Meet The Press host Chuck Todd joined me to discuss the wild week in U.S. politics:
HH: I’m joined by NBC’s Meet the Press host, Chuck Todd. Hello Chuck. I could watch your interview with the Donald from last week in an endless loop it was so entertaining.
CT: Well. . . I think I’ll take that as a compliment and leave it at that.
HH: It was. Now, give me the run-down on the plane and where you did that, and how long you actually talked to him for.
CT: Well, just so you know, so I’ll give you a little background like I did somebody who was asking me about this. I don’t saying this publically. So when I get there, we’re all set up for the interview, and he wants to talk to me and before the interviews. So I go on the plane and he hands me his immigration plan, and I’m sitting there going, “Great.” Three minutes before the interview – well, he’s not the first to do this, right? You have somebody on an interview to interview and they will control – you know, they want to be able to control the topic and all this and I’ll take a look at it. We don’t set an opportunity to on the plane. We were originally going to do the whole interview on the plane and just timing of logistics we would have been willing to make that work. Just because when he landed, having the time to set up and all that stuff, so we didn’t. So instead we still conducted the first part of the interview, so the first sort of thirty, thirty-five minutes sit-down happened first, and I essentially decided I needed more time with it. I need as much time to read his plan if I could to question, so I said “Hey, it’s a little bit of the immigration stuff on your plan.” So that’s what we did. We were maybe five, ten minutes on the plane where we went through his plan and we did the immigration part, so that’s – I literally did that, honestly, by myself, four times so even in the extra five-ten minutes in between pausing after the first part of the interview while we the cameras set up and all that, I could digest more of the plan as best I could to do the plane – and look, the plane is something else.
CT: It is something else.
HH: Forty-thousand people are going to this rally, Chuck Todd in Mobile, Alabama. What do you put that down to?
CT: Look, I think, first of all, I think this is a reminder that this is a more sophisticated – the Trump operation – look, everybody has their own thoughts kind of how sophisticated it is – this is a pretty smart place to do this. It’s like Bernie Sanders going to court with Oregon or Seattle, Washington and to go show what kind of crowds he can draw. Bernie Sanders can’t get that crowd in Brier County, but he can in Seattle, right? Well, Donald Trump may not be able to get a crowd like that in a De Moine, but he can in a Mobile. He’s picking his spots. He’s borrowed Jeff Sessions’ immigration plan and now he’s going to Jeff Sessions’ home state where he knows that his stance on immigration is going to be extremely popular. So look, I think this is smart theater.
HH: Now, I getting additional details that I want to pass along – three people have been hurt after a heavily-armed man opened fire on a train in northern France before being overpowered by two American passengers. The incident happened on the high-speed service near Arras and the attacker was a Moroccan – twenty-six years old. He had a Kalishinikov, a knife, an automatic pistol and cartridges. Two people were seriously hurt, including one who helped disarm him. So Chuck Todd, that it is not a a massacre, but it’s going to reinflame fears. I talked about jihadism with John Kasich last hour about the roots of it and his answer is we’ve got to fight it with an opportunity society. It’ll be back on the front page, I assume, of Meet the Press this weekend.
CT: I know, the answer to me – agreed, it’s two big stories that sort of are probably shaking people at home, right? You’re going to have that while it’s a good news story – you know, those passengers are lucky there happened to be a couple of U.S. Marines to save and of course, look at what the world economy is doing to the U.S. stock market and many a 401(K) still – look, I think the real-world is invading the campaign here. We may want to talk about Trump and emails – and it’s certainly fascinating how’s it’s all playing out, but suddenly, the headlines are a reminder of the real job of the presidency.
HH: Now a five hundred point drop in the DOW – five hundred and thirty-one to be specific – is big story, but not panic time. It’s not like 2008. Do you lead off with it? Are you bringing in someone to do – I was just talking “doom and gloom” with Congressman John Campbell – you’ve talked to him before, my regular guest-host, and he’s a “sackcloth and ashes” kind of guy when it comes to the economy. I am not. What’s the – I just think it’s a bad day on the market.
CT: Talking to people I trust over at CNBC – look, I had Carly Fiorina. I’m up here in New Hampshire, by the way, right now. I just got up here. I’ll be interviewing her in the morning. I’m more curious to see what she has to say. I’m more curious what all the presidential candidates have to say – their take on that. I talked to my CNBC people that I trust – both behind-the-scenes and on camera – this is about China. This is also – you know, it’s funny that you’re not in panic mode either. I’m not also – and going to be a little archaic – but I happen to be an option Friday. That sort of added to the panic cell at the end, and I’m not get into what people – I say, if after Friday, if you know it, if you don’t know, go “google” it.
CT: Uh-huh. So there maybe – this is about China and this about more reality check that the Fed rates are going to get raised in next month and so I think this is the markets trying to buoy the Fed into not doing it so they can continue to have their easy money. We’ll see.
HH: Well let’s turn to the big political story which is former Secretary of State Clinton’s server. Reuter’s Jonathan Allen’s story today reporting that there was certainly classified material on the server. She turned it over to Kendall so there’s eighteen USC 1924 involved in this. It’s been a big – Chris Cilizza, one of your friends and mine – said today she had the worst week in Washington by far. I think it’s just beginning. What do you think, Chuck Todd?
CT: Well, I think when you have a federal judge reprimand you, FBI looking at you – that isn’t Trey Gowdy. They are desperately trying to turn this and look the campaign’s had multiple conference calls with reporters trying to – their best case is creating a two-wrongs defense. Well, if she mishandled classified information, well then so did the Benghazi committee and so did these people. Well, that doesn’t make it right, and they’re trying the fog of war defense. They’re going partisan. This is part of her old playbook, but I talked to a whole bunch of Democrats not aligned with Clinton who all think she is just doing a horrendous job dealing with this story. They want her to just either do a once-and-for-all stop making light of it, take it seriously, and be straightforward about. And her two attempts at jokes have not gone over well and neither this sort of “well, it’s just you ghouls in the press that care about this story, average people don’t.” Well, the problem is that it’s having an impact on average people.
HH: I also talked to Chris Christie about it. He of the two and the half hour press conference and he suggested that what she needs to do. I don’t know that she actually has that in her, Chuck Todd. And iff she doesn’t, do you have it in you to be president if you can’t walk out and handle a long press conference with a hostile press.
CT: I watched Donald Trump the other night – and he’ll do another press conference today – and it really just dawned on me – and I’m sitting there going, “You know, say what you want about Trump, the guy’s accessible.” You can ask him whatever he wants, he may bulldoze right through on the question to the press corps. that’s there, but that’s not the attitude Hilary Clinton is taking. I think if she did do sort of pull the “Christie” – she did it herself one time before in the ‘90s, the same as Pink’s press conference right?
CT: Where she took questions until it ended. In fact, so one of the pieces of it rides it – one strategy is apparently is trying to get after Berklovich – tell him to do this-that. Right in before Labor Day. Just take the questions until they don’t have any more questions.
HH: And I–
CT: And you’re right, that that’s just not what she’s comfortable doing, and I have to tell you Hugh. This is another part of hammering of Democrats is not just they don’t how she’s handled the email story, but it’s now getting into “Is she a good candidate?”
HH: That’s true. Now, last question. Joe Biden. I’ve only interviewed him once in twenty-five years. It was a lot of years because he is one of the niceset men you’ve ever met. I have nothing in common with him politically and nevertheless, he’s a wonderfully nice guy. And I began last hour talking a bunch of people who said he’s going to be in. I’ll talk to Jon Allen about it later. What do you think, Chuck Todd?
CT: Look, every source I’ve had says number one that it’s like he wants to be in, but he’s not kamikaze about this. And this is – he’s sixty-forty leaning in. This isn’t like he’s gung-ho and it’s not that he doesn’t want the job – of course he wants it. He’s run twice before for it. It’s realizing that if he decides to get in, this is a fight to the convention, right? This is not like this is about seeing how things go through February.
HH: You’re right. You’re right.
CT: This is a “you got to gurge yourself,” and I think that part of it is becoming a little intimidating.
HH: Think he’ll announce on Meet the Press?
CT: Boy, that’s a great suggestion.
CT: The way they used to do it – that’s the way Joe Biden world would have done it in the ‘80s.
HH: It’s also he’s–
CT: Let’s do it. I see a throwback. Come on, man.
HH: Throwback announcement. Chuck Todd, we’ll be watching on Sunday on Meet the Press. Thank you for joining me.