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Meet the Press

Meet the Press - October 23, 2016

Meet The Press

10.23.16

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, the endgame. Does Donald Trump go scorched earth--

DONALD TRUMP:

All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.

CHUCK TODD:

--or does he try to win or simply end his campaign with dignity?

DONALD TRUMP:

I'm asking the American people to rise above the noise and the clutter of our broken politics.

CHUCK TODD:

Our guests this morning, Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, and Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. Plus, going big.

HILLARY CLINTON:

I have now spent four and a half hours on stage with Donald, proving once again, I have the stamina to be President and Commander-in-chief.

CHUCK TODD:

Does Hillary Clinton try to run up the score to shut down any talk of a rigged election? And Clinton hopes to turn a White House win into a big night for Democrats down the ballot.

HILLARY CLINTON:

She's running against someone who refuses to stand up to Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me for insight and analysis are Tom Friedman of the New York Times, Eliana Johnson of The National Review, Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, and Yamiche Alcindor of The New York Times. 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. While it's too early to declare this election over, remember my colleague Tom Brokaw's "UFO theory," the unforeseen will occur, there's no question that the election is trending in Hillary Clinton's direction. What's in store for the next two and a half weeks though? Does Hillary Clinton play it safe and just try to lock down 270 electoral votes?

Or does she go for a big win, a landslide? Does she try to quell the talk of a rigged election by pushing hard into red states like Utah, Georgia, and Arizona, sensing an opportunity for the biggest electoral victory since the last time a Clinton was on the ballot? And what about Donald Trump? His tone, if not his words, has been noticeably more reserved in the last two days. Trump is seeing the same polls we are. Does he try to win or lose with grace? Does he try to save down-ballot Republicans, or does he even care?

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

If I lose, if I lose.

CHUCK TODD:

Donald Trump is delivering his closing argument, outlining plans for his first hundred days in office, while acknowledging he may never make it to the White House.

DONALD TRUMP:

You know, these guys have said, "It doesn't matter if you win or lose, there's never been a movement like this in the history of this country." I say, "It matters to me whether we win or lose."

CHUCK TODD:

With the Senate and now even the House in the balance, Republicans are bracing themselves for the scorched-earth campaign Trump may run over the next 16 days, scrambling to protect vulnerable seats in any way they can.

DONALD TRUMP:

I'll keep you in suspense.

CHUCK TODD:

Trump's unprecedented threat that he may not accept the election results sent the party into a tailspin. Republicans rushed to condemn Trump.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE:

I don't believe in-- that there's a rigged election system.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator John McCain said in his statement, "In every previous election, the loser congratulates the winner and calls them 'my president.' That's not just the Republican way or the Democratic way, it's the American way." And in a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey Online poll shows that 45 percent of Republicans may not accept the results of the election if Trump loses.

AMY SHIRLEY:

The integrity electoral process is at risk.

DIANE BURKHART:

I think it's already rigged, to be perfectly honest.

CHUCK TODD:

Red states from Arizona to Georgia, even Utah, are now in play. The R.N.C. is focusing Trump where he can do the least harm, pushing him to schedule campaign appearances in traditional battleground states with competitive Senate races, even if Trump himself may not win that state. Because getting out Trump voters still matters.

DONALD TRUMP:

We are going to win the state of Wisconsin.

CHUCK TODD:

But the debate about Trump's actions is now the main issue in competitive races across the country.

FEMALE NARRATOR:

Pat Toomey and Donald Trump, they're just wrong for the women of Pennsylvania.

MALE NARRATOR:

Kelly Ayotte stood by him.

FEMALE NARRATOR:

Burr has taken a post as a top advisor to Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

And on Saturday, an 11th woman came forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct.

DONALD TRUMP:

The events never happened, never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.

CHUCK TODD:

Republicans in tough races are trying everything from complete disavowal--

FEMALE NARRATOR:

No matter who the next president is, New Hampshire needs a strong voice in the U.S. Senate. That Senator, Kelly Ayotte.

MALE NARRATOR:

One Hillary in Washington would be bad enough. Reject Jason Kander.

CHUCK TODD:

--to half-hearted acceptance--

SEN. RON JOHNSON:

Our nominee is a change agent, I am a change agent.

CHUCK TODD:

--and somewhere in between.

MALE VOICE:

I am still in the same mode I was Monday night, which is feeling stuck.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me now is the Democratic nominee for vice president, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. Senator, welcome back to Meet the Press.

SEN. TIM KAINE:

Chuck, good to be with you, thanks.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with whether you believe this race is over. Your running mate, Secretary Clinton, said yesterday that she's done responding to Donald Trump on anything and then added, "As we're traveling in these last 17 days, we're going to be emphasizing the importance of electing Democrats down the ballot." Do you believe this election's in the bag already?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

No we -- neither Hillary nor I do. And if you look at our schedules for the next 17 days, you'll know we're not taking anything for granted. It's been a season of surprises. We, we like what we see now, we like the early voting activity and the absentee-ballot requests coming in in other states. But we are not taking anything for granted. And we're going to hammer to do everything we can before the polls close the evening of November 8th.

CHUCK TODD:

Now I know I want to go to the emails, the hacked emails, WikiLeaks. And I know you guys have a blanket statement here, you don't want to respond to them because you don't believe that they've all been confirmed. But there has been, out of 25,000-some emails released, I think there's only been a dispute about two or three. Why shouldn't the public look at these WikiLeaks emails and have it be something that informs them about Secretary Clinton?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

Well, you know, Chuck, again, these are connected to a Russian government propaganda effort to destabilize the election, to affect the outcome of the election.

CHUCK TODD:

But does that change what's in the emails?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

The motive for them is very, very important for Americans to understand, because this is near historic. And then the one that has referred to me was flat-out, completely incorrect. So I don't know whether it was doctored, or whether the person sending it didn't know what they were talking about. But clearly, I think there's a capacity for much of the information in them to be wrong.

CHUCK TODD:

But as you know, I want to bring up a Politico story from earlier this week. The headline is, "WikiLeaks poisons Hillary's relationship with the left." "We were already kind of suspicious of where Hillary's instincts were, but now we see that she is who we thought she was," said one influential liberal Democratic operative. "The honeymoon is going to be tight and small and maybe nonexistent." Is it fair for progressives to look at these emails and have some doubts about Secretary Clinton's electioneering switches?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

I don't think so, Chuck. I think folks should look at this as a historic election. If we're able to win, it will be America, you know, moving one step closer to our equality ideal, making history, which is what we do when we do our best work. And that should be a cause for excitement. But look, we're all going to have to come together, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, because the nation has serious challenges that we're going to have to tackle together.

I was with Hillary in two great rallies yesterday, and she laid it on in terms of her own views. But she said, "But at the end of the day, if I am president, I have to be president for everybody, and we got to reach out to everybody, to craft an agenda that will work in all parts of this country."

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting that you bring that up. And I heard her say that. She's also described half of Donald Trump supporters as "deplorable." She's also criticizing, for instance, Pat Toomey yesterday for supporting Donald Trump. Does that mean you're not-- if she wants to pledge to be president of all the people, but are you going to be able to work with Republicans who supported Donald Trump? Or when you campaign against Republicans who support Donald Trump, does that mean you don't want to work with them once they come to Washington?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

I think the best evidence of that, Chuck, is both of our track records. Hillary had a super track record as a senator, working on the Armed Services and other committees, working across the aisle. She also had that record as First Lady. And I'm really struck as a senator from Virginia, how many of my Republican colleagues talk up their respect for Hillary. And I know that that's the way she'll approach governing.

Of course, we stand with our teams during an election season. That doesn't surprise anybody. But after Election Day, the public expects us to reach across the aisle. That's what I have done in my career in Virginia and now in the Senate and that's Hillary's track record too.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me go back though to WikiLeaks and one on T.P.P. This one was allegedly from Ron Klain, who's been helping with debate prep, and it was about the T.P.P. flip-flop. And he says this: "She has to be for it. She called it the 'gold standard' of trade agreement. I think opposing that would be a huge flip-flop. She can say that as President, she would work to change it. She can say that it can be better. But I think she should support it." Why shouldn't her new position on T.P.P. from the campaign be referred to as a flip-flop? Why isn't it a standard definition of flip-flop?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

Well, look. I mean, I'll use my own example. I voted to give the president the fast-track ability to negotiate the best trade deal possible. But at the time I cast that vote in 2015, I said, "Look, I have a couple of concerns. And you've got to address these concerns, because I'm not guaranteeing I'll vote for it on the merits." The concerns weren't addressed. My concerns were largely around enforcement issues.

Hillary had the same view that there were a number of things in it that she liked, but other things she didn't. And as was the case, when she was a senator, remember, Hillary voted for some trade deals and she voted against others. If they didn't meet her standard of raising the number of jobs, raising wages, and focusing on the enforcement and national security angles, she'd vote against them. And her conclusion about the T.P.P., which is required to be voted on, up or down, no amendments, is that it falls far short of her standards.

CHUCK TODD:

Was it a requirement before you joined the ticket that you come out against T.P.P.?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

It wasn't at all? Because you didn't come out as forcefully until after you joined the ticket.

SEN. TIM KAINE:

Well, it was because, look, we're still months away from a vote. I'll tell you where I was. I was in the middle of meeting with various groups about the final product. But I had put on the record in 2015 deep concerns that I had, especially about the enforcement provisions. Those concerns were not addressed.

And, you know, I tell you, the trade deals, if they're good enough, can be okay. But if you embrace a trade deal that's bad, you deepen people's skepticism about trade in general. And it's better to wait and try to find deals that meet your standards and not embrace deals that substandard.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, after the election, President Obama's going to be traveling overseas, probably talking up the idea of T.P.P. and an Asian trade agreement. If you guys are elected, will you pursue an Asian trade agreement, even if it's not the T.P.P.?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

Hillary and I haven't talked about that question directly, Chuck. But look, we aren't against trade. We want to find export markets for American businesses because they'll be able to add workers the more they export. That's very important. And whether it's in Asia or in Europe, if we can find deals that meet those goals, more jobs, higher wages, and good for natural security, and good enforcement provisions, we're open to them. So no, you never close the door if you can get a deal that's going to be good for American workers and our economy.

CHUCK TODD:

So she could pursue a version of T.P.P.?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

Again, we haven't talked about that in particular. We are not yet sure what the process is going to be for whether the Republican Senate and the House are going to bring T.P.P. up for a vote. We don't know what Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are going to do. If I am in the Senate, I'm going to vote against it. So we have to wait and see what they do. But again, Hillary's laid out the standard. A deal has to meet three pillars, and if it doesn't, we can't support it. And T.P.P. doesn't.

CHUCK TODD:

You think it's going-- if you're elected, do you think it will be appropriate or inappropriate for you as vice president elect to still serve in the lame-duck Senate?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

Well, it's pretty common for serve, at least during part of it. One of the issues that would be practical, again, we're not getting ahead of ourselves, I'm not assuming I'm going to win, but if I do, then the governor of Virginia would have to make a decision about who to appoint to replace me. And that decision isn't necessarily automatic. And so rather than leave a gap, where Virginia would only have one senator, I would want to at least serve until there's a replacement to be named.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm curious if as a Catholic, you were offended by one of the WikiLeaks that came out of, it was an email exchange that included the campaign spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri, one person wrote that-- referring to Rupert Murdoch, for instance, that they are both Catholic, that they are attracted to the faith because of the quote, "systemic thought and severely backward gender relations."

And then Jennifer Palmieri reportedly weighs in, "I imagine they think it is the most socially-acceptable, politically-conservative religion, their rich friends wouldn't understand if they became evangelicals." Did that bother you as a Catholic, Senator?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

Well, you know, first, I don't know whether, you know, those folks wrote those emails or not, so I really can't comment on the attribution of them.

CHUCK TODD:

But a lot of Catholic-Americans have heard that. And some of them are offended by it. What do you say to them?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

Here's what I say to them. Hillary Clinton's feeling about faith and about Catholicism in particular is most demonstrated by the fact that she asked me to be a running mate. And she described one of the reasons that she felt a connection with me was because of my own faith background, my missionary service in Honduras, and my Jesuit education, which she felt was a pretty close match in some ways for her Methodist upbringing. That is the most direct evidence about what Hillary thinks about Catholics.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, and one final question here, last week I asked Vice President Biden why the Obama administration wasn't implementing a no-fly zone over Aleppo, and I know Secretary Clinton endorsed the idea of a no-fly zone over Syria. Here's what the Vice President said to me, and I want to ask you about it on the other side.

(BEGIN TAPE)

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:

The first things first. We must defeat ISIL. 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.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

The Obama administration says both can't be done. Secretary Clinton believes they can. Why do you think the Obama administration is wrong?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

Well, look, I'm a strong supporter of the President, strong supporter of the President. But since February of 2014, I've suggested that the United States and other nations should help implement the U.N. Security Council resolution that was passed during that month to allow for the cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid to safe spaces in northern Syria.

I don't think it would be easy or automatic. And in that sense, I agree with Vice President Biden. But back then, I felt like if we didn't do it, we would see what we have in fact seen, which is a mass exodus of refugees from Syria that are dangerous to the refugees themselves and destabilize other countries. My concern is that if we do not do that, we will continue to see an exodus that will continue to cause a security challenge.

CHUCK TODD:

And very quickly, I meant to ask you this, there's a report over the weekend, AT&T is going to buy Time Warner, already some Democrats, including Al Franken are very skeptical of the merger, including Donald Trump as well. But Al Franken said, "I'm skeptical of huge media mergers because they can lead to higher costs, fewer choices, and even worse service for consumers." Are you a skeptic of this merger as well?

SEN. TIM KAINE:

I share those concerns and questions. We've got to get to the bottom of them. Generally pro competition. And less concentration I think is generally helpful, especially in the media. But this has just been announced, and I haven't had a chance to dig into the details. But those are the kinds of questions that we need to be asking.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Senator Tim Kaine, the Democratic nominee for Vice President.

SEN. TIM KAINE:

Thanks, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you, sir. Thanks for coming.

SEN. TIM KAINE:

You bet.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, we're going to hear from the other side. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway joins us. Ask her about some of those tough new poll numbers that just came out. But as we go to break throughout the show, we'll give you a little light moment here, with S.N.L. take on the election last night.

(BEGIN TAPE)

KATE MCKINNON:

In the first debate, I set the table. In the second debate, I fired up the grill, and tonight, I feast.

(END TAPE)

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, just out this morning is a new ABC tracking poll, and it has some tough news for Donald Trump, the poll has Hillary Clinton up by double digits nationally, 12 points, 50 to 38 in a four-way race. This is according to them, likely voters. Last week, by the way, ABC's poll had Clinton up by just four. Joining me now is the campaign manager for Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway. Kellyanne, welcome back to the show.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Hi Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me just ask you about all of these national polls have come out, most of them have shown a large lead for Secretary Clinton, there are a couple that have different methodology that have shown a tighter race. Where do you see this race right now? Do you acknowledge that your behind?

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

We are behind. She has some advantages, like $66 million in ad buys just in the month of September, thereby doubling her ad buys from August. Now, most of those ads are negative against Donald Trump, classic politics, personal destruction, cesspool kind of ads. And that she has tremendous advantages.

She has a former president, happens to be her husband, campaigning for her. The current president and First Lady, Vice President, all much more popular than she can hope to be. And she's seen as the incumbent. So our advantage going in when we're behind one, three, four points in some of these swing states that Mitt Romney lost to President Obama, Chuck our advantage is that Donald Trump is just going to continue to take the case directly to the people.

He doesn't expect to be able to cut through the noise or the silence and the way we're treated by some. And so he's taking the case, he's going to visit all of these swing states many times, as is his running mate, Governor Pence. And we feel that with Hillary Clinton under 50 percent in some of these places, even though she has run a very traditional and expensive campaign, that we have a shot of getting those undecided voters that somehow have said, "I know who Hillary Clinton is, I don't want to vote for her, I don't much trust or like her," we need to bring them aboard over the next couple of weeks.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, so yesterday then it made a lot of sense that you guys had a reset speech, Donald Trump going to Gettysburg to try to, and he quoted Lincoln at the top, talking about healing divisions. But before he got to his first 100-day agenda items, and it was as substantive of a speech that he's given in a couple of months, he started out talking about threatening to sue all of the accusers that have come out alleging sexual misconduct. Is that a way to reset the last 16 days of this campaign?

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

It's a way to-- it's a way to defend himself, and remind everybody what he has said many times, which is none of this is true, they're fabrications, they're all lies. And he dispensed with that in a sentence or two. But he did talk about the rigged, corrupt system. And it did, unfortunately, include some of the media. Not most, not all.

But it does include some. We see all these revelations, Chuck, 96 percent of the donations politically went to Hillary Clinton by working journalists, 96 percent. There's no arguing with a number like that--

CHUCK TODD:

There was no political journalists in there. I get where you're going with that. But that includes people that cover sports or entertainment--

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Well, this is important though.

CHUCK TODD:

I mean, I'm just saying, I mean, let's at least give it some nuance here.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Okay, let's give it nuance. So we'll give it down a couple points from 96 percent. There is no nuance, there is no nuance in some of these revelations, Chuck. You have a print reporter from a major outlet saying, "Hey, I'm now just a hack," John Podesta. So here Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, "Do you like what I'm saying in my article? Here's some editorial latitude for you if you'd like to change anything?"

I mean, this just should not be-- so when he talks about the rigged, corrupt system, remember, he's standing up for the forgotten man and the forgotten woman. This is not about him. This is about the people. This is about folks who are white-knuckled at the end of each month trying to pay the bills. This is about people who feel like their pressing their nose against the glass of the rigged system and can't get in, they're just watching everybody else benefit. He's speaking for them. And he has legitimacy here, Chuck, because he was once an insider. He said that yesterday--

CHUCK TODD:

No, I understand that--

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

He's breathed verified air.

CHUCK TODD:

But he didn't speak about that. He instead focused on himself. He instead talked about the allegations and he instead brought it up. I mean, does his campaign--

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

That was a small piece of a 42-minute speech. That was. It was a small piece.

CHUCK TODD:

Threatening a lawsuit though to all of these women. Let me ask you this, if they're all, why not sue them now? Why wait till after the election?

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Because we're busy winning the presidency. We're a little bit busy over here doing that. And but he's just I think putting people on notice, that they can't just falsely accuse them. He has said, "None of this has happened, they're all fabrications and lies."

And then he went on to give, I thought, a really muscular, robust, very substantive outline of what he would do. I worked on the first Contract with America, this reminded me of that, Chuck, in that there is specific solutions and he also says, "Hold us accountable. There's no accountability in Washington. Drain the swamp."

CHUCK TODD:

Given the various tweets, maybe subtle tweets that you've done this week, when people have said, "Hey," somebody shouted, "I wish he would focus on message more." Or, "Boy, 'bad hombres,' that's a Trump-being-Trump answer, not a Conway-esque answer." And you sort of pointed almost with a wink and a nod. And then I want to get you to react to something that a Trump supporter said to Mike Pence yesterday. Take a listen.

(BEGIN TAPE)

TRUMP SUPPORTER::

Tell Donald Trump to stick to the issues. And he'll beat Hillary. I'm tired of the crap.

FEMALE SUPPORTER:

Good luck, good luck.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

That voter, if you didn't fully hear it, I know you don't have a monitor in front of you, he said, "Tell Donald Trump," this is what he said to Mike Pence, "Tell Donald Trump to stick to the issues. If he does, he can win." Do you wish he wouldn't have brought up the lawsuit threat yesterday?

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

I think Donald Trump is at his best when he sticks to the issues. It's how he started, it's what's propelled his candidacy, and it's how he beats Hillary Clinton. The issues that actually benefits the Trump/Pence ticket in this way. People believe that radical Islamic terrorism has not been defeated. They don't much like Obamacare, they think it's been a bad deal for many Americans. They certainly think everyday affordability is elusive to them, Chuck.

And they're very concerned about education. All of which in trade and renegotiating these awful trade deals, bringing back manufacturing jobs, that's the issue set, building the wall, securing the border, that propels Donald Trump. And when he talks at it like he did yesterday in Gettysburg, he's at his finest. Just on those tweets, because I actually have a sense of humor that maybe some are lacking, earlier in the debate, as does my client here, Donald Trump, so that's all good. We're having a great time here.

On the Bob Costa, "bad hombres," and the rest 'Conwayesque' tweet, that came early in the debate. And I only retweeted it for a very simple reason. I was literally gleeful, and a little bit emotional, which is not really my style, on just hearing at last a Republican presidential candidate before tens of millions of people giving the best messaging, the best impassioned defense of life, the sanctity of life that I have heard anyone give.

And it took a Manhattan billionaire who used to be pro-choice to do it. He talked about being pro-life, and what it meant, and then he took the case right to Hillary Clinton. "You're the one who's extreme, abortion anyone, anytime, anywhere, you would rip a baby out of the womb." Been working on that for decades, it took Donald Trump to do it.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this final question here, the election-rigging criticism, voter-fraud fears, this and that. Donald Trump appears to have walked it back a little bit, you walk it back a lot. Everybody that works for Donald Trump has walked it back a lot. But our new NBC/SurveyMonkey poll showed nearly half of Trump supporters will believe the election is rigged if he doesn't win. Do you accept some responsibility, or does the campaign accept some responsibility for that number being so high with so little evidence to prove it?

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

No, people already think the entire system is rigged against him, and they're right, meaning, the corrupt, rigged system. The elections every four years are just part of that to them. They feel like they can't get a fair shake. It is the essence of the Donald Trump candidacy, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

But do you believe-- do you believe the elections are rigged in this country?

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

I believe-- well, I don't like a lot of the information that we've been reading, the objecting information about all the dead people on the rolls, all the--

CHUCK TODD:

You know, people die every--

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

All the illegal immigrants who are not allowed to--

CHUCK TODD:

But let me ask you this-- but all of that stuff's been debunked. I mean, people die, there's something--

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

That's not true--

CHUCK TODD:

Nearly two and a half million people die every year that are on the voter rolls. So it takes time to get dead people off the voter rolls.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

It takes our government an awful lot of time to do most things competently, and that's part of the problem here. He's talking about the entire rigged, corrupt system. But look, when it comes to the elections, I think if you went through every single hypothetical possible, with my colleague Robby Mook, even his client, Hillary Clinton, they would walk back, "We're going to accept the election results."

Meaning, he said, "Well, if you lost by a half a point in this state, or if it came down to 500-some votes in that state, we just don't know." And so of course we respect the principles in American democracy, and if we're so high-mindedly concerned about the principles of American democracy, as so many chest-beaters were this week, Chuck, ask Hillary Clinton why she takes tens of millions of dollars from countries that hate women and disrespect women, that throw gays off of buildings. That is not respecting our democracy, using the State Department as a concierge for foreign donations, not really respecting our American democracy.

CHUCK TODD:

Kellyanne Conway, I will leave it there. Thanks for coming on the show.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Appreciate it. Okay. Coming up, we're going to look at some early clues about how the vote may be going from absentee ballots that have already been returned in two key states, Florida and North Carolina. Stay with us.

* * *COMMERCIAL BREAK* * *

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, panel is here. Stuart Stevens, first time joining us on the panel, was Mitt Romney's chief strategist in 2012, Yamiche Alcindor, national political reporter for The New York Times, Eliana Johnson, Washington Editor for the National Review, welcome to the table for the first time and Tom Friedman, columnist for The New York Times. All right, we had both Tim Kaine, Kellyanne Conway alright let's start with the politics and we'll get to a little bit of substance. Stuart, you've been in her role before. Interpret what she said when it came to Donald Trump's hundred-day speech at the, at Gettysburg.

STUART STEVENS:

Look your job she has is to go out and spin whatever happens. I think going out with those accusations that you're gonna sue everybody is the craziest way to begin a substantive speech. You can imagine I mean it's like you know a groom showing up to rehearsal dinner with a stripper and thinking the wedding is going to go okay. I mean people are not going to be talking about anything else but this. And you know what I just wonder inside Trump world was this scripted and did they know it or does he just do it? And I really have no idea, but it just stops you from being able to deliver a clear message.

CHUCK TODD:

Yamiche?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

Well she was trying to say that yes, he should stay on the issues and the idea is that she didn't want to say, she didn't want to go behind him and say you know he should not have brought up these women but that's really what happened. In the debate on, you could tell that he also was kind of sticking to the issues, he was at his best when he was talking about abortion, talking about guns. Conservatives like that. And then he started saying that he might not accept the, the results of the election that turned the whole headline into that. So when he sticks on his issues, he's at his best and his, everybody that's working for him is trying to get him to do that but Trump is gonna really go down the way he wants to.

CHUCK TODD:

Eliana, I'd laid out this morning, like, all the coverage of his speech yesterday. And only The Wall Street Journal did the headline as the agenda, and the subhead as the law-- as, as the lawsuits. Everybody else was the lawsuits was the headline, and the agenda was the subhead. But that's a problem right there.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

Yeah. You know, people always ask, "Oh, are these things scripted? And does he plan it? And are his aides in that?" No, I think when Trump goes out and acts like Trump and says these unscripted things, he then ends up putting his aides in these horribly uncomfortable positions of having to go out and defend what he says.

We just saw Kellyanne Conway do it, very, very uncomfortable for the people that work for him. And as Stu mentioned, you know, that's kind of the position you, you put yourself in when you're working for a guy like that. It's very uncomfortable.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to move to, to Tim Kaine. Tom, you, you, you've spent a lot of time traveling the world. And this T.P.P. issue, nobody has ever truly believed, if you've covered Hillary Clinton long enough, nobody's ever truly believed that her switch on this was anything other than political. Did anything Tim Kaine said convince you otherwise?

TOM FRIEDMAN:

Not in the least. I just want to say one thing about Kellyanne Conway. If I were an oil company, and I had a huge spill on the coast of California, I'm hiring her. I have never seen anybody able to talk her way out of a, out of a bad client. The, the real truth, I think Chuck, when we look back at this election, it'll be the election that both parties actually blew up.

I think Donald Trump blew up the Republican party. I think Bernie Sanders kind of blew up the Democratic party, but it was patched over because of the urgency of defeating Donald Trump who was a much greater threat. And trade will be a central part of what we'll-- we'll see that fracture, I think it's the first place it'll appear after the election.

CHUCK TODD:

And we're going to see it right away. As you know, right after, it's always the November trip, being a White House correspondent, I hated it, you know, it's, it's the long, the long trip. President Obama's going to be talking up T.P.P. the whole time. So immediately, the President and potentially the President-elect, you know, actually no matter who wins the presidency are going to be at odds over a huge deal around the world.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

Well, I actually--

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

I've been, oh go ahead.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

Well, I actually think that, that that's exactly right. And because the crisis in the Republican party is garnering all the headlines, that Democrats are overlooking the looming crisis in their party, because I think the primary between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Cl-- Hillary Clinton really showed that Hillary Clinton is where the head of the Democratic party is, but the people really are with Bernie Sanders, particularly on trade.

And you saw Tim Kaine say, "Well, no, I'm-- we're definitely not for T.P.P. An Asian trade agreement? Yeah, we're probably for that." But you know, the Democratic party's, their heart is against that. And it's going to be a bloody fight. And the same is true in the Republican party.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

I've been talking to Repub-- to progressives all week that are telling me that they're already organizing against Hillary Clinton as if she were a Republican president. They're looking at her saying, "We're going to have to push her every step of the way. And we don't trust her." So this idea about T.P.P., they're not going to like Tim Kaine's answer. I watched him and listened to him and they're thinking to themselves that "I don't-- I don't trust these people. I don't know what they're going to do when they get in there."

CHUCK TODD:

Boy, part--

TOM FRIEDMAN:

The irony Chuck is that T.P.P. represents the single greatest liberal achievement on trade since we've negotiated trade agreements. The first deal that has real labor protection and real environmental protection. And that's exactly what Obama will be selling the morning after.

CHUCK TODD:

Ironically, Stu, and I've actually had some Democrats say this to me, and especially in this issue, if you are Hillary Clinton, secretly you may hope Paul Ryan is still the Speaker of the House. That you need one Republican majority to basically tell progressives, "This is as far as I can go."

STUART STEVENS:

Well, what's extraordinary about this debate on trade is that the Republican is really to the left of the Democrat.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

STUART STEVENS:

I mean, he's up there saying, "Bernie Sanders was right, and he wants 45% tariffs." It's like, "Well, whoa, whoa, whoa." So I don't-- I think it would be good to have someone like Paul Ryan there who can argue a more conservative viewpoint of why we need this.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let's go into some numbers. And Stuart, I really want to get your reaction to this. We got some early voting numbers here, it's a reminder people are already voting. Over four million people have already cast their ballot in this election so far. And we know the partisan breakdown of these voters. And you can see how the candidates are stacking up to years past.

So a data that was partially provided by a Democratic firm called TargetSmart, Florida's absentee vote so far, both Republicans and Democrats are pulling about the same numbers here, how the party's voted, Stuart, 42, 42, 39, 39. So at-- to 40, about the same. But look at these North Carolina numbers. Republicans accounted for 50 percent of all absentee vote in 2012, while Democrats accounted for just 28 percent of the absentee vote. Now it's much closer, 40 to 35. It's proof that it looks like the Democrats have the mechanic advantage.

STUART STEVENS:

Yeah, you know, all of our modeling in political politics, presidential politics breaks from basically two equal campaigns. We've never had a situation where-- the Trump campaign really doesn't have much of an organization. It's more of a concert tour. And it, it-- what are the implications of that? Now some have argued, as Trump did in the primary, it doesn't really matter. We're really going to see the first test of that.

Because say what you will about the Clinton campaign, they have designed a very effective machine with top people. And I think that Republicans are greatly disadvantaged in these states, because we never went through the steps to the presidential campaign of raising money and giving it to the states to bill this. So we'll see how it plays out. And these early numbers are the best indicator.

CHUCK TODD:

And Eliana, how, how much panic do you hear from Sen-- Senate candidates? I mean, if you're Richard Burr, that-- that's got to freak you out.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

Absolutely. You know, I would add one note of caution about these early-voting numbers in that all-- we don't know how any of these people went into the ballot box and actually pulled the lever.

CHUCK TODD:

Of course, this is just partisan-- Right.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

They're just based on the party somebody's affiliated with. And one of the things people have speculated about is are Democrat-- Democrats going to vote like traditional Democrats, union voters trending toward Trump, are Republicans going to vote like traditional Republicans?

So just a note of caution on that. But, you know, to Stu's point, this is like a political science experiment in whether ground game matters. And what I've heard from Senate candidates are they essentially have had to build up presidential-type ground games in each and every state. And that's tremendously difficult to do.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, I'm going to wrap this up here. But we'll know on Election Day if, if her lead increases from what the national polls say, then it'll tell us I think that ground games do matter. All right, when we come back, it was the Beach Boys who sang, "Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world." Well, if the Democrats catch a wave on Election Day, could they wind up sitting on top of the Senate and the House? That's next. But first, a little more from last night's S.N.L.

(BEGIN TAPE)

TOM HANKS:

So you're just never going to answer a question about your emails?

KATE MCKINNON:

No, but it was very cute to watch you try.

(END TAPE)

* * *COMMERCIAL BREAK* * *

CHUCK TODD:

And we are back, data download time. Hillary Clinton is holding onto a solid lead in the presidential race. So Democrats are looking to run up the score down the ballot. Their chances to take back the Senate already look pretty good. But what would turn 2016 into an actual wave election that could help Democrats get the 30 seats they would need to win a House majority?

Well, our pal Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report rated these 19 House districts across the country as pure toss-up races. Of these 19, 17 are currently held by Republicans, just two by Democrats. So if this does become a wave election, Democrats would probably win the lion's share of those races.

So, throw those in. Add in several seats that Democrats are likely to win largely because of redistricting that took place in Florida and Virginia and the Democrats could net 21 seats just in those two categories. However, for this truly to be a wave election, Democrats are going to have to score some upsets in places Republicans normally win.

So these are the 12 lean Republican races across the country. There are three that I'm going to pay special attention to on election night. They're my canaries in the coal mine. The House seats in Kansas City, Kansas, Des Moines, Iowa, and Indiana's ninth district, which includes Bloomington in Indiana and the suburbs around Louisville, Kentucky. These are going to be the, the races to watch to see if Democrats win two of these three or all three of them, then we will, it will tell you a lot about moderate Republican turnout that may have not been there, which could in turn mean a bad night for the Republicans across the board.

We did see big waves in 2006 when the Democrats took back the House and the Senate, and in 2010 when Republicans flipped the House back by a huge margin. Yet, despite of all of this, history may not be on the Democrats' side. The last time the House of Representatives changed hands in a presidential election year, 1952. So ask yourself, is this an Eisenhower wave that's coming? When we come back, we'll talk about whether there is a real possibility to rig a general election in the United States. But as we go to break, here's another light moment from last night's S.N.L.

(BEGIN TAPE)

ALEC BALDWIN:

All of the newscasters are making me look so bad.

TOM HANKS:

And how are we doing that?

ALEC BALDWIN:

By taking all of the things I say and all of the things I do and putting them on TV.

(END TAPE)

* * *COMMERCIAL BREAK.* * *

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with our panel. Before we get to this election rigging stuff, I want to talk about what I just did in the Data Download, the House, it's a long shot. Not since 52 has the house changed hands in a presidential election year. So, if it does, who leads the Republican party, Tom?

TOM FRIEDMAN:

I think, you know, I find myself with two minds when I think of that Chuck. One is, you'd like to have Republicans have skin in the game. Both for the reasons you talked about, to discipline the left-wing of the Democratic party but also that we can't get anything big done without that. But I have another mind, that maybe this party needs to crash and burn. This version of the Republican party needs to die. So out of the ashes, just as a new Democratic party came out of the post-McGovern, post-Dukakis era, that we will get a Democratic leadership council movement, a sane Republican party.

CHUCK TODD:

There you go.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

That is going to happen regardless, whether Republicans lose the House. You're seeing that happen right now.

CHUCK TODD:

But seventy-five percent of the party are Trump voters, it's only 25 percent that think the way you think, right Eliana?

ELIANA JOHNSON:

Well, what I think's going to happen is the party is crashing and burning right now and Donald Trump, I think, will preach to the converted after the election but the party is going to have to -- Trump supporters, I think, haven't gotten the attention that they deserve from the party. And the party's going to grapple with how to incorporate Trump supporters and parts of Trump-ism, on trade and immigration in particular, and I think that needs to happen. I think both parties have neglected these voters. Many of them are former Democrats.

CHUCK TODD:

What's best for the Republican party, total collapse? Or keep Paul Ryan there to be the guy that, sort of----

STUART STEVENS:

I think where the Republican party goes is totally up in the air. But it's got to be reality based. I mean I just keep going back to this, in 1980 when Ronald Reagan won 44 states with 56 percent white vote. Mitt Romney got 59 percent in 2012 and lost. So, you know, a lot of these conversations here about the Republican party are like -- on the interstate you've got to drive 100 miles, 40 miles of gas, and you're debating whether or not you should stop for gas. The car doesn't care. It's going to stop. And Republicans either have to decide that we can reach out to more non-white voters and win presidential elections or not. There's really no alternative.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

When I go to these rallies for Pence and for Donald Trump and I talk to people, they really don't feel as though the Republican party really stuck with them. They feel like the party just doesn't understand the anxiety that they're feeling, both about the economy and also about healthcare, and what they're going to take care of their families. And in some ways, they sound like people who voted for Obama. I was working on some things, talking to people about whether or not they voted for Obama, and people were like, even with him there was going to be change and the economy was going to be better. So the Republican party, 75 percent of them, don't sound like the people that the establishment says they are.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, it's interesting that you bring that up. Look, Iowa and Ohio are the two states that haven't sort of -- where Hillary Clinton hasn't taken off during this spell. That means, Eliana, there are Obama voters from '12, who when they painted Mitt Romney as the guy who fired you, you know, that voted Obama over him, and those people are with Trump, because he's talking the way Obama talked about Romney.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

Yeah, I think there's not an enormous segment, but a significant segment of the electorate that feels when Trump talks about a rigged election, that doesn't feel necessarily that the election is going to be rigged, but that the system is rigged against them, that they haven't gotten the attention from either party that they deserve.

And I think that's scorned by at least in both parties. And I don't think to Stu's point that the debate is over whether or not the Republican party needs to reach out to minority voters or to these voters, but it's how to do that. It's is immigration reform the magic bullet or does moderating some of the party's stances on entitlement reform or the welfare state, is that a more constructive way to do it?

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Tom, it does seem as if, and I thought one of your compatriots on the op-ed page this morning, Ross Douthat, I thought he had an interesting, he said, "The risks with Hillary Clinton is this idea of group think about globalization." It was among the risks. And this is what some skeptical Trump people, who still may vote for him, are thinking about, that you know what, maybe she's not going to rethink how globalism works.

TOM FRIEDMAN:

Well, I would take it one step deeper, if I could Chuck. I think we're in the middle of the single greatest technological inflection point since Gutenberg invented the printing press. I think the workplace is fundamentally being transformed. And what Bill Clinton said back in 1992 just doesn't apply anymore.

What did he say in that convention, "If you work hard, play by the rules, you should be in the middle class." Well, good luck with that. Today you have to work harder, relearn faster, retool, reengineer. And, you know, Eliana went to daughter with my college-- college with my daughter, which shows how old I am. Okay? And I always used to say, "When I graduate from college, I got to find a job."

When my daughters graduate from college, they have to invent a job. That's what's new. All right? And then, you may get lucky and get your first job, but you've got to invent, reinvent. And nobody wants to trust the people with that truth. Because it's really scary.

CHUCK TODD:

Does the Clinton campaign get this?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

It's hard to say if they get this, because if you hear them talking about the economy, or like, and if you hear them talking about giving people opportunities, they still believe that if you go to college, or if you do this. It sounds like they're saying, "You can have the--"

CHUCK TODD:

Sounds like Bill Clinton.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

It sounds like Clinton-- This is an America that you can have. There is this American dream. But then when you talk to people who have four degrees or master's programs and they can't find jobs, or they're living in the basements of their parents' house, those are people who maybe voted for Bernie Sanders, or maybe those are people who are solid Trump supporters. Those people overlap in their life experiences.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let me take a quick pause here, 45 seconds with our endgame segment, including something that hasn't happened since Harry Truman's first year in office.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:Back now with End Game. Despite all the talk about Hillary Clinton wanting to work across the aisle or what we've been talking about here. About should Paul Ryan stay or go? What's better for the Republican party? It's clear politically, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both are looking for a wave. Look at how much President Obama is suddenly appearing in down ballot TV ads. Here's a little montage.

(BEGIN TAPE)

BARACK OBAMA:Terri's running for Congress and we need a lot more people like her in Washington.

BARACK OBAMA:

Vote for Brad Schneider and the Democrats so we can keep America's promise to our seniors.

BARACK OBAMA:

Salga Y vote por Patrick. Su voto es muy importante. Gracias amigos.

BARACK OBAMA:

Charlie needs your vote. Please stand with him. I know he'll always stand with you.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Stuart, this reminds me a little bit of Mitt Romney 2014. He became popular enough to use--

STUART STEVENS:

Yep.

CHUCK TODD:

--in all of these down ballot ads. Barack Obama, sitting with anywhere from a 53 to 57 percent approval rating. He's suddenly popular in swing state ads.

STUART STEVENS:It's a, it's a huge advantage for any party to have a popular incumbent president. It's one of the few ways that you can elect a third term of someone in the White House. If you're a Clinton advance person, it's a sweet spot to be in for the next few weeks, because you can call up Bill Clinton. They say, "Do you want the president, do you want the first lady, do you want Bernie Sanders, do you want Bill Clinton? How about Joe Biden?" You can build a rally with those people. And they each have constituencies. And it's really starkly different when you see what's happening with the Trump campaign and who he's traveling with. It limits their audience appeal.

CHUCK TODD:

Eliana, how are these Senate candidates handling this? That suddenly President Obama is playing a pretty mean-- he called out Marco Rubio at events, she's calling out Pat Toomey. I mean, this has to make that vice grip a little bit tighter.

ELIANA JOHNSON:

Well, I think Republican candidates are constrained not only by Democratic strengths, but by Trump's weaknesses because a lot of polling shows that Republican voters and Democratic voters want a check on a Clinton presidency. But Republican candidates can't say that. There's a segment of Trump voters who will spurn them and vote against them, threaten to vote against them, if they do say that. So they cannot go out and campaign on, on essentially conceding the election to Hillary Clinton. The N.R.S.C. is now running ads on Republican Senate candidates being in check to Clinton. But I don't think that's going to be enough. I think if they were going to do that, they'd have to say it forthrightly. And they cannot do that.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, you-- Nevada Senate, Tom. Joe Heck, the Republican nominee, he came out against when Trump, when the sexual-assault language came out, he said, "You know what, my--" basically, he said it was personal for him. His wife had been a victim of sexual assault. And he just couldn't do it. Apparently he hasn't led in a poll since. That Trump voters are punishing him, I mean, that's a vice grip.

TOM FRIEDMAN:

Yeah, and I think what is even scarier, Chuck, is what happens if Trump loses after the election? Which Donald Trum-- And people say he's going to start his own media company and be constantly then terrorizing the Republican party from the right. This should be very interesting. You see a real tension between Trump ink, I-N-K, and Trump Inc., I-N-C okay? Because look, the United States Golf Association next year I think is holding the women's U.S. Open at a Trump Golf Course.

CHUCK TODD:

Will they?

TOM FRIEDMAN:

Oh, that's gonna get real interesting.

CHUCK TODD:Yeah.

TOM FRIEDMAN:So you're gonna see a real tension between Trump ink and Trump Inc. after this election.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

And the people that are punishing the, the, the down-ballot candidates, that are basically pushing back against Trump, they're buying into this idea that the election is rigged. So if you say, "I want a check on Hillary Clinton," you're conceding in their minds that you are buying into this system, that you are somehow part of this system that is denying Trump his rightful win. And that's a problem. And I should say, just to add, I covered Bernie Sanders for a long time. And Bernie Sanders, he would say, "The, the economy's rigged." He never said the election was rigged. But this idea is that it, it was I think seeds that grew into what we see now. Because it's not a, a far leap for some people.

CHUCK TODD:

Stuart, why does your party struggle with its most conservative movement being satisfied with incrementalism, while the progressive wing of the Democratic party accepts it?

STUART STEVENS:

Umm, I think it has to do with the base of the Republican party being a base that always assumed that the next generation would be better. They really bought into this idea that if you could work hard, that this is sort of like a, a birthright of being an American. And that basic compoun--pact with the government and with society feels threatened. And I think that that's very frightening.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, we will leave it there. By the way, I should note, I'm a Dodgers fan. And my staff is making me do this. Last night, the Cubs clinched, and I'll say this clinched-teeth, trip to the World Series after beating my Dodgers five to nothing, because they didn't pitch Clayton Kershaw in game five. Anyway, the Cubs will be facing the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday. Keep in mind, the Cubs haven't been in a World Series since 1945, Harry Truman's first year in office. And they won a World Series, they haven't won one since a Roosevelt was president, Teddy Roosevelt. That was in 1908. In fact, they've only won World Series when Teddy Roosevelt is president. Is that an omen? Does that mean the Indians win? By the way, 2016 connection, here's Hillary Clinton, a one-time Chicago native, celebrating the-- watching the Cubs post-game celebration. She did not don a Yankees cap. All right, that's all we got for this week. Two more Sundays until Election Day. And we'll be back next week, because if it is Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *