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Face the Nation Transcripts July 26, 2015: Paul, Perry, Jindal, Manchin

(CBS News) -- A transcript from the July 19 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included: Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Joe Manchin, Nancy Cordes, John Heilmann, Jamelle Bouie and Gerald Seib.

JOHN DICKERSON, HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: The summer of Trump continues, and he has got a new target among his competitors.




DICKERSON: Responding to a remark from a Scott Walker ally, the billionaire unloaded on the Wisconsin governor while campaigning in Iowa yesterday.


TRUMP: The only one beating me in Iowa is Scott Walker, and not by much. And he grew up -- you know, he grew up next door. And he's like right next door, except Wisconsin is doing terribly.


DICKERSON: At the top of the polls and turning out big crowds, is Trump a summer fling or has he tapped into something? We will hear from two other Republicans fighting for the same voters, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

In Louisiana, investigators are still trying to find a motive in the aftermath of the mass shooting in a Lafayette movie theater. We will get the latest from that state's governor, Bobby Jindal, then talk to West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin about gun laws and mental health.

Plus, as always, our reporters roundtable.

It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson.

We begin today with Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, who is in Salem, New Hampshire.

Senator Paul, I want to start with presidential politics. When you were elected to the Senate, you were seen as the example of a politician who tapped into the grassroots and brought that energy to Washington. People are now saying that about Donald Trump, that he's grabbed that same energy. Do you agree?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think if you give any candidate about a billion dollars worth of free advertising, that might help them get their message out.

But I think we're still doing quite well. We haven't gotten quite the same attention recently, but I think when you look at my polling against Hillary Clinton, I actually lead her in five states won by President Obama. We even lead Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania, which hasn't been won by a Republican in a long time.

So I think actually our candidacy, which I'm billing as a different kind of Republican, we're pretty happy where we are.

DICKERSON: Do you think that, in your candidacy that is a different kind of Republican, that you're bringing out different kinds of voters than the ones that have been attracted to Trump by that billion dollars of coverage that you talk about?

PAUL: Yes. I have been to Detroit. I have been to the South Side of Chicago. I have been to Ferguson. I have been to Philadelphia at a Boys Latin school. I have been to Howard University.

I am trying to say, you know what, I'm a different kind of Republican and that we need a more diverse Republican Party. So I think our strategies are slightly different as far as trying to -- how we grow the party. But I think we will see which in the end is more successful. But I think the Republican Party, if we begin attracting more African-American vote, we're going to be a big party, and a party that's very difficult to beat.

DICKERSON: I would like to switch now and ask you about Hillary Clinton and the e-mails.On Friday, there were reports that investigators from the State Department and other federal agencies had found that they discovered classified material in her private e-mail. And here's what Secretary Clinton said in response to that.

Let's hear what she had to say.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm confident I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received. And what I think you're seeing here is a very typical kind of discussion, to some extent a disagreement, among various parts of the government over what should or should not be publicly released.


DICKERSON: Additionally, the Clinton campaign says this has nothing to do with Benghazi, which is what the underlying investigation is supposed to be about. What's your reaction to that?

PAUL: I think there's a couple of important things here.

This is President Obama's Department of Justice saying that she may have revealed classified information. This isn't a bunch of Republicans making a political point. This is President Obama's government saying she may have released classified information.

Here's the other important thing. The rules say that she should have it on a government server and she should use a government e-mail. She doesn't obey the rules, but then she says, oh, trust me, I didn't have any classified information. And trust me, I have given you all the e- mails.

It's a little bit hard to have trust in Hillary Clinton when she breaks every rule on the way and then we're supposed toed trust her to give us all of her e-mail? I think this is a real problem for Hillary Clinton. And this isn't going away.

DICKERSON: And to their question of what it has to do with Benghazi?

PAUL: Well, with Benghazi, there are several of the e-mails that do have to do with Benghazi.

When she came before the committee and I asked her questions, I asked her, did you read the cables from the ambassador? If she did exchange e-mails with the ambassador on a non-classified setting, even his whereabouts and acknowledging that he was in Benghazi could be a breach of security. Her schedule is a breach of security.

She puts herself at risk by having her schedule sent back and forth on a non-classified or a non-government server, and also the people that have to protect the secretary of state are put at risk by having her schedule out there. So, no, they did this because they're Clintons. And the Clintons think they live above the law and they think they live differently than all the rest of America.

And I think this is going to come back to bite her and already is.

DICKERSON: Let me switch now and talk to you about tax policy.

You put out a video last week that got some notice and attention. In that video, you had a wood chipper, you had a chain saw. You were destroying the tax code. You would like a flat tax. One of the things about tax policy in Washington is every lobbyist has their fingers in it, and that's why you want a flat tax. But how do you get to a flat tax in a city that is overrun with lobbyists messing around in the tax code?

PAUL: Well, you have got that right. The city is overrun with lobbyists. And they don't want a flat tax. They want to manipulate the system to help their customers.

I want to get rid of the whole tax code. And I think that the 70,000- page tax code we have is chasing American jobs and American companies overseas. Burger King reincorporated in Canada. Canada's business tax is half of ours. So, I think what you do is get rid of all the favoritism, get rid of all the cronyism, and let's have one single rate, 14.5 for businesses, 14.5 for individuals.

And the one thing we do that is different than any other flat tax, we get rid of the payroll tax. If you're a worker and you make $40,000 a year, you're going to get $2,000 more in your paycheck with my flat tax.

DICKERSON: Also, I would like to switch now to ask you about some legislation you're putting forward about Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has come under criticism recently for some of these videos.

Planned Parenthood -- in the videos, where people at Planned Parenthood are talking about fetal tissue research, Planned Parenthood said they did nothing illegal, but you would like to deny federal funding. How do you plan to do that?

PAUL: Well, the thing is, is, as a physician, I watched this video of a physician and her callous sort of disregard for anything human about life, and just to casually over wine and brie to say oh, well, we manipulate the baby around so we can get the body parts out first, and then crush the head at the end, instead of at the beginning.

I think even pro-choice people are horrified by this. I know a lot of people on the whole spectrum of the abortion issue. I don't talk to any pro-choice friends who are not horrified by this. Every bit of money that Planned Parenthood gets is already given to community health centers; community health centers do everything Planned Parenthood does, except for abortions.

There's no reason for Planned Parenthood to get any federal money, and basically the things they're doing are unacceptable to a vast majority of people pro-life or pro-choice.

DICKERSON: Unacceptable, but are they illegal, and will that help you get legislation through?

PAUL: I don't think it's going to be -- my legislation won't be about whether it's legal or not.

Money can change hands for research purposes, but the thing is, is realize what this woman is saying. This woman is saying she manipulates the body around. Most babies present head first when they're being delivered. She's moving the baby around so the head is still in, trying not to crush the liver. She's talking cavalierly about harvesting baby parts.

Whether it's against the law or not, my goodness, I think everybody in America is horrified by this, and they don't want their tax dollars going to this group.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Paul, thanks so much for being with us. PAUL: Thanks, John.

DICKERSON: And joining us from Austin is former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Governor Perry, I want to ask you. You have said that Donald Trump was a cancer on conservatism, and you also said that he threatens to send the Republican Party into the graveyard. What did you mean by those?

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I want to be very clear that I'm not going to go quietly, as any individual, whether it's Donald Trump or anyone else, lays out concepts that frankly are out of line with the old historical conservatism.

I happen to think that conservatism is the future of this country, allowing people to live free from overtaxation, overlitigation, over- regulation. And that's what we need to be talking about in this country, and not be trying to divide this country. Conservatism is about bringing people together, finding solutions to challenges that face us.

And I hear Mr. Trump, with some rather inflammatory remarks, and, you know, whether or not you agree with John McCain or not, his politics, you must not say that he's not a hero and that those that are captured, somehow or another, to belittle those.

And at that particular point in time, I'm not going to be quiet about an individual who is running on the Republican ticket that is saying that they're a conservative, but not espousing conservative views.

DICKERSON: So, in that instance, when he was talking John McCain and some of the other things he's said, I know they're distasteful, but I guess what I wonder is how they harm the conservative message.

PERRY: Well, I think any time you have someone who is going to ask to be the commander in chief of the military, and to cast aspersion upon those individuals, how in the world is that individual going to have the respect of the men and women that they're going to ask to go into harm's way?

So, I think that that is the type of rhetoric. We have had a divider in the White House for the last six-and-a-half years in Barack Obama. We don't need that out of the Republican nominee. And we certainly don't need a Republican divider in chief.

DICKERSON: When I talk to Republican voters who have good things to say about Mr. Trump, they say he's just telling it like it is, and they like his kind of -- that he doesn't hold back. What do you say to those voters?

PERRY: Well, he's obviously talking about border security, and we have been dealing with that for the last five or six years.

It's not something new to us. We understand that that is a real concern for Americans. Whether or not they're Republicans or Democrats, I think in a lot of cases, care about the security of this country. But just throwing invectives out there and throwing up ideas that frankly don't hold water is not what Americans are looking for.

We need a serious, mature conversation about solutions on how to deal with that border. And I know how to do that. Last summer, when the president came to Dallas, and I looked him in the face, I said, Mr. President, if you don't secure the border, Texas will.

And, Mr. Trump, he took offense that -- and said that Texas hadn't done its job, that we failed on border security. The real issue here is that Donald Trump obviously doesn't either recognize or know that border security is the federal government's responsibility. It's not the states' responsibility, but when the state fails, I'm going to step in and try to protect my citizens as best I can, and in doing so protecting the rest of this country.

We had a very successful effort last year, a 74 percent decrease in apprehensions after we sent our National Guard, our Texas Ranger Recon Teams and our Parks and Wildlife wardens. So, this conversation needs to be about solutions. It doesn't need to be about casting aspersions at people.

DICKERSON: Just coming back to this idea of the voters who are turning out in such numbers for Donald Trump, are they mistaken in their affections for him? Why do you think they are there cheering him on?

PERRY: There's a lot of time to go. There's a lot of conversations to be had. There's a lot of debates, and laying out solutions, whether it's dealing with our economics, whether it's dealing with our security, whether it's dealing with our foreign policy.

And at that particular point in time, Mr. Trump will be required to really get down and to lay out solutions and not just sound bites. The reality TV will gather a lot of interest, and a lot of people enjoy the celebrity of that, but for the last 14 years, I have had to live in the real world and deal with real world issues and come up with real world solutions. And that's what the people, I think, of this country want out of the next president of the United States.

DICKERSON: Is there anything he is saying that you do agree with?

PERRY: Listen, he makes a good point that we have got some challenges on the border.

I just agree -- or I should say, I just disagree when he says that Texas is not doing a good job, when the fact of the matter is the Texas Rangers, the Texas Recon -- the Texas Ranger Recon Teams and our National Guard have done a fabulous job down there on the border.

But it's not Texas' responsibility. And I think that's the real challenge for me, is to help educate him what's going on. I'm glad he came to the border. I'm glad he took a look at it. I hope he came away understanding it better than what he had before. DICKERSON: All right, Governor Rick Perry, thanks so much for being with us.


DICKERSON: We will be right back. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: Investigators are still trying to determine what prompted John Russel Houser to go on a shooting rampage Thursday night at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Houser killed two and injured nine before he turned his gun on himself. CBS News has obtained this security video of Houser at the hotel he had been staying at just prior to the shooting. Houser had a long history of mental illness, but he purchased the handgun he used in the shooting legally in Alabama.

We go now to Lafayette and the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal.

Governor, have you learned anything more about what prompted this attack?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R-LA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John, look, I know that law enforcement continues their investigation. They're going through the journals they found in that hotel room. They have talked to his family members.

We know some things that we didn't know just in the last couple of days. For example, it appears -- and they're still trying to run down this and confirm this -- it appears he may have been in other movie theaters in South Louisiana. We may never know exactly why he chose Lafayette, why he chose Thursday night. We know this theater had security on Fridayand Saturday night.

We know he chose a theater with an exit that allowed him to park his car near that exit. It appeared that he was trying to escape. He had a wig. He had disguises in the car, in the hotel room.

So, John, they continue to try to piece together why he came here and why he choseThursday night to disrupt these innocent people's lives. We may never have the answers to all of those questions, though.

DICKERSON: Governor, as people are searching for some kind of answer in the wake of this, what's your feeling about the fact that here you had somebody with a history of mental illness who had been committed, but yet still, despite those two things, was able to purchase a gun?

JINDAL: John, that never should have happened. Here in Louisiana, we actually passed tougher laws a couple of years ago, so that, for example, if Houser had been involuntarily committed here in Louisiana, that information would automatically -- we would have reported that to the national background check system. He shouldn't, he wouldn't have been able to buy a gun; he wouldn't have been able to go into that pawnshop and buy that gun, as he did in another state. Look, every time this happens, it seems like the person has a history of mental illness. We need to make sure the systems we have in place actually work.

Like I said, in Louisiana, we toughened our laws a couple of years ago. If he had been involuntarily committed here, if he had tried to buy that gun here, he wouldn't have been allowed to do that.

DICKERSON: So, is it an issue in your mind of making sure that across state -- that other states are following the laws better, or how does a person searching for a solution here -- what do they look to?

JINDAL: Well, absolutely.

I think every state should strengthen their laws. Every state should make sure this information is being reported in the background system. We need to make sure that background system is working. Absolutely, in this instance, this man never should have been able to buy a gun.

John, there's evil in the world. And, look, I know a lot of folks here are upset, but also very angry that somebody would walk in and feel like he had the right to take away these innocent lives, to disrupt these families. Look, I talked to the father Thursday night. I actually went to the emergency room and talked to the father of the first little girl, the first woman that was shot.

John, he was desperately hoping -- he couldn't find information, been to all the hospitals. He was desperately hoping his daughter had survived, that somehow she had just gotten lost in the shuffle. First-responders went back in. They got the driver's license. She happened to be the very first person that Houser shot and killed.

That's news no father ever wants to get. Look, tomorrow, that father, that mom, they are going to have to bury a child. No parent should have to go through that. There are a lot of tough emotions here in Lafayette in Louisiana, a lot of anger, a lot of grief over why this madman came in here and disrupted these people's lives. His daughter simply went to a movie towards the end of summer break.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you a last question about that funeral service tomorrow. The Westboro Baptist Church, which has disrupted other funerals in the past, is threatening to do so again here. What can you do to keep them away?

JINDAL: John, let me be very clear.

If they come here to Louisiana, they try to disrupt this funeral, we're going to lock them up. We're going to arrest them. They shouldn't try that in Louisiana. We won't abide by that here. Let these families grieve. Let them celebrate their daughters, their children, their spouses, their loved ones' lives in peace. They better not try that nonsense here.

DICKERSON: All right, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, thank you so much for being with us.

JINDAL: Thank you, John.

DICKERSON: Joining us is now to Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat from West Virginia.

Senator, you worked very hard on some gun control legislation in the wake of the Newtown shootings. So, when you look at this, how could Rusty Houser have slipped through, somebody with a history of mental illness?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Well, first of all, John, it's really not gun control. It's just sense, basically.

I don't know of a law-abiding gun owner that wants a person that has been adjudicated mentally or a criminal to be able to get a gun. And all we're saying is shut down the loopholes as far as in the background checks.

But with that being said, we ought to make sure that we have a thorough job done in that, people to turn their records in, that we know who has been criminally prosecuted or adjudicated mentally, and it gets into the system.

And right now, a lot of states, or a lot of territories, a lot of areas do not do it, and they need to do that. And we need to make sure it's being done and use the weight of the government to make sure they do that. And if they do that, then we will have a more accurate database. This person would have been caught. I understand he bought his gun at a pawnshop. I'm not saying he did anything wrong.

But, somehow, that shouldn't have happened. Him having a criminal record and also a mental problem on top of that, so he was kind of a double whammy on us.

DICKERSON: Is there any federal solution to what you're talking about, somebody who slips through the cracks here, and what's the political environment for any kind of federal gun legislation?

MANCHIN: Well, right now, I need Republican help. I need my friends on the Republican side of the aisle to help us with the most reasonable, sensible path forward.

Pat Toomey had worked on this, and we looked at this thing, and basically it's not gun control. It's just saying that, listen, if you go to a gun show, commercial transaction, we need to know who you are, and if you have had a problem before, if you have been criminal or a mental problem, and if you go on the Internet. Those are two areas that we don't have personal contact.

With that being said, we didn't interfere. If anything, we gave the rights back to law-abiding gun owners. But people are scared, John, that basically, they said, I'm scared because I don't think government will stop. I just don't trust the government. And it's a shame when you get in that position that you don't trust anybody. We're not going to let that happen. We going to protect the Second Amendment rights. But we have got to step forward the NICS system through the FBI background checks. We have got to make sure that the courts are doing their job.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you a question here about Hillary Clinton, as our Democratic representative on the show today.

You heard what Senator Rand Paul said. He said this is not just a political witch-hunt. This is people from within the Obama administration looking into these e-mails and this private server on which Hillary Clinton kept them.

MANCHIN: Well, the only thing I have said is anybody who takes a new job -- when I became governor, basically, people sit down with you, and they tell you and they counsel you and tell you what you can and can't do, what you're allowed to do, what's been done in the past and how people have handled these affairs.

And I'm sure that Hillary went through the same situation. She's a little bit more of a higher profile, if you will. And with that being said, they're watching everything much closer. If she's done something wrong, it will come forward. We haven't seen that yet. She's willing to testify. She's willing to turn things over. She's done everything asked.

DICKERSON: The one thing she hasn't been willing to turn over is that server. That was the thing she did that was special, nobody else had done before, had her own system cooked up at home. Do you think that...

MANCHIN: I think basically what she had is her husband, being a former president, they used a server that they already had. The situation -- there are not that many people that we have where a sitting president -- and he basically serves his term out -- then his wife steps in to a high-profile position.

So, it is what it is. I think basically we should be talking about the problems that we have in this country.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about one of those, not a problem, but a challenge, which is this Iran nuclear deal.

You're a Democrat the administration would like to have support this. One of the ways they have been framing this argument is that basically if you don't get a deal here, there's going to be military action. If it's a way to stop military action, would you support this deal?

MANCHIN: Well, first of all, John, let me just say that military action, we can do that any time.

We have proven we can drop a bomb anyplace anytime anywhere. If people are saying we have to go in now and do that, I'm saying if we can prevent that war from starting, if we can prevent us from getting bogged down in another Middle East conflict that we have been for 13 years, and I have said this -- if money or military might would have changed that part of the world, we would have done so 10 or 12 years ago.

For us to get drawn back in, if we can do this with our allies, and when you have P5-plus-one, that means there's five other countries directly involved. I have spoken to representatives of four out of the five countries. And they all believe that this is a pathway that they should be taking, that's one they support. If we pull out, we pull out by ourself. So, I'm looking at all of the information I have to make a decision by September.

DICKERSON: You have done a lot of firsthand reporting here. Are you going to support it?

MANCHIN: I'm looking at -- I'm leaning very strongly towards that because of the options that I have. The only other option is go to war.

And I'm not ready to send our people into harm's way again until the people of that part of the world want to clean up their own mess.

DICKERSON: OK. All right. So it sounds like you're a tentative yes there, Senator.

MANCHIN: Well, John, I'm leaning. But if there is something that shows me that it's different, and basically that the other countries will not stay with us, we cannot go it alone.

DICKERSON: We will have to leave it there.

MANCHIN: We will leave it there.

DICKERSON: Senator, thank you so much.


DICKERSON: We will be right back. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: We have got a lot more FACE THE NATION coming up, including a look at Donald Trump and his serial breakups with his fellow Republicans.


DICKERSON: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION.


DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I'm John Dickerson.

Donald Trump and the Republican Party are at a rocky patch in their relationship. How will it end? Let's look at the story so far.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DICKERSON (voice-over): Before Donald Trump was a presidential candidate, he was known for his high profile divorces. He's happily married now. It's his political relationships that are blowing up.

First there was his slip from Senator Lindsey Graham, who Trump says once called asking for a favor.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He called me up out of the blue. I never met the guy. And then he wanted to come in for contribution contributions.

DICKERSON: Once close enough to give Trump his private cell phone number. Graham has a different view now.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't care if he drops out. Stay in the race, just stop being a jackass.

DICKERSON: So, Trump gave out Graham's phone number to the world.

TRUMP: I wrote the number down. I don't know if it's the right number. Let's try it.

DICKERSON: Now the senator needs a new phone. At least he's being a good sport about the whole thing.

Trump was also once fond of Governor Rick Perry.

TRUMP: Well, I think he's going to do very well.

DICKERSON: But that was four years ago. And now -

TRUMP: You know, he's doing very poorly in the polls. He put glasses on so people will think he's smart.

DICKERSON: So, Perry got personal too.

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump's candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.

DICKERSON: Next in the receiving line, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Trump split with him after a Walker fundraiser referred to Trump at dumb dumb.

TRUMP: He was up in my office four months ago, five months ago giving me an award. Giving me an award. And I like Scott Walker. He's a nice guy. But today one of his people hit me. And I said, why is he doing that? The person's a stupid person, but why is he doing that? Hit me. And I said, hey, now the gloves are off.

DICKERSON: No one has thrown a lamp yet, but Trump has threatened the equivalent, by suggesting he might leave the party and run as an independent.

TRUMP: I do not want to do independent at all. Now, if I'm treated poorly, that's one thing. If I'm treated well and with great respect and don't win, I would - I would not do that.

TRUMP: Turn around here.

DICKERSON: Republicans worry that Trump, the independent candidate, would steal their voters and hand the presidency to a Democrat.

So, while things have gotten heated with Republicans, they might want to think about sending Trump flowers again.


DICKERSON: Joining us now to talk about the week in politics is CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes, Bloomberg politics managing editor John Heilemann, Gerry Seib is Washington bureau chief of "The Wall Street Journal," and Jamelle Bouie is a writer for "Slate" magazine.

Nancy, you were out in the thick of the Trump madness. Tell us - we've talked a lot on the show today about who's supporting him, what's the nature of the sport - the support. What did you discover out there?

NANCY CORDES, CBS NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I talked to a lot of folk who stood in line for hours to hear from him and it's a - really a mix of people. Some people say, I loved him on "The Apprentice." Other people say, I love that he's sticking it to the president and other Republicans too. Some people said, you know, I don't think I'll vote for him as president, but I love what he's saying, and I want to hear more of it. And then I think people just like a good show. You know, when you go to one of his campaign events, it really feels more like some kind of cross between a one man show and a standup routine. And that's very entertaining.

DICKERSON: John, Governor Rick Perry said, we've seen this before, these summer flings with various candidates. They come and they go. Is that the trajectory of the - of the Trump rocket?

JOHN HEILEMANN, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: No. We've never seen this before. We've never seen a candidate who's a summer fling who has a hundred percent name I.D. in the country and has somewhere between, if you believe him, $10 billion of net worth, if you believe more conservative estimates, still $4 billion or $5 billion worth of net worth, the most - the richest man ever to run for president. That is not - that is a novel thing.

And because of the fact that Trump is apparently determined to not play by anybody's rules, and the way that the modern media environment works, where cable eats this up and ratings are high everywhere from the liberal cable sphere to the conservative cable sphere, there's no real incentive - there's no real obvious obstacle until there are actually votes cast. There's no real reason why Donald Trump should not continue to do what he's been doing so far, which is to dominate the discussion, blot out the sun, suck up all the oxygen, whatever cliche you prefer, I've used all of them myself, but they're - they're all applicable in this case.

DICKERSON: John Heilemann, you get docked for not using a sports metaphor.

Jamelle, let me ask you this question, as John mentioned and Rand Paul said, it was a billion dollars in free advertising. There's a new poll out today, the NBC News/Maris poll, shows in Iowa, Trump is second only to Scott Walker. Scott Walker at 19, Donald Trump at 17. And then in New Hampshire, that other crucial early state, Donald Trump is on the top, 21 percent. There was a "Washington Post" poll that also showed him doing well. Who's he blocking out? What's happening to the rest of the field in the summer of Trump?

JAMELLE BOUIE, "SLATE" MAGAZINE: I think he's blocking out candidates like Ted Cruz, like Rand Paul, to a similar, but lesser extent, Scott Walker. I think Trump is pulling from this group of voters that are actually very - are under represented in terms of sort of media attention. These are people who are suspicious of outsiders to the country. These are people who want a restrictive immigration policy. These are people who like the sort of belligerent nationalism that Trump brings to the fore. And if you were - typically no one directly appeals to those people. They always sort of like dance around all of the issues. But Trump is, I think, unique in that he is outright saying, you know, I want to keep immigrants out. I want to go to war with more countries. And if you want those things, support me. And for everyone kind of in this political space that Trump is, I think it makes it more difficult for them because whenever he leaves, those voters are going to expect someone else to begin talking like that too.

DICKERSON: Gerry Seib, is it - when he leaves, might he leave and go his own way and become an independent? Is that a real -

GERALD SEIB, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": I think it's a real possibility. I mean you look - he does not seem like the kind of guy who Michelle Bachmann like will sort of exit the stage quietly and gracefully after he loses the Iowa caucuses. That doesn't seem like this kind of guy. I mean he - he's getting oxygen, as you've said, he's sucking the oxygen out of the room for everybody else. I don't think he necessarily is going to let that go easily. He uses the word I an awful lot. This is about Donald Trump in the end and that's a hard thing to let go of.

I will say there's one other thing that the polls show you, which is that his unfavorable ratings are extraordinarily high. So this is not a popular person. And people tend, in the end, to vote for people they like. I'm not sure the people who say, I - I am for Donald Trump, like Donald Trump, and that's a real impediment if you're actually, in the end, trying to get real votes at a real balloting place.

HEILEMANN: But to understand this phenomena, I think you need to be able to hold two simultaneously fairly contradictory ideas in your heard. One is that Donald Trump will not be the Republican nominee in almost - almost all certainty, and the other is that he will not be president. But at the same time, he really matters and he can continue to effect this race in huge ways. And I think, you know, this - this is a brilliant thing he's doing with the Republican Party. Right now, the interest of Fox News in the Republican Party, which are normally in perfect alignment, are not. Everybody in television wants Trump. Everyone in the party does not want Trump. And what Trump is saying right now is, he's threatening the party and saying, if you do anything to try to block my access, if you do anything to try to shut me down, I will go third party and I will elect Hillary Clinton, but that is what would happen. On the basis of the polling we've seen, he would draw from Republicans. That threat - the party doesn't have that much power any way, but that threat is a very powerful threat as he goes forward and looking for that oxygen. And then if he leaves the stage, John, he's - we have months where he could occupy our minds in the media echo chamber talking about, will I run as an independent or not run as an independent. Asking for people to court him. Asking for people to try to bribe him not to do what they don't want him to do. It could go on for month and months.


CORDES: And the thing is, in this kind of environment, normally having high unfavorability is a death nail. But in this situation, when he's running against 15 other people, even if he has a ceiling, let's say that ceiling is 20 or 25 percent, that' could still be enough for him to come in first or second in Iowa.

DICKERSON: Jamelle, in advance of this debate which is coming up, the Fox debate, there are going to 10 on that - a stage. You've been Perry and Graham try to make something by using Trump as a foil. Have they gotten anywhere? Would we be talking for those candidates as much as we are were it not for Trump?

BOUIE: I don't think we would be. I think Rick Perry, in the back of his mind, must be very glad that Donald Trump is at the top of the polls because it gives him a chance to sort of indulge his very nice, rhetorical barbs, right? On the other end, though, if you are someone who isn't so inclined to attack Trump, you've just got to up the ante. And so you see Mike Huckabee say things like, you know, Barack Obama is leaving Israelis in - I think the oven was the phrase he - just an insane thing to say, but it might just be insane enough to get you on a debate stage.

DICKERSON: Well, that's the new standard in (INAUDIBLE).

All right, we're going to talk about more. Everybody sit tight. And we'll hope you'll all sit tight. We'll be back with more of our political panel in a moment.


DICKERSON: We're back with our political panel.

Gerry Seib, I want to ask you about Hillary Clinton, her private server. There's been new developments about the e-mails on that server, possibly classified information.

Where do you think -- does this matter? It's more...

SEIB: It matters because it keeps an issue alive, and it happens to be an issue that takes people back to the question, can you trust Hillary Clinton? Is she honest? Is she transparent? I don't think the emails themselves matter as much as the broader questions that they raise.

And I think it does go on for a while because there are thousands and thousands more emails to come out. They're all going to be examined the way the first sets of emails were examined.

It matters, I think, John, for another reason. You know, Hillary Clinton said some really interesting things this week about changing corporate incentives in America away from the next quarter, short-term incentives and the harm long-term investment in this country. That's a really interesting debate.

It got almost no attention, maybe in the pages of "The Wall Street Journal,", but it should have gotten more attention than it did.

This kind of thing detracts from the substance of what Hillary Clinton is trying to do and I think that's a long-term problem.

DICKERSON: Yes, that big speech was scheduled for Friday, long planned; this came and swamped it a little bit.

John Heilemann, there's also a chance that she will testify at a -- worked out, it looks like maybe an October 22nd testimony in Congress. Maybe there's still some debate about that.

But what will that look like?

One of the things -- what did -- how do you think that will go down?

HEILEMANN: Well, just get back to this question. I'll answer that. But this has been amazing from their point of view.

"The New York Times" ran a story on Friday that said there was a criminal -- they're a criminal referral against Hillary Clinton. Then it amended that story and said it wasn't against Hillary Clinton; it was about the e-mails in general.

Today they've now walked back the criminal part -- they had to because it's apparently not true.

The world that Hillary Clinton was in on Friday, if there were criminal referrals being made to her, would have been a huge massive potentially catastrophic problem for her campaign.

Now it looks like this is a matter of whether there were emails that were sent that may have been classified but she did not know they were classified. She's maintaining the ones that they've shown have not marked classified, that they've -- there's a debate over whether they should have been marked classified.

That's a much better place for her to be. It's still been bad for her. It's bad for the story to keep going on. But compared to where we were on Friday when we thought there were criminal -- possible criminal referrals --

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