Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/23/2015
Date: December 23, 2015
Guest: Heidi Przybyla, Caitlyn Huey-Burns, Jeremy Peters, Carrie Rickey,
David Poland, Stephen Hess, Michelle Bernard
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump versus Clinton. Has the main bout
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
On this eve of Christmas eve, in this last full week before election
year, the mother of all battles may well be upon us. Over the last 48
hours, we`ve seen the two dominant forces in presidential politics, Donald
Trump and Hillary Clinton, matching jab for jab. What could be next year`s
marquee matchup may already be in round one.
Well, the line of attack from Trump is what you`d expect. It`s nasty,
vulgar and personal. He goes after Clinton`s bathroom break during the
Democratic debate with a bathroom slur at her about her loss in the 2008
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m watching the debate,
and she disappeared! Where did she go? Where did she go? I thought she
quit! I know where she went! It`s disgusting! I don`t want to talk about
it. No, it`s too disgusting. Don`t say it. It`s disgusting. Let`s not -
- we want to be very, very straight up, OK?
Hillary – that`s not a president. That`s not – she`s not taking us
– everything that`s been involved in Hillary has been losses. You take a
look – even her race to (ph) Obama – she was going to beat Obama! She
was favored to win, and she got schlonged. She lost. I mean, she lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Hillary Clinton executed her jujitsu just yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
We shouldn`t let anybody bully his way into the presidency because that is
not who we are as Americans.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And she spoke extensively about Trump`s language to “The
Des Moines Register.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I really deplore the tone of his campaign and the
inflammatory rhetoric that he is using to divide people and his going after
groups of people with hateful, incendiary rhetoric. So nothing really
surprises me anymore. I don`t know that he has any boundaries at all. And
his bigotry, his bluster, his bullying have become his campaign, and he has
to keep sort of upping the stakes and going even further.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m joined by NBC`s Hallie Jackson, “The “Washington
Post`s” Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, Eugene Robinson, and “USA Today”
senior political reporter Heidi Przybyla.
Let me ask you, Hallie – you`re out there a lot with Cruz, and this
guy, as well. It seems to me that he was using what I`ve been told – I
didn`t know this – is a Long Island slang use of that word. Apparently,
HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: New York…
MATTHEWS: … they use it around the neighborhood. Somebody else
from NPR said – I`ve never heard it. I know the word. I never knew it
JACKSON: In that context…
MATTHEWS: … a transitive verb in that context. Is that going to
get it past – will he get past that part of it, with most people, or will
it still be seen as a grossity beyond the bounds?
JACKSON: Oh, I think to be asking the question, when you look at
Donald Trump`s pattern of behavior, is almost a moot point right now.
MATTHEWS: Who are you, Jesse Jackson? The question is moot?
JACKSON: … question, will this (INAUDIBLE) – no, of course
(INAUDIBLE) People don`t care, right?
JACKSON: And his supporters don`t believe that any – you know,
anything the media says. We can say over and over again – Donald Trump
insists this is a commonly used…
MATTHEWS: … Hillary Clinton is making this a big deal. She`s
saying this proves the guy is unfit for the presidency. You can`t be
clearer than we just heard her. She`s taking…
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, “USA TODAY”: She`s said that…
MATTHEWS: … it as a mortal sin.
PRZYBYLA: … all along about everything that he says that`s
supposedly inflammatory. But I think we do – first of all, in a primary,
no question he can say whatever he wants, ain`t going to hurt him. Once we
get into a general election context, I think the narrative is false right
now that a lot of the media are talking about that, somehow, she has to
learn from what Jeb did and she`s got to punch back hard because this is
going to be fundamentally different than a male-on-male kind of cage –
alpha male cage match when you have a male candidate…
MATTHEWS: How`s it different for – how`s it different?
PRZYBYLA: It`s different because Hillary Clinton has always benefited
from when she`s in a position of being a victim. And unfortunately, in our
electorate today, I think there`s still a tendency for people to like men
who are perceived as strong and to like women who have that kind of more
vulnerable side to them. So whenever he walks into her traps, it could
help her if it`s legitimately seen as sexism.
PRZYBYLA: Now, if she…
MATTHEWS: How about Bernie Sanders when he said people shout about
gun control, it`s not going to get anything done and she said that`s
PRZYBYLA: OK, I was there, and that helped her with a lot of…
MATTHEWS: Was it…
PRZYBYLA: … voters in the audience.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) how did you call it? Did you call it fair –
foul or not a foul?
PRZYBYLA: I called it from Bernie`s perspective as a foul. However,
if she had never heard him say that before, she wouldn`t know that that was
necessarily one of his main stump lines, so I kind of called it even. But
it helped her, OK? I was at the rally when she said it.
MATTHEWS: … jujitsu that will always work against a big-mouth
opponent like Trump?
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I
think it has a good chance of working. And I think it`s more than just a
sexism angle. I think it`s – it`s, in fact – she wants to sound like a
reasonable, experienced, in-charge person as opposed to this maniac, Donald
And – you know, and – and so a certain contrast is set up when he`s
using language like that and she`s being calm and maybe even a little
boring, you know? Maybe…
ROBINSON: … I mean, you can get into general election…
MATTHEWS: Well, I want to…
ROBINSON: … and people have…
MATTHEWS: … get into this because I think…
ROBINSON: … a binary choice to make, right? Are you going to take
MATTHEWS: Gene, you`re so smart at (INAUDIBLE)
ROBINSON: … are you going to take…
MATTHEWS: The way she slowed down her cadence – you know, like most
politicians, you can talk quickly or not. She slowed it way down. And she
has the beautiful, cultured voice of hers. I call it Karen Carpenter
MATTHEWS: A perfect voice. And she did it so well, almost like she
was, like, doing a sidelines estimate of what`s going on.
Anyway, Hillary`s staff, of course, is being much more blunt going
after Trump as a sexist. “The Des Moines Register” reports that Clinton
declined to say if she believed Trump was targeting her as a woman when he
used that term on Monday, which we can`t say here on NBC. But she said, “I
don`t respond to him personally” – this is Hillary – “because he thrives
on that kind of exchange.” But then Hillary added, “It`s not the first
time he`s demonstrated a penchant for sexism” – getting in the jab.
Clinton`s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, was more direct.
Quote, “We are not responding to Trump, but everyone who understands the
humiliation this degrading language inflicts on all women should.” Well,
there they made their point. I love…
MATTHEWS: … and her senior spokesperson said that, “Resorting to
disgusting sexist slurs is not leadership, Mr. Trump.” Well, Trump
responded again today with a warning – and this may be a faux warning –
to the Clinton campaign. “Be careful, Hillary, as you play the war on
women or women being degraded card.”
Now, let`s be politically astute here. Trump may feel that he`s
losing this round. And when he says, Be careful not to play the woman card
or sexist card, he may be afraid it`s working.
JACKSON: Look at – look at who Hillary Clinton`s base is, all right?
Look out who`s going to come out to support Hillary Clinton in the primary
and in the general election. It`s women. So…
MATTHEWS: Women our age, my women – my age and Hillary`s, yes.
MATTHEWS: Older women…
JACKSON: When women hear this…
MATTHEWS: … who`ve seen this crap for years, yes.
JACKSON: And they see (INAUDIBLE) from a guy like Donald Trump, it
does a little bit play right into Hillary Clinton`s hands.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Trump`s – first of all, Trump is back
in terms of numbers. So whenever we`re talking about these words that I
can`t even say here, Gene…
MATTHEWS: We have lists of words – it`s like, we can`t use them, but
he`s winning with these words! Anyway, he remains the top dog on the
right. A new Quinnipiac poll has Trump with much more narrow lead in
recent polls, with him at 28 and Cruz at 24 and Rubio down at 12 and Carson
But a new CNN poll out today falls more in line with most of the polls
out there taken over the past couple weeks. It shows Trump with a big
lead, up there at 39, pushing 40, Cruz 18, not so impressive, Carson at 10,
Rubio at 10.
And Gene, what shakes this up is they all say the country – I
listened on the radio coming out – I`m not going to say what network it
was – If only those establishment Republicans would get together, they
could beat them. No!
MATTHEWS: Their total number`s in the teens, total number!
ROBINSON: The outsiders are, like, 67 percent if you put together
Trump and Carson…
MATTHEWS: So this anger against…
ROBINSON: … and Cruz.
MATTHEWS: … the establishment is so strong that I believe they`ll
put up with some bad language, some grossness, some bathroom talk or we
used to call it water closet language that Trump uses because there`s a
bigger issue at stake here. They don`t like the political establishment.
JACKSON: And you hear that when you`re out on the campaign trail.
MATTHEWS: They don`t want to hear it.
JACKSON: Even if they`re not Trump supporters – I go to a lot of
these events with, for example, Christie people or Cruz people or Rubio
people. Regardless of who they support, when you ask them about Trump,
they say, yes, I might not like every single thing he says, but I at least
like that he says it.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask this…
JACKSON: They don`t (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: You got to go. We all have to go. Let me ask you. I
don`t have to go, I`ll be here forever, but let me ask you this – Knock
MATTHEWS: How does this campaign – should Trump win the nomination,
which most people in the media would like to see because it would be one of
the great battles in history – Hillary`s very prepared, in-the-pocket
quarterbacking, his scrambling, very different styles completely.
MATTHEWS: Does he make her the establishment?
JACKSON: Sure. Why wouldn`t he?
MATTHEWS: Then how would that be good for her?
JACKSON: Well, play right into his hands. It`s good for him to be
seen as the…
MATTHEWS: Hillary becomes the defender of the way things are in
ROBINSON: Well, he makes her the establishment, but she redefines
establishment. She redefines establishment as…
MATTHEWS: What, civilization?
ROBINSON: … sane, as civilized, as opposed to this wild man who –
you know, on the other side.
MATTHEWS: So she`s the safer candidate. Is that what people want?
ROBINSON: She becomes safer…
MATTHEWS: Do we want the safer candidate? It`s a question I ask at
the end of the show. Do we want safer candidates or take a risk on a gross
PRZYBYLA: Even if she`s the establishment, he`s always going to be
the alternative. And she`ll just bring people back to that. She just sets
up the traps and lets him walk right into them.
And in terms of the vulgar language, I mean, yes, we`re talking about
two very different races once we get into a general election. While people
in the Republican primary may, you know, accept that or even thrive off of
it, we`re talking about independent voters now who are going to demand more
from him than just personal attacks when we get into (INAUDIBLE)
MATTHEWS: Where are the independent voters now? Are they for
changing what we have or defending what we have?
PRZYBYLA: I don`t think it`s that simple.
MATTHEWS: It`s got to be defending what we have, if you ask them.
PRZYBYLA: Yes, I mean, I – I think they`re probably going to be more
for a quote, unquote, “mainstream” candidate, whether it`s on the
Republican side or the Democratic side, in this case, Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: Well, there are plenty of the mainstream – those
mainstream candidates out there are ending up at 2 percent and 3 percent
PRZYBYLA: Asterisks (ph).
MATTHEWS: … the ones that couldn`t – remember?
MATTHEWS: … Scott Walker. Scott Walker, Rick Perry, good-bye!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
MATTHEWS: Now we`re about to lose maybe Kasich in the next two weeks
on the next debate stage. We may be losing one after another of these so-
called mainstream candidates.
JACKSON: Independent voters are obviously going to be important in
the general, but remember, some of these campaigns are banking on huge
conservative turnout. You look at somebody like a Ted Cruz. He doesn`t
care about the independent voters in a general election necessarily. He
talks about wanting to bring…
MATTHEWS: Can he win Ohio and Virginia and Colorado with that kind of
JACKSON: … question…
JACKSON: I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Can you argue you can win a middle-of-the-road…
JACKSON: (INAUDIBLE) demographics…
MATTHEWS: How do you win a middle-of-the road state with a right-wing
ROBINSON: I don`t think you can do that. You`ve got to get those –
the suburbs of Philadelphia, the suburbs of Cleveland. You`ve got to get
MATTHEWS: Will Shaker Heights vote for Cruz?
ROBINSON: … where there are a lot of independents who are not Ted
ROBINSON: And I don`t think they`re Donald Trump voters, but…
PRZYBYLA: And if you`re just looking at demographics, states like,
you know, bread basket states like Ohio have changed just from the last
election. You`ve got to win a much larger percentage of the white vote
just to get your numbers up because so many – you know, it`s being full
now with so many minority voters, who tend to vote for…
MATTHEWS: I know what will get 100 million people to watch the
debates next fall.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You?
MATTHEWS: Trump versus…
JACKSON: Oh, off the charts.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) just one of the viewers, Trump versus Hillary.
Nobody will be independent on that race.
Anyway, thank you, Hallie. Merry Christmas to you guys.
JACKSON: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Heidi Przybyla, thank you so much – very impressive
institutions here, “The Washington Post,” MSNBC and NBC and “USA Today.”
I`m surrounded by greatness. Eugene Robinson, thank you, sir. Thank you,
Heidi, and thank you, Hallie.
Coming up, Ted Cruz is already coming on strong in the Republican
race. Now he`s been handed an early Christmas gift. He`s attacking the
media, his favorite path (ph), and he`s going after “The Washington Post”
cartoonist who portrayed his two daughters as monkeys. Well, that should
be a pretty yard (ph) fight. That`s a good family fight.
And HARDBALL goes to Hollywood tonight. Everyone knows I love the
movies almost as much as I love politics. I`m going to have my favorites
and the best movies of the year. I have seen such a string of great movies
the last couple months, Kathleen and I. They are all great. I`m going to
talk about a bunch of them. Plus – especially “Spotlight.”
Plus, two days to go before Christmas, just 40 days before the Iowa
caucuses, what are voters looking for heading into 2016? Do they want a
flawed slugger who`s swinging for the fences or a safer bet? We`re going
to tell you something or everything you need to know as you look ahead to
the new year 2016.
Finally, “Let Me Finish” tonight and the year with some thoughts about
our country and our politics.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: The Republican debate stage is about to get smaller. Fox
Business Network just announced the criteria for the next debate. And
candidates have to be in the top six nationally or in the top five in
either Iowa or New Hampshire.
So who would be invited? As of now, according to the RealClear
polling averages, Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Bush and Christie are the
only ones who meet the new criteria. Everyone else will be relegated to
earlier undercard debate. The next debates are coming up on January 14th.
We will be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Ted Cruz is slamming “The
Washington Post” today for an editorial cartoon published on line last
night. The image shows Cruz dressed as Santa Claus, playing a street
organ, and it depicts his children as monkeys, showing them as political
The cartoon was a criticism of the TV ad the Cruz campaign debuted
over the weekend in Iowa. It`s a Christmas-themed attack ad, by the way,
cleverly disguised as self-parody, and it features Cruz`s daughters. Take
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine the greatest Christmas stories told by the
senator who once read “Green Eggs and Ham” from the Senate floor.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: `Twas the night before
the shutdown, and all through the house, not a bill was stirring, not even
to fund a mouse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Proven Record presents a record of timeless
Christmas classics read by the trusted conservative leader Ted Cruz,
favorites such as “How Obama Care Stole Christmas.” The whole family will
enjoy reading stories like “The Grinch Who Lost Her E-mails.”
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know just what I`ll do, she said with a
snicker. I`ll use my own servers and no one will be the wiser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if you act now, we`ll throw in the inspiring
new Christmas story soon to be an instant classic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please read this one, Daddy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: “The Senator Who Saved Christmas.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, reacting to that cartoon on Twitter, Cruz said,
“Stick with the attacking me. Caroline and Catherine are out of your
league.” And the cartoon was later retracted by “The Washington Post`s”
editorial page editor.
Anyway, the Cruz campaign is now fund-raising off the cartoon with e-
mails to its supporters. He further expressed outrage today at a campaign
spot – or stop out in Oklahoma.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: Everyone expects the mainstream media to be liberal, to be
biased. Folks want to attack me, knock yourself out. That`s part of the
process. I signed up for that. That`s fine. But my girls didn`t sign up
for that. And I have to say, you know, when people ask me what`s the
hardest part of the campaign, the single hardest part of the campaign is
being away from my daughters, is getting up and getting on an airplane and
leaving and not being able to kiss my daughters good night, not being able
to read them a bedtime story.
And so it used to be for a long time, the rules across the board, that
kids are off limits – that should be the rules. Don`t mess with our kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Jeremy Peters is with “The New York Times” and Caitlyn
Huey-Burns is with RealClearPolitics.
Caitlyn, what crowd`s going to buy that from him?
CAITLYN HUEY-BURNS, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, he…
MATTHEWS: I mean, he`s used his kids in an ad, a pointed attack ad
against Obama and everybody else, and Hillary, with all the nasty attacks
put in the language of a little kid. He did the whole thing. And then he
gets mad because “The Post” does a bad – they do a commercial makes his
kid look like (INAUDIBLE) make his kids look like monkeys. They went too
But he`s the guy running for president, not the cartoonist at “The
Washington Post.” How is he behaving here?
HUEY-BURNS: Well, the conservative base loves going after the media.
They love when candidates do it…
MATTHEWS: Do they think “The Washington Post” is still a liberal
newspaper, I guess.
HUEY-BURNS: Oh, sure. And we`ve seen them – we`ve seen all the
sorts of candidates fund-raise off stories they thought were unfair. So I
really think it could have been – it didn`t even have to be this egregious
for him to go after “The Washington Post” and use it to fuel his
supporters. And you know, he was fund-raising off of it today. And it
really speaks to that base in Iowa that he`s trying to cultivate support
MATTHEWS: If this was a basketball game, all we would be watching are
foul calls. Hillary is calling fouls. This guy is calling fouls. It
seems like the way you get attention is call a foul on the opponent or the
media. Blame the ref.
JEREMY PETERS, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, I think what this really
plays into among conservatives is that sense of grievance.
I mean, conservatives are very good at feeling offended, especially
when the liberal media is involved. That happens all the time. And Trump
has done this. Cruz, we have seen has done this. Rubio has done this.
Rubio has fund-raised off of I don`t know how many “New York Times”
MATTHEWS: But when it comes to hating Cruz, the liberal media, if you
will, are last in line.
MATTHEWS: His fellow Republican colleagues can`t stand the guy.
PETERS: No, that is absolutely right.
MATTHEWS: That`s out there. Go report. It`s there. Ask any one of
them. Find a friend of Ted Cruz. I would say that is a good sidebar
piece, a friend of Ted Cruz.
PETERS: rMDNM_No, it`s just there is a complex. And this is why I
think Trump does so well in the Republican base right now, is because there
is a feeling, a sense that the country has slipped away from them, a sense
that the deck has been stacked against them. This is just one other
element that feeds into that.
MATTHEWS: This humor is so low-brow, but let`s go. Here is Ted Cruz
tweeting out a Photoshopped picture of Hillary Clinton walking a pair of
dogs and one labeled “The New York Times,” the other labeled “The
Washington Post.” The caption reads, “Seems like a better idea for a
cartoon, Hillary and her lapdogs.”
So, having made fun – I don`t even know how to do this. You play –
you yell foul and then you go back and makes fun of her.
HUEY-BURNS: Do the same thing, right.
MATTHEWS: The dog lovers aren`t going to like this, are they? There
are a lot of dog lovers watching right now. And I`ll tell you, making fun
of dogs as lapdogs.
PETERS: It trumps Romney, when he put that dog on the car.
MATTHEWS: He put him on the roof all the way to Canada.
HUEY-BURNS: It`s a cycle. Right?
So, he – this is certainly a gift to him. He is going to tweet out
things like that. And supporters eat it up.
MATTHEWS: Let`s watch him in the ad. This is where he did pull a
brilliant number that night in that debate. And he did. He called out the
media. Our new phrase, calling out. And he did it. Nothing new.
But here`s – he turned out – the turning point in that campaign came
in late October when he slammed the moderators of that CNBC debate. Watch
how he did this. It showed his I.Q. at work, actually. He is a smart guy.
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The questions that have
been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don`t
trust the media.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CRUZ: This is not a cage match. And, you look at the questions –
“Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?” “Ben Carson, can you do
math?” “John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?” “Marco Rubio,
why don`t you resign?” “Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?”
How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: There he is, a champion debater, being able to quickly
recount, from memory apparently, all the shots taken by the media and their
implicit shots in those questions and reeling them back after setting it up
like a bow and arrow, pulling it back and then whacking the media. It was
HUEY-BURNS: And it really I think was a turning point in the
campaign. Right? Everyone was talking about…
MATTHEWS: His campaign against the media and therefore for himself, a
HUEY-BURNS: Right. And after that, everyone was talking about Ted
Cruz. That clip was played over and over. And then he went out on the
campaign trail and talked about it and he talked about having more
conservative media moderate the debate, talking about Mark Levin and those
types of people having in the debate. It certainly was to his advantage.
MATTHEWS: He has really got the hate chorus out there behind him,
Where is Michael Savage on this list? The whole crowd of them. He
has got Sean Hannity, who I get along with, but, boy, he plays to the very
hard right, very hard right. And these people are so angry. And Rush.
Rush knows exactly what he is talking…
PETERS: And that`s thing. And the way that you watched them turn on
Rubio during the whole immigration debate, the conservatives went and they
lined up behind Cruz, because what do they hate more than “The New York
Times” and “The Washington Post”? Amnesty.
There was that. But going back to our theme of the media being this
kind of chew toy for conservatives, remember what happened to Newt Gingrich
after he had a moment just like that in 2012, when he went after John King
in that CNN debate and said this is why people hate the media, because John
King asked him a question about his marital infidelity.
And look what happened. Newt skyrocketed to the top of the polls and
won South Carolina.
HUEY-BURNS: And actually the Republican candidates, they like this
fight. They like – they love having the CNBC – be able to campaign off
of that afterwards.
MATTHEWS: The idea that “The Washington Post” is a liberal newspaper
is a joke. It`s a conservative newspaper on many issues, liberal on some.
It is a mixed bag. It`s very much like a lot of newspapers. It has
different opinions on different subjects.
The idea that it is a knee-jerk liberal press is way out of date.
Anyway, anybody who reads it would know that. Thank you, Jeremy.
PETERS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: “The New York Times,” however, is still a liberal
MATTHEWS: And, Caitlin Huey-Burns, thank you.
On the education – education – there`s a – the editorial pages,
same as education.
Much more. Thank you for coming on.
HUEY-BURNS: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Much more on the presidential race coming up. We are
headed into the new year, of course, coming up with the HARDBALL roundtable
any minute now.
But, up next, my other love, the movies, a little fun now, my
favorites. There are so many great movies out there right now. If you
don`t go very often, it is a good time to go now. And I`m not talking
about the long line at “Star Wars.”
This is the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
When it comes to Hollywood hits this year, “Star Wars” is the king of
the galaxy. The latest episode in the space epic broke records last
weekend. And in just days, it`s earned $700 million worldwide. Movies
make – $700 million is just beyond anything.
But, aside from this massive box office hit, Hollywood has put out
some really impressive movies of late. I have seen them all. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT DAMON, ACTOR: This will come as quite a shock to my crewmates
and to NASA and to the entire world, but I`m still alive. Surprise.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: How come 10 times in a day I read Steve Jobs is a
genius? What do you do?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I play the orchestra, and you are a good
musician. You sit right there. You are the best in your row.
ISABELLA ROSSELLINI, ACTRESS: You are in a room, and there is a gun
on the table. And the only other person in the room is an adversary in
commerce. Only one of you can prevail. Do you pick up the gun, Joy?
JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ACTRESS: I pick up the gun.
MARK RUFFALO, ACTOR: They knew, and they let it happen to kids. OK?
It could have been you. It could have been any of us. We have got to nail
these scumbags. We have got to show people that nobody can get away with
this, not a priest or a cardinal or a freaking pope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams. What a scene from
David Poland is editor at MovieCityNews.com. And Carrie Rickey is a
former movie critic for “The Philadelphia Inquirer.”
Thank you both for joining us.
I want to start with a movie I think we agree on, “Spotlight.” We
just saw it. It is called a procedural, like a television – TV sitcom –
not a sitcom – a detective kind of thing, because it is kind of a
detective story, but we know the results and we know the bad thing.
And there is something wonderful, David, about watching real
journalists in action.
DAVID POLAND, MOVIECITYNEWS.COM: And these journalists, the real-life
journalists are actually almost more interesting than the ones in the
movie, amazingly enough. I have met them a number of times, and they`re
kind of great people.
It is a really good movie. I know almost nobody who doesn`t like it a
lot. but it is also a little like John Kasich. It`s not quite as sexy as
some oft other movies. And that`s – it will definitely be nominated
across the board, but what happens to it with the Oscars is really kind of
up for grabs, I think.
MATTHEWS: Well, I love seeing Michael Keaton back in the movies again
Let me ask you, Carrie. I liked it because it was a tricky subject,
the Catholic Church. We have seen that before with the movie “Verdict”
years ago, the Newman movie with Jack Warden. And now you see it again.
CARRIE RICKEY, FILM CRITIC: And the movie “Doubt.”
MATTHEWS: And “Doubt,” of course. What am I saying? Of course,
Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
But the whole question about priests being bad guys, sick guys, but
the story this is really about is the cover-up. It`s the power of a
diocese to cover up horrible situations of rape, molestation to the nth
degree of young altar boys by priests who have in loco parentis authority
over these kids, an absolute authority, and how they abuse it, and how top
big shots in Boston covered up, and the establishment did, too, not just
the priests and the cardinals.
RICKEY: It`s just a tragedy on so many levels, institutional cover-
up, lives totally torn apart, lost, derailed.
And also, if you are a newspaper person or a media person, you watch
this movie and think, oh my God, that is the end of an era. There will
never be that many resources to uncover such a cover-up again.
MATTHEWS: Yes. It takes a paper with the money and the commitment to
put months into this.
Let me ask you. What I liked about it was the sense of teamwork,
David. And teamwork is something we don`t have much of in this country
POLAND: No. We can`t afford to have that many people do anything
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s right. Let`s look at “Martian.”
I know I get a little emotional in the movie theater. I`m the guy
that cries in the movie. But there was a scene in “Martian” when they were
all working together. The human race was working together in this movie.
When the Chinese jumped in and saved the day, it was just an amazing – and
I said, can the world operate like this ever again?
POLAND: Well, the world wants to operate like that. The world wants
to operate like that. It just gets caught up in all the other stuff.
And then we see a moment like Paris, for instance, where everybody
really does come together, in spite of everybody`s fights and our little
issues here and there. We all come together. “The Martian” is one of
those movies that truly is kind of loved by everybody. It had such a great
performance in the center of it. Ridley Scott does such a great job
without being showy.
POLAND: It`s not a showy effects movie. It`s just a great movie.
RICKEY: And a Ridley Scott comedy.
POLAND: It is so not a comedy, but it is funny.
And great performances all along and just a great story. It`s one of
those movies – I think this will be the movie that people watch over and
over and over again for decades to come.
MATTHEWS: I remember the great line by Russell Crowe when he won the
award for the “Gladiator.” “I owe this award to one bloke, Mr. Ridley
Scott.” Anyway, again, there`s going to be some awards for this.
Let me ask you, Carrie, about women. There`s at least two or three of
these movies this year which I think are fabulous about women and the
plight they face just trying to make it in a tough world.
I`m going to start with “Brooklyn,” but of course “The Intern” and of
course “Joy.” But let`s start with “Brooklyn,” a small, perfect movie with
no weird twists in it. There is no Alfred Hitchcock in this movie. It is
just what it is, an early 1950s movie that is great. Go ahead. Tell me
RICKEY: It is from a wonderful novel by Colm Toibin.
And it`s a girl from a very homogeneous country, Ireland, coming to
the United States, this very heterogeneous country. And she is turned on.
She was dim before and, suddenly, being with all of these people and all
these different people excites her and makes her a different person. She
is a different person in the United States than she is in Ireland. And
what a performance by Saoirse Ronan.
POLAND: And very personal for Saoirse.
RICKEY: Yes, because she was from Ireland and grew up in the United
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, Carrie. You are on my list. Share
this list with me. Why is “The Intern,” which I loved, not popped onto any
of these lists? I loved it. It`s on your list. It`s on my list.
Why? I thought De Niro was spectacular. I thought Anne Hathaway –
some people don`t like Anne Hathaway. I like her. But go ahead.
RICKEY: Well, I thought it was De Niro`s greatest performance and
most nuanced performance in maybe 15 years.
I think it`s about – like “Joy,” it`s about a female entrepreneur and
things that female entrepreneurs face that the men who know the game don`t
understand. And it`s just – it was really interesting about – also a
movie set in Brooklyn – about Brooklyn, about making the best product you
could make, and not knowing that there are other people who think they know
more than you and more about your product.
And it was a very – it was funny and it was very serious at the same
MATTHEWS: And it was about generation. It was about – in the most
positive, nonsexual way. I loved it. I loved that movie.
Anyway, thank you, David Poland. Please come back. Carrie Rickey.
I know you have your own list, David. It`s not my list. But you know
what you`re talking about.
Up next – so do I, in my own way.
The 2016 race, it`s two days before Christmas, and the final sprint to
Iowa and New Hampshire is about to begin. It`s about to begin, like in
days now. And where is this thing heading? And what do voters want, a
flawed slugger swinging for the fences like Trump, or a safer bet next year
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just think that he is going
to create an environment where we lose the presidency. He is not going to
be president. And he will do damage to the conservative cause. And we
need to take a stand. And, for some odd reason, I`m the only guy willing
to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was, of course, Jeb Bush making the argument that Donald Trump is
damaging the Republican Party`s chance of winning the election next year.
But it seems his warning has fallen on deaf ears, if you will, as prospects
for establishment candidates like him grows dimmer and dimmer.
According to latest CNN/Opinion Research Poll out today, the combined
support for outsider candidates, that would be Donald Trump, of course, Ted
Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson, represents 67 percent of the Republican electorate
right now. Two thirds of Republicans out there saying they want somebody
besides establishment candidates.
The establishment candidates, if you make a long list of them,
including everybody possible to put on that list is Marco Rubio, Chris
Christie, Jeb Bush together, all together garnered well about 18 percent.
They are still in the teens altogether.
Well, last April, Senator Cruz implored his party not to choose
another establishment candidate in 2016. And now, Republican voters seem
to be heeding that advice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we nominate another
candidate in the mold of a Bob Dole or a John McCain or a Mitt Romney, and
all three are good, honorable, decent men. They`re heroes. But what they
didn`t work. And if we do it again, the same voters who stayed home in `08
and `12 will stay home in `16, and Hillary Clinton will be the next
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: With just 40 days now until the first contest, the
Republican electorate at least in 2016 seems ready to nominate a candidate
who swings for the fences, rather than more conventional and safer choice
of years past.
Joining me now to talk about it, my HARDBALL roundtable tonight:
Steven Hess is a respected political analyst and author of the brand new
book, “America`s Political Dynasties From Adams to Clinton”. I think he
may have it with Clinton. Michelle Bernard is president of Bernard Center
for Women, and David Corn is an MSNBC political analyst and Washington
bureau chief for “Mother Jones”.
I want to start with you, Michelle.
Why is the – I know you are a moderate Republican at heart.
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: You can`t figure me out.
MATTHEWS: That reasonable, northeastern party seem to be withered
down to Jeb Bush is getting 3 percent today in the polls. What happened?
BERNARD: As a very firm independent thinker –
BERNARD: What I would say is that, you know, large part of the
Republican electorate has had it. Actually, it`s not even just
Republicans. It`s Republicans, it`s Democrats, it`s independents.
Everything that people had been promised has not been delivered. So, they
are excited by someone.
MATTHEWS: Well, the Hillary establishment is strong.
BERNARD: Well, the Hillary establishment, but being a woman makes her
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: That`s what she says.
MATTHEWS: David, do you buy that?
BERNARD: And that`s what I say.
MATTHEWS: Do you buy that gender makes her an outsider?
CORN: I think to a certain extent. Not as much as Ben Carson is an
But I do think that you have those Republican numbers – you show that
the Republican base – I think Republican base is not reflective of the
whole country. Republicans make 28 percent of the nation overall. Two-
thirds of that would be, what, you know, 20 percent or so.
So, you got 20 percent of the public that is ticked off. They are
angry, they hate Barack Obama. They believe he is a secret socialist
Muslim from Kenya who wants to destroy the country through Obamacare and
black helicopters and take your guns away.
And they have been exploited by the Republican Party and empowered by
the Republican Party for the last eight, 10, 12 years, and now, they are
basically saying, OK, time for you guys to put up or shut-up. If you are
not giving us what we want –
MATTHEWS: Like we are at war with the French and the well-perfumed
French soldiers with their Iroquois, and then they hear that the Iroquois
are taking scalps because they taught them how to do.
MATTHEWS: And they, oh, we can`t believe that`s going on.
CORN: I think this guy knows about that history.
MATTHEWS: Steve, tell me about this, because the Republican Party has
been made up of the extreme, of course, the isolationists – I`m sorry, the
abolitionists originally before the civil war and the establishment wigs
like the Bushes. This year the Bushes are 3 percent.
How do you explain it? You wrote the book. Did you think Bush would
be a three?
STEPHEN HESS, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I wrote the book because I
thought this was going to be the year of Bush versus Clinton. Hey, it was
a good precedence to go on.
MATTHEWS: You got the Clinton part.
HESS: I got the Clinton part, right. I came with Dwight Eisenhower,
as his speechwriter. I`m waiting for –
MATTHEWS: But, Steve, I`m sitting next to you, and I`m remembering
because I know the history and you were there. In 1952, Everett Dirksen
gave the same speech that we just heard Cruz give. You moderates, you
centrists are taking this down the road. They gave us Eisenhower and you
worked with Eisenhower and he won big as a moderate.
HESS: I was there. That was the last time we had a brokered
convention, meaning when we went into the hall on day one, we didn`t know
who the nominee was going to be on day three. And if people are looking
for that today, let me tell you they haven`t seen chaos yet.
MATTHEWS: You think we`re heading there?
HESS: I have no idea if we are heading there. but if you want to
have fun ask for a brokered convention. There were fights on the floor of
Excuse me, go ahead.
BERNARD: No, no, I`m sorry. I was going to say –
MATTHEWS: Are you used to that kind of politeness here?
BERNARD: I know, yes, sir. You need to rev up on Chris a little bit.
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
BERNARD: I was going to say, I can see it coming down the line but
wanted to go to the point of Hillary Clinton as an outsider simply because
if you look at the rhetoric that Donald Trump uses, if you look at the
rhetoric that Ted Cruz uses and the people who love them, these are people
who are anti-everybody, anti-women, anti-blacks, anti-Hispanics.
Imagine a Donald Trump debate against Hillary Clinton. This is a man
who says anything that comes to his mind. There is nothing PC about him.
Imagine what he will say about Hillary Clinton and her husband.
MATTHEWS: Can you say Hillary Clinton is totally safe? She goes with
all the pressure groups. She never does anything surprising.
It`s pretty much. She is with the union. She`s with foreign policy.
Hillary Clinton goes with the party.
BERNARD: On some things. But I will say post-Paris, if you are
sitting at home watching television and wondering who you feel safe with in
the White House, it`s not going to be Donald Trump.
MATTHEWS: Do you think American people in the end come November next
year, October, and they begin to make up their mind, will root for the way
things are? Is that too cool?
CORN: Right now, the polls show –
MATTHEWS: Hillary is very close to Obama.
CORN: The polls show that most people think we`re on the wrong track.
CORN: And then we talk – that the economy, even though it`s picked
up, is not doing well for everybody which is why Trump is doing well with
people, Republicans who don`t have college degrees. He is two to one.
MATTHEWS: Do you think some Democrats ready for vote for him?
CORN: I think very few.
MATTHEWS: Are you sure?
CORN: Very few, oh yes.
MATTHEWS: Eighteen percent of Democrats agreed with him about keeping
Muslims from entering the country.
CORN: They may agree with him on certain points but I think in
temperament, he is not going to be –
CORN: Listen, he and Cruz, they may try to get conservatives, but
they have to do it in a way that appeals to the middle the way that Reagan
did and the way that Bush did as a conservative candidate in 2000. If they
can`t do that –
MATTHEWS: OK. We`re going back and I am going to ask for something
surprising. I don`t know about dynasties in America, a chance to plug this
really important book.
Roundtable is sticking with us.
And up next, these three are going to do what I told them to do, tell
me something I don`t know. You like the way I said that.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: With all the heat that Marco Rubio is catching for missing
key votes in the Senate, C-Span takes a look at which presidential
candidates have been keeping busy on Capitol Hill and which have not.
According to C-Span, Rand Paul has taken part of the most Senate votes, 94
percent of the total votes this year. Bernie Sanders second with 91
percent. Ted Cruz is next at 76 percent followed by Lindsey Graham who
ended his campaign Monday at 71 percent.
Marco Rubio, no surprise here, finished last. He voted just 64
percent of the time this year. He took his full pay home with him.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Stephen Hess, your new book is called “America`s Political Dynasties”,
tell me something I don`t know about dynasties. It`s a great book. I love
this stuff. The Adams family, Clintons, the Kennedys, the Roosevelts.
It`s amazing how many dynasties we`ve had.
HESS: Yes, right, right. There are 16 in the book and lots of them
you`ve never heard of, like the Tuckers or Washburns, family from Maine in
which there were four brothers in Congress from four different states.
Hey, it`s a way of telling the history of the United States through
families and families are fascinating.
MATTHEWS: It`s a great read. It`s a great read. By the way, you can
read it piece by piece. You can do the Kennedys one night. The Roosevelts
another night. Take it to the bathroom, whatever you need to do. It`s
amazing. It`s a great book.
I know, by the way, you could kill somebody with this book.
HESS: Or kick your door open.
MATTHEWS: Michelle, tell us something we don`t know.
BERNARD: If you really thought Ben Carson was really running for
president, it look like you might be wrong. Ben Carson is burning through
money using direct mail, which is –
MATTHEWS: What is his mission?
BERNARD: His mission is to build the Ben Carson brand, sell books,
join a speaker`s bureau, get paid $100,000, $200,000 a speech, yada yada
MATTHEWS: Oh my God!
CORN: Speaking of brand, back earlier this year, before Jeb Bush
announced he was going to run for president, he through a secret shell
company trademarked the term “Jeb!” In the application, they said they
wanted to put it on key chains, towels, I don`t know, maybe toilet seat
Well, it turns out, I`m not sure this means anything. But in
November, he let the trademark application lapse. So, you or anybody else
can go for “Jeb!” But it also makes me wonder what he thinks about the
future of the brand.
MATTHEWS: Did you ever see anybody sell that stuff after a football
game? You`re going out the door and nobody is buying anything. $1 for the
t-shirts, $1, ten t-shirts for a dollar.
Anyway, thank you, Steven Hess.
HESS: Two kids coming up behind him.
MATTHEWS: America`s political, he knows all the future, “America`s
Political Dynasties”, Stephen Hess of Brookings, Michelle, thank you,
Michelle Bernard, reelect president next year for the Bernard Center, and
David Corn, always great.
When we return, let me finish tonight and the end – actually, we`re
ending the year tonight with some thoughts about our country and how we`re
going to pick our president next year.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight and the year with some thoughts about
The American presidency is not a slot in the U.S. government. It`s an
office of the people, with all the constitutional rigmarole of the
electoral votes, and some archaic meeting of the Electoral College, the
presidency belongs to the American people. There`s not a person in the
country doesn`t have some personal attitude, some feeling, some notion
about the person who is our president.
I say all this because there`s a reason one person rises high in the
polls, heading into a presidential year, a reason why another falls flat or
never rises at all, and why still another, many others, oftentimes just sit
there, exciting no one, inspiring no one, presenting a compelling future to
Well, like me, you probably can`t stand the person who simply puts
their name on the ballot and says all the pressure groups one politician
agreed to, to accept the positions on labor and business and foreign
policy. And this is precisely why when someone like Donald Trump comes
along, we pay attention. We`re supposed to pay attention when Congress has
535 voting members and most people can`t name three of them. What we`re
supposed to talk about when those 535 members of Congress and 50 governors
basically say such predictable nothingness, we can`t remember it a minute
So, yes, we go to Christmas and the New Year, and we come back in
early January, heading to the first big test, Iowa and New Hampshire, with
the country watching, listening and wondering why this guy, Donald Trump,
is getting all the air time. It`s because all the others have forfeited by
the same old paint by numbers politics, reciting in chorus just what
they`re supposed to say to keep their positions of very little influence in
Trump isn`t the problem. He`s the symptom. He fills the gap between
what we want and dream of from our leaders, of what we hope we do and the
dull creatures of survival that they actually are.
With the U.S. Congress in single digits of total approval from across
the country, what did you expect 2016 to bring us? Someone has to be out
there in Iowa and New Hampshire, screaming “I`m sick and tired and not
going to take it anymore” and someone has to be out there and reminding us
that this used to be a country that promised big things and did them.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. From someone
– actually from everyone here at HARDBALL, have a very merry Christmas.
And “ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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