Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 5/12/2016

Marsha Blackburn, Charlie Dent,Jack Kingston, Francesca Chambers, Michael Steel, John Feehery, Steve McMahon

Date: May 12, 2016
Guest: Marsha Blackburn, Charlie Dent,Jack Kingston, Francesca Chambers,
Michael Steel, John Feehery, Steve McMahon

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Charm offensive.

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Arriving in the nation`s capital early today, Donald Trump loomed as the
triumphant general, having beaten 16 Republican rivals, now on track to win
more primary votes than any Republican candidate in history. With only
Democrat Hillary Clinton now lying between him and the White House, the New
Yorker accepted the freedom (ph) of the city.

If there was something of the Roman army in today`s entrance here, it was
the sense of the inevitable. Either the Republicans in Washington line up
with Trump or they`ll be seen rooting for the enemy – that enemy being, of
course, Hillary Clinton.

Amid a crush of reporters today, loud protesters – we heard them – and
live television cameras, the nominee-to-be met with a bored (ph) –
actually, a bored (ph) Republican – I should say that on-board
Republicans, of course, not bored, and quiet skeptics.

Trump was again the master showman. Cameras captured his every move, from
his arrival at the Republican National Committee headquarters to his plane
taking off later in the afternoon. There it goes. There was spectacle,
tension, and ultimately a crude resolution.

Even though Speaker Paul Ryan stopped short of a full endorsement of Trump,
he said he was heading in that direction. And for the first time,
Republican leaders were singing the same tune, all praising the positive
nature of today`s meetings.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I was very encouraged with
what I heard from Donald Trump today. I do believe that we are now
planting the seeds to get ourselves unified to bridge the gaps and

QUESTION: Do you expect to endorse him?

RYAN: Yes, I think this is going in a positive direction, and I think this
is a first, very encouraging meeting.

QUESTION: What did you think of his personality?

RYAN: His personality I thought was – I thought it was a very good
personality. He`s a very warm and genuine person.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: We had a very constructive
meeting. I think everybody felt that it was quite good.

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: It was a positive mood. It was a mood of
cooperation and a – and a – and a feeling that It`s time to unify the
party. And I think both – both parties wanted to do that. And it was
great. I mean, it was really a positive step toward unification. It only
can be described as very positive and – let me just say this. Very


MATTHEWS: I guess we know the talking points. Senator John Cornyn tweeted
this with photo Trump after meeting today, with Trump giving the thumbs-up.
There it is. And Trump tweeted, quote, “Great day in D.C. with Speaker
Ryan and Republican leadership. Things working out really well.” That`s
Trump`s view.

NBC`s Katy Tur and Hallie Jackson covered it. Katy, what did you make of
today, as somebody who`s watched Trump from the day one of this campaign?
Are you surprised at the relative sparkle of today`s event?

KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: No, I`m not surprised. I think that the fact
that he was followed every moment of the day from the moment he landed here
in D.C. to the moment where he flew out is unsurprising. This has been a
non-traditional campaign. It`s been almost – Donald Trump said you need
to add a little bit more show business to politics, at least at the
convention, and he certainly got that today, almost as if it was the
reality show of what`s going to happen with Donald Trump and the Republican

And ultimately, not much came out of these meetings other than that they
were encouraging or they were very positive. Paul Ryan did not endorse.
Nobody expected him to endorse today, but Donald Trump got wall-to-wall
coverage on this because everyone is trying to figure out what`s going to
happen with the Republican Party. Is it going to completely splinter in
two? And if it does, what will be left if Donald Trump does not win the

So certainly, come – it`s expected that he would get as much attention as
he did today, and I`m sure he enjoyed every moment of it.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me go over to Hallie. Hallie, it seems to me that Mr.
Ryan, the speaker of the House, didn`t say he`s endorsing today, but he
said he will endorse. It was, like, I`ll give this guy a kiss on the cheek
some day, but not now, but I am going to eventually be there. I mean, it
wasn`t like he was holding off that hard.

HALLIE JACKSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Right, or, like, I`ll hold his hand
today and then I`ll bear hug him in couple of weeks from now, you might
say. Yes…

MATTHEWS: Fair enough.

JACKSON: … the E word was not “endorse,” the E word was “encouraging,”
right? That`s what we heard Paul Ryan say over and over and over again, I
think 10 times in the course of that press conference here on Capitol Hill,
where they`re doing some work behind us here, if you can hear it.

Sources familiar with the meetings this morning say that Ryan was able to
talk with Trump about a couple of topics that are important to him,
specific issues where there is a bulk (ph) between where he is and where
Trump is, number one entitlement reform, number two pro-life issues, as

The tone of this meeting, I`m told, was very courteous. There was a sense
that Trump wasn`t getting up there with either the meeting with Priebus and
Ryan and the bigger one with House leadership and giving an attitude of,
yes, I know this already. I get it. He was listening. He was attentive.

That said, there was a moment, I`m told, as it was put to me, where Trump
made it clear he was well aware of the polls and well aware of how he`s
doing. And that is kind of the inherent tension, right, of what`s
happening right now. Trump feels that he has this mandate from voters.
But he may not and he doesn`t have mandate yet from everybody in his own
party here on Capitol Hill.

There is that contingent of “never Trump” folks who do feel like the party
is unsettled at the moment. And that was a point that was made to Trump
this morning, too.

In a sign that he`s trying to bring the establishment together, you know
that Jim Baker, Secretary James Baker, former chief of staff for President
Reagan, President Bush, was meeting with Trump today, his office confirming
the news that NBC broke that, in fact, Baker was there at the request of
Trump, has held meetings with other GOP candidates who have requested it,
and we`re told at the moment will have no further comment on it.

MATTHEWS: Well, that`s smart meeting for Trump.

Anyway, while Republicans agreed that today`s vibe was positive, there`s
little evidence the policy chasms between Trump and Ryan were narrowed at
all. Here`s Speaker Ryan today on that topic.


RYAN: There are policy disputes that we will have. There`s no two ways
about it. Plenty of Republicans disagree with one another on policy
disputes. But on core principles, those are the kinds of things that we
discussed, and again, I`m encouraged.


MATTHEWS: Well, Katy, of course, you asked Reince Priebus about it today.
Let`s watch that interview point.


TUR: What is one issue that Paul Ryan and Donald Trump were able to come
to an agreement on?

PRIEBUS: Well, I`m not going to get into the specifics. I hate to spoil
the fun, but you know, it was a private meeting, private conversation. But
certainly, everything you`re hearing about is accurate, that it was all
positive and it was – it was – it was cooperative. It was great.


MATTHEWS: Katy, I`ve heard a story I wonder if I can verify because it`s a
wild one. But did the speaker really bring in charts and explain to Donald
Trump how difficult it is to reduce the debt and that there`s big elements
like entitlements you have to deal with. Like, it`s almost like a scene
from “Dave,” the move, where the guy pretending to be president has
pictures of the cabinet members put up all around the table so he knows who
he`s talking to.

Was it that bad?

TUR: He did bring charts, and anybody who`s covered Paul Ryan on Capitol
Hill – Luke Russert will tell you, as Alex Moe (ph), one of our producers
will tell you this – Paul Ryan likes his charts. And yes, he did bring
charts, and they were about entitlement reform, but it was also about
national debt. So he brought that with him.

We`re also told that this meeting was supposed to be just between Paul
Ryan, one of his aides, Donald Trump, one of his aides and Reince Priebus.
But the subsequent meeting ended up having a lot more of Donald Trump`s
aides come in. So Paul Ryan brought his posse, if you will…


TUR: … in with him, as well. So yes, he did bring charts. Unclear if
Donald Trump was impressed by those charts. We do know he likes Rachel
Maddow`s graphics. It`s not clear, though, if he likes them as much as
Paul Ryan`s charts.


TUR: Bad joke.

MATTHEWS: It`s not bad. Anyway, thank you, Katy Tur, and thank you,
Hallie Jackson.

I`m joined right now by real U.S. Congress people, Congresswoman Marsha
Blackburn of Tennessee and U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania.
Thank you both.

Well, I guess you both have the same question before you. You both have
districts that were carried by – your district was carried by whom in the

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: Trump carried my district.


MATTHEWS: … right. So that – what does that say to you when you
realize Trump`s carried (INAUDIBLE) does that make you feel – and the new
poll numbers are pretty close in the general and in state-by-state.

BLACKBURN: Sure. They are. I`ve said it was going to be an outsider
year. I think that`s good and healthy for the party. And quiet frankly,
I`m energized by all the new voters that are coming into the Republican
Party this cycle. Change is good, and having somebody who is going to come
in and shake up the way governor works – I think that`s a very healthy
thing for us.

MATTHEWS: The hate – hate Hillary cotillion is out there. I noticed that
the first line in this joint communique today between Trump and Ryan was,
We want to stop Hillary. Is that – is that a deciding factor for most
Republicans, middle of the road, left and right – or right and far right?


REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I think surely that`s a
consideration. None of us are supporting Hillary Clinton, obviously. But
for people like me and some of my other colleagues who I would say are more
center-right, we do have concerns about the lack of policy specifics, plus
all the incendiary remarks, whether it would be on the disabled or POWs or
Hispanics, Muslims, the David Duke debacle. (INAUDIBLE) long list, your
exchange with him on abortion. So I mean, these are the concerns that a
lot of us have, and that`s why we`re not prepared to support Mr. Trump.

MATTHEWS: What`s the best you can say about those, Congresswoman, that you
don`t really mean it, that he didn`t really mean it when he said that, you
know, John McCain`s not a war hero because he was caught? Hey look, the
plane crashed in the middle of Hanoi! He didn`t have many moves left at
that point.

BLACKBURN: Well, you`re right about that. And I don`t know – I haven`t
discussed any of that with Mr. Trump. I think, though, when you look at
the issues that are in front of this country – national security, jobs and
economic security, retirement security, which is huge with women – I think
people are saying, We want somebody who is going to make decisions, who is
going to provide some leadership to…

MATTHEWS: He doesn`t want to lead on entitlements. He`s taking the safe
Democratic position, which is, Leave things alone, which is very comforting
to retirees, leave it alone. Right? That`s his position.

BLACKBURN: Well, I think sometimes you get into what did somebody say and
what did people hear on that.

MATTHEWS: You think he`s for entitlement reform?

BLACKBURN: People want – what people want to see done with entitlements
is to stabilize Medicare and Social Security for seniors and near seniors
and then to look at it, you know, and do something…

MATTHEWS: Is he willing to do that?

BLACKBURN: I would hope so, that we can get things straightened out so
that there is stability and continuity and so that we stop spending all
that money…


MATTHEWS: … Trump is a really smart politician on some things. I think
he looks at state like yours, Pennsylvania, and he goes, You have a lot of
people in Pennsylvania are retirees. They don`t have the opportunity. All
they want is enough to survive (INAUDIBLE) and keep their kids from moving
away. That`s all they want. Their future is, Hold what you have. Keep
the kids in the neighborhood because there`s jobs for them here, and not a
lot of fancy stuff. Is Trump – that`s what I think Trump seems to be
offering. No more trade deals.

DENT: Well, I hear that, but I see (ph) – what troubles me, I guess, is
that there`s a lack of policy specifics. And the few policies that we`ve
heard so far have been contradictory or conflicting. For example, you
mentioned entitlements. On the one hand, he says that he wants to balance
the budget in a fairly short period of time. On the other hand, he says
we`re going to ignore the entitlements. Well, we know you can`t balance
the budget unless…

MATTHEWS: Did he learn that today?

DENT: Well, Paul Ryan brought the charts out. I`m sure he went through
this in great detail, and nobody can do it better than Paul.

MATTHEWS: I know. It`s a terrible thing where every year, members of
Congress try to reduce the budget, and they look at these three big
factors. Interest payments are huge in $19 trillion in debt. You have to
pay the T-bond holders. You`ve got the entitlements because people keep
getting older and there are just more people that are older.


MATTHEWS: And third, you`ve got defense. We have the largest defense
establishment in the world.

BLACKBURN: Yes. Now, Chris, I think Medicare and Social Security –
people segment that. They want to make certain there`s stability there.
But they look at the mandatory spending components and what needs to be
done for reworking Medicaid and the delivery systems on that and the
mandatory spending, and they really want that addressed because they see a
lot of waste, fraud and abuse in those systems. And they`re going to
insist that we do that, plus they want these federal agencies dealt with
because they`re too bureaucratic.

MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump`s past comments about women will surely come
up again and again over the next six months. We all know that. Earlier
this year, an anti-Trump super-PAC put out this ad quoting the New York
businessman this way. Let`s watch.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Real quotes from Donald Trump about women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A person who is very flat-chested is very hard to be
a 10.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`d look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She had the height. She had the beauty. She was
crazy, but these are minor details.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like kids. I mean, I won`t do anything to take
care of them. I`ll supply funds, and she`ll take care of the kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, it doesn`t matter what they write as long
as you`ve got a young and beautiful piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED)


MATTHEWS: How do you explain that at home?

BLACKBURN: Well, I think for a woman like me…

MATTHEWS: In Tennessee.

BLACKBURN: I`ve heard things that and worse said about me.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but this guy`s up for the presidency…


MATTHEWS: He wants your endorsement for the presidency.

BLACKBURN: I`ve heard it from guys that I`ve worked with. I`ve heard it
all my life. And you know what?

MATTHEWS: Would you hire some – a guy…

BLACKBURN: Let me tell you what…

MATTHEWS: Would you hire a male that talked like that for your office?

BLACKBURN: No, let me tell you want I think…

MATTHEWS: Would you hire one?

BLACKBURN: Let me tell you where I think people are, women are on this.


BLACKBURN: They have heard that all their life. They`ve had people
condescend to them. They`ve had people call them names. They are more
worried about keeping their community safe, making certain we don`t have
terror cells, having jobs for their kids coming out of college, making
certain that a comfortable retirement is there not only for them but for

MATTHEWS: Isn`t there anybody around…

BLACKBURN: … their elderly relatives…

MATTHEWS: … like that, that you describe, that doesn`t have this – this
reputation that he`s got?

BLACKBURN: There are things that he has said I wish he had not said, but I
think people are more worried about the fate of our country. And they`re
saying, OK, here we go.

MATTHEWS: Congressman, my hunch is – everybody has a hunch about who`s
going to decide this election. I think Pennsylvania`s going to decide it,
but moderate Republican women, many Republican women. What are they saying
in your district, which is around – Pennsylvania, southeastern

DENT: Well, a lot of women are concerned. I mean, everybody sees the
polls. You know, 70 percent of women have an unfavorable view of Mr.
Trump. And you know, I think it`s hard to take these words back. And when
you`re a presidential candidate, you know, every utterance you make is
policy. At least that`s the perception. And I think that`s one of the
challenges. And really, it causes me a lot of heartburn, you know, when I
heard those kinds of statements. You know, I`m not naive. I`ve heard all
this, too. But I don`t hear it, you know, stated from the podium. It`s a

MATTHEWS: Didn`t it bother you when he called his opponent`s father part
of the Kennedy assassination team?


MATTHEWS: Rafael Cruz? Wasn`t that an amazing statement?

BLACKBURN: There are things – there are things I wish he hadn`t said.


BLACKBURN: You know, and…

MATTHEWS: Well, he`s not going to stop. Do you think he`ll stop?

BLACKBURN: I do think you`re going to see a more presidential decorum.

MATTHEWS: So man`s changed…


MATTHEWS: You`re an optimist. Thank you. Great to have you on.

BLACKBURN: I am an optimist, you`re right.


BLACKBURN: President Trump, here we come!

DENT (?): Thank you, Congresswoman.

MATTHEWS: It`s always great to have you on. We`ve had you on for many –
even though you`re young, we`ve had you on an awful lot lately over the

BLACKBURN: There you go.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Congressman Charlie Dent, a guy that thinks
sort of like I do, a little bit to the right of me (INAUDIBLE) safe here, a
little bit to the right.

Coming up – Paul Ryan is inching closer to supporting Donald Trump. He
actually said a quick yes when somebody said, You going to get around to
endorsing him some – anyway, he`s really eying, many people believe, his
on presidential prospects four years from now. But every move Ryan makes
right now with Trump is going to have an impact on his own political
options down the road. I personally think he`ll have no options if Trump

Anyway, plus, Republican reaction to today`s big meetings. Can Democrats
capitalize on the divisions in the Republican Party when they`re still
fighting their own primary battle between Hillary and Bernie?

And the spectacle of it all – we`ll be seeing the Trump show on a nightly
basis now through November. No matter what you think of Trump, he`s
dominating the pictures, the headlines. The Democrats hardly get into the
tent. How to put on a good show from Donald Trump.

Finally, “Let Me Finish” with the spectacle we did see today in Washington,
the sight of Donald Trump assuming leadership.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Former vice president Dan Quayle – remember him? – has spoken
out on the 2016 race, telling the “TODAY” show he thinks there`s one aspect
where Trump is more qualified to be president than Hillary Clinton.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he as qualified as she is?

paper, you`d say, Well, she`s more qualified. But you know what? He`s
more qualified in the sense that the American people I think want an
outsider. And they want an outsider this time. She is not an outsider.
So if you`re looking for an outsider, no, she`s not qualified and he is.


MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back.



REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I was very encouraged with
what I heard from Donald Trump today. I do believe that we are now
planting the seeds to get ourselves unified, to bridge the gaps and
differences. And so from here, we`re going to go deeper into policy areas
to see where that common ground is and how we can make sure that we`re
operating off these same core principles. And so yes, I am – this is our
first meeting. I was very encouraged with this meeting. But this is a
process. It take a little time. You don`t put it together in 45 minutes.

Look, here`s what we agree on. A Hillary Clinton presidency would be a
disaster for this country.


MATTHEWS: Well, there`s the agreeable point for Republicans: Hillary
Clinton would be a disaster for the country.

That one thing, they seem they could ally on today.

Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Speaker Paul Ryan earlier today on his meeting with Donald Trump
today. rMDNM_Ryan is still holding on our endorsing the presumptive
nominee so far, but he says he will get around to it. But how is this
affecting fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill?

NBC correspondent Kelly O`Donnell joins me from Capitol Hill.

I thought it was fascinating today, when somebody – one of our reporters,
correspondents, interviewed rMDNM_Ryan. And it was like a quick yes, I
will get around to it, but not now, but not today.

What do you make of that?

KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: It`s been a bit of the war between the
passions that Paul Ryan feels. Then we see a different approach, sort of
the pragmatism of Mitch McConnell.

And I think what some of these lawmakers experienced today was not the
rally, big arena Donald Trump, but more of the negotiator, business meeting
Donald Trump, where he was able to look them in the eye, talk about some of
the concerns that they have and soften some of the rough edges.

For Paul Ryan, he has committed his whole public life to really fighting
for principled ideas that he believes in for conservatism and trying to be
that head of the party nationally and not wanting to back off of those
principles right away.

So, he makes a reasonable argument that you can`t turn it all over and come
together in just 45 minutes. But Mitch McConnell is farther down the path
along that line. He`s already saying he endorses. The two chairs of the
committees that help members of Congress get reelected, they`re endorsing
and trying to move forward.

So, Paul Ryan has some time. It also gives Trump some time later a chance
to say he got a win if he can in fact persuade Paul Ryan to come over to
his side – Chris.

MATTHEWS: Tonight, your beat was the biggest beat in the world.
Congratulations, Kelly. It was all here on the Hill. Thank you, Kelly
O`Donnell, who covers the Hill.


MATTHEWS: Ryan, actually, the Speaker Ryan hasn`t been so shy about
weighing in on the GOP`s nominating contest and calling out Trump for his
ply proposals, like his ban on Muslims coming in the country. Here is


RYAN: Normally, I do not comment on what is going on in the presidential

I will take an exception today. This is not conservatism. What was
proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and more importantly
it`s not what this country stands for.


MATTHEWS: You can tell that was an earlier picture when he had the beard.

Anyway, rMDNM_Ryan also lashed at Trump for being slow to disavow former
Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke.


RYAN: The conversation over the last few days has been about white
supremacist groups.

I try to stay out of day-to-day ups and downs of the primary. But I have
also said, when I see something that runs counter to who we are as a party
and as a country, I will speak up. So today I want to be very clear about
something: If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican party,
there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause
that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people`s prejudices.



As Ryan slow-walks unifying his party right now, he`s balancing the GOP`s
chances in 2016 many believe with his own ambitions to be the nominee of
the party in 2012 (sic).

Michael Steel is a former spokesman for Speaker John Boehner. And John
Feehery is a former spokesman for Dennis Hastert. Both had jobs very, very
similar to my own over the years.

Let me ask you, what do you think? Everything has their suspicion of self-
interest. Does this fellow think that he`s going to be nominee?

protecting his House Republican majority this year.


MATTHEWS: The 245 people, keep them there.

STEEL: Exactly. These are guys, some are never Trump. Some have already
endorsed. A lot are skeptical, hoping they can support the nominee. And
that`s the process that the speaker is leading them on right now.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s follow that up, couple things there, John.

He pointed out today he`s pro-life. He wants to make sure Trump is, right?


MATTHEWS: He wants to make sure that he believes in the core principles
and the limits of the executive power of the president, right?

I think the Republican Party when I worked up on the Hill was more of a
political party, a regular coalition of some moderates, some middle of the
road, some conservatives. Now it seems to be very much a philosophical
party and that rMDNM_Ryan is sort of the high priest. He says this is
dogma and this isn`t.

He sort of describes it. I thought that was the role he was playing today.
You must subscribe, Mr. Trump, to the belief system of this party.

FEEHERY: I think there`s a little bit of worry that Trump doesn`t really
have appreciation for the Constitution and worry that he might overreach.

There`s been a lot of worry that Obama has done that as president. They
are sick and tired. And I think that`s a good discussion to have.
Congress needs to reassert itself.


MATTHEWS: They don`t want the man on horseback then. They don`t want the
guy riding into town like John Wayne and saying I`m giving the orders.

STEEL: No. They want somebody who is going to work within our
constitutional system, respect Article 1, as well as Article 2.

MATTHEWS: Which creates Congress. Yes.

STEEL: And that`s what they are hoping to get from these conversations
with Donald Trump.

FEEHERY: And, Chris, as you know, a good speaker protects his members.
That`s what Ryan is also doing, not only protecting the institution, but
protecting his members from a guy who says a lot of things.

Ryan is right on the Muslim ban. He`s right on David Duke. And you need
to protect your members. I think you – done here before. He`s worried
about it because he`s not sure how this all plays out.


MATTHEWS: And yet Trump has his own political ambitions. Trump has to be
seen as on the offense all the time. He`s always on the offensive. Two,
he has to be seen as a guy mastering any interpersonal relationship with
anybody. He has to be the bully, the boss.

And, third, he has to be the outsider. Let`s stick with that out – how
can he get along with a Republican Congress which is the heart of the
political establishment in this country without becoming an insider like

STEEL: Well, part of this is transition from the primary part of the
campaign to the general election.

He won the primaries by winning a certain segment of the Republican base.
In order to win the general election, to beat Hillary Clinton, which is all
of our goal, he`s going to have to unify the party and get votes from every
wing of the party, as well as…


MATTHEWS: How does he do it stylistically? How does he stay Donald Trump
and do that?

STEEL: I think that there`s a fine line between his outsider status and
the sort of hateful comments, the derogatory comments, the…

MATTHEWS: Can he still get a crowd if he doesn`t engage in the wild
speech? Because the wild speech is what gets him headlines.

STEEL: I certainly think so.

FEEHERY: Well, but he also can`t…

MATTHEWS: How do you trim in?

FEEHERY: He also can`t be a typical politician. I think there`s way to do

He was pretty undisciplined throughout the campaign and, believe me, it
worked for him.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to the bottom line of skepticism.

Paul Ryan was on the ticket last time. Once you have got that close to it,
I have never a guy or woman walk back. They don`t go back.

STEEL: He`s been absolutely clear that speaker of the House has never been
elected president and that this is the highest political office he expects
to hold.

MATTHEWS: He has accepted this detour, that he`s not going back for the

FEEHERY: Well, you never know what is going to happen in the future. He`s
a pretty young guy.

MATTHEWS: But he ain`t going to get it if Trump gets it. If Trump goes in
the White House, he gets nominated for renomination, reelection, it`s over
for this guy.

FEEHERY: Paul Ryan is not the kind of guy that is scheming about being
president. He`s actually just a policy wonk. He`s gotten to be speaker.
Now if he becomes president, fine, but that`s not – he really wants to
move policy.


MATTHEWS: Like Dick Cheney, he got to be vice president not by scheming.
He just got to be speaker of the House, not by scheming.

FEEHERY: I don`t think – you know it better than I do.

Paul Ryan was – he was begged to do this job by your former boss. And I
don`t think he wanted it.


MATTHEWS: How does Boehner like retirement, by the way?

STEEL: He`s having the time of his life.


MATTHEWS: I caught him at the Irish-American Dinner the other night.

Anyway, thank you, Michael Steel, who held an important post, and John
Feehery as well.

Up next, Democrats seize on this break in the Republican Party. But,
meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is still trying to fend off Bernie Sanders in
the party`s primary. That fight is not over at all.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


what`s happening.

A suspect is in custody after sparking a lockdown at Joint Base Andrews in
Maryland earlier tonight. A woman walked up to the main gate and claimed
to have a bomb, but no bomb was found.

The Navy has reportedly fired commander of the 10 U.S. sailors who wandered
into Iranian waters and were held by Iran earlier this year.

And a lawyer for Dennis Hastert says the former House speaker will not
appeal his prison sentence in a hush money case that was related to sexual
abuse – back to HARDBALL.


SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: What we`re seeing right now is the
Republicans coming forward in a step of unity and really becoming a shill
for a reality TV star. We might want to call it congressional apprentice.


MATTHEWS: Well, welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan actually responding
to the meeting today between the presumptive Republican nominee for
president. I don`t really like the phrase. How about the nominee to be?
And the party`s Republican leadership.

With House Speaker Paul Ryan not yet endorsing but, but saying he will
soon, the party clearly remains a house divided, for the day, at least, the
situation which Democrats are trying to capitalize on.

Shortly after the meeting, Hillary Clinton`s campaign sent out an e-mail
saying – quote – “Republicans are continuing to acknowledge that a
President Trump would be too big a risk. Today, Speaker Ryan met with
Donald Trump and he clearly wasn`t swayed by the nominee, as he again
refused to endorse him.”

Well, that`s a little rough. I`m not sure that is the message that
rMDNM_Ryan put out today.

Anyway, the Clinton campaign also organized a call with reporters this
afternoon led by Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who said Trump`s presidency
would be “a train wreck for American values and for Latinos.”

I think he had to put this in there for sure.

Joining me right now for more, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon and
MSNBC analyst Jonathan Capehart of “The Washington Post.”

Gentlemen, watch this now. Joe Biden is kind of hard to predict sometimes.
But Joe Biden said something like this. He`s now talking about that if he
had ran, if he had ran, Politico reported today that Vice President Joe
Biden, if he had wanted to run, had run, he would have put Elizabeth Warren
as his running mate.

People familiar with the situation Politico that – quote – “Joe Biden
took months to decide he wouldn`t run for president, but he was sold on
Elizabeth Warren as his running mate from the start, and he still thinks
the Massachusetts firebrand would be Hillary Clinton`s best choice to
replace him as the country`s number two in January 2017.”

Why is he getting in – why is he messing with her marmalade?


MATTHEWS: Why is he doing this now, telling her he would have picked a
woman? Him picking a woman is different than another woman picking another
woman, I would think, just a difference in terms of ticketing balancing.

MCMAHON: Although it`s an interesting dilemma for Hillary Clinton. She
wants to bring the Bernie Sanders folks into the fold. Elizabeth Warren
was Bernie Sanders before Bernie Sanders. And so it would be an
interesting doubling down, like Clinton-Gore.

MATTHEWS: Would you do that?

MCMAHON: No, I wouldn`t do it.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you.



MATTHEWS: We all like to be dashing and exciting, but it may be too
exciting for some of the voters.

Why is Biden doing this?

don`t know.

MCMAHON: He couldn`t stand to be out of the limelight. He`s just having



MATTHEWS: Is he setting himself up in case something goes wrong on the e-
mail front?

CAPEHART: I don`t know if that`s what he is actually doing.

MATTHEWS: Nobody stops running for president.

CAPEHART: No. And he`s proving that. This is, what, the third story in
as many weeks about Vice President Biden waxing nostalgic for the race he
hasn`t run.

MATTHEWS: Who would be the nominee of the Democratic Party? I don`t even
know the rules for this. Who would be the nominee of the Democratic Party,
since we`re talking all Republicans today, if something happened to Hillary
Clinton and she had to withdraw for the e-mail reason or something? Who
would the be nominee?


MCMAHON: It would almost certainly be Bernie Sanders.


MCMAHON: Because he had run.


MATTHEWS: Even if it happens after the convention? Who would get it?

The Republican National Committee meets and decides. We saw this with
Eagleton. They just – back in `72.

MCMAHON: That`s right.


MCMAHON: Then it would almost certainly be Joe Biden, but it would have to
be after the delegates had met.


MCMAHON: By the way, that`s never going to happen.


CAPEHART: Yes, I was going to say, because imagine the Bernie folks
saying, OK, Vice President Biden, go right ahead. We have spent all this
time, invested all this energy and money.


MATTHEWS: OK. Well, speaking of stirring the pot, “The Wall Street
Journal” wrote in an editorial, and you know what they`re up to, to the
case Bernie Sanders can win the Democratic presidential nominee right now,
saying – quote – “If Sanders sweeps the final 10 primaries and caucuses,
he might take the lead among bound delegates heading into the Democratic
Convention in July.”

What`s the point of saying that? In other words, sweep all the delegates.
Hillary is in pretty good shape to carry California. So, what are they
doing? Sweeping all of them. And she would still have the superdelegates.

CAPEHART: Well, that`s the point. They didn`t say he would go into the
convention as the nominee outright.

MATTHEWS: They implied he would win.

CAPEHART: Yes, implied because…


MATTHEWS: Are they keeping him out there like a fatted calf? Are they
keeping him fat and ready to run against in the general?

CAPEHART: Yes. Of course, they would love to run against Bernie Sanders.
They have not laid – Republicans have not laid a glove on Bernie Sanders.


MATTHEWS: Does anybody get this on the left, the progressive left? Do
progressives realize that the Republicans have purposely avoided trashing
this guy, who they could easily trash as a Democratic…

MCMAHON: No, they don`t get it. They don`t get it all.

This is the journalist equivalent, by the way, of suggesting that Senator
Cruz`s father had something to do with the assassination of John Kennedy.
It`s utterly ridiculous on its face. And they do it just to stir the pot,
just to cause trouble. The fact is, Bernie Sanders would have to win not
just the next 10 elections, but he would have to win them with two-thirds
of the vote or more in order to even be competitive. There`s no way on
Earth Bernie Sanders…


MATTHEWS: How do Democrats grab the spotlight? You write for the papers.
You`re in P.R. You know the public relations business. I will start with

How do Democrats grab the front page again? Trump is out there. It`s like
– I can`t believe. It`s like Scheherazade. He`s got a new story every
day to stay alive. Did you like that reference?

CAPEHART: Yes. It was good.

MATTHEWS: Every day, he`s got a new one.

Hillary is a smart, well-breathed person. But she is not novel. She
doesn`t come up with a new Hillary every day, a new interesting comment.
She`s pretty solid.


CAPEHART: But the way she wins this thing, in my opinion, is she makes
Trump the huckster, the guy who will say anything to get what he wants and
whose history is that what he wants comes at the expense of everybody else.

And she`s got to tell that story. She has got to have a narrative for the
campaign. She`s not going to win it by having a train wreck every day in
the press. She`s going to win it by being slow, steady, tested, trusted,


You can`t compete with Donald Trump in terms of the spotlight. And
sometimes that spotlight is so hot, you don`t want to be anywhere near it.
So, let Trump be Trump. Let Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic
nominee, if she gets there..


MCMAHON: Prohibitive.


MATTHEWS: Have you guys hated the word presumptive?


MATTHEWS: It sounds terrible to me. Anyway…

CAPEHART: But, no, the point I`m trying to make here is, let Donald Trump
be Donald Trump. Let him be the Roman candle on the campaign trail and let
Hillary Clinton, as Steve said, just make the pitch, make the case.

Let Donald Trump hang himself by his own words.


MATTHEWS: You`re thinking of candle in the wind, aren`t you?

CAPEHART: No, I`m not.

MATTHEWS: I thought you were.


MCMAHON: You need to create this narrative, so that every time he`s a
Roman candle, it actually fulfills the prophecy. She`s got to set a trap
for him that he walks into every single day.

CAPEHART: And the point I was trying to make is that in 2008, when the
economy imploded and everyone was concerned about what was going to happen,
what did John McCain do to steal the spotlight?

Suspended his campaign. He wanted to focus. And Barack Obama was like,
what are you talking about? We have got a campaign to run.


MATTHEWS: You never know. Like the chair was a good idea, but it didn`t


MATTHEWS: Three seconds.

Anyway, thank you, Steve McMahon. Thank you, Jonathan Capehart.

Up next, our roundtable tonight, reaction to the big day in Washington and
the showmanship of Trump.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Ryan, he`ll meet with me today and he will do what
I say.

REPORTER: This morning, the big meeting between Donald Trump and House
Speaker Ryan.

REPORTER: Chairman Priebus of the RNC also inside. He`ll be talking with
the two of them. Sources say he will act as a truce negotiator.

REPORTER: I`m told those conversations between Priebus and Ryan and Donald
Trump continuing in the fourth floor office.

REPORTER: Donald Trump made no secret of attacking Paul Ryan earlier on
this campaign.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Remember the wheelchair being
pushed over the cliff when you had Ryan chosen as your vice president.
That was the end of that campaign, by the way, when they chose Ryan.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Look, it`s no secret that
Donald Trump and I have had our differences.

REPORTER: We just got a joint statement from Paul Ryan and Donald Trump.
“This was our first meeting but it was a very positive step toward

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: It was a positive mood. It was a mood of
cooperation and a feeling that it`s time to unify the party.

RYAN: I was very encouraged with this meeting. It`s a process. It takes
a little time. You don`t put it together in 45 minutes.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Those were in Washington today when Donald Trump, the outsider, came, met
and conquered, Speaker Paul Ryan, in Hill passion, continued to reserve the
right to object, as a Hill phrase, to a Trump candidacy.

But it was Trump who controlled the offense today. He arrived with the
wind at his back, polls show a tight general election race ahead. The
latest NBC News online poll shows Hillary Clinton with a five-point lead
nationally over Trump. Not a lot, beyond the margin of error there.

Joining me – it`s even beyond – our roundtable tonight: former
congressman from Georgia, Jack Kingston, is joining us. He supports Trump.
Francesca Chambers writes for “The Daily Mail”, and NBC presidential
historian, Michael Beschloss, joins us.

Francesca, your thoughts about the pictures we saw and we`ll see in
tomorrow`s paper and tonight`s news.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, THE DAILY MAIL: Well, notably, there was no handshake.
They did not appear together. That is something that Donald Trump may have
wanted because he tweeted out photos of him and other GOP leaders. We
didn`t see that today with Paul Ryan.

Why is that? It would have looked like an endorsement. He said he wasn`t
endorsing, but it would have looked like an endorsement.


MATTHEWS: He said yes.

CHAMBERS: He didn`t endorse today and it would have looked like an
endorsement today if he had been seen photographed with him shaking his

MATTHEWS: Congressman, who look good today? Was this good for Trump

JACK KINGSTON (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I think it was good for Trump.
I think it was good for Ryan. I think it was good for the process. As you
know, you know, each party sort of has three legs to the stool. The donor
base, the establishment, if you will, the elected officials and the
grassroots. And I think what Trump was doing today is saying, you know,
I`ve got the grassroots with me. I need the elected officials and then I`m
going to start talking to the more inside players.

But I think sitting down with Ryan was not just symbolic.

MATTHEWS: Is this a route to the goal he has to collect?

KINGSTON: He has to. He`s got to be able to do it, but he`s got to go
through it.

MATTHEWS: That`s interesting. I never thought that the way you get to the
donor base, the big shots to the party, we used the call the fat cats, is
talk to the elected officials.

Michael, talk about history, because you`re a historian. It had the
aspect, I was trying to think, was this like Nixon going up on Fifth Avenue
with Rockefeller back in the `60, we had to cut that deal, to get the
moderates behind him.

a presumptive nominee basically go hat in hand into a speaker, essentially
begging for his support. So, that is something that really Paul Ryan was
in the cat bird seat today.

But no, I think, you know, parallel really applies, but one would be 1960,
as you know. Sam Rayburn, longtime speaker, Lyndon Johnson, the majority
leader, Democrat, who tried to beat John Kennedy, they had scheduled the
session of Congress to go through August, after the Democratic convention,
for one reason only. They wanted to leverage on whoever was the nominee.

So, Kennedy had to make sure that Rayburn and Johnson were happy. That`s
one reason why Kennedy had to put Johnson on the ticket.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about an other I relished, of course, in
history, that`s when Jack Kennedy, another hero, had to appeal to Eleanor
Roosevelt, to get the approval of the old liberal crowd, that never like,
well, I`m not sure she was good on Catholics, to start with. I just put, I
had evidence on that. I have evidence on that.

So, he had to go to her hat and hand and say, gee, will you forgive me for
my brother working for McCarthy, will you forgive me for having a father
who didn`t want to fight World War II? Will you forgive me the fact my
father and your husband never liked each other and you`re the keeper of the
keys. Will you please not get in my way?

He was doing that today with Paul Ryan. He`s the keeper of the keys.
Congressman, Paul Ryan is the ideological leader of the Republican Party.
He basically represents the 245 members of the House and they agree with

KINGSTON: And he stepped up to the plate probably during one of the
toughest times to be leader in history, because his own party is divided
and he`s against a heavyweight in the White House. So, Paul, I think this
is one more test of his leadership and he`s done a good job. He`s been
tempered with what he reported. I would have expected them both to come
out and say we`re united, let`s go beat Hillary.

Instead, they said, you know what, there are things we are at an agreement
on. We want jobs. We want to turn the economy around. We want to reduce
spending. There`s still things we disagree on.

So, I think they have left themselves some wiggle room, but I think from
Paul Ryan`s standpoint, he`s done that as much for the Charlie Dent and
other members of the Republican conference, plus the hard right.

MATTHEWS: OK. I have great respect for you. I have great respect for
you, Congressman.

I want to give you some names as a running mate for Donald Trump, all
right? I think he`s a mixed bag to start with. Mixed bag.

But here it is, Jan Brewer. Why would you put her on the ticket? You`re
already known as an anti-immigrant guy. Why do you wanted two anti-
immigrant guys?

I don`t know who – Newt Gingrich. You want to clean up Washington, you`re
bringing him back. These names make no sense.


KINGSTON: As a fellow Georgia, let me say, the most productive time in my
22 years was during the Contract with America.


CHAMBERS: – the only people who have publicly said that they would be
interested. Jan Brewer is one of the only people who said she would be
interested in the job.


MATTHEWS: – called a new castle. You`re already known to be an anti-

KINGSTON: Marsha Blackburn, she would be a suspect. I would think Nikki
Haley would be as well.

CHAMBERS: But it is a problem that Donald Trump will face is that there`s
many Republicans who you might think he would consider who have come out
and said, no thanks. I`m not interested in it.

MATTHEWS: That to me is the challenge is, to get one of them to change
their mind, like Rubio or –

CHAMBERS: I honestly that –

MATTHEWS: Kasich, how quickly we forget, John Kasich. And I like the guy.

CHAMBERS: Rubio would not join his ticket.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable – what was your point?

CHAMBERS: That Rubio would not join the ticket because he wants to
preserve his own political prospect.

MATTHEWS: OK. We`ll see. The best way to become president is to become
vice president.

Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.

And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know. This is
HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: You can play HARDBALL with us all week long. Follow us
@hardball on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook. We`ll find
the show`s best interviews, exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and the
smartest take on politics is the general election keeps heating up.

We`ll be right back.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.

Congressman Kingston, tell me something I don`t know.

KINGSTON: Well, I made a call to Bruce Lavelle, good friend of mine,
somewhat titular head of the Trump campaign in Georgia. And there`s not
that much of an organization.

I was shocked because they stormed through Georgia. I was a Cruz guy, they
beat us handily. But what I was impressed with when I talked to Bruce
Lavelle was how strong their national diversity outreach is. He is

And he was telling me all about what they`re going to do to bring in
Muslims, bring in Hispanics, bring in African-Americans.

MATTHEWS: It`s virgin forest for these guys.

KINGSTON: It`s going to be very exciting.

MATTHEWS: OK. Francesca?

CHAMBERS: Well, Chris, we`ve seen a lot of chaos within the Republican
Party today, but what about the Democrats?

Debbie Wassermann Schultz, the DNC chair, says that despite the fighting
between Sanders and Clinton camps, she does not expect there to be this
kind of divisiveness. She thinks that the party will unite before the
Democratic National Convention this summer.

MATTHEWS: But she would say that.

CHAMBERS: Well, the White House seems to think that it will be fine too.
I asked the president`s spokesperson about that too.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe it?

CHAMBERS: I think there`s a lot of Sanders supporters who are still upset
with Hillary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: Yes, there`s PUMAs in there. You know what that means? Party
unity my –


MATTHEWS: Go head.

BESCHLOSS: Insert a word.

CHAMBERS: Word we can`t say.

BESCHLOSS: Eight years ago this hour, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
were monumental adversaries, Democratic primaries. This fall I think you
will see President Obama campaigning more intensely for Hillary Clinton,
assuming that she is the nominee, than we`ve seen any other outgoing
president do at least in modern times.

MATTHEWS: And it`s tricky as it is to stay above from reach from Trump, so
Trump can`t grab and pull down. I agree with you.

Anyway, thank you, Jack Kingston, Francesca Chambers. By the way,
Republicans already anticipating that – they`re saying it`s going to be a
third Obama presidency and they`re trying to run against it on that.

Michael Beschloss, Francesca Chambers, Congressman Jack Kingston.

When we return, let me finish with the spectacle we saw today in
Washington, the sight of Donald Trump assuming leadership.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight by saying what a strange day it was in
Washington. Whatever you think of Donald Trump, he came here and took on
this bunch of so-called party leaders like a tank riding over a speed bump.
The only resistance he got was from Speaker Paul Ryan who said he`ll get to
the endorsement, who said he`ll kiss Mr. Hot Stuff, just not on the first

Well, it`s amazing what strong poll numbers will do for you. Those what
are Donald Trump came to flash just two days before his triumphant arrival
here. Not only did he win state primaries, he`s on the road to winning
more primary votes than any Republican in history.

And what Republican leaders are slowly getting their heads around is the
only obstacle to Donald Trump becoming President Donald Trump is Hillary
Clinton becoming President Hillary Clinton. That`s one Trump card when you
think about it.

Mr. Paul Ryan may fill himself with notions of Hillary entering the White
House next January then screwing her politically ala Barack Obama from the
day she gets there, then running in to finish her off in 2020. He may hope
for that. It may come to that. But there are many hazards in the

And what`s more important for the Republican Party right now is the success
of the person who will be its nominee this summer and fall. Whatever
sugarplum Speaker Ryan and the other personages of this Capitol had dancing
and prancing in their heads, the picture produced today was that of a grand
partisan genuflection.

Today`s events were a rich technicolored spectacle filled with meetings and
salutes, pomp and circumstance that could well be heard someday as a
prelude, a reticent recital of ruffles and flourishes. You know, that`s
the tune they play right before “Hail to the Chief.”

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

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.


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