Hardball With Chris Matthews, Transcript 10/4/2016

Heidi Przybyla, Amy Klobuchar, Terry McAuliffe, John Brabender, Jason Johnson, Megan Murphy

Date: October 4, 2016
Guest: Heidi Przybyla, Amy Klobuchar, Terry McAuliffe, John Brabender,
Jason Johnson, Megan Murphy

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Will this be the counterattack?

Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews, live from Longwood University in
Farmville, Virginia.

And here we are – here we are, in fact, 30 miles from Appomattox
courthouse, where General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern
Virginia to General Grant, thereby ending a Civil War that cost the lives
of 600,000 Americans.

Well, tonight, we`re here at Longwood University for a battle in a
political conflict between two very different points of view. It`s the
vice presidential debate between Indiana governor Mike Pence, Republican,
against Virginia senator Tim Kaine, Democrat.

It`s Governor Pence`s test tonight, obviously, to turn the battle from a
defense of Donald Trump to an attack on Hillary Clinton. And to do so, he
will need to execute a classic debate tactic, the attack from a defensive
position. He needs to strike at Hillary, most likely at her weak numbers
on trustworthiness, at the very moment she and her running mate are
assaulting Trump.

Trump spent the past week battling a former Miss Universe, defending
himself against a “New York Times” article on his taxes, and mocking
Clinton`s health and even her marriage. Let`s watch.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: She was the winner, and you know,
she gained a massive amount of weight. And it was – it was a real
problem. We had – we had a real problem. Not only that, her attitude.

The news media is now obsessed with an alleged tax filing from the 1990s.
I was able to use the tax laws of this country and my business acumen to
dig out of the real estate mess.

She`s supposed to fight all of these different things, and she can`t make
it 15 feet to her car. Give me a break! Give me a break!


TRUMP: Hillary Clinton`s only loyalty is to her financial contributors and
to herself. I don`t even think she`s loyal to Bill, if you want to know
the truth. And really, folks, really, why should she be, right? Why
should she be?


MATTHEWS: Meanwhile, today, Clinton again knocked Trump on his taxes.
Let`s watch.


And as I`ve said repeatedly, that`s hard to do when you`re running casinos.
But it demonstrates, I think unequivocally, that he was a failure at this
business and he wrecked businesses, and by wrecking his businesses, he
wrecked the lives of his workers, he stiffed contractors, and he generally
disregarded the wellbeing of the communities.

Someone who is claiming to run for president based on his business success
should be judged by that business. And I think what we`re finding out is
deeply troubling.


MATTHEWS: Well, Donald Trump tried to turn the attack back on Clinton.
Let`s watch him there.


TRUMP: She complains about how I`ve used the tax laws of this country to
my benefit. Then I ask a simple question. Why didn`t she ever try to
change those laws so I couldn`t use them? The reason that she did not do
that is her donors and contributors have used those same tax laws as I did,
the same way!



MATTHEWS: For more on this fight coming tonight, I`m joined by NBC`s
Andrea Mitchell, “USA Today`s” senior political reporter Heidi Przybyla,
and Joy Reid, the host of “AM Joy” on MSNBC.

Andrea, thank you for joining us. Give us a tap (ph) this fight tonight.
Give us – give us a sense of this fight from both ends.

Clinton team is feeling really energized. They`re up in two polls now, by
9 and 10 points in two separate polls in Pennsylvania, which is their
firewall. She was there today, appearing to suburban Republican women in
those bedroom suburbs in Delaware County.

And what they`re going to try to do tonight is to have John – to have Mike
– excuse me – have Tim Kaine go after Mike Pence on all of the things
that Donald Trump has, they think, messed up on this week, opening up all
of these issues, the taxes, as well as, of course, the women`s issues.
They think that he can, you know, prosecute that case against Mike Pence.

Pence, of course, they think, will be on the offensive – on the defensive,
but Pence is planning to go after Clinton on her trust, on her reliability,
and on those issues you heard Donald Trump bringing up today. So it`s
going to be quite a matchup, I think, these two very policy-wonkish running
mates taking on the roles of attack dogs.

MATTHEWS: I wonder tonight – I know in the fight – watching fighting as
I grew up, big heavyweight boxing, I always watched – the middleweight
fights are always the better fights. I think it`s going to be better (ph)
that tonight.

Anyway, speaking of polls, a new NBC on-line tracking poll out today shows
Clinton beating Trump by 6 points. That`s a pretty strong lead for Hillary

We also have new polls from several battleground states. let`s look at
those. Clinton leads Trump by 11 in a new poll in Colorado. That`s a big
move toward Hillary. And also, Trump`s ahead by 5 in Ohio. Well, that`s
where he`s been.

Clinton also leads by 10 in a new Monmouth poll. That`s huge. That is the
firewall. Andrea`s right about that. Pennsylvania`s the firewall. That`s
where Hillary will probably win, the way things are going, and Trump is not
going to win there, the way things are going.

She`s up by 7 also in Virginia, another part of that firewall, and up 6 in
one North Carolina poll, although that`s much closer. In Florida, she
leads by 5 in a new Quinnipiac poll. That`s another state that`s going to
remain close.

Let me go to me other people here (INAUDIBLE) this thing. I think the most
predictable thing at 9:00 o`clock tonight, besides the fact it`s going to
be 9:00 o`clock, is that Tim Kaine is going to do what Hillary`s been
doing, hit him on the taxes, hit him on his treatment of women.

It`s so predictable. Therefore, it should be easy for Mike Pence to
predict the attack and counter it. Your thoughts.

JOY REID, HOST, “AM JOY”: Well, yes, and I think that Mike Pence knows
that he`s here to defend Donald Trump, but I…

MATTHEWS: Or attack.

REID: Or attack. But I think you also have a second sort of line of
attack that Democrats or Tim Kaine is going to try to use tonight because
as I see it, Mike Pence`s job tonight is try to make Trump look normal or
seem normal to that last bastion of suburban women Republicans.

Tim Kaine`s job is to make Mike Pence seem strange. And if you think about
it, Mike Pence was put on the ticket in order to normalize Trump, to make
him acceptable to Republicans who are uncomfortable with Trump`s being,
with the way he is.

I think Tim Kaine will try to go after Mike Pence`s own history,
particularly on issues to do with women because if that`s the swing vote,
if he goes after him on things like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,
which is, you know, a very important thing to young voters, if he goes
after him on things like Planned Parenthood, defunding it in Indiana – I
actually think Mike Pence himself will come under attack, not just Donald

MATTHEWS: What do you think? But I don`t know why you attack a VP,
though. I would attack the top guy. What do you think?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, “USA TODAY”: I think, you know, Mike Pence – there`s no
upside to him owning a lot of the things that Tim Kaine is going to try to
make him own today. He`s going to try and make him own Donald Trump and
all of these – I mean, think about all the things that have happened just
since the last debate, in terms of Alicia Machado and the taxes…

MATTHEWS: I actually (INAUDIBLE) I don`t think it`s complicated. Let me
ask you both because it`ll be my rhetorical question. What`s the safest
thing for any politician on the Republican side who has a future, 20/20,
way down the road – what`s the safest thing to do, defend Donald Trump or
attack Hillary Clinton? What`s the safest…


MATTHEWS: Tell why. Explain why because…

REID: Because the Republican Party has an existential hatred of Hillary


MATTHEWS: And she`ll be around!

REID: And she`ll still…

MATTHEWS: If she gets elected this time…


MATTHEWS: … go against her next time!

REID: And you remember…

MATTHEWS: And you`re in a perfect position, if you`re already attacking
Hillary Clinton, to be attacking her now so you can do it again later,
whereas defending Trump is dangerous because of why?

REID: And you also have to remember, too, that Republicans are looking at
a midterm in 2018 where they don`t know how much…


REID: … of their own electoral base is going to be for Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Defending Trump.

PRZYBYLA: Not to mention…


PRZYBYLA: Not to mention that Trump – well, first of all, not to mention
that Trump didn`t prosecute this case himself. This was one of things
coming out of his last debate that Republicans were most upset about, was
that he didn`t take the opportunity…

MATTHEWS: He never mentioned the Clinton Foundation!

PRZYBYLA: … to hit her on the Clinton Foundation, on Libya, on Benghazi,
or even on the e-mails, which was such low-hanging fruit.

MATTHEWS: Her hawkishness. Anyway…

PRZYBYLA: Pence will.

MATTHEWS: … Mike Pence has got to do what Trump didn`t do and he`s got
to go after Hillary Clinton tonight. I`m absolutely convinced the tactic
tonight to watch is the attack from a defensive position. Everybody,
including all the Republicans and all the commentators, are going to say,
Oh, Mike Pence has got to defend Donald Trump tonight. No, he doesn`t. He
can just attack Hillary Clinton.

Anyway, earlier today, Hillary Clinton responded to a question from a
student about Trump`s comments about how women look. Here`s how she – why
would Pence want to talk about that tonight?


MATTHEWS: Anyway, he can just stay away from Trump, attack Hillary.
(INAUDIBLE) watch this.


CLINTON: You know, it`s shocking when women are called names and judged on
the basis, solely on the basis of physical attributes. We have to stand up
against that. My opponent insulted Miss Universe.


CLINTON: I mean, how do you get more acclaimed than that? But it wasn`t
good enough. So we can`t take any of this seriously anymore. We need to
laugh at it. We need to refute it. We need to ignore it. And we need to
stand up to it. And especially the bullying.


MATTHEWS: We`ve got Andrea Mitchell back. Andrea, this – give me a sense
of what you think Pence is going to do. I have a theory. I think you
missed it. What do you think Pence is going to do? I don`t think he`s
playing defense tonight. What a waste of time. He can`t defend Trump.
Trump`s got to defend Trump. Your thoughts.

MITCHELL: Yes, absolutely. I think he goes after Hillary Clinton in ways,
as you just pointed out, that Donald Trump didn`t – the e-mails,
cybersecurity, all the things he did not open up because he got so
distracted in the debate once she really got him off his game by mentioning
that he had inherited that company – $14 million loan from his dad.

And after that, he just kept returning over and over and over again to his
business issues, which were hardly what he should have been prosecuting in
that debate against Hillary Clinton.

So Mike Pence is very smart. You know, he clearly knows how to go after
Hillary Clinton tonight. And you know he will have prepared a whole lot
better than Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Yes, and I think Pence is a very serious guy – perhaps a lot of
people would say in terms of politics, too serious. But he`s deadly. I
want to go back to my colleagues here.

Mike Pence – look at the guy! He`s in this thing seriously. He isn`t
here to have fun. He`s got an ideological commitment. He actually says
what he believes, which separates him from most politicians. You may not
like his very conservative views on women, on abortion rights, on gay

REID: And a lot of women may not know them. A lot of women…


MATTHEWS: … but he is for real. That separates him from most
politicians. I`m sorry. That`s rare.

REID: Yes. And he took a job that was probably the most unpopular,
unwanted job in Republican politics. You see other elected Republicans
running from Donald Trump and cringing…


MATTHEWS: … candidate for governor of Indiana.

REID: Well, there you go.

MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) worst job. But go ahead.

REID: But the other issue is, is that Mike Pence may want to do the full
pivot. You call it the full 180. You`re asked a question about, the same
Kelly Ayotte question. He gets that question, Would you be proud to have
your children or your church see Donald Trump as president? Is that
something of which you can be of proud? Good luck trying to do a 180-
degree pivot without answering that question. It`s almost guaranteed to
get the Kelly Ayotte question. And he`s got to answer it. You just can`t
do a 180.

MATTHEWS: Well, depends (INAUDIBLE) the moderator is.

REID: That`s a good point.

MATTHEWS: I`ve watched a lot of moderators that don`t push…

REID: Let it go.

MATTHEWS: … a second and third time.

PRZYBYLA: And think about on the tax issue, for example. Donald Trump has
not had to answer for this in the way that Mike Pence is going to have to
answer for Donald Trump.


MATTHEWS: Is the moderator tonight going to be tough and keep pressing
like that, do you think?

REID: It`s hard to say. But I mean, she`s a tough reporter…

MATTHEWS: I`ve never seen her in action…

REID: … she`s a good reporter. I haven`t seen her do a debate. But I
think that at this moment, the media is under such pressure, as well, that
if she doesn`t try to get him to answer that question…

MATTHEWS: OK, let me…


REID: … if she lets him go, she`s going to face a lot of criticism.

MATTHEWS: Where do we stand right now on the role of the moderator? Is it
the fact checker or not? Because, you know, one of our colleagues got
attacked for not fact checking, then another one got hit for fact – I
mean, what is the state of the art on that? Do you fact check or not?

MITCHELL: I think you have to do it as appropriate. You have to expect
that the debaters will do a lot of fact checking for you, but you have to
do a considerable amount of fact checking yourself. But each moderator –
look, the pressure is enormous. Each moderator has to make their own

But I think Mike Pence has an easy answer. I think he`s all in with Donald
Trump. He cannot not not say, Of course I would be proud, of course he`s a
role model. I really think that he believes in this, but on all of the
issues where Trump has been arguably rude and vulgar, he`ll just pivot back
to things that he believes Hillary Clinton has done wrong.

MATTHEWS: I think he can isolate where he supports Trump. He said – he
can say Trump has had the guts to take on the political establishment of
this country of both parties. That`s an act of courage, in my department,
and I do respect it. He can define what he likes about Trump. Grown-up
politicians can define their answers.

Well, here we are in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson said the whole art of
politics is the art of telling the truth. If they`d only remember that.

Thank you, Andrea Mitchell.

MITCHELL: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Heidi Przybyla and Joy Reid.

Coming up – what do Tim Kaine and Mike Pence hope to accomplish tonight?
For Kaine, it might be to do no harm, but after the rough week Donald
Trump`s just had, Pence has the sharper challenge. He has to break the
Clinton charge because if he doesn`t, who`s going to do it?

And coming up at the top of the hour, I`ll be joining Brian Williams and
Rachel Maddow, of course, as we get ready for tonight`s debate. And then
at 9:00 Eastern, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence go face to face in the only
presidential debate for the vice presidents.

At 10:30, we`ll be back with full coverage of the debate, and I`ll be back
here covering everything that happens tonight until 1:00 AM Eastern. We`re
sticking with you!


HARDBALL`s coming back, and this is a special edition of HARDBALL, live
from Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, site of the vice
presidential debate.



MATTHEWS: It`s a wild night here! Look at these people!


MATTHEWS: This is…


MATTHEWS: We`re out here in the real Virginia, in the country out here.
This isn`t some suburb in a bedroom community of Virginia. This is way out
in the country here, live from Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia,
for tonight`s vice presidential debate.

By the way, everybody knows this who follows anything – women make up a
larger share of the electorate than men. Everybody keeps forgetting this,
more women voters than male voters.

Anyway, today, they`re getting the full-court press from Hillary Clinton.
Two of Clinton`s most powerful surrogates, Michelle Obama and Senator
Elizabeth Warren, hit the campaign trail today to exploit Trump`s terrible
week and boost turnout. Here they go.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: If a candidate regularly demeans and
humiliates women, making cruel and insulting comments about our bodies,
criticizing how we look, how we act – well, sadly, that`s who that
candidate really is.


MATTHEWS: Well, she`s good. And with good reason. According to NBC`s
most recent on-line survey among women likely voters, a majority of 52
percent said they support Clinton compared to just 34 percent who say they
support Trump. That`s quite a spread.

Down here in Farmville, it will be up to both vice presidential candidates
to make the hard sell for both of the people at the top of their tickets,
obviously. They`re surrogates. They`re the big surrogates, the VP

Governor Mike Pence will have the more challenging task, of course, because
after a bad week – some people say a horrible week for Trump – it`ll be
up to him to turn the battle against Hillary Clinton, and that`s a
challenge. Pence is strongly pro-life, of course, and in 2015 passed a
controversial religious freedom bill that gave stronger legal defense to
businesses if they refuse to serve gay people.

Anyway, here`s how he described himself when he accepted the nomination for


conservative, and a Republican, in that order!



MATTHEWS: Well, Tim Kaine, who during the 2012 Senate election, carried 56
percent of women voters in Virginia, will have to defend his own
complicated views on abortion, whether he`s personally pro-life, but we`ll
get to that.

For more, I`m joined by Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, and
Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe. Both are Clinton supporters, big-time!


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you. Thank you, Governor.


MATTHEWS: This is…

KLOBUCHAR: This is something!

MATTHEWS: OK, I really love this trip down here.


GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: Welcome to Virginia.

MATTHEWS: I love coming down here tonight, and thanks to the senator for
being here. Let me ask you both…

KLOBUCHAR: Farmville.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you both.

You`re both, I know, besides being statespersons and men and women of the
world who care about this country, you`re also political tacticians and
strategists. You know, what is – let`s try. And you`re both here
supporting Secretary Clinton and Tim Kaine, who`s a very likable guy. We
all like Tim Kaine.


MATTHEWS: But let me ask you, tell me about that battle of the two
different personalities, Mike Pence, Tim Kaine. Size them up as debaters,
as personalities.

MCAULIFFE: First of all, both very strong.

I have known Tim now for two decades. I have known Governor Pence for a
long time. I served as chairman of the National Governors Association. I
worked with Governor Pence.

He has got a much harder deal tonight. Tim Kaine talks about Hillary
Clinton`s vision, building the middle class, getting people back to work.
Mike Pence tonight has to defend all of the things you have been talking
about on this show. I think he has a much tougher road tonight, to be able
to have to defend all the things…

MATTHEWS: Can he pivot?

MCAULIFFE: He`s going to have a hard time pivoting. People want to have

Donald Trump said all the following things. This is the head of your
ticket. How do you respond? Tim Kaine can talk about the five-point plan
on economic development, how we move this country forward.

You`re in Virginia today. We are a swing state. We have been very strong
for Clinton and Kaine now for months and months. Hillary has been up here
for the last eight months anywhere from seven to 12 points.

MATTHEWS: Yes. You say it`s a swing state, but it`s getting to be a
Democrat state, isn`t it?

MCAULIFFE: Yes. I mean…

MATTHEWS: Went twice for Obama.

MCAULIFFE: When I won – I broke a 44-year trend when I won the
governorship. I brought in with me my lieutenant governor and attorney
general, first time in 24 years Democrats swept.

Democrats now control all five statewides here in the Commonwealth of
Virginia. Why? Economic – I just announced the other day, lowest
unemployment rate of any major state in America.

MATTHEWS: What he is not saying, although he knows it better than any of
us know, women in this state. Northern Virginia is packed with a lot of
women who come to work in the Washington area, single women. A lot of them
are single, for life in many cases.

They are very pro-choice. And we have watched this with the Doug Wilder
campaign. We watched it with all the campaigns. Women in Virginia are
pro-choice. The state is pro-choice. Is that going to be an issue

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think it will be discussed.

MATTHEWS: Because Pence is very pro-life.

KLOBUCHAR: Oh, yes. Pence has said he would want to overturn Roe v. Wade.
He introduced the bill to defund Planned Parenthood, where a lot of women
get their contraception.

This will be a part of the debate. I don`t think it`s the only issue for
women, though, Chris, as you know. Women workers are two-thirds of the
minimum wage workers. And the fact that Hillary Clinton has been out there
on increasing the minimum wage, on a strong work family leave policy, on a
strong child care policy, a lot of the women are focused on those, and
that`s why you see that, in addition to the debate performance, where after
she answered every question for an hour-and-a-half, he had the gall to look
at the camera and look at her, and say, you don`t have the stamina to be
the president of the United States.

MATTHEWS: Was that a code? Was that a whistle for you, a dog whistle,

KLOBUCHAR: Yes. Well, I screamed at the TV.


MATTHEWS: You think it`s anti-woman.

KLOBUCHAR: I yelled at the TV, because I`m thinking, are you – what is
wrong with you? She is the one that has been strong. She is the one


MATTHEWS: It`s the strangest word, because – but you guys live longer
than we do. You bear children. And anybody who`s been through a
childbirth, like I have been watching – all we do is watch. And you have
babies. I don`t know what this stamina thing is about.

Let me ask you about young people, a lot of them here.


MATTHEWS: How many of you are millennials?


MATTHEWS: How many? OK. They are millennials.

Both candidates have had a hard time stirring these guys up. How do they
do it? They have a month to do it.

MCAULIFFE: Look what`s going on. Listen, everybody out here, they want a
good-paying job. That`s what they want. They want a great education
system. Hillary has come out with her plan. In a state school, if you
make under $125,000, you will get a higher education.

This is what these folks out here all want. They want a good-paying job.
They want an avenue to success. Why is Bernie Sanders cutting commercials,
traveling all over the commonwealth, all over the country? Because he`s
out there supporting Hillary Clinton because he knows that she`s the right
thing for this country and she`s the right thing for millennials.


MATTHEWS: Why would anybody who is a millennial vote for Gary Johnson if
they voted for Bernie Sanders? That`s what I can`t understand. How can
you go from socialist to Libertarian? It doesn`t make – you handle this,

How can you go from socialist to Libertarian? It makes no sense.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think that Bernie Sanders, who is in my home state
today, is going to have a lot to do that. He`s out there strong? He`s out
there talking about why the vote should be for Hillary Clinton.

MATTHEWS: OK. Is Hillary closer to socialist or Libertarian? What is she
closer to?

KLOBUCHAR: One more thing.


MATTHEWS: This is HARDBALL. Come on. This is HARDBALL. What`s she
closer to?

KLOBUCHAR: One more thing.

MATTHEWS: You don`t want to answer. OK.

KLOBUCHAR: One more thing about the millennials, though, Chris, they
support each other.

And when you have a candidate in Donald Trump who`s going after immigrants,
who is going to after – wants to get rid of gay marriage, those kinds of
things, they respond to that, because they look out for each other.


MATTHEWS: They`re pro-LGBT.


MCAULIFFE: And who`s promising immigration reform? Hillary Clinton, first
100 days, immigration reform.

MATTHEWS: Let`s get it done. Let`s get it done.

MCAULIFFE: Infrastructure. Let`s get it done.

MATTHEWS: Because I really think that`s one thing that`s got to get done.

Anyway, thank you.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.


MATTHEWS: Very popular figure here, very popular governor.

MCAULIFFE: Well, but spend every penny you got here in Virginia before you
go across the Potomac River, Chris.




MATTHEWS: We`re going to the Silver Diner on the way home tomorrow.


MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Senator Amy Klobuchar, a very popular person
in the United States, and Terry McAuliffe, who`s some day going to rule the


MATTHEWS: Anyway, when we come back, all eyes on Mike Pence. After the
bad week Donald Trump had, can Pence dig him out? I think Pence is going
on offense tonight like you have never seen. He is a tough customer.

We`re just about 90 minutes away, by the way, from the start of this
debate. And, by the way, middleweight fights are always much more exciting
than heavyweight fights.

We`re live at Longwood University in Virginia – back with more.




DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As a businessman and real estate
developer, I have legally used the tax laws to my benefit and to the
benefit of my company, my investors and my employees.

I mean, honestly, I have brilliantly – I have brilliantly used those laws.
The unfairness of the tax laws is unbelievable. It`s something I have been
talking about for a long time, despite, frankly, being a big beneficiary of
the laws.

But I`m working for you now. I`m not working for Trump.



MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

What a crowd we have here. What a crowd.

Anyway, that was Donald Trump defending his use of tax laws to his benefit
yesterday at a campaign stop out in Colorado.

Well, Trump`s been playing defense on that lately, so will his running
mate, Mike Pence, tonight defend Trump`s troubles tonight in the debate, or
will he instead hit at Hillary Clinton`s weak points?

Hugh Hewitt is a radio talk show host and an MSNBC contributor, and John
Brabender is a Republican strategist.

Gentlemen, thank you all.

John and then Hugh, OK, I will go back to my point of view. Critique me on
this. The worst thing in the world that Mike Pence could do tonight is
spending his hour-and-a-half defending Trump, because Trump may not be
around in four or eight years, but Hillary Clinton will be.

And she will always been the nemesis of the Republican Party. I think the
smart move for him is attack Hillary where he can, where he`s justified,
hit hard and hard again and again and again, relentlessly bringing the case
against her credibility. She`s at 61 percent unbelieved right now by the
American people.

Don`t waste your time on Machado, on taxes. You won`t gain an inch. But
you can gain a lot of footage going after Hillary. In other words, attack,
don`t defend, if he can. That`s what I recommend he do tonight.


I think he can`t spend the whole time saying, well, yes, Donald Trump said
this because. I think he has to give some confidence of who Donald Trump
really is from a first-person perspective, but he`s got to move the
conversation certainly to Hillary.

He`s got to make sort of the conviction or the prosecution of her, but he`s
got to do it in a tone and temperament different than Donald Trump has. He
has to use facts and still come across as likable and believable, rather
than by shouting or by rhetoric that…

MATTHEWS: Where would you put the first punch? On her general lack of
credibility, on the whole history starting in the early `90s of sort of
vague trouble, always the unending soap opera around the Clintons that just
seems to always be there. How would you do…


BRABENDER: I think there`s two things he should do. Number one is that.

I think he`s going to say, you know what? They gamed the system. Every
chance she had, they gamed the system for personal benefit. Second of all,
I think he`s going to talk a lot about how she`s been there for 24 years.
We tried it her way. She likes to say she`s tested. He`s going to say,
but she failed the test.


BRABENDER: And he`s going to go through a lot of examples.

MATTHEWS: Hugh, how do you critique my suggestion that he go on offense?

HUGH HEWITT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: One hundred percent correct.

She has to be the target of every single statement he makes tonight, not
Senator Kaine, not Donald Trump, but Egypt, Libya, Syria, the server, the
Supreme Court, the status of forces agreement that she did not come up
with, Bill Clinton today, double the premiums, half the coverage.

It`s his first speech in a presidential campaign. Whether that`s in 2020
or 2024, Michael Pence is going to run for president. And, tonight, he has
to prove that he can make…

MATTHEWS: He has got nothing to lose attacking her. He`s got a lot to
lose defending everything Trump has done.


HEWITT: That`s why everything, it`s bingo. He ought to bring up President
Obama`s bad six-word legacy as well, leading from behind, red line, and
J.V.s. Everything is a bingo card for him. He just has to hit those

MATTHEWS: Can he get the headline tomorrow and not her – not Kaine? Can
he come out, Pence attacks Hillary on credibility? If it`s Pence defends
Trump, I think that`s a wash.

BRABENDER: I think you have got to be careful tonight. I don`t think this
is the type of debate that you`re going to have these dramatic headlines.

I think what he can come out of here…

MATTHEWS: I do. I predict there will be a headline in the paper tomorrow.


BRABENDER: But I think what he can do is that he – Mike Pence is so
likable and knowledgeable that I think he can do a better job probably than
Trump can to create the real doubts of Hillary Clinton, and why they

Trump just sort of throws them out there and assumes people will know. I
think Mike Pence is better at putting it in context why people should be
outraged about what Hillary Clinton has done.


HEWITT: One thing he can do, I think, is build audience for Sunday night.

He needs to get Trump a chance to get back into the ring against Hillary
Clinton with a reset. So, he says, watch Sunday night. If you want change
in this country, if you think we`re on the wrong direction, watch Sunday
night. A different Donald Trump is coming.

MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about how he handles the tricky stuff to get to the

My – the question was asked of Kelly Ayotte, who is the senator from New
Hampshire, do you want this – do you want Donald Trump to be your kid`s
role model? Well, there`s an answer to that. You don`t – you isolate and
say, in terms of guts and taking on the establishment, yes, in terms of
guts. Nobody`s perfect, but there`s certain things the guy does represent.

You don`t have to say, I like his marital history, right? Who is going to
say that?

BRABENDER: He will answer it different than she did.

What he will say is, I have gotten to know Donald Trump very well. Let me
tell share with you some of the things that I have found that I do like
about him. I do wish my kids had some of those. But let me tell you why I
would be scared to death for them to turn out like Hillary Clinton.

And I think everything will go back in that direction.

HEWITT: And I think he has – this is the first presidential election in
history where there the known knowns are the negatives. We have always
known the positives about candidates.

This is the first time that we know the negatives about each of them.

MATTHEWS: Every presidential debate, I have watched almost all of them –
in fact, all of them – the winner is the person who attacks from a
defensive position, whether it`s there you go again, attacking Carter after
he`s been attacking Reagan`s record on Medicare, or it`s, what`s his name,
Dan Quayle saying he`s Jack Kennedy.


MATTHEWS: Every time you go on the offense, the other guy or woman has the
chance to respond at that moment, that precise moment of attack, when the
attacker is most vulnerable and most committed. Nail them right in the

HEWITT: That what`s Chris Christie did to Marco Rubio in New Hampshire.


MATTHEWS: That`s what you can do.

And, therefore, I think the opportunity tonight…

BRABENDER: But Pence doesn`t have to prove he`s credible. He`s already

MATTHEWS: I know. I`m just talking about, can you attack and hurt?

Anyway, thank you, Hugh Hewitt. Thank you, John Brabender, both great
guests on this program.

Up next: Hillary Clinton`s bringing out the heavy hitters. She`s taking
no chances now that she`s got the lead in the polls. She`s got the best
surrogate team around.

Plus, the HARDBALL rules on how to win or lose a debate. We will get to


MATTHEWS: What can Mike Pence and Tim Kaine learn from past V.P. debates?

You`re watching HARDBALL, a special edition, live from Longwood University,
for tonight`s vice presidential debate.



MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: When it comes to the qualifications that we
should demand of our president, to start, we need someone who will take the
job seriously.

I think we can all agree that someone who`s roaming around at 3:00 a.m.
tweeting should not have their fingers on the nuclear codes.



MATTHEWS: You know, what an accomplished platform speaker the first lady
has become all these years.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL, live at Longwood University for
tonight`s vice presidential debate.

In fact, just about an hour and 20 minutes from now, it`s going to happen.

And that was, of course, the fantastic first lady, Michelle Obama, on the
campaign trail today in North Carolina. She`s just one of several high-
profile Democrats to hit the trail for Hillary Clinton in what amounts to
be an unprecedented surrogate operation.

We`re looking at a bunch of them there, chief among them, of course,
President Obama, who`s indicated that he plans to spend two days a week
every week this month campaigning for Clinton in the homestretch to

And unlike outgoing Presidents George W. Bush in 2008, Obama`s approval
rating now is at 54 percent, according to Gallup, which means he`s in a
unique position to help secure a third consecutive term for his party in
the White House.

I`m joined right now by some experts, our roundtable tonight, John
Heilemann, managing editor of Bloomberg Politics and host of “With All Due
Respect.” Megan Murphy is Washington bureau chief for Bloomberg. And
Jason Johnson is politics editor at The Root.

Of course, Jason, you have been great on the show lately.

Let`s talk about the president. I mean, I can`t think of a time since
Eisenhower back in `60 where a sitting president is this popular…


MATTHEWS: … and can go out and throw his weight behind his party`s

JOHNSON: Look, he can sing. He can – he can bring people out and…


MATTHEWS: He can sing?

JOHNSON: Look, he sings. When Obama gets in front of certain block
audiences, he will sing. He`s Al Green.

But here`s what`s key. I mean, it`s amazing that he`s this popular and
Clinton is still struggling. So, he`s going to really have to put in this
time to pull her over the finish line.

MATTHEWS: Because Bill Clinton had a problem again today.

First lady, what a surrogate. She sort of kept herself to herself. She`s
never been a politician. She doesn`t bang the drum for her party or her

She`s sort of like a movie star, you don`t see much of her, but when you
do, you pay attention.

MEGAN MURPHY, BLOOMBERG NEWS: I think it`s a perfect analogy, and her use
on the campaign trail shows how deeply personal they both feel this race
is. They feel it`s not only Hillary Clinton, but their legacy, as well,
and what they try to achieve together.

MATTHEWS: What`s personal about this besides her husband`s legacy?

MURPHY: Well, he`s an anathema to everything they stand for. It`s an
anathema to everything they thought –

MATTHEWS: She doesn`t like the birther stuff anymore than he did?

MURPHY: She doesn`t like the birther stuff. She doesn`t like how he
stands on women. She doesn`t like how he stands on their entire
progressive record. She doesn`t like the fact that we may have as many as
three Supreme Court justices on the table.

This is everything to them. It is personal. And I think Michelle Obama
has proven, she would be almost the most effective surrogate Hillary
Clinton has, particularly closing the gap with women in states like –

MATTHEWS: You and I have not seen an effective big-time surrogate in our
lifetime. It`s a rarity that could endorse up like this. If you`re going
to endorse down, a president with somebody running for governor. But to
endorse up, here you have the president of the United States and a first
lady with the firepower I think that might change.

I think this month, you`re going to see a lot of Obama.

is a good analogy. David Ortiz may be a better analogy, an even better
collection –

MATTHEWS: You want to explain that?

HEILEMANN: David Ortiz, he`s become, he`s the best clutch hitter, best
October/November player ever in baseball. But we`re going too far afield.

Here`s the thing, I think it`s – forget about legacy and all that stuff.
You can`t glide past the birther thing. Donald Trump was the face of the
movement that tried to delegitimize Barack Obama`s presidency on racial
grounds. They are both, as a couple, have been deeply offended and angered
by that from the moment that it started.

And so, this is a thing of like, we don`t want that guy to occupy this
seat. Not just what he would do to our legislative accomplishments, it`s a
deeply personal thing. Deeply personally.

MATTHEWS: OK. I have to ask you about who else won`t matter. Does Bill
Clinton count anymore in terms of this? He tries, but I don`t know if he`s
got the –

MURPHY: I think when you`re looking at this election –

MATTHEWS: No, I`m asking him. Don`t dodge off of this. Is Bill Clinton
an effective surrogate?

MURPHY: I think she`s got far more effective surrogates out there.

MATTHEWS: Bill Clinton still got it?

HEILEMANN: He can still play in certain parts of the electorate.


HEILEMANN: They`re sending him to a lot of places to – he`s going to
spend most of his time going to rural communities, going to places – he
says when he`s out of the trail, he says I go places –

MATTHEWS: Who`s a better politician, him or her now? Hillary or Bill?
Who`s better right now?

MURPHY: She`s on an incredible wave up.

MATTHEWS: Who`s better, Bill or Hillary?

JOHNSON: I think he`s a better politician. He`s the best explainer
surrogate she`s got. He can still get on stage and explain policy in 20

MURPHY: If he doesn`t screw it up.

MATTHEWS: What was he doing trashing Obamacare?

JOHNSON: Because he doesn`t like him. I don`t think he`s ever been that
happy about this president.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. When you say double the premiums for people that
are working 60 hours a week, that`s not exactly applauded.

JOHNSON: No, it`s not.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, when we come back, the HARDBALL rules, how Tim Kaine or
Mike Pence can win tonight`s debate.

This is a HARDBALL, a special edition. We`ll be right back.



first of all, that I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing
attitude, that you have to teach me about foreign policy.




MATTHEWS: There are tough moments. Welcome back.

Those were some unforgettable and awfully nasty moments from past vice
presidential debates. And over the past two weeks, we`ve covered the
HARDBALL rules for how to win or lose a presidential debate.

Well, tonight we have some new advice for the vice presidential candidates
before tonight`s face-to-face showdown. Here`s what we`ve learned over the
years. Number one, do no harm. Vice presidential candidates must protect
the candidate at the top of the ticket. That means they need to avoid
creating a side show that might distract from the campaign`s message.

Back in 1976, then Senator Bob Dole famously ignored that advice when he
blamed Democrats for the wars of the 20th century. Not only did he give
his opponent, Walter Mondale, an opening to counterattack, it also put the
campaign on the defensive for a couple of weeks.

Let`s watch.


BOB DOLE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: It`s not a very good issue, anymore than
the war in Vietnam would be or World War II or World War I or the war in
Korea. All Democrat wars, all in this century.

I figured it up the other day, if we added up the killed and wounded, and
Democrat wars in this century, it would be about 1.6 million Americans,
enough to fill the city of Detroit.

WALTER MONDALE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Does he really mean to suggest to the
American people that there was a partisan difference over our involvement
in the war to fight Nazi Germany?


MATTHEWS: Well, actually, Nazi Germany declared war on us after Pearl
Harbor. Let`s get straight that. Little fact.

Anyway, it`s clearly that Mondale had an easy opening there, Dole gave it
to him.

JOHNSON: Look, when you screw up that bad and the other person is waiting,
it`s kind of like, Sarah Palin, 2008, can I all you, Joe, so you could set
up –

MATTHEWS: We`ll get to that.

JOHNSON: But you know, overall, you`ve got to make sure that your main
goal is promoting your candidate. You`re the side show, you`re the
undercard, you`re not the main event.

MATTHEWS: Yes, and don`t blame World War II since we were fighting Hitler
anyway, and the empire of Japan after they attacked us.


MATTHEWS: OK, anyway, debate rule number two. By disarming – be
disarming with your opponent, as you were suggesting, showing a little
civility can make your arguments more persuasive, especially since vice
presidential candidates aren`t as well-known as the person at the top of
the ticket. You`re introducing yourself on a night like this.

In 2008, Sarah Palin famously asked permission to use Joe Biden`s first
name and later showcased that kind of folksy charm throughout the debate.
Here she is, Sarah Palin.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Nice to meet you. Can I call
you, Joe? Thank you.

Say it ain`t so, Joe, there you go pointing backwards again, though. You
prefaced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Doggone it,
let`s look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in
the future.


MATTHEWS: Al Gore was similarly disarming with his opponent Jack Kemp at
the start of the `96 VP debate. Let`s look at that.


AL GORE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I`d like to start by offering you a
deal, Jack. If you won`t use any football stories, I won`t tell any of my
warm and humorous stories about chlorofluorocarbon abatement.

pronounce it.


MATTHEWS: Well, that was a bit set up.

Anyway, Megan, talk about naturals –

MURPHY: Yes, I think that seemed funnier at the time than it does now.

MATTHEWS: Tried to look warmer.

MURPHY: Look, this is tricky for Governor Pence, because one of his big
missions tonight is going to make good on some of the own goals that Trump
left on the table. He didn`t hit out the server. He didn`t hit out on
Benghazi. He didn`t hit out on a lot of the things that Hillary is
vulnerable on.

So, one of his big themes tonight is going to be –

MATTHEWS: Go tough.

MURPHY: Go tough. Be disarming and tough. It`s not as easy. He`s got a
big challenge.

MATTHEWS: How will Pence thread that needle be tough because he`s got to
carry the fight?

HEILEMANN: I think he`s got to be aggressive. He`s going to be out so
many times by Kaine in places where he`s in opposition for Donald Trump to
try to answer for Trump`s mistakes. Pence is going to try to do the quick
pivot out of everything.

MATTHEWS: I think he`s smart enough to do it. But you`re right, he has to
fight on many fronts.

Anyway, debate rule number three, don`t get personal. And here in an
attempt to explode then-Vice President`s Dick Cheney`s differences with
President Bush on the issue of gay rights, John Edwards decided to invoke
the sexual orientation of Cheney`s daughter. Lynne Cheney later called it
a cheap shot. Here`s the exchange for that VP debate.


president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very
much. And you can`t have anything but respect for the fact that they`re
willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that
they embrace her. It`s a wonderful thing.

MODERATOR: Mr. Vice President, you have 90 seconds.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Gwen, let me simply thank the
senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I
appreciate that very much.

EDWARDS: You`re welcome.

MODERATOR: That`s it.

CHENEY: That`s it.



MATTHEWS: Ha! Well, how do you the read Cheney? That`s the first time
and maybe the last I saw in Cheney`s side.

HEILEMANN: That`s when Cheney first got the idea for waterboarding right


MATTHEWS: That split screen told you everything.

JOHNSON: Yes, it was Belichick like we`re on to the next question. He was
like keep my daughter`s name out of your mouth. You don`t have to go
there. John Edwards had plenty of things to criticize Bush about.
Personal life, (INAUDIBLE)

MATTHEWS: I wonder who on the staff said, great idea, go for the daughter.

Anyway, rule number four, praise `em before you hit `em. This example
comes from a presidential debate running for reelection in 1996. President
Bill Clinton knew any attacks the on Bob Dole`s age could backfire. So he
deftly took the issue off the table before going for the jugular. Here is
Clinton you might say at his best, but you might say nastiest. So, here he


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I can only tell you that I don`t
think Senator Dole is too old to be president. It`s the age of his ideas
that I question. You`re almost not old enough to remember this, but we
tried this before – promising people an election year tax cut that`s not
paid for.


MATTHEWS: Well, that was very Nixonian, Megan, because he got the shout in
about his age, but then I don`t really mean to do that, but I`m going after
his ideas. Dole gave the scour.

MURPHY: I think this is a real winning ticket for Governor Pence tonight,
particularly these guys have sharp, sharp policy contrasts. If we want to
keep this debate away from the personal and focus on –

MATTHEWS: How do you put the sugar into that mix? Stick it to the guy for
being an – then you say –

MURPHY: The problem is both these guys believe in what they`re doing.
Hard to stick them on lots of things. It will be a policy debate.

MATTHEWS: I don`t think it will be that nice.

Your thoughts, John? Can you be that sugary and get away with it?


MATTHEWS: OK, thank you. The roundtable is staying with us.

And up next, this three will tell me something I don`t know. I`ll be right


MATTHEWS: Just over an hour to go now before the start of the vice
presidential debate. There is Mike Pence in that group going into the
debate center. He`s the first guy in the row there, second guy. But it`s
all happening.

We`re back with the roundtable as we get ready for this debate.

Megan, tell me something I don`t know, Megan Murphy.

MURPHY: Well, I`ll tell you something RNC already knows Pence won the
debate. They`ve released their post debate spin saying that Governor Pence
did a great job hitting on Hillary scandals and the economy.

MATTHEWS: What I thought he was going to do, he`s done because it`s now –


MURPHY: He`s the clear winner.

MATTHEWS: How do they keep making these mistakes?

Anyway, what you got to tell me?

HEILEMANN: I`m not sure how many Virginians know this, but Tim Kaine has a
weird thing in his head. He`s like a reverse dyslexic. If you say any
word to him, he can say it backwards immediately. If you say Kaine, it`s
eniak backwards.

MATTHEWS: He can do that.

HEILEMANN: But he can do anything, stronger together.

MATTHEWS: How many letters?

HEILEMANN: He can go up to – if there`s silent letters. He had has a
hard time with things like pneumonia. I tried that on him once. It`s a
great party trick.

MATTHEWS: That`s complicated. I can do alliteration like that, but not
like that.

Anyway, you`re thoughts?

JOHNSON: All right. So, we talk about all the great surrogates Hillary
Clinton has. She`s got, you know, Bill Clinton. She got Barack Obama.
She now has Kermit the Frog. Yes, Kermit the frog is now online as a
brand-new meme supporting Hillary Clinton.

People on the left have been using him to counter Trump`s Pepe Le Frog on
the right. It`s become viral. It`s going on all out there.

MATTHEWS: You know the (INAUDIBLE) were all frogs. (INAUDIBLE) good frogs
out of existence.

Anyway, thank you, Megan Murphy. Thank you, John Heilemann. It`s great to
have you here, Jason Johnson.

That does it for this special edition of HARDBALL. We`re coming back late
tonight with another one at midnight. I`ll be joining Brian Williams and
Rachel Maddow for full coverage of tonight`s vice presidential debate.
That`s coming up right now.


Copyright 2016 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>