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Meet the Press - October 16, 2016

Meet the Press - October 16, 2016

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday morning as women keep accusing Donald Trump of sexual misconduct.

SUMMER ZERVOS:

He then grabbed my shoulder and began kissing me again very aggressively.

CHUCK TODD:

Trump keeps denying the charges. All of them.

DONALD TRUMP:

The stories are total fiction.

CHUCK TODD:

This morning my interview with Vice President Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN:

What he said is a textbook definition of sexual assault.

CHUCK TODD:

And with the Republican nominee for vice president, Mike Pence. Plus now that Trump says the shackles are off, how damaging has this episode been? The latest numbers from our brand new NBC News Wall Street Journal poll. And the great American divide. We go to one county that's all in for Trump.

MALE VOTER #1:

Hillary's got so much stuff against her I don't see how anybody can vote for her.

CHUCK TODD:

And another where everyone seems to be for Clinton.

FEMALE VOTER #1:

I don't understand how people are voting for him.

CHUCK TODD:

Just how divided are we? Joining me for insight and analysis are Hugh Hewitt, host on the Salem Radio Network, Joy Reid of MSNBC, Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post and Kristen Welker of NBC News. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

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

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. Every week we say it and every week it's true. There's never been a week like this in American presidential politics. Here we go again. Admittedly there were times that even we have trouble keeping up with the number of women who came forward claiming Donald Trump had groped, propositioned or otherwise sexually harassed them.

And as the Trump campaign began to buckle under the new allegations, Republicans feared that Trump's troubles would metastasize and take out down ballot Republicans threatening the party's hold on the Senate and perhaps even the House. But we have a new indication of just how dire things have become for Trump. In our new NBC News Wall Street Journal poll out right now Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in a four-way race by ten points among registered voters, 47/37. If you limit it to just likely voters, check this out. Clinton's lead actually grows to 48/37.

Before likely voter models would actually help Trump. Not in this case. But there is a silver lining for Republicans in this poll and it may be in Congress where the Democratic lead has snapped back to just two points, 46/44. A week ago it had opened up to seven. These numbers come after a head-shaking week when Trump was under constant assault and seemed to be at war with just about everyone.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

In the face of more accusations of sexual assault, Trump is lashing out.

DONALD TRUMP:

It's a rigged election because you have phony people coming up with phony allegations.

CHUCK TODD:

Nine women have now come forward. Jessica Leeds says she sat next to Trump on a plane in 1979.

JESSICA LEEDS:

When he started putting his hand up my skirt and that was it. That was it.

CHUCK TODD:

Kristin Anderson says she was assaulted at a club in New York in the '90s.

KRISTIN ANDERSON:

The person on my right who unbeknownst to me at that time was Donald Trump put their hand up my skirt.

CHUCK TODD:

People magazine writer, Natasha Stoynoff, was interviewing the Trumps in 2005 at Mar-a-Lago. She says, quote, "I turned around and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat." Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice alleges Trump forced himself on her in 2007.

SUMMER ZERVOS:

I pushed his chest to put space between us and I said, "Come on, man, get real." He repeated my words back to me, "Get real," as he began thrusting his genitals.

CHUCK TODD:

NBC News has not independently confirmed the allegations and Trump has firmly denied them. Instead attacking his accusers.

DONALD TRUMP:

They have no witnesses. There's nobody around. They just come out, some are doing it for probably a little fame.

CHUCK TODD:

Even suggesting that they should not be believed because they were not attractive enough for him to assault.

DONALD TRUMP:

Believe me, she would not be my first choice. That I can tell you.

CHUCK TODD:

He has blamed the media, blamed the Clintons, he has even blamed a Mexican billionaire. And the Trump campaign has pushed back on all of the allegations, offering a British man who says it was Jessica Leeds who was being flirtatious on that flight.

Two years ago this same witness, Anthony Gilberthorpe made headlines after claiming he'd supplied underage boys for sex parties attended by British cabinet ministers. And Trump released a statement on Summer Zervos, writing, "I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago… In fact, Ms. Zervos continued to contact me for help, emailing my office on April 14th of this year asking that I visit her restaurant in California." All of these allegations led to a passionate speech by First Lady Michelle Obama who rarely weighs into partisan politics this deeply.

MICHELLE OBAMA:

I can't stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

On Thursday I sat down with Vice President Joe Biden at a union hall in Las Vegas where he was campaigning in an attempt to help Hillary Clinton lock down the state of Nevada. I began by asking the Vice President about those accusations of sexual assault against Donald Trump.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Why shouldn't he get the benefit of the doubt from these accusers?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

H-- h-- his own words. I-- I don't-- I don't have to even go to the accusers. When a man says that-- what he said is a textbook definition of sexual assault. I mean, it's a textbook definition. And the thing that is-- makes it so believable that he engaged in that kind of activity is not just that he said it, but his sort of-- instinctive abuse of power.

He acts in the private sector. He acts in the-- in the way he treats employees. And it-- and-- in that, you know, "I-- I-- I live in the penthouse. I'm a billionaire. I'm a star. And I can do what I want." That's the most disturbing piece. You know, my father used to say, "The greatest abuse is the abuse of power-- economic power, political power, physical power." And he -- this is not a guy that-- should be representing the United States in any way.

CHUCK TODD:

Why do you think it's not been disqualifying for even more voters yet?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

I don't know how deeply it's sunk into the consciousness. I don't know that-- you know, we think that something gets said once, twice, ten times, a thousand times over a period of a weekend, it'd-- everyone absorbs it.

Most people are just trying to figure out how to put bread and butter on the table. And-- you know, and-- so, I-- I-- I don't know. I think it's sunk in, though, pretty deeply. It's changed the dynamic-- around the country-- in a pretty substantial way so far.

CHUCK TODD:

We have a coarse culture that has given this a permission slip?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

This is a new level. And I was with my-- helping my daughter with-- my granddaughter-- my-- she's a senior in high school-- with a paper last night. And she started asking me questions. And she's a bright, bright young woman. And I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed to even-- I have four granddaughters. I mean, I was embarrassed that this is-- this is even being discussed--

CHUCK TODD:

What's the lesson for men? I've heard a lot of people say, "As the father or the mother of two daughters or three daughters or--" what about the message to young men or young boys?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

I did this virtual town hall meeting with thousands of students. And I ask them to go to a website and tell us, "What could we do to better protect them?"

You know what the overwhelming answer was? "Get men involved." The vast majority of men don't share the view of Donald Trump. I played-- I was a pretty good athlete in high school, college. I don't ever remember that kinda locker room talk, never. You might have a guy say, "Boy, look at that," or make some comments like that. But the idea that "she lets me do anything because I'm a celebrity," is just sick. And what's-- what's wrong is, we have to change the whole culture here and that no man has a right to touch a woman, to raise a hand to a woman, to abuse a woman for any reason.

We actually had cases-- and I got a federal law passed-- judge asking a woman, "Well, you were in the bar. Did you-- were you wearing underwear? How short was your skirt?" What the hell difference does that make? No man has a right to touch a woman.

CHUCK TODD:

The last time this really impacted our politics was Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

Anita Hill-- did an interview earlier this year. She expressed a little disappointment in you.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

Yeah, she --

CHUCK TODD:

And--

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

--she did.

CHUCK TODD:

--and what was your reaction to that?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

My reaction was, I thought it was unfair. I voted against Clarence Thomas. I believed her. The question was, whether or not that-- she should be able to-- initially, should she be able to just make her complaint without identifying herself. And you can't run a star chamber. You gotta do that. It was very, very, very tough--

CHUCK TODD:

Any-- anything you'd do differently?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

No. No.

CHUCK TODD:

As you know, Donald Trump is bringing up everything Bill Clinton right now. Should that matter?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

No, it shouldn't matter. Look, I can't make any excuse for Bill Clinton's conduct. I and I wouldn't attempt to make any excuses for the conduct. But he paid a price for it. He paid a price. He was impeached. And he was-- he expressed his deep sorrow and acknowledged what he did. This guy, as I said, has acknowledged that he has been a sexual predator. He's acknowledged that he's abused his power. And the-- as I said, the textbook definition of what constitutes sexual assault.

CHUCK TODD:

Let's talk about this working-class white voter issue that Democrats seem to have. Sorta, the people that you speak to, Biden voters. We just look-- you just look at Pennsylvania right now. The 15 counties that make up northeast Pennsylvania, you and the president won it by three points. Right now she trails by eight points. It's clear there is something-- a lack of connectivity there or something with Trump. What's your diagnosis?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

You were a friend of my Beau's-- my son--

CHUCK TODD:

Mmhmm.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

--and he was a great admirer of yours. You know, you and I start talkin' about him on the air and I might find myself choking' up. Everybody looks at me and says, "Well, he's a good father," and, "Well-- well, what a decent guy." She chokes up and says something'-- you know, for whatever reasons-- and, She's playing the woman card, man. This is the way-- this is different. You know, this is different, number one.

Number two, the truth is, I don't think we-- and I'm a broken record in the Democratic Party on this-- I don't think we speak enough to the plight of-- of family, husband and wife makin' 80, 90, $100,000 a year, two kids and they're struggling'--

CHUCK TODD:

You know what they say? I talk to these voters. They sit there and they say, "You know what? Obama and Biden, they worry about this minority group. They worry about that minority group. They worry about these voters over here. They worry about this state. "What about me?"

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

"They don't talk to me."

CHUCK TODD:

That's what I hear. I hear this more often when I’m in Waterloo, Iowa, Scranton, Pennsylvania.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

And by the way, and I do, too. What happened is, we had to spend so much time dragging the car outta the ditch, worrying about going' over the cliff, dealing with people who didn't have enough to eat, making sure that people were able to just hang on, that it's only now that we got the economy back and wages are starting to raise-- rise, that we can begin to focus on what is a large portion of the middle class who's felt like they've been left behind and we don't talk to their needs.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let's talk about her, then. What's your advice to her? She called, she's got this deplorables line that's gonna be hard for her to shake. I mean, I look at President Obama used bitter-- you know, cling to your guns and Bible. And he never shook that with a certain part of the electorate. She may never shake deplorables. But how should she try?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

By demonstrating where her heart is, what she cares about. And what she cares about are all those people who are struggling. That's been who she is. Look, I, as I said, I know her well. And she has been so battered and beaten. And we all make mistakes. She's made mistakes, too.

That for her to open up. Like, for example, I remember talking' to her about-- I had breakfast with her every Tuesday morning when she was Secretary of State at my home. And I remember talking about college. And about paying for college.

And telling a story about how my dad tried to borrow money to help me get, I had a grant and aid but get me enough, more money to get to Amherst. And I went to his place of business and I asked, I wanted to see him about something'. And I walked out and he was pacing' back. And he said, "Joey, Joey, I, I'm so ashamed. I'm so ashamed. My word. I'm so ashamed. I went to the bank and they won't lend me the money, honey. I'm so ashamed." She's sitting across from me fillin' up, talking about it.

Because she understands it's not just the kid that doesn't get a chance. It's how many, how many middle class people have been stripped of their dignity? Stripped of their-- the, the, the one thing--

CHUCK TODD:

So you understand why they're gravitating to Trump right now.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

Well--

CHUCK TODD:

They're gravitating to somebody that says, "I'm just gonna make it all better again."

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

Yeah. No, I, I, I do. I-- but it's not, I don't think they're so much gravitating to Trump. They've been stung so badly by the recession. Hurt so by it. We, we lost $17 trillion in household wealth through the recession. We gained back that and more.

But guess what? If you lost your home and you're not back in a home, you don't benefit. When the market was, you know, if you, if you lost your, your, your-- your investment in the market through your 401(k), and now it's $18,000, the guys who made the big money. It, it wasn't a cabal but, and they look around and say, "Wait a minute."

CHUCK TODD:

I wanna go to Syria here. I know you guys are doing a big session that's coming up the next week about what to do. Why is there not a no-fly zone over Aleppo? Is this a --

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

Simple, simple proposition. The first thing's first. We must defeat I.S.I.L. We must take out Raqqa. We must take out Mosul. We must eliminate the caliphate. It's the direct immediate threat to the American people. Number one. D.O.D. has told us from the beginning that the assets we need to be able to do that would have to be diverted.

We could not do both. Could not do both. That's number one. Number two, we, in order to be able to do what needs to be done, remember, we tried to get the authority to use force before. All those Republicans talked about how tough they were.

I spoke to 156 members of the House and Senate for minimum of an hour. Groups of two to 25 in the situation room. No support. No support. So I'd ask, okay. And they'd say, "What happens, we send planes over there, they get shot down? We have to go in and get 'em." Well, yeah, we have to go in and get 'em.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me ask you this. How does Syria not become the Rwanda of this administration? That you guys look back and wonder what if? What if? What if? What if?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

Rwanda was soluble. Rwanda was soluble. This is complicated. We have to deal with central and west, and eastern Iraq to clear I.S.I.L. That will fundamentally change--

CHUCK TODD:

So once--

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

--the dynamic.

CHUCK TODD:

--Mosul is taken care of, you think the focus can be back on Syria and trying to solve this?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

Raqqa, too. Raqqa is the central--

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

--place where we know plotting is taking place against the homeland--

CHUCK TODD:

Mmhmm.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

--in those areas. Secondly, Russia is in real trouble. They're getting themselves into a real quagmire. They have serious economic problems at home. They're finding themselves dragged into this. The combination of I.S.I.L. gone, Russia in a totally different place creates a whole lot of additional opportunities.

CHUCK TODD:

So we're not gonna regret not doing more in Aleppo?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

The answer is, we regret whenever anyone dies. I regret, I, I, I regret that, that we're not doin' somethin' about-- you know, genital mutilation in Africa. I, I regret there's, there's still real problems in-- in Afghanistan. But there has to be a sense of humility about what is able to be done at the time. And what we're doing is the right thing. Generating a consensus among the Arab countries as to what we should be doing in the region. And at the same time, going after I.S.I.L. to destroy it.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright. Final question. When-- I talked with Ambassador, former Russian Ambassador Mike McFaul.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

And-- we talked about the idea that every once-- you, you gotta respond when you, when they're hacking. You gotta do something. He described it as a high hard one. Maybe just, you know, sort of like in baseball. You throw a high hard one to send a message. Why haven't we sent a message yet to Putin?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

We're sending a message. We have the capacity to do it. And-- the message--

CHUCK TODD:

He'll know it?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

--he'll know it. And it will be at the time of our choosing. And under the circumstances that have the greatest impact. Look--

CHUCK TODD:

Will it be enough, do you think, that it'll get him to back off? I mean, how concerned are you that the country is actually gonna question the result of this election?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

I am not concerned. The reason I'm not is we're working very closely with all the departments of elections across the country, number one. Number two, the American people are pretty damn resilient. And number three, the, the capacity to do, to fundamentally alter the election is-- is not what people think. And-- I tell you what, to the extent that they do, we will be proportional in what we do. And-- at the--

CHUCK TODD:

So a message is gonna be sent. Will the public know it?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

Hope not.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, the man who would like to have Joe Biden's job, Donald Trump's running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. One Republican whose reputation has not suffered this election season is Donald Trump's running mate, Mike Pence. In fact, in our new NBC News Wall Street Journal poll, Pence's total positive rating was plus eight points, 36 percent positive, just 28 percent negative. That put him way ahead of Paul Ryan, the Republican party as a whole, and Donald Trump. And Governor Pence joins me now from Tampa, Florida. Governor, welcome back to the program, sir.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

Yeah, good morning, Chuck. Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with getting your reaction to Michelle Obama's speech from earlier this week. Let me play a clip and get you on the other side.

(BEGIN TAPE)

MICHELLE OBAMA:

So while I'd love nothing more than to pretend like this isn't happening and to come out here and do my normal campaign speech, it would be dishonest and disingenuous to me to just move onto the next thing like this was all just a bad dream. This is not something that we can ignore. It’s not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Governor, as you know, the First Lady was speaking directly about Donald Trump's comments caught on that 2005 Access Hollywood video. Do you agree with her comments that they should not be swept under the rug?

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

Well, let me say that I have tremendous respect, Chuck, for the First Lady and for her efforts on behalf of the American people over the last seven and a half years. But the simple fact is that Donald Trump made comments in an open mic 11 years ago that he's expressed deep regret for.

He's embarrassed about it. He apologized last weekend to the American people and made it clear that it was, it was just talk. And apologized to his family. And, and I accept that apology. And I, I truly do believe that this election, this election is of such an enormous magnitude to the American people that, that it's important that we move beyond this issue. It's important that we, that we focus on, on the need for a stronger America at home--

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--and abroad. And as I traveled across Florida this week and all across the country the, the people that I'm encountering are focused on those issues about, about really restoring this country and reviving our economy. And that's where we’re going to continue to be focused.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, as you know, Donald Trump does not want to move off of this issue. In fact, he, he said he's been getting advice saying that. But instead he has been responding to every single accusation. Here's what he has said about a couple of the different accusers.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

She's right. She's a liar. She is a liar. She's writing a story. Check out her Facebook page. You'll understand. "I was sitting with him on an airplane and he went after me on the plane." Yeah, I'm going to go after. Believe me, she would not be my first choice. That I can tell you. Man. You don't know. That would not be my first choice.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

That was Friday, Governor Pence. You just dismissed it as just talk. We now have nine accusers that have come out since you have said it's just talk. Do you really believe it's just talk?

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

I really do, Chuck. You know, what, what we have this week is a, is a series of, of unsubstantiated allegations. And Donald Trump--

CHUCK TODD:

Let me stop you there. They're not unsubstantiated.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--has made it clear. He's categorically denied--

CHUCK TODD:

Well hang on. They're not unsubstantiated.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--he's categorically denied those allegations, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

You have firsthand accounts. They're unproven but they are not unsubstantiated. You have a, you have a first-hand account. We have somebody that disagrees with that first-hand account. But they are substantiated, no?

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

Well, I, no. These are not substantiated accounts. These are, these are people who have brought forward allegations going back in some cases decades. And Donald Trump has made it clear that, that he categorically denies that these things ever took place.

But I have to tell you it really is astonishing to most Americans that as these unsubstantiated allegations are, are treated with an enormous amount of coverage on this network and other networks that revelations coming out of Secretary of State Clinton's years in the state department and the Clinton Foundation are virtually ignored by the national media.

I mean we, we discovered this week that state department officials actually directed contracts for the Haitian recovery effort after the earthquake to friends of the Clintons. And literally that got, that got almost no media attention while, while those that step forward with these unsubstantiated claims that, that Donald Trump has denied, were treated with headline news and continuous coverage. It's one of the reasons why--

CHUCK TODD:

Well.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--so many Americans--

CHUCK TODD:

I--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--feel like this election is being rigged by a national media that's constantly trying to change the subject away from and practice willful ignorance--

CHUCK TODD:

So, so Governor, we should ignore--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--toward the corruption and misdeeds and pay for play politics of the Clintons.

CHUCK TODD:

But, but let me, let me ask you this though. You really believe that women who believe they were victimized by sexual assault, they come out, they should be ignored? Isn't that been part of the problem with rooting out sexual assault in our culture is that--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

No, not, no, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

--there is this feeling that women get ignored?

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

Yeah, no. I wouldn't say anything to disparage, disparage any woman who, who’s, who believes they've had an experience like this. But Donald Trump's made it clear that, that these allegations are categorically false. And now we've had more evidence that's come out to challenge those versions of the facts.

But the ignorance, the, the ignoring that's going on here, Chuck, is the, the, the way the national media is ignoring an avalanche of, of real, hard evidence of corruption during the years of the Clinton administration. The New York Times just a few minutes ago posted a story about for, in exchange for five minutes with Bill Clinton, the, the government of, of Qatar was going to give one million dollars to the Clinton Foundation. We know that more than half of Hillary Clinton's meetings--

CHUCK TODD:All right, I--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--while she was secretary of state were given to major contributors to the Clinton Foundation. The Haitian government thing, the speeches about open borders, socialized medicine.

CHUCK TODD:Right.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

It's getting virtually no attention--

CHUCK TODD:

You just cited the New York--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--in the national media while--

CHUCK TODD:

You just cited the New York Times.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--unsubstantiated claims--

CHUCK TODD:

By the way--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--that have been repeatedly denied--

CHUCK TODD:

Governor--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--by Donald Trump are getting all the attention and--

CHUCK TODD:

Governor--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

the American people see right through it, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

You just cited the New York Times. Obviously not a small news organization. We've been reporting on this. Front page of NBCNews.com. And we're going to be reporting on this throughout this show. But your running mate is the one that's under fire with this. Let me ask you this, for a long time you used to-- you used to refer to Donald Trump as this good man. You haven't done that this week. Any reason for that change?

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

Well, sure I have. Well, sure I have, Chuck. The, the Donald Trump I've come to know--

CHUCK TODD:You--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--is a man who loves his family, who loves this country. He's made a connection to millions of Americans because he's given voice to the frustrations and the aspirations of the American people. I mean when you have the president of France over this weekend say that it was because of Barack Obama's--

CHUCK TODD:

Mmhmm.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--and Hillary Clinton's foreign policy of, of moving red lines in Syria that Russia was emboldened to invade Ukraine and take a larger role in Syria--

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--that's really saying something.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

The American people know that, that, that America has been weakened at home and abroad because of the policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. And--

CHUCK TODD:

Speaking of Russia, Governor--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--they’re desperate for change, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

You just brought up Russia. Speaking of it, do you-- I know you're getting intelligence briefings. Do you believe the American intelligence that says Russia is behind all of these hacks into a former White House chief of staff in John Podesta, the DNC, et cetera. Do you believe the American intelligence community on this?

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

Well, I think there's more and more evidence that, that implicates Russia. And there should be serious consequences if--

CHUCK TODD:

Why doesn't your running mate--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--Russia is violating the privacy--

CHUCK TODD:

--why, why doesn’t--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--and the security of the American people.

CHUCK TODD:

--why doesn't your running mate believe that?

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

But and, and I, and I certainly, I certainly hope what the Vice President said this morning is something that--

CHUCK TODD:Right.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--they follow through on. The truth is--

CHUCK TODD:

But let me ask you this. Why, why does your running mate not believe?

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

This is an administration that too often has spoken things on the foreign stage and then not followed through like moving red lines, feigning a reset with Russia--

CHUCK TODD:

I understand.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--but my hope is if the evidence does flow to Russia, that there are in fact serious consequences and there should be serious consequences--

CHUCK TODD:

But Governor--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:But remember this avalanche of emails, Chuck--

CHUCK TODD:

Governor, Governor, Governor, Governor--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--is not just limited to Wikileaks.

CHUCK TODD:

--you’re not answering this question. Why doesn’t your running mate--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

--believe what you believe about a foreign government in Russia trying to hack into the American democracy?

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

Well Donald Trump and I believe we should follow the facts and America should stand strong and we should stand up for cybersecurity. He had a, he had an entire presentation about his call for a new cybersecurity task force bringing together some of the best minds in the country to protect America’s privacy both our intellectual and our defense infrastructure. But, but look all this information is not just flowing out of the, flowing out of the Wikileaks--

CHUCK TODD:

Do you--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--it was ABC News, a freedom of information request--

CHUCK TODD:

All right.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--that was able to uncover the fact that while she was Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s staff was actually directing contracts for the Haitian recovery effort to friends of the Clintons.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

And with all due respect, Chuck--

CHUCK TODD:

I, I, Governor--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

The national media--

CHUCK TODD:

I understand--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--is preoccupied with unsubstantiated claims--

CHUCK TODD:

Well again you keep saying unsubstantiated, that is--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--and ignoring an avalanche of hard evidence against the Clintons.

CHUCK TODD:

You keep saying unsubstantiated, that is not true, you have a firsthand account. It’s unproven, but they’re not unsubstantiated. But let me ask you this, this final question on this, which is, if-- Bill Kristol today, excuse me, earlier this week, tweeted at what point are you going to feel uncomfortable defending Donald Trump. He said, “Given that he’s now been utterly humiliated by the Trump campaign, does Mike Pence have the self-respect to resign from the ticket?” How do you respond to Bill Kristol?

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

You know I accepted the invitation to, to run for vice president of the United States, Chuck, because I think this country is in a lot of trouble. And I think Donald Trump has articulated a vision to make America great again that's connected with millions of Americans, despite the obvious bias in the national media and the avalanche of daily attacks against Donald Trump.

I have to tell you, even this week the crowds that I saw here in Florida, the crowds he had in New Hampshire and Maine yesterday all attest to the fact the American people want change. And for me and for my little family we're going to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with this man and fight all the way through election day and deliver a great victory for America. And we're going to make America great again.

CHUCK TODD:

Will you accept the results of the election?

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

We will absolutely accept the results of the election. Look, the American people will speak in an election that will culminate on November the 8th. But the American people are tired of the obvious bias in the national media. That's where the sense of a rigged election goes here, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

The more you say--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--the media comes in with an avalanche of continuous negative attacks against my running mate instead of focusing on the real, hard evidence coming--

CHUCK TODD:

Do you--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--out about corruption and pay to play--

CHUCK TODD:

--are you at all--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--in the Clinton Foundation years. It's why people are frustrated. But look, we'll--

CHUCK TODD:

--the more you say rigged election--

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

--find a way to get through to November the 8th. And we'll accept the will of the American people. You bet.

CHUCK TODD:

Governor, you keep saying rigged election. Are you concerned that the more you say it, the more you actually undermine our democracy unintentionally?

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

Look, one of the great traditions of America is the peaceful transfer of power. And elections, Chuck, you know, you're a student of history, elections always get pretty rough. I expect they're going to stay just as rough as they are right now going into November the 8th. The stakes are so high in this election.

But as Donald Trump said in that first debate, I'll say to you again today, we're going to accept the will of the American people. But between now and election day we're going to work our hearts out against all odds, against most of you in the national media. We're going to go lay out a story for a stronger more prosperous America.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand why you want to continue to attack us. But I think it's misguided attacks there. I understand. Governor Mike Pence, I appreciate you coming on the program. Thank you, sir.

GOV. MIKE PENCE:

You bet, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Later in the broadcast, what impacts will Donald Trump's struggles have on other races? Could the Democrats take the House and the Senate? But as we go to break a few clips from Saturday Night Live.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, a lot to digest, panelists here, Hugh Hewitt, host on the Salem Radio Network, Joy-Ann Reid, host of AM Joy, weekends on MSNBC, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, of course has been covering the Clinton campaign, and Chris Cillizza, political reporter for the Washington Post. Wow, Donald Trump has been tweeting all morning. We’ve got a lot to digest. Quickly, one of them, polls close but can you believe I lost large numbers of women voters based on made up events that never happened, media rigging election. Um, Hugh, you’ve backed away from Trump, how did Mike Pence defend him this morning?

HUGH HEWITT:

I thought Mike Pence did a very good job. In fact, I’m a Game of Thrones geek and I was thinking there is Davos Seaworthy defending Stannis Baratheon, in the bad days of Stannis Baratheon.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, you and Maureen Dowd, she made a Game of Thrones reference this morning, too, calling him the mad king.

HUGH HEWITT:

I gotta say the end of the Biden interview, this is not in response I’m sorry, it’s so newsworthy what he said about the American Department of Defense not being able to do Mosul and Aleppo at the same time. What he said about everything, it leads to here we have the worst election in modern times when the greatest crisis of the post-Soviet era are growing. It’s a disconnect that’s beyond me.

CHUCK TODD:

The irony, though, is that Donald Trump, the last thing he wants to talk about is Syria.

KRISTEN WELKER:

Well, my takeaway was the end of your interview with Mike Pence, when you asked him if he would accept the election results, he said yes, of course we’ll accept the results. Donald Trump is sending out the complete opposite message. And he’s trying to lay the groundwork for this idea that the election is rigged. And yesterday you had the Clinton campaign and Paul Ryan coming out in very strong terms, saying we will respect the results of this election. And the republicans are increasingly concerned that they need to be louder about that so that whatever happens on election day is respected.

JOY-ANN REID:

But I think you also see the sort of struggle within Mike Pence. Because he’s trying to yield to what are clearly the candidate’s talking points the candidate wants, which is that the election is rigged. Because he’s said that you. And then he said of course we’ll accept it. But he still has to sell this idea. Look, Jeff Sessions is also selling this idea. I think for the Republican Party, just as an institution, there has to be a righting of the ship because the integrity of the United States election I think is bigger than any candidate.

CHRIS CILLIZZA:

I think that he is such a dominant figure within the party. I know not for party regulars, many party regulars reject that idea that Paul Ryan is their North star but I think for your average Republican voter in this election, he’s such a big figure. And I think it’s so hard for me to imagine that what he says and tweets over this last week, somehow three weeks from now, he says and I just want to say I’ve announced that I’ve placed a call to Hillary Clinton to congratulate her. Like, I can’t. I literally struggle to wrap my mind around him doing that. I think it's in all of his business interests, conservative media network, a Rump faction of the Republican party. So all of those suggest that he not concede. And this idea that like Reince Priebus and Paul Ryan say that we concede.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, Mike Pence may concede for--

HUGH HEWITT:

Secretary Clinton, if she wins, may get a call from Governor Pence. The tweet that will matter most when the best accounts of this worst election are written I think will be Dr. Rice, Secretary of State Rice's, "Enough," last week. Now I have enormous admiration for Secretary Rice. She's my age. She grew up in a different America than I did. She was in Birmingham, Bombingham. If you read Extraordinary, Ordinary People you get an account of American hero. And when she tweeted out, "Enough," this week, it's one word. But it underscored I think the resignation to results that are in the air.

KRISTEN WELKER:

And, by the way, part of the calculation on the part of the Clinton campaign is that they don't want to just win. But they want a big win so that the results can't be questioned. They're sending out emails to supporters saying, "It's imperative that you come out in big numbers because we need this to to be decided."

CHRIS CILLIZZA:

I think it's important to note here that he's not-- we tend to say, "Oh this campaign." The Clinton campaign and the Trump campaign --what he is running now is not a campaign in any traditional sense. It's sort of -- either a sort of revenging of or avenging against people who he believes have wronged him, media, Clintons, Republicans. Or sort of a grievance, a festivus, an airing of grievances. A campaign has a message that you stick to that you have figured out resonates with the American people and that you believe. He had 19 messages in five minutes over the weekend when he was dissembling his teleprompter. Those are eight words I did not think I would ever utter in public. I mean, we're talking about something that's not really a campaign in any sort of sense.

CHUCK TODD:

So let's move from the presidential to down the ballot. Because I think there are a lot of people who think the presidential race may be in one category. The results may be known. But we just don't know the size of it. The question is what will Republicans do down the ballot? And right now if Democrats want to go after Trump heavily and Republicans are trying to distance. Here's a little montage of new ads just this week.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PAT TOOMEY:

I have every intention of supporting the Republican nominee.

NARRATOR:

Portman stood by Trump even after seeing Trump brag about sexual assault.

DEBATE MODERATOR:

Would you point to him as a role model?

KELLY AYOTTE:

Absolutely.

PAT TOOMEY:

I have a lot of disagreements with Donald Trump. I've been very clear about that. What's important for Pennsylvania is having a senator who will stand up to any president's bad ideas

JOHN MCCAIN:

I have daughters. I have friends. For me it was the final straw.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Hugh, obviously every Republican, Tom Cole said it's a bar fight. We're trying to save every Republican no matter what it takes. Some have to distance from Trump. Some can't damage. Down the ballot, what do you see?

HUGH HEWITT:

My analyst hat. Not my advocate hat. I think the House is very, very secure and Paul Ryan is doing a fine job of directing resources. I believe the Senate is going to be very close and will come down to Nevada on the night of the election as to whether or not. I think, Toomey’s going to survive-- I'm an outlier here. He's a good senator. He works very hard. He's a wonderful guy.

JOY-ANN REID:

But what I think the problem is is that there's a threshold at which the margin of Hillary Clinton's victory and estate becomes fatal to the person down ballot. You think of a state like Florida where if Hillary Clinton wins by two or three you could see Marco Rubio surviving. You're seeing more tickets splitting this, at least in the polling, than you typically see. But at a certain point the tsunami takes down all of the other other candidates. I don't think Toomey will survive, I think Wisconsin is baked in. Portman seems to be the strongest of the down ballot candidates. But also Ohio is the least associated with Trump. I mean, the Governor of Ohio is not with him.

CHUCK TODD:

In some ways the least and most in odd ways. I will show you actually in a minute. When we come back, divided America. The part of America that can't imagine anyone voting for Hillary Clinton. And the other part of America that doesn't understand why anyone would vote for Donald Trump. Wait until we show you. That's next.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Do you have any friends who are going to vote differently than you plan for president? Maybe not. This country is now so divided by race, income, geography, and culture that we tend to live with and among people who think exactly as we do. It helps explain why we are so sharply divided. This week we decided to visit two counties to talk to people who just can’t imagine why anyone would be supporting the other candidate for president.

One county was a Washington, DC suburb, Arlington County. Filled with wealthy, highly educated voters. Think of it as “Starbucks-central.” In other words, this is Hillary Clinton country.

(BEGIN TAPE)

HILLARY SUPPORTER:

I can’t understand females that will continue to support him with all of the sexual predatory behavior.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

The other place was Monroe County, Ohio. Rural, economically struggling, and lots of people who didn’t get the opportunity to go to college. This is a place where people gather for coffee at McDonalds. In other words, this is Trump Country.

(BEGIN TAPE)

TRUMP SUPPORTER:

I don’t see how anybody can vote for her.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

We have a lot more on our visit to both of these counties. You can see our full report on our website, Meet-The-Press-NBC-dot-com, and we’ll also have more on Meet The Press Daily tomorrow. But we’ll be back in a moment with a preview of the third, and final, debate this week in Las Vegas.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SNL ACTOR:

So, my question is, “what do you like about him?”

KATE MCKINNON:

I do like how generous he is. Just last Friday he handed me the election.

(END TAPE)

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with the panel. Believe it or not, there will be a third and final debate. I want to throw a couple things out here that we haven’t gotten into. One is from our NBC Wall Street Journal poll. To just show you the racial divide in this country. Among all white voters, this week, this is Donald Trump’s worst week yet and look at this. Hillary Clinton has a higher negative rating, Chris Cillizza, among all white voters than Donald Trump. After this week, I think that tells you the structural--there is a structure here. There is a floor that Donald Trump can’t fall through.

CHRIS CILLIZZA:

And that’s what I think we talk about, Trump’s gonna get 35%. It’s literally almost structurally impossible for that to happen because there’s just--combine the polarization in the country, the self-sorting in the country and the feelings about Hillary Clinton, whether you think they’re justified or not, they exist and have existed for a long time. He has I think a very hard floor. His problem, at least if you believe polling is he also has a hard ceiling that’s about 42 percent. His floor and his ceiling are very close to one another.

CHUCK TODD

So half floor--

CHRIS CILLIZZA:

His floor is 39--

CHUCK TODD:I know.

CHRIS CILLIZZA:

His ceiling at the moment is 42.

CHUCK TODD:I want to bring up, Kristen, how the campaign is handling the Podesta hack, the Russian hack. WikiLeaks is the conduit here. We finally got speech transcripts.

KRISTEN WELKER:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

And to me, if you take em all in totality, she’s a calculating politician. She’s everything Bernie Sanders was telling Democrats that she was. This reinforced it. Had this had come out in the primaries, could this have cost her the nomination?

KRISTEN WELKER:

I think it could have but to your point it reinforces I think everything a lot of people thought about Secretary Clinton. The fact that it’s coming out right now, is awkward for the campaign. They’re having to answer a lot of thorny questions in the days leading up to election day. But in terms of their strategy for dealing with this, they’re pivoting.

CHUCK TODD:

Big time.

KRISTEN WELKER:

I mean they’re not acknowledging or authenticating any of these emails and saying ‘look, this is the Russians trying to meddle in our election’ and yesterday, Chuck, they started with this line that this is like Watergate. And that is their way of, I think, trying to obviously change the conversation. The problem though with the leaks as of yet, there hasn’t been a major bombshell. Could there be? That’s what we’re going to see--

CHUCK TODD:

I tell ya, Joy -- But let me pause you there. I actually think these leaks are gonna haunt her--

HUGH HEWITT:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

--If she becomes president with the progressive movement. They will use these leaks to beat her up when they don’t like what she’s doing.

JOY REID:Well, maybe. But I’m sort of in the camp that says that there’s nothing in here is really sort of revelatory. Hillary Clinton is a politician. I think, no kidding. And I think because a lot of them are around figures most Americans don’t know who John Podesta is, with all due respect to him. It’s not as if people know who Sidney Blumenthal and John Podesta are. And so having sort of catty conversations in the background of a campaign, that is how campaigns and that’s how politics operates. Do progressives have discomfort with Hillary Clinton’s sort of core centrism? Could they maybe sort of try to bring this up on her? Maybe. But I don’t think, in the end, it matters. Hillary Clinton, I think, structurally, got the nomination in part from overwhelming support, from African Americans over 40. That would have happened whether these came out now or they came out in April.

CHUCK TODD:

Now Hugh, I did have a Clinton supporter admit to me, they said they won the primary, but they lost the campaign.

HUGH HEWITT:

The Russian hack --

CHRIS CILLIZZA:

That’s a good point. Interesting.

HUGH HEWITT:

They did lose the campaign. The Russian hack is very troubling if in fact they dropped--the Russians dropped her private emails, the race could turn again. But what Governor Pence said to you about the Haitian leak, that is criminal wrongdoing. It does not come from the Russians, it comes from a FOIA request. If in fact Secretary Clinton’s State Department directed aid to friends of Bill, that is criminal wrongdoing that will haunt her into her term if she wins, and you can’t rule out Donald Trump because if the Russians drop, no matter its provenance, if they drop her private emails, that means she is compromised as a national security leader. Wait and see.

CHRIS CILLIZZA:The one thing I always return to is the way you started earlier in the show, Chuck, which is talking about Trump’s tweets. He continues to be, by far-- the case you just heard Hugh Hewitt make --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

CHRIS CILLIZZA:Have you ever heard Donald Trump make a case that was that concise and that to the point? No. Because, why? Because he’s constantly inflicting self wounds. Tweeting about things. Tweeting about random cultural events, tweeting -- he cannot make the story about her. The more it is about her. This has been the case over and over again. Whether it’s emails, the Clinton Foundation, other state department stuff. The more it is about her, the worse she does. The more it is about him, the worse he does.

JOY REID:

But you also can’t get away from the fact that when you’re talking about the Russians, you’re talking about the Russian leaks, you bring yourself back to another narrative that the Trump campaign has not dealt with. Which is sort of this affinity between himself and his camp and the Russians in this. And the fact that they’re sort of blatantly attempting, with I think not so spectacular results, to help him become President of the United States. That’s still, to me, the looming issue that is, the dog that has not barked in this campaign--

CHRIS CILLIZZA:

Mike Pence is--

JOY REID:

Because it is also unprecedented and I think troubling for a lot of Americans.

CHRIS CILLIZZA:Mike Pence is--just very quickly, Mike Pence’s position by the way, totally different than Donald Trump’s. Remember Donald Trump in the debate, ‘Well, Putin, he says nice things about me, I’m gonna say nice things about him.’ It’s not exactly what Mike Pence outlined today.

KRISTEN WELKER:

But to your original point, Chris, I can't tell you how many times this past week journalists have said ‘what would this news cycle look like if we hadn't had the 2005 tape of Donald Trump, if these allegations hadn't come forward from all of these women?’ I mean, we would be almost solely focused on these WikiLeaks. And yet, Donald Trump continues to kind of make these unforced errors.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, I know, this whole obsession of the media's role in this, I think everybody is hyping it up too much. We have candidate's words and candidate's speeches here. That should be the focus.We'll be back in 45 seconds with our end game segment. And what Donald Trump said about drug testing presidential candidates.

ANNOUNCER:

Coming up, Meet the Press end-game and post-game brought to you by Boeing, building the future one century at a time.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with End Game. Sometimes Trump says stuff and you just have no idea what he means including this line I think this one was yesterday on drug testing. Listen.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

But we’re like athletes. Right? So athletes they’re making them more and more -- but athletes they make them take a drug test. Right? I think we should take a drug test prior to the debate. I do.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Hugh, of all the head-scratchers this was one. And I have to say, he did it in New Hampshire where the opioid epidemic is real and to just sort of throw that out there.

HUGH HEWITT:

Yeah that comprehensive addiction and recovery act is why Rob Portman is winning in Ohio. If you’re going to talk about athletes talk about Andrew Miller striking out 10 of 12 I’m wearing cleveland Indians yahoo red white and blue here.

CHUCK TODD:

But it’s more about this Hillary Clinton stamina issue.

JOY-ANN REID:

But it gets back to the point that Chris made that is the point that this is not a campaign. What Donald Trump is doing is he’s performing. He’s performing for his audience and he feeds off of and gets emotional sort of support and he has he’s feeding a need in himself. This is not about trying to become President of the United States it’s about whatever it is he plans to do on November 9th.

KRISTEN WELKER:

It’s also firing another warning shot at her before the debate. That it’s going to be no holds barred. Again it’s hard to imagine it could be more no holds barred than the second debate --

CHUCK TODD:

What is this debate -- let me ask you this: What is this debate going to look like? She pulled a punch I feel like she pulled punches in the second debate.

CHRIS CILLIZZA:

Yeah she let him do his thing that she knew would not be -- I think he will continue to just engage in flights of fancy as he appears to be doing at this point. I mean this feels to me, Chuck like a -- we see this in other campaigns, rarely at the presidential level, it’s sort of the you do you end. Which is, okay -- all of his strategists, all those people I think are essentially saying: alright, you're going to do what you want to do anyway so why do you just go and do it in this last month. Now that’s a disastrous strategy if you’re a down-ballot Republican, but it will give him some level of gratification.

CHUCK TODD:

I know what you want Trump to do, what do you think he’s going to do?

HUGH HEWITT:

I expect Secretary Clinton to display expertise using names and places. And Mr. Trump to go after her on Haiti, I think Haiti will be the bingo word of the night.

CHUCK TODD:

That’s interesting. I’ll be surprised.

CHRIS CILLIZZA:

He should I don’t know if he will but he should. I mean can he stick to a message?

CHUCK TODD:

I would be shocked. Alright, quick programing note here. NBC News will provide live coverage of the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday from Las Vegas it begins at 9 o’clock eastern on your local NBC station. That’s all for today. We’ll be back next week. Will it be another one of those unprecedented weeks? Because if it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

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