Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript, 8/1/2016
Date: August 1, 2016
Guest: Michael Caputo, Jay Newton-Small, Khizr Khan, Ghazala Khan, Dianne
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: My guests tonight, Khizr and Ghazala – Ghazala
And this is HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
My special guests tonight are Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son gave his
life in Iraq to save his fellow American soldiers. These two U.S. citizens
have been the target this weekend of the Republican presidential candidate
Donald Trump. They`re here to respond and to give their testimony on what
America means to them, what the sacrifice of their son, a captain in the
United States Army, means to those who loved him and cherish his memory.
With his wife by his side, last week Mr. Khan delivered a powerful speech
on the final night of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. This is
what he said directly that night to the Republican presidential nominee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KHIZR KHAN, FATHER OF SLAIN WAR HERO: Let me ask you, have you even read
the United States Constitution?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
K. KHAN: I will – I will gladly lend you my copy! You have sacrificed
nothing and no one!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: While Trump later called Khan`s son a hero, he questioned Khan`s
right to speak out against him, saying in a statement “Mr. Khan, who has
never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and
claim I have never read the Constitution, which is false” – that`s Trump
speaking – “and say many other inaccurate things.”
Well, Trump also questioned Ghazala`s silence during that convention
address. Here he is again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: His wife – if you look at his
wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe
she wasn`t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me. But plenty of
people have written that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Ghazala Khan answered yesterday in “The Washington Post.”
Quote, “Without saying a thing, all the world, all America felt my pain.
I`m a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart. Donald
Trump said he has made a lot of sacrifice. He doesn`t know what the word
sacrifice means.” That`s Ghazala writing there for “The Post.”
I`m joined right now by Khizr and Ghazala Khan. Thank you for coming
GHAZALA KAHN, MOTHER OF SLAIN WAR HERO: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I wanted to give people a sense of you and your family in coming
to America as immigrants. I`ll say later on tonight, my grandmother and
grandparents were immigrants and had three sons fighting in the U.S. Army
and Navy and Air Corps.
Let me ask you about yours. When you first came to this country in 1980,
what was it like to be – to come in this country from Pakistan, where you
grew up, and to become an American? What was that like, sir?
K. KHAN: It was literally same story. We shared the same story with the
rest of the immigrants. Came empty-handed, we rented a $200 apartment,
one-bedroom apartment with the family, and started life. But we were
looking forward to the goodness of the country and the values. And it –
the reception that we received where Ghazala and I lived – she made
friends, next-door neighbors, loving, caring people.
MATTHEWS: And these were native Americans you made friends with, not
G. KHAN: I think Americans. I didn`t have any Pakistani or Indian around
me. They was both white American, my both neighbors.
MATTHEWS: What was it like about naturalization? Because I was lucky
enough to be at one of those ceremonies. What do you remember of your
K. KHAN: I just have such a – such a soft place in my heart whenever I
see United States flag. It means so much to me. And I can tell you the
And whenever I see these ceremonies and the expressions of the people`s
faces, it reminds me when we first came to this country with hope and with
belief that we will make it, it will get better henceforth, we are at a
place where things get better.
And with that hope in the ceremony, I was just beside myself that what is
about to happen. I`m going to get the rights that no other country grants
to its immigrants except this good nation.
MATTHEWS: Ghazala, do you remember all that?
G. KHAN: I do.
MATTHEWS: How about the Constitution? Because it`s such an issue now
about learning. These are requirements to become a naturalized citizen.
G. KHAN: Yes. They had to ask me some questions. And I had read this.
At that time, it`s 20, 25 years ago. And I had good answers for the…
MATTHEWS: Do you think you`re better than Trump at this? Do you think you
know more than he does?
G. KHAN: Yes. Much better, I think. That`s why I clear (ph) it the first
time and became citizen.
MATTHEWS: When you pulled out that Constitution the other night and said,
Here, read it, basically, to Trump, did that remind you of the fact you had
to learn it?
K. KHAN: Of course. Of course. Read it page to page. I – that was not
the plan, to pull out the Constitution.
MATTHEWS: You have it there?
K. KHAN: What I – what I…
MATTHEWS: Where`d you get that, by the way?
K. KHAN: Well, look – look at its condition.
MATTHEWS: It`s all marked up.
K. KHAN: It`s marked up because I read it. And this 14th Amendment, equal
protection of law, is my favorite part of the Bill of Rights.
MATTHEWS: That means that your children…
K. KHAN: Exactly.
MATTHEWS: … get all the rights of somebody who`s been here 20
K. KHAN: Exactly. And I did not realize up until I was in the cab to the
convention that I had this in my pocket. We talked – I was to say that
when you read the Constitution, look for the word liberty and equal
protection of law. So I`m putting my coat on, and I touched this, and here
it is. So I said, If I pull it like this, it will be this. So I had to
place it in this form so when I pull it, it comes like this. We practiced.
MATTHEWS: You`re like Justice Kennedy because Justice Kennedy, Anthony
Kennedy, who Ronald Reagan appointed, is the swing vote, you know, and he
uses the liberty clause and the equal protection clause for all of his
recent big decisions.
Let me ask you about this because I`m always amazed because you have
accents from your native country. And to have children who don`t – what
is that like to hear your kids running around the house with American
G. KHAN: Well, I don`t feel any different because I don`t speak in English
MATTHEWS: Oh, I see. But you hear…
G. KHAN: I hear back English, but I speak Urdu with my children.
MATTHEWS: And they now – they`re bilingual?
G. KHAN: They will speak in English to me.
K. KHAN: But it is so heartening, Chris, to see our children moving
forward. I look at them, look at their progress, look at what they have
accomplished. No other place will grant them that freedom of choice,
freedom of pursuing their dreams, and I bow my head looking at them and
Now they have their children and all and they`re moving forward. That is
what this entire society is all about. Nowhere in the history of mankind
had been a country like United States of America.
MATTHEWS: I know. What was it like to see your son in uniform the first
time, in military uniform?
G. KHAN: I was very proud of him. He looked so handsome!
MATTHEWS: Yes. How about you, sir?
K. KHAN: And after he – after we pinned him his lieutenant bars after
commissioning, we got the first salute from him, and it meant world to us,
looking at our young son in the uniform of this beautiful, beautiful place
where we had made home. And the pride in his eyes and happiness and joy on
his face was just amazing. Amazing.
MATTHEWS: Did he know – could you – well, you never know what people
(INAUDIBLE) Did he know the dangers?
K. KHAN: Yes, we talked about…
MATTHEWS: In going to Iraq.
K. KHAN: Before – when he was deployed, he informed us, and we spoke over
G. KHAN: He came to visit us.
MATTHEWS: Yes. And we talked about the dangers, and he said, Look, I
don`t think that far. My responsibility is to take care of the people that
are in my charge. And I will do anything and everything to be safe myself,
but I have this responsibility and I will continue to do that.
MATTHEWS: He took it to heart, didn`t he.
K. KHAN: He certainly did. Certainly.
MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump pushed back this morning, tweeting, “This
story`s not about Mr. Khan, who is all over the place doing interviews, but
rather radical Islamic terrorism and the U.S. Get smart.”
Anyway, Trump also said yesterday that he had made sacrifices for his
country. Let`s listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think I made a lot of sacrifices. I worked very, very hard.
I`ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs,
built great structures. I`ve done – I`ve had – I`ve had tremendous
success. I think…
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: You think those are sacrifices?
TRUMP: Oh, sure, I think they`re sacrifices. I mean, I was very
responsible, along with a group of people, for getting the Vietnam memorial
built in downtown Manhattan, which to this day people thank me for. I
raised and I have raised millions of dollars for the vets. I`m helping the
vets a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: What do you think of his sort of defense of his line of attack?
K. KHAN: It really explains – you know, certain things cannot be defined.
His answer defines it. Any decent American listening to that figures it
out, what he`s saying, how he`s defining sacrifice.
If that is the definition of sacrifice – this candidate is about – is now
a candidate of a major political party and close to become president of
this country, commander-in-chief of this country. And that is the
definition of sacrifice?
MATTHEWS: Here`s a question from Peggy Pollenberg (ph). She has submitted
it on Twitter. “If you could write the script of his apology, what would
you like him to say?”
K. KHAN: No apology needed. In certain – the best apology would be that
his supporter repudiate him, be away (ph) and pronounce their repudiation.
We don`t need any apology from him. We are beyond those apologies. And we
were promised several months ago that he will pivot in the right direction,
he will change and he will not…
MATTHEWS: I know.
K. KHAN: … do all that, but…
MATTHEWS: Do you want to hear anything more from him, Ghazala?
G. KHAN: No. No. I don`t want to hear anything from him, and I don`t
want to say anything to him.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about a larger question about being a member
of the Islamic community here in the United States. What is your emotion
when you turn on the TV or the car radio or you listen to Sirius radio or
you watch this program or you read the paper, and you hear that there`s
been an attack?
Is it different to be Islamic when you hear there`s an attack by someone
claiming they`re doing it in the name of religion, whether it`s San
Bernardino or it`s Nice or it`s Paris, or anywhere? What – how does it
K. KHAN: The very first thought that comes to mind is, Oh, my God, there
we go again. How can we stop this happening as Muslims? Because it comes
directly to you. Your faith is involved.
So you wind up thinking, How could I participate in the stopping of this
madness that is taking place? The first concern and the thought, that is
that this cannot be my religion. These criminals are not part of my
religion. They have hijacked – these words are being manipulated. They
call themselves Muslim terrorists, Islamic jihadists and all – nothing to
do with Islam.
In Peshawar, Pakistan, same people, same jihadis went in an elementary
school and killed hundreds of small children. These are jihadists? These
are Islamists? Not at all. We condemn them.
And so the second thought comes that, What is the solution? The solution
is stricter check on people that are coming in.
K. KHAN: Second thought, second solution is that communities joining hands
to deter this kind of thinking, this kind of part (ph) that is cooking in a
person`s mind, a person is thinking of harming others and all, and making
them part of the solution instead of building walls, throwing them out and
blaming them and all that. That encourages alienation, encourages such
destructive behavior, but making them part of the solution.
I`m not saying that we should just simply open the borders and let anybody
come and everybody come. Not at all. We should have stricter policies, a
stricter homeland security check. But the community that is here making
that part of the solution, working jointly with them, would really take…
MATTHEWS: Do you think the religious people in the Islamic community or in
this country – and it`s a varied community, obviously, from Pakistan to
Indonesia, everywhere, especially the Arab world even. Do you think
there`s been an effort made to pacify people, to stop this – this anger
that reaches such a point that it leads to zealotry and then to terrorism?
Has there been that?
K. KHAN: There had been at a smaller scale effort, is being made, has been
made, but this is not what Islam is. Name of Islam is being hijacked. And
to the extent that we would like to see or I would like to see an effort,
that had been nonexistent. But in smaller scale at individual community
levels, there are leaders that are trying to minimize…
MATTHEWS: What do you think when you – or feel when you see us attack
Iraq or go into Afghanistan after Osama bin Laden, or we go attack with
bombs Libya? We`re bombing Syria now – all Islamic countries. What do
you feel as an Islamic man?
K. KHAN: As a Muslim American, not just as Islamic man – as a Muslim
American, I feel that these policies are not in the interest of United
States of America, and we see the result of it. We are more vulnerable
now. We have created a chaos and – for ourselves.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know you`re speaking to the choir.
K. KHAN: I wish – I wish this country would have listened to Chris
Matthews when he was talking, when he was preaching, we could have saved
ourselves from this quagmire.
MATTHEWS: I didn`t think Iraq made any sense, and I think you agree.
What do you think about Trump – and it first struck me that he was – I
don`t know what the word is, out of bounds, to use an old American
expression, when he went after the president and said he was born in some
other country, that he was not a legitimate president. He didn`t belong on
the list of presidents. He was born secretly in Indonesia or Kenya or
somewhere that his mother, his white mother, snuck over there, had him over
there, gave him the name Hussein Obama, married a man from Kenya, all this
so that she could say he was born in Hawaii. It`s a crazy story!
Why would a guy like Trump, who`s not crazy – maybe he`s not. Why would
he spread that story? And he`s stuck with it. He`s never taken it back.
K. KHAN: Well, it is…
MATTHEWS: Our first African-American president.
K. KHAN: Sure. It`s disappointing. And since then, look at the rhetoric
since then on various subjects, various topics, various issues. Same
thinking continues. Same thinking continues, craziness, total void of
empathy, total void of moral compass.
Candidate for the stewardship of this country had to have caliber (ph), had
to have understanding, capacity to accept criticism and capacity to
understand those who follow him, those who do not follow him, because if he
becomes president, he`s president of all, not just the group that follows
him. Therefore, a capacity of accepting, receiving criticism, is…
MATTHEWS: What`s your worst fear if he becomes president?
K. KHAN: I say this really, really clearly. This country will be in such
a constitutional crisis. For example, he said, I will throw out 11 million
people. So what is he going to do, go to Congress and pass the law?
Congress is going to pass the law? No!
So what is second option? Second option is issue an executive order. Who
implements executive orders? So he signs it, sends it to the Department of
Justice. Would the Secret Service start to go or the Marshal will go to
door to door and start to throw people? There are courts watching this
happening. There are court challenges. Supreme Court is watching. Courts
of appeal are watching.
K. KHAN: They`re going to put a stop to it. Where would we be? This
country will be in such a constitutional crisis. That is just one example
of the policy that he has – he has said.
MATTHEWS: We`re going to have you here a little more, a few more minutes.
We`ve got more of your questions coming in from the public out there for
Khizr and Ghazala Khan. They`re staying with us to answer your questions.
We`re taking them, in fact, right now. Unusual for us to do that, but we
wanted to be interactive tonight.
And later – Republicans are distancing themselves from Trump`s comments
about this family, but so far not his candidacy. Can that start to change?
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Many Republicans have spoken out against Trump for his comments
about the Khan family over the last 48 hours. South Carolina governor
Nikki Haley said in a statement, “As far as I`m concerned, they have the
standing to say whatever they want in the political process and should not
face criticism for it.”
Former Governor Jeb Bush tweeted: “This is so incredibly disrespectful of a
family that endured the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”
Senator Lindsey Graham said: “There used to be some things that were sacred
in American politics that you don`t do, like criticizing the parents of a
fallen soldier, even if they criticize you.”
And House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke out against Trump`s proposed Muslim ban
before saying: “Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military
and made the ultimate sacrifice. Captain Khan was one such brave example.
His sacrifice and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan should always be honored,
Back with Khizr and Ghazala right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As commander in chief, I`m
pretty tired of some folks trash-talking America`s military and troops.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Our Gold Star families have made a sacrifice that most of us cannot
even begin to imagine. They represent the very best of our country. They
continue to inspire us every day, every moment. They serve as a powerful
reminder of the true strength of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s President Obama.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was, of course, our president speaking today about Gold Star families
at a convention of disabled veterans down in Atlanta. It comes after
Donald Trump spoke out this weekend against the Khan family, whose son was
killed in Iraq while serving this country in 2004.
Well, just moments ago, Trump`s running mate, Mike Pence, was confronted in
a town hall meeting by a mother of a veteran over Trump`s comments about
the Khan family. Let`s listen to the vice presidential nominee here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: military. How do you tolerate this disrespect?
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I thank you for
All right, folks, that`s what – that`s what freedom looks like and that`s
what freedom sounds like, OK?
PENCE: Let me just say first I want to honor your son`s service to the
country and your family`s service.
PENCE: Obviously, I know this has been much in the news of late, the last
But, as I said last night, as Donald Trump said, Captain Khan is an
American hero, and we honor him and honor his family.
PENCE: The story of Captain Khan is an incredibly inspiring story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s breaking away from his running mate a bit there.
We`re back with Khizr and Ghazala Khan.
And we have been monitoring Twitter and Facebook for some questions from
Here comes a question from Greg Hurley on Twitter, who asks: “If Trump
becomes president and bans Muslims, do you think Muslim service members
should refuse to serve?”
K. KHAN: That says it all. That says it all.
It requires no – this indicates the lack of thoughtfulness on this
candidate`s part. All of his statements, he`s going to do this, he`s going
to do this, the economic policies, the security policies, lack of
tolerance, lack of thoughtfulness.
MATTHEWS: This comes from Dannell Boatman, who wants me to ask: “Did they
expect Trump to react to their speech?”
Did you expect Trump to come back at you the way he did?
K. KHAN: Not at all.
MATTHEWS: Did you, Ghazala?
G. KHAN: Not at all. I did not even think that he might say anything. I
don`t – president – he`s candidate for our presidency. He won`t even pay
attention to us. That`s what I thought. But…
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s another question from Tammy Patterson: “How do Mr.
and Mrs. Khan`s other sons feel about Trump`s responses to their parents?”
How is your family taking this? You are in the spotlight, whether you like
it or not, now.
K. KHAN: Before I accepted to speak, I spoke with Ghazala.
She`s my editor, my strength, 42 years together. And I spoke to my family,
and we said, should we do this? Yes, we should do it. Will there be some
negative criticism? Maybe. So, I got their support and got their
strength. And so other children, they don`t want any part of this. They
have their private lives.
MATTHEWS: Yes. They don`t like the exposure.
K. KHAN: They are – they don`t want this exposure. They are telling us
to stop all this and come back home, rest. Every now and then, if there`s
a question, answer it, and let it be.
This would not be a political discourse, or we would be sitting here and
talking and all that, had it not been these thoughtless comments made by a
candidate for presidency.
I am just amazed at the level of thinking, lack of empathy. This Gold Star
mother is standing there full of grief and cannot speak and open her mouth,
and this candidate has to take a cheap shot.
That is what made me say things that I have said. I didn`t want to say
what was the rest of my speech, but disrespect has limits. This good
nation, thoughtful, patriotic people, place the Gold Star mothers at the
highest pedestal, because they give all to the safety and security of this
country. And this thoughtless, this compass-less, this empathy-less
candidate takes a shot at – to pander for some votes, to create more
MATTHEWS: So that`s to the heart of it. I would like to ask this
question, because I have been following politics since I was a kid.
Do you think Trump believes all this stuff that he says? Do you think he
believes that Barack Obama was secretly born by an American white woman
over in Kenya so that she could pretend he was born in Hawaii, all this
jabberwole (ph) he comes out with?
Do you think he believes you can have a religious test in a country that
your Constitution, my Constitution says you can never have? Did he ever
think he could oppose – impose that at the airports and the ports? Did he
ever think of that? Does he ever think they`re going to build a wall and
the Mexicans are going to pay for it?
Does he believe any of this, or is it all what you say is pandering?
K. KHAN: It is pandering.
That is the sad part. And the sadder part is that some good-hearted,
sincere, genuine, pure-hearted, patriotic Americans are falling in his
trap. He`s a snake oil salesman. He – they are falling in his trap.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me say something on behalf of the approximately
million people watching right now. Thank you for your service.
G. KHAN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: We can`t thank you for this last full measure, as Lincoln called
it. And thank you for coming on this program.
K. KHAN: And it means a lot. And the love and the support that we have
received, we have not been able to walk three steps…
MATTHEWS: I hear it everywhere. You will hear it in time. It`s
MATTHEWS: It`s everywhere. This country is a better country than Donald
K. KHAN: It is.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Khizr. And thank you, Ghazala Khan. Thank you for
And coming up on this program tonight on HARDBALL, reaction to this
conversation that comes from a top senator who says Trump is unfit to be
commander in chief. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is going to be
with us next.
Plus, Trump is also getting criticized for his comments about Russia and
the Ukraine. He doesn`t seem to have a handle on what`s going on over
there. Big surprise.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We just heard from Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan reacting to the
latest criticism from Donald Trump.
Joining me right now is United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat
Senator Feinstein, did you get to hear what we just went through here with
the Khan family?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I did.
MATTHEWS: What`s your reaction?
FEINSTEIN: Well, my reaction is, they are so real and they are so
And they are really – excuse me – it brings a lump to my throat, what
America is all about. The way they use the words, what words they use,
their stories, you know right away this isn`t made up, this isn`t a
political speech. They are really speaking from the heart.
And their heart is what beats in America the strongest. No question about
MATTHEWS: When you live a life in politics, one thing I think you learn is
when you`re up against something that`s bigger than you and you stop
talking. What makes Trump keep talking? Why is he picking this fight, of
all – what`s it say about his nature that he would want to fight with
them, a Gold Star family?
I don`t get it. And I think he`s a mixed bag, but I don`t get this one at
FEINSTEIN: Well, I don`t either, candidly.
But I think there`s unpredictability in him. And I think that`s what
bothers me the most, that he really can`t take a jibe, he can`t take a
criticism. He has to respond, and he has to attack back.
And the attack has to be worse, essentially, than what he interpreted was
said about him. I think that`s a very bad trait for a president. And I
think the fact that he hasn`t been able to curb it, to stop it, to change,
to be more reserved, to use language that is different than the crudeness
that he expresses it with is really, really a problem.
MATTHEWS: What strikes me is that he has a brand, which is, he`s pushing
nationalism, sort of the spirit that broke the Brexit thing, us against the
And yet he takes on a family that`s fought for this country, that
sacrificed a son for this country. He`s trashing them in a sense, when
that`s what his – it`s part of his brand. And now he goes over to Russia
and he`s got Putin, asking Putin and the defense industry over there, the
defense intelligence people, to pull Watergate against Hillary.
He`s supposed to be the nationalist, and yet he`s going outside the United
States and coming back and hitting us from Russia. It just seems, he
doesn`t know his own brand anymore, is my thought.
FEINSTEIN: Well, I have begun to think he doesn`t know what he`s doing.
He doesn`t know the impact of what he`s saying.
I think what he wants to do is create an audience. And he`s been very
successful in creating an audience, and, you know, whether it was FOX or
CNN, and any criticism that they might levy…
MATTHEWS: He`s been on here, too. You can spread it around. He`s here,
FEINSTEIN: … is a problem. Right. Right.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you. You`re the foreign policy – you know so many
things, but let me ask you about foreign policy.
He came out one day and he said that Russia hadn`t – isn`t going to invade
Ukraine. And, of course, they have already grabbed Crimea. And then the
next day, he said, well, they`re not going to do it or something like that.
He doesn`t seem to have a consistent fact in his head about what`s going on
in Central Asia.
FEINSTEIN: Well, I think that`s right.
I think there`s no question about Russian aggression. I think that
aggression is still in the Ukraine. There`s still military. There`s still
black military. I mean, I think we all know that this was Russia. There`s
no question about it. And the intelligence certainly shows that.
So, if Russia is going to be an aggressive power, that`s a real problem for
Europe. And that`s what this is really all about. And Russia has a huge
territory. Enough is enough. And Ukraine wants to be separate. It wants
to be closer to Europe, and there really is nothing wrong with that. A
nation`s destiny should be its own.
MATTHEWS: I hope you run for reelection, Senator. I`m rooting for you.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you. I have got a while yet. Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I know. You have got a while to think about it.
FEINSTEIN: OK. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you so much, Senator Dianne Feinstein of
FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, joining me now is former Trump adviser Michael Caputo.
Michael, that same question about Mr. Trump`s desire to take on any
challenge. Why would he take on this? Why wouldn`t he just pass on this
and say, OK, this fellow and his wife spoke at the Democratic Convention,
they made some good patriotic points, I`m not going to go after that?
Why did he choose to get engaged in this dispute with people that are
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: You noticed after Michelle
Obama`s speech, the entire Trump campaign went silent. Some of the things
she said, you would have thought Donald Trump would have responded, but
And when, of all things, a midday – or, I mean, late-in-the-day speech by
Gold Star parents drew him out for criticism, you see, the problem I have
is that Gold Star parents are more off-limits than the first lady is.
I would rather have seen him criticize Michelle Obama`s words than the Gold
Star parents. But, frankly, I`m going to have to tell you, I don`t see
what Donald Trump said as something that`s aggressive or taking on or some
of the very active verbs that are being used by the media. I think,
unfortunately, he should have taken a pass entirely.
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s try this one on you.
Michael – Michael, you know this world of politics as well as I do and how
words matter. Saying that the mother in this case, Ghazala, couldn`t talk,
because what was – like some sort of conspiracy, whoa, she`s not allowed
Well, why would he go after her, when she – she is obviously emotionally,
you know, unable to get out and start talking about this as well as
somebody might in sort of a non-attached political debate? She is so
attached to this. And the fact that she chose not to speak at that point,
why would he go after her and then say, somehow, there`s some sort of
conspiracy about why she didn`t talk?
What was that about? Why would he do that?
CAPUTO: Well, I understand – I understand what you`re saying.
MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. But he must have.
CAPUTO: And I get that people trying – trying to put that out there as
some kind of a critique.
I think he was trying – was stumbling and trying to find something to say
about her. I`ll tell you what. I know Donald Trump. And as an infantry
veteran, 25th Infantry, I could tell you…
MATTHEWS: I know, sir. And thank you for your service. I appreciate
that. I do.
CAPUTO: But – you know, I want to see Gold Star parents treated with
respect, because what happens if I were killed in battle?
We – all veterans want to see the Gold Star parents, because it could have
been our parents.
But I don`t think he was attacking them. And, listen, I`ll tell you what.
I do think this is – has become a campaign tactic by the Clinton campaign,
a very successful one.
CAPUTO: Who would have thought that the Khans` speech would have been the
– we would have been talking about it a week later after the convention?
This is a remarkably well-executed campaign tactic by the Clinton campaign
and the Trump campaign needs to pivot away from this.
MATTHEWS: You know, that may be the case, I don`t know, I don`t know about
what goes on in headquarters of these conventions or these political
meetings, but I do think both sides used the events as they develop and I
think when there`s a terrorist attack, Trump is quite exploitative of that.
I understand that, and nobody is going to hold that against him either.
So, this is about a reality, a party reality or –
MATTHEWS: Muslim Americans fight and die for the country, that`s a fact.
Now, it`s on the table and Trump has got to recognize it and stop trashing
Muslims per se. That`s what he`s been doing.
He`s saying, because of your religion, we are keeping you out of the
country. Not because of any connection to terrorism. We are keeping you
out because of what you believe religiously. And that has now been exposed
and I think it`s good for the country to get that in their heads and
hearts. Michael, I think that hurt –
CAPUTO: Here`s the thing. Here`s the thing, Chris. The Khans` son didn`t
die because of immigration policy. He died at the hands of radical Islamic
terrorism and that`s what the topic is here.
CAPUTO: And the problem, I think that exploiting Gold Star parents is just
as bad as confronting Gold Star parents. And we are walking a very, very
fine line on both campaigns.
MATTHEWS: Just a minute. Just a minute. Mr. Khizr Khan wrote an article
about what happened with his son, he brought the story out to the public.
I agree, I would always be suspicious of this if I were what you`re doing.
But I think in this case, he`s the one that came forward.
Anyway, Michael Caputo, please come back again. You make good points.
CAPUTO: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Up next, it`s a question we have asked before, but is this the
final straw? You know, what`s the final straw mean with Donald Trump?
Will voters give him a pass again or forget about it, move on to something
We`ve got new polling that shows Hillary Clinton did get a big lead, a big
– we call it a bump, out of the Democratic Convention. You can feel it in
Philly. It felt good there. It felt like the Democrats were getting their
act together, although her speech wasn`t the best speech and that`s always
been the case at Democratic conventions. I think the best speech was
probably Mr. Khan`s.
Anyway, the HARDBALL roundtable will be here next. You`re watching
HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Donald Trump`s attack on the Khan family has created yet another crisis for
the Republican nominee. Unlike last comments, this confrontation seems to
raise serious questions about Donald Trump`s temperament.
Anyway, Trump`s about to take the stage at the campaign rally up in
Pennsylvania. And tonight, new polling shows Hillary Clinton getting a
sizeable bump out of the Democratic convention.
Let`s check the HARDBALL scoreboard. According to a new CNN/Opinion
Research poll, Clinton leads Trump by nine, that`s national. It`s Clinton
52, Trump 43. Last week, he held a three point lead. It was Trump ahead
by three. So, it`s a 12-point shift there.
Similar story from a new CBS national poll where Clinton`s lead is now
seven. It`s Clinton 46 percent, Trump down at 39 percent. The race had
been tied at 42 percent after the Republican convention.
Well, joining me for tonight`s roundtable, Robert Costa, national political
reporter at “The Washington Post” and an MSNBC political analyst, Jay
Newton-Small, Washington correspondent for “Time Magazine”, and Howard
Fineman, of course, global editorial director for “The Huffington Post”.
Howard, I keep waiting for Trump to sort of implode on certain issues.
He`s a nationalist, and then he goes and asks Putin to intervene or the
Soviet, what it is, the Russian defense intelligence operation to intervene
in the American political election by going after Hillary Clinton`s e-mail.
And then he goes and trashes a Gold Star family.
That`s not comporting with nationalism. Nationalism is gross patriotism.
Why is he doing these things?
HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: As a matter of fact, the Khan family
tonight on your show was the utter expression literally of American
MATTHEWS: This is the place you can –
FINEMAN: You heard Mr. Khan saying there`s no country on earth like this
So ironically, Donald Trump has handed the flag of American exceptionalism
to the Democrats if they can take it.
FINEMAN: Khizr Khan took it.
And the other thing is, that he said, Mr. Khan said, yes, there needs to be
tighter border checks. Yes, we need to have the imams telling the kids to
cool it. Yes, we need to be careful about intervention.
He gave actually the modulated, shrewd version of what Trump has done in
excess. That`s what was so amazing about it. He put himself out of the
MATTHEWS: People in this country, most of us grew up with grandparents or
parents who spoke with an accent.
JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE: Uh-huh. My parents did.
MATTHEWS: And become an – my grandmother talked like Mrs. Doubtfire. We
all know what an Indian or Pakistani accent sound like.
But the kids talk American accent. They are Americans. They`re American
as anybody else. And that`s the exceptionalist part, because that doesn`t
happen in other countries. Not like here. And that`s the great strength.
NEWTON-SMALL: It`s the melting pot.
MATTHEWS: So, we are bragging about America and Trump`s left as a critic.
He blew it on that point, an important point.
NEWTON-SMALL: It`s a nationalism, it`s a me-ism. That hits right into
Hillary`s criticism of it. It`s always I, I, I, me, me, me, not we, we,
we, because for Trump, it`s what`s good for Trump. Not necessarily what`s
good for the nation if you are looking at it in this case, right? So it`s
not exceptional for Trump but it`s exceptional for the nation.
MATTHEWS: You are really good at covering the innards of this campaign.
MATTHEWS: Who inside the campaign comes up to him and says like a Dutch
uncle, Donald, pull back on this, baby, you are in a hole, stop digging.
The more you are seen as an enemy of this family, the more votes you are
going to lose, two people in the suburbs who really want to be nice to
people who want to be Americans.
All I want for somebody to be American is I want them to be American.
That`s my standard. Do they want to be an American? Yes, if they want to
be an American, you`re in.
ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I just got off the phone a couple
of hours with Rudy Giuliani, former New York –
MATTHEWS: What`s he saying about this?
COSTA: Close friend to Donald Trump. His advice to Trump, to the
campaign, ignore the Khans, move on to a different subject.
MATTHEWS: Did he tell them that?
COSTA: I said, Giuliani, have you spoken directly to Trump. He wouldn`t
really give a straight answer in that. He said he`s been in touch with the
campaign this weekend.
But it`s people like Giuliani, like the investor Tom Barrack, not so much
the advisers and the family. It`s the older people of Trump`s generation,
people who don`t work for the campaign, who he`s talking to. And I think
the most telling thing you saw tonight was Trump did not engage again with
the Khans. He did a lot of different attacks but not the Khans.
NEWTON-SMALL: He went to the reps like he always does. He blames fire
marshals for not letting people in, he blames the media for being unfair,
he blames debate preparers for picking the wrong dates.
MATTHEWS: I was talking about Pittsburgh Billy Khan. That`s who I was
talking about is what he should have said.
FINEMAN: We always thought as the grandson of immigrants, we thought he
was Jewish. No. He was Irish. We loved him anyway.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable is sticking with us. Up next, these
three will tell me something I don`t know.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: We`re waiting right now for Donald Trump to take the stage in
the campaign rally if Pennsylvania, a state he needs to win to have a
chance for the presidency. He needs Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, all
big tough ones. Anyway, Hillary Clinton campaigned in Omaha, Nebraska,
that`s red country, alongside billionaire investor Warren Buffett who
challenged Trump to release his tax returns.
Nebraska`s a red state, as I said. It`s one of only two states that splits
its electoral votes by congressional district. Anyway, the Clinton
campaign hopes to pick off the single electoral vote. It`s always the big
city, right? This liberal, the state`s largest city just as Barack Obama
did back in 2008.
And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable to find out something I
Robert, you first.
COSTA: Trump campaign trying to pivot towards the general election. I
expect Trump is going to do some policy speeches in the coming days,
focused on economics
NEWTON-SMALL: Hillary`s people told me she stayed up until to 2:00 a.m.,
the night before her speech in the convention, and actually paid off. A
big Gallup poll showed there was net 17 points. People loved her speech.
MATTHEWS: Why does staying up to 2:00 help?
NEWTON-SMALL: Well, she was polishing it, finishing it, changing it with
MATTHEWS: Did she purposely make it non-lyrical?
NEWTON-SMALL: That`s a good question. I don`t know the answer to that.
FINEMAN: There`s not a speech that Hillary hasn`t stayed up until 2:00 in
the morning for.
Every Republican senator who`s in a contested race has criticized Donald
Trump over this topic.
MATTHEWS: On this thing?
FINEMAN: Every single one of them. None of them has repudiated voting for
the idea of supporting Trump except Mark Kirk of Illinois and he did it
weeks ago. So, they`re still trying to have it both ways. Mr. Khan is
MATTHEWS: In or out, buddy.
FINEMAN: You can`t do it.
MATTHEWS: In or out.
FINEMAN: Yes, right.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Robert Costa. Thank you, Jay Newton-Small,
and, of course, Howard Fineman.
When we return, let me finish the Khans, who joined us and I get a thought
about what they said tonight.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the Khans who joined us here tonight.
Let`s imagine, if we can, the feelings this family has been through, the
pride of having a son serving as a United States Army officer, the horror
of losing him in battle, the pain of that enduring loss, the endlessness of
it. I remember growing up and seeing those three pictures on the wall,
they were the sons of my immigrant grandparents, one in the army air corps,
the other in the United States Army in Europe, a tank commander, the other
my father in his naval uniform.
Well, today, an immigrant family like that is at the center of the American
presidential discussion. Should a group of people who include those like
the Khan family who have given to their country what Abraham Lincoln called
their last full measure of devotion be banned from entering this country?
Should an entire religion be stopped at the airport and publicly suspected
by those in high position for the crimes of the terrorists?
I said last week that Donald Trump has done something unprecedented. He`s
forced this country and both political parties to confront their own
beliefs, to consider their commitment to the country`s founding principles
in a way they haven`t, certainly not in my memory.
There`s only good to be gotten from the Khan family`s willingness to endure
this debate. There`s only good beyond measure in their patriotic
commitment to a country they love.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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