Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 5/16/2016
Date: May 16, 2016
Guest: Josh King, John Brabender, Jay Newton-Small, Jeff Weaver, Heidi
Przybyla, Bryan Cranston, Anthony Mackie, Jay Roach
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump versus “The Times.”
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in New York.
Donald Trump pushed back hard today against that Sunday “New York Times”
front page story that looked at his treatment of women over the years. He
called the story a lame hit piece and a joke. He also said it was
malicious and libelous.
Well, according to “The Times” piece, interviews with dozens of women who
knew him, quote, “reveal unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary
on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women and an unsettling
Well, a few of “The Times” examples – a female Trump executive said he
mocked her body, telling her, You look like – “You like your candy.” A
female city official said Trump was dismissive toward her. “It was always
`hon,` `dear,` things he wouldn`t have said to a man. It was designed to
make you feel small, and he did that repeatedly,” close quote.
Well, a Miss USA contestant told “The Times,” “He kissed me directly on
the lips, I thought, Oh, my God, gross.”
But there`s also been pushback against the “Times” story. “The Times”
quoted a former Trump girlfriend, Rowanne Brewer Lane, who said he asked
her to change into a bikini during a pool party at Mar-a-Lago, and then
told the crowd at the pool, That is a stunning Trump girl, isn`t it?
Well, “The Times” characterized it as a “debasing face-to-face encounter.”
Lane herself today disputed that characterization.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROWANNE BREWER LANE, FMR. TRUMP GIRLFRIEND: I was not happy with the way
that the article was written, and I was promised that it wouldn`t be done
that way and it absolutely was. I don`t think it`s fair to me, and I don`t
really think it`s fair to him. It seems to me like they must have some
sort of agenda and they`re following it.
I never said that he paraded me anywhere, and that word keeps coming up.
He said, Now, that`s a stunning Trump girl, and I was very flattered. It
was – indeed flattered, and I made that very clear to the writer, that I
was flattered by that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, this is interesting. Meanwhile, Trump says he will go on
offense against Hillary Clinton. He told “The New York Times,” quote,
“Just getting nasty with Hillary won`t work. You really have to get people
to look hard at her character and to get women to ask themselves if Hillary
is truly sincere and authentic.”
Well, according to “The Times,” he plans to challenge her on Benghazi, on
her e-mail practices and on her husband`s infidelities. Quote, “Donald
Trump plans to throw Bill Clinton`s infidelities in Hillary Clinton`s face
on live television during the presidential debates this fall, questioning
whether she enabled his behavior and sought to discredit the women
Well, Jeremy Peters is a political reporter for “The New York Times” and
MSNBC contributor Jay Newton-Small is Washington correspondent for “The New
York Times” and John – no, I`m sorry. No you`re not. And John – she`s
with “Time” magazine and John Brabender is a former senior strategist for
the Santorum presidential campaign.
Let me go to Jeremy. I know you have to speak for your newspaper. You`re
not an ombudsman or anything like that. But how would you report on this
back and forth – he found a women who was not happy with the way the story
was presented, who said she was not, by her terms, exploited or abused or
humiliated, she says. She said the author of the piece said she wouldn`t
be portrayed that way. She was. She`s not happy about it. And I can
understand if she`s right, she would be.
Trump has also pointed out there were some 50 women interviewed, only four
or five quoted in the piece, which he says suggests that the other women
who weren`t quoted had good things to say about him.
Can you comment on that, as a reporter, or is that just for management.
JEREMY PETERS, “NEW YORK TIMES,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I`ll let this
story speak for itself. What I will say is that…
MATTHEWS: Both sides of it?
PETERS: Trump did tweet something that was inaccurate about the women who
were interviewed for the story. He did. And then the reporter, my
colleague, Michael Barbaro, who did a fine job reporting this piece,
pointed out that he did interview the women that the Trump campaign told
them to talk to. And so that part of what Trump pushed back on was just
But I think part of the beauty of this piece is that it is very nuanced and
it shows how Trump was at times very generous and at times also very
MATTHEWS: Well, what about the portrayal of that woman who pushed back,
MATTHEWS: She said they got it all wrong and they told her they weren`t
going to write it that way and they did.
PETERS: You know…
MATTHEWS: She was not paraded around, she said. I wasn`t paraded. I –
they kept saying “paraded.” I wasn`t paraded around. Your thoughts.
PETERS: Well, you know, I didn`t report the piece, so I probably
MATTHEWS: I know. No, but you`re doing a good job here.
Let me go to Jay Newton-Small. I want a woman to speak now clearly on
this. The way it hits you, just the way the whole story hits you, all the
story there, the fact (ph) that you can discern here as being true – how
does it hit you and what`s it say about the presidential candidate himself?
JAY NEWTON-SMALL, “TIME” MAGAZINE: Well, I just don`t – I mean, Donald
Trump has a lot of inroads to make with women, and this is not the first
story that has been controversial when he`s talking about women, whether
it`s, you know, calling Rosie O`Donnell a fat pig or other women – saying
Megyn Kelly has been bleeding or calling, you know, Carly Fiorina ugly – I
mean, his approval rating with women is underwater, you know, he – by
anywhere, depending on the poll, from 50 percent to 73 percent, and so
these kinds of stories don`t help him.
NEWTON-SMALL: And while they…
MATTHEWS: Do they hurt? Because – are they worse – do they – if you`ve
gotten through the thicket of public information about it, what he said
about Rosie O`Donnell, of course, what he said about Megyn Kelly, the
journalist, what he said about his opponent at one time, Carly – this is
all in our face already. I mean, people – have they already sort of
adjusted to that part of him and made their own discernment about what that
means to them? And therefore, why would this stuff be any worse, I just
wonder. I don`t know.
NEWTON-SMALL: Well, I just think he`s not winning women over with these
kinds of stories. I mean, these stories – he needs to be out there trying
to win women over because he`s not going to win a general election without
doing a lot better with women, and he`s, frankly, losing women enormously.
And so he has to do much better, and this is his challenge, is to show how
he would govern as a governor, as a president, how he would better
represent women, better represent them than Hillary Clinton would.
NEWTON-SMALL: And you know, stories like this, you know, do not help at
all. I mean, there are positive aspects to the story, and I`m sure we`re
going to see his daughter, Ivanka, come out on the campaign trail and talk
about, you know, how he`s a good businessman, how he`s empowered women in
his – in his work life, and certainly, there are aspects to this story
where he does talk about how he was one of the few, you know, real estate
moguls to actually hire and promote women in the `80s and `90s.
But that`s all kind of lost in what becomes the kind of – you know, the
worst aspects of his character, which is, you know, to debase and to
sexualize, you know, every single woman, whether it`s a woman he`s working
with or whether it`s women he`s considering dating.
MATTHEWS: John, you know, we`ve been through all this before, John
Brabender. We all were in it with Clinton…
MATTHEWS: … I mean, just Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones
and accusations they made in his defense, for whatever it`s worth. It`s
not that it`s similar. It`s – everything is different, but each case is
its own self, and it involves, you know, the humiliation of women or
abusive – and some, it`s just things like saying – and I think just
things – I got to put it in perspective – you call somebody “Hon” or
“dear” 20 years ago, I`m not sure how that fit in. I`d have to be there to
know whether that was courtesy, charm, niceness, or it was dismissive. It
could well have been dismissiveness, according to the woman quoted. She
felt dimissed, so it clearly had that impact. So we have to live with
that, and even if it`s 20 years ago.
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I think one
thing that worked in Donald Trump`s favor is that it was “The New York
Times.” And for Republicans to be unified, he needs to be attacked by
Obama, Clinton, and frankly, “The New York Times.” So in some sense, that
works to his favor.
Number two, as you said, a lot of this is – really people know these
things about Donald Trump. And again, I`m not an analyst. I`m a
strategist. And if I`m a strategist for the Trump campaign, one thing I do
realize – the more ugly I can make the race between both parties, the more
it is to my benefit because people are saying, I`m sick of all that type of
politics. I`m going with the agent of change.
BRABENDER: And the agent of change in this particular race is Donald
MATTHEWS: Jeremy, do you think that`s true? I was – I wrote a close for
the show tonight along those lines, but my sort of bottom line`s going to
be at the end of the night, because I`m already there, which is this just
turns people off to politics. They say, I`m not running for anything if
this is what I`m going to be hit with. You know, this is just throwing
garbage at each other, true or false. It`s just throwing past personal
behavior against each other.
People either have to be pluperfect in their life or they have to enjoy
this kind of thing. Trump seems to be able to enjoy it, this stuff thrown
back and forth.
PETERS: Well, he does. It`s what animates him. It`s what sustains him
every single day, getting in these fights on Twitter, hurling insults at
his opponents, at journalists who cross him, who he believes have somehow
But I do think that you`re right, Chris. People are voting, and the polls
are showing this, that they are selecting a presidential candidate for the
first time since polling began based on a negative. They`re voting against
someone. You talk to Hillary supporters, they`re voting for her because
they want to vote against Trump, and the same is true for Trump. They`re
picking him because they want to vote against Hillary.
And that is really a striking and unsettling development in our politics.
MATTHEWS: You know, Anne Gearan, of course, in “The Washington Post,” Jay
– Anne Gearan, in a piece with Dan Balz, the great veteran political guy,
used all kinds of information in a new focus group on Hillary Clinton that
once again puts it into the likability issue on her side again. It is the
thing that Republicans unite about. They don`t like Hillary. They just
don`t like her. They want to beat her, they`re afraid of her, whatever the
And here we have people have all this stuff used against Trump now.
There`s no good news out there for anybody right now, it seems. It`s all
relatively bad news, depending how bad it is on either of them.
NEWTON-SMALL: It is, and this is – it`s striking this is kind of like a
non-ideological campaign. It`s not a campaign…
MATTHEWS: That`s for sure.
NEWTON-SMALL: … about issues. It`s not a campaign about substance or
policy. It`s all a campaign about who you like more, who you`d rather have
a beer with more, who you`d rather kind of hang out with. I mean…
MATTHEWS: Who you`d like to throw a beer at?
NEWTON-SMALL: I don`t know if it`s, like, or versus, like who you want to,
MATTHEWS: It`s terrible.
NEWTON-SMALL: … and scream at the TV more. And so it really is – it`s
all about character. It`s all about…
NEWTON-SMALL: And when you – if you spend six months doing character
attacks, who`s going to end up voting? I mean, nobody! It`s going to be
MATTHEWS: Well, this “Times” piece does put Donald Trump in the “Mad Men”
category of course, in terms of behavior way back even earlier than his
Anyway, President Obama made a strong case against Donald Trump yesterday
during a commencement address at Rutgers, although he never actually
mentioned Trump`s name. But you know who he`s talking about. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world is more
interconnected than ever before and it`s becoming more connected every day.
Building walls won`t change that. Isolating or disparaging Muslims,
suggesting that they should be treated when it comes to entering this
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: It would alienate the very communities at home and abroad who are
our most important partners in the fight against violent extremism.
If you were listening to today`s political debate, you might wonder where
this strain of anti-intellectualism came from.
In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue! It`s not cool to not
know what you`re talking about!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: That`s not challenging political correctness. That`s just not
knowing what you`re talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. Let me go to John Brabender on this because I`m wondering
– pretend for a second – you can – I think your imagination will carry
this far – that you`re working for Obama right now. How far can he – how
far can he go in rattling the cage of Trump before Trump reaches out and
pulls him into the cage with him?
BRABENDER: Well, not very far, is my guess. In fact, if we don`t hear
something by tonight, I`d be shocked. I will say this, though. I think
it`s smarter for Obama to do it than for Hillary Clinton to do it, for if
no other reason, Obama`s much better at it…
BRABENDER: … than Hillary Clinton doing it.
MATTHEWS: But can he stay coy – can he stay distant from Trump when Trump
reaches out and says, I know who you`re talking about, and gives him a
nickname, and there we are back again with that stuff?
BRABENDER: No. And I think, ultimately, it may be a gift for Trump.
First of all, it takes all the other issues off the table by this, and if
Trump starts fighting with Obama, you know, things like middle income, blue
color workers in Ohio, if it`s Trump versus Obama, they`re going to side
with Trump on these issues.
And so I think that although it`s fun to watch and Obama can be creative, I
think, ultimately, politically, it probably helps Trump more than it does
MATTHEWS: We shall see. Jeremy Peters, thank you. Jay Newton-Small of
“Time” magazine and John Brabender.
Coming up – Bernie Sanders continues to duke it out with Hillary Clinton
despite, well, nearly impossible odds numerically right now. And now
senior aides say they could make things messy at the convention come
Philadelphia this summer. What is it that Bernie Sanders wants right now,
no matter who gets the nomination? Who do his supporters want behind (ph)
their party nominee? What do they want the nominee to do, whoever it is?
Plus – after the assassination of President Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson took
the reigns of power and pushed through the historic Civil Rights bill that
changed the course of American history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I urge every
American to join in this effort to bring justice and hope to all our people
and to bring peace to our land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, later in the show, quite magically, you`re going to see
Bryan Cranston become that guy, Lyndon Johnson. It`s magical. Anthony
Mackie, of course, playing Martin Luther King and director Jay Roach once
again tells the story of Lyndon Johnson`s heroic role in bringing us to the
Civil Rights Act of 1964. That`s tonight on the show.
And inside Trump`s brash strategy to go after Bill and Hillary Clinton
during debates this fall – right in the middle of the debates, he says
he`s going to do it, live on national television. That`s an all or nothing
move that will either work for him or it won`t.
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with this election that looks to be a real-life
“Bonfire of the Vanities.” That`s what it`s looking like.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, the Supreme Court dodged a decision on a legal challenge
from faith-based group`s to the Obama administration`s rules requiring
employers to provide insurance coverage for birth control.
NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams is at the Supreme Court with
more – Pete.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, this was a compromise
because they don`t have a majority here. It`s a 4-4 tie. So what the
Supreme Court said is, We`ll send it back to the lower courts. But they
strongly endorsed a possible compromise. This was about religious-
affiliated organizations who said that even having to say they don`t want
to provide contraceptive care for their employees would violate their
So what the Supreme Court said is this possible compromise would be this.
The groups simply buy insurance and when they buy it, they don`t include
contraceptive coverage in it. Then the insurance company takes it from
there and provides the coverage to the employees at no cost.
So that`s why both sides are saying there`s something in it for them. But
the other part of this is that, Chris, supporters of Merrick Garland are
saying this fact that the Supreme Court wouldn`t get to the main questions
in the case, punted on those, sent them to the lower court shows that the
court can`t be fully functional with just eight justices.
MATTHEWS: Wow. That makes sense. You need five to beat four. Anyway,
thank you, Pete Williams at the Supreme Court.
HARDBALL returns after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Is it a bird? Is it a
plane? It is a superdelegate!
SANDERS: All right. Flying over the sky. All right. Nobody would have
believed that we would receive well over 9 million votes at this point in
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
SANDERS: This coming Tuesday, we`re going to win a great victory right
here in Kentucky!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
SANDERS: And by the way, I think we`re going to win in Oregon, as well.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
SANDERS: And then on June 7th, we got California and a bunch of other
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was, of course, Bernie Sanders
campaigning now in Kentucky over this weekend ahead of tomorrow`s primary
there. Anyway, the Republican contest is all but wrapped up, of course,
but the Democrats are still fighting until the end in Philadelphia this
Joining me right now is Sanders campaign manager, Jeff Weaver. Jeff, I`m
trying to figure out – let`s just try a little peace treaty between you
and me for a second, just for a second.
JEFF WEAVER, SANDERS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Always. Always. Of course.
MATTHEWS: Let`s forget – put aside who will be the nominee. It doesn`t
MATTHEWS: And talk (ph) principle because that is – clearly, everybody
knows Bernie`s not running out of ego, he`s running out of principle. He
has things he believes in. So how hard can you fight, win or lose, or
whoever wins – I should out it positively – what are you going to try to
get done generally in Philadelphia so you come out of the Democratic
convention with certain principles enshrined – what would they be?
WEAVER: Well, I certainly think that the platform is going to be very
I think if you look at the issues that Bernie Sanders has been talking
about and continues to talk about on the campaign trail, you know, unlike
Donald Trump, who takes – spends his time hurling insults, Bernie Sanders
actually gives long speeches about substantive issues on things like
raising the minimum wage to $15, things like universal health care through
a single-player system, dealing with a corrupt campaign finance system,
making sure that all the new wealth and income in this country stops going
to the people at the very top, creating a new trade policy that benefits
working-class people and not just people on Wall Street.
So, when you come out of the convention – and you will be there, of
course, and Senator Sanders will be, and Hillary Clinton will be there –
when you come out of that, will we have something that looks like a
commitment to Health care as a right, something that like, health care as a
WEAVER: Well, we certainly would hope so.
And beyond the issues in the platform, I think there are a number of
electoral issues, electoral reform issues that I think are going to have to
be addressed at the convention. I think we have to deal with things like
closed primaries, superdelegates, same-day registration, and a host of
other issues that are keeping people from participating in the democratic
MATTHEWS: So, getting rid of – bringing in same-day registration wherever
we can, getting rid of the superdelegate deal.
What about state conventions and state caucuses, rather than primaries?
Aren`t primaries the most democratic way to do something, if you get into
electoral reform, primaries?
WEAVER: Well, we certainly need to look at that. One of the issues that
we have seen in caucuses across the country, just from our experience in
this campaign cycle…
MATTHEWS: Is that you win them.
WEAVER: Is that – well, we do often win them.
But, in many cases, the state parties don`t have the resources to run them
effectively. We have seen many cases where…
MATTHEWS: Well, why can`t these states have primaries? I don`t understand
how cheap they are. Why can`t a state afford to have a – primaries seem
pretty basic as a part of our political system.
WEAVER: Well, I think certainly caucus reform is one of the issues that we
will certainly have to put on the table.
For instance, in some states, you don`t even know how many people voted or
who they voted for, right, at the end of the process?
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about the tough turkey one, the one you were
– it think your best one, besides Citizens United, which is awesomely a
good issue. It`s one we all believe in, everybody on the progressive side
or center, over where the progressives come. And everybody likes the idea
of helping kids with tuition. They really need help with these deals –
the bills they have to pay.
These loans are outrageous, sometimes six figures. That`s a great issue.
MATTHEWS: So, what do we do about this deal about people like Hillary
Clinton giving speeches for a couple hundred thousand bucks a pop? How do
you stop somebody out of office from doing that? She wasn`t in office
technically. Well, she was between offices, you could argue, but she was
out of public office. How do you stop somebody from doing that?
WEAVER: Well, I don`t know you stop them from doing that, but certainly
there is a political price to be paid.
And if we broaden the process, if we increase the base of the Democratic
Party, so it includes more young people and more working-class people,
people that Bernie Sanders is bringing into the process, then I think
people won`t do those speeches because they know that the political price
will be too high.
MATTHEWS: What happens if Trump hits that issue this summer and fall and
starts nailing Hillary on that? Would you guys agree with him or would you
just get quiet, because you were the guys who raised the issue? I don`t
think he raised it. You did.
WEAVER: Well, no, certainly, it was an issue that was raised.
These speeches, I think this whole issue would have gone away if the
content of the speeches – the problem was Chris is that the speeches were
given for large amounts of money and the substance of the speeches was
MATTHEWS: OK. This is where we get in. You know she wasn`t going to
release those transcripts. I`m not knocking political gamesmanship.
WEAVER: No, I don`t think that`s true.
WEAVER: I think – I mean, I haven`t – obviously, I haven`t seen what is
in the speeches, frankly, but given how much discussion there has been
about them, it would seem to me that back then, if they had been released,
there would been much less discussion about them than there has been.
MATTHEWS: OK. Just to have fun, like we always do, you can`t imagine
Hillary walking into Goldman Sachs audience and saying, the minute I get
elected to higher office, I`m going to kick your guys` butt. I hope you
You know she didn`t say that.
WEAVER: Well, Bernie Sanders would have said that. I will just put it
MATTHEWS: Well, he wouldn`t have gotten $200,000 either.
But thank you, Jeff Weaver.
WEAVER: And he didn`t.
MATTHEWS: You never miss a chance. Anyway, thank you.
“USA Today” – by the way, thank you.
“USA Today”`s Heidi Przybyla joins us right now. She put out today in her
story: “Hillary Clinton is considering a running mate who could make a
direct appeal to supporters of Bernie Sanders, bridging a generation of
political divide, according to four people close to the Clinton campaign.
Chief requirements for a V.P. for Hillary Clinton include a candidate`s
resume and a fighter capable of hand-to-hand combat with Trump. The
campaign`s vetting also prioritize – prioritizes demographics over someone
with a key state. And she seeks unify the Democratic voting base.”
Among the names that fit that description, according to the report, are
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, Ohio
Senator Sherrod Brown, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, and Labor
Secretary Tom Perez.
Heidi Przybyla joins us right now.
Heidi, I know you`re a tough reporter. And you impress me more each time
we work together and I agree with the need to – how do you show the
discernment and how do you know they are not feeding you fish, just feeding
you, oh, yes, we want this ethnic group, the Hispanics to be happy, we want
the people really left on the left, they love Elizabeth Warren, and the
people will set up for Sherrod Brown?
How do you know they are not feeding these names out to win the
constituencies just by showing the name?
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, “USA TODAY”: Because this is a snapshot in time of where
we are right now, Chris.
I share you belief that in a perfect world, if Hillary Clinton had her
druthers, she probably would choose someone like Tim Kaine, who is more of
a swing state moderate who is simpatico with her on a lot of issues and who
she feels she can work with.
But Hillary Clinton is not living in a perfect world right now. And if
things still look that the way that they do today when we get closer to the
convention, which we`re not expecting a decision for quite some time, then
the biggest challenge she has right now is this generational divide in the
party. And like Jeff Weaver said, this is a base election.
MATTHEWS: Who else besides Elizabeth Warren would meet that? She would be
dynamite, of course, Elizabeth Warren. Everybody on the progressive side
loves her, because she`s taking up Wall Street as much as Bernie Sanders
has. But anybody else fit that?
PRZYBYLA: Well, there are a number of members of Congress, which is kind
of they`re focused more there right now because, as you know, the ranks of
governors have been a bit depleted in the past few cycles, but the labor
secretary, Tom Perez, has done a lot on labor.
MATTHEWS: He`s never been elected.
PRZYBYLA: Right, exactly. Well, then you run into the resume problem.
MATTHEWS: It`s a hard job to be running for V.P.
PRZYBYLA: Well, someone who is also putting himself out there is Xavier
Becerra, who is the chairman the House Democratic Progressive Caucus, also
the Democratic Caucus chair and the highest ranking Latino.
MATTHEWS: OK. I have just been told in my ear he did get a job, a local
office, a Montgomery County executive, so he had a position.
But let me ask you about Sherrod Brown. I have been pushing him for a long
time as a perfect candidate from the left to help Hillary Clinton and also
to deliver a state that Republicans absolutely need to win historically.
And now that the name shows up on your list from the campaign tells me they
are willing to sacrifice a Senate seat in a very competitive year for the
control of the Senate in order to bolster their national ticket. And
PRZYBYLA: That`s the perplexing problem, right, is that Sherrod Brown
would be perfect on many levels in terms of being a progressive firebrand.
He`s right there on some of the big issues that Bernie has been hitting her
over the head on, like trade and the industrial Rust Belt. But that is
potentially a fatal flaw. And I was up on the Hill as part of reporting
this story talking to sources close to Chuck Schumer.
And this is a big concern, and it might be a disqualifying concern at the
end of the day. And so it all depends on really Elizabeth Warren to some
extent, because she is the clearest proxy to Bernie Sanders.
Of course, there are some risks with going with her in terms of having two
women on the ticket. But, Chris, when I talk to Clinton people, they said
they think they can build a winning coalition by rallying minorities, and
by bringing women out to vote in record numbers, both older women who
Hillary Clinton is already getting and those younger Bernie women who they
believe Elizabeth Warren could bring into the fold.
And again I stress, this is where they are right now. So don`t play this
back on me if we get to the convention and it`s Tim Kaine, because…
MATTHEWS: I think that would be a remarkable decision for Hillary to do
that. I think it would be extraordinary for her to do something like this,
so out of the box.
But her husband, Bill Clinton, picked Al Gore, two Southern guys, and that
doubling down worked wonders.
PRZYBYLA: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Heidi Przybyla. I take this all seriously.
Coming up tomorrow night, it`s another big night in election coverage here
on MSNBC. Join me starting at a special time tomorrow, 6:00 Eastern, for
complete coverage of the Kentucky primary, which comes in early. Hillary
Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in a tough fight for the Bluegrass State
And then starting at 9:00 p.m., I will be joining Rachel for her coverage
of the Oregon primary. It all starts here tomorrow night at 6:00.
Up next, “All the Way” with LBJ. The new HBO movie stars Bryan Cranston as
President Johnson himself fighting to pass the landmark historic civil
rights bill of 1964. Cranston and fellow actor Anthony Mackie will be
here. He`s playing Dr. King. And the director will be here as well, Jay
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “ALL THE WAY”)
BRYAN CRANSTON, ACTOR: Now, look here, either your people vote for this
bill or you vote with the segregationists and the country goes up in
We`re making history here, Everett, and you have to decide how you want
history to remember you, as a great man, a man who changed the course of
this country or somebody who just likes to hear himself talk?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That`s award-winning actor Bryan Cranston playing President Lyndon Johnson
in a scene from the new film “All the Way,” which debuts on HBO next
Saturday. Based upon the award-winning play by the same name, the movie
portrays Johnson over the 11 months following the Kennedy assassination as
he struggles to prove he`s more than an accidental president.
His historic achievement, passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which
outlawed racial discrimination in restaurants, hotels and even gas stations
and other public places, was a testament to Johnson`s leadership. He went
on to win a landslide victory that November.
Here is a clip of Johnson negotiating with civil rights leader Martin
Luther King played by Anthony Mackie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRANSTON: Every year, my best cook, Zephyr Wright, best damn chicken fried
steak you ever put in your mouth, why, every year, she and her husband
drive my Packard from Washington back down to the ranch for me.
Well, now, Zephyr, she can`t use any restrooms on that highway because they
are all whites only. She got to squat in a field by the side of the road
to pee like a dog. Now, that`s just not right. By God, we`re going to fix
ANTHONY MACKIE, ACTOR: Well, nothing in this country will ever change
until Negroes can vote.
CRANSTON: The next bill will be voting rights.
MACKIE: After President Kennedy`s election, Eisenhower had publicly
declared that his party had taken the Negro vote for granted. I would hate
to see the Democratic Party make the same mistake.
CRANSTON: If you think Barry Goldwater is legitimate heir to Abraham
Lincoln, you should vote for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
I`m joined right now by the actors Bryan Cranston and Anthony Mackie, and
also the film`s director, Jay Roach.
Bryan, how did you get ready for the part of – I saw you back stage –
Kathleen and I were lucky to come back and watch you up on Broadway up
here. And your Johnson, it`s even better in the movie. It`s the closeups.
You look like Johnson. How did you do that?
CRANSTON: Well, thank you.
Well, I share a couple facial characteristics that the real LBJ has, beady
eyes and thin lips, something every man wants to have.
MATTHEWS: God-given advantages in life.
But it was prosthetics that took two-and-a-half-hours of makeup, and they
did something to my hair. They thinned it out and then cut it back. And
it was just – we knew we were going to come in very close, and so we
wanted to make sure that you didn`t see any sign of it.
MATTHEWS: You know what is amazing? And you got that – George Tames, the
photographer of “The New York Times,” really just caught it – how Johnson
talks right into your face. You can smell what he had for lunch or
breakfast or whatever.
How close were you to Everett Dirksen`s face, the actor, when you actually
did that scene? Nobody talks like that in this country, that face that
close to somebody.
CRANSTON: Well, you know LBJ did.
Yes, a good actor, Ray Wise, and he plays Everett Dirksen. i get right up
into him, nose to nose, just to hound him.
MATTHEWS: Oh, God.
CRANSTON: And this gentlemen here is William Fulbright that I meet in the
elevator. So, yes, there was those tactics.
In fact, they even gave it a name, called the Johnson treatment. And
whether or not he was cajoling or manipulating or strong-arming, he used
his size to try to intimidate.
Let me go to Anthony.
Anthony, thank you for joining us as well.
And I thought that you – the scenes I have seen so far of really majestic
movie, you capture King as a bit of a politician, a real politician, not a
reverend or a man of history, but a guy who knows how to play the game
effectively with hardball.
MACKIE: Yes, definitely.
Dr. King had many different facets to his personality. And I feel like one
thing we have never really touched upon as actors or we have never seen is
his ability to be the great politician. He knew how to work that angle
when it had to be worked. And I think the true testament of that was his
relationship with LBJ.
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Jay on this question of deal-making.
When you put the script together, the final touches as a director, tell us
how – it reminded me a bit of Steven Spielberg and Lincoln and the way he
talked about getting the anti-slavery 13th Amendment passed, and the way –
in the way that Johnson did it, what was the Johnson technique in terms of
working Republicans and the segregationists, both of them?
Or he couldn`t really work the segregationists. He had to work the
JAY ROACH, DIRECTOR: Well, first of all, I have to credit Robert
Schenkkan, who wrote the play and won a Tony for it, and then did the
adaptation for us, wrote the screenplay.
So, Robert`s great screenplay depicted a lot of these moments with LBJ as
well as he had in the play. But I think one of the great things he would
do with the Republicans was say, come on, you`re the party of Lincoln,
don`t be associated with the segregationists. You got to get on the right
side of history, as you see.
And he was great at putting people off-balance at first, pranking them
almost, you know, really making fun of them or somehow making a really off-
color joke. And then he would get to the serious stuff and flatter them a
little bit. And then, by the end of it, they really didn`t know what hit
That was part of the Johnson treatment.
MATTHEWS: He used different words in describing African-Americans
throughout that play. He didn`t use the really bad word, but he did use
that sort of compromise word from the South back then. How did you decide
about using that language in the play?
ROACH: Well, that was always based on the way real LBJ spoke. And he
could figure out how to sort of be the guy he needed to be depending on the
audience he spoke to.
MATTHEWS: Let`s take a look at a conversation between President Johnson
and his soon-to-be V.P. Senator Hubert Humphrey, just after signing the
civil rights bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “ALL THE WAY”)
BRADLEY WHITFORD, ACTOR: Congratulations, Mr. President, on your glorious
CRANSTON: The Democratic Party just lost the South for the rest of my
lifetime, and maybe yours. What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) are you so happy
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, I want to get back to Anthony Mackie on this.
As African-American yourself, it`s amazing how Johnson committed almost
suicide here politically, because I remember digging it up, because a
friend of mine from Georgia always reminds me of it. The strongest vote in
the entire country for John F. Kennedy in 1960 was Georgia. The South was
still the solid South for the Democrats.
They voted for Stevenson, the egghead, over the war hero Eisenhower. It
was that good a vote in the South. Gone. Johnson had it right starting in
`64. They could never do it again.
MACKIE: Oh, definitely.
I mean, I think that was one of the things he realized, what he was going
to have to give up in order to make this work. But I feel like what is so
great about LBJ and what he was able to do was, he sacrificed everything
for what he believed in. There were many – I always say there were many
other men out there who could have done what Dr. King and LBJ did, but none
of them stood up and did it.
And I think that`s the testament to the men that they were.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask Jay about Saturday night. Why Saturday night for a
debut? What`s the thinking there? Tell me something about television I
don`t know. Why would you take a major, historic film like this and open
it on a Saturday night? Just a question. I`m just curious.
ROACH: Well, their Sunday nights are pretty busy, as you may have noticed,
with “Game of Thrones” and “Silicon Valley,” great shows.
And Saturdays are, for some reason, the nights they – they did “Recount”
and “Game Change” on Saturday nights. It`s their TV movie night. They
hope people will – they hope people will hang out.
MATTHEWS: And they are achievements.
ROACH: Yes. Thanks.
MATTHEWS: And you did them all. They were all fabulous.
I love “Game Change.” I love “Recount.” I have seen them many, many –
one thing about your movies, I want to see them over and over again, which
tells – like “Casablanca,” you know? You want to see it again and again.
CRANSTON: You directed “Casablanca,” Jay?
MATTHEWS: Well –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was an earlier –
MATTHEWS: Anthony, it`s great to meet you, because I`ve met Ryan before.
So congratulations on another victory. I`m sure there`s an award coming
Anyway, the film is called “All The Way,” as in LBJ, “All The Way.” It
premiers Saturday, as we said, on HBO.
Thank you, Bryan Cranston, Anthony Mackie, and the great Jay Roach.
Up next, the closer look at the strategy behind Donald Trump`s plan to
bring up Bill Clinton`s infidelity right in the debate stage with Hillary
Clinton. Is that going to turn off women, even Republican women, tilt the
election to Clinton or will it go the other way? Trump has been lucky so
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: You`ve said you`re willing to bring up Bill
Clinton`s past with women if Hillary Clinton attacks you for being a
sexist. So, is that a threat to her? Is that essentially what you`re
saying is hey, you want me to go down that road? You go down that road, I
go down this road? Is this a public threat?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wouldn`t say it`s a threat.
TODD: What is it?
TRUMP: It`s a threat.
TODD: But it is a threat.
TRUMP: Of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s a threat.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Donald Trump, of course, in January this year, foreshadowing
tactics we`re now seeing him use against Hillary Clinton, and promising to
use more of it.
Anyway, “The New York Times” reported on Trump`s strategy moving forward,
quote, “drawing on psychological warfare tactics that Mr. Trump used to
defeat `Lyin` Ted Cruz`, as he called him and `Little Marco Rubio`, as he
called him, and `Low Energy` Jeb Bush in the Republican primaries. The
Trump campaign is mapping out attacks on the Clintons to try to increase
their negative poll ratings.”
Joining me right now is Josh King. He`s author of “Off Script: An Advanced
Man`s Guide to White House Stagecraft, Campaign Spectacle and Political
Suicide.” That`s chockfull.
Also on tonight`s round table is NBC correspondent Katy Tur. He`s been
following the Trump campaign wagon since it launched. And Howard Fineman,
who knows it all. He`s MSNBC political analyst.
I don`t think I have to get much easy to global editorial director of “The
Huffington Post” – I don`t think I have to add much to this conversation
to throw the ball out, the hockey puck. Here it is here right here. Who`s
going to win this fight? Because it`s going to be like a hockey game.
There will be fights.
JOSH KING, AUTHOR, “OFF SCRIPT”: Well, I`d say Trump is already winning
because without actually doing anything, he`s laid it out there and here we
are in your set talking about it. It`s been talked about for 24 hours
prior. He`s really leaving it up to others now.
MATTHEWS: How is throwing the kitchen sink or whatever, the bathroom sink,
whatever to the other candidate work for him?
KING: Well, I don`t think you see it on the debate stage, Chris. You
know, you`re a student of history. You remember “Operation Fortitude”.
Patton is pretending to invade Calais. This is all posturing. But when he
actually gets on the blue carpet at that debate just by being a straight
presidential character that night, he`ll win because –
MATTHEWS: You believe that`s his strategy?
KING: I think it could be a deception that we`re seeing right now.
KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I`m not sure he can do that, not sure.
I think Hillary Clinton has so much policy depth that Donald Trump couldn`t
possibly hope to get by that first debate. He`s not going to have much of
a choice but to undermine her as a person, undermine her character.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk it out. She comes on, Hillary Clinton comes on,
Secretary Clinton, and says, you know, we`re going to restore this country,
the economic force it had back in the `90s, lower deficit, in fact, no
deficit. We`re going to show growth like never had before. We`re going to
give you the same eight year span of growth we had back then, which was
eight yeas of growth. No recessions. I`m going to do that again, the name
Bill Clinton is thrown into play.
What does Trump do? Does he say you`re right, he`s the greatest president
ever, I`m not going to touch him?
HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: I agree with Josh the strategy would
be shrewd to be presidential, but we`ve been through this movie before and
I agree with Katy. He`s not going to do it, because as Katy says, he
doesn`t have the policy depth and the only way he knows to engage in
politics is by attack. That`s all he knows.
“The New York Times” called it psychological warfare, here in New York,
he`s street tough.
FINEMAN: I mean, he walks down the street and he intimidates people.
That`s what he did in real estate. That`s what he did moving from Queens
to Manhattan. That`s what he does in politics.
MATTHEWS: Katy, does he go in the NBA game the third quarter and breaks
the other guy`s arm? That`s what (INAUDIBLE) remember him?
TUR: Look at what he`s done.
MATTHEWS: Bill Sherman (ph). I mean, I just wonder, you pointed out that
that`s the way he fights.
TUR: I think it is. I think that there is nothing that is off limits for
him and he`s proven that and he already feels like he`s been attacked by
Hillary Clinton, justified or not.
MATTHEWS: But she said sexist.
TUR: She said sexist so she said it whenever she said it and he`s going to
use that now to continue attacking her in any way he sees fit and lands.
And so far for him, the stuff that lands is a person.
MATTHEWS: What about his defense of that “New York Times” piece saying
they interviewed 50 women and they got four or five witnesses, and what
about the other 46? What about the women who comes and said they misplayed
what I said to them, I told them I didn`t want it done that way. I didn`t
get paraded around, I didn`t get abused, whatever she said, it wasn`t
KING: Seventy-two hours ago, Chris, we were shocked, shocked he was
impersonating a publicist back in `91. So, I think that 20 years ago,
Trump that was real estate maven to try and do his deals in this town and
that`s what he did. And frankly, the worst thing he`s done is belittle
John McCain and McCain has now forgiven him and said he`s going to support
FINEMAN: The worst thing he`s done in the campaign is the litany that we
run at the bottom of every “Huffington Post” story which about him, which
has to do with his racist comments, his sexist comments, his misogyny. All
of that stuff is all there.
But what amazes me, this guy had hundreds of millions, if not billions of
dollars worth of negative free advertising run against him so far.
Virtually everything has been said. That “New York Times” story on Sunday
basically said nothing. It said nothing.
MATTHEWS: Well, it was a mixed bag. Some of it was stuff would that upset
you if it was your daughter involved, your wife or certainly any of your
sisters. But there`s other parts that I think 20 years ago to call
somebody dear, I`d have to know who the person was, context. I need more
information whether was that abusive or not.
TUR: I think there are two things that are really interesting about the
article. And one of them was the complicated figure that it painted,
somebody who might have said some things that were sexist, might have
crossed the line in some areas but also somebody who promoted women and I
think that`s fascinating because Donald Trump is not this caricature of a
person as he might be portrayed. He is a complicated guy.
Number two, the stuff he said about women, nobody – why go to the women
and why not talk about what he`s said to Howard Stern? There is nothing
that could be considered more controversial than that.
MATTHEWS: It`s already out there.
FINEMAN: Or what he said about Hispanics, or what he said about Muslims
and all that other stuff. That`s much more –
TUR: About women, specifically.
FINEMAN: That`s much more controversial than this.
MATTHEWS: We have heard so much about other politicians that`s much worse
than this so far. I`m not defending all of it. It all should be discussed
by the people who are watching right now. What do you make of it?
Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.
And up next, these three will tell me something I don`t know.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton is hoping to win some red states that haven`t
voted for a Democrat since the days of, well, Bill Clinton. And new
polling shows she`s making a fight out of one of them, Georgia.
Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard. According to a new poll from the
“Atlanta Journal Constitution,” Clinton trails Trump in Georgia by just
four points, and that`s within the margin of error.
Georgia last voted for a Democrat for president in 1992 and in 1960 when
Kennedy ran, it was the biggest state he had, 78 percent, like that. Shows
how times have changed.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Josh King, tell me something I don`t know.
KING: Mark your calendars, Chris. July 17th is when you`re going to get
Trump`s VP pick. I went back and look at every Republican pick going back
to 1988. The average is 7.6 days before the convention. That makes his
pick, July 17th.
MATTHEWS: That`s our son Michael`s birthday.
TUR: Trump is meeting with Henry Kissinger tomorrow. A senior campaign
source confirms to me.
FINEMAN: If Hillary Clinton wins Kentucky tomorrow, and she`s got a good
MATTHEWS: And you know Kentucky.
FINEMAN: It will be the unions in Louisville that do it, the Teamsters,
because UPS has put its whole global system in Louisville. They`re all
Teamsters and they`re all going to vote for Hillary.
Josh King, Katy Tur and Howard Fineman.
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this: the presidential election of
2016 set to hit full fury once the two-party conventions are through.
What`s to be a real life bon fire of the vanities, Trump`s decision to
bring Bill Clinton`s personal behavior into the mix guarantees a relentless
spree of headlines, the bottom feeding press will push the stories and the
critics will arrive (ph) to the basement of the public square.
The public will watch and hear it all. No one will be happy, everyone will
have just enough to turn them off.
But in the end the country`s voters, the curious and the critical will have
to find their way through the flying accusations, to a candidate they will
back when they get into the voting booth. And this in the end is what will
matter, who will look good enough after the grossest political fight in
decades. Who will have a clean face, clean enough to want – for us to
want in the White House?
I think the real loser of a fight that strips candidates down to their
skin, rips them back through their past will be democracy itself, because
if good people don`t run, we`re left with those who want office so much
they`re willing to expose themselves to what we`re watching right now on
our national stage.
Ands that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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