Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 09/23/15

Simone Campbell, Bob Casey, Kathleen Parker, Matt Schlapp, Michele Bernard

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Can`t blame the messenger, not today and not

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

You want to get a message across, send the right messenger. You want
to fight that message, be careful you don`t attack the messenger.

Today, it all came in beautiful pictures. You could have heard Louis
Armstrong singing “It`s a Wonderful World.” Everyone was smiling today.
The weather glistened. The first lady smiled widely. The president
giggled in glee. And the crowds were biblical.

Pope Francis had arrived at the power seat of the Western world. He
had something to say, and he was going to say it now. Then out came the
words as softly as an announcer on the 18th green or as a commentator from
the Sistine Chapel itself, softly but no doubt about their power on
immigration, on climate change, on income inequality, on freedom of
religion in this country, one hot button after another pounding their way
to tomorrow`s morning headlines, just in time to set up the pope`s big
address to the U.S. Congress tomorrow.

Well, afterwards, he and President Obama held a private meeting for 40
minutes this morning. Then the pope paraded from the White House, waving
to – look at this! – waving to the thousands of supporters lining the
streets of D.C., stopping along the way for his security detail to bring –
watch this! – bring him babies and children from the crowd to receive his
blessing. The security risks were abundant.

Anyway, this afternoon, he celebrated mass for thousands of people at
the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at
Catholic University. He also canonized the Spanish-born priest who founded
missions in California back in the 1700s. It was the first time a saint
has been canonized on American soil.

But the politics are what the Democrats and Republicans of this city
heard today. In his remarks at the White House this morning, Pope Francis
went, as I said, right for the hot stuff. He began as a personal advocate
for immigrants.



POPE FRANCIS I: As the son of an immigrant family, I`m happy to be a
guest in this country which was largely built by such families.



MATTHEWS: Wow. Speaking as one. Anyway, Pope Francis also talked
about climate change and air pollution. Catch this (INAUDIBLE)


POPE FRANCIS I: (INAUDIBLE) the urgency (ph), it seems clear to me
also that climate change is a problem we can no longer be left to a future



MATTHEWS: He said that climate change has had a particularly harsh
effect on the planet`s poorest communities. He`s right about that. He
then cited Martin Luther King, Jr.



POPE FRANCIS I: (INAUDIBLE) face of the Reverend Martin Luther King,
we can say that we have defaulted on our promissory note, and now is the
time to honor it.



MATTHEWS: Well, then backing up the country`s Catholic bishops, the
pope talked about the right to religious liberty in this country, calling
it one of America`s most precious possessions.

I`m joined right now by NBC News special anchor, Maria Shriver,
HuffingtonPost global editorial director Howard Fineman and MSNBC national
correspondent Joy-Ann Reid. Thank you all for joining me.

You know – Maria, it`s great to have you on the show. And thank you
for this, coming from the Kennedy family, it`s always stunning to hear from
you and also because you are a working Kennedy and always have been a


MATTHEWS: And that`s a good thing.


MATTHEWS: … stuff for you, the real thing!

Look, you`ve covered everything. I don`t think I`ve seen a day like
this. It glistened.


inspirational. It was so hopeful. And it was one of the few times I felt
growing up in this city or being at something that didn`t feel partisan.


SHRIVER: It really didn`t. It felt American – actually felt
American, with all its different facets. It felt international, but it
felt American. It felt moving. It felt aspirational.

You felt that the president was moved and happy and excited and kind
of showing off with his back yard and everything.



SHRIVER: Yes, I mean, it was – you got a sense of, like, Look at
what we`ve – you know…


SHRIVER: … and great deal of respect. It felt very respectful and
very moving. And it was really – I found it incredibly inspirational.

MATTHEWS: Actually, you know, I felt the same way I felt about this
city, which I`ve come to love. I chose to live here, obviously.
Everybody`s proud who lives in Washington, especially on pretty days,
usually spring days, but today was like a spring day. The city – it was,
like, Come see our house. Look how great this is.

And here`s the – the president is a cool customer. He`s Sinatra cool
sometimes. He was giggling with this guy today! And Michelle Obama, the
first lady, can be a little hard to sell sometimes, and she was really
smiling. It seemed like they were just like kids.


ANALYST: Well, Chris, the way I viewed it – and I`ve lived here for a
long time, too – is that this kind of citadel of power was occupied by the
armies of faith…


FINEMAN: … in a really good way. You had a lot of things happening
today. I`m Jewish. I just came from high holiday services. You have the
Muslims starting a very important holiday of their own tonight.


FINEMAN: And you have the pope here. And it`s as though all of the
usual concerns of Washington, amid this beautiful weather, were put aside
by the very charm and the message of this man, who, by the way, is a
fantastic politician.

He has a theme. His theme is, Our common home. Everything…

SHRIVER: Yes, I loved the way he said that today.

FINEMAN: Everything comes under that – immigration, income
inequality, climate change, our common home, and from his point of view and
many in the church…

SHRIVER: Freedom.

FINEMAN: … not only freedom but freedom of religion and the
sanctity of conception. All of it came under one theme, all of it expertly
embodied by a man with a smile who always accentuates the positive.
Anybody who wants to lead in any realm of life, politics or anything else,
could study what this man did in this city today.

MATTHEWS: And Maria…



MATTHEWS: … the old Cuomo rule, which is leave people feeling up at
the end of the speech – you know, a little lecture – a little – but
basically leave them feeling like you can do this thing.

FINEMAN: That there`s hope.

SHRIVER: Yes, I don`t think people feel, though, that he`s lecturing
them. I think his tone, his shift of language…

MATTHEWS: Were you surprised how soft his voice was for…

SHRIVER: Yes. I mean, I thought it was really – he seemed to really
be making an effort to speak in English so that was…


MATTHEWS: I noticed.

SHRIVER: Right. But I think if you back up…

MATTHEWS: Every word was right.

SHRIVER: To pick up what Howard said, I think what – you know,
people feel better about him than they do about the church at large.


MATTHEWS: You think?

SHRIVER: Absolutely, and our polls all show that, that they feel like
their values match up with him. They appreciate that he says, “Who am I to
judge,” that he is asking people to come back, that he feels inclusive,
that he`s leading with issues of social justice and poverty and not
condemning people if, you know, you`re on the way to getting a divorce, if
you`ve been divorced, if you`re gay, if you`ve engaged in premarital sex.

It used to be, growing up, like, if you did any of these things, you
were going downstairs, you know?


SHRIVER: And then if did, you felt sort of shame.

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) the church. You mean the priests. You don`t
mean the nuns.

SHRIVER: No, I don`t mean the nuns…

MATTHEWS: I think it`s hard for them (ph) to catch up to the nuns.


MATTHEWS: I think they`re the best. Anyway, your thoughts, Joy-Ann,
because I just think the nuns weren`t there today. And I thought they
weren`t there – it was a completely man world today, all the…



MATTHEWS: … bishops – well, the visibility of the male structure
of the Catholic church of was on vivid martial arts display today, all the
bishops, obviously, everybody in the political power here, the trumpeters!
Everybody was a guy!

And I just thought since the Catholic church basically is run day to
day by the nuns, doing all the real work of teaching and keeping those
schools together and keeping those parishes together in tough
neighborhoods, they didn`t get a lot of attention today. Your thoughts.

JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: No, I – OK, I will give you that.
And I think that might have been the one maybe demerit to what otherwise
was just a really grand celebration. I think for a church that has had its
issues, this was the best of what the Catholic church can be, the grandeur
and the pageantry, just the beauty of that gorgeous church. This mass was
so serene and beautiful.


REID: I think that this was the church at its best. And you know,
there`s a line, a piece in Psalms 23 that says, “Surely, goodness and mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life.” This was a man who just embodied
goodness and mercy. And I think his presentation is – is – he`s a –
he`s a warrior, really. He`s a warrior…


REID: … for goodness and for mercy. And I think that is a
beautiful thing.

As somebody – you know, I haven`t been Catholic since I was about 6
years old, but this made me really compelled by the church again.

And he forces you to listen because he speaks so softly. And I`ll
tell you, Chris, I think it`s so significant. This is a Latin American man
and he`s speaking with that accent, speaking as an immigrant to a country
where immigrants are really under duress right now and really being
targeted by bigotry. And I think that in and of itself was so moving and
really wonderful.

MATTHEWS: He started that way, with bringing up the immigrant
background of his own experience as a son of immigrants coming from Italy.

REID: Yes.


MATTHEWS: And also, it was interesting that the president pronounced
the capital of Argentina with a very Spanish accent today.


MATTHEWS: … talked about that with an anchorwoman who got in
trouble, who (INAUDIBLE) become controversial. It was Univision – by
saying something Spanish in Spanish. And he just said “Buenos Aires.” I
mean, he really did go into it!

Anyway, here`s a part of President Obama`s greeting to Pope Francis
this morning at the White House. Let`s watch.


excitement around your visit, Holy Father, must be attributed not only to
your role as pope but to your unique qualities as a person, in your
humility, your embrace of simplicity, in the gentleness of your words and
the generosity of your spirit. We see a living example of Jesus`
teachings, a leader whose moral authority comes not just through words but
also through deeds.


MATTHEWS: We live in a world where people`s religions are being
questioned by political people, you know?

SHRIVER: That was one of my favorite parts of the whole speech, and
it got a rousing applause when he said it has – This gathering has
something to do with you being pope but much more to do with you as a

And I think Pope Francis, this last – at the canonization mass, he
talked about everybody – urging people to give themselves away in service
because that`s really how you experience the gospel and that you have to
fight against apathy.

And I think he challenges all of us on the small things, as well, to
treat our neighbors with kindness, with joy, with compassion, not with
apathy. He talks – when he talks even about global warming, he gives you
concrete things you can do in your own home.



SHRIVER: But I think particularly about turning to your neighbor,
being aware of the suffering – and he himself has spoken about his own


SHRIVER: … his own challenges. And I think that makes him very
human for when he talks about, you know, that he himself has struggled. So
then you feel like, Oh, he`s more like me.

MATTHEWS: Joy-Ann – Joy-Ann first, and then Howard – the little
car. I think (INAUDIBLE) I mean, I`m sorry, but pictures tell a thousand
words. He shows up in a Fiat.

REID: Yes.

MATTHEWS: I mean, I don`t know what design it was, but it was a Fiat.
It was a small car. And here`s a guy used – you`re used to limos pulling
up to the White House, you know? And here`s this little Italian car, and
this guy gets out like “A Thousand Clowns,” getting out of a little car.
And I kept thinking, this is the message we`ll remember a year from now…

REID: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: … not the words, but the Fiat – Joy-Ann.

REID: No, the Fiat is awesome. And listen, he ever doesn`t seem
comfortable wearing all the robes. You get the sense that he would just
want to put on some sweats or something and do his whole thing…



REID: … not in all the vestal robes. He`s such a casual, down-to-
earth person that, you know, the idea that he is, you know, the vicar of
Christ, in the words of the church, but that he`s this common man who wants
to be common, who wants to be ordinary, who doesn`t want all the
ostentatious stuff. He doesn`t want, you know, the special Prada slippers.

He just wants to be an ordinary man and wants to touch people, wanted
to talk to people, wanted to bless people as he walked, which I`m sure the
security team was – it was driving them insane that he wanted to just talk
and touch people.

But I think this is one of the – his charms. And look, make no
mistake about it, this is a man who is not afraid to wade into
controversial topics, confront people on climate change…

MATTHEWS: That`s for sure.

REID: … and immigration right in the belly of the beast, right in
Washington, but he does it with a soft touch and such gentleness and such
ordinariness, it`s incredibly compelling.

FINEMAN: His real genius to me that I see on display here is his
ability to connect the personal with the global and the moral with the
political. That car and the popemobile that he had, that had open sides…

MATTHEWS: Yes, I noticed.

FINEMAN: You remember the phrase that they used during the Iraq war,
“up-armor,” We`re are going to up-armor everything?

MATTHEWS: Yes. He didn`t.

FINEMAN: He down-armored. He`s down-armoring.

MATTHEWS: It`s dangerous, though.


FINEMAN: He`s about – no, no. But he`s about taking off the armor
of the self…


FINEMAN: … and the selfishness of society…

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s go…


FINEMAN: … selfishness of society because we all live in one common
home. That is his theme.

MATTHEWS: Really, what grabbed me was the tactile nature of it. I
mean, he went though that crowd, and these guys were, like, grabbing him,
kissing him. One guy (INAUDIBLE) wouldn`t leave go of him. And he didn`t

SHRIVER: No, and everybody that I`ve talked who has known him and
watched him said that he actually wasn`t like that before he became pope,
and that he has talked to some people about kind of feeling a grace that
came over him when he became pope, and that he`s now much more…


SHRIVER: … demonstrative, and he`s talked, as I said, very movingly
about his time in Cordoba, where he was, so to speak, exiled and what he

MATTHEWS: That`s the second city of Argentina.


SHRIVER: Yes, and he – but he was sent there really because his
style of leadership wasn`t…

MATTHEWS: Well, let me follow (ph) that, Maria. Last question to
you. How come people know they can touch him? I can`t imagine somebody
touching Benedict, touching him…


MATTHEWS: … reaching out and grabbing him when they did it with
complete impunity. They said (INAUDIBLE) he`s a guy we can grab!

SHRIVER: Right. As a priest said to me the other day, people just
want to hug this man. They feel like he`s…

MATTHEWS: It`s (INAUDIBLE) can do it.

SHRIVER: … understands their struggles, their suffering.

FINEMAN: He reaches…

MATTHEWS: There were a couple of Blutos going along with in aisle in
church there, pushing people out of the way, though.

FINEMAN: Well, he reaches out to them. He – he reaches out to them.
That`s his metaphor and that`s that – this whole “common home” thing.

MATTHEWS: I`m so proud of my city today, so proud of the reception
they gave the pope, so happy – I hope he says he likes us. I really do.



MATTHEWS: I think the city was at its best today, Joy-Ann. Joy, it`s


MATTHEWS: You were so Catholic. Maybe you`ll be back. Maybe you`ll
be back…

REID: I may come back. He`s bringing me back.

MATTHEWS: … a change of – you know, the old boyfriend kind of
thing, you know, Well, maybe I`ll go back.


MATTHEWS: Thank you, Joy-Ann Reid, you`re the best.

REID: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: And thank you, Howard Fineman, my friend. And than you,
Maria. It`s a treat having you here…

SHRIVER: Thank you.


MATTHEWS: … Maria Shriver, who`s…

SHRIVER: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: … something else.

Coming up – where are the women? And we`re going to get to this one.
We`ve seen Pope Francis surrounded by his cardinals and his bishops, but as
I asked earlier, where are the nuns? We`re going to delve into the role of
women in the Catholic church. They do have a role. They basically run the

Also, what issues will the pontiff address in his speech before a
joint meeting of Congress tomorrow? Pennsylvania senator Bob Casey`s going
to be here for a preview of that, and I hope it isn`t partisan – the pope,
I mean.

And turning to the presidential campaign – yes, we have to do it.
Donald Trump takes his signature issue off the table, saying he doesn`t
want to discuss President Obama`s birthplace, whether he`s American or not.
But can he – well, who`s going to request that anyway? Who`s going to let
him get away with that? Who`s going to give him an interview and not ask
him, Is the president the president or is he an illegal immigrant that
ought to be deported? Reasonable question to start with.

Plus, guess who`s surging in a new poll of Democrats? And here`s a
hint. It`s not Hillary Clinton and it`s not Bernie, it`s that guy smiling,
Joe Biden. He is really surging.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, politicians are often polled for their favorability,
and Pope Francis is no different. A new Bloomberg Politics poll shows the
pontiff with a 64 percent favorable rating, with just 15 percent of U.S.
adults viewing him unfavorably.

We`re going to see if that number changes after his address to
Congress tomorrow because he`s going to say things that matter to people,
positively or negatively.


We`ll be right back.



impoverished neighborhoods with the Catholic church in Chicago to my
travels as president, I have seen first-hand how every single day, Catholic
communities, priests, nuns, laity are feeding the hungry, healing the sick,
sheltering the homeless, educating our children and fortifying the faith
that sustains so many.


MATTHEWS: And that`s all true.

Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama, of course,
welcoming Pope Francis to the White House this morning, acknowledging the
hard work of nuns in the United States who work tirelessly for the needy in
mind, body and spirit. And that`s all true, I can tell you.

But on the center stage of the South Lawn, it was a sea of black
cassocks alongside the pope and the president. Absent was any visible sign
of those American nuns. It was all men.

Later, the Holy Father said mass at the Saint Matthew`s Cathedral
filled with bishops of the church all in the front pews, filled with men of
the cloth. It is true that Pope Francis certainly changed the tone about
some women`s issues in the church, including those who have had abortions
and they can ask for absolution, of course, but for some Catholics looking
for a real change in the role women play in the church, there has been some

And early in his papacy, when asked about whether women should become
priests, Francis told a reporter – quote – “As far as women`s ordination
is concerned, the church has spoken and said no.”

Joining me right now is Sister Simone Campbell, one of the nuns on the
bus – that`s a great phrase – and MSNBC political analyst Joan Walsh.
Both of my guests were on the South Lawn this morning for the White House


Well, first of all, Sister, thank you for joining us. And thank you
for your work.

And, well, just tell me what your feelings are about watching it all
today, what you saw and what you didn`t see and wish you had.

was so touched by Pope Francis` candor in immediately going to the issue of
immigration and the issue of climate and including the economic crisis in
our time on the lawn at the White House.

I thought his presence was really a powerful statement. And one of
the things that I enjoyed most was watching President Obama sit on
basically the edge of his chair leaning forward hearing every word that
Pope Francis said. That was so hopeful.

And then I have to say that when I saw the picture of Saint Matthew`s
Cathedral, with all of those bishops sitting in very neat rows, it kind of
took my breath away and made me think we have so far to come when everyone
gets invited into leadership and all can hear and be pastoral, because I
know so many of my sisters serve pastoral roles, yet they couldn`t be


I know, at mass now, you see women playing a much larger role, of


MATTHEWS: But, Joan, here is the question. In the United States, we
were a little slow. We had emancipation back in the 1860s after the war
and – during the war – and then we had the Civil War. And then of course
we had the 15th Amendment, 13th, 14th, 15th, to basically, at least
legally, constitutionally, bring black freedom and the right to vote and

And then women finally got it after World War I because of suffrage.



MATTHEWS: But why did that work and this isn`t working? Is it
because – I will be very personal here. Could it be that men have to be
encouraged to open up the door to equality by women? And wives probably
played a big role. And since these guys don`t have wives, nobody is
pushing them to do the…

WALSH: Right.


MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, Sister, to do the obvious, which is women can do
almost everything a man can do. I`m not getting into who is physical, who
can play tennis better. But on the intellectual and spiritual stuff,
please tell me the big difference. There isn`t any.

There is total equality. And why can`t the women have a role that men
play? And certainly women are better dealing with people than men.

WALSH: Right. We definitely are. Sister Simone and I…


MATTHEWS: And the pastoral role is definitely better, more
sympathetic and more understanding and they get along with each other,
better consensus builders. Men want to fight to see who the boss is.

WALSH: We do. We do get along better. I think that is a lot of it,

I think they are so insulated, the women. They do have mothers and
they do have sisters, and yet they have resisted these calls. And I was so
struck today. I had the honor to walk in with a group of nuns from the
bus. I was on the South Lawn with a lot of nuns. That was beautiful. But
I had the same reaction when – as Sister Simone did, when I saw that all-
male hierarchy.



MATTHEWS: They`re so peripheral. The nuns are in the periphery.


MATTHEWS: Excuse me.

Sister, they showed the – after the pope left the Nunciature, the
embassy today across from the vice president`s house, that was all
beautifully done. But then if you kept on watching our network here, you
saw these very humble nuns come out. They`re the ones that take care of
the pantry and they clean the place up and they make the food. That`s
fine. But that is all they are allowed to do.

That is the weird part. Your thoughts?


CAMPBELL: But, Chris, actually, when you look at the leadership that
we provided on the bus, we are able to take the Gospel to where it wouldn`t
be otherwise.

And all the other people that we meet along the road, so many of them
are not churched, are not connected to church, but that we can be in touch
with them. And I think I have – as a Catholic sister, I have a tremendous
freedom to be in relationship, that spiritual leadership relationship
without ordination. And a bunch of my sisters are…


MATTHEWS: You can be a pastoral figure.

CAMPBELL: Oh, absolutely.


MATTHEWS: You can advise people. You can counsel them.

CAMPBELL: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Do you remember – used that word churched. Do you
remember how the word churched used to be used? Who wants to say? Which
one of you two wants to remind us how bad it was? Remember being churched?
You had a baby. Then you had to go to church. Then you had to be


MATTHEWS: … having a baby.


WALSH: And to be unchurched was also – was a terrible thing. So,
yes, I am sure Sister means that…


MATTHEWS: My mom had to do it. If you had a baby, you were unclean
there and you had to go to church to be cleansed for having had a baby. So


WALSH: I love this pope. I respect him. I admire him for what he is
doing for the world.


But as he`s here on his listening tour, I really hope he listens to
the voice of the women who found it so painful, so hurtful to hear one of
the first things out of his mouth say, no, I`m absolutely closing the door
to this.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think he should open it at least to married
couples. That could start, be the beginning of it, not just former
Episcopalian priests, people who have joined, because we could use some
nice families running the church.

Anyway, Sister Simone Campbell, you are very nice and very thoughtful
and also very patient.

Coming up – don`t be too patient.

Coming up, Pope Francis heads to Capitol Hill tomorrow. What will his
message be? And how will it resonate among congressional Democrats and
Republicans? I`m going to speak with a great guy, senator of Pennsylvania
– Senator from Pennsylvania Bob Casey, next.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In his public address at the White House this morning, Pope Francis
touched on many familiar themes of his papacy. He called for action on
climate change and said millions of people have been overlooked in this
country. He even quoted Martin Luther King to drive home his point.


part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we
may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living
under a system which has overlooked them.


To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say
that we have defaulted on a promissory note, and now is the time to honor



MATTHEWS: Well, it was preview, many think, of what the pope might
say tomorrow at that big speech on Capitol Hill, and tomorrow, when members
of both parties will assemble for that joint meeting of Congress.

I`m joined right now by someone who really understands what the pope
is talking about, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

Senator, thank you.

I think I heard every word as if coming out of the mouth of a Casey.
I thought this was pure progressive Catholicism. Most of what he had today
sounded very much like progressive Catholicism. Your thoughts?

SEN. BOB CASEY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Yes, Chris, it`s really an
inspiration to hear that message from the Holy Father to be able to focus
on such central issues like climate change, wages and lifting up the poor.

It was just a preview, I think, of tomorrow maybe. But it was really
enlightening and really inspiring. And the one song that keeps coming back
to me every time I think about the kind of pope he has been – I don`t
profess to be an expert on his papacy – but the idea of being a servant,
we have heard in our church, Chris.

Servant leaders, there`s a lot of people in Washington that probably
emphasize the leader word, not the servant word.



CASEY: This guy really gives new meaning and really is a
personification of that kind of service.

MATTHEWS: When you talk to Republican members – and I`m sure you do
because you get along with everybody, Senator – I`m just wondering how is
it going to be? Is this going to be an embarrassing night, like Bibi
Netanyahu, when they go in there and some people stand up on one side of
the aisle, and the other side of the aisle, they don`t stand up, and then
it`s reversed?

Are we going to see some of that or is there going to be a
coordination and, well, a symphony of positive reaction, I should say?
What are we going to see tomorrow, do you think?

CASEY: Well, first of all, I think it will be very affirmative. I
think he will affirmative and I think he will probably will gently, if not
aggressively, challenge both parties. And that`s good.

But in terms of our decorum, we have got to make sure we don`t do
tomorrow what happens at a State of the Union. No one should be standing
up. We should all be clapping. And if you don`t want to clap, you don`t
have to. But no one should be standing up and treating it like a pep
rally. It should have the dignity and I think the decorum that any faith
leader should be accorded in that circumstance.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this dispute.

Is it over now between the church and the government regarding how you
find accommodation for institutions, Catholic and other religious
institutions, with regard to the implementation of something I know you are
for, Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act? Is that – that fight is still
going on in the courts. Is it hot or how do you see it?

CASEY: Well, I think there is probably still some dispute there about
how to reconcile those.

But I really believe we can get there, that we can respect a faith
tradition, any faith tradition when it comes to religious affiliated
institutions and differentiate from institutions that have a connection,
but provide a service to the wider public. It is a tough issue to get
right. But I think we can.

We have always recognized it in the tax code. And I think our policy
should reflect that. But I don`t know if he will get that far down the
list tomorrow. But I think he will probably have a message that will
inspire both sides, but I think will also be a message that will challenge

MATTHEWS: Well, today is September 23. It`s Wednesday. In about a
week-and-a-half, it looks to me, Senator – you are the expert and you`re
there. You`re voting in the Senate. Are we going to have a government
shutdown over Planned Parenthood? Is this coming?


CASEY: I sure hope not, because it makes no sense to shut down the
government, certainly not to have a repeat of 2013. That didn`t work out
well for the country especially. I don`t think it worked out for

I think they should rethink that strategy, if that is the way they are
going. But I hope that their leadership gives meaning and value and
integrity to what they promise, which is no more shutdowns. They have said
that over and over again. They need to deliver on that promise.

MATTHEWS: OK. Senator, thank you so much, Senator Bob Casey of

Let`s go now to Massachusetts avenue. We are watching the pictures
now in Washington, where Kasie Hunt is awaiting the arrival of the pope in
what is informally the Vatican embassy. That`s where he is going to sleep
tonight – Kasie.

KASIE HUNT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good to see you.

The crowd has been steadily growing over the course of the past few
hours, as people are waiting to see the pope. There are Catholic
schoolchildren who have been led into the area where the pope will be
getting out of his Fiat momentarily.

They have closed down all of Central Washington for this motorcade
back here. He drove straight through Dupont Circle and through many of the
roads that you traverse every day. A lot of the people who have gathered
here frankly are neighbors of the Apostolic Nunciature, which is, as you
say, the equivalent of a Vatican embassy.

Many of them simply saw on TV that they – this was happening not far
from their home, so they decided to walk out here and take a look. Others
have been waiting for hours. And as you can hear, I`m sure, the wild
cheering behind me, people waiting just for a glimpse of this pope.

And I have to say, Chris, this really caps off a day that has been
remarkable in Washington. And I know you have covered so many major
historical figures in your time in Washington, but I think that both the
reporters, even the Secret Service agents I talked to really said that this
was in many ways elevated beyond anything that they were used to dealing
with here in Washington.


HUNT: It just transcends politics and was really a moment to witness
in history.


And we talked earlier to a woman and her daughter who had come here.
The woman had pulled her daughter out of school just to come see Pope
Francis for a quick few seconds as he drove by. And they weren`t able to
get very close. But the woman, she was raised in Hungary, and she told her
daughter, this is a moment in history. And her own mother had worshipped
as a Catholic in Hungary during the Cold War, during a time when it was
very dangerous to practice Catholicism openly.

So, there is a lot of meanings here, a lot of different layers for so
many different people in Washington, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Yes. And just watching this in human terms, what a good
guy, but he is 78 years old. All of these kids just going crazy over him
like a rock star, it`s just an amazingly human experience.

And, by the way, the only thing that compares to this – and it
doesn`t compare – was when Gorbachev came when he and Reagan ended the
Cold War, which had been over our head all my life, that we were going to
have a nuclear war or something like it and an end to the world basically.
And finally Gorbachev and Reagan got together. When he came to town, I was
jumping on the sidewalk.

But this is much bigger, much bigger.

HUNT: And, Chris, Gorbachev, you will remember – yes.

Gorbachev, you will remember, though, also credited Pope John Paul II
with ending the Cold War.


HUNT: So, I think that one of the things we have already seen is this
pope start to wade into the political.

His speech at the White House this morning hit several political notes
that are going to – are likely to divide many of the people that he is
going to be speaking to tomorrow in Congress. But the reality is popes do
have a long history of impacting world affairs in a significant way. And I
think we have already seen this pope really step out onto that stage.

MATTHEWS: Yes. As Joseph Stalin asked, how many divisions does the
pope have? Well, he has different kinds of powers, as we know.


Kasie Hunt, thank you so much for joining us. Anyway, great to have
you there.

She is very patient to wait this out for that great scene. I thought
I had enough of these scenes. I love that scene. I wish it had gone on.

Up next: Donald Trump takes his most famous issue off the table, he
says. So, just why is this GOP front-runner refusing to talk birtherism
now, after years of questioning the president`s birthplace? I think he
needs to answer this question, or there should be no more questions of the
guy. If you don`t accept the legitimacy of this president, saying he`s an
illegal immigrant, you shouldn`t be the next president.

You are watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Once again, Donald Trump dodged a question about President Obama`s
birthplace, this time on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”. It was the
latest opportunity for Trump to finally put the issue to rest and Trump
whiffed. Let`s watch.


STEPHEN COLBERT, THE LATE SHOW: I`m going to throw you a big fat meat
ball for you to hit out of the park right now. This is the last time you
ever have to address this question if you hit the ball, OK?


COLBERT: Big old like sauce all over my hands meat ball is so big.


TRUMP: I want to hear this one.

COLBERT: Barack Obama born in the United States.

TRUMP: Let me just say –

COLBERT: It`s a meat ball. It`s hanging out there, right there.
Come on.


TRUMP: And do you want to know? I don`t talk about it anymore.

COLBERT: You don`t talk about it?

TRUMP: I talk about jobs. I talk about our veterans being horribly
treated. I just don`t discuss it anymore.

COLBERT: You know, that meat ball is now being dragged down the steps
of the subway by a rat. You missed the meat ball.

TRUMP: I saw that.



MATTHEWS: But Trump can`t escape the fact that he has been the most
vocal champion of the birther movement all along. Here is how he fuelled
the ridiculous conspiracy theory back in 2011.


TRUMP: Why doesn`t he show his birth certificate? I wish he would.
I think it is a terrible pail that`s hanging over him. He should say his
birth certificate.

If he has a birth certificate, he should release it.

All I want to do is see this guy`s birth certificate.

The reason I have a little doubt, just a little, is because he grew up
and nobody knew him. Nobody ever comes forward. Nobody knows who he is
until later in his life. It`s very strange.

If he weren`t lying, why wouldn`t he just solve it? And I wish he
would, because if he doesn`t, it`s one of the greatest scams in the history
of politics and in the history, period.


MATTHEWS: Well, now as the front runner for the Republican
nomination, Trump is trying to avoid the issue as much as he can and his
birther business lends credence to recent caricature I saw of Trump by
former “New York Times” illustrator Cynthia Wick. The message, “Even
clowns can`t stand Donald Trump.”

I`m joined right now by the round table, Kathleen Parker is syndicated
columnist for “The Washington Post”, Matt Schlapp is a Republican
strategist, and, of course, Michelle Bernard is president of the Bernard
Center. Still president today.

Good work in that reelection campaign.




MATTHEWS: I know it`s a hard fight. Let me start with you.

Everybody knows my position. I find this a revolting, disgusting
disgrace that somebody running for president who won`t accept the
legitimacy of somebody who is obviously a part of America whose only
difference from Donald Trump is the color of his skin. He`s as American as
anybody could be. And this nonsense that he`s perpetrating, I can`t judge
anyone`s soul, but I can say who he is playing to. He is playing to the

KATHLEEN PARKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I agree with that, Chris. And I
think – you know, it is also ridiculous. You didn`t mention that.

MATTHEWS: Not for the 35 percent who believe him and 25 percent of
his supporters who think he might be right.

PARKER: He is clearly playing to those people. I think he also
recognizes that it is ridiculous and he doesn`t want to have to be saddled
with it anymore. This is why he is trying to change the subject. But I
agree with you –

MATTHEWS: Why doesn`t he admit he is wrong?

PARKER: Well, why doesn`t he? Why he just say, look –

MATT SCHLAPP, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He doesn`t admit he is wrong on
anything. He back tracks and changes the subject.

MATTHEWS: But the argument is so absurd, because he is saying that
Barack Obama`s mother is not his mother, because if it is his mother, he`d
be an American, natural born, just like Ted Cruz. So, he`s arguing the


BERNARD: He will not – he will not admit that he is wrong because it
is a wink, wink and nod to the racist to say, you know what I mean. You
know he is really a Muslim. You know, he is really, you know, born in

MATTHEWS: Or Borneo, or wherever the hell.


MATTHEWS: As long as where people are dark and not American, and
therefore, you don`t have to put him on the list of American presidents
when you grow old. And your kids won`t have to look at it. He won`t be
there because in our hearts he is not really president.

BERNARD: He is pandering to the lowest life form that we have
existing in the United States today. It is horrific. It is absolutely
embarrassing and he is pandering quite frankly to all of the people in all
of the states that have these show me your paper immigration laws all over
the country. I`d like to say somebody walk to Donald Trump and say, show
me your papers.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this, Matt. You know the party. Suppose he
said tomorrow, you know, I played around with that issue. I thought about
it. I give it some thought. You know, it`s not right for me to keep
talking like that. I`m going to drop it.

SCHLAPP: Yes, I think it`d clearly the right thing to do.

MATTHEWS: What would happen to his base?

SCHLAPP: He`s got this base not based on this question.

MATTHEWS: You think he went clean on this?

SCHLAPP: Chris, let me tell you, the reason why he keeps leading in
polls is not because he is questioning the president`s birth location.
It`s because he is appealing to people that are so disgusted about
Washington, conservatives who feel like the Supreme Court, Congress, Obama
is out of control. That is the reason for his support. It`s not a racial



MATTHEWS: He started on this issue. This was his business that got
him into politics. This is why we ever talk about it.

BERNARD: That is who is supporting him.

MATTHEWS: I disagree. He has been selling this crap since day one.
It`s his thing.

PARKER: That`s how he got in the club and the club is his base.

MATTHEWS: Ends justify the means. Say the president is not the
president, say he`s not an American.

PARKER: And now, he doesn`t have to say it anymore. I think your
suggestion is the only one that`s available.

MATTHEWS: Why do people let him do phony interviews? Because it`s
phony interview if you sit down and say, oh, let`s talk about the price of
potatoes then.

PARKER: They`re not going to do it anymore. FOX has said they are
not interviewing him anymore because he won`t deal substantive issues.

MATTHEWS: You think FOX will stick to that?



PARKER: I think they might. I mean, of course, he is saying now he
fired FOX. But he`s not going to talk to anybody –

SCHLAPP: Wait, he calls in and they put him on. And the reason why
he is getting so much coverage is because he continues to call in. It
happens night after night, day after day.


BERNARD: The man walks around talking about silent America, “Make
America great again,” calls Mexicans rapists. He is not going to apologize
about what he is saying.


MATTHEWS: – as anybody. And the idea of him saying he is not based
on no information is appealing to racism. And by the way, anybody who
asked the second question if he dodges this one shouldn`t be in the
business, because it`s not OK. He`s got to answer the question.

The roundtable, by the way, is staying with us right now.

And up next, look at the numbers now. Vice President Joe Biden surged
in a new poll. Can his popularity keep rising if he actually jumps in the
race? That`s the old Ted Kennedy question. Once you are in, it gets

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: The 2016 presidential debate schedule has been set for the
fall of next year. Here they are, locations has been set for Wright State
University in Dayton, Ohio, for Washington University in St. Louis,
University of Nevada Las Vegas, and UNLV, the great sports team.


Anyway, the vice presidential debate will be at Longwood University in
Farmville Virginia.

Locations and dates were set by the nonpartisan commission on
presidential debates.

That`s all news. We know where they are headed now.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Back with our roundtable, Kathleen, Matt, Mistle – wait a
minute, Michelle.

Anyway, look at this, Vice President Joe Biden has said he`s not ready
to make a decision about whether to jump into the 2016 presidential race.
But new poll numbers out today suggest he could pose a threat to Hillary

In the latest Bloomberg Politics national poll, Clinton now leads by
only eight points. She`s at 33.

Catch these numbers – Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders are both
at about a quarter of the Democratic vote. They`re very close. Biden

What do you make of this?

BERNARD: I think this is huge news. He is not even in the race. And
he`s that close to Hillary Clinton. If I`m Hillary Clinton and anyone who
is advising her, I`m thinking, this looks like –



MATTHEWS: What is causing the numbers to go the other way?

BERNARD: Well, it is a sin of omission. I mean, let`s assume that
nothing illegal happened with regard to the emails. People don`t trust
her. And it is part of the Clinton distraction and a reminder that with
Bill or Hillary or both, there`s always something.


MATTHEWS: But go ahead.

SCHLAPP: Weak candidate, bad campaign, they bungled this e-mail
question, like I can`t believe we`re still talking about it.

MATTHEWS: What makes it so sticky they can`t get ahead of it?

SCHLAPP: Because they can`t get one answer continually. Give the
same answer continually. Clearly, what it looks like, now we`re going to
see the e-mails because the FBI has apparently found them.

MATTHEWS: And they`re digging through them.

SCHLAPP: That`s right. So, the question is –

MATTHEWS: And they`re not destroyed like her lawyer –


SCHLAPP: That`s right. And we`re going to find out.

MATTHEWS: I would get a new lawyer. If my lawyer said they`re all
destroyed, don`t worry about it, and now it turns out, oh, they`re not.

SCHLAPP: Are they all about yoga appointments? We`re going to find

MATTHEWS: What do you think they`re about?


SCHLAPP: I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: What`s the worst-case scenario here?

SCHLAPP: The worst-case scenario with the Clintons is this, is that
they believe – she believes that the Republicans are out to get her and
she has this complex, and she wants to hide.


SCHLAPP: But that`s not the way it works. When you`re secretary of
state, you can`t do it. It`s illegal.

PARKER: There`s something in here.


MATTHEWS: But the Republicans are out to get her.

SCHLAPP: But it`s illegal.

PARKER: There`s something about Benghazi, just any mention of
Benghazi. That`s the worst-case.


MATTHEWS: You guys know more about than I do. Can you just push a
button and say, any time the word Benghazi or Libya –

SCHLAPP: Yes, you do a search.

MATTHEWS: Any of these, we`ll look at that and move on.

SCHLAPP: I`ve been through three or four of these and you simply do a
search. You do have a search term –

MATTHEWS: Why doesn`t the government do that right now?

SCHLAPP: Because she got rid of them, that`s the whole point.

Well, now we`re going to find out.


BERNARD: Benghazi, I think it`s the least of her worries.

MATTHEWS: What is she doing in Benghazi?

BERNARD: Donald Trump is – Donald Trump is allegedly –


SCHLAPP: She lied on every Sunday show right after –

MATTHEWS: What does that have to do with what happened?


MATTHEWS: I know your trick. Somehow because they didn`t come clean
afterwards, that –

SCHLAPP: But do you think it`s okay to go on the Sunday shows and
came up with a lie?

MATTHEWS: No. But it didn`t cause to get killed.

BERNARD: But, of course, the American public hates politicians
because they think –



BERNARD: It hurts Hillary Clinton.

PARKER: I`m with you, Michelle.

BERNARD: Thank you, Kathleen. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Let me examine why George W. Bush let the country get hit
and 3,000 people get killed.

Anyway, thank you, Joan Walsh, we could all play that game.

Matt Schlapp, Michelle, when we return, let me finish –

PARKER: I`m Kathleen Parker.

MATTHEWS: Something that wasn`t said today.


PARKER: Kathleen Parker, not – I love her, but I am Kathleen Parker.


MATTHEWS: You are –


MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with something I think is really
important, something that wasn`t said today.

Everything about today was great, of course, Pope Francis was simply
wonderful, especially in the way he let people touch him, let himself be
gripped by the thousands who came out to see him. He showed a love equal
to that of the crowd. And that was a lot of love.

Our city, the U.S. capital, was radiant. Not just the weather, but
the glow on the trees, the crispness of those in uniform, the eagerness of
the president, the bright smile of the first lady.

And I loved it all, yet, I believe, I must add another picture to your
memory bank. One more endearing, more loving, more Christian, more
Catholic, yes, even than the pope. Late yesterday, I attended a funeral
mass for my Aunt Eleanor. It was held where she`s lived in recent years,
St. Joseph Village, just outside Philadelphia.

The chapel was alive with the Sisters of St. Joseph who shared Aunt
Eleanor`s life, her calling, her vocation, her commitment to teaching,
including those most vulnerable who find learning, even basic learning
beyond their God-given reach.

Well, this is the true Catholic Church. This is where Christian
charity lives, not just on big days of the White House, but on difficult
days, those of relentless challenge.

My Aunt Eleanor, Sister Eleanor Shields, spent 73 years teaching in
the Philadelphia and area schools, 73 years. Many of those years teaching
kids who find learning brutally hard if not impossible, special education
is called in for a reason because it takes special people to perform it –
people of patience, people able to work on God`s time.


Well, this is the true world of Christianity. This is where Jesus`
work is getting done, far from the fanfare without a tweet from a celebrity
or a dollar is spared. This is where the Catholic Church, my church, lives
at its best and yes, its brightest. As Pope Paul said today, God bless
America, especially this part, the caring part.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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