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Meet The Press Transcript - August 2, 2015

MEET THE PRESS - AUGUST 2, 2015

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, a potential political bombshell. Word that Joe Biden is now seriously considering taking on Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. We'll have the latest on what we really know. Also, game on. It's Republican debate week.

DONALD TRUMP:

And he was, "Oh, hit Trump, and hit Tr--" I'm going to be, like, in the lion's den, right?

CHUCK TODD:

How will the other contenders deal with a wild card like Donald Trump?

JEB BUSH:

I'll be showing up with my big boy pants on.

CHUCK TODD:

The man himself, Donald Trump, joins me this morning. Plus, our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll with the latest clues as to who's in and who's out. And I'll be joined by the other non-politician who's been breaking through, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. We'll talk immigration, Black Lives Matter, and the Iran deal.

BEN CARSON:

It is perhaps the worst deal in the history of the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm Chuck Todd and joining me to provide insight and analysis this busy Sunday morning are MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post, Helene Cooper of The New York Times, and Jerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

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

CHUCK TODD:

And good morning, this is certainly not your average sleepy Sunday in August. If you love politics, if you love presidential campaigns, this is the show for you this morning. All this week, we've been talking about one thing: the first Republican presidential debate. But if that's not enough for your junkies out there, suddenly we've got a potential political stunner.

Today's lead story in The New York Times is this: Vice President Joe Biden is said to be taking a more serious look at jumping into the Democratic race. Of course, a Biden candidacy would completely upend the Democratic primary. We'll get to that potential game changer in a moment, with our own recording about what's really going on in Biden world, and about the timing with which he may make a decision.

But first, to the man who has already upended the presidential race on the Republican side, Donald Trump. He's going to join me in a few minutes for an interview, and he's going to like what we have to say about this, our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that's out this morning. It had some very good news for him. Trump is leading the pack, 19% of the vote.

He's followed by Scott Walker at 15%, Jeb Bush at 14%, and rounding out the double-digit leader board is Ben Carson at 10%. In the high single digits, you have Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio, all are in pretty good shape and should make the debate stage on Thursday. Then there's Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Rick Perry. They round out the top 11. They all sit at 3%. Those three candidates are battling it out for two remaining spots on the Thursday debate stage.

Because only the ten candidates who rank highest in an average of the five most recent national polls released by Tuesday will qualify for the debate. And as of this morning, here's where the 11th-hour scramble stands for those ten spots. Candidates have been told that they will likely wind up on stage according to their polling averages.

That means we'd see Donald Trump right in the center, surrounded by Scott Walker and Jeb Bush to his left and right. Then you'd have Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, and Ted Cruz. Then of course, who's in spot nine or ten on stage right and stage left? Of the three candidates vying for those final two spots, the averages right now have Kasich and Christie on the wings, making it on stage.

Rick Perry, as of this morning, would not, because as you know, this is not the Spinal Tap debate, this debate does not go to 11. But once the debate begins, it's the man in the middle, Donald Trump, who will be center stage, figuratively and literally.

DONALD TRUMP:

But, you know, these guys debate every night of their life. That's all they do is debate.

CHUCK TODD:

As Donald Trump downplayed expectations--

DONALD TRUMP:

I've never debated before. I'm not a debater.

CHUCK TODD:

--the Republicans preparing to be on stage with him are grappling with how to handle the elephant in the room. This week, one of Marco Rubio's advisors called Trump a "rattlesnake with a toothache." John Kasich's political strategist tweeted, "Imagine a NASCAR driver mentally preparing for a race, knowing one of the drivers will be drunk."

DONALD TRUMP:

And he was, "Oh, hit Trump, and hit Tr--" I'm saying, "What is this?" For two hours, I'm going to be, like, in the lion's den, right?

CHUCK TODD:

The strategies vary. Ignore him?

SCOTT WALKER:

Donald Trump can speak just fine for Donald Trump. I'm not going to talk about Donald Trump or anybody else in this race.

CHUCK TODD:

But ignoring Trump might be hard. The rules favor his brand of "shoot from the lip" delivery. Candidates will have just 60 seconds to answer and only 30 for rebuttals. Challenge him? Rick Perry's tried.

DONALD TRUMP:

Rick Perry should have to have an IQ test before getting on the debate stage.

CHUCK TODD:

But Rick Perry may not even be on stage to take Trump on, so will anyone else?

CHRIS CHRISTIE:

If Donald tries to interrupt me, I can guarantee you that that's not something I take from a reporter in the gaggle, and it won't be anything I'll take from somebody who's standing on that stage.

CHUCK TODD:

With just nine debates officially sanctioned by the Republican National Committee, less than half the number in the last two contests, candidates will be desperately trying to stand out. I'm joined now on the phone from New York by the man that has shaken up the Republican race, Donald Trump himself. Mr. Trump, welcome back to Meet the Press.

DONALD TRUMP:

Good morning, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

So in June, right before you announced, you were at 1%. In July, after you've announced, in the last six weeks, you are in first place with 19%. Why do you think you're resonating so quickly in the Republican field?

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, I think a lot of people did not believe I was going to be running, Chuck. And, you know, they didn't want to waste poll votes so to speak. And they really felt that I wouldn't run. I mean, I have a wonderful life. I've built a tremendous company. And, you know, a lot of good things going on.

And they said, "Why would he give that up to go into this fray?" And once I announced, as you probably know better than anybody, my poll numbers started to shoot up like a rocket ship. And they continue to go up. And a couple of polls came out recently where I'm number one with Hispanics, as an example, in Nevada. North Carolina was very strong. Nevada was very strong overall, too. I was number one place in both cases. It's been, it's been terrific.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, look, with the good, there is bad. You also have the highest unfavorable rating of any of the candidates we tested. And a majority of folks we asked say you're doing more to hurt the Republican Party than help. Why do you believe there is this sort of polarizing view of you?

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, I don't think they understand my message. Or maybe they haven't heard my message yet. But I notice that in certain states like North Carolina we have a very strong favorability rating. And other places, including New Hampshire, including Iowa, there is a very strong favorability rating. And I notice that as I get to areas-- I've been in Iowa a lot. I've been in New Hampshire a lot. I've been in South Carolina a lot. And where I go and where I speak, they really change those numbers very quickly.

CHUCK TODD:

Let's talk about the debate. And let me ask you this way. I know one of the things you did that surprised me is you downplayed your expectations. Mr. Trump, with all due respect, you never downplay your ability on anything. Why did you downplay your expectations on debating?

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, I'm not a debater. I've never debated before. I've never been on a stage debating. I guess my whole life has been a debate in one way. But I've never been on a formal stage debating. So I really don't know. I understand you have nine other people that are going to be shooting at me. And that may be true. Maybe not.

But I really don't know. I don't have pollsters. I don't want to waste money on pollsters. I don't want to be unreal. I want to be me. I have to be me. You know, we have enough of that in Washington with pollsters telling everybody what to say and everybody being controlled by the special interests, and the lobbyists, et cetera, and the donors.

I see all the donors all over the place. I know them. And I know they don't give because they happen to be nice people. You know, who knows? I think I know most of the subjects very well. I've been through it. A lot of people have been asking me a lot of questions for three or four months. And we'll see what happens. But, again, I don't think you can artificially prepare for something like this.

CHUCK TODD:

You've been compared to a rattlesnake by Marco Rubio's campaign, a drunk NASCAR driver, I think, by the Kasich campaign. Let me ask you this. How would you advise a candidate to debate you onstage?

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, I think I'm a nice person. I really do. And I think that's why my numbers always go up as they get to know me better. I think that frankly I'd like to discuss the issues. I'm not looking to take anybody out or be nasty to anybody. And as you know, Chuck, you know, when I made, you know, harsh statements about various people, that was always in response to their criticism of me. You know, Rick Perry, I always thought he was a nice guy. But he started hitting me hard. So I hit him harder. And I don't know what they're going to be doing. I'm reading so many, you know--

CHUCK TODD:

So if they don't attack you, you don't attack them.

DONALD TRUMP:

I think it's highly unlikely. I really do.

CHUCK TODD:

But if they attack you--

DONALD TRUMP:

I've always counterpunched. And you have to counterpunch. But I'm not looking to start anything. That's for sure. I'd rather discuss the issues. Our country's in serious trouble. And we have a lot of problems at every front. And I'd rather discuss that. But, you know, I read people. And I listen to you and others.

And a lot of people say, "Oh, they're getting ready," and, "They've got their little lines given to them by the pollsters." You know, everything's perfectly put down by a pollster, what to say and how to attack me. And, you know, if that comes, it comes. And I'll have to handle it at the time.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, I'm hoping that you and I are going to sit down face to face soon and go in detail on policy issues. But I want to ask you about a story in this morning's Washington Post. And it says, "Republican candidate Donald Trump's platform: 'Because I said so.'"

And there is some growing criticism that says, "When are we going to see the details? When are we going to see your policy proposals?" I know your campaign says you have them. "There's a tax plan on the shelf ready to roll out, an education plan on the shelf ready to roll out." When the public is going to see this, sir?

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, it's all true. And we do have a lot of different policy programs. And I think they're going to be, I don't know, popular. But they're going to be something that's going to set the country back right. I mean, one of the big things is we have to take back jobs from China.

We have to take back jobs from Japan, and Vietnam, and Mexico, and virtually everybody that's taking our jobs and ruining our manufacturing base. And we have to put people to work, Chuck. Because the real number is probably 21%. The real unemployment number is probably 21%. People give up looking for jobs. And they no longer become a statistic. And it's very unfair. So we have to put our country back to work. We have to get great jobs for people and good paying jobs for people. And we're going to be just fine.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Very quickly, two more questions. 1) The news about Joe Biden thinking about challenging Hillary Clinton. Who would you rather face: Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden?

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, I don't have a choice. I would say this. I think with what she's doing and how she's coming out, you know, she's got a terrible record. She's probably the worst secretary of state in the history of this country. And, she's now, the email thing, I mean, what they did with Petraeus is they destroyed his life.

What she did is far greater and far worse than Petraeus did. So I would think that she at some point you're going to get a prosecutor who's going to be an honorable prosecutor. And there's going to be major problems for her. So I would think other people would be looking.

CHUCK TODD:

So you don't have much to say about Joe Biden it sounds like? You were a donor to, you've given him money in the past--

DONALD TRUMP:

I think he's fine. I mean, I think he's fine. If he runs, he runs. I like to do things nice and systematically. Right now, I have I guess you could say 16 because somebody else just joined. So I have 16 opponents. And I like to focus on them. And then I'll focus on Hillary. And I actually think Hillary will be easy if it's her. But I'm not so sure it's going to be her.

CHUCK TODD:

And, again, I know we're going to get into a lot more issues with you in a couple weeks. But I want to ask you about Black Lives Matter. The latest shooting of a white police officer shooting an unarmed black man. Do you see this as a crisis in America?

DONALD TRUMP:

It's a massive crisis. It's a double crisis. What's happening and people. You know, I look at things. And I see it on television. And some horrible mistakes are made. At the same time, we have to give power back to the police because crime is rampant. And I'm a big person that believes in very big-- you know, we need police.

And we need protection. Look, I look at some of the cities. You look at Baltimore. You look at so many different places in this country. Chicago. Certain areas of Chicago. They need strong police protection. And those police can do the job. But their jobs are being taken away from them. At the same time, you've got these other problems. And there's no question about it. They are problems. There is turmoil in our country.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you understand why African Americans don't trust the police right now?

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, I can certainly see it when I see what's going on. But at the same time, we have to give power back to the police because we have to have law and order. Hundreds of killings are in Baltimore. Hundreds of killings are in Chicago. And New York is not doing so great in terms of that front. And so many other cities.

We have to give strength and power back to the police. And you're always going to have mistakes made. And you're always going to have bad apples. But you can't let that stop the fact that police have to regain some control of this tremendous crime wave and killing wave that's happening in this country.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Well, all eyes are going to be on you for the next four days and, of course, in primetime on Thursday night. Mr. Trump, I look forward to having a deep dive on policy issues with you in a couple weeks, I hope.

DONALD TRUMP:

Good. I do, too. Thank you very much, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you, sir.

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me now, it's the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. Chairman Priebus, welcome back to Meet the Press.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Good morning, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you, you talked about the other day on The Today Show, that you wanted all the candidates to pledge that they would not run as a third party. How do you go about get that pledge? And have you personally made phone calls to all the candidates asking for that pledge, including Mr. Trump?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I haven't made phone calls to every candidate, Chuck. But what I was saying on The Today Show was simply that if you're going to run for the nomination of our private organization, which is the Republican party, that it only makes sense that you would number one agree that a Republican would be better than a Democrat running on the other side and that you wouldn't run as a third party.

Because I think a third party, at least a serious one, on either side of the aisle, would be a death wish to both parties. So I don't think it's unreasonable to say that candidates ought to support on our side, the Republican nominee, if it's not them, and they ought to pledge not to run as a third party. So we'll see where this goes. But I guess you could say it was the beginning of that conversation.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this about Donald Trump himself. We've got a new poll that's coming out, and I'll sneak in the one question I asked him. A majority of the country believes he is hurting the image of the Republican party. Do you believe Donald Trump is helping or hurting the image of the Republican party?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

You know, I guess you can-- first of all, I don't think it hurts. I think that Donald Trump and the Trump name is kind of a national brand name that I think, in Donald Trump's case, I think it is fair to say that Donald Trump speaks for Donald Trump. And so no, I don't think it has anything to do with the Republican party.

I think all these candidates speak for themselves. I think when we get a nominee though, I know we're analyzing week by week. But, you know, we're going to have a nominee probably by the end of March, the beginning of April.

You have April, May, June, July, August, the convention, September, October, I just think that those months are, like, years and I just don't see it. And I think all sides are going to have nominees that are going to speak for the party. But right now, none of these candidates speak for the party. We speak for the party.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm saying on this tape, because you're predicting that you're going to have a quick nomination and that it will end in March, we'll see about that. Let me ask you--

REINCE PRIEBUS:

I think it will.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. Let me ask you about the debate process. We now have this scramble. Looking at the top ten of polls, you have junior debate, you have a top ten-- is this what you had in mind when you were trying to take control of the debate process? Because it seems as if all of a sudden national polling is having an undue influence about who should be on stage for a first debate. Is this really what you had in mind?

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Well, yeah. I mean, Chuck, national polling has always been determinative of these debates. Now when you get into the Iowa debate and the New Hampshire debate and the South Carolina debate, then those state polls are going to have a play into who's on the debate stage. But you might recall, I think everyone's got amnesia.

But, you know, John Huntsman didn't make one of the debates, Gary Johnson didn't make debates. The fact is, we're proud of where we've come. We want to do a few things that no one thought we could ever do as a non-staging entity under the Federal Election Commission law, which is another topic would bore your listeners to get into.

So the truth is, we want to do a few things. One, we want to limit debates. We did that. The second thing is we wanted to have some say on who the moderators are. We did that. And so this idea of what companies decide to do with the corporate air time that they have is just a matter of law, their decision. Now, one last thing, and I'll move on.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

But all 17 candidates, Chuck, are going to be participating in debate night. So everyone's going to have an opportunity. And I think that's wonderful for our party.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Chairman Reince Priebus, we'll be watching. I know we'll be hearing a lot from you this week, I imagine, as the spotlight goes to you and the rest of the field. Thanks for coming on Meet the Press.

REINCE PRIEBUS:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let me bring in panel. Jerry Seib, my partner in crime with The Wall Street Journal poll, Washington bureau chief there; Helene Cooper, Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times; Kathleen Parker, comes from The Washington Post; and of course, Chris Matthews. Let me start with Trump here, Chris Matthews. Rope-a-dope. This was mild-mannered Donald Trump. This was a Clark Kent version of that. You called him a cartoon character, a superhero--

(OVERTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

No, a comic book hero.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, this is Clark Kent. This wasn't Superman or Bizarro Superman.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Yeah, I think he's going to win there with probably a proposal on taxes, if it helps the working-class guy out there. And then he'll wait for somebody to attack him. And that counterattack will be a lot more fun to watch. But I think he will surprise people that way.

CHUCK TODD:

Kathleen, it does seem as if he's almost setting people up, to let others look unreasonable and crazy. Suddenly like, "I don't know, I'm sitting here."

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Oh, absolutely. He's created this impression so that we are all waiting for the debate. More people will probably tune into this one than any in the past because they want to see Donald Trump do his thing. But he's clearly not going to do it. He's been calming down and calming down all along the way. And he's going to try to be the grown-up, I think, and let everybody else then become somewhat off-balanced because he's not doing what they expected. And then, of course, you know, the American public will go, "We'll huh, hmm."

CHUCK TODD:

Well, we've been talking about Donald Trump, Donald Trump. The other frontrunner, of course, is Jeb Bush, Helene and Jerry. And here's what Jeb Bush told my colleague Lester Holt about preparing for a Donald Trump debate.

JEB BUSH (ON TAPE):

I'm surprised that Donald Trump has surged. I think he's captured the deep frustration that people feel. I mean, I get that. I get the lack of rule of law, the sanctuary cities, the open borders. All those things he's, in a very graphic way, appealed to people's anger about those things. And I think it's important to be respectful of that, make the case that we can fix these things. And over time, the Trump phenomenon will either succeed or fail based on his proposals.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Helene, I began this discussion by saying Donald Trump feels like he's toned it down. Jeb Bush has kind of turned on criticism of Donald Trump.

HELENE COOPER:

It's really weird, isn't it? I mean, I can see Trump trying to be the grownup and presenting himself as having some gravitas and that. You know, but if these guys have sort of revved themselves up to go after Trump, and then it's going to be a really weird dynamic on the stage. I think Jeb Bush is probably the one with the most to gain from this whole Trump phenomenon. But I think he's got to look at how he plays it on stage opposite Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, there's an important article this morning that I think the Jeb Bush people are reading, Jerry. It's from Byron York and The Washington Examiner, and it has a bunch of conservatives upset that Jeb Bush didn't respond to Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton laid into Jeb Bush on Right to Rise during the Urban League Speech.

Jeb Bush went up there and didn't respond. And according to one-- it says, "And to some conservatives who question" Jeb Bush's "resolve to fight, Bush's silence had an ominous sound to it. After all, this was the Jeb who had presented Hillary with the National Constitution Center's Liberty Medal in 2013." Is Jeb tough enough is a question that he may have to answer on that stage next month.

JERRY SEIB:

Well, that's true. And look, I mean, Jeb Bush's theory of the race is that people in the end are going to be looking for somebody who's optimistic, not angry. And we'll see about that. But he does have a challenge on Thursday night, as the others do. Can you take on Donald Trump without taking down his voters at the same time?

You know, the interesting thing about our poll, Chuck, is if you look through the demographic groups, there's broad support for Donald Trump and the party. It's men, it's women, it's moderate Republicans. Because it's not just angry, white males, which is kind of the caricature. And so you've got to be careful taking on Donald Trump, not to also anger the people who like Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

And you can just see it.

(OVERTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

I think it's deeper than anger. I think there's a sense of betrayal, the best and the brightest have given the country away on the border, on debt, on jobs, they feel like they've been betrayed by the elite. And Donald Trump, ironically, is fighting the elite here. And the little guy's rooting for him.

CHUCK TODD:

And the more we attack him.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

And the more we in the media attack him, the more powerful he gets.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Oh sure.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Absolutely. By the way, the happiest person is Jeb Bush going into this debate, because everybody's going to pile on Trump and not on him.

CHUCK TODD:

We shall see, I'm not so convinced of that, Kathleen. All right. We've got a lot more to get to when we come back, including the other big political story of the week and of the morning. How serious is Joe Biden about challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination?

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

And welcome back. Now to the other big political story of the morning, word that Vice President Joe Biden is taking a new and more serious look at entering the Democratic race for 2016. What's behind this apparent new-found interest? Is it Hillary Clinton's falling numbers and his improving ones? According to a Quinnipiac poll out this week, Hillary's personal ratings are now upside down and an all-time high unfavorable rating overall in this poll, 40% favorable, 51% unfavorable.

By coincidence, look at Joe Biden. He got his best numbers yet in this poll historically, 49% favorable, and 39% unfavorable, throwing questions about Hillary Clinton's emails, the transparency and trustworthy issues. And you had a Clinton campaign that could be facing a potential crisis right now, could be the summer doldrums, or it could be something more serious. To discuss Clinton's travails and a potential Biden run, I'm joined now by the chairman of the Democratic party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chairwoman Schultz, good morning to you.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Thank you, good morning, Chuck. Great to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you, is there room for more candidates in the Democratic race, including the sitting vice president?

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Chuck, let me just say, there will always be room for the sitting vice president if he chose to run for president. But let's remember and take one step back that Vice President Biden has just been through the most heart-wrenching tragedy that a parent could ever experience in the loss of his son Beau, who was a friend of mine. And it was deeply tragic to watch that family go through what they have.

But, you know, as chair of the DNC, I can tell you that throughout the beginnings of the 2016 presidential cycle, as the DNC, we have kept candidates and potential candidates fully informed about what we're doing at the DNC, how we're prepping, what they needed to know potentially. So we've been in communication with both potential and actual candidates throughout this process.

CHUCK TODD:

You're being vague about the potential, you mean Vice President Biden.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Well, at every point in this process, each of the candidates, before they announced, was a potential candidate. You know, Vice President Biden has not ever ruled out whether he would eventually run for president. So like any of the other candidates, when they were thinking or in any stage of the process, we've kept his team informed as well as every other candidate both before and since they have decided to join the race.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you make of the rise of Bernie Sanders?

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

You know, I think Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, Lincoln Chafee, Martin O'Malley, any of our candidates when compared to the Republican field, have an appeal because they speak to the issues that are important to the American people. We're talking, as well as our eventual nominee will be, will ultimately be president, because our candidates and our parties stand for helping people reach the middle class, making sure that if you, you know, work hard and play by the rules, that you should have an opportunity to succeed and that you can.

And the Republican field, you know, look, you know, you've got their frontrunner, who has deemed Mexicans rapists, you had a presidential candidate Mike Huckabee this week actually not rule out that he'd used federal troops to stop abortion. Jeb Bush who's said he's phase out Medicare. So the contrast, whether it's Bernie Sanders, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Hillary Clinton, any of that contrast between our candidates and theirs is very clear. And the American people eventually choose our nominee as president.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, you were on with one of our panelists this week, you were on with Chris Matthews, and he asked you a question about Bernie Sanders. Let me play you the clip and then get you to respond on the other side.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

What is the difference between the Democrat and a socialist? I used to think there was a big difference, but what do you think it is?

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

The difference between--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

--between a Democrat like Hillary Clinton and a socialist like Bernie Sanders.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

The more important point is what's the difference between being a Democrat and being a Republican.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

But what's the big difference between a Democrat and a socialist. You're chairman of the Democrat party. Tell me the difference between you and a socialist.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

The relevant debate that we'll be having over the course of this campaign is what's the difference between a Democrat and a Republican--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

I think there's a big difference. I think there's--

CHUCK TODD:

Given that Bernie Sanders is an unabashed socialist, and believes in social Democratic governments, likes the ones in Europe, what is the difference? Can you explain the difference?

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

You know, Chuck, it's always fun to be interviewed by Chris Matthews. And I know that he enjoys that banter. The important distinction that I think we're going to be discussing, and I'm confident we'll be discussing in this campaign is the difference between Democrats and Republicans.

The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats want to make sure that people have an opportunity to climb the ladders of success and reach the middle class, have a good education, have a secure retirement. Look at the Republican field. What they stand for is the extremism that you've seen on full display over the last few weeks.

Which is why Donald Trump is their frontrunner. I mean, Donald Trump is essentially a reflection of where the Republican party is today, limiting a woman's right to make her own healthcare decisions, you know, supporting, so shifting to a more privately-focused education system, ending Medicare as we know it. That's the important and relevant contrast as we go through the next 18 months of this presidential election.

CHUCK TODD:

Very quickly, we're only talking about Republicans debating for the next two months. Why aren't we seeing Democrats debate over the next two months?

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

We're going to be having a robust series of debates, and we're just finalizing the last few details. You know, our network and organizational partners, and I'll be announcing our series of debates very soon.

CHUCK TODD:

But we're not going to see them in August or September?

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

We will be announcing our schedule as soon as we get it finalized. We have committed to six debates. And we'll have at least one debate in each of the four early primary states.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, talking on the Democratic side of the aisle, thanks for coming on this morning.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ:

Thanks for having me, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, the panel is back. Chris, she doesn't want to answer that question. Why do you think that?

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Well, I think there's a big difference. I mean, socialists traditionally believe in government control of the economy, and Democrats believe in modifying the economy to help people at the bottom, a safety net, modification but clearly believe in the market.

CHUCK TODD:

Why do you think she didn't say that?

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Well, politically, she doesn't want to offend the Bernie people.

CHUCK TODD:

You think that's the issue?

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Well, I think so. Maybe there's an intellectual problem, but I would give her the benefit of the doubt and say it was her political problem she faced. Because I think Hillary Clinton hasn't staked out the difference, and she better. I mean, it's not the Democratic-Socialist party. You've got to run as a Democrat, which is always harder to explain being a progressive or a liberal.

It's a lot harder just being a right wing or a left winger. You're actually somewhere center-left. And it's a little harder to define. But clearly, Democrats have had a record in this country for 200-some years of being for social security, Medicare, civil rights, interventions in the market, but not getting rid of the market. Clearly, they accept the power and the efficiency of a capitalist system. Socialists do not. This is a fundamental difference.

CHUCK TODD:

Let's get quickly to the Joe Biden news. Helene, in The New York Times this morning, we have Maureen Dowd's column where she talks about a sort of a deathbed plea from Beau Biden to Joe Biden, "What Would Beau Do?" And he is recommending he wants him to run. My own reporting is that the family has been behind him running this whole time. It's always a family affair. But there is a hesitance.

HELENE COOPER:

There clearly is a hesitance. And we have to remember that Biden is still, I mean, the death of his son is pretty fresh and very, very raw. Maureen is a fantastic reporter. Before she was a columnist, she was a fantastic political reporter. She has really good sources.

And so I completely have faith in that Beau Biden anecdote. I think it's really telling. And I think right now, you're seeing the Times headline on the lead story today taking steps. And I don't think that's necessarily overwritten, but it's a long distance between, you know, taking steps and talking to people and actually announcing a candidacy. And I'm curious to see, you know, which way we're going to end up going.

CHUCK TODD:

Jerry, there's a couple things that I found out in my reporting, number one, there's going to be a big family vacation that the Bidens will have, and that's likely sometime in the next couple weeks, where the real decision gets made. And remember, his sister ran his campaign, his niece was political director. These are family decisions. But it is, the other aspect of this is how serious, I mean, are donors asking for this? Do we think that there are other Democrats that are getting nervous about Hillary?

JERRY SEIB:

Well, that's one of the questions. There are many questions. I don't think that her situation has changed a lot in the last few weeks. We wrote about this a few weeks ago, the family has always, as you suggested, thought this was a good idea. Hunter, not just Beau Biden, has apparently said, "You should do this."

But there are also people in the Biden world who are not sure it's a good idea, they don't want him to go out in his national political career on a down note. And the donors' question is an open one. A lot of money's been committed to Hillary Clinton already.

CHUCK TODD:

And some of his staffers. But I'll tell you, Kathleen, what's interesting here is that some of this is driven by that the Clinton people are trying to smoke him out. That actually, that they have leaked these anecdotes, because he's sitting out there, sort of hovering over the campaign, and it makes him nervous.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

I'm not tapped into that conspiracy, I've got to admit. But, you know, when I think about what the Bidens have been through, and I think about that if Maureen's sources are correct, then that son's request is very powerful, I would think.

CHUCK TODD:

I think it is too.

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Now, I read Bill Schneider's column in which he pointed out that vice presidents often get nominated because people like them and they appreciate their loyalty, but that they don't in fact get elected president. And the exception to that was George H. W. Bush, because people wanted a third term of Ronald Reagan. This was all Schneider's theory, but I think he's right on target. So, you know, I think it's about 41% approval rating for Vice President Biden I think probably has a lot to do with sympathy right now, and whether that carries over into the longer run, I don't know.

CHUCK TODD:

Well

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

There's another Biden, and that's the guy in the back room with the president every day, with the deep thinking and the serious questions and proposals like breaking up Iraq is a reasonable historic development. And that guy has to come out. I think if he runs, there's no more Grandpa Finnegan.

CHUCK TODD:

No.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

No more schmaltziness and no more gaffs, no more kidding around. Head down, knees up, and run to win and run to beat Hillary. If he wants to run that kind of campaign, it could be damaging.

CHUCK TODD:

People close to him have said this is the first time he's ever felt prepared to be president. And that's important. He never felt that before until he was a sitting vice president. Anyway, coming up, the man who's doing a lot better in the polls than you might think, neurosurgeon Ben Carson. But first, why so many people are saying it's not past time to put body cameras onto all police officers.

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. If you're one of those people who's concerned about the rise of money in politics, then listen to this. According to Politico, the 67 largest donors so far in the campaign have accounted for $128 million in contributions to the super PACs. Compare that to the 500,000 smallest donors, who gave only a third as much.

Look at this, 67 versus 500,000. $128 million versus $38 million. And The New York Times report that fewer than 400 families have donated half of all the money raised so far in the 2016 election. These are some shocking numbers early on in this campaign season.

No doubt they will be more shocking as time wears on. Coming up, what the death of another unarmed black man, this one in Cincinnati, tells us about how we decided who can and can't become a police officer. Does the recruitment process of police officers have to radically change?

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

Sadly, it's becoming almost a weekly occurrence, another disturbing video showing a white police officer killing an unarmed black man. It was a body camera video that helped lead to the indictment of the University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing, for the death of Samuel DeBose this past week.

Tensing claims he was dragged by DeBose's car, but the video seemed to tell a very different story. It's another example of why calls for more police officers to be equipped with body cameras are getting louder. But the problems that the videos from Staten Island, to North Charleston, to Cincinnati are highlighting aren't going to be just solved just by cameras.

Is there a problem with the way we recruit and train police officers in this country? Joining me now is commissioner Charles Ramsey of the Philadelphia Police Department. He's co-chair of President Obama's taskforce on 21st century policing. Commissioner, welcome back to Meet the Press.

COMMISSIONER CHARLES RAMSEY:

Good morning.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, it seems as if now there is consensus. We've got to have body cameras on all police officers, period. Is that your view, Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER CHARLES RAMSEY:

Yeah, I'm a proponent of body cameras, I think it's very important that we equip our officers with modern technology, body cameras certainly fits into that category. The one thing I would like to add to that is that the expense associated with body cameras really needs to be taken into account as our lawmakers pass legislation requiring it, as departments move in that direction. It is a pretty expensive proposition. But I think it's worth it.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I think there's certainly growing consensus around that. But I want to get to the recruitment issue, because with all due respect, Commissioner, I feel like big police departments do a pretty good job of trying to find good cops. But a lot of it's the suburban police departments, in this case, the university police department. Do they have lower standards? And if they do, how do we raise them up?

COMMISSIONER CHARLES RAMSEY:

Well, it would depend on the university. Many universities have standards pretty similar to the larger agencies. I know in Philadelphia, we train several of the university police that are located in Philadelphia. But recruitment is an issue across the country, trying to get diversity, trying to get people in our ranks that really have the proper skills to be able to deal effectively with the community in today's environment. And that is an issue.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me ask you a blunt question. I know diversifying police departments are very important. A young African American man or woman seeing everything they've seen about police departments over the last year, why would they want to become one?

COMMISSIONER CHARLES RAMSEY:

That's a good question. And it makes it very tough. I join the Chicago police department in the late 1960s, a very similar environment. You had Vietnam, you had the Civil Rights movement, images of what was taking place in the South, police and protesters. And it was something that I had to consider when I decided to come into law enforcement and lost a few friends along the way, as a result of that decision. We can overcome it, but we do have to change the image. And right now, the image of police in America is not that positive.

CHUCK TODD:

Is there a way to change the image beyond just time? Is there something you can do sooner than that to at least spark a change in the image?

COMMISSIONER CHARLES RAMSEY:

Well, one, we have to make sure that we really do hold officers accountable. The majority of our police officers, and there's almost 500,000 in this country, that have thousands and thousands of interactions on a daily basis, you don't hear about it because they're not bad interactions. We need to do a better job of the positive things that are going on.

But those officers that act outside of policy, outside the law, there has to be consequences, very swift and certain consequences, and rid our ranks of those people. And then begin to really focus, in fact, we need to focus even during that time on getting people in our ranks. You know, people stay in this business 20, 30 years. So who we hire today is going to be with us for decades to come.

CHUCK TODD:

Is this a culture issue? Cops protecting cops? I mean, you just see, we had two police officers that were sort of taking the University of Cincinnati police officer's side of the story, sort of the initial was protect him first rather than protect the truth.

COMMISSIONER CHARLES RAMSEY:

Well, that's part of it. But name a profession where you don't have that sort of thing. How often did doctors turn in other doctors for malpractice? Lawyers to turn in other lawyers. Journalists that turn in other journalists who perhaps aren't really doing the proper research on a particular story.

CHUCK TODD:

Touché.

COMMISSIONER CHARLES RAMSEY:

We do need to be able to deal with that sort of thing. But that is part of a culture that existed in most professions. The difference is we can't afford to have that sort of thing in policing. The role we play in a democratic society is just too important.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Commissioner Ramsey, I'm going to have to leave it there. But this is a conversation I know you're focused on and we all are as well. Thanks for coming on this morning.

COMMISSIONER CHARLES RAMSEY:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Up next, the other nonpolitician who is shaking up the Republican race. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson. And then, we close with debating Donald Trump. As someone said earlier this week, they said preparing for a NASCAR race knowing one of the drivers was drunk. So how do you prepare for that?

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

And welcome back. We've talked a lot about Thursday's opening Republican presidential debate and the role Donald Trump might be playing. But there's another non-politician who will also be on that stage in Ohio, it's Ben Carson. He's of course the former neurosurgeon who is unique in the field for many reasons. Not the least of which for being the only candidate to have been played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in a TV movie. Dr. Carson, welcome back to Meet the Press.

DR. BEN CARSON:

Thank you, always good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with the debate. What do you hope to accomplish? Nine other people are going to be on the stage with you. We know you're going to qualify. What do you want to get out of it?

DR. BEN CARSON:

Well, I hope that people will get an opportunity to see who I really am, not who other people have said that I am. And will have an opportunity to actually see what I think about a variety of subjects. You know, I have a tendency to be asked about medical things. And very seldom do I get asked about, you know, other types of political things that are important.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting, watching the rise of Donald Trump, and I know you were asked about this earlier, because you and him do share, and along with one other candidate, you're the non-politicians in the field. In fact, you and Mr. Trump are the only ones that have never run for any other office. Do you think that his rise has helped the idea of outsiders? Or does it hurt you right now as a candidate?

DR. BEN CARSON:

I think it's a tremendous help. It's a tremendous aid because fewer people are talking about my lack of political experience now. And that's good because, you know, experience can come from a variety of different places. And certainly the life that you have led, you know, in my case, you know, solving complex problems, being involved in corporate America, starting a national nonprofit, you get an enormous amount of experience doing these things, particularly in solving problems. And, you know, it's an erroneous thought that only political experience is expedient.

CHUCK TODD:

Let's go to some issues. You spoke to the National Urban League earlier this week, and you were also in an earlier interview this week, asked about the "Black Lives Matter" movement. And you called it "silly." Why did you call it silly?

DR. BEN CARSON:

Well, you know, I don't recall calling it silly, but what I called silly is political correctness going amuck. That's what's silly. When, you know, I guess it was Martin O'Malley who said, you know, "Black lives matter, white lives matter." He got in trouble for that and had to apologize. That's what I'm talking about is silly.

Of course all lives matter, and of course we should be very concerned about what's going on, particularly in our inner cities. It's a crime, you know, for a young black man, the most likely cause of death is homicide. That is a huge problem that we need to address in a very serious way.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, and that is what the "Black Lives Matter" movement is doing. And why they criticize politicians for saying, "All lives matter," because their point is until-- that there is inequality here, that particularly, you brought up African American men, and that overall stat, but think about the issue of police custody. That an African American is more likely to die in police custody than any other race or ethnicity.

DR. BEN CARSON:

Yeah, but again, I think we need to look at the whole picture. One of the things that I always like to point out to people is how about we just remove the police for 24 hours. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue? And the vast majority of police are very good people. Are there bad apples? Of course.

But if you hire a plumber and he does a bad job, do you say all plumbers are bad? Let's go out and kill them? I don't think we do that. We need to be a little more mature, but certainly in cases where police are doing things that are inappropriate, I think we ought to investigate those promptly and justice should be swift.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let me go to some other issues. Immigration, you're one of the few candidates that is comfortable saying that of the 11 million that are here, that are undocumented, that they should be given some sort of guest worker permit in order to make them legal, pay some fines, things like that. A lot of conservatives would call that amnesty. Why is that not amnesty in your view?

DR. BEN CARSON:

Well, you know, I have heard people say, "Yeah, round them all up and send them back." They have no idea what they're talking about and how much that costs and how impractical that is. And many of these people don't know any other places, this is the only place they've been. So where are you going to send them back to in that situation?

What I would do instead is let them register and become guest workers, they have to back tax penalty, and they have to pay taxes going forward. It does not give them voting rights, it does not make them a citizen, and if they want citizenship, they get in the back of the line and go through the same process as everybody else, because we cannot neglect the people who have done it the right way.

CHUCK TODD:

But again, people will call that amnesty.

DR. BEN CARSON:

They can call it whatever they want to. But we also have to be pragmatic.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, I'm going to close here with a question from a Facebook poster. And this one came from Victor Roush. Simple question, "Does the Bible have authority over the constitution?"

DR. BEN CARSON:

He said that's a simple question? That is not a simple question by any stretch of the imagination.

CHUCK TODD:

A simply-worded question, how's that?

DR. BEN CARSON:

I think probably what you have to do is ask a very specific question about a specific passage of the Bible and a specific portion of the constitution. I don't think you can answer that question other than out of very specific contexts.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Leave that answer there. We'll see if Mr. Rausch liked that answer or not. Dr. Carson, thanks for coming on the show. Good luck in the debate. Stay safe on the trail, sir.

DR. BEN CARSON:

Thank you so much.

CHUCK TODD:

A quick reminder, if you can't see Meet the Press when we air on Sunday morning, no problem. You can always catch us on demand, or just set your DVR, Season Pass, of course. That way, even if it's not Sunday, it's Meet the Press. Coming up next, our endgame segment. Why we'll try to answer the question, how would you debate Donald Trump?

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

Yes, it's that time, it's End Game time, the panel is here. So I was thinking of Donald Trump, guys, and about what's it like, have we ever seen the opportunity for people to have to debate someone like this? A wildcard? And let me play a few clips and see if this jogs your memory and see how others handled other wildcards in previous debates. Here it is.

(BEGIN TAPE)

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER:

I have just realized that I have a perfect part for you in Terminator Four.

HUBERT HUMPHREY III:

Investment in education and in health care.

JESSE VENTURA:

There must be a ton of pork in the government, because when you say the word "investment" to me, somebody's reaching into my wallet to the private sector, because you've got to spend it.

ADMIRAL JAMES STOCKDALE:

Who am I? Why am I here?

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Those are three of some of the more interesting wild card moments. And by the way, in all three of those cases-- two of them, Ventura and Arnold won, Kathleen, and it was because of their debate performances. Admiral Stockdale was the star of that debate for other odd reasons. But the other candidates didn't know how to handle this guy. What do you expect out of Trump?

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Well, being memorable helps a lot. And I'm sure he will be memorable one way or the other. And I hope the other people are working on their clever responses. But, you know, as to how different people react to him, it depends on whether you had the ball or whether you're trying to get the ball.

So I would say to the folks on the far end of the debate stage will probably be interacting with him in a more colorful way. And if I were Jeb Bush, I would just continue to be the adult and be Ronald Reagan instead of with that, "There you go again," approach to--

CHUCK TODD:

Chris--

(OVERTALK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

I think the real debate's going to be Megyn Kelly against Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

Interesting.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Because she's going to want to score points professionally, and she has a way of having the camera look at her while she judges whether you're right or not. Trump used to play that part. She's going to have the part he usually plays, which is the judge and a jury. She'll be going like this, "Do I believe this guy or not?" Trump better be careful. He better let her have a couple points. If he takes her on, that'll be television.

CHUCK TODD:

Helene, how would you do it?

HELENE COOPER:

Well, it depends on which Trump you get. Do you get the--

CHUCK TODD:

The one I had?

HELENE COOPER:

Yeah, you get the guy you had. Because if you get the guy you just had, that's a totally different person. You know, I think if I were Jeb Bush, I'd just go for gravitas either way, and you know, if it's a guy you have, then it's a far more boring debate, isn't it?

CHUCK TODD:

I don't think it's going to have far fewer people chiming in. Jerry?

JERRY SEIB:

I take it to the commander-in-chief question. You know, in the Cold War, there was this question, "Do you trust this person to have their finger on the button?" Well, what are you going to do about ISIS exactly? And isn't that a formula for 75,000 American troops on the ground. Taken to the substance of foreign policy, test him out as commander in chief.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, there's a bunch of candidates that we haven't talked about. We talk about Jeb, Walker makes it in there because here because he's in the top ten, I had Ben Carson on. What happened to Marco Rubio and Rand Paul here? Kathleen?

KATHLEEN PARKER:

They have been sort of moved to the margins a little bit, haven't they?

CHUCK TODD:

Is it all Trump?

KATHLEEN PARKER:

Probably. Yeah, I mean, I just think all the media focus has been on him so much. And while people criticize us for doing it, you know, we've got to cover the guy that's leading the group.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

I think there's going to be a post-Trump success, if he burns out, don't bet on that for sure, but if he does, someone's going to benefit from that sense of betrayal, that sense of anger we've been talking about. I think it's Kasich or Walker. Somebody to the more interesting regular side than the Whig candidate Jeb Bush.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

I don't think they're going to establish--

CHUCK TODD:

He's going Whigs on us anyway. On that note--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

You know what I mean, establishment

CHUCK TODD:

I do know.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Okay.

CHUCK TODD:

I do know what you're talking about. It's the Whigs versus the Republicans Thursday night at 8:00. That's all for today. We'll be back next week, because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.