Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 1/20/2016

Guests:
John Feehery, Omarosa Manigault, Dan Kildee, Rand Paul, Clarence Page, Susan Page
Transcript:

Show: HARDBALL
Date: January 20, 2016
Guest: John Feehery, Omarosa Manigault, Dan Kildee, Rand Paul, Clarence
Page, Susan Page

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Politics gone wild.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews.

You know, I`ve been watching politics since I was a six-year-old asking my
dad about General Eisenhower. Well, that was 1952, the year the political
order was thrown out the window. It`s when the hero who had accepted the
Nazi surrender accepted the Republican nomination for president. It`s when
a small group led by another war hero, Henry Cabot Lodge, decided they were
not going down to defeat the same old losing candidates.

Well, we saw another shakeup in American politics eight years later, when a
young war hero from Massachusetts broke all the old rules and got elected
even though he was young, Catholic, and wasn`t part of the Democratic
establishment.

I wish I could say we`re in for the same kind of excitement in 2016, the
kind of excitement that leads to positive change, to resolution of our
politics and a period of united government. What we`re seeing now is
something different than a coming to power, however brief, of a new order
like Ike in `52, Kennedy in `60, Ronald Reagan in `80, Barack Obama in
2008. No, I don`t think so.

What I see now is not a movement forward in our politics, not a move toward
resolution of our arguments, toward solid conclusion, to some period of
united action. No, what I see happening in this early stage of our
presidential selection process is not something that follows in the tracks
of our successful political history, getting together after the election
and moving forward as a country.

What I see is not something that comes from our history but what comes from
the crappy, useless, cantankerous politics we`ve seen in the U.S. Congress
the past years. I mean the bills that don`t get passed, the budgets that
never get approved and honored, the immigration problem that sits out there
festering, the infrastructure that rots under us, from the water systems to
the old train systems, to the bridges that creak, to the old public school
buildings that crack and peel, putting our kids to sleep.

What we`ve seen on Capitol Hill, that single-digit-approved Congress, the
bad, bad, bad approval ratings, the treatment of public records as criminal
rap sheets, this is what has moved like a tsunami into our presidential
politics – the noise, the personal insults, the hatred, the speeches that
sell not results or resolution but simply stir more anger. And this is
just what we`ve seen in politics on the congressional level for years now.

It just doesn`t jump at us on television, like the newly infected
presidential kind. Well, today we see Trump dump on Cruz. Cruz, a hated
man in Congress, is now winning support among the haters who now send
people like him to the Congress.

Bernie Sanders runs on a program that will, with all its idealism, simply
add another level of argument and opposition to the existing traffic jam of
anger on Capitol Hill.

My question is how the selection of Trump, Cruz or Sanders will add to or
subtract from the disaster we now face in a Congress unable to act, a
government that does not solve problems, only keeps a tally as the problems
accumulate. Yes, it is bad.

And the politics of this presidential election seem at this early beginning
to be not a solution to the problem but only as a symptom of the mess that
has seeped now out of the Congress into the light and noise of a
presidential campaign.

Could it be that this entire year-long progress – process in which we`re
now engaged could lead to a crash of egos and interests that makes the
Congress of the United States suddenly appear not so bad?

NBC`s Hallie Jackson is in Concord, New Hampshire. At a Trump rally in
Oklahoma today, Sarah Palin took on the Republican establishment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE: Even today, the GOP
machine – they`re attacking their own front-runner and his base of
dynamic, diverse, very patriotic supporters! They`re attacking you because
they can`t afford for the status quo to go! Otherwise, the gravy train –
it stops and they can`t keep slurping from it.

The GOP machine, all of a sudden – they`re saying we`re not red enough,
we`re not conservative enough. And I say what in the world do they know
about conservatism?

They`re telling us we need to just chill. And I say they`re stomping on
our neck and they`re telling us just chill? No, we won`t chill! In fact,
it`s time to drill, baby drill down on what`s going on and hold them
accountable!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was done in the oil patch, so “Drill, baby, drill”
makes a lot of sense, Hallie, politically. But what did that statement
mean? I had a hard time – what is her role going to be besides a couple
votes in Iowa? Is this a one-state stand?

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I don`t think so, Chris. If you`re
going to look at Sarah Palin`s impact on where she could help Donald Trump,
I think that she will hold sway with conservative grass roots voters in the
South in some of those SEC primary states in places like potentially South
Carolina.

But I think right now, at least, in the short term, her biggest asset is
helping to continue to drive earned media coverage for Donald Trump. Look
what happened last night when she endorsed him, what happened today. He
gets a lot of attention. He`s back in the headlines, and frankly, so is
she, both of them helping out each other here.

MATTHEWS: Well, she served half a term as governor of Alaska and walked
away from a job she had taken an oath to serve. That`s important as part
of a record, you walk away from a job with no clear reason for doing it.

JACKSON: To be the vice presidential nominee.

MATTHEWS: No, she did this afterwards. She left her job.

JACKSON: Right. I`m saying but she was the vice presidential–

MATTHEWS: And then she–

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: – and I`m not sure she helped the ticket. I think the “Game
Change” was meant to be an ironic conclusion of the book written about it
by Halperin and Heilemann. And I just wonder, what does she add besides a
little sparkle for a couple of weeks?

JACKSON: But it`s a key couple of weeks. Just playing devil`s advocate
here, but we`re just a couple of weeks out to Iowa, so if she can add that
sparkle for the next, you know, 11 or 12 days, is that enough?

MATTHEWS: Well, it may be. Anyway, Trump – Donald Trump continues to
dominate national and state polls, as you said, also the news. In the
latest Monmouth University poll released today, Trump leads the field at 36
percent nationally. That`s about near his top, 19 points higher than Cruz,
who`s not really making it nationally.

Meanwhile, in a brand-new poll from Florida, Trump has the support of
nearly half the Republican voters. That is impressive. He now leads that
field by 32. He`s at 48. That is way up by the – beyond the ceiling
people have put on him.

He also leads in Georgia by 10 points and Nevada by 13 points – these are
margins – in South Carolina by 14, in Maryland by 17, and in a brand-new
poll from New Hampshire today – in this new poll, Trump is up by 20 in
that one. The contest is closer in Iowa, where Trump is up by 2, according
to the RealClearPolitics average.

So do you have a sense, Hallie, whether she`s going to go back in and
campaign a lot in Iowa the next two weeks – the next week-and-a-half,
actually?

JACKSON: Look at what she`s done so far. She`s already within 24 hours of
endorsing him been out on the campaign trail for her (ph). Her super-PAC
is out asking supporters to raise money so that Palin can, in fact, travel
and do some of this – some of this surrogacy, if you will, for Donald
Trump. So it would be sort of a misfire for him not to deploy her out on
the campaign trail over these next couple of weeks.

You talked about his standing here in New Hampshire. Well, Palin, at least
with undecided voters that I`ve talked to in New Hampshire, may not sway
some of those men and women. Donald Trump is still up by about 20 points
now in that new poll over the second place candidate, Ted Cruz, by the way.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Hallie Jackson up there in New Hampshire.

On the “TODAY” show this morning, Donald Trump was asked if he would
consider Sarah Palin as a running mate. Well, this is gotcha journalism,
if there ever was. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, “TODAY”: Would you consider her as your running mate?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don`t think of – to
start off with, I don`t think that it would be something she`d want to do.
She`s been through that.

GUTHRIE: But to the question–

TRUMP: So I haven`t – I haven`t–

GUTHRIE: – would you consider it?

TRUMP: – discussed it with her. No, I haven`t discussed anything with
her about what she`d do. But she`s somebody I really like and I respect,
and certainly, she could play a position, if she wanted to.

GUTHRIE: You wouldn`t rule her out as VP.

TRUMP: Well, I don`t think she`d want to do it. I have to win before I
start thinking about that. There are a lot of good people – in the
Republican Party, there are a lot of good people. But certainly, there`d
be a role somewhere in the administration, if she wanted. And I`m not sure
that she does want that. But there would certainly be a role.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Savannah had to ask that question, and he clearly had to
answer it the way he did.

Omarosa Manigault is a professor at Howard University and a Trump
surrogate. Thank you. And John Feehery`s a Republican strategist.

Omarosa, let me ask you this. I think there are – do you agree with me –
well, let me ask you something. I`ll be a little tougher than I usually am
here.

I think a lot of people in the suburbs, people that do think and read the
papers and keep up with things, sophisticated people who see themselves as
sort of middle-of-the road Republicans who would vote Republican against
Hillary in some cases, will – in most cases – think of Trump as a smarter
guy than he puts on. They think he has clownish qualities, but those are
for the road, that when you get back to business – and he has been in
business – he`s a serious as hell guy who is somebody you can believe in
as a grownup.

But the language used by her yesterday suggests that she can use the same
language as he, but nobody believes that she`s a person of accomplishment
or achievement like Trump is or a person of deep, down ability like he is,
achievement and ability, because they think they talk the same way, appeal
to the same audience in some cases, but Sarah Palin is no Donald Trump.

And is there a danger in putting her out there as a surrogate? Yes or no.

OMAROSA MANIGAULT, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Listen, as a surrogate–

MATTHEWS: Yes or no!

MANIGAULT: – she`s going to do exactly what she needs to do. First of
all, there is always a risk when you take on a surrogate or you take on
someone who`s going to go out and speak a message for you, and you want to
make sure that they are consistent with what you`re trying to advance.

Number one, she has huge, huge support in Iowa. And that`s where we`re
marching to.

MATTHEWS: I know all that!

MANIGAULT: We`re only two weeks from Iowa and–

MATTHEWS: But behind all that support and class background and regional
support for her and people that see her as a countrywoman like them and –
I understand the whole appeal–

MANIGAULT: OK.

MATTHEWS: – of the way she takes on the establishment. But peel it all
off, is she the person you want to see in the White House as president?

MANIGAULT: In the White House doing what?

MATTHEWS: Being president or vice president.

MANIGAULT: You`re saying–

MATTHEWS: Would you want to see her in the White House as president,
Omarosa? Sarah Palin?

MANIGAULT: Clearly, I want to see Donald Trump as president–

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Would you want – under any circumstances, would you want to see
Sarah Palin as president? Any circumstances.

MANIGAULT: As president?

MATTHEWS: Yes.

MANIGAULT: I want to see Donald Trump as president. I have no–

MATTHEWS: No–

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: – because you`re out here selling Trump–

MANIGAULT: That`s a gotcha!

MATTHEWS: – and he`s got her as a surrogate. I`m asking you–

MANIGAULT: He didn`t announce her–

MATTHEWS: – is she qualified to be president of the United States?

(CROSSTALK)

MANIGAULT: – running mate. He announced her–

MATTHEWS: Is she qualified–

MANIGAULT: – as a surrogate. And none of the surrogates have to go
through a vet like they`re running for president. They just have to–

MATTHEWS: OK.

MANIGAULT: – accomplish what you want them to accomplish.

MATTHEWS: OK.

MANIGAULT: And in this case, she`s going to help him win Iowa.

MATTHEWS: OK.

MANIGAULT: That`s why she is endorsing him–

MATTHEWS: So is it really on the table that–

MANIGAULT: – right now.

MATTHEWS: It wouldn`t even be on the table for her as VP, then.

MANIGAULT: I don`t believe so.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think I got your drift here.

John Feehery, this is the problem. And I think Omarosa`s great. I think –
I consider you a civilian, Omarosa. You`re not a political person. You`re
not running for office. But there`s a reasonable reaction she said, What
are you crazy?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: That was basically her reaction, what are you, crazy? Of
course, she can`t be president. And that is a problem!

MANIGAULT: I have never said that.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You have an illustrative (ph) personality. Let me go to–

(CROSSTALK)

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think the bigger problem for Donald
Trump is Sarah Palin going rogue and saying crazy things, which she did
yesterday. I don`t know – it was like performance art. It wasn`t really
even a political speech. Sarah Palin is not going to be this big asset for
her (sic), especially after Iowa. She`s going to be a huge liability and–

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: – you heard yesterday that was–

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY: Oh, I don`t know, just all kinds of – it was like a bunch of
poetry. I don`t know what it was. It was just – it was non-connected,
didn`t make sense.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

FEEHERY: And she`s not that great of a surrogate, and I think this could
be a problem. She dragged McCain down.

MATTHEWS: Is there a cabinet post you would trust her in?

FEEHERY: No! God, no!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Not even (INAUDIBLE)

FEEHERY: Nothing! No.

MATTHEWS: Nothing! Nothing!

FEEHERY: God! No. No.

MATTHEWS: Not transportation, nothing.

FEEHERY: Nothing!

MATTHEWS: Omarosa, let me ask you this, then. What is the role to be
played by Sarah Palin now? I mean, you`re a great surrogate. I think you
can do it. What is – what is her plan for the next couple weeks? What do
you see her possibly doing, helping him win Iowa, right?

MANIGAULT: She will help win Iowa. She`s going to help him go into –
with great momentum into New Hampshire. But she brings the grass roots of
the conservative movement. She brings the Tea Party. She brings
enthusiasm.

And that`s what the caucuses are all about. You want to see him roll into
Iowa with the excitement and enthusiasm that he needs to win, and she
brings that. And the media covers everything that she says. He called it
poetry. You know what? I call it politically savvy.

MATTHEWS: You think he`ll bring her to a place like New Hampshire. Well,
that`s – you think, John, she (sic) should bring her to New Hampshire?

FEEHERY: Oh, she`ll be a disaster in New Hampshire!

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I don`t think so, Omarosa. I think – you really think he`ll
bring her –

(CROSSTALK)

MANIGAULT: I said rolling into New Hampshire. I didn`t say–

(CROSSTALK)

MANIGAULT: – take him with her.

MATTHEWS: – “live free or die” state is really waiting for her! Anyway,
we`ll see.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I think she`s going to be cauterized. She`s going to be
sequestered in particularly places like Oklahoma and Iowa, where they have
a lot of home schoolers–

MANIGAULT: But what about the states that she and John McCain won in 2008?

MATTHEWS: Well, you know–

MANIGAULT: She`s going to be key in those states.

MATTHEWS: – they didn`t win the states that – they didn`t win the – the
key states are the ones they lost, I think–

MANIGAULT: But the ones that they won, she`ll be an asset to.

MATTHEWS: – the states that matter in this country.

Let me tell you the states that matter in America. I say it over and over
again because they`re the only states that matter in presidential elections
– Ohio, Virginia–

MANIGAULT: Where I`m from.

MATTHEWS: – Colorado and sometimes even Pennsylvania. Those are the
states that sort of decide our presidential elections. I threw in
Pennsylvania because I like it.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Omarosa Manigault, thank you. You`re a delightful
guest–

MANIGAULT: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: – and I think you have spoken such truth to us, even if you
didn`t want to.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

Coming up – a tale of two insurgents. New poling shows Bernie Sanders out
with a big lead in New Hampshire. Now the knives are out. Look at people
coming for him now. Can the Democratic establishment do to Bernie what the
Republicans are trying to do to Trump? Can they stop their outsider from
winning?

Plus, the big story off the 2016 campaign trail, that water horror out in
Flint, Michigan, where you can`t drink the water. The governor apologized
and says he`ll fix it. Today, President Obama travelled to Michigan, but
should he do more?

And Marco Rubio`s allies are cutting down Ted Cruz now. I love this. Look
at this. They`re playing the Canada card.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s Canadian about Ted Cruz? His tax plan. Cruz
wants a value added tax, like they have in Canada and European socialist
countries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, they`ve got Cruz`s head and the Canadian maple leaf up
there! We`ve got more of the latest and the greatest campaign ads with the
HARDBALL roundtable. You got to stick around for that tonight. It is – I
love ads, especially the nasty ones.

Finally tonight, the HARDBALL roundtable are going to tell us – well,
they`re going to tell me something I don`t know.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Well, as we told you, Trump`s ahead in Florida, but we`ve got
more numbers on the race in the Sunshine State. Let`s check the HARDBALL
“Scoreboard.”

Among Florida Democrats, Hillary Clinton beats Bernie Sanders by more than
2 to 1. It`s Clinton 62 percent, Sanders 26. In the potential general
election matchups, Trump has 3-point lead over Clinton. It`s trump with
47, Clinton 44. That`s a surprise. And against Bernie Sanders, Trump`s
lead in Florida grows to 5 points, 47-42, very close as general election
prospects.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, if I were
Secretary Clinton and I had started this campaign as the inevitable, kind
of anointed candidate in the Democratic Party, I would be nervous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: “I would be nervous.” Welcome back to HARDBALL. Hillary
Clinton`s chance to become the first woman president is somewhat in danger
as Bernie Sanders surges in New Hampshire. A new CNN/WMUR poll out of New
Hampshire shows Sanders leading Clinton now by 27 points among Democratic
primary voters. Now, remember, she won the New Hampshire primary eight
years ago against Barack Obama.

The numbers have national Democrats panicking and they`re sounding alarm
bells about the possibility of a self-described socialist as the Democratic
presidential nominee. Missouri senator Claire McCaskill told “The New York
Times,” quote, “The Republicans won`t touch him because they can`t wait to
run an ad with a hammer and sickle.” Wow.

Missouri`s governor, Jay Nixon, said, quote, “We like our politicians in
the mainstream, and he is not. He`s a socialist. It would be a meltdown
all the way down the ballot.”

Delaware governor Jack Markell says, “Candidates in purple states would
face serious problems with him on top of the ticket.”

But the Clintons know the art of political comebacks, of course. And the
comeback kid himself, Bill Clinton, was back in New Hampshire today making
the case for his wife.

Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This has turned into
an interesting election.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: It took longer than I thought. I`m just telling you, you can
discount what I say, but I – you have been good to me. You have been good
to our family. I trust you. And three weeks is an eternity in politics.
In New Hampshire, it is an eternity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Kasie Hunt is an MSNBC political correspondent. And Ed
Rendell is a Clinton supporter, of course, and the former governor of
Pennsylvania.

Kasie, I want to start with you on the reporting here. What is this word
panic? Can we actually say that based upon four or five people that have
come out and said, oh, my God, this guy is a socialist, he will kill us?
That is a panic. It is more like an attempt to poison the well, I would
say.

KASIE HUNT, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m not sure it is a panic attack, but it`s
definitely sounding the alarm.

I think it really sends the signal that suddenly the Clintons are in a
place that they didn`t use to be and they are frankly taking a risk by
going this route. If they anger too many these Sanders supporters, a lot
of whom are very, very excited about idea of voting for him, and, honestly,
the Clinton supporters coming out and saying that he is a socialist and
hitting him for that, they risk alienating some of those people and
potentially causing more of a problem for themselves.

It is pretty clear they have decided that that risk is worth it, which is
definitely a change over the course of the last couple of weeks.

MATTHEWS: Yes. It`s like in a basketball game you have to foul the other
side to get the ball back. It never looks good. You may end up losing
anyway, but if you don`t get the ball back by fouling, you lose.

Anyway, Kasie, you spoke to Senator McCaskill about her comments and Bernie
Sanders earlier today. Let`s watch that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: One of my colleagues said the
Republican attack machine has chain saws for hands. And I think the point
I was trying to make is Bernie has not felt those chain saws, and they
would come out with a vengeance if he was our nominee.

HUNT: Do you think a socialist, a self-declared socialist could win the
presidency of the United States?

MCCASKILL: I can only think for my state. I think it would be absolutely
impossible. You have got to win states like Missouri if you`re going to
win the presidency, states like Indiana, states like Ohio, states like
Pennsylvania.

It is very hard, I think, for most Americans to see how socialism would
cure the problems that we are facing right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Did you get a lead on her that she would say this or were you
just good in reporting it and she just came out with this?

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: No, it is interesting that both the people speaking out about
the problems of a socialist winning are both from Missouri, which is a
tough state for Democrats, of course.

HUNT: It always has been, Chris.

And I think that we have been more used to Republicans sounding the alarm
in places where they need to win. That has kind of been the trend in the
latest presidential elections. It wasn`t that long ago that the flip side
was true and that Democrats were in some ways afraid of the liberal label.

And to a certain extent, there are echoes of that here. Right? After
Senator McCaskill made those comments to “The New York Times,” it seemed as
though this was the argument that she was trying to make. And she went
pretty hard after it. She has been one of the most aggressive Clinton
surrogates so far. I think it will be interesting to see if she keeps this
line up or if there is some backlash against this attack against Bernie
Sanders and suddenly some of these people who were really being noisy about
it start to back off.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, congratulations on getting an interview in Dirksen
Building. I don`t know how you did that. But that was impressive.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Kasie. You are a pro.

HUNT: Thanks, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Governor Rendell.

Governor Rendell, you have been through a lot of these races for mayor, for
DA, everything. And the feeling of this seems to be there`s kind of this
weird slippage going on to the left and it seems like it is just happening.
It`s like sand coming out of an hourglass. And I don`t know how you stop
sand from coming out of an hourglass.

What do you do if you are Hillary in this case or Bill Clinton helping her?

ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, my advice would be no panic and
no jitters.

First of all, that poll in New Hampshire that you cited is an outlier. All
the rest of the polls have it within seven and three points. That`s number
one. Number two, there was a poll in Iowa last week that had Hillary up 21
points. Nobody – everybody discredited that poll because it was an
outlier. And it probably is.

And we also know, Chris, that New Hampshirites make up their minds a couple
of days after Iowa votes. You remember, after Barack Obama won in Iowa,
the next poll that following day, he was up 20 points in New Hampshire and
he wound up losing by four points to Hillary.

I don`t think there is any reason for panic. If you look at the numbers –
you quoted Florida. If you look at the numbers in Florida and South
Carolina and Nevada and places like that, Secretary Clinton is showing no
significant slippage at all in those places.

I think you have got two very liberal states that happen to come first.
And I think there`s no reason for panic at all. And I agree with Kasie.
Panic and attacks on Bernie Sanders comes with some risk.

Look, Bernie Sanders has performed a service for the nation. He`s brought
these issues front and center and they are going to stay front and center
all the way through November. I think we Democrats should appreciate what
Bernie has done.

MATTHEWS: Let me help you make your case. Suppose that one of your
successful races for governor of Pennsylvania, you heard gone into Bucks
County or Montgomery County – Bucks County, better – and announced a week
before the election, I have to admit this, I have never told this to
anybody, but I`m a socialist.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: What would have happened? What would have happened?

RENDELL: I would have picked up about 20 votes and lost about 10,000.

MATTHEWS: That is what I thought. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Go ahead.

RENDELL: Simple as that. Socialism – and Bernie is going to explain it.
He is a Democratic socialist. Listen to my ideas. That is going to be the
effort.

Will it be successful? I doubt it. I just think we are a nation that
these days latches onto labels. And as you said, liberal is considered a
bad label in a presidential election. Socialist, my gosh, my gosh.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think you are right.

Thank you so much, Kasie Hunt. Great reporting.

And thank you, Governor Rendell, for seasoned wisdom.

Up next, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder – he`s not so seasoned – says he
is sorry and he will fix the Flint water crisis. My God, it doesn`t even
look good. His apology a little too late, a little too little?

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: To you, the people of Flint, I say
tonight, as I have before, I am sorry, and I will fix it.

No citizen of this great state should endure this kind of catastrophe.
Government failed you, federal, state and local leaders, by breaking the
trust you placed in us. I`m sorry most of all that I let you down. You
deserve better. You deserve accountability. You deserve to know that the
buck stops here with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Michigan Governor Rick Snyder apologizing for the water crisis in
Flint, Michigan, where multiple missteps led to the city`s water system to
become contaminated with lead. The problem started way back in April of
`14.

And tonight, Flint`s 100,000 residents still can`t drink the water from
their home taps.

President Obama went to nearby Detroit today to talk up the auto industry,
and though he did not visit Flint, he acknowledged the crisis there in his
remarks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am very proud of what I
have done as president, but the only job that is more important to me is
the job of father. And I know that if I was a parent up there, I would be
beside myself that my kids` health could be at risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, now, joining me right now is U.S. Congressman Dan
Kildee, who represents Flint. He also was central to another important
news story this week, the release of former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, who
was held for three-and-a-half years over in Iran.

Well, congratulations, sir, and thank you for your service in getting Mr.
Hekmati back.

Let me ask you about this situation. Explain how water that you drink, you
drink out of a fountain, you drink for breakfast, you make orange juice
with it, you do everything with it, you drink it just as a meal, part of
your meal, how this could get lead in it.

REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Well, a state-appointed emergency manager
appointed by the governor made the switch from the Lake Huron water source
to save a few dollars to the Flint River, which is sort of beyond
comprehension.

That river water is 19 times more corrosive than lake water. And the lead
pipes, including lead service lines that are privately owned, went for
months with untreated river water corroding the lead, which, of course,
caused lead to go into the home distribution systems, and kids and others
were drinking that.

It could have been handled just simply by treating the river water with
corrosion control, but not even that was done; $140 a day is all it would
have cost, even if they wanted to use river water, to treat it for
corrosion control. It was a failure.

I do see that the governor has acknowledged it. But I want him to make it
right. Apologizing, that is fine. He needs to make it right.

MATTHEWS: Well, who knew about it at the time? It`s like Watergate. Who
knew and when did they know it and why didn`t they yell?

KILDEE: Right.

MATTHEWS: I am only hearing – Rachel Maddow is doing great reporting on
this now for a long time. She has been at other stories from the very
outset.

But why weren`t the people screaming at the city council level? Why
weren`t they screaming at the mayor`s level? Why weren`t the citizens
saying you are poisoning our kids and us? Why weren`t they yelling?

KILDEE: Well, they did yell. They did yell.

It did – it became – it was a local story for a long, long time. Until
we knew there was lead in the water, which was sometime over the summer, it
was simply a matter of poor-quality water. At least that`s what people
thought.

MATTHEWS: Yes, smelly water.

KILDEE: I wrote to the governor back in – yes, right.

I wrote to the governor in September asking him to seek federal help for
this. So, there were a lot of people who were raising the question, but
the state was entirely in control of the city of Flint and they were making
all the decisions, and obviously they really blew it. But, in this case,
there are real serious consequences for that, lifetime consequences.

MATTHEWS: Do you think an apology from the governor is enough?

KILDEE: No. It`s not nearly enough. He needs to make it right and he
needs to get nutritional help, educational support.

Lots of opportunities for these kids need to be paid for by the state,
because kids can potentially overcome lead exposure, but they need a lot of
help to do it. So, it is not just a matter of fixing the pipes and
switching the water. They have got to help these kids.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee.

KILDEE: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst and global editor of
The Huffington Post, Howard Fineman.

Anyway, the two GOP front-runners, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, once so
close, but now can`t even agree on an approach to Flint`s water crisis.
Trump is always talking about building walls. But when there`s a question
of tackling contaminated water in American cities, he seems stumped here.
Cruz goes after the politicians, but doesn`t offer really an answer to how
to fix the problem.

Well, take a listen to both of them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it`s a shame what is
happening in Flint, Michigan. A thing like that shouldn`t happen. But,
again, I don`t want to comment on that. They have got a very difficult
problem and I know the governor has got a very difficult time going. But I
shouldn`t be commenting on Clint.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What has happened in Flint,
Michigan, is an absolute travesty. It is a failure at every level of
government. It`s a failure of the city officials. It`s a failure of the
county officials. It`s a failure of the state officials. And the men and
women of Michigan have been betrayed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, there is a common theme.

Those are interesting rhetorical devices. One doesn`t want to talk,
doesn`t want to offend the governor or the political establishment of
Michigan. And the other guy does his usual angry rant.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.

Well, one guy is oblivious and ignorant, and the other guy is purposefully
antagonistic. And that summarizes why these two guys are in the lead.

MATTHEWS: And, by the way, he got the word betrayal in there.

FINEMAN: OK. Yes. Exactly, in the sense of doom and everything.

I think it summarizes the political situation in the country and the
conversation as a whole. The sense of community and the role of government
in the community in basic things has been hollowed out in this country by
debt, by politics, by disengagement, by disdain.

And there is no greater symbol of it than Flint. I have been in Flint. I
know the story of Flint. I grew up in Pittsburgh. I knew that story as
well. And the commitment of the governor and the state was not there in
the details. And the reason why is many communities in Michigan have gone
bankrupt.

They don`t have the tax base and they don`t have the full financial support
of the state. So, the state sends people in to oversee and cut costs to
try to reach a bottom line in bankruptcy, without any real feel for the
local community and the warp and woof of those communities.

MATTHEWS: And cost-cutting doesn`t get you to greatness.

FINEMAN: Right. Exactly.

And so – but both Trump and Cruz in their own way – first of all, Trump
wants to abolish the EPA altogether. Cruz claims not to want to get
abolish the EPA, but wants to get rid of virtually every program in the
EPA.

That is their attitude, and their antagonism to government is what Flint is
all about.

MATTHEWS: Trump should act more like the builder and less like the
showman.

Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman, for a great introduction to that for a
lot of us.

Still ahead, Kentucky senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul is going
to be here.

And later, ad wars. This is going to be fun. With days to go before Iowa
and New Hampshire, we have got the best ads – and some of them are really,
really rough – in the 2016 race.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In a speech yesterday endorsing Donald Trump, Sarah Palin also offered some
words of praise for one of his rivals, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Let me say something really
positive about one of those individuals, Rand Paul. I`m going to tell you
about that libertarian streak in him that is healthy, because he knows you
only go to war if you`re determined to win the war. And you quit footing
the bill for these nations who are oil rich we`re paying for.

Some of their skirmishes have been going on for centuries where they are
fighting each other and yelling “Allahu Akbar”, calling jihad on each
other`s heads forever and ever. Like I`ve said before, let him duke it out
and let Allah sort it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

What did you make of that endorsement of you, a sort of a sideline
endorsement of your libertarian views on war?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, she
endorsed me in my Senate race, and I think it is because she does have a
little bit of a libertarian streak as far believing that intervention isn`t
always the answer.

Sometimes Donald Trump does, too. You know, he says he was opposed to the
Iraq war and so was I.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PAUL: The difference is that I think now his view of the Middle East is
that, you know, we are going to go in like Ted Cruz, we are going to make
the sand glow and we`re going to bomb the hell out of them and carpet bomb
`em.

And I have a different approach. I don`t think that we – I think we may
end up creating more terrorists than you kill if you`re going to do
indiscriminate bombing. So, I don`t think that`s really the answer.

MATTHEWS: Well, not to ask you to explain Sarah Palin, but she did endorse
you somewhat. So, maybe you are stuck with her now. She said she wants to
use, her phrase, she is into kicking ISIS`s ass. So, that sounds pretty
hawkish.

PAUL: Well, there is the rub is how you are planning on doing that. I
don`t think ground troops over there is a good idea and I think ultimate
victory is gong to have to come from Sunni Muslims defeating Sunni Muslims.
So, if you`re in Tikrit, you`re never going to accept Americans there.

We can win. We can defeat ISIS. We can push them out of Tikrit, but if
you`re going to leave 1,000 soldiers there or 5,000 soldiers there to
patrol Tikrit, ultimately, there becomes the back current of Sunni Muslims
planting bombs wherever our soldiers are. They will accept a victory and
it`s an important victory for Islam.

Sunni Muslims need to come together and say that ISIS does not represent
our religion and really that`s when the big victory over this aberrant
ideology will come.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Palin`s role. I don`t want to bug you with
Palin`s role, that`s not your job. Let me ask you – where do you think
libertarianism is going to end up in this race, whether you win or lose?
Is it going to have an impact to 2016 in your party?

PAUL: Well, I think libertarianism is a growing influence. When you talk
about, if you want to say in general whether or not regime change is a good
idea, we have a good niche that opposes many leaders in both parties. So,
Hillary Clinton and Rubio have a similar foreign policy and that they both
want to topple Gadhafi.

The libertarian point of view is regime change made us less safe and I
think the facts are overwhelmingly in our favor. There is an overlap also
with another school that I would call foreign policy realism. I think
Brzezinski and Scowcroft, they represented some of the more realistic
foreign policy and I feel like I have a lot in common with them.

MATTHEWS: I`m with you.

Well, thank you. I hope it doesn`t hurt you, but I`m with you. Anyway,
I`m also with Scowcroft and Brzezinski. Anyway, Senator Rand Paul in
Kentucky.

HARDBALL is back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: You can always catch us at 7:00 p.m. Eastern here on MSNBC. But
you can play HARDBALL all week long online. Find us on Facebook by
searching “Hardball” and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @hardball. We
have interviews, behind-the-scenes photos and complete analysis for the
race for 2016.

And we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The only thing wilder than the circus of the campaign trail are TV ads
floating the airwaves. The Rubio camp is out to brand Ted Cruz, for
example, as some kind of Canadian socialist. Karl Rove is taking a page
from the Bernie Sanders playbook, and Ted Cruz makes a mean duck gumbo
apparently. We can make this stuff up.

I`m joined right now with the HARDBALL roundtable: “The Chicago Tribune`s”
Clarence Page, “USA Today`s” Susan Page, and “The Washington Post`s” E.J.
Dionne, who by the way is author of a great new book, “Why the Right Went
Wrong”.

We begin with the big fight on the left and Hillary Clinton`s message to
primary voters that it`s time to get real about this race. The Clinton
campaign is out with a new ad portraying her as battle-tested for the job.
Here`s part of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

AD NARRATOR: The person who lives here has to solve problems as big as the
world and as small as your kitchen table. That`s the job every day. And
now, the first lady who helped get health care for 8 million kids, the
senator who helped a city rise again, the secretary of state who stood up
for America and stared down hostile leaders around the world is the one
candidate for president who has everything it takes to do every part of the
job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Susan, what`s that ad intended to? Remind us that Hillary
Clinton is the person we`ve always known she is?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: Yes, she got a long resume, very impressive resume.
The trouble is, don`t we all know that already?

MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s what I thought.

S. PAGE: So, if you`re trying to persuade people that are not necessarily
for you to come to be for you, wouldn`t it make more sense to address some
of the weaknesses, some of the vulnerabilities? So, I think this ad is
true and it`s not like it`s a terrible ad, but I think it`s perplexing
strategically.

E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think they must have research that
shows there are a lot of people or enough people who want to vote for
Bernie to send a message, but still like her. And they`re trying to pull a
few of them back to her and that`s the sole purpose.

MATTHEWS: It`s hard to do that in February. It`s easier to do that in
October.

DIONNE: Well, but they`ve got to get it done, because this is very close.

MATTHEWS: Well, Bernie Sanders is getting an assist from an unlikely ally,
maybe not a wanted ally. Karl Rove of all people. Rove`s group, American
Crossroads, has hit the airwaves in Iowa with an attack on Hillary Clinton
that place directly to Bernie`s anti-Wall Street bona fides. Let`s watch
this ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

AD NARRATOR: Ever wonder how Hillary Clinton can afford so many ads?
Chances are, they were paid for with Wall Street cash. Hillary Clinton has
gotten 54 times more money from Wall Street interests than from all of
Iowa. Hillary rewarded Wall Street with the $700 billion bailout. Then,
Wall Street made her a multimillionaire.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I represented Wall Street.

AD NARRATOR: You sure did, Hillary.

Does Iowa really want Wall Street in the White House?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that was an unpleasant ad. We should note the multiple
layers of irony in there. Karl Rove was a senior adviser to President Bush
who signed the Wall Street bailout. Got it? And Rove`s Crossroads group
has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from investment
bankers.

What are they up to here? They`re trying to build up Bernie, because they
think Bernie is an easier November opponent, right?

C. PAGE: Yes, I think this is what conspiracy theorists call a false flag
operation here, because they want to pump Bernie.

MATTHEWS: False flag, I love it.

C. PAGE: They want to pump up Hillary – excuse me, pump up Bernie in
order to undercut Hillary.

I don`t know how well Karl Rove and the rest of his group are at
communicating with people on the left. I think we`ve seen –

MATTHEWS: Well, they`re bashing themselves in order to get the right
candidate to run against.

DIONNE: The reply ad from her doesn`t answer any of that. It just says
why is Karl Rove interfering, messing with our primary?

C. PAGE: That`s all you`ve got to say.

MATTHEWS: The same reason Claire McCaskill –

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Trying to pick your opponent.

Anyway, a new ad from Marco Rubio super PAC drapes of rival Ted Cruz in his
native, (INAUDIBLE) right here, Canadian flag.

Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

AD NARRATOR: What`s Canadian about Ted Cruz? His tax plan. Cruz wants a
value added tax, like they have in Canada, and European socialist
countries. Obama and Pelosi say they`re open to it.

President Reagan hated it. Conservatives called the Cruz scheme a
liberal`s dream because it makes it so easy to raise taxes.

Ted Cruz, wrong on taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s Todd Harris` work, probably. That`s great stuff.

But why is Rubio going after Cruz? He`s – I thought he was in that
bantamweight division, trying to win the establishment battle?

S. PAGE: Yes, I mean, that`s true. But isn`t it – give me a little humor
in an ad.

MATTHEWS: I just love it.

S. PAGE: Love connecting two completely unrelated things, the Cruz tax
plan, with the fact that he was born in Canada.

DIONNE: Do you know the beautiful thing about that –

MATTHEWS: He`s on the maple leaf.

DIONNE: – is the announcer says Canada, but the word on the screen is
France. The Republicans hate France. He probably eats freedom fries.

MATTHEWS: How does it show France?

DIONNE: Just in the words. At the moment, he says Canada – big word that
Republicans see is France.

MATTHEWS: OK.

C. PAGE: People who think Canada is still part of France.

MATTHEWS: Who needs Sarah Palin? Ted Cruz has an endorsement of “Duck
Dynasty`s” Phil Robertson. Here we go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)

PHIL ROBERTSON, DUCK DYNASTY: My qualifications for president of the
United States are rather narrow. Is he or she godly? Does he or she love
us? Can he or she do the job? And finally, would they kill a duck and put
`em in a pot and make `em a good duck gumbo?

I`ve looked at the candidates. Ted Cruz is my man. I`m voting for him.

(GUNSHOTS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, that`s a duck call, but I tell you, I am so alien from
that.

These three are going to tell me something I don`t know, coming back.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: We`re back with a round table.

Clarence, you first.

C. PAGE: Well, Bernie Sanders has been getting hit by the Black Lives
Matter folks, and now he`s being criticized for posing a racial reparations
and favoring class view. He was criticized heavily by Ta-Nehisi Coates and
expects other people will be following.

But it turns out Bill Clinton took the same position back in the `90s, and
Hillary Clinton hasn`t addressed it directly, she probably has the same
position. So, I don`t –

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Socialism and reparations. There`s a winner.

C. PAGE: Not too much, right.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Susan Page?

S. PAGE: Martin O`Malley could matter in Iowa.

MATTHEWS: By the way, I do believe it`s reparation if he could figure out
what it would be.

C. PAGE: That`s right, that`s right.

S. PAGE: Martin O`Malley could matter in the Iowa caucuses and here`s how
– you have to reach 15 percent to viable in a caucus. He`s not going to
reach 15 percent, maybe anywhere.

So, that means his small number of supporters, 5 percent of the Iowa
electorate are up for grabs. And if you have a very close race between
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, which you may have, those supporters
and where they go could make a difference.

MATTHEWS: E.J.?

DIONNE: In the book, I tell the story –

MATTHEWS: Name of the book?

DIONNE: It`s “Why The Right Went Wrong.” Thank you. And in the book, I
tell the story of this remarkable controversial video that the Goldwater
campaign made back in 1964, and it showed rioters and African-Americans,
law-breakers everywhere, contrasted with comforting scenes of boys reading
the pledge of allegiance and the Constitution.

It was a “take your country back” ad 50 years ago. It was so
controversial, they ended up pulling it, but they showed it around the
country, and it could run today as a Donald Trump ad, and it prefigured
hundreds of Republican ads for the next 50 years.

MATTHEWS: We`re going to have you back more on the book later. Of course,
the great E.J. Dionne. And thank you, Clarence Page, and thank you, Susan
Page.

That`s it for HARDBALL. Thanks for being with us tonight.

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.

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