Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 8/15/2016
Date: August 15, 2016
Guest: Dana Loesch, Nina Khrushcheva, John Brabender, Jennifer Granholm,
April Ryan, Eli Stokols
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump takes on terrorists.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
For the third Monday in a row, Donald Trump is trying to regain the
offensive after three weeks of slipping poll numbers that have damaged his
competitive position. Today, in what was billed as a major speech on
foreign policy, Trump laid out new details about how he would fight
terrorism at home and abroad.
It comes after Trump last week accused both President Obama and Hillary
Clinton of being the founders of ISIS.
Well, today, he attacked Clinton, saying she lacked – catch this – the
mental and physical stamina to take on the terrorist group. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: With one episode of bad judgment
after another, Hillary Clinton`s policies launched ISIS onto the world
Importantly, she also lacks the mental and physical stamina to take on ISIS
and all of the many adversaries we face not only in terrorism, but in trade
and every other challenge we must confront to turn our great country
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, chief among Trump`s new proposals today is what Trump
calls a new policy of – catch this phrase – “extreme vetting” which would
accompany his proposed temporary Muslim ban on those seeking entry to the
United States from countries affected by terrorism. Here`s Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats
we face today. I call it extreme vetting. I call it extreme. I call it
extreme, extreme vetting.
We must also screen out any who have hostile attitude towards our country
or its principles or who believe that sharia law should supplant American
Those who do not believe in our Constitution or who support bigotry and
hatred will not be admitted for immigration into our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: I`m now joined by MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, global
editorial director of the HuffingtonPost, MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm
Vance – Nance – I`m sorry, Nance – and conservative radio talk show host
Dana Loesch. Thank you all for joining us.
You know, a couple points that jump out at me. Before we get into
technical stuff, what did you make, Howard, of Trump`s claim that Hillary
Clinton lacks the physical or mental stamina to do the job of fighting
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL
ANALYST: Well, I think he`s doing whatever he can to widen the gender gap
even further, I mean, because the implication here is, I think, just under
the table a little bit – you know, I`m a man, I can take on the bad guys,
she`s a woman, maybe she can`t.
MATTHEWS: Dana, what do you make of that?
DANA LOESCH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I don`t know necessarily
if it has anything to do with the gender gap.
MATTHEWS: What does it have to do with, then?
LOESCH: I don`t know. Maybe – I don`t know if he`s going after – I
don`t think that you even need to bring in her health or stamina. I think
you can just look at her foreign policy record. And…
MATTHEWS: Why is he bringing in her stamina, lack of mental and physical
stamina? Why would he bring that up in a speech on foreign policy…
LOESCH: Well, I didn`t write the speech, so I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: … a direct shot at her personal ability to do the job?
LOESCH: Right I didn`t write the speech. I don`t climb into his head, so
I don`t know. I can only tell you what I can witness from the outside,
Chris. And I just look at it like why not just go after the fact her
record with Honduras, her record with Libya, he record in Egypt…
LOESCH: … her record of pushing for the wrong reform in Syria. I mean,
there`s a number of things we could touch at.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the – let me go with Malcolm. So glad to have
you, sir, and your expertise today, as always, and wisdom.
Let me ask you about this. Suppose we had all these rules in place – and
I`m for any effort – nobody knows what to do, so everybody should try, and
Trump`s right in there with everybody else.
And you know,extreme vetting, the ban on Muslims, from Muslim countries
that have had terrorism, all that – what would have been – which of those
would have been effective in stopping 9/11?
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well…
MATTHEWS: I mean, if you asked those 19 guys, Are you here to do damage,
do you like our country, do want to turn it into sharia law, are you
hostile towards American values, I assume they would have done like we do
when, Have you been near, you know, wild horses this week? Have you gone
through vegetable patches, the question you ask every time you come into
this country, you go, No, no, no, no, no, and you would sign (ph) it in
your ear (ph). I assume they would have gone, No, no, no, no, no, and they
would have been here.
So what`s the good of this extreme vetting number? What does it do?
NANCE: I have no idea because to tell you the truth, 9/11 was a special
mission. Those were trained operatives who were sent here to use, as you
said, the visa system properly to come into this country and then act as
sleeper agents until they activated and did the attack. Same thing with
the attack that we saw in Europe.
What – this extreme vetting Donald Trump is talking about today is
nonsense, and it really has no basis in reality. I mean, there`s only so
much you can do. We use national intelligence, deep level national
NANCE: … about members of ISIS. But you know, to tell you the truth,
there are far more disturbing things in his speech than that.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I would think that – you know, Dana, if you walk – every
time you go in a bank, they say, Do you promise not to rob this bank, and
everybody would say, I`m not going to rob the bank, and the bank robbers
would say, I`m not going to rob the bank, and they`d rob it.
I mean, what is – what is extreme vetting? I get – I know it sounds
ridiculous, and I know it is, but what is extreme vetting? Obviously, the
bad guys will lie.
LOESCH: Yes. I mean, I don`t really trust bad guys to work on the honor
system. I think that there are two things with this. I mean, first off,
I`m pleased that people are saying “Islamic terrorism.” I`m glad that we
are finally at that stage.
MATTHEWS: Trump is.
LOESCH: We need to identify it. But here`s the thing that I would like…
MATTHEWS: Do you think Obama`s not clear about who our enemy is?
LOESCH: Well, when we have the FBI, who is redefining words in their
documents so as to omit words like sharia and other instances, yes, I think
we`re not being very clear. And we need to be, and that`s important.
But here`s the thing about this, Chris. With the creation of a commission
– I guess what I`m wondering is why do we need to create another
commission? Why can`t we have the FBI, CIA, DHS – why can`t we have these
agencies simply do the very thing that we are…
LOESCH: … that the campaign is talking about having this commission do?
I think that that`s something that maybe perhaps we should look into
instead of creating another commission.
MATTHEWS: Good point. Here he is. So everybody watching knows what you
were talking about here, Trump was referring – you were referring to what
Trump today proposed as a new domestic “commission” – that`s his word –
to root out home-grown terrorism, people here who become terrorists while
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: One of my first acts as president will be to establish a commission
on radical Islam. The goal of the commission will be to identify and
explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of radical
Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization and to expose the
networks in our society that support radicalization.
To accomplish your goal, you must state a mission.
The support networks for radical Islam in this country will be stripped out
and removed one by one, viciously, if necessary – viciously, if necessary.
MATTHEWS: That – I didn`t like that phrase.
FINEMAN: Well, first off…
MATTHEWS: That said to me – it`s like he said we`re going to do it in a
way that`s going to bother people purposely. It`s going to be really
horrendous. We`re going to do – I`m not even sure exactly what it meant.
But you`re trying to figure out in a local mosque, is the imam, is he
saying things that would stir radical thinking and radical behavior, right?
OK. That`s – I think we do that already. But what`s he up to?
FINEMAN: First, you`re going to have, essentially, a propaganda commission
designed to tell everybody what`s wrong with all of these people. And then
you`re going to viciously strip them out. That`s the term he used. He
repeated it, in these terms, viciously, extreme, extreme.
All of that is Donald Trump trying to communicate a sense of anger and
retribution that he`s going to carry out and…
MATTHEWS: Hurt them while we`re doing it.
FINEMAN: Hurt them while we`re doing it. And that`s his theory. For his
people, for the people at his core, this actually was a well done speech
for those people.
MATTHEWS: Let`s go – let`s go – let`s go to Malcolm. What is the
usefulness of this kind of proposal, which is – first of all, most
conservatives – I`m not sure if Trump should be called a conservative
anymore, but – they hate all these commissions. There`s millions of them.
They`re everywhere, commission on this, commission on that. And it`s
called nanny state. It`s getting in our face.
If you could detect crime or criminal intent before it occurred, we`d have
it made! We`d have it all made! There wouldn`t be any more crime because
we could spot them with interviewing people. You want to commit a crime,
put them away. But you can`t tell crime ahead of time. Human nature isn`t
susceptible to previews. We don`t preview our behavior.
Your thoughts. You`re the expert.
NANCE: Can I be honest with you?
MATTHEWS: Sure. That`s what I like.
NANCE: You know, and I`ve been doing this a long time. I`ve heard a lot
of things this last year in this campaign, but I`m going to tell you right
now this is the single most un-American thing I have ever heard in my life!
I`ve heard the deep undertones of this. He`s talking about creating a
Politburo-type organization that will root out extremism viciously within
the United States? That has – I mean, this is McCarthyite levels of Un-
American Activities Committee…
MATTHEWS: What would it look like?
NANCE: … type studies.
MATTHEWS: Visualize what it would be.
NANCE: Well, obviously, he will have to either nationalize the federal
armed forces and intelligence apparatus in order to turn it inward on U.S.
citizens in order to investigate our own citizenry for suspected networks!
I mean, this is not, you know, going after Humphrey Bogart for whether he
was in the Communist Party in the 1950s. This is a war on American
citizens under the guise of the name of terrorism.
I`ve been doing counterterrorism for 35 years. I have never heard anything
like this. And this is dangerous, dangerous talk!
MATTHEWS: Dana, your thoughts on this? I don`t want this one-sided attack
on this. What do you think of what you heard today? What did you like in
his proposals? Let me put it positively.
LOESCH: Well, I was in the middle of my radio program when he spoke, but I
did check out the speech transcript and I walked away with a couple of
First off, I think that…
MATTHEWS: Go ahead.
LOESCH: … the – when he was talking about this commission, which I just
said to you earlier I`m not quite sure why we couldn`t have the FBI or DHS
to do it because DHS, if we all remember – this was created in the
aftermath of 9/11. And there`s been some complications with this. We`ve
seen complications with the politicization of going after radical Islamic
terror even in the language that is being used in FBI documents.
So I think we need to remove the politicizing of going after radical
Islamic terror – remove that. I think that`s one positive step that his
campaign has made.
But you know, as you mentioned earlier, Chris, I`m a conservative
libertarian, so I don`t want to see a ton of different commissions. I just
want to see the departments that have been charged with protecting United
States citizens with regards to keeping us safe making sure that we don`t
have home-grown terror attacks, making sure that we`re not having radical
Islamic terrorists come into the United States.
LOESCH: I want to see those departments to be able to do their jobs, and
I`m not quite sure how this commission is going to fit into that.
But I like the fact that we are – we`re acknowledging what we are fighting
against. I do get the sense – and I have to tell you this, Chris. I do
get the sense that if there was a 3:00 AM phone call, Donald Trump would
probably answer it, as opposed to Hillary Clinton, because he can`t stop
tweeting, so he always has his phone. So you know he would be able to
MATTHEWS: Yes. Look, I`m not an expert. Malcolm is. You know, I think
they know who they`re going after. And I think they – tell me right now
your judgment of our FBI efforts that Dana was talking about there. Is our
FBI leading in the right wing, left wing direction, are they too soft, too
politically correct, or are they too tough?
Where would you rate our efforts right now in terms of catching bad guys as
they become bad guys?
NANCE: Well, I think they`re excellent at catching the bad guys. We`ve
caught virtually everybody, but we`re evaluating this on the one or two
that get through the network. And as we`ve seen, many of them – many of
them – are U.S. citizens.
NANCE: And to then categorize the children of immigrants, of which we all
are, as potential threats to the United States and to focus law enforcement
and intelligence efforts on that runs up to a flat constitutional violation
right off the bat, And then secondly, try to propagandize the United States
This is dangerous, Chris. It`s just dangerous.
MATTHEWS: Well, is it wrong?
MATTHEWS: Let me see how far you`ll go.
NANCE: It`s absolutely wrong.
MATTHEWS: Is it wrong? Is it wrong to look for Islamic terrorists among
NANCE: No, it`s wrong to – look, that`s a false…
MATTHEWS: No, I`m just asking you a simple question.
MATTHEWS: Is it wrong?
NANCE: It`s a red herring. It`s not wrong to look. But as we know,
terrorists who come into this country have no structure around them that
makes them whether they`re going to be a Muslim or not.
NANCE: We`ve had radicalization from Christians who`ve converted.
MATTHEWS: I know.
NANCE: We`ve had American citizens who are completely unreligious go out
NANCE: … you know, terrorists and adopt terrorist ideology in one day.
MATTHEWS: I`m just thinking about the Brits when they used to – when the
Brits used to fight the IRA, it was pretty smart to start with the Irish.
I mean, I`m just telling you it wasn`t stupid of them, or it wasn`t wrong,
NANCE: Absolutely. But that was a homogeneous society in a geographically
limited area in which, you know, Northern Ireland was infiltrated already
with British forces and British people who could…
NANCE: … you know, turn grass (ph) and would turn information on them.
The United States is 320 million people, and you`re essentially saying,
We`re going to turn a flashlight, a spotlight onto the entire nation to
root out a class of people which are nameless and classless, which could
actually create far, vast more quantities of terrorism.
MATTHEWS: I know. You know…
LOESCH: I – I – if I…
MATTHEWS: I`m just trying to find out where you put…
LOESCH: … could interject really quickly…
MATTHEWS: … the needle here. Where`s the needle going to be? The more
terrorism we get, is that needle going to more towards the more right-wing
point of view? You all know it is. And we all know the more it goes on,
the tougher the government`s going to get. Last word from you, Dana.
LOESCH: Well, I – I – we`ve – we`ve gone after a lot of limited
government individuals here in the United States before and we`ve had
government departments and bureaucratic agencies which have been weaponized
to do so. So I am glad to see that we`re coming to some concrete agreement
about how it`s perhaps not very good to do that.
But I will say this. I think we need to be more selective about our
immigration process, as much as other countries like Mexico and Ireland
are. And I do think that we need to be aware that we can`t politicize the
religion, a religious fundamentalism. We have zealots that are coming out
that don`t like our way of life, and we need to stop being politically
correct about it.
And that`s why, by the way, I will say that the Republican nominee`s
resonating with a lot of people.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Thank you, Howard Fineman, my friend. Thank you,
Malcolm Nance, for your expertise. And Dan Loesch, thank you.
Coming up – as Donald Trump talks national security, his campaign
chairman, Paul Manafort – now, this is tricky – is facing serious
questions about undisclosed cash payments in the millions he reportedly
accepted from the pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
The Clinton campaign`s pouncing on the story, as you might expect, but
Manafort says the reports are false. He didn`t take money from any
government, he says.
Plus, Hillary Clinton campaigns with Vice President Joe Biden up in
Scranton today, where Scranton (sic) came from. Clinton`s hoping Biden can
help her win the final piece of the electoral puzzle, those white working-
class voters in the industrialized northern states. If she can beat Trump
up there, she`s got it.
And – keep going, keep going – and the HARDBALL roundtable is here with
their take on Trump`s new strategy of attacking the media. He`s attacking
everybody in the media and accusing Hillary Clinton of cheating her way to
victory. That`s pretty desperate.
Finally, “Let Me Finish” with Trump`s charge that he has more mental and
physical stamina than Hillary. I`ve got an obvious way for him to prove
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, the editorial board of “The Wall Street Journal” issued a
devastating critique of the Trump campaign today.
Quote, “By now, it should be obvious that none of this is working. It`s
obvious to many of his advisers, who are the sources of the news stories
about dysfunction. They may be covering for themselves, but this is what
happens in failing campaigns. The difference is that the recriminations
typically start in October, not mid-August. If they can`t get Mr. Trump to
change his act by Labor Day, the GOP will have no choice but to write off
the nominee as hopeless and focus on salvaging the Senate and House and
other down ballot races.”
That`s the “Wall Street Journal” editorial page. That`s supposed to be the
friend of Republicans.
We`ll be right back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I also believe that we can find common ground with Russia and the
fight against ISIS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Donald Trump in his foreign
policy speech this afternoon. He made no mention during his speech of the
latest distraction for his campaign, new questions about his campaign
manager, Paul Manafort`s, ties to the pro-Russian party of Ukraine.
Today`s “New York Times” reports that Manafort, who ran a political
consulting firm, was the recipient of $12 million in cash from the party of
former Ukrainian president and Kremlin ally Viktor Yanukovych. The article
states that handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash
payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych – Yanukovych`s
pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012…
Investigators assert the dispersions were part of an illegal off-the-books
system, whose recipients also included election officials.
Manafort, a longtime consultant for Yanukovych, in a statement to NBC News
slammed “The New York Times” saying: “Once again, The New York Times` has
chosen to purposefully ignore facts and professional journalism to fit
their political agenda. It`s well-known that I do work in the United
States and have done work on overseas campaigns as well. I have never
received a single off-the-books cash payment, as falsely reported by `The
New York Times,` nor have I ever done work for the governments of Ukraine
“The New York Times” never alleged that he worked for the government of
Ukraine, of course.
It didn`t take long for the Clinton campaign to pounce on the report.
Robby Mook, Clinton campaign chair, called on the Trump campaign – quote -
- “to disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort`s and all other campaign
employees and advisers` ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities, including
whether any of Trump`s employees or adviser currently representing or being
paid by them.”
Manafort`s connections to the Ukrainian president is nothing new, but given
Trump`s calls for closer ties with President Putin and the recent hack on
the – of the DNC, the report raises some questions, I suppose.
For more now, I`m joined by “Washington Post” columnist, MSNBC political
analyst Eugene Robinson, and Nina Khrushcheva, professional of
international affairs from the New School. She`s granddaughter of Nikita
Thank you both for joining us.
Eugene, first of all, I think it was Churchill that said we have to figure
out – he said Russian forecasts in action. Russia, you have to look at a
riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. But then he said, to
understand Russia, just think of Russia`s interests.
What are the interests of Russia, of Mr. Putin, in our election? What
interest do they have in it? For a reasonably un-paranoid person, what
would you think the Russians would care who won this election?
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think Vladimir
Putin wants to reestablish Russia as a great power.
I think he wants to steal or appropriate as much money as he can along the
way. I think he wants to continue his own reign – I think you can almost
call it that – in Russia, and by that to curry popular favor by
essentially not reestablishing the entire Soviet empire, but plucking off
ROBINSON: And establishing a certain amount of Russian influence or
hegemony over the sort of former Soviet republics. I think that`s what
MATTHEWS: Nina Khrushcheva, thank you for joining us.
What do you think Russia wants right now in terms of our election? Do they
have anything – do they have any interest in it?
NINA KHRUSHCHEVA, NEW SCHOOL: Well, they certainly have interests in it.
They have been commenting on it. They have been alleged – or at least
Trump alleges there`s a relationship between him and Vladimir Putin. And I
think for what Vladimir Putin wants is that he does want to have
relationship with the United States.
Trump promised him that relationship. And Vladimir Putin also knows that
if Trump is elected, this relationship is going to be driven by Putin,
whether they really actively influence it or not. We can discuss the DNC
scandal and hacking and whatnot, but they are certainly going to get a
candidate, they`re going to get a president in the White House who, as
Putin probably believes, is going to follow Putin`s example, because Trump
does want to be Vladimir Putin`s friend.
Trump told us already that NATO is probably an outdated alliance and,
therefore, these European countries may not be protected by NATO. He did
say, we are going to fight ISIS together, whatever that means.
So, in this sense, for Putin, I think Trump is a very comfortable occupant
of the White House in the future.
MATTHEWS: You know, well, decades, generations ago, I heard the argument
that most of the 20th century was East vs. West, us against Russia, us
against China, and that the next generation, one we`re in right now, the
century we`re in right now, was going to be north/south.
MATTHEWS: It was going to be Islamic.
And so there is always this – and the Russian Revolution, the Russians
always worried about the Islamic bottom of their country, the Soviet Union.
They have had the same worry we have now. So, an alliance isn`t odd or
isn`t against our interests, necessarily, is it?
MATTHEWS: Potentially, we both have the same enemy of ISIS right now,
ROBINSON: Well, right. I think not necessarily.
There has been a hesitancy on the part of the Obama administration and I
think most of the foreign policy establishment here to go all in with
Vladimir Putin on the Middle East and on Syria, for example.
MATTHEWS: Aren`t we doing it in Syria?
ROBINSON: Well, we are kind of doing it in Syria.
MATTHEWS: I thought Secretary Kerry is doing that.
ROBINSON: But the idea is that we don`t want to be seen as approving what
he`s doing in Crimea, the way he is sort of looming over the Baltics. We
don`t want to be seen as aiding and abetting that sort of behavior by
getting in bed with Putin too snugly.
MATTHEWS: That`s what Nixon did back in the `70s. Right? We didn`t argue
over Vietnam. We argued over – we negotiated on other things.
Let me ask about this thing, Mrs. Khrushcheva. What do you think about
this Manafort thing? Because Manafort is obviously – whenever you see
money in this country, as you know, everybody is, oh, that explains
everything – $12 million explains a lot of policy.
If he`s taking $12 million from Yanukovych over there and his party in
Ukraine, that explains what? Because Trump was having his bromance, his
bromance with Putin a long time before Manafort showed up. So, what`s the
connection? What`s the importance of Manafort having taken some money, if
KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, in some ways, bromance is mostly in Donald Trump`s
mind, because there is no evidence that they have ever met.
And Trump has been courting Russia since the early `90s, and really the
relationship kind of always gets to the point of some Trump Tower rising
somewhere in Moscow, and it really never, ever happened.
So that relationship for Trump with sort of Putin is much more desirable
partnering the bromance than – at least for now – than Trump is for
But for the Manafort, it`s really known – it has been known that Manafort
is a political operative. He runs campaigns and has dealings with various
unsavory governments. He worked in Zaire. He worked in the Philippines
with Ferdinand Marcos.
So, it really has been known about him. It`s just somebody who – Donald
Trump just talked about extreme vetting. That is remarkable, that somebody
who runs supposedly seriously for president really has such unsavory
characters in his own campaign, and really gives him a very bad taste, not
that we need more of a bad taste there.
But really that just cements the notion…
MATTHEWS: I agree.
KHRUSHCHEVA: … that Trump is bad for American democracy, very bad for
America`s reputation, because he can be flattered that Putin does, and he
can be bought. And, therefore, all this…
MATTHEWS: He can be bought? He can be bought?
KHRUSHCHEVA: He can be bought, yes. He can be bought.
MATTHEWS: How? How do we know that?
KHRUSHCHEVA: Well, what I mean is that he keeps talking about the deal.
He keeps talking about the fact that economic relationship is more
important than anything.
Every time he delivers, almost every time he delivers a political speech,
he talks about his hotels somewhere. And so this suggests that, if the
price is right and the deal is right, he can actually make that deal.
And I think that is dangerous, because if America is the leader of the free
world, what does it say about the next free world leader?
MATTHEWS: I have to think your family for what you did in the world about
two generations ago, Madam Khrushcheva.
And that is, I didn`t like your grandfather putting offensive weapons in
Cuba, but I sure as hell liked the fact he took them out and saved the
world from blowing up.
And thank you for coming on the show tonight, Nina Khrushcheva and Eugene.
KHRUSHCHEVA: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: In all seriousness, I think every American agrees with me.
Anyway, up next: Vice President Joe Biden hits the trail with Hillary
Clinton in Scranton, PA, a state Trump hopes to turn red. He ain`t going
to do it this week. Can Clinton lock up the Keystone State for herself and
kill Trump`s chances? Because we all know, you don`t win Pennsylvania, if
you`re Trump, you don`t win the presidency. The battleground map is
looking better and better for the Dems.
That`s ahead. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
Massive floods in Louisiana are blamed for at least seven deaths so far. A
state of emergency was declared last week. Thousands are staying in
The so-called Clayton wildfire burning in Northern California has grown to
4,000 acres, or six square miles. It started on Saturday; 175 structures
have been destroyed.
And the Defense Department has announced the transfer of 15 detainees from
the prison at Guantanamo Bay to the United Arab Emirates; 61 detainees
remain at the facility – back to HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is so great to be
back in Scranton, Pennsylvania!
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: We came to Lake Winola every summer of my life and loved every
minute of it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: My father was able to go to college, went to Penn State, where he
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to make it clear
that, as Scranton has always had my back, we, in fact, all of us, are going
to have your back, Hillary.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Hillary Clinton today with Joe Biden, the vice president, in
Scranton, Pennsylvania, where both the Rodham and the Biden family have
their roots. It was the first joint appearance for Clinton and Biden. And
the vice president didn`t hold back when it comes to Donald Trump.
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: He`s trying to tell us he cares about the middle class. Give me a
break. And, to repeat myself, it`s such a bunch of malarkey.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BIDEN: It makes no sense. None. None. None. None.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BIDEN: This guy doesn`t care about the middle class. And I don`t even
blame him, in a sense, because he doesn`t understand it. He doesn`t have a
I have worked with eight presidents of the United States. I have served
with hundreds of senators. Only 13 senators in history, I`m embarrassed to
say, have served as long as I have.
No major party nominee in the history of the United States of America has -
- now, don`t cheer or – just listen – has known less or been less
prepared to deal with our national security than Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, as Joe Biden would say, in all sincerity, there`s
virtually no scenario in which Donald Trump cannot – win the White House
without winning Pennsylvania. He`s got to win Pennsylvania.
But, right now, the numbers don`t look good at all for Trump. The last
four polls out of Pennsylvania show Clinton, Hillary Clinton, with double-
digit leads, up there at 10. It`s about 10, and holding there, between 10
and 11 points.
This is awful for Trump.
Joining me are two men who know Pennsylvania, what it takes to win that
Ed Rendell is the former governor of Pennsylvania, former mayor of
Philadelphia, former DA of Philadelphia. And John Brabender is a
Republican strategist who was chief strategist for Rick Santorum.
Well, you know different Pennsylvanias, Governor, but it seems to me that
Hillary and Joe Biden today were chipping away at what might be the Trump
base. They are going for that bottom 30 percent. They are going past the
suburbs. They`re going to Scranton. They`re going for a big win.
ED RENDELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, there`s no question, Chris. And
they have got a message. And the message is that this guy that they are
running against is a phony.
He talks about bringing jobs back to America, yet everything he produces is
produced abroad. He has no real programs. He doesn`t have any feel for
the middle class. He`s been a rich guy living off the largesse. He brags
about paying as little taxes as possible. He has nothing in common with
And Hillary Clinton in her speech in Detroit actually resonated a lot of
themes that do appeal to the middle class. So, I think she has a chance to
But, understand, it almost doesn`t matter, if Donald Trump continues to
lose the Philadelphia suburbs by 40 points. I will give you an example,
Chris. In 2012, Barack Obama was elected statewide in Pennsylvania by 5
percentage points. He only carried the Philadelphia suburbs by six points.
No Democrat in history has had a 40 percent margin, except when I ran for
reelection in 2006. I won 70 to 30, but I was the hometown guy, so you can
throw that out.
You cannot lose the Philadelphia suburbs by more than 15 or 20 percent, if
you are a Republican, and have any hope of victory.
MATTHEWS: What do you think of that, John? Because I have heard that
argument, that 33 percent of the vote out in Pennsylvania is from Philly
and the suburbs.
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: First of all, we have a
Pennsylvania quorum. You two are from Philly. I`m from Erie. So, we know
And I will tell you, the western side of the state is a lot different. And
MATTHEWS: But the people live in the Southeast.
BRABENDER: But here`s what you have to understand, is the fluidity and the
swing vote in Pennsylvania.
I will use the governor as an example. We Ed Rendell ran last statewide,
2006, I believe it was, Governor – correct me if I`m wrong – you won by
approximately 20 percent of – by 20 percent.
Four years later, 2010, the Republicans then win the governor`s race by 10
points, a 30-point swing in just four years.
The point of Pennsylvania is, you have to throw out history oftentimes.
And, understand, Rick Santorum was elected twice statewide. Tom Ridge was
elected governor twice statewide, Tom Corbett governor. They will – and
Pat Toomey is our senator.
They will vote for Republicans. We are struggling there at the moment in
the eastern side of the state, as the governor says, but that can change.
MATTHEWS: How would it change?
BRABENDER: Well, first of all, the…
MATTHEWS: Is Trump going to not be Trump?
BRABENDER: Here`s the – and that is the problem.
The paradox of Pennsylvania and the paradox of Trump is, he`s appealing to
what are the sons and daughters of what we used to call Reagan Democrats,
particularly in the western-center parts of the state.
But he`s doing it in a way that I think is hurting him with some of the
more moderate Republican, oftentimes female voters in the eastern part of
the state. And he`s trading off on those. And he can`t afford to do that.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Governor. When you look at his tough stance on
immigration – basically, he targets terrorists. He thinks he can find
them in a way that J. Edgar Hoover couldn`t find them. I don`t know how he
intends to find them before they commit these actions. But he says he can.
How does that swing in the suburbs of Philly, say, Bucks County and
Montgomery County? How does that happen? Does that hurt him there? Or is
that a plus for him?
RENDELL: Well, it cuts both ways.
It hurts him a little bit, but it also helps him with security moms.
RENDELL: And there are security moms in the suburbs.
I mean, John is absolutely right. He`s getting killed in the suburbs.
He`s losing Republican votes and he`s losing independent votes big time.
And unless he reverses that course, he`s in deep, deep trouble. And I`m
not sure that he can reverse it.
I think this is almost locked in or set in. I don`t think he`s going to
lose by 40 points, but he is sure as heck not going to be competitive. And
I`m not sure there`s much he can do to change it.
MATTHEWS: Well, NBC News, Governor, has updated its 2016 battleground map
to reflect the latest polling. Catch this.
If the election were held today – and it`s not going to be held today –
the states in Hillary Clinton`s column now add up to 288 votes, electoral
votes, exceeding the 270 needed to win the presidency. So, she`s ahead.
Donald Trump, meanwhile, is at 174 electoral votes, and an additional 76
are in the tossup category.
BRABENDER: Well, here`s the problem.
MATTHEWS: If she has a good – if he has a good week for three weeks…
MATTHEWS: He hasn`t had a good week in three weeks.
BRABENDER: Yes. And we haven`t had any debates or any of this stuff.
Here`s the problem for him.
MATTHEWS: Does he want to debate?
BRABENDER: I looked at these numbers.
MATTHEWS: Will he debate?
BRABENDER: Oh, absolutely. He has to debate, and he has to win.
But you cannot win, as a Republican, unless you get all the Romney votes of
those states, and then you have got to win two Rust Belt states, probably
Ohio and Pennsylvania, and then Florida.
BRABENDER: And that`s a lot to ask.
MATTHEWS: Quick question for the governor.
Is there any way the Democrats can get back the Reagan Democrats, get back
the working people, white people, to be blunt about it, get them back, the
ones that would – did like Bobby Kennedy? Can you get them back?
RENDELL: Yes, I think, if Hillary Clinton gets elected president, and if
she does economically what she did for, for example, Upstate New York, I
think she can win those people back.
One quick point, though, Chris. Tom Corbett was elected governor because
he won the Philadelphia suburbs by 10 points. Donald Trump would have to
pick up 50 points to do as well as Tom Corbett did in the suburbs.
MATTHEWS: You can`t beat the governor at these numbers
MATTHEWS: Especially the suburbs of Philly where he`s got –
RENDELL: John Brabender –
MATTHEWS: They loved him in the suburbs.
JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: More importantly, the Eagles and
Steelers play Thursday night.
MATTHEWS: OK, it`s the Eagles, by the way, not the Eagles.
Anyway, Governor Rendell, thank you, sir. Great Eagles commentator and
John Brabender, thank you.
Up next, Donald Trump says if it weren`t for the press, the media, he would
be crushing Hillary in the polls. Isn`t attacking the media the hallmark
of a loser?
Anyway, the roundtable is coming here for that. You`re watching HARDBALL,
the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These people are the lowest form
of life. I`m telling you. They are the lowest form of humanity.
I`m not running against crooked Hillary Clinton. I`m running against the
crooked media. That`s what I`m running against. It`s true.
CNN is disgusting. And by the way, their ratings are going down big
league. The good news is I put down failing at “New York Times.” The
newspaper`s going to hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Wow. He hates everybody.
Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Donald Trump over this weekend turned his attention away from his rival
Hillary Clinton to instead attack the media, of course. And after verbally
railing against the press, Trump then took to Twitter to a series of posts
saying, “It is not freedom of the press when newspapers and others are
allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely
false.” He also tweeted if the disgusting and corrupt media followed me or
covered me honestly and didn`t put false meaning into the words I say, I
would be beating Hillary by 20 percent.”
Joining me right now for tonight`s roundtable, it`s a great one, Jennifer
Granholm, of course, Clinton delegate, or surrogate, I never get that
straight, and former governor of Michigan. Eli Stokols, Politico reporter,
national political reporter for “Politico”, and April Ryan, my pal, White
House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of the American Urban Radio
April, let`s go. First of all, usually you attack the media when you have
a reason. He seems to attack for everything. What did we do? We quoted
him when he kept saying Hillary is the founder of is because he kept saying
it literally, I mean it literally. Then he got up Friday morning at 6:30
and put a tweet out saying what I have been saying for three or four days
doesn`t mean anything, it`s just a sarcastic remark.
APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Right.
MATTHEWS: So, if you honestly cover him, he gets mad at you.
RYAN: Well, you know, as someone who`s covered three presidents for 20
years in January, what you say is what you mean. He is a gentleman – I`m
using that term loosely – who seems to say a lot of things. He will say
some things, then he`ll come back and change it.
You don`t see that. That is not presidential. But when it comes to the
press, he seems to be very angry with us because we are factual, we are
doing fact checking. For instance, he`s very upset about us talking about
his economic plan. You know, the National Urban League is running out
against it calling it foul, talking about the fact it`s a trickle-down
effect and those who are in minority groups, moderate to low income, will
not fare well.
But I`m going to say this, as someone in the fourth estate, we are the
fourth branch of government, the imaginary fourth branch of government.
But it`s about accountability. We hold the president or any of these
presidential candidates or anyone that we are covering accountable with
MATTHEWS: Eli, one thing I noticed was that after he won the nomination
early, he suffered because the press had a lot of time to do some
enterprise reporting. For weeks, they were doing tough pieces on him.
That`s a fact.
And then lately, he`s still mad about that. He`s still raging against the
wind now. But for awhile there, there was a lot of enterprise reporting
and he suffered from it because he doesn`t look good under inspection. He
just doesn`t look that good.
ELI STOKOLS, POLITICO: Right, that`s right. He hasn`t pivoted. He hasn`t
changed his message in that time. You know, I mean, there`s a big self-
fulfilling prophesy aspect to this. Why is the information flow on Donald
Trump so negative? Well, it`s because the country has never seen somebody
so mendacious and so –
MATTHEWS: What`s that mean?
STOKOLS: Telling lies. Falsehoods.
I mean, so there`s that aspect of it.
MATTHEWS: Just say he`s a liar.
STOKOLS: I will try to dumb it down a little more.
RYAN: I like big words.
STOKOLS: I think it`s obvious why he`s hitting this so hard now. He can`t
talk about the polls anymore. The polls only show him down ten points and
it`s a great talking point to hit the press for his base. But again, it
doesn`t really mean anything to swing voters, people who are really
important to this election.
MATTHEWS: Mendacious, by the way, was the word used by brick in “Cat on a
Hot Tin Roof” and somebody said just say what you mean. Remember that
STOKOLS: I don`t. But, shocking, they`ll all look it up.
MATTHEWS: Look, governor, the “Wall Street Journal,” talking about the
press, trashed him today, one of the most conservative major newspapers in
the country trashes Trump. It isn`t just the liberal media, the “New York
Times” and everybody else.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: It is such a stupid
strategy, honestly. I know he`s got this whole notion of if I tell it like
it is or go after the press, my base will be happy. You know what, if you
go after all the media, that means you are going after people in home towns
across the country.
MATTHEWS: He doesn`t mean Rush Limbaugh. He doesn`t mean FOX.
GRANHOLM: No, but what people back home here who are not in his camp
maybe, hear first of all, he`s whining. Number two, he`s insulting the
media broadly which I subscribe to, I read the hometown papers.
MATTHEWS: Which paper do you like in Detroit?
GRANHOLM: “Free Press”.
MATTHEWS: You like the “Free Press”. OK, what`s the best newspaper in the
country right now?
STOKOLS: I don`t know. I mean, it`s hard to argue with the work the “New
York Times” is doing. There are a lot of great local city papers also
doing great work.
MATTHEWS: What about the Urban Networks? You get a lot of that?
MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us.
Up next, these three tell me something I don`t know.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: A new survey by “USA Today” and Rock the Vote shows Hillary
Clinton leading among millennials, among voters under 35. Clinton earns 56
percent of the vote, to Trump`s 20. This is powerful stuff, 36-point
advantage for Hillary Clinton among young adults and that matters and
that`s the future.
HARDBALL comes back after this.
MATTHEWS: We`re back with HARDBALL roundtable.
And we start with the governor.
Governor Granholm, tell me something I don`t know.
GRANHOLM: Well, so you know that she`s there with Uncle Joe today in your
favorite state, there in Scranton. He`s coming –
MATTHEWS: Bob Finnegan, they all came out for this one.
GRANHOLM: But here`s what the kicker is, and that has not been covered, is
that in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania will gain from her economic plan because
they were talking about jobs, Pennsylvania will gain 414,000 jobs,
according to Moody`s and would lose 135,000 –
MATTHEWS: What would happen with fracking under Hillary?
GRANHOLM: Under – given the current situation, she would –
MATTHEWS: I`m causing trouble, Governor.
STOKOLS: Reince Priebus, RNC chairman, a lot of people say he has the
toughest job in politics this cycle, trying to be the go-between between
Trump and the party establishment. He`s done this for six years now and in
his third term. You would think after this cycle, he`s just going to want
to take a long, like a year-long vacation. But there is scuttlebutt now
that he may want to run for a fourth term. He`s been talking to people
Politico, my colleague broke the story today. Carly Fiorina may be
interested. Stay tuned.
RYAN: We`re going to TV fast, Larry Wilmore – we remember him from the
White House correspondents dinner, Cornell Brooks, the head of the NAACP
was there at the time. He said that when he said “N” word was racially
offensive, but he says now that Larry Wilmore will have his show canceled,
said there will only be one black person in late night TV and not only
that, his voice, he speaks out when issues of race will be gone. And he
says there`s going to be a big lack of diversity on TV now that Larry
Wilmore is gone.
MATTHEWS: Who they`re replacing him with?
RYAN: He`s not being replaced.
RYAN: At this point that we know of.
MATTHEWS: Jennifer Granholm, thank you. That`s bad news, very bad news.
Thank you, Jennifer. I mean governor.
GRANHOLM: You can call me Jennifer.
MATTHEWS: Here, Governor.
MATTHEWS: Eli Stokols, thank you, and April Ryan.
When we return, let me finish with Trump`s charge he has more mental and
physical stamina than Hillary Clinton. I have an obvious way for him to
try to prove it.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with something Donald Trump said today
that cannot go unnoticed. Amid his remedies for terrorism was the direct
shot at his rival. Trump said, quote, “She lacks the mental and physical
stamina to take an ISIS and all the many adversaries we face, not only in
terrorism but in trade and every other challenges we must confront to turn
this country around.”
Well, there you have it. the challenge. Trump`s last ditch throwing down
of the test wherein he, the real estate baron, believes the public will
favor him over his rival. He beat Jeb Bush by calling him low energy. And
now, he offers us to (INAUDIBLE) which she wants to raise Hillary Clinton -
- stamina, both mental and physical, he has it, he suggests, she doesn`t.
Well, guess what, back in 1950 when he was running for senator of
California, Congressman Richard Nixon took such a shot and his rival, Helen
Gahagan Douglas. Quote, “It`s awfully hard for a woman,” he said, “this
I was thinking of that when Trump made his lion`s roar today, his “anything
she can do I can do better” number. So, how can we test this? How can we
know which of the candidates wins the gold medal in the mental and physical
Well, I`ve got an idea – how about we debate? How about they debate three
times? How about we make each contest about an hour and a half to see who
has the mental stamina to stay sharp, the physical stamina to keep up the
And guess what, the Commission on Presidential Debates has just such a
contest all set up and scheduled to start next month. And also guess what?
Hillary Clinton has agreed to meet Trump in this run of debates and Donald
Trump has not.
Well, here`s your chance, Mr. Trump, to see who has what it takes. What
are you waiting for?
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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