Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 5/27/2016
Date: May 27, 2016
Guest: Ann Coulter, Richard Fowler, Jennifer Jacobs, Ken Vogel, Bob Shrum,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Border war.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Well, the Trump tempest roared into San Diego today, bringing thousands of
protesters along with it. You`re looking at footage right now of those
protests outside the convention hall where Donald Trump just wrapped up his
rally, at least four major groups of organized demonstrations against
Trump, including the San Diego Democratic Party.
Well, police shut streets and attempted to separate Trump supporters from
his detractors, but there were clashes like this one between protesters and
the police. Police have begun making arrests.
More than 10,000 people packed into the auditorium to hear Trump speak, and
the line to get in stretched for blocks. Trump told the crowd he was going
to build a wall, of course, between United States and Mexico. He also said
he was going to do great with Latinos and African-Americans. Let`s watch
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We`re going to build
the wall! We`re going to build the wall! We`re going to build the wall.
Latinos for Trump! I love you! You know…
AUDIENCE: Build the wall! Build the wall! Build the wall!
TRUMP: Build the wall! We`re going to do great with the Latinos because
I`m going to – I`m bringing back jobs! The Latinos, African-Americans –
we`re doing great with African-Americans! They want jobs! We`re losing
our jobs to everybody!
I started talking about illegal immigration, tremendous problem. I don`t
think this would be a problem that would even be discussed, frankly, if we
didn`t do it and put it as part of our campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: NBC`s Katy Tur and Jacob Rascon are in San Diego. I`m also
joined by MSNBC`s Joy Reid, the host of the new great show “AM Joy” – well
named – and author Ann Coulter. Thank you all for joining us.
And I guess we start with the reporters. Katy – I`m now hearing feedback.
I just love the hear it. Katy – that echo notwithstanding. Let`s talk
about this issue. The big crowd – how would you rate Trump`s crowd today?
KATY TUR, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Unfortunately, Chris, I am going to guess
that you stopped talking because I can`t hear you any longer.
But here`s what`s going on right now. There are thousands of protesters
that are here. The police were trying to keep the Trump supporters
separate from the protesters. By doing that, they made the Trump
supporters, 10,000 of them inside, file out the back door of the convention
But as you can see down in the distance, underneath the “Historic heart of
San Diego” sign, a number of Trump supporters went all the way around into
the Gaslight district to where the protesters are.
A moment or two ago, we saw a number of fights break out, punches being
thrown, arrests being made. Thousands of protesters here, many of them
peaceful, some here to look for a fight. Some tried to break through
barricades to confront cops, getting pushed back down.
But San Diego was at the ready for anything, any sort of confrontation.
They`ve got riot police here. They`ve got SWAT police, who had been lining
the convention center. Now, though, many of those SWAT police are still
there, but a number of other high (ph) tactical police down in the melee
itself, trying to keep order.
But again, Chris, what they were trying to do here was they were trying to
keep the supporters of Donald Trump and the protesters separate. Most of
the time, when there is an issue, it`s when the two sides come together.
So they tried – slightly successful, slightly unsuccessful, as you see.
We`ll see if anything else happens as this day unfolds. Back to you.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know, it`s been called a clash. I guess I use this
word, too. But what I`m looking at here is police in a stationary position
and people throwing stuff at them.
Is that a clash? Can you hear me, Katy?
Well, let`s go to Jacob Rascon. We`ll get better sound equipment here.
Let`s go to Jacob Rascon.
This looks to me, the way Katy described it, the protesters want to get to
the Trump people, and the police are trying to do their job and keeping
them from doing so. I don`t see that as a clash. I see somebody doing
their job. But go on.
JACOB RASCON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: We see this, Chris, almost every time it
gets really bad. This is what happens. The protesters stick around
through the rally, and then the Trump supporters, who you`ll see right
here, are let out, usually by another way. And then the protesters who are
still around, usually the ones who are more prone to want to pick a fight,
are the ones who are over here, for example, trying to find the supporters.
As Katy said, we had a number of fights break out. We had moments ago
three people walk past us in handcuffs. And as you`re going to see here,
you have more protesters who are now crossing the street, and they are
trying to get over to the Trump supporters.
So best laid plans. San Diego police has been really on top of this with
the barricades, with the buffer zones, 100, 200 feet. But this is what
can`t really be controlled, is after everything is over, and the Trump
supporters and protester go their separate ways and simply try to meet
somewhere else. And then the clashes happen.
That`s what we saw in Albuquerque. That`s what we saw in Chicago. That`s
what we saw in a lot of areas. It`s what – it`s best laid plans, they
work until after the rally is finished. That`s what we`re seeing out here,
MATTHEWS: And Jacob, you`ve been great at this. By the way, your
reporting`s been great. I just want to – have you been able to hear from
any of the – I mean, a crowd is made up of individuals. There are
individual people in that crowd.
They may be behaving like a crowd, but individually, have any of them told
you – is it that they don`t like the bad trash talk from Trump about
rapists? They don`t like the wall talk? What is it they don`t like? They
don`t like the deportations, probably. I`ve seen some of those signs.
RASCON: Yes, the wall is one of the big issues. And of course, we`re 20
minutes away from the border right now, Chris. In Albuquerque, that was
the big issue, as well. The talk of deporting the illegal immigrants, as
Trump says, that gets at them.
But what we have found, and we found it here, is that once the organized
protesters, the four or five groups who came – very organized, very
prepared – once they left, what we started to see were those who were
angrier stick around. And they started to shout not only “F Donald Trump,”
but “F the police, F the police.”
And we saw, and I think you showed some of the video earlier, it was almost
as soon as the organized protesters left that we saw the angry ones climb
up and try to actually get past police. And that`s when they were hit with
the baton, hit with the baton, and then the entire crowd turned on the
police and started to shout, “F the police.” And then what`s when we saw
the SWAT officers.
(INAUDIBLE) turn over here and see this.
MATTHEWS: Yes, watching – we`re watching…
RASCON: You`re seeing on the left side, Chris – you`re seeing some Trump
supporters. And then on the right side, you`re going to see the Trump
protesters. This is what has happened many times. The barricades are put
in place. Everything`s prepared. It works for hours, and then after the
rally, they find a way to meet each other.
TRUMP SUPPORTERS: USA! USA! USA!
MATTHEWS: So here we`re hearing “USA!” from the American – well, the
people taking the conservative view, let`s put it that way, the ones with
the U.S. flags. This is some – it looks to me like they want to stick
around and taunt a little bit, too, the pro-Trump people. Is that going
on, as well?
TRUMP SUPPORTERS: USA! USA! USA!
RASCON: Chris, I`m going to be honest, it`s very hard to hear your
RASCON: But again, I`m going to tell you…
TRUMP SUPPORTERS: USA! USA! USA!
RASCON: … what you`re looking at are the Trump supporters in the “Make
America great again” hats. Usually, they come out of the rally and they`re
riled (ph) up, and they`ve just been with Trump for an hour. They`re very
excited. They`re very eager to talk about protesters. A lot of times,
Trump talks about the protesters in the rally. They`re excited when
What we`re seeing now, there are no police officers in between. There`s no
buffer zone in between the Trump supporters and the protesters. Again,
this is where it gets messy.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, take care. Take care of yourself there, Jacob.
We`ll be back to you and Katy in a minute.
We`re going to bring in our commentators, Joy Reid and Ann Coulter. Joy
Reid first, my colleague, what do you see here? What does it mean to you?
JOY REID, HOST, “AM JOY”: You know, Chris, I think that this is the shape
of things to come. I think that we are going to have a long, hot summer
leading into a fall campaign that is going to break down along this very
fault line because I think that immigration and unlawful migration was sort
of the casus belli of the Trump war against the Republican Party and
against Republican elites. It was the straw that broke the camel`s back in
terms of the bargain that Republican elites have for 30, 40, 50 years made
particularly with working class white voters. You give us your votes,
we`ll get low taxes for ourselves and deregulation. And we`ll give you
sort of cultural tschotchkes. We`ll say we`re with you on prayer in
REID: We`re with you on gay marriage. But when it came to immigration
reform, something that George W. Bush wanted to do, something that the
Republican National Committee saw as a way to expand the Republican
electorate by bringing in Latinos – that was it. And I think Trump ran
right into that breach. He has got these votes.
This is their issue. This is the fundamental issue that animates support
for Donald Trump…
REID: … this idea that…
MATTHEWS: Well, what – what…
REID: … we are taking this country from them.
MATTHEWS: Who else is stopping illegal immigration? Who else is doing
anything to stop illegal immigration? (INAUDIBLE) anywhere doing it, to
REID: Well, I can tell you that at the moment, net migration from
MATTHEWS: No, no! Who`s doing anything…
MATTHEWS: I know. I know. I know the arguments. I know.
REID: … zero, right? So…
MATTHEWS: That`s not an answer, though, Joy. What in the law – who is
coming up with a way with (ph) enforcing the law? Is anybody?
REID: Well, I think if you ask advocates for the dreamers, et cetera, they
would point very angrily at the White House and say that the Obama
administration, which has had more deportations than George W. Bush ever
did – they`ve been very aggressive, ICE has, about deporting people from
So the administration, actually, right now has been the sort of tip of the
spear of being extremely aggressive. And in addition to the fact that the
economics have reduced migration to zero, I think a lot of particularly
younger activists actually are pretty angry at the Obama administration for
the way that…
MATTHEWS: I know they are.
MATTHEWS: I can understand different sides here, and I can also understand
that nobody`s come up with – it`s the one part of our legal system, one
part of our social system where no one`s come up a connection between the
law that we pass and enforcement.
OK, pass the most liberal program in the world for bringing people into the
country, and then enforce it. I don`t hear Democrats or progressives
talking about enforcement of any kind, for any kind of law, no matter how
liberal it is, Joy. That`s my problem, that you can`t have a legislature
in Washington that`s controlling the country, representing the people, that
can`t seem to pass any law on immigration they`re willing to enforce.
That`s the problem.
REID: Well, the reality is, though, that Democrats actually did get a law
through. I mean, you have a bill that the Republican House of
MATTHEWS: What did that do to stop illegal immigration? Would that have
stopped – would that have stopped illegal immigration?
REID: A lot of advocates for the dreamers, et cetera, feel that the law
was actually too heavy on enforcement and that the balance of enforcement
versus admittance was actually weighted on the side too much of punishment.
Democrats and some Republicans, to their credit…
REID: … people like John McCain, tried to get that law passed, but
Republicans wouldn`t allow it.
MATTHEWS: I know.
REID: They won`t allow immigration reform to get through the Senate and
the House. They just won`t allow it.
MATTHEWS: OK, I hear the words “immigration reform,” I`ve heard the word
“reform” all my life, and I`m a little skeptical whether “reform” means fix
the problem, if you think there is a problem.
Ann Coulter, I think there`s a disagreement here, and it`s pretty profound,
between people who think illegal immigration`s a problem and those who
don`t. They say, We`ll live with it. People come in here. We`ll take
care of them (INAUDIBLE) best (INAUDIBLE) assimilate if we can. If we
can`t, we`ll just live with it.
I don`t hear Democrats out beating the drum to fix a problem of illegal
immigration. I don`t hear it. I don`t hear Republicans stopping illegal
hiring for one second or one cent wanting to stop the illegal hiring.
ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE AUTHOR AND COLUMNIST: No. You just had it
exactly right. Who are the other Republicans who want to enforce laws that
were passed and are on the books? Well, there`s one in the Senate, Jeff
Sessions. There are about five in the House, and that`s pretty much it.
You have 100 percent of Democrats and 95 percent of Republicans who are
indignant that the public wants written federal laws on the books enforced.
That is some sort of extremist position!
Well, OK, if you want open borders, pass a law for open borders. But in
fact, both Republicans and Democrats have contrived, have gotten together
and tried to pass amnesties three times in the last 10 years, at least
twice being supported by the president and the majority party in both
And how did it get shut down? By the American people rising up in a rage!
And I mean, the unfortunate thing about these protests you`re showing,
which really do make me so angry because there were 10,000 people inside
the stadium tonight – the reports are it was one of the most diverse
crowds anyone has ever seen. You have Mandarin Chinese with signs for
Trump, “Make America great again” written in Mandarin.
COULTER: You have groups, huge groups of Hispanics, and they`re all
chanting “Build the wall” because you got it right before when you slipped
and said something about the protesters versus the Trump supporters and you
called the Trump supporters the Americans. They are the Americans!
MATTHEWS: That was a slip. No, first of all, that was a slip. I was
looking at the American flags against the Mexican flags. And it was a
slip. And I tell you…
COULTER: But they are…
MATTHEWS: … I don`t know, I assume most of the people…
COULTER: … standing for being Americans…
MATTHEWS: … there are Americans…
COULTER: … whether they`re Mandarin…
MATTHEWS: But I assume most of the Hispanic people there are Americans or
they wouldn`t be out protesting.
COULTER: No, but whether they are Hispanic or Mandarin, the ones inside
the stadium are Americans and think of themselves as Americans and want the
laws enforced! And it`s just unbelievable…
MATTHEWS: You caught it. It was a slip. I mean, it wasn`t intentional.
I can tell you.
Let me go to Katy Tur right now. Katy, what are we doing? What`s going on
I can`t hear anything. What`s going on? We can`t hear…
TUR: Well, right now, right in this melee, this crowd right now, there`s
two people who are going at it debating the merits of the wall. And what
you have is the protesters on this side and you have the Donald Trump
supporters on the other side. There`s a Confederate flag, as well as some
American flags and Mexican flags here.
This scene has been playing out in city across city. And you might think
that the Donald Trump campaign would be unnerved by this. But the reality
is, when I`ve had private conversations with a number of their aides, they
say this sort of thing only helps their cause. It only helps their
message. These images are images that gird his supporters, that embolden
them, that make his supporters like him more because they feel that he is
being – standing up for their rights, instead of backing down to what they
call PC culture.
Right now, we have riot police behind me who are trying to move the line.
They have their batons out. They`re trying to push these protesters back.
It`s really not working very well, frankly.
MATTHEWS: This is terrible. We`re going to keep covering this…
MATTHEWS: I hope it doesn`t get any better. (sic) I mean, this is
terrible, what`s going on right now.
TUR: … right this way.
MATTHEWS: Confederate flags, American flags Mexican flags. This – I`m
going to stick with this. Jacob Rascon, are you there and reachable? Is
the sound working with you? We can`t get to Jacob. I`d rather get back to
the action here.
Joy, your thoughts here about this. American flags, Confederate flag now
showing, Mexican flags – I never thought the Mexican flags was a
particularly good public relations move here by the protesters. But your
REID: Well, I think that – and I think Ann really sort of got to it. A
person who was a Trump supporter landlocked in Indiana or in West Virginia
is not concerned about Mexican migrants pouring over the southern border.
That isn`t the point.
It is a symbol for a larger context, which is what I call demographic
panic, this notion that “they,” in scare quotes, are taking away the
country from “us,” in scare quotes, this idea that there is an ethnic sort
of war being waged against people who consider themselves more legitimately
America. This is old America versus new America, and I think that
MATTHEWS: Well, you think that`s true?
REID: I do. I think…
MATTHEWS: You think people were here legally – let`s just try the law
question. I know it`s ethnic, but – people who`ve been here a generation
or two legally, even if their parents came not that way, do you think
people don`t think of them as Americans?
REID: I do. I think that if you look at polling, particularly of Trump
supporters, they overestimate the percentage of Hispanics who are in the
country illegally. They think it`s like 70 percent, when it`s like 15
percent, right? They think and perceive people who are of Hispanic
heritage as being illegitimately in the country. If they hear someone
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re voting. That can`t be the case.
MATTHEWS: … percent of the electorate is Latino.
REID: Right. And they believe that if they`re voting, they`re voting
illegally and they`re sneaking into the polls and they believe if they`re
speaking Spanish, they`re violating some sort of compact with the rest
There is a sense of demographic panic that`s taking place…
REID: … as the younger generations are more and the more non-white. And
let`s just be frank. “Illegal immigration,” quote, unquote, unlawful
migration is a symbol for demographic panic. And that is what Donald Trump
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I made that same mistake myself tonight, looking at
the American flags and saying “the Americans.” What a terrible mistake. I
apologize for that to everybody. I mean it.
COULTER: But it isn`t! As I told you, they have Mandarins in the
audience. They have Hispanics in the audience!
MATTHEWS: OK, I didn`t see all those, Ann.
COULTER: … exactly the opposite demographic panic! It has nothing to do
REID: It`s called Asian-Americans, Ann. Asian-Americans…
COULTER: It has nothing to do with…
REID: … not Mandarins.
COULTER: It has nothing to do with – with – with demographics.
REID: That`s throwback language. It`s not 1913. They`re called Asian-
Americans, not Mandarins.
COULTER: Anyway, I was saying it has nothing to do with demographics. It
has to do with whether you are here legally or illegally, whether you
consider yourself an American, whether the laws on the books are going to
be enforced! We are having an invasion of people…
REID: But if…
COULTER: … across the southern border…
REID: If your default in discussing Asian-Americans is to call people
MATTHEWS: I think we`re…
REID: … not bringing back arcane language here, Ann. Let`s just…
REID: … talk about people as Americans, Asian-Americans. That`s the…
COULTER: No! You`re not going to police my language! They are Mandarins!
COULTER: It`s written in Mandarin!
MATTHEWS: I think somebody just said and I agree with, which is if you
consider yourself American, you are.
Anyway, my thanks to Katy Tur and Jacob Rascon on the ground in San Diego.
Joy Reid and Ann Coulter, thank you for that.
Coming up, the Democratic playbook. Donald Trump has defied all
expectations in his candidacy so far, but he`s also brought together
Democrats in the fight against him. How do Democrats like Hillary Clinton,
Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren unite in a winning strategy against Trump?
That`s going to be something.
Plus, on the eve of this Memorial Day weekend, I`m going to speak with
Vietnam veteran Artie Muller (ph) as his motorcycle event, Rolling Thunder,
rolls into the capital – the nation`s capital right here around me and
also talk about their invited guest to Rolling Thunder who`s not – well,
his name is Donald Trump.
We`ve also got the HARDBALL roundtable tonight coming here, and they`ll
tell me something I don`t know this Friday evening.
And finally, “Let Me Finish” tonight by paying tribute to an unusual hero
of the equality movement.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, Marco Rubio has emerged from hibernation, after bowing out
of the Republican presidential race back in March.
And he`s vowing to do all he can to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming
president. Earlier today, Rubio tweeted – quote – “In Florida, only two
legitimate candidates on the ballot in November. I won`t vote for Clinton.
And after years of asking people to vote, I won`t abstain. If you can live
with a Clinton presidency for four years, that`s your right. I can`t and
will do what I can to prevent it.”
As far as Rubio`s political future goes, he said he doesn`t expect to run
for reelection in what could become a vulnerable GOP Senate seat in Florida
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was bad enough when
he started his campaign in his very first hour criticizing and insulting
immigrants. You know.
He called immigrants rapists, murderers, criminals. It was disgraceful.
And then he went onto insult women, to insult John McCain, a war hero, to
insult, to make fun of a man with a disability, to denigrate Muslims.
Honest to goodness, there`s nobody left by the time he gets finished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Hillary Clinton last night in California blasting Donald Trump, of
course, whom she hopes to face in the general election. But before that,
she must first finish off, if you will, Bernie Sanders, who is mounting a
very aggressive challenge ahead of the California primary coming up on June
Chris Jansing covers the Sanders campaign for NBC News.
Chris, what`s happening? You`re not where the action is right now, this
awful stuff going on in San Diego right now.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I know. I`m just hanging out over the
Pacific Ocean. And I`m listening to what`s going on there. And I`m
thinking, we thought the Democrats had a lot going on.
And, actually, to be fair, they do. The last 24 hours have been dominated
by this back and forth over whether or not Bernie Sanders would actually
debate Donald Trump. They were talking about the biggest stadium in
California and getting the networks to pay millions of dollars, how many
millions of people would watch it. Would it be the biggest debate in the
history of debates?
And, of course, in the end, after saying he would, then he wouldn`t and
then he would, Donald Trump late this afternoon puts out a statement and
says, look, it looks like Bernie Sanders is in second place. I`m not going
to debate the second-place person.
What it did do was obviously, though, was really tweak Hillary Clinton at a
time when was once a double-digit lead here in California has dwindled to
within the margin of error. Last couple of polls had them two and three
In the end, look, you know what the numbers are, Chris. This isn`t going
to change the outcome of this. What it would do, if Bernie Sanders wins
here, is give him some more momentum going into that convention. He`s
already won these delegates on the platform drafting committee.
But they want more. And when I say they, his supporters, who I talked to
again this morning south of Los Angeles. They want him to continue to
push, push Hillary Clinton to the left. They have got some issues that are
key for them, things like the $15 minimum wage.
So, this is really a fight here. They`re both up on the air on television.
JANSING: Both of them are having all of these events. And they think that
by the time the 7th comes around, Bernie Sanders could have had 250,000
people to events here in California – Chris.
MATTHEWS: Chris Jansing from beautiful California right there on the
water. What a shot. Thank you so much, Chris, for that reporting.
Assuming that she will be the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton is
throwing everything she has at Republican Donald Trump already. But will
any of these attacks stick? Great question.
Bob Shrum is a veteran Democratic strategist OK. And Ron Reagan is an
MSNBC political analyst.
OK. Here we go.
Bob Shrum, Donald Trump goes after Hillary Clinton on everything. I think
he basically goes after her. He is after the Vince Foster story, accusing
them of hanky-panky or mayhem or whatever the hell he`s accusing them of
these days, going back to Whitewater, digging up some more dirt on that
apparently, having his research staff dig that up.
Everything he throws at her, and it keeps her busy. I guess that`s his
strategy. Just have her always on defense.
BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, she`s not on defense. I think
she`s doing a very good job of going after him.
What she wants to do is define him going into the general election. He`s
helping by what he says at all these rallies. I do hope that they
supplement this with a real positive advertising campaign for her before
the convention, because she needs to reconnect with people. They need to
have a better understanding of her.
And then, in the acceptance speech, which is the only unmediated
communication that`s watched by tens of millions of people, she needs to be
able to deal with the stereotypes about her, not by refuting them
specifically, but demonstrating qualities of leadership, empathy, the
capacity to connect with people.
MATTHEWS: How about the trustworthiness one? Would you address that
personally? Would you take that on?
SHRUM: You can`t address trustworthy by saying, I`m trustworthy. You have
to demonstrate it.
But I think, if people see her in an acceptance speech, where they`re
really listening to her, and they believe her, they believe that she means
what she says, that will begin to change that number.
Look, Al Gore moved about 17 points in an acceptance speech in 47 minutes
in 2000. So, I think that`s the challenge she faces.
MATTHEWS: Ron, what do you think of this? You haven`t been on lately.
So, I`m wondering what your big thoughts are about this. Look, Hillary
Clinton is running for the nomination. It looks like Bernie Sanders could
knock her off in California. He could win the last round even after she`s
– it`s going to be like the War of 1812. The last battle comes about
after the war is decided. But it`s not going to be clear-cut at all, it
RON REAGAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No.
I mean, listen, if Bernie Sanders takes California, that`s a big chunk of
delegates. It`s winner-take-all there. He could nearly catch her. I
haven`t done the math just recently, but he could nearly catch her in terms
of pledged delegates.
But she still – she needs to be pivoting towards Trump. She`s still the
presumptive nominee. And she needs Bernie Sanders` supporters, of course,
to be on board with her. So, she can`t waste her time attacking Bernie
Sanders. She has to assume that she`s going to be nominee, play nice with
Elizabeth Warren, the possibilities of her as a V.P. choice, that would be
very pleasing for the Sanders supporters, one would assume. Now, Elizabeth
Warren has been doing a great job going after Trump on Twitter.
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the great question.
Bob, you first, and then Ron on that, because I watched the 2000 race you
mentioned, and I watched Ralph Nader running as the third-party candidate.
He was getting up about nine points, pushing almost to double digits. Gore
had to move over to the left to catch him. He got him down to three
points, not enough, of course, because of Florida.
But he got him down, but at the cost of moving away from the center. Can
Hillary Clinton risk going over to the left to try to match Bernie? Will
she lose the center?
SHRUM: I don`t think in 2000 we moved to the left. The truth of the
matter is that we went after Nader on – with advertising.
MATTHEWS: But you joined him in his critique of the corporate country, the
corporate America, didn`t you?
SHRUM: No. No. No.
Gore had his own critique of what was going on. He certainly wasn`t
repeating what Nader said. Look, I think there`s a basis here for Sanders
and Clinton to get together. I think it involves a reform of the
nominating process and I think it also involves some platform
But in New York, she basically endorsed the $15-an-hour minimum wage. I
don`t think this is going to be as tough as we commentators and people in
the media make it out to be. I think he`s going to come on board. He said
she`s clearly better than Donald Trump.
And I think he is going to help to bring his people around just as she
helped to bring her people around in 2008.
MATTHEWS: I didn`t understand you. When you say we – won`t be as tough
as we commentators, you mean you`re saying it`s not going to be tough, but
I`m saying it`s going to be tough, so the we doesn`t really apply here,
MATTHEWS: What do you mean by that we?
MATTHEWS: No, what it means is, I`m wrong and you`re right is what you`re
SHRUM: No. What I mean is the media love this fight and assume there will
be a fight.
MATTHEWS: Stop talking about media.
MATTHEWS: OK. You`re on the air as a commentator. OK? You`re one of
them. So, I`m playing innocent here.
SHRUM: I know. I`m commenting on the media.
But I do want to say, by the way, Ron`s absolutely right about the
potential power of Elizabeth Warren on a ticket. And it`s not just because
she appeals to the left. I think her appeal goes across the board.
MATTHEWS: Ron, you think that ticket is a good ticket, the two, Hillary
Clinton and a woman to her left, Elizabeth Warren? You think that makes
SHRUM: I do, and for a variety of reasons. I think Elizabeth Warren is
just very strong.
In fact, the danger to Hillary Clinton is being overshadowed by Elizabeth
Warren. But Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton on the same ticket vs.
Donald Trump pushes all of Donald Trump`s buttons, doesn`t it?
He`s going to be going up against two tough women who can, frankly, take
him apart in a debate. Either one of them could.
MATTHEWS: With Carly Fiorina for secretary of commerce. We will throw
that one in to drive him really crazy.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you. Have a happy, a good Memorial Day weekend,
as we mark an important part of our country`s legacy.
Anyway, Bob Shrum and Ron Reagan, thank you.
SHRUM: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, marking Memorial Day. We honor those who died for
our country this weekend.
And Up next, I`m going to speak with a Vietnam vet who has organized
Rolling Thunder to bring attention to prisoners of war and Americans
missing in action.
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: That`s Memorial Bridge crossing for Virginia. You can see
Arlington behind there, Arlington Cemetery.
Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL.
That`s the sound of Rolling Thunder, the motorcycle rally rolling into
Washington last year. Nearly 19,000 bikers attended then, bringing the
crowd total to over a million people here.
Well, the event, which has been held every Memorial Day weekend for nearly
30 years now as a tribute to prisoners of war, basically in Vietnam, and
Americans missing in action over there, this year, Donald Trump will be in
attendance, where he`s set to speak here in Washington on the Mall Sunday
Artie Muller, a Vietnam vet, is executive director of Rolling Thunder.
What`s the message, sir?
ARTIE MULLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ROLLING THUNDER: Well, Chris…
MATTHEWS: I mean, it`s fun. Everybody comes to town here.
MULLER: Well, yes.
But through the years, our government has constantly told us that anybody
that was captured and alive was dead. About seven or eight years ago,
Russia found one POW they had during – they captured during World War II.
And they put him in an insane asylum because they thought he was crazy.
A new doctor was in there, and the guy said a few words. And he said this
guy isn`t crazy, he`s just Hungarian. So, after being held up for 50 years
like that, they finally let him go back home to Hungary.
And February of this year, Russia found – had another prisoner. And he
was in Hitler`s Panzer group, the tanks. And he was captured during the
war, and he was 14 when he was in the group. And he just got released this
MATTHEWS: What about Vietnam? Anybody, any infantry guys? We never
discovered any infantry? And we know the flyers, they got out, but what
about the infantry people? Do we have anybody over there, any evidence of
an American still held?
There`s been plenty through the years. And, what do call, DPMO just takes
it, looks at this, and says, well, that person is a liar. They`re crazy.
What do you call it? They don`t do the investigation they`re supposed to
They really never sat down and talked to these countries and said, well,
why don`t you turn over any POWs you do have? Find them and we can end
I don`t care what country is it, and whether it`s Southeast Asia, whether
it`s Russia or China or North Korea. Nobody is gaining anything by holding
It makes sense to me. I don`t know why they would torture somebody. They
probably – well, I don`t know.
MULLER: Yes, neither do I.
And a lot of it is maybe they don`t want to be caught with holding the bag.
Thank you. Good luck this weekend.
Why are you having Trump, by the way?
MULLER: We just figured…
MATTHEWS: Do you invite everybody, or just him? Did you invite Hillary?
MULLER: No, we invited him. No.
MATTHEWS: Most of the guys like Trump?
MULLER: We need some change in the government.
And I think Congress and the Senate is a little afraid of him because they
can`t buy him. We need somebody to take over this country and run it the
way it`s supposed to be.
Obama has put this country in such debt.
MULLER: How are we going to repay that debt? We et Hillary in there, it
will be more debt.
We have our military that`s retiring, and they`re making them pay for their
health care now. And she says, well, if I become president, I`m going to
give all the illegals free health care. How can we afford that package
when we can`t afford…
MATTHEWS: Did she say that?
MULLER: Yes, she did.
Well, thank you, Artie Muller. I got to check that one out. Thank you for
MULLER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Up next, too good to be true? Bernie says he is willing to
debate Donald Trump, but what does the GOP nominee-to-be say? We have got
his answer next.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it would get high
ratings. It would be in big arena somewhere. And we can have a lot of fun
with it. We`ve had a couple of calls from the networks already.
KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: If you raise $10 million, you`ll get on
a debate stage with Bernie Sanders?
TRUMP: I`d love to. You know, I would love to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was, of course, Donald Trump yesterday sounding interested at that
point at a debate with Senator Bernie Sanders. Well, today, he changed his
tune. He said, “Now that I`m the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems
inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. Therefore, as
much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders and it would be an easy payday, I
will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party,
probably crooked Hillary Clinton or whoever it may be.”
Trump sounded a similar note at his rally this afternoon. Let`s watch him
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know what, you don`t want – if you`re in first place, you
don`t want to debate a guy who`s in second place. But it could be I`ll end
up with Bernie. But I hear what they`re going to do. They don`t want
Bernie, because, look, he`s a socialist. Give me a break.
Have we come that far? Have we come that far? I don`t think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s how Senator Sanders responds to the news that Trump
won`t debate him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I heard that he was
going to debate me. I heard he was not going to debate me. I heard he was
going to debate me, and now you`re telling me that he`s not going debate
Well, you know, I hope he changes his mind again. I mean, Mr. Trump is
known to change his mind many times in day. I would – Trump goes around,
he`s a bully. He`s a big tough guy.
Well, Mr. Trump, what are you afraid of?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, why Trump changed his mind?
I`m joined with tonight`s roundtable. Richard Fowler is nationally
syndicated radio host. He`s right to Jennifer Jacobs is right one over
there, she`s nationally political reporter for “Bloomberg Politics”, Ken
Vogel is chief investigative reporter for “Politico”.
So, in order, let`s start going here. Why did this not happen? Pretend
we`re all Don King here. What happened to this fight? How come it`s not
RICHARD FOWLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think Trump has no need to debate
him. I mean, he`s like, I can sit back and watch this whole popcorn fight
finish between Hillary and Bernie and not get in the middle of it.
But to be honest, the only person that benefits from Bernie/Trump debate is
Bernie Sanders. It puts him on a main stage, that puts his ideals out
there. And so, he wants to debate like hell.
MATTHEWS: I think he would be declared winner from the start.
FOWLER: Oh, yes.
MATTHEWS: I just see these things, go Bernie, beat the spread. You know,
he beat the flashy guy from New York. I can see the way it works.
JENNIFER JACOBS, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: But Trump could have had him stand up
there and be forced to either attack or defend Hillary Clinton. Trump
could have stood there and lashed out at Hillary Clinton over and over
again and waited to see.
MATTHEWS: Hillary would be the collateral damage.
KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: I find it one thing we can say what it wasn`t about
was propriety. Trump said, it would inappropriate, like all of a sudden,
Trump cares about what is appropriate. Come on now. We don`t believe
I actually wonder if maybe his people were telling him or maybe the
Republican Party was telling him you don`t want to get in the way of this.
Let them duke it out. It could have really caused mischief.
MATTHEWS: You first along back here, in roundtable style. Here we are
Friday, 27th of May, right, getting close to July. Which way is this race
shifting, inside the Democratic Party and across the board between the two
parties? Which way is it – where are the movement that you see right now?
Who`s winning, who`s losing?
VOGEL: Yes, some of these polls are even ahead of Hillary Clinton in key
battleground states were really shocking. And I think we see some –
MATTHEWS: We`ve got a new one with him ahead.
VOGEL: Some of the same adjustment of expectations that we saw during the
Republican primary, people were like, you know what, maybe he`s not a
laughingstock. Maybe he has a chance.
He`s the Republican nominee. He has a chance of beating Hillary – he has
a chance of being next president of the United States despite the fact that
all conventional wisdom would say his candidacy that really has no
MATTHEWS: Jennifer – Jennifer, what`s going on?
JACOBS: Oh, I think it`s just a strong contrast with Hillary Clinton and
Bernie Sanders. Her – she and her campaign like to be 100 percent in
control of everything. And that`s just not happening in the 2016 cycle.
You saw Donald Trump dispatch all his GOP competitors. And Hillary Clinton
just hasn`t been able to do that. It just seems like she`s maybe on two
tracks. She`s got one track where she`s trying to get to the numbers to be
the nominee and, secondarily, she`ll wait and figure out how to bring the
Sanders people on board.
MATTHEWS: We have to take a break.
By the way, I just want to go over somebody said before tonight. I have to
get this straight. When I saw the Mexican flags, and I saw the American
flags arriving, I said the Americans. I should have never made that
reference. I feel terrible.
Just because you`re waving an American flag doesn`t make you better than
somebody on the other side of the argument who doesn`t have the flag with
them. It`s not true. It`s not true. That isn`t the fact.
Anyway, up next, a live update as protests get heated in San Diego. Well,
watch, this is still going on, this stuff.
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back.
Let`s go back to San Diego and NBC`s Jacob Rascon.
Jacob, what`s happening right now?
JACOB RASCON, NBC NEWS: All right. So, in the last few moments, what
we`re seeing is riot, police in full riot gear who have come in between the
supporters and the protesters. But, really, there are supporters who are
mixed in with the protesters. I personally saw several fights break out.
They started throwing water and somebody had pepper spray. One of the
supporters sprayed it. Everybody else could – you could smell it. You
could feel it.
I was hit in the head with some water. On and off, there were fights
because some on either side had just mixed in with one another.
Right now, what I`m looking at is police in full riot gear with batons
pushing people back, pushing me back. As I`m speaking, I`m watching and
for the most part, they are divided. Trump supporters on one side.
Protesters (AUDIO GAP)
Protesters crowd, they chose to come over. Go ahead, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I was going to ask you, why are the Trump people sticking
around? Just to taunt the protesters. Why don`t they leave?
RASCON: So, it`s on both sides, Chris, I would say. The protesters who
come and stick around want to stick around because they want to meet the
supporters who are coming out. And I don`t know who starts it really
because the supporters are let out and the protesters start yelling at
them, but the supporters also just saw Trump, they heard him talk about
building a wall, they`re excited about it.
And they come out and this is what happens. We see the clash.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, are they still separated, the two crowds,
physically? The Trump people and the protesters, are they still separated?
RASCON: You know what, as we were speaking and I was telling you that the
police in full riot gear were trying to separate them, there aren`t enough
of them to separate the crowd. Because right now I`m looking at a big
crowd of supporters and protesters face-to-face, throwing water bottles at
each other, shouting insults.
And it`s worth noting that getting in between most of these fights are a
few people, one man in particular wearing a “free hugs” shirt, several
others who jump in between all the fights they can, who are sort of
neutral. Not the police, of course. And say, don`t fight, keep it
peaceful. Usually they`re successful. But there aren`t enough of them.
As I said, we`ve seen several fistfights break out.
Now, it`s worth noting as well – I see my cameraman. We kind of got lost
in the fights. The police have declared for the first time an unlawful
assembly, which is the warning, the first one that they give before they
say they`re going to make arrests for the first time. They`ll make a
couple more warnings then start moving in and arresting people. That`s
what has happened in Albuquerque. That`s what happened in Anaheim. And
that`s what will happen here.
MATTHEWS: Hold on now, Jake. Take care of yourself. Let`s bring in Jim
Cavanaugh, the expert.
Jim, it seems to me, as you said in an earlier appearance on this network,
this is going to be a rolling thing. It`s going to go from now at least to
the conventions. Will police have to mount up, bulk up with more officers
on the street, more weaponry, more whatever, horses even, and that will
rile up the crowds to escalate as well?
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I don`t think we`re going –
I think we`re going to see this all summer. I don`t see an end to it
I think you see the thin blue line in action here, but it`s reserved police
action. These are officers dealing with civil disobedience, so far on a
minor scale. I mean, it`s water bottles thrown, a lot of the taunting,
people dancing in the street. But, you know, fights break out, some
But like Jacob said what`s going to happen now is unlawful assembly is
declared and you`ll see that team of tactical officers in the near future
probably try to move that crowd, without gas, just by walking and walking
and try to move the crowd to disperse the crowd. They`ll kind of try to do
that slowly. If there`s violence, they`ll try to arrest those people
MATTHEWS: So I don`t know how to explain this. Maybe you can. But we`re
looking at people who are angry. And it seems to me that they`re angry
because of the insult. It`s like insult to injury.
They`ve had a hard time, some of them in this country, when a lot of them
have had problems with not having documentation, all that. And then to
have someone go out there and call them rapists, you know, build a wall to
keep you out, to keep anybody like you out. What has caused this anger
level? Were they trying to figure it out?
CAVANAUGH: Well, I think, you know, you`ve hit it on the head, Chris.
When we talked the other day, you talked about pride. You talked about it
That the people with the Mexican flag are Mexican-Americans. The people
with American flag are American. All these people are Americans. And
they`re all going through these opposing views.
When you insult someone`s heritage, insult them for who they are, when you
insult someone for who they are by calling Senator Warren a derisive name,
like Pocahontas, you insult all Native Americans. People take these things
So, the commanders of the police have to understand that. There`s a lot of
MATTHEWS: Yes, okay.
CAVANAUGH: They`ve got to keep those separated.
MATTHEWS: Well said, Jim. We`ve got to get back now to Jim Cavanaugh –
Let`s go back to Jacob Rascon.
Jacob, you`re there.
RASCON: Yes, we just watched what was almost a fistfight between a member
of the media and one of the protesters. And then again we have on my left,
we have the police in full riot gear, they`re standing there making sure
that they don`t spill onto the streets over there. They have the batons
out, of course. Then over here, if we swing around, we`re going to now
look at where the protesters and supporters are not separated. They mingle
here one and another.
We see here on the left, several of the protesters. We see here on the
right a lot of make America great again hats. It`s really that maybe there
aren`t enough of them right here. We know there`s a big police presence
300 feet away.
We`ve seen the SWAT team. We have seen the few hundred police officers.
But they`re not here, they`re not separating for some reason any longer
this crowd. Again, they`ve declared an unlawful assembly. They say they
will protest, that they will arrest people.
I`m hearing it again, the warning about the unlawful assembly. Usually,
they give three or four of these warnings and then start closing in. They
go after one or two, they arrest them, and then some people get scared and
We`ll see if that happens again. We`ll go in here. It looks like police
in full riot gear are trying to get in and separate the crowds really for
the third or fourth time. We`ll see if they`re successful this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They moved him out like he was Donald Trump (ph).
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Jim Cavanaugh.
Jim, you see the maneuvering going on by the police.
CAVANAUGH: Yes, it`s very good, Chris.
What they`re trying to do is separate. But of course, you understand that
you can`t tell by everyone what they look like, who they support. So they
try to do it in general to get between people.
What they try to read too though is the psychology of the crowd, the mood.
And right now, it`s not very violent or anything and they`re reading that,
the police are reading that. Because if you start with a lot missiles
being thrown and windows being broken and fights and assaults, then the
tempo of the violence increases. With a crowd, it can happen quickly.
So they`re keeping it down. The police aren`t pressing it very hard but
they`re making their announcements. They know this crowd is OK right now
for violence. It`s not a mob. It`s just demonstrators. It`s democracy,
it`s always a little messy.
But I think San Diego PD is right now, they have their finger on the tempo,
they`re doing just the right thing. Not too much, not too little. Just
the right thing.
MATTHEWS: Richard Fowler wants to get in here – Richard.
FOWLER: Well, Chris, I`ve covered both Ferguson and Baltimore, and I think
what you can sense from that crowd is there`s a lot of anger in this
country. Whether you`re Mexican, whether you`re African-American, there`s
anger. And this anger`s playing out in this election, right? You see it
on the Bernie side, you see it on the Trump side.
Politically, what Hillary Clinton is going to do here is figure out a way
to encapsulate this anger and use it for her campaign. Right now, she`s
not doing it, but this is –
MATTHEWS: Well said. I think that`s a part of the story we`ve got to
cover greater. We wish more opportunities than just looking at this kind
Anyway, Jacob, you`re back on.
RASCON: All right, Chris. We just want to talk to somebody who`s willing
to talk without saying F-Trump. This is Daniel.
Daniel, you`re from San Diego?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Chicago originally, I came here when I joined the
RASCON: Why did you feel it was important for you to come out here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to show that Trump is pure evil. If you vote for
him, it`s evil. It`s not good for our country. I`ve got to show support
for the protesters against Trump. He`s not helping the country.
RASCON: What is your top beef with Trump? What most makes you upset about
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he says about Mexico, building a wall. Like it
wouldn`t be the USA without Mexico. We`re all the same.
And I know he`s making a difference between the rich and the poor. He
cares about the rich people, he don`t care about the average people.
RASCON: You`ve been here watching the back and forth, the fighting, the
police coming in. What do you make of all of this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s crazy. Like I think it would be crazy, somebody`s
running for president and you see how many people what this brings up. Him
just running for president. Look at it, brings out all these different
emotions, it`s crazy.
RASCON: I think we`re going to go. Thanks, Daniel.
Go ahead, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank, Jacob Rascon, good reporting there.
We`re hearing a very loud crowd there. It`s hard to tell how close they
were. They must have been very close to your microphone because it was
really a roar.
Let me get some thoughts here.
Jennifer, you`re watching this as well.
JACOBS: It looks like neither side wants to let the other side win. They
don`t want to back off and let the other side – give them more space.
They just feed off each other`s energy. It seems like there`s some real
outrage on the one side and the other side, they seem to just – you know,
it`s those racial contrasts played to those nationalist white voters that
Donald Trump is trying to maximize.
MATTHEWS: We`re also hearing passions on the other side. The protesting
VOGEL: It`s a microcosm.
MATTHEWS: As Richard pointed out, we don`t know. That voice we`re hearing
in a crowd, of course.
VOGEL: And it`s a microcosm of Donald Trump`s campaign. He is exploiting
something that is out there, a real feeling among the electorate.
MATTHEWS: Does this work?
VOGEL: It obviously did work, he`s the Republican nominee.
MATTHEWS: No, no, I mean, in the general?
VOGEL: That`s the open question. Hillary Clinton may not be the perfect
opponent to challenge it, because she is also so deeply unpopular, in a
totally different way.
MATTHEWS: No, but she doesn`t cause riots.
VOGEL: That`s right. The exact opposite.
FOWLER: Riot is based on the idea of excitement. Whether it`s anger or
excitement – what Hillary Clinton has to do is catch it, put it in a
MATTHEWS: Historically, America goes to the safe candidate. Hillary looks
safer than this.
Anyway, my thanks to NBC`s Jacob Rascon doing great reporting out there in
San Diego. Also to my roundtable, Richard Fowler, to my left, Jennifer
Jacobs, they didn`t give enough time tonight. Well, we have to cover the
That does it for me and HARDBALL tonight.
Our coverage continues with my colleague Chris Hayes on “ALL IN.”
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