Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 4/1/2016

Tara Maller, Shane Harris. Joseph Cirincione, Valerie Plame, Clarence Page, Anne Gearan

Date: April 1, 2016
Guest: Tara Maller, Shane Harris. Joseph Cirincione, Valerie Plame,
Clarence Page, Anne Gearan

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Cool hand Barack.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Well, the president has offered a calm but tough criticism of Donald
Trump`s statement this week on possession and use of nuclear weapons.


mentioned tell us? They tell us that the person who made the statements
doesn`t know much about foreign policy or nuclear policy or the Korean
peninsula or the world generally.

We don`t want somebody in the Oval Office who doesn`t recognize how
important that is.


MATTHEWS: Well, we know who he`s talking about. It`s been one of the most
eventful and challenging weeks for Donald Trump in his campaign so far.
The New York business leader has been understandably in damage control
since Wednesday, when he said women who have an abortion should receive
some form of punishment. Well, those comments were widely attacked by
abortion rights activists and opponents alike,

And afterwards, the Trump campaign issued a statement, and then another
statement. Then on Thursday, Trump told “The New York Times,” “If you
answer one question inartfully or incorrectly in some form or you
misunderstood it or you misspoke, it ends up being a big story. That
doesn`t happen with other people.” That`s Trump talking.

For those who wish to watch, by the way, the entire block of Wednesday`s
town hall dedicated to the topic of abortion rights, go right now, if you
wish, to Hardball.msnbc.com – Hardball.msnbc.com. But if you don`t want
to watch it right now, we`re going to show it to you, as well, at the final
segment of the show.

But we begin tonight with questions about Trump`s path forward after a
number of challenging days. NBC`s Katy Tur is in New York and Chris
Jansing`s in Milwaukee right now, and MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid
also joins us. Thank you all for joining us right now.

First of all, Katy, who watches this guy daily and hourly, how is he going
to get beyond this week? This has not been a great week, to put it
lightly. How does he move past perhaps a defeat in Wisconsin and regain
his sea legs by New York, where he should win?

KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I think we`ve asked that question every
single time Donald Trump has run into some controversy or another. And I
think the reality is, as we`ve seen, is that something else will come up.
There will be another controversy.

The thing is, he`s doing the Sunday morning talk show circuit at least a
little bit this weekend. We already know that he`s been asked about
abortion by CBS, so that`s going to make that conversation last a little
longer. He`s not expected to do well in Wisconsin, so that will be a blow.

So Donald Trump needs to just figure out a way to get past it, to regain
his momentum and come in strong to New York. But I think the reality is,
in order to do that, the campaign is going to probably open up yet another
controversy, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you about women. I want you all to talk about
this, women and Trump. We`ve got some numbers that are devastating about
him among women. I keep thinking there are a lot of Republican women out
there, a lot of them out there, who may have different views on abortion
rights even than their husbands have.

Look at this. A new Gallup tracking poll, 70 percent of women nationally,
across the country, have an unfavorable opinion of Trump. And I`m just
wondering, how does he deal with the sort of the permanent problem of what
he has said?

TUR: Well, I think part of the issue that he`s going to be facing is how
he tries to bridge that gap in a general election. Right now, the campaign
isn`t acknowledging that they have a problem. Instead, what they`re doing
is they`re saying that he`s won women in the past and they believe that
he`s going to be able to speak directly to women as they go on.

If they get to the general election, if they get this nomination, they
think they`ll be able to change their message and speak directly to each

The issue is, that is a very daunting number. When I`ve spoken to GOP
sources about they are going to deal with that come the election, if Donald
Trump is, in fact, the nominee, and they`ve admitted that yes, it`s a huge
problem. It`s one that could put potentially Hillary Clinton until the
White House. It worries them.

But what they`re going to try to do to mitigate that is to target older
white women who have liked Donald Trump`s message…


TUR: … and just try to mitigate the damage they`ve done with younger
women. They`re also trying to appeal to white men in large numbers, white
men that could potentially be Democrats or independents. And they`re
hoping that the number of men coming in from outside of the party will
mitigate the damage they`re doing with women, mitigate the damage they`re
doing with minorities, and be able to lift them to wins in states that they
would not have otherwise won in. They`re talking about states like
Colorado and Pennsylvania, states that have traditionally gone towards

They believe that they can win those over in the fall. But it`s unclear if
that is going to be the case. There`s a lot of polling out there that
shows that Donald Trump, if he`s facing off against Hillary Clinton, would
lose in a landslide in the Electoral College.

MATTHEWS: Let me go to Chris Jansing. Chris, you know, a couple of times
in the Midwest – I think it was Indiana and in Missouri – candidates won
to the United States Senate not because they were fantastic as candidates,
although some of them were good, is that their opponents said stupid things
about “legitimate rape” and things like that, and they were able to cruise
right into office.

Hillary Clinton must be thinking right now, If I just run a regular
campaign, not especially charismatic, just successful and competent, this
guy is going to hand it to me.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Look, I just talked to somebody in the
Clinton campaign in the last 23 hours who said to me when you have
unfavorables with women nationally that are above 70 percent, there`s
nothing you can do. There is absolutely nothing you can do but try to –
you can`t balance that out with white men. You`d have to win 90, 95
percent of the white men who vote. I mean, it`s impossible.

He`s going to have to do some sort of major change, and we`re certainly not
seeing it here in Wisconsin. I was talking to a lobbyist. They`ve been
doing internal polling throughout this campaign. He says he`s seeing, here
for example, it`s in the high 70s.

But it`s interesting, Chris. Your conversation with Donald Trump on
abortion, for example – the argument has been made to me by several
Republican insiders here that it was two levels bad against Trump. It was
bad on its face because people didn`t like the message. They thought the
message was bad.

But it further sort of put a cherry on top of a belief here that he does
not have depth on the issue. And it`s why a lot of business people that I
talk to feel that that made them nervous. And a couple of them actually
brought up the nuclear issue.


JANSING: So I think, in a weird way, you know, what – you know, what the
president talked about today, criticizing Trump, and the criticism we`ve
heard from him on abortion, it goes to depth. And those are the kinds of
issues that are going to be trouble for him with women, with men, across

MATTHEWS: Joy, respond to this. “The Washington Post” looked at Trump`s
polling among various groups and pointed to red flags. His negatives are
huge among moderates – that`s moderate Republicans – young people –
young Republicans – African-Americans, Hispanics, and white evangelical

According to “The Washington Post,” “If Donald Trump secures the Republican
presidential nomination, he would start the general election campaign as
the least popular candidate to represent either party in modern times.”

But it might not be too late to stop him, and according to “The New York
Times,” that is scaring many of the Republican Party right now. Quote,
“Republicans who once worried that Mr. Trump might gain overwhelming
momentum in the primaries are now becoming preoccupied with a different
grim prospect, that Mr. Trump might become a kind of” – I love this phrase
– “zombie candidate, damaged beyond the point of repair, but too late for
any of his rivals to stop him.”

Boy, some headline writer came up with that phrase because all that –
those TV shows I don`t like to watch about zombies, you know, crashing into
the village or whatever, coming across the horizon, scaring the hell out of
people. There they are, using the term and applying to Trump, “zombie

JOY REID, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And “The Walking Dead” happens to be my
favorite show, so I think…

MATTHEWS: Oh, my God.


MATTHEWS: You and have got to compare taste buds here!



REID: “The Walking Dead`s” a great show!

So you know, I think the zombie candidate meme actually is really true.
And you look at those groups that you cited, Chris, that he`s having so
much trouble with – Donald Trump, when he first started out, one of the
things that you would hear Republican consultants say is he that might
actually be able to expand the base because more moderate, non-doctrinaire
Republicans and former Democrats, who really aren`t doctrinaire on things
like lowering the tax rate and other sort of tchotschkes of movement
conservatism, could gravitate toward him. Well, now he`s doing badly with

You look at white evangelical Protestants. Why is he doing so badly in
Wisconsin? 22.5 percent white evangelical Protestants in that state, as
opposed to a state like New York, that`s got less than 10 percent white
evangelicals. So it`s a state that`s tailor-made for Ted Cruz anyway.

But not only has he offended women with his comments about, you know,
everything from suborning the bullying of a white woman reporter to his
feud with Megyn Kelly to his abortion comments, he actually has shown that
he`s spent exactly zero time studying movement conservatism because for,
like, 40 years, the doctrine has been you don`t make the subtext of the
anti-abortion movement into text. You don`t take it to its logical

You know, other than Richard Mourdock and Akin and some of these guys who
make a mistake, you`re not supposed to give away the game that the idea is
that you want to completely criminalize abortion. You sort of almost
infantilize the woman and say, No, she`s a victim. We just want to
criminalize the provider.

Well, he hasn`t studied enough movement conservatism to know you`re not
supposed to do that, so he winds up in this Akin territory. So he is this
sort of unicorn candidate that`s actually as offensive to movement
conservatives as he is to moderates. And so he almost is a guy without a

But the one small part of the group of conservatives he has, working class
white men for the most part, are with him to the end. And when you get to
New York, they only have less than 10 percent white evangelical
Protestants. He could still win New York.

MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Katy. Katy, you know, the issue of the
president`s race (sic) tonight, going at Trump in his usual sarcastic way,
the way he – he has that sort of the wonderful condescending way of
chuckling very quietly in his cheek, have you noticed that, when he`s
talking about him? It`s like the old Press Club thing, making fun of him,
like he`s still a TV barker and showman.

And the way he did it tonight – is Trump going to respond to that? Would
that be his MO to come back at Obama and try to knock him off again?

TUR: Well, it certainly has been in the past, but I`m not sure if he is
going to be doing that. I mean, the next time we`re going to see him in
the public is tomorrow. So potentially, he could lash out against the
president. But lately, he hasn`t really done so. Obama has come out a few
times and really trashed, if you will, Donald Trump and his candidacy. But
Trump has not responded in every circumstance.

Listen, when it comes to his base, this is exactly the stuff that they
like. This is red meat for them. They don`t like this president. They
don`t like Hillary Clinton. They`re generally not Democrats, or if they
are Democrats, they`re Democrats who`ve been disillusioned by this – by
President Obama`s eight years in office.

So when President Obama comes out and dismisses him and basically treats
his candidacy as if it`s a joke, they like Donald Trump even more because
they don`t like the idea of the establishment pushing back. They don`t
like the idea of people in authority pushing back against their candidate.
They take it personally. They believe Donald Trump is fighting for them.


TUR: But whether he`s going to be able to maintain that support on top of
all of the controversies that are escalating and escalating as we go on –
he`s only going to face tougher questioning when it comes to policy if we
get into the general election.

A debate against Hillary Clinton – you might not like Hillary Clinton, but
she has depth when it comes to policy and she`s knows what she`s talking
about generally because she has held office for so long, because she was
part of the State Department. She is daily briefed by her staff. She has
a large staff of people that are making sure that she`s on top of the
issues. And she`s been in politics for decades.

Donald Trump does not have that depth. If his supporters stick with him,
they`re going to stick with him because they like that he is not a
politician and they like that he stumbles on things.

MATTHEWS: Well, as the weekend progresses, we`ll be following that. It
seems to me that a word for moderate Republicans is pro-choice Republicans.
They`re not going to like his comment about punishment, and I don`t think
any kind of Republicans, except for perhaps the crazy far right – there
are not many of them, I mean crazy – don`t like the idea of an itchy
trigger finger when it comes to nuclear weapons.

Anyway, thank you, Chris Jansing. Thank you, Katy Tur and Joy Reid.

Coming up, a forceful President Obama in a week-ending press conference.
The president touts progress made in the nuclear security area. Well,
should a President Donald Trump take office next year, could we see that
progress undone, breaking apart all these relationships over the years with
countries in North Asia and in Europe and the Middle East?

Plus, the battle for Wisconsin, just two days away, the primary, that
primary, the fight is heating up with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
Can Sanders pull off a victory on the Midwest battleground and then go on
to challenge Hillary Clinton in New York? It`s actually home base, too.

And finally, the entire block of Wednesday`s town hall dedicated to the
topic of abortion rights – that`s coming up in the show tonight, the whole

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, more Americans are out there looking for jobs right now.
The March unemployment rate increased to 5 percent, up slightly from 4.9
percent, but for a positive reason. More Americans, as I said, are
actually out there looking again.

Well, last month, the economy added a healthy 215,000 jobs. That jobs
report helped propel stocks up today, with the Dow finishing near a four-
month high – that`s good news for retirees, I can tell you – up nearly
108 points.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. President Obama spoke about the
proliferation of nuclear materials at the conclusion of a two-day nuclear
security summit in Washington, where leaders of more than 50 countries met
to address the threat, of course, of nuclear terrorism, which we all worry

It came just as Republican front-runner Donald Trump seemed open to
abandoning this country`s policy on the spread of nuclear weapons. On
Tuesday of this week, Trump said he`d be open to allowing countries like
Japan, the only country that ever suffered a nuclear attack, South Korea
and Saudi Arabia to develop weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons.

Let`s watch.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: It`s been U.S. policy, though, for decades to
prevent – from getting nuclear weapons.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, that might be a policy…

COOPER: South Korea, as well.

TRUMP: Can I be honest with you? Maybe it`s going to have to be time to
change because so many people – you have Pakistan has it. You have China
has it.


COOPER: So you have no problems with Japan and South Korea having nuclear

TRUMP: At some point, we have to say, You know what? We`re better off if
Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea. We`re better
off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself.

COOPER: Saudi Arabia…


TRUMP: Saudi Arabia, absolutely.

COOPER: But if you say to Japan, yes, it`s fine, you get nuclear weapons,
South Korea, you, as well, and Saudi Arabia says, We want them, too.

TRUMP: Can I be honest with you? It`s going to happen anyway. You have
so many countries already, China, Pakistan – you have so many countries –
Russia – you have so many countries right now that have them.


MATTHEWS: Well, this Friday evening, President Obama was asked about
Trump`s statements. Here`s what he said.


mentioned tell us, they tell us that the person who made the statements
doesn`t know much about foreign policy or nuclear policy or the Korean
peninsula or the world generally.

Our alliance with Japan and the Republican of Korea is one of the
foundations, one of the cornerstones of our presence in the Asia-Pacific
region. It has underwritten the peace and prosperity of that region. And
it has prevented the possibilities of a nuclear escalation and conflict
between countries that in the past and throughout history have been engaged
in hugely destructive conflicts and controversies. So you don`t mess with
that. We don`t want somebody in the Oval Office who doesn`t recognize how
important that is.


MATTHEWS: On our HARDBALL town hall meeting with Donald Trump on
Wednesday, Trump also refused to rule out the use by us of nuclear weapons
in the Middle East, even in Europe. Here he is.


TRUMP: I was against Iraq. I`d be the last one to use the nuclear


TRUMP: Sort of like the end of the ballgame.

MATTHEWS: Can you tell the Middle East we`re not using a nuclear weapon?

TRUMP: I would never say that. I would never taken any of my cards off
the table.

MATTHEWS: How about Europe, we won`t use it in Europe?

TRUMP: I`m not going to take it off the table.

MATTHEWS: You might use it in Europe?

TRUMP: No, I don`t think so. But…

MATTHEWS: Well, just say it, I`ll never use a nuclear weapon in Europe.

TRUMP: I`m not taking cards off the table.


MATTHEWS: Well, I`m joined right now by Joe Cirincione, the president of
Ploughshares Fund, former CIA officer Valerie Plame – thank you, Valerie,
for coming on – who worked to prevent the proliferation of nuclear
materials during her time with the agency, and MSNBC political analyst
Howard Fineman, global editorial director of the Huffingtonpost.

I want to start with Joe and then to – oh, I`ll start with Valerie. How
does this strike you? You spent a good portion of your career in the CIA
fighting the proliferation and actually monitoring any danger it would
proliferate, and here`s Trump talking about it somewhat casually, although
I don`t want to put words in his mouth.

He`s looking at it fatalistically, I think is his phrase, fatalistic that
Japan, a country, the only country in the world to suffer a nuclear blast,
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, would some day get a nuclear program, and that South
Korea would get one to balance off North Korea. He seemed to be somewhat
if not complacent, accepting of that in inevitability.

VALERIE PLAME, ANTI-NUCLEAR ACTIVIST: Hi, Chris. Yes, thanks for having
me on.

Unbelievable to hear his statements on this. He just clearly has given no
thought whatsoever. His policy of winging it is really catching up with
him. It`s not working. When he finally released his list of foreign
policy advisers, it wasn`t varsity. It wasn`t J.V. It`s more like the
middle school team.

And he`s being poorly served. You`re absolutely right. He sort of said a
big shrug. Well, if the rest of the world gets nuclear weapons, what are
you going to do? It`s going to happen anyway.

And that`s exactly the wrong stance to take. This nuclear security summit
that President Obama has convened, pulling together over 50 world leaders
to say we have to do something about this, and they have made progress. It
is significant.

But I have to say, with 15,000 nuclear weapons still in the world, we still
have a ways to go.

MATTHEWS: You know, Joe, he said that during the course of the meeting
today with the 50 countries that came to talk about the possible horror of
more proliferation, he said there was discussions on the sidelines. What
do you think those discussions were like today among world leader who came
to prevent happening what Trump seems a little more less interested in
stopping happening?

said today, the countries around the world care what we think. They pay
attention to our elections.

It is unnerving to see the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party
saying things like this, overturning 70 years of bipartisan national
security strategy. Every president since Harry Truman has tried to stop
other countries from getting nuclear weapons. We have never encouraged a
country to get nuclear weapons, not Israel, not France, not Great Britain
that invented the bomb with us.

And so to hear Trump saying these kinds of things, cavalierly talking about
nuclear use is unnerving. And I`m sure President Obama had his hands full
trying to reassure our allies, reassure these countries around the world
that we`re not spiraling out of control.

MATTHEWS: Howard, all my life, I have argued – or a good part of my life,
I have argued with people that not knowing something isn`t a statement of a
lack of intelligence. People can know a lot about certain things.

I listen to all-night radio talking about sports. And people know what the
– Jimmy Rollins` latest contract should be, stuff that they can`t believe
they know about, the third-string quarterback. I think Trump knows a lot
about building buildings on Fifth Avenue and all over the world. He really
is a smart guy.

But there are areas in which you haven`t given much thought. We talked
about abortion rights this week. Not used to talking about them in a
political context. And here saying the phrase I`m not taking it off the
table, now, that phrase has been used most frequently in the last 10 years,
I`m not taking off the table putting ground troops in the Middle East to
fight ISIS or whatever, fighting al Qaeda.

But here he was using that same phrase about nuclear weapons, not taking it
off the table. Well, you know, it`s table stakes. If it`s on the table,
you might just use it. That`s the problem.

knows that he more about the different levels of bathroom fixtures for
hotels than he knows about nuclear issues. That`s the way…


MATTHEWS: And the percentage take in roulette vs. blackjack vs. baccarat.


FINEMAN: In roulette and dealing with construction unions in New York.

MATTHEWS: He knows a lot. The mob. He probably knows more about dealing
with the mob.

FINEMAN: OK. This is a classic and dangerous lack of knowledge by a man
who claims he wants to be the president of the United States, sit in that
building behind you right there.

MATTHEWS: OK. Explain to me why didn`t he do a murder board on it. Why
didn`t he practice?

FINEMAN: He doesn`t do a murder board on anything. He is his own murder
board, he says. He talks to himself.


MATTHEWS: Four hours today with great experts.

FINEMAN: In my role as global editorial director, I was working the
sidelines today, and I talked to a top member of the Communist Party
leadership who was here. He was not in the room with Barack Obama, but he
was with the delegation big time.

MATTHEWS: Which party leadership?

FINEMAN: Chinese. China. I`m sorry, China.


FINEMAN: OK. The Chinese are looking at Donald Trump with a mixture of
amusement and horror.


MATTHEWS: OK. I have got to go back to Valerie on this.

You worked all those years. What do you think the people in the agency,
the CIA, you worked in are thinking when they hear discussions about, I
don`t want to take nuclear weapons off the table, or, oh, maybe Japan will
end up having a weapon, we have to live with that fact? Your thoughts.

PLAME: Yes. Probably the same reaction as the high-ranking communist
leader, amusement and horror at the same time.

It`s absolutely frightening. In fact, across the board with the
presidential nominees, we`re not seeing enough discussion of this truly
extensional issue.

You have Bernie Sanders, who is pulling in tens of thousands of college
students, and they`re all for free college education, great, and health
care. They only have the vaguest notion that perhaps, to end World War II,
we dropped a bomb on Japan. There really is a huge gap of knowledge.

MATTHEWS: Wow. That`s frightening.

PLAME: And no matter what you care about, if you don`t get this one right,
none of the other ones matter.

MATTHEWS: And we were the only country ever to do it. The rest of the
world has its ears picked up when we talk about it, or someone like Trump

Thank you, Howard Fineman. Thank you, Joe Cirincione. And thank you,
Valerie Plame. It`s good to see you again, Valerie.

Up next: getting testy. The battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie
Sanders, just alluded to, is heating up, as the campaigns head to Wisconsin
on Tuesday and New York, coming up two weeks from Tuesday, which is going
to be the biggie, the Big Apple for both of them. By the way, they`re both
New Yorkers in very different ways.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


what`s happening.

Classes were canceled at Chicago`s schools today after the teachers union
staged a one-day strike to protest education cuts. Chicago is the nation`s
third largest school system.

Tesla says it has received nearly 200,000 orders for its new Model 3
electric car. It unveiled a new car priced at $35,000 last night.

And a knife recently turned over to authorities in California from O.J.
Simpson`s former estate has been ruled out as the murder weapon in the
killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman – back to


that, if you`re going to get paid $250,000 for a speech, it must be a
brilliant speech.


SANDERS: It must be an earth-shattering speech written in Shakespearian


SANDERS: And – and if that speech is so great, I think the American
people have the right to hear it.



MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the great Bernie Sanders.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Bernie Sanders taking on Hillary Clinton over her paid speeches to
a crowd of over 18,000 people this Thursday – actually, this Thursday in
the Bronx.

Things are really heating up in the Democrats` fight for the nomination
again. While Hillary Clinton was campaigning in Purchase, New York, a
pretty well-off place, Hillary Clinton – well, he was – Hillary Clinton
was – she was interrupted by protesters supporting Bernie Sanders,
chanting, “If she wins, we lose.” That`s an old line.




CLINTON: Oh, I know, the Bernie people came to say that. We`re very sorry
you`re leaving.

I have earned nine million votes in this election already.


CLINTON: I have one million more votes than Donald Trump, and I have 2.5
million more than Bernie Sanders.



MATTHEWS: And when Secretary Clinton was questioned over campaign
donations by a Greenpeace activist while working the rope line, Secretary
Clinton snapped at the young woman. Here goes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you act on your word and reject fossil fuel
money in the future in your campaign?

money from people who work for fossil fuel companies. I am so sick, I am
so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about that. I`m sick of it.


MATTHEWS: Well, following that exchange, the Sanders campaign released a
statement saying: “The truth is that Secretary Clinton has relied heavily
on funds from lobbyists working for the oil, gas and coal industry.”

According to an analysis by Greenpeace, 57 – 57 oil, gas and coal industry
lobbyists have directly contributed to Clinton`s campaign.

Anyway, the Clinton campaign countered by saying: “The money in question is
from individuals who work for those companies. By the same metric, Bernie
Sanders has taken more than $50,000 on his campaign from individuals
working for oil and gas companies.”

Clarence Page a columnist for “The Chicago Tribune” and Anne Gearan is a
reporter at “The Washington Post.”

Anne, what I thought was interesting is – you`re going to have to explain
this – how Hillary Clinton exploited, took advantage of Donald Trump`s
comment about punishing women who choose to have an abortion, and turned
that against Bernie.


So both Clinton and Sanders expressed outrage at what Trump had said. But
the way Trump – the way Sanders did it was to say, that`s awful, and now
can we get back to talking about income inequality, basically? He said it
is a distraction. The kerfuffle over Trump`s comments about abortion was a
distraction from what he called the serious issues.

Well, that just gave Hillary Clinton a gigantic opening. I mean, you


MATTHEWS: Like women`s rights are not – they`re germane to this debate.

GEARAN: Right. Exactly.

And, I mean, she actually did it very, you know, subtly and quietly, unlike
the rope line interaction with the Greenpeace activist when you saw her
shaking her finger and really getting angry.

She simply said, I think women`s right to choose is a serious issue. And
that is – that`s the zone where she is actually trying to operate here.
But you can see in that Greenpeace interaction and in a couple of other
things that have happened this week the way that the Sanders supporters and
Sanders himself are getting under her skin. And they have got two-and-a-
half weeks to go until the New York primary.

MATTHEWS: OK, asymmetric warfare, as politics often is. It`s like those
gladiator movies. One guy has a stick, the other guy has a little knife.



MATTHEWS: Yes. That`s right.

Her weapon against him is, he take positions on gun rights that don`t fit
with the liberal progressive agenda, and here she has with women, who are a
big part of her constituency, he`s not taking us seriously and our concerns
about our right to choice.

PAGE: Right.

MATTHEWS: And whereas Bernie goes after her always on ideology, she is in
bed with the big people, she takes speeches from Goldman Sachs, she`s taken
oil money – it`s always ideological with him. And she is not comfortable
with that, because she doesn`t want to be pushed over…

PAGE: Well, and it works for him.


PAGE: Look at his followers, young people who – all of us who have kids
or young adult kids, whatever, they are much more, what, black, white,
idealistic about this sort of thing. All the ethical questions around
Hillary Clinton trouble the young folks a lot.

MATTHEWS: The only thing they know about money is the money they owe.
That`s a big part of it.

PAGE: That`s right. Exactly. Exactly.

MATTHEWS: Anne, it`s easy to go to a young person in their early 20s or
early 30s, how much do you owe? What do think of capitalism? I don`t like
being a debtor.

GEARAN: And she – Hillary Clinton`s argument on that is that the Bernie
Sanders college plan, free college, is pie in a sky, it`s ridiculous. It
can never happen.

MATTHEWS: That`s not what kids think. They want the pie.

GEARAN: It is not what kids think. And which would you rather have, free
or a bill, right?


MATTHEWS: … I would listen to somebody. It`s a lot like the Vietnam
War, remember?

PAGE: Oh, yes.

MATTHEWS: At the time, we were all facing 1-A classification.

PAGE: That`s right.

MATTHEWS: So, Gene McCarthy comes along and says, we`re going to get rid
of the war. The government says we`re going to get rid of the war. That`s


PAGE: That`s the thing. Bernie doesn`t have a platform. He has got a
laundry list, as one of my colleagues said. It`s a wish list. And we`re
going to get everything and it`s not going to cost us anything.

Young people love that. Older folks say, well, who is going to pay the
bills? That`s why they love Hillary Clinton, because she`s more pragmatic
and does deal with the details. They have also seen her struggle for over
20 years now here in and around Washington against these various right-wing

MATTHEWS: Whatever happened to don`t trust anybody over 30? He is 70 –
he is pushing 75.

PAGE: Well, we all got over 30. I think it`s very heartwarming to see
young people following a guy who is over 70 years old. That`s wonderful.


MATTHEWS: I`m old too. I think he has got kind of a Tony Bennett kind of
thing. He`s already gone around a number of times and he`s back to…


PAGE: He`s a classic.

MATTHEWS: Yes. That`s a nice statement, as Tony Bennett is.

Anyway, thank you Clarence Page. Thank you, Anne Gearan. Boy, you`re
building the guy up.

Much more ahead, when our roundtable comes here next.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



chemical weapons, including mustard gas, in Syria and Iraq. There is no
doubt that, if these madmen ever got their hands on a nuclear bomb or
nuclear material, they most certainly would use it to kill as many innocent
people as possible.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Obama today outlining the grave risk of nuclear
materials getting into the hands of terrorists as he addressed more than 50
global leaders at a nuclear security summit today.

The event followed the deadly attack in Brussels that left more than 30
dead and hundreds injured. And, as has NBC reported, some of the suspects
in those attacks had tracked the movements of a top nuclear scientist in
Belgium, so they were looking for something nuclear.

Joining me right now is the HARDBALL roundtable tonight. Howard Fineman is
back. He`s global director, editorial of “The Huffington Post” and MSNBC
political analyst, Tara Maller is a former CIA military analyst who should
have better pronunciation, and Shane Harris, senior intelligence and
national security correspondent for “The Daily Beast”.

Shane, you first, how did you read the president`s cool hand Barack thing?
He didn`t get rattled, but he used the chance to belittled Trump`s
unfamiliarity with the nature of the nuclear discussion?

SHANE HARRIS, THE DAILY BEAST: I`m sure he has been dying to say it,
because Trump has no familiarity with the nuclear discussion. His events
and other interviews. I think this was an important moment for the
president to point out the differences that he sees between him and
candidate Trump for sure. And it was an appropriate place to I think do
it, considering this is what the whole thing the summit has been about, is
trying to emphasize what the United States has been doing as a leader in
this area, and the president wanted to point out, look, you really haven`t
studied the issues here, Trump.

MATTHEWS: Tara, what it reminded me of is thinking Trump is good at saying
you can walkway from any deal. But these are 50-year-old, 70-year-old
deals. These are deals that have kept peace in North Asia, kept peace in
Europe, kept NATO together. And to act like you can walk, he takes that
attitude. I can walk if I have to.

TARA MALLER, FORMER CIA MILITARY ANALYST: It really just demonstrated no
understanding of historical context. It demonstrated no understanding of
long histories behind long agreements like the nuclear proliferation.

MATTHEWS: And why Japan doesn`t want to have nuclear weapons.

MALLER: And why certain countries don`t want to have nuclear weapons. It
demonstrates no understanding of the international context in which he is
discussing some of these issues, and to be frank, when you look at it with
regards to nuclear terrorism and some of the rhetoric he uses with regards
of the types of strategies he wants to use to face terrorism, it just shows
no understanding for the international context both with non-state actors
in the traditional setting like –

MATTHEWS: Howard, it`s like one of these moves, how would you like to die?
Now, you don`t like many countries with buttons. A few countries, Pakistan
is dangerous enough. You don`t want any more countries getting a nuclear

HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Chris, here`s the thing at the
intersection of nuclear policy and politics in America. It`s one thing for
Donald Trump in the Republican primary campaign to squash Marco Rubio or
Chris Christie or whatever. And play that child game there.

MATTHEWS: Little Marco.

FINEMAN: What he doesn`t realize is every president since John F. Kennedy
has gone to the Congress or gone to the American people and said, my number
one priority is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. You`re producer
will –

MATTHEWS: Including Ronald Reagan.

FINEMAN: Including Ronald Reagan. Your producer, Will Robby (ph) put
together a historical set of clips that I just watched. Kennedy, Johnson,
Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Obama, every – George W. Bush, every
single one of them committed deeply and strove mightily on the topic of on
nuclear nonproliferation. You can`t throw that out on a whim with no

MATTHEWS: Why does Donald Trump lack that intuition, the most important
thing you do, talk about do no harm, make sure there is no nuclear war in
your watch.

HARRIS: Right. The first thing he wants to do is let the world know that
he`s willing to use tactical nuclear weapons against ISIS. I was actually
talking to a Trump advisor this week, trying to make the case, that –
well, tactical nuclear weapons, they`re different.

MATTHEWS: How are they? Hundreds kilo tons –


MALLER: There is also just no understanding. He seems to think the bigger
talk you have, this is going to make your enemies fear you more, are going
to make things better. In international relations, when you make
statements like this, this aggressive provocative rhetoric, it can create
spirals aggressive behavior between states. And what he is doing is he`s
provoking people to take actions, both international actors, like terrorist
groups and states themselves that actually more detrimental –

MATTHEWS: Why do we want Saudi Arabia with to the older religious people
running that country, a theocracy, having a nuclear weapon, any more than
we would want Iran to have one?

HARRIS: Exactly, we don`t. What Tara is saying, he is spelling out a
recipe for proliferation. This summit was about countering that. All of
our policies are about –

MATTHEWS: Harry, Barry Goldwater, before your time, lost an election
because people thought, his trigger finger on nuclear weapons.

FINEMAN: So, this goes beyond the question of nuclear power. It goes to
Donald Trump`s judgment, which believe it or not, people are now going to
judge, because we`re getting close to nominating season.

MATTHEWS: Moderate Republicans are paying attention.

FINEMAN: Yes, sir.

MATTHEWS: I think their wives are paying attention. Moderate men and
women who are Republicans, people – pro-choice in their tendencies and
very much antiwar in many ways.

Anyway, thank you. At least nuclear war. Round table has been great.

Tara Maller, just like Norman Maller, right? And Shane – it`s my eyes.
Thank you, Shane Harris. Thank you very much. And Shane Harris, thank you
all. And, Howard, of course, my friend.

HARDBALL back after this.


MATTHEWS: Well, Wisconsin holds its primary this coming Tuesday, and I`ll
be there, of course. Join me Monday and Tuesday night for HARDBALL, when
I`ll be there live from Milwaukee at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Plus, I`ll join my colleagues Brian Williams, of course, and Rachel Maddow
on Tuesday night, when our prime time election coverage begins 8:00 p.m.
Eastern. It`s all here on MSNBC, the place for politics. I`ll be right


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

You want to stay tuned right now to MSNBC this weekend for a special
documentary on the threat of terrorism. My colleague, Lawrence O`Donnell
hosts “ISIS and the Internet”. Let`s take a look.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Now, jihadist groups are releasing ever
more sophisticated videos month after month. Their main goal: recruitment,
pulling young people to their cause.

In the 1990s, Mubin Shaikh was one of those people, a young Muslim growing
up in Toronto.

MUBIN SHAIKH: For me, for example, I am a young kid, I am 14, 15 years
old. I`m not doing so well in school. I keep telling myself that, you
know, I can`t be a good Muslim living in this infidel society. So, I`m
already setting myself up for failure in that sense.

I can`t get a normal job because I might have a Jew or woman, and I can`t
lower myself and be subjugated.

O`DONNELL: Attracted to the cause of jihad, Shaikh watched the earliest
videos like this and saw how they progressed.

SHAIKH: For somebody growing up in the West the appeal to the concept of
jihad, it really comes down to the deficit of heroes that exist in the
Muslim world. These militants, they`re seen as heroes – heroes that will
save the Muslims from oppression.

O`DONNELL: For these videos, the main recruiting technique is emotion.


MATTHEWS: Scary but provocative. You can catch the full documentary “ISIS
and the Internet” at 10:00 p.m. Eastern here on MSNBC.

Coming up, we`re going to play the entire portion of Wednesday`s town hall
dedicated to abortion rights, including Donald Trump`s statement on

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Well, we`re back right now. And here now, the entire the entire
block from our Wednesday town hall, in which, during which, Donald Trump
discussed the issue of abortion rights. Let`s watch.


QUESTIONER: What is your stance on women`s rights and their rights to
choose in their own reproductive health?

know, I`m pro-life. Right, I think you know that, and I – with
exceptions, with the three exceptions. But pretty much, that`s my stance.
Is that OK? You understand?

MATTHEWS: What should the law be on abortion?

TRUMP: Well, I have been pro-life.

MATTHEWS: I know, what should the law – I know your principle, that`s a
good value. But what should be the law?

TRUMP: Well, you know, they`ve set the law and, frankly, the judges – I
mean, you`re going to have a very big election coming up for that reason,
because you have judges where it`s a real tipping point.


TRUMP: And with the loss the Scalia, who was a very strong conservative –

MATTHEWS: I understand.

TRUMP: – this presidential election is going to be very important,
because when you say, “what`s the law, nobody knows what`s the law going to
be. It depends on who gets elected, because somebody is going to appoint
conservative judges and somebody is going to appoint liberal judges,
depending on who wins.

MATTHEWS: I know. I never understood the pro-life position.

TRUMP: Well, a lot of people do understand.

MATTHEWS: I never understood it. Because I understand the principle, it`s
human life as people see it.

TRUMP: Which it is.

MATTHEWS: But what crime is it?

TRUMP: Well, it`s human life.

MATTHEWS: No, should the woman be punished for having an abortion?

TRUMP: Look –

MATTHEWS: This is not something you can dodge.

TRUMP: It`s a – no, no –

MATTHEWS: If you say abortion is a crime or abortion is murder, you have
to deal with it under law. Should abortion be punished?

TRUMP: Well, people in certain parts of the Republican Party and
conservative Republicans would say, “Yes, they should be punished.”

MATTHEWS: How about you?

TRUMP: I would say that it`s a very serious problem. And it`s a problem
that we have to decide on. It`s very hard.

MATTHEWS: But you`re for banning it?

TRUMP: I`m going to say – well, wait. Are you going to say, put them in
jail? Are you – is that the punishment that you`re talking about?

MATTHEWS: Well, no, I`m asking you because you say you want to ban it.
What does that mean?

TRUMP: I would – I am against – I am pro-life, yes.

MATTHEWS: What is ban – how do you ban abortion? How do you actually do

TRUMP: Well, you know, you will go back to a position like they had where
people will perhaps go to illegal places.


TRUMP: But you have to ban it.

MATTHEWS: You banning, they go to somebody who flunked out of medical

TRUMP: Are you Catholic?

MATTHEWS: Yes, I think –

TRUMP: And how do you feel about the Catholic Church`s position?

MATTHEWS: Well, I accept the teaching authority of my church on moral

TRUMP: I know, but do you know their position on abortion?

MATTHEWS: Yes, I do.

TRUMP: And do you concur with that position?

MATTHEWS: I concur with their moral position but legally, I get to the
question – here`s my problem with it –

TRUMP: No, no, but let me ask you, but what do you say about your Church?

MATTHEWS: It`s not funny.

TRUMP: Yes, it`s really not funny.

What do you say about your church? They`re very, very strong.

MATTHEWS: They`re allowed to – but the churches make their moral
judgments, but you running for president of the United States will be chief
executive of the United States. Do you believe –

TRUMP: No, but –

MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a

TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

MATTHEWS: Ten cents? Ten years? What?

TRUMP: Let me just tell you – I don`t know. That I don`t know. That I
don`t know.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.

TRUMP: Because I don`t want to – I frankly, I do take positions on
everything else. It`s a very complicated position.

MATTHEWS: But you say, one, that you`re pro-life meaning that you want to
ban it.

TRUMP: But wait a minute, wait a minute. But the Catholic Church is pro-

MATTHEWS: I`m not talking about my religion.

TRUMP: No, no, I am talking about your religion. Your religion – I mean,
you say that you`re a very good Catholic. Your religion is your life. Let
me ask you this –

MATTHEWS: I didn`t say very good. I said I`m Catholic.


And secondly, I`m asking – you`re running for president.

TRUMP: No, no –

MATTHEWS: I`m not.

TRUMP: Chris – Chris.

MATTHEWS: I`m asking you, what should a woman face if she chooses to have
an abortion?

TRUMP: I`m not going to do that.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: I`m not going to play that game.


TRUMP: You have –

MATTHEWS: You said you`re pro-life.

TRUMP: I am pro-life.

MATTHEWS: That means banning abortion.

TRUMP: And so is the Catholic Church pro-life.

MATTHEWS: But they don`t control the – this isn`t Spain, they don`t
control – the Church doesn`t control the government.

TRUMP: What is the punishment under the Catholic Church? What is the –

MATTHEWS: Let me give something from the New Testament, “Render to Caesar
the things that are Caesar`s, and to God the things that are God`s.” Don`t
ask me about my religion.

TRUMP: No, no –

MATTHEWS: I`m asking you. You want to be president of the United States.

TRUMP: You told me that –

MATTHEWS: You tell me what the law should be.

TRUMP: I have – I have not determined –

MATTHEWS: Just tell me what the law should be. You say you`re pro-life.

TRUMP: I am pro-life.

MATTHEWS: What does that mean?

TRUMP: With exceptions. I am pro-life.

I have not determined what the punishment would be.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: Because I haven`t determined it.

MATTHEWS: When you decide to be pro-life, you should have thought of it.
Because –

TRUMP: No, you could ask anybody who is pro-life –

MATTHEWS: OK, here`s the problem – here`s my problem with this, if you
don`t have a punishment for abortion – I don`t believe in it, of course –
people are going to find a way to have an abortion.

TRUMP: You don`t believe in what? You don`t believe in what?

MATTHEWS: I don`t believe in punishing anybody for having an abortion.

TRUMP: OK, fine. OK, that`s fine.

MATTHEWS: Of course not. I think it`s a woman`s choice.

TRUMP: So you`re against the teachings of your church?

MATTHEWS: I believe – I have a view – a moral view – but I believe we
live in a free country, and I don`t want to live in a country so fascistic
that it could stop a person from making that decision.

TRUMP: But then you are –

MATTHEWS: That would be so invasive.

TRUMP: I know but I`ve heard you speaking –

MATTHEWS: So determined of a society that I wouldn`t able – one we are
familiar with. And, Donald Trump, you wouldn`t be familiar with.

TRUMP: But I`ve heard you speaking so highly about your religion and your


TRUMP: Your church is very, very strongly as you know, pro-life.


TRUMP: What do you say to your church?

MATTHEWS: I say, I accept your moral authority. In the United States, the
people make the decision, the courts rule on what`s in the Constitution,
and we live by that. That`s why I say.

TRUMP: Yes, but you don`t live by it because you don`t accept it. You
can`t accept it. You can`t accept it. You can`t accept it.

MATTHEWS: Can we go back to matters of the law and running for president
because matters of law, what I`m talking about, and this is the difficult
situation you`ve placed yourself in.

By saying you`re pro-life, you mean you want to ban abortion. How do you
ban abortion without some kind of sanction? Then you get in that very
tricky question of a sanction, a fine on human life which you call murder?

TRUMP: It will have to be determined.

MATTHEWS: A fine, imprisonment for a young woman who finds herself

TRUMP: It will have to be determined.

MATTHEWS: What about the guy that gets her pregnant? Is he responsible
under the law for these abortions? Or is he not responsible for an

TRUMP: Well, it hasn`t – it hasn`t – different feelings, different
people. I would say no.

MATTHEWS: Well, they`re usually involved.


MATTHEWS: They`re usually involved. You can also watch entire block on
our website any time you want, Hardball.MSNBC.com.

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

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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