Chris Hayes interviewed Hillary Clinton last night, and they talked about Donald Trump's knowing manipulation of public debate.
"This is really interesting to me, because thing is a central analytical question about how this individual operates. because there is these kind of two theories of him," Hayes said.
"One is there is this kind of -- he is this kind of accidental maelstrom that the sort of variety of factors in broader American life have put him in this position. And the other is that he is quite a canny manipulator."
"I'm with the second," Clinton said. "Sometimes his canny manipulation gets out of control. Even he goes too far. But he was a canny manipulator when he became a birther. That was not accidental.
"That was deliberate. He was a canny manipulator when he started his campaign, basically insulting immigrants and calling Mexicans rapists and criminals. And you can go on and on. it was designed to really attach himself to enough of a core of Republican voters and then he would go from there. And along the way he would say things like 'we're not going to touch Medicare, we're not going to touch Medicaid,' all of which he had no real allegiance to.
She said she thinks he was being manipulative and plugging into the "dark underbelly in American politics."
"It's been there forever. It's not a new phenomenon. but what we have done over time is to try to contain it and prevent it from being too big a voice in our politics."
"It's funny you say that. There was this quote today that perfectly buttons this up," Hayes said.
"This is someone talking to White House reporter Jim Acosta. Trump adviser tells me POTUS is winning the cultural war. This is after this weekend in which he is fighting the athletes. "Just made millionaire sports athletes his new Hillary Rodham Clinton."
The tactics worked well enough "to get him the nomination with the help of James Comey and the Russians. It worked well enough to get him elected as I write in my book, because, yeah, I think that the way he positioned himself and his really outrageous language, his insults and attacks, all of that, you could not take your eyes off of him," she said.
"I mean, nobody could figure out what he would do next, which by definition kind of controlled the audience, right? And so he was able to keep slamming. everything bad that was said about him. Everything anything bad said about him, whether it was bankruptcy or defrauding students or elders, the whole nine yards.
Clinton noted Trump is "playing these 40/60 politics. Meaning 40% of the public is with him, 60% is against him."
"Which shouldn't work in a majority democracy and yet it is somehow working," Hayes said.
"Think about this, Chris. His first goal is to try to control the Republicans as much as he can," Clinton said.
"And so what he is doing with that 40%, which still remains a supermajority of Republicans, is to control the party, control his chance going forward, try to discipline or jettison Republicans who don't agree with him by threatening to get them primary opponents or threatening to support the most radical Trump loyalists in a race, so he's trying to maintain that republican core."