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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  July 20, 2019 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT

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tests before congress, check out our special, the mueller report. what you need to know with my colleague at 9:00 p.m. eastern on m is. nbc. my thanks to joy, lydia, ab and the rev and to you for watching all week. it was a tough week, right? >> thanks for sticking with us. that does it for this hour. we'll see you back here for "deadline white house." >> trump's latest about-face. let's play hard ball. >> good evening. another day, another president trump just one day after claiming he was not happy with his supporters chanting send her back at that rally in greenville, north carolina on wednesday. president trump today seems to be walking back that attempt. he said he felt badly about the chant that was directed at
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minnesota congresswoman omar, a somali born u.s. citizen. today though, the president came to the defense of the crowd. >> president trump, you said you were unhappy with the chant. however, the chant was just -- >> you no he what i'm unhappy with? you no he what i'm unhappy with? i'm unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country. i'm unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-semitic things. that's what i'm unhappy w those people in north carolina, that stadium was packed. it was a record crowd. i could have filled it ten times as you know. those are incredible people. those are incredible patriots. but unhappy when a congresswoman goes and says i'm going to be the president's nightmare. he's going to be the president's nightmare. she's lucky to be where she is. let me tell you. >> the president was referring to comments congresswoman omar
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made after returning home to minneapolis where she got a hero's welcome from supporters. >> send her home! >> when i said i was the president's nightmare, well, you're watching it now. because his nightmare is seeing a somali immigrant refugee rise to congress. >> in tweet this is morning, the sprez blasted the media for its coverage of omar's homecoming in the on going dispute. he wrote this it is amazing how the fake news media became crazed over the chant send her back by a packed arena. he later added they covered a tiny staged crowd as they greeted foul mouthed omar in minnesota. "the new york times" reports nervous republicans from senior members of congress to his own
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daughter urged trump to repute yad the sent her back chant amid widespread fears that rally veered into territory that could hurt their party in 2020. late today the president was asked if the fight is good or bad politics. >> i don't know if it's good or bad politically. i don't care. but when people are speaking so badly, when they call our country garbage, think of that. that's worse than the deploorable. in people say it's good. i don't know if it's good or bad. i can tell you this. you can't talk that way about our country. not when i'm the president. these women have said horrible things about our country and the people of our country. if they want to do that, that's up to them. >> i'm joined by policy director at the anti-racist research and policy center at american university.
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also author of "how to be an anti-racist." noel nickpor, jonathan lamire and joy reid. author of "the man who sold america." joy, let me start with you. we were talking 24 hours ago about trump. he had this chant in 2016 when he was a candidate, lock her up. he told the crowd to stop. he said the next day to the press, see, i don't want this. and then two days later, back in front of another crowd and he basically said, yeah, have it. i didn't really mean it. it seems like we might be seeing a repeat of that here. >> the reality is that donald trump, i think, can you see in his response envy that he saw omar get treated, greeted as a champion. greeted with cheers. greeted with the love that he craves and black hole inside of him. he is typically just from seeing the coverage, he's able to
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restrain himself and do what his advisors say for 30, 40 minutes. he'll say what they tell him to say. but then he see hers get that hero's welcome but the hero's welcome he wants, that he craves that, he can not get, the love he cannot get. he just responds. he goes back to what he really wants to say which is the same thing did he with charlottesville. those are my people. my fans. all he kbacares about is his fa love him and he can't stand to see her get it. he did love -- you saw him do the face. he can not stay to any talking points otherwise. >> jonathan, all the talk this time yesterday was about republican who's are very nervous, very upset. got to mike pence. mike pence got trump to walk it back a little bit yesterday. what now? if he is potentially making this a staple of future rallies, what are those republicans going to do now?
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anything? >> they'll probably offer disapproval and nothing will change. we've seen this pattern before. lock her up moments. but also charlottesville. i was with the -- in the press pool the day it happened. he spoke tow golf club. that's when he said the first tlim is blame on both sides. then he reversed himself. he had that trump tower press conference and said that both sides were to blame. we see this time and time again. as much as, yes, this are moments when he listens to republican lawmakers. there are moments when he listens to staff and that includes the ivanka trump thing which is a beltway troep at this point, she will leak to the press she disapproved of something the president said even though it seems to have little to no impact. what he really listens to, two things. what his base wants and he's very -- you can tell, very upset at the idea he was perceived as chastising his own base. the fans in the rally in north
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carolina. the second thing is the reporting. he didn't like it. so today he chose to double down. >> so noel, for republicans, again, the folks who were getting in touch with pence and saying make trump stop doing this, do they have to be ready now for the possibility trump is going to keep doing the rallieshe? wants to run against the four congresswomen in particular, make them the face of the democratic party? if the crowds start chanting again, send her back, send them back and the president's not going to stop. is this going to be a feature of trump rallies from here through 2020? >> nobody can get a handle on trump. i think you guys have been watching trump long enough along with us, along with the republican party. this is what trump is. we are continually having to as pundits and people that represent the rnc as people that have candidates that work in the business, we are constantly having to tiptoe around what
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donald trump says and separate it from the gop. we've never been involved in anything like this. we sure have had, you know, president that's have done things, president that's have said things. but this is a continual wheel. last week it is something else. a month ago it's little rocket man. >> but what i'm asking you is this one has the potential to repeat itself. he is doing the rallies. he's going to be going after the four congresswomen. so what is the response from the type of republican you're describing here? is it going to look any different than what we've seen the last few years? or is it just going to be some form of acquiescence? >> this is going to be rallies, rallies, rallies. this is all about that base. it is about the base for donald trump. so pundits can say shame on you. you shouldn't have said that. nothing's going to change. when you said your point, this is business as usual. this is donald trump style republican party. donald trump has taken the
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republican party over. he has granted the republican party. it has not been an opposite. the republican party has not changed donald trump. he's changed the republican party. so this is business as usual. this is why every week we have a breaking news on his plate. >> sounds like you're saying then if trump decides and maybe if the crowds decide for trump that this is going to be a thing to say at rallies, that's what republicans have to live with. >> i don't think is going to be a norm every rally with center backs and lock her up is against hillary clinton and they were involved in a race. he's not running against all four of these women. >> oh, yes he is. oh, yes he is. he absolutely is. the problem is hillary clinton was a 40-year branded character. they turned her into the devil, right? so they were able to easily click in and have the rest of the republican party join in. right? people who now are never trumpers hating on hillary clinton as much as donald trump was. and so it was easy for them to kick in.
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donald trump decided to brand the four women as the enemy. because they are immigrants. they are brown. donald trump is racist. it's an easy trope for him. and what the republican party now has to face is that donald trump is going to run an openly white nationalist reelection campaign. that is the plan. he's going to run on essentially saying this is a white country. these four women represent the thing i hate, the thing we want gone, right? we want it gone. he's going to run against them. he's now made the huge mistake millie of making whatever it is these women believe, secondary. all that -- >> he said -- >> but he's trying to rebrand it and back pedal into what they believe. it's too late. he's already made their race, their nationality, their color the point. and so the republican party has no choice because there's not a lot of courage out there. they're going to now have to -- they all have -- you own it now. this is going to be a white nationalist reelection campaign. full stop. donald trump said we're doing it. i don't know of anyone but
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justin amash that says hell no to that. maybe three or four of them have the courage to say i'm not doing. that but the majority of them will call us on background. call reporters and say they didn't do it. ivanka trump will try to save her later brand by trying to pretend she said something about it the they'll try to save the long term brand. no one will stop him. he'll make them all do it. they're all going to do it. >> noel, i see you shaking your head. we have another guest here. not at the table us with, but takes us to the president's late aest tacks this week. the supporters reaction. they led some democratic candidates to compare the president's rhetoric to a presidential candidate from 1968. >> i felt like i was watching what my parents watched in black and white. literally the same language of a governor wallace. p em that believe they could use race and bigotry as a sword to not only cut down their political enemies but also as a
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sword to advance their political agenda. >> when the crowd started yelling send them back, send them back, when has that ever happened the last time you remember about george wallace. >> george wallace was the former governor at that point. he was a segregationist. he ran as a law and order independent candidate that quye. he won five states. >> the biggest bigots in the world, they're the bigots. >> you know what you are? you're a little punk. let's bring you in. george wallace is a name that folks are very familiar w they lived the store yes very well.
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some folks say it's just a name and in the history books. i'm curious, if you could flush out that comparison. what do you make of it? trump, george wallace. the george wallace we mentioned in '68 and then in the '70s that wasn't at that point running on segregation. he was running on i form of cultural politics. >> the parallels are there. by 1968, george wallace presented himself as the face, as the leader of resistance. the resistance against civil rights activism. the resistance against all form of activism that were essentially trying to create equality, trying to create equal opportunity in this country. trying to create an inclusive place. trump, of course, has presented himself as the leader, as the face of the resistance.
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the resistance against changing dem graphics. these four women of color truly are. and so he is, of course, in many ways tapping into george wallace. that, no, the problem are these people of color. there's a truly direct parallel between the two politicians. >> john, you shared that clip from '68. the wallace rallies. you had that one protester that would show up. wallace would turn the crowd. i mean something theatrically we've seen, i think, in recent times. but, again, just in terms of the republican response here, you're not expecting too much from this. if there is going to be any public movement against it, where would it come from? >> i think there have been a few senators who have at times spoken out against them.
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i think we've seen time and time again, the republicans in congress who speak out against president trump tend not to be in congress much longer. there are republicans on the way out the door already because they decided to retire or those who are going to get primary or those that chose not to run. there is fear in this party that it is trump, president trump's running the party. there is a fear of whether it is, you know, the twitter attack or he's throwing his support to a primary opponent or shows up and holds a rally in your backyard. there is a real reluctance to do that. his approval ratings among republican party are sky high. in the 80s. i think there is a reluctance for republicans to speak out against him even if they do find this personally distasteful. there was silence from the
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tweets sunday. very few pushed back. i haven't seen any tonight. >> the question is, let's see the next rally. let's see if this chant starts again. let's see if the president reacts at all and let's see if republicans react if he does. thank you all for joining us and coming up, brand new nbc poll shows joe biden is maintaining his lead in the democratic race. although, perhaps a bit of a tenuous lead. i'll head over to the big board and explain how one critically important demographic group right now is the reason joe biden can still call himself the front-runner. plus, the stage is set for round two of the democratic debates. what can we expect in that rematch of joe biden and camilla harris? the first head-to-head matchup as well between elizabeth warren and bernie handers. we're also now just five days away from robert mueller's testimony before congress. one democrat says the hearings are for people who "didn't read the book." but we'll watch the movie. a look inside their strategy. much more ahead. please, stay with us. strategy much more ahead. please, stay with us don't miss your golden opportunity
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welcome back to "hard ball." we're bracing for a heat wave this weekend. spring feels like it's a long time ago. spring also feels like a long time ago because of the polls and the democratic race and how they changed. remember when joe biden got in the democratic race in the spring and pulled ahead high 30s, even into the low 40s. doubling up the nearest rival. he looked like a strong front-runner at that point. he's been on the trail for a few months. they had that first debate. nbc debate a couple weeks ago. and now state of the democratic race in the middle of the summer. we have a brand new poll. democratic race nationally. joe biden still ahead. joe biden still in first place. can you still call him the font runner. his lead is single digits. remember, there were days when you had polls with biden in the 40s. now it's 25, 16 for sanders, 16
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for warren. camilla harris there as well, 14%. that is the state of the democratic race nationally. biden a front-runner. he is a reduced front-runner compared to what he was in the spring. sets the stage for the debate less than two weeks from now. can he regain his footing and perhaps reinforce that position he has? why joe biden is still the front-runner and yes hasn't fallen farther, one particular group of voters he has to thank for. that let me shou. if you break this down by race, among white voters, joe biden right now is fallen into second place in the democratic race. elizabeth warren is in first. 22%. among african-american voters, however, it is a different story. joe biden in first place. in first place by far. 37%. nearest competitor, sanders, harris, tied 14%. more than 20 points behind him. remember, one out of four votes next year cast in democratic primaries are going to come from african-american voters. right now biden enjoying it. you see it in the national poll. strong support from black
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voters. we took part of the poll, a regional poll. we took a look at the south. some of these are going to vote in super tuesday, early march next year. and you got biden with a very, very slight lead among white voters. among black voters, there it is again, a 20 point plus lead. look at his support among black voters in the big southern states in, georgia, near 40% among black voters. in alabama, that's a super tuesday state. over 40% for biden among black voters. in mississippi, over 50%. so that right now, his strong support from black voters the reason joe biden can still call himself the front runner in the democratic race, let's see if he can still call himself the frontrunner after the next debate. that's the next big vent on the horizon. we'll see. up next, the lineups are set for that second presidential debate. we're looking at one rematch of a pairing that generated sparks and plenty of headlines the last time around. and a potentially winner take all face-off of progressives.
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it was hurtful. to hear you talk about the reputations of two united states senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. and it was not only that but you
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also worked with them to oppose bussing. and, you know, there is a little girl in california who was part of the second class toint gra ie her public schools and she was bussed to school every day. and that little girl was me. >> remember that moment. welcome back to "hardball." the lineup for the second debate was announced last night. it features a rematch between vice president joe biden and senator camilla harris. their face-off will come on the second night of the debate. first night will pit two top progressive contenders against each other, senators bernie sanders and elizabeth warren. a new face will join them, montana governor steve bullock. did he not make the first debate. he'll be in the second debate. for now, for more now i'm joined by john from commentary magazine and democratic strategist. we were just showing the numbers in the segment before. biden's strength particularly with black voters right now, that exchange with camilla
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harris, i do notice her support with black voters ticked up somewhat since that first debate. but still, there is biden 3-1 leading her in the polls still among black voters. >> part of it is just that history that african-american voters had with the democratic party. and biden is a party person. his relationship with barack obama which after the debate he started to touch on a lot more. i think certainly reminds african-american voters about the relationship that joe biden did defend barack obama when he was often attacked while in office. i think that can -- >> can that last through the primary? >> you know what? my gut feeling is that there is an expiration date on it, particularly as we get closer to iowa and new hampshire because if somebody else wins any one of the states that rewrites that narrative, and i would also say that if you're an older voter with, you know with, good memory of the party, you know, you have seen this as a vehicle for
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political and economic power. so you're the no going to be so quick to run away from that. i think this lasts a little longer. >> john, we showed biden support overall. it has been ticking down. i think it's about five or six points down from that debate. not a good debate. the reason it wasn't a good debate for him is debated itself. there is a question of his performance. did he have a bad night? was this a guy who just hadn't debated in seven years? he's a little rusty. he'll be ready for the next one? or is this the new normal with biden? >> clearly, he had a bad night. so you have to take that -- take what i'm about to say with a grain of salt. but since that, you can see his numbers are down. harris' numbers are up. that's the ball game, right? so here's the issue. clearly that is the matchup that everyone is going to be watching, right? so does he get aggressive? or does he remain, try to remain, you know, above the
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fray, congenial, friendly, doesn't want to attack other democrats? and the key there is the name bob filmer. that is camilla harris as attorney general in california. a lot of stories this week about how she gave a sweetheart deal to the democratic mayor of san diego who was -- who had a plea deal for battery and kidnapping kind of. >> yeah. >> i mean, while he was congressman. and he could have gone to jail. but he was allowed sort of house arrest and stuff like that. if biden goes there, if biden says, look, you know, you're standing here going after me about issues 40 years ago, i'm here to ask you what the hell happened? why did you let this white democratic mayor skate? that, you know, that's when you'll know if biden wants to go in for the kill or doesn't. >> and thinks he needs to. >> which is an interesting point. you look at the softness among
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the african-american support it is because of her time as attorney general. so it is a touchy point for her and it will be interesting to see if that happens, how she responds. >> what about the other candidates? we're going to focus on harris versus biden for obvious reasons. but cory booker needs a breakout moment. julian castro, he had sort of a breakout moment trying to take down o'rourke. seems to have heurt beto. is it open season on bide snen. >> i think jewel yoe castro is good on immigration and on policing. and what is interesting is bill diblasio is on the stage that night as well. i'm curious to see if bill diblasio with his breakout moment talking about his policing, is he going to get challenged on firing the officer involved in the eric garner death? because he is not so far fired. >> that is the news this week. there have been activities in
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others saying that the mayor should fire this police officer. i'm curious to see if he gets that question and others. >> there is a larger issue. they want one of them to win. they were ripping each other's throats out. they had a unifying week. biden clearly wants to be a unifying figure. he doesn't want to -- he wants to be the second choice of everybody that is not the first choice. >> this could force him into getting aggressive. if they get overly aggressive and start attacking each other and there is all of that. >> i don't know. that is a good strategy.
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mak it makes the party look like it is struggling. >> though, i would argue, because there is a report that there is a report and they're questioning whether the party is going too far to the left. i would say that a lot of those governors use progressive policy to actually defend against the policies of donald trump. and when you look back at the fact that those progressive policies have also motivated our base, we're actually flipping congressional seats in this of the states. we're flipping legislatures in the states because of that kind of law making and policy. even if someone were to run away from that, it's a mobilizing force for the party. >> and also thinking that -- i'm thinking back to 2016 as well and the republican candidates who wanted to be the second choice of trump's voters when he faded. guess what? there is always that example. thank you both for joining us. up next, we look ahead to next
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week's highly anticipated mueller testimony, quite possibly the democrats last chance if they're going to build a case for president trump's impeachment. what is their strategy? stick around. you're watching "hardball." ick d you're watching "hardball. ♪ ♪ ♪ here i go again on my own
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we chose the words carefully and the work speaks for itself. and the report is my testimony. i would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before congress. >> welcome back to "hardball." robert mueller made clear his apprehension about testifying before congress. he is set to appear before the house judiciary and intelligence committees next wednesday. nbc news reports that democrats on those committees intend to showcase evidence of trump's misconduct for those that haven't read mueller's report. as one aide said, they're
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betting that not everybody is reading the book though people will watch the movie. we have never prepared for a hearing the way we have prepared for this. last neutral the judiciary committee chairman said he is asking how they did the most with the timing with mueller thanks to his reluctance to testify. >> how do you approach it given your knowledge he doesn't want to be there? >> we'll ask questions designed to elicit the information and get the information out there that we want. designed to show what his report found that is at odds with what the administration and the attorney general have been saying. >> so you want him to tell you the report in front of the cameras and american people? >> hopefully go further. >> yes. >> i'm joined now by the national security reporter at poe litke yoe and barbara mcquaid. a former federal prosecutor. barbara, we played what i think everybody heard, everybody watching this certainly heard
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robert mueller say at his only public statement. is there any reason to think this committee will get anything further out of him? >>. >> well, i do think that there are opportunities. but even if all they get is for him to summarize some of the things in that report, it could really explosive. there is a lot of detail in there that i think escaped the attention of the american people like sharing polling data with russia and communicating directly with wikileaks. i think there is a lot of information there that could be interesting to elicit. but in addition, i think they can go further and ask about how russia attacked our elections. >> so natasha, we have that line from a democratic staffer saying they have prepared for this and the staffers words, this mueller testimony. more aggressively than they prepared for anything else they've done up there. what is that going to look like? what is the democratic approach going to look like in the
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hearings. >> yeah, that's really interesting. what we've seen is they've done mock questioning and so have the republicans. and they really meticulously prepared for any possibility that might come up. to the extent that even certain staffers on the committee are pretending to be mueller himself and preparing for the answers he might give and how the democrats can rebutt those or press him further or elicit more information out of. that it's important to remember that mueller is also going to be very prepared and he has kind of a sherpa who is guiding him through this process. and he is a very experienced hand on the hill. and on -- and this kind of liaison between the hill and doj. he was a top counsel on the judiciary committee for a long time. he knows everyone in congress. he's been in negotiations with the hill for a number of weeks now if not months about kind of the limits of mueller's testimony. so depending on what has been agreed upon, we could see kind of a limited, a more limited
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line of questioning coming from the democrats. especially because the democrats cautioned reporters yesterday during a briefing that, you know, we might not have any bombshells here. but also the republicans are going to be coming out swinging and focusing on things that don't have to do with the reports. democrats have to contend with pushing back on that as well. >> barbara, what is your sense of how mueller himself, this is a veteran of the ways of washington. not going to be his first time in a situation before congress like this, certainly. what's your sense of how he's going to approach this? >> well, he is somebody who has testified more than 50 times before. he's very experienced. i think he will answer factually what is in the report. i think he'll decline to engage in hypotheticals and the extent that they try to paint him as some sort of conflicted hatchet man engaged in a witch hunt, i don't think he'll have any tolerance for that. and so it might be a good opportunity for some pushback
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about that narrative. and so i would like to see him defend the honor of the fbi. i would even like to see the democrats go on the proactive approach there and ask him if he saw anything to indicate that there was anything improper about the pred indication of the investigation so that maybe he could shut down some of that speculation. >> natasha, there's been so much speculation and talk just outright talk of impeachment of democrats ultimately pursuing impeachment. the latest polling on that abc news/"washington post" poll asking americans do you think the president should be impeached. 36% say yes. 59% say no. so you can see where public opinion is there. if this doesn't move it, if this mueller testimony, i know congress is due for the big august recess as soon as it's over, if mueller's testimony next week doesn't move the needle on that number, does that real is tickly end impeachment as a prospect for democrats? >> well that, is one of the big complaints about delaying this
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testimony for a week. because some of the democrats wanted more time to question him even though more focus questioning by experienced counsel on the committee would have been more helpful is that when mueller testifies, they're going right off to august recess. a lot of the momentum, a lot of the head heinz wilines will fade background and not talked about much over the month of august when everyone goes on vacation. if there is nothing massive that, you know, might move the needle on impeachment, at least, you know, the thinking is it could help them going into 2020 by outlining all of the examples of the president's obstruction of justice, the ties between the campaign and russia. then at least then the american public will be more informed about the president's allegedly illicit conduct in 2016. and that i think is the minimum that they're hoping for at this point. >> okay. natasha bertrand and barbara mcquaid, thank you for joining us. appreciate that. and still ahead, which came first? is donald trump dragging the republican party into dark
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devisive sfass devisive spaces or was it the party's deterioration of the establishment that led to the rise. a ton of answers to the question everybody is asking, how did we get here? the book is "american carnage." the author joins us next on "hardball." "hardball. earn unlimited 1.5 miles and we'll match it at the end of your first year. nice! i'm thinking about a scuba diving trip. woman: ooh! (gasp) or not. you okay? yeah, no, i'm good. earn miles. we'll match 'em at the end of your first year. dto experiencer gthe luxury you desire yeah, no, i'm good. on a full line of utility vehicles. at the lexus golden opportunity sales event. lease the 2019 rx 350 for $389 a month, for 36 months, and we'll make your first month's payment. experience amazing. back then, we checked ...zero times a day. times change. eyes haven't. that's why there's ocuvite. screen light... sunlight... longer hours... eyes today are stressed! but ocuvite has vital nutrients...
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that said go back racist yes or no? >> i don't think the president is a racist. i think he's frustrating with people shifting the discussion away from the world problems. >> i think the president is on to something. we're having a big debate now and next year about what we want america to be like. >> welcome back to "hardball." president trump's transformation of the republican party was on display this week as most republicans either defended the president or remained silent in the aftermath of the continued attacks on the four democratic congresswomen. in his new book "american carnage," tim alberta describes trump's assention as a result of the republican party that included a rise in anger and discontent among republican voters that what they saw as the party establishment. the country was hurting. people were scared. what they wanted was someone to channel their indignation to hear their grievances to fight for their way of life.
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what they got instead was george w. bush bailing out banks, john mccain vouching for barack obama's character, and mitt romney teaching graduate seminars on macroeconomics. joining me now is tim albert yashgs the author of "american carnage" and chief political correspondent for owe poe litke yoe." everybody is asking and many are trying to attempt to answer the question how did we get here? you have an answer that has a lot to do with what was happening in the republican party for the decade before trump. tell us about it. >> yeah. that's right. thanks for having me. we have an instinct and everything in today's republican party and there say revelation and could have possibly predicted this was going on and if you were to go back ten years and you go back even further. can you go back to wallace and
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pat buchanan taking on george . h.w. bush. they're starting in 2008 and what you had then in that year george office with record unpopularity. john mccain picking sarah palin as his vice presidential running mate and pale exposing this enormous gulf between republican governing class and many conservative voters around the country who felt they had been ignored and taken for granted. then you have the economic collapse the fall of 2008 and the bank bailout which only exacerbated it and madele americans of all political stripes believe the system was rigged against they will. that washington and wall street were playing by one set of rules and everybody else was playing by a different set of rules. and then the election of barack obama. the first black president. when you layer all of this on
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itself, the cultural displeasure, the political disruption. and you move it forward and you connect the dots to the 2010 election, '12, '14, i think we saw, steve, that there was a powder keg here and this was all building towards something. when you look back with hindsight and connect the dots, donald trump's ascendancy makes all the sense in the world. >> here is the moment you're talking about. with the benefit of hindsight it looks huge now. this is shortly after trump launched his campaign in 2015. at the time many predicted this was going to quickly end trump's campaign. it was his criticism of john mccain's status as a war hero. remember this? >> he is not a war hero. >> he is a war hero because he was captured. i like people who weren't captured, okay? i hate to tell you. >> that's almost exactly four years ago today, despite president trump refusing to apologize, his standing in the polls continued to rise. tim, listening to you talk about
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that deterioration of the republican party, a lot of people reacted in that moment and said john mccain is a war hero. obviously trump's going to pay a price. but to the republican base, that was trump standing up to their enemy. >> not only that, steve, which is right, because mccain, of course, had really been sort of persona non grata to the conservative movement. remember, he picked sarah palin because his campaign needed a shot in the arm. they need to mobilize the base. they knew that to even have a prayer against barack obama, they needed conservatives to turn out in big numbers. and so that's why he chose sarah palin ultimately. but you just said something, steve. you said that despite trump not apologizing, his poll numbers kept rising after that mccain comment. and i think it's actually because he didn't apologize that his poll numbers kept on rising. what trump tapped into, and it's very intangible. it's really difficult to quantify, obviously, but trump saw in the republican party this sort of inherent weakness. he saw it in mccain in '08, who as you read in that clip a moment ago spent critical moments in the campaign vouching
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for obama's character rather than getting in the mud with him. romney in 2012 who had been brutally defined by the obama reelection campaign. romney never really swung back. and trump accurately felt as though a lot of republican voters felt like why are we represented by all of these pansies? why don't we have anybody who wants to treat politics as a blood sport? and when trump surveyed the 2016 field, steve, he sees jeb bush, and he says this guy, he's got poor posture. he can't even stand up straight. he is a wimp. he looks at marco rubio. this guy is 5'8" and he sweats all the time on tv. i can't take him seriously. up and down the line, trump respects strength. and there is really only one person in the field he did respect and that was ted cruz who was willing to take shots and throw some haymakers. but now as we know, now nobody in that republican field in 2016 was willing to do and say the types of things that donald trump was willing to do and say. and more importantly, i think, trump never backed down from any of them.
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even when people disagreed with some of those things, voters did not like some of those things, a lot of them really respected the fact that he never bowed to the pressure from the political establishment and from the media to back off of them. >> all right. tim alberta, great insight there. great insight, great reporting in this book, "american carnage." thanks for taking a few minutes. really appreciate it. >> thanks, steve. all right. up next, why the next democratic debate could be the last chance for a lot of the candidates on that stage. stick around. you're watching "hardball." chugga-chugga, charles! my man! hilda, i like the new do. got some layers in there, huh?
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welcome back to "hardball." we are now less than two weeks away from the next mega debate event. 20 democratic presidential candidates, two nights, ten candidates per night. we have never had debates like these before. and guess what? we might not have debates like them after this next one. that is because the bar is about to be raised. after this next debate, the democratic national committee is changing the qualifying criteria. in order to qualify for the debates that are going to take place this fall, candidates will need to hit 2% in at least four officially recognized polls. and that sounds easy enough, didn't it? 2%. actually, though, it's not. our new nbc surveymonkey poll i was showing you earlier, it's actually gad example why. remember, there are two dozen democratic candidates for
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president right now. and out of those two dozen democratic presidential candidates, a grand total of nine of them actually hit 2% in our new poll. in other words, the vast majority of democratic candidates failed to hit the bare minimum they need to be hitting in the poll to make the next debate, the fall debate. and 13 of them in our new poll are actually at 0%. in other words, more than half the democratic field is registering absolutely no support in our new poll. so by our back of the envelope math, right now only six of the democratic candidates are already qualified for the fall round of debates. that means 18 aren't. obviously, there are going to be many more polls to come this summer. there are going to be many more chances for the candidates to hit the threshold and to make the stage in the fall. and this next debate in less than two weeks is an obvious opportunity for all of them to somehow get noticed and to somehow break through. but this may also be their last opportunity. as we know, those stages are crowded. they are chaotic. the time passes quickly. everyone is going to show up
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with a plan to get noticed. few, though, will actually succeed. so enjoy this giant two-night, 20-candidate debate, because the next one after it may end up looking like -- well, it may end up looking like a normal debate. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. chris matthews will be back on monday. stay with nbc. i'm thrilled to be here tonight. there are exactly 472 days until the 2020 election. we're actually coming up in our most disturbing weeks of the trump presidency. tonight we have a special show. it is called trump insiders. i've assembled a group of people who know and knew trump well. former associates and insiders. lots to cover. this is saturday night politics. thrill to have everybody watching tonight. a very different

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