tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC June 21, 2019 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
>> this is his birthday, by the way. >> you didn't tell me that. >> i didn't tell you today's my birthday? >> that's a nice way to edged the week. eleanor and pete rock, thank you both. you can catch us sunday night, i'm doing a live special 9:00 p.m. eastern, the road to miami with a lot of special guests. this sunday 9:00 p.m. eastern live. don't go anywhere right now because "hardball" is up next. holds your fire, let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm steve kornacki in for chris matthews. we are learning more tonight about those tense moments that could have escalated tensions with iran even further. with the president toggling between fiery rhetoric and the language of restraint. this morning president trump tweeted that the united states had last night been cocked and
loaded for a strike against three targets in iran. this in retaliation for iran's downing of a u.s. drone, but that he called it off just ten minutes before the scheduled attack after being told that 150 iranians would be killed. in an exclusive interview with nbc's chuck todd, the president discussed his decision to call off the strike. let's watch. >> were planes in the air? >> they were about ready to go. no, but they would have been pretty soon. and things would have happened to a point where you wouldn't turn back or couldn't turn back. so they came and said, sir, we're ready to go. we'd like a decision. i said i want to know something before you go. how many people will be killed? in this case iranians. i said how many people are going to be killed. sir, i'll get back to you on that. great people, these generals. they came back and said, sir, approximately 150. i said you know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane,
whatever you want to call it. and here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after i said go ahead. and i didn't like it. i didn't think it was -- i didn't think it was proportionate. >> it's not clear why the president would receive details about the potential casualties with just ten minutes to spare. according to "the new york times," the president's advisers were split, with secretary of state mike pompeo, national security advisor john bolton and cia director gina haspel in favor of the attack and pentagon officials cautioned it could result in a spiraling escalation with risks for american forces in the region. "the new york times" also reported that the president was pleased with his decision to pull back because he liked the command of approving the strike but also the decisiveness of calling it off. some of his conservative allies were not as pleased. >> so at some point in the
middle east, no action looks like weakness. and weakness begets more attacks. >> the failure to respond to this kind of provocation that we've seen now from the iranians in particular over the last several weeks could in fact be a very serious mistake. >> for more i'm joined by jonathan lemire, hagar, bret stephens, and robert mali, senior advisor to the white house for iran deal negotiations. john, let me start with you. the idea that the president's concern in this in the end was the casualty counti and he find out that number ten minutes before calling this thing off, does that make sense that he would only be hearing about that number then? >> no, that defies credibility.
he was given a rough estimate on what the casualty count could be. it's not unprecedented for the president to right before giving the order to ask again to see if the situation had changed at the ground and at that moment he was told 150 and that was enough to give him pause. this is a moment where for a president who has very little in the way of fixed ideology, this is something he's been fairly consistent on. he seems very reluctant to use military force. since he's taken office, there's a couple of air strikes in syria and that's about the extent of it. he was leery. he in recent weeks has felt pushed a little bit into this conflict by national security advisor bolton in particular to the point that he's tuning him out a little bit. he's tired of being pushed into a corner by bolton on iran. he did indeed like this idea of being decisive and making the decision but then feeling like he made the right call to pull back. he doesn't want to escalate tensions further, at least for
now. they didn't order the strike last night. something like this certainly could happen in the days or weeks ahead if tensions with iran continue to rise. >> bret, what does this tell you about the voices around the president, the influencers around the president. you talk about bolton, for instance, being an advocate. other folks cautioning him. do you read this as one triumph over another in terms of getting their perspective on this or is this more what john is alluding to, this longer standing hesitation of the president to be sucked into some confrontation overseas? >> i think you're seeing an indecisive president who likes to speak loudly and carry a small stick. the president had two perfectly credible options before him. one of them would have been a short, punitive strike to take out the kind of anti- -- the missile batteries that took out our planes in a clear signal to the iranians we are not going to tolerate having our assets knocked out of the skies over international waters. that's unacceptable.
other option, equally credible, is do nothing, continue to apply economic sanctions. we're not going to be lured into a cycle of confrontation that the iranians may want. what he's now essentially done is advertise to the iranians that he's a twitter tiger. he likes to make loud threats but he's not going to carry through on them so it's an invitation to a iranian leadership who's a good student of the weakness of its enemies how far they can push. i think they will continue to push farther. >> do you think that's how they interpret this? if so, what does that mean in terms of what they do now? >> bret and i were talking about this earlier. in the chase of the adversary like iran, they understand the language of force. that's the case by the way for a lot of leaders in the region. so he ended up, president trump, with the worst of both worlds. if he had just responded with sanctions, it may have been too weak.
if he had issued an air strike, it's risky business, right? iran has a strong presence across the region, they fund armed trained militias and terrorist organizations in lebanon, syria, iraq, next to where we have u.s. assets, u.s. troops. where we ended up was the worst of both worlds. now we've ended in this situation where everyone is wondering the next steps. the united states has called for a security council meeting on monday, which probably means they're calling for greater attention to the issue. maybe they'll try and follow up with a resolution. but my guess right now is they're trying to rally the troops. >> but if iran -- is iran emboldened? what would that look like to us? >> they may be emboldened on the fact that they think president trump is bluffing. if he ever says again i'm going to use military force, they may not believe it. on the other hand the economic sanctions are having a significant effect, even without europe on board.
that's because no international business wants to get in the crosshairs of u.s. sanctions. so that will likely bring iran to its knees again. it feels like 2011 all over again. >> you were quoted in "the new york times" saying in some ways president trump is on a collision course with himself. he says he's in favor of maximum pressure and he's against military confrontation when it comes to iran but both of those things can't be true because one of those things can lead to the other. so what should he do now? >> well, first i think we're missing the broader context here. what happened yesterday was just the result of the policies that the trump administration has been pursuing since he was -- since he's been in office which is the policy of maximum pressure, violating the innran nuclear deal. it has not succeeded in the goals the administration said it was pursuing, which is to get a better nuclear deal andiran's p.
in fact it's produced the exact opposite. i'm convinced he doesn't want to war, but the policies he has been pursuing are leading there because iran will react if it's under pressure and it's reacting exactly in the way that people had predicted by upping the pressure in the region and by taking steps now to walk away from the nuclear deal. what's needed is a change of course. a change of course meaning getting back to diplomacy and offering iran a realistic way out as opposed to what is taking place so far, which is pressure, telling them to surrender, and when they react, then president trump is confronted with this difficult dilemma. does he strike, which goes against his instincts, or does he take a step back, which obviously some people are upset about, which in the end i would say was the better of the two decisions. >> but just given i know you helped put the iran deal together. you don't think the administration has made a good decision there. we are where we are. when you have this downed drone, you're saying it's better not to do the attack. what should, short of getting
back in the iran deal, which it seems like this administration is not inclined to do, again, whether you like that or not, what should the course be then? >> well, we are where we are. we shouldn't be here and we're here in time. this is a completely manufactured crisis because of the trump administration's policies. but if we are where we are now, what needs to be done is a diplomatic path where the administration says we're prepared to talk to iran but not on the basis of the 12 demands that secretary pompeo made, which basically amount to capitulation, but a fair negotiation or fair diplomatic engagement where the u.s. is prepared to step back some of its pressure and iran would have to take some reciprocal steps of its own. i'm not sure if i expect that from the administration either but it would be a far wiser course than upping the ante, putting more sanctions, pressuring iran more, and then when iran reacts, being faced with the kind of dilemma that president trump was faced with last night. >> john, do you have any sense that folks in the administration, how they are
processing this? did this catch people flat-footed? response from people who were advocating for it potentially, were they surprised and how are they handling it today? how are they reacting to it? >> they were speaking to reporters publicly with one voice, saying they presented the options to the president, they support his decision. there was a split in the administration. bolton was the strongest voice for the attack. pompeo was advocating it too but a little more circumspect. vice president pence sort of suggesting he would go along with whatever president trump wanted. department of defense officials were cautionary what could happen next. i think it will be interesting to see what happens now in terms of bolton's influence. it was not just iran, it was previously venezuela as well where the president has felt like bolton has steered him with bad advice. i think the president is tired of some of bolton's advocacy for the military options. in fact as we've reported this
week, trump didn't just limit his circle of calls looking for advice from bolton and pompeo and pence, he spoke to tucker carlson, the fox news host who has been very much against waging any sort of strike with iran. so i think bolton's fate here in the wake of this, particularly if there isn't any sort of action here in the coming days, will be very interesting for the next stage of the trump presidency and his foreign policy. >> it is interesting too when you look at what trump campaigned on, one of tucker carlson's signature issues on foreign policy is noninterventionism. you had trump break with a decade of republican orthodoxy. he said the iraq war was a mistake, he said it was a stupid decision. it seems like you've got this impulse on one side to be that president with this impulse to be a member of his bomb the hell i have isis too. >> but there's a way of achieving a policy cohesion and what you have instead is a
narcissistic schizophrenia. ronald reagan was reluctant to use military force. but when he did use it in 1981 or 1983 or against the iranians in 1988, it tended to be -- he made a few mistakes but it was short-lived but decisive. it had an effect. this is almost like a parody of what republicans would accuse, say, jimmy carter of doing. like going right up until the edge and then pulling back in a show of weakness. what we should be doing is having a campaign of steady pressure against iran. i don't think it necessarily required military steps but could require changing the rules of engagement signaling that we're pushing forward to the sake of a new nuclear negotiation that would have yielded a better result for us and the rest of the world than the last one did. most people agree the last deal had real flaws, including the sunset provisions. what he's basically told the
iranians is he's going to play the same game he played with north korea talking about fire and fury and the next thing is meeting kim jong-un and kissing up to him. >> brett, john, robert, that you all for joining us. coming up, democrats promised to bring the mueller report to life. a key witness today failed to appear, this after promising he would answer every question without exception. those were his words. plus, why house judiciary committee chair jerry nadler says the very limited testimony from hope hicks played right into our hands, he says, and it is a big weekend for democratic presidential candidates as they descend on south carolina. this just days ahead of their first major debate. will joe biden's remarks about segregationist senators be a problem for him in that critical early primary state? much more ahead, stay with us. oh! oh!
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welcome back to "hardball." another witness in the congressional investigations of the president failed to appear for a closed door session with the house intelligence committee today. felix sader, a russian-born trump business associate stood up the committee after agreeing voluntarily to be interviewed. his absence was surprising since "the washington post" reported that he said he would answer every question without exception. now the committee says it intends to subpoena him to compel his testimony. in a statement, his lawyer says, quote, due to unexpected health reasons, mr. sater was unable to voluntary appear but today's intention to issue a subpoena was totally unnecessary. sater said he felt ill and slept through his alarm.
he is best known for his role in the moscow project, working alongside michael cohen to develop a trump tower in russia on behalf of trump during the 2016 campaign. according to the mueller report, the terms of that proposed deal were highly lucrative for the trump organization. i'm joined by elliott williams, a former deputy assistant attorney general and betsy woodruff, politics reporter at "the daily beast." betsy, sater is interesting because there's the promise to appear voluntarily to answer any question, there's the fact that he's been cooperative in the past. you don't look at this on the surface and say there's a reason to suddenly stand this committee up, but the excuse, i slept through my alarm clock, strikes people as a little fishy. >> fishy, but perhaps a bit relatable as a member of the every once in a while sleeping through their alarm clock community. at the same time this would have been a really important moment for the house intelligence committee's reborn investigation
of potential interaction between russian nationals and the trump campaign during 2016. and the fact that they decided to subpoena sater is evidence of a deep level of frustration among the committee members that for whatever reason he didn't end up showing up. sater has ended up testifying to multiple congressional committees. he's been pretty open thus far about talking about the work that he did to try to organize this real estate project for trump in moscow during the campaign. the fact that that cooperation didn't work out this morning the way that the members of the house intel had hoped it did is clearly something that deeply frustrates them. at the same time, another weird little hiccup here is the fact that initially there were -- the committee indicated that sater would testify publicly which would have been a huge deal. now it got walked back behind closed doors and even that testimony didn't happen.
it's a very quirky situation. >> so elliott, his lawyer insisting there's nothing for the committee to worry about, he intends to cooperate here. if the committee does get to hear from him, what could they learn? >> a few things. first there was interactions that he had with the soviet general regarding the trump tower moscow deal that does not appear in the mueller report. so much appears in the mueller report and there's a lot that's redacted but something like this is a valuable nugget that might come out. in addition there were interaction between him and michael cohen that i don't believe appeared in the mueller report and he can provide more color on that. so there's more to be gotten from him. the problem is by simple ly blog off the meeting, he hasn't endeared himself to the folks who were investigating it or who will be interviewing him. yes, we could get closer to a public hearing. he loses his leverage to call for or request a private meeting with staff. maybe this turns into a public
hearing. and if not, at least people who are going to be more skeptical of the things that he has to say because he's clearly for lack of a better term blown off a meeting in front of congress. which again is an odd thing to happen. you know, you don't really see that kind of conduct, frankly, in white collar cases, which is what this is. having been a prosecutor before, when you deal with drug dealers and so on, yeah, they're out partying the night before and sleep through their alarm and you're sitting at the police house waiting for them. but this was a little bit odd given the nature and the severity and seriousness of it. and to some extent it speaks to how seriously folks take congress and are willing to blow congress off. we're seeing it across the administration and its friends reactions to the mueller report and investigations into it. >> it certainly can happen. i've slept through alarm clocks before and he has been cooperative before so i don't mean to sound like a conspiracy
theorist. but a lot of folks are really? the house committee yesterday said during hope hicks' testimony trump administration lawyers intervened over 150 times citing immunity. seeking to challenge that claim, jerry nadler told politico the administration's objections very much played into our hands and that the hicks' interview was very useful to give us the record to show the judge how extreme it really is. elliott, let me stay on you with this one. nadler is saying that he got something significant from this hicks' testimony yesterday. is he over selling it or is that the case? >> he got something significant as a matter of litigation strategy. i don't think he got something significant in terms of selling it to the public because nobody sees it and nobody saw it. the argument that the house will be making in the courts is that the president and the administration are stymieing and blocking and stonewalling any
attempts to investigate. so, for instance, of the 155 things that hope hicks didn't answer, one question was where is your desk in the white house? and she was only left to answer questions about what the weather was on her first day. she really didn't provide much and sort of blocked answers to even basic questions. if the argument from the house judiciary committee is across the administration's relationship with congress and with this committee they simply are not respecting us as a coequal branch of government, this does strengthen that. but again, steve, this is an exercise in selling the public as much as it's winning in court. you have to get the public behind what you're doing, either for oversight or an impeachment proceeding. this is all happening in secret and to that extent nadler doesn't win. >> betsy, i think you were alluding to this before. democrats were talking for the last month, we said at the top of the segment here, this idea of bringing the mueller report to life, using these hearings to break through to a public that so far seems pretty strong
partisan divide on these things. is there -- is there mounting frustration there among democrats that they maybe feel they're not succeeding in that goal right now? >> there's acute frustration which has been the case for months now. one of the challenges that democrats face is that part of the reason they were able to flip the house in 2018 is because they argued they would be able to do robust oversight of the trump administration. but thus far the house democratic caucus, speaking quite broadly, is long on effort but pretty short on deliverables with the exception of chairman elijah cummings investigation into efforts to share nuclear technology with the government of saudi arabia, there's not a lot of brand new information out of the trump administration that we the american public have because of the way that congressional democrats have done oversight. and some of that, without question, is because of the obstruction efforts the trump administration has engaged in. trump himself, of course, said
we're going to stiff arm every single congressional subpoena and document request and that's something that drives democrats nuts. they feel they have a constitutional obligation to get information out of this administration. part of the reason that the hope hicks testimony is legally important is that it gives nadler standing in court. he can now challenge this idea that presidents of different parties have argued called immunity, the notion that the president's close advisers don't have to tell anything about their work for the president to congress. nadler can now say the house of representatives has been wronged by the executive branch making this argument and he now is able to try to force or demand a judge to make a call. senior white house officials are immune from congressional scrutiny. that's important for understandsing the trump administration but the way the government works and it's going to be absolutely fascinating.
>> betsy woodruff, elliott williams, thanks for taking a few minutes. up next, we know joe biden is running in first place nationally right now. there are two groups, two groups of voters that have a lot to do with the lead he has in the democratic race. i'll take you through who they are at the big board. that's after this. also, the controversy this week, will it denting his support. "hardball" back after this. s su. "hardball" back after this everyone's got to listen to mom. when it comes to reducing the sugar in your family's diet, coke, dr pepper and pepsi hear you. we're working together to do just that.
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all right. well, all eyes are on south carolina for the 2020 presidential race, starting tonight going through the weekend. just about every democratic candidate will be there. why south carolina, why so much attention? it's one of the early primary states. you've got to do well there, win it, at least do well enough to keep going, so we know why south carolina is important in terms of the calendar but it's also important because of demographics. this is one of the reasons it's an early and important state. look at the demographics of these early states. iowa. in the democratic primary, a caucus in 2016, 91% of the iowa electorate was white. new hampshire, 93% in new hampshire is white. in nevada, caucuses out there. 27%, it's largely hispanic and then south carolina. in 2016 more than 60% of the democratic primary electorate there in south carolina was african-american. black voters critical in south carolina. black voters critical to this
early test for presidential candidates. that takes us to one of the reasons that joe biden is the democratic front-runner right now. let's show you this. this is south carolina. joe biden leads that state right now overwhelmingly. it is his strongest early state. that has a lot to do with the strong plaqblack support he is getting so far. among white voters biden is in first place. but look, he's doing almost 10 points better among black voters than he is among white voters. we've been seeing this in poll after poll. so biden has come into this race. let's see if this lasts. that's the key question, especially in light of the controversy we've been talking about this week. but can biden maintain that support or something approximating that throughout this campaign. can black voters be a big source of strength for the former vice president. then there's this, age. we've been talking about how overall biden has been doing better with voters over 45 than under 45.
this is true among black voters as well. look at this, black voters under 30 years, biden is sitting at 30% right now. sanders is right behind him at 27% in this poll. so he's 30% with the youngest group of voters. 30 to 44, his support is 35%. 45 to 54, there's a big jump. that 45-year-old cutoff line. 50% support for the former vice president. let's go 55 to 64. now he's up to 60%. and now let's go to the oldest group in the electorate, 65 plus, african-american democratic voters over 65 years old, joe biden sitting there at 64% right now. so african-american voters, older voters, older african-american voters, major source of strength for joe biden in the early going. he's in some controversy right now this week that involves certainly his relationship with black voters. interesting to keep these numbers in mind as that plays out. up next, as we say, this weekend the unofficial kickoff of the
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welcome back to "hardball." we are just five days away from the first democratic debate right here on msnbc, nbc news and telemundo. tonight 22 democratic presidential candidates are in the critical early primary state of south carolina. they are there for congressman jim clyburn's world famous fish fry. two candidates are going to be missing the event tonight. one montana governor steve bullock and mayor pete buttigieg in south bend.
he. >> part of my job is to promote healing and make sure members of the community, especially the black community who are concerned with whether they can trust the police, even as detallies are coming out about the specific issue, make sure we have a commitment to transparency, justice and fairness. this is when a city needs its mayor but i'm looking forward to returning to the campaign trail in south carolina tomorrow. >> tonight is the first time former vice president joe biden will attend a gathering with a large number of his rivals, including new jersey senator cory booker who sharply criticized biden's remarks, touting his past working relationship with southern segregationists in the senate. biden called booker on wednesday night in an attempt to smooth things over. booker discussed the call last night on "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." >> did you feel better understood by him at the end of the conversation? >> absolutely. >> and did you come to a better
understanding of his side of this experience? >> i think i understood very well even before that conversation. i understood where his intentions were, i understood where his heart was. the fact is it's not about me or him, he said things that are hurtful and are harmful. i believe he should be apologizing to the american people and having this discussion with all of us. >> and for more i'm joined by nbc news political reporter ali vitali in columbia, south carolina, john podhoretz and mara gay. ali, just about every democratic candidate will be where you are but all of the attention i think sudden suddenly, we talked about the importance of black voters in particular in the south carolina primary. a controversy on racial issues now coming right into this event. maybe an attempt there by joe biden to cool temperatures a bit last night. but what are expectations there in particular for biden and for booker and this controversy over the weekend?
>> reporter: yeah, steve, you can't come to jim clyburn's world famous fish fry and not look at what jim clyburn himself is saying. a lot of the voters showing up here are politically engaged democrats, many of them part of that majority black electorate that we saw in 2016 pushing democrats and energizing that democratic base. when i caught up with clyburn in d.c. a few days before coming down here, there were two points he made that stood out to me. first, he talked about joe biden having deep roots in the state and that's how he explains that joe biden is sitting so nicely atop these polls. when i asked him why people like kamala harris and cory booker weren't doing as well, he gave an explanation for each of them. first, he feels that booker is suffering from the shadow of barack obama of the and on kamala harris' front, that she has what he called a tremendous vision but that she hasn't filled in the specifics. he just assumed that kamala harris would be a solid candidate here because he thought it was the year of the black woman. and so jim clyburn, one of those figures who is so powerful in
this state but he has said he won't endorse in this primary because of the impact that it could have. still, an event like this when you have 20 plus candidates coming, they're all coming to hear what he says, how he acts around these candidates. when he talks, people listen. >> there was an accusation this week from i think bakari sellers who said he thought jim clyburn was secretly supporting joe biden. yes, clyburn officially neutral. mara, i'm curious, how do you think -- i guess there's a question do you think, the support biden is getting from black voters. cory boker says this is hurtful, he needs to apologize. i saw john lewis today, civil rights hero, congressman, said biden doesn't have to apologize, he completely understands. how is this landing? >> here's what i think is going on. black voters, who i think we haven't paid nearly enough attention to, black americans in general, let alone what their voting patterns are, in my experience, especially in new york, black voters are fairly
conservative. not necessarily politically, but in terms of their trust in the political system. they have been burned many times for hundreds of years. so for them it's a lot about who they know, who they trust and new candidates like cory booker who's new to them are not necessarily going to have as easy of a time breaking through as someone like joe biden. joe biden is somebody who they associate with barack obama, who has a long history obviously with the plaqblack community ats point in the united states and the rest of the country. cory booker and kamala harris have been issue where black voters don't know them. until they get to know them, they may not trust them. let's remember that it was the same issue for barack obama in 2008 in iowa and elsewhere. black voters, when you initially polled them, they weren't really sure about it. they were leaning towards clinton for a long time. and so i think that the question for kamala harris and for cory booker is do they have the time, do they have the money to
actually get their message across and connect with black voters. and i think the separate issue of whether joe biden's comments were offensive, i mean they were. they're historically ignorant. i do think that his heart is in the right place, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't owe americans an apology. >> i guess this gets to a bigger question too just politically, john, in terms of biden has been telling democrats he's the most electable candidate. part of it too, i think the message it sounds like he was maybe trying to deliver in this fund-raiser was maybe tied to that a little bit, this idea that he can work with folks he disagrees with. it seems to be part of that message. but is that -- is that where -- is that the takeaway people will get from this? >> well, we don't know. one of the interesting things is we've now been through a half a year with democrats where ralph northam was photographed wearing a klan outfit an he's still governor of virginia. would anybody have bet that that
was going to happen? elizabeth warren survived and apparently is now thriving after the disastrous launch and with the 23andme native american dna count problem. and donald trump shows there is a whole theory here that what you do is you put your head down, you don't apologize, you don't -- you're not contrite. you don't act as though the world has fallen in around your head and you're just begging people for scraps. you just barrel forward. and we'll see like next week there will be polling that will show whether or not this incident had any effect on him. and i think there's every reason to believe that it won't. >> it's interesting, booker is, i believe, not on the same stage as biden. he's in the first night next week so there won't be a direct confrontation between them. but what john is saying is interesting too. we saw when biden got into -- i think he sensed he was in trouble with his own political party on that hyde amendment
question. the position changed literally overnight. on this one, almost a defiant, no, there won't be an apology. >> my theory is that you have folks like clyburn covering for him. listen, biden is part of the democratic establishment, so is clyburn, and they have a long history, and i understand that. these are human beings. people don't think about politicians as human beings, but they are. when you have folks like clyburn and others telling joe biden that he's in the clear, that kind of makes sense. whether he'll pay a political price for it or not, i'm not sure. i tend to agree with you about this, john. but i do think that there's a larger principle at stake here. for many democratic voters and many voters in general, you know, i think they're going to feel that way to, which is that, you know, it's okay to make mistakes. it's okay to do things that we regret. the question for joe biden and for everyone really is can you learn from those mistakes. an i think unfortunately in the past several days joe biden hasn't shown any real understanding or awareness of
why his comments were historically inaccurate and offensive. >> can i just dis -- i don't think that it is good for a politician to look like he thinks he made a mistake and he can learn from it now. joe biden is 76 years old. he's too old to learn anything or learn from his mistakes. >> maybe that's a problem. >> it may well be. but the way you'll know is if he doesn't make a lot more mistakes like this. that's the ultimate question about biden, which is, is what we've seen here the beginning of the garolous, says too much, his tongue gets him into trouble biden who will make blunders every three days an prick holes in his support balloon and the air will stop to come out of it, or will he stop. that's not to say he won't come out and say i've learned, i
know, i was insensitive, but it will suggest political survival and a tightening of his own personal discipline. but i think his impulse, and he didn't apologize about the hyde amendment. what he said was he figured out he had to flip. and then he said due to the extraordinary circumstances of the present moment, i have to change my position because we're all pro choice and we have to do everything we can to defend abortion rights against this republican onslaught. no apologies. >> interesting too here i think is -- there was -- the last time biden ran for president he began his campaign stepping into a racial controversy when he referred to barack obama as clean and articulate. one effect that had indirectly was it lowered the bar for his public performance from that point toward. in 2007-2008 he got great row views for his debate performances. and obama ends up making him his running mate.
ali vitali is on the ground there in south carolina. just talking to folks down there, how are they processing this biden thing? >> reporter: look, i think that, again, you have a tuned-in group of voters who are looking at how this race is shaping up and so they're aware of biden's comments. but when you hear that he has deep roots in this state an i think your panel is absolutely right, that they do see him through the lens of barack obama, i think there's a little forgiveness there. now, whether or not that lasts through an entire field of 19 other candidates who are going to consistently be going at him because he's the front-runner, it's always going to be easy for a lot of these candidates to throw shots at joe biden because that's what you do when you're running behind someone. so as we look towards the debates, it's going to be interesting to see how many of these voters tune in and how many of them recognize that the field is really looking to chip some holes in the joe biden electability argument. this idea that there's -- and i've heard this from several voters across several states now, that there might be this inevitability of joe biden. i think every candidate in this race will work really hard to not just erode that concept in
the mind of voters but to also publicly show why it's wrong. with these missteps it gives them an obvious opening for it. >> but they're not taking it. >> let's see what happens on the stage thursday. >> only bill de blasio has been going at biden and saying what is he doing, why isn't he apologizing, this is terrible. even the language that booker and harris and others have used is incredibly tentative about, oh, his heart -- they're not going for his jugular at all. >> the question is if this debate becomes a turning point. the folks on stage with him, if they take direct shots. the biden campaign has been sending out the message they're going to get him out more frequently after the debate. let's see if that changes things too. john, mara, ali thanks to all of you. "hardball" back after this. you. "hardball" back after this pay as much for insurance... as not safe drivers! ah! that was a stunt driver. that's why esurance has this drivesense® app.
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and with fordpass, a tap can also get you 24/7 roadside assistance. and lock your vehicle. only fordpass puts all this in the palm of your hand. fordpass. built to keep you moving. tonight the democratic presidential candidates are in south carolina. they're there as we've been telling you for congressman jim clyburn's big fish fry. tomorrow almost all of them will be speaking at the south carolina democratic party convention. you can stay with msnbc tomorrow for complete coverage of that event throughout the day. senator kamala harris will join joy reid live on "a.m. joy" at 10:00 eastern and former vice president joe biden joins reverend al sharpton live on "politicsnation" at 5:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow right here on msnbc.
and then next week the main event. we have been counting down to this one. the first democratic debate takes place on wednesday and thursday night. senator elizabeth warren and former congressman beto o'rourke among the candidates debating that first night. cory booker as well. on thursday, joe biden, bernie sanders, kamala harris, pete buttigieg all on stage together. you can watch the debates right here on msnbc, nbc and telemundo. up next, the two joe bidens, and one big dilemma for his campaign. you're watching "hardball." mpain you're watching "hardball. you make time... when you can. but sometimes life gets in the way, and that stubborn fat just won't go away. coolsculpting takes you further. a non-surgical treatment that targets, freezes, and eliminates treated fat cells, for good. discuss coolsculpting with your doctor. some common side-effects include temporary numbness, discomfort, and swelling. don't imagine results, see them. coolsculpting, take yourself further.
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well, don't say he hasn't warned. the controversy joe biden brought on himself this week by reminiscing warmly about his work in the senate decades ago with segregationists was something biden's team and tried to top. biden's team has long advised him not to discuss the relationships with former senators, including the segregationists. sometimes the former vice president just can't help himself and this is the dilemma for biden and his campaign. after next week's debate he's going to be stepping out onto the campaign trail a lot more frequently. he's going to be much more visible. and in many more situations where he could say something that sets off one of these controversies. if you're the biden campaign, what do you do? the obvious answer is you try to
rein him in, you give him a script, plead with him to stick to it and minimize the risk for an unforced error. you can call that a prevent defense approach. but there's a downside and we've seep it. the joe biden who looks down at his speech and reads from it is a different joe biden. there is a notable lack of energy in his delivery. there's no passion, there's no punch. he is 76 years old and when he sticks to the script like that, he seems 76 years old. there's a risk in that too. the alternative is to let biden be biden, the biden who tosses the script aside, who walks away from the podium, who speaks his mind unfiltered. that's the joe biden who got himself in trouble this week but it's also the joe biden that some people like. he brims with energy, he stirs the crowd's passion. he can bow a very effective communicator. that has always been the reality with joe biden. he makes ms. share of gaffes but he also makes his share of command performances. he went nowhere back in the 2008
primaries but debate after debate he did steal the show. remember the line about rudy giuliani, a noun, a verb and 9/11. it was those debate performances that helped him land on barack obama's ticket as the vp. that joe biden, the strong and effective communicator, is linked to the joe biden who talks his way into trouble. and for his campaign, that's a tough choice because you can't give up one without giving up the other. that's "hardball" for now. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. tonight on "all in" -- >> we had something ready to go subject to my approval. >> about last night. >> how many people are going to be killed? sir, i'd like to get back to you on that. >> tonight what we know about how we got through the last 24 hours without war. and what it means to have the reality show president in charge of war and peace. then, what could be the most serious allegation of sexual violence ever made against the president. >> i fought. it was shocking.