Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 3/9/2016

April Ryan, John Stanton, Michael Rezendes, Philip Levine, Steve McMahon, Henry Barbour, Kathleen Parker, Jay Newton-Small

Date: March 9, 2016
Guest: April Ryan, John Stanton, Michael Rezendes, Philip Levine, Steve
McMahon, Henry Barbour, Kathleen Parker, Jay Newton-Small

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump thumps, but Bernie stuns.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Bernie Sanders pulls an upset in Michigan. Can he repeat the big 10 magic
in Iowa and Ohio? Can he carry this fight all the way to California? And
can anything stop Trump after he`s bulled his way through Mississippi and
Michigan, especially if he rubs out Rubio in Florida?

Let`s start with the mishegoss on the GOP side. It`s do or die time for
the anti-Trump forces in the Republican Party. The New York billionaire
nabbed three big wins last night in Michigan, Mississippi and in Hawaii.
Polls show him on the verge of another big win next week in Florida.

And last night, Trump mocked the effort to try and stop him.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of the four, they`re pretty much
all gone, OK? Pretty much. They didn`t do so well tonight, folks, OK?
I`m not going to say anybody didn`t do well. They didn`t do well. There`s
only one person did well tonight, Donald Trump, I will tell you.


TRUMP: Lying Ted – I call him lying Ted. He holds the bible high, and
then he goes down, he puts the bible down and then he lies. He`ll say, I`m
the one that beat Donald Trump. I said it before. I beat him. I beat
him. But he doesn`t say, yes, he won, like, four, and I won, like, 12 or
13, right? He forgets the other part.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, I think he under – he undersold us all. I think he`s
won about 15 now.

Anyway, Senator Marco Rubio`s campaign has been reduced to a one-state,
last-gasp strategy, Florida, where he`s hoping to avoid humiliating defeat
down there. Two of his Senate backers, by the way, Nevada`s Dean Heller
and Oklahoma`s Jim Inhofe, said today if Rubio can`t win his home state, it
would be time for Rubio to drop out.

Right now, Rubio`s chances in Florida aren`t looking too good. In three
recent polls, including one today, Trump leads Rubio and the rest of the –
look at this. In the CNN/ORC poll, Trump`s up 16 points on Rubio. In the
new Quinnipiac poll, I think that`s out today, he leads Rubio by 23 points
in Rubio`s home ground. And in a brand-new Fox News poll out tonight,
Trump also has a 23-point lead over Rubio, the favorite son, if you will.
I`m being sarcastic.

In Ohio, however, Trump is now in second. The new Fox poll shows John
Kasich leading Trump by 5 points in his home state.

Meanwhile, NBC has learned that Jeb Bush – oh, this is so important –
plans to meet with every candidate left in the field, Rubio, Kasich and
Cruz, but not Trump. Oh, boy, the establishment is fighting back.

Kathleen Parker`s a syndicated columnist, and a great one, Jay Newton-Small
is Washington correspondent for “Time” magazine – you`re already down
there. And Henry Barbour`s a Republican strategist, the Republican
strategist, and a supporter of Marco Rubio.

You know, Henry, just out of pure masochism, I`m going to start with you.
Please tell me the Rubio strategy when he`s more than double-digit back.
He`s double-double-digit back in his home state, and he keeps saying it`s
like the Alamo. Well, the Alamo went the wrong way, too. Your thoughts.

HENRY BARBOUR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think Senator Rubio`s
going to win Florida. And one of the reasons is, is that Donald Trump…

MATTHEWS: Well, you would say that…

BARBOUR: … has got his own problems…

MATTHEWS: … because you`re for him.

BARBOUR: He`s got…

MATTHEWS: What does it mean to say he`s got…


MATTHEWS: … when all the evidence is he`s losing by 20-some points?
What`s the reason for your thinking?

BARBOUR: OK. Well, I think – I think that Donald Trump`s got about two
thirds Republicans wanting to vote against him, and so Marco Rubio is the
vehicle in Florida, just as John Kasich is in Ohio, if you want to stop
Donald Trump, just as Ted Cruz was in Mississippi last night.

And I think Marco Rubio – got a big debate coming up tomorrow night in
Miami, on his home turf. He has – he has – he`s got the positive. He`s
going to have to have the positive vibes going again that he had earlier in
the campaign, where he looks like the visionary that he is. And he`s got
to get back to that and…

MATTHEWS: Why did he start talking about…

BARBOUR: … and I think his victory…

MATTHEWS: OK. I agree with you. He doesn`t have a prayer if he keeps
talking about Donald Trump`s small hands and Donald Trump peeing in his
pants and all this ridiculous stuff he`s been saying on national


MATTHEWS: I think that reduced him…


MATTHEWS: … to the level actually below Trump, if that`s feasible –
below him. Your thoughts.

BARBOUR: Well, there`s no question he needs to talk about his record. and
if he wants to talk about Donald Trump, let`s talk about Donald Trump`s
record, his lack of plans, Trump University, where Donald Trump likes to
say he tells it like it is, but the New York attorney general says that`s a
bait and switch, a scam. So I think the more people learn about Donald
Trump, they`re more – they`re – it`s slowing down.


BARBOUR: But I think the…

MATTHEWS: No, it`s not actually…

BARBOUR: … Cuban vote, which is normally about 7 percent…

MATTHEWS: … slowing down. It didn`t – sir, sir, it didn`t…

BARBOUR: Say again?

MATTHEWS: It`s not slowing down. I mean, you could wish…


MATTHEWS: You could wish it (ph) a new existence. He won in last night in
Michigan and Mississippi, overwhelmingly. What do you mean by slowing
down? He won Hawaii last night.

BARBOUR: Look, sure, I`ll grant you that. He had a good night last night.
Give him credit for that. Over the weekend, he certainly looked like he
might be stalling.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

BARBOUR: Last night, he looked like he had his jet engines going. But he
still has to get 60 percent of the delegates, the remaining bound
delegates. He needs about 788 additional delegates to get to the magic
1,237 number…


BARBOUR: … to have a majority in Cleveland. That`s a high hurdle for
him. The way he has to do it is winning these big states, these winner-
take-all states like Ohio, like Florida. So it`s going to be a real battle
in Florida…

MATTHEWS: OK. You know…

BARBOUR: … but I think Marco on his home turf has got a good

MATTHEWS: Well, so far, he`s only won Minnesota and Puerto Rico. Nothing
wrong with winning in Puerto Rico, but that`s not a great foundation for a
national across-the-board effort here.

Kathleen, what is…


MATTHEWS: I see Trump winning this thing right now.

KATHLEEN PARKER, “WASHINGTON POST”: I do, too, frankly. And I say that
with no pleasure. But look, Marco Rubio did diminish himself when he went
off on these little, you know, bullying tactics that Trump has used. And
while it might have worked for somebody, it just didn`t work for him
because the last thing he needed was to look like the high school punk.
You know, I mean, he already – he already looks so young, and that`s
something he`s had to fight. And I think he let his shadow grow a little
bit in order to look a little older. You know, he`ll be grateful when he`s
80. But for right now, it hurt him. And then he`s acting goofy…

MATTHEWS: Yes, Trump…


MATTHEWS: Trump said his ears were too big. He said his hands were too
small. I mean, it really got out of hand.

PARKER: I`m embarrassed for our country, frankly.

MATTHEWS: Me, too. Anyway – and not – well, I get over it quicker.

Let me ask you, Jay Newton-Small, you`re down there. What do – what you
make of these numbers because numbers drive our business here, our politics
in presidential elections? I mean, Hillary Clinton didn`t win the most
delegates, Barack Obama did. She won a lot of big states, he didn`t, but
she won. And I think it`s fair to talk about delegates, and I just don`t
see Rubio getting in the game again.

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, “TIME” MAGAZINE: No, and I think the most striking thing
about most of the polls that you see out right now is the fact that if you
had one-on-one matchups between Rubio and Trump or – or Cruz and Trump, or
even Kasich and Trump, all of those one-on-one polls show the other
candidates beating Trump.

It`s the fact that there are three candidates that are still in the race
that`s actually really helping Trump. And so you talk about dysfunction on
Trump`s side, it`s really the establishment dysfunction that cannot unite
behind a single candidate that is essentially leading to this problem and
leading them to a Trump nomination. And when you have that, if you have
that, if they cannot unify behind Donald Trump, its a going to be like
Humpty-Dumpty. You`re never going to put that party (ph)…


newton-small: … back together again.

MATTHEWS: Let me challenge you on that. You think when it comes down to
Trump versus, say, Cruz, if it does come down, that people are going to
like Cruz more? Because I thought – I used to take that position, and
Trump got really mad at me for saying that. (INAUDIBLE) unite around
Rubio, you know, like Henry was saying. I thought Rubio would be the
logical one. Trump made fun of that, say, What makes you think they`re
going to unite around anybody?

And my second question to you right now – what makes you think they`re
going to like the looks of Ted Cruz anymore when the spotlight`s on him? I
don`t think they are going to like the looks of the guy, when they have to
look at him and choose him for president, Ted Cruz.


NEWTON-SMALL: Well, he`s definitely not the most likable of candidates, I
have to say that. But in this sense, I mean, there is evidence for it. If
you look at the polls where it`s one on one, head to head, and there`s a
bunch of polling both national and state by state, where they just do
candidates state by state, Trump versus each one of the candidates – each
one of those candidates, if you consolidate the anti-Trump vote…


NEWTON-SMALL: … actually do beat Donald Trump. So there is evidence of

MATTHEWS: How about in…


NEWTON-SMALL: … consolidate that vote.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me go back to Henry on this. The exit polls we took
last night in Mississippi – fascinating. The voters down there say they`d
be satisfied with Cruz or Trump in the range of about 60, 62 percent. But
they said they wouldn`t be – they would be satisfied with Rubio at the
level of 38 percent.

I mean, what do you make of that, the fact that when they look at all three
candidates in Mississippi, the state you`re from, I believe, he doesn`t
make it?


MATTHEWS: Rubio doesn`t make it!

BARBOUR: Well, it`s just the dynamics at the time. And look, campaigns
have ups and downs. Ronald Reagan in 1976 was pretty much left for dead,
and we lost six primaries in a row, but he came back and won Texas, won
three of the last four and went to the `76 convention in a virtual tie with


BARBOUR: So look, we`ve got to – we`ve got to rebound. We`ve got to have
a big night at the debate. We`re on our home turf. Rubio`s got to be
positive. He`s got to show people that he`s the conservative who can unite
the party.

And remember, Chris, Marco Rubio is our strongest candidate in the fall.
And I think he`s got to remind people of why he`s the strongest one. And
he just has to get back to his bread and butter.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me just tell you about 1976. The reason Ronald Reagan
made a comeback in 1976 against Jerry Ford is because he went to North
Carolina, and with the help of Jesse Helms and the Panama Canal issue,
rebuilt himself into a contender against Jerry Ford.

How`s Rubio going to do it? He doesn`t have a Panama Canal issue, and he
sure as hell doesn`t have a Jesse Helms.

Let me go back to Kathleen on this.

PARKER: Well, look, obviously, Rubio is counting on Florida. Kasich
wanted to wait it out until he could go through Ohio. I think he probably
will take Ohio. But Marco Rubio cannot – I mean, he can restate all of
his positions over and over and over again, but he`s already – you know,
he`s already – I don`t know. I don`t want to say he`s already lost it,
but the fact is, you know, he was…

MATTHEWS: OK. Can I say something?

PARKER: Yes, say something.

MATTHEWS: Where (ph) you do well, the op-ed pages of the newspaper, is
when you write that great column in the op-ed pages…


MATTHEWS: That`s where Rubio exists. He doesn`t exist among the American
people. The neocons, who love him because they think he`s their little
soldier boy, have been putting out three over and over. Singer (ph) and
Bremer (ph) and all those guys love him because he`s pushing for war all
the time. The average person has no interest in Marco Rubio.

PARKER: I think that`s probably right. And you know, he – there are
people – many people on the – in the establishment who want him to go
ahead and drop out…


MATTHEWS: I call it the hawks.

PARKER: … should have done it before Florida because if he loses, his
political career is pretty much over.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Jay Newton-Small. You`re on the ground. What
do you smell down there?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, we`re here at the Democratic debate site, and so we`re
waiting for Hillary and Bernie to slug it out tonight at 9:00 o`clock,
which is potentially the last debate that they`re going to have. They`ve
agreed to three more, but they haven`t actually nailed down any of those
venues or dates, so we`ll see if they actually have any more after this.
It`s not really in Hillary`s interest to have any more.

But in terms of the Republican field, you know, Donald Trump is here in the
state, like, rallying people in the last couple of days. You have Marco
Rubio, who`s living down here, trying frantically to get back a lot of his
votes that he…


NEWTON-SMALL: … that elected him to the Senate. But it`s definitely
feeling like – you know, there`s a group of protesters out here in front
of the Hillary and Bernie debate, and they`re all Trump protesters. You
don`t see any presence for any of the other Republican…

MATTHEWS: Pro-Trump.

NEWTON-SMALL: … (INAUDIBLE) out here, so…

MATTHEWS: They`re pro-Trump.

PARKER: They`re pro-Trump, yes.

MATTHEWS: OK. In Trump`s victory press conference last night – love
these victory press conferences – featuring, by the way, 10 flags last
night, 10 American flags – that`s up from six the previous time – this
guy is getting more and more presidential or Napoleonic, whichever – he
seemed to be trying to make nice with what you referred to as the
establishment, Jay.

Let`s watch.


TRUMP: It`s very, very important, as a Republican, that our senators and
that our congressmen get reelected. We have some terrific people. Not all
of them are on my side, but we have some terrific people.

I want to thank Paul Ryan. He called me a couple of days ago. He could
not have been nicer. He was very encouraging, and I have great respect for
Paul Ryan. Great respect.


TRUMP: I say let`s come together, folks. We`re going to win. I say let`s
come together. And believe it or not, I am a unifier. I unify. I mean,
you look at all of the things I built all over the world, I`m a unifier. I
get along with people.


MATTHEWS: I love the less educated people. He says anything!

Anyway, meanwhile, this morning, Donald Trump taunted Rubio about the
consequences of losing his home state. But he also didn`t rule out the
possibility of putting him on his ticket as VP. Let`s watch.


RUBIO: I believe with all my heart that the winner of the Florida primary
next Tuesday will be the nominee of the Republican Party!


PARKER: That`s on “MORNING JOE” this morning.

MATTHEWS: Wow. I guess that wasn`t it.

Anyway, let`s go back one more time to Henry. You`ve got to explain this
guy one more time. Tell me how he`s going to offset a 20-some-point
deficit right now in Florida and save his skin?

BARBOUR: Well, look, we`re going to have a really big turnout. I don`t
believe it`s a 20-point deficit. The people I`m talking to in Florida
think the race really is about a 10-point race or less. They do – most
people believe, that I`m talking to today down in Florida, that Rubio is
going to outperform on election day. They do believe it`s going to be a
record turnout, like 2.3 million. About 1.95 million is the record so far.
So a lot of new voters coming in. And…


BARBOUR: But one point I wanted to make, Chris, is…


BARBOUR: … last night, Donald Trump said, They`re saying horrible things
about me. Well, Mr. Trump, they`re just talking about your record. And
that`s his problem. And I`m hopeful, I`m hopeful that that`s going to come
to a head down in Florida.

MATTHEWS: Thank you. Henry Barbour, thanks for joining us.

Let`s go to that bite we told you about. Here`s Donald Trump in his
victory speech.


TRUMP: I think if he runs and loses – and you know, I don`t think he
would win right now, but if he runs and loses, I think he will never be
able to do anything very big politically in Florida. I certainly don`t
think he would be considered by anybody as a vice president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he drops out before losing Florida, will you
consider him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could he possibly be on the list as a vice president of
yours because he could help outreach to Hispanics and help your outreach to
the establishment?

TRUMP: Sure, sure. And he`s got a lot of talent. I just don`t want to
say that yet, Joe. It`s too – it`s just not appropriate to talk about it
until he makes a decision.


MATTHEWS: OK, interpret that, Jay. He first of all said the guy`s through
if he loses and he`s going to beat him badly down there, beat him like a
drum. That`s what he says. And then he says, after Joe sort of pushed him
a little, and Mika pushed him a little, he said, Well, I might put him on
the ticket.

What does that mean, Jay?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, I mean, I think he doesn`t want to offend Latinos any
more than he already has. And he`s certainly making this trek back to the
center, to the establishment, trying to sort of mend faces and to soften
his – his positions on immigration, soften his positions on torture and
make nice with Paul Ryan and the establishment. So, I mean, he`s trying to
be more candidate – more sort of candidate…


MATTHEWS: More boring.

NEWTON-SMALL: … and more presidential.

MATTHEWS: Does he dare to be boring?

NEWTON-SMALL: Yes, more boring, frankly.

MATTHEWS: OK. I don`t think he will. Anyway…

PARKER: No, Donald Trump is – every day is a new day for him. You never
know what he`s going to say or what he`s going to do. You know, one day
he`s for something, next day he`s against it. He loves everybody. He`s a
unifier. Oh, absolutely, it`s awesome.

And you know, Donald is going to be great friends with all the members of
the House of Representatives and the Senate, and they`re just going to –
you know, they`re trying to figure out, How can we get out of the frame
with this person, you know? And they are really a bind because…

MATTHEWS: It must be amazing having breakfast with the guy in the morning.
You have no idea who (INAUDIBLE)

PARKER: Exactly!


MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Kathleen Parker – that could be pretty good for a
marriage, though. It`s always new!

Anyway, thank you, Jay Newton-Small, and thank you, Henry Barbour – Henry
Barbour, you are a soldier, a soldier!


Anyway, coming up, Donald Trump is holding a rally right now in North
Carolina. He`s in good shape in the Republican race, as we`ve said. But
we`ve got new poll numbers that show he`s not the strongest candidate
against either Hillary or Bernie Sanders. These are numbers you may
question, but they are the actual NBC numbers, and NBC`s got a good track

Plus, the Democrats. Bernie Sanders won a surprise victory, an upset,
stunning upset in Michigan last night, and that gives him the mo heading
into Ohio, a very much like state, even though they don`t like each other
in football. That`s next week, next Tuesday.

And while Hillary Clinton is the favorite in Florida, she may lack the
populist to win in Rust Belt states. And that seems to be a problem for
her and that could be trouble if she`s the nominee for the general.

And “The Boston Globe” investigative reporter who helped expose the coverup
in the Catholic church. It`s the story behind the brilliant movie,
“Spotlight,” this year`s Academy Award winner for Best Picture, a great
interview coming up with the real reporter behind that story.

Finally, “Let Me Finish” with this refreshing political battle – and I
mean it – in the Democratic Party. It`s so different than the Republican

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.



this opportunity to thank the people of Michigan, who kind of repudiated
the polls that had us 20, 25 points down a few days ago. The political
revolution that we are talking about is strong in every part of the
country. And frankly, we believe that our strongest areas are yet to


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

After trailing Hillary Clinton by over 20 points in the polls out there,
Bernie Sanders pulled a big upset, a huge, stunning upset in Michigan last
night, in the primary, taking the state by a couple of points, 50-48. But
what an upset it was.

Glenn Thrush of Politico dubbed it the Michigan miracle, saying that
Sanders is not only alive, but dangerous – that`s an interesting word –
after his Tuesday night triumph.

And the statistics Web site FiveThirtyEight called it one of the greatest
upsets in modern political history.

Well, Secretary Clinton`s loss was offset by her big win in Mississippi,
where she beat Sanders by – catch this number – 66 points. That was the
difference between the two of them in Mississippi. But Michigan raises
questions about Secretary Clinton`s appeal in the Rust Belt, which is a
crucial region for the Democrats this coming November.

In a state known for its predominance of blue-collar workers and former
Reagan Democrats back from the `80s, Sanders did especially well among
those white voters without a college degree, beating Clinton by 15 points
with that group, look at that number, 57 to 42 among the so-called Reagan

The excitement over Sanders` victory was on full display last night in
Detroit, look at this, where Sanders supporters paraded a giant puppet of
the candidate behind my set. They came in like that. By the way,
afterwards, just so everybody feels good about this, we invited them in to
put on that demonstration to the diner there, to Coney Island hot dog

I also got a note from the people who put it in there. It was written on a
napkin last night. And there it is. It says, “Thank you for inviting us
in. We appreciate your willingness to hear what we have to say.”

That was addressed to me and to MSNBC.

I`m joined by Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who supports Hillary
Clinton, as well as Democratic strategist Steve McMahon.

Mayor, Mr. Mayor, thanks for joining us.

Tell us about Florida and how – well, it`s an amazing state. As we
learned through the recount, one of the good things with the recount, we
figured out how diverse your state is. Down south, it`s more like up
north. It`s sort of like New York. You get up in the Panhandle, it`s more
like Georgia. It`s Southerners, it`s New Yorkers. It`s got every accent
in the country, every ethnic group. What is it politically in terms of
Sanders vs. Clinton?

something, Chris. Florida really is representative of what America is
today, with our Hispanic community, our African-American community. It`s
the United Nations here.

And I think when it comes down between Senator Sanders and Secretary
Clinton, we`re seeing, as you can imagine, tremendous enthusiasm for
Secretary Clinton because obviously there`s lot of trust that what both of
these candidates say, they mean. And we know Senator Sanders is espousing
a socialist revolution.

And I`m not sure the people of South Florida specifically are looking for a
socialist revolution. As you know, a lot of them have gone through it in
Nicaragua and Cuba and Venezuela. So we kind of know what that`s about.
And I think that you`re going to find that down here that message may not
resonate so well.


MATTHEWS: You sound like Churchill fighting Attlee back in 1945 in
Britain. Are you saying that socialism necessarily brings in government
control, that it ends up being somewhat despotic? That`s you`re saying.


LEVINE: Well, I would think so. There`s no question about it.

MATTHEWS: He will argue that it stays democratic. He will say, you can be
a Democratic socialist and have just as much freedom as we have in this
mixed capitalist system we have now if it gets more socialist.

You say, no, it`s dangerous. What do you mean?

LEVINE: Well, I`m not so sure that – I`m not so sure that a lot of people
living in these highly socialist countries are dying to live in those
countries or a lot of people are moving there.

Clearly, they`re all moving to Florida. Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela.
they`re all coming here. And when you talk about the socialist Democratic
countries in Europe, once again, I think that you will find that there`s
not a lot of growth, that there`s not a lot of employment opportunities.
And those same people are all moving to Florida right now.

MATTHEWS: What do you think of the appeal of Bernie when he says I`m going
give you like University of Miami – not Miami – that`s a private school.
Florida State, University of Florida, free tuition? That`s quite an offer.

LEVINE: Well, you know what I think? I think, of course, in socialist
revolutions, they offer everything free.

He is offering free education. We know he is offering free health care.
We have no plan how they`re going to play for it. You want to destroy Wall
Street. I understand now he`s offering free Uber, and free Starbucks, and
maybe free Netflix as well.

MATTHEWS: You`re kidding.

LEVINE: So, I mean, clearly, you can offer anything you want, but you have
got to be a realist about this.

And I think what Secretary Clinton`s plan is about really bringing jobs and

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about, did you go to Michigan? Where did you
go to college?

LEVINE: University of Michigan. Go, blue.


MATTHEWS: I thought you did. What a great school. A lot of people –
it`s a national school and one of the best.

What do you think is the difference? Last word to you. Difference Between
Michigan and Florida, where Michigan, where Senator Sanders nipped them,
nipped them, won the election up there over Clinton? What stops him from
doing the same in Florida, based on the nature of the state? What is it?

LEVINE: I think it`s very different. I think obviously Florida is very
international. There`s a lot of people that believe in free trade, but
understanding that Secretary Clinton believes in free trade, but at the
same time, wants to make sure that we protect workers, we protect companies
and that we have a plan for more exports.

You can`t just close yourself off. And I think the Michigan,
unfortunately, experience has been one where they have seen jobs go
overseas. Maybe the Floridians haven`t seen that as much. But we need to
fix the ills that have happened in Michigan.

MATTHEWS: Thanks so much. Thanks for joining us right now.

Let me go to Steve McMahon.

LEVINE: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: This view of this whole thing.

Who are you with?


MATTHEWS: You`re absolutely – OK, let`s call it as a Democrat. You`re
Democrat, unhyphenated.

MCMAHON: Unhyphenated.

MATTHEWS: What about this debate? He just took a shot at Bernie`s
socialism. Bernie says, I`m a Democratic socialist in the Northern
European model, Denmark socialist, Swedish socialist, no threat there. He
identifies it with the worst kind of socialism.


And, frankly, I mean, it`s a little bit of a – you know, it`s a red
herring, because nothing Bernie is talking about is outside of the sort of
progressive agenda of many Democrats, in fact, outside the progressive
agenda of probably about half the Democratic Party right now, because
that`s about what is he is getting.

MATTHEWS: How do you give free tuition to all the big state schools in the
United States without controlling their spending, controlling the schools?
You can`t give them all the same amount.

MCMAHON: Well, the same way you do high schools and grade schools in
states all across the country today. You just expand it for four more
years. There`s nothing socialist…


MATTHEWS: No. If you pay the University of Michigan how much they charge
for tuition, the federal government writes the check, right? It`s a
single-payer system for our education. How do you control that?

Suppose somebody in University of New Hampshire says we want the same
amount of money you`re spending at Michigan, the same amount of tuition
you`re spending at Berkeley, and the federal government says the schools
are not quite the same? Who decides that kind of thing? Somebody in


MCMAHON: Or maybe they`re block grants to the states. The Republicans
love to do that, maybe Michigan based on population.


MATTHEWS: That is not what Bernie is offering. Bernie is offering free
tuition. I just wonder how you administer it. It`s a question.

MCMAHON: I honestly don`t know how you administer it. But I think it`s
not as big a problem or as big a challenge as some people would make it out
to be.

MATTHEWS: I think it is going to be fascinating when they decide this
school is not as good as that school, or you can`t build that football
field, you can`t build that student center. The federal government starts
doing that, it will be interesting.

Anyway, fair enough debate.

Thank you. I love arguing with you.

Philip Levine, the mayor of Miami, we haven`t had him before. And Steve
McMahon, we have had him a lot. And he`s great.

Up next, Donald Trump may be riding high right now, but new polling shows
he is hardly the best Republican candidate to run against Hillary Clinton.
These polls amaze me. I`m not sure I agree with them. But they show an
overwhelming advantage for Senator Sanders in a one-on-one with Trump, and
Hillary Clinton having a tougher time. I don`t know if that`s
counterintuitive. But it is to me.

And that`s ahead. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Donald Trump is coming off a night of big wins in Michigan, Mississippi and
Hawaii, but a new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll of registered voters
in both parties shows nearly two-thirds, 64 percent, have a negative view
of him. And six in 10 say Trump represents something harmful to the
Republican Party.

These are all voters, not just Republicans.

Anyway, tonight, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Trump`s rally has been
interrupted several times by protesters. It`s his first campaign events
since his victories last night.

Looking ahead to possible general election matchups, the new poll shows
Hillary Clinton beats Trump 51-38. Write that down, 51-38 Hillary over
Trump. And in the matchup between the outsiders, that`s Sanders vs. Trump,
56 Sanders beats Trump at 37, an overwhelming victory predicted by the

Joining me right now, the HARDBALL roundtable. David Corn is Washington
bureau chief for “Mother Jones” and an MSNBC political analyst. April Ryan
covers the White House for American Urban Radio Networks. And John Stanton
is with BuzzFeed.

I`m just going to throw this out. How do you react to that poll? Does it
sit with you that Hillary is so much weaker up against Trump come November
projecting it out?


MATTHEWS: Than Bernie.

CORN: Well, I have been saying all along, until Bernie goes through, and
we will call him Senator Sanders.

MATTHEWS: No, they all go nicknames.

CORN: Goes through a negative campaign of hundreds of millions of dollars
spent against him, calling him a socialist or whatever they do…

MATTHEWS: You just heard the mayor of Miami.

CORN: Well, you just heard the mayor, who is a Democrat, right?

And so until he goes through that, he is not on equal ground with Hillary,
who has had 20 years of negative ads against her.

MATTHEWS: So she has taken the worst?

CORN: So, I think at this point, there is probably perfect knowledge on
the populace about what people think of Hillary.

MATTHEWS: I think it`s a perfect opinion. It`s set.

CORN: Perfect opinion. And not yet on Bernie Sanders.

So I think it`s not apples to apples. It`s not a fair comparison, although
he does do well, as she does, against Trump. But it`s more a reflection on
how poorly people think of Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Is he a virgin forest in terms of the opportunity of the
Republican Party to go after him and chopping at him, to keep my metaphor
straight? Is there a lot of opportunity for them, as you have just heard,
to nail Bernie more than Hillary, since she has already been hit so hard?

Party leaders a couple of weeks ago, and they are, again, expecting
Hillary, hoping for Bernie. But, either way, either one could chop down…


MATTHEWS: So they don`t believe this poll. They don`t believe it.

RYAN: No, no, no, no, no, they don`t. I was in the inner sanctum a couple
of weeks ago with the top leaders. They are actually expecting Hillary,
but hoping for Bernie. Either way, they know those candidates will beat
their intended or expected nominee.

MATTHEWS: John, sometimes politicians are wrong.


MATTHEWS: I have been through a lot of campaigns where they beg for this
guy. Out in Utah, we have got to get Orrin Hatch, we can kill him. He`s
been there 40 years now. I mean, Reagan, he will be easy. We don`t want
to run against George Bush Sr., but Reagan is easy. And they`re not easy.

STANTON: These are the same things people were saying last summer about
Trump. And they were saying it this fall about Trump, and they were saying
it two weeks about Trump.

He defies all of this. And anybody that looks at these polls and says this
is a predictor of what`s going to happen I think is playing with fire.

MATTHEWS: Does he defy gravity?

STANTON: He does.

RYAN: He`s Superman.


CORN: Yes. I mean, this stage in time, if you talk to the Democrat
strategists – and we just had Steve McMahon on – they have been
conducting focus groups. And they`re blown away by the reaction of women
to Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: What is the reaction?

CORN: It`s visceral.

MATTHEWS: Negative.

CORN: Very negative. He is the abusive boyfriend I left type negative.

RYAN: Oh, my.

CORN: And so they think that`s insurmountable.

Now, there are things on Hillary too that the other side will say may be
insurmountable for her, but, again, like Hillary…

MATTHEWS: Could she be the perfect – could he be the perfect opponent for
a woman? Because Hillary is a woman, could be the first presidential woman
– for president who is a woman. Could she build the case for voting among
her gender, say, you know, it`s not just that I will be first woman, we got
to beat that guy?

RYAN: But the problem is for Donald Trump, he`s going to inevitably slip
up, like he did with Megyn Kelly.

MATTHEWS: We have been waiting for that.

RYAN: No, no, no, but he did with Megyn Kelly. He did with Rosie
O`Donnell. He`s done it over and over again.


MATTHEWS: Who won those fights?

RYAN: Who won those fights? I`m not going to say he did. I think we as a
society have allowed this kind of thing to happen. But I believe…

MATTHEWS: We`re all guilty?

RYAN: We`re all guilty.

MATTHEWS: No, we`re not.


RYAN: Yes, we are. Yes, we are.


MATTHEWS: A lot of people rooted for Megyn Kelly in that fight.


RYAN: I rooted for her. She did a wonderful job.

MATTHEWS: So we`re not all guilty.

STANTON: The mob never starts off the mob. They`re just people.

And they`re people that if you asked them before they became part of the
mob, I would never become that, I would never be a person that went down
and burned somebody`s house done.

But, suddenly, when there is a guy around that speaks to that fear that
they have, people, regular people, your neighbors, your family, their
friends, they become the mob and they start doing…


MATTHEWS: How does that work?

STANTON: It`s the cult of personality. It`s the thing that has been going
on with humans for a long time. He is doing – he is playing…


CORN: He is not charming, though.


RYAN: He sticks his foot in his mouth all the time. And we have not found
the Kryptonite.

We always scream, but he continues to rise higher and higher.

MATTHEWS: Every time he fights with anybody, it`s like Pac-Man used to be.
He gets bigger. He just eats up this other – Vicente Fox, nothing wrong
him, a very dignified former president of Mexico, classy guy.

RYAN: Who said, no, no, no.


MATTHEWS: I know all that.

The pope, pretty classy guy, right, my religion. Most religions, everybody
likes him. He sort of won that fight, Trump.

RYAN: Well, not necessarily.

MATTHEWS: He went after Jeb Bush and made him into this. He made him into
this. He makes Rubio into this.

RYAN: But, no, the fight against Jeb Bush was different. Jeb Bush has the
albatross around his neck, his brother W. And Republicans wanted to
distance themselves from W.

And also the fact of the name Bush. He is a dynasty.


CORN: I told you, one guy who beat Donald Trump. Who is it?

RYAN: Who?

CORN: I`m waiting.

CORN: Barack Obama, May 2011, at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
You were there. We were all there.

RYAN: Yes. That was amazing.


RYAN: We were there.

MATTHEWS: But Trump didn`t have the stage.

RYAN: They need to…


RYAN: But he ran right after that. He decided not to run for president.

CORN: He also – he beat him on being dismissive and knowing exactly how
to get at him. And Hillary Clinton, I think, is going to have a lot of
headwind on her side, because…


MATTHEWS: Tailwinds.

CORN: Tailwinds. A lot of Americans aren`t going to buy all of Donald
Trump`s shtick. Some will. There will be a mob.

Some will be roused by the passions. But a lot of women and a lot of other
people are going to say no way. And they may even hold their nose to vote
for Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: OK. I`m going to ask all three. You don`t have to take –
nothing about partisanship or preference. Who is the strongest candidate
to go against Trump in the fall?

STANTON: Probably Hillary.

MATTHEWS: April? You don`t have to say who you`re for. Who is the

RYAN: I think both of them actually are. He is weak.

MATTHEWS: What is the matter with you?

RYAN: What is the matter? Both women – both of them – OK.


MATTHEWS: Who the strongest, E-S-T? Who the strongest?

RYAN: OK, Hillary.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.


RYAN: I`m just saying.

MATTHEWS: What do you think?

You won`t answer it either. I have been tougher on her. What about you?

CORN: I would say Hillary over Bernie 53 to 47. I think it`s close at

MATTHEWS: You want to do one of those things, 53-47?

RYAN: No, I`m not going there. You got enough out of me already.

MATTHEWS: Here was the surprise endorsement today. I`m not sure what this
is worth. Carly Fiorina announced she is awarding anybody but Trump, Ted
Cruz. She said it was necessary to stop Trump. Here she is.


other people in our party who are actually kind of horrified by Donald
Trump. I`m one of them.


FIORINA: But here`s the thing. We`re not going to beat Donald Trump by
having leaders in our part tsk-tsk over our voters. We`re going to have to
beat Donald Trump at the ballot box. And the only guy who can beat Donald
Trump is Ted Cruz.



MATTHEWS: What do you think that`s worth, April?

RYAN: You have to consider the source.

MATTHEWS: There is a clever answer.

RYAN: Yes.

CORN: That and $4 will get you a latte at Starbucks.

MATTHEWS: It does how the anger he creates among the people he`s fought
with, like Jeb, that once he`s fought with somebody, they don`t come back
and hug him.

RYAN: He attacked a woman personally.

MATTHEWS: On looks.

RYAN: Publicly. On looks publicly, not the fact that…

MATTHEWS: That`s one he lost.

RYAN: Yes, that fight.

MATTHEWS: That fight, that for a while there.

RYAN: But, yes, she has a bad record. She ran HP down the hole. She
pushed it down the hole.


MATTHEWS: Their best line, don`t you think, was every woman in America
knows what he meant? That was one of the profound – whenever you
generalize like that, people go – you don`t get back into the fight match
with him. Anyway, I thought that was great.

Anyway, the roundtable is going to stick with me long enough so they come
back and tell me something I don`t know. And I hear it`s going to be good

And, tomorrow, tune in at 7:00 and 11:00 p.m. Eastern. We`re going to give
you full pre- and post-game coverage, as Republicans face off in Miami.
Again, Trump is going at Rubio, trying to finish him off tomorrow and rub
him out for next Tuesday`s primary down there.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.




David, my friend, tell me something I don`t know.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Last night, Donald Trump and his
victory speech said he would be more presidential than any president except
perhaps Abe Lincoln. Well, at “Mother Jones” today, we found some video of
him roasting Joan Rivers, and it is full of gross jokes about Joan Rivers`
body parts. I can`t say them here. You can see it at MotherJones.com.

MATTHEWS: Almost as gross as Joan Rivers?


CORN: Almost as gross as Joan Rivers. It`s certainly not presidential,
and nothing that Abe Lincoln would have done.

MATTHEWS: And you`re not going to forget it, are you?

CORN: I wish I hadn`t heard this. Believe me, I wish I hadn`t heard it.

MATTHEWS: April, thank you.

APRIL RYAN, NATIONAL URBAN RADIO: At the briefing today, I asked Josh
Earnest about the nomination process for the Supreme Court justice vacancy,
and he said that progress is being made. And what`s the definition of
progress? The definition means from a senior administration official, the
fact that the president has put the nominees, given them to both sides of
the Senate leaders to see and view. He`s also –

MATTHEWS: So, he`s given the names?

RYAN: He`s given the names.

MATTHEWS: The possible names?

RYAN: Yes, possible names, the Senate leaders on both sides. He`s also
reviewed the information himself, as well as the fact that he`s talking
amongst the senior staff about the possibilities of progress has been made.

MATTHEWS: How narrow is the list now, how short is it?

RYAN: They will not tell us. We`re hearing it`s less than ten.

MATTHEWS: Do you think it`s a smart move for somebody to accept that
nomination? You get vetted but probably never confirmed.

RYAN: Loretta Lynch really clearly said, I`m not going to go through this
mess again, because remember, it took her so long –

MATTHEWS: You`re a target.

RYAN: She pulled out yesterday. Yes, you`re a big target.

MATTHEWS: That`s like being targeted.

RYAN: Bullseye. Bullseye.


CORN: The long list, when the president calls you, it`s hard to say no.


JOHN STANTON, BUZZFEED NEWS: Utah tomorrow, they may be voting to ban
their death penalty and this is a big movement, it looks like –

MATTHEWS: Where is the LDS Church on that?

STANTON: The church has stayed out of it, which has given a lot of the
lawmakers in the state the freedom to figure it out on their own. A sub
committee voted on it. The second church, second state that has done this
now after Nebraska last year. It`s much – surprising to us, because it`s
happening in red states as opposed to –

MATTHEWS: Something about that makes me happy, states actually vote on
that, especially when they vote to end it.


MATTHEWS: And it`s the people doing it, you know?


MATTHEWS: Anyway, I spent a lot of time in Utah, that`s where I started,
working for the last liberal senator from Utah, Frank Moss.

CORN: Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS: That`s where I begun.

Thank you to my round table. We don`t have a time pressure tonight. It`s
a little scary.

Anyway, David Corn, my friend, April Ryan, my friend, who we argue in the
dressing room more than you can imagine, and John Stanton.


MATTHEWS: Up next, we`re going to speak with one of the real life
reporters portrayed in the Oscar-winning best picture, what my favorite
movie, “Spotlight,” a story of brains and grit and inspiration to
journalists, really print journalists actually and non-journalists alike
who benefit from the work of these guys.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are we hesitating? Baron told us to get law. This
is the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baron told us to get the system. We need the full
scope. That`s the only thing that will put an end to this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, let`s take it up to Ben and let him decide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll take it to Ben when I say it`s time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s time, Robby. It`s time. They knew and they let
it happen to kids, OK? It could have been you. It could have been me. It
could have been any of us. We`ve got to nail these (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
We`ve got to show people that nobody could get away with this, not a priest
or a cardinal or a freaking pope.


MATTHEWS: We`re back.

That was a scene from “Spotlight”, the dramatic true story of how a team of
“Boston Globe” investigative reporters exposed the widespread sexual abuse
of children by Catholic priests in the Boston archdiocese and the decades-
long cover-up by the church hierarchy. The movie takes us behind the
scenes to the newsroom where these journalists and editors uncovered a
systemic pattern of abuse and carefully navigated around the city of
Boston`s sensitivities when it came to the crimes of one of its greatest

The film which took home the Academy Award for best picture at the Oscars
stars an ensemble cast of actors, including Mark Ruffalo, who plays the
“Boston Globe” spotlight reporter you just watched in that opening clip,
Michael Rezendes.

Mr. Rezendes himself joins us now for our “7 Days of Genius”, an MSNBC and
92nd Street Y partnership, which includes a series of conversations with
thought leaders in the fields of politics, innovations, science and
journalism, which is you, Michael. Thank you for this.

Was that scene real? Or is it the way how it went makes things seem light
in a more complicated situation.

dramatization. But what I`d like to say about that scene is that it`s a
credit to my boss at the time, Walter Robinson, who recruited me for the
spotlight team even though I have a tendency to rear up easily, I guess you
might say. You know, we did have our differences from time to time, but I
think everything worked out in a spectacular fashion.

MATTHEWS: It seems to me, watching this, and watching and being – having
did it myself more than many years ago, investigative work is patience, the
ability to absorb pain and humiliation and attack, right? It`s not about
quick moves.

REZENDES: You`re exactly right. A lot of the work is tedious, a lot of
it`s drudgery, a lot of it is getting doors slammed in your face, a lot of
it is accepting humiliation at times, but patience pays off, I think.

MATTHEWS: I love the we you went down in the basement and found in the
morgue there, you found these directories of Catholic priests, and discover
that they`d all of a sudden to be an absent because of sickness, because of
this, and you developed a way of figuring out how they got transferred when
they were abusing children.

REZENDES: Yes, we had the documents right down in the basement, it turns.
And we discovered that all of these assignments, these strange sounding
assignments like sick leave or emergency response, or lend-lease, they
were, in fact, euphemisms for priests who had been accused of abuse and
placed on the self.

Once we understood that, it was just a matter of time, a very painful,
tedious 3 1/2 weeks to put together a list of suspect priests which proved
very, very useful in our investigation.

MATTHEWS: What about Marty Baron? We`re looking at Liev Schreiber, we`re
looking at him played by Liev Schreiber. Marty Baron is now here at “The
Washington Post” down here. Is that his sort of affect, the way, the
understatement, beyond belief understatement?

REZENDES: Yes, that is Marty Baron. There`s no doubt about it. I think
perhaps he`s loosened up in the last few years and maybe since the movie
has come out. But that was Marty Baron`s affect when he was here, no doubt
about it.

I`ve got to say, none of this would have happened without Marty. It was
his fresh set of eyes, coming from Florida, which has terrific sunshine
laws. Open record laws. It was Marty`s fresh set of eyes that was the
trigger for this entire investigation and he deserves all the credit in the
world for it.

MATTHEWS: You know, that`s a big part of the political culture down there.
I know, I worked for the speaker down one time years ago when he got a job
with the White House. They`re very proud of that sunshine thing. That`s
not a big part of the Catholic Church, though, is it?

REZENDES: Not at all. The Catholic Church is a very secretive
institution. It`s a secretive culture. They often hide behind the First
Amendment, which, of course, not only protects freedom of speech and
freedom of the press, but also freedom of religion. It is a secretive
institution. And that`s one of the challenges we face in our investigation
was piercing that veil of secrecy.

MATTHEWS: OK. You`re talking right now to a 20-year-old, 22-year-old kid,
woman, male, young adult, tell them why they should become investigative
reporters or tell them why they shouldn`t because it`s a challenge.

REZENDES: Well, I think the reason they might want to become an
investigative reporter is because this is a life with meaning and purpose.
This is a life that gives you a chance to make change and make the world a
better place. I think it`s a way to pursue a very satisfying life. It may
not be satisfying financially, but in terms of achievement, in terms of
contributing to the betterment of society, it`s a wonderful job.

MATTHEWS: You`ve proven that, sir. Thank you, thank you so much. I loved
seeing you at the Academy Awards, by the way.

Michael Rezendes, the real star of that movie.

When we return, let me finish with this refreshing political battle going
on right now on the Democratic side. It`s interesting to watch between
Senator Sanders and former Secretary Clinton. It`s an interesting battle
and it`s actually about policy compared to the other side, which is about
how big your hands are, how big your ears are.

Anyway, you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this refreshing political battle in
the Democratic Party, I say refreshing for a number of reasons, most of
them by way of comparison. Contrast it with what`s happening in the
faltering Republican Party, it`s exactly what the founders of this country
imagined. It`s an actual debate over policy.

First, picture the GOP fight. Trump makes fun of Rubio for sweating too
much, of melting, of being a choke artist. Rubio accuses Trump of having
small hands, you know what that means, he smirks. He charged him with
wetting his pants during a debate.

Meanwhile, Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton argue over U.S. trade
policy and its implications for well-paid jobs in this country.

The question is whether the free trade policy is going back to President
Kennedy have been good for the constituents of the Democratic Party, the
working people, especially those at the big industrial states like
Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois and Pennsylvania.

The two Democrats also argued throughout the campaign on the issue of war
policy, with Sanders taking on Clinton`s vote to authorize the 2003 war
with Iraq. That, too, has been an important debate. It gets to the all
too serious question of how often and where the United States should engage
militarily in a world where civil war and religious feuding is not abetted
by outside intervention, where America can find it much easier to enter a
conflict than to exit one.

With all the finger-pointing and raised voices, there looms a prominent
compelling distinction, between the Democrats fighting this political
season and the Republicans. One is embarrassing and the other is really
something quite valuable. One is a test of on-stage macho, the other is a
pretty good debate over matters that matter.

That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.

Right now stay, tuned for a special town hall with Marco Rubio hosted by
Chuck Todd.


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