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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  March 13, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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all right. good morning everybody on the east coast. still night on the west coast. steve kern acy, continuing live coverage of the special election in pennsylvania. race in soon to be defunct district. conner lamb and rick sac own. qualified as too close to call. 97% counted. each candidate close to the 50% mark. c connor lamb, has the lead, the
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democrat. 5.79 is the number. nbc news has not yet declared a winner in the race. democrat lamb took to the stage and declared victory. >> it took a little longer than we thought but we did it. you did it. you did it. >> now the chair of the house democrats campaign committee also declaring victory on lamb's behalf. i want to congratulate conor lamb and his team of grassroots supporters on an incredible victory. these results should terrify the
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republicans. saccone campaign is not conceding. animated rick saccone took to the stage and had to say this. >> you know, we're still fighting the the fight. not over yet. going to fight all the way to the end. you know i never give up. you know my first race went into the night and we won that. second race the same way. we're kind of used to this right? so that's it. we're not giving up. don't give up. we'll keep it up. we're going to win it. god bless you all. >> his campaign is telling nbc news they've been in touch with legal counsel tonight, exploring full range of legal options here. more in a minute. pennsylvania law requires a recount for statewide races, key word, statewide, if in close
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percentage. congressional district as opposed to statewide, it's unclear. if you're not conceding at this hour, hard to blame you for that. still votes out and margin is 5.79. what he's got to make up on paper. maybe it's possible. what he's up against this hour. all the votes, absentee, election, in and allegheny and westmoreland, wanting for washington and greene. 1,395 is the number of absentee ballots outstanding here. colored in red on your maps, republican districts, 1,400 votes, maybe could make up chunk. but problem that saccone has, absentee ballots counted, lamb
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is overperforming what he did on election today. overperformed in allegheny county when they counted. better on the absentees than the people who voted at polls. same in westmoreland. 11 points better for lamb. if that holds in washington right now, rick saccone is winning 53% in washington county. if lamb improves 11 points there as he did in westmoreland, and lamb is winning absentee, maybe by substantial margin. opportunity if this pattern holds to build on the 579. between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. expecting to get the absentee ballots from washington. they're up late and promised to get us the numbers. are greene, 2% of the district
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down here. 200 absentee ballots there. we'll see but on paper hard for saccone to make up the 579. only thing after that, provision provisional ballots, went to the tend to favor drats, maybe a big margin. historically, military ballots, maybe dozens, maybe 100, 150. tent to favor republicans. but looking at probably military ballots canceled out by provisional. to get that 579, hard to see saccone come up with it. see why he's waiting, we all will. maybe wants recount and that law come into play. but lamb is holding to the lead. if you're democrat got to be feeling good, if you're
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republican, up against it at this hour. speaking of -- sorry, going to democratic headquarters. jonathan allen joins us from conor lamb headquarters. and also in rick saccone headquarters. why are the democrats confident in the call right now? >> reporter: they're looking at numbers you're looking at right now. big mountain fob for saccone to build. and conor lamb, former marine, opportunity with the chaos going on to jump in. watched in politics that candidates will try to declare victory before it's happened to win the public relations war. convince the other side to back down. >> over to you vaughn hilliard on the republican side, i look you through the basic math but
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what are they seeing on the map? >> i just talked to -- would have been great to have bob b n branstetter to come on air, he declined the opportunity. but talked through how long the process will go. he laid out exactly as you laid out, exact three pots we're waiting to see. provisional ballots, military absentee and number three. getting late in the evening, sorry. we're waiting. he said it's several days. and this is military absentee ballots, not due to their understanding until march 20th. week from now. asking about recount. they said it's their understanding for congressional districts not legally able to demand a recount but at the same
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time can request one if they so desire and see it as realm of possibility. also intends to review the absentee ballots from the counties to look for discretions. somebody has to fill out address exactly what showing up on the voter registration rolls. sounds like task at hand. they're not conceding no matter what conor lamb says. rick saccone says we're in it until the end. every intention of doing so. in touch with legal counsel and pushing through the end. remind you, a campaign that's gone on months already, might as well keep it going. you'll be interested steve, march 20th is not only the day the military ballots are
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required but petitions to qualify for the ballot, he will run in other congressional district. there's that. >> interesting detail at end there. saccone campaign will fold one way or other into campaign in newly configured 14th district. if you haven't followed details of this, will be very republican district. that's saccone. 50/50 race. that's great information from republican headquarters. thanks for joining us. and political reporter, daily beast columnist and contributor. let me throw these dates out there. might be relevant as well. been told that secretary of the
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common wealth in pennsylvania will have eight days to decide on recount. campaign could petition. secretary makes that call. and provisional ballots, maybe i.d. issue, something like that, counted in seven days. it does occur to me, listening to what vaughn just said, rule is house is the ultimate judge of its elections and republicans do control the house. there are moments in congressional history with disputed elections. bloody eighth in indiana, '84/'85, democrats wouldn't seat the republican. looking potentially at situation like that? >> we could be but i don't think so. close as this is, based on your shrewd math, doesn't feel like there's going to be that much doubt when all the absentee and other ballots are counted, based
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on projections. think it has to be even closer or evidence of irregularities or something else for the house to really take this up. i don't think that paul ryan and house majority wants the country's attention focused on this race. it is very bad news for them. paul ryan now has to worry about his re-election. he's in a plus four district. they just almost lost or have lost a plus 20 district. so basically every republican in the house of representatives is kind of looking at themselves, saying we want to get as far away from the pennsylvania results as possible. >> and picking up on that, we'll see who ends up winning but it's a 20-point swing. 50/50 tonight. kansas fourth last year, montana, double digit swings away from trump in '16 to the
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special election. add this to the mix. what does that do to republicans on capitol hill? >> and also seen republicans meeting targets but democrats vastly overperforming the previous ticket. also speaks to democratic enthusiasm. lot of republicans were looking at this race even before the polls closed and trembling a bit. would be political malpractice not to prepare for the headwinds given what we know. but what we saw tonight, a district that trump won by 20 points, over 100 districts more competitive than this district. ones that democrats are already targeting. republicans today said this race means that map is officially expanded. >> fallout now begins, even as counting and recounting continues out there.
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caitlyn and -- are they sticking around? they are. why am i thanking them. i want thoem to stick around. president trump meanwhile says he plans to campaign for republican candidates. but new reports say the most vulnerable republicans don't want the president's help. that's next.
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all right. we try to continue to track down the outstanding votes in pa 18, joined by melanie oft rander, assistant director of the board of elections, washington county, where they're counting absentee
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ballots. trying to eat into the lead that conor lamb has, rick saccone. melanie, thanks for joining us. i know you're in middle of lot. do you have sense of when this count will be complete? >> we're anticipating 2:30, 3:00. >> so 1 1/2 hours or so from now. 1,195 absentees? >> yes, sir. >> that was the number of ballots received, not sent out right? >> correct. that -- >> great. do you have any indication right now how they're going? >> i have not, separate room from the counting. my process is doing. so i haven't been there to check the totals yet. >> i'm sorry? >> and we won't be releasing a
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preliminary totals, just the final once we've finished everything. >> meaning release the final total of the entire county's vote? >> after we've recorded the absentees. >> we'll have to do some math when you do that. hearing about and saccone campaign is talking about provisional and military ballots. trying to pin down how many are out there. do you have a sense of how many provisional ballots were cast? >> i do not. we didn't start on those yet. focus was on getting the absentees counted. military outstanding absentees, 14 outstanding and they have until march 20th to be received by our office. >> very significant 14 military
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ballots in washington county and not sure on the -- not looking to pin you down on specific numbers here but generally do you have a sense how much provisional ballots you end up with in election? >> this election seems to be more than normal election. not as many as 2016 presidential election though. >> and just generally speak, not specific to tonight, do you find them tend to break a little bit more democratic than the election day vote? >> that i can't say. i'm not sure. i don't want to answer incorrectly. >> i think i have burdened you enough for this very late or i guess early hour. it is -- i think i love elections, probably exciting for you down there. i hope it is. thank you for joining us. >> i think it is as well.
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you're welcome. thank you. >> good luck. keep you posted as we learn more from washington county. this was president trump's rallying cry to voters in allegheny on saturday. >> go out on tuesday and just vote like -- you got to get out there. world is watching. i'm going to be home watching the returns. whole world, remember that, they're all watching. we want to keep it going, keep agenda, make america great going. get them in. very important race. >> donald trump won the 18th congressional district by 20 points in 2016 but replican candathe endorsed trailing tonight. conor lamb won 172 precincts won by donald trump in 2016, flipped them and rick saccone didn't win a single district that went hillary clinton in 2016.
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only two of 23 vulnerable republican house members want president trump to campaign for them in their districts. joining us former republican congressman and voto latino. than thanks for joining us. psychology question. member of congress in election year, republican in potentially competitive district this year, watching this tonight, what is reaction? >> panic button, steve. donald trump does not help downballot republicans, he only hurts them. democrats won tonight. really big. republicans underperformed about 20 points. when you're looking at current house of representatives, you have about 23 republicans in the house of representatives that hold districts that hillary clinton won. looking at pa 18 and saying this should be a 20-point republican
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district, what does that mean for the 23 districts that hillary won but republicans hold in congress? setting up blue wave. saying as republican not trying to bring ominous tone but reality is democrats won big and every republican is terrified of the results this evening. >> for democrats in washington or running around the country, trying to flip republican seats, what is strategic lesson. heard that conor lamb is of the district, cultural fit of the district, little bit at odds with the national party on a few things, were they important or trump midterm, this is what you're going to get? >> what he did we saw in virginia, midwest on super tuesday and alabama. democrats have realized way they win is not leaving any voters
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behind. knocked on every door, talked about issues that community cares about. able to say i agree with the president for tariffs of steel but meet you halfway. brought back the working-class voters you were concerned couldn't do it. because he talked to them. republicans have to spend more money to safeguard districts they thought were safe. close to 110 districts where the margin of victory of the republicans was less than 20 points. they're in trouble. >> david, what could endangered republican do? seen tonight's result. not aberration, however it ends up, the swing is consistent, you're endangered and want to survive. need a hard core republican base to be with you to win. what do you do?
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>> republicans in paradox right now because donald trump hurts downballot republicans but if you criticize donald trump, deflates gop turnout. seeing paralysis among the republicans. democrats have done things if they stick with it, embrace candidates that can sell their ma message to their specific district. litmus tests. alabama democrat winning deep red state. pennsylvania 18, came out, i'm not supporting nancy pelosi. family conversation among democrats is hard in that conversation but reality is to win the districts that donald trump took from democrats is going to take a bigger tent within the democratic party. republicans have failed to realize that. shunned moderates and diversity in the party and as result,
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party is defined by trumpism. >> that's absolutely right and because this election was so close, going to see new wave of republicans saying i'm not running for re-election. opens up can of worms. candidates that step in might be more volatile than we have now. >> thanks for joining us. coming up in pennsylvania 18, trump, candidates themselves? that's next. at the marine mammal center, the environment is everything.
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they say the other side is energized. let me tell you, they're energized for hate for your president. talked to so many on the left, they have hatred for your president, many for your country. tell you smore, wife and i saw it today, hatred for god. >> republican candidate rick saccone. ran against a marine veteran turned attorney nearly half his age, tried to position himself not as national image far left liberal democrat. personally opposes abortion but says pro choice, would stand up to democratic leader nancy pelosi and supports steel and aluminum tariffs. if lamb wins, probably another half dozen republicans will not run again. joining us now, politic editor at theroot.com.
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and jonathan alter and caitlin huey-burns are also back now. what democrats were comfortable with with lamb as their candidate. how much is phenomenon only see in pa 18 and handful around the country versus to think ahead to democrats choosing presidential candidate in a couple of years, see that nationally? >> honestly, i think after you keep losing and losing, you start not being as concerned about ideology as who can actually win. conor lamb could win. democrats have recognized if they're going to win in the red states and swing districts, they have to have somebody to beat roy moore. need a doug jones and conor lamb. ideological flexibility we're
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going to see will trickle up. where a kamala harris, cory booker, castro running, they're going to have to realize that democratic party is lot bigger than supposed liberal elites. it was never entirely that party. and going to see flexibility in 2020 candidates. being deft and swift on issues is how you win the election. >> another thing is generational question. this part of pennsylvania. joe biden was campaigning. he has bond with these voters. here is guy 33 years old. born in 1984 and he carries that district too. >> so interesting about conor lamb's speech, really youthful, energetic guy but talking about franklin roosevelt.
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fusion of the energy of youth and traditional democratic party message. strong on social security and medicare. strong labor. on fox they're saying he ran as republican. completely untrue. that's their rationalization for why he's done so well. but he's not running as what used to be called a san francisco democrat. super liberal on cultural issues. that just doesn't play in certain parts of the country like this district in pennsylvania. >> san francisco democrat was the term from the year he was born. from republican standpoint, one thing that's interesting about saccone that i noticed. tax policy, business, not a republican necessarily in line with the labor background working-class district. >> in fact lamb was able to take the president's tariff announcement and run with it,
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painting saccone as more traditional republican mold for trade policy. really interesting. to your point about how he was able to navigate these waters. also think we have to consider with democratic candidates that conor lamb was chosen by the party as nominee. democrats are facing good thing for them, surge of candidate as and interests but will have primaries, battling each other out. ideology plays roll in that. and republicans have blaming the race on rick saccone. came as ally of the president. endeared himself to the president. wasn't as if he ran away, he leaned in. talking to republicans a little bit about the trump factor, whether he has transferable quality for candidates, it's
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case by case basis. >> interesting point that caitlin raises. other primaries this year, one of the things republicans are hoping for. when party doesn't anoint the candidate at convention, primary voters and eight candidates, democrats be pragmatic? everybody trying to be most anti-trump? >> lot of the bernie versus hillary argument is because democrats want to win. do you want to be right or win? democrats realize that now is the time to win. i don't think see the abusive, terrible splits we've seen. other thing, this is key. i worked in this area in tim ryan and northeast ohio, know part of pittsburgh. conor lamb is kind of politician those areas have had for 35
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years. only with the rightward shift in response to barack obama that lamb seems odd. he's more in line with the district than most we've seen in last couple of years. >> big picture here, where do you think the democratic party is right now? suffered traumatic loss in 2016 election. i think lot of them are still trying to sort through. seen the party in the past. mondale to reagan and dukakis, reinvented themselves in bill clinton mold. are they searching for new identity? digging? >> never want to interrupt your opponent when he's in the process of committing suicide. that's what they think is going on with trump. in some ways want to back off and let trump continue to self-destruct and run a check trump campaign. they all know they need a positive message. problem is with economy
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improving, hard to have economic message that cuts through. they need to still be careful about these disputes. don't totally agree the hillary/bernie thing is over. bubbling beneath the surface. interesting into the primaries whether the dnc makes every democratic candidate in the primaries essentially sign a pledge saying they were enthusiastically support winner of the primary. because if they have people sitting on their hands and not supporting the person they lost to in the primary, they're not going to be able to retake the districts. they to be very unified in these districts that trump carried or that have republican members to flip the house. >> thanks everyone. coming up, political expert who projected a win for conor lamb tonight, next.
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none of the news networks have made a call in the pennsylvania special election yet. including nbc news. but at 11:15 eastern dave wasserman of the cook politico report tweeted this, barring major tabulation error, conor lamb has defeated rick saccone in pa 18. dave, thank you for joining these districts. you know them better than anyone else. 579 is margin, republicans say not giving up. you standing by this declaration? >> i am. and you know every bit as much as i do about outstanding ballots but extremely rare for a margin this large to be overturned by tabulation error or massive swing in remaining absentee votes next morning. >> take us through what we're seeing right now.
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we'll get word in 45 minutes to an hour or so on washington county. absentee ballots about 1,200 there. margin is 579 district-wide right now. what are you expecting to hear from them? >> what we've seen in other places, other counties, democrats, not only in this election but other races have overperformed in absentees about five points compared to the election day vote. if that holds, lamb could conceivably add to lead a small amount there. but not talking about a swing out of washington county that would alter 579 margin by much. and fact of the matter is, entirely possible that rick saccone will have won the votes cast on election day but
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absentee ballots from allegheny and other counties will put lamb ahead. >> lot of absentee ballots. and greene county has 200 absentee ballots, i guess won't get word. provisional and military ba ballots. in washington, 14 military ballots. >> we're talking about infinitesimal number of ballots. relative to the margin. pennsylvania is unique, there are very low numbers of set aside vote categories. in other special elections we've dealt with last year, had pretty big early vote and quite a
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different election day or provisional vote. not likely to see that in pennsylvania. these are very small categories of votes. >> bigger picture question here. what do you suppose the appetite is of republicans in general in pennsylvania, nationally, to contest this. talking about reviewing legal options. reality is this district no matter what vanishes end of the year and probably going separate ways to run races. what is appetite of the republican party is rick saccone is a little bit short? >> republicans don't want to drag this out. and filing deadline that comes next week, both candidates only have a handful of days to collect petitions to get on the
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ballot in november. entirely possible they're run and become the favorites in two separate districts that are better suited for them than the current one they've run in and be serving together in the house january of 2019. it's plausible scenario. >> big picture, taking this special election, comparing it to the others we've had here, nationally, there's all the talk, democrats want there to be a wave. republicans say it won't be that bad. put this in with all the other special elections and indicators out there, what is it adding up to to you? anything? >> in the average of the seven special congressional elections held in past year, democrats have overperformed typical share of the vote in those districts by nine points and only need to
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overperform by four points to win control of the house. not going to have these huge swings in most districts because republican incumbents are going to be stronger than in these types of scenarios in specials. even half the swing would be enough to flip a lot of districts. more than the 24 they need to take control. i see them as favorites to do that. >> something tells me you're not going to sleep soon. thanks for joining us. >> thanks for your good work. david and maria are back with us. i asked david wasserman as well about the appetite of the republican party to contest this thing. he thinks won't have much of one. saccone is 100 votes short and wants to fight, what will
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republicans say? >> nrcc i think will move on to next race. looking at november. but take-away from tonight, democrats won whether or not they hold the seat or not. looks like they will. here's big issue, i was product of special election where democrats were wrestling with what was their message at the time, obamacare. and republicans don't have a message. what you're seeing this them reaching for message. attack pelosi, embrace trump, talk about tax cuts? what is it? if you can't win a race that trump won by 20 points, you're offmessage. that's what happened tonight. nrcc is saying what is our message in november to protect the seats that perhaps should be eight-point seats now in jeopardy. republicans don't have a message going into november.
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>> maria, democrats are looking at -- dave wasserman took us through the numbers. democratic strategist, that's what you want to see. what is biggest risk for democrats in the months between now and election? something they could do to avoid, to compromise that advantage? >> they focus only on the midwest and figuring only way back to congress is michigan and wisconsin, not recognizing that you have whole electoral map with unregistered and untapped voters. texas, north carolina, georgia, boom of latinos not registered but policies at local level reflect mini trumps and becoming more caustic and people are paying attention. other thing is not leave any voters behind. idea that worked well in alabama
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and virginia as well. contacted every voter, frequent or infrequent. person-to-person contact. back to basics. when they go low, we go local. should be the mantra for the democratic party. >> thanks to both of us. >> thanks for your work steve. fantastic. >> i live for nights looics this. appreciate this. close election night. suspense. >> it's the best. >> thanks to both of us for joining us. coming up, election day started with news that rex tillerson has been fired as secretary of state. talk about that next.
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today's election day started with the news that president donald trump fired secretary of state rex tillerson in a tweet, replacing him with mike pompeo.
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said many times with donald trump as a candidate and president, things we haven't seen before. stormy things with secretary of states but way this went down on twitter. >> no class. also gutless. this is a guy who on tv can say you're fired but can't say it to his own secretary of state face-to-face. that's a guy without any courage or integrity. having said that, rex tillerson was one of the worst secretaries of state in modern history. just destroyed morale in the state department. left huge numbers of posts unfilled. which is terrible for the united states. not shedding any tears over the fact he's gone. but it was handled in typically pathetic trump fashion. >> that is the other angle of this think. one of them. this is a relationship, a
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president/secretary of state relationship that was clearly toxic for a long time. signs that maybe tillerson is going to be gone long before now too. questions about the immediate timing with comments he made about russia the other day. on the other hand, long time coming. >> it has been. reporting for months that tillerson was on the outs and trump admitted that today, had been thinking about it a long time. what's important here though, unlike other positions like attorney general, where it's important and part of the job to be independent of the president, secretary of state role is different. you have to be on the same page as president, you're out there selling president's foreign policy and national security agenda. i remember talking to experts in the transition, mitt romney and others with different world views than the president would immediately butt heads and be
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troubled relationship. tillerson defied president been various things publicly. charlottesville, morality and other issues. >> pompeo going forward looks like more functional relationship between the president and his new secretary of state. meaningful implications for direction of american foreign policy? >> if we get a secretary of state who at least publicly is closer in line with trump, in theory should help us with international relations. in theory won't have other foreign leaders feeling they hear one thing from donald trump and something else from secretary of state. theoretically that's fine. but potentially looking at meeting with north korea in next couple of months and bad transfer. and mike pompeo can become secretary of state but doesn't change that we have so many
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diplomatic positions not filled. when tillerson is fired over a tweet, others who are qualified don't want to get involved. people going out like star trek tlt red shirts or spinal tap drummers, doesn't attract the right people. >> north korea, meeting, pompeo stepping into that. >> and pompeo is a hard liner. more immediate question is he going to blow up the iran deal? he's been talking about that, been critical of that. how does that affect the north korean deal? why would the north korean sign a deal with trump in may if he's just blown up the iran deal? and north korean swone is much more complicated and they're further along in nuclear program
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than iran. pompeo, antim-muslim rhetoric hs been off the charts over the years. so lots of problems with arab world we're going to face. >> 15 seconds caitlin. >> pompeo is confirmed by senate but what do the votes look like now, has to defend all the things you described. >> confirmation. unlike other presidencies, interesting, contentious ones. thanks to all our guests this hour. thanks for staying with us. steve kornacki, more election coverage going on, right after this break. you know what's awesome? gig-speed internet.
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i'm steve kornacki. we're still going strong here early in the morning on the east coast, this is our continuing coverage. how exciting is this. the peaspecial election in pennsylvania between comer lamb and rick saccone, the race too close to call, no one has called this race. 99%, though, of the expected vote, it is in, it is counted, it's dislay for the world to see. democrat conor lamb currently in the lead with 579 votes. that is out of 227,000 cast district-wide. that number accounts for all of the

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