Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 04/08/15
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Crime and punishment.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Two big stories tonight. One, the verdict in the Boston Marathon bombing,
the other a police shooting in South Carolina.
Also tonight, my interview with Murphy Brown. And Hillary`s relationship
with two presidents, Bill and Barack.
Well, “Let Me Start” tonight with the arrest of a police officer in North
Charleston, South Carolina. Michael Slager has been charged now with
murder for his shooting of what appears to be an unarmed African-American
man Saturday morning. Part of the incident was caught on tape.
Police say it started when Officer Slager pulled 50-year-old Walter Scott
over for a broken tail light. Officer Slager then chased Scott to an open
area, a field. A lawyer for the officer said earlier this week the two men
then struggled over his taser.
Well, the following was caught on tape by a bystander. A warning, by the
way, to our viewers. This video is disturbing.
MATTHEWS: Well, the officer there fired eight shots at that fellow, five
of which hit him. He then radioed in the following.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Shots fired. Subject is down. He grabbed
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, according to the video, Slager then walked over and
handcuffed Scott. We`ll watch what happens there after that. Slager jogs
back to over where the scuffle apparently took place, and seems to pick
something off the ground. Let`s watch it all.
MATTHEWS: And very shortly after that, another officer arrives, and then
Slager returns where Scott is lying there handcuffed. We`ve highlighted
Officer Slager dropping an object onto the ground at that point near the
body of Scott – or he`s dying at that point. Watch closely.
MATTHEWS: Well, today, South Carolina leaders from both political parties
are praising the arrest of that officer. The mayor of North Charleston met
privately with the Scott family. And today, Walter Scott`s father and
mother spoke out about their son`s death and that disturbing video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER SCOTT, FATHER: The way I saw it on the film, the way he was
shooting that gun, it looked like he was trying to kill a deer or something
running through the woods.
JUDY SCOTT, MOTHER: When I looked at that tape, that was the most horrible
thing I`ve ever seen! I am very, very upset concerning it! I almost
couldn`t look at it. To see my son running defenselessly, being shot, it
just tore my heart to pieces!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by U.S. Congressman James Clyburn of
South Carolina. Congressman, you`ve been through a lot in your life.
What`s this about?
I don`t get it. I mean, in every police show we watch – I`m talking about
television, which are apparently technically correct, you never see a
police officer shooting after a guy who`s running away. They race after
them. They try to tackle them. The try to subdue them with the least
amount of physical force.
And here we have a guy just shooting away at a guy who`s an older man –
he`s not a young guy and he`s not running that fast – and just shooting
him eight times!
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes, Chris. Thank you so much for
having me. Let me once again say how much I appreciate the Scott family,
the way they have responded to this. They`re just the salt of the earth.
I don`t know exactly where this event occurred, but they are my
constituents and I really appreciate them a whole lot.
I also want to thank the mayor of North Charleston, the chief of police for
responding so quickly and so forcefully, and I think appropriately, to this
Chris, you said that I`ve had a lot of experiences in my life. You know,
I`ve said to you all of them haven`t been pleasant, but all of them I
consider to be blessings. And I have been blessed growing up in South
Carolina with good people like the Scotts. I`ve also been blessed with
knowing good people like the elected officials that are speaking out on
I spoke earlier today with the governor. In fact, on Monday, I did a
ribbon-cutting with Mayor Summey. I know the chief. And I`m not surprised
that they reacted so quickly and so forcefully.
But the problem we`ve got is that a climate has been created in the country
that`s causing these things to occur all over. And Chris, I know I get a
lot of criticism of this from some of my friends, but this so-called
American Legislative – whatever they call that group…
MATTHEWS: I know.
CLYBURN: … ALEX – (sic)
MATTHEWS: ALEX. (sic)
CLYBURN: Legislative Exchange Council – they have been drawing up these
legislations, pieces of legislation like “stand your ground.” That
legislation gives a license for people to be vigilantes. They are the ones
that are drawing up all these so-called voter ID laws. They are the ones
that have been drawing up these unfair redistricting plans.
These people are a cancer eating at the innards of our society, and it`s
time for our elected officials to start speaking out about this because the
climate that`s being created is not a good climate. And that`s why you
have these rogue police officers feeling they have license to do what they
want to do and there will be no consequences paid for it. And I think that
that`s the mindset of this police officer.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, U.S. Congressman James Clyburn. I have a
lot of respect for you, sir, and thank you for coming on tonight.
I`m joined right now by Val Demings, the former police chief of Orlando,
Florida. Also joined right now by Jim Cavanaugh, a retired special agent
in charge in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. He`s an MSNBC
Chief Demings, your thoughts about – give me the rules now on shooting a
fleeing felon. What are the rules in police discipline? What are you
supposed to do when a guy runs away from you, whatever the incident that
caused it? What are your ground rules?
VAL DEMINGS, FORMER ORLANDO POLICE CHIEF: Well, good evening, Chris, and
once again, thank you so much for having me.
This is an unbelievable case. But you know, prior to 1985, police had the
authority to stop a fleeing felon by using any force necessary, up to and
including death. But after 1985, with the Tennessee versus Gardner (ph)
case, the courts decided that giving law enforcement the ability to use
deadly force to stop all felons was constitutionally inappropriate or
unreasonable, therefore wrong. And so the laws changed. Therefore, our
When I look at the video, you know, I can`t help but – anyone`s heart
would go out to the family. We grieve with the family. But we also grieve
whenever the badge is tarnished, and I know that every good law enforcement
officer who`s out there trying to do right thing knows exactly what I`m
saying and exactly how I feel.
When you watch the video, it`s pretty clear and pretty convincing that Mr.
Scott posed absolutely no threat to Mr. Slager. And even if he did wrestle
with Mr. Slager for the electronic control device, he obviously lost
because the device was certainly not in his hands when he was running away.
So clearly, the South Carolina Department of Law Enforcement acted swiftly,
as they should have, because the evidence was pretty painfully clear in
MATTHEWS: Jim Cavanaugh, your views. Bring in the taser because we`ve
been watching this film. It`s a homemade picture, of course, a video.
Maybe it`s done from a cell phone. But we`re looking at what looks to be
an officer who goes back to where maybe a scuffle occurred, and then he
goes forward and drops something on the ground, picks something up.
What is going on there? Can you tell?
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Chris, I think what I
think he`s doing here – with the only caveat that if the officer told the
homicide detectives when they arrived for forensics that the taser had been
at the other location where the first scuffle ensued, that would alleviate
him. Short of that, he`s trying to control the crime scene to make it look
like a justified shooting.
And so what he`s done – what you see happen – there`s a traffic stop
that`s off camera. Then the two men encounter each other. The taser –
you can see the wire is deployed, so the officer shot the taser. It`s a
one-shot weapon. It can be used as a contact weapon, as well, even if it`s
shot – even after it`s – the one shot.
But he drops – it apparently drops. That`s what it looks like. And then
Mr. Scott runs away. And like Chief Demings says, I mean, this is – this
makes you sick to your stomach to watch this, shooting a man in the back,
you know, eight shots, a man shot in the back like this.
The only person in imminent threat of death or serious injury was Mr.
Scott. There wasn`t anybody else in any imminent threat. And then the
officer goes back, gets the taser and appears to surreptitiously drop it
CAVANAUGH: … as if to say, you know, he was carrying it.
So this officer – you know, he`s in big legal troubles. He`s – his first
attorney`s gone now. He`s going to have a real hard time. This case –
cold-blooded murder on video, plus, Mr. Scott shot in the back.
I mean, I`m like Chief Demings. It`s a bad day for Mr. Scott`s family.
Our heart goes out to them. It`s a bad day for every American to watch
this. It`s a super-bad day for law enforcement.
CAVANAUGH: If this guy did this in a “shoot, don`t shoot” training, we`d
have thrown him out the academy out the back door, if he did that on one of
our “shoot, don`t shoot” videos, shoot the man in the back like that. It`s
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Chief Demings. I`ll be back to you – I`ll be back
to you in a minute, Jim.
Chief, it seems to me – and I cover these events all the time, like
Reverend Sharpton and the rest of us on this network and elsewhere. We`ve
been covering these cases, white cop or white individual, a vigilante in
one case, shooting an African-American guy, younger than this fellow, in
most cases, and it`s like – it`s become iconic in the most possible way,
an iconic part of the American story today.
And here`s a police officer. Doesn`t that officer have in his head that
he`s about to become part of an iconic, horrible event? Doesn`t he know?
Or is there such a pattern of white-on-black violence of this kind that it
can`t stop, even when it`s exposed as dramatically as it`s been exposed in
the last couple of years?
DEMINGS: Well, Chris, you know…
MATTHEWS: It`s just incredible that this should happen in the midst of all
this talking about it happening. Here it does happen – and somebody`s
there taping him. Thank God somebody was taping him.
But how can the same almost habitual behavior occur again and again once
it`s been exposed? We like to believe that when something`s exposed, it
sort of stops happening!
DEMINGS: You know, good…
MATTHEWS: This is happening now again!
DEMINGS: Good, hard-working, decent police officers who do this job every
day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – they have two very powerful
tools, Chris, and I`m not talking about anything that they carry around
their waist. They have the authority to enforce the law, and they have
discretion. And obviously, Mr. Slager utilized both in an inappropriate
I`m tired of it, too. I know America is tired of it. But just like in any
profession, you have bad apples, who, unfortunately, go to work and do the
wrong thing. That`s exactly what has happened in South Carolina.
The decisions didn`t take 180 days to make. As I said, the South Carolina
Department of Law Enforcement acted swiftly, as they should have. And I
think that justice in this case…
DEMINGS: … has been served. But this is really just the beginning. And
kind of back to the handling of crime scenes – regardless of what the
officer or Mr. Slager picked up or dropped, procedure is you secure the
crime scene. You don`t disturb the evidence. And you wait until the crime
scene technician gets there to process the scene.
So regardless of what he picked up in one location and moved to another, it
was inappropriate procedure…
DEMINGS: … and really no reason to do it.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Cavanaugh, we`ll get back to you in the next show. We`ll
have you back again. But I have go right now. Val Demings, Chief, thanks
so much. Jim Cavanaugh, thank you.
Coming up – the verdict is in in the Boston Marathon bombing. Dzhokhar
Tsarnaev has been found guilty on all 30 counts. Seventeen of those are
capital counts, which now makes Tsarnaev eligible for the death penalty
because of all them.
Plus, Rand Paul under fire by the hawks. No surprise there. By the way,
he`s on the attack himself against Hillary Clinton. And he today started
sparring with the media. He`s in a three-front war. For a dove, Rand Paul
sure knows how to fight a battle, and he`s got one on his hands, three of
And the actor Candice Bergen joins us tonight. Her Murphy Brown character
was an early target, as we all know, in the culture wars, thanks to J.
Danforth Quayle, who criticized her for being a single mom.
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with Bill Clinton`s staggering commentary on 21st
century American politics. He has said the truth again.
And this is HARDBALL, a place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has won reelection. Emanuel won the
run-off last night against Cook County commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
The race went to a run-off because Garcia held Emanuel under 50 percent in
February`s first election.
Emanuel thanked voters for putting him through his paces and he said he`d
be a better mayor because of it.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Almost two years to the day since the
Boston Marathon bombing, a jury in Massachusetts today reached a verdict in
the capital murder trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – guilty on all counts. Of
these counts, 30 federal counts, 17 are capital counts, which now makes
Tsarnaev eligible for the death penalty, obviously. The trial will now
move into a second phase to determine his sentence. The jury`s decision on
the death penalty must be unanimous, so it has to be all 12.
The homegrown terrorist acts of the Tsarnaev brothers were the worst to
take place on American soil since 9/11. And during the months-long trial,
Tsarnaev`s lawyer acknowledge that her client participated in the bombing,
but said he had been unduly influenced and radicalized by his older
Defense attorneys hope they can humanize Tsarnaev enough to spare his life.
But prosecutors argue the bombing was a calculated act, relying on the
stories of survivors, as well as the handwritten confessional notes that
Tsarnaev wrote while hiding inside a boat before police captured him.
Midwin Charles is a criminal defense attorney and Kendall Coffey was a U.S.
Let me ask you about this – Kendall, you first down there. This – the
nature of this – I want to get to the politics behind this, why Congress
passed this law and Bill Clinton signed it. But when you ask the jury to
decide whether to go ahead with executing someone who`s clearly eligible
for execution because of the nature of the charges and the convictions –
17 in this case – would that lead you to believe a jury would say execute
the guy if it`s 17 times, enough to justify execution?
KENDALL COFFEY, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I think this jury right now is
ready to definitely send him to death row. It`s going to be uphill for the
defense, but the defense has not even really begun to defend until now,
after the conviction.
So they`ve got opportunities to try to humanize him, to try to reduce his
role in the crime compared to that of his older brother, to suggest that
his brother completely dominated his life. And remember, they – defense
just needs one or two jurors to hold out. It`s got to be unanimous for a
death penalty. And that`s – that one or two jury, that`s what the defense
is counting on.
MATTHEWS: How many, do you think, in your experience – how many people
sneak onto juries and say they`re not opposed to capital punishment, but
really are and show it when it comes time to sentencing?
COFFEY: Well, I think there are going to be some people on that jury that
have a lot of trouble sending somebody to their death. It`s easy to say
that, I can follow the law, yes, I can support that, but to look at
somebody and know that you`re taking responsibility for extinguishing human
life – it`s going to be a problem for a couple of people on that jury.
MATTHEWS: Well, why do you take the oath? Why do you accept membership on
a jury if you can`t do, in this case, you know, a dirty job, if you will,
but it`s a job that you have sworn to do?
COFFEY: Because all of us think we can do the right thing, that we think
we`re fair, that we can follow the law. But when something gets inside of
us and it appeals – it`s this visceral, heart-wrenching…
MATTHEWS: Yes. I see. And you`re looking – and then also, Midwin, you`re
probably looking to hear from the defense attorney to give you that reason.
Please give me a reason not to do this.
MIDWIN CHARLES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That`s right. And that`s the
defense attorney`s job, is to basically appeal to the jury and go over the
mitigating circumstances, mitigating factors that sort of humanize this
MATTHEWS: How much goes into the research here of figuring where to know,
getting a jury – not to be too cold about this – this is about life and
death – figuring out a jury`s number. What will this juror – only need
one or two.
CHARLES: That`s right. You really just need one.
MATTHEWS: And you have to figure out what works.
CHARLES: You really just need one. All that defense attorney has to do is
appeal to that one person, their sensibility, their idea that this young
man – remember, he`s a very young guy.
MATTHEWS: He was 19 when he did it.
CHARLES: Nineteen when he did it, 21 years old now. So the idea that you
could send someone that young to death, it`s very difficult.
MATTHEWS: Yes. So, OK, I`m going to play tough guy here. I`m not a big
pro- or anti-death penalty person.
MATTHEWS: I think it depends. I know of circumstances where I think it
was very appropriate.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, Tsarnaev was convicted on 30 counts today, 17 of which
allow the death penalty. And most of the counts are based on a 1994 law
supported by the following, Senators Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, John
Kerry of Massachusetts, Congressman Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Barney
Frank, Joseph Kennedy and other members of the Massachusetts delegation.
So, they all voted for this death penalty eligibility. And the total votes
for the statutes was 61 senators in that year and 235 in the House of
Representatives. Overwhelming votes authorized the use of the death
penalty and it was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton.
My question, if this was the intent of Congress in our republican form of
democracy that such crimes should carry the death penalty, what matter of
case did the Congress intend for the death penalty, if not for this one
involving 17 convictions carrying the death penalty? And why this law, if
Kendall, why pass a law if you don`t intend to enforce it in the most
classic example, where all these people were killed in a premeditated,
COFFEY: Well, I think…
MATTHEWS: Why have the law if you`re not going to enforce it here? That`s
all I`m asking. Don`t have it.
COFFEY: The prosecutors are attempting to enforce this law. That`s why
they have brought these charges and are pursing the death penalty as
aggressively as they can.
But the law also has a role for a jury. And a jury – the way this is set
up, any one of them can keep somebody from being sent to death row. That`s
part of the law, too. And the law gives the jurors all the flexibility in
the world to search their consciences. And that`s also part of the law
that Congress passed.
MATTHEWS: Well, should the law say, except in liberal Boston? Why don`t
they just write that? All these – all these liberal Democrats,
Massachusetts, whole – the best people up there, Barney Frank, Ted
Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy, Eddie Markey, John Kerry, all voted for this law.
And now the people of Boston in the polling and the priests up there are
saying they are against it. Why are we screwing around in Congress? Stop
passing laws you don`t intend to enforce.
CHARLES: Well, it`s not so much that they don`t intend..
MATTHEWS: Where else would you ever enforce it if not now?
CHARLES: Well, it`s not so much that they don`t intend to enforce it.
They are legislatures. They don`t enforce the law.
MATTHEWS: They write the law. And the law says capital punishment.
CHARLES: And it`s enforced by the prosecutor who brings the charge, which
you have here.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK.
CHARLES: If this were Texas, we would be having a completely different
MATTHEWS: Oh. I know it`s different. I don`t like the way that George W.
Bush just signed off on the death penalty every 15 minutes either.
But I think, if you are going to pass a law, you have at some point believe
in what you are doing.
CHARLES: I`m sure that they did. But, remember, it`s out of their hands
now. It`s now in the hands of the prosecutor. And they did bring these
MATTHEWS: What does everybody think this guy is going to do in a prison
for the rest of his life? He`s going to sit there and plot and plot and
plot. That`s all he`s going to be doing, is plotting and try to make
contact with other prisoners.
CHARLES: He`s will be in maximum security for 23 hours a day. He will
only be let out for one hour a day.
MATTHEWS: We will see. We will see.
Yes, everybody thinks that`s the nice way to do it. And I think it`s a
softness and the ability to make hard decisions and live by them. This is
a very brutal world we live in. And once somebody is guilty of
premeditated murder of all of those kids, arms blown off, and they knew
exactly what they – and they saw those people before they did it and they
did it to innocent people, why have a law against that, why have a capital
punishment if you`re not going to use it?
That`s all I ask. Stop playing games.
Anyway, thank you, Midwin Charles. I know you defend these guys. And they
have to be defended. But I wouldn`t want this guy defended too much.
Kendall Coffey, thank you, sir.
COFFEY: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: You`re going to make me look like a right-winger, but on this
baby, this guy was attacking our country. And he was killing. And if you
had been in that crowd, he would have blown it up just as quickly. Don`t
Up next, Candice Bergen will be here. She was at the center of the culture
wars back in – when “Murphy Brown” was on, when her TV character was
assaulted by that dangerous fellow Dan Quayle.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MURPHY BROWN”)
CANDICE BERGEN, ACTRESS: Come on. You`re almost there. The eyelids are
fluttering. That`s $5. Shut them all the way and I will make it $10.
BERGEN: Drowsy thoughts, that`s what we want. I will even help you. Warm
milk, long car rides, Paul Tsongas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
For 10 years, believe it or not, Candice Bergen starred as the tough-as-
nails TV journalist Murphy Brown. She earned five Emmys and was the
highest paid actor on television at the time. In 1992, 38 million viewers
watched the character Murphy Brown give birth to a baby boy.
In a defining episode of the culture wars, Vice President Dan Quayle –
that`s right, Dan Quayle – called out the character for raising the child
as a single mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1992)
DAN QUAYLE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It doesn`t help matters
when prime-time TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly epitomizes
today`s intelligent, highly-paid professional women, mocking the importance
of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the show “Murphy Brown” wrote that controversy right into
its plot line. Here it goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Quayle later expanded his remarks to say that he
believed examples like Murphy Brown glamorize single motherhood.
BERGEN: Glamorize single motherhood? What planet is he on? Look at me,
Frank. Am I glamorous?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Of course not. You look disgusting.
BERGEN: You`re damn right.
BERGEN: People in prison get to shower more often than I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, in her new memoir, “A Fine Romance” – and it`s a fine
book – Candice Bergen writes, “I absolutely agreed with Quayle`s point,
that fathers are important, but his statement ignored the reality of the
existence of single mothers.”
Candice Bergen joins us now. This is a real treat.
Candice, I always wondered about the right, the hard right, the pro-life
people. And a lot of people are pro-life. And wouldn`t they want to
support a woman who decided to go through and deliver a child? That`s pro-
BERGEN: Well, we – it was discussed on the show whether Murphy would have
an abortion, whether she would keep the child. The father of the child was
her ex-husband, so we felt that we covered that very neatly.
But it was explored in depth. I mean, the whole argument, pro-life and
abortion, it was very thoroughly covered. And it was a very loaded topic,
no question. But it was reflecting what was happening in society at the
time, which was the emerging of women in their late 30s, early 40s having
children as single mothers, because I think they were sort of in the tail
end of feminism.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And the clock was running out.
Whenever – Candice, whenever I`m in on elevator and somebody pushes the
wrong button, you know what I`m talking about, and you get to that floor
and everybody pretends like they didn`t actually push the button, and
nobody gets out. And there`s a Murphy Brown rule there. Do you remember
BERGEN: No, I don`t.
MATTHEWS: Yes. The Murphy Brown rule is, if you push the button, you have
got to get off the damn elevator.
BERGEN: Oh. Oh, yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Remember? I – why do I remember these things?
BERGEN: I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: I know.
Anyway, I followed your career back when you were just a looker. You were
the woman in “Sand Pebbles.” You were in “Carnal Knowledge,” “The Magus,”
which I loved the book, not so much the movie, loved the book, “The Lion in
Winter.” And you were a freshman at Penn. And I was in Philly.
Of course, everybody knew you had come to Penn and were homecoming queen
and all that. And Penn was letting women in. And also they didn`t have a
Jewish quota. Penn was way ahead of its time and so were you.
How did you make that break? Because Fitzgerald said, F. Scott Fitzgerald,
there`s no acts in second life. And there you the looker say, I`m going to
be a comic, I`m going to be a comedian.
How did you do that, becoming this great character Murphy Brown?
BERGEN: Well, I got very lucky.
And my agency didn`t submit me for it. It was a young agent named Bryan
Lourd, who had just started there, who said, you know, there is this
script. He`s now, of course, the most important agent in Hollywood.
But – and Diane English, who created Murphy Brown, insisted that it was
very important that I be cast. They wanted someone younger, more luscious.
And they didn`t want Murphy to be coming off the elevator in the pilot from
a month at Betty Ford. They said, couldn`t she have come back from a week
at a spa?
So, they were effectively just trying to defang the character. And Diane
English went to bat for me. And it was just a miracle to get that part at
the ripe age of 41, because it was the best part of all time.
MATTHEWS: You know, I think you created the character in that movie
“Starting Over,” because when you stood up and sang and were willing to
make a fool out of yourself, this beauty decides to sing, which she can`t,
I think you really established that persona, didn`t you then, right then.
BERGEN: Oh, that was great fun.
I mean, yes, I think so. And that sort of opened doors for me for comedy
after that. But Murphy was a much broader comic role.
MATTHEWS: Let me talk about this act of yours.
You`re now a writer. And you`re a beautiful writer. And I know from
trying – having done it many times myself, that you put effort into it.
This isn`t – just like you created Murphy Brown and sort of earned your
good looks, because you earned it by being a great actor and a great
character, and you went all through that for 10 years – now you`re earning
it again. You`re a writer.
This thing about aging – and I have know all of this stuff – I have read
all of this stuff about weight gain and all that stuff.
MATTHEWS: We`re on the verge now, at least a 50/50 shot – and this is all
I do for a business – I think Hillary Clinton has at least a 50/50 shot,
maybe no more, but just around 50/50 of being our next president at our
age. It`s so interesting. What does it tell us about us as Americans?
BERGEN: Well, I think it tells us we have extended our life span by maybe
five or 10 years in terms of an active, vibrant life span. I`m not sure
that I would have the energy to be president, but it`s not my problem.
And I think it would be great if she ran. But I don`t think it will be
MATTHEWS: Fair enough.
What did you think about her? You stayed at the White House. You had one
of those overnight stays there. What was it like to be in close quarters
with the former first lady in that kind of setting, upstairs at the White
BERGEN: Well, I did not earn my stay at the White House because of a
massive campaign contribution.
BERGEN: I went to one event that was a fundraiser when he first announced
his candidacy, and it was in L.A.
And then my husband died, and they sent a letter. And they said, if you
ever find yourself in D.C., and you would like to come and stay at the
White House, please bring your daughter. It was only a gesture of great
courtesy and sensitivity on their part.
And when I was taking my daughter to Washington to show her all of the –
our history and our monuments, I thought, I`m going to get in touch with
the Clintons, because I don`t think they would have offered if they didn`t
mean it. And then Ron Brown died in the plane crash in Serbia. And so
they asked, could we put it off a night?
And then we went and we had dinner with the Clintons and Chelsea in their
sort of private dining room. They could not have been lovelier. They were
clearly under duress because of the loss of their friend. And my daughter
watched “I Love Lucy” in Lincoln`s bed.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And your hair doesn`t look like Golda Meir`s, by the way.
BERGEN: I went to great lengths that that not happen.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, I love the fact that you`re – you know your politics,
but also you`re friends with both sides. You`re friends with Nancy Reagan,
a friend of mine.
And I think it`s a great thing that you`re positive about this whole thing.
And you have probably even forgiven Dan Quayle, which it`s pretty hard to -
- not too hard to do, given the limited ability of the guy to even think
through this stuff.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, just a little shot there.
The book is called “A Fine Romance.” It`s a beautiful title. This lady
And thank you very much, Candice Bergen, for coming on.
BERGEN: Thank you, Chris. Pleasure.
MATTHEWS: Up next: Rand Paul doesn`t mind a fight. He`s fighting the
hawks in his party, Hillary Clinton and the media. We`re going to get that
next with the roundtable. This is going to be fun.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
The National Weather Service is warning of severe weather, tornadoes, even
supercells across parts of the Central U.S. Some areas have already seen
powerful storms and destructive hail.
President Obama is heading to Jamaica for talks on energy and security,
ahead of his trip to Panama for a regional summit.
And one U.S. service member is dead, seven are wounded after an Afghan
soldier opened fire on them in the city of Jalalabad. It`s the first U.S.
fatality there in 2015 – back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Well, for a dove, he certainly relishes a good fight. Senator Rand Paul
hasn`t wasted much time, has he, since announcing his run for presidency
just yesterday. He`s out there waging war with the menacing hawks, of
course. He`s also launched an all-out attack on Hillary Clinton`s
character and he`s going after the media for digging into his past. How
But in that 2007 radio interview, Rand Paul said that he didn`t think Iran
was a threat based on the evidence at that time. In 2011, he lobbied to
end all foreign aid by the United States. He told CNN then that he wanted
to eliminate U.S. aid to Israel as part of that. He also proposed a budget
that would slash defense spending.
He has now moderated those positions and focused on an anti-war campaign
but his past position are land mines that he planted himself.
And things got tough today when NBC`s Savannah Guthrie asked him to explain
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: You seem to have changed over the years. You
once said Iran was not a threat. Now you say it is. You once proposed
ending foreign aid to Israel. You now support it, at least for the time
And you once offered to drastically cut –
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wait. Before we go –
GUTHRIE: Wait, wait – and cut defense spending and now you want to
increase it 16 percent. So, I just wonder if you`ve mellowed out.
PAUL: Before we go through a litany of – yes, why don`t you let me
explain instead of talking over me, OK?
PAUL: Before we go through a litany of things you say I`ve changed on, why
do you ask me a question, have I changed my opinion?
GUTHRIE: Have you changed your opinion?
PAUL: That would be a better way to approach an interview.
GUTHRIE: OK. Is Iran still not a threat?
PAUL: No. No. No. Listen, you`ve editorialized. Let me answer a
question. You said, have your views changed, instead of editorializing and
saying my views have changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the roundtable tonight is Perry Bacon, NBC News senior
political reporter, Lisa Lerer is national politics reporter with the
“Associated Press”, and David Corn is the Washington bureau chief for
Let me start with Lisa.
A couple of things are going on there. Is this the norm of journalism
today? If you`ve got a record of public statements on hot issues, you`ve
got to be asked about them. There`s nothing weird about that.
LISA LERER, ASSOCIATED PRESS NATL. POLITICS REPORTER: Certainly in a
presidential campaign you`re going to be asked about what you said
previously. I think what was problematic about this appearance in
particular is this is the “Today” show. Personality matters in politics.
The “Today” show is where you go to do – you know, introduce yourself to
casual political observers, let people know what you are like, get a feel
for who you are and he`s blasted into everyone`s households in the morning
fighting with Savannah Guthrie.
MATTHEWS: What kind of impression he made?
LERER: I think he didn`t make the best impression, particularly not for
someone who perhaps didn`t follow politics. He looked really contentious
and particularly with a female host, which he has a little bit of history
MATTHEWS: Does he?
LERER: Yes, he had another –
MATTHEWS: With Rachel?
LERER: Right, of course.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about this. I remember this. Let me ask you
this – we were talking about this before with our producers. Maybe this
is the fight he wants. Not that it`s right or wrong but when you have
people who feel alienated on the right, they feel all of the media, not
just us but CNN and all the broadcast nets and public television and
national public radio are all liberal. Why not pick a fight?
PERRY BACON, JR., NBC NEWS: I don`t think the way – there`s a fight over
policy and there`s a way to be combative. I think that when you`re talking
over people, that`s not the fight you want.
BACON: He`s been bashing Hillary Clinton – there`s certain media you want
to bash. This was not right, particularly on day two of your campaign. If
the media is going –
MATTHEWS: So, would you have – look, he only has two alternatives, listen
and let Savannah list of infamy and finish it, and he has well, I guess I
had to play defense, or jump in on. You say, it would it be better to
listen to her list of questions and one by one answer them?
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: He has a big problem. It`s not the three items
that Savannah was running through.
He`s believed in crazy conspiracy theories in the past. He said other very
extreme policy positions. He has attacked Dick Cheney for mounting a
conspiracy to start the Iraq war, only to profit Halliburton.
And so, think what he wants to do is prevent that list from getting bigger.
MATTHEWS: OK. We`ll see.
CORN: And so, he`s trying to cut this off saying I can`t go back.
MATTHEWS: Speaking of hawks, Senator Paul is going after the haws rather
directly. He responded to an attack ad from a 501c4 dark money group,
which I went after yesterday, which calls his foreign policy views
dangerous. I love that voice, that menacing voice, dangerous.
The ad was produced by the architect of the swift boat attacks on John
Kerry`s Vietnam record over there of service. And, by the way, none of
these guys paid for this ad. I think they have the same level of service
in the Vietnam War.
Here`s Paul`s response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Almost every element of the ad is a lie. I mean, they say I`m
helping the president. I`m actually one who has said to the president that
this deal, when it becomes final, has to be finalized by Congress.
I tell you what it does show you, somebody is worried about me. On my day
when I`m announcing, someone is spending a million dollars. I have no idea
really who these people are, but I think that they are part of the neocon
community. The only thing consistent about their message is we should
always be at war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, there`s a good fight, Lisa, him and the neocons, he and
hawks, because he`s the only Republican who`s not a hawk. And by the way,
of those jokers that paid for that ad in secret, dark money, if they did
serve in Vietnam like John Kerry, please announce who you are. Stop
hiding. Tell us about your war record.
They went after John Kerry`s. He was shot at over there. What were they
These people are awful people. They hide under the cover of the 501c4.
They don`t put their name on it. They do an attack ad with all kinds of
mistuff (ph) in it, all kind of mistakes in it and don`t have to answer for
LERER: Well, let me tell you. It`s going to be a fascinating debate to
watch happen in the Republican Party before this recent moment of –
MATTHEWS: Are these sleaze ball ads going to continue against this guy for
daring to say we fight too many wars?
LERER: I think we`ll see the hawk – the more foreign policy hawk side of
the party lobbed attacks against Rand Paul.
MATTHEWS: Are they as strong as they were?
LERER: Well, that`s what we`re going to find out. We`re going to get a
strong sense of where the Republican Party is going after this election.
Are they leaning less isolationist –
MATTHEWS: Are they less Rudy Giuliani?
CORN: They will have a lot of money. Whether Sheldon –
MATTHEWS: The hawks?
CORN: The hawks. Sheldon Adelson or other contributors and to super PACs,
some identified contributors, some do not. And these ads will keep going
on because they`re scared. This is a fight for the soul of the party.
MATTHEWS: He has shot.
CORN: I don`t think he has much of a shot. But nevertheless, they don`t
want to get a foothold because they`ve been in control of Republican policy
MATTHEWS: Who`s got a better shot besides Jeb and Walker? Who else?
BACON: Marco Rubio.
MATTHEWS: You think Rubio –
MATTHEWS: This is what I like. We have three guys and still wanted the
Anyway, if he comes out of a ticket, with a ticket in Iowa, he`s still in
BACON: And New Hampshire even then.
MATTHEWS: He`s the only guy I know that can win both. It would only take
25 percent of both of them, if there`s four people in the race.
MATTHEWS: Chris Cillizza here.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Chuck Todd.
The roundtable is going to stay with us.
And up next, President Obama says Hillary Clinton will do just fine if she
just is her wonderful self. Well, that`s an improvement over likable
enough. That`s a far cry from when he threw that line at her last time.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Pope Francis continues to get pretty good reviews from Americans
according to our new MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll. Thirty-seven percent say
the pope has improved their opinion of the Roman Catholic Church overall,
29 percent say his papacy has made little difference in their opinion.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Perry, Lisa and David.
Only a couple minutes in the show, but Hillary Clinton could announce her
campaign for presidency as early as next week we`re hearing. And the guy
who beat her the last time, President Obama, has advice for her, you might
say. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: If you had one piece of advice to give to Hillary Clinton
right now, what would it be?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just – if she`s her
wonderful self, I`m sure she`s going to do great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: If she`s just her wonderful self, she`ll do great.
Anyway, during that contentious 2008 primary fight, wonderful wasn`t the
way then Senator Obama described her rival Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MODERATOR: What can you say to the voters of New Hampshire on this stage
tonight who see a resume and like it, but are hesitating on the likability
issue, where they seem to like Barack Obama more?
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, that hurts my
(LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE)
MODERATOR: I`m sorry, Senator. I`m sorry.
CLINTON: But I`ll try to go on.
CLINTON: He`s very likable. I agree with that.
I don`t think I`m that bad.
OBAMA: You`re likable enough, Hillary. No doubt about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was a good moment for Hillary Clinton. By the way, voters
in New Hampshire I think liked her more than enough, and him not enough,
anyway, because they voted her.
And speaking of advice, former President Bill Clinton who at times had too
much to say in 2008, many say, vows to stay on the sidelines in 2016. Bill
Clinton tells “Town and Country Magazine” – why is he talking to then –
quote, “My role should primarily be as a backstage adviser to her until we
get much, much closer to the election. The former president`s considered
to be the best strategist in the Democratic Party, and he offered advice
about his wife saying, I think it`s important Hillary does, too, that she
go out there as if she`s never run for anything before. And establish her
connection with the voters.” That is smart.
Anyway, we`re back right now.
Perry, Lisa, and David, what do you think?
BACON: Bill`s advice was better than President Obama`s, you know? Be your
wonderful self. Politics is about acting in some ways. Don`t be yourself,
be a more appealing version of yourself.
So, Bill Clinton being able to not be involved, that`s not going to happen.
MATTHEWS: Well, what about the idea of –
LERER: The first campaign is not him not being involved, it`s containing
him. How do you channel him –
MATTHEWS: He had a sound idea, which was, don`t act like you`ve got a lot
of baggage. Drop the baggage and introduce yourself.
LERER: That`s what by all accounts what we`re hearing from her aides, that
that`s what she`s going to try to do. There`s going to be small, intimate
events. He`s not going to be at these events with her. He`s supposed to
be in Africa towards at the end of the month. So he might even be out of
CORN: He was in Haiti recently. He`ll be doing a lot of globe trotting.
I think that`s smart. He said until later in the campaign, he will not be
So, maybe even not to the general. He doesn`t need to be. But he will be
on the phone texting, e-mailing, all his wonderful thoughts, many of which
will be good.
MATTHEWS: The great thing is after all these years in the public life,
from the time she was the wife, she was wife to the attorney general of
Arkansas back in the mid-`70s, all this exposure to the public, and people
are still wondering, well, let`s see more of you. Let`s see how you are.
You know what I mean? Still some curiosity about her.
CORN: I don`t know about that.
BACON: I think people like her or they don`t like here, but I don`t think
there`s a lot of curiosity.
LERER: I think what her aides want to do is reintroduce her, focus on her
biography, put her in the sort of matriarchal tableau of her mother and her
grandmother. And I think that`s what we`re going to see.
MATTHEWS: – the policy for saying it. I`m curious where she`s going to
be on trade, the TPP. Is she going to be with the unions?
MATTHEWS: Where is she going to be on teachers and teachers` unions?
CORN: I think people want to know what she thinks. The whole biography
thing, I think there are very people who are going to be susceptible to
doing that well, or not so well. They want to know what she thinks.
MATTHEWS: These policy questions. Does she go with Elizabeth Warren or
LERER: Biography is the way for her to establish a connection with voters.
MATTHEWS: I think these questions are going to be very tough. If I were
her, I`d stay on the listening tour for at least a few weeks and get my
legs before you have to answer these brutally tough questions. Look at
Rand Paul is going through.
MATTHEWS: Anyway. Perry Bacon, Lisa Lerer, and David Corn, what a
We`ll be right back. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: Bill Clinton just let loose
with a staggering commentary on 21st century American politics. He said he
didn`t think he was good at it anymore because, quote, “I`m not mad at
anybody.” I`m afraid he`s got something there.
A major California politician not long ago listed the two things he said
are necessary to run for office today: to hate what you`re doing now and be
ready to kill the other guy. I`m afraid those standards led into the door
of American leadership, the absolutely worst kind of people, specifically
those who can`t think of anything else to do and those who get a kick out
of hurting people.
Well, two things are going on in politics today. I said it`s as someone
who generally likes politicians, respects their guts in running for office
in the first place, and totally believes in the cause of democratic
One, the number and quality of people running today has dropped
precipitously. Just check out the list of candidates last few times for
president, with the candidates whose names were out there when I was young,
when you were young. Hubert Humphrey, Nelson Rockefeller, Adlai Stevenson,
Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy. Now, go look at the list today,
Hillary Clinton has certainly earned her chops, but the rest of them –
give me a break.
Secondly, there`s a lot more attacking of the other candidate today. There
was once a time when accusing a candidate of being soft on communism was
just unacceptable. Well, today, they`re out there comparing the rivals to
those who sold out to Hitler. They accused the president, by the way, of
being an illegal immigrant from Africa, someone who has lied his entire
life from her fist thoughts as an infant just so he can get into the White
Well, maybe these two factors are connected: the wariness of good people of
high quality to jump into the political waters, and the sleazeballs out
there floating in it.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. And it`s true. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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