Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 1/5/2016

Guests:
Hillary Clinton, Susan Page
Transcript:

Show: HARDBALL
Date: January 5, 2016
Guest: Hillary Clinton, Susan Page

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
President and commander-in-chief, and I feel ready to fulfill both roles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: That was Hillary Clinton in our big interview
tonight.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Des Moines, Iowa.

A few hours ago, Hillary Clinton gave me her first interview in the year
2016. You`ll notice the colorful backdrop of the Osage firehouse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Madam Secretary. This is a big interview for us.
Twenty-two years we`ve been doing this, and this is one of our big ones. I
want to tell you – want to ask you about 12 questions tonight…

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: OK.

MATTHEWS: … in two segments. I hope we get through them all.

CLINTON: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Back in 2001, when we had 9/11 and you were a senator from New
York, there was a different spirit in this country, including the
Republican Party. You had a Republican president who went on the air and
made it clear time and again this is not a battle between the West and the
East. It`s not about Muslims. It`s about terrorism. And he did it so
effectively.

And now we have the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for
president basically declaring a war on Muslims, saying they`re not allowed
in the country, the whole works. What do you make of this?

CLINTON: Well, it`s deeply distressing to me because I, as you know, well
remember what happened after 9/11. And I have publicly given President
Bush a lot of credit for the way that he set the tone and his entire
administration echoed that.

And now we need to have a sense of unity and purpose in combatting
terrorism. I view it as a threat. I believe ISIS cannot be contained. It
has to be defeated. But in order to do that, we need to work within our
own country with Muslim Americans, so that what I`m hearing from the other
side, is not only offensive and shameful, it`s dangerous,
counterproductive. And of course, we have to work with countries around
the world in order to have a unified coalition against terrorism.

And I`ve laid out very clearly what I think needs to be done, and it does
include an American-led air alliance, and we`re doing that. And we`re
supporting troops on the ground that are not Americans, special forces, but
we do need to have the Kurds and the Arabs with special forces support, but
not American combat troops.

And we need to go after the arc of instability that fuels this terrorist
ideology from North Africa to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and go after their
funding and their foreign fighters and their very effective use of the
Internet.

But then the third pillar of my approach is we have to be safe here at
home. We have to work with our friends and allies around the world. And I
know you just got back from Israel. We have a lot of important work to do
with countries from one end of the globe to the other. And we need to do
it in alliance with Muslims here in America and elsewhere. And that`s what
I`m advocating.

MATTHEWS: That`s why I`m concerned about the Republican Party because this
ethnic way of going at this situation, the way they seem to be going at the
Muslim people, rather than the terrorists – this started – remember when
the man whose name we dare not speak anymore, Donald Trump – I mean, the
fact is, Trump started his sort of initiation in politics by saying the
president of the United States was an illegal immigrant, he was probably a
Muslim, he had a – he almost was an identity thief who created a notion of
himself through a phony birth certificate, a phony birth announcement, and
he was somehow – in fact, he used to say things – Trump would say things
like, Nobody knew him in school, like he`s some phantom impersonator,
usurper.

The Republican Party, every time he did that, said nothing.

CLINTON: Right.

MATTHEWS: Boehner, the speaker of the House, who was pretty much
respected, wouldn`t – isn`t this a Republican Party problem, that started
with Trump`s first arrival on the world stage as some sort of politician,
that it`s ethnic with them? The president of the United States is one of
the bad guys, one of the – if not the terrorists, one of the sneaker-in-
ers who snuck into the country and assumed an identity. It`s pretty sick.

CLINTON: Well, it`s very divisive and I think counterproductive. It
undermines our values, who we are as a people. We are a nation of
immigrants, which you know so well. And when I hear what`s coming from the
other side – and it`s not just one person. There`s an echo chamber there.
And it`s very troubling to me to try to divide and conquer, divide and
conquer, and you know, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

We need to be united. And we should not reward people who use inflammatory
rhetoric, who use the kind of derogatory comments, whether it`s about
Muslims or Mexicans or women or people with disabilities, whoever it might
be. That is not a sign of leadership. That`s a sign of, you know,
showmanship, of desperation that should be rejected roundly by the American
people.

MATTHEWS: By the way, you know, my grandmother spoke Irish when I grew up.
I had an Irish accent in the house.

CLINTON: Yes?

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about guns…

CLINTON: I would have guessed that.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, let`s talk about guns because you`ve shown a lot of
guts out there. And we know all the politics of guns. You know it. You
ran with your husband. You ran before for president.

There are states that have a real gun culture, including the state I grew
up in, Pennsylvania. And you come from that part of the world, in a way.
And you do come from (INAUDIBLE) Scranton…

CLINTON: My father comes from, right.

MATTHEWS: So you know there`s a gun culture. How do you deal with that in
Electoral College situations, where you`ve got to beat a Republican come
next November, hopefully, for you? How do you – how do you make sure that
the gun people don`t emotionally say, Oh, she`s an enemy of guns?

CLINTON: Well, I think it`s important to be focused on what we can do
together, and that`s why I do support comprehensive background checks and
to close the gun show loophole and the on-line loophole and what`s called
the Charleston loophole…

MATTHEWS: Right.

CLINTON: … and to prevent people who are on the no-fly list from getting
guns. And in fact, what I am proposing is supported by a great majority of
the American people and a significant majority of gun owners.

Just today at Osage – you were here when I was speaking to the crowd –
and then afterwards, I always take time so people can come up to me.
Sometimes I do it publicly, a lot of times I do it privately, what`s on
their minds.

And a man came up. He had a veterans cap on. And he said, you know, I`m a
gun owner, he said, but I don`t see any reason why we can`t do more to keep
guns out of the wrong hands.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: And he asked me, What can I do? I said, Well, please stand up
against the NRA and the gun lobby. And please talk to your friends because
what we are proposing is consistent with constitutional rights.

But I agree with you, Chris, it`s going to be part of the – you know, the
political debate, and frankly, the battle in a lot of parts of our country
going forward.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: But it is so important, when we lose 90 people a day, 33,000
Americans every year, and when you have met as many victims of gun violence
as I have, when you`ve sat there and you`ve listened to their stories about
losing a child, losing a husband, losing a parent – and I`ve met with the
mothers who have lost children to gun violence by police hands, by, you
know, more likely, gun and gang – deadly combination. I`ve just so many
people, from Columbine to Sandy Hook.

I just can`t remain silent. And I think we are at a turning point. And
what I said to the man here is, you know, There needs to be a rival
organization to the NRA of responsible gun owners, who know that their
hunting rights…

MATTHEWS: Moms Demand Action.

CLINTON: … their collecting rights, all of that is not going to be
affected. So I`m going to keep beating the drum, and I`m delighted that
the president announced the actions he did today.

MATTHEWS: Well, you`re back in this fight.

CLINTON: I am.

MATTHEWS: You know, you were here eight years ago. Here you are again.

CLINTON: I am. I am.

MATTHEWS: And I do wonder sometimes at you sometimes, your ability –
your…

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: To use the word “stamina,” that hasn`t been used correctly
lately. You know, I`m a student of history, like you are, and I remember
Nixon back in 1950 ran against Helen Gehagen Douglas. And she was one of
the first women, liberal, to go out there…

CLINTON: She is.

MATTHEWS: … progressives, to try to win a big seat.

MATTHEWS: Right.

MATTHEWS: And he used to – he said things like, You know, it`s awfully
hard on a woman.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: He used these little shots at her.

CLINTON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Here we are, two thirds of a century later…

CLINTON: Right.

MATTHEWS: … and the leading Republican candidate is out saying that you
don`t have the stamina, the strength – is this sexism? Is it what it is?

CLINTON: Well, you know, I have a new year`s resolution…

MATTHEWS: I know. I`ve heard this…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: I will not respond to his, you know…

MATTHEWS: What does it say about the Republican…

CLINTON: … personal attacks.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me try to phrase it – I feel like a lawyer now. How
do I rephrase?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: How does the Republican Party deal with the fact they`re voting
for this guy, that 35 percent of people are supporting him, and even though
he`s making these charges, which a lot of people would say are – why would
he go after your stamina, rather than Bill`s stamina or George McGovern`s
stamina or anybody else`s, except you`re a woman?

CLINTON: Well, look…

MATTHEWS: He`s older than you.

CLINTON: That`s true.

MATTHEWS: I`m older than you.

CLINTON: That`s true!

MATTHEWS: My stamina`s all right.

CLINTON: That`s true.

MATTHEWS: So why is he doing this?

CLINTON: Well, why does he do whatever he does? I can only tell you what
I hear from people, and what I hear from people is really about their lives
and their future. I mean, lot of this back and forth that goes on…

MATTHEWS: I know, but…

CLINTON: … in the political…

MATTHEWS: … he`s winning.

CLINTON: … universe – well, we`ll see. We`ll see. We haven`t had a
single caucus. We haven`t had a single primary. The Republicans will have
to choose whoever they decide to be their nominee, and I`m looking forward,
if I am so fortunate to be the nominee, to run against whoever they put up.

I`m just going to keep working really hard, like right out there today, you
know, getting people to caucus for me, connecting them up with my great
organizers. I have an amazing team here…

MATTHEWS: OK…

CLINTON: … and we`re just going to work as hard as we can to make my
case.

MATTHEWS: He ain`t going to stop. He did an interview with my colleague,
Joe Scarborough, this morning. It`s going to air tomorrow morning. He`s
out there again saying he`s going after your family. He said it`s fair to
go after them.

CLINTON: Well, I just…

MATTHEWS: He`s just going to keep doing it.

CLINTON: Well…

MATTHEWS: He says you`re an enabler. He`s making it personal with you.

CLINTON: Well, he can say whatever he wants to say. I`m going to keep
talking about what people talk to me about…

MATTHEWS: OK.

CLINTON: … and what they talk to me about is, What will you do about
prescription drug prices?

MATTHEWS: By the way, you`re good on that one. That`s so true.

CLINTON: Well, it`s unbelievable what`s happening to people!

MATTHEWS: Everybody`s taking drugs now, and you need – if you have
diabetes, like me, or somebody, everybody needs it – if your parents died
of Alzheimer`s – you talked about that out here.

CLINTON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: These are real things.

CLINTON: These are real things that people talk to me about.

MATTHEWS: OK…

CLINTON: And I`m going to be a president who does the big stuff that gets
in the headlines, that, you know, you and other analysts and reporters talk
about, and I`m going to do the stuff that keeps people awake at night…

MATTHEWS: OK…

CLINTON: … like, you know, making sure they can afford their
prescription drugs.

MATTHEWS: I want to say something nice about you.

CLINTON: Oh, please!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: No, I have to. I`m personally responsible. Back when you had
all the difficulty in the second administration of President Clinton, your
husband, and you had a difficult situation you had to go through – and you
went through it, and I think you were completely stunned by it initially,
and then you had to deal with it as you became aware of what was going on.

And what did you do? You didn`t cry. You didn`t go away and say, Gee,
whiz, this is terrible, why am I going through this? What you did is you
went out and you acted like a champion for Democrats. You went around the
country campaigning like mad. You were the real banner carrier for the
Democratic Party in `98.

And something interesting happened. An epiphany happened. Somehow, out
there campaigning in New York for Chuck Schumer and other people, you said
something to yourself. You said, You know what? Something good can come
out of this for me. I can become a hero to people.

And you ran for the Senate from New York, when a lot of people were critics
of you, would have loved you to have fallen on your face. They would have
eaten it up if you`d gone down in a ditch up in New York and lost –
because at the time, you were running against Rudy…

CLINTON: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: … who looked unbeatable.

CLINTON: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: And you had the guts to go out there. What made you do it?
Because there`s a lot of women watching right now. Half my viewers are
women. And they want to hear what`s it take for a woman to just rise out
of a situation which is pretty bad and come out of it and say, You know
what? I can rise to this occasion. How did you do it?

CLINTON: Well, you know, that`s a great question because I…

MATTHEWS: Do you know the answer?

CLINTON: I didn`t have any sense that all of this would happen. I really
didn`t.

MATTHEWS: Well, New York came and fell in love with you and said, We like
you.

CLINTON: And – and…

MATTHEWS: Come up here, live up here, be our senator.

CLINTON: They did, and Please run. And I said, no, no, no. I said no,
no…

MATTHEWS: Charlie Rangel…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: Yes, and so many others. And I absolutely said no. And I`ll
tell you what changed my mind, and it was maybe something that other women
can relate to because I was in the news, like, Would she or wouldn`t she,
and I kept saying, I`m not going to. And I was first lady going up to do
an event in New York City to promote women in athletics, and Billie Jean
King and great athletes were there.

MATTHEWS: She`s great.

CLINTON: And so I was introduced by this young woman. I think she was,
like, the volleyball or basketball captain. And I came up and shook her
hand, and you know, I said, Great job. She leaned over to me and she said,
Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton, dare to compete.

And I thought, Wow. You know, I have encouraged so many women and girls to
compete on the athletic fields, in academics…

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: … in politics, in business, and I`m being asked to compete.
And it…

MATTHEWS: And stick your neck out.

CLINTON: And stick my neck out. And it is scary! It is.

MATTHEWS: It`s different than supporting your spouse, isn`t it.

CLINTON: Totally different. I mean, I had the hardest time when I started
saying, I am me. I`m happy to say, you know, my husband this, or candidate
X or Y, but to stand up there and be the person out there…

MATTHEWS: Wow.

CLINTON: And it is a big challenge. And I think because, you know, we`re
coming into our own as women in all walks of life, but still, there`s
something a little bit daunting about…

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: … holding yourself out, asking people to support you, to give
you money, to vote for you. It`s hard.

MATTHEWS: And you know who went through that? Another New York senator,
Bobby Kennedy.

CLINTON: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: … his brother`s brother.

CLINTON: I remember reading about that.

MATTHEWS: And then all of a sudden, he had to be the guy and stuck his
neck out.

Anyway, we`re going to come back and talk about…

CLINTON: OK.

MATTHEWS: … you because I – the way I look at politics – and you
called me an analyst. I like that. I`m an analyst. And I look at this
race for president, 2016, which we`re now in, and really, that list is
closing. And a guy at Georgetown, a professor, once said, there`s a
difference between free will and free choice. Free choice means there`s a
limit number of choices. And it looks like there`s a limited number of
choices for the president of the United States coming in 2016, and you`re
one of them.

We`ll be right back and talk about Hillary Clinton as the possibly the next
– in fact, the first-ever woman commander-in-chief of the United States.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re out here in Osage, Iowa. We`ll be back in a minute with
the rest of my interview with Secretary Clinton.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Madam Secretary, you may have a new title if this campaign is
successful. You have to win the primary. You got to beat Bernie. You got
to beat Martin O`Malley. But if all that happens, then you have to beat
whoever on the Republican side, you could be the first woman commander-in-
chief.

And this is all happening, perhaps coincidentally, or maybe culturally,
when Ashton Carter, the secretary of defense, has just made it clear now
that all combat roles are open to women. This is something unique in our
history. Now, maybe every woman doesn`t want these jobs.

CLINTON: Right.

MATTHEWS: But these jobs are now open. You can go out there and be
infantry. You can go out there, you know, with a knife in your teeth and
you can go swinging on ropes into whatever valley you got to go kill people
in. Women are going to be doing that, just like in Israel, where I just
was.

How`s our country going to adapt to that? And is it important culturally
for us to have women in this combat role?

CLINTON: I think it`s important to open up all roles to women, but I also
agree with Secretary Carter that you have to have standards. And women and
men have to meet those standards because we`re talking literally life or
death. So I am…

MATTHEWS: You mean like climbing ropes and things like that.

CLINTON: Absolutely. Absolutely. And how much weight you can carry
because maybe one of your, you know, fellow soldiers will need that one
day. And so I am a huge supporter of women being able to break whatever
glass ceilings are holding them back…

MATTHEWS: If they can physically handle it.

CLINTON: They`ve got to be able – and mentally.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: You know, it – physically, mentally, you have to be prepared.
You have to be ready. And I think that you`re right, not every woman`s
going to want to do that, and some of the women who want to do it are not
going to qualify.

But we just had a few women pass Ranger school, which is an enormously…

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: … competitive, grueling experience. It was just less than a
handful, but they proved they could do it. And from everything I know,
nobody cut any slack for them. They did it.

And in fact, after it was over, they interviewed some of the, you know,
male competitors…

MATTHEWS: Right.

CLINTON: … to go through Ranger school, and these guys said, You know,
after a while, I didn`t even notice. I mean, yes, you`re right, she was a
woman. She carried her weight. She pulled her own.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: That`s what you want because I think about the job that I`m
applying for, and it really is a job interview that I`m doing all over
America.

MATTHEWS: Commander-in-chief.

CLINTON: President and commander-in-chief. And I feel ready to fulfill
both roles. I think it`s important that the next president get the economy
working for everybody so that we don`t keep having the deck stacked for
those on the top. We`ve got to stay safe at home and strong in the world.
And we`ve got to deal with these problems that keep people up at night, I
like to say.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: I feel particularly well prepared to do every part of the job.
And when it comes to being commander-in-chief, my eight years as a senator
from New York after 9/11, my four years as secretary of state, my many,
many hours in the Situation Room, I know how hard these choices are.

MATTHEWS: You were there when Osama was killed.

CLINTON: I was. You know, I was one of the very few people that was
brought in to advise the president.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: And it was the most…

MATTHEWS: You said, Go for it.

CLINTON: I did. I did, you know, after, as I say, sitting through hours
of meetings, listening to the intelligence being presented, listening to
Admiral McRaven, who was then the head of special forces, talk about, you
know, what special forces could do, looking at other options…

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: … like a cruise missile or a Predator – armed predator, and
recommending to the president that we go with the Navy SEAL option, and
then being there that day, watching part of the operation on a video screen
in the Situation Room, just holding my breath literally through the whole
thing.

I know how hard these choices are. And I know what a cool, deliberative
head needs to be finally making them.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: I have learned so much, Chris, over the last years. I feel very
ready.

MATTHEWS: You have the – you know who said you had the temperament for
it? Bill Clinton, which I thought was interesting, because he would know
your temperament.

CLINTON: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask about your sort of position on this. You voted for
the Iraq War authorization, if not the war.

Bernie Sanders is out there still hitting you on that one. Of course, he`s
coming from the left on you. You have got Rand Paul out there, who is a
libertarian and a bit of a – I would say a bit of a dove, saying that you
would be more for regime change, that you would start the next war.

CLINTON: Yes. Well, he`s wrong. He is wrong.

MATTHEWS: They`re positioning you as to the hawkish side of Obama.

CLINTON: Yes. Right.

MATTHEWS: How – where would you – you read Fred Hiatt of “The Washington
Post” the other day…

CLINTON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: … position you as someone, I thought, a notch to the hawkish
side, because he said you were for a no-fly zone in Syria. You were for
ground troops, but not necessarily our troops, but some…

CLINTON: Right.

MATTHEWS: Because you need a ground component to tell the bombs where to -
- to tell them where to drop the bombs.

CLINTON: Right. Exactly. Right.

MATTHEWS: Does that make you more hawkish than the president?

CLINTON: Well, I think most of what I have been advocating, the president
is now doing.

MATTHEWS: But not that.

CLINTON: Well, we have special forces on the ground. He sent them.

MATTHEWS: But no-fly zone?

CLINTON: But the no-fly zone, for me, was an idea that I developed with
some advisers.

MATTHEWS: Is it dangerous with the Russians flying around there?

CLINTON: Well, of course you would have to have the Russians to sign off
on it.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: And we were making progress.

I don`t know what the result will be of the conflict now between Saudi
Arabia and Iran. But, you know, for the last four years, we have been
pushing to try to get a peace conference going.

And I give Secretary Kerry credit for getting everybody agreeing to be in
the same room. I saw the no-fly zone as leverage. Number one, if we could
get the Russians on board, because we would have to – and I think we
could, if we were to say, look, we need safe zones. If we`re going to be
operating on the ground, advising the Kurds, the Arabs, we need safe zones.

We also need safe places for civilians, so that they`re not refugees
leaving Iraq and Syria. And it can be done. It can be done in a way that
doesn`t create more problems.

But now I`m – I`m very supportive of what the president`s doing. We`re
making some progress. And I have been calling for that, calling for
reconstituting the approach toward the sheiks, the Sunni sheiks in Anbar
Province, getting them back into the fight, so to speak.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: They are. Rebuilding the Iraqi army.

MATTHEWS: Yes. That`s what we need.

CLINTON: We need that.

MATTHEWS: We need the Sunnis to retake their land, because the Shia can`t
do it.

CLINTON: We need the – well, the still largely Shia Iraqi army took
Ramadi, but with Sunni troops.

MATTHEWS: Army. They have to turn it over to Sunnis.

CLINTON: And then turn it over.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: This makes all the sense in the world to me.

So, I view myself as being a realist, being practical, and in accordance
with our values, because I think it`s very important that we get back to
promoting our values and pursuing our interests and protecting our
security.

If the United States doesn`t do that on our own behalf or on behalf of our
friends in Europe and Asia and the Middle East, no one will. So this is
not a choice. It`s not a luxury. It`s a necessity.

MATTHEWS: OK. Last question. We`re running out of time.

I want to try to help you for this audience tonight, our audience, locate
yourself politically in this country.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Now, we have Trump out there and we have Bernie out here.

Now, Bernie calls himself a socialist. Nobody uses a derogatory term
anymore. It`s – he loves to have that label. He`s never ran as a
Democrat. He runs against Democrats up there in Vermont.

You`re a Democrat. I would say you`re a pretty typical Democrat in the
tradition of the Democratic Party, and Humphrey, the rest of them, Scoop –
not even Scoop. I would say Mondale. You`re somewhere in there.

What`s the difference between a socialist and a Democrat?

CLINTON: Well, you have to…

MATTHEWS: Is that a question you want to answer, or would you rather not?

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: Well, you would have to ask…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, see, I`m asking you. You`re a Democrat. He`s a
socialist. Would you like somebody to call you a socialist? I wouldn`t
like somebody calling me a socialist.

CLINTON: Well, but I`m not one. I`m not one.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, what`s the difference between a socialist and a
Democrat? Last question.

CLINTON: Well, I can tell you what I am.

I am a progressive Democrat. I am a progressive Democrat…

MATTHEWS: How is that different than a socialist?

CLINTON: … who likes to get things done and who believes that we`re
better off in this country when we`re trying to solve problems together,
getting people to work together.

There will always be strong feelings, and I respect that, from, you know,
the far right, the far left, libertarians, whatever – whoever it might be.
We need to get people working together. We have got to get the economy
fixed. We have got to get all of our problems, you know, really tackled.
And that`s what I want to do.

MATTHEWS: I know.

Yes, I think the difference is – and Debbie Wasserman Schultz wouldn`t
answer the question either I asked her, because I know, politically, you
have to keep together. The center-left and the left has to work together.
I know all that.

Let me ask you about working together. You gave a nice speech here today
in Osage about the need to work – I wrote a book about Tip and Reagan.
When it comes to an urgent issue, they can find a solution.

CLINTON: Right.

MATTHEWS: Obama – I have always supported the president on his
philosophy, on his general approach to a lot of things.

But he doesn`t seem to like the company of fellow politicians. He just
doesn`t. He doesn`t want to hang out with them, play cards with them at
midnight. Maybe he did it in Springfield. For some reason, he doesn`t
want to do it in Washington.

You seem to like the company of people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain.
And you can find a way, go on CODELs with them and getting along with them.
And it seems to me that is an important part of life, that you have to find
– you were talking about Tom DeLay here.

And I get along with Tom DeLay. Even though you disagree 180 on something,
you have got to find – Congress means coming together.

CLINTON: Yes. Well, your book is a perfect example of…

MATTHEWS: “Tip and the Gipper.”

CLINTON: Exactly. And, look, there may be…

MATTHEWS: You read it?

CLINTON: I did.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

CLINTON: I don`t – I don`t want you to know that, but I did.

MATTHEWS: But you have just told me that. I like this. You`re throwing
me an encomium here.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: No, because I – because I am always looking for ways that we
work together.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: And it used to be easier in the past.

MATTHEWS: It did.

CLINTON: I think that the polarization has gotten so acute now, and so you
have to work even harder. But relationships are the beginning of
everything.

MATTHEWS: So, you could imagine, if you`re fortunate to become the next
president of the United States, having people over to the White House, not
going to the Jefferson Hotel for an hour-and-a-half, but actually having
people come over and talk it over?

CLINTON: Yes, well…

MATTHEWS: By the way, you`re an empty nester, so it`s easier for you.

CLINTON: It is easier.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: It is much easier.

And, look, everybody has strengths that they bring to this position. And,
obviously…

MATTHEWS: Is schmoozing one of yours?

CLINTON: Well, I think that I like it, because I am looking for that
common ground somewhere.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.

CLINTON: And I don`t think that you get it just on the first try.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: You have got to listen to people. You got to get to know people.
You got to look for ways that you can reach across the aisle.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: I`m not saying it`s going to be magic, because part of what`s
happened – and it is different from when Tip O`Neill and President Reagan
were working together – it is so much more gerrymandered. It`s so much
more influenced…

MATTHEWS: I know. You don`t have any Republicans in a Democratic
district.

CLINTON: Not anymore.

MATTHEWS: You don`t have any Democrats in a Republican district.

CLINTON: And so people don`t feel like they have to make deals.

MATTHEWS: OK. I have been telling people for years that, when they`re
with you personally, you`re very different and you`re very easy to talk to.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I think, watching you the last 20 minutes, they get the point.

CLINTON: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: I think this has been a great interview. And I appreciate you
for coming on and giving us the time.

CLINTON: Thank you very much, Chris. Great to see you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Madam Secretary.

And we will be right back with more HARDBALL tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I`m going to be a president who does the big stuff, that gets in
the headlines that, you know, you and other analysts and reporters talk
about, and I`m going to do the stuff that keeps people awake at night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Hillary Clinton today in my exclusive interview here in Iowa.

Joining me right now to break it all down is tonight`s HARDBALL roundtable,
former RNC chair Michael Steele, “USA Today” Washington bureau chief Susan
Page, and “Mother Jones” Washington bureau chief David Corn.

Anyway, let`s kick things off with Hillary Clinton responding to Donald
Trump and the Republican Party. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Isn`t this a Republican Party problem that started with Trump`s
first arrival on the world stage as some sort of politician, that it`s
ethnic with them? The president of the United States is one of the bad
guys, one of the – if not the terrorists, one of the sneaker-in-ers. He
snuck into the country and assumed an identity. It`s pretty sick.

CLINTON: Well, it`s very divisive and I think counterproductive.

It undermines our values, who we are as a people. We are a nation of
immigrants, which you know so well. And when I hear what`s coming from the
other side – and it`s not just one person. There`s an echo chamber there.
We should not reward people who use inflammatory rhetoric, who use the kind
of derogatory comments, whether it`s about Muslims or Mexicans or women, or
people with disabilities, whoever it might be.

That is not a sign of leadership. That`s a sign of, you know, showmanship,
of desperation that should be rejected roundly by the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Michael Steele, we all know that Donald Trump did not begin his
war on Islam with his call for a ban on people coming into the country. He
began it by calling the president one of them and basically suggesting he`s
an alien, forged his identity, forged his birth certificate, forged his
birth announcement, somehow got here from some alien land.

He`s never made it clear where he came from – and, of course, is not
loyal, and, in fact, is someone to be feared as some sort of other being of
some kind.

Isn`t this where it started? And my question to Hillary, which is part of
the interview, is, why didn`t John Boehner shoot that down when Trump
pushing this crap? Why didn`t the Republican Party say, enough, it doesn`t
belong in American politics?

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, I think that there were a lot
of people who kind of bought into that sort of fear-speak about the
president, the sort of other – other than us kind of attitude that people
had about it.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

STEELE: And it goes back to really when his campaign began to solidify and
he would be the nominee and run his campaign, where you began to hear some
of that early bubbling up inside the GOP about this man who would become
president.

And it`s unfortunate, because there has been no real upside to it. The
president got reelected, despite that type of rhetoric. You see now that
Trump does not really want to engage directly in that. When you
interviewed him and brought up his past comments about birtherism, he`s
moved away from that, because the recognition that there is no value added
any longer to that conversation.

In terms of the party, Chris, I think there`s some truth there, that they
didn`t push back, they didn`t cut that conversation off, because there were
greater opportunities to talk about this president`s policies and where he
was going, other than his birth certificate.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s why – here he is going in another direction.
Here`s more of the divisive rhetoric Hillary Clinton was talking about.
Here`s Donald Trump tonight, and is targeting Ted Cruz now with birther
talk on him.

Cruz was born in Canada, of course, to an American mother, but in the
interview, another interview with “The Washington Post,” Trump said –
quote – “Republicans are going to have to ask themselves the question, do
we want a candidate who could be tied up in court for two years? That
would be a big problem. A lot of people are talking about it. And I know
that even some states are looking at it very strongly, the fact that he” –
that`s Cruz – “was born in Canada and he has had a double passport.”

Well, Cruz responded to Trump on Twitter with a clip of the “Happy Days”
episode, that infamous episode when Fonzie jumps the shark. It`s an
episode that`s widely considered to be the moment when the show began its
decline.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, moments ago, Cruz was asked by reporters to respond to
Trump. And he said he had nothing to add beyond his tweet.

Well, for Trump, this is a major reversal on Cruz, because we do have a
memory and we do have tape. Here`s what Trump said, well, to ABC News back
in September about whether Cruz is actually an eligible presidential
candidate of the Constitution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Do you still think he`s ineligible to be president because he
was born in Canada?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I – from what I understand,
everything is fine. I hear that it was checked out by every attorney and
every which way, and I understand Ted is in fine shape.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go to Susan Page.

What`s new, pussycat?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I mean it to everybody, that question. I mean, what`s different
now between past September? What is different? All of a sudden, he`s
questioning the guy`s constitutionality to run, Susan?

SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “USA TODAY”: Here`s what`s different.

Cruz is leading in Iowa. I think that`s the critical difference, so this
is a point of attack on Ted Cruz. I mean, his initial response is the one
that we know constitutional lawyers have looked at this and said, he`s
eligible., Ted Cruz is eligible to be president. Don`t know if he will
make it there or not, but his birth – place of birth is not a legal
problem.

So the idea that he`s raising this, I think, indicates that he`s worried
about Cruz politically.

MATTHEWS: So he`s now being equal in his treatment of Cruz and the
president? He`s saying they`re both not really Americans, that they`re
illegal – well, I don`t know what he`s saying. If the guy wasn`t born in
America and he isn`t eligible, he`s not natural-born, then he would have to
be naturalized.

And since Cruz was never naturalized, he`s an illegal alien by the logic of
Donald Trump. It`s true. You`re either naturalized or you are naturally
born. There is no other alternative.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Are you laughing, Michael? Because this is weird. This is
weird stuff?

STEELE: No, it is weird. And, no, I will let David make the broader
point.

But I would just say specifically again I think this is Trump right now
trying to come back and double down on a concept to create doubt. That`s
really what it`s about. He wants to create that doubt going into the last
four weeks of this campaign, because exactly what was just said. His
opponent, Cruz, is now leading him in Iowa.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But I don`t think we should be
surprised at all that Donald Trump is acting like a bit of a snake here.

I mean, his whole essence of his campaign for the last couple of weeks has
been, let`s face it, bigotry and hatred. You know, he said we should ban
Muslims from entering the country. He never ran away from that. In fact,
it`s a centerpiece of his first TV ad.

So, if you`re going to go that far, it doesn`t seem to me to be a much
greater sin to flip-flop on whether you think Ted Cruz is a natural-born
citizen or not. I mean, Donald Trump has seemed to indicate that he will
say whatever it takes.

I thought Hillary Clinton was very smart to make this – to have this line
that he`s not leadership, he`s showmanship, because she`s really trying to
undermine his sort of authority as a political statesman, policy maker,
anything like that, which, you know, two-thirds of the Republican Party
buy, but not all of it.

MATTHEWS: Well, I love it. I love the fact that Trump is now circling
around, firing at everybody in every direction, claiming the role of
foreign-born.

Anyway, Donald Trump`s escalating his attack, of course, that Hillary
Clinton isn`t fit for office, that she`s got no stamina. And Trump
unleashed that attack multiple times now in an interview airing tomorrow
morning on “MORNING JOE.” He just did it today. He`s at it again. Here
he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “MORNING JOE”)

TRUMP: Hillary`s low-energy, but she doesn`t have the strength or the
stamina. Take a look.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: What do you mean by that?

TRUMP: She doesn`t have the strength. You need a person with tremendous
strength and stamina. Hillary doesn`t have the strength or the stamina to
take on her enemies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: This is like precious bodily fluids in some movie, “Dr.
Strangelove.”

Anyway, I asked Hillary Clinton if she thinks those attacks are targeted at
her as a woman. And why is he doing this, I asked her. Here`s what she
said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Why does he do whatever he does? I can only tell you what I hear
from people.

And what I hear from people is really about their lives and their future.
I mean, a lot of this back and forth that goes on in the political
universe…

MATTHEWS: I know, but he`s winning.

CLINTON: Well, we will see. We will see. We haven`t had a single caucus.
We haven`t had a single primary.

MATTHEWS: He`s out there again saying he`s going after your family. He
says it`s fair to go after them.

CLINTON: Well, I just wonder…

MATTHEWS: He`s just going to keep doing it.

CLINTON: Well…

MATTHEWS: He says you`re an enabler. He`s making it personal with you.

CLINTON: Well, he can say whatever he wants to say. I`m going to keep
talking about what people talk to me about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Susan Page, can Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, her partner
now in campaigning, resist the push to respond?

PAGE: Oh, we will see if they can.

I mean, yesterday, when they were both out doing campaign events, and
tonight in your interview, they managed to be very disciplined about this
and refused to respond to Donald Trump, which I know that they have made a
political calculation there is no advantage to trying to get – and counter
Donald Trump on some of these personal accusations.

It means that you`re talking about his issues and these personal issues and
not talking, as Hillary Clinton said, about the issues that people care
about in their own lives.

But whether they will be disciplined enough to keep doing that, I saw – I
was at the Bill Clinton event yesterday in New Hampshire. And I think when
he got the question about Trump, it was hard for him to not respond. I
think his instincts are to respond. So, we will see how that goes.

MATTHEWS: Of course. Yes.

CORN: You know Chris, my dad once told me that you never want to get in a
fight with a skunk, because you end up coming up smelling like the skunk.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. Yes.

CORN: And so I can tell. I can see Bill Clinton bristling, just wanting
to get into this, but knowing that that`s not – that that`s not what he
wants the campaign to be defined.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: … neutralize the argument. That`s what he wanted to do. And he
did it.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, we will see. We will see.

There`s another argument for the swift-boating, when you go after John
Kerry, and he doesn`t respond. He gets nailed.

CORN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: So, it depends how absurd the charge is. And I think these
charges about stamina are either obviously the case or not. And she
doesn`t look like she`s lacking in stamina.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with me.

Up next, Hillary Clinton reacts to the top news of the day, that President
Obama`s executive order is not going out on gun safety reforms.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In my interview with Hillary Clinton today, the former secretary of state,
she talked about why she feels she`s prepared for the job of commander in
chief. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think about the job that
I`m applying for, and it really is a job interview that I`m doing all over
America.

MATTHEWS: Commander in chief.

CLINTON: President and commander in chief. And I feel ready to fulfill
both roles. I think it`s important that the next president get the economy
working for everybody, so that we don`t keep having the deck stacked for
those on the top. We`ve got to stay safe at home and strong in the world.
And we`ve got to deal with these problems that keep people up at night, I
like to say.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CLINTON: I feel particularly well-prepared to do every part of the job.
And when it comes to being commander in chief, my eight years as a senator
from New York, after 9/11, my four years as secretary of state, my many,
many hours in the Situation Room, I know how hard these choices are.

MATTHEWS: You were there when Osama was killed?

CLINTON: I was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And we`re back with the roundtable, Michael, Susan, and David.

David, this is interesting, because she`s really embracing here the role of
commander in chief. She talked about the women in combat, of course,
situation developing and how women like Israeli women are in the IDF over
there, and quite comfortable in talking about it. She talked to it earlier
about the kind of leaders she`s talked about being in the world. It`s
quite interesting, the way she`s so comfortable with this now, in this
debate.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well, you know, she was a senator for a number
of years, and then she was secretary of state, so she has about as much
foreign policy experience as almost any presidential candidate can have –
so maybe someone who wasn`t vice president already. And she was in the
White House, for eight years, as Bill Clinton`s wife.

So, I think she knows this stuff well. And I`m just wondering, think about
her versus Donald Trump in a general election, with him just saying
whatever he wants to say about killing this person, making that country
pay, whatever. And Hillary Clinton talking with a voice of competence and
experience, whether you agree with her policies or not.

I can`t imagine a greater contrast in the history of American politics.

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: Chris, this is so interesting, because there was a
time when the ramp against a woman running for president was that she could
not be seen as a credible commander in chief. Remember when Pat Schroeder
ran for president.

There are questions about Hillary Clinton. This is not one of them. I
think there`s no question she`s qualified to be commander in chief. The
idea is, is she tough enough to send troops into battle? Absolutely. We
know that from the advice that she gave as secretary of state, advice that
wasn`t always taken by President Obama.

So, this important issue that women candidates have faced, she has really
addressed.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: But there`s also the
accountability side of this. And I agree with both my colleagues here in
terms of her readiness and preparedness to be commander in chief and to be
president. But now, once you get passed this kind of la la part of the
primary for the Democrats, and she gets into a head long race for the White
House, against a Republican, whether it`s Donald Trump or anyone else,
there`s still going to be questions about character, there`s going to be
questions about decisions that she`s made, and there are going to be
questions ability accountability, as secretary of state and as a just
senator on a lot of these big issues.

So, how she threads that needle is going to be just as important as her
stating her readiness to be president.

MATTHEWS: Are you saying she`s vulnerable on those issues?

STEELE: I think there`s potential vulnerability. We`ll see to what degree
she is vulnerable in terms of, not just questions about Benghazi, but
questions –

CORN: I was waiting for you to say “Benghazi.”

STEELE: No, I`m not raising Benghazi. I think there are legitimate
questions about her – she was the one who`s pushing the reset with Russia.
Well, how is that working out, Madam Secretary?

You know, so this idea that she brought these things to this
administration. There she was touting them and she was all for them, now
she`s backing away from them. They haven`t played out the way she
articulated they would be. She hasn`t – the bill of goods weren`t bought
the way she thought they would be bought by the American public or
certainly our allies and enemies in the Middle East and around the globe.

So, as secretary of state, you`re going to have to account for some of
those decisions that you made.

MATTHEWS: Yes. You know what, guys, I think two words explain her
advantage right now as a woman, potentially the first woman commander of
chief, it is Angela Merkel. I think everybody reads the papers, who does
reads the papers, reads about this incredibly strong woman in the very
successful country of Germany these days and they see her leading the
country.

And I think, to me, it`s a tangible picture of what a Hillary Clinton
president would look like – anyway, presidency would look like.

Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us, and up next, these three will
tell me something I don`t know.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: President Obama has announced he`s taking executive action now
on gun safety measures and he got emotional as he recalled the young
victims, the first graders of those mat shootings in this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every I think about those
kids, it gets me mad. And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago
every day.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Even though you disagree 180 on something, you`ve got to find
Congress means coming together.

CLINTON: Yes. Well, your book is a perfect example of.

MATTHEWS: “Tip and the Gipper”.

CLINTON: Exactly. And look, there maybe –

MATTHEWS: You read it?

CLINTON: I did.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

CLINTON: I don`t want you to know that, but I did.

MATTHEWS: But you just told me that, I liked it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I don`t want you to know that.

Anyway, that was Hillary Clinton telling me something I didn`t know today.
That she read my book “Tip and the Gipper.”

Anyway, it`s time now for the HARDBALL round to tell me something I don`t
know.

Starting with Michael.

STEELE: Real quick, all the bluster about the president`s executive
decision on guns, very little if anything will be done by the GOP to upend
that decision – now or in a Republican administration.

MATTHEWS: OK. That`s wonderful news.

David?

CORN: Ammon Bundy, the leader of the arms standoff up in Oregon, while he
hates the federal government but five years ago, he got an SBA, a federal
government-backed loan for half a million dollars, Chris. He didn`t hate
the federal government so much back then.

MATTHEWS: So biting the hand that fed him.

Anyway, Susan?

PAGE: OK. Chris Christie surging in New Hampshire but where he could win
beyond that? He told me in an interview yesterday if he gets ahead of
steam out of New Hampshire, he will win South Carolina. Not a natural fit
for him but that`s what he says.

MATTHEWS: We`ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Thank you, Michael
Steele, Susan Page and David Corn.

When we return, let me finish with the extraordinary story Hillary Clinton
told me today. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the extraordinary story that Hillary
Clinton told us today. It`s the story of how she, the long-time spouse of
a political figure, became one herself.

“Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton,” a young woman said to her. “Dare to
compete.”

And that`s what did it for her. It got Hillary Clinton off the seesaw of
decision making on the side of being a candidate for office herself. Let`s
watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I had the hardest time when I started saying I and me. I`m happy
to say you know my husband this or candidate X or Y. But to stand up there
and be the person out there and it is a big challenge, and I think because,
you know, we`re coming into our own as women in all walks of life, but
still, there`s something a little bit daunting about holding yourself out,
asking people to support you, to give you money, to vote for you. It`s
hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: She was talking about her decision to run for senator from New
York back in the year 2000, just months after enduring the difficult time
of her husband`s impeachment and all which attended it.

Dare to compete. It`s because she did that she now stands as one of the
very few people who could be our next president because you can`t win
actually if you`re not in the competition. A lesson for all of us, not
just women.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. 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.>