tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC October 3, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
p.m. eastern from farmville, virginia, as part of our all-day coverage leading up to the vice presidential debate which you can catch right here at 9:00 p.m. the rachel maddow show starts right now. >> thank you, chris. thanks for joining us from home tonight. big night tonight. the eve of the vice presidential debate. by this time tomorrow night, you'll be able to tell those two guys apart. nbc historian michael besh loss is here to talk about tomorrow night's debate. also, we've had what appears to be the october surprise for this year's election. at least the first october surprise. "the new york times" has found a piece at least of the white whale of political reporting for this year. they have published a portion of what appear to be donald trump's tax returns. "the new york times" reporters who broke that incredible story are here with us tonight live. in just a moment, that is all
coming up. first, i must wish you happy first monday in october, which if you are a politics or law geek, you know it's a significant date. on this date, 16 years ago, everybody thought the huge u.s. supreme court case that year was going to be about drug-sniffing dogs in indiana. >> the supreme court begins a new term today on the docket for the high court, several key cases that will test the reach of the long arm of the law. nbc's pete williams reports. >> reporter: the city of indianapolis wants the court to uphold the use of traffic checkpoints to find illegal drugs. several drivers won in court when they sued the city saying it improperly stopped them without any reason to suspect that they were carrying drugs. >> they put the dog in the car and i'm like, man, isn't that going through my stuff? >> yes. yes, in fact, indiana resident, that was going through your stuff, officially. the supreme court heard that
case and they agreed that year that indianapolis' intrusive drug-sniffing dog checkpoints, they were in fact unconstitutional. they were struck down by the supreme court in a 6-3 ruling on november 8th, 2000. and nobody noticed. because by november 28th that year, the year 2000, we as a country had been twisting in the wind for three solid weeks already not knowing what the results were of the presidential election that had happened that year. the presidential election, right, george w. bush versus al gore, who will be the next president after bill clinton, that was supposed to be settled on the night of november 7th, but absolutely still undecided three weeks later when indiana's drug-sniffing dogs got put out of work. and it was still going on two weeks after that when the supreme court ultimately got involved to settle the matter for themselves in a 5-4 ruling
in december, supreme court overturned the florida supreme court and stopped the ongoing recount of ballots in the state of florida and that's how we got president george w. bush and everything that befell the country thereafter. today, it's once again the first monday in october and so the u.s. supreme court had its first day of school today for 2016. this year, everybody thinks that the big decisions are going to be probably on race and criminal justice, potentially a big ruling to be had on voter suppression in texas. who knows. we'll see where the court goes, what cases they hear, what lands with a huge splash. you cannot always tell in advance. just ask the year 2000. but let's say, just for the sake of argument, that history does repeat itself this year. let's say that, once again, just like the last time there was an open seat in the white house and we were deciding who would be the next president after two terms of a relatively popular democratic president, let's say
history repeats itself again and let's say, like the year 2000, let's say it's really close. it's not hard to imagine it being really close, regardless of what you think of the two candidates this year. if you watch this show on friday night, you might remember joy reid was here and i was teasing her the fact about she's always playing 270 to win on her phone, like it's 1981 and that new game just came out for the atari where it's the mad bomber and buckets of water and you have to catch them as they drop them. i was obsessed with that game when i was 8. now thanks to joe reid, i'm equally obsessed with 270 to win. you can game out how the election may go and what the electoral college may be. when you start gaming out potential feasible electoral maps this year, you may realize,
caboom, we would have essentially an electoral college tie. it's easy to imagine that it may be close, like the year 2000 close. start off with the premise that the mostly reliable red states are going to go red and the mostly reliable blue states are going to go blue and you end up with arguably a semiplausible list of 11 wing states, the states that are black on this map. divide them up the way they conceivably might go, who knows. we'll give hillary clinton michigan and nevada, let's say she gets new hampshire, virginia, her numbers are solid in virginia. give her florida as well. then give all of the other swing states to donald trump. that would be a big night for him based on what the polls look like right now. let's say it goes that way. let's say donald trump wins ohio and pennsylvania, given north carolina, wisconsin, colorado, iowa. let's say that's what happens.
that the other states in the country go the way they are broadly expected to go, let's say this is the breakdown of how the swing states breakdown this year. that would be, in fact, a tie in the electoral college, 269 to 269. imagine that in any one of those states it's really, really, really close. and we think we know which way it's going but there's a recount. we can't really tell who won. it's recount close. it's contested recount close. every part san interest in the country flooding into which ever poor state has had this happen and we know the whole election, not just this one state, is going to be decided in court because there's litigation in this one state and it determines the way it's going it go. let's say we get another bush v. gore like in 2000. how on earth would that work this year? because happy first monday in october. this year, the united states
supreme court has an empty seat. there will be no 5-4 rulings to settle the presidential election this year like we had in the year 2000. as traumatic as it was to have a 5-4 decision choose the next president of the united states, how about a 4-4 decision where the supreme court deadlocks, divide on roughly partisan lines. what happens there is that the supreme court ruling would not be binding. if that happened this year, the next president would end up getting picked, what, by one state supreme court somewhere? maybe it would be one where they have partisan elections for judges. i don't know. maybe it would be some lower federal court in some corner of the country that nobody has ever intended or expected to have the power to choose the next president. the names that we're going to scroll here, these are the names of the chief judges in all of the federal appeals courts circuits around the country.
do you see any familiar names to you? is one of them going to pick the next president? maybe. does that seem like a good way to do it? no matter who you personally want to win the presidency this year and no matter whether or not you usually pray, there is reason to pray for the sake of our democracy itself that the election is not so close this year that it comes down to a single determative recount in a single state. because if it's that close again, like it was, 16 years ago, if it gets to the point where it gets decided in court, congressional republican's decision that president obama shouldn't be allowed to fill justice scalia's vacancy on the supreme court, that means we have a 4-4 supreme court and that means that a potentially deadlocked 4-4 supreme court decision on a presidential election would set us up for an absolutely unprecedented national crisis. we have not had a year-long
vacancy on the u.s. supreme court since before the u.s. civil war. but that is what we are heading in to now in this supreme court term that started today. the supreme court term that very shortly is about to feature a hard-fought presidential election. if you're looking for a super, super, super scary halloween costume this year, go as a poll tied 50-50 or you can go as this electoral map. that's the scariest thing our country can possible see con injury this year and that makes it not only speculative interest to wonder and to ask whether the election will be that close, it makes it a matter of institutional importance for us as a country, a very close election might be a very scary thing this year. is this going to be a very close election. one snapshot to that is the polls. the polling that's come out in the swing states and national polling that's come out since
last week's presidential debate, all of that polling shows democrat hillary clinton pulling back out into the lead. for example, there's a new cnn national poll, the last time cnn had a national presidential poll was early september. that showed donald trump leading nationwide by two points. well, tonight, the new nationwide cnn poll has just come out and shows hillary clinton leading by 5. it's a swing in the similar direction in the new cbs poll. the last time they did a presidential poll, the second week of september, that national cbs poll last month had hillary clinton and donald trump tied at 42% each. while cbs' new poll has hillary clinton leading by four points. she's now up 45-41. in both of those new national polls, both the cnn poll and cbs poll, if you cut out the minor party candidates, just do it head to head, trump and hillary
clinton, clinton is leading by six points. whether we are at risk, at risk of a country of a being a super close election. but here's another snapshot of how things are going right now. this is from the news tonight. one of the things that's happening structural it between -- that's different between the two parties, between the two sides, on the democratic side of the race right now, you've got all of these top-level surrogates and highest profile democrats in the country flooding the zone for clinton and doing campaign events for her. she's doing her own events but so are all of these other people. it doesn't work like that on the republican side. nobody else really does events for donald trump other than trump himself and his running mate mike pence. on the democratic side, it's like bernie sanders is doing events, her primary rival, top level surrogates like elizabeth warren have been on the campaign
trail for her and will be this week. michelle obama is now independently doing events for hillary clinton, president obama himself is campaigning in earnest in the swing states for hillary clinton doing his own events. and tonight in sarasota, florida, it was vice president joe biden and he gave very interesting remarks today in sarasota, specifically in response to something donald trump said earlier today about veteran who is have come home from war with post-traumatic stress and the problem of veteran suicide. this is joe biden's response to those remarks today. >> where in the hell is he coming from? no. no. my son spent a year in iraq and came back a highly decorated veteran, 29 times, i found myself in iraq being asked by
general ordierno, a four star, to pin a silver medal on a young captain who had pulled someone out of a burning humvee, risking his life. when i went to pin it on him, he stood at me and looked at me and said, sir, i don't want the medal. i don't want the medal. you know why? he said he died. he died, mr. vice president. i don't want the medal. how many nights did he not go to sleep? seeing that image in his head, dealing with it. >> vice president joe biden tonight in sarasota. angry. not upset. but angry about comments donald trump made today about post-traumatic stress and post 9/11 veterans. in the vice president's remarks tonight, he gave donald trump the personal benefit of the
doubt in terms of what trump's intentions were behind what he said today but, still, vice president made no bones about how he feels about it. >> i don't think he was trying to be mean. he is just so thoroughly, completely uninformed. i've been saying this and when i said it 15 years ago i got criticized. but i make no apologies. we only have one obligation, one sacred obligation. to care for those we send to war and to care for them and their families when they come home. they are going to need extended medical help the rest of their lives. what are the chances that this guy will honor that commitment? i'm serious. i'm serious. it's not just that he doesn't get it. he has no interest in finding out. >> it's not that he just doesn't get it.
he has no interest in finding out. vice president biden today. he was responding to these remarks that were made by donald trump in herndon, virginia. >> when you talk about the mental health problems when people come back from war and combat and they say things that maybe a lot of folks have seen in this room many times over and you're strong and can handle it but a lot of people can't handle it, they see horror stories, events you wouldn't see in a movie, nobody would believe it. we need a mental health help and medical and it's one of the things that i think is least addressed and it's one of the things that -- like your question, one of the things that i hear most about when i go around and talk to the veterans. >> donald trump today making remarks about veterans and mental health and how did vice president biden putt there? he said -- he said, i don't think he was trying to be mean. a lot of people have reacted to
these remarks today from donald trump by saying that trump appeared -- at least appeared to be trying to empathize or sympathize, appeared to be trying to voice support for veterans on mental health issues and the concept of post-traumatic stress. but that equation of strong people not needing help, strong people being able to handle it and people who are presumably not strong, not being able to handle it, that is a construction around mental health. that is a stigmatizing framework for talking about mental health and post-traumatic stress and suicide prevention that veterans and every responsible person anywhere near that field has been trying desperately to undo for years now. that's like the one thing you don't say if you know anything about this issue, if you have ever talked to anybody involved in it, if you have ever taken it
seriously. that's the framework that they have been trying to undo. any way they can. take, for example, the way that president obama talks about this same issue. >> i have instructed the joint chiefs and up and down the chain of command that they have a responsibility to destigmatize mental health issues and issues of ptsd and help to explain to everybody in all of the units under their command that there's nothing weak about asking for help. if you break your leg, you're going to go to a doctor to get that leg healed. if, as a consequence of the extraordinary stress and pain that you are witnessing typically in a battlefield,
something inside you feels like it's wounded, it's just like a physical injury, you've got to go get help and there's nothing weak about that. that's strong and that is what will allow you, then, to continue with your service and there shouldn't be a stigma against it. >> president obama. there's no weakness in asking for help. there should not be a stigma about it. that is strong. there's nothing weak about that. the issues of post-traumatic stress and suicide among american veterans, there's such a crisis that there really has been such a huge, concerted, complex national effort in the military and among our national leaders to try to get rid of this idea that you're weak if you need help and that strong people don't have post-traumatic stress and strong people don't need help and strong people don't come up against the threat of suicide. and the reason this took over the news cycle today is that
donald trump reasonably i think not trying to diss veterans, not trying to attack somebody, got it fundamentally and dangerously wrong. and for somebody running for president to so fundamentally miss that issue is a big deal. and his campaign today was outraged at the outrage. they are very upset about the headlines about this incident today. donald trump, military suicides happen to service members that can't handle it. trump appears to suggest veterans with ptsd are not strong. trump suggests military members with mental health issues are not strong and can't handle it. the trump campaign was very upset because they kept insisting, that's not what he meant. that's not the way he meant it. but that is what he said and this was not him attacking american prisoners of war. like when he went after john mccain. it wasn't an attack on u.s. military leadership, like when he said america generals are an embarrassment to this country and they have been, quote,
reduced to rubble. it was not an attack on the u.s. military itself which he has twice now called, and i quote, the gang who couldn't shoot straight. it was not trump attacking the parents of a u.s. army captain who was killed in iraq like he did after the democratic convention calling them vicious. it was not him saying he always wanted a purple heart like he did back in august. it was not him equating his time in a military boarding school like when he told the auto biographer, i felt like i was in the military in a true sense. he claimed that during his time in boarding school he had, quote, more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military. this wasn't the same as any of the other times that he has attacked and disrespected and denigrated the military and military families and equated his own life in which there has been zero public service to the lives of the military and their family who is have sacrificed so
much. this time it appears to have just been a stunningly ignorant and painful and dangerous misstatement on an incredibly important issue that a lot of people take very seriously. but the reaction to it shows you how much patience people have for him on these issues now after the year he has had in blowing it on the military and on veterans issues on the campaign trail. so, no, the answer is the election right now does not feel close. not with somebody who talks about veterans that way. it has been one week exactly since donald trump significantly underperformed what were already low expectations for the first presidential debate. since then, we've had the 5:00 a.m. tweet telling america to check out the sex tape. we've had four straight days of him attacking a former miss universe on part on the basis of her weight. we've had the "newsweek" report that donald trump's company
knowingly violated the cuba embargo. we've had "the washington post" report that his charitable foundation is not actually a license charity, not licensed to solicit donations. we've had the associated press report today that more than 20 people who served as cast and crew on the reality show "the apprentice" attested to the a.p. to donald trump's lewd and harassing comments to female members of the casts in that show. "the new york times" published the only three pages that have been made public and just those pages turned out to be an unimaginable bombshell. that was all before he started opining that veterans who come home from war are not strong so they can't handle it. i don't know if it's going to be close on november 8th this year but this week, it is not close.
the reporter who wrote that "new york times" story joins us ahead. matters. both on the track and thousands of miles away. with the help of at&t, red bull racing can share critical information about every inch of the car from virtually anywhere. brakes are getting warm. confirmed, daniel you need to cool your brakes. understood, brake bias back 2 clicks. giving them the agility to have speed & precision. because no one knows & like at&t. like bundling home and auto coverage, which reduces redney. tape, which saves money. when they save, you save. that's home and auto insurance for the modern world. esurance, an allstate company. click or call. with another new flavor you never saw coming... grilled, glazed korean bbq shrimp. and try as much as you want of flavors like new parmesan peppercorn shrimp.
so we have a big show tonight. "the new york times" reporter who is broke the story about donald trump's tax returns will be here live in a moment. also, historian michael besh loss will talk about tomorrow night's debate which may be bigger than you are expecting it to be. if the show goes on longer tonight, i might calm down, maybe. stay with us. ♪ using 60,000 points from my chase ink card
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"the new york times" building are not that far apart. to the extent that they are both new yorkers, that hurts extra because that is their home town newspaper. hillary clinton lives in westchester county, headquarters in brooklyn, new york. donald trump's campaign headquarters is in midtown, manhattan, just a mile away from the physical mailbox of a certain metro reporter who has recently attached herself to the issue of donald trump's business finances. and lo and behold, a week and a half ago, susan craig went to her physical mailbox at "the times" and was mailed three pages of tax forms. they were sent anonymously, postmarked new york city and return address was trump tower in manhattan. hmm. the tax pages appear to have
been signed by donald trump and his then wife marla maples and shows mr. trump reporting in 1995 a loss of $916 llion. and the way taxes work, that's a big enough declared business loss that he could conceivably use a loss of that size to avoid paying federal taxes entirely for 18 years. so, your reporter at "the new york times," something like this pops up in her mailbox, question one is, is this real, right? one section in particular did look a little fishy in these documents. in the gigantic number that mr. trump appears to have declared as a business loss, there is something off, see the way it appears in the documents, something off about the hyphen. reporter susan craig and her colleagues solved that mystery of that line of numbers when they tracked down the accountant listed as the filer for trump's
taxes that year. he's now 80 years old, lives in florida. david barstow, he flew down to florida to meet the accountant. they met at a bagel shop and at the bagel shop the accountant explained those hinky digits. the computer program he was using back in 1995, it apparently couldn't fit on to that line on the form all of the digits necessary to declare donald trump's declared loss of $916 million so he used his typewriter, his ibm typewriter to manually add in that hyphen as a minus sign followed by the first two numbers. he verified the documents overall, not incidentally, quote, he stabbed his finger into the document and said this is legit. all at the counter of a bagel shop. i should tell you, untoasted, that the trump campaign did not
reply to "the new york times" request for a formal comment about that story. they issued a separate statement which they didn't confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents but argued that the "alleged tax document was illegal obtained" and that donald trump has paid a lot of other taxes over the years. i think that means we can score that as a scoop for "the new york times." the trump campaign initially threatened to take action against "the new york times" for publishing these documents. the executive editor of "the times" said he would be willing to face jail time to publish donald trump's tax returns if he ever got his hands on them. is that a possibility now that "the times" has published three pages of them and is there still more to be revealed? that is already be followed by
david barstow, the guy who went to the babe ggel shop. he and suzanne join me, next. you're not taking that. you're not taking that. mom, i'm taking the subaru. don't be late. even when we're not there to keep them safe, our subaru outback will be. (vo) love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. hey, ready foyeah. big meeting? >>uh, hello!? a meeting? it's a big one. too bad. we are double booked: diarrhea and abdominal pain. why don't you start without me? oh. yeah. if you're living with frequent, unpredictable diarrhea and abdominal pain, you may have irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, or ibs-d. a condition that can be really frustrating. talk to your doctor about viberzi, a different way to treat ibs-d. viberzi is a prescription medication you take every day that helps proactively manage
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else last. >> as a businessman and real estate developer, i have legally used the tax laws to my benefit. and to the benefit of my company, my investors and my boys, i mean, honestly, i have brilliantly -- i have brilliantly used those laws. >> i have brilliantly used those laws. surprise. happy october. "the new york times" ruined donald trump's attempt to not publish tax returns. they do raise the prospect that mr. trump may have avoided paying federal income tax for 18 years. tonight, as you saw, mr. trump is defending himself by saying he followed the tax code brilliantly. joining us now are two of the reporter of the new york
sometimes. suzanne and david barstow flew to florida to meet with trump's former accountant. thank you both for being here. i'm no tax expert. i am following your inferences and other people's reporting about what this means. with just having these three pages, do we have any way of knowing how much donald trump did or did not pay in taxes or is that something that can only be answered by his returns. >> that is something that can only be answered by his full returns. >> the reason the inference is raised is because of the size of this business deduction? >> the $916 million loss. most people don't realize, if they don't apply this fancy thing called the net operating loss carry forward, what that could mean for someone like donald trump and what it means is why we were trying to make this clear in the story is that, in his case, over this 18-year window permitted by the irs, he
could avoid paying taxes on up to $50 million a year in taxable income. our assessment of his finances at the time, everything we've learned about his business dealings in that time frame, we don't see an easy way that he was making anywhere near 50 million a year at that point in time, which is why i think it's at least certainly a very clear possibility that he didn't pay any income -- federal income taxes at all and certainly everything that he and his surrogates have been saying since the story published seems to suggest they are not taking an issue with that premise either. >> suzanne, you were the first person who received these documents, a dramatic story about how they were mailed to you. you don't know who sent them to you. >> they came from just an address at the trump tower, anonymous. yeah. we were left with a lot of questions when we opened that
envelope. >> and in terms of -- there's two sides to this. part of it, as david was saying, folks have responded to this. there's also the efforts that you made as a reporting team to verify that these documents were for real. you feel 100% confident that these are what they appear to be. they are documents from that year and they have real amounts on them in terms of what he filed. >> the clincher for me was when we showed that anomaly that you've described about the numbers to mr. betnick and he immediately went -- oh, yes, of course. i can explain exactly what that was. the tax software wouldn't print that out so i took my typewriter. it was an ibm. when you hear something like that, for people that do what we do, that's a moment when you're like, okay, this is real. and then when he does, you know, this is legit, it gave us a huge amount of confidence that we in fact had the real thing. >> we also have a number of other data points around this
same time. the new jersey gaming commission had reports that were put out that he had a very substantial net operating loss in 1991 and 1993. we had other data points that fed into this as well. we did a lot of reporting around it but that was the moment where we went, okay. >> at this point, we don't know -- in terms of how complicated his business interests are, we don't know what part of his business or what combination or parts of his business this loss would be attributed to. >> there is so much that we still don't know about this $916 million number in terms of that number precisely, how it flowed on to his tax returns. the tax person we hired to look at this stuff, based on just these three pages, don't see anything on its face that show any kind of illegality but if you don't have the full tax return, you can't make a full assessment whether or not there
was any funny business going on. and so i think what we're doing, obviously, and what a lot of reporters are doing, i'm sure, right now are we're using this new information to ask new questions. >> and find out, you know -- we still don't even know, unless you see the tax returns going forward, how he applied it and how he was able to reduce his income and by how much. the only thing we have are those returns but there were assumptions that could be made and people could speculate based on it. >> one of pieces that i have to ask you about is that part of the trump response to the article being posted on saturday night was essentially a legal threat against "the times" raising the threat that it's not legal for "the times" to have published this document. i don't know if you can comment on that at all. >> i can tell you, there were a lot of newly difficult parts of bringing this to the public on sunday. weighing the legal threat from donald trump was actually the least difficult part of this. >> we obtained them legally. >> can i just ask you, is there more to come?
is there a second part of this story? >> our address is 628 a avenue and we look forward to checking our mailboxes. >> yep. >> david barstow, susanne craig of the "new york times," thanks for coming on and helping us understand. appreciate it. a lot more ahead. please do stay with us. across new york state, from long island to buffalo, from rochester to the hudson valley, from albany to utica, creative business incentives, infrastructure investment,
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in the polling place and make a decision. i think when you make that decision, it might be well if you would ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago? >> are you better off than you were four years ago? some great line, memorable line, we can all spit it out all these years later. a week after, that ronald reagan went on to win the presidential election. there was only one debate that year and that was in, in 1980. but then four years later, re-election time, president reagan entered into multiple debates and his opening one was terrible. disastrous performance from ronald reagan in his first debate in 1984 with walter mondale. he was so off his game in that debate in 1984, he couldn't even get his own good line right. >> four years ago in similar circumstances to this, i ask you, the american people, the question i asked, are you better
off than you were four years before? the answer to that obviously was no. and the result, i was elected to this office and promised a new beginning. now, maybe i'm expected to ask that same question i'm not going to because i think that all of you -- or not everyone, those people that are in those pockets of poverty and haven't caught up, they couldn't answer the way i would want them to but i think that most of the people in this country would say yes they are better off than they were four years ago. >> the bumper sticker for that one only fits on a very large vehicle. you wouldn't answer the way i wanted but some of you, most of you, i think missed it by that much. president reagan had been comfortably ahead but after that very bad debate, he did start to slide in the polls. in that time of the election year, though, the bleeding was
stopped in part by vice president george h.w. bush and his performance in the vice presidential debate. it was with geraldine fererra. george bush patronizingly explaining foreign policy and her calling him out for it. but what i think people forget about that vice presidential debate, people thought vice president bush won that debate. "the new york times" write-up the next day said analysts from cbs news and nbc news gave mr. bush the edge in the debate while an abc news poll of 504 people said mr. bush won compared to 32% for mrs. ferarro. if you have a lousy showing in your first debate, sometimes your running mate can bail you out and the vice presidential debate which comes next. it's become a new principle of
modern american politicking. you could argue that dick cheney did that for george h.w. bush after his bad debe in 2004. polls showed bush losing debate 2004. he lost it convincingly to john kerry. you could also add that a fired up joe biden did it for president obama. so your number two can help you out. they might even save you after you stumble out of the gate. and that is the predicament right now for the trump/pence campaign. in the past week, multiple polls have confirmed the instant analysis that donald trump got clobbered last week. tomorrow night on the debate stage, mike pence will do what he can to keep this modern theme going of bad presidential candidates being rescued by their running mates, or if they're not bad presidential candidates, maybe they're just
good presidential candidates who didn't do well in the first debate, and you didn't answer the way i would have wanted you to and we need a bigger bumper. but mike pence has a chance. michael bech lough joins us next. with it, i earn unlimited 2% cash back on all of my purchasing. and that unlimited 2% cash back from spark means thousands of dollars each year going back into my business... which adds fuel to my bottom line. what's in your wallet?
we show that we're cutting our own defense, it makes us more weak. when we look weak, our advers y adversaries are more willing to test us, and our allies -- >> with all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey. >> why's that so? >> because not a single thing he said is accurate. >> tomorrow night, tim kaine and mike pence will face off in this country's tenth vice presidential debate, joining me is michael beschloss. >> we have only regularly had vice presidential debates since 1984. we had one in '76, right? but before that, nobody even thought to do them. why haven't we had them until relatively recently, and are they important? >> well, 1960, when kennedy met nixon there wasn't a discussion of a vice presidential debate because in those days, vice presidents didn't seem that
important, you then get to 1976. the sitting president, gerald ford and his two predecessors had all been vice president before people realized it was a really important office. and that's when these things began. >> in terms of the importance of the presidency, part of that is the role of presidents as governing of but there is also the issue of how the vice presidential contest effects the presidential race overall. it would seem to me, looking at this history that the pressure is on mike pence to try to sort of clean up for his ticket, the trump/pence ticket after what trump has what everybody believes is a bad performance last week. >> there were debates that helped to stop the bleeding where a presidential candidate had done badly the first time. that's the opportunity that mike pence has i think tomorrow night. if you look and you think that the worst parts of donald trump's performance last week
were perhaps his unsteadiness and being erratic and perhaps even unfit, it would make a lot of sense for pence to be able to project the qualities of steadiness, experience, and also to suggest that, you know, if you're worried, if you're thinking about voting for trump and you're nervous about trump, that here is mike pence, steady as a rock will be a partner in government. problem is trump has run this campaign as so much as a one-man show, hard to imagine pence doing that tomorrow night. >> looking back at the vice presidential debates, i'm struck by the number of things i can remember from them off the top of my head. >> knme too, right. >> compared to the small number of them there have been, the malarkey thing, can i call you joe, do you have a favorite vice presidential moment? >> can't do better than '88 when lloyd benson said to dan quayle, when he was saying he was as
experienced as john kennedy, and he said jack kennedy was a friend of mine, you're no jack kennedy and i knew him well. it took quayle down. he was a burden for bush. even as late as 1992, quayle's reputation never recovered. a lot of people were saying to bush 41, take quayle off the ticket. a lot of people don't think he's up to the level of president. quayle himself tried to run for president, 2000, did not get to first base. >> michael beschloss, always great to have you here, thanks, michael. >> can't wait till tomorrow night, right, rachel? >> thanks. we'll be right back. stay with us. an opening night on broadway is kind of magic.
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eastern in farmville. chris matthews at 7:00 p.m. eastern and then brian williams and yours truly will start hosting our official pre-debate coverage at 8:00 p.m. mike pence and tim kaine will start, and then you will recover from your popcorn indulgence at 10:30 p.m. we will start at 10:30 and go forever. big day tomorrow. that does it for us tonight. we will see you again then. now it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. >> a gentleman's debate, are you ready for that, rachel? >> the fact that they are both 57 or 58 and they both weigh about 208 pounds, i think maybe i want to see them box.