Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 1/4/2016

Guests:
Heidi Przybyla, David Drucker, David Yepsen, Robert Costa, Dan Gross, Megan Murphy, Jay Newton-Small
Transcript:

Show: HARDBALL
Date: January 4, 2016
Guest: Heidi Przybyla, David Drucker, David Yepsen, Robert Costa, Dan
Gross, Megan Murphy, Jay Newton-Small

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: It`s 2016, and HARDBALL has come to Iowa and to
Hillary Clinton.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Des Moines, where a pitched
battle is on right now between the two party front-runners, Hillary Clinton
and Donald Trump.

Clinton accuses Trump of a penchant for sexism. Trump says this makes
Bill Clinton fair game. All this is preview to my sit-down interview
tomorrow night with Secretary Clinton, her first of 2016.

Well, the Iowa caucuses are now exactly four weeks away, and the two
biggest forces in American politics today each is taking the stage tonight.
Donald Trump is about to speak at a campaign rally in Massachusetts.
Hillary Clinton is here in Des Moines already holding a town hall. NBC`s
Katy Tur joins us from Trump`s rally in Massachusetts.

But first, Donald Trump has launched an assault on the Clintons. In
interviews with Fox, CBS and CNN, Trump went after Hillary Clinton`s
husband.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She`s got a problem. She`s
married to a person that`s a serious abuser. And I mean, at the highest
level. And she – you know, she`s not an innocent victim. She was the one
that would go along with him in this whole game that they play. She`s not,
like, the innocent person sitting by the side, and you know, with tears in
her eyes.

I`m the only one that`s willing to talk about his problems. I mean,
what he did and what he has gone through, I think, is frankly terrible,
especially if she wants to play the woman card.

She`s got one of the great women abusers of all time sitting at her
house, waiting for her to come home.

I don`t really care about Monica Lewinsky other than I think that, you
know, Hillary was an enabler and a lot of things happened that were, you
know, obviously very seedy. I mean, he was impeached, for heaven`s sake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Trump`s attacks came as candidate Clinton brought
Bill Clinton into the campaign for the first time.

Here`s what he told NBC`s Andrea Mitchell while working the rope line
up in New Hampshire after a rally there for Hillary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: How do you feel about the kind of
campaign Donald Trump is running, sir?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Republicans
will have to decide who`s going to be nominated. How I feel is only
relevant with respect to (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you.

BILL CLINTON: We`re trying to win a primary (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, and here`s what Hillary Clinton told crowds here in
Iowa when she was asked to respond to one of Trump`s attacks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
I`ve adopted a new year`s resolution.

(LAUGHTER AND CHEERS)

H. CLINTON: I`m going to let him live in his alternative reality, and
I`m not going to respond.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Katy Tur, that`s interesting because, you know, it
seems like Trump responded to the charge that he had a penchant for sexism.
Those were the words used by Secretary Clinton. And now the Clintons
decided enough, I guess, of this back and forth. They`re not continuing
the volleying here.

KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, but I don`t think they`re going to
be able to ignore it for as long as they may want to ignore it. Jeb Bush
tried to ignore Trump earlier on, Marco Rubio did, John Kasich. They`ve
all tried to ignore Donald Trump.

But the problem with that is they may not need to directly respond to
him, but reporters continue to ask them about this when they are on rope
lines and they have media availabilities. And so they can`t quite avoid
responding to them, even if they`d like to.

And also, he`s just so loud. He has such a platform right now. He
gets national media attention. He`s out there – he`s tweeting to more
than five million followers, and those are resonating across the social
media sphere for their outrageousness at some points. So they`re not going
to be able to ignore him the entire time, as much as they may want to.

And they realize that this is in some ways a sore point for them, a
weakness for them, the idea that Bill Clinton is not as much of an asset as
Hillary Clinton may want him to be, bringing up his past infidelities, his
past problems, also bringing the Clinton Foundation into it and the money
that they take for speeches, and the questioning what ties they have from
all that. So as much as they want to ignore Donald Trump, I don`t think
they have much of a choice. They`re going to have to respond at some
point.

MATTHEWS: How does this fit into Trump and what he`s up to with the
paid media campaign now in Iowa? Does it look to you like he`s trying to
win Iowa now? He`s not going to let, you know, Cruz win one and then he
comes back in New Hampshire?

TUR: I think that he`s trying to win Iowa, certainly. I think his
ground game in Iowa is formidable. Remember, he has Sam Clovis on his team
there. He has Chuck Laudner. Chuck Laudner drove Rick Santorum all around
the state last cycle and drove him essentially to the win. So they do know
Iowa politics. They know what they`re doing. To count Trump out would be
unwise.

But Ted Cruz is very popular there. He got the endorsement of the
Family Leader. He got the endorsement of all the evangelicals out there.
So he is a formidable candidate.

But Donald Trump may still want to win Iowa, may still be trying to
win Iowa, but he is already trying to lay the groundwork for a potential
loss out there saying that the media is hyping it up too much, that if he
does lose by a couple of points, it`s not that big of a deal, he`ll take it
in stride and he`ll move on to the next state.

Whether that will work for him remains to be seen. He has been
campaigning this entire time on being a winner. And if he loses Iowa, he
essentially is, at least in Iowa, a loser out there. And how that will
change his position in the mind of his supporters, we`ll have to find out.

I don`t think it`ll be that big of a deal if he loses Iowa. I think
if he loses by a couple points and moves on to New Hampshire, he`ll be
fine. But I do think he`s laying the groundwork because he does know that
it`s going to be a really hard state to take away from Ted Cruz.

MATTHEWS: Well, thank you so much, NBC`s Katy Tur out there. Stay
with us a moment, if you can.

Hillary Clinton was heckled during a rally in New Hampshire this
weekend by a Republican state representative who told reporters she wanted
to ask Hillary about allegations against her husband, Hillary`s husband.
It was quite a scene. Let`s watch it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H.CLINTON: I`m not going to take your question because other people
have been – yes, right there. And we`ll bring you a microphone. Here you
go. There you go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

H.CLINTON: OK, let me see. Right back there, this man right there
is…

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

H.CLINTON: Here we go, right there.

You are very rude, and I`m not going to ever call on you. Thank you.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MATTHEWS: Well, Heidi Przybyla is the senior political reporter with
“USA Today” and David Drucker`s a senior correspondent with “The Washington
Examiner.”

Well, let`s talk about this thing, Heidi, and this question. If
Hillary Clinton takes a shot at Trump and says he`s got a penchant for
sexism, he comes back and goes after Bill Clinton. Then the Clintons
apparently have this strategy now that they`re to let it go at that.

Does that mean they made a mistake in going after Trump in that way
because Trump`s now going back and calling Hillary Clinton an enabler?
I`ve never heard anybody say that about her. This is pretty personal and I
would think over the line, that she`s some kind of enabler of her husband.
I don`t think anybody`s ever said she had anything to do with Monica
Lewinsky.

What do you think of this? This is really personal, and I don`t know
how Trump can walk back and say, Well, that`s just campaigning. It was a
direct personal shot at her.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, “USA TODAY”: It`s not a mistake, Chris, because if
you remember the origination of all this was over Hillary Clinton
criticizing Trump over ISIS, and his counterpunch was then to go after
Hillary Clinton about her bathroom break and the “schlonging” comment. And
then that`s where the “penchant for sexism” came up. So it`s been this
volley that I think was almost unavoidable.

But if you are asking about the Clinton campaign`s approach to this, I
think they`ve made clear they are not going to respond to specific attacks
and get in the mud on Monica Lewinsky or any other of the women from Bill
Clinton`s past, but they are going to comment on his tactics.

And you know, Bill Clinton did that today. We – you played back the
clip of Andrea Mitchell, but there were later comments that he made
basically insinuating that Donald Trump is just trying to, you know, change
the narrative, steal the election, whatever have you.

But you know what, Chris? Part of their strategy is also to have
other people point out – which I`m really surprised hasn`t been pointed
out yet – which is that here`s Donald Trump trying to make the argument
that, Hey, I`m not the sexist, Bill Clinton`s a sexist. But in so doing,
he`s making an inherently sexist argument that Hillary Clinton is somehow
to blame for her husband`s infidelities.

And you`re already seeing – starting to see women from all political
stripes speak out on this. And you know, it`s just something that I don`t
think sits very well with all women.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go to David Drucker on that because the
decision to bring Clinton into the campaign was interesting, to do it in
the very beginning of the year. Was it considered to be a helpful –
bringing a bit of a joy to the campaigning? Clinton is sort of the happy
warrior. And Hillary`s been a little more of – you know, more of a trudge
do far, not as delightful as Bill Clinton is as a campaigner so far.

Was it to bring joy into the campaign? And if so, is that going to
work?

DAVID DRUCKER, “WASHINGTON EXAMINER”: Well, look, I think Bill
Clinton`s one of the more natural communicators and more happy, just quite
frankly, talented campaigners that we`ve seen.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

DRUCKER: And Hillary just isn`t any good at it. She`s just not. She
– there are a lot of selling points for her presidency. Her ability to
communicate to people and get people to like her are not among them.

And so I think you bring Bill Clinton in now because you want to check
the box and not take the primary for granted. You want to lay the
groundwork for the general election. And so I think that if she can use
Bill Clinton properly – and it`s a little bit delicate because he`s not
just the ex-president, he`s her husband – then he can be a major asset in
the way that he was for President Obama in 2012.

But it is a little dicey because she wants to be her own person. And
this is – you know, I think this is the first time where the first spouse
will be a former president, and a pretty formidable one at that. And so
it`s a lot trickier for her than it was for him when he ran.

And remember, Chris, that famous line, “two for the price of one.”
And then he had to make clear, Well, look, I`m the only president. I`m
going to be making the decisions here. And so in a sense, it`s reverse for
her, but a little bit trickier.

MATTHEWS: I want to go back to Heidi, and then I`m going to go back
to Katy Tur on this. You know, for Donald Trump – I guess I`ve been
following politics as well as anybody out there, including all you guys,
and I have never heard anybody go after Hillary Clinton and say she`s an
enabler. Nobody`s ever blamed her for Monica. She was shocked by Monica,
and I believe that story that she had no idea something like that was going
on in the White House. And she was hurt by it. People could see the hurt
in her face, what it had done to her.

Why would – why would this Trump guy say go out and say that somehow,
she was in cahoots with this whole mess? I don`t get that as even a
reasonably honest statement. I just don`t see that.

TUR: I understand where he`s coming from. I think his supporters
don`t like Hillary Clinton. They don`t see her as a human figure. They
see her as somebody who is divisive. They see her as the enemy, almost,
some of them. They don`t – they`re not going to vote for her. They`re
not going to feel sorry for her in this instance.

So you talk about – you bring her name up out here at his rallies,
they say Hillary for jail time. They`ve vitriolic in their anger towards
her in the same way that they`re vitriolic in their anger towards President
Obama.

There`s not a lot of sympathy or empathy for her I think now or even
from back then, especially now since it`s been so long after all that. The
humanity she may have shown after it, the shock, the sadness isn`t in the
top of their memory any longer. Now there`s just a lot of anger and
there`s a lot of divisiveness that he`s playing off of.

And Donald Trump, I don`t think you should be surprised by him saying
anything or crossing any line. I think he`s proven time and time again
that there is no line for him, that he`s willing to say anything, he`s
willing to go there when nobody else is willing to there.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TUR: We saw it with the proposed Muslim ban. We saw it with calling
Secretary of State John Kerry a – a – it`s just – I`m sorry – calling
Secretary John Kerry a – a – a putz a few months ago. He`s calling for
the execution of Bowe Bergdahl. I mean, he says things that nobody else
will say – calling John McCain not a war hero.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

TUR: So the idea that this has gone too far or this is not something
that you should say is just – it doesn`t hold water with Trump any longer,
He`s willing to go there when no one else is. And his supporters don`t
mind it. They don`t mind it at all.

MATTHEWS: OK. Katy, thank you so much for giving us that report from
Massachusetts.

Let`s go back to Heidi for just one second. Heidi, you are on to
something here. Women will react to this in what way? Because I do
believe that anyone who covered that whole situation in `98, left, right or
center, knew that Hillary Clinton was shocked by it, knew that she was
overwhelmed by the horror of the whole thing, humiliated by it, you might
say. Of course, she came back strong and showed her resolve and went out
and campaigned for Chuck Schumer and (INAUDIBLE) build her own political
career.

But she was able to do that through strength. But nobody I`ve ever
heard has ever said see was an enabler of Monica Lewinsky. It`s – it`s
beyond indecent, I think. Your thoughts.

PRZYBYLA: Chris, look at when Hillary Clinton – over the lifetime of
her career in the public eye, when her approval ratings were the highest.
They peaked when she was secretary of state. And another time when they
were very high was when she was going through all of that because, exactly
like you said, people really believed that she was a woman who had been
betrayed by her husband in the most public of ways. And the sympathy meter
went up for her.

So I think that Trump has to be very careful here over the long haul
if he`s going to make this a continuing theme. I think he`s facing a bit
of a quandary, frankly, because his whole campaign has been really built
around and skyrocketed off of personal attacks. You know, Jeb is low
testosterone.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PRZYBYLA: Rubio is sweaty. Well, he tried it on Hillary the other
week with the bathroom break comments, which I think even some of his
supporters thought wasn`t very tasteful, and it didn`t work quite so
effectively.

So he`s struggling. So up persona – he made some personal attacks on
Bill. And I think he`s going to have to, if he makes it into a general
election, find out a way to attack her on issues because it just doesn`t
work as well against his Republican – as it does against his Republican
male competitors.

MATTHEWS: And by the way, just to make the point clear here, it
wasn`t just sympathy for Hillary. I think the way she showed her strength
after that whole incident and the way that she put herself together, dealt
with the situation, carried on as a partisan and came on as much more of an
independent political figure than she had been before.

PRZYBYLA: Right.

MATTHEWS: A lot of strength was shown there. Anyway, thank you,
Heidi Przybyla. Thank you so much, David Drucker. More with you next
time.

And a reminder HARDBALL has the first interview of 2016 with Hillary
Clinton tomorrow night. We want you to know what you have to ask us. Give
us some ideas. Tweet us your questions using the hashtag #HRConHardball –
#HRConHardball – or send us your questions via Facebook. Find us at
Facebook.com/hardball.

Coming up – the all-out battle for Iowa. Ted Cruz has the edge, of
course, right now, for now. But Trump`s on the attack, as we said, against
the senator from Texas and he thinks he can beat Cruz in Iowa. Could Trump
be out to take Cruz out early in this campaign? If he knocks him out in
Iowa, Cruz is in real trouble.

Plus – President Obama`s making good on his promise to act on gun
safety with or without the Congress. His big move today has sparked a big
fight from the right.

And my interview with Hillary Clinton, as I said, her first of the new
year. Big question. What`s her answer to the rise of Donald Trump? And
what`s her alternative to what he`s been promising?

Finally, “Let Me Finish” tonight with the revolution erupting in the
Republican Party right now.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m here in Des Moines this week, and of course,
tonight we`re just 28 days away from the Iowa caucuses. According to the
RealClearPolitics average of polls out here, Hillary Clinton has a 13-point
lead over her rival, Bernie Sanders, here in Iowa. She averages 50 percent
support in the latest Iowa polling, with Sanders at 37 percent and Martin
O`Malley at 6.

But let`s not forget she had a big national lead over Barack Obama
heading into Iowa eight years ago. I`ll be speaking with Hillary Clinton
tomorrow night about her Iowa prospects in my exclusive interview at 7:00
PM Eastern here on HARDBALL.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two weeks ago, every
candidate in the field, or just about every candidate in the field, was
attacking Donald Trump. Now just about every candidate in the Republican
field is attacking me. I guess something has changed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was, of course, Senator Ted Cruz earlier today as part of his
six-day, 28-stop bus tour through Iowa this week. With just 28 days until
the caucuses, Cruz still leads the pack in the Hawkeye State with 31
percent, according to the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls.

Trump is in a close second with 27 percent. And Marco Rubio is a
distant third at 12 percent. Well, despite holding his fire against Cruz
in the past, it appears that Trump is now trying to undercut him on
immigration policy.

Here is Trump yesterday on “Face the Nation.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FACE THE NATION”)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was watching the other
day, and I was watching Ted talk, and he said, we will build a wall, the
first time I have ever heard him say it.

And my wife, who was sitting next to me, said, “Oh, look, he`s copying
what you have been saying for a long period of time.”

Ted Cruz is trying to step up his whole game on amnesty and on illegal
immigration, because it was actually quite weak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Trump was also asked about his past statements questioning
whether evangelicals like Cruz can come from Cuba. Here`s Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “FACE THE NATION”)

JOHN DICKERSON, HOST, “FACE THE NATION”: When you say about Senator
Cruz not too many evangelicals come out of the Cuba, what does that mean?

TRUMP: Well, it just means that Cuba, generally speaking, is a
Catholic country. And you don`t equate evangelicals with Cuba. I don`t.

I think of evangelicals, and I have a – I guess I am. I`m
Presbyterian. I`m Protestant. But I don`t see it as coming out of Cuba.

DICKERSON: But you`re not questioning whether – as far as you know
he could be more devout than you are.

TRUMP: It`s possible. Certainly, it`s possible. I`m not
questioning. And I say it in a somewhat smiling manner, but there`s a
little truth to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, today, NBC`s Hallie Jackson asked Cruz about that
attack. Take a look at what he said then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Oh, listen, politicians behave a certain way when they`re
panicking and they engage in attacks. They engage in personal attacks.
That`s human nature. I understand that. I`m not going to get drawn into
that muck.

I`m going to keep – I`m going to keep the focus on the issues that
matter. The reason everyone`s attacking is because conservatives are
uniting. And that scares them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by NBC`s Hallie Jackson, as well
as David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at
Southern Illinois University, and former political editor, of course, of
“The Des Moines Register.”

Let me go to Hallie first of all, that interview there.

The use of the word panic, I think, is interesting there. Does he
think he can than spin that word into reality, that somehow Trump is
panicked by Ted Cruz?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that may be the
spin that the Cruz campaign and frankly other campaign would want to talk
about here in Iowa, that maybe Donald Trump is panicked.

But, at this point, let`s look at what we have seen from Donald Trump
in the past. Yes, he is losing in the polls here. He looks poised to not
win. And his whole campaign is built on winning. But what has Trump
talked about at his rallies? What has he said in interviews? He said if I
lose by a couple of points, people are going to say it`s a big deal.
Whatever. He sort of blows it off.

He talks about the fact that he is still winning, as he says, 49 other
states, that he still has a strong showing in places like New Hampshire.

MATTHEWS: But if he gets beaten in Iowa, if Trump actually beats Cruz
in Iowa four weeks from today, really beats him, it is death for Cruz.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: If he can`t win out here among the homeschoolers and the
fellow evangelicals, where can he win?

JACKSON: And that`s the thing, Chris.

We talked about this. I asked the senator about this exact topic.
And he said, we don`t consider any state a must-win. He said to me that
Iowa is not a must-win state for him. And, frankly, that`s I think raising
a lot of eyebrows amongst political observers, because if he doesn`t win
Iowa, I think it`s tough to see a path where he then does pick up enough
momentum to do well in New Hampshire and to pick South Carolina and so on,
even if he does have a strong showing in the SEC primary states.

Those states, as you know, don`t exist in a vacuum come March. They
are going to be influenced by what happens in February too. So, surprising
to me that Cruz doesn`t consider this a must-win or at least is not
publicly talking about it as a must-win. But it is clearly a state where
he is investing a ton of resources and a ton of time, as we`re seeing this
week on his 28-county bus tour.

MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s possible that when Trump refers to
Senator Cruz as coming from Cuba, his father did, he didn`t, that he
somehow – he was born in Canada, actually – that somehow that is going to
be part of the immigration problem to the people that are anti-immigrant?
Oh, this guy is coming from Cuba, remember? Remember? He is one of them.
He`s one of those people that came here from another country.

JACKSON: Right.

MATTHEWS: It seems to me that`s a pretty obvious shot by Trump at
Cruz`s background, maybe trying to include him among the immigrants that
they don`t like.

JACKSON: And we have seen this before, Chris, Trump doing these sort
of insinuations attacks. It`s not the necessarily blunt force over the
head that we sometimes see from Donald Trump.

It`s that sort of low-level insinuation about something. But I`ll
tell you what might be an effective way for the Cruz campaign to combat
this, is to bring out Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz`s father, who is Cuban, who is
popular among evangelicals. He`s a pastor. He goes around speaking to
churches and speaking to evangelicals on his own campaigning for his son
and could be an effective tool to bat back any of those attacks against
Trump, whether they be insinuated or outright.

MATTHEWS: Well, he is from Cuba. Interesting how the whole thing is
going to develop.

Anyway, “The Washington Post”`s Robert Costa is with us now. He has
just interviewed Donald Trump before his campaign rally up in
Massachusetts, where Katy Tur has been.

What do you got for us, Robert? What do you know about this big ad
campaign – we`re going to watch a bit of it in a moment – that Trump has
decided? It`s basically saying what he says on the stump, but he`s doing
it with paying for it by a buck and a quarter. He`s spending $1.25 million
this week just in Iowa. Is he going to try to knock off Cruz in Iowa? Is
that what`s going on here?

ROBERT COSTA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: He is. He thinks he can close
the gap with Cruz in Iowa. He thinks Iowa is within sight. His whole
strategy is to try to get a big bounce out of Iowa and then sweep into New
Hampshire and down to South Carolina.

He`s been reviewing ads for the past 24 hours. He was in high spirits
backstage. He thinks the ad campaign right now has gotten a lot of
attention in the press and he thinks it can help him control this message
on the airwaves.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at it. Hang in there, Robert. Here it
is.

It all comes with this debut of this TV ad of the campaign, the first
one that Trump`s ever paid for, highlighting his policies on immigration
and terrorism, including his controversial proposed Muslim ban. It`s set
to run in Iowa and New Hampshire starting tomorrow. Here`s a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, TRUMP CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: The politicians can pretend it`s something else, but Donald
Trump calls it radical Islamic terrorism. That`s why he is calling for a
temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until we can
figure out what`s going on. He will quickly cut the head off ISIS and take
their oil. And he will stop illegal immigration by building a wall in our
southern border that Mexico will pay for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, PolitiFact today pointed out that the footage used to
show Mexicans crossing the southern border of the United States was
actually filmed by an Italian television network in Morocco in North
Africa.

Anyway, on the decision to use that footage, Trump`s campaign manager
told NBC – no expletive right there, of course. We can`t say what he
said. “It`s not the Mexican border, but that is what our country is going
to look like. This was 1000 percent on purpose.”

They later put out a more official statement on that regard.

Robert, why didn`t they use all kinds of footage which is available
from our network and elsewhere that has watched people running across the
border, our southern border from Mexico? Why would they choose to use the
other picture from Morocco? Why would you do it on purpose?

COSTA: Trump told me, Chris, he had two key aims with this ad. It
wasn`t so much about the images, but the images had to be bleak. They had
to be dark, almost apocalyptic, to paint a picture of the United States and
the way he views the United States and where it`s trending, and that he
wanted to make sure he had some rally footage to really capture what he
thinks is his energy at these events.

That was his goal. It was not so much about getting U.S. footage or
news footage.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Well, let`s go to David Yepsen right now.

And I`m not sure where this kind of phony baloney ad campaign, where
you throw in something from North Africa and you say this is what it looks
like at the border with Mexico, I don`t know why you – I honestly – if I
were Trump, I would be running around trying to fire somebody. I wouldn`t
be saying what a great idea to show “Casablanca” scenes here to make my
point, David.

DAVID YEPSEN, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY: Well, I don`t know why he
did that either. But I call it artistic license.

I do have to say, I don`t hear a lot of Iowa Republicans going around
today saying, oh, my goodness, Trump has a hokey TV ad, PolitiFact didn`t
like it, so we are not going to be for Donald Trump. I think it`s a little
blip.

MATTHEWS: You think it`s a blip.

Well, let me ask you about Trump. Do you think he is going for the
win out here in Iowa? No more of this I will take the loss, I can get by
the homeschoolers and evangelicals, I will go back to where the more
mainstream conservatives live in New Hampshire?

YEPSEN: Yes, I think he is going for the win here. And I think that
explains a lot of what he`s been doing out on the stump.

Ted Cruz has two main legs to his campaign, Tea Partiers and
evangelicals. And these comments that Donald Trump has made in the last
few days are designed to try to kick those legs out from under or at least
take part of those Tea Partiers back, take a back part of those
evangelicals.

And getting into it with Bill and Hillary Clinton, that is great red
meat for – especially for Tea Party Republicans. So, all Trump is doing,
in my estimation, is designed to try to get him back in a better position
here in Iowa.

Yes, he`s down by four points, or five points. That is margin of
error stuff in these polls. Most Iowa Republicans are either undecided or
they say they could be persuaded to change their mind. This race, yes,
it`s only 20-some days to go, but it has a long way to go in the minds of
some Republicans who have yet to make up their minds.

MATTHEWS: What about this reference by Trump to – about Cruz being a
family from Cuba? Are there many evangelicals out in Iowa who have
Hispanic backgrounds?

YEPSEN: There are some. They`re not a substantial part of the
electorate in Iowa.

I think you have to be careful about dragging somebody`s father in and
questioning the sincerity of their religious faith, because that can really
backfire. And the suggestion has been made here that Ted Cruz might send
his father out here to say a few things to evangelicals in Iowa.

So, I think Trump has to be careful how he uses that. He`s obviously
trying to get at the immigration issue and Cruz`s base in the evangelical
community. That`s what he`s trying to do. We will see how that works.

MATTHEWS: OK. Great. Thank you very much, David Yepsen, expert out
here, Hallie Jackson, as always, covering the campaign of Ted Cruz, and
Robert Costa, my friend from “The Washington Post,” with that update from
Trump himself.

Up next, with no willingness from Congress to act, President Obama
goes it alone, announcing executive actions on gun safety reforms. He is
doing it today. But the moves are sure to trigger fire from the right.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not going to
solve every violent crime in this country. It`s not going to prevent every
mass shooting. It`s not going to keep every gun out of the hands of a
criminal. It will potentially save lives in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Obama, of course, in the Oval Office earlier today
announcing he is poised to take executive action on gun control. The White
House says he will reveal details in his speech tomorrow morning, but he
promises his actions would be legal and would respect the Second Amendment
in the Constitution.

Well, Republicans immediately went on the attack against President
Obama for his effort to curb gun violence. Here is Donald Trump and Ted
Cruz both.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, pretty soon, you won`t be able to get guns. It`s
another step in the way of not getting guns.

So, he is going to sign an executive order having to do with the
Second Amendment, having to do with guns. I will veto that. I will un-
sign that so fast.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: I fully intend to delight in rescinding whatever illegal and
unconstitutional executive actions President Obama takes to try to
undermine our right to keep and bear arms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, even after those horrific mass shootings of 2015, the
year that just ended, like the Charleston church killings and the attack at
Umpqua Community College in Oregon, polls show President Obama has a tough
sell increasing gun control laws.

Joining me right now is senior NBC White House correspondent Chris
Jansing, and Dan Gross, a gun control advocate and president of the Brady
Campaign.

Dan, I will get to you in a minute. I want to go to Chris.

Politically, I look at Hillary Clinton and it shows a lot of guts, a
profile in courage, if you will, to be talking about gun safety in a
presidential election year, because states like Pennsylvania, lots of gun
owners up there, lots of hunters, lots of NRA people. You have got people
in Ohio and Kentucky and states that she will need to carry like Ohio and
Virginia. It`s a tough one.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

And I think they looked at this on a couple of levels. And the first
level is, first and foremost, that they see that the majority of Americans
are for commonsense gun reform. So, that means things like closing a
little bit or narrowing this gun show loophole, which is one of the –
probably the main thing that the president is going to do of the 10
provisions that he is going to unveil tomorrow.

There obviously is a lot of politics involved in this. You
immediately heard Paul Ryan, for example, coming out and saying they are
trying to usurp legislative power. You have heard virtually everyone on
the campaign trail on the Republican side going after her.

But they think they have got a strong case to make. It`s been a
source of frustration for this White House since Newtown that they were not
able to get strong gun legislation passed, Hillary Clinton obviously a part
of that. And so even though you might not hear her perhaps speak as
strongly as we are going to hear from the president tomorrow, the Democrats
think that this is a really key issue for their base, and they also think
that when sort of the heat of the moment goes by – and things really did
change with San Bernardino, because this was a terror attack, right, very
different from what happened in Newtown and some of these other mass
shootings.

But they look and they see that the average American, they believe,
will support these laws, which are fairly narrow, because, as you know, an
executive action does not require congressional approval.

MATTHEWS: Chris Jansing, thank you so much.

Let me go to Dan Gross on this.

Dan, one of the problems that Chris mentioned, they need to keep the
heat on. Gun owners, gun rights supporters never seem to change their
tune. They are always ready there to defend their rights. They never
change the subject even. But a lot of people have other things on their
mind. They may have concerns about jobs or inequality of income and all
kinds of foreign policy questions.

They occasionally think about gun control and gun safety. How do you
keep their minds on that in November?

DAN GROSS, BRADY CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: That`s really
what`s changed.

And, yes, Hillary Clinton being out front talking about this issue and
certainly the president`s executive actions tomorrow are indicative of a
real tipping point that is happening with the American public. The
American public really is coming together, not just after each of these
terrible mass shootings, but because of the daily terror that we experience
in our country, where 89 people are killed every single day, to say,
enough.

The president has used those terms. And, tomorrow, the president is
going to demonstrate that he`s had enough. And he is going to take
meaningful action. It`s classic how these presidential candidates on the
Republican side are coming out criticizing it, saying it`s
unconstitutional, without even knowing what it is.

All the president is going to be doing tomorrow is going to be
clarifying and enforcing laws that already exist and laws that are focused
on keeping guns out of the hands of the people that we all agree shouldn`t
have them, and laws that I might add that 93 percent of the American public
when it comes to expanding Brady background checks, 93 percent of the
American public supports.

So, it appears as though it`s a bold action, but the reality is, if
you message this correctly and you show that this is just about keeping
guns out of the hands of the people that we all agree should shouldn`t have
them, that it`s actually a very politically safe and smart place to be.

MATTHEWS: OK.

Well, you have got to tell that to the members of Congress, because
they are very antsy about this stuff.

Thank you so much, Dan Gross, for coming on. Keep up the good work.

Up next…

GROSS: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: … Clinton vs. Trump. The two front runners take each
other on while ignoring their primary rivals. What`s going on? They are
acting like – well, they are acting like they are the nominees. Hillary
Clinton may have a leg up on that, but Trump, he`s acting like he`s going
against Hillary Clinton. What`s the politics about?

We are here in Des Moines live, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I want to clarify something
that`s personal to me. Every presidential election, people run and believe
it or not it`s kind of scary this year – but believe it or not, most
everybody actually tries to do what they say they are going to do when
they`re running. They`re telling you what they believe and so you`ve got
to take them seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was, of course, the great man, former President Bill Clinton
today on the stump the first time in his wife`s campaign this year. It
follows weeks of attacks by the Republican front-runner Donald Trump. He
called the former president fair game and accused him of abuse of women.
Those are Trump`s words.

Tomorrow, I will sit down with Hillary Clinton here in Iowa, a
critical state for her. It`s her first interview of 2016. I`m going to
ask her about Trump`s attacks on her and her husband, and does she
understand the appeal of Trump for millions of Americans. But also, what
Senators Sanders and Rand Paul are saying about her arguing, but left and
right, as they`re arguing that she is a political hawk in terms of foreign
policy.

I`m joined right now by tonight`s HARDBAL roundtable, “Bloomberg`s”
Megan Murphy, “Huffington Post” global editorial director Howard Fineman,
and “Time Magazine`s” Jay Newton-Small.

Let me ask you about this general. I want your all response about.
By the way, she wrote` “Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way
America Works”.

Howard, Megan and Jay, all in that order, just tell me what you think
this is, this weird thing kind of thing it is where Hillary Clinton made a
comment about Trump`s penchant for sexism. Trump went wild on this thing,
accusing her of enabling Bill Clinton`s misbehavior in the White House, the
whole works. And now, it seems Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are going
to shut down this conversation.

Megan, you first.

MEGAN MURPHY, BLOOMBERG: Look, I think it`s going to help him a lot
more it`s going to help her. I mean, one of the things is that her biggest
advantage is continuing to look presidential, continuing to sort of stay
the above the fray, to set out detailed policy proposals to really target
the changing demographics with certain proposals.

I think here`s the thing – you don`t want to bring a knife to a gun
fight. If you get into a gun fight with Trump, you are going to lose. He
has shown no aptitude for drawing the line anywhere, of drawing the line on
taste, to drawing the line of where he`s going to go. And for his base,
this plays squarely into it and into those people, which is a large portion
of people who just actually can`t stand Hillary Clinton. Anything he says
gains some points with them.

For her, I think it`s a much more difficult. If she lowers the tone,
if her husband who has gone out the first day today lowers the tone, I
think it could really start to hurt her in terms of just amount of vitriol
he might back on her and where that leads us as this continues on toward
Iowa.

MATTHEWS: Howard?

HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, I think what the Clintons were
up to and I talked to some people in their camp is that if people are going
to talk about Bill Clinton in a certain framework, they are going to change
the framework and they`re going to put Bill Clinton in his best situation,
which is Bill Clinton out there on the campaign trail making the case for
his wife. I think that was the thinking.

But I agree normal political calculations about putting Bill Clinton
out on the campaign trail in Iowa or New Hampshire which might make sense
in another era, in another context, in a less caustic, toxic political
environment, I mean, that kind of thinking doesn`t work with Donald Trump.
I think if Donald Trump smells weakness or retreat, he`s going to come
right after him again. He`s going to try to get under Bill Clinton`s
famously thick skin. He`s going to attack Hillary frontally.

As Megan said, it`s catnip to Trump supporters and undecided Iowa
caucus-goers. The more any Republican beats up on the Clintons, the more
they ridicule them, the more they attack them on whatever basis, it`s all
bets are off. No rules. That appeals especially to the angry base of the
Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: Let`s go to Jay Newton-Small on this one another question.
Another personal attack besides accusing her of enabling her husband`s
misbehavior, he says she doesn`t have the stamp in or strength to be
president. Is that ageism, or sexism or what the hell is that? That`s
what Nixon did against Helen Douglas back 65 years ago, going after her for
being a woman and not being able to take the pace of a campaign. What do
we make of that?

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE: Hillary`s entire appeal is to women
voters, to female voters, and the more Trump attacks her, the more it
actually helps her with female voters because women get really upset by
this. They feel personally attacked.

MATTHEWS: Republican women?

NEWTON-SMALL: Even Republican women with, especially ageism. If you
look at –

MATTHEWS: Do they?

NEWTON-SMALL: Certainly. Look at the way Carly Fiorina, look at the
way, you know, she was the only person who actually got a dent into the
Trump and in a debate was when Carly Fiorina went after Trump for his
sexist comments. Megyn Kelly, as well. I mean, this is the only place
really does suffer is with female voters, even Republican female voters.
And this is something if he keeps up the attacks, I think it`s very hard
for him to be successful.

FINEMAN: Chris, can I also add – can I also add that Donald Trump is
older than Hillary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

FINEMAN: He`s 69, she`s 68. What else could it be but sexist? What
else could it be but sexist?

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, we`re going to hear that resound, I think.

Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. Up next, they`re going to
tell me what I don`t know, and that`s probably a lot. Tell me something I
don`t know, coming up.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: As I`ve said, we`ll be interviewing Hillary Clinton here
tomorrow night in Iowa. Let me know what you think by the way. What do
you think I should be asking the Democratic frontrunner in questionings
tomorrow night? Share your questions on Facebook or tweet me using
#HRConHardball.

Be sure to tune for the show itself tomorrow, 7:00 Eastern, for
Hillary Clinton`s first interview of 2016 here on HARDBALL.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back.

Megan, tell me something I don`t know.

MURPHY: Get ready for the ballot of who can be tougher on Wall
Street. Bernie Sanders going to release his financial reform plan
tomorrow. It`s going to focus not just on breaking up the big banks but
being tougher on fines, penalties and sanctions against the big banks.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s going to be a big one.

Howard?

FINEMAN: I`m going to stick with Bernie Sanders, Chris. I was
talking to one of his top people a little while ago. They`re flush with
money. They`ve got almost as much money as Hillary does. They`re already
buying ads in states such as Nevada. They`re big in Nevada, which is going
to be an early and important state. They`re in it for the long haul and
they`re planning for that.

MATTHEWS: I sense a comeback there.

Jay?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, in my interview with Hillary Clinton for my book
last year, I asked what foreign leader she`d most like to resemble if she
were elected president and she said Angela Merkel. Let`s look forward to
an America that looks like Germany?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: OK. Anyway, thank you, Megan Murphy, Howard Fineman, and
Jay Newton-Small.

By the way, your book, “Broad Influence,” comes into bookstores
tomorrow morning early. Get there and get the book.

We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this remarkable campaign year of
2016. The Republican Party seems to be coming apart at the seams. The
people doing well in the polls, Trump and Cruz, are running against the
party itself. The person who personifies the Republican Party
establishment, the son and brother of a Republican president, Jeb Bush, is
getting low single digits.

My sense is there`s revolution in the air. Remember the French
revolution when anyone with even a taint of the aristocracy had their heads
chopped off? It`s like that today in the Republican Party. The only
candidates that are trusted enough, the only ones getting any good numbers
in the polls are the ones who have never held any public office whatsoever.

The people in trouble are those who have held office. Their resumes
are being treated like rap sheets. They are the ones being marched to the
guillotine.

I think there`s a good chance that no establishment candidate, no
Bush, no Rubio, no Kasich, no Christie will win a single caucus or primary
– certainly none of the important early ones. And that is a statement of
what voters in the Republican Party think of the party. That the only
people getting any respect are those running on their lack of respect for
the party.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. It really is. And thanks for being with
us.

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

Copyright 2016 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>