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Meet the Press Transcript - August 9, 2015

MEET THE PRESS -- SUNDAY, AUGUST 9, 2015

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, is it possible Donald Trump has finally gone too far?

DONALD TRUMP:

You know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.

CHUCK TODD:

The conservative backlash is fierce. Donald Trump joins me to react. Plus, I sit down with one of the candidates who helped himself in the GOP debate, Marco Rubio. And our new poll. Wait until you see who Republican voters thought won the debate. Also, a leading Democrat says "no" to the Iran deal. So what happens next? I'll ask one of the president's closest Senate allies, Democrat Claire McCaskill. And finally, was this the Pinocchio moment of Thursday night?

CHRIS CHRISTIE:

I was appointed U.S. Attorney by President Bush on September 10th,2001.

CHUCK TODD:

Boy, that sounds great. But is it true? And joining me this morning to provide insight and analysis are David Brooks of The New York Times, Heather McGhee of Demos, NBC's Andrea Mitchell, and radio talk show host, Hugh Hewitt. 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 morning. When Donald Trump became a birther and insulted African Americans, a lot of people at the time said, "That's it for Trump." Well it wasn't. When he insulted Hispanics, a lot of people said, "That's it for Trump." It wasn't. When he insulted John McCain, a lot of Republicans started to say, "That's it for Trump." And it wasn't.

Now the latest, "that's it for Trump" moment, insulting Fox news anchor, Megyn Kelly. Friday night, still smarting from tough and pointed questioning from all the debate moderators on Thursday, Trump said this of Kelly:

DONALD TRUMP (ON TAPE):

She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, wherever.

CHUCK TODD:

Immediately, Erik Erikson disinvited Trump from his conservative red state gathering in Atlanta.

ERICK ERICKSON (ON TAPE):

I don't want my daughter in the room with Donald Trump tomorrow night, so he's not invited. I'm sorry.

CHUCK TODD:

Trump's campaign hit back, calling organizer Erik Erikson "weak and pathetic." And saying, quote, "Mr. Trump said, 'Blood was coming out of her eyes and whatever,' meaning nose. Only a deviant would think anything else." Some of Trump's Republican rivals enthusiastically condemned his remarks.

JEB BUSH:

Come on, give me a break.I mean, are we, do we want to win? Do we want to insult 53% of all voters? What Donald Trump said is wrong.

SCOTT WALKER:

You know, I agree with Carly that those comments are inappropriate.

CHUCK TODD:

But others, including Marco Rubio, whom I interviewed yesterday, took a different tact.

MARCO RUBIO:

I've made a decision here with Donald Trump. You know, if I comment on everything he says, I mean, my whole campaign will be consumed by it. That's all I'll do all day.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm joined now on the phone from New York by Donald Trump. Mr. Trump, welcome back to Meet the Press.

DONALD TRUMP:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you've had 24 more hours to reflect on your comments on Megyn Kelly. Any change this morning? Do you want to apologize?

DONALD TRUMP:

No, there's nothing to apologize. She asked a very very, I thought, a very unfair question, and so did everybody on social media. And I answered the question very well. I won every poll on debates, Time Magazine, Grudge, and Newsmax, every poll. And people thought I won the debate easily. And, you know, sort of an interesting thing, they did not like the way I was questioned.

And I understand that. And I just want to get on. But what I said was totally appropriate. There was nothing wrong. Only a deviant, and I literally mean that, only a deviant would think anything other than that. What I said was totally fine--

CHUCK TODD:

Well, but let me take you on your word on that. And so you weren't trying to make a reference to hormones? You're still making a

DONALD TRUMP:

Absolutely not.

CHUCK TODD:

--demonic or animalistic reference with the, you know, with blood in-- it's still a demeaning comment, even by your "new" definition.

DONALD TRUMP:

No, I don't think so. Look, she was very angry. And look, I respect people. And she was very angry because I brought up something that got the loudest applause of the day by far. And it really interrupted her when she did the question. And she was very angry. And all I said is, "There was blood--" essentially, "there was blood pouring out of her eyes and there was blood--" and then I said, you know what, I want to get onto the next sentence, because frankly I don't have to talk about the blood coming out of her ears and her nose.

Which is a very common phrase. So I said, "Alright, whatever, let's go." And I got her to the next statement. Well, then all of a sudden, the next day, I wake up and I hear that, you know, somebody took it as something else. Only a deviant would think that, Chuck. I didn't even think that. Who would think it? Hey, I went to the Wharton School of Finance, the toughest place to get into. I was a great student. I don't talk that way.

CHUCK TODD:

So why can't you apologize? Then why can't you just apologize for saying, "You know what? I'm sorry some people took it the wrong way." You seem to have an allergy, you seem to have an allergy toward apologizing.

DONALD TRUMP:

No, I apologize when I'm wrong. But I haven't been wrong. I mean, I said nothing wrong. There's nothing- It's a very common statement. I've said it about many, excuse me, I said it about Chris Wallace. I said there was blood pouring, because he tried to question me. And he's a small shadow of his father, Mike, that I can tell you. But I said it about Chris Wallace. And Chris Wallace came out, and I said there was blood pouring out of his eyes. Nobody asked me about apologizing.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, I want to read you a comment of somebody who was rather supportive of you. This was a supporter in Atlanta. And said this, though. Her name's Myra Adams, and it was in The Washington Post. And she said this: "Talking about blood and a woman, it was just inappropriate. Megyn Kelly is just so well-liked by the public. He should've made nice-nice with her. I thought the question was a little off-base, but he took," referring to you," a mosquito bite and turned it into a skin cancer."

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, Chuck, I would've made nice. I have no problem. And I have no problem apologizing if I'm wrong. But you know, when I say it about Chris Wallace, and there was nothing wrong, and then you say it about Megyn Kelly, is there a double standard? You know, we're talking about everybody being the same. I mean, are we talking about double standards?

And I don't mind apologizing if something's wrong. The only thing is in the second part of it, I didn't want to waste time, you know, going in-- I wanted to get onto the next statement, because frankly it was more important than what I was discussing. So I just cut it short. But I never referred to anything having to do with the other subject matter, that a couple of people thought I might have. And then you had this guy, Erik Erickson, who's a total, you know, I mean, he's a known loser. And everybody in politics--

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Trump let me stop you here for a minute. Because anybody that criticizes you, you've done it to me in the past, when you've not liked something I said, when somebody criticizes you, you go after them, you find something in their physical appearance. You go after them personally--

DONALD TRUMP:

No, I--

CHUCK TODD:

Why? Why is this your tendency--

DONALD TRUMP:

I don't. Chuck, I don't. I don't. And maybe more so than most people, but part of the problem we have now is political correctness. We have a country that's in trouble. We have a country where in the Middle East they're cutting off- they're chopping off people's heads if they happen to be a Christian and for other reasons also. We have- Look at what's going on in the border with tape and with all of the problems in San Francisco, with all of the problems that we've got.

You look at what's going on in the country with crime and with our inner cities and every-- and all they talk about is tone. Jeb Bush said, "Well, Mr. Trump's tone is not--" well, we don't have enough time to tell me-- we need enthusiasm, we need something, we need a much tougher tone than we've had. Because it's not about tone.

We have to straighten out our country, we have to make our country great again, and we need energy and enthusiasm. And this political correctness is just absolutely killing us as a country. You can't say anything. Anything you say today, they'll find a reason why it's not good.

CHUCK TODD:

Well--

DONALD TRUMP:

You know what Chuck? Essentially though, I think we have to get back to work as a country. I heard Jeb Bush the other day say a terrible thing about women's health issues. He made a horrible mistake. I equate that mistake as being worse than what Romney said about the 47%, which possibly cost him the election. And I will be fantastic. I have so much respect for women, and I will help women in terms of the health issues, because it's so important to do that.

And Chuck, I have thousands of women working for me. I have women working in high positions. I was one of the first people to put women in charge of big construction jobs. And, you know, I've had a great relationship with women. And I will help women with women's health issues, unlike somebody like Jeb Bush who really made a big mistake, and he was later forced to apologize.

CHUCK TODD:

Except, and look, let me go back to the premise of Megyn Kelly's question, which was you have a tendency of disparaging women on looks, and we're seeing all sorts of-- I found ten instances, sometimes in your book, sometimes in your Twitter feed. You went after people like Bette Midler, you went after people like Gail Collins. Why do you have to go after the look? This is what some women find offensive, Mr. Trump, is that you go to looks. It's a disparaging thing. It's something out of Mad Men, sir.

DONALD TRUMP:

Well, some of the things that she said I didn't say, okay? And she went through a whole list. And this is a hell of a first question, by the way. But I will say this, I was attacked by the people that you talk about. When you mention a couple of those names, I was attacked viciously by those people. I don't mean a little bit, I mean viciously.

When I'm attacked, I fight back. When I was attacked viciously by those women, of course, it's very hard for them to attack me on looks, because I'm so good looking. But I was attacked very viciously by those women. And frankly, again we get back to the words political correctness. Am I allowed to defend myself? What they said about me is far worse than what I said about them, Chuck.

So again, I want to get back to the country. We have such problems. We have unemployment that's incredible. We need jobs. We have to take jobs back from China. That's the subjects that I'm good at. And by the way, during that whole debate, which was 24 million people, and if I wasn't on, they would've had two million people, not 24 million people. And everybody admits that.

You would've had just another debate that nobody would've watched. So, you know, that's one of those things. But I want to get back to jobs. They didn't ask me one question about jobs. And every single poll said I am by far the best, by triple digits, I am by far the best on jobs in the economy. They didn't ask me about jobs or the economy, I want to talk about all of these issues. But a lot of times, I don't get the opportunity because people hit me with questions that don't relate to the issues.

CHUCK TODD:

Maybe the next time, we will be able to do issues.

DONALD TRUMP:

We will. I hope so, Chuck. That's what I want to do, jobs and the economy. That's what I really want to do.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you, sir. We'll talk to you soon.

DONALD TRUMP:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

DONALD TRUMP:

Thank you very much, bye.

CHUCK TODD:

Panelists here, David Brooks of The New York Times, Heather McGhee president of progress think tank Demos, our chief foreign affairs correspondent here at NBC, Andrea Mitchell, of course, is covering the Hillary Clinton campaign, and Hugh Hewitt, radio talk show host, who will be among the questioners at the next Republican presidential debate next month. Hugh Hewitt, let me start with you. Has Donald Trump got the temperament to be president?

HUGH HEWITT:

No. No he doesn't. And the disappointing part of this debate was it was a9/10 debate in a 9/11 world. We have the Iran deal coming up, the most consequential deal facing probably next 30 to 40 years of the world, it got very little attention, the Russian cyber attack on the Pentagon, got very little attention.

CHUCK TODD:

Is that the candidates' fault or the organizer's fault?

HUGH HEWITT:

Well, it's both. Donald stepped on a lot of important stories. The New York Times today has a story on Hillary Clinton's server. Only Scott Walker brought up Hillary Clinton's server. So I thought what he did was, to build the audience, it was enormous. At the same time, I wanted a different issue set talked about, and so the Republican primary voter lost in that. Carly Fiorina won big time. Walker, Kasich, Rubio, but the loser was the GOP.

CHUCK TODD:

What can damage Donald Trump, though, Andrea? I mean, you know, we, we conventional political gravity doesn't apply to him, or at least hasn't.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

He's got Teflon. And if not this, what? I mean, gender? What could be more important, 53% of the voters who you drill down on what women care about, what women want. It's insulting, it's rude. He attacks a very popular, the most popular star on cable TV.

CHUCK TODD:

And conservatives love her.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And, and --

CHUCK TODD:

I mean, this is where, this is why some people think this is the straw. It's like he's insulting somebody that conservatives have really fallen for on this--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And the circus goes on. And as Hugh says, the real issues-- but I'm not persuaded at all that Donald Trump on the issue of jobs and the economy is what you're really going to hear, because look at the way he describes the bankruptcy law, look at the way he talks about jobs. No one has really been able to seriously sit down and interview him about what he knows and what he does.

CHUCK TODD:

David, what you just heard, I mean, he doesn't, he seems to have an allergy to apologizing.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

You know, I think we all think we know what type of, I,I, you know-- but it doesn't seem to apply to voters aren't hearing it.

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah, I actually just listened to that interview. It struck me I'm listening to a religious zealot and the guy he worships is Donald Trump. And anybody who is against the God is a blaspheme or has to be cast out of the inquisition. And so what I think he's done with each of these things is create a fortress around himself.

And 20% of the Republican, at least poll voters, are inside the fortress. And they're going to be in that fortress, the walls get higher with each controversy. They're going to stay there. But 80% are never going to go in the fortress. And so I think he'll be in the race at 20%. He'll never get anybody else. But he'll be there with that position.

CHUCK TODD:

What should the other candidates do?

HEATHER MCGHEE:

Well, well, I think that--

CHUCK TODD:

Are you hearing that, did you hear what Jeb Bush did yesterday, you know what, you may not support Jeb Bush, but that's what he should do?

HEATHER MCGHEE:

Well, I think it's important to remembers a Republican presidential nominee hasn't won women since 1988, so this is a very deep problem with the party. It's not going to be enough for anyone, the commentator, or one of the candidates, to just disavow Trump's sort of interpersonal sexist comments.

Because what we know about a bias against women or anyone else is that it operates at a bunch of different levels. And you've got the interpersonal stuff, which is sort of easy to bat away, it makes for good commentary, but you know, the right has a problem with institutional bias against women, you look at their vision of a healthcare system that excludes reproductive care, structural bias against women, looking at the economy they want, where, you know, low-wage workers, who the majority whom are women, are staying in poverty. There's a deeper, deeper problem here than just these offhand comments.

CHUCK TODD:

Hugh, I guess I go back to, how does this end?

HUGH HEWITT:

Well, Carly Fiorina is very happy. She won the first debate, she won the second debate, she's won the post debate. Her tweet yesterday, "There is no excuse," is emphatic. She'll be on the stage, I think, when I'm asking questions by virtue of the bump. But I look at Rubio and Walker, and to a lesser extent, Kasich and Christie and Ted Cruz, they keep doing what they've been doing, which is talk about these big issues. The one's that Andrea are covering, the Iran deal. And the Trump thing will, as David says, the 20% is going to go I think to 10%. But the candidates have to keep talking about the big issues.

CHUCK TODD:

Hugh, are you wishing it away?

HUGH HEWITT:

No, I don't think so. We'll watch how it unfolds.

DAVID BROOKS:

I think the deeper problem is if you look at who's benefited from this debate, it was all the protest candidates. It was Carson, Cruz and Trump. You look at the governors, they all suffered from this debate. So the party is not in the governing mode, it's in a protest mode. And that mode, I think, is a somewhat dangerous mode.

CHUCK TODD:

Well it could be. By the way, that's the difference between '64 and '68, if you want to go back in history. '64 for Republicans was a protest year. '68 was a governing year. Anyway, all right, we're going to pause. Guess what? We'll talk more about this throughout the show. Much more to get to. When we come back, there is one candidate that a lot of people felt gained quite a bit in Thursday night's debate. He's Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and he's next.

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. While Donald Trump is dominating the conversation yet again this week, there does seem to be a growing consensus that a few candidates really helped themselves Thursday night. Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, whom we'll hear from later, and my next guest Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Many argue he is the candidate Hillary Clinton should fear the most because he's someone who represents a younger, more diverse Republican party. I sat down with him yesterday in Miami for a Meet the Candidate interview and here it is.

CHUCK TODD:

You got a lot of universal praise for the debate. But I want to get into one specific issue where there has been some questions about a response you had. And it's on abortion. I want to just get this clarification. Will you support legislation that has exceptions?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

I have.

CHUCK TODD:

Antiabortion legislation that has exceptions for life?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

I'll support any legislation.

CHUCK TODD:

Of the mother, rape, incest, et cetera?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Yes. I'll support any legislation that reduces the number of abortions. So, that means a 20-week abortion ban. At five months, you will recognize a child as a human being in an ultrasound image. And I'll support that. That doesn't obviously cover the whole gamut. But it reduces the number of abortions. I'll support any legislation that reduces the number of abortions. And there are those that have that exception. What I've never done is said I require that it must have or not have exceptions.

CHUCK TODD:

Why not? Why don't you think there should be a requirement of an exception?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Well, a couple points. I think, first of all, the questions that people ask about those two instances are horrifying. I mean, a rape is an act of violence. It's a horrifying thing that happens. And fortunately, the number of abortions in this country that are due to rape are very small, less than 1% of the cases in the world. But they happen. And they're horrifying. And they're tragic. And I recognize that.

I also recognize that because of the existence of over-the-counter morning after, not to mention medical treatment that's now available immediately after the assault, that should be widely available to victims, we can bring that number down to zero. That being said, I personally and deeply believe that all human life is worthy of the protection of our laws. I do. And I believe that irrespective of the conditions by which that life was conceived or anything else.

And for me to be consistent on that belief, that's why I feel so strongly about it. That being said, I recognize that in order to have consensus on laws that limit the number of abortions, a lot of people want to see those exceptions. And that's why I've supported those laws in the past, as has every pro-life group in America.

CHUCK TODD:

Where is the constitutional line of protection between an unborn child and the mother?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

That's why this issue is so hard. There is no doubt that a woman has a right to her own body, has a right to make decisions about her own health and her own future. There's no doubt. And then, there's this other right. And that's the right of a human being to live. And these rights come into conflict when it comes to this issue. And, so, you have to make a decision.

And it's hard. I don't say it's easy. Listen, you're 15 years old and you become pregnant and you're scared and you have your whole life ahead of you and you're facing this, that is a hard situation. I tell people all the time, "Don't pretend this is easy." This is a difficult question. But when asked to make a decision between two very hard circumstances, I've personally reached the conclusion if I'm going to err, I'm going to err on the side of life.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you. When should public opinion matter in a decision by the president, and when should a president decide, "You know what? The public doesn't quite understand this issue. I know better." What is that line? And what is it for you?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Well, I think on foreign policy in particular, it matters. I think the president's judgment has to somehow be immune to public opinion sometimes. Because president has access to information the general public does not. One of the keys to being a good commander-in-chief is not simply seeing what's in front of you immediately, but being able to anticipate a crisis that may happen down the road in three months, in six months, in nine months, what's around the corner.

You know, the rise of ISIS is a perfect example. It's something I repeatedly warned would happen, that there would be a radical jihadist group that would emerge from the vacuum in Syria if we didn't do something about it. And the president didn't. And in those instances, you can see how quickly public opinion moves. And, so, the job of a president in that instance is to act in the national security of our country based on information a president has that the general public does not.

I think on domestic issues, obviously, you still can't be governed by polls. But I do think the will of the voter is important to take into account, and I think most important of all on what issues you should be prioritizing on your agenda.

CHUCK TODD:

The Iran agreement: let me ask you about what former Defense Secretary Bob Gates argued. He said he thought the agreement was poorly negotiated, very critical of it, but said pulling out of it would be even worse because of the international ramifications. This was five other countries were involved with this. How much should you guys be taking that into account in the U.S. Senate?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Well, we mostly certainly want to never do anything to undermine our alliances. But let me just say the other five countries, of the two, China and Russia, quite frankly, particularly the Russians under Vladimir Putin, have never acted in the interest of the United States and, in fact, have taken pride in thwarting our national interests around the world.

CHUCK TODD:

So, you don't trust them at all? You don't think they should have been part of the process?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Well, obviously, you know, they've themselves this position.

CHUCK TODD:

You had to. They have a veto in the United Nations.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Yes, they're on the Security Council. But my point is what Russia feels about a deal, or anything for that matter, should not be determinative of the national security policies of the United States. And I think that also applies to others as well.

If you look at the other nations that are involved in this process, they were led into that by the United States and became a part of it. And during the negotiations, the French were actually much more aggressive about what the conditions should be than the United States were.

But I think it's pretty clear that even among our European allies, their interest is simply to open up the market of Iran to their private sector. And our interest is different. Our interest has to be different. Because Iran is developing long-range weapons, long-range missiles. And if they become a nuclear power, they can place a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile capable of reaching the United States. And I think we have a vested interest in the outcome of this that perhaps is different from some of our European allies in the long term.

CHUCK TODD:

Something like more than half the money that's been raised on your behalf, some super PACs, some in your personal campaign, come from less than ten donors total. What do you owe those donors? You say you don't owe them. We've heard the Clinton people make this argument. Aren't they going to expect something in return?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

I don't think so. First of all, I can't even deal with those donors. Because they're involved with the super PAC. And I can't coordinate with any outside groups. Second, I've always been clear my entire time in politics, whether it was on the city commission in West Miami, the state legislature, speaker of the house, running for Senate, or now for president, I have an agenda. It's a consistent agenda. People buy into my agenda. If they like what I say, they donate. If they don't, they don't. They go with somebody else.

CHUCK TODD:

So, Norman Braman, who's been a friend of your family, huge donor, he doesn't get special access in the White House?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

No. I mean, he's my friend, obviously, and somebody that I'll deal with on a personal level. Norman Braman's never asked me to do anything for his business interests or anything else.

CHUCK TODD:

So, let's take you at your word. Should Republicans then take the Clintons at their word about the Clinton Foundation?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Well, I think the concern about the Clinton Foundation that many people have is the influence of outside, you know, foreign donors that have given to that, especially at a time when she was the secretary of state.

CHUCK TODD:

But their argument is essentially a similar argument, "This is for charitable causes. This is for rebuilding Haiti. This is for AIDS, to stop AIDS in Africa. And, you know, that's not having influence."

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Yes. So, I think the concern there is when you have foreign entities donating millions of dollars to a foundation for a family while someone is the sitting secretary of state, and then you can link that to decisions that were favorable to interests in those countries. There's a concern raised.

CHUCK TODD:

How do you prevent that happening in your administration?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Well, I don't have a foundation.

CHUCK TODD:

How do you build a firewall to have this trust but verify?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Yes. And I think the best way to do it is know what you stand for and say, "This is what I'm for. This is what we're going to do." And, quite frankly, you do it irrespective of whether someone donated money to your campaign or not. And that's just the way I've always governed myself.

I have never allowed financing issues in a campaign to determine where I stand on an issue. I think the natural inclination of people is to support people who agree with them on an issue.

CHUCK TODD:

We have a deal with Facebook. The final question goes to them. Ryan Love asks, "How does Senator Rubio feel about state legalizing marijuana?"

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Well, I've said that I'm open to medicinal uses of anything, and particularly marijuana. And if, in fact, it goes through the F.D.A. process and you can come up with a proven medicinal benefit to that substance, I'm open to that. I'm not in favor of legalizing marijuana. I'm not. I never have been.

CHUCK TODD:

States that have, would you then use the federal government to supersede those state laws?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Well, federal government needs to enforce federal law.

CHUCK TODD:

You would enforce the law?

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

Right now, the law in the books says you can make an argument what Colorado and Washington State are doing, and then Oregon and Hawaii.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

I believe the federal government needs to enforce federal law.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Rubio, thank you, sir.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO:

Thanks, Chuck. Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

There's a lot more of my interview with Senator Marco Rubio. Libya, his tax plan, and also a surprising support for IUDs. All of that on the website, MeetThePressNBC.com. Up next, our new poll. Who won Thursday night's debate? Somebody not on the stage. And where does the race stand next?

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

NerdScreen time. And we're going to look at Thursday's debates. Because guess what? You may be surprised at who Republican voters thought won. According to our scientifically-weighted survey, among some randomly-selected respondents online, through our partnership with SurveyMonkey, 22% of Republican voters thought Carly Fiorina won the debate because of her stand-out performance in the so-called "happy hour" debate. Not somebody who was on the main stage.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump came in second, Rubio, Cruz, Carson, and Huckabee rounded out the top six. At the bottom of the "who won" list, by the way, Paul, Walker, Bush, Christie, and Kasich. Now, we also asked who lost the debate. So guess what? While Trump was second on "who won," he was number one on this list of who lost, followed not so far behind there, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Lindsey Graham, the top five in the "who lost."

So, where does the race stand right now? Donald Trump sticking right there with his one-in-five support, nearly one-in-four now, of Republican voters 23%. But the shake-up post-debate, Cruz in second of 13, Carson at 11, Fiorina, her highest national poll showing of any survey I've seen, 8%, Marco Rubio tied with her at 8%.

And the back of the pack, by the way, you'll see some former frontrunners, Bush and Walker. Then you have Paul, Huckabee, Kasich, and Perry rounding out the top 12. Coming up later in the broadcast, more debate. Do you remember this one?

CHRIS CHRISTIE :

I was appointed U.S. Attorney by President Bush on September 10th, 2001. And the world changed enormously the next day. And it happened in my state.

CHUCK TODD:

It was an impressive retort to Rand Paul. But was it all true?

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. President Obama's been making the hard sell on the Iran nuclear deal this week. And in a speech here in Washington, he compared Republican critics of the agreement to Iranian hardliners. But he received a major blow when one of the most senior members of his own party, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, released a statement saying he would not back the deal.

Well, my next guest, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri has yet to make up her mind in the agreement. She's also, by the way, author of a new book, Plenty Ladylike: A Memoir. We're going to get to that later in the interview. Senator McCaskill, welcome back to Meet the Press.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Why haven't you decided yet? What are you waiting for?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

I am trying to methodically go through and contact all of the countries that hold Iran's money right now. One of the things that keeps getting tossed out there is that if we do this deal, they're going to get $150 billion. The number is really more like $60 billion.

CHUCK TODD:

It's a lot of money.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

It's a lot of money. But the question is, what happens if we don't do the deal, Chuck? What happens? Will those countries continue to respect the sanction regime? That money is held primarily in India, China, South Korea, Japan. So I'm on the phone to those countries, those embassies, those ambassadors, asking them the question, "What will you do if the United States walks away? Will Iran get this money anyway?" And I think that's something we have to consider as we make a final--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

So if these countries say, "They're not going to get the money if the U.S. walks away," does that make you inclined to not support the deal?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Well, it's not a perfect deal, obviously. We don't trust Iran. But I think too many people are judging this deal against the status quo, not what the new situation would be on the world stage. Remember, the world is united in this deal. The world is united in this deal. So it's going to have to be a status quo where the rest of the world also stays united, or our sanctions regime will just fall apart.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me get your reaction to how the president is campaigning for this deal. Let me play a clip from his speech earlier this week.

PRESIDENT OBAMA (ON TAPE):

You're going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising. And if the rhetoric in these ads, and the accompanying commentary, sounds familiar, it should. For many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.

CHUCK TODD:

It's not just Republicans against this deal. Chuck Schumer. I mean, he's making almost a warmonger argument here. Is that fair? Is that fair to Democratic skeptics? You're not there. do you like hearing this? Do you feel pressured by that rhetoric?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

I don't think any of us feel pressured either by Chuck Schumer's rejection of this deal or the president's full-throated support of this deal. I hope that all of my colleagues are doing what I'm doing, and that is doing our homework. One of the things that was most disappointing was Republicans insisted on 60 days to review this deal. It appeared to me most of them made their mind up in about five minutes.

And so I think this is one where the heightened rhetoric on both sides is not always helpful. And I hope that more senators keep their blinders on, do their homework, and figure out which way do we secure Israel and secure our country? By doing this deal, and if we don't do the deal, what does the world look like?

CHUCK TODD:

Did the president though make the best case he could've? Or could he have done it different and better?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

I think he is pushing hard. And I respect that he feels very strongly about this. I think always when these decisions are hard, maybe less is more.

CHUCK TODD:

When it comes to rhetoric. Let me move quickly to the president race. Do you want to see Vice President Biden get in? You're a Hillary Clinton supporter now. Do you think it would be healthy for the party if Joe Biden got in this?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Listen, I would never presume to tell Joe Biden what to do, or Bernie Sanders, for that matter. You know, our party had many primaries and we've survived and done well. We had a rip-roaring primary in 2008, as everyone remembers.

CHUCK TODD:

That was good for the party.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

I think it was--

(OVERTALK)

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

I think it was. And I think this will end up being good for Hillary Clinton.

CHUCK TODD:

If Joe Biden gets in and makes this--

(OVERTALK)

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

I think that, you know, if Bernie stays in, and if Joe were to get in, I don't think it's going to hurt Hillary Clinton, because I think Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton agree on almost everything. I worry--

CHUCK TODD:

Are you concerned about her candidacy at all right now?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

I'm not. I am not. I think when the smoke clears and the circus leaves town, Americans want strong, stable leadership and a fighter. And if there's anything Hillary Clinton has shown in her career, it's that she is a fighter.

CHUCK TODD:

Your memoir here, Plenty Ladylike, there's a lot on Todd Akin. And what's interesting when watching, there has been some fear in the Republican party that Donald Trump will become their Todd Akin. When you watched this, is that what you see? And is that what you're rooting for as a Democrat?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

A little bit. Yeah, honestly, a little bit. I think he has some Akin-esque qualities to him in terms of his mouth. The difference though, there's a big difference, I will say this about Todd Akin. He is a sincere man who had sincere beliefs. He had no filter. But he was principled. And that's what he believed in. I don't think that's true with Donald Trump. I think Donald Trump is bluff and bluster. And I don't think the things he says are rooted in anything other than a demand for attention.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Senator Claire McCaskill, the book is Plenty Ladylike. You'll be spending your August not recessing.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

When you read this book, you know what you'll figure out?

CHUCK TODD:

What's that?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

I'm not running for president.

CHUCK TODD:

Those are my favorite memoirs to read.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Way too much stuff in here for me to be running for president.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, now you made really want to read the book. Very nice. Senator Claire McCaskill, thanks for coming on Meet the Press.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

You bet.

CHUCK TODD:

We'll be back with one more candidate who hopes his Thursday-night debate performance will vault him into the top tier of Republican hopefuls. It's Ohio Governor John Kasich. And then, can Donald Trump's candidacy survive? We'll go back to the panel one more time. When and why they think Trump will ultimately go belly up. Or whether nothing can keep him from taking his talents to Cleveland and the Quicken Loans Arena.

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

And welcome back. Thursday's Republican presidential debate was held in Cleveland at the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers. And our next guest, Ohio Governor John Kasich, made the best of a little home-court advantage. Put an impressive performance for the supportive crowd. Been a bit of a dark horse, slowly gaining in the polls, particularly in New Hampshire. Governor Kasich joins me again now. Governor, welcome back to Meet the Press.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Good to be with you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, I've got to start with the elephant in the room, here, Donald Trump. Is he consuming this campaign right now?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

You know, Chuck, it's really funny. It just doesn't seem to bother me. You know, and in regard to the issue of women, you know, I mean, look. I had strong women in my family, I've had, you know, I have strong women in my administration and my campaign manager is a woman. And I've always found that whenever women touch anything, they always make it a little bit better. And so it's unfortunate what's happened here. But I just don't, it's up to me to tell people about me and not be worrying about somebody else--

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that. But the Republican party, at some point, at what point does what Trump's doing damage the entire party?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

See, I don't kind of look at it that way. I think, at the end of the day, you have a nominee. And the nominee is the person that reflects the views of the Republican party. And all the things that go on in these primaries are just simply things that are, you know, they go on today, but they're forgotten tomorrow.

So, you know, take a look at the Democrat side. I mean, you've got, you know, Bernie Sanders out there. He's hard left. He's basically a redistributionist. Does he define the Democratic party? I mean, at the end of the day he won't. It'll be the nominee. Now, if he's the nominee, which would be great, because I think we would probably win 49 out of the 50 states, then it's a different situation.

But I don't have people coming up to me saying, "Oh, well you're a Republican, therefore you think this or that." I think the way I want to think. And you know what? I actually have a right to kind of define what I think the Republican party is, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Well, let's go to your debate performance. Time Magazine, you could be the GOP's "Pope Francis" candidate, an interesting way to describe you. Do you take that as a compliment?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Well, I love the pope. I think he's-- look, who am I to criticize the pope? I think he's wrong on the economics about redistribution of wealth, because I think free enterprise has lifted more people out of poverty than any system known to man. But, you know, his inclusiveness, his wanting to say that we should focus on the "do's" that the Lord wants us to do rather than the "don'ts."

I agreement with all that. And I like it. And look, I think he's sensitive to the environment. So am I. You know, the Lord gave us the environment. We're not here to worship it, but we are here to manage it. So I'd like to meet the pope. But I don't know if I'm going to be able to do that, Chuck. To me, that's a compliment. Sure.

CHUCK TODD:

You brought up the environment. He's somebody who believes that climate change is manmade and that man needs to do something about it. Do you agree with him?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Well, I think that man absolutely affects the environment. But as to whether, you know, what the impact is, the overall impact, I think that's a legitimate debate. But what I do think is, you know, in my state of Ohio, you know, we preciously take care of Lake Erie. We've reduced emissions by 30% over the last ten years. We believe in alternative energy. So of course we have to be sensitive to it. But we don't want to destroy people's jobs based on some theory that's not proven.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you say to conservative activist Erik Erickson, who did not invite you? And he really is pretty disparaging about you as a potential nominee.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

You know, I don't know that I've ever met him. You know, I was sort of chuckling this morning. I wasn't invited to this event, but I don't know why anybody would be mad at me who's never met me, that I can think of. But look, if he calls me and tells me what he's upset about, I'm sure we can talk it out. Because from time to time, you know, people are going to get upset with you. But, you know, I don't hold anything against him. And look, I'm up in New York and I'm meeting with a lot of potential donors, and I'm headed to New Hampshire, in fact, tomorrow.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. Well, that's a state that I imagine you're going to spend a lot of time in. John Kasich, governor of Ohio, big performance on Thursday night. Thanks for coming on for a quick check-in here on Meet the Press.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Thanks, Chuck. Thank you very much.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, panelists here. Hugh Hewitt, is there a disconnect between how the mainstream media folks have looked at John Kasich and our little polling, which showed no bump for John Kasich. Are we having a disconnect?

HUGH HEWITT:

I have great affection for the governor of my home state. He has a Reagan-esque temperament. First question you asked me was about temperament. Kasich, Walker, Rubio, Jeb Bush, even Ted Cruz, they have nice temperaments within our party, and they will play very well. I think he will have to up his combativeness with Hillary, as does Jeb Bush. They both have combativeness deficits when it comes to going after Hillary. And I want them to go after The New York Times piece this morning, she destroyed 31,000 emails. They should be talking about that every single day.

CHUCK TODD:

Heather McGhee, president of Demos Action. Are you fearful of John Kasich as the Republican nominee versus Hillary Clinton?

HEATHER MCGHEE:

So no. But I do think that his brand of sort of compassionate conservatism, expanding Medicaid, talking about the mental health crisis in our prisons, gets him in the door with a lot of where Americans are right now, which is really anxious about economic inequality. Half of Americans today couldn't pay a $400 bill without going into debt or selling something. So the Republican party spent a few minutes on the economy in the debate, and had very little to say for working-class Americans other than more tax cuts on the rich.

CHUCK TODD:

That goes for the organizers a little bit, which was Hugh's point about questions. Go ahead very quickly.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I think that Hillary Clinton, in some ways, because the email controversy was not really explored very adequately by the questions, and also because of this focus on gender, is one of the beneficiaries of what happens ironically.

CHUCK TODD:

And she should've been, I could've argued that Marco Rubio and John Kasich seen as two strong performers in a general election, that's scary to Hillary Clinton.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But, and I'm going to be in New Hampshire with her tomorrow, and, you know, I'd be very surprised if at a town hall meeting, this does not come up. And she has a perfect opportunity to talk about Megyn Kelly.

CHUCK TODD:

David, general election messages? Which really is what John Kasich had.

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah, he's, he's got--

CHUCK TODD:

Which is why there was this universal in the intelligentsia, "Oh, hey, that's pretty impressive"--

DAVID BROOKS:

He's got a, he's got a--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

--but Republican voters didn't hear that?

DAVID BROOKS:

He's got a growth agenda and he's got a hard agenda. Every time he deviates to the center, he does in the context of faith, appealing to religious voters, so that's smart. To me, when all the dust settles, you just go with who has the best political skills. You look at all these guys and Carly, who has the best political skills?

Right now, that's Marco Rubio. He's the most talented politician in the field right now. I think we saw it in your interview. You asked him some tough questions, he handled them well. Maybe he's too polished, maybe he's too young, but you have to think the upside there is higher than everybody else.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And one thing that was really apparent in Jeb Bush's reaction at RedState state last night, he said he isn't going to lose us the election. He didn't say that it was wrong. He didn't criticize Donald Trump on the merits on the defense of what he said. I also agree that Marco Rubio is the best politically-skilled actor in the stage. Whether or not he's the best general election candidate, I don't know. I think, I really think that Kasich showed some chops and that--

CHUCK TODD:

I will say--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--may not be with this kind of poll.

CHUCK TODD:

Kasich Rubio, or Rubio Kasich?

HUGH HEWITT:

Keep them all over there and don't forget Scott Walker, because he is doing very well with the base.

CHUCK TODD:

We'll, we'll get back to you in a second, right after the break. We've got more. And remember, if you can't see Meet the Press live, we're always available on DOD, or as some people call it, the VCR button now that you just push to record us all the time. So even if it's not Sunday, it's still Meet the Press. Coming up, our endgame segment, more with the panel, and why some people are calling Chris Christie's claim, that he was appointed U.S. Attorney on September 10th, 2001, one of the most factually incorrect moments of the debate.

**Commercial Break**

CHUCK TODD:

Endgame time, panel is here, so much to get to. Let me go very quickly, Heather, I want to get your reaction. Bernie Sanders, he's still getting the largest political rallies of any presidential candidate. Disrupted, now let me play you a little clip of what happened. Disrupted by a Black Lives Matter protesters.

(BEGIN TAPE)

BERNIE SANDERS:

(PROTESTERS YELLING)

Seattle remains one of the most progressive cities in the United States of America.

BERNIE SANDERS:

It's unfortunate, because among other things, among other things, I wanted to talk about the issue of black lives, of the fact that the American people are tired of seeing unarmed African-Americans shot and killed.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Heather, why is he taking the brunt of the Black Lives Matter protest movement right now?

HEATHER MCGHEE:

Well, you know, today is the one-year anniversary of the murder of Mike Brown. And so I do feel a certain responsibility to make sure that this issue is talked about right now--

CHUCK TODD:

Absolutely.

HEATHER MCGHEE:

--In a way that really is worthy of the see change that activists, citizens, all across the country, many of whom were not political, many of whom were 22 year olds that were often--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

A whole new generation of civil rights activists--

HEATHER MCGHEE:

Exactly.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

--of justice activists.

HEATHER MCGHEE:

And they're changing the debate. And I think it's important to have a conversation within progressivism right now. There's always been a debate about whether the goal of progressive politics is to reclaim the white working class in a race-neutral way, and just be fine sort of absorbing some of the racial biases there. Or if we're going to expand and create a new multiracial progressive movement. And that's why Bernie Sanders is so important right now.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

That's why he's the focal point because of this conversation

HEATHER MCGHEE:

That's right.

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But Bernie Sanders still got 12,000 people at the rally that he eventually held in Seattle. But it's true that Bernie Sanders, although he came out of the traditional Civil Rights movement in the '60s, which did include a lot of white people as well, his whole message has been on income inequality. And has not focused on race. And he did not pick up early on on those issues that you're addressing--

CHUCK TODD:

All right, I'm going to pivot back to the debate. Let me quickly, we had a little fact-check issue here with poor old Chris Christie. Here's what he said during the debate a couple of times with Rand Paul, in a point that he kept making to sort of beat back some national security questions from Rand Paul. Here it is:

CHRIS CHRISTIE:

I was appointed U.S. Attorney by President Bush on September 10th,2001. And the world changed enormously the next day. And that happened in my state.

CHUCK TODD:

See, pretty impressive claim, if true. But it turns out Christie wasn't officially nominated by President Bush until December, 2001. His own website notes that he didn't take office until 2002. Is that--how bad of a moment-- is that a bad moment for Governor Christie? Or is this just a little pinprick?

HUGH HEWITT:

No that's a bad moment. And I will ask him the next time he's on, because he said the same thing on my radio show. And I'm surprised to learn that because I took it to mean that he was in office with the authority of the U.S. attorney. So that is a big deal.

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

And, and in the back and forth with Rand Paul, he was talking about the hug. And his retort was, "I was hugging people on 9/11." And again--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But he was, you know, one of the things that was so strange about that is, I said right after the debate, "Gee, we learned something about him we didn't know before." But it was Bob Mueller, the F.B.I. director who actually took over right before him.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, and that was a little crazy moment. All right, let's end with where we started. Donald Trump. How does it end? David, how does it end?

DAVID BROOKS:

He's the dark id of the American mind. There's something compelling in watching a guy who's unashamed and unembarrassed. So I think he'll just go on and get ratings. He will not be the nominee. He's not a political candidate. He's the presence in our deep unconscious that we can't get rid of.

CHUCK TODD:

Heather McGhee, do you buy that?

HEATHER MCGHEE:

Well--

CHUCK TODD:

It's an interesting analysis, but I don't know if I disagree.

HEATHER MCGHEE:

I think he's also going to run into the Romney problem. When he was talking about the way he took advantage of the laws of bankruptcy and bragging about it at a time when actually, you know, Americans are being crushed by debt and can't use the bankruptcy laws on their own mortgages and student loans the way corporations can, it was so tin-eared. And I just think he's going to keep coming across that way, because he's a billionaire at a time of rampant economic inequality.

CHUCK TODD:

But let's go back to why are people gravitating to him?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, I was surprised that in fact, that the bankruptcy issue didn't come up more in the after-effects. I thought it was exactly right. I think, and as an independent candidate perhaps, I know how hard that is. But he's got the money and he's got the celebrity. But I don't see him as the Republican nominee. I don't think the party can go down that--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

What about this awful nexis that we all, "Look, he's good for ratings." He doubled the ratings. Let's not-- People didn't tune into Fox to see the debate. People tuned in to see the Donald Trump show.

HUGH HEWITT:

And I hope the audience comes back next month. And I'm going to ask--

CHUCK TODD:

See? You want to see--

(OVERTALK)

HUGH HEWITT:

--in Ohio--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

You want Donald Trump there as sort of the guy who attracts-- brings the circus into town.

HUGH HEWITT:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

--who is--

(OVERTALK)

HUGH HEWITT:

--Iran vote, which follows the next day. That's what these debates are supposed to be about. The Republican primary voter and the fact that we live in a very dangerous world where we need a leader, a commander in chief, who will not say of the opposition that they are part of the death to American crowd. That's what we need to focus on, not on the id of America.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, go ahead.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Well, I think the narcissism of Donald Trump is so extraordinary, that it is like watching a train wreck. But I just cannot see the Republican Party choosing him as the nominee and him being back on that stage next summer.

CHUCK TODD:

Is it become-- does the next week define-- do we see a moment? What's the,does he have an exit ramp? I mean, I think The Apprentice used to be his exit ramp. I'm trying to figure out what the exit ramp is. Does he just get fed up with all this?

DAVID BROOKS:

I don't think so.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

No.

DAVID BROOKS:

What one of the candidates got to do is they got to talk about America. There's a lot of "I" talk. Even John Kasich's interview today, there was a lot of "I", a lot of "me." And there has to be a uniting the party, uniting the country. If you go to the Republican events, there's an intense hunger for patriotism because of the fear of national decline. And if you can tap into that, that's a passion level to beat the compelling anti-passion that Donald Trump has surrounding him.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, it is just, it is one of these things, it's fun and frustrating to follow at the same time. Is it wrong?

HUGH HEWITT:

That's right. Scott Walker tapped into what David just talked about, when he talked about Poland, when he talked about NATO, when he talked about the need to get more troops on the frontline with Russia. And Rubio does it too. And that's where the party needs to stand. And I don't know that Donald Trump can go there. He doesn't have that background, he doesn't have the factual ability that the others bring to the table.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you make of Carly Fiorina, Heather?

HEATHER MCGHEE:

I think she was the standout in the first debate, and I think--

CHUCK TODD:

Does she deserve to be?

HEATHER MCGHEE:

And I think she deserves to be. I think she had great debating skills and a lot of confidence. But do I think she's right on policy? Do I think she's going to be able to really change what is the big Achilles heel for the right, which is their economic vision--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

Is it easier for her to attack Hillary Clinton than the men?

HEATHER MCGHEE:

Of course.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I will leave it there. That's all for today. We'll be back next week. Gosh, who knows what will happen in the next seven days. But if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

* * *END OF TRANSCRIPT* * *