Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript, 8/8/2016
Date: August 8, 2016
Guest: April Ryan, Sahil Kapur, Dana Loesch, Tom Delay, Jared Bernstein,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Is Donald Trump out of the ditch and back to the
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
Can Donald Trump get back on game? After a week of increasingly scary poll
numbers, the Republican nominee went on offense today with a serious speech
on economics and a frontal attack on Hillary Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our party has chosen to make new
history by selecting a nominee from the outside, and that`s outside of the
very, very already proven rigged system.
The other party has reached backwards into the past to choose a nominee
from yesterday who offers only the rhetoric of yesterday and the policies
of yesterday. There will be no change under Hillary Clinton, only four
more years of weakness and President Obama. But we are going to look
boldly into the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Trump`s speech was interrupted more than a dozen times by
protesters. And one protester shouted – and this is ridiculous – “tiny
hands” while he was escorted out of the auditorium. So there`s still humor
Unfortunately for Trump, the bad news continued into this week with a
brand-new poll today that shows him losing by double digits to Hillary
Clinton. Look at this one – 13 points he`s down among likely voters.
That`s the one that matters, that number, 13 points in the latest Monmouth
University poll. Clinton gets 50 percent, which is enough to win. Trump
is at 37. He`s falling into the 30s. That`s a 5-point jump for Clinton
from last month, while Trump is down 6.
And in Pennsylvania, the Keystone State, which in this case is the keystone
to any Trump potential, the one he needs to win, a new poll shows Hillary
Clinton in Pennsylvania with a very healthy lead. She`s up by 10, 47 to
37. Looks like she`s in good shape in Pennsylvania right now, and it`s
Meanwhile, turmoil continued within the ranks of the Republican Party. The
director of communications for the Republican Party of Florida announced he
was quitting today. Fifty Republican national security heavyweights signed
an open letter today challenging their party`s nominee. They wrote Trump,
quote, “would be the most reckless president in American history.”
And a new candidate emerged from the “never Trump” crowd. Evan McMullin –
there he is – who served as the chief policy director for House
Republicans, announced his bid today. But let`s face it, his road is a
tough one. The deadline to get on the ballot has already passed in most of
the states, 26 of them.
Robert Costa is national political director (sic) for “The Washington Post”
and an MSNBC political analyst. And by the way, Eugene Robinson is right
here with me. He`s a columnist for “The Post` and also an MSNBC political
analyst. And Dana Loesch is a talk show radio host and author of “Flyover
Nation,” which is a fascinating idea, by the way, right now.
Let me go to Robert first on the road. What is Trump up to? Has he really
got his boots pulled up now? Is he ready to go? Is he on the road to a
serious campaign, now on?
ROBERT COSTA, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Today`s speech
was certainly an overture to a certain wing of the Republican Party, the
supply-siders, the ideological conservatives, those like Paul Ryan, the
House speaker here in Wisconsin, who have been reluctant to embrace Trump
fully. With Trump`s speech, he was saying to them, On tax cuts, on the
normal things, on economics that you`re usually for, I`m with you.
MATTHEWS: Well, what about the discipline he showed? Did he show
discipline? I see he`s got teleprompter windows there, or plates, whatever
you call them. There they are. You can see them on both sides of him. Is
he reading that speech?
COSTA: He was reading the speech. It was very similar to Donald Trump`s
convention speech both in terms of delivery and the kind of populist
economic message he was pushing.
This is something party leaders were looking for. They`ve looked at Donald
Trump`s campaign over the last 9 or 10 days and they`ve wondered, Can he
get back on track, not only because of the sliding polls but because of the
temperament, the way he`s coming across to voters.
This was a test. Generally, party leaders today looked at this speech, and
they`ve told me that they like what they heard, they just wonder, Can he
stay on message?
MATTHEWS: Dana, let me ask about this whole question. There`s two great
opportunities for Trump. One is only 32 percent of the country, according
to our poll with “The Wall Street Journal,” that says this country is
headed the right direction. And political commentators going back to Jack
Germond have always said, Look at that number. It`ll tell you how an
election`s going to go. If people aren`t happy, they`ll go with somebody
new. They`ll get rid of the person they know already.
The second thing is this general dissatisfaction with the country – it`s
out there. You don`t have to measure it. It`s there. Has he been able
today to get back on that track, to exploit the anger against Hillary, the
anger at the way things are going?
DANA LOESCH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think that today, Chris, was a very
good first step. If he can stay on point like this and really hammer home
how exactly he`s different from Hillary Clinton, what exactly he`s going to
do in order to improve jobs, improve wages, improve just the economy in
general, I think that he stands a very good chance of getting in a good
fighting position and making up some of this lost ground between him and
I think the RCP average had her 7 points ahead of him. He can make up some
of that ground, but he can`t get distracted by all of these non-essential
fights on the sidelines. His fight should be with the Democrat
presidential nominee, not anybody else.
MATTHEWS: Good point. Gene, here`s the thing. When you talk to people,
like my friends at home and relatives, they`ve very disappointed with
Trump. They`re not going to vote for him, they say right now, some of them
say right now. But then they – I say, Well, how about Hillary? No! No!
So is that what Trump`s playing on? He can hit bottom, but bottom is that
point where people say below that number, you got all the Hillary haters.
EUGENE ROBINSON, “WASHINGTON POST,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, if we
were having this conversation a year ago, a year-and-a-half ago, we would
have said the likely Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton, and that
presents an opening for the Republican Party.
ROBINSON: Right. So that opening was there and was going to be there.
But the problem is that Donald Trump has been working to disqualify himself
as president and commander-in-chief, and especially since the two
conventions. That week, that was a disastrous week for him. So you know,
the headlines tomorrow, Man gives speech without melting down. That`s, you
MATTHEWS: … going after Hillary – is there a point beyond which you
cannot win? In other words, does Hillary have a ceiling because people
ROBINSON: Well, you know, I…
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) 60. Can she get beyond 50-some percent, low 50s
ROBINSON: Well, but if her ceiling is low, 50 is fine if his is low 40s.
And that`s – I think he has kind of lowered his ceiling.
ROBINSON: And I think, you know, once you disqualify yourself, if that`s
what you do…
MATTHEWS: I know.
ROBINSON: … it`s hard to get back.
MATTHEWS: I know. I`m wondering…
MATTHEWS: I`m wondering, in his position, if you can put yourself in his
head, if you wish to, in his head – he`s thinking, I`m plummeting right
now. I got – I need to ratchet. I got to stop this elevator from
falling. And one way to stop it from falling is say Hillary, Hillary,
Hillary, Hillary. And – you know, what`s he`s– she`s evil, she`s the
ROBINSON: She`s the devil. She`s – you know, I mean, he`s called her
just about everything. And the attacks I think will intensify…
ROBINSON: … because of, you know, the two things he can do is he can –
he can double down, I think, not so much on the economic stuff…
ROBINSON: … but on the two issues that got him here, which were
immigration and free trade. And I think he can double down on that stuff
and he can continue attacking Clinton. I think that`s what he`s going to
do. But again, the question is, Has he disqualified himself?
MATTHEWS: Yes. What do you think of that? Does he see it the way Gene`s
been analyzing it here, which is he has disqualified himself, but he`s not
going to quit the race, so he`s going to have to – the way I think he
protects himself against falling continually is say at some point, the
hatred of Hillary by the conservatives and the right of center people, is
going to be enough to keep me from freefall. Is that what he`s doing right
now? Because a lot of it today was against her.
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry, Robert. Robert. Go ahead.
COSTA: What you`re seeing from Donald Trump is someone who doesn`t see the
summer season as particularly crucial to his campaign. When you talk to
people close to Trump, they say he wants to bring down Hillary`s
favorability rating. And he also wants to try to right his campaign before
the debates in September because those are the real showcases for the swing
voters, whether it`s your family, Chris, in Pennsylvania or other places
across the country. Those debates are what`s going to be the question we
MATTHEWS: I agree.
COSTA: Does Trump have the ability to be president? Can he have a
message, though, going into those debates? That`s what something like this
speech is all about.
MATTHEWS: Well, again, to your point, Gene, about unfitness – here it is.
As I said earlier, a group of 50 high-ranking Republican national security
officials warned about the prospect of a Trump presidency in a letter just
They wrote, quote, “We are convinced that he would be a dangerous president
and would put at risk our country`s national security and well-being. Mr.
Trump lacks the temperament to be president. We are convinced that in the
Oval Office, he would be the most reckless president in American history.”
That`s the end of that.
Anyway, Trump responded today in a statement. He said, “The names on this
letter are the ones the American people should look to for answers on why
the world is a mess, and we thank them for coming forward so everyone in
the country knows who deserves the blame for making the world such a
Dana, your thoughts.
LOESCH: I think, actually, that`s a pretty good comeback for Trump because
there are a number of different ways that he could have gone that are very
I think really focusing back on what really discredited Hillary Clinton
with a lot of independents and a lot of moderate Democrats, there are
genuine concerns about how she would perform with regards to foreign
policy. And it`s smart for a candidate to focus on that, and that`s what
he needs to continue to do, bring up what was actually going on in Libya,
bring up relations with Egypt and Muslim Brotherhood and backing a
dictatorship in Honduras.
I mean, there`s quite a record there that he can really focus on. And if
he wants to have a shot at this – and like I said, if he wants to close
the gap, Chris, that is what he has to do.
MATTHEWS: You`re offering this as sort of like the subjunctive, with a lot
of “ifs” thrown in there. Do you think he`s doing it? Do you think he`s
back on the rails?
LOESCH: I think it`s too soon to say that. The statement was a good sign,
but I kind of need more than just one example. I need three in order to
MATTHEWS: OK, here`s a question…
LOESCH: … with confidence that there`s a pattern.
MATTHEWS: Suppose you got a firing squad of six guys shooting at you,
metaphorically, and you say, I`m just going to…
LOESCH: I don`t deal with metaphorically! I deal with facts!
MATTHEWS: OK, I`m just going to focus on one of those guys with a rifle.
No, you can`t do that. And that`s why Trump has so many people firing at
him. He`s got 50 foreign policy experts attacking him. You know, he`s got
all these Republican congressmen we`re going to talk about in the next
segments who are saying, I`m not going to vote for the guy.
ROBINSON: Well, here`s the problem. We are talking about this election as
if it were a referendum on Donald Trump, which it has become. That`s not
good for him.
ROBINSON: It`s simply not good for him. He wants to make it a referendum
on Hillary Clinton.
MATTHEWS: And the way things are.
ROBINSON: And we`re talking about whether Donald Trump can two days in a
row act like a normal, sane candidate. And we don`t know yet. We don`t
know the answer to that question.
MATTHEWS: My concern is, as a commentator, is that – Hillary wins, great,
but the bad part of that is people will then say all the concerns the Trump
race were illegitimate. And I think to a lot of American people, they are
quite legitimate and they should be addressed.
Anyway, Robert Costa, Eugene Robinson – did somebody want to say
something? Robert, I heard you there.
COSTA: Chris, I think that`s the key question here, this lingering
populism. Even if Trump loses, it remains here. I`m here in Wisconsin
because the speaker has a primary tomorrow in Wisconsin, where people are
just spoiling for a fight. And you see this across the country. They may
not win, but they have anger about trade and the economy.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I think that needs to be addressed. I think the
establishment shouldn`t end this campaign fat and happy. Anyway, Gene
Robinson, I don`t think they will.
MATTHEWS: … thank you, and Robert Costa.
Tonight at 11:00 Eastern, by the way, join me for a special live edition of
HARDBALL tonight. We`re going live tonight at 11:00 with the latest poll
numbers on the president, plus all the reaction and analysis of what
Trump`s doing today. Lots happening hour by hour. We`re going to catch it
late tonight. We`re going to talk to Speaker Paul Ryan`s primary opponent,
by the way, give that guy a little attention tonight, the guy running
against him. Tomorrow, that`s the primary in Wisconsin.
Anyway, coming up – the list of Republican House members who say they
simply can`t support Donald Trump, and it`s getting longer, this list. And
up next, former House majority leader Mr. Tom Delay, “The Hammer,” is going
to be here to tell us why he`s still on the fence about Mr. Trump.
Plus, Trump delivered a major economic speech today. (INAUDIBLE) while he
tried to lay out his vision for the economy, he spent plenty of time
blasting President Obama, who did, actually, if you think about it, pull
this country out of its worst economic situation since the Great
Depression. Didn`t he? Look at the numbers.
And listen to the language Donald Trump has been using against Hillary
Clinton lately. He`s called her unfit, deranged – that was on the cue
card – and lacking the temperament to do the job. He`s using the very
language, the exact same words against Clinton that his critics, including
her, have been saying about him, but he`s now disciplined in doing it.
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with the Trump conundrum, this failure of a
presidential campaign to be anything more than an everyday assault on
something the Republican candidate for president just said.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, earlier, we showed you that Clinton – Hillary Clinton`s
up 10 points over Trump in Pennsylvania. That`s very important. And how
about that Senate race up in Pennsylvania?
Let`s go to the HARDBALL “Scoreboard.”
Democratic challenger Katie McGinty is leading Republican incumbent Pat
Toomey, but it`s a 2-point race – 2 points – McGinty at 42, Toomey at 40,
putting that race within the margin of error, certainly. That`s going to
be a very hard to call race from now to November.
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. After a tough week last week, Donald
Trump`s trying to turn the page today. But as he looks to make a comeback
– that`s the right word, “comeback – he needs one – Republicans continue
to break from their party`s nominee.
Just over the past weekend, this weekend, U.S. Congressman Scott Rigell of
Virginia announced he`ll vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, whom
we had on the show on Friday. He`s the latest Republican congressman to
say he won`t vote for Trump. He joins a growing list of House members,
including, as of today, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of – who`s Cuban-American down
in Florida, a very conservative woman, too – interesting – Richard Hanna
of New York, who`s retiring, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, represents
Lehigh, the key part of Pennsylvania, Adam Kinzinger and Bob Dold of
The list of Republican senators who so far say they`re not voting for Trump
include, of course, Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina,
Ben Sasse of Nebraska – he`s the new kid on the block – Mark Kirk,
worried about his re-election in Illinois, Jeff Flake, who`s one of the
stars of the future out in Arizona, and Dean Heller of Nevada. All of them
Joining me right now is former Republican congressman and House majority
leader Tom Delay, who hasn`t aged a day since the last time I saw him.
There he is. Hi, Tom. Hi, Tom. How`re you doing? Anyway, he`s also the
TOM DELAY (R-TX), FMR. HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Hi, Chris.
MATTHEWS: … “Revival, Revolution and Rebirth: A Radical Call From the
Former Majority Leader of the United States.”
Mr. Delay, tell us about Trump and how he fits into where your Republican
Party was headed when you left it, when you stopped being a leader? What`s
going on in your party?
DELAY: Well, unfortunately, the party is split apart mainly, and I think
this has been said by you and so many others, is the type of leadership
that we`ve had in the House and the Senate over the last few years has
greatly exasperated a great number of people in the party. And they`ll
take anybody that will shake up or throw a bomb right in the middle of
Washington, D.C., and we`re seeing the results of that.
The party is split. People are all over the place. As far as I`m
concerned. The constitutional conservatives are in disarray. They don`t
know what to do. It`s – it`s – it`s pretty dismal.
MATTHEWS: Where would you place Trump in philosophy?
DELAY: Well, he`s not a conservative. That`s for sure. He`s becoming
more and more conservative. His speech today was a pretty good speech. I
don`t agree with him on trade. He`s wrong about NAFTA. But it was a
pretty good speech, a good, solid Republican speech that I appreciate.
And then he had to throw a few things in there like day care and other
things that are unconstitutional. But you know, I thought it was – I
thought it was pretty good, and I think a lot of people will be – will
breathe a sigh of relief to hear him give this kind of speech. He needs to
do more of this all the way through the rest of the election.
MATTHEWS: Well, he`s for lower tax, top tax rate, obviously, wants to get
it down to 33 percent. He wants corporate down to 15. They`re all
understandable conservative goals, supply-side goals.
What didn`t you like about his…
MATTHEWS: … plan to take a – give you a tax deduction, for people who
pay taxes, of course. You don`t get a tax deduction if you don`t have any
You can get a tax deduction for what he called the average child care
expense, so you can`t go hire some Ph.D. to take care of your kid and
charge the whole amount, obviously.
MATTHEWS: But he`s saying you can get a full deduction. You said that`s
We have been wanting, at least for the last four years, in the election of
`12 and – and `14, is people have been calling for a flat tax or – or a
consumption tax and get rid of this progressivism in our taxes.
He said himself that he`s – he`s – anybody that makes under a certain
amount of money won`t pay any taxes.
Everybody needs to be paying taxes. And – and – and this going from
seven rates to four rates, that`s just playing games, and, frankly, it`s
playing Democrat games.
Cutting taxes is very, very important. Trying to figure out how we can
stimulate growth is very important, and I – I think he`s getting there.
But, for instance, he never said anything about spending. Spending is so
out of control. You can`t cut all these taxes and not cut spending, too.
MATTHEWS: I heard it. He doesn`t want to touch entitlements, like Social
Security and stuff like that.
What do you think, on a political basis? Can you read the House anymore in
terms of numbers? You need 218 to rule. I haven`t heard anybody say, your
party is going to lose the House.
Is that a smart bet, that the House is there for the Republicans no matter
what Trump does?
DELAY: Well, I think – I – I think the House is in very good shape.
The members are not running on the presidential election. I think this is
going to be a rare election where you have members of the House, at least
in their districts, will poll more vote – votes than the president will.
I think a lot of these Senate races will pull more vote – will pull more
votes than the president will. I think – I think the vote for president
is going to be really soft and – and low and Hillary and – and – and
Trump are going to have to work very hard just to get out their vote.
And, right now, Hillary has an up on that because she has an organization,
and Trump doesn`t. So – so all these members and these senators are
running their own races, which they ought to be doing.
DELAY: And they ought to be talking about what they would do when they go
into Congress. Regardless of who`s going to be president, it`s going to
take good solid constitutional conservatives to stand up to either Trump or
MATTHEWS: What about the ethnic thing?
You know, back when I was growing up – well, when I first started paying
attention to politics in about the `60s, the black vote was about 2-1
Democrat. About a third of the African-Americans voted Republican.
You had people, like famous people, Lionel Hampton, and, of course, Jackie
Robinson, they were all Republicans, and a bunch more famous people, Wilt
Chamberlain. But there were a lot of famous, well-known people in sports
and entertainment and all that we knew were Republican.
And then, because of what happened in the `60s and Johnson and the civil
rights bill, it went to about 90-10 African-American vote for Democrats
And now, when I look at these numbers, I just saw a poll recently – it`s
out there now – that shows, in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Donald Trump is
getting zero black votes. I mean, it`s almost unimaginable there are not
some conservative African-American guys and women out there. Zero.
What`s that doing to your party, in terms of getting a – a fair shake in
the – in the black community?
DELAY: Well, we`ve never really done very well over the last few years…
MATTHEWS: But zero?
DELAY: Zero – zero is – is pretty bad. But that`s the result of a very
active primary where some members, including Donald Trump, didn`t watch
what they were saying…
DELAY: … or – or projected the fact that they didn`t care.
DELAY: I mean, how many times did Donald Trump say – say, I don`t care if
the conservatives vote for me?
DELAY: Hopefully, that can be turned around a little bit between now and
the general election. But this is going to be – as you know, Chris, this
is – this is going to be a referendum on Hillary or Trump.
Right now, the referendum is on Trump, which hurts him. But I – I think
MATTHEWS: I agree.
DELAY: … is going to be – because Hillary is so flawed, you can turn
that around pretty quickly.
MATTHEWS: I know all about that, Mr. DeLay. One last question.
When are the number of Hispanic voters in Texas, who are legal voters,
going to make that state purple and no longer red, and maybe even blue?
When is that going to happen, the way you look at the demographics?
DELAY: In Texas? In Texas?
DELAY: Not. The Hispanics are – a lot of Hispanics are Republican in
DELAY: … particularly the small business owners…
MATTHEWS: You don`t see that state turning and becoming…
DELAY: … the…
MATTHEWS: You don`t see the state of Texas getting to be competitive?
DELAY: No, not at all, not for a while.
MATTHEWS: OK, well, all my…
DELAY: It would take a lot.
MATTHEWS: … progressive friends are hoping it moves faster than you
Anyway, Tom DeLay, thank you for coming on.
I appreciate it.
DELAY: My pleasure, Chris.
MATTHEWS: And, by the way, you gave me the scoop when you quit. I`ll
never forget. I like scoops. I love scoops.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, up next: Donald Trump says he`s the candidate best
positioned to fix the economy, but what exactly needs fixing? If it ain`t
broken, what do you want to fix? Well, what is it – Well, there`s things
that are clearly broken, by the voters` perspective. They are not happy
with the way this country`s going.
The turnaround we have seen the last eight years, that debate is coming up
And a reminder: Join me for a special edition of HARDBALL tonight at 11:00
Eastern. We`re going to have a whole new show at 11:00.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
Delta`s CEO has apologized to travelers after an outage forced the airline
to cancel more than 400 flights. Many others were delayed. The company is
working to resume regular service.
Hundreds of firefighters are battling the so-called Pilot Fire burning in
California`s San Bernardino Mountains. The blaze has destroyed 4,500 acres
and is only 5 percent contained.
And President Obama spent the first Monday of his two-week vacation golfing
with basketball star Steph Curry on Martha`s Vineyard – back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don`t win anymore, but when I
am president, we will start winning again, big league.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: There will be no change under Hillary Clinton, only four more years
of weakness and President Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Republican nominee Donald Trump, there he is delivering a major economic
speech in Detroit today, calling for massive tax cuts, in fact, the top
income rate of just 33 percent, rather than the 25 percent he had been
proposing, a 15 percent, 15 percent top corporate rate, reducing the number
of tax brackets from seven down to three, fully tax-deductible child care,
a repeal, of course, of the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, and, of course,
a renegotiation of all trade deals.
Trump also criticized what he calls the Obama/Clinton economic policies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Their policies produced 1.2 percent growth, the weakest so-called
recovery since the Great Depression. It`s been written about all over.
It`s a disaster.
And a doubling of the national debt during the Obama years. There are now
94.3 million Americans outside of the labor force. Homeownership is at its
lowest rate in 51 years. Nearly 12 million people have been added to the
food stamp, and these people are growing, and it`s growing so rapidly since
President Obama took office.
We have the lowest labor force participation rates in four decades. One in
five American households do not have a single member in the labor force,
not a single member of the household. These are the real unemployment
numbers. The 5 percent figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in American
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Of course, what Trump didn`t talk about was to give President
Obama, who has a 53 percent job approval rating right now, credit for the
economic recovery since he took office.
Under the Obama administration`s policies, the 2008 recession came to an
end, the president pushed through a stimulus package to rejuvenate the
economy, bailed out the American auto industry – it`s still there –
pushed through health care reform, tax cuts, Wall Street reform and
negotiated the largest trade deal in history.
And since President Obama took office, 10 million jobs have been added, 10
million. Job openings are at a 15-year high right now. The unemployment
rate is down from 7.8 percent in January of 2009 to 4.9 percent today. And
there are 15 million fewer uninsured health care people.
Anyway, Peter Navarro is a Trump economic adviser, and Jared Bernstein is a
former economic adviser for Vice President Joe Biden.
Thank you so much, Peter.
Let me ask you, Peter, about this debt. Now, sometimes, Democrats talk
about the debt, but usually it`s Republicans talking about the debt. And
here`s a Republican presidential nominee who is talking about how he`s
going to reduce the debt, he`s going to stop all these deficits with a huge
program of tax cuts, reducing the top corporate rate down to 15 percent,
the top individual rate down to 33 percent, all – a big tax deduction for
child care, good things, but no spending cuts, which means, by definition,
even though, even with dynamic score keeping and all that babble, this guy
is going to increase the national debt.
First thing he is going to do is increase the national debt, after
campaigning against it. Your thoughts on that topic?
PETER NAVARRO, TRUMP ECONOMIC ADVISER: OK. Let`s see if we can put this
MATTHEWS: No, just talk about that. Before you put it in perspective,
let`s talk about the debt, the debt.
NAVARRO: Yes. Yes. Yes.
No, the benchmark is – no, and we`re going to talk about the debt. The
NAVARRO: … is President Obama in 2008, $10 trillion in debt. He is
going to leave with $20 trillion of debt.
So, how do you on attack Trump on that? So, here`s what you`re missing
MATTHEWS: Attacking Trump? Trump has been campaigning on reducing the
NAVARRO: This was a great day for Donald Trump, because this plan…
MATTHEWS: OK. You do have every time. Peter, this is an interview
program. And I ask some questions, and you answer them. That`s how it
NAVARRO: I`m trying to answer the question.
MATTHEWS: I`m sorry…
MATTHEWS: OK. This is an interview.
MATTHEWS: My question is, how is he going to reduce the debt if he`s
NAVARRO: By doubling the GDP growth rate – by doubling the GDP growth
MATTHEWS: Oh, doubling it.
NAVARRO: … by regulatory policy, energy policy, tax policy and tariff
That`s what everybody`s missing here. You can`t just look at – you can`t
cherry-pick the tax program, and not look at the whole Trump plan.
MATTHEWS: OK. Great.
NAVARRO: If he`s able to double the GDP growth rate back to its historical
average of 3.5 percent…
NAVARRO: It`s been 1.8 for 15 years of bad trade deals – we will have all
the tax revenues we need to more than offset any tax cuts.
JARED BERNSTEIN, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST TO VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to – let me go to Peter for a second here.
You want to respond to that? Because here`s the question. They are
talking about cutting the corporate rate, the individual rate, giving tax
deductions for child care, all that good liberal stuff. It used to be good
liberal stuff. Now it`s conservative supply-side.
But here`s the problem, and then raising tariffs.
BERNSTEIN: Yes. So, look…
MATTHEWS: And the cost of goods all go up across the country.
BERNSTEIN: If you could eat ice cream sundaes all week and never gain a
pound, then supply-side economics would work.
When their – their initial plan lost $10 trillion in revenue over 10
years. That was scored by the Tax Policy Center, nonpartisan group. So,
they went back to the drawing board and said, that`s too much on the debt
and the deficit, so they recalibrated. And now they`re – they haven`t
said how much, but probably something in the neighborhood of maybe $3
trillion they are going to lose because they lowered that.
But it may actually be a lot worse than that. And you are exactly right to
focus in on this inconsistency between the idea of massively cutting taxes,
a corporate rate that goes down by more than half – there`s something
called a pass-through rate here that`s going to be a huge incentive for
everyone to pass their income through their personal side. That`s going to
be a big revenue loser.
And Donald Trump says he`s going to hold Social Security constant, he`s
going to hold Medicare constant, he`s going to add to defense spending.
Once you`re losing this much revenue, you can`t possibly do that without
doing one of two things. You either raise the deficit and the debt, or you
have to cut a whole lot of spending or…
MATTHEWS: Peter, my question to you is, once – Peter – I mean, Jared
makes a point here.
If Trump was confident of his economic nostrum here, of his plan for lower
tax rates, just three of them, the three – the three rates, why did he
raise them? If he thought lower tax rates meant more revenue – I mean,
more GDP growth, why did he raise the rates?
NAVARRO: Because in terms of the deal that`s got to go through Congress,
that makes sense.
But let`s look at the synergies. Why do you want to cut the corporate tax
rate? It`s not to enrich the corporations. It`s to make sure that they
are not pushed to Mexico because we have the highest corporate tax rate in
MATTHEWS: Yes. OK.
NAVARRO: This is what you guys are missing. You just want to do this
Robin Hood kind of thing, where just look at taxes.
MATTHEWS: No, no, he`s doing the Robin Hood.
MATTHEWS: He`s doing the Robin Hood.
Let me ask you – OK.
MATTHEWS: In `86, we lowered the top rate down to just about 28 percent,
NAVARRO: We grow another GDP point, Chris.
MATTHEWS: I know you`re setting all these goals out here, but they don`t
mean anything yet.
BERNSTEIN: Believe me, if supply-side – hold on, Peter. Hold on, Peter.
NAVARRO: This is not supply-side, Jared. This is not supply.
BERNSTEIN: Yes, it is.
NAVARRO: This is not supply-side.
BERNSTEIN: When you talk about…
BERNSTEIN: Listen, when you talk about…
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to basics, where most people watching are going
to pay attention to this.
The economy, according to the American people, we are heading in the wrong
direction. Let`s face it – 32 percent of the country says we are headed
the wrong direction.
MATTHEWS: Is that a problem for Hillary? If the country is happy with the
current economic policies, why are more than two-thirds of people against
the way things are headed?
BERNSTEIN: I actually think that when the people – when people look at
the alternatives in terms of the economic plans that you are hearing, the
MATTHEWS: No, but think of what is happening right now.
Why do two-thirds of the American people-plus say we`re going the wrong
direction? Why are they saying we are heading the wrong direction?
BERNSTEIN: Because the growth in the economy is not reaching them the way
And that`s something both campaigns happen to agree on. The problem – and
this is very much in the context of what we are talking about – the Trump
campaign looked at this problem that the GDP growth isn`t reaching the
middle class the way it should and they said, that`s why we have to enrich
our corporations and enrich the wealthy and eliminate the – eliminate the
estate tax, eliminate the estate tax, and cut the top rate from 40 percent
to 33 percent.
MATTHEWS: He`s going to eliminate the estate tax?
BERNSTEIN: He`s going to eliminate the estate tax. He`s going to
eliminate the estate tax, which affects 0.2 percent of estates.
MATTHEWS: Why is he doing that, Peter?
NAVARRO: Look, here`s the issue.
MATTHEWS: Peter, why is he getting rid of the estate tax?
NAVARRO: Jared and Clinton want to do the standard Keynesian stimulus,
NAVARRO: We know where that has taken us.
We have doubled our national debt. We have got a crazy balance sheet at
the Federal Reserve with all this easy money. We have gone eight years and
we have got the weakest recovery since World War II.
MATTHEWS: I know. OK.
NAVARRO: Obama could – got a free pass for the first year or two in
office. He`s been in there eight years.
Trump is attacking this economy from a structural point of view through
comprehensive tax reform, trade reform, regulatory reform and energy
reform. He wants to leverage on all the strengths of our economy. This
economy, energy economy alone, we are blessed, and Hillary Clinton wants to
put coal mining out of business. She said so.
MATTHEWS: I know, Jared.
Jared, I got to end with a thought, which is, you want to live like a
Republican, vote like a Democrat. The Republicans who are voting against
Obama are doing…
NAVARRO: Reagan Democrats, Chris.
MATTHEWS: No, all Republicans. Anybody with wealth in this country is
doing incredibly well. The stock market is up to 18500. It was down
MATTHEWS: Obama tripled it, tripled the wealth of people with money in the
market in the last eight years, tripled it.
MATTHEWS: No Republican has ever done that. And why do they want to
change that policy? Explain that, Peter. Why don`t they like what he`s
BERNSTEIN: The one sector that`s actually been really profitable is the
NAVARRO: Because the American people in this country are taking it in the
shorts because of bad trade policies.
BERNSTEIN: The one sector that`s been deeply profitable is the corporate
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, all I know is that…
BERNSTEIN: And so they want to make…
NAVARRO: All our jobs are going from Detroit to Mexico.
BERNSTEIN: I`m sorry. I don`t mean to talk over…
The problem with this – that plan is, why do Republicans think that the
best way to get people who are rich to do more, work harder, is to give
them tax breaks, and the best way to get working people to work hard is to
cut their programs?
It`s a weird thing – punish the poor, reward the rich. It just seems very
By the way, this program is all about tax cuts for the rich. Look at this
NAVARRO: No, it`s not. That`s what you`re missing. It`s all about
reducing the trade deficit, the Trump trade doctrine.
MATTHEWS: Top corporate rate, 15 percent.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. All right.
BERNSTEIN: There`s not one thing in this plan that reduces the trade
deficit. There is not one thing in this plan that reduces the trade
deficit. All it is tax cuts for rich people. I`m sorry. I have to talk
over him because he won`t let anybody get a word in. We have tried this a
million times and it never works.
MATTHEWS: – Jared, we will continue with this and I will clarify later.
Coming up, tough talk. There`s nothing new for Donald Trump to use harsh
words for his critics. Now it seems a lot of the language he`s choosing
comes from Hillary Clinton`s own campaign language and her allies. The
roundtable is coming here next with that.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Unstable Hillary.
She`s really pretty close to unhinged. She`s like an unbalanced person.
She`s a dangerous liar and you saw that with the FBI director.
Honestly, I don`t think she`s all there.
He made a deal with the devil. She`s the devil. He made a deal with the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Can he get worse?
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Donald Trump hasn`t been shy in his attacks against Democratic rival
Hillary Clinton, but it`s getting worse as he just co-opted some of her
language being used against him. Watch him. He`s throwing it back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Somebody who makes those
kinds of statements doesn`t have the judgment, the temperament, the
understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world.
TRUMP: She lacks the judgment, temperament and moral character, moral
character, to lead this country.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: A man you can bait with a tweet
is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.
TRUMP: Hillary Clinton furthermore can never be trusted with national
CLINTON: There is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump is unqualified to
be president and unfit to be commander in chief.
TRUMP: Hillary`s central role in making Iran the dominant Islamic power
that they are today in the Middle East proves that she is totally unfit to
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me in tonight`s roundtable is Howard Fineman,
MSNBC political analyst and global editorial director for “The Huffington
Post”, and April Ryan is Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio
Networks, and Sahil Kapur is national political reporter for “Bloomberg”.
You know, I think we should call this the playpen for politics. I mean,
that is distressing. But there you have Trump using Hillary`s ammo,
throwing back the live grenades.
SAHIL KAPUR, BLOOMBERG: To your point, there is a little bit of an “I know
you are but what am I” quality to the way Trump is dealing with this. But
I`m not sure what he`s going for, because he`s not going to win an election
if the topic is temperament and qualifications. Let me give you some of
the numbers –
MATTHEWS: How about if it`s Hillary hatred?
KAPUR: Well, if he can get her on trust, if he can talk about status quo,
coziness with Wall Street, being secretive, things that people – concerns
people have about her. But on temperament, a Monmouth poll out today said
that 61 percent of Americans believe Clinton has the right temperament to
be president, 27 percent said that about Trump.
Qualifications, “The Washington Post” poll yesterday, 60 percent said she`s
qualify to be president, 38 percent said that about him. He`s not going to
win if this is the topic of debate.
MATTHEWS: April, it looks like he thinks that he stops his freefall by
hitting her hard because everybody has to say they don`t like Trump one
week, then has to confront my option is Hillary so attack her.
APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: You know, I mean, we all
covered the RNC convention and all it seemed to be about –
MATTHEWS: Some of us enjoyed it more or less than others.
RYAN: Yes. Yes. You enjoyed it? OK.
Here`s the bottom line: it felt like the platform was nothing but –
anything but Hillary. Anything but Hillary. And where was – where was
the policy? Where was the initiatives, what I`m going to do in the first
MATTHEWS: That`s not what`s going on here.
RYAN: I know, and that`s the problem. You cannot build a foundation on
that. It`s about high school back and forth or grade school pulling my
hair. It is ugly and it`s vile. It`s ugly.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST: He`s got to begin somewhere. It reminds
me, my analogy would be to Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the knight
keeps getting chopped up into pieces and saying it`s a mere flesh wound.
That`s Donald Trump at this point. He`s been chopped to pieces.
MATTHEWS: I think it`s simply a binary choice. Nobody is thinking – most
people aren`t thinking about Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. They are thinking
these two – one guy, one woman and they are saying you don`t like me, how
about her? You don`t like me, how about her?
FINEMAN: The reason he`s doing that is a very good one. You cited a bunch
of statistics. The other statistics are that Hillary Clinton is still not
particularly well-liked or trusted.
RYAN: That`s true.
FINEMAN: And if he can get leverage on her and get the conversation about
her, instead of about him –
RYAN: That`s true.
MATTHEWS: He wants a second look.
KAPUR: – fractured at the highest levels, a lot of them don`t like Trump
and they`re not satisfied with him. The one thing they can unite around is
they don`t want her. They divided not only on things like temperament and
things like tone. They are divided on major policy issues like
immigration, like trade.
MATTHEWS: What`s the Hillary minimum?
KAPUR: I`m sorry?
MATTHEWS: How many people will vote just against Hillary? Thirty-three
percent? Thirty-two percent?
KAPUR: I don`t know –
MATTHEWS: What can you get just running –
FINEMAN: But the problem is for Trump, is that he is now doing what he
should have been done with many weeks ago which is trying to gather his
FINEMAN: The base, those polls are showing that white voters are fleeing
Donald Trump in huge numbers right now. He doesn`t even have a base. He
doesn`t even have his base together.
MATTHEWS: But the basic reason is the fact they don`t like Hillary.
That`s what –
FINEMAN: That`s the only way to get them together.
RYAN: This is a deflection off of a fact that he has no ground, no policy,
and he`s let the genie out of the bottle and –
MATTHEWS: Well, he has a policy.
RYAN: What`s the policy?
MATTHEWS: I don`t like trade, I don`t like immigration, I don`t like
stupid wars. He`s got a policy.
RYAN: Yes, his daughter talks about helping women. That`s what his
daughter saying –
MATTHEWS: We are not stupid. They`re for him for their reasons.
KAPUR: The Monmouth poll Trump says he has not gained a single point with
Republicans. This is the base he needs to consolidate –
RYAN: He`s not telling us all his policies.
MATTHEWS: OK. The roundtable is sticking with us.
And up next, these people tell me something I don`t know.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back.
And join us at 11:00 tonight. We`re going to have a special live edition
of HARDBALL tonight. It will probably be wilder, with the latest on
Trump`s hopes for a comeback such as they are in this wild race for 2016.
That`s 11:00 p.m. tonight Eastern, right here on MSNBC, the place for
HARDBALL back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with the HARDBALL roundtable.
And we`re starting with Sahil. Tell me something I don`t know.
KAPUR: The most important number to watch for is the share of the white
vote in this election because Trump is not going to do well with
minorities. He is at 43 to 52 percent right now with the whites, according
to the two latest polls. Mitt Romney got 59 percent in 2012 and lost.
Trump has a very steep hill to climb.
RYAN: The Democrats are looking for a new Southern strategy. They`re in
hopes of gaining – they think they can win Georgia, Virginia, North
Carolina, and Louisiana, all by not dealing with the issue of guns right
now, because they feel everyone in the South likes guns, what-have-you, and
MATTHEWS: Yes, good point. I like that. They`re going to cool it on the
guns in Louisiana.
FINEMAN: OK, there`s a minor third party –
MATTHEWS: The gun rights (INAUDIBLE) are.
FINEMAN: There`s a minor third party anti-Trump candidate who announced
his interest today in Utah. Don`t totally dismiss him because the filing
deadlines are still open in Utah, Colorado, and New Hampshire. Three
states where if he can take a view votes away from Donald Trump, he can
MATTHEWS: No one is big in Utah.
Anyway, Howard Fineman, April Ryan, Sahil Kapur.
After this, we`ll be right back. I`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a Trump conundrum. This failure of a
presidential campaign to be anything more than an everyday assault on
something the Republican candidate for president just said. The problem
with it is that it`s not getting us anywhere. What we need out of every
presidential election is a debate, one of consequence to all of us.
Today, less than a third of people in this country believe we are headed in
the right direction. What about the rest of the country? Are they wrong?
Are they stupid, ignorant, ungrateful? Are they unaware of the glory these
Well, this is what this election should be about – it should be about
changing what needs do be changed, a re-charting of the country`s economic
course. And that is precisely what we`re not talking about because we`re
talking so much about the malapropisms of the Republican candidate, the
gaffes which become the conversation pieces of daily coverage.
I`m not saying they don`t deserve it. And certainly anything to do with
nuclear weapons needs our attention, but they are crowding us out of
getting to where this country is headed. Don`t you think we should look at
what these trade deals have done to us, what part they`re played in our
plank in the hollowing out of our manufacturing, the death of so many
industrial jobs? Don`t you think we should take a hard look at these wars
in the Middle East, the Bushes have taken us into and left us there? Don`t
you think we should take up the question of why this country lacks a
working immigration policy? Why it`s really about cheap labor and the lack
of any real enforcement against illegal hiring?
All this is getting lost in the daily chase after the latest Trump
buffoonery. All this could be lost after election should the country
decide to reject Trump as unfit without ever really taking to heart the bad
direction of the economy in a culture which rewards an educated elite but
punishes those as a Clinton once said, his name was Bill, work hard –
people who work hard and play by the rules.
What I fear most is the smugness of those who watch Trump lose and act as
if his complaints about this country`s direction lack merit, because they
merit our attention, and action very much.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being us. Join us again, 11:00
Eastern tonight, for a special live edition of HARDBALL.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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