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Meet the Press Transcript - October 18, 2015

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday morning, a new sense of urgency in the presidential race. On one side, Hillary Clinton's strong debate performance ups the pressure on Joe Biden and whether he gets in. On the other, Trump and Carson are sitting on top. But is Ted Cruz about to have his moment?

TED CRUZ:

If you're looking for a candidate who the career politicians in Washington will embrace, I'm not your guy.

CHUCK TODD:

My sit-down with the senator from Texas. Also, showdown over Benghazi. Hillary Clinton prepares to testify before the House Benghazi committee. But has the committee been discredited even before the hearing starts? Plus, did Donald Trump just blame George W. Bush for 9/11?

DONALD TRUMP:

Blame him or don't blame him, but he was president.

CHUCK TODD:

Or is Jeb Bush just definitely looking to pick a fight with Trump? Finally, the Bernie Sanders impersonation we've all been waiting for.

LARRY DAVID:

Hello, hello, hello. Enough of the hellos, let's do this.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me this morning to provide insight and analysis are The National Journal's Ron Fournier, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos. 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. If you get the feeling that there's a new sense of urgency in this presidential campaign, well you're right. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton's strong performance in the Las Vegas debate on Tuesday has led to calls for the vice president to say thumbs up or thumbs down now.

On the Republican side, Rand Paul and Chris Christie are proving that they may be pretenders. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are both struggling and pointing the finger at the other. And a number of other candidates soon may not even be able to pay their bills. So if you don't think the leaders, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, are in this for the long haul, then the conservative you may want to take a look at is our next guest.

Ted Cruz is the only other candidate in double digits in this week's Fox News poll. And he looks like the candidate most likely to pick up Trump and Carson supporters if and that's a big if, they do eventually stray. Plus, Cruz is raising lots of money, he's not spending much, and he's got plenty of cash on hand. I caught up with him yesterday in New Hampshire and began by asking him how he plans to eventually pick off those Trump and Carson voters.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SENATOR TED CRUZ:

I think Donald's campaign has been immensely beneficial for our campaign. And-- and the reason is he's framed the central issue of this Republican primary as who will stand up to Washington? Well, the natural follow up if that's the question is who actually has stood up to Washington? Who has stood up to both Democrats and to leaders in their own party?

CHUCK TODD:

So you think that distinguishes you from Donald Trump and Ben Carson?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

And from everyone else on that stage. I think my record is markedly different in terms of actually standing up and taking on the Washington cartel. And I think that's why we're seeing particularly as voters get more and more educated, study the candidates, listen to the candidates in person, I think that's why we're seeing the grassroots momentum that we're seeing.

CHUCK TODD:

You were sitting there saying that you could stop Obamacare if you just did what you did in shutting down the government and that Republicans could stop the Iran deal. The fact is you couldn't. The numbers weren't on your side.

There's a Democratic President so-- so did you overpromise? Cause I understand you're saying others but did you?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Look, when it comes to promising, what I promised is that I would fight with every breath in my body to stop the outta control spending and the debt that is bankrupting our country, to stop Obamacare, to protect our nation.

And-- and that's a b-- all of those are promises that I have honored every single day in the Senate. And-- and, you know, it's amazing. So I was visiting with the colleague recently who was making that pitch about, "Well gosh, the problem is expectations. We need to define expectations now."

CHUCK TODD:

Correct. A bunch of Republicans have been saying this.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

And-- and-- and Chuck, it's complete--

CHUCK TODD:

And they blame you.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

It's complete nonsense because you know who the people promising are? It's actually Republican leadership on that campaign.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Why do you think John Boehner's stepping down? He's stepping down because the American people are furious with Republican leaders that don't do what they promised. And you know, it's interesting. I do townhalls all over the country.

And I asked folks, "Okay. We have Republican majorities in both houses for ten months now. What on Earth have they accomplished?" Every town hall you do that, the answer is always, "Absolutely nothing." And-- and usually I respond and say, "You know what? It's worse than that. It would have been better if it were nothing."

In fact, what the Republican majorities have done, we came back right after the last election, passed a trillion dollars cromnibus bill, filled with corporate welfare report. Then Republican leadership and-- and leadership joined with Harry Reid and the Democrats to do that.

Then leadership voted to fund Obamacare. Then they voted to fund amnesty. Then they voted to fund Planned Parenthood. And then Republican leadership took the lead confirming Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. Now Chuck, which one of those decisions is one iota different than what would happened under Harry Reid and the Democrats? The truth of the matter is Republican leadership are the most effective Democrat leaders we've ever seen. They've passed more Democratic priorities than Harry Reid ever could.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright. So John Boehner is leaving. Should Mitch McConnell leave?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Look, that is a question for the Republican conference to make.

CHUCK TODD:

You're a member of the Republican conference.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

What I have said--

CHUCK TODD:

Have you called-- why don't you challenge him? Why don't you call for him to step down?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

What I have said repeatedly, Chuck, both publicly and privately, and what I say both publicly and privately is the same thing, is we need leaders who will honor the promises we made to the men and women who elected us.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I go back to why-- if you're glad that John Boehner is leaving, how come you don't call out Mitch McConnell by name?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Listen, at the end of the day--

CHUCK TODD:

Since he is your leader?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

At the end of the day, it depends on where the votes are in the conference. Right now, Mitch has the votes to remain as majority leader.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm trying to figure out though how you're gonna unite your party because let me-- let me-- I'm just gonna read you quotes from your fellow Republicans. Senator Lamar Alexander said this about you. "In kindergarten, you learn to work well together and play by the rules. Another thing you learn in kindergarten is to respect one another."

Senator Orrin Hatch, "Squabbling and sanctimony may be tolerated in other venues or perhaps on the campaign trail but they have no place among colleagues in the US Senate." John McCain, "I would never contemplate going to the floor of the Senate, impugning the integrity of another senator, just not something we do here."

This was about what you said about Mitch McConnell. And, of course, Speaker Boehner called you a, "false prophet," and another word that I'm not gonna say on Sunday morning television. How do you unite this par-- how do you lead a Republican party when Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander, John McCain, John Boehner, these are well respected men, think this lowly of you?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Listen, if-- if you're looking for a candidate who the career politicians in Washington will embrace, I'm not your guy. Washington's broken. People are frustrated outta their minds. Everyone in the Republican primary is standing up saying, "Vote for me because I will stand up and fight Washington."

Two weeks ago, we had an epic, knock down, drag out fight on exactly this.

Millions of conservatives rose up, said, "defund Planned Parenthood." Again I was proud to lead that fight. And where were the other candidates? It's-- it was like they were in the witness protection plan. Can you imagine how different that fight would have played out if all 11 Republican presidential candidates had descended on Washington and said in one voice, "Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, don't send five hundred million dollars of taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood?"

CHUCK TODD:

You know, there's another way to look at this, Senator Cruz, which is you stood up on Obamacare, you stood up on Planned Parenthood, you stood up on immigration and nobody follows you.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Well, that-- that's--

CHUCK TODD:

I mean-- I'm-- I'm just saying nobody in Washington follows you.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

I-- look--

CHUCK TODD:

You have to-- if you get elected President, you gotta get somebody to follow your lead in Washington whether you like it or not.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Listen, at the end of the day, it-- it's not about Republican leadership. And by the way in each of those fights, just about every time we've had a battle between me and leadership with a Republican caucus, about 1/2 of the caucus has been with me. About 1/2 of the caucus has been with leadership.

At the end of the day, if you're looking for someone who's running to be a member of the club, that's not me. You know, it's interesting. You were reading all the attacks. You know, I mention in my book, my book, I quote all of the nasty things Republicans have said about me. And, you know, in response to that, I don't reciprocate much to the annoyance of many in the media who want me to attack Donald Trump, want me to attack Mitch McConnell, want me to attack John Boehner. I don't attack any of them.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you called Mitch McConnell a liar.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Well, let's be clear what I said.

CHUCK TODD:

That's a-- that's a--

SEN. TED CRUZ:

And-- and--

CHUCK TODD:

That's a tough-- that's a tough thing to say on the Senate floor.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Well, let's be very clear what I said. I stood up and said, "Mitch McConnell made the following promise directly to me looking me in the eye, to every other Republican senator and he did it publicly. And then just a month later, his behavior was exactly 180 degrees to the opposite."

And this is how broken Washington is. Listen, the fact that he told a falsehood is-- is a matter of public record. He stated it publicly; then he behaved exactly the opposite. And Washington is so broken that they treat someone saying, "The Republican leader just did exactly the opposite of what he promised he would do," that-- that-- that apparently the troublemaker is the person saying it rather than the person telling the lie. That's what's broken about Washington. When I tell you I'm gonna do somethin', Chuck, I'm gonna do exactly what I said I would do.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright. I wanna do two more things about this Washington. Is Paul Ryan a true conservative?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Oh, listen. I-- I-- I like Paul Ryan. He's a friend of mine. This is obviously a question that is wrapped up in the Speaker of the House-- deliberations. I have said consistently I'm gonna stay outta that.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

I'm gonna leave that for the House Republicans--

CHUCK TODD:

But is he a true conservative?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Oh, that's a decision for House Republicans to make and for the American people to make.

CHUCK TODD:

Mark Levin who you joked should be-- you said, "I want Mark Levin as speaker. He"--

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Mark Levin is definitely a true conservative.

CHUCK TODD:

He's-- he's true conservative. You'll say that but you won't say Paul Ryan is. He doesn't think Paul Ryan is right now.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

L-- let me say--

CHUCK TODD:

He-- he doesn't like his stance on-- on the debt limit and on TARP and things like that.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

I have said consistently throughout that the question of House leadership is a question for the House Republican conference.

CHUCK TODD:

I wanna move to-- foreign policy, Afghanistan decision by the President. In favor of it?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Well, listen. It's a recognition that-- that what the President has been saying for years, that Al Qaeda is decimated was never true. That it was political spin. The reality is we live in an incredibly dangerous world and sadly the failures of the Obama, Clinton foreign policy have made the dangers greater.

CHUCK TODD:

If you become President though, you're gonna keep his-- this policy in place of keeping those troops there in Afghanistan?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

It will depend on the mission. I don't believe we should be engaged in nation building. I don't believe we should be trying to transform foreign countries into democratic utopias, trying to turn Iraq into Switzerland. But I do think it is the job of our military to protect this country, to hunt down and kill jihadists who would murder us.

CHUCK TODD:

Syria, priority, Assad outta power or ISIS?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

ISIS, ISIS, ISIS.

CHUCK TODD:

So basically table the Assad discussion right now?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Look, we have no business stickin' our nose in that civil war. And there are a lotta politicians including Hillary Clinton on the left and including quite a few of the Republicans running for President on the right who want us to get in the middle of that civil war.

CHUCK TODD:

So you're no on the no fly zones, none of that stuff--

SEN. TED CRUZ:

L-- l-- look--

CHUCK TODD:

--stick to just ISIS? Would you work with the Russians? If they are helping with ISIS, would you help-- would-- would you work with them?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Of course, we shouldn't be parenting with the Russians. Look, this is a great example of the utter failure of the Obama, Clinton foreign policy. This void in power has let Putin step in there. There're a couple hundred Cubans right now with a major Cuban general fighting in the Syrian civil war. You've got Iran. You've got General Suleimani in bed with the Russians. So you now got Russia, Cuba and Iran all arm in arm. And anyone who believes Russia is fighting against terrorism, I got a bridge to sell 'em.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, they're proppin' up Assad but you just said you're okay with that 'cause you said--

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Look--

CHUCK TODD:

I mean--

SEN. TED CRUZ:

I don't-- I don't think we should prop up Assad either. But here's the problem. You have people who view foreign policy-- you look at some of the Republicans, for example, who supported Hillary Clinton's disastrous Libya policy. Look, toppling Gaddafi, Gaddafi was a bad guy but you know what? Libya is an absolute chaos and war zone where jihadists are battling back and forth and here's, Chuck, the way we should answer.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, would the Middle East be more stable today if you had the strong men there?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Of course, it would. Of course, it would. It-- it wasn't even close.

CHUCK TODD:

Gaddafi, Saddam, Assad, if they're strong men, they keep stability?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

It wasn't even close that Libya under Gaddafi was better for US interests than the chaos now that is allowed jihadists to gain strength.

CHUCK TODD:

What about Iraq under Saddam?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

It-- it wasn't-- it wasn't even close.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think Iraq would be more stable today under a strong man like Saddam?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Based on what we know now, should we have gone into Iraq? No, of course not. It was based on the belief that they had weapons of mass destruction that they would use against us.

CHUCK TODD:

You are a believer in using the debt limit for leverage. What do you want Republican leadership to do with the debt limit?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

What I'd like to see on the debt limit is Republican leaders fight for something. For Pete's sakes, anything. Now, there are a lotta reports right now that John Boehner before he steps down as speaker intends to cut a deal with Nancy Pelosi to raise the debt ceiling and defund all of Obama's agenda--

CHUCK TODD:

And-- and what will you do if that happens?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

For-- for the next year and 1/2. Listen, he's got the votes. He--

CHUCK TODD:

There's nothing-- that's if he's got the votes--

SEN. TED CRUZ:

He--

CHUCK TODD:

Isn't that how democracy works? He's got the votes?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

But it's not supposed-- but--

CHUCK TODD:

I mean, this is what-- it-- how it works.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

You're right and if he does it, he will be the most effective democratic leader in modern times.

CHUCK TODD:

There's a more to my interview with Ted Cruz. You can see the complete interview on our website, MeetThePressNBC.com. Coming up, not one, but two Republicans have now said the House Benghazi Committee was politically inspired to hurt Hillary Clinton. Is the committee discredited even before Clinton testifies this week? We've got that coming up when we come back.

* * *COMMERCIAL BREAK* * *

CHUCK TODD:

And we are back. However much Hillary Clinton may have helped herself at Tuesday's debate, the main event this month will be her appearance on Capitol Hill before the House Benghazi Committee this Thursday. Both sides are attempting to work the refs ahead of time. Here's part of an online video the Clinton campaign released in an attempt to discredit the committee. And here's an excerpt of a highly controversial anti-Clinton ad that ran during the first Democratic presidential debate.

(BEGIN TAPE)

COMMERCIAL VOICE:

Dear Hillary Clinton, I'd like to ask you why you ignored calls for help in Benghazi and then four Americans were murdered. But Mrs. Clinton, I can't. What difference does it make?

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

We're going to hear from both sides of the aisle in just a moment on what likely will be the most important day of Hillary Clinton's campaign so far.

* * *COMMERCIAL BREAK* * *

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. With the possible exception of the debates, no moment in the campaign has been more highly anticipated than this Thursday, when Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Select Benghazi Committee. And make no mistake, one way or the other, this is about the campaign. Republicans say they want to get to the bottom of the attack in Benghazi in 2012 on that September 11th day, when four Americans were killed. Democrats say the committee is a partisan effort designed to discredit Clinton by focusing just on her emails. Either way, it could be a turning point in the race for 2016.

(BEGIN TAPE)

HILLARY CLINTON:

I will do my best to answer their questions. But I don't really know what their objective is right now.

CHUCK TODD:

Hillary Clinton is trading one state for another.

FEMALE REPORTER:

Hillary's reaction to the Benghazi ad?

CHUCK TODD:

Not since President Gerald Ford defended his pardon of Richard Nixon--

GERALD FORD:

The purpose was to change our national focus.

CHUCK TODD:

--has an active presidential candidate had so much on the line in an appearance before Congress. But Clinton can now quote House Republicans when she tries to argue that questions about her handling of the 2012 Benghazi attack that left four Americans dead are now nothing more than a political witch hunt.

HILLARY CLINTON:

This whole effort was set up for political partisan purposes, we now know, to politically, in a partisan way, go after me. Basically, an arm of the Republican National Committee, a partisan arm of the Republican National Committee.

CHUCK TODD:

It was House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy who gave Clinton her first assist last month.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY:

Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.

CHUCK TODD:

This week, an assist from another Republican lawmaker.

REP. RICHARD HANNA:

This may not be politically correct, but I think that there is a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton.

CHUCK TODD:

The committee's Republican chairman, Trey Gowdy, tried to clean up this mess with a 279-word statement, saying that, quote, "Commentators and sometimes even members of your own conference offer thoughts on matters on which they are not familiar."

TREY GOWDY:

So don't focus on the words that people who are not on the committee use, focus on the actions of those of us who have been on the committee.

CHUCK TODD:

On top of all that, a former Republican committee staffer, Air Force Reserve Major Bradley Podliska, is adding fuel to the fire, complaining he was fired from the committee after the investigation shifted its focus to Clinton.

BRADLEY PODLISKA:

I was fired for trying to conduct an objective, nonpartisan, thorough investigation.

CHUCK TODD:

A statement from the committee calls those claims transparently false, stating that he was terminated for cause. Now the committee, which House Speaker John Boehner never wanted--

JOHN BOEHNER:

And I see no reason to break up all the work that's been done, and to take months and months and months to create some select committee.

CHUCK TODD:

--but agreed to under duress to pacify conservatives, is itself under scrutiny. I'm joined now by two members of the Benghazi committee, Republican Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Democrat Adam Schiff of California. Welcome to both of you, to Meet the Press.

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

Good to with you.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Congressman Pompeo, I want to get you to respond. You know, look, it's been a tough week, a tough ten days for the credibility of your committee, thanks to the McCarthy statements, the Hanna statements on this other-- do you feel as if the committee's credibility is now under question?

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

Chuck, this isn't about the committee, this is about the American people. We've been working since May of 2014 to get them the answers. There's four Americans that were killed and our first ambassador murdered since 1979. This week, we're going to speak with former Secretary Clinton, we've conducted dozens and dozens of interviews, we will ask her the same kind of fact-centric questions that we've asked the other witnesses. We have an obligation to hold folks accountable and make sure that we reduce the risk that something like this could ever possibly happen again.

CHUCK TODD:

I guess one of the questions I have is what's taking so long? And I say this because the Benghazi Committee is now longer than Watergate, longer than Iran-Contra, longer than the look into other major events. I think we have a whole thing on screen here about how many different select committee took less time, including the Warren Commission. Why has this taken so long?

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

You mentioned Watergate, Mr. Schiff actually compared this committee to Watergate in a New York Times op-ed. But this is worse in some ways. I think Secretary Clinton tried to hide every one of her emails. She destroyed 30,000 of them. And now we have an F.B.I. investigation of those very emails.

What's taken us so long is that the Democrats on the committee and this administration have played hide the ball and have denied us records that the American people deserve and that our committee needs to complete our investigation. We would've been happy to move more quickly, but we met with obstruction all along the way.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Before I get to Congressman Schiff, one more question for you. You talk at all the different witnesses you've called. Why haven't you called the following witnesses: General Carter Ham, who led U.S. African command at that time, Samantha Power, who was in the White House now an ambassador to the UN, you could've called her. The former C.I.A. director at the time, General Petraeus, he hasn't been called. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wasn't called. Why haven't these people been called before your committee if this is about Benghazi? They were all there at the time.

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

Chuck, we're not done. You may think this investigation ends on Thursday, but let me assure you that it does not. We began in May, and we are going to continue. On Thursday, it's just one more step along the way. We may well call many of the folks that you identified there. We still have many witnesses, many documents that we haven't seen.

As recently as last Thursday, we've received Christopher Stevens' emails. How on earth could any of the other committees have completed their work properly without access to the senior person on the ground's emails? We now have them. No thanks to the Democrats on the committee who opposed us all along the way.

CHUCK TODD:

Congressman Schiff, when you first joined the committee, you said you were willing to look at this in the big picture, take this very seriously. You have accused the Republicans of not taking it seriously. But it's in your power. If you don't think we're doing it seriously, why haven't you come up with a witness list? Why haven't you decided, "You know what, I want to do my own fact finding. I don't like what they're doing." But it's in your power to, if you think the investigation needs to go in a more serious direction, you can do it. And you haven't done it.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

No, Chuck, I have, and I've tried. In fact, the first two hearings this committee had were hearings I proposed to look at the ARB recommendations and how they're going to implement them. I requested ways that we could speed up the document production, which were rejected. We requested witnesses to come before the committee. And you know what they did? They interviewed these witnesses without even telling us.

Because ultimately when they did interview the witnesses, they didn't corroborate the Republican conspiracy theories. The reason, the answer to your question Chuck, about why we haven't brought in a defense secretary as they said they would, why we haven't brought in a C.I.A. director, why we haven't brought in any of these witnesses for a hearing, is because they're not running for president. When Richard Hanna--

CHUCK TODD:

But couldn't you have asked for this?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

We could ask for it, but--

CHUCK TODD:

Don't you have subpoena power?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

No, we don't.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

We don't. In fact--

CHUCK TODD:

And you can't bring these people in? You can't invite them yourself?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

We can't set up a hearing, we can't issue a subpoena. We can't even vote on subpoenas. Chuck, we asked the Republicans at the beginning, "Let's establish rules for the committee. Let's establish rules so we can vote on subpoenas. You could even hold the majority vote." Whatever. They wouldn't even establish rules. And why? They want to run this the way they want it. They want to be able to go after Secretary Clinton.

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

Chuck--

CHUCK TODD:

Hang on. But aren't they justified in the fact that if it wasn't for the Benghazi Committee, we wouldn't have known about this private server. We wouldn't have known about these emails. And it does look like somebody is at least trying to make it harder to get information. Isn't that the point?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

No, the point is, what do we know about Benghazi that we didn't know when this investigation started. What can we tell the families, what can we tell the American people about these core conspiracy allegations, that there was a stand-down order, or that there was gun running, or that the secretary interfered with security. And the fact is, Chuck, after 17 months, $4.5 million, we have nothing new to tell the families, apart from that there was a private e-mail server.

That doesn't tell us anything about Benghazi. And let me say this too. When Richard Hanna talks about what the Republican conference views this investigation, he can speak to the view of the conference. But when Kevin McCarthy, as part of the leadership talks about the motivation to go after Clinton, he is part of the leadership. He is in the room when the committee is formed.

And finally, it's not just what these people outside the committee are saying. But when a Republican whistleblower is saying, "This is how they're executing a strategy to go after Clinton," and we see that execution, when these hearings that you mentioned, with the defense secretary, with the C.I.A. director, with Samantha Power, they're all canceled, when the only hearing we have is with Secretary Clinton, it shows that the committee's doing exactly what the Republicans are saying.

CHUCK TODD:

Congressman, I know you wanted to chime in, go ahead. And then I want to have Ron Fournier ask you guys a question from The National Journal.

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

Chuck, facts matter. You'll see that on Thursday. What Mr. Schiff said is just false. The Democrats haven't asked for a single witness. I'd ask him to name the witness that he came to us or wrote us about and asked for that witness. Not a single interview has been conducted without Democrats or Democrat staff participating. And with respect to the server--

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

That's just not true, Mike.

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

--the F.B.I. will sort out the server. We'll see if she violated the Espionage Act. Our task is to solve the riddle of the four Americans who were killed

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Ron.

RON FOURNIER:

Congressman Pompeo, your party promised to run-- a nonpartisan, non-witch hunt campaign. That's been proven to be false. Congressman Schiff, your party, your candidate promised us that what she did with her emails was above board and didn't jeopardize or even potentially compromise U.S. secrets. We know that is false. What is either party going to be able to do, or going to try to do to try to restore some modicum of credibility to a system that's hemorrhaging trust? Both your parties have been lying to us.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

You know, I think the reality is, with respect to this select committee, it's too late. There's too much water under the bridge.

RON FOURNIER:

No, with respect to Secretary Clinton and you and your party, when are you stop pretending that what she did was above board? And when are you going to stop pretending that she did not compromise state secrets?--

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

The secretary has been the first to admit that the use of a private server was a mistake.

RON FOURNIER:

Do you think it was above board or do you think it was a violation?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

And that is the job of the Republican National Committee, to go after her. And the Democratic party--

RON FOURNIER:

I'm not asking--

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

--they can go after Jeb Bush for his use of a personal server. That's not our job on attacking--

RON FOURNIER:

Do you think her e-mail server violated federal policy? Yes or no?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I think what she did was lawful at the time, but it was a mistake.

RON FOURNIER:

Was it against federal rules? It clearly was to anybody reading the rules. Was it to you?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

The rules allows her to use a private server, as long as she preserved her emails, which she did. Was it desirable? No. It wasn't. And I think she's recognized that.

RON FOURNIER:

But what about the witch hunt? You promised it would not be a partisan committee, but obviously, your party's admitting that it was a partisan.

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

Ron, I couldn't disagree with you more. I think folks will see that on Thursday. And I think they'll see it in the final report as well. They will see that Chairman Gowdy and our committee has run a fact-centric effort to do the mission, to hold someone accountable for what happened on September 11, 2012.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But Congressmen, how long before the final report? Is it going to be in the middle of 2016? Is it going to be after the election?

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

That's a great question, Andrea. Maybe Mr. Schiff can answer that for you. We'll complete our task as soon as--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

So let me just follow up here--

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

The reason I don't answer that question, Andrea, is that we don't know what we're looking for. We can't put an end date on it, because we don't know what this committee's supposed to look for, apart from damning Hillary Clinton, it has no reason for existing.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But let's just say, if the reason for existence is to find out did Hillary Clinton make a grievous error in not following up security complaints, how could she tell the various investigating committees that that was below her, that it never reached her level? That could be a legitimate reason. But why then do you call Sid Blumenthal and Huma Abedin and all of these other personal aides and non-aides, why have you focused so much on emails and not on the central question of why was the security failure at that consulate?

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

Well, we have focused on the central failure. We have focused on the security issues. And we will continue, you'll see lots of questions about that on Thursday. But let me speak to Mr. Blumenthal. Because directly to the security issue, we see now that former Secretary Clinton relied on Mr. Blumenthal for most of her intelligence. That if she wants to rely--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

That is factually not true.

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

No it is absolutely true.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Relied on Mr. Blumenthal for most of her intelligence?

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

Ms. Mitchell, take a look at the email trails and you will see--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

That's just-- I cover the State Department. That is just factually not correct.

RON FOURNIER:

Since this is about Benghazi and the poor lives that were lost under Hillary Clinton's watch, what should she have done to prevent the loss of those four lives? What should she have done before and when they actually were threatened, should she have done more?

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

Let me talk to that before. The ARB from Tanzania made very clear that the secretary of State was supposed to personally review security at high-threat areas. That is, not hand it down to a deputy, or an under secretary, or anyone else. That ARB in the late 1990s said that the secretary of State, himself or herself, was supposed to take responsibility and personally review those security plans. It appears that she did not do that. And so if you ask what should she have done, that would be the area to start--

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Let's look at the ARB on Benghazi, not the one that took place 20 years ago. The ARB on Benghazi, a nonpartisan investigation, decided that the chain of command in terms of security at the embassies and the consulate facilities, did not rise to the secretary of State, that the secretary of State was not involved in the micromanagement of security at that facility--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Shouldn't she have been? Why wasn't she?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I don't know that we want the secretary of State making security decisions at particular facilities around the world. That's a big job for Secretary of State, and I don't know that we want her micromanaging security.

RON FOURNIER:

Well if not that--

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I do want to say this-- Well, they are responsible overall, and the secretary of State has said that she is responsible overall. But let me address the Blumenthal--

RON FOURNIER:

Are you going to ask Hillary Clinton why she didn't send help that night, Congressman?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

This is very important because the way this committee has operated is by leak of damaging information with only one objective. And that is, all the leaks have a common denominator. All of the leaks are designed to hurt Secretary Clinton. They generate a new story as recently as the one about Mr. Blumenthal. And then within the last 24 to 48 hours, the C.I.A. informs us that notwithstanding the chairman's 13-page letter alleging a damaging leak of the C.I.A. source, the C.I.A. has now informed us there was nothing classified in this last tranche--

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

Do you want to name that source this morning on air? Do you want to name that source this morning on air?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

The C.I.A. has said that that source's name is not classified.

REP. MIKE POMPEO

Name him. Put the name on national TV this morning Mr. Schiff.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm going to pause it there. Before I let you go, Congressman Pompeo, you have said you will run for speaker if Paul Ryan does not. Let me ask you this. Ted Cruz wouldn't call Paul Ryan a true conservative. Will you?

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

Absolutely. Paul Ryan is a solid conservative.

CHUCK TODD:

And if he runs, you'll support him?

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

That's correct.

CHUCK TODD:

Congressman Pompeo, Congressman Schiff, you guys are going to become even more famous to the American public. On Thursday, we will look forward to what I'm guessing is going to be a spirited day. Thank you both for being on.

REP. MIKE POMPEO:

Thank you, Chuck.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Thanks, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Back in a moment, does Joe Biden need to get in now, or does he actually have more time to wait? And later, was that Bernie Sanders or Larry David on SNL last night?

(BEGIN TAPE)

JON RUDNITSKI:

How are you?

LARRY DAVID:

I'm good. I'm hungry, but I'm good. And now, if you don't mind, I'm going to dial it right up to a ten.

JON RUDNITSKI:

Go right ahead.

(END TAPE)

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. It is NerdScreen time. And we decided to do a little something different here with NerdScreen, no doubt. We wanted to not just tell you how different the two parties are, we wanted to show you how different they are by looking at the first two debates and putting together a couple of word clouds.

This is the first Republican debate. Look at the most-mentioned items and issues. President Obama and Hillary Clinton, the dominant personalities. But look at the issues: Iran, ISIS mentioned more than 20 times during that debate. Immigration, the border, a combined 46 times at the debate. You see other stuff, taxes got a lot of mention there. A little bit on small business, Iraq, a tiny bit.

But those were the main issues, even Planned Parenthood. But this is what the Republican debate was about. A lot of foreign policy, a lot about Obama and Clinton. Now, let's take a look at the Democrats. A much different story here. The dominant, look at this, guns. The dominant issue. Then Wall Street, President Obama being spoken about in glowing terms. Syria being the foreign policy issue that got the most talked about. Iran barely got mentioned. Immigration just a little bit.

But wow, what a difference between the two parties when you look at this. The Democrats, much more of a domestic focus, guns, and Wall Street; the Republicans, a lot more of an international focus combined with immigration. And here's why. Guess what? They're both talking to primary voters right now. They're not talking to each other. Coming up, the race for the White House. Does Joe Biden have to get in soon, or has he really been running for president all along?

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, the conventional wisdom is that Hillary Clinton's strong debate performance Tuesday night blocked the Vice President, Joe Biden, from getting in the race. Let's also keep in mind that that so-called conventional wisdom has been a lot more conventional, and not so wise this campaign season.

Enter Gabe Sherman of New York Magazine who writes that Joe Biden's already running. "In reality, Biden is choosing what kind of campaign to run: an active one, in which he positions himself as a Clinton alternative, or a passive one that presents him as an alternative to Bernie Sanders or any of the other three non-­candidates who were onstage in Las Vegas." Let's bring in the panel. Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, Alex Castellanos, a long-time Republican operative with some ties to the Bush family. Are you with Jeb or not with Jeb or are you out if it?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

I'm like the Hard Rock Café, love all, serve all. Very Republican.

CHUCK TODD:

And Ron Fournier of course from National Journal, and my good friend Andrea Mitchell of NBC News. Amy, let me start with you. Joe Biden certainly believes he's got more time. Does he?

AMY WALTER:

Joe Biden has a couple of things working against him. The most important are filing deadlines right? And the bottom line is, he can wait as long as he would like to. But the states aren't going to wait for him. By the end of December, 15 states will have their filing deadlines closed.

By the end of January, 30 states, half of the delegates are off the table. That doesn't change. To me, the toughest question is really the question, can you run a passive aggressive campaign for president? Which I don't think you can. And he believes, I think, the theory is that he wants to be in the race, but he doesn't want to do what he needs to do to win, which is to say this: "Hillary Clinton, I like you, Democrats like you, but you can't win a general election, you have too much baggage, go with me." He won't say that.

CHUCK TODD:

He won't say that. Alex?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

I think Hillary Clinton has some serious problems. Not in the Democratic primary. They love her, right? And there's very little room there. But in a general election, she's got trouble. The Republican side is a dumpster fire right now, right?

And most of those Republicans still beat Hillary Clinton when Joe Biden runs ahead of those Republicans. Joe Biden doesn't have Hillary's authenticity problems. And Hillary's on the wrong end of an F.B.I. investigation. Those are serious things. Somebody ought to get in there in case it collapses--

CHUCK TODD:

The "in case of emergency"--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Now I--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

That's what I see

CHUCK TODD

"in case of emergency"--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

pull this chord."

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Now I'm with-- I'm with Gabe Sherman and the passive-aggressive argument right now, because the minute he declares, he has to start spending $43,000 an hour on Air Force Two just to go to Iowa. Now, one of the arguments is, you're going to lose Iowa anyway, you know, to Bernie, let's say. You could lose New Hampshire to Bernie or Hillary. Why don't you wait till South Carolina?

That's what his South Carolina supporters are saying. That's a December 4th filing deadline. So wait. Don't spend the big bucks, because you have all this apparatus around you. And you've got time. You've got name recognition. And what we know is that he personally authorized that memo.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me read that memo.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

That memo--

CHUCK TODD:

Let me read that memo--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

That came from Joe Biden's--

CHUCK TODD:

Don't-- It is written by Ted Kaufman, the former senator, the long-time aide to Joe Biden. But why don't you view this, Ron Fournier, as Joe Biden writing it?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And he did.

CHUCK TODD:

"If he runs, he will run," I will run, "because of his burning conviction that we need to fundamentally change the balance in our economy and the political structure to restore the ability of the middle class to get ahead. If he decides to run, we will need each and every one of you yesterday." Political structure. I've always thought that that is Biden's potential great strength. Hey, I've been here forever, I know how to work across the aisle.

RON FOURNIER:

Yeah, but the problem for Biden though is the scenario you're laying on Amy really doesn't hold up. It's hard to make the argument that Hillary Clinton could not win the presidency. She certainly, it's hard to make the argument that she can't win the nomination given the show on your side. It's hard to say that she couldn't--

CHUCK TODD:

--I think he call it a "dumpster fire."

RON FOURNIER:

A dumpster fire. I was going to say something else. So right now, unless something changes, it's hard to make an argument. And you don't have to be a sitting vice president you don't have to be in the race to be the rip-cord candidate. So I've always thought, number one, that Biden has been trying to talk himself into the race from the very beginning. Number two, it's not the debate that he's waiting for, it's not Benghazi hearings he's been waiting for, it's not even filing deadlines.

Because by the way, a party can change filing deadlines. It's the F.B.I. Now, the problem for this is he's waiting for, I think, an F.B.I. investigation that for all we know, will turn up nothing. For all we know, won't even turn up anything until it's too late, might not turn up anything ever. And I think that's the problem, is unless something really changes for Hillary Clinton, she's certainly going to win the nomination, or pretty certainly. And it's hard to argue that she could not win the presidency--

AMY WALTER:

Unless he puts up the polls in there, what she says is, "If we do the head-to-head polls, and we look at the numbers, Joe Biden, versus all the candidates," I realize it's early--

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, backup quarterbacks on bad football teams are always really positive.

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

With Joe Biden, with his strong record on women's issues, with violence against women, you know, take the Anita Hill hearing out of it.

RON FOURNIER:

Hard to do that though right?--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--his incredible support for those of us with breast cancer, and all of the other things that he and Dr. Jill Biden have done, he does not want to be blamed as the person who stopped the first credible woman from getting to the White House.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

But, the first credible woman may stop herself from being there--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

That's another issue.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

--and here's Joe Biden's story, loyal to the first black president of the United States for eight tough years, can energize the Democratic base in a way Hillary can't. Authentic middle-class guy, can appeal to Reagan Democrats.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Can't run away from the trade issue--

(OVERTALK)

AMY WALTER:

How do you do that in a democratic primary?--

CHUCK TODD:

Well, here we go, alright. Let's turn to what Alex called the dumpster fire. You are going to own that phrase for a while. Donald Trump obviously put out this tweet about blaming-- actually, did he say, is he blaming George W. Bush for 9/11, or does he simply state a fact, Amy Walter?

AMY WALTER:

He said--

CHUCK TODD:

"George W. Bush was president during 9/11."

AMY WALTER:

Right, that is what he said.

CHUCK TODD:

Was it an insult or not?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Of course it was. It was meant to provoke.

AMY WALTER:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

And guess what?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Another alpha dog move, I can slap these guys around, and they may hit me back a little bit, but I don't care.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you said it meant to provoke, Jeb Bush provoked. Here's an ad they put out obviously in time for us to play it.

(BEGIN TAPE)

FEMALE REPORTER:

He has said publicly that he watches cable news and that's one of the ways that he bones up on our national security.

COMMERCIAL VOICE:

Trump says he, quote, "Always felt that I was in the military, despite never serving in the military and draft deferments during Vietnam."

DONALD TRUMP:

There's nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Ron Fournier, why does Jeb Bush get fired up and show fire only when his brother's attacked?

RON FOURNIER:

Because it's his brother and he's a very loyal guy. I think the interesting thing about Jeb Bush, you talk about strategic frame, their strategic frame if you talk the them about how they see themselves winning the presidency and taking on Trump, they say, the first thing out of their mouth is, "Well, there's no way Donald Trump can win the nomination." Well, when that's your strategic frame, you're really hurting. Because you know what, Donald Trump could win the nomination.

CHUCK TODD:

You better have two battle plans.

RON FOURNIER:

And your plan A better be, "How do I get rid of Donald Trump and Carson and then win the establishment primary." They're not thinking that broadly.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Your strategy shouldn't be to predict the apocalypse. Your strategy shouldn't be "The world's going to end, that Carson somehow is going to collapse, that Trump is somehow going to falter" You have to have a strategy to win. Ted Cruz has that apocalypse strategy, but so does Jeb Bush right now and so does Rubio, so does every other Republican.

AMY WALTER:

Well, it's the passive-aggressive thing though too. Everybody in this race, except for Donald Trump, is being passive and waiting for somebody to collapse. Rubio, waiting for that collapse of Bush to come in. Ted Cruz, waiting for Carson, waiting for Trump. Nobody is making that play right now to say, "I'm the stronger candidate."

ANDREA MITCHELL:

The truth is, there is not room in this game for both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. So it's going to be one or the other. Alex, you know that better than anyone coming from Florida. And Rubio has a lot of the qualities that Jeb Bush does not show on the campaign trail. He hasn't fired up, you know, yet. But when you see him speak, he's got that sort of aggressive and young fire and Jeb Bush isn't showing it.

RON FOURNIER:

But they think all they've got to do is beat Rubio and Kasich. Well, they've got to beat Trump and Carson too.

CHUCK TODD:

I think this is the part of this, that's right. And okay, we can make a case for that FEC report, that Donald Trump is not showing the signs of a real campaign. But Alex, Ben Carson--

RON FOURNIER:

It's a tough case to make

CHUCK TODD:

Are they both going to falter?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

I don't see how. You know, Ben Carson is kind of a moral candidacy. Even when you think he can't win, voters support him because he's going to make the country better. He's got money. He's got lots of money. And you have-- if you're a voter, you have a purpose with your vote for Ben Carson all the way through--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But do you know what their similarity is?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

I think he blocks Ted Cruz.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

The similarity is, I interviewed Ben Carson and he talked about the Holocaust historically inaccurate. I mean, beyond inaccurate. Yet it doesn't matter what he says, it doesn't matter what Donald Trump says. The people, the voters at least, or the people coming to these rallies, don't seem to mind.

RON FOURNIER:

Because a lot of his voters predate the campaign. They go back to he's a hero in the medical community, his books were big sellers--

CHUCK TODD:

And they have a personal attachment, right Alex?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Yes. They have a personal attachment--

CHUCK TODD:

Nobody else does, right?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Nobody else.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

So let's say that in Iowa, it's either Carson or Trump, and the Republican establishment runs to New Hampshire here on fire, who do they rally around then for the other side of the equation? Right now, it's a tossup. Who has the strength to compete with those guys? Right now, who's demonstrating strength? Rubio is, Fiorina is, Jeb Bush has, as governor, we haven't seen in the campaign.

CHUCK TODD:

We shall see. I'm going to pause it there. We're going to have more of this in a few minutes. Back in 45 seconds with the endgame segment and President Obama's reversal on Afghanistan, as America's longest war will drive on for a third presidency.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

It's End Game time and let's start with America's longest war and President Obama's decision to reverse course and keep American troops in Afghanistan for at least a 15th year. It's yet another position change on Afghanistan from a president who himself said he was elected on the promise of ending both wars.

(BEGIN TAPE)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly and finish the fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months our troops will begin to come home.

We've blunted the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan and in 2014 our longest war will be over.

I've decided to maintain our current posture of 98,000 troops in Afghanistan through most of next year, 2016.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Let's bring in the panel. Andrea Mitchell, President Obama is learning what Alexander the Great learned.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Nobody survives. No empire survives. Look at the Russians in Afghanistan. This is not winnable. President Ghani has not even complained about the murderous attack on Kunduz. And has no support outside of his immediate area. He has not been heard from. He is viewed in Afghanistan as an American implant. There is no leadership there.

The Taliban has not been pushed back. There were supposed to be negotiations with the Taliban. That won't happen because we didn't even know when Mullah Omar died. Our intelligence is incredibly faulty, which probably led to the Kunduz attack on the hospital. And this is just a nightmare.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, we were talking about Joe Biden earlier. Ron, Joe Biden is the guy who said they-- we probably ought to partition Iraq. Joe Biden is the guy that said, small footprint go counterterrorism. And everybody around him mocked him. Boy, Joe Biden is looking a lot more prescient about Iraq and Afghanistan than any single person, including Hillary Clinton.

RON FOURNIER:

Right, this is one place he can put himself awfully close to Obama. What strikes me about that is I really believe President Obama really intended to change our course in Iraq and Afghanistan and that was not a phony promise. Just like how I think he believed-- he came here really thinking he would change the culture of Washington. He didn't do either and I saw that as the last nail in the 'hope and change' coffin.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

This tells us a lot about the race though and what this race is really about. George W. Bush, the critique was he was too aggressive, reckless male aggression. So we pushed the pendulum the other day to Barack Obama, soft power, dialogue, retreat a little bit from the world. Guess what, the world seems to be coming apart at home and abroad. What do we want again? Strength. Who does that help? Well that's actually one of Hillary Clinton's assets. She is tough. Who does that help on the Republican side? Our bad boyfriend Donald Trump.

AMY WALTERS:

That's right.

CHUCK TODD:

No what did you write today? The bad biker--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

He's the bad biker boyfriend who abuses us, but we stick with him because there are scarier people out there like that, we need someone like that to protect us from and we don't find that strength anywhere else.

CHUCK TODD:

So Amy, a Hell's Angels candidate?

AMY WALTERS:

Yes, I have said that he-- he is the bad boyfriend that you don't want to take home to your parents right? You like to date him because he's saying to your parents, 'uh, uh, uh, I'm not'-- right? But will you bring him home at the end of the day?

But look, even on the Republican side there's not a consensus about what to do either. If there were a Republican message that said, "he's done it wrong, here's what we do instead," that's what Democrats had going for them in the 2007 and 8 era, which was "we're not going to do anything like George Bush did."

But now, it's well we're gonna do-- you heard Ted Cruz, we're going to do a bit of this foreign policy, a little bit of that--

CHUCK TODD:

Cruz v Rubio would be a tremendous foreign policy debate. Rubio, intervention. Cruz, isolation. It's a little--I'm being a little--

AMY WALTERS:

No, but its--

CHUCK TODD:

--over the line in the description, but right?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I was really struck with your interview with Cruz about how isolationist he is.

CHUCK TODD:

More than I think people thought.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Right. Compared to the Herman Cain wing of the party.

RON FOURNIER:

I think he's got his eyes on Rand Paul's voters.

CHUCK TODD:

There's absolutely--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Smart.

CHUCK TODD:

I think Rand Paul is looking for those voters. Before we go, before we go Saturday Night Live came through with the impersonation we've all been waiting for for months. Larry David as Bernie Sanders. Here was last night's cold open from Saturday Night Live.

(BEGIN TAPE)

JON RUDNITSKI:

What is your position on the big banks?

LARRY DAVID:

Eh. Not a fan of the banks. They trample on the middle class, they control Washington, and why do they chain all their pens to the desks? Who's trying to steal a pen from a bank? Makes no sense! That's why you got to break up the banks into little pieces and then flush the pieces down the toilet so you can never put the banks back together.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Amy, what I love about-- By the way, when you're the star of the spoof, doesn't that mean Sanders won the debate and not Clinton?

AMY WALTER:

Maybe that's absolutely true. I just wonder, are we sure that wasn't Larry David actually at the debate?

CHUCK TODD:

And that's Bernie Sanders!

AMY WALTER:

And that's Bernie Sanders!

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

But, you know, that's the soul of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is not just looking for their candidate, but they found their campaign. It is the campaign against the elite.

CHUCK TODD:

He is the passion. You said that Democrats--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

-- income inequality.

CHUCK TODD:

--love Hillary Clinton. I disagree. I think they lust for Bernie Sanders.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

They do.

CHUCK TODD:

I think they'll go marry, and bring home to mom and dad, Hillary.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

He's got the college campuses. He's got the millennials. What he doesn't have is a broad enough base.

CHUCK TODD:

Alright. We're going to leave it there. We'll be back next week, because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

**END TRANSCRIPT**