Feedback
Meet the Press

Meet the Press Transcript - May 31, 2015

MEET THE PRESS - MAY 31, 2015

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, our 2016 campaign special. The threat to Hillary. Is it time to take this man more seriously?

BERNIE SANDERS:

We are going to build a movement of millions of Americans.

CHUCK TODD:

Why Bernie Sanders may be a much bigger threat than anyone imagines. He joins me exclusively. Then the Republican race. I'll be joined by Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

RICK SANTORUM:

I am running for president of the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

Plus the story that has stunned official Washington, those bombshell charges against the former speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert. And finally, Patriot Games, the big fight in Washington this Sunday over your personal information.

I'm Chuck Todd, and joining me for insight and analysis on this busy Sunday morning are MSNBC's Chris Matthews, former White House political director under President George W. Bush, Sara Fagen, The Cook Political Report's Amy Walter, and from Politico, Manu Raju. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

CHUCK TODD:

Good morning. But we start with some sad news from overnight. Beau Biden, Former Attorney General of Delaware and eldest son of Vice President Joe Biden, has succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 46. He was first diagnosed with the illness in August of 2013 and received treatment that was initially successful. However, the cancer recurred, and this month he was admitted to a hospital right here near Washington.

Many viewers will remember this photo from 1973. It shows a bedridden Beau, then aged three, watching his dad being sworn in as a U.S. Senator, from his hospital bed, after a tragic car crash that killed Beau's one year old sister Amy and his mother, Neilla. Here is Beau remembering that event before introducing his father at the 2008 Democratic Convention.

BEAU BIDEN:

One of my earliest memories was being in that hospital, my dad always at our side. We, my brother and I, not the Senate, were all that he cared about.

CHUCK TODD:

In a statement released Saturday night, Vice President Biden paid tribute to his son. In the words of the Biden family, "Beau Biden was quite simply the finest man any of us have ever known." Beau is survived by his wife, Hallie and their two children Natalie and Hunter, ages nine and 11. Your heart just aches for the entire Biden family this morning.

Meanwhile, overseas, there was a bit of a scare for Secretary of State John Kerry this morning after he was involved in a bicycling accident in the French Alps near the Swiss border. He had to be air-lifted to a hospital in Geneva, where doctors found that he had broken his leg, on his thigh bone, actually. He'll return to Boston later today for further treatment.

This comes at a hugely sensitive time for Secretary Kerry. He was there in Europe making a final push to secure a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of the deadline at the end of June. In fact, he had just met with the Iranian foreign minister in the last 24 hours.

And now we move to the story that has stunned official Washington, the indictment of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert over allegations that he paid millions of dollars to cover up sexual misconduct with a male student when he was a high school teacher in Illinois. For the latest, I'm joined by our justice correspondent Pete Williams. And Pete, what more do we know this morning? And just lay out what we do know now.

PETE WILLIAMS:

Well, this is not one of these cases where the government is still investigating. They've done their investigating. They've made their case. Couple of things to keep in mind. Number one, the government doesn't claim that Mr. Hastert's payment of this money was illegal. And he's not charged with this whatever happened 30 years ago. That is, one, not anything the federal government could bring a charge on. And two, it's well beyond the statute of limitations in the state.

What the federal government says is the violation here is that, once the bank said, "What are you doing with all these money," he started reducing the payments to come just under the reporting threshold, thereby helping the banks evade the credit reporting requirements. And secondly, when the F.B.I. came knocking on his door, he said that he wasn't paying the money to anybody, he was keeping it for himself. That's what the federal crime is.

So the other thing is the federal government says they're not charging Individual A, which we believe to have been a former student, with extortion for two reasons. One is you have to have a victim, and Mr. Hastert has never claimed that he was extorted. And secondly, the federal officials I've talked to say that they're satisfied that this was, in essence, a sort of cooperative agreement that they had, that there was an element of agreement here, not just flat-out shakedown.

CHUCK TODD:

So why is this illegal?

PETE WILLIAMS:

Well, because of the-- it is his own money.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

PETE WILLIAMS:

But because of this technical violation of the credit reporting rules. And secondly, the lie to the F.B.I.. So remember, he's not charged with what he did 30 years ago to this victim, he's charged with something he did more recently.

CHUCK TODD:

When will we see him in court?

PETE WILLIAMS:

Well, we don't know for sure. But normally you'd have to be brought before a federal magistrate. You'd have the right, within 48 hours. That hasn't happened. Obviously, there's a lot of agreement that's gone on here between his lawyers and the prosecutors. But we suspect some time this week.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Pete Williams, Pete, with the latest on this I know you are following it, thanks very much.

PETE WILLIAMS:

You bet.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm turning now to Tom Davis, former Congressman from Virginia, Republican. In some ways, you were one of the key lieutenants back during the Hastert tenure with Congress. I just have to get your initial reaction here. Was there even a whiff of this? I mean Dennis Hastert became speaker of the House because of scandal that impacted Newt Gingrich, that impacted Bob Livingston, both in some ways associated with sex scandals. Was there a whiff of this with Dennis Hastert?

TOM DAVIS:

Not a whiff. You know, behind closed doors, and a lot of things happen behind closed doors, your caucuses and strategy. Denny Hastert never got close to the line. He would always bring the conversation back. At least as in conducting himself in office, he appeared to be a pillar of integrity.

CHUCK TODD:

Explain how shocked you are.

TOM DAVIS:

You could have knocked me over with a feather. And other members who served with him and staffers are shocked, as well. We had just no clue to this as we looked at it.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, I'm thinking about the impact this has on the overall image of Congress. It's already poor with the public. But our own Kevin Tibbles went around and talked with some folks in Yorkville at a diner. And I wanted to play this one reaction from a Yorkville resident. This is in Dennis Hastert's home town. Because I think it gets to the core of how I think the public is reacting to the story. Take a listen.

YORKVILLE RESIDENT:

Not surprised one bit. Just seems to be the norm now with politicians running wild with sex scandals, money scandals, just basic thievery overall.

CHUCK TODD:

You and I had this conversation earlier. I said, "God, you know, people tell me the whole place is full of crooks and creeps. And I say, 'No, no, no, no. It's a few bad apples.'" But Dennis Hastert, it's hard to now make the case that it's just a few bad apples.

TOM DAVIS:

I mean, Denny Hastert was a pillar of integrity. He was the guidepost, I think, for us. That's why he was selected there. And from everything I can tell, that's the way he conducted himself in office. But this isn't going to help the reputation of Congress and our politicians in general. And certainly Illinois has had its problems.

CHUCK TODD:

No, I know Illinois has. I guess the question I have is, you know, why is it that we're seeing-- it feels like we see more of this? Do you feel like it's something in the water? Is it just something about the way Congress makes people think they're indestructible to bad behavior? Do you have a theory?

TOM DAVIS:

Communications is ubiquitous today. It's just very hard. You have 24/7 news cycles. People leaking, tweeting. There are very few secrets. And people looking at getting into politics, you have to look at your own life and say, "What's going to come out at this point?" Everything is off limits. In the old days, a lot of this stuff, nobody ever talked about it.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. Okay.

TOM DAVIS:

Today it's news.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Tom Davis, appreciate your time with us.

TOM DAVIS:

Appreciate it.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm gonna go to the panel over here, Chris Matthews, Sara Fagen, Amy Walter, Manu. Chris, lemme start with you. You've been around this town a long time. When you got to this town, you wanted to hold members of Congress up in high esteem. I can't make the case anymore to say, "Mama, I want your kids to grow up to be politicians."

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Well, lookit, the number's 9 percent approval rating. And I think a big part of this is, if Congress had gotten something done over the last 40 or 50 years, I mean since the Civil Rights Act and The Voting Rights Act of '64 and '65, what have they really done? And I think people are willing to forgive a little bit of misbehavior on the side, although this certain goes beyond that. This is probably criminal at some point. But I think they want to see you do something, then we'll forgive. They may forgive a Babe Ruth for drinking too much if he's hit 60 home runs.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

But where are the 60 home runs? And I want to say one thing. Just like the assumption in the movies has always been Congressmen people are all rich, they all don’t have problems. remember that group of about 20 liberals, Barbara Boxer, Leon Panetta, George Miller. They were all married people with solid marriages. They commuted across the country. And yet, they hung together, they hung together, so they could keep everything together. They were all good people.

So there's a lot of really good, straight arrow members of Congress who are very loyal to their families and their wives and husbands. It's a very clean operation, even prudish operation, most of it. But, you know, these cases like this pop up. I'll go with the old one, I think it's better than it looks.

CHUCK TODD:

I know it is, too. But I understand why the public has--

SARA FAGEN:

Well, it creates a vicious cycle for the institution of Congress, which is that more and more of these scandals come out, and then fewer and fewer really great quality candidates want to run for office.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SARA FAGEN:

And that's really what we're seeing, I think, in public office today, is, you know, being a member of Congress is no longer honorable in most parts of the country. Which is sad.

CHUCK TODD:

It is. And then, of course, we'll have a recurring cycle. Amy and Manu, I'm going to get to one thing about this Hastert thing that we haven't talked about. How did he become so wealthy? And how does a guy who had a net worth of less than half a million dollars when he got into Congress end up with a net worth of nearly $12 million? I've had this question a lot. Like, how did he get so much money that he could pay out a million and a half dollars.

(OVERTALK)

MANU RAJU:

I think it exposes unseemly side of Congress, the revolving door. What Denny Hastert did is that he went to K Street, he went downtown), became a rainmaker.

CHUCK TODD:

He cashed in.

MANU RAJU:

And he quietly made tons of money, which became central to this case. It shows how members use their influence in Congress to later cash in.

AMY WALTER:

Can I just make one other point to move it away from politics for one second.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

AMY WALTER:

Which is, to me, the sadder part of this story is we've spent a whole lot of time talking about how bad Congress is, we've talked a lot about how bad the Bill Cosby case was. We've spent a lot of time talking about those men. We don't spend enough time talking about the victims.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

AMY WALTER:

And I think that's really where we have to spend a little more time, and a little less time about--

CHUCK TODD:

And this victim has tried very hard, it sounds like it doesn't want to be-- if you want to be out there, you would have been out there. This person clearly doesn't want to be out there.

AMY WALTER:

That's right.

CHUCK TODD:

And we don't know the details of the case.

AMY WALTER:

We don't know the whole story about this. But we really do, I think we really love to focus on -how bad Congress is, how bad this person is. If we just spent a little more time talking about the people who are affected.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

But some of the victims, obviously there's the primary victim here.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

But a lot of victims are these good Congress people, who lead good lives.

AMY WALTER:

Right.

SARA FAGEN:

Yes.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

And now they're all splashed with this

CHUCK TODD:

Yes, they're also victims, too.

AMY WALTER:

They're victims.

CHUCK TODD:

You're absolutely right. All right. Coming up, our 2016 Campaign Special, as we promised at the top. And in this corner, Bernie Sanders for the Democrats, in that corner, Rick Santorum, John Kasich, for a crowded field of Republicans, why this campaign season is unlike any we've ever seen.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

We know our viewers lead busy lives, even on Sundays. And sometimes you can't be in front of the T.V. to see Meet the Press live. No problem. If you're at church, having brunch, or just well sleeping late, just remember we're always available On Demand, or you can record the show on your DVR. In fact, make us a season pass right now. So even if it's not Sunday, it's still Meet the Press. Anyway, when we come back, Bernie Sanders, why he's probably a bigger threat to HIllary Clinton than you might think.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

And we are back. If you believe some people, the race for the Democrat nomination: Over. Hillary Clinton has it won. But as our colleague, Tom Brokaw, likes to say, there's always the theory of UFOs, Unforeseen Occurrences. Yesterday, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley announced his candidacy. And before him came Bernie Sanders of Vermont. And he just might be the kind of UFO we've seen in the past.

BERNIE SANDERS:

We are going to build a movement of millions of Americans--

CHUCK TODD:

Could a rumpled, 73 year old self-described socialist become Hillary Clinton's most dangerous political opponent. He may not be a package candidate, but Bernie Sanders has a powerful weapon. He can puncture Clinton's aura of inevitability simply by beating expectations.

EUGENE MCCARTHY:

I don't look upon this campaign principally as one in which you are trying to pick up delegates.

CHUCK TODD:

In 1968, Eugene McCarthy mobilized a volunteer army of students who flooded into New Hampshire, shaving their beards to get "Clean for Gene." McCarthy's surprise second place finish with 42% of the vote was a stunning repudiation of President Lyndon Johnson and his Vietnam policy.

SENATOR MCCARTHY:

It changes the political picture in America for 1968.

CHUCK TODD:

McCarthy's upset threw then-Senator Bobby Kennedy into the Democratic race. And it pushed Johnson out. In 1984, it was little-known Senator Gary Hart who beat expectations and finished second in Iowa to then go onto New Hampshire and stun Walter Mondale, beating him by ten points.

TOM BROKAW:

Boy, did New Hampshire come up with a surprising finish tonight.

CHUCK TODD:

Hart's candidacy later collapsed. But his victory exposed weakness in Mondale. In November, Ronald Reagan carried 49 of 50 states. In 2012, Mitt Romney beat Rick Santorum. But he never recovered from Santorum's bruising. Now a populace insurgent is poised to become the latest protest vehicle, pushing Hillary Clinton to the left and potentially exposing vulnerabilities that could help Republicans in the fall.

CHUCK TODD:

And the Democratic Presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, joins me now. Senator Sanders, welcome back to Meet the Press. And let me start with an issue you're going to be dealing with in a few hours. I know you're going to be flying back from Minneapolis to Washington for this special Senate session. The NSA, the Patriot Act, section 215, I assume you're in support of the U.S.A. Freedom Act. Are you? Is that where you're going to be voting?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

I may well be voting for it. It doesn't go as far as I would like it to go. I voted against the original Patriot Act. I voted against reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Look, we have got to be vigorous in fighting terrorism and protecting the American people. But we have to do it in a way that protects the constitutional rights of the American people.

And I'm very, very worried about the invasion of privacy rights that we're seeing not only from the N.S.A. and the government but from corporate America, as well. We're losing our privacy rights. It's a huge issue.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, and the government is going to be asking corporate America to keep this data under the U.S.A. Freedom Act. You're comfortable with that?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

No, I'm not. But we have to look at the best of bad situations. The question is whether the N.S.A. keeps it, the question is whether it is transferred to the phone companies, who, by the way, already keep records for an extended period of time.

CHUCK TODD:

You've served under two Democratic presidents, in Congress, and the two Democrats are Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Which one has been a better progressive champion, in your view?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, neither one of them have gone as far as I would have liked them to go. And that's one of the reasons why we're seeing the disappearance of the middle class in this country and a huge increase in wealth inequality. That is why we are not dealing with the fact that we have 45 million people living in poverty, and why we're still the only major country on Earth that doesn't guarantee health care for all people.

Like, I have a lot of respect for President Obama. I consider him a friend. I disagree with him on issues like the TPP or the extension of tax breaks that Bush initiated. But I think history will judge a President Obama a lot better than many other contemporaries, given the fact that he came into office at a time when this country was in terrible, terrible shape.

CHUCK TODD:

You singled out President Obama for praise but not President Clinton. Why?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well, look, I think Bill Clinton did a very good job, as well. I disagree with him strongly on NAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China. I'm a strong opponent of these disastrous trade agreements which have cost us millions of decent paying jobs. I'm helping to lead the opposition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

I also very strongly disagreed with President Clinton on the deregulation of Wall Street. I opposed that strenuously. And I think the results prove that, when you allow the greed and recklessness of Wall Street to go unchecked, you're going to end up where we are today, and where we were eight years ago.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting, when you watch your chief primary opponent right now, Secretary Hillary Clinton, on some key issues, she has changed her position to a more progressive view on same-sex marriage, on immigrantion, over the last ten years, on NAFTA, on trade, on the Iraq War, on Cuba. She has moved from a position, basically, in disagreement with you, to a position that comes closer to your view. So I guess is, do you take her at her word? And do you think that rhetorically, that's enough?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Well look, I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I have enormous respect for her, and I like her. And what I hope, Chuck, is that the media will allow us to have a serious debate in this campaign on the enormous issues facing the American people, which is why, for the last 40 years, our middle class has been disappearing, why 99% of all new income generated today is going to the top 1% and why we have this grotesque level of income and wealth inequality.

I have been, I know a lot of people criticize me. In Vermont they say, "Oh Bernie, you've been saying the same thing for 30 years." Well, it's kind of true. And maybe it's a bad ajada . But I have been there. I think we need a political revolution in this country. I think we need to take on the greed of the billionaire class, a disastrous campaign finance system.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you trust these changes that Hillary Clinton has made? Or do you think she's been doing it just for primary politics?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

I think that's for the American people to decide. I know where I have been on trade agreements. I know where I've been on Wall Street. I know where I've been on the Keystone Pipeline. And Secretary Clinton will obviously explain her position to the American people.

CHUCK TODD:

This week you found out what it's like to become a nationally recognized candidate for potentially, and potentially, a threat to somebody. A leaking of an essay you wrote in the '70s from Alternative Weekly, your campaign described it as satire. I'll be honest with you, Senator Sanders, it's uncomfortable to read. The only excerpt I'm going to put up is, you wrote this in February of '72, was sort of a fantasy of men and women, you said, "A woman enjoys intercourse with her man as she fantasizes being raped by three men simultaneously." Your campaign described it as satire. Can you explain this essay?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Sure. Look, this is a piece of fiction that I wrote in 1972, I think. That was 43 years ago. It was very poorly written. And if you read it, what it was dealing with gender stereotypes, why some men like to oppress women, why other women like to be submissive. You know, something like 50 Shades of Gray, very poorly written 43 years ago.

What I'm focusing on right now are the issues impacting the American people today. And that's what I will continue to focus on. And what I think the American people want to hear. And by the way, on broader issues, what I think when we talk about issues, Chuck, we need a lot more debates in this campaign. I hope very much that we can begin with the Democratic candidates at least as early as July, and also Republicans in those debates, as well.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, there you go. Senator Sanders calling for July debates. We will go to secretary Clinton. We're ready to host them right here on Meet the Press. Senator Sanders, stay safe on the trail. We'll see you back in Washington.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Stick around. Our 2016 Campaign Special continues. Two candidates in the very crowded Republican field, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Governor John Kasich of Ohio.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

And we're back with the race for the White House. So how crowded is the Republican field? Well, this past week, two people jumped into the race: George Pataki and Rick Santorum. This coming week, two more expected to join in, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Add to that the six who had already officially announced, and you can see the crowd is building here.

But wait, there's more. There are six others out there who are either sure to run, or thinking of running, or who perhaps are just toying with the press. And by the way, we have some new numbers on the race. From the latest Des Moines Register Bloomberg poll of Iowa caucus goers in that important first state of Iowa, Scott Walker topsthe field with 17%. The next four: Rand Paul, Ben Carson in double digits, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee just below that, bunched together, followed by Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum, the winner of the caucuses in '12.

The rest of the field trails even further behind. Ted Cruz is leading the second tier there at five. In a moment, I'll talk to John Kasich who's down at just 2% in this Iowa poll. But first up is former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the last man standing against Mitt Romney in 2012. Senator Santorum, welcome back to Meet the Press.

FMR. SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I've got to start with you're at 6% in a poll of Iowa caucus goers in a state that you won four years ago. How do you not look at that and say, "Geez, I probably have 100% name ID with the likely Iowa caucus goers, and I'm in single digits." Are you concerned that you don't have the same support or strength of support that you did four years ago?

FMR. SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:

Well, you know, all I can say is that we have a tremendous group of volunteers there. In fact, we signed up 100 volunteers just this week online, which brings our total to well over 500 across the state. I didn't announce until after that poll. And we've been sort of not in front of the T.V. for a long time, three years, where I was off providing for my family and making money to send the kids to college. So we just announced this week, and we'll wait and see how those polls look as the months go on.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to go to foreign policy. You're very much wanting to see no changes to the Patriot Act at all. If you see the changes that are made with this U.S.A. Freedom Act that's likely to be the new law of the land where the tech companies hold this data, do you think that that is going to somehow make us less safe?

FMR. SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:

Look, I think the Patriot Act has worked very well. I'm not aware of any abuses of the Patriot Act that cause any undue fear about invasion of privacy. But at this point, it's likely that what the House passed is really the version that has viability. And I would vote for it if I was in the U.S. Senate. As president, I would sign it. So I'm encouraging everyone to let that bill become law. And we can move forward from there and judge to whether that provides us sufficient security going forward.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to get to a few other issues here. It's short, but we're going to have you back a lot. I think it's necessary with so many candidates in this race. But Mike Huckabee said this week that the Supreme Court can't overrule the other two branches of government. And he has suggested that, if the court rules that the 14th amendment requires states to recognize same-sex marriage, that the states should act to disregard the ruling. As you know, this ruling's going to come down in perhaps three or four weeks. Could happen as early as next week. Do you agree with Mike Huckabee on that one?

FMR. SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:

Well, I think the Supreme Court has, as an equal branch of government, the ability to overrule Congress and the president. They do it all the time. But I also feel it's the role of the Congress and the president to push back. I mean I think it's important that they are understood as equal branches of government.

And I've done it before. I mean we had a situation when I was in the Senator where the Supreme Court ruled a bill unconstitutional, and we went back and passed another bill almost identical, made the case that the court got it wrong, and passed it. And the court reversed its opinion. So I think it's important to understand that the Supreme Court doesn't have the final word. It has its word. Its word has validity. But it's important for Congress and the president, frankly, to push back when the Supreme Court gets it wrong.

CHUCK TODD:

So will you accept the Supreme Court ruling, if they legalize same-sex marriage for the entire country, do you accept that ruling or do you fight it?

FMR. SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:

Well, of course I'd fight it. Roe versus Wade was decided 30 some years ago, and I continue to fight that, because I think the court got it wrong. And I think if the court decides this case in error, I will continue to fight, as we have on the issue of life. And that's the role of the citizenry. We're not bound by what nine people say in perpetuity. We have an obligation and a right in a free society to push back and get our Congress and our president and rally the American public to overturn what the court wants to do

CHUCK TODD:

But you're not advocating what Mike Huckabee is advocating in having states ignore the law, ignore the ruling?

FMR. SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:

I don't advocate civil disobedience. I do advocate the role of an informed citizen to try to overturn when a court makes a mistake and gets an issue wrong.

CHUCK TODD:

Obviously, you're known more as an economic populist, really, than any other Republican in this field. And it's interesting to me, while a majority of the country favors a candidate who supports, say, raising taxes on the wealthy or raising the minimum wage, the Republican Party itself isn't there. Do you worry that you're out of step with the Republican primary voters, even if you're in step with general election voters?

FMR. SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:

I just worry about doing what's best for America. And the America workers who have been really left behind by both political parties, but particularly by this administration. The wealth gap, as Bernie Sanders says, has risen. It's not like we've been passing a whole bunch of conservative policies here in the last six years.

I mean the bottom line is that these liberal policies end up helping those who have resources. But if you're an investor, if you're someone who's an owner, you've done very, very well under President Obama. If you're someone who's a worker, you've seen wages flat line. And so what does this president want to do, and even Bernie Sanders, they want to bring in more people to this country who are primarily unskilled and have them compete so we can keep those wages down. And for one reason the Democrats want to do that, because they believe it's politically good for them, and they can win more elections. That is not in the interest of the American public. And so--

CHUCK TODD:

You think that the Democrats are for more immigration simply for politics, for votes, they're looking for votes?

FMR. SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:

Well, if you go back and look at the history of the Democratic Party, Chuck, they have not been the party of pro-immigration. I mean you can go back to the latest immigration report. Barbara Jordan, not a rock rib conservative, said that our immigration policy should be in the national interest, and we should have controls on immigration because of that. We have to look at the interest of American workers.

And for decades, Democrats looked at the interest of the American workers until it became important for them to be on this other side because of the politics of it. No one is standing for American workers, unfortunately, in either party. Big Business wants cheap labor costs. Hillary Clinton wants more votes. I want to make sure that the American worker has an opportunity to see their wages rise and their incomes increase.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Rick Santorum, I'm going to leave it there. It's going to be a busy time on the campaign trail. I expect to check in with you again. Stay safe on the trail.

FMR. SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

You've got it. We're back in a moment with another Republican hopeful, or potential hopeful, John Kasich. And later, that big debate over your privacy.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Staying with the battle for the Republican presidential nomination, joined by former governor of Ohio, John Kasich, who is now expected to formally enter the presidential race later this summer. Governor Kasich, welcome back to Meet the Press. Am I characterizing that directly?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

I'm not former, I'm still governor.

CHUCK TODD:

You're still governor.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Hey listen, before you get into the questions, we were talking early in this show about the quality of people in public life. Let me just say that I don't always agree with them, but, you know, Joe Biden is a special guy. And you think about this. He lost a wife, a daughter, and now a son, and he continues to serve.

So when we start thinking about the quality of people, Joe Biden, whether you agree with him or not, he's a real guy. He's a real standup guy. And I'm going to pray for him, because he's had a lifetime of tears. And God bless you, Joe.

CHUCK TODD:

I couldn't say it better myself, Governor Kasich. I appreciate you starting off that way. Let me ask you about where you are in this timetable. You've been here before. You said you were exploring. Now it sounds like you want to announce at the end of the month. Why wouldn't you announce at this point? Why wouldn't you run?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Well, if I think I can't win, Chuck, I wouldn't do it. Because I don't want to burden my family and my friends. So we have some internal metrics, both on organization, and I'm pleased that Former Senator John Sununu's agreed to kind of head things up in New Hampshire, which is the best guy you can get. And it's resources, too.

And, you know, I raise money the old fashioned way, I go out and tell people what I think. And I say to them, "If you hire me, I'm a CEO, and I'll listen to you. But at the end of the day, I'm going to make the decision, something I've done throughout my whole career with, frankly, great success." So look, I'm optimistic about where we are. I mean I'm optimistic on the resources. I'm becoming more and more optimistic on the organization.

And I don't need to do this to have a good life. But I think I can help serve my country. I've got the most unique résumé and a terrific record. And I have a great team of people around me. And so Chuck, we'll see. I love my country. And if can really step up and help it, I intend to do it.

CHUCK TODD:

A lot of people put you in the same, if you divide up these candidates, there's so many of you, that may be in the race, but in different heats. And many of you put you in the Jeb Bush heat. And you said something interesting to Dan Balz in an interview you did earlier this week, you say, "I don't know anything about Jeb Bush's theme. I really don't. I've never listened to him. What's Right to Rise? Getting up in the morning?" That was awfully snarky. I take it you believe that Jeb Bush has done nothing to convince you he's a better candidate than you would be.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Look, I like Jeb. And I don't know, it might have been one of those days where I just wanted to say something that was, you know, kind of funny. Maybe you didn't take it that way. But Chuck, here's the situation. I was the chairman of the Budget Committee when we balanced the budget in Washington. That was the first time since man walked on the moon. I did it with the Clinton administration. And we got it done, Pete Domenici and I and the other team. I was also on the Armed Services Committee, and was involved in military reform, including the most significant reform of the military that many say in, you know, 50 years--

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

--with the Goldwater Nichols Bill to get the services to work together. I went into the private sector for ten years, where I learned so much. And now, as Governor of Ohio, you know, we've gone from basically a state that was dead to a state that's optimistic and growing. And we just announced on Friday Amazon locating a big facility here in the Midwest. I mean we're growing jobs. We've cut the most amount of taxes. Chuck, with that résumé, national security--

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

--success in Washington, and success as an executive, I mean I think it's the best résumé, and, really, a terrific record.

CHUCK TODD:

Now let me ask you something about that happened this week in another Midwestern state. The state of Nebraska decided to stop the death penalty all together. And there's different reasons why they did it. You have had a temporary moratorium in Ohio. I want to read you something that a former predecessor of yours wrote recently. Bob Taft wrote this in December of last year.

"The death penalty is very costly to administer. Lengthy trial and appellate procedures put a burden on county and state governments to pay for lawyers, judges and jail. It may be time to ask the question whether the death penalty in Ohio is a dead man walking." Do you agree with his assessment that--

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

--the death penalty is done in Ohio?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Well, I don't agree with that, Chuck. Look, we're just looking for the drugs that we need to administer it. And in this debate, sometimes we forget the victims. Listen, I review all these cases. And some people I've said we will let them stay for life in prison if I wasn't certain of who did what.

But I've had these grieving families come to see me, Chuck, people who've had their mothers, who have been gunned down. And look, it's about justice. And it isn't about revenge, it's about justice. And I support the death penalty and will continue to do that, because a lot of times, families want closure when they see justice done.

We're in a tricky situation here because of the lack of drugs. But no, I think you administer it sparingly. But frankly, at the end of the day, when it comes to me, everybody's had a look at these cases. And I get the final say. And I try to remember-- I don't try to, I remember the victims when I consider this.

CHUCK TODD:

And I know you're a deeply religious man, your Catholic faith. Do you struggle with where you are on this and where the church is?

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

No, I don't, Chuck. Because look, I said it as clearly as I can. I think it is about justice. And I think it's consistent with my faith. If I didn't, I'd have to exorcise it. But look, at the end of the day, I'm also a secular official, right? I'm also the governor. Now, it doesn't mean that my faith doesn't influence me. But I have a job to do as administrator of the state of Ohio.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Governor John Kasich, I will leave it there. When you're an official candidate,

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

We'll come back.

CHUCK TODD:

Let's come back and go through all of these issues all sorts of things that we gotta get to

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Can't wait.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it.

GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

Can't wait. Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Stay safe when you travel. All right, let's discuss the 2016 race, guys. Sara Fagen, what'd you hear?

SARA FAGEN:

Well, I heard three candidates of what appears to be at least 20 that are going to run this time. And so you're going to have a busy two weeks ahead of you. But look, you know, to me, the most interesting thing that I hear from Bernie Sanders is that he's going to be able to really challenge her on the left. And he's going to make this race very difficult for Hillary Clinton. The challenge Hillary Clinton has right now is that the Republican field is so strong, and she needs the general election to get here.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

SARA FAGEN:

And she's running against herself right now, and she's losing. And Bernie Sanders is going to make that even harder.

CHUCK TODD:

Chris, I wonder if, you know, I had Santorum on, Santorum pulled Romney to the right, okay? And during the primaries, and made it harder for him to pivot to the center. Does Bernie Sanders do that to Hillary, pull her too far to the left and make it harder for her to pivot back to the general

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

Well, that's her problem. She has to be herself. And this whole thing about positioning is why people hate politicians. If Hillary Clinton's a lefty, I didn't know it. Okay? She's not a lefty. She's a centrist politicians-- a Democratic mainstream Democrat. Most Democrats are not lefties. I think one in three Democrats even identify as liberal--

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

--much less the new term for progressive. So I would say go with the general election. First of all, I'm not her strategist. But if I were, I'd say, "Go for the big win." Win with 54-55%. Because then you have a shot at bringing the House in. I know Amy knows more than I know about these things.

AMY WALTER:

Not possible

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

But possibly bringing the House. If she walks into a Senate that's still Republican, and a House that's heavily Republican, she'll get nothing done. You've got to go to win and rule. And I think she can win with a center left strategy.

CHUCK TODD:

I thought it was interesting, by the way, jumping to John Kasich. First thing he says when I ask him about his candidacy, he brings up people that have signed up with him in New Hampshire.

AMY WALTER:

Yeah. Wasn’t that interesting? A good place to go to start.

CHUCK TODD:

A good place for him, a lot of independent voters, Kasich on the wrong side of where primary voters on Common Core, maybe in the Medicaid thing. Problem solving conservative to independent voters in New Hampshire might be pretty interesting.

AMY WALTER:

Well, this is always the interesting thing to me about John Kasich, which is he's running as a great general election candidate. But you have to be able to win a primary.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

AMY WALTER:

And what I did hear from him is his success at pulling in conservative voters in a primary. Scott Walker is really his biggest opponent in this. If you're a conservative Republican, you see in Scott Walker everything that you want to see, especially on conservative issues like labor, on the Medicaid expansion. He's a Midwestern governor, too, but he's a blue state governor.

SARA FAGEN:

But the other thing about the Iowa poll that was interesting to me is Scott Walker, at 17% today, in a strong position, when you look at the field, it's hard to imagine that anyone is going to get higher than 17% until right before the caucuses.

AMY WALTER:

Right, it's gonna--

SARA FAGEN:

He's in the worst position right now, because he's leading and leading significantly

CHUCK TODD:

He's leading, but he doesn't yet have 100% name ID. You know, that's the part of this that is striking to me about a Huckabee, Santorum and Jeb who trail in Iowa where they do have 100%.

MANU RAJU:

And I think the other question is where is the money going to come from, from these guys? I mean will Rick Santorum get a white whale like Foster Friess to help bankroll his campaign like he did the last time?

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MANU RAJU:

And can these guys actually break through and win the money race thing? That's one reason why Jeb, too, hasn't declared.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I'm going to do a quick subject change here for a moment, turn this heated debate over privacy. At midnight tonight, some controversial parts of the Patriot Act are likely to end unless the Senate, which it won't do, but it will be in session later today, figures out a way to extend them or modify them before midnight. At issue is this: the ability of the National Security Agency, N.S.A., to indiscriminately compel Telecom companies into giving over the phone records of millions of Americans.

Let's say the government suspects Jane Doe of being involved in terrorism. Jane calls ten people. The N.S.A., using the vast amounts of data they've already collected, can track the numbers of whom she called, when those calls happened, and how long the calls lasted.

Then, if they N.S.A. can prove a link to terror, it can access phone calls that some of those ten numbers made. All of a sudden, you could have information or dozens of people, even though you were only targeting one person. In theory, with all of that data, the government could connect the dots and quickly trace Jane Doe's terrorism network.

The problem? The government winds up scooping up lots of information about people who have nothing to do with terrorism or Jane Doe. To talk more about this, I'm bringing in Nuala O'Connor. She is an expert here from The Center-- let me get this right-- The Center for Technology and Security. Hope I have this right.

NUALA O'CONNOR:

Democracy and Technology.

CHUCK TODD:

Democracy and Technology. So what else expires tonight besides the ability of the government to compel these Telecom companies?

NUALA O'CONNOR:

So it's really limited provisions of the Patriot Act, it's not the whole law. And they're not calling for the end to N.S.A.'s, you know, involvement in our lives entirely. But we want to see a really limited government that really only knows about people who are under suspicion.

What happens right now, under section 215, is all of the telephone calls, all of what's called the metadata, but it's really your phone call records, who you called, when you called, how long you talked for, every call in and out of America and within the United States--

CHUCK TODD:

And it’s all available.

NUALA O'CONNOR:

Just not only that, what goes to the N.S.A. for their records.

CHUCK TODD:

In an instant.

NUALA O'CONNOR:

That's too much.

CHUCK TODD:

Now, the new law here, this U.S.A. Freedom Act, and I think everybody assumes it will pass by about Wednesday at some point, that it will pass, it will now compel the Telecom companies to hold this. Now I've had multiple senators say to me they do not think the Telecom companies have to do this. If they don't, then where are we?

NUALA O'CONNOR:

Well first of all, we have lots of bigger processes in these country for companies to provide legitimate information to the government when someone is under--

CHUCK TODD:

Banking insitutions

NUALA O'CONNOR:

Absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

Hastert, the scandal that we've been talking about, has to do with banks reporting to the government about cash transactions.

NUALA O'CONNOR:

We've decided in the country that transactions over $10,000 might be suspicious, and the banks then report that. And then the government decides, at that point, whether or not there's a level of suspicion. We have law enforcement subpoenas and requests for information that follow legitimate processes in this country. We do not need wholesale mass surveillance on you and me and our grandparents and every telephone call we've made. But even more, we're moving into a world where we all use our smart phones for everything. It's our e-mail, it's our whole life.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, what if the Telecom companies say no?

NUALA O'CONNOR:

Well, Telecom companies are already providing, or rather, collecting information for their own records.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

NUALA O'CONNOR:

We're not concerned. In fact, you know, the attorney general and the director of National Intelligence have already said, "We have enough data." My beloved old boss, Tom Ridge, says, "More data is not better data, more data's just data." What we need is limited, legitimate law enforcement searches.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Nuala O'Connor, appreciate your point of view on this and for explaining this, hopefully, to Americans can get a better understanding of what we're talking about here. Appreciate it. We're back in less than a minute with Endgame. And we'll discuss why the death penalty in the United States might find itself on political death row.

***Commercial Break***

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. It is Endgame time. We're going to discuss, potentially, the slow death of the death penalty on Wednesday. As I mentioned earlier to Governor Kasich, Nebraska became the first red state in more than 40 years to get rid of it. And it brings down the number of states with some reduction in the use of capital punishment, either permanent or temporary moratoriums to 26.

Polls also show that a majority of Americans, while they still favor the death penalty, it's been slowly eroding in support. 55%, according to the most recent Pew poll. That's down from around 80% in the mid-'90s. Let me bring back the panel. Amy, this all started, in some ways, as sort of modern effort here. George Ryan, actually, I think was in Illinois when he was your Republican governor there who I think might be still serving time, or might not be. Sorry.

AMY WALTER:

It’s hard to know in Illinois who is in jail

CHUCK TODD:

Hard to know in Illinois. But he was a high profile moratorium signer here.

AMY WALTER:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

The lawmakers are ahead of the public on this. Public is still, you know, when you ask them, they think they're pro-death penalty. Although when you add in life in prison versus death penalty, it becomes a--

AMY WALTER:

Well, and because so much of what this is about, for many of the lawmakers, is about cost.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

AMY WALTER:

And how much it costs to actually administer this. And that's a part of the case in Nebraska. What I think is interesting, though, about this issue, and you show the slow decline on this, there is one issue, though, that has moved even faster. When we compare this to the gay marriage issue, right? When we're talking about--

CHUCK TODD:

This was public ahead of politicians. Politicians might be ahead of the public.

AMY WALTER:

In this case.

SARA FAGEN:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. And-- and Manu it is the fiscal thing and this lethal, I mean the issue of the drugs.

MANU RAJU:

That's right. And it's interesting, largely, though, it shows also the divide within the Republican Party over criminal justice issues. You have folks that are pushing for a more softer type of approach. And then you have people that are still very for a more aggressive law and order approach that they advocated for in the 1990s. This is something that's playing out in the campaign trail today between Rand Paul and John Kasich on this issue.

SARA FAGEN:

Well, and like with the abortion debate, some of this also has to do with science and technology

And D.N.A. testing has advanced. And, you know, several people have been on death row and found to be not guilty. And when there is a shred of doubt in a case like this, it causes people to stop and think very carefully about, "Is this the right policy?"

AMY WALTER:

This movement has been happening almost exclusively among Democrats in terms of, when you look at the breakdown the Republicans still overwhelmingly support it

CHUCK TODD:

But Chris I am sort of shocked on the sort of sea change. Remember, Bill Clinton had to use the death penalty--

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

We remember that

CHUCK TODD:

--you know, in 1992. And, boy, three strikes and you're out. But George Pataki got in this week. He's only a three-term governor because of the death penalty, because Mario Cuomo was against it and he used it as a wedge in New York State.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

This is one of the few areas where I have no opinion. I mean my opinion is so divided on this, because I don't have one.

SARA FAGEN:

Yeah.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

But I'll tell you one thing. The way Kasich talked about it, governor showed why we want a governor to be president. Because you take adult responsibility in a really life and death situation. It separates you from the BS artists on Capitol Hill. Because you have to decide when someone lives or not.

And there's a certain honest way he went at that. And maybe it can be seen as conservative and tough, law and order tough. But people-- you could hear that guy talking about decisions he's made. And I still believe the Republican Party is dying for a Midwest governor, whether it's Walker or him. They want a grownup. And by the way, they have to carry Ohio.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

They have to carry Ohio.

CHUCK TODD:

09:55:43:00 Manu, I want you here, really quick, today-- you're going to be working all day today on Capitol Hill, the Senate.

CHUCK TODD:

Is this a-- so how did Mitch McConnell get himself in a position like this where he had no Plan B? Or is he just convening the Senate to give Rand Paul's campaign a boost?

MANU RAJU:

No, it's really a surprise, because McConnell's a guy who strategizes and knows

CHUCK TODD:

He’s always got a plan B.

MANU RAJU:

He’s always got a plan. And this is unusual for him, because he really stuck his neck out on this issue. Usually he sits back, lets the caucus debate it.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

MANU RAJU:

And then decides which way to go. Here, he really does not believe the House passed U.S.A. Freedom Act will be workable for intelligence gathering operations. And he came out strongly against it. And the party is just so divided on this right now. And there's no way forward. And it looks like McConnell will have to do a back flip, accept the U.S.A. Freedom Act. And the question for Rand Paul is whether he drags this out all week, which is very possible.

CHUCK TODD:

Well by the way, Rand Paul's against U.S.A. Freedom, too.

You know, that's what people may not be aware of.

MANU RAJU:

He’s in the minority in this

CHUCK TODD:

But this has been good politics for him.

SARA FAGEN:

It's been good politics, with a small segment of--

AMY WALTER:

Yeah.

SARA FAGEN:

--the Republican Party, the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. It's bad politics with the Republican base overall. And it's risky. Because God forbid something happens--

CHUCK TODD:

Well, that's-- yeah.

SARA FAGEN:

--he's done.

CHRIS MATTHEWS:

It's great for under 30s though. It’s great for millenials because people live with their phones. They don't own a car. They don't own a house. They're not married. What they have is this thing. And they want it to be them and--

SARA FAGEN:

And how many of them vote in a Republican primary?

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I want to pause here, because I want to pay tribute to a friend. Before we go, I want to say the next few words about my friend, Bob Schieffer. Today is his last day at Face the Nation. Today's about thanking Bob for being a great representative of what we all aspire to do in journalism and here in Washington.

In fact, when I came to Washington, the first Schieffer I met was his daughter, Sharon. She and I worked together for a short period of time at the old Hotline. And the type of person she is tells you a lot about the type of person Bob is. When you meet a Schieffer, you learn they are simply good people.

And I'll say one thing, though, Bob, the one time I'm not gonna miss you is as a competitor on Sunday mornings. And finally, Bob, when Bob announced he was standing down, I promised to emulate him by wearing purple socks on his last Sunday. And well, Bob, I'm a man of my word. I'm wearing these purple socks. They don't match, as you can see. But who cares, right? It's all about your Horned Frogs there. That's all for today. We'll be back in two weeks. Enjoy The French Open next Sunday. But if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.