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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 02/23/15

Guests: Michael Kay, Laith Alkhouri, Matt Schlapp, John Lewis, Susan Page,Lauren Fox, Clarence Page

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The terrorists point at our heart. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Tonight, we Americans have been threatened with a terrorist attack in our country`s heartland, not Baghdad or Damascus or Benghazi, but the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. The threat comes from al Shabaab, a Somali terrorist group. Homeland Security`s Jeh Johnson has warned shoppers out there to be particularly careful when visiting the giant mall, and that warning is a real and present proof that the experts think this call to attack is real, deadly real. On "MEET THE PRESS," Secretary Johnson said people should be vigilant, and if they see something, they should say something. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEH JOHNSON, DHS SECRETARY: I`m sure that security at this particular mall will be enhanced in ways visible and not visible, but it also involves public vigilance and public awareness. "If you see something, say something" has to be more than a slogan. CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR: Like, at this point, you`re not telling people not to go to the mall. JOHNSON: I`m not telling people to not go to the mall. I think that there needs to be an awareness. There needs to be vigilance. And you know, be careful, obviously. It`s a new phase. We`re in a new phase right now, and that involves public participation in our efforts.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: So we start tonight with this call to arms right here at home from a Somali-based terror group al Shabaab as federal officials call for increased vigilance. You just heard it. For more, I`m joined by Michael Kay, a former senior British officer, and Laith Alkhouri, a senior analyst at the Flashpoint Global Partners. Gentlemen, thank you. Let`s go to the practicalities of being a shopper tonight, as we speak, in real time, in Minnesota. What does "be vigilant" mean to a regular person? You`re not carrying an Uzi, like an Israeli IDF member. You`re all by yourself. You`re unarmed. You`re in a shopping mall. What can you do in any way to protect yourself from a terrorist attack, Michael Kay? MICHAEL KAY, FORMER BRITISH OFFICER: Chris, well, the way that we measure this threat assessment is capability versus intent. And whilst al Shabaab have demonstrated they`ve got all the intent in the world, I would question their capability. And the reason for that... MATTHEWS: What about our capability? Why are you giving people advice that doesn`t seem to make any sense? What is a person -- I`m going back to my question, Michael. What are you supposed to do if you`re a shopper, Mr. and Mrs. America, and you`re out there buying something you need for the kids or something, some shoes. How do you act vigilantly in a shopping mall? I don`t know how that -- what do you do to be vigilant? KAY: Chris, I don`t think it`s up to the -- I don`t think it`s up to the shopper to be able to sort of defeat the next incoming attack. What I think this is a reminder is, is that there should be the emphasis on Department of Homeland Security and their capability versus foreign policy. Department of Homeland Security -- they should be looking at their intelligence capability. They should be looking at the police authorities. They should be looking at immigration and making sure there are resources and funded. They should be developing relationships within the Muslim community. They should be going back through their records and identifying who these lone wolves might be because if your look back to "Charlie Hebdo," those people were known to the authorities many years before the attacks actually happened. So this is a holistic approach that we need to take. Now, going to your question, you know, vigilance is absolutely key. Hezbollah used a very sophisticated network of ordinary people in south Lebanon to be able to communicate things that they don`t necessarily think are right. You need a pair of eyes and you need a cell phone, and that then gets reported through a network. We now live in a new world order, and everyone has a responsibility, whether you`re a shopper, a policeman, part of the security forces, to report something if you see something which is a little bit untoward. And that involves a cell phone and it involves communication. MATTHEWS: OK. Today State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki called the al Shabaab video a scare tactic. Let`s watch.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: Our view is it`s propaganda. Of course, we need to remain vigilant, as always is the case. But the point of this video was to instill fear. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Laith, is this a call to arms to people? It seems to me if it was meant to be a call to a sleeper cell that`s ready to go into action, we wouldn`t know about it. Is this just a call to people who are potentially sympathetic to the al Shabaab call, Somali-Americans who are living up in that area? There are a lot of them. What kind of communication is this? Is it an order being given or a call to arms to regular people to join the fight? Can you tell? LAITH ALKHOURI, FLASHPOINT GLOBAL: Yes, I believe it`s the latter. I believe it`s a call for so-called lone wolves to attack soft targets. MATTHEWS: To become lone wolves. ALKHOURI: Or to become... MATTHEWS: To become them. ALKHOURI: Of course, to become lone wolves. But you know, in a way, you`re inciting them. You`re giving them so-called reasons. You`re urging them to do so. But it`s not only about malls, it`s about soft targets in general, whether it`s schools, theaters and malls. So the idea here is to inspire those, you know, alleged or potential lone wolves to, you know, buy a gun from the gun store next door and launch an attack.   You know, the difference here is that it might cause a lot more havoc in America, even if it`s one of two people are killed versus 67 people killed in Kenya. MATTHEWS: Well, what happens if nothing happens the next couple days? Will it be like North Korea after that movie came out and nothing happened? All of a sudden, we laugh at it. Are they risking mirth, people saying, What a bunch of jokers. The Shabaab group can`t do anything. They say they`re going to attack the mall, nobody does anything. What happens then, Laith? And then back to Michael. ALKHOURI: Look, I don`t think Shabaab has the operational or tactical capability to pull off such attack at this point. I think they have the, you know, communications and the capability to try to inspire individuals, especially in the Somali diaspora in Minnesota and other areas, or to Muslims in general who might adhere to their ideology. I just don`t believe they have, you know, a sleeper cell waiting for a signal to attack. MATTHEWS: Michael, what do you think -- what do you think of the chances of some kid, usually someone in their early 20s -- that`s the normal time you get to be activists as sort of a paramilitary person -- just saying, You know what? I wasn`t going to do it until I heard this call. I guess I`m going to go blow something up. It doesn`t seem like something that would make a person move on a dime to become a terrorist, to become a lone wolf, just to be called to do it. KAY: No, Chris, we`ve got to be careful here not to sort of spin ourselves up into a frenzy. We`ve got to take a step back and look at the realities of what we`re seeing. And that is, most of the people that commit these atrocities, as I said before, are known to the authorities -- "Charlie Hebdo," for example. Disenfranchised persons do not turn overnight. It takes a long process. There was a great interview done on one of the Canadian jihadists, and that was a long process over a number of years of going into prisons, then coming out, going to mosques, meeting toxic imams within mosques, and sort of developing it over a period of time. Again, it goes back to this capability versus intent. There might be the intent there, but the capability certainly isn`t there. And I think it`s something that we need to just look at holistically. It is a wake-up call in terms of, you know, we`ve got to make sure that the DHS isn`t being held ransom by the Republican Party, for example, when it comes to leveraging those type of things. We need to make sure that the DHS is appropriately funded and manned and resourced, if not moreso than what we`re doing on the foreign policy side because tackling the indigenous problem, where jihadists and lone wolves have American passports, is as equally difficult as trying to tackle it overseas. MATTHEWS: Well, I just think it`s very important. I think you have to -- we have to respond to the level of urgency that`s been delivered to us by the secretary of Homeland Security, when he, in this case -- it`s a he -- goes on national television on a major Sunday program and says, We got to be vigilant, this is coming, I think we got to take it seriously.   anyway, this comes during a fight -- and you`re right on this fight, Michael -- a fight over funding for the Department of Homeland Security. The president warned Congress today not to let it lapse, not to let it run out of money. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unless Congress acts, one week from now, more than 100,000 DHS employees, border patrol, port inspectors, TSA agents will show up to work without getting paid. It will have a direct impact on your economy, and it will have a direct impact on America`s national security because their hard work helps to keep us safe. And as governors, you know that we can`t afford to play politics with our national security. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Secretary Jeh Johnson of Homeland Security made a similar plea. Let`s listen to him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHNSON: The clock is ticking. And as I stand here, there is nothing from Congress to fund us beyond that point. A shutdown of Homeland Security would have serious consequences and amount to a serious disruption in our ability to protect the homeland. This is no way to run a government. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, several Republicans this weekend also warned it would be a mistake to hold up funding for the department. Let`s watch them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I hope my House colleagues will understand that our best bet is to challenge this in court, that if we don`t fund the Department of Homeland Security, we`ll get blamed as a party.   SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I do believe in this time, where we have the kind of threats that we have from all over the world, we certainly need to make sure that Homeland Security is fully funded. And my guess is we`ll figure out a way to make sure that happens this week. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I remember the last time we shut down the whole government -- this would obviously be Homeland Security. The last time we shut down the whole government, we turned away 600,000 visitors to our national parks here in Arizona. I don`t want to see that movie again. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Interesting sanity there, Laith. But the simultaneity of these two events, the possibility of a shutdown of Homeland Security at the very time we`re getting a threat in the heart of the country, not in Benghazi, but in Bloomington, Minnesota, right on the northern border there of that state, it seems to me very bad timing politically to be doing something like this. ALKHOURI: I think it`s absolutely bad timing, and I think it`s almost disturbing to think that shutting Homeland Security in any way would do benefit to the country or even to the world. Look, what the -- so the presidential nominees will not have protection in 2016 simply because we`re going to shut down Department of Homeland Security? Look, I think the Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of immigration, absolutely needs to be on top of its game because, you know, you have to sift through all of these applications for immigrants who are coming to this country in scores, and of course, some of them could potentially be dangerous. They could be potentially posing a threat to our national security at home. So shutting down DHS would be absolutely disturbing. MATTHEWS: I think a lot about the American culture has to do with us here. We have a hard time focusing on events far from our shores, but we do focus very well on places like Minnesota. Anyway, the family of Kayla Mueller is speaking out for the first time. In an interview with the "Today" show today, her parents remembered their daughter as a caring humanitarian. And this, by the way, brings it home to people like me, this young woman, how good she was as a person, a person of the world, and what happened to her. But let`s watch her parents. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARSHA MUELLER, MOTHER: She was loving. She was joyful. She was peaceful. CARL MUELLER, FATHER: Kayla taught us so much. And I think that`s all I remember about Kayla other than my little girl.   M. MUELLER: We want the world to help us let Kayla still use her hands to give to the world and to help the people that are suffering, and especially the Syrian people right now because they have been through so much. And that`s where Kayla`s heart is right now. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Laith and Michael, last thoughts on that. I`ll tell you, when this comes home to me, it comes home when -- you know, we had the war with Iran, (sic) the first Gulf war. It was about humiliating our hostages, but they didn`t kill any. They all came home. There was a level of civility even in that mess. And Saddam Hussein -- I don`t think he had a particular fight with the United States. That`s why I had a real problem with that whole war. But this in our face. These kinds of threats. And of course, the killing, the beheading, the burning alive of people has gotten to me, I have to say, and I think it`s gotten to the American people based upon what I`ve seen in terms of how people are willing to vote for a use of force resolution in a way we haven`t been gotten to before. First Laith, and then Michael. ALKHOURI: Well, I think, first and foremost, my heart goes out to the family of Kayla Mueller. It`s such a tragedy. But a group like ISIS, which has absolutely no value for humanity or for humans, generally speaking, the -- you know, ISIS has killed more Muslims than any other -- than people from any other religion out there. So they don`t have, you know, mercy on their own people, they don`t have mercy on anybody else. And I think the United States has to deal with an iron fist when it comes to ISIS because this group is only expanding and it`s finding acceptance among certain communities out there. And soon enough, we`re going to realize that ISIS is in 30 or 40 different countries without us realizing it. MATTHEWS: OK. Yes, e-mail me a definition of an iron fist. I want to study it. Really. Please do that because I want to know what the iron fist looks like. I`d like to see how we can do it. Anyway, Michael Kay, last thought about the emotional impact on this country. It seems like they`re trying to get at us, these terrorist groups. They want to get at our souls. KAY: Right. Look, one thing I wanted to point out here, Chris, is that long before these beheadings of aid workers and journalists started to occur, the biggest humanitarian problem in contemporary history had already started to occur, millions of refugees flooding out of Syria, over 200,000 violent deaths in Syria. There`s paralysis at the United Nations Security Council, which just goes back to it`s the people of Syria that are getting hit hard here. We need to go back to the root of the problem, which is Assad. Foreign policy in the U.S. needs to start developing relationships, whether we like it or not, with Russia because Russia is key in order to get any sort of movement on Security Council resolutions, and Iran because the only reason Assad is still in power is he`s got support from Russia and he`s got support from Iran. And they`re the relationships that we need to start being clever about. The nuclear conversation with Iran -- that needs to be developed to link in something to do with Syria. Unless we have a political roadmap, as I`ve said a million times before, Chris, then we will still see ISIS growing, metastasizing and infecting the rest of the world. MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Michael Kay, as always, and Laith Alkhouri. Thank you, gentlemen, for your expertise.   Coming up -- you want to know about that fight among Republicans running for president is all about? What`s it all about? It`s about who can hate President Obama the most. And Rudy Giuliani proved it by questioning the president`s love of country. Is there someone in the Republican Party who will blow the whistle on this crap? And that`s the right word for it. Plus, politics at the Oscars. "Selma" didn`t win Best Picture, but there was a powerful moment when singer John Legend, one of my personal favorites, said the Voting Rights Act is under attack. Civil Rights leader and hero John Lewis is coming here, right here at this table, to talk about it tonight. And Scott Walker, the Republican flavor of the month for 2016, has shifted hard right, hard right on abortion and personhood. What game is he playing? He played it down when he was running for governor again last fall, but now he`s all the way over on the hard right -- a little too nimble, I think, a little too switcheroo for my liking. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the contest of hate, as I said, you`re watching right now among the Republican candidates for president. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, authorities are still searching for those teenage girls from London who landed in Turkey last week and are thought to be trying to make their way to Syria to join ISIS. Their families are pleading with them to come home. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RENU BEGUM, SISTER: She didn`t take anything with her. I`m just clinging onto the bits that we have, and we just want her to come home. If you watch this, baby, please come home! Mommy needs you more than anything in the world! You`re a baby! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Boy, that`s human. "The Wall Street Journal" today reported that the flow of foreigners to ISIS hasn`t diminished. According to "The Journal," a U.S. intelligence agency reported last week that despite greater Western efforts, foreign fighters are streaming into Syria and Iraq to join the extremists. An estimated 20,000 foreign militants there include at least 3,400 Europeans. About 100 in Syria are believed to be from here in the U.S., which is quite disturbing.   And we`ll be right back after that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. The right -- the right wing of this country has questioned President Obama`s birthplace, his religion, his patriotism, and now Rudolph Giuliani has put another notch in his belt by going after the president`s love of country. Giuliani said that he doesn`t -- he doesn`t hear President Obama talk about his country`s greatness. As "The Washington Post" noted over the weekend, quote, "He must have muted the sound whenever Obama spoke." Well, here`s the president`s love of country in his own words over the years. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me and that in no other country on earth is my story even possible. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) OBAMA: But I also know how much I love America. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. I`m enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world.   It reminds you about what makes this country so great, why I love this country so much. We are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on earth. You helped the United States of America become what we are today, the greatest democratic, economic, and military force for freedom and human dignity that the world has ever known. I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Yes, he`s never said anything about loving the country, not a word out of that guy. Anyway, the right on the fight -- or the fight on the right still consumed with its hatred of President Obama, are they? Will anyone stand up for him or it, or is there no limit to how hard they`re pushing? Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post," who I believe will be writing on this tomorrow. I`m hunching it. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: And Matt Schlapp is the chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. But it`s coming up now. He was also the political director under President George W. Bush. Let me let you go first.   MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Yes. MATTHEWS: What do you make about the statements by the president? SCHLAPP: Well, you did your homework. I wish you had shown that to Mayor Giuliani. I just think we have a lot of disagreements, right vs. left. A lot of us conservatives have huge disagreements with President Obama. I don`t know if we have to go there. Why do we have to question his patriotism? I just feel like there`s enough disagreement. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let`s try to -- as David Gregory would say, let`s unpack it a little. SCHLAPP: Yes. MATTHEWS: Giuliani is not stupid. Why did he do it? He is not stupid. Why did he do it? SCHLAPP: Well, I mean, it was a closed press event. MATTHEWS: Who`s he playing to? SCHLAPP: Well, it was a closed press event.   MATTHEWS: Who was he playing to with that line that Obama doesn`t love the country the way we were taught to love it? SCHLAPP: OK. OK. You know what he`s doing. MATTHEWS: Tell me. SCHLAPP: He`s playing to some of the worst fears that are out there in the country, but also is he`s speaking at an event that he thinks is closed press. MATTHEWS: Rich people? SCHLAPP: And he`s not the only -- and President Obama, they cling to their religion and their guns. Sometimes, when you don`t think there are cameras in the room, you let it hang out there a little bit more and it`s irresponsible. And the mayor shouldn`t have done it. MATTHEWS: The funny thing is, that`s my idea of a glimpse of reality. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: What I think Obama did, he was talking a very elite crowd in San Francisco who look down on those people. I know who he was talking to. In this case, I think he was talking to a lot of second-generation, maybe first-generation Americans, guys with some wealth, Republicans -- East Coast Republicans tend to be that way. EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Who have one -- who have a very specific version of patriotism, a version of love of country.   Of course, we all have our different versions of love of country, but that -- you know, it all adds up. MATTHEWS: I know that version because it was mine growing up. It`s Irving Berlin. It`s Kate Smith. It`s God bless America. It`s not conditional. It`s not about any flaws. It`s, I love this place. And it`s so simple. ROBINSON: And I could say the same thing, except mine`s different from yours, right? MATTHEWS: Yes. It ought to be. ROBINSON: So, but it`s -- exactly. And it has to be. But it`s basically the same. MATTHEWS: Well, you couldn`t vote. ROBINSON: So... (LAUGHTER) ROBINSON: No, I couldn`t vote. And, you know, my parents couldn`t vote. (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: Yes, maybe this...   (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: It`s a different experience. That`s what makes America great. We`re all different kinds of people. We all believe in the same thing. We all believe in the country. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Anyway, let`s talk about this, because here`s a moment, I think -- I think -- first of all, I hope that -- I have had mixed relations with John McCain. I really salute what he did for our country. There`s no doubt. We all do, what he did... (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: How could you not? MATTHEWS: How could you not? And when he said to that woman, he`s not an Arab, I`m not going to play that game, he ought to get the Kennedy Center -- what do they call it, the Kennedy Library or -- profile in courage just for that. SCHLAPP: Yes. MATTHEWS: Anyway, the 1992 presidential campaign -- you may not like this -- Bill Clinton publicly rejected, well, in this case, the extremist wing of his party, which was being energized by hip-hop artist Sister Souljah. Now, the lyrics here are important to what he challenged, but here`s Clinton.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL CLINTON, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You had a rap singer here last night named Sister Souljah. I defend her right to express herself through music, but her comments before and after Los Angeles were filled with the kind of hatred that you do not honor today and tonight. Last year, she said: "You can`t call me or any black person anywhere in the world a racist. We don`t have the power to do to white people what white people have done to us, and, even if we did, we don`t have that low- down, dirty nature. If there are any good white people, I haven`t met them? Where are they?" Right here in this room. That`s where they are. (APPLAUSE) CLINTON: I know she is a young person, but she has a big influence on a lot of people. And when people say that -- if you took the words white and black and you reversed them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Boy, is that -- I didn`t realize -- I didn`t remember how hard it was. That`s a punch to the gut. ROBINSON: He went hard. MATTHEWS: And Jesse Jackson was in that room, and never forgot it. ROBINSON: He went hard. It was -- he turned that into a defining moment. He turned it into a political event.   So, I`m waiting for... MATTHEWS: What was he saying? I`m not a knee-jerk lefty. I`m going to find trouble. If I see trouble on my side... ROBINSON: I`m not a knee-jerk lefty. I`m with you, too. Just, I want us all to go together. SCHLAPP: I know where you guys are going on this. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK. You know exactly where we`re going. (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: I`m waiting. I`m waiting. I`m waiting. (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: Whoa. Whoa. MATTHEWS: Why didn`t Jeb -- why didn`t Jeb say something when Rudy said something?   SCHLAPP: You`re going too far too fast. Where is the Barack Obama Sister Souljah moment? When has he said to the base of his own party in a public way no? He hasn`t done that. He has governed completely different than other... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I know you guys gave him a hard time for going back to the Crusades. Why don`t you go back to this week? (LAUGHTER) SCHLAPP: OK. OK. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Why didn`t somebody step up? It could have been Lindsey Graham. It could have been anybody. A couple of the people just took a bye on it. The new word is punted. A lot of people punted on this, like Walker, Scott Walker. But some -- Jindal just jumped on it with both feet, saying, yes, yes, pretty much. SCHLAPP: I read the comments of Governor Pence. He was straight on. MATTHEWS: What did he say?   SCHLAPP: He said that this was inappropriate, and we shouldn`t question the president`s patriotism, period. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Pence? (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: Well, Jeb Bush came out with a statement. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Oh. ROBINSON: No, no, no. (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: I think it`s fair to say that Walker and Jindal did take a punt. ROBINSON: They`re on one extreme. The other extreme would be...   (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: I wouldn`t use the word extreme. ROBINSON: I didn`t hear Pence`s remarks, but I heard Marco Rubio, who was very forthright... SCHLAPP: Marco was great, yes. ROBINSON: ... and said, you know, you can`t question -- now, as I recall, Governor Bush said, well, one shouldn`t question the president`s motives. SCHLAPP: That`s right. ROBINSON: It doesn`t quite say what he thinks those motives are. He didn`t quite answer the question, do you believe he loves America? MATTHEWS: OK. Scott Walker is the flavor of the month. Why didn`t he say something (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: Better than Walker, better than Jindal. MATTHEWS: Why didn`t Scott Walker say something? We`re going to talk about it later. Everybody`s loving Scott Walker now, because he`s the new version of the old.   SCHLAPP: That`s right. MATTHEWS: He`s the new establishment. Here`s what he said. "You should ask the president what he thinks about America." And he added: "I have never asked him, so I don`t know." What a high school answer. I have never asked him, so I don`t know if he loves the country. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What is this Mickey Mouse answer? (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: And his team -- and his team realized it right away and they called the reporter right away and said, he wasn`t questioning... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: So, you`re the clean-up crew for the clean-up crew. SCHLAPP: No, no.   (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER) ROBINSON: What the governor meant to say was... (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: Look, let`s face it. You know this. These guys who we have been talking about, our deep bench, are starting to run for president. They`re starting to do their public campaigns. And it`s going to be growing-up time and they`re going to make mistakes. And, by the way, Hillary Clinton is making a few herself. MATTHEWS: You`re flying all over the room here, aren`t you? Let me just tell you something. SCHLAPP: It goes both ways. MATTHEWS: Somebody once told me, a friend of mine who is a senator now, he said, the galloping horse of history rides by, you better get in that saddle. That horse is gone now. SCHLAPP: That`s right. MATTHEWS: Somebody could have stood up within 24 hours of this and said, that`s not my America talking like that, and they would have been a hero.   ROBINSON: Which is a good point, because... (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: I think Marco Rubio came the closest to that, in all fairness. ROBINSON: He did. He did. A successful presidential campaign, right, is taking advantage of those opportunities. MATTHEWS: He said he has no doubt Mr. Obama loves America. ROBINSON: And Rubio came the closest of jumping on the horse. SCHLAPP: That`s right. MATTHEWS: Well, let`s get Rubio... (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: So, let`s give him credit. MATTHEWS: Profile in courage, to the extent that we`re able to extend that award, we give it.   (CROSSTALK) SCHLAPP: I don`t know if he wants it from you, Chris. He`s kind of doing a different thing right now, you know? MATTHEWS: You can get that one from anybody. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: And don`t knock me. You will never be back... (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER) SCHLAPP: Oh, I`m so sorry. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I`m just kidding. Sort of. (LAUGHTER)   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You were well-behaved tonight. Thank you, Matt Schlapp. Anyway, thank you, Gene, as always. Win a Pulitzer Prize, so you can sit next to this guy. And John Legend and Common won the Academy Award last night for best original song. Here`s what they said during their acceptance speech. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN LEGEND, MUSICIAN: We say that Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. LEGEND: We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: When we come back: Civil rights icon John Lewis will be here with us. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was quite a moment. That was, of course, the great John Legend and Common performing "Glory," their song from the film "Selma," which won best original song at the Academy Awards last night. "Selma," of course, the movie, depicted the civil rights story of the Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965, which ended in violence after Alabama State Troopers attacked demonstrators crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. While those events took place 50 years ago, John Legend last night reminded viewers of the telecast last night that the fight for voting rights continues. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEGEND: We say that Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. LEGEND: We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today.   (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: U.S. Congressman John Lewis of Georgia led that march in Selma 50 years ago. He`s now the author of a series of -- they`re called graphic novels called "March" about the history of the civil rights struggle in this country. And the second book in that series just came out last month. And I have got it right here. And you can have it right now. It`s called "March." Mr. Lewis. REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Yes. MATTHEWS: I worked on the Hill, so it`s always going to be Mr. Lewis. It`s not even Congressman Lewis, because that`s the way they... (CROSSTALK) LEWIS: Oh, you can call -- Chris, you can call me John. MATTHEWS: No. Well, but I don`t -- I like honorifics.   But let me ask you about "Selma." That guy, how did he -- he -- I wasn`t close to Dr. King. You were. He seemed like Dr. King to me. I thought the guy was unbelievable. LEWIS: Well, the guy, he became Dr. King. MATTHEWS: Yes. LEWIS: He became the embodiment or the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. He did an unbelievable job. Chris, I love the movie. I have seen it on several occasion, and I cry. Just, it is so real. He makes it so plain and so simple, like Dr. King did. I would attend Dr. King`s church in Atlanta from time to time when he would be preaching. And his father would say, son, make it plain, make it real. And Dr. King had the ability, the capacity, to make it real. "Selma," the movie, made it real. MATTHEWS: I love the way Dr. King said it`s all in the paper. LEWIS: Yes. MATTHEWS: It`s in the Constitution. LEWIS: Yes. MATTHEWS: It`s in the Declaration.   (CROSSTALK) LEWIS: Yes. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... make it real. You`re in the movie. And I thought the guy looked like you as a young guy. What did you think of the guy playing you in the movie? You were one of the heroes. You were SNCC back then. LEWIS: Yes. I thought he did a good job. When I first met him on the set, he was wearing a trench coat, a backpack, and that`s what I had on, on March 7, 1965. I wanted to say to him, boy, give me my backpack. Let me have my trench coat. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: And the bloody part of it, when you got hit by the cop, by the troopers, did that feel like it happened? Did that look like it happened? LEWIS: It did happen. It was real. I remember being hit. And the scar is right here. My legs gave out. I fell down.   MATTHEWS: There he is. LEWIS: And I thought I was going to die. I thought I saw death. I thought it was my last nonviolent protest. MATTHEWS: As I mentioned, you led -- Mr. Lewis, you led that march in Selma 50 years ago next month. We looked back in the archive and found an interview you gave that day. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEWIS: We`re marching today to dramatize to the nation and dramatize to the world that hundreds and thousands of Negro citizens of Alabama, but particularly here in the Blytheville area, denied the right to vote. We intend to march to Montgomery to present said grievance to Governor George C. Wallace. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You were so young, and yet you had that conviction, that assurance of the cause. LEWIS: Well, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks inspired me to grow up. I first heard Dr. King and Rosa Parks in 1955, when I was 15 years old. It seemed like Dr. King was saying to me, John Robert Lewis, you, too, can do something. You can make a contribution. And I would ask my mother, and my father, my grandparents, my great-grandparents why. And they would say, that`s the way it is. Don`t get in the way, don`t get in trouble. But Dr. King inspired me to get in trouble, what I called good trouble, necessary trouble. And I have been getting in trouble ever since.   MATTHEWS: You`re a hero. Here we are. The book, the new book is called "March," book two. You can get this. This is for younger people and older people. It`s a good way to get the history and get in a way you`re going to spend a couple hours and you will have it all in your head. That`s the best thing I can say about any book. A couple hours, you have got it all in your head, all that history. Thank you, John Lewis. LEWIS: Thank you. MATTHEWS: U.S. congressman from Georgia, one of the best there ever has, there ever was. Up next: Scott Walker always played down his opposition to abortion. But now he`s running for president, he`s done a 180 on this one. This guy`s a little too tricky, I think. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rises in the 2016 presidential primary polls, and he sure is, he is starting to shift gears on the controversial issue of abortion. When Governor Walker was running for re-election just last year against a pro-choice woman, he struck a softer tone on the issue. He sounded compassionate for women considering an abortion. Even ran this TV ad advocating to leave the final decision in these matters to a woman and her doctor. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: I`m pro-life, but there`s no doubt in my mind the decision of whether or not to end a pregnancy is an agonizing one. That`s why I support legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor. Reasonable people can disagree on this issue. Our priority is to protect the health and safety of all Wisconsin citizens. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: But now that Walker is trying to woo Christian conservatives across the country in the primaries coming up, he`s underlying his pro-life bona fides and sounds quite different. When Walker took the stage in front of Iowa conservative activists just a few weeks ago, he bragged about his staunch pro-life credentials. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WALKER: Since I`ve been governor, we passed pro-life legislation and we`ve defunded Planned Parenthood. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And according to "The New York Times," when Walker met privately with a group of Iowa Republicans, he highlighted his early support for a personhood amendment which defines life as beginning at conception and effectively, of course, prohibit all abortions and, in fact, some forms of birth control. Joining the roundtable right now, in fact, comprising it: Susan Page is Washington bureau chief of "USA Today", which be you go on the road like I do, it`s always on the door of the hotel, no other newspaper, always "USA Today", except on weekends. And Lauren Fox is a reporter with the "National Journal." That`s heavy. And Clarence Page is an opinion writer with the "Chicago Tribune", who I believe owns a Pulitzer Prize. Gentleman and ladies, what do you make of this flip-a-roo? I mean, personhood means forget about it. There aren`t going to be any abortions or anything like, even not going to be IUDs or anything. There`s not going to be anything. SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: I don`t think it`s exactly a flip. MATTHEWS: Oh, tell me how.   PAGE: It`s more like a slide. It`s like before he was saying, I`m pro-life, but I believe in, you know, letting a woman and doctor make the decision. Now, he`s saying, I`m pro-life. MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. My dad always said he was pro-life, but, of course, it`s up to the woman eventually, ultimately. That`s pro-choice. If you let the woman decide and you don`t outlaw abortion, it`s up to the woman. If you are pro-life, you want to outlaw abortion. That is what it is. It isn`t your religious belief. My religious beliefs are pro-life. It`s what you believe the law or the Constitution determines. LAUREN FOX, NATIONAL JOURNAL: Well, this is what becomes the classic Republican catch-22, right? Is that when you are running in a state like Wisconsin, which is a more moderate state, you have to appeal to the left in order to win and some independent voters. When you are going into Republican primary, all of a sudden it changes what you need to be doing, and I think he`s certainly trying to get some of those evangelical voters. MATTHEWS: What would a conviction politician do in such a circumstance? A conviction politician? FOX: I think when you first -- when you first make that choice, it has to be the choice you stick with all the way, but this was the classic Mitt Romney problem we saw in 2012 and even before that with him when he was the governor, he was a much more moderate -- MATTHEWS: I was for it before I was against it. Clarence, being the other male on the panel here, we have a little disadvantage in the fact we don`t have a direct involvement in the abortion decision. CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Got that right. MATTHEWS: In many cases. In some cases, it`s a shared decision. But, I mean -- C. PAGE: Men barge into this decision, anyway, don`t we?   MATTHEWS: I believe pro-choice means you don`t outlaw it. C. PAGE: Right. MATTHEWS: And pro-life means you outlaw it. If you saw it`s up to the woman, you`re pro-choice. I think that adds deceptive then. C. PAGE: Well -- MATTHEWS: Deceptive, if he`s a pro-lifer. C. PAGE: You can say charitably, Scott Walker is in a brilliant position. He`s both pro-choice and pro-life at the same time. He`s a conviction politician when it comes to being pro-life, but the practical matter, he will be pro-choice in order to get votes. But, you know, I mean, look at Ronald Reagan. He was antiabortion, but what did he do besides appointing some -- MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s go back to reality here. Supreme Court`s going to decide any change in Roe v. Wade if there is any -- Webster in Pennsylvania case, the Casey case. It`s always nuanced but it still comes down to no undue burden. You can`t put undue burdens to a woman making that ultimate decision like he said in the ad. So, he starts picking -- we have some older people on the Supreme Court now including the liberals who are the oldest. What happens if he gets in there and says, oh, I`m back to the personhood amendment Scott Walker? I`m not the it`s up to the woman Scott Walker. How do you know which one you`re electing? S. PAGE: That`s a dilemma for voters, right, because -- MATTHEWS: He could solve. S. PAGE: He could solve it by being clear.   MATTHEWS: He could tell us what he is. Everybody knows the aging reality of the Supreme Court. Who gets to pick the next one? Who retires? C. PAGE: The cat is out of the bag now. We know now how he feels about the Personhood Amendment, whether it has a chance of passing, which it doesn`t. If he`s that pro-life, you`d be really deceived to believe he`s going to appoint a pro-choice justice. S. PAGE: I think it`s is one of the things we`ll try to find out more during the campaign, because what we have now is a report which could be true. But he hasn`t exactly stood up and proclaimed this from the mountaintops. So, he`s -- if he`s running for president as he seems to be doing, he`ll have to submit himself to questions. He`ll have to be in debates. He`ll be pressed on issues like who would you appoint to the Supreme Court? MATTHEWS: Can I ask a woman`s question? You probably know about reproductive information which a lot of men don`t know. Of all the eggs that are fertilized, you know, after conception that attach to the uterine wall, are these people under the Constitution this guy wants to write? Are they people? Are they citizens? What are they? FOX: Well, I think that`s what Scott Walker -- MATTHEWS: Not every fertilized egg, not every conceived egg ends up attached to the wall and becoming a person. So, what do you do with this information? Do you ignore it? FOX: I think this is where Republicans, politicians in general can get into trouble here. MATTHEWS: Science? FOX: This is the classic Todd Akin problem. And we saw it. MATTHEWS: OK. Science shouldn`t be the enemy of any politician.   Anyway, thank you. The roundtable is staying with us. And up next, the Academy Awards get political last night. They sure were. I was thinking Patty Shieski (ph) years ago saying "stop the politics." Well, they had the politics last night. Depends which side you`re on whether you liked it. And this is HARDALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, is Kentucky still Clinton country? Bill Clinton carried the Bluegrass State in `92 and `96. But Hillary Clinton campaigned for Allison Lundergan Grimes in last year`s Senate race, but it didn`t help. Grimes lost to Mitch McConnell by double digits. Well, still, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says Hillary Clinton has a shot, a shot in Kentucky. In an interview over the weekend he said, "It will be tough, it won`t be easy but I think she`ll have an opportunity to do that." We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PATRICIA ARQUETTE, ACTRESS: It`s our time to have wage equality once and for all, an equal rights for women in the United States of America. (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: We`re back. And, of course, that was a powerful moment. That was Patricia Arquette rallying call there, she won the award for best actress, for women`s rights last night. She was one of several Oscar winners who used their speech to spotlight political issues and personal causes, let`s face it. Anyway, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras who won for her film "Citizenfour", talked about privacy and government surveillance. Julianne Moore who won best actress for her role in "Still Alice", a great movie brought attention to the fight against Alzheimer`s. And the director of "Birdman", Alejandro Inarittu, talked about the treatment of Mexican immigrants in this country, and he was rather funny. Let`s watch him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU, BEST DIRECTOR, "BIRDMAN": I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans and the ones who live in this country who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country. I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and build this incredible immigrant nation. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And he also said, the funny line, it wasn`t there, was when he said, I`m the second Mexican in a row to win an award, they`ll probably create further restrictions on immigration. Anyway, we`re back to our round table: Susan, Lauren and Clarence. Where are you on political speech? S. PAGE: You know, sometimes -- I think sometimes it can be cheesy like when Marlon Brando had the Native American woman.   MATTHEWS: Who he hired. S. PAGE: Whatever. But I thought they were stemmed from the movies in which most cases -- MATTHEWS: Patricia Arquette was. S. PAGE: Right, and well, the Alzheimer`s one, and the ALS one. I mean, those were speaking from experiences that they had gained by making these movies. So, I thought it was kind of nice. MATTHEWS: You mean "The Godfather" wasn`t about Native American rights? S. PAGE: Well, in a way. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I think that`s a good argument, because I think Patricia Arquette apparently, I had forgotten it, but in "a boyhood", she has an experience -- FOX: She`s a single mother, yes. MATTHEWS: -- of getting less than she should have gotten.   FOX: Right. And, you know, I think one of the things that we saw was so many of these issues are being debated and talked about on Capitol Hill. I mean, what is overshadowing Capitol Hill this week, but a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security all tied up because Democrats and Republicans can`t agree whether or not the Obama administration overstepped his hand on the executive action, excuse me, on immigration. MATTHEWS: I was thinking of a conservative Republican watching the show last night for three hours, and I`ve got a feeling they`re probably say to themselves, this is why I`m a Republican, they were so liberal, so PC, the guy running around his underwear, the guy running -- the underwear scene, I`m sure a lot of them said, OK, Harris, you`re very funny, you`re very, you know, impressive, but this wasn`t necessary. I think they`ve already attacked him all day today. C. PAGE: Somebody did a poll, maybe it`s "USA Today", I don`t know, but conservatives wanted "American Sniper" to win, and liberals wanted "Birdman" to win. You saw who won. But I think -- S. PAGE: I wanted "Boyhood" to win myself. C. PAGE: Yes. Well, you know, well, I wanted "Selma" to win. FOX: We all have favorites, yes. (CROSSTALK) C. PAGE: How you`re going to say, the politics don`t have anything to do with your choice of the best movie. Everybody did. I remember Siskel and Ebert, my dear late friends -- MATTHEWS: In the newsroom.   C. PAGE: They used to always say that Hollywood votes not for the best picture, but the picture they want Americans to think Hollywood would make if money wasn`t a consideration. That`s why you see quality level of these movies. You don`t see the big blockbuster moneymakers. MATTHEWS: I think "Birdman" was about an actor, too. Anyway, I also thought that and "American Sniper" were both great. Anyway, Susan Page, Lauren Fox, nice to have you here, and, Clarence, as always. And you as always. And when we return, I will finish with the contest of hate that is going on among Republican candidates for president. Who can hate Obama the most? And that is the game they`re fighting. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this contest of hate we`re watching among the Republican candidates for president. How much do you, how much can you hate President Obama? It`s like old time events at the country affair. You pick up a big hammer and see how hard you can bring it down. The guy who gets to bell the ring and ring the loudest is the stud of the walk. I`ve said what I thought of Rudy Giuliani`s comment about Obama not loving the country, but loving it the way -- not loving it the way that he, Rudy, and others like him were brought up to. Well, that`s Rudy and it`s never easy to take back what you`ve said. But what truly astounds me here is the dittoing of his remark by Republican candidates for president. They have time to talk and think, to talk to people, to hear people react to the Obama doesn`t love America talk, and yet, with all of the advantage of time and thought, except for Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, they`ve either agreed with Rudy or refused to give out a significant comment. The answer foretells what`s coming in the long battle for Republican presidential nomination. The battle line seems to be who hates Obama the worse? And who is positioned out there with the deepest contempt for the president? Not simply as a political adversary, but as a man.   Look, if this continues to be contest, count on a sad straw (ph) to Cleveland next summer because the right wing of the Republican Party may be looking for its champion hater of Barack Obama, while most people are looking for a strong, can do leader who comes from somewhere near the political middle, politically, and can make the compelling case that he or she can take this country where it wants to go, to greater opportunity for our children, to greater security for us all. And yes, to less stupid, wasteful, disgusting crap fights over the kind of Mickey Mouse stuff that Rudy had just thrown into the arena. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" start right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. 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