Trump calls gun reforms a “slippery slope.” TRANSCRIPT: 8/20/10, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Susan Wild, Jon Meacham, Eli Stokols, Kristen Hawn, Aaron Blake, Fred Guttenberg, Ginger Gibson, Danielle Moodie-Mills

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Thanks for watching The Beat.  We`ll be back at

6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.  And “HARDBALL” is up next.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Trump`s religious test.  Let`s play HARDBALL.


Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.


President Trump delivered a stunning message to Jewish voters today, if you

vote for Democrats, you`re stupid or, as he says it, disloyal.  He didn`t

spell it exactly but that`s the extreme he`s going to to fire up partisan

division around Congressman Rashida Tlaib.


Last week, the Michigan Democrat was banned from taking a trip to Israel

before being granted permission to visit her grandmother on the West Bank. 

And after declining to make the trip, Tlaib delivered an emotional press

conference yesterday criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

who denounced the Israel` travel restrictions.


It prompted a new round of attacks from the president who Tweeted today,

sorry, I don`t buy Representative Tlaib`s tears.  I have watched her

violence, craziness and most importantly words for far too long, now,

tears?  She hates Israel and all Jewish people.  She`s an anti-Semite.  She

and her three friends are the new face of the Democratic Party.  Live with

it.  That`s Trump talking.


Trump then resumed his attack this afternoon offering this message to any

voters who cast ballots for any Democrats.




DONALD TRUMP, U.S PRESIDENT:  I think any Jewish people that vote for a

Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great

disloyalty, all right?  Thank you very much, everybody.




MATTHEWS:  Well, as The Washington Post points out, now critics on both

sides of the aisle immediately pointed out that Trump`s use of the word

disloyalty is echoed anti-Semitic tropes, accusing Jews of dual loyalty or

dual allegiance.


But this isn`t the first time the president has spoke to the Jewish voters

in just this way.  Speaking to a Jewish Republicans earlier this year,

Trump referred to Benjamin Netanyahu has your Prime Minister, even though

he was talking to Republicans, actually talking to Republican Americans. 

Let`s watch.




TRUMP:  I stood with your Prime Minister at the White House to recognize

Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.




MATTHEWS:  American Republicans, of course.  When he was a candidate in

2015, Trump also told a Jewish audience that he didn`t want their money.




TRUMP:  I know why you`re not going to support me, and you`re not going to

support me because I don`t want your money.




MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Democratic Congresswoman Susan Wild of

Pennsylvania, Jon Meacham, NBC News Historian, Michael Steele, former RNC

Chairman, and Eli Stokols, White House Reporter for The Los Angeles Times.


Congresswoman, it`s great to have you on tonight but not for this reason,

obviously, dual loyalty, craziness, religious tests.  I mean, I`ve never

heard – and this sounds like Ed Koch in the bad old days of New York City

with real tribal warfare of fire.  Here is the president saying the Jewish

voters who vote about 70 percent Democrat, stop doing that because that

would be disloyal to being, what, Jewish?  Your thoughts.


REP. SUSAN WILD (D-PA);  Well, that`s exactly the question, disloyal to

whom or to what.  As a Democratic Jewish member of Congress, I am

personally offended and I think most Jews in this country would be.  We

separate our faith and our politics for the most part, and to suggest that

they are one in the same I find to be offensive.


MATTHEWS:  Let me go to Jonathan, my friend, Jonathan Meacham, because this

is history at work here.  Often, I find the older I get, the more I find

history crashing into present time.  This is awful stuff.  This tells

people, you must vote by identity, by religion, you must vote a certain

way, your partisanship, your politics must be arrayed by your cultural

background, blah, blah, blah, it`s a religious test.  He says you must vote

a certain way, you vote for me, because there`s somebody on the Democratic

left in Michigan, you may not agree with on Israeli government politics.


JONATHAN MEACHAM, NBC NEWS HISTORIAN:  Yes.  The first liberty of American

life was religious liberty.  It`s one of our great contributions to western

culture.  Madison and Jefferson, before they got to the Constitution or

republic were arguing that, as Jefferson once put it, it doesn`t matter

whether my neighbor worships one god or ten gods or 20 gods, it neither

picks my pocket nor breaks my neck.  And that insight that, in fact, we

could have liberty of conscience and create a republic was uniquely

American, partly because of the terrible experience, and this is in the

18th century.  We haven`t even gotten to the 20th to the century horrors

about this.



The insight was that the old world had been ridden (ph) with dispute, and

chaos and bloodshed over religious struggles.  And the great project of

America, however poorly realized in the beginning, the great project of

America was that if you assented to the idea of the country that we`re all

created equal, therefore, you could be in America.  It didn`t matter where

you came from, it didn`t matter if you worshiped, it didn`t matter if you

worshiped at all.


MATTHEWS:  You know, Michael, Trump did this to me one time.  He takes your

religious background and he shoves it at you.  He says how can you be pro-

choice?  Well, a lot of Catholics are pro-choice.  We have our own beliefs

about life and we accept them and the teaching authority of our church, but

when it comes to the Constitution, we accept it.  Life is complicated.


Trump thinks everybody does everything according to their identity.  You`re

not allowed to have a opinion.


MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR:  Well, yes.  I mean, that`s largely how

he sees the world and this is another play in it.  All I can say from this

comment is abhorrent and disrespecting as it is, we need to just settle in,

because this is just the warm up of what will be a series of narratives

created by the president around particular interest groups.


You know, when you sit down and you say this about the Jewish community,

then what about African-Americans, what about Hispanics, how they vote?


MATTHEWS:  He wants you – right.  He wants you to vote against them.


STEELE:  Right.  He wants you to vote against them.


MATTHEWS:  And that`s the game he is playing.


STEELE:  But the Jewish vote should be voting Republican.  And so this, I

think, is something in stark contrast to what we saw in 2016.  I think it`s

going to be more personal and a little bit more in-depth.  It`s going to

cut to your point, Chris, it`s going to cut a little closer to the bone for

a lot of Americans when they have their religion shoved in their face and a

litmus test of how they vote based on that religion.


MATTHEWS:  Eli, your thoughts about this.  I think it`s a front page top of

the fault story tonight and tomorrow morning.  I think it`s a big story,

Trump using religion politically.   Your thoughts.



story in the context of a president saying something maybe unwittingly that

is anti-Semitic and – yes.  But, I mean –


MATTHEWS:  Your Prime Minister?


STOKOLS:  But, you know, it`s also – this is the Trump presidency, so it`s

hard to gauge what`s a big story, because everybody has seen him make so

many stereotypical statements that are offensive to a lot of groups, and

he`ll say afterwards, well, you know, like loosen up, I`m just – this is

how people talk.


I don`t know what`s a big story anymore and what isn`t.  I say that as

somebody who covers this administration every day.  But I do think that

it`s clear what Michael is talking about, this is a guy who wants people to

look at the Democratic Party and see these four very progressive women of

color, he wants people to see them, he wants them to see them as militant. 

He doesn`t want them to see Joe Biden or some of the people running for



So he is going to couch that in, look, I`m standing up against anti-

Semitism because he`s ostensibly upset over Representative Omar`s anti-

Semitism.  He doesn`t even seem to realize that he is attacking her in a

way that is just as anti-Semitic.  He`s effectively doing the same thing,

trafficking in the same sort of trope that he`s supposed to be upset about,

and he`s saying look at this.


And so it`s just – it confuses everything and it just makes everything

incredibly tribal.  But he`s almost trying to protect himself from the

charge that he`s stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment by saying, look, I`m

just standing up against anti-Semitism.


MATTHEWS:  Congresswoman, it`s so great to have you on, because I know

every time you have a meeting up there in Allentown and wherever, New

Tripoli, anywhere you`re up to, my brother lives up there, you`ve got to

deal with the myriad of American backgrounds.  I mean, even in a place up

there, there`s all kinds of backgrounds in the room when you meet, you`ve

got to bring them together.  It`s called politics in America, unite people.


This guy seems to be looking for the wedges, let`s get the Jews over here

and let`s get the people.  I don`t like the people said about – these

people have said about it.  Let`s get everybody fighting over four people

on the Democratic left and let`s make that the fight because he can`t fight

anywhere near the middle lines.  Your thoughts.


WILD:  And, you know, Chris, you mentioned the voters that I meet, and

among them a number of American Jews.  And what I have found is, first and

foremost, American Jews are American.


And like all voters, they have a wide variety of issues that they care

tremendously about, whether it`s healthcare, education, jobs, making sure

that their retirement is secure.  These are the issues that unite people

across the country.


And our president has no business trying to divide people based upon their

religion or politicizing people`s religion and trying to tell them that

they have to vote in one way if they are of a certain religion.


And the other thing that I want to say is, being Jewish is very much a

cultural issue.  It`s not just about religion.  And the president seems to

fail to understand that.  It is about understanding the deep important

issues that affect all people in the world, but particularly in this case,

in the United States.


MATTHEWS:  Wild conspiracies seemed to find a home with this president,

Jon.  I think it`s like market volatility.  As long as you got the people

will take on (ph) who shot this, you know, Ted Cruz`s father had something

to do with killing Kennedy, get it all up in the air, completely crazy,

everybody afraid of everybody else.  Everybody is suspecting the other

ethnic groups or religious groups or racial groups or whatever, everybody

is mad with everybody, and Trump feels that in that crazy 52-card pickup

world he wants to live in, he wins.  Explain, Jon, because he does think he

can win with craziness around him.


MEACHAM:  Well, he did, and so that`s why –


MATTHEWS:  Yes, you`re right.  That`s a good point.


MEACHAM:  – I think he continues to think – I don`t think it`s much more

complicated.  He believes in the kind of chaos theory that if we`re talking

about this, he can point out, oh, my God, what are we now, the lame stream

media, whatever we are today.  They`re talking about this.  They`re

negative and then it gets lost in this kind of – to go to Eli`s point, it

gets lost in this mad chaos of the Trump era.


And I think what – you know, I struggle with this all the time, and I

think you do too.  At some point, you have to decide, do you always call

him out on things?  And if you always call him out, are you somehow

enabling?  Are we part of this abusive drama in the country right now?  And

the answer is we have to.  Because the only way to see our way through

this, it seems to me, is to continue to bear witness and to say this is not

who we should be.


To some extent, it is who we are.  You know, this is a long debate.  People

say this isn`t who we are.  Well, it kind of is, as you know, the country

is not perfect.  The goal has always been a more perfect union.  But our

greatest leaders and, you know, President Kennedy went to Houston as a

candidate and talked about this.  Jefferson in the beginning said his

statute for religious liberty was meant, as he put it, to comprehend within

the mantle of its protection, the Jew, the gentile, the Hindu, the

Mohammedan and the infidel of every denomination.  He just listed it all

out.  And he said, you have to have the freedom to do what you want to do

here.  That`s what sets us apart.


And what the president is doing is instead of figuring out what sets us

apart, he`s tearing us apart.


MATTHEWS:  Well, referring to recent press coverage of his unfavorable

polling numbers, Trump today issued a cryptic Tweet threatening the media,

threatening.  He said, the lame stream media is far beyond fake news.  They

are treading in very dangerous territory.


Well, that remark referenced his Tweet yesterday saying, quote, despite all

the fake news, my poll numbers are great.  Think what they would be if I

got fair media coverage.


Eli, this whole thing, threatening media, there is sort of a totalitarian

sound to that, what`s he going to do, and threatening Fox because they`ve

got an honest poll.


STOKOLS:  Well, it`s authoritarian.  But, you know, this is what Trump has

been doing all along.  There`s this fog machine and there`s all these ideas

that he has.  I mean, everybody is out to get him.  So when something

happens and it`s happening in plain sight, he explains it away by saying,

the media is out to get me or the deep state, the FBI, the Justice

Department, they are out to get me.


He is always the victim when something rises up in reaction to his

behavior.  You know, he hires people who are doing things that need to be

investigated with their investigations, and then he says, look, I told you,

it`s the deep state.  He is lying and delivering all these false statements

all the time.  The media is always in a fact-checking pose.  And then he

points at us and says, see, they`re so negative, they`re out to get me.


So there`s the self-fulfilling prophecy aspect of this where a lot of his

behaviors and actions are provoking these responses that he then explains

as, see, everything is biased, and he paints everything with that brush

whenever something –


MATTHEWS:  I like the fact that he can`t stand.  It`s you, Congresswoman. 

You`re a congresswoman now because the voters elected you in the last

election.  That`s a fact Trump doesn`t want to face.  All you new members

from the suburbs around Philly, except for Bucks County, it was a sweep, as

you know, and all women, I think, and you won because people wanted a

change from Trump.  That`s a fact.  You are a fact.


WILD:  That`s exactly right.  And I think – frankly, I think the president

is trying very hard to be a distracter-in-chief.  He wants to distract us

from the fact that last year, the House majority was created by a whole lot

of people who were elected from districts like mine, frontline districts,

very purple districts, and equal number of Democrats, Republicans, and

healthy dose of independents thrown in, and that`s deeply concerning, I

think, to the president.  And that`s why he is resorting to division

politics.  I mean, he is literally trying to keep his head above water by

dividing us as much as possible.


And I think Jon is absolutely right.  We have to call him out on this every

single time because we can`t have a president who doesn`t recognize the

role of the president to be a uniter.  And that`s what we really need.  And

that`s – and I will tell you that my Democratic caucus that I`m part of is

very much united in many, many ways.  And the voters who voted us in last

year care about issues that are important to every American person.  It

doesn`t matter whether they`re Jewish or Christian or other.  It is – you

know, they are the issues that I mentioned before, healthcare, education,

jobs.  Those are the things that we are focused on.  And all he wants to do

is talk about things that will divide us.


MATTHEWS:  You know, Michael, there`s a long respected leader of what`s

called Jewish Republicans, Matt Brooks.  I met him for a long time.  This

guy has the job of helping get votes, Republican votes, in the community,

which generally votes Democrats.


STEELE:  Right.


MATTHEWS:  So where is he going to deal with this baby, this assault on

religious identity and trying to claim you must vote your group?


STEELE:  You`ve already had an origin of the Republican Party, the

Republican Jewish group come out and sort of backed the president up.  So

you`re going to have some reinforcements that way.  Yes.


MATTHEWS:  Totality (ph) is the most general these days?


STEELE:  Well, yes, what else is he going to do?  What can he do?  The

reality of it is Trump has consistently put the party in a position where

it has to defend the indefensible.  To the point where it`s so weak-kneed

now, it has no other choice but to stand right next to him and go, uh-huh,

what he said.


And so the reality for us politically on the right, on the Republican side,

going into next year`s election is that now you`ve got one more group, one

more, you know, community of individuals that`s going to make that

conversation much, much harder to get their vote for our candidate.


MATTHEWS:  All I hear is gunfire on 5th Avenue.  He keeps shooting people

on 5th Avenue and he keeps getting away with it.


Thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Susan Wild, congratulations on representing

the wonderful Allentown, New Tripoli and those wonderful places in

Pennsylvania.  Jon Meacham, thank you so much.  Michael Steele, as always,

Eli Stokols, sir, our great reporter here, we need one objective reporter



Coming up, Trump`s big problem with women voters, wait until you hear these

numbers, they`re unbelievable.  A new poll shows women make a major shift

from the president.


Plus, a report says Trump, oh, you`ll love this phrase, moving on from his

concern about gun violence, moving on.  Isn`t that nice?  Families can`t

move on when they have been victimized.  They can`t move on.  After calling

for tougher background checks for a week or so, Trump is now parroting in

the National Rifle Association`s talking points, calling, any tougher for

gun law or background check a slippery slope.  What do you think he got

that from?  Wayne?


Much more ahead.  Stay with us.







election, they said, Donald Trump will not do well with women. 


I said, really?  We did great with women.  We did great with women.  And I

think we`re going to do better with women now. 




MATTHEWS:  Maybe with a couple of them. 


I`m just kidding.  But he did not do well with – that was President Trump

bragging earlier this year about his support among women voters and how he

expects it will even grow into stronger support in 2020. 


But, in fact – and we have to always go in fact – exit polls from last

time show that Trump trailed Hillary Clinton among all women voters by 13



Well, here comes the really bad news.  The latest NBC/”Wall Street Journal”

poll finds a huge drop from that 13 percent deficit.  The president now

trails women by 32 – look at that – 2-1 among registered – this isn`t

just adults, adult women.  This is registered, serious voters, when they

were asked if they would vote for the president or an eventual Democratic

nominee, whoever he or she is.


For more, I`m joined by Kristen Hawn, Democratic strategist, Aaron Blake,

senior political reporter for “The Washington Post.” 


Thank you so much, Kristen.


Let me ask you about this.  Why?  Does it click with you why? 


KRISTEN HAWN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  The number we`re talking was

striking, the non-college-educated women, and it just plummeted in support

for Trump. 


And I think it`s because they just relate, you know, on a more intimate

level.  We`re talking about, you know, they`re particularly college-aged

women with children, right?  So we saw in the midterms that women, college-

educated and non-college-educated, you know, they, with children, just –

they were hearing the rhetoric and what Trump was saying and relating it to

what was happening in the world. 


MATTHEWS:  But he was oafish before.  When he got elected not doing that

badly among women, 13-point deficit among all among women, he had the

“Access Hollywood,” he had the affairs with the two women in show business,

whatever you call it.  He was involved with them.  He paid them off. 


Everybody knew all this grossity.  We have watched him. 


And now was this a dam that was about to break?  It goes from 13-point

deficit among women to 32 points, 2-1 loses among women.




And, obviously, when we look at one poll, we always want to say, does this

show up in other polls?  I actually looked at a poll last week that was put

up by FOX News that was a pretty bad one for the president, maybe his worst

general election numbers of the early 2020 campaign cycle.


And I found that while maybe it was not as pronounced, it was very

pronounced and specifically, not just among women, but among less educated

women, women who did not have college degrees.  And that actually goes

against the narrative a little bit. 


The idea is that his comments about the Squad and things like that maybe

are going to alienate those suburban, more educated women voters, but the

fact that this is now potentially alienating those less educated voters,

those ones that are the working-class white voters…


MATTHEWS:  How so?  Why do you think?  Why do you think? 


BLAKE:  I think there are two possible explanations. 


One is that, in 2016, this was maybe easier for them to look past because

it was a change election.  He was the change agent.  If they wanted to mix

things up in Washington, he was the person they went to. 


So, that was one reason.  The other thing is, I think a lot of them perhaps

thought that, once…


MATTHEWS:  They wanted the bull in the china shop. 


BLAKE:  Yes.  Exactly. 




BLAKE:  And the other thing is, you know, if they – maybe they thought,

along with that, and that`s part and parcel of that is, maybe once he gets

in office, some of this stuff starts to change. 


Now, obviously, it didn`t change in the first year, it didn`t change in the

second year.  Now it`s even ratcheting up a little bit more. 


HAWN:  Yes. 


BLAKE:  And you wonder if, now that he`s no longer that change agent, if

that`s going to start being a little bit more of a deal-breaker. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, suburban women will be critical, of course, voting in



And, for some, the president`s turn to racial politics has them wavering in

their support for him. 


Quote: “In more than three dozen interviews by the Associated Press with

women in critical suburbs, nearly all expressed dismay or worse at Trump`s

racially polarizing insults and what was often described as unpresidential

treatment of people.  Even some who gave Trump credit for the economy or

backed his crackdown on immigration acknowledged they were troubled or

uncomfortable lining up behind him.”


This is my experience growing up in the semi-suburbs around Philly.  People

may have been part of white flight, they may have left the big cities

because of social economic, because of the changes, racial changes, if you

will, but they do not want to be called racist. 


They cannot – they don`t tell their kids – they don`t want to – they

talk to their kids that it`s an awful thing to use bad words.  It`s awful

to think like that.  I don`t think they want to be known as supporting a

racist candidate. 


HAWN:  Well, and it`s gotten worse and worse, right? 


And I think you talked about a dam breaking.  And I really think that that

may be what`s happening here.  I mean, these numbers, like you said, the

FOX News poll, “The Washington Post”/ABC News poll, and this poll all

showed the same thing. 


And that was women who weren`t college-educated are – their support of

Trump is just falling…




MATTHEWS:  So, you`re Trump in the White House.  Maybe you`re not watching

this show, but watching these numbers. 


Are there enough angry white guys?  I keep going back to that, because, if

that`s all you got, you got to go find new ones because you didn`t have

enough last time. 


BLAKE:  According to the same polls we`re talking about, the FOX News poll

and “The Washington Post”/ABC News poll, it`s not even just women who are

departing him. 


Also, if you look at non-college-educated white men, they`re still going

for him stronger than any of these other groups, but not by nearly the same

margins as in 2016, when it was about a 50-point margin. 


If he loses women to some degree, he needs to pick up that support with

men.  And at least the polls that we`re seeing right now are not showing

anywhere close to that. 


MATTHEWS:  So, his only way he wins is by declaring the Democratic Party

just too far left.


BLAKE:  Or bringing his opponent down to his level. 


I mean, that`s what happened in 2016. 


HAWN:  Yes. 


BLAKE:  We talk about the 2016 election like it was some miracle.


It was actually pretty simple.  He brought Hillary Clinton down, so she was

under popular as he was.  That`s going to be the name of the game in 2020. 

If he doesn`t do that, he`s going to have a very…




MATTHEWS:  But even that does – even – Kristen, I`m told that last time,

people were – if they didn`t like either candidate, Hillary or Trump, they

would vote for Trump because he was the newbie.


HAWN:  Or stay home.


MATTHEWS:  Or stay home. 


This time around, people tell me that if they don`t like either one, the

Democrat, whoever it is, man or woman, or whatever, they`re going to vote

for the new one.  Same deal.


HAWN:  See, I`m – I actually question that a little bit.


I mean, I get the logic there.  But I`m concerned that, OK, so this – this

poll is Trump against a generic Democrat.  So when you`re answering that

question, you get to kind of, OK, who am I thinking about as a generic



MATTHEWS:  You`re so true.


HAWN:  And so if we like somebody – I have said this before on the show –

that is too far left, that does not reflect the electorate that we saw

elect a Democratic House in November, last November, then we have a really

great shot at losing those women. 


They stay home or they vote for Trump. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, Dukakis, as a generic Democrat, would have won.  John

Kerry a generic Dem – but as John Kerry and Dukakis, they didn`t win when

people got to know them. 


BLAKE:  And to that point about how Trump won those people who didn`t like

both candidates, the poll we were talking about, the FOX News poll last

week, actually tested this question. 


And they found people who dislike both Joe Biden and Donald Trump went for

Joe Biden by a 43-10 margin.


MATTHEWS:  That`s what I`m talking about.  That`s what I`m talking about. 




MATTHEWS:  And, by the way, Trump has got a deeper hole to dig out of.


Thank you, Kristen Hawn.  You know your stuff. 


HAWN:  Thank you. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Aaron.  Thanks for the reporting.


Up next:  President Trump`s reportedly losing interest in gun control –

big surprise – just two weeks after the latest mass shootings. 


He doesn`t care about guns a week after the event itself, because that`s

when the headlines change.  He`s moving on, as they say at the White House. 

But what about the families of the victims?  They can`t move on.


I`m going to talk to one of those family members, one of the surviving

family members.


You`re watching HARDBALL. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


The Daily Beast reporting today that the president has lost interest in

passing gun control measures in the wake of the mass shootings down there

earlier this month.


According to the White House official – quote – this is from the White

House – “He`s started to move on.  If it were up to the president, he

would do background checks today.  But that`s not how it works.  And he

loses patience quickly.”


That`s somebody speaking for the president. 


Here`s what the president himself had to say about background checks today. 




TRUMP:  We have very, very strong background checks right now.  But we have

sort of missing areas and areas that don`t complete the whole circle.  And

we`re looking at different things. 


And I have to tell you that it is a mental problem.  And I have said it 100

times.  It`s not the gun that pulls the trigger.  It`s the person that

pulls the trigger. 




MATTHEWS:  And when they asked him – when he was asked if he would support

the background checks bill the Democratic House has already passed earlier

this year, he brought up the fact that his supporters believe in this

Second Amendment. 




TRUMP:  We are in very meaningful discussions with the Democrats. 


And I think the Republicans are very unified.  We are very strong on our

Second Amendment.  The Democrats are not strong at all in the Second

Amendment.  I would say they`re weak on the Second Amendment.  And we have

to be careful of that. 


The Democrats would, I believe – I think they`d give up the Second

Amendment.  And the people that – a lot of the people that put me where I

am are strong believers in the Second Amendment.  And I am also.


And we have to be very careful about that.  They call it the slippery

slope, and all of a sudden, everything gets taken away.  We`re not going to

let that happen. 




MATTHEWS:  Slippery slope is, of course, an often repeated NRA talking

point to explain why no gun control measures ever get accepted by them. 


Well, the president spoke with NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre on the

phone this afternoon, according NBC News.


And I`m joined now by Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, who was

killed in the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting.  He`s the founder of Orange

Ribbons for Jaime and Orange Ribbons for Gun Safety. 


Thank you, father, a father of a daughter.  I can`t imagine what you have

been through and what you`re going to go through more. 




MATTHEWS:  What do you think of this president and his move-on notions,

that he`s lost interest?  It seems to be a pattern with him:  I will say

all the right things for about a week.




MATTHEWS:  And then I will fly back into the loving arms of the NRA. 


GUTTENBERG:  Well, listen, when you look at the totality of what he said

today, I do want to say first, I`m a Jewish person.  I`m loyal.  Some would

say I`m smart.  And I will not vote for this president. 


And I hope all Jewish people join me in condemning what he did, because he

incites violence.


And what he did today with his arguments against gun safety, that`s who he

is.  He`s a liar.  OK?


When America was at its weakest, he said:  I`m listening.  I hear you.  I`m

going to work with you. 


But give it a week or two, and he moves on.  He did the same thing after

Parkland.  It`s who he is.  He`s a liar.  He can`t be taken seriously.  It

is the reason why this current occupant of the White House cannot be dealt

with on serious issues. 


We need to focus on McConnell.  If we want to get anything done on this

issue, put the pressure on McConnell. 




GUTTENBERG:  The current occupant of the White House is essentially



MATTHEWS:  Well, according to the Daily Beast story, the president has

promised to tackle background checks before, only to drop the idea once the

mass shooting that precipitated his apparent interest faded from the news



Here`s what he told parents of the Parkland victims a week after that

horrible shooting down there. 




TRUMP:  We`re going to do something about this horrible situation that`s

going on.  And we`re going to all figure it out together. 


So I want to listen.  And then, after I listen, we`re going to get things





MATTHEWS:  Mr. Guttenberg, I think of the president as a flight risk. 

Every time, he says all the right stuff and then splits town. 


It`s usually about a week to 10 days, he figures the American front page

will be on this issue.  And the minute it seems to be off top of the fold,

front page, he goes over, and, as I said, to the loving arms of Wayne

LaPierre, reciting the stuff they have been putting out since dawn of

mankind, the slippery slope.


GUTTENBERG:  He had them memorized, yes.


MATTHEWS:  Like we`re heading towards getting rid of guns?  We got more

guns than people, a lot more guns than people.  We got so many

semiautomatic rifles, assault rifles, you can`t even deal with them



Your thoughts. 


GUTTENBERG:  You call it a flight risk.  I call it pathological. 


But that`s what he is.  He used the one argument that drives me crazy

today.  And it`s the slippery slope.  It is the ultimate NRA talking point. 

And, to me, slippery slope really depends on where you stand. 


Now, I`m going to give you my version of the slippery slope.  My daughter

was born in 2003.  In 2004, the ban on assault weapons was lifted.  In

2005, the federal government put in place a law called PLCAA, which removed

the ability to hold gun manufacturers accountable. 


And then, over the years since, you have had stand your ground laws and

other laws that have made it easier for those who intend to kill to have

weapons, and they`re doing it, to the point of the slippery slope now

getting to 40,000 victims a year. 


That`s a slippery slope.  Wanting to do something about it, and wanting to

defeat these people, and wanting to get Wayne LaPierre out of the

president`s ear and back to the expensive ranch that the NRA was going to

buy for him…


MATTHEWS:  Yes, I know.


GUTTENBERG:  … is simply wanting to be responsible and fix this. 


MATTHEWS:  What do you feel like, as a victim, a father?  And what do you

feel about the country?  Because it`s not just the NRA and the guys who

grab the dues-paying money, but…




MATTHEWS:  … the people that embrace this organization and embrace what

they call – they seem to love the Second Amendment more than any of the

other amendments, I have noticed.


But why – what do you think of these people? 


GUTTENBERG:  You know what?  Listen, I`m a supporter of the Second

Amendment.  I have family members who own guns.  I have friends who own



This is not a Second Amendment issue.  Bullets don`t know if you love the

Second Amendment or they don`t.  They don`t know if you`re Republican or

Democrat.  They just know, if they hit you, they`re likely to kill you.


And so it`s a moronic argument that is intended to keep things the way they

are.  And, on that, there`s no chance we can be OK with that.  People are



I have said it on other interviews, but while I`m sitting here talking to

you, there`s someone learning they`re a victim of gun violence, there`s

someone who just got done burying a victim of gun violence, and there`s

somebody planning a funeral for a victim of gun violence. 


It`s not normal.  They`re wrong.  This is not a Second Amendment

conversation.  This is about protecting our rights to life, liberty and the

pursuit of happiness.  And we can`t let these people win.


I`m optimistic.  If you look at Florida, the one person who ran statewide

on gun safety was Nikki Fried.  She won.  And if you look across the

country, we flipped the House on this issue.


And Mitch McConnell, get ready, because we`re going to flip the Senate on

this issue as well.  You are about to be fired sir. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much.  It`s a great honor to have you on. 


And if I – if you don`t mind me saying so, you`re doing everything for the

memory of your daughter.  Thank you. 


GUTTENBERG:  Thank you.  I appreciate you. 




MATTHEWS:  And I mean that. 


GUTTENBERG:  Thank you. 


MATTHEWS:  Up next:  The stage for the – I mean it.


Coming up:  The upcoming third Democratic debate is coming on.  We`re going

to see how crowded that is.  We`re hoping it`s enough for one night.  We

don`t want two nights anymore. 


And with Biden locking down the moderate lane, which candidate is best

positioned to take over the progressive left lane? 


That`s the big – that`s the big fight over there.  And we`re going to talk

about it when we get back, Elizabeth vs. Bernie. 


You`re watching HARDBALL. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


A new national poll out today by CNN shows former Vice President Joe Biden

pulling well ahead of the Democratic field to double digits now.  Twenty-

nine percent of Democrats say they will or do prefer the former vice

president.  That`s a 7-point increase for Biden just since June. 


Well, late this afternoon, Biden was asked about his standing in the polls. 

Here`s what he had to say. 




JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I`ve said from the beginning, these

polls will go up and they`ll go down.  I`ve got to come out here and I got

to earn the support of these people.  I`ve got to let them know what I care

about.  And this campaign should be about the future. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, support among voters for Senator Bernie Sanders and

Senator Elizabeth Warren remains unchanged since June with Sanders holding

at 15 percent, warren at 14.  Too close to call there. 


Senator Kamala Harris`s support has changed.  Look at this, dropping 12

points to just 12.  She went from 17 in June.  What happened there?


Meanwhile, Julian Castro, former housing and urban development secretary,

now said he was qualified now for next month`s Democratic debate, joining

now other nine can – there they are, the ten now that are going to be on

the stage together. 


Two others, Tom Steyer and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii are on the

cusp of qualifying, not there yet.  It was not certain that they`ll clear

the bar by August 28th, which is the cutoff date.  That`s coming up soon. 


Next month`s debate could be the first time, by the way, if you like

excitement.  Biden and Warren will be on the same stage together, of

course, with Bernie as well. 


And Warren is making big strides in her efforts to take over the party`s

left lane from Sanders.  She seems to be eating his lunch every day. 


That`s next. 


You`re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


With five months until the Iowa caucuses, five months now, a new poll by

Morning Consult shows Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are running neck

and neck among very liberal voters, jazz people, liberal or very liberal. 

They`re fighting for that left lane in the battle for the left plank or the

left flank of the Democratic Party.


The two candidates are vying to become the progressive left alternative, of

course, to the moderate Joe Biden, who seems to own that moderate lane. 


For more, I`m joined by Ginger Gibson, “Reuters” political correspondent,

and Danielle Moodie-Mills, SiriusXM host. 


Thank you both.


Let me start with Ginger and go to Danielle. 


What do you see this race?  These numbers are fascinating.  Biden seems to

have a default position somewhere around 30. 


Bernie and Elizabeth tends to be, and we call them by their first names. 

We know them so well now.  We think we do.  They are sort of dividing up

the anti-Biden vote or non-Biden vote.  If one drops out, look out Joe. 

That`s my thinking. 



getting at to the heart of this Democratic primary debate process.  Do you

want the guy that feels stable and safe or do you want something that feels

revolutionary and new?  And really, Elizabeth Warren has gained the support

by being sort of the nerdy candidate with all of the policies.  The

challenge to her now is convincing people to vote for her who aren`t voting

for just her policies, or maybe even they don`t care.


MATTHEWS:  Aren`t there enough progressive left people? 


GIBSON:  No, I don`t think there are.  I mean, look at the numbers, when

you see that Joe Biden`s got 30 percent of the decided Democratic

electorate, that means there aren`t enough people, and look at the CNN

poll, the most interesting number in that poll was the division on age

about whether they cared more about electability. 


MATTHEWS:  How do you explain that?  Younger people tend to be more

ideological in their bearing.  Older people tend to be let`s see what

happens, I want the one who`s going to win. 


GIBSON:  I think there`s also an idea there needs to be a return to calm. 

I hear that so much when I talk to voters on the trail.  And I think, for

them, it`s a short-term question, and for younger people it`s a long-term



MATTHEWS:  Well, Danielle, how much of this is we want a designated driver

to get us home tonight, and that would be Joe Biden.  Designated driver, no

excitement, he`s sober.  He`ll be at the wheel, and get us home.  We`ll be

safe in our bed at night. 


How much of that is his appeal?



is Joe Biden`s appeal or it`s the appeal of nostalgia that he`s trying to

conjure up.  I have said this before, Joe Biden is like a comforter.  He`s

like America`s safety blanket and everybody wants wrap themselves up in it

because you have been beaten up and bruised by Donald Trump. 


But the reality is when you look at his policies and how – and what he has

to offer, he has to offer more of the same, and to your point. 


MATTHEWS:  More of the same of who? 


MOODIE-MILLS:  More of the same for the moderate, middle, I`m going to work

across the aisle.  He said over the weekend there are an awful good amount

of Republicans, and I`m asking him where, where are the good Republicans? 

Because they haven`t stood up against Trump. 




MATTHEWS:  If you`ve got a Senate that`s roughly 50/50 Democrat and

Republican how else do you deal without dealing with the other side?  How

else to get 60 votes?


MOODIE-MILLS:  Chris, Mitch McConnell is the Grim Reaper, he doesn`t want

to deal.  He wants no deal. 


MATTHEWS:  So what do you do?  So, what`s the alternative?


MOODIE-MILLS:  You have to – you have to – we`ll find a way, and I`ve

said this before, you have to find a way to work around Mitch McConnell. 

If it looks like executive orders, if it looks like rallying people. 




MATTHEWS:  Executive orders you can accomplish these?  I`m serious, I`m

with you.  I`m with you. 




MATTHEWS:  How do you deal a whole new health care plan by executive order? 

How do you do student loans by executive order? 


MOODIE-MILLS:  We have to do what Nancy Pelosi did when Nancy Pelosi had

the energy and the stamina during the original health care fight.  We have

to go to the people.  The people are the ones that have to be –




MATTHEWS:  Yes, but you had Ted Kennedy and 60 Democrats.  I`m sorry, I`m

going back to numbers.  They had 60 Democrats in the Senate including Ted

Kennedy.  That`s how they got health care through.  They had the numbers.


The Democrats don`t have the numbers now.


MOODIE-MILLS:  We have to go through the – you see people are organizing

all around the world right now.  They are saying that they have had enough

of these regimes and people need to be organized.  I just don`t think that

Joe Biden conjures that kind of action that are going to get people into

the streets. 


MATTHEWS:  OK, well, that`s your opinion. 


Anyway, the Biden campaign launched its first TV ad in Iowa.  The ad makes

the case for Biden`s electability.  Let`s watch that.




BIDEN CAMPAIGN AD ANNOUNCER:  The stakes are higher, the threats are more

serious.  We have to beat Donald Trump.  And all the polls agree Joe Biden

is the strongest Democrat to do the job.  No one is more qualified. 


Now, Joe Biden is running for president with a plan for America`s future. 

To build on Obamacare, not scrap it.  To make a record investment in

America`s schools.  To lead the world on climate.  To rebuild our



Most of all, he`ll restore the soul of the nation battered by an erratic,

vicious, bullying president. 


Strong, steady, stable leadership. 




MATTHEWS:  Just yesterday, Biden`s wife Jill, Dr. Jill Biden, made a

similar pitch to voters up in New Hampshire. 




JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN:  I know not all of you are committed to my

husband, and I respect that but I want you to think about your candidate,

his or her electability and who`s going to win this race. 


A lot of the time I say, you know, polls, excuse me, polls don`t mean

anything, polls don`t mean anything.  But if they`re consistent and they`re

consistently saying the same thing, I think you can`t dismiss that. 




MATTHEWS:  That`s amazingly not defensive.  It`s amazingly generous to the

other way of thinking.  You may not like my husband`s health care plan, you

may not like this or that, but you`ve got to take him. 


GIBSON:  I think that the Bidens collectively are making the argument that

this is the best-case scenario, that he would bring best-case scenario. 


I was surprised with him at a fundraiser last night in northern Virginia. 

He told the crowd, if it`s not me, I`ll fight for another person.  I mean,

it`s really remarkable when someone is running for president.  I`m also OK

if it isn`t me.


They`re trying to be pragmatic.  They think there`s a pragmatic piece of

America that wants to see him. 


MATTHEWS:  You know, Danielle, I`ve been seeing what looks like a winning

success by Elizabeth Warren.  I see her moving relentlessly to the top.  I

think she`s going to pass Bernie at some point, Bernie Sanders.  I think

she`ll pass Trump at a certain point in Iowa.  I just see her going in that



Is that something you think will be good for the progressive side to see

her to overtake Bernie? 


MOODIE-MILLS:  Absolutely.  I think Elizabeth Warren has been the only

candidate in this race that has been on a steady incline since she`s

announced.  She has a plan for everything, she`s offering people exactly

what it is that they need. 


She`s looking at the full picture and she`s saying, we have to take on Wall

Street, we have to adjust our health care plans, we have to understand the

racial health care gap through the eyes of white supremacy.  We have to do

these big, bold things. 


And she said, you know, in the last debate, why is it – if you`re going to

run for president, why are you going to tell me about all the things you

can`t do.  She is a can-do candidate and she`s showing us that she can

continually rise in the polls.  And I think that she`s going to over take

Bernie Sanders.  She`s the progressive we need to be watching right now. 


MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, Ginger Gibson.  Thank you, Danielle Moodie-

Mills, of course. 


Coming up next, what about Eric Garner in that case in New York?  What does

it teach us now that I think it`s resolved about justice in America? 


You`re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  Look at the front pages of today`s New York tabloids.  On the

left is “The New York Daily News”, look at the headline.  And on the right

is the “New York Post”.  Look at that headline. 


Both headlines believe it or not had the same story.  An officer`s firing

from a police force that long pride itself as New York`s finest.  Well, the

go (ph) of such cases of this is, of course, justice.  This might be as

close as we`ll get to justice in this case.  It`s a measure of our system

that both sides disagree about the outcome. 


Here`s what New York Police Commissioner James O`Neill said yesterday. 




JAMES O`NELL, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER:  Today`s a day of reckoning but

can also be a day of reconciliation.  We must move forward together as one

city, determined to secure safety for all, safety for all New Yorkers and

safety for every police officer working daily to protect all of us. 




MATTHEWS:  And here`s the daughter of the man who was killed, Emerald

Snipes Garner. 





five years ago.  It took five years for the officer to be fired. 




MATTHEWS:  Let`s look at history.  We all read in school about the Boston

massacre and the fair trial given to those British soldiers.  Well, the

trial occurred because a man of conscience, John Adams, took the case as a

soldier defense attorney and because the Boston jury did its duty to

deliver a just, if complicated, verdict. 


And there we laid down the principle that all, including the most unpopular

defendants, get a fair trial.  I have a simple rule in these cases that are

fraught so much with history and loyalty and race.  And let`s be honest,

real human conflict.  It`s to realize every case is different, the facts

are different, the motives are different.  The human fact always present is



The innocence or guilty of a defendant is unknown until the jury or the

judge delivers a verdict.  And even when it comes, it is rarely received

with joy as in this case of Eric Garner`s death, and Officer Daniel

Pantaleo.  As we see in these two warring headlines there they are again

judging by some as too harsh, by others as dreadfully too late in coming,

but we have to try for justice.  And from the looks of this case, people

truly tried. 


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


“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.







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