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Meet the Press Transcript - August 23, 2015

MEET THE PRESS -- SUNDAY, AUGUST 23, 2015

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, two huge stories upending the campaign. For the Republicans, accepting

the fact that Donald Trump is here to stay.

DONALD TRUMP:

Let's assume that somebody else becomes president. Wouldn't that be horrible?

CHUCK TODD:

How will his opponents now deal with this juggernaut? For the Democrats, it's the Hillary emails.

HILLARY CLINTON:

Nobody talks to me about it, other than you guys.

CHUCK TODD:

It only adds fuel to the Biden fire. Did the vice president just key to 2016's dream ticket by meeting with Elizabeth Warren? Plus, Trump on Hillary.

DONALD TRUMP:

During her reign, the entire-- look what happened. Everything fell apart.

CHUCK TODD:

And a sit-down with Carly Fiorina, the other outsider.

FEMALE VOICE:

Donald Trump may not be a politician, but he' sure acting like a politician.

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me for insight and analysis this Sunday morning are political analyst, Jon Ralston, Amy Walter, the Cook Political Report, Susan Page of USA Today, and former advisor to President George W. Bush, Alfonso Aguilar. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

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

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning and what a week in politics. This is the week that Republicans are accepting the reality that Donald Trump isn't going anywhere. It's also the week that Democrats begin contemplating the possibility that Hillary Clinton's email problems might actually derail her campaign. Yesterday, we learned this juicy nugget: Joe Biden flew to Washington to meet with progressive hero Elizabeth Warren in a private sit-down. Biden sending a not so subtle message of perhaps what his dream ticket could look like.

But let's start with Trump. It wasn't the promised crowd of 40,000 on Friday, but 20,000 people sure did show up. And they found their way to a football stadium in Mobile, Alabama, to hear him and cheer him. So we decided to send our own Meet the Press producer to Mobile to embed himself with Trump supporters, watch with Trump supporters, beginning, middle, and end, to find out just what's behind the Trump surge.

(BEGIN TAPE)

FEMALE SUPPORTER:

He's just real. He's a real person. He's not politically correct, and I'm glad.

MALE SUPPORTER:

Well, I never have voted Republican in my life, I've been a Democrat.

JOE TOOHEY:

You could vote Republican for Donald Trump?

MALE SUPPORTER:

There's a possibility. There's a possibility.

MALE SUPPORTER:

He's not exactly programmed. I mean, I think he believes what he says. He's a little bit gruff, and I think people like that.

MALE SUPPORTER:

One thing is that we've got such a thin skin nowadays, he's showing us how to be tough again.

(MUSIC)

DONALD TRUMP:

In Hillary's case, she's got 60. Now, I don't know that she's going to make it through the gate. What do you think?

VOICES:

No!

FEMALE SUPPORTER:

I think he’s doing pretty well.

DONALD TRUMP:

Let's assume that somebody else becomes president. Wouldn't that be horrible? Wouldn't that be horrible?

MALE SUPPORTER:

He’s pretty solid. And I trust him. I trust Donald Trump. I think that’s what’s most important. I think that the other candidates don’t have that kind of trust because they’re career politicians.

(MUSIC)

JOE TOOHEY:

What was your favorite part of the night?

MALE SUPPORTER:

Well, just the way he wasn't a politician. He would say what with on his mind. And I've got this gut feeling, I think I'm right about it, that he will do what he says he's going to do.

MALE SUPPORTER:

What I liked about Trump is he's taken everything and he's turning it upside down. He’s making people think again.

MALE SUPPORTER:

At this time, we don't know how it's going to pay off, but we’re going to ride the wave all the way to Washington. They’ve got to listen to us. And he’s our microphone.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

He's our microphone. Interesting comment there at the end. So the enthusiasm for Donald Trump is clearly railed. The question is, will it last and how long does it last? Alex Castellanos has worked on campaigns for some of the biggest names in the party, including Jeb and George W. Bush, Mitt Romney as well. And Charlie Black is another presidential campaign veteran, having worked for Presidents Reagan, Bush 41, also advised McCain and Romney. Welcome to both of you. This is Donald Trump's worse nightmare. You guys are who he's running against.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

The establishment.

CHUCK TODD:

The establishment of the establishment. Charlie Black, you heard those voices in the crowd, because that's what we've all been trying to get a handle on, who are these people that are gravitating toward Trump. You just heard those voices, what does it tell you?

CHARLIE BLACK:

Well, there's a lot of frustration and anger in the country about the federal government. And about politicians in both parties. And Donald has become a vehicle for that kind of frustration. So I do, based on your theme, believe that he's here to stay for a while, maybe through a few primaries. But he is not going to be the nominee.

I mean, what Donald Trump is doing right now is running as a more likeable Pat Buchanan, with a protectionist, nativist platform that will not sell to a majority of Republicans. There's a smaller group in the party that will support that. When the field narrows, he won't go very far.

CHUCK TODD:

So Alex, what's clearly happened this week though is you have all the campaigns are sitting going, "All right, we now have to deal with this for the long term and we have to adjust." We know what Jeb Bush is doing. He's saying, "Fine, we'll make it about us and Trump," because he sees Trump as a way to sort of black out the other candidates. What do you do if you're Scott Walker or Marco Rubio right now?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Pray for rain.

CHUCK TODD:

Really? I mean, you think it's that bad for them?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

He is sucking up all the oxygen, and ultimately, he is sitting on the conservative wing of the Republican party. And by the way, I think that's great news. Because I'm not a Ted Cruz fan. I don't think Ted Cruz is the future of the Republican party. And Donald Trump, who is not going to be the nominee, which I think Charlie is exactly right about, is sitting on all of that, so what are you going to-- look, the average winner of the Republican primary caucus, I think the first 12 gets what, 40%, 41%? So Donald Trump is not going to grow to that. In all likelihood, now, he surprised us. But I don't think he's going to be the nominee in that sense.

CHUCK TODD:

You know Charlie, The Washington Post, I thought, did a very smart piece earlier this week where they sort of categorized the field, right, and some are attacking Trump, that's Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham. Some are trying to hug him, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker do a little bit. I'm still trying to figure out the Walker birthright citizenship position. And then some are just totally ignoring them. Is it depend on what candidate you are, depending on what you should do? Or do you think this is-- that all of them need to change their strategies?

CHARLIE BLACK:

Oh no, it depends on who you are and where you are in the race. And you know, for some people to attack Trump right now is a good way to get attention. For Jeb, Jeb in some ways is the frontrunner. Although not really in the polls right now. So the two of them are the two frontrunners at the moment. And for them to get into a little bit makes good sense.

But listen, the other thing about Trump's candidacy is these folks who are angry and frustrated and they're coming out to see him are conservative. Wait till they learn that the guy's been a Democrat longer than a Republican, that he's advocated for things like partial birth abortion, universal healthcare run by the government. And if you can't trust what he says on issues.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, I hear that. But why do I have a feeling that doesn't impact some of these conservatives? Because I think about Mobile, Alabama.

CHARLIE BLACK:

They don't know yet.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, they may not know, but they're also former Democrats, Alex.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

It impacts a hunk of the Republican party, but only I think about 25, maybe a little more than that, percent. What a real appeal for Trump is that he is a manly candidate. It's not--

CHUCK TODD:

Alpha--

(OVERTALK)

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

We know these are gladitorial contest, right? Who is strong enough to bring order to a country in a world that's spinning part? Kathleen Parker once wrote that Barack Obama was our first female president. Bad news for Hillary, because he's all about soft power and dialogue and, you know, crossing red lines. Donald Trump is the reaction to that. But at the end of the day, he is a big government Republican. He doesn't fit our party.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting you brought this up, because David Axelrod actually brought this up, Charlie, I want to read you this quote, it was in Maureen Dowd's column this morning. "Trump is the proverbial strongman. There's no one more opposite to Obama. Bush had been impulsive and reckless, so voters wanted someone who was thoughtful and deliberative. Now they've had enough of gray and they want to go back to black and white, and that's Trump." Should the other Republican candidates have to embrace this a little bit, Charlie?

CHARLIE BLACK:

Well, no. I mean, look, right now, you've got at least 70% of Republican primary voters who are not saying they would vote for Trump. And those that are will shrink as they find out about his positions on issues. And so the other candidates should be going after the 70%.

CHUCK TODD:

Ignore those 25?

CHARLIE BLACK:

Well, not ignore them, no. But the point is, you don't go into the other guy's base to get your votes, you get the votes that are available. And listen, I am a friend and admirer of Donald Trump’s. But he's not suited to be president, and he will not be president.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

But he is making the other candidates look small. And again, when the world is spinning apart, you want somebody to grab the reins. The other guys are going to have to grow here. You want to have to cast a big vote, not a small one.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, it's an interesting challenge for them. I thank you both. I want to turn focus now to what Rand Paul is saying about Donald Trump. Earlier this week, my colleague Chris Jansing caught up with Rand Paul in Haiti and he did not hold back when he was asked about Donald Trump.

(BEGIN TAPE)

RAND PAUL:

I think people are going to have to decide whether they want someone who can say,"Well, she's fat. Yeah, and I'm so good looking." Or, "She's stupid," or, "I'm rich," and, "I'm smart because I'm rich." We have to decide whether we want sort of empty platitudes or whether we're going to look at substance. And I think for Donald Trump, basically, conservatives have to decide if he's a fake conservative or not. And I think truly he is a fake conservative, because he's been on every side of every issue in the last five years.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Chris's extensive interview with Rand Paul and the trip to Haiti is on our website. Don't forget to see it there, NBCMeetThePress.com. Our panel is here. Hello to everybody. Jon Ralston, maybe the smartest political reporter we have out West these days in Nevada.

Amy Walter, my good friend from the Cook Political Report, Susan Page here, America's newspaper, USA Today, Alfonso Aguilar, running a conservative Hispanic outreach group. And I have to say, I'm going to start with you this week because one thing Donald Trump did is he threw the issue of birthright citizenship front and center and he made the entire campaign have to react.

ALFONSO AGUILAR:

Well, you're absolutely right. Look, we knew immigration was going to be an issue in this campaign. A top issue. It was in the last presidential cycle. But I don't think candidates expected that so early on, they would have to detail their position on immigration. And by Trump coming out, calling for an end to birthright citizenship, mass deportation, they have to express their views.

Now this is an opportunity for some to show that they disagree with Trump, that they want to be constructive on the immigration issue. And in that way you have to poll from Latino voters and they become the Republican nominee, or they can choose to take the other path and not say anything, or even worse, agree with Trump. And if that happens, they're doomed in the general election.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me point out one for Scott Walker, I noted earlier, he didn't know how to handle this.

ALFONSO AGUILAR:

Well, on immigration we don't know what Scott Walker thinks, as he was for a path to citizenship, then he was against. On birthright citizenship, it seemed that right after Trump said he wanted to end birthright citizenship, Walker came out and said, "I agree with that." And let me tell you, people were looking up at Walker saying, "This is a conservative candidate who's viable." After that comment, I don't think he's viable with Latino voters in the national election. I think he's done.

CHUCK TODD:

Hey Susan, I just did an entire segment there with this assumption that Trump's not going to be the nominee. We are all, I think, of the mindset Trump's not going to be the nominee. Should we stop that?

SUSAN PAGE:

I think that we've been wrong from the start about Trump and the nature of his appeal and the ceiling that he's got. He's disproved the idea that his gaffes, the things that we see as gaffes would undermine him, that hasn't happened. So I think it's still unlikely he's the nominee. I think it is no longer inconceivable that he's the nominee.

I mean, just look at the Reuters/Ipsos poll that came out on Friday, that's an online poll, not a traditional telephone poll. They've trumped the field. That's supposed to be what undermines Trump at the end, when the field gets winnowed to Carson, Jeb Bush, and Trump. He got 44%. That is a level of support, that that just wins you in Iowa and New Hampshire. But in South Carolina, that could carry you quite a ways in these Republican primaries.

CHUCK TODD:

Amy, what'd you learn from Alex and Charlie? Because they're guys that we always like to call up and say, "Guys, make sense of this all." Do you feel like you've made more sense of it?

AMY WALTER:

No. I mean, I think that, do I make sense of any of this? No. I think Susan’s right, that all of our assumptions have been sort of blown up in our face. But some of this, still, we still have to go back to political physics. There are laws of gravity that still kick in at some point.

CHUCK TODD:

When?

AMY WALTER:

I mean, here, well, that's what we have to remember--

CHUCK TODD:

Apparently we're Mars, not Earth anymore. The atmosphere is just different.

AMY WALTER:

We're just floating--

CHUCK TODD:

Gravity is not quite as strong on this planet we're on.

AMY WALTER:

At the end of the day, I think what you heard in that piece and what you're hearing from voters is they want to send a message.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

AMY WALTER:

At some point, they're going to have to cast a vote. And is a message more important to them than winning an election? Because that's going to be the choice. Is Donald Trump worth losing an election, a general election over. As a candidate, I think, if the field narrows, which it will, that's going to be a tougher debate for him. It is also the summer. Nobody's thinking about electability. Nobody's thinking about November except us--

CHUCK TODD:

--Guess what Amy, Washington, Washington, Washington, Washington. Let me go to Nevada. Let me go to a guy in America.

JON RALSTON:

Finally you're talking to a real person, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say, tell me what's happening in America. Or at least--

CHUCK TODD:

--well, Las Vegas isn't America, but still.

JON RALSTON:

Here we go--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

--to Nevada or Nevada. Right? Yeah.

JON RALSTON:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

JON RALSTON:

Well, listen, I think it was really interesting watching Alex and Charlie with you, because they were so definitive, Trump is not going to be the nominee. No one wants to say, including people in our business, the real answer, "I don't know." Nobody knows. This guy has defied political gravity. But his gravitational pull as everyone is talking about, he's pulling these other Republican candidates to say things that are going the cost them in the general election.

And the Walker example is the best. He's for it, he's against it, then he comes out with a quote that you alluded to, Chuck, "I don't know whether I'm for it or against it, let's just talk about secure the border." So Trump is just drawing everything to him right now. And people just don't know where it's going, because as Susan points out, many of the assumptions early on have turned out to be wrong. "He's not going to run." "Oh, he won't last very long." "It's performance art," et cetera. We don't know where it's going, Chuck. We really don't.

CHUCK TODD:

Look at you, bringing some reality check here. I don't know. Nothing wrong with that. Coming up, our other big story of the week. Could Hillary Clinton's email troubles actually derail her candidacy? We’re still skeptical, but who knows. But first, here's what Donald Trump says about Hillary.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

I think she's the worst Secretary of State in the history of our country.

(END TAPE)

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. As you know, Donald Trump is happy to share his opinions about his opponents, really about anything. I found out what he thinks of Hillary Clinton when I asked him about criticism from conservatives, that he had been too close to Bill and Hillary.

DONALD TRUMP:

First of all, nobody's been tougher on Hillary Clinton than me. And when Bill Clinton called me, I had already made up my decision. You know, just so you understand, he called me long after I had made a decision and everyone knew I was running. So it wasn't like that. And I think he's very disappointed that I'm running. Because I'm the one person that's going to beat her.

Now, I think she may not be able to run to be honest because this whole email thing is a horrible thing. General Petraeus, his life has been destroyed. And he did 5% of what she did. So assuming she's able to run, which would be absolutely to me a miracle at this point, I will beat her. And I don't see the other people that--

CHUCK TODD:

You call--

DONALD TRUMP:

--are running against me currently winning--

CHUCK TODD:

You regularly call her the worst secretary of state.

DONALD TRUMP:

I think she's the--

CHUCK TODD:

So it begs--

DONALD TRUMP:

--worst secretary of State in the history of our country. Look at happened during her reign--

CHUCK TODD:

Well, it begs the question. I'm a history buff. Who was the worst before her then in your mind?

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, I'll tell you who was the worst after her. Kerry because of what--

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Well, who was the--

DONALD TRUMP:

I mean, look--

CHUCK TODD:

Who do you believe was the worst before her--

DONALD TRUMP:

I don't want to get into names. I don't know.

CHUCK TODD:

Well no--

DONALD TRUMP:

--insulting, Chuck? I'm insulting so many people. I don't want to insult people. I want to be nice to people--

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that. But it goes to this larger-- everything with you is the best or the worst.

DONALD TRUMP:

No, it's not--

CHUCK TODD:

There's no nuance.

DONALD TRUMP:

Chuck, during her reign--

CHUCK TODD:

Who--

DONALD TRUMP:

--the entire world fell apart. It fell apart. During her reign, the entire-- look what happened. Everything fell apart.

CHUCK TODD:

So the Arab Spring--

DONALD TRUMP:

Nothing was--

CHUCK TODD:

--is on her? Is that a fair--

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, I think you--

DONALD TRUMP:

--you could sort of--

CHUCK TODD:

--Arab Spring on her?

DONALD TRUMP:

I mean, you could sort of say maybe a little bit, right? I mean, sort of, right?

CHUCK TODD:

That's a big charge--

DONALD TRUMP:

But look at Kerry. Now, Kerry may top her.

CHUCK TODD:

That was Donald Trump on our last two secretaries of State. When we come back, the Hillary Clinton email draw that won't go away, and the growing possibility that Joe Biden is itching their find a rationale to jump into the race.

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Hillary Clinton's email troubles have gone from something she tried to dismiss as nothing more than Republican partisanship to a saga that has pulled down her poll numbers and encouraged very real talk about Joe Biden getting into the race. With her campaign in full damage-control mode this week, let's take a look at how her position on this email debacle frankly has evolved over recent months.

HILLARY CLINTON:

I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material. So I'm certainly well aware of the classification requirements. I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received.

REPORTER:

Just yesterday, the State Department said 305 emails had been flagged for further review to see if they contain classified information.

HILLARY CLINTON:

I did not send classified material and I did not receive any material that was marked or designated classified. I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department.

In retrospect, this didn't turn out to be convenient at all. And I regret that this has become such a cause celebre. But that does not change the facts. The server contains personal communications from my husband and me and I believe

I have met all of my responsibilities and the server will remain private. I've just provided my server to the Justice Department.

ED HENRY:

You were the official in charge. Did you wipe the server?

HILLARY CLINTON:

What, like, with a cloth or something? This is the usual partisanization, which I may have just made up a word, of anything that goes on.

Nobody talks to me about it other than you guys.

CHUCK TODD:

So to discuss the state of Hillary Clinton's campaign and the chances of Joe Biden jumping in, I'm joined by Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, who ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004, he is publicly backing Hillary Clinton right now, and Peter Hart, a hugely influential Democratic pollster who's worked for who's who of the party, from Hubert Humphrey to Bill Clinton, and of course, he's one half of the NBC/Wall Street Journal polling team that we use. Welcome to both of you. Governor Dean, let me start with you. The evolving answers here, at the end of the day, can you say that Hillary Clinton has handled this well?

HOWARD DEAN:

I actually don't think the answers are evolving. I think they're steady as she goes. Look, this is, in fact, manufactured partly by a press that's bored and partly by the Republicans. Here's the deal. She did not break any rules, she did not break any policy, she may have sent stuff that was classified that wasn't labeled classified, and it is well known that the State Department and others are trying to get stuff classified after the fact. She can't be blamed for this. So I look at this as the usual press frenzy, the pack journalism, and I think it'll go away, because there's no sense to it.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, and you're going to hear a quote from Jerry Brown, Peter Hart, where he says, you know, this thing's like a vampire, this story won't go away, and she's got to figure out how to essentially find a way to just stab it and get rid of it. What could she be doing better?

PETER HART:

Well, she's in a hide-and-seek period. And that's a terrible place to be, because it's going to continue to evolve and evolve and evolve until she essentially ends it. She's a terrible frontrunner, but she's a marvelous candidate when she gets into the middle of the race. And there you see her intelligence, her experience, and her toughness. At this stage, it's all fumbles.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting you say that, because then that would make an argument that says Joe Biden getting in the race might be the best thing that happened to Hillary Clinton. Governor Dean?

HOWARD DEAN:

You know, it's not possible, as I was watching that tape, I was thinking to myself, "This is a lawyerly answer." And one of the problems is that Hillary Clinton is an incredibly smart lawyer.

CHUCK TODD:

Too smart of a lawyer--

HOWARD DEAN:

Well--

CHUCK TODD:

Sometimes too good of a politician?

HOWARD DEAN:

Yeah, I do a lot of work now with people who are in trouble. And one thing I try to do is get the lawyers to not have everything to say about what you present. You've got to think about this in plain language. And maybe that's what you need to do. But I don't think there's any there there. If Joe gets in the race, Joe gets in the race. I think that's a tough one for him. He's a very good guy, he's been a terrific vice president. But he has 100% name recognition, he's already behind Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. So where is his space?

CHUCK TODD:

Peter, you have been involved in insurgent campaigns and in frontrunner campaigns. So is there time for Biden to put together a competitive campaign?

PETER HART:

Well, what it really comes down to is he's the happier warrior. As he reaches the Reagan Democrats, he reaches across more than anybody else. The difficulty is where's the opening on the field? And I think that's his real challenge. And 80% said they might vote for him, only 45% want him to run. And the difficulty is, how do you find that space on the track? And that's what I think challenges, you know, he has to get the dough or it's no go.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting that he did the Elizabeth Warren meeting. What signal do you think that?

HOWARD DEAN:

You know, I've actually thought for a long time that Elizabeth Warren makes much more sense than the mainstream media makes it out to be. I think that she's right about the banks, and I think Joe's right to touch base with her. Hillary clearly has talked to her, because her views, while not--using different language, are not that different than Elizabeth Warren's on some of these issues, these major economic issues about the top 20% getting all the raises, and the rest of the people getting not much.

CHUCK TODD:

What did the Warren message say to you?

PETER HART:

Well, obviously, it says there's this constituency there, and he wants to reach across. But getting to the voters, this election is one part anger and it's two parts anxiety. And you look at the stock market, there's a drop there. People are anxious. Nobody's talked to anxieties. Everybody's talked to anger.

HOWARD DEAN:

That's a great point. And it's why I think Hillary wins at the end and wins the whole thing in the end. Because she is a steady person, there's nobody more qualified in the country to be president of the United States than Hillary Clinton. And that is something that's going to be a huge advantage for her as time goes on.

CHUCK TODD:

Already I'm going to leave the conversation there. Governor Dean, Peter Hart, we will watch and see for more on the Clinton campaign a bit in crisis this week. I was joined by a man who knows a thing or two about running for president himself, California governor Jerry Brown.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

You were here in Washington in March right when the kerfuffle about Hillary Clinton and the emails was happening. And somebody asked you if this was an issue that would just go away.

And you cautioned, "I don't know that. With these things, what makes a difference you often don't know until it unfolds, because nothing is just what it is. It's always in part of a larger context. Things unfold, things happen." Jerry Brown, March, 2015. August 2015, she's still dealing with it. You were right. What should she be doing better?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN:

Well, I don't know. This email thing, it has kind of a mystique to it. You know, an email is just an utterance in digital form. But it has some kind of dark energy that gets everybody excited. So I don't know how it's almost like a vampire. She's going to have to find a stake and put it right through the heart of these emails in some way. But I don't think a leading candidate for president needs the advice of another politician. Generally they don't follow it, and I think they know everything I can figure out on their own.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, as a Democrat, and somebody who you said you expect Hillary Clinton to be the nominee, do you think she needs to handle this better?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN:

Well, I mean, just the facts are out there. How do you handle it? I'm telling you, this email business has a certain buzz that keeps buzzing. And I have a hard time figuring out why is it such a big deal? But it is. And she'll have to use her best imagination and adroitness to deal with it. So these are things that happen. It's still very early. And I hope that she can get beyond this. Because I think, as a matter of fact and law and policy and ethics, these emails are not what the pundits are apparently thinking they are.

CHUCK TODD:

Let's go to the other candidates potentially in this race. Would you like to see Vice President Biden jump in?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN:

Well, again, you're asking me presidential advice. All I can say is, if I were Hillary, I would say, "Don't jump in." If I were Joe Biden, I'd probably give it very serious consideration.

CHUCK TODD:

Bernie Sanders, getting crowds everywhere, running a very progressive campaign. Reminds me a lot of Jerry Brown, 1992. Do you see the similarities?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN:

Well, I see the similarity in that he's running as the critic of the status quo. And given the general discontent, and if you look at surveys, you know, less than 20% have confidence in Congress, and only a third thinks the country's going in the right direction. So that means there's always an opening for the critic, for the outsider. And that's certainly what Sanders is doing.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you fully expect Hillary Clinton to be the nominee?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN:

I don't make these expectations. I've been around politics long enough to know that, you know, that things are uncertain. I don't know. I think she's a good person, she's got a lot of experience, but the vagaries of politics are such that I think expectations are worth about that.

CHUCK:

Okay. So why wouldn't you jump into this race?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN:

Because I've got a lot to do in California, we've got fires that are burning, we have this budget still to be kept in check, and this is the seventh or eighth largest economy in the world. And I find it completely absorbing and challenging. And I've given myself to this job and I'm going to be fully engaged there.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

A lot more from Jerry Brown, you can see the entire interview on our website, MeetThePressNBC.com. Let me bring in the panel. Jon Ralston, the lawyerly answer there from Howard Dean I thought was an interesting way. Every defense they've sounded off, that's what it sounds like. A lawyer, not a political consultant.

JON RALSTON:

I guess what I thought from the beginning on that, I thought that was terrible for her that Governor Dean said that. But Chuck, it depends on what the definition of classified is, I think is what people out there in real America are thinking. Even if it wasn't classified, why did she have to do this? Was there sensitive information on there? Why did she have that on an insecure server?

This is not, as Governor Dean said, a purely media-manufactured story. Sure, the media's been all over it. But it's her handling of it. You know, someone should've given her this advice before that appearance in, by the way, Nevada, where she’s at-- Here's the first thing you shouldn't do Hillary, joke about it. Don't joke about it, because people, even if they don't understand all the nuances, they know it's serious. So don't say, "Wipe it with a cloth," because you know in this world now, it's going to go viral right away, which of course it did.

CHUCK TODD:

Amy is there a competency thing about this? You know, I had somebody email me and they go, "You know what, I don't think it's a big deal, but jeez, if she can't handle this mess, what does it say about her managerial expertise as president?"

AMY WALTER:

Well, it goes to the heart of what her campaign message is, is I'm one of you, and I'm going to fight for you. But the reality is, and this is where the campaign still has its biggest problem, is explaining why on earth she set up a separate server in the first place. Normal people don't do that. Normal people who work in the government know what they have to do. So that just distances her even more, and it sets up this sense that she is--

CHUCK TODD:

Special. Elite.

AMY WALTER:

--she's special, she's elite, she's--

CHUCK TODD:

Doesn’t play by the rules.

AMY WALTER:

And that to me is the bigger problem here.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let's switch to Joe Biden. Where is this going?

SUSAN PAGE:

Well, I would like, on behalf of political reporters everyone, and not for ideological or partisan reasons, I would like to ask Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren to run as a ticket.

CHUCK TODD:

Oh, you want them together? You want them in right now? There you go.

SUSAN PAGE:

I think they would be fantastic to cover and I am 100% that--

CHUCK TODD:

You and the RNC does too--

SUSAN PAGE:

I'm totally into that. That said, I think Peter Hart, well, he didn't actually make this point, but you picked up on it, but it would be a great thing for, I think, for Hillary Clinton if Joe Biden ran. Because it would give her a really serious opponent. And because at the end of the day, I think she would likely prevail. And that would be good for her. And she's better. When was the one time she was a good candidate, when she was really under the gun--

CHUCK TODD:

When she was behind--

SUSAN PAGE:

--in 2008 against Barack Obama. So I do think that this would be something, while some short-term costs, I think over the long-term might well be the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Alfonso, I'm looking at this race, and it's like Donald Trump's doing everything he can to hurt the Republican nominee, and Hillary Clinton with the emails is something doing everything she can to hurt herself. It's like, it's creating this, the Republicans love to talk emails, the Democrats love to talk immigration.

ALFONSO AGUILAR:

Well, I don't know. In terms of Hillary, you know, Jerry Brown says this is like a vampire. I think it's starting to feel like the entire Twilight Saga. I think, look, and I think the point that John and Amy have made is very important. Regardless if there's a criminal investigation, regardless if criminal charges are filed, the reality is, why was she using an unsecured server in managing sensitive communications?

When you're at the State Department, every single State Department official is told, "Don't use an unsecure server for official communications." Why did she do it? And then the other problem she has is that she hasn't been forthcoming in providing all the emails, and finally the server. So they look and sound like they're lying.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me do a short response really quick. Biden or Clinton, a tougher Republican opponent?

ALFONSO AGUILAR:

For--

CHUCK TODD:

Tougher opponent for the Republicans?

ALFONSO AGUILAR:

Clinton. Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

Still think Clinton. Jon Ralston, can Biden put together a competitive Nevada campaign if he jumped in tomorrow?

JON RALSTON:

It's going to be tough. Hillary has a tremendous infrastructure already in place. She's got people who had experience with her campaign and with the Obama campaign, they’ve been very smart in playing up the Hispanic vote there, as has Hillary, as you know. Hispanic vote’s going to be huge in Nevada, maybe 20% of the electorate. I see no chance that he could set up a comparable infrastructure in Nevada.

CHUCK TODD:

And Amy, that's the thing, is there a path?

AMY WALTER:

Well, that's the thing I think it’s very clear that there's not, like, a natural constituency. Is he younger than Hillary Clinton? No. Does he have a constituency that looks different than Hillary Clinton?

CHUCK TODD:

You sound like Ryan Lizza here. He went through this. He said, "What's the case for Biden over HRC?" Youth, no. Gender, no. Broad party support, Jon, you just said no. Lefty credentials? Maybe.

SUSAN PAGE:

One thing you would put on that list, does he want to run? Yes. We know that Joe Biden wants to run. And that means that all those calculations may not be--

AMY WALTER:

Well, and I think that’s-- Susan makes a very good point, this is both true about Trump, this is true about Biden. We are sitting here trying to be logical about all of this. This is emotional and voting is emotional and campaigns are emotional. And that makes this all very, very different.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, it's why we all love politics.

AMY WALTER:

That's right, that's right.

CHUCK TODD:

There's a passion, there's emotion to it that sort of helps create an illogical way of doing things. All right, coming up, my sit-down with the other outsider that's been making waves in the Republican race. Carly Fiorina, she also has some tough words for Hillary Clinton.

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. If you're in Iowa and you want to enjoy all the fun of the state fair, you've got to be quick because guess what? Today is your last chance. One of the most important people at the fair though these days is not a candidate for president, she's Joni Ernst. The newly elected Republican senator from Iowa who may very well be the Iowa kingmaker if she chooses to be. I caught up with her last week when I was at the fair. It's a quick excerpt, actually, of where I asked her if she thought the government would be shut down in the fall over the issue of funding Planned Parenthood.

JONI ERNST:

I think it is a very, very important topic to look at. What do American taxpayers want to see their dollars going towards? And the videos that we've seen have raised some very serious issues. We've got to make sure we're moving in the right direction.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think there are other ways to avoid a showdown like that?

JONI ERNST:

I think so. I think we can all work together to move towards a common goal.

CHUCK TODD:

An optimistic non-shut-down Republican there. You can see more of my complete interview with Joni Ernst on our website, MeetThePressNBC.com. Up next, the woman in the presidential race whose numbers are rising, not falling these days. It's Republican Carly Fiorina. And a little later, check out this campaign photo of Jeb Bush. How exactly did that happen? We’ll explain.

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

And we are back. Donald Trump was not the only sort of winner from the Republican’s big debate night a couple weeks ago. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was widely acknowledged as having won the so-called "happy hour" debate among the candidates who didn't make it onto the prime time stage. Fiorina is hoping to join the big table at next month's second debate. I meanwhile sat down with her for a Meet the Candidates interview yesterday in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with the news of the week in the markets. You, obviously as a former CEO. What's going on?

CARLY FIORINA:

Well, frankly, I think it was inevitable. I was expecting this a bit sooner. It's inevitable because you have a huge economy like China slowing down, the Chinese economy clearly is struggling now in a serious way. That has a big impact. You have the Federal Reserve, it's going to have to stop printing money eventually. And people see that coming.

CHUCK TODD:

You're running as a political outsider.

CARLY FIORINA:

I am a political outsider.

CHUCK TODD:

No, I say this, but the last seven years, an advisor to John McCain, you ran for the U.S. Senate, you worked at the N.R.S.C., a fundraising arm for the Republican party. That doesn't sound like somebody who's-- it sounds like somebody who's wanted to become a member of the professional political class.

CARLY FIORINA:

No, I think it sounds like someone who believes this is a citizen government. It was always intended to be a citizen government. And so citizens have to be engaged in the process of governance and politics. We need more citizens in politics. We have too many professional politicians. And the vast majority of American people say, "We're delighted you haven't been on the inside in Washington. We're delighted you haven't held elected office before."

What all those experiences say is that I understand how the process works. That's important. I have relevant experience

CHUCK TODD:

Early this week, Andrew Ross Sorkin, a column in The New York Times. And he quoted Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management. And he was pretty tough on you. He said, "Experience can be a badge of honor or a badge of shame." And he said, he compared you, your tenure, to the captain who caused the shipwreck of Carnival's Costa Concordia in 2012. "He will never be trusted with the public leadership role. Captains of industry must also be held accountable." What do you say to that?

CARLY FIORINA:

Yeah, well I was held accountable, absolutely. And stand by my record. It's also true that Jeffrey Sonnenfeld has been critical of me from the moment I arrived at HP as a close advisor of Bill Clinton. I'm not at all surprised. He's been saying that for 15 years. The conventional wisdom is frequently wrong. I will stand by my record.

CHUCK TODD:

I know you don't want to talk more about Donald Trump, but the issue of birthright citizenship came up. Can you explain where you are on this issue of birthright citizenship?

CARLY FIORINA:

Yeah, I don't agree that we should be trying to amend the constitution.

CHUCK TODD:

You would not amend it? This is not a priority?

CARLY FIORINA:

I would not amend it.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

CARLY FIORINA:

No, absolutely not. And by the way, this has been talked about for 20 years as well. You see, I think Donald Trump may not be a politician, but he's sure acting like a politician in this regard. There are two fundamental things that must be done, and they have never been done. We must secure our border. It is not rocket science. It is our job to do it, not anybody else's job to do it.

It takes money, manpower, and technology. It hasn't been done in 25 years. We must fix the legal immigration system, which is contributing to this problem.

Every single one of the problems I've just mentioned has been festering for 25 years. But what do politicians do? Every election cycle, they hold up some bright, shiny object. "Oh, let's talk about birthright citizenship." Even if you like that idea, the chances of getting a constitutional amendment passed, the chances of having the 14th amendment overturned by the Supreme Court are extremely small.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you do with the 11 million?

CARLY FIORINA:

My own view is, if you have come here illegally and stayed here illegally, you do not have an opportunity to earn a pathway to citizenship. To legal status, perhaps. But I think there must be consequence.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you still have great admiration and respect for Hillary Clinton?

CARLY FIORINA:

In many ways I do. She's a hardworking woman. She's an intelligent woman. She has dedicated herself to public service. It is also true, however, that she is not trustworthy, that she has lied about some key things. Benghazi, her emails, her server. And she doesn't have a track record.

CHUCK TODD:

Lying is a big charge. Why do you know she's lying on Benghazi?

CARLY FIORINA:

Oh for heaven's sakes. The night of the Benghazi attacks, we now know that the State Department and the White House knew this was a purposeful, pre-planned terrorist attack. Nevertheless, the next morning, she went into the State Department and she addressed the American people and talked about a video that did not represent the values of this nation. Several days later, she said the same thing over the bodies of the fallen. What she should have said was, "This was a purposeful terrorist attack and we will seek retribution."

CHUCK TODD:

You believe she purposely lied?

CARLY FIORINA:

Absolutely I do.

CHUCK TODD:

In your home state of California, the drought, the wildfires, more evidence is coming out from the scientific community that says climate change has made this worse. Not to say that the drought is directly caused, but it's made it worse.

CARLY FIORINA:

You know what's also made it worse? Politicians. Liberal politicians who stood up for 40 years as the population of California doubled and said, "You cannot build a new reservoir and you cannot build a water conveyance system." And so for 40 years, 70% of the rainfall has washed out to sea. That's pretty dumb, when you know you're going to have droughts every single year. Or every three years, let's say.

CHUCK TODD:

So the other day I asked Governor Jerry Brown to respond to that exact criticism you made. I said you've blamed liberal environmentalists in California specifically on dams and reservoirs. And this is how he responded:

JERRY BROWN:

"I've never heard of such utter ignorance, Building a dam won't do a damn thing about fires or climate change or the absence of moisture in the ground and vegetation in California. So I think these people, if they want to run for president, better do kind of eighth grade science before they make any more utterances."

CARLY FIORINA:

That's a lot of insults. But of course, it makes no sense what he just said. It would be helpful if he were fighting fires to have more water. Firefighters in California have difficulty getting enough water now. So they're using other means. It would be helpful to agriculture and everything else to have water saved in the good years so that you could use it in the bad years.

I'm not denying that California's air is dry. That's obvious. I'm not denying that there was a drought. But there is no denying that politicians have made this problem immeasurably worse.

CHUCK TODD:

You, at HP, made it a policy that any senior job opening, you had to interview a woman.

CARLY FIORINA:

We had to have a diverse slate of qualified candidates.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. Is that a pledge you will make for every position you appoint as president?

CARLY FIORINA:

Yes. Because that's how you get a meritocracy.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let me give you a Facebook question here. Mark Christopher wanted to ask you this: "Mrs. Fiorina, having experience in the technology field, what would you do to implement true cyber security for our nation's core infrastructure? And would you put our nation on a cyber offensive?"

CARLY FIORINA:

Yes. So yes, I would by the way. First of all, there is a level of collaboration that's required between the private sector and the public sector to detect and repel attacks. That requires an act of Congress. There is a bill that's been languishing, frankly, in Congress for several years now.

We need to get that bill passed so that level of collaboration is possible. Second, it's important to recognize that these cyber attacks that have been going on against the federal government systems, none of those are a surprise. I chaired the advisory board at the C.I.A. for several years. We've known for over a decade the Chinese were coming after our most important systems.

CHUCK TODD:

Russians too, I think, really.

CARLY FIORINA:

Yes, absolutely

CARLY FIORINA:

We ought to make it very painful for the Chinese to be aggressive in cyber warfare. So yes.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

For my full sit-down with Carly Fiorina, including her take on Iran, ISIS, and a whole host of other issues, it's available at MeetThePressNBC.com. Quick programming note, by the way, if you can't catch us live on Sunday mornings, no problem. We're always available on demand, video on demand.

You can hit the record button. You need help finding that on your DVR, season pass, you name it. Or make sure there's no blinking 12:00 clock on your VCR. Anyway, but here it is, even if it's not Sunday, it's Meet the Press. Coming up, our endgame segment. Again, what's wrong with this picture? Here's a hint. Check out Jeb Bush's left hand. How exactly does that happen?

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

Endgame time, panel is here. Let me get your reaction to Carly Fiorina, top-tier candidate? Does she belong in the top tier? Alfonso?

ALFONSO AGUILAR:

I don't know the top tier. I think she definitely belongs-- in the next debate and of our top ten candidates. I think she's getting a lot of support from the conservative base, social conservatives, and I think, well, I don't think she's going to make it all the way, I think she's seriously going to be considered for VP.

CHUCK TODD:

You think that's what she's running for?

SUSAN PAGE:

Yes, probably--

CHUCK TODD:

The cynics out there think that that's what she's doing.

SUSAN PAGE:

It's hard to imagine her as a presidential candidate. But, you know, Trump's been a surprise success in this election. Bush has had surprising trouble, so has Rand Paul. She's been, I think, the most surprising kind of dark horse that has come up and has forced us to take her seriously. Look at her answer on birthright citizenship. You ask her a question, she gave you an answer. She says, "I don't think that's a good idea, here are three reasons why."

CHUCK TODD:

Straight forward.

SUSAN PAGE:

Straight forward, seems to know what she thinks.

CHUCK TODD:

Amy Walter, Carson, Trump, Carly?

AMY WALTER:

That's exactly what I was going to say.

CHUCK TODD:

It’s about 40 percent.

AMY WALTER:

That's the problem, is that she doesn't have, she's in that field with other two trying to be the outsider. But she's got to overtake a Donald Trump, but she's never going to out-bombast him. She's never going to be able to get into that outsider tier. So now she's trying to be a little bit outsider, but then she says to you, "But I also have experience, Chuck." There's nothing wrong to that, to be a citizen legislator, I know how this stuff works, Donald Trump sounds like a regular politician.

CHUCK TODD:

Jon, I can't help but wonder though, at the end of the day, the one silver bullet with her to make her known as a candidate, you just run these HP stories. I mean, the headlines for her are terrible. I mean, look, she's trying to deal with it. And she owns up to it. She says, "Yes, it was ugly, all this stuff." That's a tough thing I think for her to overcome.

JON RALSTON:

Yeah, I think it is. And especially in the paid media, when it comes, as you look to them. She pivoted off of the professor right--

CHUCK TODD:

And hit him.

(OVERTALK)

JON RALSTON:

Killed the messenger and she didn't want to talk about that, but firing 30,000 people, the disaster that was the Compaq deal, she can tell you about the dot-com bust when "I was ousted in a board room brawl by a bunch of guys," that's all very good in the short term. But in the long term, that is a devastating issue for anybody. I have to say though, Chuck, for someone who says she's not a politician, boy, she was very good in that interview in acting like a politician.

CHUCK TODD:

You've seen her, by the way, out in Nevada, how is she doing?

JON RALSTON:

She was out in Nevada. She was at a forum last weekend, and she did very well I thought. There were no questions, it was just talking for the faithful. One interesting nugget though, Chuck, she met with Sheldon Adelson before that, who has essentially now told people that he may try to save her candidacy. You know, you can do that now, because she's not doing well, through the super PAC mechanism C-4s, et cetera.

CHUCK TODD:

That's fascinating. I want to go something that was fascinating this week that's gotten lost in all the president politics. Jimmy Carter, with that, just heart-wrenching press conference that he held to describe his cancer. And then somebody threw out a question, "Do you have any regrets?" Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN TAPE)

REPORTER:

And anything you wish -- I’m sorry -- that you had not done or that you'd done differently?

JIMMY CARTER:

I wish I'd sent one more helicopter to get the hostages and we would have rescued them and I would have been re-elected.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

"I would've been re-elected." Every single losing presidential nominee always, they never get over it.

SUSAN PAGE:

They never get over it. This is my tenth presidential campaign. You don't even have to be--

CHUCK TODD:

Ninety-one. This is 30 years later.

SUSAN PAGE:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

One more helicopter.

SUSAN PAGE:

I interviewed Senator Orrin Hatch a couple months ago, and he alluded to his presidential campaign, where he was not, like, a near loser. I mean, he wasn't a near winner, he had a difficult path there when he ran for president, when was that? Nineteen-- I don't even know.

CHUCK TODD:

'98, 2000 I think.

(OVERTALK)

SUSAN PAGE:

Yeah. But you never get over it. Look at Romney, you know? Mitt Romney, I think, if there was a path for him this time, he would run again. Especially, you get close, it's so close, if you only did this, maybe he would be there.

CHUCK TODD:

And you can't touch it. Army Walter, there's that famous story that supposedly Walter Mondale calls up George McGovern after he loses in '84 and he says, "When do you get over it?" And McGovern says, "I'll let you know."

AMY WALTER:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

--it came out, you realize, they're all sort of wired the same way.

AMY WALTER:

This a personality type, that's the person that decides to run for office. These are the things that drive them and these are the things that drive them crazy, which is they can't get beyond some of the things. They remember, we were talking about this earlier. Every candidate will remember the first person who believed in you, the first person who wrote you a check, they'll also remember the person who denied you 30 years ago.

CHUCK TODD:

Let you off early--

AMY WALTER:

Exactly.

CHUCK TODD:

--said you were never going to go anywhere.

AMY WALTER:

You will never forget that ever.

CHUCK TODD:

Anyway, it's fascinating. But, you know, Carter, that was just a tremendous thing. You know, 91, and everybody's standing in front, unbelievable President Carter, please, please, please beat this and fight it on. All right, before we go, a little something fun, let's put this up. We created a little viral meme here. There's Jeb Bush, and as you can see, clearly Photoshop got the best of the Jeb Bush super PAC Right to Rise.

They have him standing there with two hands, one appears to be Jeb Bush's hand, the other one looks like the hand of an African American. Well, we went to Right to Rise guys, and we got an explanation. Basically they admit, yes, it's Photoshopped. Here's the real photo, as you can see, that they've basically clipart-ed there.

There's Jeb Bush, appears to be at the state fair, and as you can see, there's shadows there, and that's what happened. But Alfonso, is it just a funny problem, or does this at all say to you, "Geez, this super PAC guys have got to be a little more careful"?

ALFONSO AGUILAR:

Look, it's certainly shoddy work, bad art work. But I think some are going to take advantage of it. Certainly Democrats to make a few cute jokes about Republicans and Jeb's relationship with minority community. But the reality is that look, they're afraid of Jeb because they know that he has good relations with the Latino community. That if he's the candidate, he will be very competitive with Latinos.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, Mike Murphy said to me, "Maybe more people will actually read it now."

AMY WALTER:

At least he didn't hit the kid in the head with a football.

CHUCK TODD:

There you go. Take that, Marco Rubio. All right, that's all for today. We'll be back next week, because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

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