Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 5/9/2016
Date: May 9, 2016
Guest: Jennifer Rubin, Matt Schlapp, Annie Linskey, Jennifer Jacobs, Rory
Cooper, Michelle Bernard, Sidney Blumenthal
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Would Trump dump Ryan?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Carmel, California, where I`ll be
speaking later tonight at the Panetta Institute for Public Policy.
Did Donald Trump just say, I`ll fight every man in the house for a dollar?
Not yet, but he did say he`s ready to fight the speaker of the House and
he`s not worried about party unity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Does the party have to
be together? Does it have to be unified? I`m very different than
everybody else, perhaps, that`s ever run for office. I actually don`t
think so. I have to stay true to my principles, also. And I`m a
conservative, but don`t forget this is called the Republican Party. It`s
not called the Conservative Party. You know there are conservative
parties. This is called the Republican Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Republican leaders are split on whether to support Trump. Among
those who have jumped on board are his former primary opponents Ben Carson,
Governor Chris Christie, Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator Rand Paul and Rick
Perry, together (ph) with the Trump group also includes Senator John
McCain, Bob Dole, Dick Cheney, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and
Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus. They`re all with
There`s also a long list of Republicans who are not on board. It includes
Senator Lindsey Graham – no surprise there – Jeb Bush, Senator Ben Sasse
of Nebraska and Mitt Romney. Two former presidents, George Herbert Walker
Bush, George W. Bush have also declined to endorse. And the speaker of the
House, the key man here, Paul Ryan, says he`s not ready to back Trump yet.
Well, Speaker Ryan`s also the chair of the Republican convention coming up
in July, and this weekend, Trump didn`t rule out pushing to block him,
Ryan, from being the chair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, “MEET THE PRESS”: If he can`t endorse you, do you
think he should be chair of the convention?
TRUMP: I don`t want to mention now. I`ll see after. I will give you a
very solid answer if that happens, about one minute after that, OK? There
is no reason to give it right now, but…
TODD: Well, it sounds like…
TODD: It sounds like I know what…
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, today, Speaker Ryan told “The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel”
he would step down as convention chair if Trump asked him to. Quote, “He`s
the nominee. I`ll do whatever he wants with respect to the convention.”
Well, that`s definitive there.
Anyway, meanwhile, a key Trump supporter, Sarah Palin, went further against
Ryan. She said she would back Paul Ryan`s primary opponent. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FMR. GOV., FMR. VP NOMINEE: I think Paul Ryan is soon
to be Cantored, as in Eric Cantor. His political career is over but for a
miracle because he`s so disrespected the will of the people. And yes, as
the leader of the GOP, the convention certainly, he is to remain neutral.
And for him to already come out and say who he will not support was not a
wise decision of his.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Well, Jeremy Peters is the political reporter for “The New
York Times,” been writing a lot about this. He`s also an MSNBC
contributor. Matt Schlapp is chairman of the American Conservative Union,
and Jennifer Rubin is an opinion writer for “The Washington Post.” It`s
great group to have on to discuss this state of play here.
Jeremy, you`ve written about it all. I read your piece this morning.
Well, actually, I failed to give you credit a couple days ago for another
piece. I gave it to Patrick Healey. You wrote it, so back to you again.
JEREMY PETERS, “NEW YORK TIMES,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I`ll take it!
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this. It seems to me when most people get
a job – Jeremy, when most people get a job, they try to fit in, most
MATTHEWS: They try to learn the rules, get comfortable, do what they`re
told. Trump`s got this job. He`s the nominee of the Republican Party.
It`s going to happen. Instead of sort of getting used to the situation
around, seeing who the people are he`s got to deal with, he`s going to war
again, this time against Ryan. Ryan won`t play ball, he says, I may not be
able to keep you on the job, basically.
PETERS: Yes, exactly. And I think you hit it right on the head, Chris.
Part of this is just Trump being Trump. He`s not exactly a modest, humble
guy who`s going to go along to get along.
But part of this is also that there is a deeply held indignance on Trump`s
part that the Republican Party establishment will not give him credit for
being the nominee. They view him as kind of an illegitimate interloper.
And to a certain extent, I think it`s easy to see why that`s the case
because he – I mean, he was a Democrat not that long ago. He has not been
Republican for very long, and all of a sudden, now he`s going to be the
party`s nominee. So imagine, like, the horror of being, you know, Paul
Ryan or Reince Priebus or any of these – these – these Republican leaders
who now see somebody who has seized control of their party who may not be a
And what they want is for Trump to validate the sincerity of his
conservatism, and quite frankly, I think that`s going to be a hard thing
for Trump to do in a lot of cases, on a lot of issues.
MATTHEWS: It`s a little – Matt Schlapp, it`s a little late for a vetting
process. He`s won the nomination. They`re asking questions that should
have been asked a year ago. And by the way, Trump`s doing what I always –
we all know what Trump does. Jennifer, we all agree he stays on offense.
He never goes on defense. He`s always attacking. Number two, he always
wants to master his current opponent. He always wants to look like a bully
or a master of that opponent, this time Ryan.
And also, he has to keep the role of outsider up front about himself. He
never wants to look like one of the club. He doesn`t want to be in a back
MATT SCHLAPP, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: … coming out of a back room with Paul Ryan – how we got
along. We`ve reached some – he doesn`t want any private deals privately
agreed upon. He wants to be Donald Trump against these guys.
Let me go to Matt Schlapp on this. What`s this thing about it`s a
Republican Party, it`s not a conservative party? What`s he up to saying an
amazing thing like that in 2016?
SCHLAPP: You know, I kind of don`t know. I try to unpack that, but I do
think that there`s a difference between – I`m not – for myself, I
consider myself a conservative first and a Republican second. And I think
part of him is saying, Look, I ran on conservative themes, but I ran under
the mantle of a Republican. I didn`t have to run as a Republican. I could
have run as an independent, but I ran as a Republican.
And then all of a sudden, you have all these Republicans that made him sign
a pledge also not keeping their pledge that they would support the eventual
He`s the part that`s – that really works for Trump, which is these are
just elitists. These are people that believe that they should be able to
overrule what the voters did. I mean, he`s gotten a million more votes to
date than Mitt Romney got. He is going to break all the records on the GOP
side for the number of votes in the Republican primaries. Our turnout is
up over 60 percent.
So I mean, there`s a lot of facts here that people need to get a grasp of,
which is a clear message is being said to these party elites, We want to
try something new.
JENNIFER RUBIN, “WASHINGTON POST”: Oh, that`s such old hat, Matt! Come
on! You can do better than that! Listen, there are people who are elite,
there are people who are grass roots, people, including your organization
which is called the American Conservative Union – a lot of your comrades,
a lot of your members are appalled by this because let`s…
SCHLAPP: Jennifer, you`re the one who has comrades at “The Washington
RUBIN: Oh, yes, right.
MATTHEWS: Let me – let me – let get back to Jennifer. Can I ask you a
MATTHEWS: First of all, what is a Republican today? Are you a Republican?
RUBIN: You know…
MATTHEWS: OK, now is a Republican somebody…
RUBIN: I actually don`t know because what I am…
RUBIN: … is a reformed conservative, so I don`t know the answer to that
because I don`t know what the Republican Party…
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m…
MATTHEWS: The reason why this fight`s come up because Trump – I mean, he
does have an advantage here. Nobody knows because is a Republican is a
free trader? I always thought Republicans of the modern era were free
traders. He is definitely not. Apparently, the people who voted for him
are not. That`s fair to say.
On hawkishness, generally Middle East, anywhere in the world but China –
he`s definitely talks a big game but he was against the Iraq war. He
doesn`t like that sort of aggressive politics taking down those governments
over there. Regime change – against the whole thing.
So what`s a real Republican, for regime change as a foreign policy…
RUBIN: Let me…
MATTHEWS: … or somebody who`s against it, like Trump? What`s a
RUBIN: Let me tell you what is not a Republican, and that is somebody who
decides every day what he wants to say about anything. Listen, it`s not
that he`s a Republican or not a Republican. He`s a lunatic. He wants to
give nuclear weapons to…
MATTHEWS: OK, he`s a lunatic…
RUBIN: … South Korea and to Japan. He wants to – one day, he says he`s
going not to stand by the sovereign debt of the United States. The next
day, he says, Well, it doesn`t matter because we can print money. This is
not a man with principle. This is a man who, as you say…
MATTHEWS: OK, so we know where you stand.
RUBIN: … is on offense!
MATTHEWS: OK. OK, it`s not nuanced with you. By the way, I think he has
been consistently against the Iraq war. He`s been consistently against
RUBIN: No, he hasn`t!
MATTHEWS: I mean, those are positions…
RUBIN: He`s been fact-checked to death!
MATTHEWS: No, in this campaign.
MATTHEWS: In this campaign.
RUBIN: Well, he keeps saying he was against the Iraq war from the
beginning, and it`s been fact-checked six ways from Sunday and it`s wrong.
It`s a lie!
MATTHEWS: But for the voters who voted for him, the question is, What is a
Republican? That`s all I`m trying to get to.
Let me go back to Jeremy Peters. This definition of who is`s in and who`s
out has come down to a pushing match between him and Ryan, and the question
is – Ryan was so quick to say today, or very recently, in the last several
hours, I`m willing to walk if he tells me to. I thought that was
profoundly important, to acknowledge that the guy who won the nomination
has won the nomination. Some of these other people aren`t willing to say
PETERS: I think it`s two things. I think it`s what you were just
referring to, Chris, that Ryan is recognizing the legitimacy of these
millions of votes that have been cast for Trump and – and the true
feelings in a lot of the Republican Party right now that they want to see
But it`s also Ryan creating distance, and that`s what he needs, distance
from the top of the ticket so Republicans, if, you know, it comes to this,
don`t get totally clobbered in November. And that`s – if you`re Paul
Ryan, if you`re Mitch McConnell, that`s what you`re worried about because
some these numbers that they`ve been looking at show – showed a Cruz
ticket actually faring worse.
So right now, they`re – you know, with Trump at the top of the ticket,
they`re looking at a little bit better situation, but they`re still pretty
MATTHEWS: Well, right now, trump continues going after his detractors.
This weekend, he attacked Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Senator Lindsey Graham,
all of them. Let`s watch that attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`m never going to get Romney`s endorsement. He choked. He blew
the last election. I`m not going to get that.
You know – but I won`t talk about Jeb Bush. I will not say – I will not
say he`s low energy. I will not say it. I will not say it!
TRUMP: And I won`t talk about Lindsey Graham, who had, like, one point.
He fails with his campaign horribly. He then endorses somebody else, and
then he endorses Bush and he endorses everybody. He`s, like, bad luck. As
soon as he endorses, the people, they drop out.
I`m not a fan of Jeb, but he said he`s not going to come to the convention.
Who cares. And – who cares! You know how many votes I`m going to lose
because of Jeb not coming to the convention?
TRUMP: I actually think I`ll gain votes, you want to know the truth.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Matt Schlapp and talk turkey here. It seems
to me that if you – whatever you think (INAUDIBLE) can call him a lunatic,
(INAUDIBLE) fair to say, fair game. He does say things that don`t add up.
I agree with that. And he isn`t a consistent ideologue of any political
persuasion I can figure. But he does have all these votes.
And my question is, I think he`s going to get at least about 45 percent in
the general, which means he`s gone 90 percent of the way he has to go – 90
percent there. All he needs is 5 more percent and he`s won the thing.
So the question is, what`s going on here, and has it – has he run his
course? Is it your sense that he has another 5 percent out there that he
could get and win the general election? Matt, can he be president?
SCHLAPP: Yes. Yes, I – look, I think there`s a plausible path for him to
be president, which is I think why you have many more Republicans coming on
board than are staying away. And you know, I think if you look at the fact
that he says – look, about half of America doesn`t even vote. We`ve got a
lot of people who somehow feel unplugged from the economy, they don`t feel
hopeful about the types of salary and wages that they`ve had, they don`t
feel hopeful about their chances in the economy, they don`t like where
America is overseas, and maybe he`ll convince more of those to come back
into the game and to vote.
And I think he also realizes that he can make inroads with voters who maybe
even aren`t that ideological, that tend to be on the left, who just feel
like, economically, they`ve been left behind. I think these are the voters
Bernie Sanders are (ph) speaking to, and I don`t think they like Clinton
incorporated. I think that`s their kind of candidate. And I think he
feels like he can put states like Michigan and some of these Rust Belt
states back on the map.
So I think he`s got a path. I don`t – I wouldn`t say that he`s got a slam
dunk, but he`s got a path.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much. Jeremy Peters, Matt Schlapp and
Jennifer Rubin. Thank you, Jennifer, being crystal clear about your
opinion of this particularly politician.
Coming up – rather than trying to unify the Republican Party, Donald Trump
is stepping up his personal attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton. The
Clintons are fighting back a bit, not clearly – not in the way he`s
fighting. And new polls show Hillary Clinton running strong in states
where Democrats don`t usually do well, like Georgia. She`s very close
right there, to Trump – imagine that, beating a Republican in Georgia.
Does Donald Trump always need to be at war with everyone to keep his
campaign interesting? Is he worried people are going to tune out if he
acts more presidential? I think that`s part of it. He wants to keep the
And the HARDBALL roundtable is here tonight with three things about this
general election matchup between Trump and Clinton that you might not know
and I may not know.
Finally, “Let Me Finish” tonight with a guy who shoots the moon. We know
who that is.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics, live from Carmel, California,
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR: I`m Milissa Rehberger with breaking news
on tornadoes in Oklahoma. We`re getting our first pictures of the
aftermath, homes flattened and trees destroyed.
NBC`s KFOR affiliate reporting at lest one suspected F-4 tornado with 200-
mile-per-hour winds. And now there is another tornado on the ground in
Oklahoma. Let`s go to our affiliate KFOR for more on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: … got three trackers on it. Let`s take a look at it.
Pick a stream (ph) there, control room. And who do we have?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s go to Mike Bennett (ph) here. Yo, Mike Bennett?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, Mike. I`m not sure what road this is. I`m just
north of Stillwater. We drove right up to it. It was within half a mile
of it when it got to be the most violent, had a, you know, cone (ph) all
the way down. You saw it, with the collar (ph) around it.
Right now, we`ve lost it in the trees and the hills. We`re en route to
highway 177. We`ll be blasting north or highway 70 blasting north and
we`ll be back on. (INAUDIBLE) cars pulling out in front of me. Bear with
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Tell you what. Let`s briefly go here to the storm
tracker. Let`s go back down to the southeast and let`s just get an update
here. A large tornado on the ground near Atoka (ph). So we`ve had –
we`re getting an outbreak here going on. Large tornado on the ground near
Atoka, and east of Durant (ph) and west of Hugo (ph), tornado there, as
well. This is southeast Oklahoma.
Let`s go to Kevin and Linda at the news desk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much. We`ve been showing you great
pictures from the sky as these twisters move through…
REHBERGER: That is our NBC station KFOR in Oklahoma City. We`ll keep an
eye on this and bring you any more news as it develops.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. In what`s considered to be a preview
of the general election battle, Donald Trump launched a series of attacks
against both Hillary and Bill Clinton at campaign stops over this weekend
in Oregon and in Washington state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: And I`m saying to
myself, but nobody in this country and maybe in the history of the country
politically was worse than Bill Clinton with women! He was a disaster! He
was a disaster! I mean, there`s never been anybody like this!
And she was a total enabler. She would go after these women and destroy
their lives! I mean, have you ever read what Hillary Clinton did to the
She`s married to a man who was the worst abuser of women in the history of
politics. She`s married to a man who hurt many women. And Hillary – if
you look and you study, Hillary hurt many women, the women that he abused!
She`s married to a man who got impeached for lying!
Bill Clinton was the worst in history, and I have to listen to her talking
about it? And just remember this. She was an unbelievably nasty, mean
enabler, and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful! So put
that in her bonnet and let`s see what happens, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: “Let`s see what happens.” Hillary Clinton`s press secretary,
Brian Fallon, released a statement saying, quote, “In a week in which
Donald Trump casually suggested destabilizing the entire U.S. economy and
cited his attendance at the Miss Universe pageant in Russia as proof of his
foreign policy experience, of course he wants to try to change the subject.
Hillary Clinton doesn`t care what he says about her. She will continue to
call him out for his outrageous positions and divisive comments.”
But Hillary Clinton herself said she`s not going to fight on this line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m
not going to run an ugly race. I`m going to run a race based on issues and
what my agenda is for the American people. I don`t really feel like I`m
running against Donald Trump. I feel like I`m running for my vision of
what our country can be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Jonathan Capehart is an opinion writer, of course, with
“The Washington Post” and an MSNBC political analyst, and Annie Linskey
covers the Clinton campaign for “The Boston Globe.”
Annie, thank you for joining us. Let`s talk about tactics and strategy.
Clearly, it is probably going to be part of the strategy of Donald Trump to
bring the Clintons together, two for the price of one, the whole Clinton
era of the 1990s. I think he wants people to think of them as incumbents.
I think that`s the most important – it`s not about sex, although he`ll use
that and all those things.
The main message I think he`s trying to get across is, They`re in, I`m out.
Let`s change the picture. I`m the change candidate. They`re what`s going
on and has been going on for 20, 30 years. What do you think of the
strategy, that that`s it?
ANNIE LINSKEY, “BOSTON GLOBE”: Yes, no, I think that`s right. I think
that`s right. But I think that Donald Trump does really well what he`s the
outsider in an outsider year and Hillary Clinton is sort of the consummate
insider. And it`s a reminder when you talk about the `90s that, oh, my
goodness, these Clintons have been around for 20 years, for 25 years, and
what has changed?
I mean, this is the argument Donald Trump makes, that she has – she has
had power. She`s had her hands on sort of the levers of power in
Washington for so long, and we`re still in this, what he would describe as
a mess. And so I do think that`s sort of the – the effort he`s trying to
And Hillary Clinton, you know, she was asked about these accusations today
in Virginia, and she just says she`s not going to talk about them, which I
think is clearly a really smart move on her part.
MATTHEWS: Well, we will see.
Let me go back to Jonathan Capehart, because she has used that – his
opponents have used that before. I get the feeling that he`s not stupid..
I never thought Trump was stupid. And everybody makes mistakes. This may
be a mistake.
But I think he knows that to win this election, he`s got to change it
around from – sort of the moderates and liberals, progressives like the
Clintons. Women generally like the Clintons, if you look at the numbers.
He`s got a problem with women. He has to do something radical to shift
that around, and I think this is his salient to do so.
What do you think he`s up to?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: But, Chris, in order for him to win,
he`s got to open up – he`s got to open his base of support beyond the
people who already don`t like Hillary Clinton.
That riff that you just showed is stuff that his crowd has been feeding on
for probably the entire 30 years that the Clintons have been in public
life, and certainly since the impeachment days. So I don`t see what it
If Donald Trump wants to become president of the United States, he`s going
to have to start talking in a way and putting policies out there that
appeal to people who aren`t white male and angry.
MATTHEWS: OK. But that`s the Hillary argument, I know. They don`t like
this topic area.
I`m asking you politically. The topic area of going after Hillary Clinton
by Trump, what is it about? What is he trying to do here , blaming her,
not Bill, her?
CAPEHART: Right. Right.
Well, look, he`s trying to tear her down. And what I don`t think – this
is the reason why I don`t think it`s going to work. This worked very well
for him when he was in the primaries and he was up against 16 other people,
when his one-liners and zingers…
And his one-liners and zingers and putdowns could be the only thing that he
says from the debate stage, and he`s not pressed on other key, pressing
issues. Can you think of a debate that all of – of all the debates that
we watched during the Republican primary season where there was – where
more than 50 percent of the debate – or, shoot, even more than 80 percent
– wasn`t just a series of one-liners and invectives from him and between
MATTHEWS: I know. The question is, they worked. Why won`t they work now?
Because the Republican Party sits around talking about how much they hate
Hillary and they hate everything about her. Right. I agree with that.
But the question is, I guess..
LINSKEY: I don`t know. I think it could work.
MATTHEWS: Will any Republican – will a moderate Democrat say, you know
what, I never thought about that, do I want another 10 years of that,
another eight? I don`t know. Actually, he thinks so.
LINSKEY: No, Chris, I think that we have to sit from a position where it
could work, because, quite frankly, it has worked for the last nine months.
And we have sat here time and time again saying, oh, this is something
that, you know, he has a ceiling with Republicans. He can only – and now
it`s turned to, oh, Trump can only win Republicans, he can`t win
independents and he can`t make an impact on this coalition that Hillary
seems to have to win the White House.
But I think that that is sort of a Washington way of looking at the
electorate. And it is – and Trump is coming at it from a different
perspective. And I think we have to be very careful sitting in Washington
and dicing up the electoral the way that we have been for the last year and
assuming that certain groups are going to react in a certain way that we
expect to his comments, because the bottom line is it hasn`t worked that
And it`s worth thinking about, hey, maybe we`re wrong and need to
understand exactly what he`s getting at here.
CAPEHART: The reason why it hasn`t worked out that way is because we have
been looking at Republicans fight amongst themselves and Republicans talk
Now the race – now that he`s the presumptive Republican nominee, now the
race has gone general election. And Donald Trump in the course of nine
months, since June 16, has put down, belittled and disrespected women,
Muslims, Latinos, the disabled. We could go on down the list.
Those people are Americans and those people vote. And so that`s why I keep
saying – and I`m not talking from some Washington bubble. I`m someone who
is looking at the numbers, looking at his poll numbers and looking at his
disapproval rating and, quite frankly, cannot see how – if the way the
race is going right now, how he can expect to become president of the
United States and certainly how he can expect his message against Hillary
Clinton to actually resonate.
MATTHEWS: Well, to make Jonathan`s point – look at this – to make your
point, Jonathan, polling out of two that states that typically support
Republicans, they`re red states, show Hillary Clinton looking strong at
this stage of the campaign.
In Georgia, which hasn`t supported a Democrat for president since 1991,
Trump is up by a single point. A single point, that is that margin of
error. He`s very close, dead even basically, in a very conservative state.
He should be way ahead.
In North Carolina, Clinton has a nine-point lead over Trump. That`s a
state that if she would have a very good election result come this
November, she would win North Carolina and there she is nine points up.
So, Annie, it looks like he has got to shake this – to rock the world with
this attack on the Clintons. And that`s probably what he`s trying to do,
to shake it up the other way.
LINSKEY: Yes, but, Chris, if you look at that Georgia poll – and I think
it`s a really interesting poll, you look at it for us and you think, oh, my
goodness, how in the world could Georgia be a swing state? It`s insane.
But look at – if you look at the crosstabs, you will see that that poll
also shows one in five voters haven`t made up their minds yet. There is a
huge swathe of independents here and independents are the ones who kind of
have boosted Donald Trump and moved him along through this primary process.
He`s had unbelievable support from independents in states like
Massachusetts and across the country. I think that Georgia poll, if you
look at it a little bit more deeply, actually could be good news for Trump.
It`s just he`s building a different coalition that we`re not used to
seeing. North Carolina…
MATTHEWS: I agree with that.
LINSKEY: I mean, look, North Carolina is a state…
MATTHEWS: I think you`re both right now.
LINSKEY: Go ahead.
MATTHEWS: I think you`re both right now.
Jonathan, you`re right. The attacks on the Clintons` personal life has
never worked from them. It cost the Republicans the `98 election. It`s
never gotten anywhere. I agree with you.
But I also agree there is something that Trump is up to. What I want to
know is what he`s up to. I don`t think he`s stupid. I think he knows what
he is doing.
The state I`m looking at is Pennsylvania. I think we all agree, if he
pulls Pennsylvania, and pulls that kind of voter, he can win the general
election. But he has to do that, because that means he can win Ohio, he
can win Wisconsin. You know, he can really change the whole way to look at
I don`t think it`s going to be about the South. I think in the end the
South will go to Trump. The question is can he break through in that
Northern industrial tier?
Jon, last word on that. I think that`s what we all agree on.
Every one – every election year, if Pennsylvania goes for the Republican,
then the Republican can win, and then Pennsylvania always goes for the
Democrat. So, yes, if Pennsylvania does indeed go for Trump, then the
election might be over.
But in terms of Georgia and North Carolina, one thing we`re not talking
about and one thing I would like to see is, there is a large African-
American vote in Georgia and a large African-American vote in North
Carolina. Do not underestimate their desire to ensure the legacy of
President Obama. And that constituency could make both Georgia and North
Carolina not just toss-up, but could be a win for Clinton.
MATTHEWS: OK, OK.
And I can add a point too, Jonathan. I can add a thought too. And I agree
with you said. The African-American vote is going to be 99 percent,
probably. But here is the question. The last time the Republicans won
Pennsylvania was when they ran that rotgut campaign, a really, really
negative campaign against the Democratic candidate that year, Michael
Dukakis, and it worked. They won Pennsylvania that way.
So you can run a really nasty, macho campaign, like even though George Sr.
wasn`t a macho man, Lee Atwater sure was. They can run the same kind of
Willie Horton campaign that worked in Pennsylvania last time. So who
knows. I like your assuredness, Jonathan.
Thank you, Jonathan Capehart, and Annie Linskey.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Everybody who comes on the show knows more than I know.
Coming up, the incredible man on Mount Rushmore. Author Sidney Blumenthal
is out with a new biography on Abraham Lincoln and he`s coming here next.
And this is HARDBALL the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger with
One death has been reported after a severe weather system spawned tornadoes
across parts of Oklahoma. Funnel clouds were spotted in numerous
locations. The dangerous weather began just after 4:00 p.m. Eastern time.
It is not clear how many homes may be damaged. Some of the twisters were
multivortex storms. Tornado watches are in effect until 10:00 p.m. Eastern
At least one tornado spotted tonight measured a mile across. We will
continue to monitor this dangerous situation – now back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
A new examination of the life and career of Abraham Lincoln hits the
bookstores tomorrow. It comes at a time when some ask if the Republican
Party, often referred to as the party of Lincoln, still is.
Well, Sidney Blumenthal is a longtime journalist and former senior adviser
to both President Bill and Hillary Clinton. He`s the author of the new
multi-volume book “The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man.”
The first volume is out tomorrow. That`s the pub date.
And Sidney joins me now for his first interview.
Sid, thank you.
Let me ask you about the question that Jack Kennedy said was the reason we
all read biographies in general. What was he like? What was Abe Lincoln
SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL, AUTHOR, “THE POLITICAL LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A SELF-
MADE MAN”: Abraham Lincoln was not this monumental figure who looms above
us on Mount Rushmore.
He was a very real politician. He was of the first generation of political
politicians in America. And what I described is the formative years of
Abraham Lincoln, the man who became Abraham Lincoln, who became a skilled
politician and used those skills to become the great emancipator.
There was not a great politician and a great emancipator as two separate
things. They were one and the same. And the politician made the
MATTHEWS: Could he have made it in the age of television?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, he was a master of newspaper in his day, even owned a
newspaper surreptitiously in order to promote himself.
BLUMENTHAL: And he used telegrams the way the way people use the Internet
They were like T-grams. And he was – he wrote articles under other
journalists – under journalists` bylines. He had very close relationships
with journalists of his day all the way through. And his private
secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay, happened to be journalists he
brought with him from Illinois.
So, he was very, very close to the press and had a very keen sense of it.
He – as a boy, he was known as a news boy because he – part of his self-
education was that he just absorbed newspapers.
MATTHEWS: Was he Honest Abe?
BLUMENTHAL: Was he Honest Abe?
Well, some people said he got the name because he was a referee at horse
races. He was Old Abe before he was Honest Abe. He was – he was a
politician who was devoted to his core of principles and who understood
that 1,000 small political acts were required to achieve a great goal.
And he was as honest as a politician was in those days, and he was
completely clean. There was nothing corrupt about Abraham Lincoln.
MATTHEWS: I love to hear that. I love to hear that. Thank you, sir.
We have got to ask you about the Clintons right now. And I guess the first
question is, have you been interviewed by the FBI for this e-mail
investigation by the FBI? Have you been interviewed?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, thank you, Chris.
My feeling about this is that I`m as eager as anybody for this to be
resolved. And what I would like for this to – is for this to be
completely transparent and for the Department of Justice to finally issue
I have been urging transparency. I urged that my deposition before the
Benghazi committee be made public the second I walked out. I wanted it to
be a public hearing and not a private one. So I`m in favor of complete
transparency in this process and a very quick resolution, so that we can
see that, in my view, in my understanding, there`s no…
MATTHEWS: I think most people want that.
Have you been – however, have you been – but, Sid, have you been
interviewed by the FBI yet on this matter?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, I`m – you know, I really don`t want to talk about an
ongoing inquiry right now.
MATTHEWS: You can`t say whether you have been interviewed or not? Why
Well, my feeling about it is that let`s wait and see at the end and see
what happens to everybody involved in it, and see what the resolution is.
And then I would like to see the Department of Justice issue a very
Well, Sid Blumenthal, the author of the book is “The Political Life of
Abraham Lincoln.” I`m sure it`s going to be a hell of a book. It comes
out tomorrow. You got to read it, “The Self-Made Man.”
Coming up, Donald Trump takes on the world, what his recent moves mean for
the general election fight going forward. Apparently, they mean a lot
because he`s already doing it. The roundtable will be here.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Donald Trump is launching his campaign as the presumptive nominee, pretty
much the way he started the attack, on the attack. While Trump promised to
heal old wounds with his former rivals, it didn`t last long.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I won a landslide. I won them
all in a landslide, if you want to know the truth. I will not criticize my
Lindsey Graham, it`s almost like he didn`t run. He gets on, I don`t like
Donald Trump. I don`t think – he`s not a conservative. He goes, he`s not
a true conservative. Who the hell cares?
Remember Jeb? He`d always say he`s not a true conservative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, instead of attacking Hillary Clinton on policy
differences, Trump claims she`s playing the woman`s card. Here he was this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: She`s playing the woman`s card to the hilt. She`s going – I mean,
I watched over the weekend and everything is about the woman and Donald
Trump raised his voice. You know, it`s all non-sense. Ands you know what,
women understand it better than anybody and watch how well I do with women
when it counts, when the election comes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me now is the HARDBALL roundtable tonight.
Jennifer Jacobs is a reporter with “Bloomberg Politics”, and Rory Cooper is
a senior advisor to the NeverTrump PAC, and Michelle Bernard is a “Roll
Call” columnist, oh, president of the Bernard Center.
So many portfolios, my dear.
Anyway, thank you for coming on. Again, let me go to Jennifer, just very
quick news analysis. What did you make of Sid Blumenthal not saying he`d
been interviewed by the FBI or not?
JENNIFER JACOBS, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: He seems like a guy who wished he
could say more, didn`t he? I mean, he didn`t seem like he was trying to be
dodgy on purpose. It seems like he`d been instructed not to say something.
MATTHEWS: Could be.
But let`s go right now to Trump and the way he seems to be playing.
Sometimes you figure, is it just Johnny one note. He has to be on the
offense and he has to be bullying or pressuring someone and he has to be
the outsider. Jennifer, is that what he`s doing now? He just continues in
this new mode as presumptive nominee the same way they got here.
JACOBS: Right. I mean, maybe he`s thinking why fix it if it isn`t broken?
So, he`s following the exact same M.O., which is the big rallies using his
celebrity to draw big crowds, dominating cable television, the insults to
eviscerate his fellow opponents. And, you know, that has worked for him so
far. The trouble is, you know, at some point people are going to really
demand he get off that reality TV show script.
Maybe it`s exciting for his audiences but other people, you know, serious
people are waiting to see if he can behave for a week like, you know,
someone who can behave itself and speak rationally.
MATTHEWS: I wonder if it matters at this point. What is this stop Trump
movement now? I mean, he`s there. You don`t stop somebody from getting
there once they are there. So, what are you up to? What`s your plan?
RORY COOPER, SR. ADVISOR, NEVERTRUMP PAC: Yes, well, it was the never
Trump and it is the never Trump movement because we believe it`s important
to separate Donald Trump from conservative ideology as a whole. He doesn`t
represent it and we believe that`s important for down ballot candidates and
for other members of the Republican leadership to draw a distinction on.
There`s actually a famous Alexander Hamilton quote that`s kind of become
the mantra, which is that if you have an enemy as the head of state, it
should be someone you can oppose and who doesn`t drag your party into the
foolish nonsense. And that`s where we are with Donald Trump. You know,
look, we`re talking about –
MATTHEWS: But he is the nominee. I don`t understand never Trump. It`s
Trump. So, when could saying never at this point. You sound like Baghdad
I mean, you can keep saying it but why call it never if it`s already
happened. It`s happened. He`s the nominee.
COOPER: No, November hasn`t happened and what this says is that there –
MATTHEWS: Oh, you`re going to oppose also – you`re going to oppose Donald
Trump against Hillary Clinton?
COOPER: Never means never. We`ll oppose both of them. Listen, I don`t
MATTHEWS: What does that mean?
COOPER: Well, listen, I don`t support Hillary Clinton. It gives me no
pleasure to be here trying to say that the Republican nominee is not
someone I can support. But listen, right now, it`s a choice basically
between somebody whose a crooked liar and somebody who`s – somebody with
very low character not fit for office.
MATTHEWS: But you say it`s binary. It`s binary. It`s a seesaw. If she
goes down, he goes up. You`re not confusing yourself. You know what
If you`re against Trump at this point, you`re for Hillary. Why don`t you
say so? Why don`t you say please Hillary instead of never Trump?
COOPER: Well, first off, I`ll never say please Hillary. What I will say
is we don`t know what the ballot looks like right now. I don`t know if
there`s going to be an alternative suggestion, and I don`t know what
happens between now –
MATTHEWS: Come on. Hillary definitely wins, Rory. Why do we play these
games every four years?
COOPER: It`s a game I never played before, Chris. In fact, if you look at
the map, Hillary has already won. She puts states like Utah and
Mississippi on the map. She`s up in Utah, one of the most Republican
states in the country.
So, listen, I – this is not about who`s going to win in November. If it`s
a binary option, that decision is already made. It`s Hillary. Trump is
underwater 75 percent with women. If you look at other demographics,
especially married women which Republicans have taken since 1996, it`s even
worse. Listen, I think –
MATTHEWS: I get it now. I get it.
COOPER: And the Republican platform from what he says.
MATTHEWS: Rory, remember the bumper stickers after the `72 race and map of
Massachusetts that said, don`t blame us. You`re in the “don`t blame us”
campaign. In other words, he`ll win but – he`ll lose, but it won`t be
I know, but history is part of our lives. If past is prologue, you can`t
blame that on that.
COOPER: Right. And if you look at 1960, there was a large concern of
opposition to Richard Nixon in that election. So, it`s also not, you know,
unprecedented for conservatives to say this nominee does not reflect, you
know, what the values or the principles of the opposition of our party.
MATTHEWS: What did you get out of that, Goldwater in `64? That worked out
COOPER: Well –
MATTHEWS: Let me go, I`m sorry. I`m just jousting with you. I`m just
I think never Trump is funny button at this point.
Let me go to Bernard Center for Women president, again, Michelle Bernard,
and also now, “Roll Call”, congratulations on that.
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: That new diamond in your crown.
What do you make of this fight now about – why do you think Trump is
saying to Reince, I`m not joining your club? I wouldn`t accept the club
that would accept me as a member? He`s saying Trump, you`re not the boss.
I`ll drop you in a minute as chairman of the convention and Reince says,
yes, you can.
BERNARD: Yes. Trump is doing it because all along we have seen, you know,
Trump seems to be this macho man constantly demonstrating bravado that
people like. One of the reasons I think he has been successful all
throughout this period and when Trump comes out and he says things, for
example, like what he said about Paul Ryan or saying it doesn`t matter,
it`s the establishment backs him, he doesn`t want the establishment to back
him, doesn`t matter. He can win without them.
There are, you know, his constituents believe that. They like it. It gets
them out and going and I believe he thinks it is going to help him with
this get out the vote efforts in November.
MATTHEWS: Michelle Bernard not speaking for the Bernard Center. Just for
yourself. Who are you going to vote for, Hillary or Donald?
BERNARD: Do you really have to ask that question. Bernard Center –
MATTHEWS: Look. Go ahead, go ahead.
BERNARD: Let`s put it this way. I`m going to vote for the candidate who
likes women, who likes African-Americans, who likes Latinos, who believes
in America`s promise for all Americans and who has never uttered the words
that Mexicans are rapists.
MATTHEWS: OK. I think I got your drift. I got your drift.
Anyway, thank you. The round table, including Michelle, is sticking with
And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`ve got a double edition of HARDBALL tomorrow night as West
Virginians head to the polls. That`s Tuesday night tomorrow. Tune in from
6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time for complete coverage of that election as
well top analysis of where the national race stands right now headed into
the general election. It`s all here tomorrow night on a double edition of
HARDBALL, the place for politics.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
Jennifer, tell me something I don`t know.
JACOBS: Anti-establishment Republicans who back Donald Trump, I since that
their frustration is growing and growing that the establishment will not
back their candidate. They pointed out over and over, the establishment
said, OK, you guys, even though you don`t like our candidate, you need to
rally around this person and they did. They`re saying the establishment
needs to really pay attention now.
Republicans missed something. They made a big mistake. There`s a huge
pocket of frustration about free trade possibly hurting jobs, about illegal
immigration possibly undercutting businesses and they`re saying, listen to
MATTHEWS: Do you notice there`s a pattern for those up for re-election
this fall tend to be open with the idea they have to live with Trump
because they`re on the same ticket, whereas the people who are not running
again, like Bushes, for example, the Marco Rubio, people finished for a
while at least are willing to say, I`m not on board, easier for them.
JACOBS: Very much so.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to Michelle, your thinking tonight, stun me with
something I don`t know.
BERNARD: I`m going to stun you by letting you know that this past weekend,
President Barack Obama spoke at my undergraduate alma mater. He was the
commencement speaker at Howard University. He has been speaking at HBCUs
throughout his tenure.
He told the students from the university that gave us Zora Neale Hurston,
Thurgood Marshall, Doug Wilder and other greats, that he basically gave a
very unapologetically black speech. He`s told the students, be proud of
being black, be proud of who you are but he also said you have to get out
and vote. He said that if the youth had come out and voted in large
numbers in 2012, he would not have had the Congress that he was stuck with
and that hashtags are not enough, you`ve got to vote.
If you want the Criminal Justice Reform Act to pass, if you care about
Voting Rights Act, if you care about healthcare, get out and vote.
MATTHEWS: I think that must have been a wonderful moment out there,
Michelle. Thanks for that.
Let me go to Rory, tell me something I don`t know.
COOPER: Right. Well, I don`t know if you know no Republican candidate for
Congress has lost their primary this cycle so far, not one. So, when we`re
talking about the discord at the top of the ticket, if you actually look,
the Republican Party for several cycles so far has actually been really,
We`ve won hundreds of seats in the state legislature. So, we`ve won – we
dominate control of governors. And so – and the majorities in the House
and Senate are quite strong as well. What Donald Trump does do in November
is potentially threaten what has generally been a strong showing in down
And also, I think speaks to this sentiment that there is somehow an anti-
Republican sentiment within the Republican race. In fact, most keep
sending the Republican member of Congress back to Washington. What the
national – what the national debate seems to be saying, it`s a little bit
disconnected and what we hope to do is make sure it remains disconnected
from those down ballot races.
MATTHEWS: Yes, and a lot of people get re-elected because they had the
position to start with and they have name ID and money. Anyway, I`m not a
big fan of everybody getting re-elected every year.
Thank you, Jennifer Jacobs. Thank you, Rory Cooper. And thank you,
Michelle Bernard, and that was great at Howard.
When we return, let me finish with a guy who shoots the moon. You`re
talking HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: Donald Trump is shooting the
moon. Play close attention to what he says and player doing precisely what
the other players are not. They discard the politically incorrect, he
collects those cards. They show reverence for certain taboos like not
talking about a rival`s spouse, he hones in on the guy.
In a business sense, we`re looking at a shrewd investor. He spots the
market`s direction and heads the other way. The market bets on the
establishment candidates, Jeb Bush, Trump mocks Bush as a person, as a
candidate, as a favorite of the Republican establishment.
What you`re not supposed to do, Trump does. You`re supposed to talk about
the new global world. Trump talks as old time nationalist. It`s America
against Mexico, China, Russia, you name it.
My sense is this is Trump that`s made it all these years. He`s the guy who
shoots the moon, who bets against the market. Yes, we`ll fight any man in
the house for a dollar.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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