Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 12/30/2016

April Ryan, John Brabender, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Pharrell Williams, Ted Melfi

Date: December 30, 2016
Guest: April Ryan, John Brabender, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer,
Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Pharrell Williams, Ted Melfi>


Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

Well, call it a political earthquake, an unraveling of the system or even a
revolution, 2016 changed the face of American politics forever.

There was the nationalist and populist ascension of our next president,
Donald Trump, the collapse of the Clinton dynasty, the revolutionary fervor
that reshaped the Democratic Party with the socialist senator from Vermont,
Bernie Sanders, even a growing call for a third party solution represented
most effectively by Libertarian Gary Johnson. And all of these elements
will rewrite the American political narrative for years to come.

Over the past months, all four of these leaders – Trump, Clinton, Sanders
and Johnson – appeared at HARDBALL town halls and college tours. Here`s a


the world differently. You look at it inside the Beltway. I`m not an
inside the Beltway guy. I am an outside the Beltway guy.

MATTHEWS: But the people that vote on taxes are inside the Beltway.


MATTHEWS: Can you tell the Middle East we`re not using a nuclear weapon?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would never say that. I would
never take any of my cards off the table.

MATTHEWS: How about Europe, we won`t use it in Europe?

TRUMP: I`m not going to take it off the table for anything.

MATTHEWS: You might use it in Europe?



political games you can play. If somebody would have assassinated Hitler
before he took over Germany, would that be a good thing or not?

MATTHEWS: Name a foreign leader that you respect.

an Aleppo moment, and the former – former president of Mexico…

MATTHEWS: But I`m giving you the whole world!

JOHNSON: I know. I know. I know.


MATTHEWS: Well, joining me now, Republican strategist John Brabender,
April Ryan, the Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks
and the author of “At Mama`s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White,”
and “New York Times” reporter Jeremy Peters. He`s an MSNBC contributor.

We begin tonight with Donald Trump. The country`s next leader made waves
in March back then when he told me he believed women who get abortions
should get some form of punishment. The president-elect eventually walked
that statement back – there`s a new phrase this year, “walked it back” –
after facing unprecedented criticism from both the left and right. Well,
here`s the following exchange.

It made a major news focus on the anti-Trump campaign ads for the remainder
of the year. Here`s that moment from March`s HARDBALL town hall.


MATTHEWS: Should the woman be punished for having an abortion?

TRUMP: Look…

MATTHEWS: This is not something you can dodge.

TRUMP: It`s a…

MATTHEWS: If you say abortion is a crime or abortion is murder, you have
to deal with it under the law. Should abortion be punished?

TRUMP: Well, people in certain parts of the Republican Party and
conservative Republicans would say, yes, they should be punished.

MATTHEWS: How about you?

TRUMP: I would say that it`s a very serious problem. And it`s a problem
that we have to decide on. It`s very…

MATTHEWS: But you`re for banning it.

TRUMP: Are you going to say – well, wait. Are you going to say put them
in jail? Is that the punishment…

MATTHEWS: Well, no, I`m asking you because you say you want to ban it.
What does that mean?

TRUMP: I would – I am against – I am pro-life, yes. I am pro-life.

MATTHEWS: What does ban – how do you ban abortion? How do you actually
do it?

TRUMP: Well, you know, you`ll go back to a position like they had, where
people will perhaps go to illegal places.


TRUMP: But you have to ban it.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe…

TRUMP: But you…

MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a

TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes. There has to be some form.

MATTHEWS: Ten cents, ten years, what?

TRUMP: That I don`t know. That I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.

TRUMP: I frankly – I do take positions on everything else. It`s a very
complicated position.


MATTHEWS: April Ryan?

APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORK: That was a tough – that was a
major moment during this campaign season, but he got over it. But it goes
back to that issue. And it still rings so vivid and so harsh, hearing him
say that. It`s a crime. He basically said it was a crime.

Now, what happens is, if he goes back – if they deal with that in 2017 at
all, you know, it goes into, should women be put in jail? Should there be
legal ramifications, punishments? And that`s a real tough thing because
Roe v. Wade was put in place to give timelines and parameters about from
what time to what time you are allowed to have an abortion.

So this is – this is a tough issue, and it goes right back down that road
that he tried to step around about women and how women are viewed. It`s a
tough issue.

MATTHEWS: Jeremy, he had no problem saying the male involved in a
pregnancy, if you have an abortion, should not be punished. He had a quick
answer on that one.

JEREMY PETERS, “NEW YORK TIMES”: He did. I think two things here. One,
this whole episode is indicative of how Donald Trump ran his campaign and
is likely to run his presidency, and that`s that he makes up a significant
portion of it as he goes along.

You could tell, Chris, when he was responding to you, that he hadn`t
thought this out. And as he thought through it, a few more clicks down the
logical road there, he said, yes – finally, when you pushed him, Yes,
there must be some form of punishment. But he hadn`t thought about it, and
he didn`t quite anticipate or factor in what the ramifications of making
such a statement would be and just how serious that is to say – that is a
position, by the way, that not even the hardest of the hard-line abortion
opponents would support, putting a woman – punishing a woman for getting
an abortion. They actually repudiated that after…


PETERS: … he said it. And the other thing here – and this, I think,
speaks to what kind of…

MATTHEWS: What do you think – here`s my hunch. I`m going to go over to
John because John knows this world. I think what he was doing there was
projecting what he thought would be the logical…


MATTHEWS: … implication of people who believe that…


MATTHEWS: … you`re killing human life, and not only just killing a form
of human life, but killing people.

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: What he was saying is, I`m pro-


BRABENDER: If you`re pro-life, you believe that we should make abortions
illegal. If you make it illegal, there`s got to be some penalty for

MATTHEWS: Or else what does it mean?

BRABENDER: Right. But here`s the key. None of this mattered in the
election for Donald Trump…

MATTHEWS: Tell me why because I need to know.

BRABENDER: There`s two reasons. First thing is you have the conservative
side. They want to make sure they can trust Donald Trump. He did two
things, that`s all he had to do it. He put out his list of who he will
nominate to the Supreme Court. He made Mike Pence his VP, his running

That checked the two boxes that he had to (ph) conservatives, and he didn`t
have to go down other paths on this. That let him now become the anti-

MATTHEWS: Pro-life candidate.

BRABENDER: … reform candidate. He didn`t have to become the pro-life

RYAN: Well, but I think – I think – and I agree with you, but you forgot
the third box, abortion. That is one of the theme pieces, you know, pro-
life for the Republican Party. He had to fall up under that banner that he
was pro-life.

PETERS: I think what he was mimicking…


RYAN: Yes, but at one point – at one point – he might have been
mimicking, but at one point, there was a question, and he answered that
question in one of the harshest ways possible for the Republican Party.

BRABENDER: Well, but who are you going to vote for on abortion if you
weren`t going to vote for Donald Trump? I mean, Hillary Clinton?


RYAN: There was a concern in the leadership that if he fell under the
banner of certain things, and that`s when he…

BRABENDER: Absolutely. He said, I`m pro-life, but then he did those other
things. He checked the boxes and they were comfortable that compared to
Hillary Clinton…

RYAN: I don`t think they were that comfortable.


PETERS: If you talk to social conservatives…

RYAN: He went very far with that…


PETERS: John, you probably know this, but if you talk to social
conservatives in the movement about a real turning point in the campaign,
it was when he stood on stage during the third debate and made that very
vivid description…

BRABENDER: Partial-birth abortion.

PETERS: … of what late-term abortion is like. And there are
conservatives I spoke with who said, You know, that was it for me. I`ve
never heard a candidate describe it in that graphic terms before…

BRABENDER: But he cleaned it up…

PETERS: … and with so much conviction.

RYAN: He cleaned it up after Carly Fiorina made the mistake that she did
in that debate. That`s when it became a really big issue.


MATTHEWS: In the crudest way, he became a pro-lifer, and I think he
managed to do it even with this odd statement he gave to me.

Anyway, during the town hall in March, that same town hall, Donald Trump
also refused to take off the table using nuclear weapons in the Middle East
or even using nuclear weapons in Europe. Let`s watch him.


MATTHEWS: Why (INAUDIBLE) just say, I don`t want to talk about it? I
don`t want to about nuclear weapons. Presidents don`t talk about use of
nuclear weapons.

TRUMP: The question was asked. We`re talking about NATO, which, by the
way, I say is obsolete and…

MATTHEWS: But you got hooked into something you shouldn`t have talked

TRUMP: I don`t think – I think – well, if it`s some day, maybe.


TRUMP: Of course. I was against Iraq. I`d be the last one to use the
nuclear weapons.


TRUMP: That`s sort of like the end of the ballgame.

MATTHEWS: Can you tell the Middle East we`re not using a nuclear weapon…

TRUMP: I would never say that. I would never take any of my cards off the

MATTHEWS: How about Europe, we won`t use it in Europe?

TRUMP: I`m not going to take it off the table for anything!

MATTHEWS: You might use it in Europe?


TRUMP: No! I don`t think so, but I`m not taking…

MATTHEWS: Well, just say it, I`ll never use a nuclear weapon in Europe.

TRUMP: I am not taking cards off the table!


MATTHEWS: Well, most of the people there were laughing because of the idea
– in Green Bay, Wisconsin – because the people realize you don`t talk
about blowing up France or Germany. Europe is a small place. You don`t
drop one bomb one place and not bomb everywhere.

PETERS: Well, this is a problem that we were just getting at with that
abortion answer, is that he mimics. He says what he thinks people believe,
people whom he`s trying to reach. So if he`s trying to reach conservatives
there, he`s trying to reach hawks who want to hear that he`s taking a hard
line on nuclear weapons, he`s going to say what he thinks they believe
because he doesn`t fully understand it. And because he doesn`t fully
understand it, he trips himself up like that.

MATTHEWS: I thought he used the phrase, I`m not taking anything off the
table, as a line that hawks use in the Middle East all the time. We`re not
– we might bomb Iran. I`m not taking anything off the table. It`s a line
of coverage if you want to be appealing to the right.

BRABENDER: Here`s where I think the problem we all have, though, is
contextually, we`re trying to thinking of Donald Trump as a traditional
candidate. And we try to look at his answers and say, Well, why did he say

This is the guy that`s “The Art of the Deal.” And the first thing you
learn is a dealer is you never show your cards. You never take anything…

MATTHEWS: Well, so what do we do…


MATTHEWS: … type down what he says and…


BRABENDER: Are you telling me you think that he thought the answer out
ahead of time?


MATTHEWS: Brabender, do we write down what he says or do we not write down
what he says?

RYAN: Let me tell you what I think what he – what I think about Donald
Trump. What I believe is that he doesn`t know what he doesn`t know, OK?
That`s what I believe about Donald Trump. And that showed him early on
being a very novice in this political game. He`s a businessman, and let`s
give him that. He`s a shrewd businessman. He still has to learn
governance and intelligence.


RYAN: That`s a piece that he still has to learn. He`s not there yet.

BRABENDER: People didn`t care! They really don`t.


BRABENDER: They didn`t care if he knew every answer. They just knew that
even when he made mistakes, that made him authentic and that made him more
believable that he`ll change Washington.

MATTHEWS: Remember the joke about the kid – the guy who starts at the
Post Office, and he`s the fastest mail sorter ever been at the history of
the Post Office. He`s flipping the mail like this, behind his back,
between his legs. He`s unbelievable.

And at lunchtime, the postman says to the kid, You are the fastest mail
sorter I`ve ever seen in my life. And the guy said – the kid says, You
just wait until I learn how to read.


MATTHEWS: And I`m telling you, this guy – yes you can do a lot of things
fast, but you start screwing things up…


MATTHEWS: You screw things up when you don`t – you have to know certain
things, right?


BRABENDER: You guys want him to memorize everything because he…


RYAN: He`s going to be the leader of the free world!

BRABENDER: I understand that but…

RYAN: Intelligence is key!

BRABENDER: But this is a guy…

RYAN: Oh, my God!

BRABENDER: Believe me, he has intelligence. He just doesn`t…

RYAN: I`m talking about intelligence…


RYAN: I`m talking about…

BRABENDER: He doesn`t have political intelligence.

RYAN: No, no, no. National security, national – global security. It`s
not just about business. And that`s…

BRABENDER: Yes, it is because…

RYAN: … concerning.


BRABENDER: This is a guy who might not know the answers, but he…


RYAN: It`s about allies and the adversaries and how we handle them.

BRABENDER: Then we must all be shocked that he won because…

RYAN: I am.

BRABENDER: … you know, how did he win? How did he overcome all these
incredible odds?

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you my favorite question…

RYAN: People wanted something new.

MATTHEWS: … because it`s my biggest fear. How do you avoid war?
Because things I worry about are wars, one thing I worry about, a lot of
people get killed, you can`t bring them back to life and they`re gone for
their parents and their wives and their – they`re gone. It`s over. War
is final in many ways for people.


MATTHEWS: And so we made mistakes in past history. Dean Acheson – I said
this the other night. Dean Acheson drew the line for north Asia and didn`t
include Korea. Next thing you know, we`re in war in Korea because the
Chinese and the North Koreans, and I should say Stalin, said, Well, they
didn`t say they`re going to defend it. We`re going.

Same thing with April Glaspie with Iraq back in the first Gulf war. She
said, Well, that`s a border issue, she said to Saddam Hussein, we`re not
really involved. What do you know? What do you know? All of a sudden,
we`re fighting a war we didn`t think we had to because we didn`t tell

I want a president to be smart to tell the people, You know what? You know
what, Vladimir? We`re going to have to fight for Lithuania. It may sound
odd, but if NATO gets attacked, we got a problem and it may mean war. So
don`t go grabbing some of these Baltic states.

Jeremy, this is a problem. Presidents have to be clear to our rivals…

PETERS: Right.

MATTHEWS: … what not to do, what trip wires exist, or else we get into

PETERS: Well, I think part of the…

MATTHEWS: And people die.

PETERS: There`s two things there. One is Trump doesn`t know what those
trip wires are because he is not familiar with geopolitics, and he is
relying on his generals to do that. And that`s, I think, the second point
here, is that part of the reason he surrounded himself with so many
generals is the human cost you were just talking about.

He wants people around him who understand the finality, the gravity of
going into war, people who – with General Kelly, his Homeland Security
chief, who lost a son in combat. This is very important to him. And I

MATTHEWS: Good news.

PETERS: Yes, that is. But on the other hand, you`re talking about a guy
here who flies off the handle and gets into Twitter fights with people.

RYAN: And the moon does not bark at the dog. He is now the moon. The
moon does not bark at the dog, and he does that a lot. I`m with everyone.
I want to see the next president succeed, but he has a big learning curve.

MATTHEWS: The moon does not bark at the dog.

RYAN: You like that?


MATTHEWS: That`s going to be with me when I go to bed tonight. That`s in
my head!

Anyway, John, April – and I`m serious – and April – and April and Jeremy
are all staying with us.

And coming up – what Hillary Clinton told me about assassinating foreign
leaders. This is fascinating.

And later, the star-studded cast of the new movie “Hidden Figures.”
They`re all coming to HARDBALL to talk about this great new movie about
three African-American mathematicians who worked behind the scenes to get
the American space program into orbit.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. While the 2016 campaign was grueling
for everyone involved, Hillary Clinton faced some headwinds when it came to
her vote to authorize the war with Iraq.

In my town hall interview with Secretary Clinton in March, I had the time
to question her on the danger of regime change as an instrument of foreign
policy. In that discussion, we spoke about whether the assassination of
foreign despots is ever a legitimate way for this country to instill change

Let`s watch the conversation.


MATTHEWS: What do you think of the whole history of the United States in
your lifetime of knocking off leaders, whether it`s Mossadegh in Iran or it
was Arbenz in Guatemala or knocking off Allende in Chile or knocking off
Patrice Lumumba in the Congo or knocking off Trujillo or – who else have I

I mean, we`ve been doing this for a long time. That`s why I`m skeptical.
But you – what is your view of all of those assassinations…


MATTHEWS: … all those attempts to change the history of other countries?
Should we be doing that kind of thing?

CLINTON: Well, I don`t think…

MATTHEWS: Knocking off leaders.

CLINTON: … in the vast…

MATTHEWS: Diem. We knocked him off.

CLINTON: In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no. But you know,
there`s always these historical games you can play. If somebody could have
assassinated Hitler before he took over Germany, would that have been a
good thing or not? You cannot paint with a broad brush.


MATTHEWS: Wow! We`re back with our roundtable, John, April and Jeremy.
That blew me away, her answer. I thought she`d give me a 1960s answer,
which I grew up with – we`re about the same age – saying, Of course, we
should not have assassination as part of our toolkit. And no! She said,
No, what about Hitler? Her argument was, you know, we`ve got to be ready
to do this. I just was amazed by that. You`re shaking your head.

RYAN: You know, I`m amazed by it, too. She was the dove. She was
supposed to…



RYAN: … diplomacy, but she wanted to show that hard line, that hard
stand. And you know, the question is, is she – she may be right, you
know? If Hitler was taken out…

MATTHEWS: Yes, but that wasn`t the question.

RYAN: I know, but you know…

MATTHEWS: It was Patrice Lumumba…

RYAN: We are not supposed to…

MATTHEWS: Allende.

RYAN: We – by law, we are not supposed to take out any other foreign
leader. But I mean, she makes a good point, but she – I think mostly,
when it came to Hitler…

MATTHEWS: I didn`t bring up Hitler!

RYAN: But she brought up Hitler! But the issue – Hillary Clinton brought
up Hitler. But the issue is, I think she wanted to show she that could
take a hard line, she could be a (INAUDIBLE) she could be a hawk and…


MATTHEWS: You think that`s because of her gender?

RYAN: Because of her gender and the fact that she was the woman of
diplomacy around the world.

MATTHEWS: People like me think of her as a hawk.

RYAN: You think – but I saw her as a woman of diplomacy.

PETERS: Yes, she is a hawk. She`s a hawk as far as the Democrats go.
That – I mean, there were a lot of things that she believed in that were
more in line with the Republicans running in the primary in terms of
foreign policy than they were with the Democratic Party platform.

But what`s the joke, if you bring up Hitler, you`re losing the argument?



RYAN: I`m not going to say anything.

BRABENDER: Why does it bother you that – you know, you criticize if
Donald Trump doesn`t have an answer for things like this, you ask her…

RYAN: She gave an answer.

BRABENDER: Her answer was “maybe.” Her answer was, No, oh, but here`s
where we could, so you don`t know. So her answer was maybe…

RYAN: But the different is…

BRABENDER: She`s a former secretary of state!

RYAN: She – exactly! She was the former secretary of state. She dealt


BRABENDER: So was her answer yes or no? Was her answer yes or no?

MATTHEWS: Are we for regime change, yes or no, Madam Secretary. And I
went through Libya with her…

RYAN: She said maybe.

MATTHEWS: Right. She didn`t – she didn`t deny the need for regime…


RYAN: For certain – for certain people.

MATTHEWS: Regime change was something Trump ran against, whether we
believe him or not.

PETERS: And it`s something she pursued as secretary of state, let`s not

MATTHEWS: Yes, Libya.

PETERS: In Libya.


PETERS: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: We got involved somehow with the downfall of Mubarak, too, I
think. We were rooting for his downfall. That wasn`t a smart move. Maybe
we have no choice in a lot of things. We don`t rule the world.

BRABENDER: Yes, there was a lot of split decision on that one.

In fact, there`s been a lot of belief that we have made some mistakes,
getting people that turned out that their enemies were worse than the
enemies we thought we had.


MATTHEWS: Of course, but everybody warned us that after Assad, and there`s
still an after Assad question mark, if there`s ever an after Assad, it will
be worse.

RYAN: But you know what? I think, during those times, I think social
media played in the immediacy, when we had to go in to see some of these
leaders that we had allied with at one time.

We saw the world community and particularly the communities in those
countries rise up against their leaders. And then they looked to us, this
nation, to say, what are you going to do? How are you going to help us?
And that was the big problem.

MATTHEWS: Well, in our interview, Hillary Clinton, Secretary Clinton also
spoke about how she stacks up against more natural politicians, like her
husband, Bill Clinton, when it comes to actually campaigning. This is
telling here.


CLINTON: I enjoy it, but I`m not deluding myself. I mean, I`m not
speaking in poetry. I`m not bringing people to fever pitches of, you know,
incredible admiration.

But every time I have had a job, I do it well. And I do it in my own way.
And I produce results for people. You know, when I ran for the Senate, you
know that, you covered that – I ran for the Senate. People are, oh, my
gosh, she can`t win. I won.

I`m somebody who believes, OK, you have a job to do, you want to help
people, you want to produce results. And maybe that is more governing in
prose than campaigning in poetry, but that`s what I want to do as


MATTHEWS: She`s making a reference to Mario Cuomo, the former governor of
New York, late governor, who said that government is prose, but campaigning
is poetry.

PETERS: Yes, well, one of the most eloquent men of his generation,
politically speaking.

MATTHEWS: What do you think she was telling us then? That was very
telling. She was saying, I`m not the Babe Ruth of public campaigning. I`m
more of a policy person.

PETERS: This is the great paradox that the people who hoped Hillary
Clinton would win found so frustrating.

On the one hand, she tried to be herself. She let her rougher edges show.
But at the same time, she ran a campaign that was completely at odds with
that, focus-grouping 85 different slogans and debating over every last
sentence in a speech, and every last policy position she was going to take
being endlessly litigated by her strategists.

So there was something that, while she said she was being authentic, she
really wasn`t at all.

MATTHEWS: You know, I have the funny feeling. I don`t know when – I
remember watching her rise to power. I remember watching her at the
Regency Hotel back in `91, when she and Bill Clinton first presented
themselves in New York.

It was a freebie. It was breakfast. You could go. And it wasn`t about
money or anything. And I went there and I thought, hmm, she gave the first
speech, Bill gave the second. She was – they were running as a duo,
remember, two for the price of one.

So, she had an ambition somewhere in her head that she was going to rise up
to – or maybe not to the presidency, or maybe all of this just came to
her, but she was never somebody who went out there and loved to shake
hands. You know, she wasn`t Bill. Bill was like – Bill was easy to take,
because he had no moral pretensions.

He liked hamburgers and women, and that was it.



RYAN: Oh, my goodness.

MATTHEWS: Sorry. I`m sorry. That was – he`s Bubba.


BRABENDER: She doesn`t like hamburgers?


MATTHEWS: I should broaden it.

RYAN: He`s gregarious.

MATTHEWS: He loved it. He would be the last guy to leave the party.

RYAN: Yes.


BRABENDER: Look, but I actually feel sorry for her. She had trouble

And where this was most pronounced is when the president, President Obama,
would be on stage with her. You would see just people looked like groupies
who were going to – they would do anything for him.

MATTHEWS: And it`s hard. How many great politicians…


BRABENDER: That`s why I said I feel bad for her.

MATTHEWS: Reagan, Obama, Kennedy, because Walter Mondale wasn`t great.
John Kerry wasn`t great.


RYAN: Let`s say Bill Clinton, too.

MATTHEWS: You know who else wasn`t great? Mitt Romney wasn`t great. It`s
hard to be a politician.

BRABENDER: And they struggled because of it.


RYAN: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are great orators, but Hillary Clinton
knows. It`s in her heart. She`s not the politician. And she basically
admitted, I am not gregarious. I am not my husband. That`s what she said.

BRABENDER: But don`t you agree that hurt her to some degree?

RYAN: It hurt him, because you know why? She`s linked to one of the most
successful politicians of modern time. And the problem is, she is not her
husband. She is not that person…


MATTHEWS: Look who is a good politician. We never thought she was, did

RYAN: Who?

MATTHEWS: Michelle.


MATTHEWS: Where did she come from anyway?

RYAN: She speaks truth. She`s real.

MATTHEWS: No, but she has this wonderful manner.

RYAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: I also asked Secretary Clinton how she trusted polls after her
surprise loss to Bernie Sanders in that Michigan primary. In hindsight,
considering the general election polls predicted the wrong winner in terms
of the Electoral College, her answer was certainly telling. Here she is.


MATTHEWS: Do you trust the polls anymore?

CLINTON: No. Honestly, I don`t, Chris, and in large measure, because I
think pollsters are trying to do the best job they can, but it`s very
difficult to poll now.

If you have only online information, that`s been proven to be often
unreliable. If you try to call landlines, you miss everybody with cell
phones. If you call cell phones, you miss people often because they don`t

So, no, I think it`s very difficult now to predict the outcome of
elections. And somehow we`re going to have to get better at it, because
people do rely on that information.


MATTHEWS: That wasn`t filtered, John. That was her talking like a regular
person, because she`s talking about the mechanics of the business of
running for office. It was something that was real conversation.

BRABENDER: And she was likable there as well.

MATTHEWS: Yes, that`s what I`m saying. When you talk turkey with her,
she`s great. It`s when she has to put on the show of politics, she`s not
as good at the B.S. as some of the others are.

Anyway, next time – or up next, rather, my interview with Bernie Sanders.
This is great. And Gary Johnson draws a blank when I ask him about a
foreign leader he respects or even heard of.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.


what`s happening.

President-elect Donald Trump has no plans to speak with Russian President
Vladimir Putin after the Obama administration expelled Russian diplomats
and imposed sanctions on Russia for meddling in the U.S. presidential
election. Putin called the measures a provocation, but says he will not
retaliate, which earned him praise from Donald Trump, who tweeted – quote
– “Great move on delay by Vladimir Putin. I always knew he was very

The Russian Embassy in the U.S. retweeted the compliment – back to

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

In February of 2016, in the heat of the Democratic primary fight, I
interviewed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on the HARDBALL College Tour at
his alma mater, the University of Chicago.

Senator Sanders made his case for a political revolution in this country,
but when I pressed him on how he could actually get his progressive
platform through the U.S. Congress if he were elected president, Sanders
put up a fight. Let`s watch.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Now, you`re asking me, how do I pay for
it? I will tell you how I pay for it.

MATTHEWS: I haven`t asked that. I have asked you, how do you pass it
through the Senate? How do you get 60 votes for any of this?

SANDERS: We`re going to pay for it through a tax on Wall Street

MATTHEWS: Who`s going to pass that tax?

SANDERS: The American – look, Chris.

MATTHEWS: That Senate is going to pass that?

SANDERS: Chris, Chris, you and I look at the world differently. You look
at it inside the Beltway. I`m not an inside-the-Beltway guy. I am an
outside-the-Beltway guy.

MATTHEWS: But the people that vote on taxes are inside the Beltway.



MATTHEWS: You always get the last word in this business.

Jeremy, he was saying – I was trying to ask him, how do you win the
coalition to get 60 votes for any of this big stuff? He wants to tax Wall
Street a certain percentage for every stock trade to pay for student low
payouts. I said, fine, but how are you going to do it?

PETERS: Yes, this was always one of the biggest and I think most indicting
criticisms of Bernie Sanders` campaign, was that it sounded like a lot of
great ideas, but how are you going to get it done?

And, ultimately, there`s all this revisionist history going on now. OK, so
what if Bernie would have been the nominee? He could have beaten Trump.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know.

PETERS: Who knows. But it`s a pretty – I think it`s a pretty damning
thing to ask someone, how are you going to accomplish what you are
promising people you will, and they don`t have an answer.

MATTHEWS: Because, by the way, I don`t know how Bernie would have done.
It would have been a different general election. That`s for sure.

RYAN: Yes. Jeremy`s absolutely right.

I remember, I would go out on the street and poll grassroots people. And I
would say, what do you think about Bernie Sanders? Oh, I think his ideas
are great, but how are we going to pay for free education? People were
very concerned about having to pay more for this free item.

MATTHEWS: And free health. It was going to be health care for everybody.

RYAN: They thought that was great.

MATTHEWS: Medicare for all.

RYAN: But it was coming out of their pocket.

MATTHEWS: By the way, we might end up with Medicare for all at some point,
if this system gets anymore complicated.

BRABENDER: But he just kept going so far. He kept adding everything. And
we`re going to figure out a way.

MATTHEWS: But the kids don`t hear this.

BRABENDER: And we`re going to get rid of the letter L from the alphabet
and we`re going to get somebody to pay for it.


MATTHEWS: Let me give him a kudo. He got away with the word socialist,
which I`m not sure it`s my word.

It may not be anybody`s here, but it`s a word that, in Europe, it`s fine.
In Europe, countries are pretty much like us. They`re not as cowboy as we
are, but they say social democrats. That`s the term of most of the
political parties in Europe, or Labor. And they don`t – they`re not
offended. They don`t think it means communist, because, in Europe, they
know socialists are the biggest rivals of the communists, Jeremy.

PETERS: No, it`s not a pejorative, you`re right. But I think it`s
indicative of how thirsty people were for real change in the two-party
system and that they just don`t trust either the Democrats or the

And so when someone says socialist, they kind of overlook and discount that


RYAN: The system is broken, and people were looking for some kind of magic
fix. And Bernie Sanders was welcomed. His voice was welcomed, even though
he had not been a Democrat.

He came into the Democratic Party with something new, and maybe it could
have fixed – but, ultimately, he didn`t win it. But, you know, his words
live on.

MATTHEWS: And, you know, young people want to know, because my kids were
like this. They still are, I think. They love the `60s. Anything I tell
them about the `60s, they just love. It`s rich, it`s wild.

And, Bernie – if you want to know what the `60s were like, watch Bernie.


MATTHEWS: He`s doing a teach-in. And he`s much older, but he would – as
Howard Fineman, our buddy, said, it`s like a guy talking up the
administration building with a bullhorn, making demands.

PETERS: Yes, right.

MATTHEWS: And he`s just like that. He`s just very insistent, very
demanding, and clear-cut, and I`m right, and you`re wrong. It`s very much
Stokely Carmichael, whatever.

Anyway, your last thought?

RYAN: Yes, for him to be the age that he was, it`s not about the age. It
was about the message for him to attract the young people.

MATTHEWS: It was very youthful. It was very youthful.

RYAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Another stop on the HARDBALL College Tour coming up at the
University of New Hampshire, where I sat down with libertarian candidate
New Mexico Governor, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, and his
running mate former Massachusetts Governor,William Weld.

But Johnson was stumped when I asked one direct question. Let`s watch.


MATTHEWS: Who is your favorite foreign leader?


MATTHEWS: Any – just name anywhere in the country – any one of the
continents, any country. Name one foreign leader that you respect and look
up to, anybody.



MATTHEWS: No, no, OK. I`m talking about living. Go ahead.


MATTHEWS: You have got to do this. Anywhere. Any continent, Canada,
Mexico, Europe over there, Asia, South America, Africa. Name a foreign
leader that you respect.

JOHNSON: I guess I`m having an Aleppo moment, in the former – former
president of Mexico…

MATTHEWS: But I`m giving you the whole world.

JOHNSON: I know, I know, I know, I know.

MATTHEWS: Anybody in the world you like, anybody. Pick any leader.

JOHNSON: The former president of Mexico.

MATTHEWS: No. Which one?

JOHNSON: I`m having a brain – I`m having a brain…

MATTHEWS: Well, name anybody.


WELD: Fox.



MATTHEWS: OK. Who is your favorite foreign leader? Get him off the hook.
Name a foreign leader you respect.


JOHNSON: Fox. He`s terrific.

MATTHEWS: Any foreign leader.

WELD: Merkel.

MATTHEWS: OK, Merkel. OK, fine.



MATTHEWS: Jeremy Peters.


MATTHEWS: I mean, I gave him the world.

PETERS: You gave him a lifeline. You let him pick someone from the
audience, practically, to give him the answer. This was, “Who Wants to Be
a Millionaire.”

RYAN: He got a phone call, too. Yes.

PETERS: And he still…

MATTHEWS: And then he put the dunce cap on himself by saying another
Aleppo, because he was referring to the fact that he didn`t know what to do
with Aleppo in an earlier interview.

RYAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: And he`s running for president of the United States, commander
in chief of our forces, head of the world – of us in the world, and didn`t
ever think about the world long enough to think about, you know, I have
been looking at some of these leaders. Some of them are pretty impressive.

He could have said Merkel the first second. But nobody would have
questioned it. He could have said Winston Churchill. He could have talked
about the world, let me tell you, I know he`s gone now, but Winston
Churchill is my – something.

He had nothing to say.

RYAN: Nelson Mandela even.


BRABENDER: Bill Weld sitting there thinking, how do I get off?


MATTHEWS: Bill wasn`t jumping in either.

BRABENDER: That interview might have won the race for Donald Trump,
because Trump was actually struggling with some Johnson voters who were

MATTHEWS: That was not my intention.

PETERS: Good point.

BRABENDER: And the more that he was exposed made Trump look better. And I
think some of those people gravitate.

So, congratulations. You may be responsible for the Trump victory.


MATTHEWS: Let me tell you what is wrong with this rigorous kind of

I never got Trump again in the campaign.


BRABENDER: I wonder why.

MATTHEWS: Never got him again. Never got Hillary Clinton again in the

And I think I did get a shot from Gary Johnson, because he`s just willing
to go in the barrel and get beaten up every time. He doesn`t care.

Thank you, John Brabender. Thank you, April Ryan, and Jeremy Peters.

Still ahead, the stars of the great new movie, coming-up movie “Hidden
Figures” coming at Christmastime. It`s the story of three African-American
women, mathematicians who helped launch the American space program, a
totally true story.

Actors Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, and Kevin Costner
will be here, along with director Ted Melfi, and Pharrell Williams. What a
star-studded lineup. They`re all coming here next.

You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.


MATTHEWS: We`re back with the stars of the soon-to-be released movie
“Hidden Figures” about the pioneering African-American mathematicians who
helped launch America`s space program.

And here`s a clip from the film.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The pastor mentioned you`re a computer at NASA.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That`s pretty heady stuff.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They let women handle that sort of – that`s not what I

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m just surprised that something so taxing –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Johnson, if I were you, I`d quit talking right

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t mean no disrespect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will have you know, I was the first negro female
student at West Virginia university graduate school. On any given day, I
analyze phenomenal levels for air displacement, friction, and velocity and
compute over 10,000 calculations by hand. So, yes, they let women do some
things at NASA, Mr. Johnson, and it`s not because we wear skirts. It`s
because we wear glasses.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the status on that computer?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s right behind you, Mr. Harrison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can she handle analytic geometry?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. And she speaks.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both. Geometry and speaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth, get me the – do you think you can find me the
frame for this data using the –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The algorithm, yes, sir. I prefer it over Euclidian


MATTHEWS: Welcome back.

That was the scene from the upcoming film “Hidden Figures”. The true story
of three African-American mathematicians and the key role they played at
NASA to launch the first American into orbit. The film sets the struggle
of equal rights against the space race. Recounting a time that even at
NASA, African-Americans were segregated from their white counterparts.
This is a film about women who broke barriers in more ways than one.

Here`s a clip for the trailer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Katherine! We`re all going to get unemployed right
around this pilot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ll sit in the back of the bus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have identification?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were just on our way to work at NASA, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had no idea they hired.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Quite a few women working in the space program.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you ladies do for NASA?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Calculate your landing, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Engineer, and I`m proud to be working with you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How we can possibly (INAUDIBLE) these white men.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s equal rights. I have a right to see fine in
every color.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask you, if you were a white male, would you
wish to be an engineer?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn`t have to. I would already be one.


MATTHEWS: Well, “Hidden Figures” is out in select theaters at
Christmastime. In fact, Christmas Day and a wider release following on
January 6.

Well, I`m joined right now by those people who made this movie come to
life, including the stars of the film. Taraji P. Henson is right there.
She is the superstar. And Octavia Spencer, I`ve been in love with her for
a long time. Janelle Monae, thank you. There you are.

And you all look very glamorous right now. In the movie, you`re just like

The great Kevin Costner is here and, of course, singer-songwriter, Pharrell
Williams, who composed the soundtrack for the movie and the score, and
director Ted Melfi, thank you.

I love “St. Vincent” with Bill Murray.


MATTHEWS: Well, I want to talk to you, Taraji, because you were – you
just dominate movie. I had to say that. And the scenes of putting up with
Jim Crow and putting up with Jim Crow in a federal institution.

What grabbed me in the beginning was, the cop who stopped you guys in your
`57, I love `57 Impala Chevy, I always love them. He stops you in a car
and he`s got the usual color mentality going, on black/white thing going
on, white/black, and all of a sudden he says you`re in the space program.
And his patriotism kicks in.


MATTHEWS: Tell me about that.

HENSON: Well, I think that`s the overall message of the story. When we
put our differences aside as humans, that`s when we`re able to move the
human race forward, because at the end of the day, we`re all humans. You
know, a mind doesn`t have a color.

When it comes to calculating numbers, I don`t care what color you are. I
don`t care who you sleep with at night. Can you find the math?

MATTHEWS: I love the score. This person that Taraji is playing, everybody
has to go to the bathroom and everybody knows the experience of having to
go to the bathroom now. And then she has the color, it is like a bad
dream, I`ve got to go to a building where there`s a colored women`s
bathroom. And you got this great music. Tell me about the music you put
in there.

largely just led by –

MATTHEWS: It`s called running.

WILLIAMS: Yes, sir. That song was just based on a story. It`s like, when
we got the script, it was like, OK. These women are living in the matrix
of the 1960s where the physics and the gravity for African-Americans was
much more heavier. And it was twice as heavier on a woman.

So, having to run to the bathroom, not only the other side of the building
but the other side of the campus, and there were campus bikes. But for
women, we forget as men, you know, long skirts, long dresses. So they had
to run rain or shine, 30 to 45 minutes round trip to the other side of the
campus just to use the bathroom.

MATTHEWS: So, Ted, and the other ladies here, high heels a big part of
this for some reasons. Maybe it is the photography. The women look great,
of course, but you`re always shooting the legs and the shoes. And one time
they get caught. And you almost get killed. It is a wind tunnel.

You`re on a wind tunnel, you look great by the way in the wind tunnel.
Your legs get caught on this, look at your legs, look at your shoes. And
you get stuck and the guy says, “The shoe ain`t worth it.” I mean, when
you`re running to the bathroom, it`s all high heels. So women in high
heels being African-American in a Jim Crow setting and wearing high heels.



MONAE: – just like we continuously do every day. What is so inspiring
about this film and these women is they did not allow the obstacles to
deter them and stop them from their dreams.

Yes, you know, we were dealing with racism, we were dealing with sexism, we
were dealing with classism, but the great team about when NASA and all the
men and women put all those isms to bed and bury them all, that`s when they
achieved the extraordinary together. They all realized that at the end of
the day, we all bleed the same color.

MATTHEWS: You know, Kevin, I saw that – great to have you on – because I
think of you all the time in a movie. I`ve seen this a lot of times, where
I think I`ve seen 13 days a hundred times. And in the middle of a Cuban
missile crisis, a white world, as if there wasn`t a black world out there.

And here you have a movie that`s pretty much the same time period.


MATTHEWS: `61, `62. In fact, it is `62. This movie includes the reality
of American high of much better.

COSTNER: Yes. Well, you know, I mean, it seems like a lot of stories
don`t get told. They are in the pages of history. They don`t come out.

You can give some of that a pass because how many stories can you possibly
tell? If you look beneath the surface, you will fine the story. The thing
that I found disturbing was that if you are going to tell original story of
John Glenn, all right? Not about the women working off to the side, like
we know in segue, if you`re going to tell that story John Glenn, there is a
moment when he would go or wasn`t going to go.

So, it would be like telling a joke and maybe leaving out a punch line.
There was a moment where he was going to go or not go and it hung on the
balance over a young woman who was going to have to do math by hand.

Now, I don`t know about you, but in great story telling, you don`t leave
out that bit. So, if we don`t learn about these human computers, they were
called computers, I can see that story emerging. I would have liked to
know about that a long time ago.

But not knowing about that seminal moment where he was saying, I ain`t
going unless I know, that should have been a part of what we knew about for
a long time.

MATTHEWS: He was a good guy in the movie, right, Octavia?

OCTAVIA SPENCER, ACTRESS, “HIDDEN FIGURES”: He was a good guy, period. I
learned something about him that I didn`t know and it made him that much
more of an American hero to me because he did something unpopular at that
time. He put his hands in the life of this African-American woman. If her
numbers didn`t match up, he wasn`t going to go. If her numbers matched up,
of course, he went.

MATTHEWS: He wanted to know he was going to land.

SPENCER: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: That`s key information. They have to get to it with the ship.
But you were in “The Help.”

SPENCER: I was in “The Help.”

MATTHEWS: I always remember that meal you cooked up with that white lady.
We will always remember that. This tastes interesting.

So, you`ve gotten at the Jim Crow thing from a couple ways now.

SPENCER: Jim Crow is a very difficult time to immerse yourself in, but
when you`re doing a period film, we have agency as contemporary women that
African-American women did not have in the Jim Crow era. So there`s
something wonderful to be said about the solidarity that we felt on the
set, very insulated, Ted created a safe place for us to work and have fun.

MATTHEWS: I like the way, Taraji, you look up at that sign as you go out
of the room, colored computers. They still designate you by your

Let`s take another look at the movie.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go find your way over there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That Colonel Jim is a tall glass of water.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That he is. Tall, strong, commanding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I bet he`s like that day and night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mary, it`s Sunday. Please have some shame.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s coming over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, why would he be doing that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because Mary`s waving at him.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Colonel, I`m Dorothy Vaughn, that`s Ms. Jackson.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, ma`am. Nice to meet you all.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s not married. She`s a widow, with three
beautiful little girls, so well-behaved. Angels on earth is like we like
to call her. Dorothy, slice of pie?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You already have a slice of pie.


MATTHEWS: So, it`s so great you`re doing this. I`m so glad you took this
project. I`m so glad you took this project. Everybody took it. Because
Hollywood needs it.

It`s not a reaction to Hollywood. It`s not a redo, but it`s something.

MELFI: We need to see this story. We need little girls to see this story.
We need little boys to see this story. We need people to know that history
wasn`t a bunch of white guys in a room.

NASA was very diverse. NASA celebrates these women. These women are not
hidden from NASA. NASA has been honoring these women for a long time.

So, it`s great to tell the general public that.

MATTHEWS: Well, guys, thank you all. It`s honor to meet you all.


MATTHEWS: Pharrell, the music gets to even me.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can keep the mugs?

MATTHEWS: You can keep the mugs, we can get you hats. This is a great
opportunity, because I think this is – I said politics and culture are
together. They`re the same thing. This collection, whatever you think of
it, culture and politics are together. We got to put it all together.

Merry Christmas to everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.

WILLIAMS: I was just going to say, you`re not Mr. Straight hour. We`ve
been watching you for years.


WILLIAMS: And your interviews is and the way that you keep people straight
is amazing, and when people veer off and they don`t answer the question,
there`s no one that slices through it better than you.


MATTHEWS: Thank you.

That`s not in the script. We`ll be right back. Thank you. We`ll be right


MATTHEWS: Well, here we are at the end of the year. A good time for me to
thank all the people that bring HARDBALL to you night after night. You
don`t see them, but I certainly do. And I know how important, supportive
and valuable they are.

And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us and happy holidays.



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