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Meet the Press - July 17, 2016

Meet the Press - July 17, 2016

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, a jittery nation and a jittery Republican Party. On the eve of the Republican National Convention right here in Cleveland, Donald Trump makes his final, final decision.

DONALD TRUMP:

Indiana Governor Mike Pence is my first choice.

CHUCK TODD:

The Republican Party tries to unite behind two candidates who don't always agree with each other. I'll be joined by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Glenn Beck, founder of The Blaze TV Network. Plus, our brand new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll out this morning. The email story, it hurt Clinton. But did it hurt her poll numbers against Trump?

Also, the backdrop to this election. It's a nation on edge; racial tensions at home, terror attacks both here and abroad and now, a coup attempt in Turkey. I'll talk to Secretary of State John Kerry. And joining me for insight and analysis this special Sunday are NBC News Special Correspondent, Tom Brokaw, former political director for George W. Bush Sara Fagan, Joy-Ann Reid of MSNBC's AM Joy and Salem radio network host Hugh Hewitt. Welcome to Sunday and Meet the Press at the Republican National Convention right here in Cleveland.

MALE ANNOUNCER:

From Cleveland, Ohio this is a special edition of Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Well, good day from Cleveland, Ohio, we're here at the Quickens Loans Arena, which is, of course, nicknamed "The Q," it's one day before the Republican National Convention begins. I've not run into LeBron yet, but this is the arena that is home of the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Let me say that again, champion and Cleveland in the same sentence.

Anyway, we are in what's called a "secure zone." We do expect a lot of protests and demonstrations in the next few days and they will be limited to this 1.7 square-mile area that is known as the event zone. Of course, we now know the Republican ticket, it'll be Donald Trump and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana. And yesterday's announcement by Trump introducing Pence was among the oddest we've seen, with Trump concentrating more on how he decided than on the man he chose.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

Indiana Governor Mike Pence was my first choice. If you look at one of the big reasons that I chose Mike, and one of the reasons is party unity, I have to be honest. So many people have said, "party unity." Cause I'm an outsider, I want to be an outsider.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

On this eve of the convention, we also have a brand new NBC News/Wall StreetJournal national poll and it shows Hillary Clinton holding a small but steady five-point lead over Donald Trump, 46-41. It is exactly where the two candidates stood a month ago when we took our last national poll.

That was before the F.B.I.'s report on Secretary Clinton's email. So if you're wondering, "Did the email issue, didn't it damage her?" Well, no, it did damage her reputation with voters. But Trump has not been able to take an advantage. His struggles have highlighted concerns among Republicans that somehow they've chosen a candidate who violates almost every prescription laid out in the party's autopsy after Mitt Romney's defeat in 2012.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

In the world, the Republican Party has gone from sort of stayed and stale and going nowhere in terms of presidential, to being the hottest party right now anywhere in the world.

CHUCK TODD:

In the wake of Mitt Romney's loss, Republican leaders acknowledged that their party needed to re-brand to turn around a losing streak in presidential years.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I think that we had some biologically stupid things that were said in the last election.

CHUCK TODD:

The autopsy's prescription? Grow the party. First, avoid alienating women voters with comments like these.

MITT ROMNEY:

I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks?" And they brought us whole binders full of women.

CHUCK TODD:

But instead of softening the party's image with women, Trump has widened the gender gap.

DONALD TRUMP:

And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote.

CHUCK TODD:

Second, stop driving away minority voters.

MITT ROMNEY:

The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide that they can do better by going home.

CHUCK TODD:

But instead of embracing Latinos, the fastest growing demographic, Trump has re-opened the scars of failed Republican attempts at immigration reform.

DONALD TRUMP:

No, I'll use the word "anchor baby." Excuse me, I'll use the word "anchor baby."

CHUCK TODD:

Third, fix the perception that the GOP does not care about ordinary people, summed up in the line that many Republicans believed lost Romney the election.

MITT ROMNEY:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what. All right? There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe they're a victim.

CHUCK TODD:

But while party voters focused on winning swing voters that Romney didn't get, they missed the brewing economic angst and cultural resentments of many members of their own party. Bottom line: The RNC didn't autopsy why Republican voters didn't like the Republican Party.

JEFF ROE:

We're talking about, you know, marginal tax rates and earned income tax credits and things that people that don't have any money don't think about. So we need to talk to them and with them instead of past them. And that's what the party's autopsy got wrong.

CHUCK TODD:

In a Washington Post poll released this spring, nearly half of Trump supporters said whites were losing out to other racial groups, leaving Trump an opportunity to exploit the deep anger at Republican elites.

DONALD TRUMP:

We're getting the hell beat out of us and it's gonna stop. And we're gonna bring our jobs back to this country, we're gonna make product again, we're gonna lift our wages.

CHUCK TODD:

And remaking the party in his own image.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Well, earlier today, I spoke with the chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus, and I began by asking him whether the new ticket of Trump and Pence is missing an opportunity by not doing what every other ticket has done in previous elections: campaigning together, right away, in front of the American people.

(BEGIN TAPE)

REINCE PRIEBUS:

At least of what I've been seeing on TV, they're everywhere and I think that anything Trump does gets a lot of attention. I think he did yesterday. I thought that Mike Pence did a great job. I mean, he's a perfect pick, I think, for Donald Trump. He's a great compliment to Donald Trump. Experienced governor, leadership in the House, all of the things that I know Donald Trump wanted to check, he did it. And I'm excited about next week.

CHUCK TODD:

Does Mike Pence make it so that Monday night at this convention where there could be, you know, a minority report or some "never Trump" stuff, does Mike Pence help calm that down in your opinion?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

You know, that's a good point. I really think it does. I know that there are some delegates that were slower to come around than others, but what I've heard from a lot of the delegates was a lot of praise about Pence. A lot of the conservatives were very happy about it. I know leadership in the House and the Senate, very happy with the Pence pick.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

So good for Donald Trump, it's good for the party, it's good for our country.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, when did you come around on Donald Trump? And I say it this way because you were, as the referee, you would be tough on him when he said some things that you thought was damaging to the party, but you eventually came around. What did it take?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, I mean, I think it took, number one, I really got to know Donald Trump. But number two, it's a binary choice, it's Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. I mean, this silliness with "never Trump," I mean, who's your nominee, guys? Who's your VP? Who's raising money? It's a fantasy land. And so, for me, a vote for anyone other than Donald Trump is a vote for Hillary Clinton. But I also got to know Donald Trump. And the Donald Trump I got to know is a nice, gracious, I mean, quite frankly, even in private, listens, sometimes pretty quiet--

CHUCK TODD:

How come you don't see that guy in public? Because you're not the first person to say this.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, I've told him and the campaign, and I think I'm very much a part of that operation, that if the public sees the Donald Trump that I've gotten to know in private, he will not be stopped.

CHUCK TODD:

But he doesn't ever present that, though.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

But I think what you're seeing with the Pence pick, I think the last few weeks have been very good for him. I know what he's thinking about the convention and the future. I think he understands it fully, the pivot to the general. He's never run before for anything. He has been in primary mode for a year and it was a tough, bruising situation.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

And I think it's just taken longer to pivot and I think he's pivoting.

CHUCK TODD:

As you know, the autopsy report in 2013, I know you technically don't call it an "autopsy," and it's fine, but it's been known as that, about why Mitt Romney lost, and you guys outlined a bunch of things, particularly with outreach to minorities, outreach to young voters. This platform seems to run counter to the recommendations of the 2013 committee that looked into what's wrong. It's not reflecting any of those points, whether it's on immigration, whether it's on outreach to Latinos, same-sex marriage. What happened?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, nothing happened. I mean, the principles of the party are the same. I mean, we believe in traditional marriage, we believe in life that starts at conception, equal protection and the 14th Amendment. That's our belief as a party, but it doesn't mean that you don't shower people with grace and love and respect and that's something that I've always talked about. But the autopsy really is about engaging in black, Hispanic, Asian communities, being a full-time party, investing in data and also, watching your mouth.

CHUCK TODD:

You guys have done that, but has Donald Trump done that?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I think he's done much better at it. I think he's come around a lot since a few months ago. And I think he understands it. And I know where his heart's at, I can tell you. And I think people are going to start seeing that.

CHUCK TODD:

There's two things in the platform and I'm curious if you're comfortable with it. There's one in a draft, it says, "Children raised in a traditional two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime or become pregnant outside of marriage. The data and the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion that every child deserves a married mom and dad." It's implying that somehow children of same-sex couples are more likely to be addicts, to engage in crime? Do you mean to have it imply that?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

No, what we mean is that the best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad; however, it doesn't mean at all that single parents, that same-sex parents, that any parent in America can't love a child and can't raise a child and that child can't be successful and loved. So it doesn't mean that. It just means what the facts say. Look, like I said before, love, respect, dignity. But traditional values. And that's what our party is about.

CHUCK TODD:

There are no Bushes speaking at this convention, no Mitt Romney, no John McCain. No living former Republican nominee is going to address this convention. The rising stars of the party, it's a who's who of the people not coming here, whether it's Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio's doing a video address, he's not attending. You're not showcasing the best parts of your party, are you disappointed in that?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

No, I don't know about that, Chuck. I mean, tomorrow night you're going to see Joni Ernst, you're going to see a lot of stars in our party, you're going to see Scott Walker. You're going to see Ben Carson, Newt Gingrich. I mean, look, everyone has to make their own decisions. And it's not unusual that everyone doesn't speak at a convention, I'd love everybody--

CHUCK TODD:

It is unusual not to have a Bush at a convention.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, it didn't happen four years ago, Chuck, that's not true.

CHUCK TODD:

The Bush family--members of the Bush family were here.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Listen, I was Chairman then, I actually don't remember that. Maybe, I'm not gonna--

CHUCK TODD:

No, no, no, it's fine.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, in '08 I know in Saint Paul, I know there was no President Bush in Saint Paul. So look, it's not uncommon. But I would also tell you, this is not going to be a traditional scenario. I mean, we're not going to have one politician after the next every three minutes giving a four-minute speech. It's just not going to be that way. They'll be plenty of them, but not back to back.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Reince Priebus, I gotta leave it there.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Congratulations.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Yeah, it looks great.

CHUCK TODD:

And I think we all look forward to a peaceful week in Cleveland. Thank you, sir.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Me, too. Thank you.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me now is Glenn Beck. He's the founder of the conservative website and TV network, The Blaze. Beck has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump right from the start, and while he has no love for Hillary Clinton, he says he can't bring himself to vote for Trump. Mr. Beck, welcome back to Meet the Press.

GLENN BECK:

Thank you. Can't vote for Hillary, either. I am one of these people that honestly, I was listening to that interview and I feel like the world of Blade Runner makes more sense than this one. I don't even know where to begin, we're living in such a fantasy world where nothing makes sense anymore.

CHUCK TODD:

It sounds like something really jumped out at you from the chairman there? What jumped out at you the most?

GLENN BECK:

The whole thing. The whole thing did. Honestly, I don't even know where to begin with that. It is remarkable to me that both parties are so out of touch with the American people, both Democrats, Republicans and Independents, we all feel the same way. Three things: I don't belong to anything anymore and I want to feel like I belong to something. I don't even feel like my country is even the same. I don't belong to anything, nobody's listening to me and I don't have any levers that control my own life.

I can't control my own income, I can't control my own destiny, I can't even control my own farm if I'm a farmer. This is not going to last. And these guys are just playing a game, they're playing a show. You know that Reince Priebus knows better than what he just said. You know that he is not looking at the autopsy and going, "Well, I think this is great. We're doing the same thing we did with Mitt Romney, except much, much worse." It's insane.

CHUCK TODD:

So what should be done? I mean, what should be done? Look, the last time you were on, you were--

GLENN BECK:

Nothing, it's too late.

CHUCK TODD:

You actually pooh-poohed the idea of using the convention to try to dump Trump. You were saying, "You can't do that, either." What do you do?

GLENN BECK:

Because...here's the thing: I know what I'm going to do, but I don't -- I'm out of the business of telling anybody else what they should do, because I think there are tons of Hillary Clinton people that had maybe voted for the Clintons in the past or thought they would like Hillary Clinton that are now to the point of, she is so corrupt, she is so much about her and her foundation, which is completely corrupt, she is building an absolute dynasty of corruption.

It's nothing reflective of the American system. And then, you have Donald Trump, who the only advisors that he listens to are his children. What do you have? He's a corrupt businessman, she's corrupt. So both sides are now saying, "What are you going to do?" I think we feel, all Americans, I shouldn't say all, I think Reince and a few others, you know, at both conventions are going to be find just pulling the lever. But I think a lot of people are pulling it not holding their nose, wincing in pain as they think about pulling that lever.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

GLENN BECK:

So what you decide to do is your own business, but I have to tell you, there are choices. You can vote for the Green Party, you can vote for the Libertarian Party. And I know people will say, "That's a vote for the other guy," but you know what? I can't sell my soul anymore to these parties, because they're both horrible.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask the obvious question here. I know the answer now, it seems obvious. Mike Pence does nothing for you to make Donald Trump more appealing?

GLENN BECK:

Look, Mike Pence is a nice guy. And you know, he's fine and he's doing a good job. I don't have anything against Mike. I know that I talked to Mike when I was in Indiana during the campaign. He didn't have anything nice to say about Donald Trump. I will tell you that if Ted Cruz comes out on, what is it, Monday or Tuesday night when he gives his speech and he endorses even a soft endorsement of Donald Trump, I will officially have no person in Washington that I can trust says what they mean and mean what they say.

CHUCK TODD:

It's funny you say that. Mr. Beck, I had this exact conversation with a reporter last night, he said, "We're finding out who tells you the truth on the record and off the record and who doesn't." And that you have a lot of Republicans who will say one thing about Trump off the record and another on the record. Do you think that's got to stop?

GLENN BECK:

Oh, my gosh, I think it has to stop. Look, the problem is in our society that there's no authenticity. You can't trust anybody because you know they don't believe that. What was so frustrating about Reince is I guess he's doing his job, but if doing your job means that you're not being transparent, then you gotta go get another job, man, and quit that one.

Nobody is saying what they mean and meaning what they say. I am literally almost alone. I was standing against Trump because of a set of principles. Not that I don't like the man -- the same principles that make me not be able to vote for Hillary Clinton. Why all of a sudden are these people who were so strongly against Clinton or so strongly against Trump now suddenly on the Clinton train, on the Trump train? Did you believe what you said?

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Beck, I appreciate you sharing your views. I've got to leave it there.

GLENN BECK:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

I think we all know where you stand at this point. And I'll look forward to checking back in before November to see what lever you might be pulling. Thanks very much.

GLENN BECK:

Thank you very much.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it. When we come back, Donald Trump's very odd VP rollout. And then, consider this, Trump and Pence will not be campaigning together today, you won't see them together tomorrow. Not Tuesday. So exactly what kind of political marriage is this?

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. We got a lot to digest after those two interviews. Anyway, yesterday's rollout of Governor Mike Pence as Donald Trump's running mate was like many things about Donald Trump's campaign this year, different from what we've seen in the past. Other than when they applauded as Pence came out, the audience sat in their seats and listened politely in New York, a non swing city in a non swing state that had nothing to do with Mike Pence, he didn't grow up there or anything.

After the event, Pence was on his way back to Indiana alone. Now compare this to 2012. Mitt Romney introduced Paul Ryan to the world on the battleship Wisconsin in the swing state of Virginia, waving flags, a backdrop of people. There's that Air Force One music.

And then, the two hit the road together doing four more events just that day alone. Let's go back in time to 2008. John McCain brought Sarah Palin into our lives in Dayton, Ohio, another swing state. Rallied with family in tow. Ah, by the way, I'm all for using Air Force One music all the time. Later that day, the two took their spouses to get ice cream and made other stops as they spent the next two days together in Pennsylvania and Missouri. That's not what happened yesterday.

Panel is here with me in Cleveland. We've got our, of course, NBC News Special Correspondent, Tom Brokaw. Former political director for President George W. Bush, Sara Fagen. Joy-Ann Reid, host of MSNBC's AM Joy, and Salem radio network host, Hugh Hewitt. Welcome to all of you.

Sara Fagen, I want to start with you because you've done rollouts for VPs before. Yesterday was different. I want to put up something else that we put together, a word cloud, and this is a word cloud of Donald Trump's speech, introducing Mike Pence. I had to circle the words "Mike" and "Pence" in there, since they are not the most prominent words he spoke.

SARA FAGEN:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

Now here is Mitt Romney's word cloud for the speech introducing Paul Ryan. I circled it, but I didn't need to there.

SARA FAGEN:

Right, you didn't need to. I think yesterday was a huge missed opportunity. I mean, on every level, from the roll out of the logo, to the candidate's wife not standing on the stage after, to him leaving, to the way he approached it. They basically got nothing for that. And you know, not to mention news in Turkey, where the story was pushed in many papers to the bottom. So this huge moment in the campaign, looked like a Lieutenant Governor roll out to me.

CHUCK TODD:

Tom, you've seen a lot of these roll outs. We all have. Look, they're usually huge moments. They're usually big deals. The arms are raised.

TOM BROKAW:

Yeah, but I can't remember in which we've had such a contrast in the two candidates. Here you have Donald Trump, three times married, he was a Democrat for a while and he was a Republican for a while. Mike Pence is a conservative Christian who says he won't go to a party where they're serving drinks if he doesn't have his wife with him because he doesn't want to get in trouble.

I don't think that's in Donald Trump's play book, by the way, in picking a vice president. And we know that he was kind of dragged into picking Mike Pence. And speaking of optics, if you look at that original announcement, he looks down to make sure he's got the name right before he looks up again. He doesn't come out and robustly say, "Mike Pence is my guy." It's like he's introducing a new school teacher at the beginning of the term.

SARA FAGEN:

This is when you get a window into how the campaign is being run and it is not a pretty picture. And so, these big moments in a campaign, you don't get do-overs.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SARA FAGEN:

And there's a lot to be proud of for Republicans in Mike Pence. He is a conservative, he is a Christian, he has the ability to have a lot of people in the party like Glenn Beck give a second look.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

SARA FAGEN:

But they missed that opportunity.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm glad you brought up Glenn Beck. Hugh and Joy, my mouth was sort of aghast. There's sometimes where I felt speechless. Hugh, let me start with you-- respond to Glenn.

HUGH HEWITT:

Donald Trump is a black swan event for the Republican Party. It's unprecedented, it is causing chaos, it is very turbulent. I like the Governor Pence selection because it is a governing selection, it telegraphs reliability. If he becomes President, if he beats Secretary Clinton, you can count on people like Pence to be the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State. And so, I think it telegraphs an uber message.

But I believe he could have named Oprah or Rush and we still would have had the same-- it's a Trump-centric campaign, it's completely different from anything I've ever seen and I don't think it matters what that event was like because it's all about Trump.

JOY-ANN REID:

I think it actually does better. I mean, the thing that struck me about Glenn Beck was that he just point blank said that Reince Priebus didn't believe anything that he was saying when he was in interview with you. And it was kind of shocking and jaw-dropping to say that because you felt Reince Priebus' sort of pain and suffering as he's doing that interview. He has to say what he's saying. But everything about the roll out also felt like somebody who didn't believe what they were saying.

That was, I think, the big problem. The roll out of Pence felt like Donald Trump doing something he didn't want to do, about him eating his vegetables. He read from a paper when he talked about Mike Pence, but he was excited and happy when he was talking about himself and how he won. The roll out of that logo, which became the subject of ridicule, had clearly not a lot of thought put into it.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, you brought it up, I gotta bring up this Tweet. It's a little trollish, it's by David Plouffe, the former campaign manager obviously for Barack Obama, but this was his Tweet yesterday: "Clear that the selection of a VP is distasteful for a narcissist like Trump. Pence is like a leg bracelet probation officers forced him into." Sara Fagen?

TOM BROKAW:

Here's what I would say about all of that and I think it's reflecting in our commentary here today. We're playing by the old rules when we make all these observations. Donald Trump has reinvented politics. And this may be a historic week. He may be reinventing the Republican Party.

I've watched it go from the party of captains of industry and old money and kind of mainstream bankers to Richard Nixon took it to the South, Ronald Reagan then took it to the West. It opened it up in an entirely different way. He's come along and he's changed the party entirely. People are rejecting the old standard of what the Republican Party is. It's no longer the GOP, it's now the Donald Trump-dot-com party at this moment. Whether that will last, we don't know.

CHUCK TODD:

And Sara, to pick up on Tom's point, free trade, they're on opposite sides.

SARA FAGEN:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

A NAFTA attacker in Trump, a NAFTA promoter in Mike Pence. On the Muslim ban, on the Iraq War, the two ticket mates present the divide in the Republican Party on the same ticket.

SARA FAGEN:

Which is why in many respects, it was a very good pick. To me, I looked at the pick and thought, "Donald Trump thinks he can win," and he recognizes he has a problem with a big percentage of the Republican base. And this selection reflected it, but you're right. You know, it's a very different era. And Donald Trump reflects the times we live, the times don't reflect Donald Trump. And--

JOY-ANN REID:

But I think also it shows that Donald Trump doesn't want a Vice President that is going to compete with him on the national stage. I mean, there is this sort of sad spectacle of Pence being sort of shunted off to then go have dinner at Chili's with his family all by himself. There was no, um, bromance at all--

CHUCK TODD:

But don't you think the Chili's, but the Chili's moment felt, would have been a more effective moment, Hugh, had the Trumps been with them? I mean, like, where were the Trumps? Having ice cream with you know the Pence's--

TOM BROKAW:

Honestly, I don't think the future of the Republicans depends on whether or not he went-- or got the attention that he did.

CHUCK TODD:

I hear you.

HUGH HEWITT:

What Sara just said about, he believes he can win. He needs to win Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. We are in the land, welcome to the Brown's town, I'm wearing my Cleveland tie. He believes he can win in Northeastern Ohio where Republicans do not win by using out of work steel workers and people who've left the car industry. He believes he can win in Pennsylvania, he believes he can win in Michigan. Pence underscores-- the people who are happiest are Rob Portman, Kelly Ayotte, Joe Heck in Nevada because here is a traditional conservative who will come and campaign with him and deliver traditional conservative--

CHUCK TODD:

But with Democrats. But I'll tell you this, Joy, I felt like the Clinton campaign had more information out on Mike Pence, their version of information in the last 48 hours than the Trump campaign.

JOY-ANN REID:

Absolutely. They had already rolled out their opposition research on Mike Pence, which all had to with zeroing in on women and his position on things like abortion and also, zeroing in on LGBT issues. But I think what Hugh said, actually, is a valid point. I mean, I just spent a lot of time in Loraine, Ohio talking with out of work steelworkers. We did a focus group with seven guys, all over 40, all white males, all of whom voted for Barack Obama in '08.

Six of seven voted for Barack Obama in 2012. And you know what? They're undecided. And a couple of them were actually considering Trump and it's because of that issue. It's because they feel despair, they feel manufacturing, the bottom has dropped out. And they're taking a look at Trump and some of them don't trust Hillary Clinton.

SARA FAGEN:

You're going to see a lot of that. And this race is close. Hillary Clinton clearly has an edge. And to me, you know, you had your poll you mentioned earlier, the most interesting number in that poll to me was Gary Johnson's 11 percent, because he's 4 percent away from getting on the debate stage, which actually could give Donald Trump the best chance of winning this election with 40 percent, 43 percent of the vote.

CHUCK TODD:

Tom, she also didn't bring up the fact that 6 percent picked Jill Stein, the Green Party.

SARA FAGEN:

Yeah, that's true.

CHUCK TODD:

We have nearly one in five voters telling us right now they will vote for a third party. Apparently, including Glenn Beck.

TOM BROKAW:

Yeah, I think, by the way, one other point about Glenn Beck, if I can briefly, when he said people, they don't know what to turn to, in fact, what they're doing is turning to local politics. Cities are working in America, states are working in America. It's the rejection of what's going on at the federal level that we're witnessing right now and politics as usual in these two parties. But I do think that there will be a lot of going across the ballots somewhere else and I think there are going to be a lot of drop outs. I think people will go in and vote for the local election, but they'll just leave the Presidential election--

CHUCK TODD:

It's funny you say that. This will be one of those interesting years where Senate campaigns may see more votes than the Presidential election.

TOM BROKAW:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

Anyway, let me pause it here. When we come back, foreign policy tends to force its way into a campaign one way or another. The most recent example, the failed coup in Turkey, a critical U.S. ally in the most dangerous part of the world. My interview with Secretary of State John Kerry coming up right after this.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, this week in Cleveland, we'll produce pictures of hats, buttons and balloons. But on the edges of what is affectionately known as "The Q," we might find that the unrest around the world is also seeping in--

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, this week in Cleveland, we'll produce pictures of hats, buttons and balloons. But on the edges of what is affectionately known as "The Q," we might find that the unrest around the world is also seeping in. Turkey and France are just a few of the places that are hard to ignore, even if a political party is going on right here in Cleveland.

Secretary of State John Kerry is in Luxembourg after meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow, where the two countries seemed to get a little closer to making a ceasefire work in Syria. Well, to get more on this and all of these events around the world, I'm joined now by the Secretary of State. Mr. Secretary, welcome back to Meet the Press.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

Thank you very much, glad to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, it's been a tumultuous week to say the least, between what happened in Nice, the coup in Turkey. We've had some both domestic and international events that have come into our shores it feels like the last five weeks. A lot of Americans may feel as if the world is coming apart. What do you say to that?

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

I say that actually, we're making progress, but I know when you have these spectacular events, it's very difficult to measure. But here's the real measure: In Iraq, we are taking back territory very rapidly from Daesh, ISIL. ISIL's space is seriously contracting. Similarly in Syria, we're making significant progress. I was just in Russia, where we're talking with the Russians about how we can put a cessation more effectively into place, which will enable us to go after ISIL, kill ISIL more effectively and get to the political process of a transition of dealing with Assad.

I believe we made progress there. We made significant progress on the ground. But there are fighters, Chuck, who have left Syria a year ago, two years ago, three years ago. And there's a process of radicalization that takes place, so that one person in one place, as we saw in Orlando or as we just saw in Nice, France, has the ability to jump in a truck or go into a nightclub and unfortunately, do terrible damage. That is extremely hard for law enforcement to deal with ahead of time, unless there is intelligence regarding it.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

So I believe those events, actually, are efforts by ISIL to try to prove relevance and to try to frighten people more. But I do think, with respect to the fight against the leadership, we've taken 130 of their major leaders off the battlefield, we are making progress. And this week in Washington--

CHUCK TODD:

All right let me, yeah.

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

--we'll have 45 nations, defense ministers and foreign ministers gathering in Washington to lay down even more plans for how we go forward.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. Let me start with Turkey. It appears as if the coup has been squashed by President Erdogan. I know, I've heard your statements, the United States, other allies, support the democratically elected leader there. But let me ask you this, are you confident President Erdogan is not going to use this coup to essentially grab more power and erode more small-d democracy?

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

Well, we think it's very important that he doesn't do that, obviously. That would be a great challenge to his relationship to Europe, to NATO and to all of us. And we have urged them not to reach out so far that they're creating doubts about their commitment to the democratic process. And I hope it won't result in that.

CHUCK TODD:

There are some folks who that believe that a man by the name of Fethullah Gulen, who is in a self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, some are trying to point the finger at him for this coup and even talking about asking for extradition. You had said that the United States would be open to that if they can prove it. Do you believe Mr. Gulen was involved in this at all?

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

I have no knowledge, I have no evidence whatsoever at this point in time. But I talked with my foreign minister counterpart three times in the last day, and I urged him to compile the evidence that they have as rapidly as possible, provide it directly to us through the channels. And I pledged to him that according to our extradition treaty, according to our legal process and standards, we will immediately evaluate whether or not that evidence is sufficient to merit an extradition.

But they also have to make a formal request for extradition through the judicial process, they haven't done that yet. And that has to be accompanied by evidence and by demonstrated facts, which would lead a court to approve the extradition itself. We're not blocking it, we've never had a formal request.

CHUCK TODD:

Our time is short here. You brought up the deal that you struck in Russia. We don't know any details of this deal, you haven't provided it. What should that tell us? The fact that there are no details to this deal and why are you confident that you can work with the Russians? We're going to coordinate air strikes with the Russians, a country that you unloaded on not that long ago when they were essentially going into the Ukraine and taking Crimea. Why do you trust the Russians on this particular topic in Syria?

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

Well, we're still working on the issue of Ukraine and we still haven't resolved the issue of Ukraine. And frankly, we've spent a good deal of time in the conversation with President Putin laying down the steps that we need to take to deal with Ukraine, also.

So we're working on a number of different issues. We're also working on Nagorno-Karabakh. But with respect to Syria, nothing in what we talked about is based on trust. I'm not sitting here naively trusting what the Russians may or may not do. What we have done is laid out a series of steps concretely. Each step is the prelude to something else happening. If it doesn't happen, then there won't be that progress. But one of the reasons we're not laying it all out for everybody to pick around at is simply that there have been disappointments. The cessation of hostilities is not working properly. Assad has not abided by it.

Russia itself has presented some challenges. So I don't want to raise expectations. I'm trying to lay this out in a way that is between us, on a basis of steps taken. And there's no question of any reliance on trust or relationship. This has to be proven, step by step. And if it's proven, it has the potential of changing the dynamics on the ground. If it isn't, then we have to talk about other options and alternatives.

CHUCK TODD:

Secretary Kerry, I have to leave it there. I look forward to having more time with you very soon.

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you sir, you got it.

SEC. JOHN KERRY:

Have fun in Cleveland. Have fun in Cleveland.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Coming up, the election and the growing racial divide in the country, some startling new poll results.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Just because we're in Cleveland doesn't mean we don't have some data to download. This week's data download is a topic that's been on the minds of many Americans, it's the state of race relations in this country. You won't be surprised to find out that Americans are feeling the impact of recent events in Baton Rouge, Saint Paul and Dallas. President Obama tried to be a unifying voice this week at the memorial service in Dallas.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA:

I'm here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem. And I know that because I know America, I know how far we've come against impossible odds.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

But the country feels less hopeful and it's reflected in our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Right now, race relations are at the lowest point in the history of our poll, more than 25 years. The previous low was October of 1995. That was the month of the O.J. Simpson verdict in that criminal trial.

Back then, 61 percent said race relations were bad, while 34 percent said they thought race relations were good. Well, in our new poll, a whopping 74 percent of all Americans say race relations are bad and only 24 percent say they are good -- 50 points underwater in that question.

And African-Americans particularly are feeling increasingly negative about the country. A standard question that we ask, "Is the country headed in the right direction or going off on the wrong track?" Well, in January, African Americans were net positive on this question, 18 points ahead on the positive side, saying the country was headed in the right direction. Now African Americans are in a negative standpoint, minus 22 points, saying the country is headed on the wrong track.

A 40-point swing in just six months. It's obvious that all of this has had an impact. Finally, we ask, "Which candidate would be better in race relations?" Well, neither candidate got a majority. 41 percent said only Hillary Clinton, 19 percent said only Donald Trump. But guess what? One in three said neither.

The next president will have to face these issues in some form or another, the question is whether either one of them are ready to do it. When we come back, can either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton calm people's fears about terror and end up winning votes in the process? That's next.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

The panel is back. Before we jump right into-- the convention politics, Tom, I want to go to the question that I asked John Kerry, which is this sense of the last five weeks and what it's going to do to the American psyche. Orlando. We watched what happened in Nice, we've had a terrorist attack at the Istanbul Airport and then, of course, the coup in Turkey. What happened in Saint Paul and Baton Rouge and Dallas. All of it collectively is going to have an impact on Americans in ways that I think the candidates haven't appreciated yet.

TOM BROKAW:

Well, I couldn't agree with you more. I think there is a sense of real terror out there. I mean, I have a friend in rural Iowa who is arming himself at this point and taking gun instruction. And I say to him, "They're not going to come and find you in a small town in Iowa." But that's representative it seems to me of the rising tide of fear. And by the way, there's a mix here. What happened in Dallas was a black man who went wild against the Dallas Police Department; what happened obviously in Orlando was a whole different motivation altogether, none of which we have any way of getting our hands around.

Who are these people? What motivates them? And how do we respond to these lone wolves, which is effectively what they are? We're not looking at a big mosaic of an organization of some kind. It's somebody who goes completely off the rails and decides to take out whatever hatred he has in his heart against police, against a gay night club or whatever it is.

And that's a good reason to be unmoored. I do think that the country has to find a way of collectively coming together and dealing with this. And it's got to transcend party lines and cultural lines and everything else. I grew up at the beginning of the civil rights movement, I really thought we'd be a different country by now. We have elected an African-American President, there is a lot of progress. But the hostility out there is really unsettling to me and it's based on pigmentation. People are making judgments on the color of his skin, bang, like that. And that's wrong.

SARA FAGEN:

You're right that the country has to come together, but how this impacts our politics, you're right, is going to also be fascinating. And there are countless examples around the globe, when people are afraid, really afraid about their economics, about their safety, they look for the strong man.

And that is, to me, when you look at attributes in presidential races, which often define who wins and loses, strong leader is going to be the most important thing we should be looking at, assuming these events continue through the fall, as to how these candidates play on election day.

JOY-ANN REID:

But I think there are different sort of reactions. And I think what Tom said is true, is that you're starting to see, unfortunately, all of these different, violent acts almost sort of blending together. Because not only do you have some pockets of the country that are out in rural parts of the country, arming themselves against what they think is ISIS coming to get them, but then you also have fears of just mass shootings, period, that are completely domestic in origin.

We have this interracial tension and negativity that's also cropping up at the same time, but you have people in the African-American community saying, "Hey, you know, our big fear is police," right? So you have all of these different fears coming together and I don't think we can look at the entire body politic as just one, because each of the different groups have different fears.

CHUCK TODD:

And that's what I think, I think the politicians are trying to respond individually to each one. And so, you know, and they try to respond with what they think they are more comfortable talking about. So maybe Republicans want to talk about getting terrorists and Democrats want to talk about, "What are we going to do about guns?" But I think the American voter is digesting this much differently.

HUGH HEWITT:

I think the campaign has become disconnected from the country and the globe. And I think you're exactly right, they're trying to put squares into round holes. And here's what's happened, all presidents being human are deeply flawed, but the office usually reveals the flaws. This is the first presidential campaign where the flaws of both candidates are dominating the campaign. Hillary Clinton's untrustworthiness, Donald Trump's inexperience and bluster. They're not driving the black/white issue, they're not driving the Latino/white issue, they're not driving terrorism, lone wolves, they're just not. It's disconnected. It's a personality campaign on top of the world in turmoil.

CHUCK TODD:

That's a great way of putting it, Tom.

SARA FAGEN:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

It is, this campaign doesn't feel reflective of what's happening.

TOM BROKAW:

Well, and part of the reason for that is there's a lot of people who are qualified to be president and don't want to jump into the arena. It's been too tough for them to make that leap, quite honestly, to get involved in politics at whatever level, because they find themselves on the front page, everything that they've ever done, everything that they own is disclosed out there. I'm not going to pay that price. And we're not getting the kind of people who should be coming forward. I know they exist; they exist at universities and corporations in small towns and large cities. We've got a lot of really capable people. But the fact is when you jump into the political arena at a national level now, you know, we lay them bare there right here on this desk and pick them apart. And they say, "It's not worth it to me."

CHUCK TODD:

It's a huge problem. All right, quick pause here, we'll be back in 45 seconds with Endgame. And we've gotta look ahead. There's going to be big news from the Democrats by the end of the week. Who will Hillary Clinton pick as her running mate?

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with Endgame, and speaking of, we're going to get to the Endgame here on the Democratic Vice presidential process. What's interesting here, one of the finalists is actually speaking out about the job, Tom Vilsack, the current Secretary of Agriculture, former Governor of Iowa is on the very shortest of lists. Here, Joy, here's what he said to our cameras yesterday, sort of testing out his anti-Trump rhetoric, here it is.

(BEGIN TAPE)

TOM VILSACK:

Donald Trump is sort of to politics what Bernie Madoff was to investment. He is selling something that people don't fully understand and appreciate what it actually means. And I think, you know, Governor Pence, will obviously be a loyal running mate. But I think he's going to have a difficult time with some of those positions. Certainly the issues involving Muslims were of a concern to Governor Pence before, I can't help but think they're still a concern to him.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

I think nobody might have been happier about the Mike Pence pick than Tom Vilsack because Midwestern governor, Midwestern governor.

JOY-ANN REID:

Two words, Chuck, Shirley Sherrod. It would be such an incredibly short sighted decision to pick the guy that fired Shirley Sherrod on the ticket of the woman who was embracing the first black president as his avatar.

CHUCK TODD:

This was an African-American USDA--

JOY-ANN REID:

Exactly, she made a speech at the NAACP, Breitbart-dot-com misinterpreted her speech, edited portions of it and tried to characterize her as a reverse racist. She was fired on her way to work. Tom Vilsack took responsibility for it. That is all that you will hear about in African-American communities, Shirley Sherrod.

CHUCK TODD:

You may have just ended Tom Vilsack's chances.

HUGH HEWITT:

I'm rooting for anyone except Admiral Stavridis, as a Republican. I think the admiral would be a checkmate move against us -- his reputation is so extraordinary, his experience so broad, his diplomatic skills so honed. But I think we would be in a deep, deep hole if she did go outside of the box and went to the admiral.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Tom, Tim Kaine is the frontrunner, nothing about the Pence pick puts-- I don't think the Pence pick puts pressure on Hillary Clinton to suddenly feel like, ah, she's got to change strategies here.

TOM BROKAW:

No, I think that it did give her a chance to lay back a little bit and say, "All right, how do we counter balance that?" I still think that based on what I'm hearing on the inside, Kaine, the senator from Virginia, has got a big, big lead, not lead so much, but he's got momentum--

CHUCK TODD:

Whatever than means, right, I know, in Hillary's head.

TOM BROKAW:

And by the way, at this stage in the process, what she's also doing is taking care of constituencies.

CHUCK TODD:

Yep.

TOM BROKAW:

Vilsack in the Midwest, Elizabeth Warren with her followers, they're all going to be the great mentioners in the next couple of days. What she'll do is pick somebody who can help her. Kaine, border states, Spanish-speaking, he was very good at the rally the other day. So we'll see.

SARA FAGEN:

I think she'll pick someone who can govern the country. She doesn't need to respond to any of these constituencies the way it's being reported. She doesn't need a liberal, she doesn't need a woman. And in defense of Tom Vilsack, he's had a very good and respectable career over a very long period of time. And one decision I don't think is fair to criticize him for.

CHUCK TODD:

It will be interesting. It will pop up, though.

SARA FAGEN:

It'll be a discussion and it should be a discussion-- We shouldn't rule out a very qualified person for one decision.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, before I go, a quick programming note. I'm going to be hosting a special preview of the convention tonight at 5 p.m. it's good old MTP Daily on a Sunday, it'll be on MSNBC. And of course, NBC News will be providing live coverage of the Republican National Convention every single day next week. I'll be joined by my colleagues Lester Holt and Savannah Guthrie all four nights. It begins tomorrow at 10 Eastern, I'll see you there. That's all for today. We'll be back next week from Philadelphia and the Democratic Convention, because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *