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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 03/13/15

Guests: Michael Tomasky, Matt Katz, A.B. Stoddard

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Bibi`s delicate condition. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. The bullying e-mail (sic) to the ayatollah that was meant to hurt President Obama has apparently hurt the right-wing heartthrob, Bibi Netanyahu. Polls show the GOP prom date sliding downwards in the polls back home, with the opposition gaining. The issue driving Netanyahu down is the man`s personal behavior, of course, but his one-night stand with the House GOP hasn`t helped. Unfortunately for the hawks, the neocons and their bomb-throwing or bombs away soulmates in this country`s right-wing hinterlands, that perfumed letter of theirs to the ayatollahs has outed them for all to see. Nobody likes people who send little nasty notes to people to hurt other people, and this is the stuff of high school bullies, the kid who wants someone to feel lousy by dumping on them in a letter that accidentally gets shown around school. Well, this pathetic pattern is taking Bibi Netanyahu to where he should never want to go, to a bad relationship with people whose interest in Israel is grounded on the hot but loose sand of right-wing ideology. That invite to Bibi and that letter from the Tom "Bates Motel" Cotton could well be the worst set of Republican ideas since Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin. Michael Tomasky`s a columnist for the DailyBeast, and Daniel Levy is with the European Council on Foreign Affairs -- or Foreign Relations. He was a special adviser to the former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, which means he was a centrist and a reasonable person. In a newly released interview with Vice News, by the way, the president, our president had some strong words for those 47 senators who signed that letter to the Iranian leaders, including the ayatollahs. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m embarrassed for them. For them to address a letter to the ayatollah, who they claim is our mortal enemy, and their basic argument to them is, Don`t deal with our president because you can`t trust him to follow through on an agreement -- it`s close to unprecedented. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, today, one of those senators, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, said the letter got one thing wrong -- just one thing wrong, he told Bloomberg. "I suppose the only regret is who it`s addressed to." Well, that`s a biggie. But the content of the letter, the fact that it was an open letter, none whatsoever. Well, anyway, yesterday, John McCain conceded the letter was a bit of a rush job. He said, "It was kind of a very rapid process. Everybody was looking forward to getting out of town because of the snowstorm. I think we probably should have had more discussion about it, given the blowback that there is." Isn`t it interesting how people come up with things (INAUDIBLE) it was the convenience for Secretary Clinton and this guy`s the snowstorm. It is like high school -- the dog ate my homework! MICHAEL TOMASKY, DAILYBEAST: Yes, the snowstorm, and then Lindsey Graham, it was -- you know, it was a little bit of a joke or something like... (CROSSTALK) TOMASKY: You know, I mean, you know, these guys -- they obviously didn`t anticipate this kind of blowback, and this blowback is really huge and they`re paying a big price for it. And you know, the question is, are they going to pay the ultimate price of this letter actually making a deal more likely than less likely? MATTHEWS: Because? TOMASKY: Well, because it depends on whether the mullahs, whether Khamenei and the mullahs, really, really want a deal... (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: ... snap the Democrats out of it. (CROSSTALK) TOMASKY: They lost the Democrats... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Daniel, I thought -- just as a political watcher, I thought that the invitation to Netanyahu was wrong, but I thought his performance was strong and I thought that day, as it ended, the Republicans were glad they did it. That was my (INAUDIBLE) was their verdict. But I think this letter, the verdict is not that way. They don`t think they should have done it now. I think that -- and they know the price they`re paying. Your thoughts? (CROSSTALK) DANIEL LEVY, EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Yes, there`s two ways of looking at this. One is, how does this play at home. And I think they`ve taken a cold shower politically here, and rightly so, especially over the letter, less the invitation to Netanyahu. You see editorials across the country, also in quite conservative papers, attacking the... MATTHEWS: "Wall Street Journal." LEVY: It`s done terrible things for America`s international standing and reputation, not only with adversaries, but with allies. You have the most important European foreign minister, the German foreign minister here, saying, you know, You got to be reliable, you got to be taken seriously. However, there`s another audience that this letter was targeting, and that`s the Iranians. And here I worry that for all the buffoonery, what this letter was designed to achieve, which was to torpedo the negotiations, to torpedo reaching a good deal that can verify that Iran will not become a nuclear power -- it could help torpedo that deal and take America to war! Because...   MATTHEWS: How (INAUDIBLE) Tell me the mechanics of that. How -- will it tell the ayatollah, You can`t trust this piece of paper, this deal once Obama`s gone? Because that seems to be the thrust of it. LEVY: And what that does -- and I think the architects of this letter knew this to be the case. What that does in an Iran that is, of course, very suspicious of the United States -- that`s mutual, obviously -- it tells them, You better build more assurances into these negotiations. You better get more clarity that the deliverables will sustain beyond one presidency. And that is going to be difficult to build into a negotiation. This is intentionally making the negotiations more difficult. I don`t know if they`ll succeed... MATTHEWS: Yes. LEVY: ... but while we heap derision on this letter, we should also acknowledge that this is designed to achieve sabotage and war and... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... what did you make -- and then to get back to you, Daniel -- what did you make of the ayatollah`s rather sophisticated comment of saying -- I don`t like the guy, of course, but politically (INAUDIBLE) geopolitically -- what he said -- you know, this shows there`s something degrading in the American political process, in the ethics, that you`re going to (ph) send a letter like this under the hand of -- under the eye of the president. TOMASKY: It was very shrewd. It was very shrewd. And you know, the big question here, guys, is, you know, the extent to which Iran wants this deal. Because you`re right, it was obviously designed to torpedo any kind of decent deal. But Iran wants these sanctions lifted, right? MATTHEWS: Yes. TOMASKY: I mean, the economic situation in Iran is bad. They have a motivation here to get... MATTHEWS: So the status quo...   TOMASKY: ... these sanctions lifted... MATTHEWS: ... isn`t good for them. TOMASKY: The status quo is no good for them. And then they know -- they know, too, if a Republican president comes in, the drums are going to start pounding, war, war, war. They know that. MATTHEWS: Yes. What do you think? Did you think -- what did you make of the -- of the -- somebody said today -- it was Kristol -- oh, yes, he`s a smart guy, but he`s propagandist, too. And he said -- your eyes went up on that because (INAUDIBLE) he`s a good propagandist, and he finds partners like this guy Tom Cotton, or Sarah Palin (INAUDIBLE) found her on a beach somewhere up in Alaska, or he found Dan Quayle and -- you know, he looked good, they put him up, you know? But what do you think of his saying that -- you know, this is -- that if we bomb Iran, blow up everything we got to blow up with bunker busters - - if we do the job, we`ll do it right. And that`s not an act of war. I don`t know what he`s -- the Japanese -- they knew it was an act of war when they attacked us! I mean, what else do you call a bombing raid? LEVY: Well, I think it makes... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What does he mean it`s not an act of war? LEVY: I think for Americans to put their faith in people like Bill Kristol, and also, by the way, Benjamin Netanyahu, after their fantastic track record on Iraq... MATTHEWS: On Iraq! LEVY: ... I think that`s a fantastic idea...   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I wish people had a little -- like, you know, some kind of rap sheet you had to wear. LEVY: The fact that these guys are still listened to... MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. Well, they have a magazine, and he has a fund-raising operation. He has a fund-raising group he put together, and he has a magazine, which is -- 20 articles, positive articles about this guy Tom Cotton, to warm him up before he was even a congressman! TOMASKY: I`m also not sure that -- you know, he said, We`re going to do this right. Yes, I mean, our military`s great. But there`s 9,400 operational centrifuges in Iran right now -- 9,400. Can we hit... MATTHEWS: 94 bombs. TOMASKY: Well, you know, that`s -- that`s an act of war. MATTHEWS: That is a frightening prospect. You`re right, it will (ph) probably miss. LEVY: The assessment of all the intelligence agencies, Israel`s included, is that the Iranians have not made a decision to pursue a nuclear weapon. And the other assessment is that a military strike would only set back a program for a very limited number of years... MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. LEVY: ... and would encourage the Iranians!   MATTHEWS: And by the way (INAUDIBLE) Rouhani and all the secular people and all the moderate people, Zarif, all -- that country will be united 100 percent for nuclear. TOMASKY: Of course. MATTHEWS: Because it`s a matter of real pride then and no way of ever getting (INAUDIBLE) and then the Saudis will be constructing. LEVY: The important point that you raised is follow the money trail because I think you can look at this and you can say the Israelis were using the Republicans in order to try and sabotage a deal, and the Republican were using the Israelis... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What was the money? What was the money involved? LEVY: Well, the money involved is if you look at someone like Sheldon Adelson or... MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. Americans don`t -- yes, but... (CROSSTALK) LEVY: Well, no. These are Americans tied into the deep right wing of the Republican Party and to the deep right on the Israeli side. It`s actually interesting, costing Netanyahu a little at home because the newspaper that Adelson funds in Israel has all the rest of the media up in arms against Netanyahu, which is not helping him in the election. MATTHEWS: What`s the name of the paper?   LEVY: "Israel Today"... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... ahead of Israel`s election on Tuesday. That`s coming up this Tuesday. The momentum seems to be with the opponents of Bibi Netanyahu. A new poll by "The Jerusalem Post" shows Bibi`s party four seats behind its center-left competitors. That`s double the deficit from the week before. And a whopping 72 percent of Israelis say they want change in this election. Well, we know what that means here. That means vote for the opposition, usually. But Tzipi Livni -- right? She gets to be prime minister for two years, and the other guy, Herzog, gets too years. Is that going to sell? LEVY: Here`s the... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... go back and forth to Israel, so you know. LEVY: It`s unclear that they can pull this off. The leader of the party is the Labor leader. It`s Mr. Herzog. He would have first chance at being prime minister, if they can form a coalition. This is the issue, Chris, because in Israel, it`s not just about how many seats your party gets, it`s whether you can form a coalition. This election didn`t have to happen today -- next week. Netanyahu brought the election forward. He thought he was a shoo-in. You now have a genuinely competitive election. Herzog could win, but he`s going to have to be able to pull together... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: We`ll be watching. It`s fascinating politics. It`s a real democracy. It`s always fascinating to hear the movements. And (INAUDIBLE) they keep changing over there. And everybody`s a prime minister in Israel, right?   TOMASKY: Kulanu is a party to watch, don`t you think? Kulanu is going to be a party to watch. LEVY: I think -- I think there are a number of parties that could swing (INAUDIBLE) MATTHEWS: OK, you just lost me there. Anyway, thank you, Daniel Levy -- is it Leevy (ph) or Levvy (ph)? LEVY: Leevy (ph). MATTHEWS: Leevy (ph)? I got it right. Now we got it right. Daniel Levy, thank you. You`ve been a great guest. Michael Tomasky -- I can pronounce that. Coming up -- Chris Christie`s trying to launch his political operation ahead of a presidential campaign, but right now, his party`s just not that into him. Wait`ll you see these numbers. He`s still being dogged by what happened on the George Washington Bridge. You can say we`ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We`ve come to it, Governor! Plus, fixing Ferguson -- as the city struggles to correct its police department, we`re talking to leaders from around the country about what they can do to make things better in that community. And Scott Walker grabs the title of -- here it is -- front-runner. That`s what he`s calling himself, and he`s up in New Hampshire hitting Jeb Bush as a name from the past. This fight`s getting hot. I sort of like it. Finally, you`ll want to stick around for the end of the show because the president turns the tables on the birthers. Love it! And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   MATTHEWS: His holiness Pope Francis is celebrating two years as leader of the Roman Catholic church. And in an interview today with Mexican television, he said he doesn`t expect to be pope for long. He said he thinks his pontificate will be brief, maybe four or five years, and then he`d like to follow his predecessor, Pope Benedict, into retirement. When asked if he liked being pope, Francis said the only thing he`d change would be being able to go out and get a pizza once in a while. Anyway, we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, "The New York Daily News" recently ran this damning headline, "Free-falling Governor Chris Christie`s approval ratings in New Jersey are at lowest point ever." A mere 35 percent of Garden State registered voters said they approved of the job Christie`s doing as governor, the survey found, comparing to a whopping 51 percent who said they disapproved of the job that he`s doing. Well, it comes on the heels of an NBC poll which does not bode well for the governor, either. It finds that only 32 percent of Republican voters nationally say they can even see themselves voting for Christie, versus 57 percent who they can`t see themselves voting for him. Christie ranks 11th in the Republican field by that measure. He`s also trailing the field in all key primary states -- all of them. He barely registers in Iowa. Get this -- 4 percent. He`s trailing Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Rand Paul in New Hampshire, which is a must-win state if he, Christie, has any hope. And he`s seventh in South Carolina with just 6 percent. Meanwhile, we`re expecting those "bridge-gate" indictments any day now. Steve Kornacki is the host of "UP" on MSNBC on the weekends, and Matt Katz is a reporter covering the Christie beat with WNYC. We`ll start with Steve because you are my lead guy on this. You`re the top reporter I can think of. What`s it look like for him? And if there are indictments and they do come, how close do they bite to him? STEVE KORNACKI, HOST, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": Yes, so I mean, that`s the question we`ve been looking at for a long time here. And obviously, we seem to be in something of a holding pattern. When you talk to people who are -- who are fairly close to this -- I don`t want to oversell my sources on this -- but I think the thing you keep hearing is basically a question of, Why hasn`t it happened right now? I think the expectation of people close to this is, as you say, it`s any day now and that probably, these indictments should have come a month ago, maybe two months ago. There`s a lot of talk, a lot of chatter that what the delay is, is that one particular player here, David Samson, the former chairman of the Port Authority, Christie`s close confident and friend -- that there`s a lot of sort of extra stuff that has come up in the investigation about him that seems to be prolonging this. But when you talk about all of the other principal players, I think there`s reason to suspect that the federal investigation has -- it`s pretty much reached its end point there, and that`s why we`re sort of anticipating these indictments, and maybe, you know, five, six, seven, eight of them really coming any day now. The expectation, too -- the people I talk to, the expectation is, No, it will not -- the indictment will not reach Chris Christie, will not implicate Chris Christie. But that does not preclude the possibility of a lot of these people maybe pointing at...   MATTHEWS: Well... KORNACKI: ... -Chris Christie and saying this guy knew more than he`s ever said. MATTHEWS: Well, maybe that`s about political knowledge and perspective on the part of voters, not prosecutors -- I want to stay with you on (ph) Steve -- because if you`ve got Bridget Kelly working across the reception room from your right there, you pass her every day, you put her in charge of intergovernment relations, she`s in charge of dealing with the mayors, and this kind of thing goes on. Or you got the guy that you put on the bridge commission itself, the Port Authority. He put him there. And the other guy put him. It`s all connected to his personal appointments or people working personally with him. Nixon said, you know, it was just a few bad apples, Haldeman and Ehrlichmann, you know, and Colson, the guys closest to him. How close do you have to be to the governor for people to say he`s connected? KORNACKI: Yes. And here`s the other thing, I think, to keep in mind. We`ve heard Chris Christie on this. Chris Christie`s had his press conferences. Chris Christie had his report that he put out. Chris Christie has called Bridget Kelly every name in the book. Chris Christie`s called David Wildstein every name in the book. We have not heard from Bridget Kelly. We have not heard from David Wildstein. If and when these indictments that everybody`s sitting and waiting for come out -- you know how these indictments are usually written by federal prosecutors -- we will presumably hear from them through that indictment. And then there`s the possibility that we`ll hear from them publicly. And if you have them, if you have others like them who are out there saying, Hey, look -- you know, you have Christie up there saying, This was all me. Well, there`s more to this story than that. That`s adds a whole new layer to it that we haven`t even begun to dealt with yet. MATTHEWS: Matt, give us your output (ph). What are you able to report on this tonight? MATT KATZ, WNYC: Well, we`re learning more about David Wildstein. He`s the guy at the Port Authority who got the famous e-mail, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." And he responded, "Got it." So he is widely believed to be the guy who actually shut down the lanes. And we did some investigating over the last few weeks. We actually got ahold of his calendars. And we learned that he was very much embedded within the political operation of the Christie administration.   Remember, after this happened, Christie said that he really had very little to do with Wildstein. He couldn`t remember one meeting he had with Wildstein in his office. Turns out, we`ve confirmed at least two meetings. We know -- in the office. We know that they were together at five public events together. And we also know that he met almost monthly with Christie`s political team. Now, that does not mean that Christie ordered the lane closures via David Wildstein, but it means that he was a much more significant player and that if and when indictments come, they could -- they could get a little bit closer to the governor than he`d like. I will say, though, I`ve been traveling to some of these early primary states with the governor, and Republicans do not care about this. I mean, the loyal caucus-going Iowa Republicans -- they tell you what they don`t like about Christie is that he supposedly hugged Obama after Sandy. That`s their beef with Christie. The bridge thing just doesn`t register. So when these indictments happen, it`s going to cause a major storm for him, for sure, but I don`t know how much it will immediately have an impact within the Republican voting base. MATTHEWS: I think it`ll get to them. Anyway, what about that "CC" he had on his calendar on a Sunday to meet with, apparently, Chris Christie? How does Christie deny that the guy had him penciled in for a meeting? KATZ: Yes, this was as "bridge-gate" was breaking, Wildstein put on his calendar a Sunday afternoon meeting in the town where Christie lives (INAUDIBLE) across the street from the church where Christie goes. Christie says this -- Christie`s spokesman said this meeting definitely did not happen. But there`s all kinds of just strange notations in these calendars that you don`t know what is true or not. And we were able to line up some things to confirm, and we were able to line up some things in the calenders to confirm that they did not happen. So, it`s unclear what a lot of these are. There`s also... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute. You can check on that restaurant. KATZ: Yes. MATTHEWS: That restaurant would certainly remember whether Chris Christie came pounding in the room. They would know he was meeting there if he did -- if that meeting really took place as it was scheduled, according to Wildstein. He would have been observed. He`s a hard guy to hide. KATZ: That`s true. We`re unable to track that down. Maybe you will have better luck than we have.   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: No, I just -- I love doing that stuff. KATZ: It`s the Black Horse Tavern in Mendham, yes. MATTHEWS: Well, call him up right now and find out if they remember an interesting-looking guy showing up with a guy named Wildstein. Anyway, we will be right back. Here it is, another question. Christie has gone to great lengths to distance himself from David Wildstein, the guy who is going to prosecute against -- or testify. Let`s take a listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We didn`t travel in the same circles in high school. You know, I was the class president and athlete. I don`t know what David was doing during that period of time. I have had no contact with David Wildstein in a long time, a long time, well before the election. I don`t even remember in the last four years even having a meeting in my office with David Wildstein. I may have, but I don`t remember it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: See, doesn`t that make you love this guy? To say, I was a jock and I was class president, I was a -- and this guy was on the chess team.   I mean, it was a direct shot. It`s like a late hit for high school. High school`s bad enough without putting up with this crap 20 or 30 years later. And we all know that. Your thoughts. What a way to ingratiate yourself with someone who is going to testify against you. He was a nerd, and I was cool. (CROSSTALK) KORNACKI: In some ways -- in some ways, I guess we never grow out of high school. But it also gets to the very human element of all this. And that`s what I was saying a minute ago, when, again, you look at a statement like that. There was also a statement that was put out somewhat mysteriously through Chris Christie`s office that blasted David Wildstein over his conduct as a student in high school going back 30 years. You look at all the things that Chris Christie has said about Bridget Kelly, calling her a liar, questioning her integrity in every possible way. These are human beings ultimately who he`s saying these things about, and people who were part of his administration who were loyal to him politically before all of this. And, again, we have not heard from them publicly through all of this. I would imagine that if and when we finally do hear from them, the way they have been treated is going to affect the way they talk about Chris Christie. And that in turn is going to affect the way Chris Christie is perceived in all of this. MATTHEWS: I like the way you tell that story. I hope it`s as good as you said it. You`re selling it, Steve. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: You`re selling a good story. I hope -- hey, Matt, we will have more time for you next time. Thanks so much for coming on, Matt Katz. Up next, well, what the troubled city of Ferguson needs to do to correct its problems. Can they correct them? It seems like there are ways to do it, because experts have been talking about what they have to do.   And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, remained calm last night in the wake of the shooting earlier Thursday -- or actually Thursday morning - - that wounded two police officers. Whoever did that is still at large today, as the manhunt continues. Police say they have leads, but an arrest is not imminent. It`s been a turbulent time for the city of Ferguson, of course, over the last seven months. The small Missouri city has brought long-simmering grievances about race inequity to the forefront of the national conversation. How does Ferguson move forward? That`s my question. Last night, Lieutenant Jerry Lohr of the Saint Louis police started that conversation. He spoke with reporters about repairing the relationship between the police and the community. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LT. JERRY LOHR, SAINT LOUIS COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: You can`t snap your fingers and make it all go away. So it`s going to take time. And both sides have to be willing to take steps forward. And both steps -- both sides have to be willing to compromise and be understanding. And that`s something that is built over time. It does not happen overnight. QUESTION: We`re not at that point yet? LOHR: No, I think we`re getting there, slowly.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, a report in "USA Today" titled "Nine Solutions to Fix Ferguson" asked public officials and law enforcement experts from around the country to weigh in on this conversation. I`m joined right now by one of the officials featured in the article, and appropriately so, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, as well as state Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal of Missouri, and professor Eugene O`Donnell with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a former officer with the New York Police Department. Tonight will be unusual. Madam Mayor, thank you. I want each of you to take a couple minutes and give me your best advice for Ferguson. You first, Madam, Madam Mayor. STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), MAYOR OF BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: I think the officer that spoke has it right. You have to be willing to have the tough conversations. We have done it in Baltimore. I spoke to community leaders, who said that they were very concerned about the police looking at them as perpetrators and not partners. We had to broach that conversation with the community. We had nine meetings throughout each police district in the city to hear from community members. It wasn`t easy. They were tough conversations. Sometimes, it got rough. But if you want to be in real relationship, you have to get that done. And then after you hear from people, you have to make changes. So even after we made reforms, I stepped even further and recruited the Department of Justice COPS program to come help us with our community policing reforms and hold us accountable. So, people have to see that you`re not only listening, but you hear enough to make the appropriate changes.   MATTHEWS: Let me go to Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who is a state senator. You`re an elected official. So, you know what it`s like to get votes, and you talk to people all the time. What are they willing to hear and believe of that change? MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL (D), MISSOURI STATE SENATOR: Well, first of all -- first of all, here`s what I would say. When possible, police officers need to live in the communities in which they serve. Secondly, for any police department that looks anything like Ferguson, there should be sociologists who are on staff to serve as interpreters between the police officers and the community. And, thirdly, one of the things that we should be focusing on is having training not only for elected leaders, but also police officers, when it comes to cultural competency. There has been a lot of excessive silence while excessive force has been used and exercised in Ferguson. And, furthermore, I would say it is important for people to, obviously, have representative policing, but that`s a no-brainer. That`s low-hanging fruit. MATTHEWS: OK. CHAPPELLE-NADAL: If you have police officers who look like the community without the proper training, it means absolutely nothing. So I would start in those places. MATTHEWS: I want to quickly -- I want to -- give me an example where there`s bad communication, where a decent cop is trying to do his or her job and a community person, an individual somehow gets a different message. Tell me about the miscommunication, if there is one. CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Well, I can tell you, the first five days, Chris, there was total miscommunication, when you have tanks and you have excessive force that`s used against your community that has been wounded for generations at a time. These are people who have been injured. What should have happened, at the very beginning, there should have been psychologists and sociologists, counselors who were on the ground when Michael Brown was laying on that ground for four-and-a-half-hours. It is inexcusable. When there are instances of school shootings, you have school counselors who are there on the ground. There are children and family who had to endure four-and-a- half-hours of looking at a dead body.   MATTHEWS: I agree. CHAPPELLE-NADAL: And this is just an additional injury. MATTHEWS: That`s a good point. I hope we all remember what that looked like and what signal that sent. Anyway, Marc Morial of the National Urban League has another approach to fixing the problems of Ferguson. Here`s what he told "USA Today." "I believe the Ferguson Police Department should be disbanded. Fixing a police department is not rocket science, but it requires fresh leadership and a commitment to reform." Well, that`s pretty dramatic. Let me go to Eugene O`Donnell, professor, on this. What do we do? And I`m not an expert, but I`m a generalist, but L.A., I think, is a lot better than it was at the time of the O.J. Simpson situation, where you had all that suspicion, which of course Johnnie Cochran was able to use in the defense, because it was -- it made people believe -- people already believed what he was saying about the behavior of the cops. So, now I think they have fixed a lot of their problems. Is it fixable in Ferguson in the same way? EUGENE O`DONNELL, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: I mean, it may be a question about what legislators -- legislatures should be disbanded also. But putting that aside, obviously, we have too many police departments in the country. Too many police departments are walled off, not only from the community, but even from themselves. Ferguson is definitely a case for perhaps looking at it -- for sunsetting that agency.   Two things in right Justice Department that are just totally unconscionable. Jaywalking enforcement, 95 percent of people were African- Americans. And they were not only making illegal stops, but they were documenting illegal stops. And it does kind of remind you of like a RadioShack management mentality, where you walk in and you talk to the chief, and he`s -- some of the chiefs, they are saying, problem? What problem? We`re getting along well with the community. So, I think you definitely need to get some drastic reforms that might include closing down police departments. MATTHEWS: OK. Thanks so much, everybody. Mayor, thank you very much. By the way, what would be a better position to hold to help America, senator or governor for you, for example? (LAUGHTER) RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I like the job I have. MATTHEWS: What would be a stronger position for you? (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Oh, come on.   RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I like the job that I have. MATTHEWS: You`re not going to stay there long. I don`t believe that. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: But thank you for coming on. RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Thank you. MATTHEWS: A very popular mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, from Baltimore, as we pronounce it. RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Thank you. MATTHEWS: State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, thank you for your thoughts. CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Thank you. MATTHEWS: And Eugene O`Donnell. Up next, while Chris Christie struggles, Scott Walker is taking off. He`s -- he and Jeb Bush have taken their heavyweight fight to New Hampshire. I like they`re duking that out. We like that here. And now Walker is claiming the title. You never do this. He`s calling himself the front-runner. That`s like Bill O`Reilly calling himself a celebrity.   You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. An American health care worker infected with the Ebola virus is in serious condition at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. The patient arrived from Sierra Leone earlier today. President Obama was in Phoenix, where he met with the parents of Kayla Mueller, the aid worker who died last month while being held by ISIS in Syria. And Omar Gonzalez, the man who jumped the White House fence and made it all the way into the Executive Mansion, has pleaded guilty to two federal charges. He will be sentenced in June and could face up to 18 months in prison -- back to HARDBALL. MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the dogfight for the Republican nomination heads to New Hampshire now. Rick Perry hits the Granite State for a two-day swing up there. Ted Cruz is on his way. But the heavyweight clash everyone will be watching is the matchup between Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Both are visiting New Hampshire now for the first time in years. Our NBC News poll from last month had Bush with a three-point lead over Walker, and Rand Paul within striking distance. But since then, Walker has been rising in the national polls. Walker wasn`t afraid to put the target on his back this week when he declared himself -- nobody does this -- the front-runner in the Republican race. And he went after Bush in an interview published today, calling Jeb old news. Well, that`s a knock. "We had Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney. If it`s just another whoever`s next up, that hasn`t worked so well for the Republican Party in the past. I just think voters are going to look at it and say, if we`re running against Hillary Clinton, we will need a name from the future, not a name from the past, to win." Well, it`s getting nasty out there. One of Walker`s key -- one of Walker`s key supporters in New Hampshire, the former state Senator Jim Luther, said these fighting words about Jeb. "I wish he`d listened to his mommy, who said we have had enough Bushes in the White House."   Well, that`s fairly nasty. James Pindell is political reporter for "The Boston Globe." He joins us from Manchester, New Hampshire. Thank you, James. What does it look like? I just have a real thinking that if Bush doesn`t win up there next year, he`s not winning anywhere. He`s not going anywhere. He`s got the most on the line up there. JAMES PINDELL, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": That`s right. Absolutely. This is a must-win state for him. But it`s also of course a must-win state for Chris Christie, possibly even Rand Paul. And what Scott Walker is trying to do here, right, is to put himself in a position to win the New Hampshire primary if he wins Iowa. And, of course, if you win Iowa and then with that momentum win New Hampshire, it`s game over. MATTHEWS: Really? Doesn`t he have to still win down where it`s more hawkish in South Carolina and prove he`s the hawkish guy? PINDELL: Yes, sure, but, I mean, he is going to have the money, he is going to have the momentum. A number of these other candidates will be dropping out. Obviously, this is a different path because Jeb Bush is going to have a lot of money, he`s going to be able to be in South Carolina. But if Jeb Bush, as you just said, loses New Hampshire, loses Iowa, it`s going to be pretty tough for him to come back in South Carolina. MATTHEWS: Boy, is it tough? You just nailed winning the daily double is pretty tough, because it`s really hard. I`m trying to think back. Help me. Who is last candidate on the Republican side to win Iowa and New Hampshire in a row, both? PINDELL: Yes. No one -- no one has ever done that.   (LAUGHTER) PINDELL: We thought Mitt Romney had done that, pulled that off last time. But no one has ever pulled that off. Of course, on the Democratic side, it`s a bit different. MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much, James Pindell of "The Globe." Let me begin tonight`s roundtable. Here they are, Perry Bacon, MSNBC -- or NBC News senior political reporter. Sam Stein, he`s with the senior politics editor -- he actually is -- for Huffington Post. And A.B. Stoddard is columnist with "The Hill." That`s a newspaper on Capitol Hill. Anyway, this thing, let me get into this, Walker, front-runner. PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Who calls himself the front-runner? That`s so bizarre. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Bill O`Reilly calls himself a celebrity. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I mean, I`m just saying. I`m just saying. I think he is. I don`t think he should have said it. But I think there`s something. He`s got the specs, governor. Obama wasn`t a governor, so they want a governor. As David -- as Axelrod, David Axelrod, said, if you want to pick a candidate, pick the guy who is not like the one who is in office, because that`s who everybody wants.   He`s an evangelical. He`s Baptist. He`s a taxpayer kind of guy, cutting taxes, taking on the unions, but mainly cutting taxes, or defending the tax. I think he`s got the specs. What do you think? BACON: It`s hard to call him the front-runner, when Bush is going to have $60 million in three weeks. MATTHEWS: Yes? BACON: So, you got -- you got that factor going with you. And also, Bush`s father and brother were president. I mean, a lot of Republicans are voting with Bushes a long time. I still think Bush and Walker are the co-leaders and Rubio after that, but I wouldn`t say Walker is the front-runner. MATTHEWS: Ah, I think -- (INAUDIBLE) I don`t think the grassroots of Republican Party particularly is fond to the establishment in either party. STEIN: No, obviously not. You`ve seen that with Jeb`s difficulty in launching himself in these early polls. I think Jeb/Walker battle is interesting, to the extent that Walker has been very willing to, let`s say, evolve on his positions. Immigration reform, for instance, one of these things where he just essentially moved away from his embrace of a comprehensive immigration plan. (CROSSTALK) STEIN: But that`s why I disagree (ph) because Jeb has said, you know, I`m going to try to stick to my principles and see if I can sell them in the primary. We`ll see if that works. MATTHEWS: OK. The only thing you know about Bush is his last name and what they disagree on. They don`t like Common Core. They don`t like immigration.   STEIN: Sure, yes. MATTHEWS: It`s not complicated. So what they know about him, they don`t like. What do they like about him? STEIN: Well, they probably mean -- this goes back to having a winnable, electable Republican, right? (CROSSTALK) STEIN: Romney won the nomination essentially because -- they didn`t like Mitt Romney, but they thought he was electable. So, they went with him. MATTHEWS: Who was he running against? STEIN: The great Herman Cain. MATTHEWS: Santorum and Newt Gingrich, they couldn`t be president. A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL COLUMNIST: The party has picked the candidate for 30 years or more. And so, it is true, he has not convinced the voters yet and not energized the grassroots. But when you sweep up all the best staff and you sweep up all the money, it`s because people think you`re the best shot. So, he`s working on retail. I think it`s good that he`s invested in that. You see him staying in rooms until the last person leave, taking all the questions, not being afraid, not being elitist, not being Hillary Clinton. I think that works for him. Scott Walker is the only guy right now that unites the party, but he should never say bad things about Bush this early. He has a long time to become front-runner. The best thing for him to do is excite audiences, stand in the background, he`s running against a juggernaut. That puts the spotlight on him, and he`s already made mistakes, Bush hasn`t. Scott Walker should save his words for later.   MATTHEWS: I guess I`ve seen guys that are unbeatable and front runners, like Ed Muskie could not be beaten in `72, could not be beaten. Every single person in Washington want to work for him, all the money was going his way. Along came George McGovern with a point of view, somebody he believed in and blew him right away. STEIN: Let me ask you something, what is the biggest upset in Republican presidential primary history that you can think of? MATTHEWS: Well, the late entry of Eisenhower came from out of nowhere. He won the war in Europe, but he came out of nowhere. (CROSSTALK) STEIN: Yes. MATTHEWS: Goldwater. Goldwater was way back behind Rockefeller the year before and Rockefeller had the divorce and the wife left the kids. STEIN: But in recent times there have not been sort of -- MATTHEWS: Well, for me it is recent times. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: While touring New Hampshire today, Bush was asked to respond to -- I`m talking about present experience -- Walker`s comments that he`s the front-runner, let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   REPORTER: Scott Walker is also here in New Hampshire today. And he called himself a possible front-runner. Do you think that`s a premature assessment? How do you judge it? JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Well, I`m not a candidate, I don`t -- maybe he is, I don`t know. But I`m not -- you can`t be a front- runner until you start running. So -- REPORTER: And how would you evaluate your strengths going into this? BUSH: I don`t evaluate it. I`m joyfully pursuing the possibility of this, and I will do so at some point and then I`ll go at it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: One advantage of being joyfully interested and not running is you can raise all the super PAC money you want because you don`t a campaign, right, A.B.? That`s a great advantage. STODDARD: And also he doesn`t handicap his own chances. When he`s on the phone with donors and telling staffers, if you go with another campaign, try to call back to me later, he`s actually handicapping his chances. MATTHEWS: So, make your bet, who is the nominee? Ruin your life. BACON: Jeb Bush is the favorite. STEIN: I have no idea. No idea. MATTHEWS: That`s a generational answer, by the way. Ten years ago nobody said I have no idea. I have no idea. I have no idea.   (CROSSTALK) BACON: We have some idea. It`s not going to be Ted Cruz. STODDARD: I think it`s probably between Bush and Walker. I think Rand Paul`s going to mass in delegates and make a lot of trouble. I think there will be a lot of ups and downs. MATTHEWS: I think if Bush gets the nomination, he`s Hillary Clinton`s insurance policy because you can`t run against the oldie yesterday -- STODDARD: She wants him. BACON: That`s what Scott Walker said. That`s going to be a big part of the campaign Scott Walker say, I`m not Bush, and the Bush-Clinton -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That`s really complicated. People got to do a lot of thinking before they vote. All this strategizing. The roundtable is staying with us. Coming up, our next president -- actually next, President Obama laughs at the birthers with Jimmy Kimmel, who`s getting really good, Kimmel. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.   (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, it turns the liberals may be happier than conservatives. For decades, more conservatives than liberals told researchers they`re happy. But a new study in the journal "Science" finds the opposite may be true. Researchers examined 18 years and 340 million words entered into the congressional record. And they found that liberal politicians were more likely to use positive language. What`s more -- they examined photographs of more than 500 members of Congress. They found that conservative politicians were less likely to smile. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIMMY KIMMEL, TV HOST: You ever drive? BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cannot drive. I mean -- (LAUGHTER) OBAMA: I`m able to drive. KIMMEL: Is that because you didn`t have a birth certificate?   (LAUGHTER) OBAMA: In Kenya, we drive on the other side. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: That is really funny. That was a clip of President Obama appearing on Jimmy Kimmel`s late night show yesterday. In fact, over the years, the president has shown a comfort level with pop culture. He slowed jam the news with Jimmy Fallon, he appeared multiple times on Jay Leno`s "Tonight Show", and then he took over Stephen Colbert`s anchor chair one night, held his own with Jon Stewart. He`s also appeared on humorous skits for "Funny or Die" and BuzzFeed, of course. Last night, President Obama played along with one of Kimmel`s favorite bit, reading mean tweets about himself. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: "Is there any way we can fly Obama to some golf course halfway around the world and just leave him there?" Well, rwsurfergirl, I think that is a good idea. "A 30 rack of Coors Light is $23 now at Sun Stop. Thanks, Obama." "Somebody send Obama some like hacks on how to be a good president. Haha. Like I bet that would help. LOL." You know, the LOL is redundant when you have the haha.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Pretty cool. We`re back now with our roundtable, Perry, Sam and A.B. He can do that really well, and how come he can`t do some other things? I mean, that`s really good. I mean, that back and forth and with Kimmel said, that was brilliant -- you`re a foreigner in other words, and that is why you are not having a driver`s license. BACON: And I like having a president who can make fun of himself a little bit. You know, Bush is like that, too. I`m a little worried so far, maybe Scott Walker and Jeb Bush are not that funniest of guys in the world, and Hillary Clinton only on Tuesdays. But I like it that Obama has. I also like the fact they`re talking to different kinds of media. He shocked "The New York Times", "The Washington Post", NBC News, obviously. But it`s good that he reaches out to the other people. He talks to ESPN a lot. That`s good, I think that is good. MATTHEWS: The quick wit. It`s still a quick wit, the ability to come back on that things, like Kimmel did, like he did, back and forth, shows you about truth and self-knowledge, because you don`t need prep, you don`t need somebody to help, you don`t need spin. He has that amazing -- somebody, a Canadian pollster one said, passion, motive (ph) and the spontaneity is what is key to politic. Spontaneity is rare. Reagan has some of it before, and he actually did have, and Kennedy, a lot of it, very rare in politics. STEIN: It also takes an incredible amount of confidence to not doubt that you`re going to bomb when you give that quick wit answer and I think this president -- MATTHEWS: They`re called gaffes usually. STEIN: Yes, exactly, right? I think this president doesn`t lack confidence. MATTHEWS: But he`s so smart, I know if you`re going to say, Matthews says how smart the president. I`m not saying that he is brilliant on everything or competent on everything, but there`s a quick brain there. Your thought?   STODDARD: You know, any American who has watched him at the American correspondence dinner, his comedic dinner is unbelievable. MATTHEWS: Yes, but somebody writes that stuff. STODDARD: It doesn`t matter. It`s really hard to deliver it. It`s really hard to deliver it. And it`s true, going and having a spontaneous conversation on a show like that with a comedian where you can be caught looking dorky is really risky. And I think any president of ours going forward in this day and age where most Americans watch these shows should do it only if they`re funny. And if they`re not, they -- STEIN: But how will you know unless you try? STODDARD: I think Hillary Clinton shouldn`t do it. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Michelle Obama -- here is Michelle Obama, who I wish we saw more of her, and I wish I knew I could have an interview with her. I wish I know her more. I think she looks great and attractive person, very smart, very capable, does great honor to the office, but doesn`t do much of this. But here she is, she taped an appearance on Ellen DeGeneres, her show, to promote her Let`s Move Campaign, get kids moving campaign, and yes, it included some dancing. Here she is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ELLEN DEGENERES, TV HOST: I have tried to learn the dance, and that is the challenge, and you have learned I assume? MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Yes, I`ve been -- you know, I am busy, too, you know? (MUSIC)   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Pretty impressive, and the first lady`s dance was good, but it wasn`t the best way, back in 2008, Ellen told me, I gave her the best dance ever. Let`s take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEGENERES: And please welcome, Chris Matthews. (CHEERS) (MUSIC) DEGENERES: That was the best dance ever. MATTHEWS: That is too physical. DEGENERES: Wow, that was the best dance I`ve ever had. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I would call that a clutch play.   STEIN: What is that dance move? (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Well, it`s silly dog (ph). It was very big before you were born, before you were a conception, that dance was very hot. (CROSSTALK) STODDARD: I`m glad that you played because I was going to bring it up. MATTHEWS: Actually, she has played it a number of times, and no hard feelings. Thank you, by the way, it`s a great show, and she is fantastic. Anyway, thank you, Perry Bacon. Thank you, Sam Stein. Thank you, A.B. Stoddard. And up next, actually, next Tuesday, St. Patrick`s Day, catch this? I am getting ready early with my St. Patrick`s Day tie, of course. When we return, let me finish with Bill Kristol and the neocons. You`re going to like this. Best of the Irish to you, Bill. Anyway, we`re watching HARDBALL altogether here, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   MATTHEWS: Let me finish with this tonight: President Obama has said that he is embarrassed for 47 Republican senators, most of whom got snookered into the letter to the ayatollahs. Well, I would be embarrassed, too, when it emerged that the man behind the letter was the country`s number one cheerleader for the Iraq war. Here they are pretending to be independent-minded American conservatives caught being ready acolytes of Mr. Neocon. Don`t they have any pride? Don`t Republicans want to be known as thinking Americans, people who care about this country, protecting itself? Why would they want to be suckers for the latest propaganda move by the neoconservatives? Is this Mitch McConnell`s way of leading from behind? I`m sorry, that`s Bill Kristol, his fundraising group, and his magazine doing the leading from behind. First, he does 20 articles promoting an unknown congressman from Arkansas, much as he once pushed a nice-looking senator from Indiana, and once pushed a politician from Alaska to sing his song for him. He then, quote, "consults", close-quote, his rural buddy into circulating a letter to 46 other Republican senators, then has him called for regime change. If I wasn`t watching or paying attention, I`d be thinking this was W. all over again, and thinly aware (ph) of recruit that Kristol`s op-ed writing, letter writing, cotillion. This is the neoconservatives M.O. to a T, with yet another rural personality to join the team of Quayle, Palin and W. He may not have a war coming, but Kristol certainly got the cheerleaders lined up. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>