tv The Place for Politics 2016 MSNBC April 2, 2016 8:00am-9:01am PDT
(pilot talking to tower on radio) once you get out here... there's just one direction... forward. one time: now. and there's just one sound. you and us... together. telling the world... we're coming for you. ♪ welcome back. 1 1:00 a.m. on the east coast. i'm ari melber at msnbc world headquarters in new york. just three days until the wisconsin primary. a very different picture than a month ago. you may have heard nothing donald trump says or does may change his standing. look at this, leading the pack in february by ten points.
now this perhaps once inevitable nominee looking more and more damaged. cruz leading by ten. count that up, obviously a reversal of 20 points total for trump over the month. should trump lose the 42 delegates in the wisconsin primary, it would be his first real big set back since the second-place showing in the iowa caucus in february and come after what has been by all accounts a rough week. that's included charges filed against his campaign manager, cor corey for assaulting a woman, abortions, and today trump looking to close the polling gap. three big events in wisconsin. cruz has a stop in wisconsin later this evening. first, looking ahead, he was at the north dakota gop convention, where there are unbound delegates up for grabs. kasich has a town hall scheduled to begin momentarily. one of three stops in wisconsin. and don't forget about the democrats. there is a tight race in the state. and the most recent poll, sanders edging hillary clinton out 48-43 and she will be
attending a get out the vote event this afternoon. both she and sanders also headed to a democratic founders day dinner in milwaukee. we have all the candidates covered for you. obviously, on what is another big politics day. and first we go right to nbc's kerry sanders with donald trump in wisconsin. talk to us about what you're seeing on the ground and how this big story over abortion is playing out. >> reporter: well, let's take a look, first of all, at the sturnout. you can see folks lining up really before the sun came up. there is a long line all the way down here. but among the questions that you point out is how the abortion debate is playing. so we're going to give sort of an opportunity for some folks here who are donald trump supporters, or at least interested in hearing donald trump speak. what their thoughts are. first of all, what do you think? he has this shifting stance on abortion. what are your thoughts? >> i don't mind that, because he's not a politician. so he's allowed to change his mind. >> reporter: it doesn't drive your vote either way. >> i voted for him already.
i voted already. i did the early voting. >> reporter: okay. >> i like everything that he stands for. i believe that we need to build wall. i believe we need to not let these muslim refugees come in until they can be vetted better. we need our nation to be more secure. >> reporter: okay. thank you very much. now you had told me earlier that you do not believe in abortion. now let me ask you. the question not so much about your position on abortion, but about donald trump's shifting positions on abortion. how does that impact your thoughts about him as candidate? >> i think that they were wishy-washy. but i don't believe in abortion. a lot of things that i do not agree with donald trump, and i'm going to say this. donald trump, he's going to get us all blowed up with his mass destruction, nuclear weapon mouth. some things he says, he speaks too fast. and then he goes back and
changes. he needs to think before he makes a remark. >> reporter: okay. >> so i do not agree with a lot of things that he is saying. i just came here to see history made, because he's coming to racine, wisconsin. no, i am not one of his supporters. i'm on the lord's side. but i don't believe in abortion. >> reporter: okay. thank you so much. it will be probably with the crowds i see here -- probably standing-room-only. it's a pretty small space inside there. there you hear two different points of view. of course, we're not going to know until tuesday to see how this plays out specifically with women voters, i believe. >> yeah. and kerry, interesting, because the point of view from someone who feels some allegiance to the idea that abortion should be illegal, which is what donald trump was ultimately trying to get at. but deep concern about the way he's also been talking about his approach to nuclear policy, which was another one of the big moments in that interview with chris matthews. kerry sanders reporting from wisconsin. thank you very much. we turn now back to political
analyst, elise jordan, former aide to senator rand paul. i want to read something brand-new. it's just in the "new york times" right now. you basically have newt gingrich saying, look, none of the mistakes by trump have been forced. nobody forced him to react negatively. it's almost as though he is so full of himself he can't slow down and recognize that being president is a team sport that requires a stable personality. that allows other people to help him. i think newt gingrich, who has been positive about trump, says he has a real possibility of having surged amazingly to miss the golden ring. >> i think newt is right. i think that really this week did a lot of lasting damage to trump. and the zombie theory they're talking about in this article, i think there is some truth to that. even if trump gets the nomination, there is no way he can be successful in the general election. >> you think that's established. >> i think that's established. i just think there is no way that your unfavorables can be so high with literally three
quarters of american women not going to vote for you, strongly disliking you. and beat hillary clinton. there's no way. >> did you already feel that way months ago when you were advising senator paul or are you more concerned as a republican now than you were? >> oh, i mean, i've been concerned about trump since he entered the race. his announcement speech where he's calling mexicans rapists and all of these horrible generations about so many people who are so important to the fabric of our country. so no, i mean, my concern for trump isn't new. this last week, i think that the damage has really been solidified by donald trump being the narrative is that he's a miss original ma some inconsistent and that's not going away. >> you can see out of a distaste for him, or out of something that he seems to do a lot. normalize the abnormal. right? so if i would have told anyone six months ago that there would be three republicans left in the race, and all three of them would be refusing to commit to
support the nominee, that would be a surprise and a concern. because parties exist to advance the party nominee. here is donald trump on that, speaking to fox news' chris wallace. >> are you ruling out running as a independent third party candidate? >> look -- >> it's simple. >> no, it's not that simple. i'm by far the front runner as a republican. i want to run as a republican. i will beat hillary clinton. >> but if you don't get the nomination. >> we're going to have to see how i was treated. i'm going to have to see how i was treated. very simple. >> now, you've got to be fair to donald trump. that is now essentially the position of cruz and kasich. >> well, trump, though, is delusional in thinking he could run as a third party candidate. there's no way he could organize and get on the ballots. he wouldn't be able to get on the ballot in texas, probably. >> because of the timing. >> because of the timing and ballot access. and he just -- he is not proven that he has a campaign apparatus that has basic organization.
and that is why what i think going into a contested convention, if that is what we're going into, where trump will really struggle is because cruz has one of the best campaigns this country has seen in quite a while. it's really a top-notch organization. and the way that they're using an littics is just really almost mind-blowing within what we have seen traditional campaigns do. >> you know from working on something that isn't often seen in public. the trump campaign is one we know, refuses to spend any money on polling whatsoever, which is a risk. and the cruz campaign has spent over $6 million. not only on polling, but as you say, on basically digital analytics, trying to figure out exactly who the supporters are. it's such a picture of contrast. elise jordan, thank you very much for being here. next, what happens when your campaign manager is accused of battery. there it is... this is where i met your grandpa.
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in a normal week, the campaign manager for a leading candidate being charged with a crime would be the biggest story in politics, hands down. but this, as you may know by now, was not a normal week. and trump's other controversies have partly overshadowed the news that florida police charged his campaign manager, corey lewandowski, for simple battery. while lewandowski denies the allegations, he did grab a female reporter covered for the event. police obtained the video you're looking at from the trump national golf club where the event was held after michelle fields filed a police report. many have been calling on trump to discipline or fire his aide. but the candidate is standing by him, and insisting the entire incident is overblown. trump's also given the term "public defender" new meaning by ad libbing a range of defenses for lewandowski.
but we want to ask in this segment with some real experts are those defenses helping or hurting his top aide's legal case? is i want to bring in my guests, kenneth padwits and jasmine rand for rand law. let's start with what donald trump has been saying, namely, well, this reporter might have been a threat, and thus corey is innocent. >> right. i mean, i think it's very clear from the video evidence she wasn't a threat. the real threat was trump's campaign manager. what is most problematic is that trump seems to be condoning violence against women by supporting his manager. and this isn't the first time we have seen an act of violence at a trump rally. >> absolutely. let me play what donald trump said in fairness, but also to get more analysis of it. here he is talking about what she might have been holding and why that would be a threat. >> are you going to -- >> sure. i don't know. maybe i should. right? because, you know what? she was -- she was grabbing me.
and just so you understand, she was off base. because she went through the secret service. she had a pen in her hand, which secret service is not liking because they don't know what it is. whether it's a little bomb. >> kenneth, is that claim an argument that a florida defense attorney would be likely to make on lewandowski's behalf? >> that's a legal term for that defense and that's called silly and absurd. i mean, come on. let's be real here. from a guy who says that he's for real when he talks to the american people. that's not a valid legal defense. what we have to look at here is there say violation of criminal law by an intentional touching without consent. you don't even need an injury. and clearly, there's sufficient evidence in this case, more than i've seen in practically 30 years of prosecuting a defending cases in a battery charge in this case. there's clearly -- >> why is it so much more evidence? you have worked as a prosecutor and defense attorney in florida. you're saying it's more evidence because usually a case like this
wouldn't have so many video angles? >> exactly. you have tremendous video evidence. you have a woman on audio, the victim, saying ouch. that was a lot of pressure. that was -- a lot of force. immediately after. you have broken blood vessels d under the skin. you have a bruise and you don't need an injury. here you have an injury. so it's a very, very strong amount of evidence for a battery charge. that doesn't mean that if the prosecutor decides to go forward with this before the arraignment in one month, that there is going to be a conviction. there may very well not be a conviction in this case. >> sure. it can go a lot of ways. jasmine, what are we to make, though, of donald trump? because is he trying to help himself in talking about something that affects his campaign? is he trying to help lewandowski, if according to the analysis i'm hearing here, the arguments that trump made this week are not helpful to lewandowski. >> i mean, i think that this all very intentional strategy on behalf of the trump camp. and what we're seeing is that they're insighting and promoting
violence in rallies. what should be most concerning to the american public, how is he going to behave when he has the ultimate bully pulpit, the american presidency. do we want a man in charge of our country who behaves in this manner? do we want him to make decisions about war and our nuclear capacity? >> and kenneth, on the legal path, if you were advising a client in this situation, and say there was touching shown on video, but some wider debate over what it meant. how would you advise that defendant to resolve this case? >> well, one of the easy ways is to attempt to first convince the prosecutor not to take the police arrest and actually go forward with charges. typically, a notice to appear, which is an arrest, done in this case, can be an information. like a charging document like an indictment, can be filed by the prosecutor. so if i was a defense attorney, i would be trying to convince the prosecutor not to charge the defendant based on a wide range of defenses. stand your ground is a possible
defense and affirmative defense of defense of others, defending his boss, donald trump. so there's a number of defenses and a possibility here that there may be reasonable doubt and a jury would never convict him. another opportunity is also to put him in a program. to put him in an anger management program. and have the state drop the charges. >> well, and i think the defense argument you would usually see was actually more difficult in this environment where you have paid professional government security in the secret service who are officially tasked with defending the candidate. and a credentialed environment where basically people have to be screened to get to where they are. i think that makes it harder to argue that the campaign manager was the only person who had to step up and play a role of physical defense. that's a fact pattern that could be debated but another piece to it. interesting, and i've got to say covering law and politics, an unusual case. my thanks to kenneth pad owe wits. stay right there. north dakota up next. 28 unbound republican delegates
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today - at business.ny.gov north dakota has its turn in the political spotlight today. the peace garden state, a term i only learned today. .2 of the popular vote, small. all 28 of the gop delegates from the state are unbound. that means they can vote for whomever they want at the national convention. normally that might not matter. but it matters a whole lot if, as you certainly heard by now, there may be an open convention. ted cruz knows it. he's making a special detour to fargo, north dakota, today, to make a special appeal for those unbound delegates at the state republican convention. and now we go right to the source in fargo. we have republican state assembly majority leader, al carson and democratic state senator and radio host, joel hidecamp. good day to both of you. al, what's different this year? >> repeat that again, please.
>> i said, al, what's different this year at that state convention? >> well, the state convention is exciting because we have a contested governors race, which we haven't had for 12 years that. is taking front and center. of course everybody is chatting about who is going to be the presidential nominee. >> is ted cruz smart to be there and make a specific appeal? will it get him more unbound delegates? or is that not what's going to ultimately move those insiders that you know? >> you know, this is really a grass roots effort here. and for once, a little state like ours makes a big difference. because we have 28 unbound delegates. but we have 108 people at the convention that want to be those delegates. and let me tell you, everybody is asking those delegates who are you supporting. and by doing that, we've got really a grass roots movement going there as to who are you supporting, and are you supporting the right guy, i'm going to vote for you as a delegate. so we don't have a primary. we have a very small state. and most of the time they fly by
us. but here -- this year, i think we make a big difference to those 28 folks. >> bottom line, before i turn to joel, al, are those votes more likely to go to cruz or trump? >> well, north dakota by nature has been a fairly conservative state. i would think today that most of the support will be on the cruz side. >> all right. that's very interesting to us, because that's what we're trying to figure out. joel, first your view, of course, coming from across the aisle. do you agree with that assessment, based on the state that cruz would have an edge? >> well, i came into the convention here, and all you see is cruz buttons. of course, it might have a big hand in the fact that he's coming today. so i think that it is ted cruz's convention. i think that the donald trump teflon is starting to wear off a little bit. certainly with the north dakota gop having interviewed a lot of them on my talk show, "news and views" this week. but who knows? i mean, every time we pronounce donald trump gone, we have been wrong. so who knows what's going to happen?
it's the whole process of the convention itself that kind of amazes me from the other side of the aisle. curly haugwin made all types of national media right here on msnbc when he pointed out that you know what, the delegates can do any dog gone thing they want and the leaders of the republican party decide this thing. and that's really what went through this right open, the fact that donald trump realized all this primary work he was doing was really for naught. >> and curly's position is not shared by everyone at the rnc. there say strict view from within the rnc that the first ballot is binding. you can't do whatever you want. but north dakota you can. is this a microcosm of what we could see in open convention? and by that i mean that the campaign that's better organized is out there with the buttons, with the candidate, with the knowledge of what they have to do and the ted cruz campaign, while donald trump seems to be winging it and basically saying, hey, north dakota, i hope this
works out. but i'm not on the ground? >> well, i think when you send dr. ben carson, you're not going toin vig rise the whole convention. ted cruz is going to be above the fold of every newspaper and talked about on every talk show in the state. and this is a state where radio matters. we get a lot of our news through radio. we're a very rural state. and ted cruz is the ma man of the hour when it comes to this convention. he'll win the heart and souls of this delegates. i think he's -- i think al is right. i think he's going to leave with a whole bunch of delegates out of this convention. >> and who do you think will be doing any big endorsements for cruz? senator hoglund or anyone else you have your eye on, al? >> they have all been silent so far as far as endorsing. you may see the senator. obviously i'm one of those that feel these endorsements by governors and stuff really don't make a bit of difference for these delegates when they get to the convex. they all think it's important but for the most part it's the
people sitting in the chairs in cleveland that make the difference. >> al, i guess you're a politician saying that politicians don't matter as much as they think they might. last question to you, al. >> especially -- i agree. and i agree with that. i think that when you watch all these dormants, i'm not sure everyone i know has changed their vote because the senator said they should vote for them. >> and just remember, it was john holman, united states senator from north dakota, is one of those senators that lindsay graham might have been talking about when he said ted cruz could get shot on the floor of the senate and have a tough time getting a conviction. >> another memorable line from a memorable year. al, the final question i did want to ask you, on the issues, what are the big issues in the minds of the republicans that are blind you there at the state convention? we have heard this week about abortion, national security and nuclear policy, a campaign previously that it focused on immigration issues. what in your mind are the top one or two issues to north dakota republicans today? >> you know, i think that like
most republicans that are leaning to the conservative, the nonincumbent type person, he want to make sure this nation is secure. we have two airport spaces. we have a very strong national guard presence that has gone throughout the whorld world. they want a strong national defense, the border secure. we have been fortunate to have our economy strong in the last six to eight years. not every state has been like that. so the economy doesn't stand way at the top. but those other issues are really key to our people. >> all right. representative al carson and joel hidecamp, thank you both. appreciate your time, live from the belly of the beast there. up next, a tour through the complicated and fascinating world of wisconsin politics. ♪ [engine revs] ♪ ♪
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governor scott walker pushed through those anti union policies in 2011 with those huge protests in response. all with the backing of the koch brothers. john nichols is a correspondent for the nation and associate editor "capital times," former colleague of mine and a man who i can personally say is most equipped to have this historical conversation. walk us through the particular politics of wisconsin and why money matters and voters are so sophisticated about how it matters. >> well, you are asking exactly the right questions. look, wisconsin is the birthplace of the republican party. it was historically a moderate republican state, even sometimes a liberal republican state. but in the last ten years, it has become quite rigidly conservative, at least at the upper levels of the republican party. and in part, that's because of the massive in flow of money. back in 2009, 2010, a lot of national donors, very wealthy
people, folks like the koch brothers and others, got excited about a guy named scott walker. they gave a lot of money to his campaign. they helped to build a lot of infrastructure to support him. and he won in 2010. he, of course, faced a huge uprising in 2011 because of his anti labor policies. he faced a recall. and then the money poured in at even greater levels. and it wasn't just campaign money. it was money to build organizations, to develop websites and communications to do all sorts of politics that came from a lot of national donors. and interesting thing, when walker won the recall, that money did not go away, and that infrastructure did not go away. and so if you want to understand why donald trump is in trouble today, it is because a new political establishment and a new political infrastructure was developed around those walker campaigns, and that has been
steered largely to helping ted cruz. >> and then meanwhile, on the other side, where you see bernie sanders doing well in the state, russ feingold running to get back into the senate after having lost previously and many people who are political junkees may remember that campaign finance law, which is often named after the people who passed it, is called mccain feingold, because that was the bipartisan agreement there. talk to us about that and why for russ feingold that might continue to be a defining issue and one that bernie is tapping into, it would seem. >> well, it goes back more than 100 years. the great republican progressive, more than a century ago, made his whole campaign about getting corporate money out of politics. it was a huge issue in wisconsin. it's hard-wired into the wisconsin sensibility. that politics has moved more of the democratic party, progressive politics. and feingold really became a symbol of it. interestingly enough, so does
bernie sanders. and i think that one of the subtleties of wisconsin is, that it has a deep-rooted aversion to corporate influence in politics, especially on now the democratic side. that's a very resonant issue. perhaps more in wisconsin than most states. >> and do you think people buy donald trump's argument that he can't be bought? >> i think that donald trump is a terrible fit for wisconsin. he's polled weaker in wisconsin for a very long time. it isn't just about the camp he bought. that might be pretty popular with a lot of folks. but his style is very abrasive. and, you know, the truth of the matter is, john kasich is probably the best fit for wisconsin. the republican establishment isn't behind kasich. but i will tell you that my mother is out to see him in burlington today. >> all right. and what is she hoping to get out of that? >> i don't know that my mother is on the kasich side. but if any politician comes to burlington, wisconsin, my mom is in the front row, just to see him. >> ready to go. and kerry sanders was talking
about people in line for trump, some supporters and some people who were just there to see it, which is ideally a good part of the civic process here. john nichols in madison, thank you so much. >> thank you. >> after the break, bernie, hillary and the big money ballots fueling the fight between the candidates. we have more, straight ahead. don't let dust and allergies get between you and life's beautiful moments. with flonase allergy relief, they wont. most allergy pills only control one inflammatory substance. flonase controls six. and six is greater than one. flonase changes everything. when i was sidelined with blood clots in my lung,h. it was serious. fortately, my doctor had a game plan. treatment with xarelto®. hey guys! hey, finally, somebody i can look up to... ...besides arnie. xarelto® is proven to treat and help reduce the risk of dvt and pe blood clots. xarelto® is also proven to reduce the risk of stroke in people with afib, not caused by a heart valve problem. for people with afib currently well managed on warfarin, there's limited information on how xarelto® and warfarin compare in reducing the risk of stroke.
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the most common side effect is diarrhea sometimes severe. if it's severe stop taking linzess and call your doctor right away. other side effects include gas, stomach-area pain and swelling. talk to your doctor about managing your symptoms proactively with linzess. in a rare moment on the campaign trail, hillary clinton strongly rebutting an environmental activist accusing her of taking money from the oil sector. now let's look at the numbers here. clinton's 2016 campaign has not accepted donations directly from that industry. but she has received more than $300,000 from oil and gas industry employees, including donations from lobbyists that get bundled. by the same metric, bernie
sanders has received about $50,000 for his campaign. the latest back and forth between the two contenders is part of that larger debate over where campaign money comes from, how it's raised, why people are giving and whether it forms a style or a type of soft corruption. that's part of the allegation. let's get right to it which is moan sanders, national press secretary for the bernie sanders campaign. no relation. and wisconsin state senator, le lena taylor in milwaukee. simone, first of all, your view of this. because you got bernie saying he wants an apology. but as we just pointed out, the clinton campaign says even by this metric, if you want to count up industry money from employees or people linked, he's also got some money. >> to, look, ari. the clinton campaign has received 57 different lobbyists have donated to the campaign from the fossil fuel industry. of those 57, 11 of those lobbyists have bundled up to --
i think it's over, actually, $1 million. we are not receiving any kind of donations like that. lobbyists aren't donating to our campaign. the people that are donating to our campaign are people that just happen to work in the fossil fuel industry. but if the clinton campaign wants to ascertain that this money from these lobbyists and the money flowing in isn't going to affect secretary clinton if elected, that's fine. but it is disingenuous and egregious to suggest that we are lying and to call us liars for simply pointing out the facts of basic math that is going on in their campaign. >> right. and the math -- i just want to be clear. part of what you're arguing, whether people agree or not, is that that kind of money that gets bundled or goes through lobbyists is in order to influence her position, and you're making the argument that people who might happen to work at a company but are giving as citizens small dollar donations unlikely to be lobbying. so the walmart employee is fundamentally different than a lobbyist. let's go to lena and get her response. >> well, i think a couple of things. i think individuals who are not
elected can go into the weeds of all of that. i think your listeners have been lost in the maze of what is being -- the web they're trying to weave here. let's just get to the issue here. secretary clinton is not influenced by individuals who are supporting her and whether or not they then choose to go and bundle dollars. this is not the issue. she's been a person who has listened to people, she has been a person who has advocated for what is practical and what is get it done kinds of policies. and what we should be talking about are the issues, and not the things that will divert people from what is most important. jobs. what is most important, access to fairness. and dealing with the issues that matter. secretary clinton is talking to the people about the things that keep them up at night. and fighting for those things, and has for the entire time that i've known her as someone as an elected. but surely as a person in this great united states of america.
i think we should be talking about those things. >> simone, you go first. >> i just want to note, we are talking about the issues. campaign finance, the issue of campaign finance law in this country is a real issue. we know we live in a rigged economy. there is no question, simone. >> a system of a corrupt finance system, senator. we have to have a conversation about how big money interests, interests of lobbyists and people who back the industry come into play when we talk about elections. i'm not saying secretary clinton is corrupt. the system is corrupt. but you cannot say that millions of dollars flowing into a campaign by lobbyists, but special interests, somewhere are not going to come into factor. -- >> i can address those, simone, if you could allow it to be a back and forth. so number one, as someone who has been elected and has fought for campaign finance reform, and completely understand those things, support the feingold, mccain, effort that happened federally, as well as authored
those kinds of fights locally, i get it. secretary clinton has also been someone who agrees in that same way, as well as senator sanders has. but to be in the weeds of suggesting in this particular situation that her donors have been motivated by her, and as a result of that gone to get their friends and their other supporters to be able to gather with them to be able to support her, don't be mad because people have gone to do that. what i'm suggesting is that does not mean that secretary clinton is going to vote one way or another. what it means is, she is a practical individual that people have supported. i'm not suggesting campaign finance is not important. it is. but i'm saying, in these times, let's not be like the other side. talking about the things that get us in the weeds. let's talk about the issues. jobs. let's talk about the issues, access. let's talk about the issues, for example, that matter to women that look like you and i. in my community. the issues of police and community relationships. let's talk about the way that
secretary clinton has addressed those issues. those are the things that matter to people and keep them up at night. >> state senator lena taylor and simone sanders from two perspectives on the campaign trail. appreciate your time this morning. >> thank you, ari. >> and coming up, senator marco rubio is no longer running for president. you probably heard that. had you heard he's actually still trying to rack up delegates to play a role at a contested convention in cleveland? and why? we'll explain, next. we were born 100 years ago into a new american century. born with a hunger to fly and a passion to build something better. and what an amazing time it's been, decade after decade of innovation, inspiration and wonder. so, we say thank you america for a century of trust, for the privilege of flying higher and higher, together. ♪ try phillips' fiber goodummies plus energy support.
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♪ no, you're not ♪ yogonna watch it! ♪tch it! ♪ ♪ we can't let you download on the goooooo! ♪ ♪ you'll just have to miss it! ♪ yeah, you'll just have to miss it! ♪ ♪ we can't let you download... uh, no thanks. i have x1 from xfinity so... don't fall for directv. xfinity lets you download your shows from anywhere. i used to like that song. you may have heard the stop trump movement has been intensifying in the hunt for delegates picking up steam this weekend. ted cruz in north dakota to address the state's republican convention, hoping to win some of those 28 unbound delegates. now there's a chance marco rubio's delegates also might come in or out of play at the national convention. it's all because of an unusual move. the florida senator is trying to hold on to all the delegates he won before he dropped out and suspended his campaign on march 15th.
he's personal asking party chairs in 21 states not to release any of the 172 delegates. alexburgess told me while the florida senator is no longer a candidate he wants to give voters a chance to stop trump. after getting a letter from rubio, alaska has a republican party chair who already agreed, okay, to give the five delegates to rubio there and they'll remain bound under the state party rules. if the other states did agree to this request, that would be a setback for, you guessed it, donald trump. if he fell short of the number needed to clinch the nomination. all of this depends on what the rules committee does. the key party body that decides how a contested convention goes down. we have a special interview today by skype with david wheeler, republican national convention, on that rules committee. and back with me, new york, here is elise jordan, msnbc political
analyst and republican, as well. david, first of all, walk us through how you came to be on this all-important committee. >> well, it started with the county caucuses here in my home county. i got elected to be a county delegate, moved on to a regional and state level. so about two weeks ago, we had our state meeting in south dakota. i got elected as a state delegate and then the total delegation from south dakota elected me to be one of our two members on the convention rules committee. >> only a handful less than ten of these members named. ultimately, a little over 100 will write the rules. basically determine what happens at an open convention. a., are you expecting an open convention. and b., who do you think should be on the ballot there if there is one? >> at this time, the analysis i've read says there is a good chance for having an open convention. i think we have to be planning for that contingency.
at this point, i believe that we need to allow all candidates who are actively campaigning to be on that -- to be nominated to have their names placed in nomination. >> names placed in nomination. >> so you support a rule that would allow donald trump, ted cruz, and john kasich to all be listed on the first ballot? >> yes. >> what about this idea that's been proposed that a paul ryan or mitt romney should be on the ballot? >> well, i have not given much consideration to that. >> but you guys are going to be in charge of that. i mean, you're either going to be allow them to be on the ballot or not. if they're not, they can't be the nominee. >> that's correct. now, there's different rules that apply to that. there's a difference between being nominated and having votes counted for you and so if a delegates says we give our votes to marco rubio, there's a question of whether that gets counted that is separate from the question of whether his name is placed in nomination. >> but do you think people who have not run for president this
cycle should be allowed to run? would you support that kind of rule since you're going to be one of the decision makers? >> i think the beginning of the convention needs to be focused on those running on this convention but as a rules committee member i have to consider what happens if we get 20 ballots down the road and can't arrive at a majority support for one candidate, maybe we have to shake it up by doing something different. >> so, david, look, you've thought this through, you're an attorney and you're on this powerful committee. what you're saying, if i can understand in plain english, is in the beginning the first few ballots should only be active candidates and only as a last resort to shake it up on much later ballots would you ever support a paul ryan type candidacy or a rule that would allow that? >> that's accurate. >> okay, what are you hearing from other folks coming into this committee and have you heard directly from any of the presidential campaigns yet? >> i have not heard from any of the other presidential
campaigns. the only other person on the rules committee i've talked to is the own person from south dakota and so these discussions are just starting now. >> let me ask you a harder question if you don't mind. what do you say to your fellow republicans who look at this process and say after 50 states have voted an everyone's had their say and someone will be in the lead, people like you are going to go to the convention and write rules who determine who the nominee is which may not be what the people said. what do you say to that concern? >> the rules committee won't determine who the delegates will vote for. a candidate who comes to the convention with only the most support but not a majority of support has not gained the requisite delegates to get the nomination. that means that someone else or all the other candidates have more support than that one candidate. we have to allow all the delegates to vote. i believe the rules committee
should make sure that delegates who will be the people deciding this convention, that all of them have to be counted, we should not exclude candidates who are actively campaigning from the ballot. the rules committee won't take delegates away from anybody if -- whether if donald trump or senator cruz come into the convention with 1237 delegates, that person will be the nominee and the rules committee i don't believe will take that away from them. i don't believe that would at all be appropriate. >> but donald trump is saying -- i want to be clear. he's saying if he comes in with, say, 1150 and he's a little short but has the most that it would only be fair to let him go on to be the nominee. he's saying if that doesn't happen, if you write rules or the delegates come together in a way that denies him the nomination despite having a lead that's unfair and that's insiders overturning the will of the people. what is your response to that
and do you see yourself as an insidner that role? >> i do not believe i constitute an insidner this process. i'm a delegate from south dakota who is going to my first convention. the response i have to a statement like that is that if mr. trump doesn't have a majority of support then he hasn't met the threshold. the rules have been from the beginning you must receive a majority -- which means more than half -- of all the delegate votes cast in the convention and to change that threshold to mean that he only needs to get the most actually changes the rules. he says i should only need a plurality of votes to win the nomination. >> you're certainly accurate. that is basically his position. stay with me, i'm bringing in elise here on set. donald trump's position is that close enough is good enough. >> well, i think it's a messaging disaster to have to
explain this convoluted process. >> you haven't had fun with david and i talking about this? >> to put it into one simple sentence? to trump voters i think it's very difficult and that's the problem the rnc has now. we haven't had this kind of situation since maybe 1976 with ford and reagan and this is so far into the not earn -- how the convention have nominated the past couple cycles so i just think it's a very difficult task to make this seem like it is a democratic process, which it is, when it is a very convoluted rules-based -- >> great point. so, david, speak what elise is saying which is basically that even if your powerful committee does a fair process, it may be widely seen as unfair. >> that is a fair consideration. this is a political convention and politics will likely come into it. i think the rules committee needs to be open and transparent
with the process and if we allow the delegates to do the talking through their votes then the world will see that we can have a convention, the delegates can wrangle on the floor, eventually someone will get a majority of support and that person should rightfully be the nominee for our party. >> and to be clear, although the exact rules package obviously isn't here yet, you think it's perfectly possible and fair to write rules that allow voting at the convention where the person who enters with the most delegates -- maybe trump -- leaves without being the nomination? that's a fair possibility in your view? >> absolutely. >> all right, david wheeler, i want to thank you for getting into the weeds with us. i want to thank our viewers for tolerating this, those still with us, and elise jordan, great talking with you. i am ari melber here, i've been anchoring for two hours. don't go anywhere, my colleague alex witt will pick up live coverage. she has a former strategist for
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helping you pursue it, is ours. t-i-a-a. good day, everyone, i'm alex witt at msnbc world headquarters in new york. it's yet again a critical weekend for both republicans and democrats in the race for the white house. in battleground wisconsin, at some point today, every contender from those parties will be in the badger state. a short time from now it's donald trump who's now hinting in a new interview again at a possible third-party run if he's not the gop candidate. and bringing in sarah palin to campaign with him at all of his stops which include one in racine. and no shortage of drama for the democrats. one candidate demanding an apology for the other and both meeting at the same place and the same time. could it get uglier? allhi