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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, a nation on edge. Eleven people killed in a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

WENDELL HISSRICH:

One of the worst that I've seen. And I’ve seen lots of plane crashes, it's, it’s very bad.

CHUCK TODD:

The suspect, a man with a history of anti-Semitism and hostility towards refugees.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

This evil, anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us.

CHUCK TODD:

This just after 14 pipe bombs are mailed to Trump critics. The president briefly attempts the role of healing.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

My highest duty, as you know, as president is to keep America safe.

CHUCK TODD:

But minutes later.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

The crisis on the border right now is the sole result of Democrat laws and activists.

CHUCK TODD:

Are these violent incidents separate or linked as a product of our angry political environment? Joining me this morning, Mayor Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh and Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation league. Plus all this amid a campaign filled with hot rhetoric for an anxious electorate from Missouri.

JOSH HAWLEY:

This whole campaign has been a big scare tactic for Senator McCaskill.

CHUCK TODD:

To Florida.

MAYOR ANDREW GILLUM:

I'm not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist, I'm simply saying the racists believe he's a racist.

CHUCK TODD:

To a former president.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

That is not spin. That's not exaggeration. That's lying.

CHUCK TODD:

My guests, nine days before the election, Republican House campaign chairman Steve Stivers and his Democratic counterpart Ben Ray Luján. Joining me this morning for insight and analysis are NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, Erick Erickson, editor of The Resurgent, Amy Walter, national editor for The Cook Political Report and Joshua Johnson, host of 1A on NPR. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the longest running show in television history. This is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. As our colleague journalist Ed O'Keefe wrote on Twitter late yesterday, "The worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history took place today just days after the largest attempted assassination of political leaders in U.S. history. Let that sink in." It's a deeply unsettling assessment that has the disturbing advantage of being accurate. This after a week of ethnic violence and political terror. On Friday, a Florida man Cesar Sayoc was arrested and charged with sending as many as 14 mail bombs to Democrats and other critics of President Trump. And just as the country tried to exhale, as the mail bombing danger seemed to have passed we learned yesterday of the horror in Pittsburgh where 11 people were shot and killed at The Tree of Life congregation, a synagogue in the city's heavily Jewish Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Last night there were numerous vigils around the city and the country including this one in Pittsburgh near the synagogue in remembrance of the victims. In our hyper-partisan atmosphere where we will inevitability debate was the mail bomber inspired and catalyzed by President Trump who casts his political opponents as enemies of the people? Or was he just a loner filled with anger and political resentments? Was the synagogue shooter a product of a toxic environment of the right that treats refugees and Americans who don't look and worship as they do as other, or was this the type of hate-filled mass murder we've seen too many times in this country before? We've got both of these stories to cover plus we're going to look at the amped up political rhetoric that serves as the backdrop to this year's midterm elections just nine days away. But let's begin with my colleague NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams who hopefully has updates for us on both of these stories. Pete, good morning.

PETE WILLIAMS:

Good morning, Chuck. Well, Bowers is now going to face, Robert Bowers, the convic--the alleged shooter in Pittsburgh is going to face 72 counts now. He's been charged both by the federal government and by the state. So--

CHUCK TODD:

The Feds took this over, correct?

PETE WILLIAMS:

Well, they both filed charges. So I think it's not clear who -- where he's going to go on trial first. But the federal government was very eager to step in and say this was a hate crime. Just as the Pennsylvania authorities have said. And there seems to be very little doubt of that for three reasons basically. One is his social media postings. Months and months of vile, anti-Semitic comments. Secondly, the fact that he singled out a synagogue speaks for itself. And thirdly, the police in Pittsburgh say as he was being transported to the hospital, as he was being treated for his wounds he said, "All Jews must, must die because they are committing genocide against my people."

CHUCK TODD:

Did he -- Who does he refer to as his people in this case?

PETE WILLIAMS:

Who knows? I mean that's what he told the police as they were treating him on the way to the hospital.

CHUCK TODD:

There was -- other than his whereabouts over the last year there's not much known about Mr. Bowers before that, is there? What profile are they able to draw up so far?

PETE WILLIAMS:

No you're right. And if you contrast the two here, Cesar Sayoc, accused of the bombings, sending out the packaged bombs, he had had many run-ins with the police over the years. He even made a bomb threat against Florida Power and Light over one of his power bills at one point. On the other hand, Bowers seems to have absolutely no contact with law enforcement. They said he was never on their radar before. He was a loner. Neighbors say he never got out much. He seemed to have -- His life seems to have been led online. And I think one question is had he ever visited that synagogue before? Did he know the layout of it? Because you know ultimately it ends on the third floor. That's where the shoot-out with the police is as he's trying to hide from them.

CHUCK TODD:

And is there any indication that he purchased any of his guns illegally or were they all purchased legally?

PETE WILLIAMS:

No there's no indication that he bought anything illegally. And I think one question about his weapons is this, many of the witnesses said they thought there was automatic weapons fire. Well, you have to assume that these are people who don't spend a lot of time listening to gun fire. But the police say it sounded like automatic weapons fire. So I think a question is did he modify that semi-automatic rifle? It's possible to do it. It's illegal. But did he modify it in a way that would shoot automatically? Or was he using a bump stock like was used in the Las Vegas shootings?

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let's move to Cesar Sayoc. As of Friday he was not talking. Is there any update on whether he is yet to cooperate with officials?

PETE WILLIAMS:

No. And their ability to question him now is, is reduced. He's going to have his first court appearance on Monday. They initially questioned him under an exception to the Miranda rule. You know normally you have to advise someone of their rights before you can question them if you want to use that evidence in the trial against them. But there is a public safety exception --

CHUCK TODD:

Right

PETE WILLIAMS:

-- And that's what they used here basically saying, "Are there any more bombs?" Well, he refused to say A) whether he had anything to do with the ones that were already out there or B) whether there were any others still waiting to be discovered. It's been, what, 36 hours now since they found any.

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say at this point they can't say definiti -- I noticed that the postal service won't say definitively yet. At what point will they feel comfortable assuming that it's out of the system?

PETE WILLIAMS:

Another week maybe. They have been finding these closer and closer to the mail system. The last ones were discovered inside the mail system. So they're all carefully looking for them. And I think you have to assume that there aren't any more because this is the longest gap that we've yet had since they were anywhere discovered.

CHUCK TODD:

And all the late ones discovered were west coast. So it sort of made sense that that might be. So the assumption has got to be that.

PETE WILLIAMS:

Right. The last two to, sent to Senator Kamala Harris and to Tim Steyer.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Tom Steyer.

PETE WILLIAMS:

Tom Steyer.

CHUCK TODD:

That's right. All right, Pete Williams. Been an awfully tough and busy week for you, for all of us. Thanks very much. Throughout the day yesterday and at a vigil last night members of the community in Pittsburgh were shocked and heartbroken.

PITTSBURGH RESIDENT:

It is very unthinkable. Very, very unthinkable. I mean this is our community whether you're Jewish or not.

MICHAEL EISENBERG:

And I just could not believe it in light of the other things that are going on across the nation, to see this right on my -- really right on my street to where I was heading.

CODY MURPHY:

I hope that this helps us stop ignoring it because we have been ignoring the hate and we've grown numb to it. But something like this, it's, it’s so hard to ignore.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is Bill Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburgh. Mr. Mayor, welcome back to Meet the Press.

MAYOR BILL PEDUTO:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me just start with what you -- ask you this, what new information this morning can you share with us about what more you've learned about the incident and the killer?

MAYOR BILL PEDUTO:

Well, there's a press conference that's scheduled this morning where we will be releasing the names of the victims. The families were notified yesterday evening. And as you can imagine there's a lot of sorrow right now within the city.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, many synagogues have protection, sadly, constantly, because threats are constant in the Jewish community. Sometimes they're low-level, sometimes they're very serious. So sadly this isn't, it -- this isn’t a shock and yet it is unexpected. Can you just share with how the community is sort of reacting? How the -- particularly in, particularly in the Jewish community there.

MAYOR BILL PEDUTO:

Well, in Pittsburgh our hearts are broken. Right now we're trying to grapple with this horrendous crime, something that is one of the darkest days in our city's history. Our city's a small city. So all communities are connected together. So we understand that an attack against our Jewish community is an attack against our entire city. We're here right now to help the victims' families. So that's, that’s the foremost part of what we need to do. And the second part is to get to the folks who have been injured, our officers and others, and to be able to help them and their families as well.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump said he had spoken with you yesterday. How was that conversation? What can you share?

MAYOR BILL PEDUTO:

It was cordial. We basically talked about the ,the horrific tragedy. I was able to share with him the details of just how bad it had been. And he basically said that any resources that would be necessary would be given. And right now there are federal officials from the F.B.I. coming from all parts of this country to help Pittsburgh.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, that's the -- that’s what he can do with the federal government. Is there something, did you ask him, is there anything he personally can do? Is there something you'd like to see him do personally?

MAYOR BILL PEDUTO:

There is. I belong to an organization, a bipartisan organization, called Mayors Against Illegal Guns. I don't think that the answer to this problem is solved by having our synagogues, mosques and churches filled with armed guards or our schools filled with armed guards. I think we're dealing with an irrational person who acted irrationally. And trying to create laws around that is not the way that we should govern. We should try to stop irrational behavior from happening at the forefront. And not try to create laws around irrational behavior to continue.

CHUCK TODD:

Before yesterday's incident if I'd have asked you if you had personally seen or felt as if the tone had changed or hateful rhetoric had been on the rise in Pittsburgh and you'd seen it, what would you have said before yesterday's event?

MAYOR BILL PEDUTO:

No. It was, it was another Saturday, October morning. Like so many others in Western Pennsylvania. And it has forever changed this city. But there wasn't a, a drum beat of anti-Semitism or any type of behavior that would have ever warranted any reaction by public safety that something like this could have happened.

CHUCK TODD:

The president says he wants to come to Pittsburgh. Would you like to see him attend a vigil event?

MAYOR BILL PEDUTO:

That's really up to the families themselves. You know, we're going to be working together as we have. We've had good cooperation from the state and the governor. And, you know, this is a Conservative synagogue. So the funerals will be very quickly. As soon as tomorrow. So that's really up to the families and whether they would want the president to be here.

CHUCK TODD:

Mayor Bill Peduto, tough day to be mayor of Pittsburgh. I know tough morning for you to come on. And it's only going to get tougher as you continue to meet with these families. Thanks for coming on and sharing a few minutes with us, sir.

MAYOR BILL PEDUTO:

Sure. Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Appreciate it. I’m joined now by Jonathan Greenblatt. He's the CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. Mr. Greenblatt, welcome to Meet the Press.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm sorry it's under these circumstances. I want to get you to react to something the president said because according to your organization this is likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community perhaps in the history of the United States. Here's the president yesterday in Indianapolis.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

This was an anti-Semitic act. You wouldn't think this would be possible in this day and age. But we just don't seem to learn from the past.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

It's that last sentence I'm curious for you to react to. He said you wouldn't think this would be possible in this day and age. Is he right?

JONATHAN GREENBLATT:

Well, unfortunately he's wrong on that. I mean at the anti -- at the ADL we've been tracking anti-Semitism for over 100 years. We look at anti-Semitic incidents. And in 2017, Chuck, we saw a 57 percent surge of acts of harassment, vandalism and violence directed at the Jewish community across the country. It was the single-largest spike we have ever seen. And literally just last week we released a report because we also monitor anti-Semitism online. And we've seen a marked uptick in anti-Semitic harassment of political figures and other individuals simply based on their faith. So we are living in a moment where anti-Semitism is almost becoming normalized. And that should shock and move all of us to act.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you say it's normalized. There was a time in this country it was normalized. Trust me, my mother reminds me of it quite a bit, in the '40s, '50s and '60s. It went away after a while. What's, what’s your explanation as to the re-rise of this?

JONATHAN GREENBLATT:

Well, yeah, I think it's worth playing out. I don't know that it ever went away. The ADL worked to fight it in the '40s and '50s and '60s. And today we are seeing this resurgence. I think there are a few factors. So number one, we are seeing an environment in which anti-Semitism has moved from the margins into the mainstream as political candidates and people in public life now literally repeat the rhetoric of white supremacists. And they think it's normal and permissible to talk about Jewish conspiracies, manipulating events or Jewish financiers somehow controlling activities. And that is awful. And secondly, not only is the political environment contributing to this, social media is amplifying and accelerating it in shocking ways. And so Silicon Valley is a part of the problem and needs to be a part of the solution.

CHUCK TODD:

I hear you on social media. What about in the political world. You talked about financiers, George Soros is a Democratic donor. And he frequently is always described -- his religion is always included in the description. Other billionaires, their religion isn't always included in their description when they contribute to candidates. What would you say to that?

JONATHAN GREENBLATT:

Look, the attacks on George Soros are appalling. And the continued invocation of classic anti-Semitic themes. I mean, to see the way this man is mischaracterized online is just repulsive. Now, I don't agree with every donation he makes. But I also don't agree with every donation Sheldon Adelson makes. But you see it from the left and sometimes from the right. And it is all incredibly troublesome. So I think whether you are, you know, an elected official, bring the Holocaust denier to the well of the House of Representatives for the State of the Union or you're a political candidate, again, invoking anti-Semitic myths about Jewish conspiracies, or frankly, you're a religious leader who calls Jews termites.

CHUCK TODD:

Referring to --

JONATHAN GREENBLATT:

You should --

CHUCK TODD:

-- I was going to ask you about Louis Farrakhan and what -- and the tolerance that some people on the left still have for him.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT:

No. Yeah. This isn't an issue of left, right, it's about right and wrong. And we should be able to speak truth to power whenever people in public life speak out with stereotypes and scapegoats that we know, as you were alluding to before, have been used for hundreds and thousands of years. Not just to slander the Jewish people but to wound them and kill them. So like you said at the top of the show, this was the single deadliest attack on the American Jewish community in our history. And it's incumbent upon us to stand up and to speak out and to say, "We will not accept this. Not for another minute."

CHUCK TODD:

All right, what could the president do in a perfect world?

JONATHAN GREENBLATT:

Well, you know, whether you're the president of the United States or the president of a university or the president of your PTA, I would expect leaders to lead. We would hope and we should all demand that those in elected office won't just, you know, give platitudes after the fact. But they will help ratchet back the rhetoric right now. And they will, you know, If the white supremacists are saying and celebrating what you're doing, that should be a problem for all of us. So I'd like to see him and other electeds across the aisle stand up and shut it down now.

CHUCK TODD:

Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL, thanks for coming on and sharing your views. And I'm sorry for the circumstances with which we had to invite you on.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, how big a role did our toxic political environment and President Trump's own rhetoric play in this week's acts of violence. It's already a big topic of debate. Panelists next..

PITTSBURGH RESIDENT:

They heard loud noises at first. Then they heard the sound of the gunshots, smell gunpowder.

PITTSBURGH RESIDENT:

I'm totally stunned. I can't believe it. It's sickening.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. This week was a snapshot of our political era. Three moments of violence in a nation already on edge. Eleven people gunned down in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. The gunman reportedly yelling, "All Jews must die," as he opened fire.A fervent supporter of President Trump arrested for allegedly sending at least 14 pipe bombs to critics of the president. And earlier this week a man fatally shot two African-Americans at a Kentucky supermarket after failing to break into a black church potentially to shoot people up. According to one witness when another man approached him with a gun the gunman said, "Don't shoot me. I won't shoot you. Whites don't shoot whites."

Panelists here, Joshua Johnson host of 1A on NPR, Amy Walter, national editor of The Cook Political Report, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker and Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative website The Resurgent. The president last night, I had played for you the one soundbite he said about anti-Semitism. And he said that at the top of his remarks. And then he went right back into rally mode. Amy Walter, take a listen.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

How about the Democrats? Ladies and gentlemen, speaker Nancy Pelosi for the next two years. You have the haters and the continue to hate, these are foolish and very stupid people. So I can't call her Pocahontas anymore but I think I will anyway. Do you mind?

CHUCK TODD:

This moment with President Trump. He seems to be struggling with it. Or maybe not.

AMY WALTER:

This is the mode that he's been in since he was a candidate. But politics is never about nuance. Right? It's a zero-sum game when you are campaigning. It's us or them. It's binary. But when you become an elected official, especially when you become the president of the United States, the campaigning is supposed to stop for a while. And you go into the mode of unifying.This is a president who's never been interested in unifying. He has been interested in keeping his base engaged and enraged. And he's done an amazing job of that. But at any moment he believes that it's still in the middle of the campaign.The other thing I want to bring up just with all of this writ-large is, you know, look, our country has a long history of division. Who's an American, who's not. It seems to me the time that we're in right now what I feel like is no one is taking any responsibility for any of this. It's not the gun law, it's not our fault. Guns don't kill, people kill. Right? It's not our fault who posts on social media. Don't blame us on social media. We can't control that --

CHUCK TODD:

Blame Silicon Valley --

AMY WALTER:

Right, blame someone else. Oh it's not us, political leaders. People are doing these things without-- they just have history of mental instability. It's not about what we're saying to them. No one at all is raising their hand to say, "You know what, we played some role in this and we have to beautiful be to fix it." So it's always somebody else's fault. And when that's the world we live in it's never going to get better.

CHUCK TODD:

Kristen Welker, I know everybody when you go to the president he says, "What about this? What about this?" And I always say, "There's only one president."

KRISTEN WELKER:

That's right. There's only one president.

CHUCK TODD:

Do they accept this?

KRISTEN WELKER:

They don't. The response within the White House, and I spoke to a number of officials, is, "Look, everyone bears responsibility." And when you put that question to them squarely, "Look, he is the president. He has the loudest microphone. Doesn't he bear the largest responsibility?"They say, "Look, he has changed some of his rhetoric. He has struck a unifying note." But remember on Friday, Chuck, he was asked if he's going to tone down the rhetoric, he said no, he thinks he can actually tone it up. Now that was prior to yesterday's tragic shooting.But I think Amy really hits the nail on the head which is that White House officials say this, yes, he feels like he needs to have unifying notes. At the same time, we are ten days out from the midterms. And so he knows what he needs to say to fire up his base. And a lot of that rhetoric is divisive. That's the bottom line.

CHUCK TODD:

Erick Erickson, David French wrote this and said, "You know what, don't call this person crazy," referring to Cesar Sayoc. "He's an angry obsessive. And that there's a difference." And that the language did matter. And he writes this, "Not all listening ears are sober-minded or entirely rational. And when they hear a public figure they admire thunder against his political opponents with extreme language sometimes they'll take extreme action in response." This is David French putting some of this burden on the president.

ERICK ERICKSON:

Yeah, I think so. The problem I have with putting the burden on the president is how much do you put on him. I think a lot of people want to put a lot of the burden on him where it really does belong on the American people as a whole. The president is the American comments section of the White House.And he is the president who does this. We're not going to change this president. What can we do to change as a people if we're not going to change the president? I think Amy's right, no one wants to change. But the fact of the matter is, this is larger than the president. Society is crumbling around us. Politics is amplifying it. The president is amplifying it. But there's something going on in society as a whole that is translating into politics. The president's not the cause, he's a symptom.

CHUCK TODD:

He's the president, Joshua.

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

He is.

CHUCK TODD:

There's only one.

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

True. The president bears part of the responsibility, a significant part of the authority for the tone of the country. But I will say, I do have a fair amount of hope coming out of this. And I know it seems very bleak. But I find a lot of hope in the younger people. That montage you played in the first segment of the program, that girl with the cool fuchsia hair. She was one of the organizers of that gathering down on Squirrel Hill.She got on Facebook and helped bring people together to just come talk. I got a tweet from a guy who I think is in Wisconsin who says, "I combat the hate of the world by coaching high school debate. They learn to see both sides of an issue and how current events relate to real life." There was a poll that came out from Pew recently that found that the younger you are the better you are able online to discern factual statements from opinion statements.

CHUCK TODD:

Right, it's the older people.

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

Right. Exactly. It's the generation that has grown up--

CHUCK TODD:

It’s the Baby Boomers. Just blame them. JOSHUA JOHNSON:Right. I'm not blaming Baby Boomers.

CHUCK TODD:

And Gen X, frankly. I know these--

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

Well, but see I think it's the generations, and I'm just a generation removed, who have grown up with the advent of social media who hasn't been able to navigate it. Our kids have watched our example. Now the question is whether we will be bequeathing to them a nation that yet remains connected, whether this is the beginning of another cultural civil war.But I come out of this worried but also hopeful that there are people who are taking responsibility for this. Look what happened after Parkland, look what's happening now after Squirrel Hill. There is a generation ready to lead. But the question is what will they be leading with?

CHUCK TODD:

I'll tell you somebody who's not hopeful, Charlie Sykes, former talk radio host. He wrote this in the Weekly Standard, "The result, of course, is familiar and across the board refusal to engage in any meaningful self-examination or refusal to acknowledge the failures in your own tribe while insisting relentlessly on the malignancy of the other tribe. It's hatred, violence and apparently bottomless capacity for deception and trickery. So this will get worse." Sorry, Joshua. "We live in a combustible time and the president is the arsonist in chief. But he's not alone. This will get worse." Amy Walter, do you buy it?

AMY WALTER:

I would hope. I want to stick with Joshua.

CHUCK TODD:

You want to be on Team Joshua?

AMY WALTER:

I want to be on Team Joshua.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to be on Team Joshua too.

AMY WALTER:

But unfortunately when I get asked that question all the time, right. What is going to break this fever? Where do we go from here? And we know historically what breaks it usually is something really devastating. Right? We're brought together by events that are so overwhelming and so tragic, whether it's a war, depression, something like that. I don't want that to be the case for a unifying event that is so terrible. But right now I don't see that one person is going to be able to rise up, heal all this division and get us all on the same place.

CHUCK TODD:

Erick, I'm curious, so you've had to deal with conspiracy theories on your site. Sometimes people get mad at you thinking you help traffic these conspiracy theories. And I know that there are others that are -- but whose job is it to get rid of some of this stuff? Whose job is it to purge this stuff? Whose --

ERICK ERICKSON:

Well--

CHUCK TODD:

--job is it to educate Americans to facts?

ERICK ERICKSON:

--I think we all have an obligation here. Just let me address conservatives for a minute. Last week you had a lot of people pushing the maybe this bomber was--

CHUCK TODD:

Rush Limbaugh was pushing it, Erick.

ERICK ERICKSON:

--you had a lot of people who were pushing this theory. Now we know the facts.

(OVERTALK)

ERICK ERICKSON:

Now we know the facts. And yet there are still people pushing this. I got to tell you, that from my perspective when we know all the facts now about the guy last week and you're still pushing this theory, you're at war with the truth. And if you're a conservative who's at war with the truth, you're not really being conservative.

CHUCK TODD:

Rush Limbaugh was questioning the stickers on the van.

ERICK ERICKSON:

Across the board we saw a bunch of conservatives doing this. Now we know the facts. The question is do they continue? The problem is in this situation we have a lot of people who no longer trust the media. They don't trust institutions. They don't trust their neighbor. We've gone inward. Unfortunately I do think it's going to be an external threat that brings us together. There's nothing left in this country that unifies us as a whole. We all have our own different media outlets. We have our social media outlets. We have our people we engage with. And they're not our next-door neighbor anymore. Nobody has a sense of community.

CHUCK TODD:

Is 11 people dying not the tipping point?

KRISTEN WELKER:

Well--

CHUCK TODD:

That's sadly what you guys are all agreeing.

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

We had James Hutchins in the last year, a mass assassination attempt on Republicans.

KRISTEN WELKER:

--and in terms of the reaction to the pipe bombs, I mean you saw the president at one point got very frustrated, put the term bomb in quotes. Sort of expressing frustration at the fact that could this hurt turn out? And going to Twitter and saying, "Republicans get out and vote," he was concerned about the early voting. And I was struck by how much finger pointing there was, Chuck, on both sides. The president saying, "Look, this is Democrats dreaming this up." Democrats saying, "This is all the president's fault." To your point, there was no constructive discussion in the wake of that. Will there be after this tragedy?

CHUCK TODD:

Deflection instead of reflection anyway. When we come back, nine days until the midterms. We thought we knew where things were headed. But how will this week's events impact voting? Could they impact voting? The Democrat and the Republican whose job it is to get their folks elected join us next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Almost lost in the coverage of the pipe bombs and the synagogue massacre is the story we thought we'd be focusing on today, the midterm elections. Before the events of the last 72 hours, Republicans looked as if they had a solid hold on at least controlling the Senate while Democrats remained particularly optimistic about taking back the House. But now it's possible the landscape may be shifting beneath our feet. And joining me now are the two men charged with getting members of their own party elected, the chairs of the House campaign committees, Republican Steve Stivers of Ohio and Democrat Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico. And in the spirit of doing this together they both agreed to come on together. And I appreciate that. Gentlemen, welcome back to Meet the Press.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

Great to be on.

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

Good morning. Good to be with you today.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I want you both to react to a woman in Pittsburgh reacting to yesterday's tragic events. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

LINDA MARTIN:

We have to stop it. Our leaders have to stop it. It takes leadership to stop this. And our leaders are not stopping it. It's too much. We're a civilized society. We have to stay civilized.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Congressman Stivers, this is a woman who is I think connecting all the violence and the anger over the last, the last few days into one. What would you say to her about -- how would you respond to her saying we need leadership here, we need to tone this down? How would you respond to that woman?

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

Well, I agree with her. I think we all need to keep our dialogue civil. And frankly, I've not been shy about showing moral leadership. We are the only major party committee to cut off a candidate for their behavior. A candidate in New Jersey, Seth Grossman, who said bigoted things. We cut him off. We're the only major committee to show that kind of leadership. The Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee continues to support Leslie Coburn and Scott Wallace who have said bigoted and anti-Semitic things. And I think we need to -- we all bear some responsibility. And we need to try to clean up our act and try to bring more civility to the -- to our Congress and, frankly, to our dialogue.

CHUCK TODD:

Before I let Congressman Luján respond to those charges that you threw out there, let me ask you about the president. What role should he be playing here and has he played the proper role yet?

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

Well, you know, I sometimes disagree with the way the president treats people. I thought after the pipe bombs he initially set the right tone of unity and coming together. And I hope that he will continue--

CHUCK TODD:

You said initially.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

--on that path.

CHUCK TODD:

That sounds like you didn't think he continued.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

I said I hope he'll continue on that path.

CHUCK TODD:

Fair enough. Congressman Luján you heard Congressman Stivers there. He says that you have not -- you have continued to back people that he says have trafficked -- trafficked in hate speech. What say you?

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

Well, Chuck, first off, that's simply not true. But, look, with the concerns that, that woman had in Pittsburgh, look, another senseless act of hate has stricken yet another community and a place of worship in the United States of America. And the Congress has a responsibility to act to keep people safe. And it's not too much to expect leaders to bring us together, to unite our country, to find a way to reach out to us to our greater good and make sure that we rise above all of the accusations and the hate and the finger pointing, Chuck. So I am certainly hopeful that we'll see that out of the leader of the free world and that we'll see that out of each and every one of us individually as well as our colleagues.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

And I would like to say I'm proud of the way Ben responded when Steve Scalise was shot. I mean, we didn't blame Bernie Sanders --

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

-- when Steve Scalise was shot. We all came together. I think we can all come together now. It may take us about nine days for that to happen but I think we can all come together now.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I want to read to you something Dan Balz wrote --

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

It should start today though, Steve. It doesn't have to wait.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

It should start today.

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

We can start today.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

Well, I hope that, I hope that the finger pointing will stop and we can come together. I believe we need to come together, Ben.

CHUCK TODD:

I have to tell you, I actually think Dan Balz is the perfect person to insert into this because he writes the following, "This is a time of the politics of the apocalypse. An all or nothing view of the difference between winning and losing an election and of holding power or not holding it. Politicians say that it is time for the country to come together," as you two just did. "But on whose terms?” I think that is the issue. Congressman Luján, what does coming together mean to the Democrats? And then I'm going to ask the same question to Congressman Stivers. I'll start with you, Congressman Luján.

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

Well, look, it's making sure that we're able to reach across the aisle and we can work in a bipartisan basis. What Democrats have been clear about is if we're fortunate to win back the House, which I believe we will, that we work immediately on lowering prescription drug prices for the American people. That we work on a bipartisan infrastructure package to make investments across the country. And that we work together to clean up Washington D.C., to find ways to overturn Citizens United, to address gerrymandering, to improve and increased transparency and disclosure across the government to restore faith in our political process. Those are all areas where we can work together and reach across the aisle and find some common ground.

CHUCK TODD:

Congressman Stivers, what does it mean to you --

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

Well, I do think --

CHUCK TODD:

--coming together, on whose terms?

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

-- I do think we need to come together not on any one's terms but on America's terms. We're Americans first. I agree with Ben that infrastructure is something that we all need and we need to come together on. Lowering prescription drug costs. I'm not sure why Ben didn't talk about lowering health care costs. We need to come together on lowering health care costs. And I think we can do that. We need to listen to each other no matter who takes the majority. And I think we're going to hold the majority. But no matter who takes the majority --

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

-- it will be a razor-thin majority. And hopefully that will mean people will come together, Republicans and Democrats, to get things done. But I do worry about, you know, making sure that we do it in a way that we are focused on getting things done, not on just abolishing ICE --

CHUCK TODD:

Alright.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

-- or doing the things that are on the extreme.

CHUCK TODD:

Congressman Stivers, I want to ask you about an ad that you're running last week. One of the people targeted by the pipe bomb assailant was George Soros. Here's a part of an ad that you're running in Minnesota against the Democratic candidate there named Dan Feehan paid for by the NRS -- NRCC. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

NARRATOR:

Billionaire George Soros bankrolls the resistance and Dan Feehan. Feehan's employed by a Soros' funded liberal outfit in D.C. His campaign propped up by out of state Super PACs backed by Soros' millions. Look at who finances Dan Feehan's employer, radical George Soros, Wall Street's biggest banks. A crooked lobbyist tied to Pelosi. They pay Feehan's bills and fund his campaign.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Why do you target George Soros?

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

Well, you know, our independent expenditure arm is independent. But, you know, that ad is factual. And, you know, it also has nothing to do with calling for violence. That ad is a factual ad.

CHUCK TODD:

Congressman Luján, do you believe that their -- that attacking folks of big money, you guys do it too, I guess, with the Koch brothers and things like that, are we inadvertently putting, putting people, private citizens, in the crosshairs of politics that don't need to be?

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

Well, look, Steve, I think on all sides we need to evaluate how people are being targeted. Even this morning Kevin McCarthy pulled down a tweet where he was targeting George Soros as well as Tom Steyer and a few other leaders like Mr. Bloomberg across the country. I think that both committees should begin to look at how they operate into the future and what's going on even during the rest of this election cycle. But, look, we built a strategy at the DCCC surrounding our candidates talking about their personal stories and records of service. Men and women who have served the United States in the military, C.I.A. officers, F.B.I. agents. People who have committed them -- their selves to keeping our country safe. And we're going to continue to run ads that are touting --

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

-- their positive stories where our candidates are connecting with the American people.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you both --

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

Ben, Ben your ads in Colorado and in Washington have been called sleazy and personal attacks. I mean, I admit it happens on both sides. We probably both need --

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

Steve --

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

-- to figure out how to clean things up. But it’s -- that's a fact --

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

Steve, we’re --

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

--and that's not us. That's the media calling it that.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you --

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

Steve, you’re running, we’re running, well hold on, Chuck on that.

CHUCK TODD:

Go ahead.

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

Steve, you've also been running racist ads in New York, in Penn -- in Cincinnati, Ohio and out in California. You can do something to pull those down. And I just think on all sides that everyone should monitor the tone here. Again, no more finger pointing, Steve.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

I --

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

Let's make sure that we look within ourselves and we find the greater good there, Chuck.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

I agree with you, Ben. But let's, let’s both look within ourselves.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Steve Stivers, Ben--

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

Amen to that.

CHUCK TODD:

-- Ray Luján, Congressman Stivers, I fear you're right. It may be nine days before everybody is willing to, to sort of calm things down. But let's hope there's a little more calm before the next nine days.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

I hope so.

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

It doesn't have to wait, Chuck.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

I hope so.

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

We can start today.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

You should, Ben.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, I will let you both go there --

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

We should, Steve. We should.

CHUCK TODD:

I hope --

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

We should.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

We both should.

CHUCK TODD:

I hope everybody is safe in the campaign trail over the next nine days.

REP. STEVE STIVERS:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Gentleman, thank you both for coming on. When we come back --

REP. BEN RAY LUJÁN:

Thank you as well, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

-- a lot more people are voting early this year. So what does that tell us about where the vote on election day may be headed?

ANNOUNCER:

Meet the Press data download brought to you by Pfizer.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, data download time. We are nine days out from election day and there is no question voters are tuned in. Between voter enthusiasm and early voting it's quickly becoming clear this is going to be a blockbuster midterm in terms of voter turnout. Our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed 65% of respondents telling us that they were highly interested in this election. It's the highest number in our poll since 2006 for a midterm election cycle. But we have more than just polling to help us understand just how engaged this electorate is. We have actual voters. According to data from TargetSmart, as of two weeks out from election day over 8.1 million Americans had already voted early. Believe it or not, that outpaces 2016, a presidential election year, at 7.9 million two weeks out. But how does this stack up to the last midterm election in 2014? Well, it blows the doors off in some battleground states. In Nevada, early voting is up 134,000 votes compared to this point in 2014. In Arizona it's up 308,000 votes. Texas up nearly a million. Tennessee, Georgia and Florida also up significantly. Of course it's true that more people participate in early voting every election cycle just out of convenience. But the rate at which some of these battleground states are outpacing 2014 is notable. And while it's too early to know which party definitely benefits from this surge that we've seen so far, for what it's worth, in the past high turnouts usually are better for the party out of power. At a minimum, this is what an engaged electorate looks like. No more apathy talk. When we come back, end game and what voters told me these last two weeks as we head towards election day.

ANNOUNCER:

Coming up, end game brought to you by Boeing. Continuing our mission to connect, protect, explore and inspire.

ANNOUNCER:

End game, brought to you by Boeing. Continuing our mission to connect, protect, explore and inspire.

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with end game, I spent the last two weeks traveling across the country's newest, biggest electoral battleground, the Sun Belt. We traveled first to Phoenix where Arizonans are getting used to their new reality as a swing state. Voters don't particularly like it right now.

Been to Las Vegas where you see the Culinary Union is hoping Latinos could help flip a U.S. Senate seat there. Tampa where environmental concerns seem to cross the political divide. And finally to Dallas where suburban Republicans may be the swing vote. Here's just some of what I heard from voters in those four states.

MATT EVANS:

I know that the Supreme Court nomination process was something that impacted my decision making.

CARRIE WOLFAEB:

Education is important thing for us now to focus on.

BOB PADRON:

Well, you have fake news because there's a lot of people that they don't cover the things that have to be covered.

JAMES HARRIS:

Wages don't increase along with the cost of living.

BILL BROWER:

I would say clean up the environment, take care of this red tide, I’m a fishermen and it's destroyed my hobby and my lifelong pursuit.

CHUCK TODD:

You've been on the water--

KAREN HUGHART:

My whole life.

CHUCK TODD:

--for years.

KAREN HUGHART:

Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

CHUCK TODD:

And you've never seen a red tide--

(OVERTALK)

KAREN HUGHART:

Not like this.

CHUCK TODD:

--like this. Have you been always politically active or this year more so than others?

DORA ARIZMENDI:

No this year is more than others.

CHUCK TODD:

Why?

DORA ARIZMENDI:

Two years ago I became a U.S. citizen.

CHUCK TODD:

Congratulations.

DORA ARIZMENDI:

Thank you. So I think it's time for me to know who the candidates and their belief.

CRISTINA TZINTZUN:

You don't win in Texas unless you're talking to brown and black voters. And you're talking to them at their doorsteps in their communities and--

(OVERTALK)

FEMALE VOICE #8:

--their churches. I think we need to see it more.

MATT EVANS:

Well, I support President Trump's message and his agenda. And that's largely why I came out today.

CHUCK TODD:

If you could send a message with your vote, what's that message?

JENNIFER DOBIES:

Things need to change.

AARON VIX:

Cut all the BS out of everything.

BILL BROWER:

Drain that swamp.

LENORE ROBERTSON:

Get it together.

KAREN HUGHART:

We are one that says it's time to put our politics aside, step up to the plate, pull up your pants and let's get to work and get this solved.

CHUCK TODD:

Well.

AMY WALTER:

Here we go.

CHUCK TODD:

There you go. Here we go. The voters. I will tell you this, and look, I don't know, Amy, what the 72 hours are going to impact this. But I can tell you this, all those voters I talked to, they were ready to vote but not optimistically. They were ready to vote. They were gung-ho. And I think this is going to have an impact.

AMY WALTER:

It's voting out of anger, not out of hope. Which is traditional in midterms. Right? What gets people out to vote is that they're frustrated with the party that's in power. What I find fascinating, Chuck, about this year was when we started talking about this, lo these many months ago, what the battle for the House was going to look like, we said, "The real challenge for Democrats is that they have a structural problem."

Right? That between gerrymandering and partisanship there just aren't enough seats in play for them. And they have a problem with drop-off, right, that their most loyal voters, younger voters, voters of color, aren't going to show up.

Well, now here we are nine days from the election and it's Republicans who have a structural problem. You pointed it out, it's suburban voters that used to be reliably Republican. President Trump is toxic with them. And now the real question is are those drop-off voters, especially Latino voters and younger voters going to show up? That could turn a good night for Democrats into a blowout for Democrats.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm curious what you guys think of the amped up rhetoric, is popping up in debates. I want to play an exchange of Missouri Senate between Josh Hawley and Claire McCaskill and then an exchange between Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum, the two candidates running for governor in Florida. Take a look at the heat from both. Take a listen.

JOSH HAWLEY:

When you hear leaders of the Democrat Party like Hillary Clinton saying that you can't be civil with people that you disagree with, when you have Eric Holder, another Democrat leader saying that the new Democrat Party kicks people who they disagree with. I am disappointed that the Democrat Party seems to have embraced this.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL:

Ronald Reagan, I may have disagreed with him on a few things. But he worked hard to unite this country. You never would have heard him using some of the rhetoric that our president uses now.

ANDREW GILLUM:

How am I supposed to know every single statement somebody makes?

RON DESANTIS:

I'm not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I'm simply saying the racists believe he's a racist.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, there you go. I found what's interesting there, Kristen Welker, is the different tone. So you have Claire McCaskill invoking Ronald Reagan in a red leaning state in Missouri. But Andrew Gillum feeling much more comfortable in a purple state going harder at his Republican opponent.

KRISTEN WELKER:

And addressing the issue of race head on. It is--

CHUCK TODD:

You never would've heard Barack Obama go back at somebody--

KRISTEN WELKER:

Never.

CHUCK TODD:

--that way in '08. Very interesting.

KRISTEN WELKER:

It's very interesting. It's a very different tactic. And I think it is reflective of this moment right now. And I've been on the campaign trail this week, Chuck. And I can tell you that people are fired up. And the president is going back to what he sees as the basics.

What is he talking about to fire up his voters? He's talking about the caravan. He's stoking fears over immigration again. We expect him to give a speech sometime this week in which he's going to announce a crackdown on those migrants who are heading toward the U.S. He sees that as a way to get out the base. Anger, fear.

CHUCK TODD:

Erick, is closing with immigration the way the president should close?

ERICK ERICKSON:

I think for a large segment of the Republicans, yes. The problem for the Republicans though is the suburbs. I get a lot of people who call my talk-radio show who get very upset with me when I tell them the House is probably gone for the GOP. The problem for the GOP is that their voters in the suburbs aren't voting for them. All of the battlegrounds--

CHUCK TODD:

You think they're voting on Trump?

ERICK ERICKSON:

I think a lot of them are. Republican women are more and more just enough of them moving away from the president. They may not vote Democrat. But they won't necessarily show up. That's the problem. The Senate's probably safe for the GOP but these Congressional districts where Republicans have been voting Republican they're not now.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, Barack Obama, somebody lit a fuse under him this weekend. Let me play an excerpt of that from Michigan.

BARACK OBAMA:

What we have not seen before in our public life (UNINTEL) is politicians just blatantly--

CROWD:

Lying.

BARACK OBAMA:

Repeatedly--

CROWD:

Lying.

BARACK OBAMA:

--broadly--

CROWD:

Lying.

BARACK OBAMA:

--shamelessly--

CROWD:

Lying.

BARACK OBAMA:

--lying.

CHUCK TODD:

Joshua, last week I said on here, I was like, "Where is the leader of the Democratic Party? Obviously not in power. The de facto leader is President Obama." And he'd been sort of hesitant to be that campaigner. And then boom.

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

Well, we're talking about civility. And all of a sudden the Reverend Doctor Barack Obama shows up and got a sermon on how we ought to treat one another. It's interesting how this election has become more about civility. Even those two clips you played in the Senate debate and the gubernatorial debate are about the tone of this country. It's kind of what--

CHUCK TODD:

So not having a civil--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

--over civility.

JOSHUA JOHNSON:

Right they were talking about civility in a very-- it's kind of meta. It's funny how that works. But I think that there is a real longing among some Democrats for the days of Barack Obama when the politics were a little more civil. He is the strongest campaigner they have. I'm still skeptical though if that is enough to drive people to the polls.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm convinced there are people that just want the tone of both Reagan and Obama back. But I will leave it there. That's all for today. Thanks for watching. We'll be back next week because if it's Sunday it's Meet the Press.