Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 1/14/2016

Guests:
Rick Tyler, Rand Paul, Deanna Bass, Steve McMahon, Michele Bachmann, Robert Costa, Carly Fiorina
Transcript:

Show: HARDBALL
Date: January 14, 2016
Guest: Rick Tyler, Rand Paul, Deanna Bass, Steve McMahon, Michele
Bachmann, Robert Costa, Carly Fiorina

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump. I smell the blood of a
Canadian.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Well, it`s here. The latest polling on the Republican presidential fight
has Donald Trump weighing in with his highest percent ever. Cruz, the man
he branded last week as an illegal immigrant as far as constitutional
eligibility is concerned, has plunged. It`s now Trump 33 percent, Ted Cruz
falling down to 20 percent, from a 5-point gap in the last poll to a 13-
point gap in the one just out today.

Well, Trump has Cruz losing it in other ways, I think, in a weird attempt
to counter the fact that he, Cruz, was born in Canada and therefore
arguably not a natural-born citizen, in any geographic or constitutional
sense, Cruz now attacks Trump for being from New York, believe it or not,
questionable the people of Iowa like being talked down to this way as
people fearful of the big, bad metropolis.

Anyway, the new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” numbers tonight show where
the Republican race does stand. And as I said, Donald Trump has increased
his lead. There are the numbers. One third of Republicans now back Trump.
That`s up 6 points since last month, since December. It`s his best
showing, as I said, so far in the NBC survey. Ted Cruz is second with one
in five Republicans. He`s down a bit.

Here`s another new reality. The number of Republicans who can say – or
say – that they see themselves backing Trump in the end, if it`s necssary,
has shot up – 65 percent, just about two thirds now, say yes, they can
back Trump if it comes to that. And that`s compared to only 32 percent who
said the same thing in June when Trump first announced his run.

NBC`s Katy Tur and Hallie Jackson join me now in North Charleston. I want
to go to Katy.

Katy, you`ve been a veteran of this campaign. You are in it from square
one, from day one. This acceptability – and maybe that`s not something
you can read out on the trail because you`re with the true believers, but
it is kind of impressive that now two thirds of the Republican Party says
they can back Trump if it comes to it.

KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I think this was only inevitable, Chris. I
think in the beginning days of this campaign, he was seen as somebody who
was a bit of a sideshow, and people didn`t really know what to make of him.
They didn`t think that they could support him.

But as it`s gone on and as he`s gotten a groundswell of support, as he`s
gotten more headlines, the people have come out and found it more
acceptable to like him in their social circles. I think it was only
inevitable that acceptance level among GOP voters would rise.

We`ve seen that among a lot of the GOP insiders, as well, that they`re
seeing Trump as more of an inevitability now and they`re trying to rally
behind him and get behind him – not all of them, of course. We had the
Nikki Haley rebuttal to the president, who was basically a rebuttal to
Donald Trump. There`s certainly a big faction of the Republican Party that
is not behind him.

But I do think that this was only something that was going to be
inevitable. The more Donald Trump is in the press, the more he gets
headlines, the higher his poll numbers go, the more people are going to end
up liking him because they`re going to see him as maybe the only option out
there right now.

MATTHEWS: You know, Ted Cruz has now used Donald Trump`s home town of New
York as an attack in recent days. I don`t get it. There`s a hell of lot
of people from New York – a hell of a lot of people who love the city and
certainly love it since 9/11.

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald comes from New York
and he embodies New York values. And listen, the Donald seems to be a
little bit rattled.

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: What are New York values? As a lifelong New
Yorker, what – what do you mean, New York values? What are you getting at
there?

CRUZ: You know, I`ll tell you, the rest of the country knows exactly what
New York values are.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I don`t like that conversation.

Anyway, Trump responded in an interview with Bloomberg Politics. Here he
is, Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I embrace – I look – in New
York, we took a big hit with the World Trade Center, worst thing ever,
worst attack ever in the United States, worse than Pearl Harbor because
they attacked civilians. They attacked people having breakfast.

And frankly, you know, if you were to have been there and if you would have
lived through that, like I did with New York people, the way they handled
that attack was one of the most incredible things that anybody has ever
seen.

When people want to knock New York – first of all, you shouldn`t be doing
it because you have a massive population there. But when you want to knock
New York, you got to go through me. New York is an amazing place with
amazing people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Thanks, Katy. Let me go to Hallie Jackson. Why would anybody
attack the town so nice, they named it twice, New York, New York? Why
would anybody attack a city that`s our major city in this country, the
chief financial center of this country? And by the way, and no who – no
one knows that better than Donald Trump, who`s been up there at the old –
you know, the old till looking for money himself, raising money for his
campaign from Goldman Sachs. Why is he knocking the hand that feeds him?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: It appears to be, apparently, Chris, a
values issue, right? It`s this idea that folks from New York aren`t the
same necessarily as folks who live in Iowa, folks who live in New
Hampshire. A campaign aided, with a little bit of a subtle dig, said, Hey,
New York`s great. It`s the center of the news media. It`s where the
entertainment industry is based, subtly pointing out that folks who live in
parts of the country that aren`t urban centers may have a perception of New
York that`s different than the perception that, as an Easter Coaster, some
of us might have.

MATTHEWS: But you see, there`s a stupidity to that line. And I mean, a
stupidity. The people who grew up in New York in the boroughs…

JACKSON: Well…

MATTHEWS: No. The people who grew up in the boroughs – for example,
Brooklyn, known as the borough of churches, for example, and temples –
it`s very regular and very religious. Sure, the big shots who move to
Manhattan because they`re famous or make it in show business, yes.

But New York isn`t the show business crowd that shows up, the beautiful
people with bold print names. It`s the 99.9 percent of people who are New
Yorkers, who talk with a New York accent…

JACKSON: Yes, but you say that because you know New York and because you
live in New York.

MATTHEWS: Well, why does he…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why is he assuming the people of Iowa…

JACKSON: … in Des Moines may not.

MATTHEWS: … don`t know anything? Why would he – why would he play to
people`s lack of knowledge? That is an insult to them!

JACKSON: It`s a strategy, apparently, that Cruz believes may help him with
the people who he needs to propel him to victory in a place like Iowa.

MATTHEWS: So is he running to be…

TUR: Can I jump in here on this, Chris?

MATTHEWS: … president of the United States – sure. I want to go to
Katy, because is he running for president of the United States except for
New York state? I don`t know what he`s talking about. Go ahead. I`ve
never heard of a president…

TUR: I`m not sure that this…

MATTHEWS: … writing off a state.

TUR: I`m not sure this line of attack is going to work for Trump`s
supporters. What he`s done on this entire time is owned all this, quote,
unquote, “negatives.” Yes, he`s rich. Yes, he`s brash. Yes, he`s
sometimes politically incorrect. He`s not the ideal politician. He
doesn`t always say the right thing. He`s from New York, and he`s owned all
of these things.

And I think that`s what`s resonated with a lot of his supporters out there
because they don`t see him as being insincere. They don`t see him as
playing a part, as many other politicians do. (INAUDIBLE) a lot of people
out there that are supporting Trump who look at Ted Cruz and maybe see him
as somebody who is insincere.

This is also, though, Trump`s greatest weakness. Trump is alienating a lot
of people in this country, not necessarily the Republican base who really
likes him, but others who think that he is too loud, that he is too
politically incorrect, that he`s divisive, that he`s sowing the seed of
discord, that he`s race-baiting at times.

He`s also making other countries question his ability to lead. The UK is
going to debate a petition to ban him from their country. A German
politician wants to do the same.

So is he the best leader for America? Well, that`s certainly going to be
debated, but his supporters right now like all of that about him, that he
is unapologetic for who he is.

MATTHEWS: And he`s also a New Yorker and he`s talks like a New Yorker.
Anyway, thank you very much, Katy Tur, and thank you, Hallie Jackson.

This is interesting and it`s getting better. In her State of the Union
response, Governor Nikki Haley identified Donald Trump as one of the
angriest voices in our party – her party. At a rally in Florida last
night, Donald Trump embraced that label. A large part of Trump`s campaign
since last summer has, of course, been to exploit the anger in the country.
And by the way, anger`s real and anger`s legitimate.

Here`s the “mad as hell” candidate himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Right now, the state of our union is a mess. We can`t beat ISIS.
Our military is falling back.

PETER FINCH, “NETWORK”: A dollar buys a nickel`s worth. Banks are going
bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in
the street!

TRUMP: I`m running because we`re not going to have a country soon. We
don`t have borders. We don`t have law and order. We don`t have – I mean,
our country`s going to hell!

FINCH: We know things are bad, worse than bad. They`re crazy. It`s like
everything everywhere is going crazy so we don`t go on anymore.

TRUMP: If I go to a doctor, if I have to wait, like, nine minutes, I`m
like, Get me – I go crazy!

FINCH: I don`t know what to do about the depression or the inflation and
the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first, you`ve
got to get mad!

TRUMP: I`m very angry because I hate what`s happening to our country. I
am angry. I`m very angry!

FINCH: I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it and
stick your head out and yell, I`m as mad as hell and I`m not going to take
this anymore!

TRUMP: I don`t like this mic. Whoever the hell brought this mic system
don`t (INAUDIBLE) the son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) to put it in, I`ll tell
you. No, this mic is terrible. Stupid mic keeps popping! Do you hear
that, George? Don`t pay him. Don`t pay him!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, those scenes from “Network” were obviously the work of
Peter Finch, the actor, and their brilliant screen writer, Paddy Chayevsky,
one of the most – by the way, a great preview of what television has been
like all these years.

Anyway, Michael Steele`s the former chairman of the Republican National
Committee and an MSNBC political analyst, and Rick Tyler is spokesman for
the Ted Cruz campaign.

Rick, are you part of the “I hate New York” crowd? Where are you on this
one?

RICK TYLER, CRUZ CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: I love New York. You got to be
kidding. It has been…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: What happened to Billy Joel and “A New York State of Mind?” I
thought we liked that.

TYLER: No one said they were bad values, it`s just different values.
Look, it`s Peter King…

MATTHEWS: Oh! Pullback time.

TYLER: … or Steve King…

MATTHEWS: Pull back. You`re pulling back.

TYLER: No, I`m not pulling back. There`s a difference…

MATTHEWS: You said it`s not a statement of bad values to say he`s got New
York values?

TYLER: You said that.

MATTHEWS: Your candidate!

TYLER: No, you said that. Chris, they`re different values. Look, it`s
Steve King or Peter King. It`s – in Texas, we can have open carry. You
can`t even have a weapon in New York City. You`d be arrested, OK? It`s
the people that they send to Congress. They send – New York sends
liberals, Texas sends conservatives. It`s attitudes on marriage. It`s
attitudes on…

MATTHEWS: How long did it take you to come up with this, Rick? How many
hours of desperate struggle and spin led to, We`re not knocking this guy
for having New York values? We`re not really knocking him.

TYLER: It`s just different…

MATTHEWS: Separate but equal, right? Is this separate but equal,
different values but – you know, I think separate but equal`s not going to
win here like it did win in the courts back in `54. I don`t think you can
argue…

TYLER: They`re just different…

(CROSSTALK)

TYLER: Are you saying your values…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: … it`s about one question. What does Ted Cruz mean when he
attacks New York values?

TYLER: He didn`t attack them. He said they were different than Iowa
values. Are you disputing that? Are you saying it`s different? I think
they`re different. Anybody would know that. Look at the – look at the
voter registration compared to New York anyway. They don`t send
Republicans. They don`t send conservative Republicans. They send
liberals.

MATTHEWS: Who`s running for the president of Iowa? Is that what he`s
running for? He`s running for president of the United States and they`re
having Iowa caucuses…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: … New York part of the United States, isn`t it?

TYLER: New York values are different than most of the rest of the country.
Not all, but most of them.

MATTHEWS: Oh. Oh, they`re different than the rest of the country now. So
it`s not just New York…

TYLER: Mostly.

MATTHEWS: … and Iowa, it`s the entire United States has different values
than the city of New York. The city of – how about the whole state of New
York? Where are you on this one?

TYLER: Well, let`s go through the policies. So can you carry a weapon
openly in New York? No, you can`t because they…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go to Michael. I want to let you guys debate. I
think Michael`s big-city enough to handle this one. Michael, this looks
like the city mouse being attacked by the country mouse.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: This is worse than high school. This is…

TYLER: Come on, Michael!

MATTHEWS: … fairy tale. Go ahead. Your thoughts.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: OK, so let me…

MATTHEWS: What do they mean by “New York values”? Does that mean – was
it about ethnicity? Was it about pushiness, loudness?

TYLER: No. No. Stop!

MATTHEWS: What are the implications here?

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Actually, Chris, it`s not about any of that. And this is…

MATTHEWS: OK.

STEELE: This is – this is – this is Ted Cruz speaking to a particular
constituency and point out – and I think very much as Rick has – this
idea that their values are different from yours. And that is the
difference that he wanted to contrast with Donald Trump…

MATTHEWS: OK, which…

STEELE: … that he comes from…

MATTHEWS: … Trump value is – which Trump value is different than Cruz`s
value?

STEELE: Well, I mean, it`s a lot…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why isn`t he talking about the guy he`s running against?

STEELE: No, but Chris, it`s a lot about what Rick has just said. I mean,
it`s the – it`s those things that impact people every day. It`s their
outlook on the world. It`s how they see problem solving. How they address
issues in their own lives.

There are differences. And what Cruz, I believe, was trying to do there,
in a very real political sense…

MATTHEWS: OK.

STEELE: … was to draw that stark contrast between a Donald Trump, who is
an East Coast New York Republican…

MATTHEWS: OK, OK…

STEELE: … from a Ted Cruz…

MATTHEWS: … help me out here…

STEELE: … who is a southwest…

MATTHEWS: OK, help me out.

STEELE: … Texas Republican.

MATTHEWS: What are you guys, on a date? You both guys agree so much…

STEELE: No! It`s just…

MATTHEWS: … it`s driving me crazy.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: Chris, you want us to say something that just doesn`t exist.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: … doesn`t happen!

MATTHEWS: Let`s go to particulars. Is there a difference in New York and
Iowa in how to fight ISIS, Rick Tyler? How`s the difference? Explain its
relevance to the campaign issues. How to fight ISIS – what`s the
difference between New York values and Iowa values?

TYLER: Look, there`s – Chris…

MATTHEWS: No, in fighting ISIS!

TYLER: … there are differences…

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m just trying to go through different cases.

TYLER: You want to…

MATTHEWS: How about putting out a fire when there`s a fire somewhere?

(CROSSTALK)

TYLER: … the entire city of New York on how they would address ISIS,
compared to…

MATTHEWS: Well, you brought it up. Your candidate…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: But go ahead. Your thoughts.

TYLER: If you just – no, I`m not (INAUDIBLE) New York. I`m saying it`s
different. I mean, I think everybody in America would agree New York
values are not the same as our values. And so let me give you an example.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

TYLER: Let me give you an example. Every morning show you would turn on,
right, where does it come from? Comes from New York City, right?

MATTHEWS: Right.

TYLER: So When was the last time we did – we did the cool hunting gear
that was coming for the hunting season (INAUDIBLE) Well, that`s important
to a lot of Americans. But (INAUDIBLE) doesn`t – New York City doesn`t
cover that. There are a lot of issues. They don`t cover NASCAR. They
used to make fun of country music. Now they have them on because they get
ratings. But there`s a lot of differences between…

MATTHEWS: These are values issues? No, they`re taste differences…

TYLER: Yes, and…

MATTHEWS: … but that`s not values.

TYLER: There`s also a difference between…

MATTHEWS: It`s not values!

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: … that`s taste.

TYLER: There`s also a difference between the New York media covering the
birther issue, which is great entertainment, but nobody in Iowa asks us
about that. That`s a different…

MATTHEWS: OK, well, that`s very clever.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You know what? You are in retreat. You`re in retreat.

TYLER: Oh, no. No.

MATTHEWS: It`s a knock on New York. No, it`s a knock on New York.

TYLER: No, full speed ahead, Chris.

MATTHEWS: It`s a knock on Trump. When you say New York values…

TYLER: I love New York.

MATTHEWS: Look, I know the whiff.

TYLER: I love New York.

MATTHEWS: I can hear the…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: By the way, you know, I talk for everybody watching right now.
Everybody watching knows that you`re hiding. Anyway, thank you, Michael
Steele…

TYLER: No!

MATTHEWS: … and thank you, Rick Tyler.

TYLER: Come on.

MATTHEWS: I`ve had to do spin in my time, too. That`s what you`re doing.

Coming up – and Michael, you`re defending him and you shouldn`t be – much
more on tonight`s Republican debate. Will one of the establishment
candidates finally break through tonight, or is this really coming down to
the two guys we`ve been talking about, Trump and Cruz? I think it is Trump
and Cruz, but maybe – maybe Rubio, too.

Anyway, plus, Bernie has the momentum. The Bern is working. Hillary`s on
the attack. I`ll show it. There`s a lot of noise right now about whether
progressive icon Elizabeth Warren, maybe the most well-known, most
respected progressive out there, might endorse either of these candidates,
maybe Hillary. That would make a lot of difference. If she endorses
Bernie, that may not be much of a difference.

Anyway, the field is shrinking. Seven candidates tonight are going to be
on the big stage. Only three took part in the happy hour debate. That
little table`s getting littler. And Rand Paul wasn`t among them. He
refused to sit at the little kids` table when he was bounced there, but
he`s with us tonight. We`re going to give him the big table tonight.

Finally, Mark Halperin and John Heilmann, the hosts of “WITH ALL DUE
RESPECT,” join us tonight, Republican debate night. And after the debate
tonight, come back to MSNBC. Believe it or not, tonight, two-hour edition
of HARDBALL with all the highlights, analysis of the 2016 race. It`s
coming up here, so you don`t have to watch any other network tonight.
Watch us at 11:00 on to 1:00 PM AM Eastern – 1:00 AM, not 1:00 PM.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When you want to knock New York, you got to go through me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow. Welcome back to HARDBALL. We`ve got a hot one brewing
tonight. Trump has thrown down the gauntlet with Cruz after Cruz took a
shot at his New York values.

Anyway, that`s not the only fight we`ve got brewing ahead of tonight`s
Republican debate. Time`s running out for the party`s establishment wing -
- remember them? – to take out the hell-raisers. Can they raise or rise
to the occasion after Tuesday night`s rallying cry from South Carolina
governor Nikki Haley?

And it`s abandon ship on the Carson campaign, you might say. They need a
big boost from tonight.

Robert Costa`s national political reporter with “The Washington Post,”
Deanna Bash is the national press secretary with the Carson campaign, and
Michele Bachmann`s a former, obviously, presidential candidate and U.S.
congresswoman from Minnesota.

Congresswoman, I want to start with you, since you`re the only one of us
ever elected to anything, I believe.

How do you see this race? Do you think it has come down to Trump and Cruz,
or is there a lot of real potential among what we call the establishment
candidates?

MICHELE BACHMANN (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, it certainly isn`t
over by a long shot.

But I think it is safe to say that Donald Trump has occupied the lead
position for a long, long time, and he`s only managed to increase market
share. After the last debate, you saw Ted Cruz move up, and I think that
again tonight could be a breakout moment for almost anyone on that stage,
but in particular I would say those who are in third, fourth, fifth place,
they have a real chance to move up.

And so I think debates are very important and I think we could see movement
after tonight.

MATTHEWS: Deana, what is your candidate`s plan? Can you give us a tease
as to what he is planning to do to get back in this race?

DEANA BASS, BEN CARSON CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: Sure. Absolutely. First
of all, thank you for having me.

And Dr. Carson recognizes that this is a chance for him to share his vision
with the American people. And he will be – I think you will see a more
assertive Dr. Carson. He is a statesman, not a showman. So, you won`t see
wisecracks. You will see wisdom.

But Dr. Carson is definitely prepared to be more assertive to share his
vision, to get his time on the stage.

MATTHEWS: What do you mean by more assertive? Tell me. Give me an
example. You have obviously worked with him. He is very likable.
Everyone likes him. They are very impressed with his credentials in the
medical field, of course.

And his behavior has been exemplary. He has done nothing wrong, but he`s
failed to light up the charts. What is going to do to make that happen?

BASS: One thing that you see when Dr. Carson is out on the trail, the
crowds are enthusiastic. They really enjoy him. They believe what he has
to say.

We believe that what we want to see and what Dr. Carson will do is, if
there is an opportunity for him to interject or to share his vision, he
will do it. We know that Dr. Carson is a soft-spoken man.

MATTHEWS: I know.

BASS: But the soft-spokenness does not mean that he is not strong. What
you will see on the stage tonight is – he even said he has more pep in his
step. You will see a more assertive Dr. Carson.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: In all respect, do you think he will talk faster?

BASS: I don`t know if he will talk faster. But when he has the
opportunity to talk, we know that he will say things that resonate with the
American people, because that`s what he has done so far.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Robert Costa.

Your assessment of this. You have been covering the top front-runners.
Are they going to hold their lead, these two guys, Cruz and Trump,
throughout the next week after tonight?

ROBERT COSTA, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: It`s like two prize fighters, Chris,
eying each other in the ring.

Talking to people close to Cruz and close to Trump, they don`t really want
to provoke each other tonight, but they both come to this fight ready to
engage. And the question looming over Cruz is how does he handle if Trump
brings up his Canadian birth, if Trump brings up the Goldman Sachs story
and the Cruz loan?

This is hovering over – Cruz is under a test tonight, probably his biggest
test so far in this campaign.

MATTHEWS: Why doesn`t he just ask Cruz, what do you – you`re a
constitutional lawyer. What do you think the founding fathers had in mind
when they said only natural-born Americans should be eligible for the
presidency? What could the phrase mean natural-born American mean other
than born here? What else could it mean? And why would they put it in if
they didn`t think it was important?

COSTA: Based on my reporting, Chris, Trump is not going to get into the
semantics. He is not going to get into the definition of natural-born
citizen.

MATTHEWS: Semantics. How about the right to bear arms? That`s semantic.
And the conservatives love those phrases.

COSTA: I`m not talking politics.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, I`m serious. Conservatives believe in literal
interpretation of the Constitution. And some of them believe in literal
interpretation of the Bible. Fine. But you can`t believe in literal
interpretation of the Constitution and then say, but not on this, baby.
Oh, no, this is inconvenient. Natural-born, we`re not going to use that
against our guy, because he`s the most right-wing candidate out there.

BASS: Chris, if I might, we understand…

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, Deana…

BASS: … we understand that those are issues that people are talking
about within the Beltway.

But my hope and I think Dr. Carson certainly hopes that tonight on the
debate stage that we`re not talking about those kinds of things. Dr.
Carson and I`m sure the other candidates want to use this time tonight to
talk about the real issues that are facing the American people. And more
than anything, that`s what we should be using the time for, not…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: That`s you`re arguing a normative argument there. But do you
think that the debate moderators are not going to bring up and Ted Cruz is
not going to be confronted with the question of whether he`s eligible to
run for president? That`s a fairly central question. Are you eligible to
run for president?

How could there be something more important to talk about, Deana?

BASS: I don`t think that people aren`t concerned about that. I think that
most Americans are concerned about how will Ted Cruz and Ben Carson and
others keep more money in their pockets at night?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, I got to go to Michele.

Congresswoman Bachmann, this issue is a strange one. I never thought it
would have come up, but when I read this and listen to people like John
McCain`s lawyer, and I listen to this lawyer from Widener College Laurence
Tribe, I`m hearing people say, natural-born means natural-born, born here.

BACHMANN: I don`t think Ted Cruz is afraid of this question at all.

He is a constitutional scholar, and he will stand up and he will give the
answer. I think this is something that would come up any time someone is
born out of the country, just like John McCain was born out of the country.

And I think that the voters deserve an answer. I don`t think he`s a afraid
of it at all, because I think he will have an answer for the voters. But,
again, I would agree with Dr. Carson`s press person that what we`re going
to hear about tonight, these candidates, I think, want to give an answer to
the State of the Union address.

There are a lot of people who were not real happy with that State of the
Union address.

BASS: Absolutely.

BACHMANN: So, I think you`re going to hear these candidates give kind of
their own form of the State of the Union.

The other thing I think you`re going to hear a lot about is this huge issue
that happened this week with Iran, taking these 10 U.S. soldiers hostage.
And the other thing I think you`re going to hear is Gitmo. You`re going to
hear a lot about Gitmo, because we just had 10 terrorists released from
Gitmo to Oman. There are 10 Yemeni terrorists that were released.

That will be an issue. And the big question that is in everyone`s heart is
this. Will President Obama give the land at Gitmo to the communists in
Cuba? Will he give it to them? Because if he gives it to them, you might
as well consider that he`s giving it to either the Iranians, the Russians
or the Chinese. And we could have in our own backyard, 90 miles from Cuba,
a malevolent force that has a physical presence for the first time. That`s
a big…

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, Cuba is already there. We can`t move it away.

Anyway, thank you so much, Robert Costa. Thank you, Deana Bass and Michele
– Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

Much more ahead on this Republican debate night. It`s going to a hot one
tonight. I think they`re going to talk about eligibility under the
Constitution, because it`s a great trump card.

Still ahead, we are going to talk to two of the candidates running for
president, and this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The Democratic race is certainly tightening up in Iowa. The “Des Moines
Register”/Bloomberg Politics poll shows that Hillary Clinton leads with 42
percent. But look at this, Sanders at 40. They`re so close. And that`s
within the margin of error, obviously, and Clinton has lost six points in
the last month. It`s getting more in Bernie`s direction, more Berning out
there.

Anyway, Sanders` popularity is surging, of course, and he`s out with a
tough campaign ad today. Let`s look at the new ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are two
Democratic visions for regulating Wall Street. One says it`s OK to take
millions for big banks and then tell them what to do. My plan, break up
the big banks, close the tax loopholes. And make them pay their fair
share. Will they like me? No. Will they begin to play by the rules if
I`m president? You better believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Wow.

Well, Hillary Clinton responded to that TV ad tonight when she spoke to
MSNBC`s Rachel Maddow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Sanders has
said repeatedly he doesn`t do that, he doesn`t engage in negative attacks.

And I take him at his word on anything personal. We don`t do that in our
side of the debate. We engage on substantive differences, and we have
some. And he`s been pointing out what he believes to be differences for
quite some time now, from his point of view.

So I have been pointing out what differences are, because I think the
voters expect us to have something of a spirited debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, you can see more of that interview tonight, of course, on
“The Rachel Maddow Show.”

Nationally, Hillary Clinton still far outpaces Sanders among Democrats,
with a new national poll from “The New York Times” that shows Sanders has
the edge with voters under 45 and among men, while Clinton firmly has the
advantage with women of all ages basically all taken together.

Anyway, joining me now is NBC News White House correspondent, my friend
Kristen Welker and Democratic strategist Steve McMahon.

This is a tricky situation – I want to start with you – about Hillary
Clinton, because, clearly, Sanders is to the left of Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton somewhere center-left. On some issues, she may be further
left, on others, further right, like on war and stuff like that. She`s
seen as more hawkish. How does she attack a portion of the party she
absolutely needs to win the general election?

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it`s interesting, because what
she`s doing right now is, on guns, she`s attacking him from the left, and
on health care, she`s attacking him…

MATTHEWS: But she`s putting him off on the right on guns.

MCMAHON: Yes. she`s putting him to the right on guns. And she`s putting
him actually too far left on health care. So, she`s attacking him from the
right on health care reform.

MATTHEWS: Is there such a thing as too far left?

MCMAHON: Well, I don`t think there is, actually. I think it`s kind of a
misguided attack, because Bernie Sanders wants a single-payer system, which
is what most liberals wanted at the beginning and still want today.

MATTHEWS: From the time that President Obama took office, we heard the
pound from our people – constituency out on the progressive side, a lot
them who watch this program and others, wanted a single-payer.

MCMAHON: That`s right.

And so I think Bernie Sanders is in a good position in that conversation.
But the bottom line here is, Hillary Clinton is running a general election
campaign even today. She moves as far left as she needs to, to check
Bernie Sanders, but she`s not going to go any further left than she has to.
Bernie Sanders is just running to get the nomination. He`s not even
thinking about the general.

MATTHEWS: I know. It`s called November doesn`t count.

Kristen, it looks to me like the way they`re – I`m looking at the ad buys
and the way they`re starting. They`re not just planning, the Bernie
people, on winning in Iowa and winning in New Hampshire. They`re talking
about winning in Nevada now. It looks like they`re trying to run the table
now so that she either quit – well, she`s not going to quit, but to cause
some sort of panic, I guess.

KRISTEN WELKER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, and they`re trying to have a
plan B and a plan C.

I have been stumping with her in a lot of the Southern states, the Super
Tuesday states, Nevada, as you point out. She wants to make sure she has a
firewall in case she loses New Hampshire, which they`re bracing themselves
could happen, in case she loses Iowa as well, Chris, which is a possibility
if you look at those polls.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much. We have to cut it short because we have
a candidate coming on right now, Kristen Welker and Steve McMahon. I`m
sure we will have you back around midnight.

(CROSSTALK)

WELKER: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: We got plenty of room late tonight.

Let`s back now to the Republicans actually running for president. They`re
all in South Carolina for their sixth debate. And one of the candidates
who just wrapped up the undercard debate is former Hewlett-Packard CEO
Carly Fiorina.

She joins us now.

Ms. Fiorina, thank you so much for joining – I don`t think we have ever
met, but that was a tough shot you took tonight.

CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, we have.

MATTHEWS: Where have we met? Tell me where.

FIORINA: Yes, we have met.

MATTHEWS: Where?

FIORINA: We met in someone`s home, in a cocktail party in Washington,
D.C., as a matter of fact.

MATTHEWS: Oh, my God.

FIORINA: But that`s all right. Go ahead.

MATTHEWS: How incestuous.

FIORINA: And I served with your wife on the board of Ford`s Theatre.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a good cause, Ford`s Theatre.

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: I served with your wife on a board.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

Let me ask you about your chart about – “Unlike another woman in this
race, I actually love spending time with my husband.”

Which is the other woman in the race? Who?

FIORINA: Oh, come on, Chris, you know. You know.

MATTHEWS: Who?

FIORINA: Hillary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: Well, why would you talk about another person`s marriage?

FIORINA: She is the other person in the race. She is the other person in
the race.

Well, look, Chris, Hillary Clinton is, you know, rolling out her husband to
campaign for her. But she is also talking about her husband`s
administration as an example of Democrat policies and how successful they
have been. So I think it`s pretty clear that Bill Clinton is fair game.

MATTHEWS: Well, do you think all marriages are? I noticed you picked one
out. But did you – have you studied the movements of other married
couples and seen how often they spend time together or not? Why this
couple?

FIORINA: Because she`s running for president, Chris. Hello?

MATTHEWS: No, I meant among the other candidates. The other candidates
and their spouses, have you checked all their relationships to see their
travel movements and schedules?

FIORINA: No, absolutely not.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, why focus on the movements of the Clintons?

FIORINA: You see, there`s only – there`s only two women running for
president, Chris. There`s only two women running for president. I`m one
and Mrs. Clinton is the other.

So there are only two men who are potentially going to be first dude or
whatever we`re going to call them, my husband and her husband. That`s it.
That`s all there is.

MATTHEWS: Right.

OK, let me ask you this. Because everybody does it to me, I`m going to ask
you it to you. I think it`s relevant whether somebody under the
Constitution is eligible to run for president. And someone like Michele
Bachmann just told me, well, let`s talk about the important things.

And I will say, well, constitutional eligibility would be pretty central.
What`s the centrality to you of the relationship between Hillary and Bill
Clinton to the debate over who should be our next president?

FIORINA: Chris, I think everything about all of our lives is relevant.
You know why?

Because you cannot lead unless people trust you. They cannot trust you
unless they know you. And that`s why I have been open about all aspects of
my life, whether it`s the tragic death of our daughter Lori or the fact
that I was fired at Hewlett-Packard and why.

People cannot trust you if they do not know you. And Mrs. Clinton`s
biggest problem is that people do not trust her, and there`s so much
evidence as to why they don`t. I mean, we have run out of gates to explain
all the scandals that have dogged Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The Clinton Global Initiative is like a Ponzi scheme to buy influence to
this government. And Bill and Hillary Clinton sit on top of it. The truth
is, Mrs. Clinton has escaped prosecution more times than El Chapo. Maybe
Sean Penn is standing by waiting to interview her.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. Well…

FIORINA: Trust, trust is central to leadership. And she does not have the
trust of the American people.

MATTHEWS: OK. Here`s your answer.

FIORINA: But she`s on her way to become the Democrat nominee.

MATTHEWS: I will let you – I will let – just like when people say I
don`t like New York values, but won`t tell me what they mean, I`m going to
ask you this.

Do you believe the Clintons have a real marriage? You seem to be implying
they don`t.

FIORINA: They have been married for a very long time. They have been
married for a very long time.

MATTHEWS: So, it`s a real marriage?

FIORINA: They have been married for a very long time.

MATTHEWS: So, it`s a real marriage then? You will say that?

FIORINA: They have been married for a long time.

MATTHEWS: Why are you hiding from an answer?

FIORINA: I`m not. I`m answering your question. They have been married
for a long time.

MATTHEWS: Because you brought up this very unpleasant subject.

Just so – the audience for to under…

(CROSSTALK)

FIORINA: Wow, Chris, there are so – there are so many other things we
could talk about…

MATTHEWS: Well, I`m quoting back to you what you brought up in the debate.

FIORINA: … like the fact that Mrs. Clinton wants to go – Mrs. Clinton -
- Mrs. Clinton wants to go to the White House. She`s qualified for the big
house. She should be prosecuted.

She has not been prosecuted for things that took a great warrior out of
office, David Petraeus. So, let`s talk about that, Chris. Let`s talk
about how amazing it is that this woman, who cannot be trusted, who should
have been prosecuted by now, has just raked in more money than any single
candidate.

Let`s talk about that and what that says about the Democrat Party and what
that says about people`s desire to keep the political establishment in
place. She`s inside that establishment. And people like Donald Trump are
outside that establishment. She rakes in millions, sitting inside
government, selling access and influence. And Donald Trump rakes in
billions buying people like Hillary Clinton.

Let us talk about that.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well…

FIORINA: Until we are willing to challenge the establishment of both
parties, we will never take our country back, and crony capitalism will
continue to explode. And she`s right at the center of it.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Carly Fiorina.

FIORINA: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Still ahead this hour: Rand Paul could have taken part in
tonight`s undercard debate. But, instead, he wants to take his message
directly to the people. Is that a winning move in Iowa or New Hampshire to
skip out? Well, Senator Paul is going to be here to explain why he`s not
showing tonight.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: We are back with a little over an hour now to
go before tonight`s main event. All eyes will be on Donald Trump, of
course, and Ted Cruz secondarily. Now that they were going at each other,
who will throw the first punch?

I`m joined by MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman of “The Huffington
Post” and Elise Jordan, former policy advisor to the Ron Paul campaign.

Elise – Rand Paul. Why are you former, first of all?

ELISE JORDAN, FORMER RAND PAUL CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, I`m a former
because I wanted to live full-time in New York and your network offered me
such a great position I couldn`t say no.

HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: New York values.

MATTHEWS: She went for the gold.

Anyway, Howard, I want to go at you back here, Howard, there`s talk among
our producers that maybe Rand Paul, not Rand Paul that Ted Cruz will fight
tonight, that he`ll want to fight for the first time.

FINEMAN: Oh, yes. I think –

MATTHEWS: No more sheepishness.

FINEMAN: No, I think he has to. I think Trump has challenged him. Now,
it`s a question of manhood, which I think is Texas values here.

MATTHEWS: Well, manhood is a good point. Not that I believe in macho.
You notice how Rick Tyler pulled back. I`m not saying there`s anything
wrong with New York, it`s just different. Then, he goes into these taste
bud issues.

FINEMAN: Oh, come on.

MATTHEWS: It`s a shot at New York City.

FINEMAN: You know what? That`s a dog whistle politics through a blow
horn. That`s what the fog horn, that`s what that is. That`s saying all
those people up there –

MATTHEWS: I know, they like gay marriage and stuff –

FINEMAN: Chuck Schumer, gay marriage, et cetera. Peter King versus, you
know the other King.

MATTHEWS: Peter King versus Steve King, I would go with Peter King in five
seconds, but that`s my view.

FINEMAN: Right, and I thought Trump`s answer was to mention 9/11, was a
very smart patriotic answer. And I think he`ll save the Goldman Sachs
references for later on.

MATTHEWS: You didn`t mind coming up here for the money. I mean, that is
what they all go. They don`t come to Washington for the money. You see
them on the shuttle.

JORDAN: They all love to talk about how –

MATTHEWS: Flying up there to get some money.

JORDAN: How they`re so opposed to bank bailouts and taking on Wall Street
and that`s who`s lining their pockets. So, yes, it is a very –

MATTHEWS: Tonight`s fight, who`s going to throw the punches?

JORDAN: I think Cruz and Trump are definitely going to go at it. It will
be interesting to sew how Cruz fares. Other people have attacked Trump, it
hasn`t gone that well for them. We`ll have to see. And the Canadian
birther issue is catching some force.

So, how is Cruz going to handle that?

MATTHEWS: He was born up there.

JORDAN: He was born in Canada.

MATTHEWS: Natural born Canadian. Ha!

FINEMAN: Canadian, what are Canadian values?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Thank you, guys. More time, we`ve got all night tonight. This
is going to be a big night here. It is going to be a big night here. It
is going to be a big night. The first debate of the year for the
Republicans, Howard Fineman, Elise Jordan.

We`re coming back right back with Senator Rand Paul himself. He`s coming
here, he won`t sit at the little kids` table, but he`ll sit at ours.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul decided to boycott tonight`s undercard debate
after being bumped if you will from the main stage by the RNC and Fox
Business Network itself.

Moments ago, Rick Santorum appeared to take advantage of Paul`s absence to
plead for extra time. Here`s Santorum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know I`m out of time. But
I`m going to take some of Rand Paul`s time here for a second.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by Senator Rand Paul.

Senator Paul, one of the weaknesses of tonight`s early debate and it will
be probably the weakness of the debate later on tonight is there`s no one
to question this interventionist regime change mentality of some of the
people in your party. I mean, when you read the paper the last 48 hours,
you think that people wanted to go into a shooting war with Iran over those
ten sailors. They want a war over this thing.

Your thoughts?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what I think is
important is we have a real spirited discussion, the Republican Party, and
frankly in the Democrat Party about whether or not our intervention in the
Middle East has been a good idea or a bad idea, because frankly, not only
is it bellicose Republicans, but even Hillary Clinton has been very much
for regime change in Libya, thinking that we would be safer.

But I think when we`ve got Gadhafi and Gadhafi is gone, we toppled Gadhafi,
what you wound up with was, I think, chaos, the rise of radical Islam and
now a failed state in Libya and a third of Libya pledged allegiance to
ISIS. I`m worried about the same people who liked toppling Gadhafi want to
do the same to Assad in Syria. And I don`t think it`s a good idea. I
don`t think it will make us safer.

MATTHEWS: This morning, I went to a student group this morning, and it was
a libertarian young man there, he`s quite thoughtful and he came up and
asked about the libertarian thinking. Without you in the race or in the
debate, who`s going to represent libertarian thinking in the Republican
world?

PAUL: You know, I don`t think there is anyone else in the race when you
talk about collecting phone records, even some who might be more
conservative like Cruz say they want to collect more of your cell phone
records, he`s supported reform because he`s for collecting 100 percent of
the cell phone records. He`s now switched his position on Snowden. He
thought Snowden did a service to the country, but now saying Snowden is a
traitor.

And really, I think, there`s a lot of issues like that where we`re going to
have to question and those who lean libertarian or liberty were going to
have say, really is Ted Cruz the authentic messenger or is he somebody who
wants to have it both ways on too many issues?

MATTHEWS: Do you think there are big government conservatives, in other
words, they want big military, they want a big involvement in the world,
and that means having to pay for it and raise taxes to do it? I mean,
there`s no way around it, whether you`re Bernie Sanders or anybody,
everybody talks about saving money, you got to change policy to save money.
You can`t do the same stuff or more of the same stuff and have less
government and less spending and less taxes.

PAUL: The biggest clamor for more spending in Washington comes from the
right that wants more military spending, but the only way they can get the
military spending is if they give the left spending for domestic programs.
So, we really end up with both and we end up borrowing a million dollars a
minute and I think the deficit is out of control. But I don`t blame it on
just one party. I`m pretty ecumenical and that I think there`s blame to go
around to both parties.

MATTHEWS: I think you`re right. I think from the progressive side, they
gave the military more money so they can get more for domestic programs.
It`s clearly a sweetheart deal.

Thank you so much, Senator Rand Paul. You`re on here tonight. I`m glad
you were.

PAUL: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: Coming up, fight night, a final look at what the candidates need
to do and say tonight. Mark Halperin and John Heilemann are coming here.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back and gearing up for tonight`s big showdown in South
Carolina, as Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and the rest of the Republican field go
to war.

I`m joined right now by my new colleagues, the host of “WITH ALL DUE
RESPECT”, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

Gentlemen, Mark, my tough question to you, then to John. Whose names going
to be in the headline tomorrow morning major papers after tonight`s debate?
Whose name will appear in the headline?

MARK HALPERIN, CO-HOST, “WITH ALL DUE RESPECT”: I think Ted Cruz. He`s
going to be both under the microscope tonight, as well as tries to play
defense by playing offense and taking off not just after Trump,
necessarily, but I think after some of the others, as well.

MATTHEWS: John, name in the headline?

JOHN HEILEMANN, CO-HOST, “WITH ALL DUE RESPECT”: I think that`s right, Ted
Cruz, but I think it could very much equal with Donald Trump. I think you
could see a real knockdown drag-out between the two of them tonight, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Mark, how do you assess this New York thing as the counterpunch
to the birtherism question going after New York and then, of course, we had
Rick Tyler on tonight, he made it sound like a difference in taste buds or
something. It`s a shot at New York, and I don`t know what it means
anymore. Is it – I don`t know exactly what it means. What do you think
he`s getting at for the Iowa voters?

HALPERIN: I think he`s playing the notion of east coast liberal elite.
You know, look, you see this all the time from the other campaigns, here
and around the country, which is what is going on that our party`s front-
runner was a liberal Democrat just a few years ago on a number of issues,
close to Nancy Pelosi, close to Hillary Clinton? And I think the best
shorthand from Cruz`s point of view right now is New York City.

Trump`s answer to us in the interview we did last night, defending New
York, invoking 9/11, was one of the best moments he`s had in his campaign,
I think. And I think Cruz is probably going to back off, particularly
since between Princeton and Harvard, he`s got a fair amount of East Coast
on his resume, as well.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, John –

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Look, I think most people watching tonight will not have heard
that brilliant retort from Donald Trump so far. Like we always make the
mistake thinking everybody`s heard what we heard. If you don`t watch
everything, you know, the average person watching tonight for the first
time you could hear Trump give that for cri de guerre for New York, which
is going to blow the seats out.

HEILEMANN: Yes, I think that`s right. I think there`s a chance Trump will
bring it up if Cruz doesn`t use the New York line against him, I think
there`s a chance Trump will bring it up unprompted so he could make that
defense to New York.

I`ll say one other thing, in addition to what Mark said, Chris, which is
that I think also doesn`t just an East Coast elite, also says secular, not
evangelical, says not a man of faith. I think there`s – Cruz believes
that Trump – I think Cruz believes Trump is a phony on the question of his
godliness and that`s an advantage for Cruz. I think that`s part of what
Cruz is trying to say. He`s a secular liberal from New York City, and I
think Trump would love, love, love to have that fight where he could cloak
himself in 9/11 and New York and hit back.

MATTHEWS: Just keep showing pictures of Peter King. That will scare them.

Anyway, thank you so much, Peter King versus Steven King.

Mark Halperin, John Heilemann, it`s good to have you as my lead-in every
night.

By the way, you can catch mark and John`s show, and please do, “WITH ALL
DUE RESPECT”, weekday nights at 6:00 Eastern here on MSNBC.

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

Join us tonight at 11:00 Eastern after the Republican debate for two hours
of highlights and analysis. It`s always fun after these debates. We have
fun because we go at it.

“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

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