tv MSNBC Live With Alex Witt MSNBC October 21, 2018 9:00am-10:01am PDT
that is our show for today. thanks so much for watching. "a.m. joy" will be back next saturday, 10:00 a.m. eastern. up next, my friend, alex witt, will have the latest. so when i come to hollywood, all the hollywood people go to georgia. but rob ryder stayed. >> i know, i saw that. but just because that whole will packer thing didn't work out for you, everywhere you are, joy reid, is a party. that's what i want to say. and i miss having your team leading up to me here in the studio. so get back here already, all right? >> you know, it's so much quieter in there without us in there giggling, i know, it is. >> well, there's that. >> love you, girl! have a great show. >> okay, thank you so much, joy. good day to all of you. i'm alex witt here in new york at msnbc headquarters. here's what's happening right now. unprecedented enthusiasm. the results of a new nbc poll about what's on voters' minds with 16 days to go before the midterms. the president on the road
stoking fears and using his 2016 playbook. will this get republicans to turn out? and will this rally the dems? >> democrats are the party of crime. the democrat party has become an angry, ruthless, unhinged mob, determined to get power by any means necessary. >> it's all about donald. it's not about anything else. it's a conscious effort to divide the country. >> plus, new criticism in washington over what saudi arabia says happened to jamal khashoggi. >> they've lost all credibility as it relates to explaining what has happened. >> i don't find this saudi count credible at all. >> i think it's insulting to anyone who's analyzing this with any kind of intelligent background to think, oh, a fistfight led to a dismemberment. and we begin with a live look at capitol hill. just 16 days to go now until voters hit the polls and a large
spike that suggests americans appear more eager to cast their ballots on election day. a new nbc news "wall street journal" poll shows 72% of democrats say they have a high level of enthusiasm for november, whereas 68% of republicans are expressing that same energy. and a new report by the "las vegas review-journal" says early voters in the state of nevada have set a new record with more than 27,000 votes cast on the very first day of voting. joining me now, democratic pollster, fred yang. fred, good to see you. let's get to the numbers. you saw the early ballot numbers there in the state of nevada. according to this article, the numbers from the nbc news/"wall street journal" poll are saying what about who's going to hit the polls this november? are there going to be new voters, that didn't do it in 2016? will there be a blue wave? how are you reading it? >> i think new voters, old voters. i think, alex, the two things about the nbc/"wall street journal" poll we conducted is
that both republicans and democrats have the highest levels of enthusiasm since we asked this question in 2006. that's number one. number two, interesting groups that normally don't vote in midterms, younger voters, younger women. actually, in our poll, african-americans and latinos are more enthused about voting than white voters, which is very unusual. and i would say the other thing is, you know what? if you don't believe the polls, just look at the turnout for a lot of these elections we already held in 2017 and 2018. virginia, alabama, some of these special congressional elections in which, yes, democrats fell far short, but because of strong turnout in these special elections, democrats came close to wing these republicans seats. i think, look, i think we're still looking at a blue wave in november 2018, but we're certainly going to see a wave of voters who normally don't vote in midterm elections. >> how about the president's
approval rating numbers? i want to talk about that. because among registered voters, 47% approve. that is a new high for him. it's also a 3% jump from last month. 16 days now left until the election, fred. so what do you think the higher approval ratings suggest for democrats? >> well, i think -- so it's 47% -- not to get wonky, 47% with registered voters, but 45% with likely voters. so those are two different audiences. and look, i would say, yes, he's had an uptick, but in general, presidents with approval ratings below 50 lose double-digit house seats. and actually, alex, history shows even presidents with approval ratings above 50% lose double-digit house seats in their first midterm. and it's just because, you know, the country wants balance. the country wants change. i think in relation to the clip you saw, i think having donald trump out there now energizes
democrats. and i also think helps democrats with independent voters, who really want balance in washington. >> well, in terms of balance, the tenor of things, this poll found that 80% of registered voters believe we are living in a divided country. got 85% of the democrats, 73% of republicans. republicans are blaming barack obama and the liberals. democrats are blaming donald trump and the republican party. but both parties agree that the media is to blame here. what do these answers tell you? >> well, i think these answers tell us, we're obviously, even, divided on why we're divided. i do -- i do think the one notable nuance in the media is republicans -- inread the verbatim comments. republican voters tended to blame the media and it seemed like democratic, anti-trump voters just blamed media in general. and i think that's an important nuance. but, look, you know, a lot of these numbers shouldn't be
surprising. they're high, they're troubling. but, you know, as our colleague, chuck todd says, you know, this country has been in a political depression going now about, you know, two decades. so, it's troubling, you know, campaigns are tough. hopefully the country will come together, you know, but i think we're in for very, very divided public. >> yeah, you're right. fred yang, do stick around. there's another topic i want to bring you in on in just a couple of minutes. so we'll talk to you in a moment. but let's check in right now on the thousands of migrants who are traveling from honduras and have arrived in mexico. they're hoping to receive refugee status on their way to the united states. let's go right now to gabe gutierrez in southwestern guatemala right at the poeborde there with mexico. so let's talk about what you're seeing there. are people trying to cross that river, which looks like it's fairly fast-moving there behind you. >> reporter: hi, there, alex. yes, to give you an idea of where we are, we are at the
border, as you mentioned, between guatemala and mexico. it's a border town called tekun oman. see that bridge to my left. that's where friday thousands of migrants clashed with mexican police in riot gear. there are still hundreds of migrants waiting to apply for refugee status. mexican authorities are waiting about 10 or 12 in at a time, women and children and they're bused to a nearby shelter. this is a river, you see people are crossing it behind me. just so you understand, this typically happens on a day-to-day basis here in the border between guatemala and mexico. some of these people are just crossing over to work. there are goods that are brought in, but what's significant about the last couple of days is that migrant caravan we had seen over there, many of them decided to, since they were waiting so long and the patience was wearing thin over there, they decided to eget on some of these rafts, some of these boats and cross
over into mexico illegally. hundreds and houns, thousanundrs of them, really. and what we're seeing now on the mexican side of the border is that thousands of migrants have essentially reformed that caravan. there was some discussion that this caravan might splinter apart, might break apart because of this crackdown by mexican authorities. but what we're seeing now is according to mexican officials on the mexico side, more than 7,000 people are in that caravan, still marching towards the united states. there is a police barricade in one of the towns across the border that are hoping to hold them back. but right now, there are thousands of those migrants in that caravan in mexico marching towards the u.s. something else, alex, that we did see this morning, we spoke with several people that were part of that caravan that have decided to board buses back to honduras. some of them have made a decision to head back toward honduras. excuse me, the president of that country, of honduras, has said about 2,000 or so have decided to head back, for a variety of
reasons. one of the mothers we spoke with had a 4-month-old child. and she said that conditions were just too difficult. she didn't expect this much pushback from mexican authorities and she just didn't have it in her to continue that journey towards the u.s. in all, about 2,800 miles, that trek from where it started in honduras to the u.s./mexico border. however, alex, others that we have spoken with, including one woman we just spoke with on this shoreline a few minutes ago, she said she was making the trek from honduras and would not be deterred. in her words, she though what mexican authorities were saying, to have her apply for refugee status and do that legally, in her words, she viewed it, quote, as a trick. and she did not want to stay here and do it that way, instead making the decision to cross over illegally. a very dangerous, of course, alex. back to you. >> such tough decisions for these people. appreciate that, gabe gutierrez. meanwhile, the president has been hammering on the issue of immigration and the caravan all week long while campaigning cross-country. kelly o'donnell has been following the president.
so kelly, with a good day, is the president really betting on this topic, it's going to be a rallying cry for voters? >> reporter: from all the information we have, alex, this is a lane where the president is comfortable, has seen it has worked for him in the 2016 election and believes it can help to energize his voters right now. both for the larger issues of wanting to protect his presidency and also citing some of the things that we're witnessing, that gabe just laid out for us. real-world events where the president has a very hard-line view on how immigration laws should be changed in the country, at a time when there are all kinds of emotional, real-world consequences to what's going on. so he thinks this will help to get his base energized and to turn out. and in certain states, he believe it plays much larger than in others. he's also trying to use it as a register against democrats, to say that it is their policies and their unwillingness to work with them, that is caught some of the human drama that we have seen with families being torn
apart, with people wanting to have a better life, and not being able to reach their goals. now, there's a lot of criticism about the president tease attitudes when it comes to migrants. and he has said very clearly, he'll use the military to stop the current migrant flow heading north from entering the united states. but he's also using it to hammer democrats. he talked about this as a way to try to get voters to look at him as somehow being not the one responsible for what's going on, but putting the blame on democrats. here's how the president framed it. >> i could sit down with chuck schumer and nancy pelosi and in one hour, i could have an agreement done that would solve all of the things that you're watching that are so vicious and violent, where soldiers from mexico are being injured badly by these -- by people. and i could solve this in one hour with nancy pelosi and chuck schumer. but they don't want to, but i think now they do, because i think it's a terrible political
point for democrats. >> that's what the president is leaning on, heading into the midterms. he is also saying that he wants to do more to build the wall, which is so often a rallying cry among his supporters, when the president's been on the road. he's back at the white house today after a three-state swing out west, and he'll be on the road very soon with a lot of campaigning ahead of him in these next two weeks. alex? >> which, i bet, means you're going to be packing a few bags you're, kelly o'donnell. >> yes, indeed. >> let's go back to democratic pollster, fred yang. so i want to get your take tonight immigration issue, fred. it was certainly one of the key issues for voters polled in the new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll. what do the numbers reflect on the issue of immigration? >> i think the numbers reflect basically the premise of kelly's piece, which is, this is a very strong issue in some states, especially and particularly with republican-based voters. and you know, going back to the previous segment, midterms are about, you know, voting and enthusiasm. and this is one of these issues
that are, you know, strong with republicans. i will say, though, it's the base, obviously. it's also the middle. and one of the reasons why democrats are still in good shape for the midterms is among independent voters. they want democratic control of congress from anywhere from 14 to 20 points. and when you looked at our nbc/"wall street journal" poll and looked at the issue preferences of those independent voters, both health care and looking out for middle class and changing washington polled twice as high as immigration. not saying that this particular issue can't get some traction in the next couple of weeks, but for those independent voters, they want change in washington, and they want someone to do something about health care. >> okay. really quickly, the president is telling voters or those at campaign-style rallies, he's saying, hey, pretend like the vote's for me. is that going to work? >> i think we, as democrats, found out, alex, in 2014, 2010,
there's no substitute for the actual person. look, it's what they have to do. it is clear that donald trump is extremely energizing with republicans. but for republican voters to decide in the next two weeks that they're going, you know, make it to the polls, in an election without donald trump, i don't know. i think, you know, it doesn't normally happen. we'll see if it happens in two weeks. >> okay. fred yang, good to talk to you. >> thank you. >> thank you, fred. they say politics makes strange bedfellows. what we see in texas this week may prove that once again.
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countdown to the midterms, now just 16 days away. one of the hottest races this november will be the montana senate election, where democratic incumbent jon tester is facing off against republican matt rosendale in a state the president won by 20 points. joining me now, nbc's cal perry. he's traveled all over the gorgeous state of montana. it was a bit of a boondoggle. >> it's good work if you can get it. >> so tell us about what you found out. >> it's a race about authenticity. specifically, independence from d.c. politics. >> reporter: what does it to be montana? >> it's beautiful here.
you've got the mountains, you've got the lakes, you've got everything. >> wherever god comes to earth, he stays in montana. >> we have a lot of great things to offer. >> montana is mountains, and in my opinion, being in the mountains means hunting and fishing. >> reporter: here, the way you live outdoors matters. people attack tester because he. doesn't have a hunting license. rosen da rosendale is from maryland. but in the past he's voted for the state to control these public lands. >> millionaires from back he's, maryland and other states bought it all up and blocked it all off. >> you're saying maryland because of rosendale? >> i'm just saying, he claims to be a cattle rancher and doesn't even own a brand or cattle. >> the problem with tester is he portrays himself one way when in montana but when in washington, d.c., he votes with chuck schumer and liberal democrats. >> people call montana the last best place.
you can go in this part of the state where you're hunting on horseback to an entirely separate part of the state. >> yellowstone river where public lands are just as important. people come from all over the world to fish. >> is there a difference between rosendale and tester on public lands? >> i don't believe there's any real difference on either side of the isle. we all believe in public land. it's all a question of whether you want the state to manage it or the feds. >> who should control public lands? the state, federal government? >> the state. >> tell me why, sir. >> because the feds, there's too much bureaucracy. everything is done in d.c. nobody knows what goes on out here in the west. >> i think the state is more qualified to control public lands than the federal government sitting on their ass in washington, d.c.. >> folks do genuinely, sincerely believe that somehow we transferred the public lands to the state, that everything would be solved, they would have a much more direct access to the people that were making decisions about management policies on the land. the truth of the matter is, we can't afford to run our office of public assistance.
we had to close down our mental health center. we had to close down the job placement center. the job service. so if you can't fund just basic social services for the state, how are you going to suddenly manager however many million acres we have of public land in montana? and the answer is, we're not. >> i think that whoever's managing those lands, be it the state or federal government, providing as much access as possible to the public for their lands should be one of their highest priorities. >> you cannot be dogmatic. you can't be overly partisan. because if you are, you're not going to get anything done. >> there's a big divide between urban and rural. and i think in order to fix that, people need to see the west. they need to come out west and experience it and talk to people in the west firsthand. >> one of the things we've seen consistently at these trump rallies is this idea that you need to protect donald trump by sending someone to the senate who's going to vote for him and with him, as a means of protection. and that's what we're hearing from rosendale. he has send in these rallies,
send me to washington and i'll back up our president. you have this great mix between state and federal politics are going on. >> all of these people are trying to be so authentic. they want to keep it locally. so how much will the donald trump presence really help in the vote? because it seems that people just want to come to montana, look at what we have here. we want to preserve what we have. you're not going to see broadway theater, but you're going to get gorgeous stuff that needs to be saved. >> and the people who are there have this sort of mantra that d.c. doesn't understand it. you heard it throughout the piece. and donald trump plays on that. every time he goes out there for that rally, he talks about the swamp, the need to stay separate from d.c., he talks about chuck schumer and the democrats that have added to the swamp. the other thing that plays in montana is don junior. he's out there at every rally, he's out there hunting, he's big on the outdoors. >> there's a couple of states he focuses on. thank you, cal perry. thank you for the trip to montana. >> joining me now, betsy woodruff and eugene scott,
politics reporter for "the washington post." with a welcome to you both, we're going to stay on the midterms topic here, you guys. betsey, you had biden and trump squaring off in those dueling rallies yesterday in the very tight nevada races there. how much of an impact does biden have in terms of really ginning up the democratic base? >> you know, biden is one of the most visible democratic 2020 or potential 2020 contenders, he hasn't announced his intentions. but clearly, part of the effort that he's undertaking in campaigning for the midterms is keeping excitement alive about any potential presidential bid that he might have in the works. and recent polling shows that of the potential 2020 democratic candidates, biden is one of, if not the top, you know, most loved standard bears for the democratic party. so for him to show up in nevada and campaign for jackie rosen, who's running against republican independent, dean heller, certainly doesn't hurt. that said, of course, biden is not somebody known as someone from the west coast. he has the biggest political
impact in pennsylvania, delaware, his home stomping grounds of new england and the mid-atlantic, but that said, his connection with the obama legacy, as someone who could carry that torch, clearly has the potential of really firing up democratic voters anywhere in the country. >> yeah. and of course, name recognition really helps, particularly at this stage of the game. but to betsey's point. voters, eugene, may have gotten a preview of a potential 2020 general election matchup. and here's what the president said about biden possibly running against him. here it is. >> biden is a man that, number one, he can't draw a crowd. you see what we have. and we have thousands of people that couldn't get in today. many thousands. no with, loo no, look, i wish biden the best. i hope he's going to be the nominee, actually. >> eugene, do democrats have a leader? do they have a clear message to run on? and by the way, where is president obama in all of this? >> well, democrats are certainly trying their best to communicate that what they will offer, not just in tone, but in policy,
will be significantly different from a donald trump and will continue the obama legacy that nevada voters backed in 2012. i think what's also so important to democrats in states like nevada is that someone like joe biden can unite not only the base, the latinos, the black voters, the women, in nevada, but that he's someone, also, who can win back many of the white working class and white affluent voters who voted for obama in 2012, but switched over to trump. and they believe that they can do that, because the agenda that they believe they would put into place on international affairs or on national security, on public safety, and even immigration, will actually make america great, as far as most nevadans consider it. >> you know, we've been talking, betsey, about a pretty significant increase in voter enthusiasm. nevada itself has seen remarkable record early midterm voter turnout. more than 27,000 casting their ballots on the very first day alone. that's 10,000 more than the previous record in 2012. how do you explain that?
what's behind it? >> this midterm election cycle is generating voting patterns that seem to diverge from midterm election cycles in past history. and part of the reason that's important is that it means there's a good chance some of the results in some of these hot-button races may not match what pollsters are predicting. in the 2016 presidential election, american voters showed up, you know, came out to vote in patterns that didn't track with the historical precedent. and it's likely that that break from history is going to continue going into these midterms. you know, the heightened intensity, both among republicans and democrats, means that it's just going to be tougher for pollsters to predict what the eventually outcome is going to be. now, intensity does seem to be comparatively higher among democratic voters than among republican voters, but among both cohorts, it's at extraordinarily unprecedentedly high levels. and that just means that we can
expect lots of plot twists going into november. it's just hard to say what exactly is going to happen. >> i want to take a look at texas, because the president has a couple of scheduled rallies next week. one of them's in houston. that's monday. he's campaigning for ted cruz, of course, who's locked in that really fierce senate battle with beto o'rourke. how effective will the president be? >> well, ted cruz knows that the president is popular with republicans. and the reality is, he is in a race that's not as tight as it used to be, but every bit helps. he also had donald trump jr. come out previously, because he knows that conservatives aline with this trump presidency. and the trump family, as a whole. and he's hoping that people will get past the whole idea that he is not this, quote, likable person. but that he will back the agenda that many of the voters from the right prefer to see implemented in washington. >> all right, eugene scott, betsy woodruff, good to see you
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in a phone interview that he doubts saudi arabia's account of journalist jamal khashoggi's death, but then he also referred to the country as an incredible ally. ranking member of the house intelligence committee, adam schiff, expressed his thoughts on the saudi account this morning. >> i don't find this saudi account credible at all. there's simply no way they dispatched a team this large and that khashoggi engaged in some kind of a brawl with them unless he was merely fighting for his life. but i think we can see where this is headed. ultimately, the president is going to accept the crowned prince's denials, but it's hard for me to imagine that these orders would have been carried out without the knowledge of the crowned prince. >> joining me now is former cia acting director and msnbc global affairs analyst, john mclaughlin. john, with a welcome to you, the president has described saudi arabia as an incredible ally. is that true? and is it possible for saudi arabia to still be an incredible ally, despite what's transpired?
>> well, saudi arabia in the past has been an ally. and it has been important on a couple of issues. i would argue that it's less important as an ally today than it used to be. a couple of things. we don't need saudi oil as much as we used to. we're heading towards self-sufficiency here in north america. oil production globally is at an all-time, at least a high in the last year. second, i think the main thing that we can still hope to get out of saudi arabia as an ally is a counterweight to iran and it helps that they have a decent relationship with israel. those are all things to the good. but bottom line, i don't think we need them in the same way we once did. and also, they are not as responsive to what we'd like them to do as they have been in the past. >> i want to play for you what the president said about the status of jamal khashoggi's remains. take a listen to this.
[ inaudible question ] >> no, we don't know. nobody seems to know. somebody knows, but nobody of the various investigation groups at this moment know. but we'll find out. >> are you. concerned that they haven't identified that -- >> it's a concern. we'd like to find out where it is and what happened. and i think we're inching our way there. >> do you think it's important that the u.s. know about the recovery of his remains? get the details? >> yeah, of course, alex. and that's a disingenuous thing the president just said. i mean, he may not personally know, but the saudis know. and as adam schiff said, it just isn't credible. if you stop and think about it on the surface, khashoggi was going to that consulate to pick up a piece of paper. why did 15 saudis have to go there to meet him if he was just picking up a piece of paper? it's just false on the face of
it. and the saudis know where his body is. and so i don't know -- we're playing this game now in which we're allowing whatever it is they know to come out piecemeal. and not expressing great objection to that. i think this must be particularly difficult for secretary pompeo, because he went over there and came back and in his last remarks said, they're going to do an investigation. it will be transparent. we'll all know what happened. and then what occurs? they put in charge of the investigation prince mohammad bin salman, who is, of course, suspected of having endorsed this thing. so i think it puts u.s. officials in a difficult position. and it shows you, in a way, how little influence we have over what they're doing. >> does that also imply that the u.s. relationship with saudi arabia may be irreparably damaged, whether from a presidential perspective, from the citizens' spreperspective, from capitol hill and politicians? >> well, i don't know that it's
irreparably damage. you know, relationships heal after a period of time. i think it's important, in this case, and we don't know this yet. i mean, i think the common assumption here is that the united states, the president and so forth is looking for a way to cover for mbs, the prince, and to get through this. it's also just possible, and this is a hope i have, that we are pressuring the saudis to move him aside or to lower his profile, lower his power. there are other princes there. it's -- he's embarked on some encouraging steps, but he's also done it in a way that terrorizes people and has not brought greater freedom, really, to saudi arabia. so, yeah, i think that would be my hope thal we're pressuring them to make a change, in order to go back to your original question, to preserve this relationship and not have it be
irreparably harmed. >> yeah. before i let you go, i want to ask you a quick question, although it may not be a quick answer, regarding national security adviser john bolton's trip to russia. tomorrow he'll be meeting with officials and they'll talk about the president's intention to draw from a landmark nuclear weapons treaty. so what are the risks of doing that? >> this is a very bad idea, particularly during a time where we have a bad relationship with russia. in my working with the russia problem and with the russians, i always found it was important, even in the worst of times, and i could define those for you, even if the worst of times, to have a channel of communication to them, and frequently, the most important channel to have is some discussion about arms control, about nuclear weapons, even when we're disagreeing, as we do in this case, so to close this off accomplishes two things. it closes off an important line of communication with an adversary, and second, it makes us take the blame, really.
we take the hit for having ended an arms control treaty, because this will expose, particularly our european allies to greater danger, since the missiles we're talking about here are short range, medium range missiles that are of most danger to them. bad idea. it's a bad idea. >> and moscow has indicated they want an extension. this does expire in 2021. we'll see what happens. john mclaughlin. thank you so much for your analysis. >> good to see you, alex. >> thank you so much. president's me-eccentric appeal to voters. what is it and why does he think it will work? here we go. discover. i like your card, but i'm absolutely not paying an annual fee. discover has no annual fees. really? yeah. we just don't believe in them. oh nice. you would not believe how long i've been rehearsing that. no annual fee on any card. only from discover.
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so new details on the tightening fight for congress and the new report on the outlook for the midterms. "the washington post" says democrats' hopes for a wave election that would carry them to a significant house majority have been tempered in recent weeks, amid a shifting political landscape and a torrent of hard-hitting attacks -- attack ads, rather, from republicans -- although they are attacks. democrats remain favored to win, though gop leaders hope they can minimize the seats they would lose and perhaps find a path to preserving their advantage in the chamber. let's bring in howard dean, an msnbc contributor. republican strategist, susan del perc percio, an msnbc political analyst. and raul reyes, an attorney and a an nbc news op-ed contributor. big welcome to you three. howard, to you first here. how worried should the democrats be about the republicans' prospects in light
post-kavanaugh, now immigration-heavy conversation landscape? >> look, i'm at the stage here, two weeks out, where you don't worry at all. do your work. get out there, vote. we'll have huge numbers of voters. the north carolina vote is an incredible yearly vote. so it's just not the time to worry. it's the time to get out and do your work and the voters will take care of the rest of the it. >> former dnc chairman speak right there. susan, your take on the president's approach to his campaigner in chief role. let's take a look at this. >> a vote for marcia is a really a vote for me. a vote for cindy is a vote for me. a vote for steve is a vote for me. a vote for david is a vote for me. i want you to vote. pretend i'm on the ballot. >> okay. smart political strategy or could that be counterproductive? >> well, it's a smart strategy for donald trump, because his only concern, as always, is
donald trump. now, there is something to be said that he's doing this in deep red states that he won with double-digit leads, with the exception of perhaps nevada. but this does work for a strategy if you are giving up on winning the -- taking the -- keeping the house and you're out to maybe pick up a seat or two in the senate. so that's what he's focused on. but i would just like to go back to the governor's remarks. he's so right, now's not the time to worry. now's the time to do your work. >> just do it, yeah. >> and that is the most important thing. and no one knows what the turnout is going to be. this is a very difficult time. we have 16 days with the most volatile president in our history. just go do your work. >> yeah. raul, so we have the president, he's trying to make immigration one of the core topics ahead of these midterms. but if you look at the nbc "wall street journal" poll, that's not the top topic. in fact, it is economy and jobs. that's what folks are saying is most important to them. health care is right behind that. so immigration, a little bit of the way down.
so what do you make of the approach here? >> well, to me, the president's approach on immigration always strikes me as just being very divisive. you know, presenting immigrants as a threat, which is not true. presenting people like the migrants in this caravan as a threat to our entire country. but i will say, he has been successful in his narrative that our entire border is under siege, which is not true, because the illegal border crossings are at something like a 40-year low, although we have seen the uptick in unaccompanied children and family crossings. but he has taken that and expanded it, so a lot of americans do think, especially on the right, that the border is in a state of crisis. i think democrats needs to push back very strongly against that narrative and point out that this is anyou know, they control congress. where are their immigration policies other than putting children in cages and talk about the wall? donald trump has been very successful presenting immigration as a problem, but two years in, where are his
constructive solutions? i think that's something the democrats could be more forceful and proactive about, and forcing him to take some accountability. you know, he's the president. >> but you know, susan, something's working for the guy, because his approval rating is at 47%. that's the highest level that the nbc news/"wall street journal" poll has reported. what is that about, susan? >> i think it's still about two things. you have the brett kavanaugh confirmation. that's certainly helped pick up his numbers. it also helped that he is now campaigning full-time for himself. he is out there on the campaign trail. and, again, not -- just like the clip you showed before, it's not about the other candidates, it's about him. so he is digging deep into his base and he is trying to rev it up. and he, again, as rule hinted, he's going to issues that divide us. and on an issue like immigration, there are certain parts in this country that that will help him. >> what's interesting, houfward back to this "washington post"
article, in which it references the torrent of hard-hitting attack ads from republicans. and i spoke with michael avenatti. here's what he told me yesterday about it. >> you are not going to beat donald trump through a message of puppies and daisies. it's not going to happen. you're going to have to take the fight to donald trump and it's going to have to be a brutal campaign if the democrats hope to take back the white house. >> is he right? is it going to have to get brutal? >> he is right. i've long thought that democrats aren't tough enough. and i think we've got to be tougher. you know, i -- this goes back a long way. you know, president obama tried to bring reconciliation. well, the republicans don't play reconciliation. they take winner-take-all and they don't give a damn, frankly, about the country or the constitution. they just want to control things. and actually, that's why there's so many never-trumpers, in the republican party, because there are a lot of republicans who do respect the constitution and do care about the future of the
country. dr donald trump is not one of them and those going to the rallies are not those people, either. so i think you've got to be as tough as you possibly can. >> i want to take a look at the other big headline today, the shifting stories, raul, between the saudi response to jamal khashoggi's killing. how do you make sense of the divide there between what we heard from the white house and that which we heard from congress? >> well, look, my take on this in general is, donald trump is basically, as we know, seems to be parroting the saudi response. but as long as he can plausibly say that we don't know all of the facts yet, he is not -- will not be in a position where he is forced to take action. >> but is he just buying time? because we may get the answer to everything? >> but that's where he wants it. i think that he and for example, jared kushner, are banking on the fact that we have this very intense memidterm elections comg up, and they feel that this will all blow over. and granted, maybe this story does not resonate with voters the way it does in washington and with journalists. but i do believe in the
long-term, it will resonate with the public, because it speaks to our country's seemingly abdication of moral leadership, without -- throughout the world. and also, to the sense of a white house that is constantly on the defensive, constantly in chaos. and in this case, we have a situation where the president seems to -- where the president acknowledges that a situation and a crisis, but does not seem to be willing to take any lead in getting to the bottom of it. he's basically letting the saudis, you know, present a story, even one that strains credulity. and that's a risk, because we don't know if this alleged tape could leak out and upset the whole thing and just blow this story up. >> that would be a game changer right there. good to see you. susan, howard, thank you, guys, both of you. coming up next, the i-word. a new argument that it will help democrats at the polls. tom steyer joining me in-studio, next.
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. mid-term elections a little more than two weeks away, questions about whether a blue wave will happen and whether democrats' talk of impeachment could get in way. the founder of next-gen america and the need to impeach campaign, tom styer. you've been busy, how many people have you registered to vote and gotten signed up on the voting polls? millions. it's been extraordinary. >> we're running, next-gen america is running the largest youth motivational generation.
we're determined to see 18-35 age cohort participate in our elections the way other american citizens do. currently they participate at half the rate. >> the need to impeach, that's something has come up against many democrats, who say no, we can't talk about it right now. it will divert attention of where we need to be. the possibility of it happening is not that great. what do you say to that? you're smiling at me and you are relentless in this issue. >> i think that the people who you're talking about are inside the beltway people. who have a vision of what happens in mid-terms, that goes something like this, alex. they think 45% of americans vote in mid-terms and we're fighting for the 1 % to 2% of that 45% who can't decide whether they like this administration, who can't decide what they think about brett kavanaugh. so we need to move as close to them as we can and certainly not to offend them. and what we say is, if 45% of
americans are voting, that means over half of americans aren't voting. and we can go and get over half of americans by talking the truth. by answering the real questions. by not ducking anything. and if you look around the country, you see young candidates going out like andrew gimham in florida, like beto o'rourke. talking straightforwardly about the issues and exciting people and lo and behold that 55% come no play and we see multiple turnouts, particularly for young people. >> it all comes down to getting people out to vote. none of this matters if you don't get out to vote and i had a conversation with a nbc correspondent yesterday who talked about a level of apathy, because of a lack of convenience or not being happy with where politics are in this country among millennials. and i pushed back, and said you have to vote if you want to rail against things, are you
confident that they're going to get out and cast their ballots? >> yes, i am. let me start by going back to what we've heard from hundred of thousands of people between 18-35 who haven't voted in the past. say i don't trust the system. neither party is telling the truth. they're not addressing the issues the most important in my life so i don't believe for a second that this not a hard-working, passionate, value-driven generation. i've got four kids in this generation, i know they're terrific. i think they believe the system is failing them. and so our whole goal in this is to engage them on issues, to talk to them about what they cared about mo cared about most. and to above all, tell the truth. whenever someone comes to mow and talks to me about impeachment and says this isn't tactically smart, i ask two questions, are we telling the truth and are we standing up for the american people and the constitution? and then if we're doing those
two things, we're not going to be deterred by someone who says, my pollster told me not to do it. 0or my consultant told me not to do it and i'm like, really? told you not to tell the truth and stand up for the american people. >> you've put in $120 million. that's a lot of money. has it been a good investment for you? are you deterred when you think about the prospect of maybe not getting what you want out of this election? >> i thought the person who made a really good point was governor dean. we're in a gigantic crisis as a country. i view this election as a pretty straightforward choice between right and wrong. i am very happy to have the opportunity to participate on the side of people who are trying to get the united states back on a path of justice and prosperity. and i am, i think that this is an absolutely critical election for us. and so everything that i can do or that our organization has been able to do, is exactly what governor dean said.
put your head down, give it everything you've got. don't worry about the outcome. just give it everything you've got and you've got nothing to regret. >> tom steyer, thank you for coming. meet the new trump, the same as the old trump. is it working? we've got answers in the next hour. with fidelity wealth management you get straightforward advice, tailored recommendations, tax-efficient investing strategies, and a dedicated advisor to help you grow and protect your wealth.
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