening. Democrats are falling in line with their established candidate, Hillary Clinton, while it's Republicans, like a rebellious teenager, smitten with the bad boy on the motorbike in Donald Trump.

And the parents, in this case, the Republican establishment, are taking a very dim view of that relationship, terrified that a Trump nomination would wipe out Republicans up and down the ballot.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

It's a noisy majority, it's no longer a silent majority. It's the noisy majority.

CHUCK TODD:

As Donald Trump weathers yet another storm of his own making--

INTERVIEWER:Are you racist?

DONALD TRUMP:

I am the least racist person that you have ever met. I am the least racist person.

CHUCK TODD:

The Republican establishment is grappling with how to keep the nomination away from Trump without alienating his supporters. The party's leaders is Washington rushed to condemn Trump's plan to ban Muslim immigration.

SPEAKER PAUL RYAN:

This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL:

That would be completely inconsistent with Republican values.

CHUCK TODD:

The root of the panic? That Trump at the top of the ticket will mean a wipe out down the ballot. Losing the Senate for Republicans and even putting the House in jeopardy. But while Trump's 2016 rivals warn Republicans that he is unelectable--

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM

If he continues to do what he is doing, he's destroying the party. That will be a generation that can overcome this, maybe never.

JEB BUSH:

All this helps his buddy Hillary Clinton for sure. Those establishment rivals are mired in single digits and Trump's latest comments don't appear to have damaged his standing amongst certain Republican voters.

INTERVIEWEE:

Who's cutting off people's heads, who's bombing buildings, who's bombing airplanes? It's not the Christians. It's not the Jewish. It's not the Buddhist. It's the Muslims.

CHUCK TODD:

Forty-one percent of Americans believe that Trump's campaign statements are frequently insulting and have the wrong approach. But that's true of just 16 percent of Republicans. Conservative rival Ted Cruz has been raising questions in private about Trump's judgement.

TED CRUZ:

Who am i comfortable having their finger on the button? Well, that's a question of strength but it's also a question of judgment.

CHUCK TODD:

But in public, avoiding a cage match. Tweeting, "Sorry to disappoint -- @realDonaldTrump is terrific. #DealWithIt." Behind closed doors, Republican party officials are preparing for the possibility of a "contested convention." On the record, the party chair is treating Trump cautiously, telling a conservative newspaper he disagrees with Trump's Muslim ban ... but turning down requests to make that point on camera.

And Republican officials worry about angering Trump's supporters, a new coalition of white, working class voters fighting to remake the GOP who themselves may be open to an independent run by Trump

DONALD TRUMP:

If I'm 2 votes short, I have a problem cause I'll have to go into that convention, I'm dealing with all these bloodsucker politicians and they'll make their deals. But if I get the number of delegates, there's not a thing they can do. And I'll end up doing fine w - again I was a member of the establishment six months ago.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

I'm joined now by a panel that's already laughing here. Former Nightline host, Ted Koppel, he's author of a new book, by the way, about cyber terrorism, it's called Lights Out: A Cyber Attack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath.

Then there's Helene Cooper, Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times, Molly Ball OF the Atlantic and Jerry Seib, my partner in crime when it comes to the Wall Street Journal, NBC Wall Street Journal Polls he's of course, the Bureau Chief there.

Jerry, let me start with you: Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.

JERRY SEIB:

But so here's the-- you were talking about fear and loathing, here's the number in our poll that has Republican establishment people in fear and loathing mode. 59% of the people that we surveyed have a negative view of Donald Trump.

47% have a very negative view of Donald Trump. So those are tough numbers in a general election. That's the specter that they worry about. However, having said that, you know, there is no sign that the block of people within the Republican electorate who support Donald Trump are going anywhere.

I mean, there's been no erosion, not since June, really, has there been any question who was the leading candidate in the Republican Party and these are new voters. Will they be Republican Primary voters? We're going to find out.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Molly, what's been interesting here is people are going to take a look at these polls and say, "Oh, my God, Trump's falling." Actually, no, Trump's increased his support in Iowa, Trump's increased his support here, there's other stuff going on. He's just not growing anymore.

MOLLY BALL:

The story of this race has been remarkably stable. When you look at it over the long-term, it's been remarkably stable. And in 2012, we had different frontrunners over and over and over again. There has been one frontrunner in this Republican Primary and we talk about it like it's changing because there's churn underneath, right? And so, there's this idea, people look at these polls with Trump on top and there's a sort of blindness that you hear among the Republican establishment or the pundits, or whatever.

Like, they pretend he's not there. But he is there, he is staying there and he is remarkably stable and the only thing that is going to take him out is somebody else doing better by consolidating the rest of the vote. And that is what you're seeing in that Register poll, in the Iowa poll. When I talk to these establishment Republicans, as we like to call them--

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah--

MOLLY BALL:

Cruz scares them more than Trump, because Trump makes Cruz look reasonable.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, it's interesting. I want to show you, though, the other candidates don't want to outright say-- they don't want to support Trump. They're afraid of it. Let me show you a little round up just this week on that question from the candidates themselves.

(BEGIN TAPE)

FMR. GOV. JEB BUSH:

That's a hypothetical I reject out of hand that he is going to be the nominee.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

I will absolutely support the Republican nominee but I hope and intend for that nominee to be me.

CARLY FIORINA:

I don't answer theoreticals, I don't answer hypotheticals what I am firmly convinced of is that Donald Trump will not be our nominee.

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

I signed a pledge that's why you have to be careful with pledges you sign, that I would support the Republican nominee but I will tell you sir there is no way Donald Trump is going to be President.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Alright, so if you want to know why they won't say that, why they won't say they won't support him, well, I asked Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and he gave me the honest dodge as to why. Take a listen.

(CUT TO TAPE)

SEN. JEFF FLAKE:

If Republicans say now we will not support the ultimate nominee that gives Donald Trump license to run as a third party candidate.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Ted, there's the issue.

TED KOPPEL:

Well, there's the issue, and of course, they're all old to remember Lyndon Baines Johnson, who once said, "If you get down into the mud with the hog and you wrestle with a hog, the hog loves it, right? You're both going to get dirty."

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

TED KOPPEL:

They don't want to get dirty and they know that Trump loves this kind of thing. And your polls, and yours are what's giving them the material that they need, it's the oxygen that the Trump campaign requires, a poll every three or four days showing him where he is.

CHUCK TODD:

A poll every three or four hours?

TED KOPPEL:

You're absolutely right.

CHUCK TODD:

You're giving him the ultimate credit there.

TED KOPPEL:

Too much credit, absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Earlier we showed you where all of the Republican candidates stand in the race for the White House. But in our new NBC - Wall Street Journal poll we also asked "who would you choose if the race narrowed down to just these five candidates?" Well, here's what we found. The race narrows to three lanes, take a look. In lane one, the establishment lane, Bush and Rubio, their totals add up to about 30 percent.

Cruz and Carson their lane of evangelical, Christian conservatives, they add up to about 37 percent. Then there's the Trump lane, all of its own. He hits 30 percent. So what distinguishes these lanes? Well when it comes to the establishment lane, it's education. Here, Bush and Rubio. 56 percent of their combined supporters have a college degree. Let's go to the evangelical lane. In that second one, the Carson and Cruz voters, 56 percent of their voters attend church weekly. That is probably the biggest distinguishing characteristic.

Now, let's go to Trump. Because in this third and final lane it appears to be a new force in the Republican party, at least when it comes to Primary politics. For instance 64 percent of his supporters didn't attend college. Sort of the polar opposite of the establishment lane. Then you've got this fact, 61 percent of his supporters do not attend church weekly. Again, opposite of the evangelical way.

There's one more distinguishing characteristic worth pointing out. This is sort of a blue collar vote. Again, that hasn't been a force in Republican primaries before. 54 percent of Trump supporters earn less than 75,000 dollars a year. So the question is, to get the nomination somebody is going to have to succeed in uniting at least two of these three lanes.

Who's got the best shot at that? Right now you might say it could be Ted Cruz. We shall see, it's something to watch for. Later in the broadcast we'll look at the chance that we may have our first contested convention in 40 years if there is no consolidation. But up next, Secretary of State John Kerry on the climate change agreement and on fears of homegrown terror.

It's for three or four days. And that is this oxygen for Trump and the fear of the Republicans. They're afraid of him attacking them.

HELENE COOPER:

They are, they are, because they're also afraid of alienating the people who support him.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

HELENE COOPER:

Because those people, they all believe, are going to be up for grabs when what they believe is going to be the inevitable happens and Trump doesn't win the nomination, they want to make sure that they've got his voters. It's so interesting watching how the Republicans navigate this, because I think the party seems to have moved to the right as a whole, anyway.

And now, it's almost as if there's this quandary at the heart of the party of how far to the right. I mean, can they embrace these voters and still win a general election?

MOLLY BALL:

No if you look at who is supporting Trump though, no, in the polls, I mean, Trump is getting most of his support from Republicans who consider themselves moderates or liberals. It is not the hard right that is supporting Trump, it's not the--

CHUCK TODD:

Well it's a new group, it's a new group of people.

MOLLY BALL:

He's not ideologically conservative. Yeah, it is a new group of people, it's most largely identity-based, I think.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

MOLLY BALL:

It's demographic-based. But it is not the right, per se. And you're right about the Republican Party overall, but it is not the hard right of the party, the Tea Party or what have you, that's really powering Trump.

JERRY SEIB:

No, among those groups, Tea Party voters, talk radio listeners, social values voters, Ted Cruz is winning those people. Donald Trump is not winning those people. There's a different kind of populace and they call themselves more moderate than conservative part of the party, that's where his strength is right now.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, you know, Ted, they're actually very familiar. These are voters that have felt outcasted. Their parents probably felt like outcasts in the '60s and '70s during that social upheaval.

TED KOPPEL:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

That's what some of this is.

TED KOPPEL:

But the irony is they think they're being tough on ISIS and Trump thinks he's being tough on ISIS. Senator Rubio in his interview with you touched on it very, very lightly. Donald Trump is, in effect, the Recruiter-in-Chief for ISIS. ISIS wants nothing more right now than to have the world divided into Judeo-Christian on one side and the Islamic world on the other. That's exactly what Trump is doing for them. I think it's time we start with thinking about what ISIS wants and then not doing it.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, and that is something that we are taking a look at. Is this stuff becoming new ISIS propaganda? By the way, I'm going to pause here a little bit, we're going to do more of this. By the way, NBC News is announcing today that we're teaming up with the website PolitiFact to help us fact check key moments on the campaign trail, have a third party grade some of these things.

Including interviews that are right here on Meet The Press. In fact, you'll be able to see their findings on our website, MeetThePressNBC.com, including a fact check that we'll post later today on one of Senator Rubio's statements from my earlier interview. We'll be back in a moment with Secretary of State, John Kerry, on the climate change agreement in Paris and on fears here at home on the idea of home grown terrorism.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Earlier we showed you where all of the Republican candidates stand in the race for the White House. But in our new NBC News Wall Street Journal poll we also asked "who would you choose if the race narrowed down to just these five candidates?" Well, here's what we found. The race narrows to three lanes, take a look. In lane one, the establishment lane, Bush and Rubio, their totals add up to about 30 percent.

Cruz and Carson their lane of evangelical, Christian conservatives, they add up to about 37 percent. Then there's the Trump lane, all of its own. He hits 30 percent. So what distinguishes these lanes? Well when it comes to the establishment lane, it's education. Here, Bush and Rubio. 56 percent of their combined supporters have a college degree. Let's go to the Evangelical lane. In that second one, the Carson and Cruz voters, 56 percent of their voters attend church weekly. That is probably the biggest distinguishing characteristic.

Now, let's go to Trump. Because in this third and final lane, it appears to be a new force in the Republican party, at least when it comes to Primary politics. For instance 64 percent of his supporters didn't attend college. Sort of the polar opposite of the establishment lane. Then you've got this fact, 61 percent of his supporters do not attend church weekly. Again, opposite of the evangelical way.

There's one more distinguishing characteristic worth pointing out. This is sort of a blue collar vote. Again, that hasn't been a force in Republican primaries before. 54 percent of Trump supporters earn less than 75,000 dollars a year. So the question is, to get the nomination somebody is going to have to succeed in uniting at least two of these three lanes.

Who's got the best shot at that? Right now you might say it could be Ted Cruz. We shall see, it's something to watch for. Later in the broadcast we'll look at the chance that we may have our first contested convention in 40 years if there is no consolidation. But up next, Secretary of State John Kerry on the climate change agreement and on fears of homegrown terror.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

(BEGIN TAPE)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

I believe this moment could be a turning point for the world. We have shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

That was President Obama last night on the climate change deal struck in Paris yesterday. The agreement aims to keep the increase in global temperatures well below 3.6 degrees fahrenheit by the end of the century. It also aims to raise about $100 billion to help developing countries adapt their economies in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was not drafted as a treaty to avoid President Obama having to take it to Congress for approval. And late last night Paris time, I was joined with Secretary of State John Kerry and I started by asking about the lack of an enforcement mechanism in the agreement.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

There's a lot of pledges. There's a lot of promises. But there seems to be no mechanism for getting countries to comply other than wagging your finger at them and shaming them. Am I wrong?

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

Well, that's the most powerful weapon in many ways, but it's not the only weapon. And in fact we think there are other powerful weapons. President Obama understood, and believe me, he's been really committed to getting this done. And it's his leadership in America on our own climate action plan that gave us credibility here. And the President's been able to do that without some of that enforcement mechanism, but by setting policy. Here we set policy. 186 countries came together and each submitted their own plan for reductions according to their capacities.

We have a mandatory, legally binding reporting mechanism, Chuck. And that reporting mechanism requires people to retool their plans every five years in order to do more than they might be doing and meet the goal. So I believe you are going to see-- I mean people understand this issue. This is not a question of just doing it because it seems nice or politically it's good. It's because it's having a profoundly negative impact on nations. They need to respond. And that's perhaps the most compelling reason of all.

CHUCK TODD:

But you say legally binding. Okay. So somebody doesn't comply. Again, what's this law that you're going to hit them with, other than international shame?

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

There's a mechanism that is being set up within this structure that will promote compliance. And you will have nations within the mechanism working with countries in order to help bring them on board. You don't always need a sledgehammer. If you can provide people with technology, or you provide them with technical assistance, or you've discovered a new means of reducing emissions at less cost, more efficiency, there will be a huge sharing of these kinds of experiences through the reporting mechanism of the agreement.

And that's going to have a profound impact on a lot of countries, Chuck. Was it enough to necessarily get us there? Probably not. But what it is, is enough to send a very powerful message to the global marketplace. And we expect somewhere in the vicinity of $50 trillion to be spent in the next 30, 40 years on energy. That is going to be one of the greatest reasons that nations spontaneously move in this direction, because there are jobs to be created, money to be made and there's a population to respond to in terms of the demand of their citizens.

CHUCK TODD:

I know that you can go around Congress right now in agreeing to this, because you're not asking for ratification. But Congress does have the power of the purse and they could prevent the federal government, despite an executive action, from using money to participate in this. If they do that, do you asked the president to veto that bill? Is that a showdown? How do you get Congress to just give you the money you need to participate in this deal?

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

Well, let me tell you something. President Obama has been on the phone to President Xi this week. To Prime Minister Modi. To President Hallan. He's called the president of Brazil. He's invested in this very deeply. This is a major priority, because President Obama believes this is a major challenge to our country. So if people want to tempt the President's veto, I really believe they do so inviting him to take the steps that he will do to protect what he believes is a critical, urgent, national security issue for our country. And the president, as you know, has been able to secure money for clinical programs on the basis of the fact that there is that check and balance between the Congress and the executive. So I think the President's going to stand up for his program, no matter what.

CHUCK TODD:

You've spent a lot of time with a lot of diplomats from around the world. What's been their reaction to Donald Trump's proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration into the United States?

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

Well, those people who know the United States well are quite shocked, because they see it as totally contrary to American values, as discriminatory, and, frankly, as potentially dangerous in that it seems like a person running for president of the United States, is doing well in the polls, is prepared to take actions that would in fact ratify the notion that people are at war against Islam, not again Daesh. And so I think that you've got to be very careful just by categorizing people by being Muslim. That is discrimination and it is contrary, I think, to the fundamental values of our country. We have plenty of ways to vet people. We already do it. We have a huge process of examining people for visas. We know who's coming into our country for the most part.

CHUCK TODD:

You're talking about a review of the State Department. The wife in the San Bernardino terrorist attack, it turned out she had been communicating radical beliefs on social media before she applied for her fiancée visa. That's not something that's done during the vetting process. Does that now need to be something that's done in the visa vetting process? Look at social media. Things like that.

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

That's-- The review has been ordered, and we need to look at, whether there are means and whether we should be and how we can do it. But clearly the social media has placed a whole new burden and a whole new set of questions. But not impossible ones to resolve. And I think we need to look at this very, very carefully, which is what we're doing. Before we jump to a wholesale prohibition without understanding what the implications may be.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

That was Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris. It was actually after midnight Paris time when we talked. Coming up, it's been 40 years since we saw a contested convention. That was in 1976 between President Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

Up next, the very real possibility you saw in our little data display there on the fact of the matter that this party could split into three, leading us to one fascinating summer in Cleveland.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Not since 1976 have we even seen the potential for a contested political convention, but we just might see one this year in Cleveland. Here are four possible scenarios we're looking at in the Republican race right now.

One is that Trump fades and either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio runs the table, wins easily, this thing is over quickly, no nominating fight at the convention in that case. Second scenario has Trump fading and Cruz becomes the insurgent candidate, Rubio, the establishment favorite.

And the two of them go on, one of them wins, there'll be no convention fight. Scenario three has Trump taking off, party going into panic mode and unless Trump walks in with a majority of delegates, count on a contested convention. And then, the fourth scenario is the one I outlined for you earlier.

Trump, Cruz and Rubio split everything sort of one-third, one-third, one-third, split it in the delegate count, no clear winner arrives in Cleveland and let the games begin. Jerry, I know it seems absurd and it seems like political reporters and everybody said da-da-da-da, but there seems to be something different. It all, to me, it's about Trump. You know, if Trump is viable the next three or four months, we're going to have a contested convention.

JERRY SEIB:

Yeah, you do pause here because we have this conversation or some version of it every four years.

CHUCK TODD:

Sure.

JERRY SEIB:

But this is different. I mean, because as you said earlier, there is a third lane, it comes out very clearly in our new poll. It's not two, it's not bipolar, it's not the social conservatives and everybody else in the Republican Party, there's a third lane. There's also a new calendar, there are also more states that have proportional delegate allotments, so that it's harder to pile up in winner-take-all states all the delegates you need to get to that magic number of 1200-plus you need to win the nomination.

So yeah, it's there. I'll throw out one last interesting scenario here: John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, Ohio is a winner-take-all state, it has lots of delegates, let's say John Kasich stays in, wins his home state, pockets all those delegates, goes to the convention, maybe there is your broker because he has control of a big block of delegates and nobody else has got a majority.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, and Ted, there's something else, you brought it up earlier with the polling. This is such a nationalized electorate now. It used to be there were specific ways you campaigned in different states and some are still trying to do it the old way. Poor old Rick Santorum, he's going to all 99 counties--

MOLLY BALL:

Hey, it worked last time.

CHUCK TODD:

I know. Chris Christie is doing all those town halls in New Hampshire, but for the most part, this is a nationalized race and the more nationalized it gets, I think more likely that you see people wanting the reality show to continue.

TED KOPPEL:

And I think first of all we have to admit that you are essentially drooling on your shirt at the prospect, as--

CHUCK TODD:

You famously walked away from convention coverage because there was no news.

TED KOPPEL:

Because it was--

CHUCK TODD:

You'll come back.

TED KOPPEL:

That's exactly right. That's exactly right. Every single of us is going to be saying, "Thank God, finally, an interesting convention." But you're right about all those people out there. All the people who have been energized by the Trump campaign are going to be very, very angry folk if they think that Trump is not well treated.

HELENE COOPER:

I've been disappointed so many times because this is every political reporter's fantasy. So let's put that out there. And every four years, we're disappointed, it doesn't happen.. I mean, the idea of a floor fight in Cleveland sounds fantastic. But I do think that you would be looking at a case of really seeing a lot of alienated Republicans, Republican voters, people in the primary, who may end up feeling that they've been cast aside, if the tactics are too strong-handed.

MOLLY BALL:

Well, but look, we see Cruz rising in Iowa, right, in that Register poll and the past time I went to a Trump event, he was the only person that the Trump supporters said they would even consider. A lot of them said if it's not Trump, it's nobody.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MOLLY BALL:

They just won't. And they are very dedicated to Trump. But he is the second choice of all the Trump voters and that is how he managed to rise, he is sort of drafting off of Trump. But now that means they're going to go at each other and that's going to change the dynamic.

CHUCK TODD:

But by the way, we've been talking about Cruz Bush-- not Bush-- Cruz, Rubio and Trump. Bush.

HELENE COOPER:

We don't talk about Bush anymore.

MOLLY BALL:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

He's spent the most money, by the way, than anybody in Iowa. You know he's upside down? More Iowa Republicans view him unfavorably than favorably. Jerry, is it over?

JERRY SEIB:

You know, it's hard to see the path out of that sort of ditch that he's in. I don't know when it's over. A lot of money they spent on advertising still counts for something. The other name we haven't mentioned-- I still think there's a possibility here of a Chris Christie moment in New Hampshire because he's the guy who seized on the terrorist threat as effectively as anybody and it's very focused in New Hampshire. So maybe there's one other wild card in this deck we're not thinking about.

TED KOPPEL:

And what you haven't mentioned, Chuck, so far is that Cruz is almost as unpopular with the Republican establishment as Trump is.

MOLLY BALL:

Yeah, yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

TED KOPPEL:

They're not going to be happy with Cruz as an alternate.

CHUCK TODD:

They can't veto both, though.

TED KOPPEL:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, you can't keep both though. I want to switch gears here a little bit. There was a Supreme Court argument over an affirmative action case with the University of Texas. The audio's been released. And let me just play what Justice Antonin Scalia said. It's caused quite a bit of controversy. Take a listen.

(BEGIN TAPE)

JUSTICE SCALIA:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to-- to get them in the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less advanced school, a less-- a slower track school where they do well.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Ted, I couldn't help but think of Al Campanis on Nightline.

TED KOPPEL:

You know, it's funny because I was thinking about Al Campanis, too, and I was thinking both of them have the same problem, it's generational. He really doesn't think he is saying untoward. This is the kind of thing that someone of Antonin Scalia's generation has been saying all his life. Al Campanis did the same thing. But the key thing is being a Supreme Court Justice means never having to say your sorry.

CHUCK TODD:

I guess.

TED KOPPEL:

You know? That's it. He said it. What's going to happen to him? Nothing.

CHUCK TODD:

No, but it was so declarative. There's a lot of anger.

HELENE COOPER:

There is, but I think there is also, particularly I mean, my Facebook feed exploded when this came out.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

HELENE COOPER:

But it was so, particularly among my black friends and my younger black friends, the college age ones, this just seemed to reinforce for them what they already thought that he thought. So I don't know if that changes anything, it was just saying something that they all thought. He was just articulating where they thought he was anyway, so.

CHUCK TODD:

Scalia being Scalia?

JERRY SEIB:

Oh, absolutely, yeah. And you know, as you say, there's no need to explain your comments if you're a Supreme Court Justice. Interesting the way he framed it: "There are those who think that."

MOLLY BALL:

Yes. And you do have some conservatives who say he's getting a raw deal because he was just sort of playing Devil's Advocate or throwing out an argument that exists, but isn't necessarily his argument.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, and the other part of this is, as Pete Williams will say, this is why Scalia is against any video in the courts, any audio, because he believes that what will happen is that somebody will take a snippet and turn--

MOLLY BALL:

That's called accountability and that's what they don't want.

CHUCK TODD:

There you go, good for you. I'm gonna let that be the last word there. We're going to be back in 45 seconds with our Endgame segment, including something you won't want to miss. The President candidates talking about their favorite fictional President, because one of them decided to fight back on this. Meanwhile, in SNL last night, the return of a familiar face to save the Republican Party from Donald Trump. Watch.

(BEGIN TAPE)

WILL FERRELL:

Poor Jeb. You got to admit. it's a pretty good plot to twist that I turned out to be the smart one. Of course, I wish you would have asked me about the exclamation point on the end of his name. Look, I don't like the taste of broccoli. But it doesn't get any tastier if you call it "Broccoli!"

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Endgame time and the panel is here. Ted, we had you on for a bunch of other reasons, not for the topic of your book, but we should because it's a topic I feel like politicians will tell you is important, cyber terrorism, but they don't know how to talk about it on the campaign trail.

TED KOPPEL:

The problem is everybody is worrying about explosive vests and people with AK-47s. We live in a day and age when someone sitting in Somalia or in Chile or in Perth, Australia, can be sitting there with a laptop and can theoretically take down one of our power grids or part of our infrastructure and do infinitely more damage. Nobody talks about that. It's not a question of who comes into the United States. We're way past that.

CHUCK TODD:

Sure. You know, it's interesting, though, remember Anonymous, what do you make of Anonymous, going after ISIS?

TED KOPPEL:

Going after ISIS, it's beautiful, I like it.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah?

JERRY SEIB:

I will tell you who does talk about this. With the Wall Street Journal, we talk to business people a lot, business leaders are very worried, I'd say almost obsessed about this topic.

TED KOPPEL:

Yeah. I mean, JPMorgan, for example, has now spent about a billion dollars on cyber security, hasn't done them a whole lot of good.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, and all of us that work at media companies that are all so panicked about this.

MOLLY BALL:

Absolutely.

HELENE COOPER:

It's not just the media companies, though, the government is hugely panicked. The Pentagon has had, you know, hack attempts and they've been very, very, concerned.

CHUCK TODD:

But we've also used it aggressively ourselves.

TED KOPPEL:

Well, Keith Alexander, the former director of the NSA wants to say every company in the United States falls under one of two categories, those that have been hacked and those that don't yet know it.

CHUCK TODD:

Oh, man, that's a little scary. Alright, I'm going to lighten the mood here a little bit. We had a little of interesting-- you know, I've done these sit downs with various candidates. We've asked them to do some fun little things, you know, "What's your favorite concert? This or that or stuff."

So we've asked them who's their favorite fictional President. And you know, we're going to go Star Wars crazy this week. And this all came up, we decided to show all these clips that we've done because Harrison Ford was asked to react to what he thought of Donald Trump talking about him as one of his favorite presidents via Air Force One. Take a look at Harrison Ford's reaction to Trump.

(BEGIN TAPE)

HARRISON FORD:

Donald, it was a movie. It's not like this in real life, but how would you know?

(END TAPE)

MOLLY BALL:

(LAUGHTER) Gotta love it.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, alright, there's the laugh line, there's the punch line. We're going to see a lot of Harrison Ford in the coming days, by the way, when everybody goes Star Wars crazy, Helene. But take a look at what we've been asking-- his favorite fictional President. Harrison Ford, he's quite popular, take a look.

(BEGIN TAPE)

JEB BUSH:

Oh my God. I don't know, I guess Harrison Ford when he was on Air Force One

BERNIE SANDERS:

The guy who, on The American President. I thought that was a good film.

TED CRUZ:

Now that was a liberal, but he was certainly, Michael Douglas did a fabulous job. The movie Dave was hysterical and I enjoyed that as well.

JOHN KASICH:

One of my most favorite guys is Harrison Ford. People have said that I look like him. Do you think I do?

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Well, Jerry. (LAUGHTER)

JERRY SEIB:

How come nobody said Morgan Freeman?

MOLLY BALL:

Do you want to weigh in on if Kasich looks like Harrison Ford?

CHUCK TODD:

Nobody said Morgan Freeman? He's the voice of God, you know?

JERRY SEIB:

Well don't we think Republican candidates sit there and they want Air Force One, it's the tough guy, right?

HELENE COOPER:

They all want to fly a plane.

(OVERTALK)

MOLLY BALL:

They want to be on Air Force One, that's, like, the whole reason.

TED KOPPEL:

Let me tell you a quick, funny story. My old friend and ABC colleague, Barry Dunswall was talking to Gore Vidal who said he got a call from a Hollywood actor's agent who wanted to play the President in one of Vidal's movies. And Vidal said, "No, it's just not credible." Now that actor, of course, was--

CHUCK TODD:

Ronald Reagan.

TED KOPPEL:

Ronald Reagan. (LAUGHTER)

MOLLY BALL:

Can I just say in the spirit of this fact checking project, no, John Kasich, you do not look like Harrison Ford.

CHUCK TODD:

Ouch, well, that isn't fair. I think Harrison Ford's--

HELENE COOPER:

Well I wouldn't go that far. No, I don't know, Kasich can bring it.

MOLLY BALL:

Alright.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, come on, now.

MOLLY BALL:

I didn't say he was ugly, I just don't think he looks like Harrison Ford.

HELENE COOPER:

No, you kind of did. (LAUGH)

MOLLY BALL:

No, I didn't. That's not what I said.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, we do have a few more minutes here. Very quickly I want to go to Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago's had a tough time. And I have this theory, Helene, that there would be more calls for his resignation if, number one, he didn't have a lot of friends in high places: President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Government of Illinois, even though he's a Republican, who's a personal friend. All three of those people, if any of them called for his resignation, he'd be out.

HELENE COOPER:

That's absolutely true. But that's also because the people who are the most angry about this are the people who support President Obama and who naturally gravitate toward the allies of Rahm Emanuel, but this is a really tough one for him. I am going to be very curious to see how he survives it.

MOLLY BALL:

Can I just say, though, we spent a lot of time talking about all the divisions in the Republican Party, but the Democratic Party is also deeply divided. And Rahm was in trouble, Rahm got into the first ever runoff for Chicago Mayor before any of this came out.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MOLLY BALL:

And it's because of closing the schools, it's because of pensions, it's because of a lot of things that he's done that put him in the establishment wing, the corporatist wing of the Democratic Party. There is a rising liberal tide in this country. It's powering Bernie Sanders.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MOLLY BALL:

It's increasingly aggressive. And so, they were already mad at Rahm and this is just the spark.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, and Jerry, she brings a good point, Rahm, he's a creature of the '90s Democratic Party.

JERRY SEIB:

Well, yeah, but also remember, that means he worked in the Clinton White House in the '90s and he knows--

CHUCK TODD:

A Bill Clintons White House.

JERRY SEIB:

But he knows how to go into damage control mode.

MOLLY BALL:

Does he?

CHUCK TODD:

Does he?

JERRY SEIB:

Well, I mean, I think so. We'll find out. But I mean, look, you can either resign and he doesn't strike me as a resigning kind of guy.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. He's not a quitter.

JERRY SEIB:

Or you can be recalled and I don't think that happens here. So I think he struggles through.

CHUCK TODD:

But Ted, it feels as if-- even if he wants to lead, can he?

TED KOPPEL:

If he wants to leave?

CHUCK TODD:

No, lead, he wants to lead, but I don't know if he can, if anybody will listen to him.

TED KOPPEL:

And you'll replace him with what? With whom?

CHUCK TODD:

Well, yeah, right, that's always the issue.

MOLLY BALL:

Yeah, yeah.

TED KOPPEL:

Yeah. No, I think he stays. I think he fights.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I mean, there's no doubt he's going to fight, but can he get anything done?

HELENE COOPER:

I don't know. I think that's going to be a tough call, which may end up being the reason why he leaves.

CHUCK TODD:

And that ends up being his legacy--

JERRY SEIB:

Tough things have to be done in Chicago.

HELENE COOPER:

Yeah.

JERRY SEIB:

He knows it. You jump up and do those tough things because it's a recipe for trouble, even if you're not in trouble.

CHUCK TODD:

You can't help, Chicago is so much different. Every other city seems to be-- you know, as much as we've having these problems, every other city's police department doesn't seem to have the same problems as Chicago these days. Anyway, that's all for today. We'll be back next week because if it's Sunday, it's Meet The Press.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* *