Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 3/7/2016

Al Cardenas, Sherrod Brown, Tulsi Gabbard, Ann Compton, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Heidi Przybyla, Margaret Carlson

Date: March 7, 2016
Guest: Al Cardenas, Sherrod Brown, Tulsi Gabbard, Ann Compton, Doris
Kearns Goodwin, Heidi Przybyla, Margaret Carlson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: The battle of Michigan.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Las Vegas right now.

And tonight, power politics in Motor City, in that hard-working, cold
weather, NFL-cheering Midwest world we belovedly call the Rust Belt.

Hillary Clinton showed last night she`s got a fastball, hammering Bernie
for his vote against the automobile bail-out. What killed Mitt Romney, his
“Let them eat cake” call to let Detroit go bankrupt, still has its
firepower. You don`t vote against cars and car-making jobs in a part of
the country that helped make America great.

You don`t give your political rival an issue to mow you down with. You
don`t do what Mitt and Bernie did and stand still – or stand tall – and
still stand tall in the upper American Midwest if you vote against cars.
And that is precisely where the experts think Donald Trump could win if he
gets the chance this coming November.

Well, today, Trump continued to hammer away at his rivals, Marco Rubio and
Ted Cruz.


in bible high – bible high – puts the bible down, then lies to you. He
told you – I mean, it`s unbelievable.

And Rubio`s worse. I mean, this guy is such a scoundrel. You look at his
past with his credit cards. You look at the driveway that he built out of
funds that don`t belong to him. This guy is a disaster, on top of which
he`s a choker because when Chris Christie – who endorsed me, by the way –
when he went after him–


TRUMP: It`s true. I thought – I thought he was going to melt. I was all
set to grab him – by the way, with this very powerful hand.


TRUMP: I was very – he made it up. He made that up.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, the Republican front-runner, that`s Trump, also released
an ad in Florida today attacking Rubio as corrupt.

Anyway, for Republicans who hope to stop Trump – Trump from actually
getting the nomination, the next eight days leading up to the Florida
primary are crucial. But there`s a huge problem in their way, and it
stands now – as it stands now, the only candidate standing between Donald
Trump winning this nomination and going into Cleveland with the inevitable
nomination in his hands is the roundly, and I think, well, appropriately,
despised Ted Cruz, who is actually to the right of Trump politically. So
it`s a battle now between Trump and Cruz.

One Republican strategist told Politico today, “It is why it has been so
difficult to get an anti-Trump campaign together. If`s the ultimate
beneficiary of anti-Trump efforts is Ted Cruz, the effort itself is
probably not worthwhile.” Not worthwhile.

I`m joined right now by NBC`s Halle Berry – I mean, sorry, Hallie Jackson
– I always make that mistake – Hallie Jackson–


MATTHEWS: – “Washington Post” columnist – it`s not a bad mistake,
actually – columnist Eugene Robinson – thank you, sir – also an MSNBC
political analyst, and Al Cardenas, a former senior adviser to Jeb Bush and
the former chair of the Republican Party of Florida.

I want to ask Al Cardenas, my friend, what is it now about your party that
has shrunk now – I know the Democrats are down to two, Bernie Sanders and
Hillary Clinton. But the Republican Party started with, like, 17 people,
including all kinds of people, Carly Fiorina and – oh, my God, the former
– Gilmore, Jim Gilmore, and (INAUDIBLE) quite a list.

And now it`s down to Trump and somebody, I think he`s to his right, Ted
Cruz, and less popular because people really know Cruz. They don`t really
know Trump. To know Cruz is not to love him. I`m just making my editorial
judgment there.

What is yours, sir? You`re a Republican. What does the party think of
having a choice between those two guys?

AL CARDENAS, FORMER JEB BUSH ADVISER: Well, listen, it`s a year (ph) of
fear, right? And fear incites reasonable people to do unreasonable things.
But 70 percent of our voters so far have voted for either Donald Trump or
Ted Cruz. That`s not 51 percent, that`s 72 percent. And so obviously,
it`s a strong majority.

And the only chance you`re going to have that either Ted Cruz or Donald
Trump are not the nominee of the party is if you go into the convention as
an open convention. But then you say to yourself, All right, well, if it`s
an open convention, who`s going to negotiate what, if Ted Cruz and Donald
Trump have the vast majority of the delegates? You would think they`d
figure something out amongst themselves. So, listen–

MATTHEWS: You mean they might put a ticket together? Can you imagine that
ticket, Trump and Cruz?

CARDENAS: Well, either one would like to put a ticket together. But my
sense is I don`t see anybody else around the table being the lead in any
ticket. So you`re either going to have a ticket that`s put together by Ted
Cruz at the top or Donald Trump at the top, or both of them.

But the best Kasich and Marco can hope for is to get to the convention at
an open convention. But I don`t see, with the number of delegates they`re
likely to get, that they`ll be a driving force in making the ultimate deal.
They could get on the ticket, but it`s not going to be their choice.

MATTHEWS: Hallie Jackson, it looks to me the Cruz people know they`re the
only alternative now to Donald Trump. How do they play that to win?
That`s what I can`t see. I look at the states that are left, Cruz has done
very well in that spine down the middle we were talking the other night–


MATTHEWS: – very well in the Bible Belt-ish part of the country. But he
hasn`t done well in the Southeast, among the old Deep South states, and he
may well lose tomorrow in Mississippi. I don`t know. It`s probably going
to be close.

But where is his strength? Where does Cruz win this thing to beat Trump?

JACKSON: So the thinking behind the campaign`s strategic moves, Chris,
goes that if they can get down to a two-man race, then all of that support
that right now is behind Marco Rubio or John Kasich will come over to Ted
Cruz and will give him enough to ultimately beat Trump.

They`re betting that people in the establishment will pick preserving the
party over maybe personality issues, or the fact that they just don`t like
Ted Cruz, that it`s sort of – for the good of the party, you`ll see those
voters and that support come behind Ted Cruz and not go behind Donald

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at this. Gene, I want you to respond to
this. For some Republicans, it comes down to the old phrase “The devil you
know versus the devil you don`t.” Mitt Romney and Senator Lindsey Graham
both said this weekend they would back Cruz – and that`s a stretch for
both of them – they`re not – they`re not right-wing Republicans,
generally – over Trump.

Let`s watch them.


CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”: Are you comfortable supporting
John Kasich, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, any one of those three candidates,
against Donald Trump?

of those three is a real Republican.

Cruz over Trump. I`d prefer Rubio over Kasich, Rubio and Kasich over Cruz.
But if Ted`s the alternative to Trump, he`s at least a Republican

And here`s my message to the Republican Party and the conservative
movement. I`d rather risk losing without Donald Trump than try to win with
him because it will do more damage over time.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s becoming an incredible rubber band. I don`t know
why he`s so flexible.

Anyway, Senator Graham is the same man who made this joke about Cruz, if
you call it a joke, less than two weeks ago.


GRAHAM: If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate–


GRAHAM: – and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you.



MATTHEWS: Eugene, the audience began to laugh at the setup there. They
didn`t wait for the punch line.



MATTHEWS: – kill him on the floor of the Senate, they started laughing.
I know that was–

ROBINSON: They knew what was coming.

MATTHEWS: I know that was, I think, a press crowd. We`ve got to put that
in context. Go ahead.

ROBINSON: Yes, well, they knew what was coming. I mean, you heard the
great enthusiasm in Mitt Romney and Lindsay Graham there, right? It`s,
like, Oh, well, yes, we`ll support Ted Cruz, I guess.


ROBINSON: You know? So I mean, that`s the – that seems to be the choice,
as they see it. Either they get Donald Trump or they get a guy who they
really don`t like, who they don`t think is going to win, but whom they will
support at least nominally. You know, whether he gets actual support is
another thing.

MATTHEWS: I think of the old phrase, “If you`re not with the one you love,
love the one you`re with.” And I`m sure this is pretty desperate territory

Let me go now to – the great hope of the Republican establishment, Marco
Rubio, seems to be collapsing. In the last – or actually, the first 20
contests this year, he`s finished first in only one, Minnesota.
(INAUDIBLE) also, in all fairness, he did win Puerto Rico. He`s only come
in second four times. In 14 out of the 20 races held so far, he`s come in
third or worse.

And a new Monmouth poll out of Florida today – out of Florida – shows
Rubio 8 points behind Trump in his home state of Florida.

Al Cardenas, who`s going to win down there eight days from now?

CARDENAS: Yes, it`s tough for Rubio because over a million votes have
already been cast in Florida–


CARDENAS: – at a time when he was down in double digits. So that means
that on election day, when you get about 50 percent of the voters counting,
he`s going to have to win by 5, 6, 10 points in order to carry the day.
It`s a tough hurdle. He`s trying hard. And I mean, I think most
Republicans hopes he wins Florida and Kasich wins Ohio.

But listen, even – there are 1,596 delegates to be selected. Kasich needs
75 percent of those, Rubio 68, Cruz 58 and Trump 53. It`s hard to figure
that those two fellows can get to the number.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about Rubio in Florida. He`s Cuban-American.
He`s a smart guy. He`s young. He`s attractive. He`s a good cold warrior,
I guess, still. He still has that sort of hawkish attitude about him.

Why doesn`t he win? What`s his weakness? Is it the fact that–

CARDENAS: I don`t know, Chris. I thought – yes, I thought when Chris
Christie and Jeb Bush dropped out that all that support in Florida would go
to Marco and he`d leap (ph) to number one. I was hoping he would. I mean,
he`s my favorite candidate of the remaining candidates.

But instead of moving forward, he seems to have taken a back step in spite
of the fact that both Jeb Bush and Chris Christie are out of the race. I
don`t understand it.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, look at this, Ted Cruz made another one of his wild
allegations the other day, in fact, against Trump over the weekend without
any evidence to back it – any evidence. He accused members of the media,
and that`s us, of sitting on major exposes about Trump until after he
becomes the nominee.

Let`s watch Cruz do it again.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All of the attacks on Donald
that the media is not talking about now, you better believe come September,
October, November, if he were the nominee, every day on the nightly news
would be taking Donald apart.

I can`t tell you how many media outlets I hear, you know, have this great
expose on Donald, on different aspects of his business dealings or his
past. But they said, You know what? We`re going to hold it to June or
July. We`re not going to run it now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying reporters have told you that?

CRUZ: Absolutely.


CRUZ: You know, look, I`m not going to out media outlets, but I can tell
you there is so much there.


MATTHEWS: You know, Halle Berry – Hallie – Hallie Jackson, I would love
to know why we can`t use occasionally lie detectors. Just – there`s a
fact argument, not, Are you a conservative or a liberal or this opinion or
that. He is stating a statement of fact, of informed fact, he claims, that
he`s talked to major media organizations who are sitting on the dirt about
Donald Trump.

Now, I`m thinking what we used to call the major media, the major
metropolitan newspapers, “The Times,” “The Post,” “The Journal” and
(INAUDIBLE) the major broadcast nets. You can throw in the cables.

Who is he talking about, “Time” magazine? I mean, who is this major news
organization group that`s sitting on all the dirt? What is he talking

JACKSON: Right. So a couple of points to make. Number one, we`ve asked
the campaign what he`s referring to and haven`t heard anything back yet.
Number two, you know, Ted Cruz has done things before where he`s said, for
example, about Donald Trump`s tax returns, brought up questions about them.
Well, we don`t know what`s in them. Maybe there`s a bombshell. We just
don`t know. He`s sort of sowing the seeds–


MATTHEWS: Tony Solano (ph), the proof that he`s in with the mob is in his
tax returns.


MATTHEWS: I don`t know what tax returns shows you`re in with the mob. Go

JACKSON: – outlets – he`s saying, I`ve spoken with them and they`re
telling me that they`re – I think if you go back and look at the headlines
and you look at the news stories, there have been plenty that have been
written and that have been talked about about Donald Trump. So it`s sort
of a big question mark on what he`s talking about here. We`ll find out, I

ROBINSON: News outlets don`t sit on – don`t sit on bombshells!

MATTHEWS: I wonder who this person is at “The New York Times” – Gene –
Gene, have you ever heard of a major newspaper–


MATTHEWS: – you`ve been a big editor – of sitting on a really good story
they got because it`s not ripe enough politically? It isn`t going to have
the right firepower. So let`s hold this until June or July.

ROBINSON: That has never–

MATTHEWS: Because they would like to be first, first of all.

ROBINSON: That never, ever happens because guess what? If you`ve got all
this bombshell information and you`ve managed to figure it out, you better
publish it because somebody else can figure it out, too. They can find it
out, too, and you`ll get beaten on the story.

Therefore, we don`t hold stories. You don`t hold – you publish stories
when they`re ready.

JACKSON: And remember who Cruz is talking to here. He wants to get this
message out to voters. He wants to basically put question marks in their
minds about Donald Trump`s viability in an election–


JACKSON: – as he goes on to make an electability case.

CARDENAS: Hey, look, Chris–

MATTHEWS: He`s Joe McCarthy.

CARDENAS: – every campaign – every campaign–

MATTHEWS: He`s channeling Joe McCarthy with these kind of charges.

CARDENAS: – spends millions of dollars–

MATTHEWS: Pardon me, Al? Pardon me?

CARDENAS: Every campaign spends millions of dollars on opposition
research. Files are this thick. There`s nothing that escapes a good
opposition research.

MATTHEWS: I know. I know. That`s so true. Thank you so much, Al
Cardenas. Thank you, Hallie Jackson, and thank you, Eugene McCarthy. (sic)

Coming up – Eugene McCarthy – Eugene Robinson – why do I – Eugene
McCarthy, Halle Berry – I get the first names right!

Coming up, after – you`re not anywhere McCarthyite, and Halle Berry is not
a knock, by the way, Hallie Jackson.

Anyway, coming up – after their feisty debate last night, Hillary
Clinton`s looking to put Bernie Sanders away. She`s got her tactical
skills in order right now. She`s got the edge in both states tomorrow –
that`s Mississippi and Michigan – and Sanders has to prove he can win
beyond the campuses and the caucuses. Can he nab a big state like Michigan
tomorrow night? Looking tough for Bernie.

Plus, on the eve of Michigan and this (ph) with eight days left until the
make-or-break contest in Florida, Ohio and Illinois, the HARDBALL
roundtable will be here to tell me something I don`t know.

Also tonight, remembering Nancy Reagan. She fiercely protected her husband
during his – her – his presidency and kept the Reagan torch burning
brightly ever since. There she is – my friend.

Finally, “Let Me Finish” with the end of “Downton Abbey” tonight. It went
away last night. What a loss.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, we`ve got new numbers on the primary race coming up in New
York state, where voters head of the polls April 19th. Let`s check the
HARDBALL “Scoreboard.”

On the Republican side, Donald Trump is on top with 45 percent, Marco Rubio
and John Kasich are tied for second with just 18 points apiece. Ted Cruz
comes in way back at 4.

On the Democratic side – this`ll be great – Hillary Clinton is leading
with 55 percent, Bernie Sanders trails with just 34. I thought that would
be closer. Doesn`t look close at all.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. In a move that clears the field for
the eventual Democratic candidate in the general election, former New York
mayor Michael Bloomberg today announced – there`s the big news tonight –
he will not seek the presidency as a third party candidate. Bloomberg will
not run.

He writes, “As the race stands now, there`s a good chance that my candidacy
would lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz. That is
not a risk I can take in good conscience.”

Bloomberg`s decision is also a sign of Hillary Clinton`s current strength.
She`s getting stronger after she turned on a solid performance at the
debate last night in Flint, Michigan. While Bernie Sanders hammered
Clinton for her past support of trade agreements, like NAFTA, Clinton
unveiled a new line of attack on Sanders on the auto bailout. Catch this
as a tactical shot.

Here she goes.


supported virtually every one of these disastrous trade agreements!

I`ll tell you something else that Senator Sanders was against. He was
against the auto bail-out. We just had the best year that the auto
industry has had in a long time. I voted to save the auto industry.


CLINTON: He voted against the money that ended up saving the auto


CLINTON: I think that is a pretty big difference.

SANDERS: Well, I – if you are talking about the Wall Street bail-out,
where some of your friends destroyed this economy–

CLINTON: You know–

SANDERS: Excuse me! I`m talking!


CLINTON: If you`re going to talk, tell the whole story, Senator Sanders!

SANDERS: Let me tell my story, you tell yours.

CLINTON: I will.


MATTHEWS: Wow. There she–


MATTHEWS: Anyway, some noted that Sanders appeared to be dismissive of
Clinton, not a good sign when male goes against female, often cutting her
off. Here`s what Senator Sanders had to say when he was asked about his
tone. That was the big word coming out of last night, his tone. What he
said today about it.


SANDERS: When I was speaking, she interrupted me. I did not interrupt
her. Despite the fact that she spoke longer than – you know, red lights
went on, she kept talking. I didn`t interrupt her. But I think in the
middle of a debate, if somebody is trying to make a point and somebody else
interrupts you, I think that`s rude.


MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by Ohio senator, Democratic senator,
Sherrod Brown who supports Hillary Clinton. Senator, what did you make of
last night`s debate on that part of tone, first of all?


MATTHEWS: Do you think that he was – that he was a little pushy, a little
bit difficult, chauvinistic, whatever term we`re using?

BROWN: As you said, I support Hillary Clinton. I know both of them well.

I think passions run high in these debates. But I can`t help, when I hear
the criticism and the parsing of who interrupted whom there, is to make the
contrast with the Republican debates.

And the Republican debates are – they look like children. They`re
cafeteria food fights. They interrupt. They call each other names.
Hillary and Bernie have been on the stage day after day, week after week.
They`re going to lose their tempers a little. They`re going to be sort of
hot under the collar sometimes.

I don`t put a lot of stock into those criticisms, when I contrast how
substantive and dignified and how few personal attacks there are one
against another on the Democratic side, because they`re both ready to lead.
On the Republican side, they`re just ready to fight. And that`s tragic for
our system.

MATTHEWS: What do you make about Hillary hitting him hard, hitting Bernie?
We`re using first names this year, for some reason, but Hillary hitting
Bernie on the question of his support, his opposition to the auto bailout?

BROWN: Yes. Well, I think that`s a big, big issue in Michigan. It`s a
big, big issue in Ohio.

And when we did the auto rescue in 2009, once the auto rescue sort of went
into effect, we have seen a turnaround in the economy. We have seen 71, 72
consecutive months of job growth all over the country, and led by Ohio and
Michigan in many ways, because the auto industry, particularly GM and
Chrysler, have gone into bankruptcy and were in such trouble.

And we know, as they began to turn around and that job growth happened
month after month, we saw more manufacturing jobs. And I`m particularly
pleased with what Hillary is doing, what Secretary Clinton`s doing on her
manufacturing plans.

And, you know, you don`t – what pulls an economy is housing and
manufacturing. And I think she`s doing the right thing on both. But I
think what she`s saying on manufacturing is really important to create a
middle class. And some say that, you know, the middle class started in
Flint. I like to say it started in Cleveland with unions, and the auto
industry, and the steel industry, and what they have done to bring hundreds
of thousands, millions of families into the middle class.

It doesn`t matter where it started. But we`re seeing those kinds of gains.
We`re not close to where we need to be yet, of course.

MATTHEWS: Let`s take a regular family out there. They root for the Lions.
They`re used to the cold weather. They have had hardworking jobs where you
work with your hands, semi-skilled jobs, if they`re lucky.

How do they – I see that some of those people may be breaking for Trump
and some breaking for Bernie. What would make a person have a – make a
decision in that to go left or – I don`t know what Trump is, right,
sometimes right – but both against trade agreements. How do you see that
dividing among the people you know out there?

BROWN: Well, let me answer it a slightly different way, Chris.

The top four candidates for president this year, it`s unprecedented in a
whole host of ways. One of them is – the top two Republicans, Trump and
Cruz, the top two Democrats, Clinton and Sanders, all four of them are
against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I have never seen a race when the
agreement across party lines of the candidates that have the most chance
for the nomination are against these trade agreements, because they`re
finally listening to the public on these trade agreements clearly have cost
millions of jobs in places like Parma, Ohio, and Hamtramck, Michigan, and
Macomb County and Toledo.

And I think we`re going to see a different kind of trade policy come out of
a Clinton administration that deals with manufacturing, and deals with
raising standards, and undoes some of this investor state shift to
corporate power from democratically elected governments, all those that
should be part of our trade agreements.

MATTHEWS: OK. it`s great to have you on, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.


BROWN: Thanks.

MATTHEWS: By the way, the most important state in the union come November.
It always is.


MATTHEWS: And another moment right now that has received a lot of
attention, another moment last night, the candidates were asked if they had
any blind spots when it comes to the issue of race in this country.
Senator Sanders offered up this response.


don`t know what it`s like to be living in a ghetto. You don`t know what
it`s like to be poor. You don`t know what it`s like to be hassled when you
walk down the street.


MATTHEWS: Well, to many, it appeared that Sanders was reinforcing the
stereotypes that only African-Americans live in impoverished neighborhoods.

That`s not exactly what he said, but it came across that way. Here`s how
he clarified the remark today.


SANDERS: What I meant to say is, when you talk about ghetto,
traditionally, what you`re talking about is African-American communities.
So, I think many white people are not aware of the kinds of pressures and
the kind of police pressure that sometimes takes place within the African-
American community.


MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi
Gabbard of from Hawaii, who supports Bernie Sanders.

Is this about nomenclature, vocabulary? Most of my friends, people I work
with, African-Americans, I think you can say the hood, the neighborhood.
You can make references like – ghetto is an archaic term. But is that
something that`s politically lethal? I don`t know. What do you make of
that? He`s getting hit with this thing.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: Aloha. Aloha, Chris. It`s good to join

I think what Bernie said speaks for himself, although I think it`s
important for us, as I recognize the high stakes of this election, this is
not games. This is not about political gamesmanship.


MATTHEWS: Could you put the mike close, Congresswoman? Can you put the
mike close?

GABBARD: Can you hear me here?

MATTHEWS: Yes. Now I can. OK, please.

GABBARD: There are very high stakes in this election. And that`s where
you see this huge turnout here tonight in Michigan.

I know, for myself, as a veteran, someone who deployed to Iraq, who served
in a medical unit, who saw every day the very high cost of war, how much is
at stake in this election as we select who our next commander in chief will

I supported Bernie Sanders, and will work very hard to get him through this
Democratic nomination, and to get him to be our president, because it`s
important that we have a commander in chief who exercises good judgment,
who has foresight, who has the intelligence to be able to make the right
decisions about where and when we use our American military power, and
where and when we don`t, just as importantly.

And this is what`s at stake. War is real. It affects our lives, not only
for those who serve overseas, but lives here at home, because of the
trillions of dollars that we have wasted in these interventionist regime
change wars that Hillary Clinton has supported and championed in many
different ways in Iraq and Libya, now in Syria.

Now we`re faced with situations like we have seen in Flint, the
heartbreaking crumbling infrastructure that`s ruining so many people`s
lives with the water crisis that they`re facing, and similar challenges
across the country.

We need to keep those resources here at home, so that we can nation-build
and strengthen our own country.

MATTHEWS: Why did Hillary Clinton vote for the Iraq War?

GABBARD: That`s a good question. And I think people should ask her,
again, to tell why she voted for that Iraq War. She`s said that she`s
regretted it.

But time and time again, whether it`s her really championing the military
overthrow of Gadhafi in Libya, pushing the Obama administration to conduct
that, resulting in a totally failed state, thousands of lives lost, and now
ISIS and al Qaeda having a stronghold there, and, present day, the war in
Syria, she is pushing for that war and promises to escalate it if she is
elected as president, which deeply, deeply concerns me, as it should all of

MATTHEWS: I agree with every single word you just spoke. And I hope you
have an influence in this next administration, no matter who wins.

GABBARD: Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, U.S. Congressman Tulsi Gabbard of the state
of Ohio.

Up next, remembering first lady Nancy – state of Hawaii. Why? What did I
say? Ohio. State of Hawaii, of course.

First lady Nancy Reagan, whose 94 years spanned from Chicago to Hollywood
to Pennsylvania Avenue.

And we will be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Tonight, the nation mourns, as we remember the life of former first lady
Nancy Reagan, who died yesterday at the age of 94. Not a bad run for

President Obama ordered the flag at the White House lowered to half-staff
in respect for her early today, and who offered some reflections of his own
on Mrs. Reagan. Here he is.


lucky enough to have an extraordinary partner in my life as well, I know
how much she meant, not just to President Reagan, but to the country as a
whole. He was lucky to have her. And I`m sure he`d be the first to
acknowledge that. So, she will be missed.


MATTHEWS: Well, that`s what truth looks like from a politician. There`s
no way he was not telling the truth there.

Anyway, Mrs. Reagan will lay in repose Wednesday and Thursday at the Reagan
Library in Simi Valley, California. Her funeral will be held on Friday.
First lady Michelle Obama will attend that service.

In the 1980s, Nancy Reagan was known for bringing style and Hollywood
glamour to the White House. As first lady, she was the face of the Just
Say No campaign, the effort to try to dissuade kids from using drugs. She
was truly one of her husband`s closest advisers, I think clearly the
closest, if not that.

Anyway, earlier today, her son Ron, I heard him on NBC this morning on “The
Today Show,” gave a more personal side about his parents and how they loved
each other, the great love affair he said they had that lasted over 50
years. Here`s our friend Ron.


RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Once they had bonded together, they really
were inseparable. I mean, it sounds cliche. I don`t think that they ever
spent a day apart where they didn`t call, speak on the phone. He wrote her
letters, you know, all her life, all his life. They were in love.



I`m joined by Ann Compton, former White House correspondent who covered the
Reagans and six other presidents as well.

Ann, you have done it all.

And Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian.

We have needed you a lot lately, Michael.

And Doris Kearns Goodwin is for the same reason. We like to get these
things in perspective.

And when somebody dies, that seems to be the time we do realize who they
were and what they were.

Let me ask you, Ann, about the assassination, because of all the things
that happened in the Reagan administration, good, bad, whatever, evil was
the one we saw on television, the assassination almost of a president. How
did that affect Nancy Reagan?

the protectiveness that she felt for Ronald Reagan 62 days after he took
the oath of office, suddenly, her beloved Ronnie was lying in a hospital
seven blocks away, near death.

And all the rest of her career in the White House, it was protecting that.
She particularly protected him when it came to White House staff, finding
the best press secretary, somebody young and handsome, she said, finding
somebody getting rid of a White House chief of staff like Donald Regan that
she didn`t trust.

And more than anything else, I think Nancy Reagan preserved what she could
of a husband. He was the oldest president, I think, Michael would know
better than I, but oldest president we had had. And she was the
sustaining, guiding light.

MATTHEWS: So true.

Michael, your thoughts?


And I think she really made it possible for him to be president. Ronald
Reagan was a great man in all sorts of ways, you know, famously optimistic
and almost a romantic. Nancy Reagan complemented him almost perfectly,
because she was not optimistic, as was her, in her general – you knew her
very well, Chris. I don`t think you would disagree with that.

When she saw that full room of people, she had that enormous X-ray vision.
She could see who might have the possibility to either do harm to her
husband politically, or someone who might have a potential that other
people had not seen.

She was a wonderful judge of people in a way that he was not. So this was
not only a great marriage. It was an amazing political partnership.

MATTHEWS: And I love the way she saw through Don Regan.

Doris, thank you for joining us.

Your views about Nancy Reagan as the big half of a power couple.

is, when you look at the arc of her first ladyship, when she came in first,
there was all that glamour. There were the expensive clothes. There was
the china.

And it seemed like she was getting criticized from all sides. And then
even after Ronald Reagan`s assassination attempt, when she had the
astrologer come in, that became a problem later on. But then, over time, I
think that extraordinary protection that she gave to him translated itself
into real power, so that she really was in a way the power behind the

Who was the person but she who helped him in the preparation for that
second debate with Walter Mondale. Even earlier, she was the one who
helped him on the microphone, “This is my microphone” in New Hampshire.
And then, of course, releasing the hard-liners and becoming more of a
rapprochement with the Soviet Union, changing Donald Regan and getting the
White House staff changed, and yet never taking credit for that, so by the
end of his presidency, she was so popular.

And it just shows the media goes from one extreme to the other, and then
there was some criticism she`s too powerful. But I think underneath it all
is exactly what Ann said, that the main thing she gave him was relaxation,
replenishment, and love. And that`s what any person needs, much less a
president, in the middle of difficult times.

MATTHEWS: And just to recall everybody, and Ann especially, how times were
different back in the `80s, before I got to know Nancy Reagan as a human
being and got to really like her as a friend, she was just a political
figure to me.

And we were writing up some jokes for Tip O`Neill about the china. And Tip
said: “Don`t tell jokes about people`s family members. They will never
forget it. It`s a one-shot wonder. It`s a disaster. Don`t do it.”

It was a scolding we got from him. And that is one way things were
different back then, before this playpen of politics we`re watching today.
It was so different. You didn`t take shots at a member – and then you
have what`s going on today, with your hands are small, and therefore – and
all this stupid stuff. And your ears are too big.

And, I mean, give me a break. Anyway, and Donald Trump wants to go after
the family of terrorists.


COMPTON: Remember that Nancy Reagan, of the first ladies I covered over an
arc of 40 years, she got as bad press as anybody, just short of Hillary


COMPTON: But what does she do? She went to the Gridiron Dinner dressed in
feather boas and rubber boots and said secondhand clothes. And she, every
step of the way, tried to make up for and blunt that.

And who were her best friends in Washington? When Frank Reynolds, the
anchor of ABC`s evening news died, the presidential limousine led a state
funeral to Arlington National Cemetery. Nancy Reagan`s friends were always
at the very top.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Wow. What a story you got there.

Thank you so much, Ann Compton. You know your stuff.

And thank you, Michael Beschloss and Doris. And more next time you`re on.
I`m sorry. You guys are too great for these small shots, but that`s the
way TV works.

We will be right back.



MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL,

Tomorrow`s another big day in the primary season. The night`s main event
is, of course, the state of Michigan. If the polls are any indication out
there so far, both Trump and Hillary Clinton will glide to victory.

A new Monmouth poll finds Trump ahead by 13 points at 36 percent. He`s
followed by Cruz at 23 percent, John Kasich at 21 percent. Cruz does have
some power in that Midwest area. Kasich down to 21 percent. John has got
to do better than that. Rubio trails it fourth which is becoming a
familiar pattern.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 55 to 42. By
the way, that`s a majority. Did you notice?

What makes Michigan particularly interesting is the state Trump hopes to
pick off from the Democrats this fall. He`s going for the win out there.

According to “The Associated Press”, Donald Trump`s most plausible path to
victory in the general election would be a GOP map unlike any in years. He
would be relying on white working class, largely white voters in states
that have long been Democratic bastions in presidential contests from Maine
to Pennsylvania to Michigan. By the way, George Wallace carried Michigan.

I`m joined right now by tonight`s round table, Heidi Przybyla, she`s a
senior political reporter for “USA Today,” David Corn is Washington bureau
chief for “Mother Jones” and an MSNBC political analyst, and Margaret
Carlson is a columnist with “Bloomberg News.”

I know your – that baited breath, David, but I want to start with Heidi.

It is interesting. If you look back in history, George Wallace did carry
the Democratic primary in Michigan, back in `72. So, there`s a – it`s not
all racial, but there`s a lot of class added to there among white working
people. Talk about it.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: Well, particularly, Chris, down in the
southeastern portion of Michigan, where I happen to come from, and the
reason why this is so critical in Michigan is because this resentment over
trade, the big argument that Sanders and Trump are making, has been
festering over 20 years with the North American Free Trade Agreement.

You`re talking about these white working class, German, Polish, Irish
heritage immigrants who`ve seen a lot of the closure of plants, and who
really witnessed the devastation of the automotive industry. And what was
so devastating, Chris, is the expectations, because I grew up with a lot of
these kids who are now adults. And we grew up solidly middle class.

But, you know, Bernie Sanders talks about kids in this country not having
as good of a future as their parents. Well, it`s already happened in
Michigan. So, it`s a perfect kind of incubator for what you mentioned the
Trump-Sanders voter. And the nexus there really is the trade issue.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I look at places in Indiana, which are very nearby, right
below Lake Michigan there, where they have like nothing left in town, but
it used to be a blockbuster. And I think those are gone now. There`s
nothing but the diner left. There`s nothing like it.


MATTHEWS: David, talk about that history, because some of it`s racial.
It`s certainly white people not very happy about immigration. But it`s
also some other kind of attitude.

Remember we used to talk about the people George Wallace or Bobby Kennedy,
the same voter? You know what I`m talking about.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, exactly. In Macomb County, the
Reagan Democrats, there`s a long history there of Michigan. We also had
the militia movement in the 1990s. It was very strong militia.

A lot of, you know, white working class guys who cared about guns. The NRA
and the Republicans have made great inroads against Michigan Democrats
there in the last couple of decades on the gun issue.

And so, what`s interesting on the Democratic side, if we don`t look ahead
to the general election quite yet, on the Democratic side, Hillary in the
past has done very well with sort of working class men who are Democrats.

MATTHEWS: Oh, come on. When she was running against an African-American

CORN: Yes, exactly.

MATTHEWS: OK, let`s put that in perspective.

CORN: Exactly. The thing is, she`s running against Bernie. And Bernie is
speaking to them on the trade issues that Heidi talked about. But if
Hillary still wins the state, even if she wins it without the bloc of
voters, it`s really a pretty big loss for Bernie if he can`t sell the
essence of his argument to this audience and win a major state that`s
diverse, that has a lot going on within it.

MATTHEWS: Margaret, you grew up in western Pennsylvania. What, Camp Hill,
where was it? I mean, I`m mistaking – do you know what they`re talking
about on the front page of the major papers today? All the same day, that
Trump can win in November beating Hillary Clinton presumably, in states
like Michigan, Wisconsin, and western Pennsylvania. Those areas are the
ones most likely to go to him with his appeal.

MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, Chris, I`m actually from central
Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. But, you know, that`s what – in between
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, they call Alabama.

MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.

CARLSON: It`s very conservative. And the steel plants were in that area.
And they`re all closed down. Those people ended up flipping hamburgers.

You know, Trump`s appeal – you know, I have this theory if Bernie Sanders
had made his way to Flint, Michigan, and done what Hillary did, he`d be
doing better in Michigan. But that time has passed.

You know, Trump got 20,000 Democrats in Massachusetts, the people`s
republic. He`s going to get the Reagan Democrats who were born in Macomb
County, Michigan.


CARLSON: And, you know, winning Massachusetts with 59 percent seems to me,
with that – the white non-college educated male is what`s going to see him
through in Michigan. I don`t see anybody beating him.

But I will say, notice that John Kasich, Governor Kasich has had a surge
there. He`s up nine points, and Trump is down seven. So, it could be –
he could move into second place.

MATTHEWS: Heidi, I`m still concerned that Kasich hasn`t been able to get
that high, though. He`s still down about fourth. What is going on? He
has got to do well in Michigan I think if he`s going to win the nomination,
which is an outside opportunity. He has to win Michigan. He`s not going
to do it.

PRZYBYLA: Yes, well, he`s not going to win Michigan. What he`s hoping is
to work those more affluent suburbs of Detroit as well as some of the more
moderate areas. He got about 500 people to turn out in Gross Point Woods
the other day.

So, he`s hoping to have a better than expected showing in Michigan, and
then to win Ohio. But that does not a path to the nomination make. What
that makes is potentially a contested convention.

So, he himself, Chris, is saying that he doesn`t think that he`s going to
be able to pull it off. But for sure, what Ted Cruz is doing in Florida,
may also undermine him, because he`s trying to take Rubio down. If Donald
Trump takes both Michigan and Florida, and comes close in Ohio, I think
it`s game over.

MATTHEWS: Yes, who says the media is all in New York? You know, we`ve got
somebody here from Grand Rapids, right down in the bottom of Michigan.
Margaret is from near Harrisburg. These are not considered the tonier
parts of town.

Anyway, thank you.


But the roundtable is sticking with us.


MATTHEWS: The state – the next time we`re going to come back, tell me
something we don`t know will be led by Mr. David Corn. He will lead that,
because he always has something fascinating.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: I`m headed right now to Detroit, for tomorrow`s primary there
starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. I`ll join Brian Williams and
Rachel Maddow for complete coverage of the primaries tomorrow night. We`ll
bring you top analysts and all kinds of analysis and results for both
parties in Michigan, and Mississippi. And for Republicans, couple more,
Idaho and Hawaii tomorrow night. That`s 6:00 p.m. tomorrow night here on

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with our roundtable.

David, tell me something I don`t know.

CORN: Well, as you do know, Mitt Romney has been going after Donald Trump
really hard. One of the things he keeps citing is Mitt Romney`s 47 percent
comment from 2012, a story that I know a little bit about.

Well, I went back and looked up some of Donald Trump`s comments –

MATTHEWS: You broke that story.

CORN: Yes, I did. Thank you, Chris.

I found that just a few months ago, Donald Trump said something very close
to the 47 percent remarks. He said, “We have a society that sits back and
says, we don`t have to do anything. And the 50 percent carry the other 50


CORN: So, instead of 47 percent, he`s calling 50 percent of Americans free

PRZYBYLA: That`s because he`s bigger about everything.

MATTHEWS: Margaret, you`re up.

CARLSON: Chris, it`s hard to believe but there seems to be some confusion
among some people in Michigan about how to vote. For the first time, they
have to – they don`t have to register but have to choose a ballot. And in
the absentee ballot, there`s been a 5 percent error rate because of this
new requirement. It doesn`t sound like you should be confused over it, but
then, remember there were butterfly ballots.

MATTHEWS: So, you mean they vote the wrong way like in Palm Beach.


MATTHEWS: They get it wrong. Oh God, I hate this stuff.

CARLSON: In anyway, this 5 percent error rate if it translates into the
wider group voting –

MATTHEWS: Anyway, we got to go to Heidi. People should get their heads
organized before they vote. Anyway, it`s tough for some people.

Anyway, Heidi?

PRZYBYLA: Chris, this narrative coming to a theater soon near you.
Bernie, as Trump enabler. Look, the latest calculations are, according to
the “Cook Political Report”, that Bernie Sanders would have to carry three
fifths of the delegates going forward just to break even with Hillary

This race is just about over. And the big question is whether Bernie
really takes Hillary down and continues to take her down on this trade
issue, which like we discussed, is going to hurt bad –

MATTHEWS: We`ll see.

PRZYBYLA: – in some of these south eastern areas where the UWA, the
Teamsters, all the unions are not endorsing them.

MATTHEWS: Well, if he can`t beat her in Michigan, he`s not going to beat

Thank you so much, Heidi Przybyla. Thank you, David Corn. And thank you,
Margaret Carlson.

And we`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the end of Downton Abbey. What is it
about the magic of that place? Why do I love going there Sunday night
after Sunday night to that English country house to the big living room
upstairs, to the servants table downstairs?

OK, I love Mary Crawley, then again who doesn`t? She reminds me of the old
movie roles played by Joan Fontaine. As Frank Sinatra would say, she`s got

Consider me simple, but I can`t get past the idea that it was all real. I
think it`s real. It feels real, that there really is a place called
Downton Abbey, really is a fellow named Lord Grantham and an American
heiress who become his Lady Grantham, that there really was a Sybil who
died young and beautiful with the guts to marry the chauffeur, that there
really was an unlucky Edith and yes, a stunning Mary. That Mr. Carlson is
running things from top to bottom, and that Mrs. Hughes, is standing by him
in all things except when he`s unaware that the 20th century is plummeting
along, and his Victorian world is vanishing beneath his feet.

That whole wonderful family of people, that place which I cannot believe
isn`t real because Downton Abbey lives so deeply and wonderfully within me.
Is this, of course, the divide between where we go across from the real to
the unreal for no sounder reason except our humanity, because it`s so much
happier over there.

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

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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