Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 3/10/2016
Date: March 10, 2016
Guest: Ken Vogel, Erin McPike, Michael Kelly, Michelle Bernard, Kurtis
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Punchline.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews, out in Los Angeles.
Well, last night, an African-American man at a Trump rally was sucker-
punched by an attendee in North Carolina. According to the sheriff`s
department, he was being escorted from the event because of a disruption
when the incident occurred. Another video shows that the victim was pushed
to the ground by deputies soon after being punched.
Well, while the police say they did not the see the incident take place at
the time, they have now arrested John Franklin McGraw and charged him with
assault and disorderly conduct.
In an interview with “Inside Edition” following the event, McGraw suggested
that the victim, the man he punched, might have been a terrorist with ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MCGRAW, PUNCHED TRUMP PROTESTER: We don`t know who he is, but we know
he`s not acting like an American.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he deserved it?
MCGRAW: Every bit of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that?
MCGRAW: Yes, he deserved it. The next time we see him, we might have to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, You heard all that. The victim was 26-year-old Rakeem
Jones. Here`s how he and his friend, actually, Ronnie Rouse – that`s his
friend`s name – described what happened at the rally earlier today on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAKEEM JONES, PUNCHED AT A TRUMP RALLY: They`re telling us to go, so we
get up. And as we were getting up, you see in the video, and we were
walking up, surrounded by sheriffs, and I got hit. Like, it just threw me
off, and then the next thing, I`m on the ground.
KATE SNOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: There`s a report that – it says in “The
Washington Post” that the man, and I assume they`re talking about Rakeem,
extended a middle finger to the audience. Did that happen?
RONNIE ROUSE, TOOK VIDEO OF THE INCIDENT: Yes, ma`am. And what you miss,
what you don`t hear is Donald Trump exclaiming to the crowd – telling
Rakeem to go home to his mother. Rakeem`s mother died when he was 18 years
old, and he got a little emotional about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: NBC`s Hallie Jackson`s with us from Miami. Michelle Bernard`s
president of the Bernard Center and a “Roll Call” columnist. And Robert
Costa writes for “The Washington Post” and is an MSNBC political analyst.
I want to go to Hallie about this. What do we know about this? If you
want to run through the incident as it occurred in series, what do we know
HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, with the protest incident. You
had this moment when these protesters began to react. Donald Trump caught
their attention – or they caught his attention, rather, and he did. You
can hear it on the tape. He says, Go home to your mother. He made some
comments as these protesters began to leave.
That is when, if you look at the videotape, you see the person who is now
arrested in this case, this 78-year-old man, essentially punch or appear to
punch Rakeem Jones, the young man that`s in that video you just played.
At that point, there are sheriffs nearby. The protesters are sort of
escorted out. The arrest didn`t happen until the next day, until after the
actual incident occurred.
And now you`re seeing the fallout from this, Chris. You`re seeing reaction
from a lot of different corners, including from Hillary Clinton, who
tweeted out about what she called this repugnant behavior at Trump rallies,
arguing that candidates need to be the ones who set the tone for events
MATTHEWS: Now, in terms of Trump`s comments immediately before that, he
was doing what he always does. Tell me if I`m wrong. He`s often taunted
people as they`ve caused the disruption, a protest. I mean, that`s on
purpose usually. They cause the disruption. The bouncers or the police or
whatever come and begin to escort the person out.
It`s there`s kind of ritual thing going, almost like a tar and feathering,
where he taunts them on their way out, even to the point saying in the
past, Don`t let them have their coat, it`s cold outside, let them freeze.
Is that what that kind of situation seemed to be like, in that pattern?
JACKSON: Yes, it appeared to be that. And you`ve seen Trump do this
before, right? There was that moment, I believe last month, when he said -
- he talked about in the good old days, you`d take these folks out on a
stretcher, saying that he`d like to maybe punch them in the face. So you
hear Trump talking about this when these protests happen.
And remember, there are protests at every single one of his rallies. It`s
interrupted by people. So Trump is – this is not an unusual event for
Trump necessarily. What was unusual last night was, obviously, that it did
MATTHEWS: Have you been to enough of those rallies where you can offer a
reporter`s estimate of the different kinds of reaction people have? I
mean, I hear the crowds. I`m watching it here from the studio most of the
time. And I – sometimes, people are yucking it up, enjoying the craziness
of it, the buffoonery of it, in effect, because there`s (INAUDIBLE) of a
ritual, as I said, to this whole thing.
But do you ever see the faces of people looking angry, or you know, out for
violence? Do you sense there`s real anger in the room, or there`s kind of
a – kind of an enjoyment of the moment? How would you describe the faces
of people in the crowd?
I mean, this guy looked like he was – had a point of view that he brought
in that room with him. I don`t think he had – he thought of what he was
going to do when he got there. He obviously who`s (ph) who he was, this
guy. We`ll find out later about his – his mental state or his history of
whatever violence, if he has any.
I`m just asking you, is there – you do sense a menace in the crowd…
MATTHEWS: … towards these people that are being thrown out? If you do,
let me know. I`d like to know.
JACKSON: Yes, you know, I think it depends on the night, Chris. I don`t
think you can make a blanket statement about it. I think that some
rallies, you`ve seen tension, obviously, you`ve seen sort of the sense that
maybe something could happen. At others, it`s sort of a routine moment,
where the protesters do their thing and then they get escorted out.
You know, you talk about, too, the reactions when it comes to the press.
That`s another ritual of Donald Trump`s. At his stump speeches, he`ll turn
around and he`ll talk about the cameras and the people in the risers,
meaning the reporters and the press, and oftentimes, the crowd turns around
and boos and jeers and yells. And so you have those moments very
frequently at Trump events, I would say almost every time.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Hallie, hold on there. Anyway, Slate.com now counts at
least 10 physical altercations at Trump rallies going back to this past
October. His rallies, of course, can draw up to 30,000 supporters.
But this latest incident comes, as was just said, just two weeks Trump said
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re not allowed to punch back
anymore. I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like
that when they were in a place like this? They`d be carried out on a
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: I`d like to punch him in the face, I`ll tell you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Robert Costa, how do we get an objective report on the
connection between that kind of talk and this kind of behavior? This has
gone on – people say things on television that cause people to say things.
People say on the radio that cause people to do things. And yet in
audiences of 10,000 people, one person does it. And is there a cause and
effect when it`s that level of incidence?
ROBERT COSTA, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Time and again,
we haven`t seen much of a political cost for Donald Trump whenever he makes
these kind of provocations. Instead, his base, his supporters embrace his
lack of political correctness. It`s a lot of working class voters, people
who feel like the system, the economy, whatever it is, is rigged, and
they`re on his side regardless of what he says.
And it`s really different, Chris, from when I go to more rural areas versus
suburban areas where it`s more country club Republicans. They`re aghast at
Trump`s behavior and his performance. But those who are more conservative
working class, they`re all with him.
MATTHEWS: Tell me about your scoop. I hear you got some news about
another – one of the candidates who`s no longer on the list.
COSTA: Based on my reporting, Ben Carson, the conservative favorite who
recently dropped out of the 2016 race – he`s going to endorse Trump
tomorrow at Mar-a-Lago, the club Trump owns here in south Florida. They
met today, confirmed by Carson`s business manager, at Mar-a-Lago to huddle
for about an hour one on one. And now Carson is going to move toward the
outsider (ph), perhaps the biggest endorsement for Trump since Chris
Christie backed him a few weeks ago.
MATTHEWS: So now we have – we have – just before we go back to the topic
right now, you now have Chris Christie and Ben Carson on Trump`s side.
Meanwhile, this other milieu of people meeting in Florida with Jeb. Are
they going to be the opposition, those other candidates? It`s an
interesting sort of coalition building going on here.
COSTA: That`s right. I mean, you have lot of the high-powered donors. I
was in Park City, Utah, earlier this week. Now in Florida, Paul Singer,
the New York donor who`s with Rubio – he`s convening meetings and phone
calls, based on what my sources are telling me, trying to get some kind of
revived anti-Trump effort.
But you hear – even in the spin room, you had Governor Scott walking
around from Florida. He hasn`t endorsed Trump, but he`s certainly friendly
toward Trump and praising the way he`s – he`s drawing out a lot of
MATTHEWS: It`s interesting how the Republican Party is dividing down the
Trump and anti-Trump factions at the top among the various candidates and
the biggest donors. Thank you, anyway. Hang in there.
Anyway, Hallie Jackson just mentioned Hillary Clinton`s reaction came on
last night. She commented on Trump actually today in an interview that
airs tonight on “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” at 9:00 o`clock Eastern on MSNBC.
Let`s watch her comment about this – this crime, perhaps. The charge now
is assault and disorderly conduct. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:
Clearly, I know that everybody in public life gets protested against, and
sometimes people do have to be removed. But it should be done in an
appropriate manner. Other people in the audience should not be joining in.
Mr. Trump should not be urging people on. This is deeply distressing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Michelle, I`m kind of amazed, as you might have been, by the
sort of the calmness with which this guy was sucker-punched, to use a high
school schoolyard – he was really punched, and the way he took the punch
and the way he`s talked about it. and his friend was there with him to
video it. So those guys seem like they`ve got it all figured out.
What do you make of the incident itself? What does it say?
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER PRES.: Well, the incident itself is
absolutely horrifying, and – you know, and I`m going to sort of paraphrase
Jorge Ramos from Univision, but you remember he is the journalist who had
the scuffle with Donald Trump back in August. And one of the statements he
made at the time is that Donald Trump is fomenting hatred and racism.
And it`s no surprise if Donald Trump says that he wants to – he wished he
could punch someone in the face in February, it`s no surprise that the
lowest of the low who are supporting his candidacy punched someone in the
face in March.
I think it would be pretty difficult to argue that there isn`t some sort of
a connection, when you have reporters who are of Latin descent being told
to go back to your country or get out of my country, or you have this man
who sucker-punched the African-American young male last night, saying, you
know, We don`t know who he is. He could be ISIS. He could be a terrorist.
What we do know is he isn`t acting American.
It is a very, very scary time in our nation, and the fact that Donald Trump
is garnering so much support all over the country I think spells for a very
difficult time in American history and a difficult time for the Republican
Does today`s Republican Party want to be known as the party of Donald
Trump, and – you know, and as Jorge Ramos said back in August, this is our
country. It is not Donald Trump`s country.
MATTHEWS: Yes. I`m with you on this. I just think it`s hard for me –
you don`t know about personal motivation. We`ll know more when this guy
talks. But it`s your assumption it had something to do with the race, the
ethnicity of those – of that guy. It wasn`t just that he was a protester
who was black.
BERNARD: No, I think – I think – I believe that it was because he was
black. I believe it was because he saw this as a – as someone who is not,
quote, unquote, “one of us,” you know, being unpatriotic, whatever that
means to him, towards Donald Trump.
And you know – and I want to go back to what Bob said earlier. It`s not
just the sort of socioeconomic level of the people that we saw punch this
man in the face.
Earlier today on another network, a person who was on “The Apprentice” with
Donald Trump, and I believe it`s being reported was once president of Trump
Productions, went on television and defended the man for punching this
young man in the face, thought it was a hellified (ph) punch delivered by a
78-year-old, and basically, I believe, was quoted as saying something to
the effect of, These liberals don`t have any respect for freedom of speech.
You don`t see people going out to a Hillary Clinton campaign and causing
this kind of trouble. It`s a problem.
MATTHEWS: I think everybody saw what that was. That was a punch delivered
directly to the face of somebody with tremendous hatred and anger, and
anything you want to assume about it I think is fair at this point.
Anyway, thank you, Hallie Jackson, great reporting, as always, about crowds
out there, getting a sense of them and the mix in the crowd between those
there for the show and those there with real anger. Robert Costa, thank
you for that scoop about Dr. Carson about to endorse Donald Trump. And
Michelle Bernard, as always.
And up now, a big announcement to tell you about. I`m really excited to
tell you that Hillary Clinton will be joining me for an exclusive town hall
in Springfield, Illinois, this Monday night at 7:00 Eastern. That`s 7:00
Eastern this Monday night, an hour with Hillary at a town hall with Hillary
Clinton right here on HARDBALL, actually. It`s going to be on at 7:00
o`clock Eastern, our time.
Coming up, Marco Rubio`s last stand. He says he regrets his personal
attacks – you know, the real poor stuff of his, below the belt stuff. He
says his kids, his children were embarrassed by him. And now he`s headed
into tonight`s debate with one final chance to change the race ahead of
Tuesday night`s must-win Florida primary.
(INAUDIBLE) interesting to see if those guys keep their gloves up tonight.
Anyway, we`ll see about that. Good luck to both of them.
Plus, the sharp debate last night between Hillary Clinton and Bernie
Sanders. Clinton showed some authenticity, admitting she`s not a natural
politician like her husband or President Obama. Can she turn a
vulnerability into a strength? That`s a great question.
And for all you die-hard fans of “House of Cards,” take a break from binge
watching season four. We`ve got actor Michael Kelly, who plays Frank
Underwood`s chief of staff and henchman, I hate to say, joining us tonight.
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with the interactive aspect of a Trump rally.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The guy with the worst
spray tan in America is attacking me for putting on makeup! Donald Trump
likes to sue people. He should sue whoever did that to his face!
Donald is not going to make America great. He`s going to make America
RUBIO: He`s, like, 6-2, which is why I don`t understand why his hands are
the size of someone who`s 5-2. Have you seen his hands?
RUBIO: They`re like this. And you know what they say about men with small
RUBIO: You can`t trust them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that was the worst of the worst, wasn`t it.
Welcome back to HARDBALL. For two weeks, Senator Marco Rubio has tried to
out-Trump Trump in the insult, the Don Rickles, you might say, department.
That`s for younger people. That means a comic who made his living
He`s not been successful at this new trade. “The Washington Post” headline
today reads, “Inside Rubio`s collapse, a fateful decision that helped
unravel his campaign.” According to the “Washington Post” story, quote, “A
strategy designed to get under Trump`s skin and force him on the defensive
instead backfired on Rubio. At rally after rally, Rubio was
unintentionally personifying the caricature that Trump was perpetually
drawing of him as `little Marco.`”
Well, here was the – here was that failed strategy on display during a
recent Republican debate. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: Last night in the debate, during one of the breaks, two of the
breaks, he went backstage. He was having a meltdown.
RUBIO: First, he had this little makeup thing applying, like, makeup
around his mustache because he had one of those sweat mustaches.
RUBIO: Then he asked for a full-length mirror. I don`t know why because
the podium goes up to here, but he wanted a full-length mirror. Maybe to
make sure his pants weren`t wet. I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Well, that was about as low as it got, fortunately. Anyway,
today, Marco Rubio has won just two contests, Minnesota, and of course,
Puerto Rico. And the news gets worse for Rubio. A new poll shows Donald
Trump basically thumping him in Florida. That`s Rubio`s home state. Fox
now has Trump with 43 to Rubio`s 20. Suffolk University has Trump up 36 to
27. That`s 9. And in “The Washington Post`s Univision poll, it`s Trump
38-31, about 7. So it`s mixed in there. Those were all taken at different
times, but it adds up about 10 points.
Joining me right now is MSNBC political analyst and former RNC chair
Michael Steele – sir, thank you – and Kurtis Lee, political reporter for
“The Los Angeles Times.”
Michael, you`re a pro politically. What do you make of a guy that tries to
imitate the other guy`s act but looks creepier?
MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Stay with
what you know. That was, I think, the fatal flaw with the Rubio strategy.
He didn`t need to get into the gutter. He didn`t need to go where Trump
was. All he needed to do was make the policy argument. We know he`s
strong on that. We know he`s got the brainpower as well as the charisma to
make the case.
But they felt that you had to go to that space. And you never go where
you`re not comfortable or where you`re not good. And he was not – he was
both of those things. He was not good at it and he was clearly
uncomfortable with it after a while, particularly in the last debate.
It just seems forced, and so he paid the ultimate price. And I think it
may have cost him the pathway to the nomination.
MATTHEWS: I`m sure the comedians out here who write comedy for these shows
out here in L.A., they can figure out the difference between something that
is funny and something that is utter – thumps on the floor.
What do you make of this? It`s killed this guy, maybe.
KURTIS LEE, “THE LOS ANGELES TIMES”: Yes, I mean, I was on the trail with
Rubio in February before he turned to this.
I mean, most of the time, he was talking about, you know, this future of
America, this bright future, this very optimistic tone.
MATTHEWS: That was his theme.
LEE: Yes. That was his theme. He was hammering it home on the stump
quite a bit.
And then it seems like the campaign kind of hit this panic mode and shifted
its message quite a bit and started talking about spray tans and Trump`s
little hands, kind of fitting into this mold of little Marco that Trump has
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Michael on this just before we get in what
Rubio said himself in regretting all this.
This idea of Trump, you know, we watch NBA or college basketball game,
that`s hot right now – by the way, Holy Cross just beat Lehigh to win…
MATTHEWS: I want my executive producer (INAUDIBLE) to fully appreciate
that, because that is an upset. With a terrible losing season, they
apparently won every one oft playoff games, which is nice. You have to win
the last ones.
Anyway, let me ask you about this thing here with the old trick of, you
know, fouling in a basketball game. We watch it all time at the end of a
game. Look, my favorite game is basketball. And you foul at the end of
the game for the reason you want to get the ball back.
MATTHEWS: It`s a very simple metaphor.
I guess they told Rubio – and he`s not stupid and his people aren`t stupid
– that if you want to get attention back, you got to get that ball back.
Let the guy take his foul shots. You get the ball. You can get three, he
gets one. If you`re lucky, you win on the transaction.
But you have got to get the ball back. Is that what they told him, if you
don`t hit him on the inside, get the publicity that he`s been getting by
going after him? You`re not even in the game.
But it matters how you foul someone. You can foul in a way that you get a
technical or you can foul in a way which you get thrown out of the game.
STEELE: So, you have got to be smart about how you foul. And that was
clearly not the case here.
They thought they saw an opening. And they played to that opening. They
should have just stayed in the lane they were in, because the bigger
argument, the better argument was about a brighter America. Donald Trump`s
argument was, we want to take America back, or we want to make it strong
His argument was, let`s talk about a better America, and that was the one
that ultimately was the winning point. And, you know, again, when you get
out of your lane and you start fouling, you`re going to get out of the
game. And that`s exactly what has happened.
MATTHEWS: And he was really selling the positive – if Republicans don`t
get some minorities, Hispanics, if they don`t get some black Americans,
after all the problems in the `60s – ever since Roosevelt and Kennedy and
Johnson, they have been losing that game politically.
Yet don`t want to seem to win that. They`re not going to win it unless
LEE: And that`s what Rubio was. He`s trying to be this transformational
figure for the Republican Party. But it just hasn`t correlated with the
MATTHEWS: Well, here he is admitting it. It`s amazing, guys, when a
politician admits it. Talking now to a guy who knows politics from the
inside, a guy who covers it, it hardly ever happens.
But here he is now regretting the way he tried to take Trump down. Let`s
listen to a remarkable statement by a politician.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it`s not something
I`m entirely proud of. My kids were embarrassed by it, and I – you know,
if I had to do it again, I wouldn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. They don`t always do that.
LEE: Not always, no, no.
And this could be one of those things where he is looking at his political
future there. Everything is weighing on Tuesday there in Florida for Marco
Rubio. And if he doesn`t win, it`s tough for him to continue on.
MATTHEWS: Well, how does he go tonight? Because now he has to go in
having admitted he shouldn`t have gone below the belt. He shouldn`t have
made the stupid jokes about physicality. And now he`s going to go out and
face Trump. Now, will Trump be graceful and say I`m glad you`re…
MATTHEWS: You`re laughing. Will Trump be graceful?
LEE: It will be interesting to see.
Trump will – certainly, when Trump does stand up there and say possibly
little Marco and go after Marco Rubio, does he stand up to Trump or does he
remain presidential and hit on his record, what he did in Florida in the
state legislature, what he has done in the U.S. Senate?
Does he just talk about his record and focus on – change back to focusing
on this American future and an optimistic message? It will be interesting
to see where he goes on that.
Michael, so far, only one candidate has chosen to shoot to moon, as I say,
and actually do the positive stuff, and that`s John Kasich. I don`t think
anybody else has really done it lately. What do you think about tonight`s
debate? Hype the debate tonight a little. What do you think? Is Trump
going to be brutal on this guy now that he has got him down?
STEELE: You know what? I don`t think so.
I don`t think it works to Trump`s advantage to do that. He knows the math
as well as Rubio does at this point. Even with a win, he is still going to
be in the better position to grab the nomination.
So I think Trump, his opportunity is to sort of look past Rubio. He may
take a zing or two at Kasich. He may take a zing or two one at Cruz, but I
don`t think Rubio is as much in his sights as before.
And to your point about the modesty and the honesty that Rubio showed, I
wondered if he would have admitted if it worked, because it`s easier to
come out and say, yes, I shouldn`t have done that, after it has failed
miserably. So there is another side to that coin. If it had worked, I
wonder what the conversation would be now.
MATTHEWS: Yes. People always – I hate to be mean about it, but people
often admit – quote – “bad judgment,” after they get caught.
Anyway, thank you. When they don`t get caught, they never said I was
guilty of – let me tell you what I did that you didn`t know about. They
never do that, do they?
Michael, you and I are Catholics. We know all this stuff too well.
STEELE: We know all about the guilt, baby.
MATTHEWS: Thank you too much, Michael Steele.
And thank you, Kurtis. It`s great to have you on out here with “The Los
LEE: Thank you so much.
MATTHEWS: I will be back tonight at 11:00 p.m., by the way, tonight with
full coverage of that Republican debate I talked about, so be sure to tune
in, our two hours of – you don`t have to watch the debate necessarily,
because we`re going to go through it point by point.
Up next – in fact, you don`t have to watch it at all. Just watch us.
We turn now to the Democratic side of the race and a humble admission from
Hillary Clinton. That`s coming up.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
President Obama welcomes the new Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau,
to the White House for a state dinner this evening. The two leaders
announced they`re teaming up to curb emission of planet-warming gases.
This is the first official visit by a Canadian leader in 19 years.
Historic flooding in Louisiana has left five dead and forced thousands to
evacuate. Rivers rose to record flood levels, and more rainfall is
expected. Some areas have received more than 20 inches of rain already –
back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
After Bernie Sanders scored an upset win against Hillary Clinton in
Michigan this week, the two candidates met for their final scheduled debate
last night. The two clashed on immigration, trade deals and Clinton`s paid
speeches to Wall Street banks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), Presidential Candidate: I think our best
chance was in 2007, when Ted Kennedy led the charge on comprehensive
immigration reform. I voted for that bill. Senator Sanders voted against
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The great tragedies,
human tragedies of recent years is children came from Honduras and I said
welcome children into this country. Secretary Clinton said send them back.
CLINTON: I just think it`s worth pointing out that the leaders of the
fossil fuel industry, the Koch brothers, have just paid to put up an ad
praising Senator Sanders.
SANDERS: When you get paid $225,000, that means that that speech must have
been an extraordinarily wonderful speech.
I would think that a speech so great that you got paid so much money for
it, you would like to share it with the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: A little sense of humor there.
Democratic voters go to the polls next week in Florida, Ohio, Illinois,
North Carolina and Missouri. Polls in several of those states show
Secretary Clinton on solid ground. She leads Sanders by 30 points down in
Florida. She is ahead nine points in Ohio, and she has a commanding 42-
point lead in her original home state of Illinois, before she moved to
For more, I`m joined by tonight`s roundtable. Howard Fineman is global
editorial director for The Huffington Post and an MSNBC political analyst.
Erin McPike is a political reporter. And Ken Vogel is investigative
reporter for Politico.
I want to start with Howard, my friend.
As we say in baseball, throw it around the horn right now. All those
states, what should Hillary Clinton be worried about from Senator Sanders
this coming Tuesday? What is the fear zone?
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Ohio.
Ohio is the one where it could be a contest, and Ohio is in many ways
similar to Michigan, where Senator Sanders pulled off that big, narrow, but
big upset. And I think there is some indication that he closes in
situations like that.
And the messages that won Michigan for him on trade and middle-class
economics, that`s the core of it. The polls in Michigan, Chris, showed
that eight out of nine out of 10 voters cared about those two things above
all. That`s going to be his calling card. That`s his strong message.
Is he going to win the nomination? Probably not. But is he a loud siren
of alarm to Hillary about getting right on those messages? Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: You look good in the baseball cap.
Anyway, Secretary Clinton made a frank statement last night about her
limitations as a politician. Let`s watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I have said before and it won`t surprise anybody to hear me say
it, this is not easy for me.
I am not a natural politician, in case you haven`t noticed, like my husband
or President Obama. So I have a view that I just have to do the best I
can, get the results I can, make a difference in people`s lives, and hope
that people see that I`m fighting for them and that I can improve
conditions economically and other ways that will benefit them and their
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Boy, Erin, that`s the opposite of how Trump talks. Trump says
he`s the greatest being that has ever been on the planet, he`s married to
the greatest being on this planet, the most beautiful.
Everything he has ever done is wonderful. He went to the best school, he
went to all that. And here is Hillary Clinton, with all the degrees in the
world, including Yale Law School and Wellesley and everything else in her
background, and she is saying, yes, I`m not very good at this.
What do you make of it?
ERIN MCPIKE, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Yes, Chris, that was a direct play for
I perked up when I heard her say that. It was the most disarming thing she
has said throughout this entire election cycle. Women relate to it. It`s,
maybe we`re not as confident, though we should be, as our male
counterparts, that she has some nervousness, that she is not as talented in
a speaking way that Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are.
I think it was a great move. And it was a more subtle play for women than
she has been doing throughout the cycle.
MATTHEWS: Are you saying like women students get better grades than men,
but the men raise their hand more often?
MCPIKE: Absolutely. Absolutely that`s true.
MATTHEWS: That`s what I think.
Anyway, let me go to Ken on this.
Hillary Clinton, because, you know, we have been through a lot of drama
with Hillary Clinton, back, you know, in New Hampshire back in `08 when she
was feeling bad about the campaign. She had just gotten beat in Iowa and
she really showed, I don`t know if it was tears, but certainly emotion.
And people said that was a voice. And then it works for a while. I`m not
sure how it works in the long run. But against Trump, it may be the
perfect counterbalance. What do you think?
KENNETH VOGEL, POLITICO: Yes. That`s right, because it takes what in
some ways is regarded as a weakness for her, that she doesn`t have this
electric charisma of her husband, of Barack Obama, even of Bernie Sanders.
She doesn`t fire people up in the same way. And in some ways, it makes it
a strength. She is saying, what I lack there, I make up for in hard work.
That`s the way a lot of people, not just women, see themselves. People
don`t see themselves as like a preternaturally talented, like a Michael
They see themselves more as a scrappy defended like a Steve Kerr type, to
use the Chicago Bulls basketball analogy. And I think that that`s really a
place where she can find her groove, and it is similar to what she did in
2008, going back to the debate where she said – she sort of forced Obama
into saying that she is likable enough by saying that it hurt her feelings,
some of these polls that showed her to be not as likable.
That`s strong for her.
MATTHEWS: OK. While she`s saying that she`s not so good at it, she showed
her strength. The debate moderators played video of Bernie Sanders showed
back in 1985 discussing Cuba and Fidel Castro, in which Sanders discussed
the positive aspects of the Cuban revolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Way back in, what was it, 1961, they invaded Cuba, and everybody
was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world.
All the Cuban people were going to rise up in rebellion against Fidel
Castro. They forgot that he educated the kids, gave them health care,
totally transformed the society, you know, not to say that Fidel Castro or
Cuba are perfect. They are certainly not.
But just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people does not mean to say
the people in their own nations feel the same way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, in the past, Senator Sanders has visited Cuba and tried to
meet with Castro. He says America don`t understand what is happening there
and he has called the Cuban revolution a revolution in terms of values.
Well, last night, Sanders didn`t back away from his past comments. Here he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Cuba is, of course, an authoritarian, undemocratic country.
And I hope very much, as soon as possible, it becomes a democratic country.
But, on the other hand, on the other hand, it would be wrong not to state
that in Cuba, they have made some good advances in health care. They are
sending doctors all over the world. They have made some progress in
CLINTON: I think in that same interview, he praised what he called the
revolution of values in Cuba.
If the values are that you oppress people, you disappear people, you
imprison people, even kill people for expressing their opinions, for
expressing freedom of speech, that is not the kind of revolution of values
that I ever want to see anywhere.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s a hard one, Howard.
I mean, I don`t want to go back to my Cold War views. It`s not about my
views, which are still pretty much what they were, but here you are.
Trying to defend anything good about a dictatorship is tricky, anything
It`s just is hard to do. You have to wonder why somebody would do it. What
would be the motivation for doing it?
FINEMAN: Well, Bernie is going to do it because Bernie is Bernie and he is
stubborn and he sticks to his guns, which is why people like him, for the
FINEMAN: Look, the Cuban vote in Florida doesn`t mean as much as it did.
Most of the Latinos in Florida are not Cuban anymore. And they`re not
Democrats. A lot of them are Republicans. But that said, I think Bernie
is on the wrong side of that one. You could tell in the audience, and I
think Hillary scored on that, even as the politics have changed.
It`s hard to defend. It`s hard to say now, many years later, of course
it`s an authoritarian regime. That is conceding a little late something
that he should have talked about at the beginning.
MATTHEWS: I don`t think it`s just Cubans, by the way. Here I go again.
But I`m not going to forget that Castro put nuclear missiles on his island
aimed at New York. Not defensive batteries, not AAA fire. Aimed at New
York. They were intermediate range missiles for the purpose of
counterbalancing our threat to the Soviet Union. It had nothing to do with
FINEMAN: Yes, right.
And, Chris, also don`t forget, in a state like Florida, and in Ohio and in
Illinois, the way the Democratic vote is lining up, Hillary is appealing to
older voters, all the way down the line, and Bernie is appealing to younger
voters all the way down the line.
The younger voters, the millennials don`t know anything about the history
of Cuba and think it`s really cool to get the chance to go down to Havana
and see the old cars. The old voters, they remember the history that
you`re talking about.
MATTHEWS: The younger voters may not even exist if it had gone the other
way in the cold War.
Anyway, thank you.
The roundtable is sticking with us now.
Up next, these people tell me something I don`t know.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR: We`re back with the HARDBALL round table
Ken, tell me something I don`t know.
KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: Well, billionaire hedge funder Paul Singer who
supports Marco Rubio is convening a meeting of other major donors in
Florida just a couple of days after the Florida primary. They`re going to
discuss the way forward, which if Marco Rubio loses in Florida and John
Kasich loses in Ohio, means that they`re going to be discussing whether to
go in with Trump, or whether to sit on the sidelines, which could be a
huge, free pass for Hillary Clinton if they`re not spending money on ads
Let`s go to Erin – Erin McPike.
ERIN MCPIKE, REUTERS: Of the 4.3 million active Republican voters in
Florida, 1 million have already voted, setting up for a huge voter turnout.
Also, Marco Rubio`s internal polling shows him within six points of Trump.
That he`s closing fast there.
MATTHEWS: Well, down in Florida?
MATTHEWS: In Florida?
MCPIKE: Yes, that`s right. Yes.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, Donald Trump has a
very interesting controversial campaign manager named Corey Lewandowski who
was accused today of shoving a reporter from Breitbart, which is a news
organization that`s generally been favorable to Trump.
But leaving that aside, there are people, even within Trump`s own family,
who are not fans of Lewandowski, because he has a very short fuse, and has
tried to keep everybody from direct contact with the boss, except him.
Look for some more controversy coming out of the internal circle of Donald
Trump over the next days and weeks.
MATTHEWS: I think there is a call for you from him right now, Howard.
MATTHEWS: Just kidding. Anyway, thank you. Thanks for the roundtable.
Howard Fineman –
FINEMAN: My phone is ringing. Let me get my cell phone.
MATTHEWS: Erin McPike, Ken Vogel, thank you, all.
Still ahead, he plays White House chief of staff, Doug Stamper, in a hugely
popular “House of Cards”. There he is, Michael Kelly. He`s coming here to
talk presidential politics in the Frank Underwood administration. Oh, God,
it could get it worse.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can`t afford any more shakeups on the campaign right
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We also can`t afford any more of your mistakes.
Shut up. Shut up. When I first woke up, I couldn`t speak. I had to blink
my eyes if I wanted to respond. Do you understand? If I can`t get your
loyalty, I will have your obedience. Blink. Blink.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, we`re back.
That was a scene from season four of the popular Netflix series, “House of
Cards”. In this latest season, “House of Cards” contains striking
parallels, you might say to the real life drama of the 2016 presidential
campaign, including a brokered convention, a reference to a potential
election year Supreme Court fight and, of course, the wife of the president
who craves her own political ambitions.
Actor Michael Kelly, my favorite in the show, whom you saw in that opening
scene, he actually didn`t kill a guy for once, plays President Frank
Underwood`s chief of staff Doug Stamper, who served as his loyal protector
and enforcer. Here`s another scene from season four of “House of Cards”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You sent the photo of the rebel soldier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s not true.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Personal phone, off the premises.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe somebody hacked my account or something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you really going to keep lying to me? I could have
you arrested, or I`d rather you go quietly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know things, Doug.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing you can prove. Now threaten me again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Michael Kelly joins me now, as part of our “7 Days of Genius”
series, it`s MSNBC and 92nd Street Y partnership that includes a set of
conversation with thought leaders in fields of politics and innovation,
science, journalism and film.
You`re one of those geniuses, Michael, and thank you for coming.
MICHAEL KELLY, ACTOR: Wow.
MATTHEWS: What I love about the series, I think it`s far darker than
reality. If anybody thinks this is as bad as this, I`m sorry. You know,
the idea that your boss, the guy who want to be president puts the guy in a
car and turns the exhaust system into the car and kills the guy he works
with, or that you bury somebody, I don`t know if she`s alive or not, out in
country – this stuff, I`m sorry, it`s not that bad.
Do you think it is?
MATTHEWS: Do you think politics is this bad?
KELLY: No, thank God. I`ve spent enough time on the Hill to know it`s not
that bad. And I`m very grateful for that, you know?
MATTHEWS: So, what`s true? Tell me what`s true, because self-interest is
definitely true. I know members of Congress who plot 20 to 30 years ahead
as to who`s going to be chairman of the committee at that point that they
had to compete with. They think way ahead about self-interest. That`s for
So, the violence part is not as direct, I don`t think.
KELLY: Right. Yes, no. I mean – and thank God, right? But I think
that, you know, we always joke about Beau Willimon being clairvoyant
because inevitable these things happen. We write this show – I don`t
write anything – Beau Willimon, the write, write this stuff a year out
before anyone sees it.
So, inevitably, things come to light that parallel the political events of
our country. This year, it`s never more specifically than what we`re
having with the primaries running in our country. You know, it`s really
interesting. It`s really interesting.
MATTHEWS: What`s it`s like working with Spacey? He`s one of the talents
of our time, I think.
KELLY: It`s amazing. This is a man who I`ve looked up to my entire
career, someone I`ve, you know, admired his work. And when I got this job,
I was like, wow, I`m going to get to go and learn from Kevin Spacey every
single day. So, I couldn`t ask for anybody more. I couldn`t ask for a
And the fact he`s so much fun to be around. I mean, the show is so
serious, you see the scenes. But we all come prepared to work. It`s
something that Beau Willimon and David Pincher set from the beginning. We
come there and we`re ready to work. So, when we have down time, Kevin is
always the ring leader in having fun.
MATTHEWS: It was a real risk for the industry, for Netflix to just say,
we`re going to put everything out there basically for free to our
subscribers. There`s no tell, there`s no, you know, there`s no box office.
Once you`re in to Netflix, you get it for free. You can sit and watch the
whole thing with 13 episodes on a rainy Saturday, right?
MATTHEWS: And yet, that`s the way things – nobody thought this would work
to just throw it out there.
KELLY: I didn`t.
MATTHEWS: And don`t get (INAUDIBLE) about it.
You didn`t think it would work?
KELLY: Are you kidding? When I signed on, you know, we had a lot of great
people involved. You had Kevin Spacey, the whole gang, Beau Willimon.
They were already attached when I came on.
And so, you had – I knew we were going to make a great product. The only
one known to me was Netflix, it`s where you got your DVDs. We were the
first show to stream like that.
I remember the Netflix executives coming for a visit early on. I said, I
heard you were going to drop all 13 episodes at once. Is that true? They
were like yes.
I said, you don`t want to do like seven and then six a few weeks later. It
was like, no. It`s what our people want.
They know the viewers want it. In day when we`re carrying around a little
computer in our hand, we get everything right now, right when you want it.
You want to know a question, you got Siri, she answers it, you know? It`s
MATTHEWS: Kathy and I watched – we did chocolate chip cookies and run
out. We still say let`s watch one more tonight. The trouble is, it gets
about 12:30 in the morning. Why are we doing this?
KELLY: Because it`s so good.
MATTHEWS: I know. It`s irresistible.
Thank you, Michael Kelly, my friend. Thanks so much for coming on.
KELLY: Thank you, sir. So good to see you.
MATTHEWS: You can catch all of season 4, as we said, of “House of Cards”
on Netflix. Right now, you can start right now for the next 13 hours.
Anyway, when we return, let we finish with the interactive aspect of the
Trump rally. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish with the interactive aspect of a Trump rally.
He says something, the audience roars back. He yells at a protests, the
crowd blasts its agreement. He taunts, they taunt. He talks tough about
wishing he could punch someone, they cheer in agreement.
Well, thousands get it. Tens of thousands. They get it. It sticks. They
know they are watching a master showman that`s why they came.
They like what Trump is saying, like the crowd that there`s there to join
and interact with him. That, too, is part of the show.
So is joining in the cat calling when someone is in the process of getting
bounced. Everyone boos. Everyone laughs as Trump boos.
When Trump goes further and say, don`t give them their coats back, it`s
cold outside, really cold, they cheer that too.
It`s fun. He`s threatening people with paying a price for interrupting his
performance. But there`s a risk. There`s a risk.
And now we know what the price is to be paid when one person in that crowd
hooting and hollering and joining in taunting throws a punch at one of
Trump`s target, someone of whatever bent sees their chance – his chance to
inflict physical harm.
We all know about mob behavior. It`s about how individuals begin to act
differently when caught up in a mob scene. We have seen it in the best of
demonstrations. I felt it myself in demonstrating against the Vietnam War.
You don`t act yourself. You feel something that comes with the rage of the
crowd, especially when confronting the other side. The usual restraints
And this is where the leader needs to lead. This is when the person up
there rousing the crowd in defense of rage and excitement better take
account of what he`s risking because if the rhetoric is really for show,
that`s what`s being said on the platform is really to express a political
rage, not a call to violence. Not everyone gets the message. And that`s
when the trouble gets serious.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
Tune in 11:00 p.m. tonight when I`ll be back with a post-debate show about
Republicans in their face off in Miami tonight.
And on Monday, be sure to watch our exclusive HARDBALL town hall with
Secretary Hillary Clinton.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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