Meet the Press - 6.30.19

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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday... after the debates. Two nights, 20 candidates... and moments of confrontation:

JULIAN CASTRO:

If you did your homework on this issue, you would know that we should repeal this section.

CHUCK TODD:

And of candor.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG:

Because I couldn't get it done.

CHUCK TODD:

Statements of purpose...

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN:

We need to make structural change in our government, in our economy and in our country.

CHUCK TODD:

...and a shift to the left:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Raise your hand if your government plan would provide coverage for undocumented immigrants?

CHUCK TODD:

Moments that exposed weakness:

JOE BIDEN:

I agree that everybody that once they, anyway, my time is up, i'm sorry.

CHUCK TODD:

...and those that demonstrated strength:

KAMALA HARRIS:

And that little girl was me.

CHUCK TODD:

This morning: The shifting power dynamics... debating how far left is too far... and the biggest thing we learned this week. My guests: Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey...And former Housing Secretary Julian Castro of Texas. Plus historic meeting. President Trump meets with Kim Jong Un at the D-M-Z...

KIM JONG UN (VIA TRANSLATOR):

I've never expected to meet you at this place.

CHUCK TODD:

... then becomes the first sitting president to step into North Korea... as the two sides agree to more talks. And: Crisis at the border. This heartbreaking photo becomes the indelible image of desperation and despair... as stories emerge of neglected children in detention centers. I'll talk to a Republican Senate leader... John Barrasso of Wyoming. Joining me for insight and analysis are: NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent Kasie Hunt...Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher...Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour...And Republican strategist Al Cardenas...Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News, the longest running show in television history, this is a special edition of Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. We'll get to all the big political news of the week in a moment, but we're going to begin this morning with President Trump's visit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un at the D-M-Z.It was a historic first, as the two agreed to resume their efforts at a nuclear agreement:

[BEGIN TAPE]

KIM JONG UN (VIA TRANSLATOR):

It is good to see you again. I never expected to meet you at this place.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

The president then walked over the border -- briefly -- becoming the first sitting President to step into North Korea. Afterwards, Mr. Trump spoke to reporters:

[BEGIN TAPE]

PRES. DONALD TRUMP: It is just an honor to be with you and an honor you asked me to step over that line, and I was proud to step over the line

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

NBC News Chief Foreign correspondent Richard Engel is at the D-M-Z. Okay, Richard, is this a -- just a moment for a headline, or is there some substance to this?

RICHARD ENGEL:

Well, a little bit of both, frankly. The -- he went and built rapport with Kim Jong-Un, and that is important. Diplomacy, personal relationships are critical, especially when you're dealing with a country like North Korea, a total one man show. Having a personal relationship, being able to pick up the phone, bringing him into your inner circle, introducing him to your family, showing him the love, that does matter, and it could lead to, further diplomatic breakthroughs. And it certainly restarts the talks after the last summit with, Kim Jong-Un didn't go very well and ended in a stalemate. So, that's good. Dynamism is good, spontaneity is good. There were a lot of people who criticized the previous administration because they didn't know how to reach out to it. President Trump is saying he's willing to break the rules. That kind of thing works with tyrants, works with Kim Jong-Un. He also got Kim Jong-Un out of his comfort zone. If you look at those images, Kim Jong-Un seemed totally confused to be surrounded by reporters in this unfamiliar situation, having questions thrown at him. So, all of that's positive. The negative thing is how he is spinning it. He is telling the, telling reporters, telling the world through Twitter and, and, and speeches --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

ENGEL:

-- that he's saved the Korean Peninsula. That this region was on the brink of war, that only he was able to sweep in, and I think he's counting on the American people not knowing current events, not knowing that it wasn't on the brink of war --

TODD:

Right.

ENGEL:

-- before he became president. It actually got a lot worse after he was elected. So, he's telling the world that he saved the world, when in fact, to a degree, he has saved the -- saved things from himself.

TODD:

Alright Richard, a familiar pattern, perhaps, as we've seen with some other instances here. Richard Engel, in Korea for us. Richard, thanks very much.Now to this week's big political news... and what we think we learned from the two nights of Democratic presidential debates. We learned that the party's center of gravity -- or at least the candidates' center of gravity -- has moved sharply to the left, especially on health care and immigration. We learned that Kamala Harris's big viral moment showed that she was worthy of the hype that accompanied her entry into the race..and that had eluded her since then. We learned from that same viral moment that Joe Biden has no glide path to the nomination. He still has to earn it. We also should learn to be cautious about putting too much stock in social media and Twitter chatter. 64 percent of the people who watched the debates on TV were 55 or older, not exactly the social media progressive demographic, and those older viewers may be more sympathetic to Biden. Most of all we learned that this nomination battle is wide open, with no prohibitive favorite, in a party trying to decide exactly how far to the left it wants to go:

JOE BIDEN:

I respect Senator Harris. But we all know that 30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can't, uh, do justice to a lifetime committed to civil rights.

CHUCK TODD:

Vice President Biden is on defense after that bruising debate performance, in a race that now looks wide open.

JOE BIDEN:

I agree that everybody once they -- anyway, my time is up, I'm sorry.

CHUCK TODD:

Biden's apparent political vulnerabilities were on display on Thursday night - as Senator Kamala Harris punctured his aura of inevitability:

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS:

It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. You also worked with them to oppose busing. And there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.

JOE BIDEN:

It's a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. That is not true, number one. Number two, if we want to have this campaign litigated on who supports civil rights and whether I did or not, I'm happy to do that.

CHUCK TODD:

Harris has since doubled down.

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS:

I just think he and I have a difference of opinion. And also a difference of opinion on state's rights.

JOE BIDEN:

I never, never, ever opposed voluntary busing.

CHUCK TODD:

The central premise of Biden's campaign has been that he is the Democrat best equipped to take on President Trump and beat him.

CHUCK TODD:

What is that first issue for your presidency.

JOE BIDEN:

The first thing I would do is make sure that we defeat Donald Trump. Period.

CHUCK TODD:

Biden has shown durability over months where his record has been litigated in the press - but after the debate, some Democrats are calling him a fragile frontrunner.

GADI SCHWARTZ:

Who do you think can go up against President Trump?

AUGUSTA: Um, I feel like Harris definitely could

CHUCK TODD:

As the party shifts to the left, Harris again found herself backtracking on the issue of government-run healthcare:

LESTER HOLT:

Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government run plan?

CHUCK TODD:

But after the debate, Harris said she misunderstood the question:

WILLIE GEIST:

Do you believe private insurance should be eliminated in this country?

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS:

No.

WILLIE GEIST:

You don't? But you raised your hand last night.

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS:

But the question was would you give up your private insurance for that option and I said yes.

CHUCK TODD:

The debates have showcased the party's leftward shift: on the economy, health care, taxes and national security policy... led by Senators Elizabeth Warren …

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN:

Calling out the names of the monopolists

CHUCK TODD:

And Bernie Sanders.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

We will have Medicare for all

CHUCK TODD:

And on immigration.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:

Raise your hand if your government would provide coverage for undocumented immigrants?

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is presidential candidate Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. Senator Booker, welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

CORY BOOKER:

It's good to be on. It was great to see you on Wednesday night, too.

CHUCK TODD:

Yes, it was. Let me start with what happened on Thursday night. Because I want to hear your reaction to the back and forth between Vice President Biden and Senator Harris, specifically, Senator Harris' critique. Do you believe her critique was fair and accurate on the vice president's record?

CORY BOOKER:

Look, I was talking about the vice president's comments well before the debate, where he used words, like boy, in a way that caused a lot of hurt and harm. And I called him out on it. And instead of coming forward and saying, "I could have said that better," or, "Let me tell you what I meant," he fell into a defensive crouch and tried to reassign blame and said that I should apologize to him. Whoever our nominee is going to be, whoever the next president is going to be, really needs to be someone who can talk openly and honestly about race with vulnerability. Because none of us are perfect. But really call this country to common ground, to reconciliation. I'm not sure if Vice President Biden is up to that task, given the way this last three weeks have played out. And frankly, I know, whoever is that nominee needs to be able to pull this country together. Because we need to reconcile.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to play a quote the vice president said on Friday, that you had took, you took some issue with on Twitter. But let me play that quote and then get you to react on the other side. Here it is.

[BEGIN TAPE]

JOE BIDEN:

We've got to recognize, that kid wearing the hoodie may very well be the next poet laureate and not a gangbanger.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Now, after your criticism on Twitter, the vice president's campaign put out their own statement. I want to put it up and then get you to react. "Vice President Biden, like many leaders over the years, was calling direct attention to the daily experience faced by many African American men around the country. And the perceived so-called threat from people like Trayvon Martin, who were racially profiled and deemed criminal while wearing a hoodie. As the context of his remarks noted, we need to make sure black mothers feel confident, when they send their child, their son, out on the streets, that they're going to feel safe." But they didn't address the use of the word, gangbanger, which was the issue you had, Senator. Explain.

CORY BOOKER:

Again, as a guy growing up as a young black guy in America, who was followed and surveilled, faced that indignity and even the danger of that, being perceived to be a threat, again, this is just another example of just conversations or lessons that Joe Biden shouldn't have to learn.

And there's a lot of his record, from busing to the 1994 crime bill. I was in law school, when that was going on, when you saw African American men being arrested at rates that were unconscionable. I came from Yale and Stanford, where people were using marijuana, using drugs, but lived in a country where there's no difference between drug usage and drug selling between blacks and whites. But African Americans are almost four times more likely to be incarcerated for those things. And these are very typical, painful issues to the point now that, because of a lot of the legislation that Joe Biden endorsed, this war on drugs, which has been a war on people, we now have had a 500% increase in the prison population since 1980, overwhelmingly black and brown. There's more African Americans under criminal supervision today than all the slaves in 1850. These are real, painful, hurtful issues. And again, we need nominees that can speak to this in a way that heals, that brings people together, that rises us up, as a country, to not only deal with historic and systemic racism, but helps us to come together and deal with our common purpose and common cause.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think the vice president is just incapable of that, because of his record? He just doesn’t -- that because of this lengthy record, that no matter -- whether he disavows it or not, that that disqualifies him to be the nominee for a Democratic Party in the 21st century?

CORY BOOKER:

Well, a lot of Democrats who were involved with the 1994 crime bill have spoken very openly and with vulnerability, talking about their mistakes. So that doesn't, that doesn’t disqualify you. But what we've seen, from the vice president, over the last month, is an inability to talk candidly about the mistakes he made, about things he could've done better, about how some of the decisions he made at the time, in difficult context, actually have resulted in really bad outcomes. And this is a bad culture, where you can't admit mistakes, where you can't speak to your vulnerabilities and your imperfections. We all have them. But when it comes to difficult issues with race, if you can't talk openly and honestly about your own development on these issues, I think it's very hard to lead our country forward, so that we actually can deal with our past and rise to a better common cause and common future. And we have one destiny in this nation. And right now, the vice president, to me, is not doing a good job at bringing folks together. In fact, he’s cause -- and I've heard this from people all around the country. He's causing a lot of frustration and even pain with his words.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to ask you a larger philosophical question about the party here, which is simply this. Take the issue of healthcare and the question of, what’s -- where do you guys disagree, and where do you agree? If you were coming in from a foreign country, you would say, "Everybody seems to agree on where they want to take healthcare. There's just a disagreement on the speed with which you guys would do universal healthcare." But it feels like there's a huge divide. You have tried to straddle this progressive and sort of mainstream wings of the party, trying to tell progressives, "Everybody's got to be brought along together." Where is that line for you?

CORY BOOKER:

Well, again, for me, it's very practical. I actually was a chief executive. I had to run New Jersey's largest city. And I always spoke to what our ideals were, where we were going, where the journey, what the destination would be. But I never let perfect be the enemy of the good, especially in communities like -- where, in Newark, where we desperately needed some good. We needed some progress. And so this, to me, is not as complicated a debate as you're framing it. The goal that most Americans hold, Republicans and Democrats, is that the wealthiest nation on the planet Earth should have everyone having access to high-quality, affordable healthcare. I believe the best way to get there, in this imperfect system, would be Medicare for All. But I also know that, on day one as president, people want to see their prescription drug costs go down. People want to see a pathway to having lower healthcare costs. And that's why putting that public option out, letting people buy in, lowering the cost of healthcare, these are the urgencies that I would deal with as a chief executive, from my experience as a chief executive.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Cory Booker, unfortunately, that's all the time I have. I hope to have you back sooner. We can talk more issues there. But I appreciate you coming on and sharing your views. And thank you for participating in the debates.

CORY BOOKER:

Thank you very much.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now from San Antonio is presidential candidate, former Housing Secretary Julián Castro. Secretary Castro welcome back to Meet the Press.

JULIÁN CASTRO:

Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

You had an event Friday night in Austin, sold out, after your debate performance. Be honest with me here, how important did you feel these first debates were going to be for your candidacy in particular?

JULIÁN CASTRO:

Very important. Yeah, I knew coming in that more people were going to be watching this debate than had been tuned into any event in the campaign so far. People had their first opportunity to start comparing candidates. I wanted to introduce myself to a lot of folks because as you know, Chuck, my name ID has been lower than some of the other candidates. I also think, and I think, you know, my takeaway from it is probably the most helpful thing that people saw when it comes to me and my candidacy, after Wednesday night, is that the number one question I get asked when I talk to voters in Iowa, here in Texas, California, New Ham -- wherever is they have this kind of anxiety about the Democratic nominee and whether the nominee can go toe-to-toe on the debate stage with Donald Trump. "Can you hold your own?" What they saw was that I have a strong compelling vision for the future of the country and that I can hold my own when I'm challenged on a debate stage. I can go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump. And I think that's an important hurdle for voters, especially this year.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to talk about your, sort of, signature moment in that debate, when you went up -- you and Beto O'Rourke had a back and forth about the issue of essentially decriminalizing one part of the -- of immigration law. And you want to see it done. I want to get you to react to something Fareed Zakara -- Zakaria wrote in the Washington Post earlier this week. "If things continue to spiral downward and America's southern border seems out of control, Trump's tough rhetoric and hard line stands will become increasingly attractive to the public. Keep in mind that the rise of populism in the Western world is almost everywhere tied to fears of growing out of control immigration." And his point being this, that the Democrats have to also have a plan to figure out this increase in migration -- it's happening all over the world. Some of it is impacted by climate change, others authoritarian places -- authoritarian problems, things like that. What does that plan look like in a Castro administration?

JULIÁN CASTRO:

Well, I'm glad you asked. As you probably know Chuck I was actually the first candidate, in early April, to put out a comprehensive immigration plan. And my first answer would be if you're out there and you're saying, "What in the world is going on? 144,000 people came to the southern border last month." I agree with you. We need to address this. But there's a smarter, more effective, and more humane way to address this. I'll give you an example of that: we've known for years that people are coming from Central America. In 2014 we had a lot of people that also came and in the years subsequent to that we did, too. The first thing this president should've done is what I've called for, which is a 21st Century Marshall Plan to partner with these northern triangle countries that many of these people are coming from, whether it's Honduras or El Salvador or Guatemala, so that people can find safety and opportunity at home instead of having to come to the United States. If I'm elected president I'm going to go to work right away to make sure that we partner with those countries to stem the flow of people who feel so desperate that they need to come to the United States. That's actually a smarter long-term way to deal with this.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you about the politics of these debates. You have some -- some establishment Democrats, some Republicans licking their chops, establishment Democrats wringing their hands because these debates presented a group of candidates who were quote, "For open borders," if you decriminalize, or that you could be painted as for open borders, painted as for using U.S. tax dollars to give healthcare to undocumented immigrants. That -- there's concern that President Trump could exploit that to his gain. What say you?

JULIÁN CASTRO:

Number one, the President is going to call Democrats as being for open borders no matter what we say. Nobody's talking about borders. We have 654 miles of fencing. We have thousands of personnel at the border. We have planes. We have helicopters. We have guns. We have boats. We have security cameras. States like Texas, my home state that I'm in right now, spent an extra 800 million dollars on border security. That's just a right-wing talking point. What we're talking about is maintaining a secure border but doing things like that 21st Century Marshall Plan so that we can actually stem the flow of people here because they can find safety and opportunity at home. We're talking about creating an independent immigration court system with more judges and more support staff so that we can actually get these claims -- asylum claims resolved and people are not waiting in the United States in limbo for years and years. So if you're somebody who's out there who is concerned about what's happening, I understand that. I'm saying that there's a smarter, there's a more effective way to do this that's also more humane than what we're doing today.

CHUCK TODD:

Before I let you go, curious of your reaction to Senator Harris' criticism of Vice President Biden's record in the '70s, particularly on the issue of bussing. I'm curious of your reaction to it and whether you thought Senator Harris was bringing up a relevant point.

JULIÁN CASTRO:

Oh, of course. I think that's relevant. I think the record of all of the candidates that are running, including Vice President Biden's record, is relevant. And his stance on busing is relevant as well. I thought that, you know his, what I took as his position being that he allowed local communities to make a decision, essentially relying on state's rights, I think he's going to have to continue to explain why that was a good position because we've had very painful history in this country of trying to desegregate communities. When I was at HUD, one of the things I'm most proud of is that we passed the most ground-breaking rule since the Fair Housing Act in 1968 to further help desegregate American communities called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing. And so that pain is still there in this country. And he's going to have to address that, not only in the debate but I think going forward.

CHUCK TODD:

Julián Castro, the former Housing Secretary, former Mayor of San Antonio, thanks for coming on, sharing your views. Thanks for participating in the debates. We'll see you down the road I hope.

JULIÁN CASTRO:

Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back the fallout from the debates and just how far left can Democrats go without damaging their chances in a general election. That's next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panel is here. Republican strategist Al Cardenas; Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour; NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt, host of MSNBC's Kasie DC; and Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher. And, yes, if you're wondering, there are three Miami natives on this, around this table.

KASIE HUNT:

Sorry.

CHUCK TODD:

Sorry, guys.

KASIE HUNT:

I’m the odd man out.

CHUCK TODD:

All right.Cornell, this is your party. So you get the first word. What did we, what... Take a step back here. What do we now know that we didn't know before the debates?

CORNELL BELCHER:

I think. I think we now know that we have a lot of diversity in the party but also a lot of people who putting forth policy ideals. And for me it was largely a debate about policy. Even the exchange between Kamala and Biden was largely about a policy about busing. I think you also, look, for me, did some of the candidates move the bar? Yes. I think Senator Harris moved the bar. I think she, she, she gave Joe Biden a punch, and he didn't react very well to it.

CHUCK TODD:

No, he didn't.

CORNELL BELCHER:

I think she, I think a lot of voters are now looking at her differently than they looked at her before. And that's what you want to do at the debate. We talked about having a moment in the debate.

CHUCK TODD:

Yep.

CORNELL BELCHER:

Senator Harris had a moment in--

CHUCK TODD:

She grabbed it.

CORNELL BELCHER:

--the debate. And I think over the next two months you will see her poll numbers begin to rise. I predict, Chuck, that she's going to be the next frontrunner, although I think we're going to have four or five frontrunners before it's over--

CHUCK TODD:

Interesting. That's interesting. Here's what Ed Kilgore wrote in New York Magazine, Kasie, that, "Biden's bad night exposed some dangerous weakness for him. “(1) His age and the associated impression that he's not up to the job and perhaps is just living in the past; (2) his possible complacency as the early frontrunner.; and 3) his heavy dependence on African American voters for his current lead and his clear vulnerability on his record on racially sensitive issues." That as much as it was a big moment for Harris, that this is probably the more important takeaway.

KASIE HUNT:

I mean, they're all great points. And I do think it's, it’s that big picture. It's everything taken together about what we saw with Joe Biden standing on that stage. This idea that he's almost been running a Hillary-esque campaign, where he's been the frontrunner. He hasn't wanted to appear on the same stage with a lot of his rivals very frequently. He's doing a lot of these high-dollar fundraisers where he's making comments that when taken outside, you know, out of the context of that room, you know, the voters who are focused on populist policies feel like they don’t, his comments don't quite sound right. And all of those questions that are kind of underlying this, that people are, you know, not, were a little reluctant to push it right into the center. But, you know, the president has been using this criticism that, you know, basically that the vice president has lost a step. And every single thing that the campaign and that the candidate in Joe Biden does that feeds into that is a problem for them.

CHUCK TODD:

Yamiche, here's what Michelle Goldberg wrote after Kamala Harris' -- because I also think this is important. "There was near-universal consensus that Kamala Harris triumphed on Thursday, scoring a devastating blow against Biden in an exchange about busing. The question now is whether these victories can convince battle-scarred Democratic women to believe once again that a woman can beat Donald Trump."

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

I think what we learned this week was that this is really, that that exchange between Kamala Harris, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden was really I think at the core of what’s the Democratic Party is mulling over. She started that exchange by saying, "As the only black woman on this stage, I want a minute to talk about race." And I think what she was doing there was putting her race at the center in a way that sometimes people are worried about candidates doing but putting her actual personal story out there. I think by doing that, she did something that Joe Biden couldn't compete with. It wasn't just that he didn't have an answer. It was that he can't say, "I was a little girl on that bus." And I think when you watched him kind of try to get the story right and try to get his explaining right over the last couple days they haven't been able to get it right. And the aides that I talk to understand that a lot of that is because they're still struggling with this idea that he does have these quotes. He called busing an "asinine policy." He said that it was a liberal train wreck.

CHUCK TODD:

Wanted a constitutional amendment.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

And then to add to that, these are issues that are still going on right now. A study done just last year showed that there are black and brown students who are increasingly attending racially segregated schools. So what we're dealing with is not an issue from the 1970s, but an issue that's going on right now.

CHUCK TODD:

Al, bigger picture here. David Brooks wrote something on Friday that I guess would ring true to your ears as well as it might’ve to moderate Democratic ears. "The debates illustrate the dilemma for moderate Democrats. If they take on progressives, they get squashed by the passionate intensity of the left. If they don't, the party moves so far left that it can't win in the fall. Right now, we've got two parties trying to make moderates homeless." As somebody who has been a Trump skeptic--

AL CARDENAS:

Yeah, great question for me.

CHUCK TODD:

--never Trumper at times, it's suddenly like, you know--

AL CARDENAS:

I view this debate, Chuck, in the eyes of someone who was looking for a possible alternative to Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

Somebody you want to support.

AL CARDENAS:

Right. And so, who said things that I kind of liked? Amy Klobuchar. You know, Mike Bennet. Maybe even Congressman John Delaney. But, man, after the end of the two debates, I said to myself, "That stuff got nowhere." And so, yeah, there were a few things said that I could find an option for. But it didn’t, man, it didn't make any ground. Right now, if this was the Indianapolis 500, you know who the three candidates in the front row are, the three candidates in the second row? All of my candidates are in the back row. I mean, no one really made a splash.

CHUCK TODD:

Cornell?

CORNELL BELCHER:

Can I, can I go in on this?

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

CORNELL BELCHER:

Because this, this annoys me to no end. Look, all respect to Brooks, we don't need you, right? We don't need you, right? We need to rebuild the Obama coalition, right? So, so when you talk about who's problematic-- and this is my problem with Joe Biden, my fear with Joe Biden that he's Hillary 2.0. Chuck, I sat in focus group rooms with younger voters, particularly younger voters of color. And they brought up the "superpredator" stuff with Hillary Clinton. And they said, "We cannot--" you know, they're not going to make the binary choice between the lesser of two evils. And I think the problem is Joe Biden becomes Hillary 2.0. We need a candidate who can inspire and bring back those young people and rebuild the Obama coalition, a majority coalition, back-to-back majorities built on young people and expanding the electorate. Not going back to the 1992 campaign again.

KASIE HUNT:

I mean, my sense is they need both of those things. They need what Cornell is talking about, but they also need some of these twice-Obama, once-Trump voters from these Midwestern states. And the question is: Who can thread that needle? And I think the question for Biden is: Can he electrify those people that Cornell is talking about? I see little evidence that that's--

CHUCK TODD:

Well, not if you have to talk about busing in every date.

KASIE HUNT:

--the case. Right now, I mean, this--

CHUCK TODD:

That is no way to electrify any coalition.

KASIE HUNT:

And Kamala--

AL CARDENAS:

Look, Chuck, as a, as a Trump skeptic, I see this campaign shaping up into two 40% bases talking past each other. That middle's going to be a forgotten middle. I don't see any energy in the middle in either party.

CHUCK TODD:

No.

AL CARDENAS:

I don't think any campaign strategy's going to be based on appealing to the middle. I think this is going to be a base turnout campaign. And I don't know if these debates are going to change my mind. To someone like me, that's disappointing, but it's fact.

KASIE HUNT:

Personality is going to matter immensely. I mean, the idea that you're just going to run against Donald Trump on policy is absolutely ludicrous.

CORNELL BELCHER:

That's right--

KASIE HUNT:

And one thing that Kamala Harris demonstrated was, you know, she married her chops as, you know, a politician with smarts with her personality, and it really showed.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

And she looked Joe Biden in the eye and showed that if she was on a stage with Donald Trump she wouldn't just be beating up on him. She'd be looking him dead in his eye and saying, "You're going to have to explain the consequences of these positions."

CORNELL BELCHER:

And we've got to go, but I hate the idea that a woman, asking the question, "Can a woman beat Donald Trump?" We'd never ask that question of a man. Men lose all the time.

CHUCK TODD:

Guess what?

KASIE HUNT:

Cheers.

CHUCK TODD:

We're going to talk about Trump's reaction to all these debates the next time we get together. But when we come back, the crisis at the border and the president's trip overseas. I'm going to talk with the number three Republican in the Senate, John Barrasso of Wyoming.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. There are some images that become indelibly linked to an event or a moment. This week, that heartbreaking photo of a father and his 23-month-old daughter who drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande became a symbol of the crisis at the border. This week, Congress passed a 4.6 billion dollar humanitarian aid package for the border. It was a victory of sorts for Senate Republicans and a defeat for progressive Democrats who felt the bill didn't do enough to protect children housed at migrant centers. Joining me now is the number-3 Republican in Senate leadership, John Barrasso of Wyoming. Senator Barrasso, welcome back to Meet the Press.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

Thanks for having me, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

That photo.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

Yes. Sad. It was tragic.

CHUCK TODD:

Who’s -- is there anybody, is there anybody to blame for this death? I mean what, how do we prevent this, this, okay? I mean, why didn't we prevent this?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

I mean, I'm a father. I'm a doctor. You never want to see this. And we see this, I think it's very important that that was published. The thing is that there are many more dying just trying to get to the United States taking that long and very dangerous --

CHUCK TODD:

The president blamed Democrats for that. Was that fair?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

I don't blame anyone for this. We have a system, though, that is incentivizing people to take a very long, dangerous trip, where people are getting trafficked, raped, murdered, used for trafficking drugs. We need to stop the incentives that tell people, "If you get here, we're going to keep you here and give you more things." We need to do things -- and look, there's bipartisan legislation in progress, with Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin, to try to say, "Let's have people who want to come here for asylum apply from where they are. Let's make sure that children can stay with families a longer period of time, so we can adjudicate some of these things." There's actually bipartisan progress being made. But we had to take eight weeks to get a bipartisan, humanitarian-relief bill passed. Because some people are saying it's a manufactured crisis. This is a real humanitarian crisis.

CHUCK TODD:

But are you now, are you now convinced that you can't enforce your way out of this crisis? Because right now, it does seem as if the Trump administration just thinks, if they just tighten the screws, if they just do -- if they just make it harder, it'll slow the flow. It hasn't slowed the flow. It's only increased it. They thought family separation was going to work. That didn't work. Do they now -- do you now know that just enforcement only isn't going to stop this?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

Well, there are a couple parts. Yes, you have to enforce the law. You cannot just ignore the law. But you have to eliminate some of these incentives that are pulling people to take unnecessary, very dangerous risks with their lives.

CHUCK TODD:

So why get rid of the aid in Central America? That was a, talk about an incentive, a disincentive. If you take away all that aid, these countries can't do anything about their horrible conditions there.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

If you take a look at some of those countries, even if you were to increase the aid, there's no belief that I have that it would actually get fully used. There's corruption there. You need to do a better job with disincentivizing people to come to the United States by allowing them to apply for asylum elsewhere, by trying to treat, specifically, the young children who are coming here unaccompanied. No matter what country they come from, they ought to be treated the same. We ought to be treating them the same way as we are with the people coming from Mexico.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, the House Democrats passed a bill, their version of a bill. They had, basically, stricter standards on how the money was to be used. The Senate rejected those new, stricter standards. Why? Why do you trust this administration to use the money as it's intended to do, when you've appropriated money, and he has said, "Forget it. National emergency. I don't care what you're telling me"? Why shouldn't you want more parameters on how this money is spent?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

Well, the Senate passed a bill 84 to eight. You talk about bipartisan legislation, I mean, in your long history, how often do you see something pass the Senate 84 to eight? That was the $4.6 million, primarily humanitarian aid, also, to give folks at the border more resources. It was the right bill. And to have that held up by the far-left Democrats in the House, who tried to boycott it, I think is wrong.

CHUCK TODD:

But they held it up for reasons of -- they feel as if, look at what's going on in Homestead. Number one, why are we giving money to a private contractor to run something that we don’t -- we are not able to, because it's a temporary facility, it doesn't fall under the same regulatory standards as government facility would run into. And it's turned out, that's a big problem, not a small one.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

84 to eight in the United States Senate shows significant bipartisan agreement with this being the solution for the humanitarian relief that we need.

CHUCK TODD:

You're comfortable letting this private -- letting this private prison -- these private prison companies run these private shelters?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

I'd rather have government and government funding approaching all of these things. Making those -- we have to cut down the incentives. But the problem, as you know, is getting worse. There have been more detentions, and it's still June, this year alone than all of last year, all 12 months. The numbers are getting worse. The red lights are flashing. We have to do more to prevent people from taking these dangerous journeys to the United States with the promise of free healthcare, if they get here. If you get here, you get to stay, because you never have to show up for a hearing, and you get to stay in the United States and you will not be removed. I think the incentives are asking people to take dangerous journeys, which result in such a sad and tragic loss of life.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to go back to the situation in Homestead. This company's profiting off of this crisis. Should any entity be profiting off this crisis?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

No. And you know more about the situation in Homestead than I do. But no, people shouldn't be profiting off this, period.

CHUCK TODD:

So why allow this, why allow this facility to even stay open at this point? If they haven’t been able to -- if they are treating kids this poorly, not giving them soap, why are they going to get more government aid to run this facility?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

This talks about the need for actually getting this bill passed. It took us eight weeks to get to a point where we could get an agreement that this is truly a humanitarian crisis, not just a manufactured crisis. So it's taking a long time to get that buy-in. We need bipartisan solutions. I've been working with Ron Johnson on a solution to Homeland Security. There's bipartisan efforts. We need actual solutions that will work, that will provide relief, but will also make sure that the incentives are removed of people trying to come here under these circumstances.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, I want to talk about the president's trip overseas. There's a bit of a ceasefire, if you will, in the trade talks between China and the United States. But part of that ceasefire was the president now agreeing to let Huawei, the telecommunications company in China, to buy materials from U.S. companies. And here's what Marco Rubio put on Twitter. "If President Trump has agreed to reverse recent sanctions against Huawei, he has made a catastrophic mistake. It will destroy the credibility of his administration's warnings about the threat posed by the company. No one will ever again take them seriously." He presented it as if he was hoping it wasn't true. It turns out, this is true. How concerned are you about this?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

Oh, I'm very concerned about Huawei. I think they are a threat to our national security.

CHUCK TODD:

So the president made a mistake?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

I think Huawei is a threat to the national security of America. I know the president is a dealmaker. He is working on this. I would not allow Huawei, certainly, into our country. He's making decisions about what our country and companies can sell overseas, to Huawei. I have -- to me, Huawei in the United States would be like a Trojan horse ready to steal more information from us.

CHUCK TODD:

So I assume, then, you don't even want this, then, right? What the president did, you believe, is a mistake.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

I believe the ceasefire with trade with China was important. We need more trade. We have product in Wyoming we want to sell overseas, in terms of energy, in terms of Trona, in terms of beef. So we will open up to those customers. To me --

CHUCK TODD:

But that Trojan horse, what you just called a Trojan horse, is now back. Is that worth it?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

The president said that would be the last discussion point of the discussion on trade. Let them work through the other parts of this. But to me, Huawei should not be in the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

So doesn't it concern you that the president is not ruling it out?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

It does concern me, yes.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Senator John Barrasso, number-three Republican in the Senate, thanks for coming on and sharing your views.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

Thanks for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, the Democratic candidates seem convinced the party's voters are rapidly moving to the left. What they have -- why they may have that all wrong, that's next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, Data Download time! If you get your political analysis exclusively on social media, you might think the eventual Democratic nominee would have to be a progressive, spelling trouble for Joe Biden. According to data from Socially Minded, the most progressive Democratic candidates - Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have the most followers by a landslide. And when it comes to who gets the most positive mentions -- moderates Amy Klobuchar and former Vice President Joe Biden have the lowest percentage. But, it's important to remember that the former VP's frontrunner status is holding steady in the most recent polling. And our latest NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll finds that while 48 percent of Democratic primary voters do call themselves liberal, an equal 48 percent call themselves moderate or conservative. All of these polls, by the way, and most of the Twitter data, were collected largely before the debates. But that doesn't change the fact that what happens in the Twitter bubble, may not reflect what is happening in the Democratic Party at large. When we come back. End Game. While President Trump was making news overseas, his mind was half a world away.

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with End Game. The president was overseas, physically. Mentally, his head was in another place. Here's President Trump at a meeting with Angela Merkel.

[BEGIN TAPE]

DONALD TRUMP:

I saw that healthcare and maximum healthcare was given to 100% of the illegal immigrants coming into our country by the Democrats. And unfortunately, they didn't discuss what they're giving to American citizens. In fact, I heard, there's a rumor, the Democrats are going to change the name of the party from the Democratic Party to the Socialist Party. I'm hearing that. But let's see if they do it.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Al, we all, like, this is, this is who Donald Trump is. This is our president. This is so bizarre and unusual that a sitting president of the United States is going to trash the opposition party in the United States on foreign soil. I just find this, like, where’s… again, for the long list of, if Obama had done it, what would the reaction--

AL CARDENAS:

Right. Right, right.

CHUCK TODD: -- have been on the right? I mean, where is the outrage?

AL CARDENAS:

Yeah. And you know, that was an outrage to me. One of the greatest outrages was that group photo on the front page of every newspaper, where, while everybody was waving, he was shaking the hand of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia without one critical comment about the situation. And then of course, I think he got played, when he walked over the DNC line in North Korea without anything to show for it. And so you know, that was my view of that trip. I was hoping... one good thing about the trip, to be fair, was his conversation with the Chinese Premier. I think everyone in America was happy that they decided to continue talks and set aside the tariffs for a moment.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me, though, go to the other weird moment, and that was the meddle moment between, and I'm not talking about any Olympic medals. I'm talking about meddle, M-E-D-D, between the president and Mr. Putin.

[BEGIN TAPE]

EPORTER:

Will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?

DONALD TRUMP:

Yes, of course I will. Don't meddle in the elections, please. Don’t, don’t meddle in the election.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

We had that. Al brought up the Crown Prince. By the way, Mitt Romney, I want to put that tweet up: "The president's praise for MBS, the man who U.S. intel says ordered or authorized the heinous murder of a Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident, sends the wrong message to the world. It's past time for Congress and the administration to impose sanctions for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi." This is the undercurrent of this entire trip: meeting with authoritarian figures, basically, wink and a nod to Putin, wink and a nod to MBS.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

It's also the undercurrent of his entire presidency. He likes strong men. And this idea that he can't deal with even talking about Russia meddling in our elections, because he feels, personally, that it gets to his illegitimacy as a president, what people will think would be his illegitimacy as a president. You think about President Carter, this week, saying, if he... if Russia didn't help President Trump, that he wouldn't be president. I think that gets to the core of his fear of why he doesn't like talking about this and why he's sided, largely, with Russia instead of the intelligence communities. That said, I think the reason why there isn't more outrage is because Mitt Romney is really the only, one of the only Republicans talking about this, and because people have kind of gotten used to this. I was in London, when he was… when there are all these times when the president is clearly focused on other things and bashing Democrats all the time, when he’s abroad.

CHUCK TODD:

Kasie, this flirtation with Putin, you know, as House Dem-- as Nancy Pelosi tries to keep these House Democrats from rushing to the impeachment gates, it, every day, the president, basically, tries to incentivize House Democrats to rush the impeachment case.

KASIE HUNT:

It's a bit astonishing. I mean, we didn't even show the point where he talks about, you know, American journalists being a problem and--

CHUCK TODD:

With Putin.

KASIE HUNT:

With Vladimir Putin.

CHUCK TODD:

You can’t p-- If I put all of that stuff up, we'd never be able to talk.

KASIE HUNT:

I mean, they literally imprison and murder journalists in Putin's Russia. So, you know, I think that that's astonishing. And yes, I mean, this is one of the things I feel like we didn't necessarily get the explanation we were hoping for, from the Mueller report, to explain the president's behavior towards Putin. I mean, it may be as simple as, you know, he doesn't want anything to shed any doubt on his own personal election. And that's really all it is about for him. But every time something like this happens, you just have to go back to wondering, why?

CHUCK TODD:

It’s, and… What do Dem-- Look… What do you u-- Do you use it in the campaign? Do you not, politically? Because it's weirdly both baked in and shrugged.

CORNELL BELCHER:

Here is... to you, my friend, from earlier, what do you say to moderates? This is why Democrats are going to do well with moderates. This is why, quite frankly, you look at the suburbs in 2018, why so many of the suburbs went from red to blue. This is why. There is nothing about who this guy is, from a values standpoint and from an action standpoint, that makes middle-of-the-road, moderate voters, base, middle-of-the-road moderate voters comfortable. Look, Democrats won 9 million more votes in 2018 than Republicans. It wasn't just because they, people fell in love with Democrats. You have a real problem with him at the top of the ticket.

CHUCK TODD:

Speaking of other issues here, not just his flirtation with authoritarian figures, the allegation by this woman, E. Jean Carroll, Al, it is, now, speaking again of a shrug, this, these allegations appear more credible every day. More people are confirming her account from that time. And yet, it is just met with, again, I don't want to say a shrug, because that's too dismissive, but there doesn't seem to be outrage, concern, particularly among Republicans. I mean, is he a serial-- I mean, it comes across that he might be a serial sexual predator.

AL CARDENAS:

Well, it's numbness. And one of the things that we've all been watching is, what's really going to be the appetite about impeachment? Will these debates be persuasive to the House members of the Democratic leadership to be, to commence it? Because impeachment's not just about the Mueller report or obstruction of justice. Impeachment can be about any possible charge, just as it happened with Bill Clinton's articles of, you know, at that time. So I think that the House leadership needs to deal with these questions. And once you get into an impeachment mode, these things become much more serious. But right now, there could be five more allegations. I don't think it'll matter one hoot in terms of public opinion.

KASIE HUNT: I, Chuck--

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, last. Go.

KASIE HUNT:

I don't think the women of America are shrugging at this. I just don't.

CHUCK TODD:

I think you're right, too.

KASIE HUNT:

Just because the institutions and, perhaps, the media are not treating this in an elevated way does not mean that people do not know about it and that they are not going to vote.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

One in three women, also, are also sexually assaulted, though. And I think that there are a lot of women in this country who have told me, personally, “I won't hold this president to a standard higher than my uncle or my father or my husband." And that, to me, is troubling.

AL CARDENAS:

You know, that’s--

CHUCK TODD:

That's all we have. Al, I'm sorry to cut you off on this one. But I'm really up against the clock. That's all I got. Thank you for watching. Have a happy 4th of July holiday. I hope to see you next week. Because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.