CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: What happened in that cockpit? This is HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. That`s the center of the mystery right now in today`s crash over the Alps. Why were the pilots unable to steer that plane to a safe landing? If it was a pressurization emergency, why didn`t they simply descend to a lower altitude? Why were they heading into the mountains? A hundred and forty- four passengers and six crew members were on board that Germanwings flight 9525, an Airbus A32 operated by Lufthansa, traveling from Barcelona to Germany, when 45 minutes into the journey, it crashed into a remote area of the French Alps. Well, the aircraft had been causing -- cruising this morning at an altitude of 38,000 feet at 10:27 AM local time. At 10:31, it began a rapid but orderly descent. In less than 10 minutes, at 10:40 AM, the flight descended 30,000 feet to an altitude of just 6,800 feet -- that`s a drop of 4,000 feet per minute -- before it slammed into a mountain in southern France. No distress signal was ever sent from the cockpit, but the plane`s black box has been recovered and sent to Paris, where French aviation officials are reviewing it right now. French officials tell NBC News that we should have answers tomorrow morning. NBC News chief global correspondent Bill Neely is near the crash site in France. Bill, let`s go to you first. What is it about this situation that has caused this mystery? Is it what I asked about, the plane not going to a lower cruising altitude, why were they heading into the mountains, et cetera, et cetera? BILL NEELY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good evening, Chris. I mean, it`s a crash that really does have the experts absolutely baffled, the plane apparently flying normally in perfectly good weather that was seen by another Air France pilot -- he said the weather was perfect, really -- that suddenly, plummets more than 30,000 feet in 10 minutes, unimaginable for those on board. I`m at rescue headquarters. As you can see, it`s nightfall now. The weather has deteriorated slightly. The search has been suspended until first light, the search that began today for clues and for the dead. What we do know are those terrible statistics, 150 on board, of whom 67 at least were German, 45 Spanish. There were also Turks, a Belgian, we believe some British people on board, 144 passengers in total, as well as those two pilots and four crew. The pilots -- the chief pilot was an experienced man. He had more than 10 years` experience. The plane itself -- it was aging a little. It was 24 years old, so certainly, the oldest plane in the Germanwings fleet, but it had been serviced routinely only yesterday and it had a full service two years ago. So there was nothing to suggest there was anything wrong with the plane itself. And as you say, it took off from Barcelona at 10:00. Half an hour later, that moment when everyone relaxes, it`s flying at its cruising altitude. But here`s the key thing. It was only at that cruising altitude for something like between one and three minutes when it began that -- what you described as that steady but fairly rapid descent of 3,000 to 4,000 feet every minute, until, as I say, after 10 agonizing minutes for the people on board, it crashed into that mountainside. And the scene there is really terrible. It looks from the helicopter almost like those white specks could be snow. They`re not. They`re the tiniest pieces of debris from that plane. Apparently, nothing bigger than a car was found. And only a couple of rescuers have actually got up there on their feet so far. But the good thing, if there is a good thing so far about this, is that one of the two flight data recorders has been found. The cockpit voice recorder has been found. And obviously, the priority for those searchers tomorrow will be to find the second of those recorders. But it does suggest, Chris, that possibly, as I think you said, that there could be some answers fairly soon to this mystery because, of course, that cockpit voice recorder will not only pick up what the pilots were saying to each other and to the control tower, but also any ambient sound from within the cockpit, anything -- for example, a flight attendant coming in and saying that there was something untoward or unusual in the main body of the plane. But as you say, Chris, at the moment, it is an extraordinary mystery. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, NBC`s Bill Neely, who`s right there near the crash site in France. Joining me right now is NBC`s Tom Costello, Michael Goldfarb, former chief of staff at the Federal Aviation Administration, and Michael Kay, former senior officer in the British air force. Gentlemen, let me start with my colleague, Tom. Tom, the questions have been raised all day about the -- was there an incapacitation of the pilots in the cockpit? Do we know anything about what their condition was at the time of this -- when the crash began? TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT: No, we don`t. And the reason everybody is asking that is because, why would you only stay at 38,000 feet for one to three minutes, and then, it appears, program into your autopilot a controlled but rapid descent at 4,000 feet per minute down to 6,000 feet, and over that entire period, never key your mike, never say to air traffic control, We`ve got a problem, mayday, nothing of that order at all. We had an initial, very early report that, in fact, there may have been a computer-coded message via the transponder of a distress call, but that turns out to not be the case. So it appears that there was literally radio silence from this plane from 38,000 feet all the way down until it hit the mountain. That would therefore suggest to some investigators and some pilots that the crew simply was either so busy dealing with whatever emergency was on their hands that they couldn`t talk on the microphone, or they were incapacitated, maybe due to hypoxia, maybe due to some sort of a smoke event. If it was hypoxia, if they had a decompression event and they realized it at 38,000 feet, the normal course of action is don your oxygen masks immediately, tell the people in the back, your passengers, to get their masks on, and then you drop down to 10,000 feet and you level off because people can breathe the air at 10,000 feet. So why did that not happen? Why did they continue descending beyond 10,000 feet? Was it because, when they -- if they realized they had an emergency, they were already hypoxic -- in other words, not able to think clearly? Because hypoxia sets in very quickly. It can -- at first, you`re not making very rational decisions. It`s almost as if you`re double drunk, if you will, and then you can lose consciousness. This is all in the realm of speculation, but the reason that people are speculating like this is because of that eight-minute descent, controlled descent, and yet no communication whatsoever, and then flying into a mountain has a lot of people wondering if that`s the scenario we`re looking at. MATTHEWS: Thanks, Tom. Let me bring in Michael Goldfarb. You know, when I first heard this this morning, I thought Egyptair. MICHAEL GOLDFARB, FMR. FAA CHIEF OF STAFF: Right. MATTHEWS: I don`t know why. It`s the conditions we live in. This is the world we live in with terrorism always sitting out there. GOLDFARB: Well, I know the White House said there`s no evidence of foul play, terrorism or anything, but there`s -- MATTHEWS: Well, there`s no evidence, period. GOLDFARB: Right. We don`t know -- all we know is it -- MATTHEWS: What do you make of what Tom was just reporting -- GOLDFARB: Well -- MATTHEWS: -- Tom Costello, that there was a controlled descent? GOLDFARB: I mean -- MATTHEWS: It wasn`t like -- it wasn`t a dive bomb -- (CROSSTALK) GOLDFARB: Right, which is puzzling everybody. There was a controlled descent, but quite frankly, we don`t know what caused it. We don`t know -- and to what degree the pilots were incapacitated, where they were incapacitated -- MATTHEWS: Yes. GOLDFARB: -- and, in fact, if they even had -- knew what was going on. Were they spatially disoriented? MATTHEWS: That`s what -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let me go to Michael -- Michael Kay. Michael, your thoughts about this. It`s -- only got a minute now. MICHAEL KAY, FMR. BRITISH OFFICER: Well, Chris, yes, I want to zone in on the aviate-navigate-communicate piece, which is the mantra and the protocol that pilots have drummed into them when they`re going through training, through simulator practices. What I find perplexing and what I find perplexing as an investigator is that the aircraft descended from 38,000 feet to below 10,000 in eight minutes, and its mean speed descending from over 600 knots down to below 200 knots in that time. That would give it a mean speed over the period of around 300 to 400 knots, which is around 5 to 6 miles a minute, which over eight minutes is around 40 to 50 miles. If you then track back 40 to 50 miles from the point of impact, that places is the aircraft in between Marseille and Nice. And the mantra about navigate the airplane is as soon as you`ve got the airplane under control in the emergency condition, you turn it towards the nearest diversion airfield -- MATTHEWS: Sure. KAY: -- and you would also be turning it away from high ground. It doesn`t seem to have happened. The radar trace continues going on along the projected flight path, which is incredibly perplexing, given that, as Tom has already alluded to -- MATTHEWS: OK -- KAY: -- there was no radio transmission, and now it seems there was no transponder transmission, either, of the emergency code, which is 7700. MATTHEWS: Well, I guess we`re going to have to get up early tomorrow morning and hear what the recordings are in the box. I hope we get the answer early tomorrow, not tonight. Thank you, Tom Costello, as always, my colleague, Michael Goldfarb and Michael Kay. We`re going to get back to HARDBALL in a moment with more politics tonight the rest of the night on our show. And coming up, Ted Cruz running for president, and Democrats couldn`t be, well, happier in a weird way. But Republicans could cause some trouble. Plus, the U.S. Supreme Court lets Wisconsin`s voter ID law stand. What`s that mean to going into 2016? Does it give Republicans an edge in the polls? I think so. And "The Wall Street Journal" reports that Israel has been spying on the nuclear talks with Iran and then has used that information to lobby Congress to sink the deal. That`s coming up with our great roundtable tonight, including Bob Woodward. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with what happens to be the Republican strategy to offset demographic change in this country. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Look who`s turning to "Obama care" for health insurance needs. Texas senator Ted Cruz. Cruz has been one of "Obama care`s" loudest critics, calling it a train wreck and promising to repeal every page of it. He`s been on his wife`s health insurance through her job at Goldman Sachs, but she`s taking a leave of absence now that he`s announced his presidential campaign, so the Cruz family is no longer covered. So now Cruz says he`ll go on the federal exchange under "Obama care" and sign up for health care. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, he doesn`t believe in science. He`s tried to derail every major piece of legislation in the U.S. Senate. He conducts hearings like Joe McCarthy. He says the president was educated by communists, and he wants to dismantle the U.S. government. Well, this is the unsettling reality of Ted Cruz, who wants to be your next president. I think he`s the problem, not the solution. Republican congressman of New York Peter King said he`d rather jump off a bridge than support Cruz. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: To me, he`s just a guy with a big mouth and no results. WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Would you support him if he were the GOP nominee? KING: I just hope that day never comes. I`ll jump off that bridge when we come to it. (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: That`s a mixed metaphor! Anyway, Senator Cruz is reveling in the role of destroyer. Yesterday, he announced his candidacy by putting out a list of government agencies he would get rid of. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Imagine in 2017 a new president signing legislation repealing every word of "Obama care"! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) CRUZ: Imagine abolishing the IRS! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) CRUZ: Imagine repealing every word of Common Core! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) CRUZ: We will get back and restore that shining city on a hill that is the United States of America! Thank you! And God bless you! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, there he is giving blessings to a bunch of students who were told if they didn`t show up, they`d have to pay 10 bucks. Kind of an interesting way to get a crowd, great advance work there for him. Anyway, "Obama care," the IRS, the Common Core might be just the beginning for Cruz to get rid of. When he ran for the Senate in 2012, he told a crowd of Tea Party Republicans that abolishing the IRS -- the IRS -- was just the beginning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: We need to eliminate unnecessary and unconstitutional agencies! We need to eliminate the Department of Education! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) CRUZ: We need to eliminate the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the National Endowment of the Arts! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) CRUZ: And I`ll tell you (INAUDIBLE) to eliminate is the IRS! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Anyway, Howard Dean was DNC chair. He was governor of Vermont, of course, a presidential candidate in 2004. Perry Bacon`s an NBC News senior political reporter. Gentlemen, I don`t know how to cover this guy because he gives us all the information we need. He wants to get rid of everything. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He votes against every nomination for everybody. He is unbelievable. He`s a black hole. HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), FMR. GOVERNOR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he`s not going to win, but he`s going to be a lot of fun and he`s going to provide a lot of fireworks. And the problem is, for the other people in the field, they need the 15 percent or 20 percent of the vote that he can get in the primary. It`s going to skew the field in some way that he could actually result in the election Jeb Bush, the nomination of Jeb Bush. MATTHEWS: So what happens if we have Jeb Bush debating this guy, having to be his punching bag for a couple months? Because he will go after Bush. DEAN: He certainly will. And his -- there was an article today about his -- you know, his guru, who`s apparently one of the meanest guys you ever saw, who comes out of Missouri, name of Roe (ph). And you know, it`s going to be a hell of a primary on the Republican side once again. I don`t see how they run a primary without coming out of there really bloody. MATTHEWS: Yes, I -- Perry, that`s the question, of course. When you spent a couple months on these road trip debates, where you have 20 or 30 of them all on national television, this guy will be the show. And maybe if you get Donald Trump in there, you`ll have a two-ring circus. But it will be hard for people of limited craziness, people as sound as, say, Scott Walker -- you may disagree with him, but he`s not crazy -- and you get people like Jeb Bush in that room -- how do you get attention away from these characters? PERRY BACON, SENIOR NBC POLITICAL REPORTER: I think Jeb Bush is going to be comfortable. He`s already said, I`m going to run to try to win the -- win the general election (INAUDIBLE) lose the primary. So (INAUDIBLE) a debate where Cruz is saying, You`re for amnesty, you`re for amnesty, and Jeb Bush will say, Oh, OK, I guess I am. The real challenge -- MATTHEWS: How about, You married a Mexican? (CROSSTALK) BACON: I don`t think he`s going to say that! (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: -- say something -- OK, that may be crudely put, but he could well say something like, I know you have family concerns. Oh, he can put the knife in. BACON: He`ll put the knife in. The danger for -- I think is really for Scott Walker because -- DEAN: Right. I agree with that. BACON: -- Scott Walker wants to be the person who wins Iowa, and Cruz is going to push him every day, Will you abolish Commerce? What about the State Department? You can imagine -- MATTHEWS: OK, let me -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. In the end, don`t they want somebody to run the government? Or don`t they want somebody to run the government? DEAN: The Republicans do, but the problem is these guys get a real traction, and we saw this in the last -- you know, Romney clearly was competent and could run the government, but he was saying crazy stuff before he got to the general election -- BACON: Self-deportation. DEAN: -- self-deportation, I will veto the Dream Act, all this stuff, because he was pushed by people like Ted Cruz. And this field is more formidable in terms of their intellect than the last field. So I think -- MATTHEWS: You mean smarter than -- (CROSSTALK) DEAN: Yes, Cruz is smart. He`s nuts, but he`s smart. MATTHEWS: Well, that -- that -- that is the question. I was saying last night on the show -- check me on this, gentlemen -- I think the visceral hatred of Obama is so strong, and some of it, I think, may be ethnic. I think it`s just that they hate the guy. They hate his politics. They hate everything about him. They don`t like his family. They don`t like his face. They don`t like anything about him, these people on the right. They look at a guy like Cruz and he says, I hate him more than you do. Has that got an appeal? BACON: Oh, absolutely, I think, particularly in Iowa and South Carolina, you know, where you have these Tea Party people. That`s where Cruz can -- MATTHEWS: See, Jeb Bush doesn`t hate Obama. BACON: But he`s not going to win Iowa for that reason. (CROSSTALK) DEAN: I truly don`t thin -- I agree with you that that`s what the Republican Party looks like because the vocal people are the ones that get all the press. But I don`t think the average Republican has that much hate, I mean, but it`s a significant part of the party. I call it the hate wing of the Republican Party. And that is Ted Cruz`s territory, and nobody will compete with him. If that gives him 15 percent or 20 percent of the primary, he -- or a caucus, or whatever it is, he may not win, but he`s going to certainly skew the results of that. I think it may help Bush. MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) he had a little sparring partner today, Matt Lauer, of course, of the "TODAY" show, and he said to Matt this morning he`s a great compromiser, just like Ronald Reagan, he said. Well, let`s watch this argument with Matt Lauer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "TODAY": Will you bring that brand of no compromise to the White House if you`re elected? CRUZ: Well, Matt, let me disagree with the premise. I have never said I won`t compromise. And, in fact, from day one, when I was elected, I said my attitude on compromise is exactly the same as Ronald Reagan. Reagan said, what do you do if they offer you half-a-loaf? Answer, you take it, and then you come back for more. LAUER: But, shortly after you were elected, you also said -- quote -- "I don`t think what Washington needs is more compromise." CRUZ: Because what Washington does not often is, it compromises going backwards. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I don`t know what he means by that. Ronald Reagan cut a good deal on a pretty good tax reform bill in `86. He cut a deal that has saved Social Security all these years since. He compromised with my boss Tip O`Neill and Rostenkowski, people like that. He truly compromised. I don`t know what this forward and backward thing he`s talking about. What`s he`s talking about? DEAN: The biggest difference between him and Ronald Reagan is Ronald Reagan has served as governor for eight years, so he actually knew how the place worked. MATTHEWS: Yes. DEAN: He knows nothing. He`s been in the Senate for three years. All he has done is throw bombs, hasn`t gotten any bills passed at all. This is not a guy who truly understands government. Ronald Reagan did understand it. You may not like his conservative politics, but he understood government and he understood what it was to be a CEO. MATTHEWS: Well, my problem with the guy -- and I will keep bringing it up about the guy -- he goes out and accuses Obama of being under communist influence because he went to Harvard and he had communist professors. DEAN: He went to Harvard. Didn`t Ted Cruz go to Harvard? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He resisted it somehow. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: He goes after Chuck Hagel, who has two Purple Hearts from Vietnam, and says this guy is taking $200,000 from the Pyongyang, from the North Korean communists. He just throws that stuff out there like he -- I don`t think he`s aware. I will be kind here for three seconds. I don`t think he has any knowledge of the McCarthy period in this country, because he imitates the guy so blatantly. BACON: I disagree with you only because this is -- Ted Cruz is a really smart guy. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You mean he`s deliberately imitating McCarthy? BACON: I think he`s deliberately using inflammatory language at all times. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Call it red-baiting. BACON: I`m not going to go there. MATTHEWS: Well, what do you call it when you call Chuck Hagel taking money from the North Koreans? BACON: I would call it opportunism. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What do you call it when you call the guy and you say, to understand Obama, you have to understand the fact that there were more communist professors at Harvard than there were Republicans? What`s that say? What`s the message? BACON: He desperately wants to win and desperately wants power. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You`re afraid to say it. You`re afraid to hear what I`m saying, aren`t you? (CROSSTALK) BACON: No. I don`t think he has any tactic beyond gaining more power and winning. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I hear red-baiting. Anyway, Cruz, the senator, says the media paints him as a crazy guy with dynamite strapped to his chest. Well, actually, we do. Let`s watch. He got that right. (LAUGHTER) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: The media historically two caricatures of Republicans. We`re either stupid or evil. (CROSSTALK) SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": Or both. CRUZ: Or both. In the media`s telling, Reagan was stupid, George W. Bush was stupid, Dan Quayle was stupid. Nixon was evil. Dick Cheney was evil. By the way, stupid is better. If you`re picking one or the other, stupid is much better. HANNITY: It`s better than evil? CRUZ: Oh, yes. HANNITY: Yes. CRUZ: And I guess I take it as a little bit of a backhanded compliment that the media has to some extent invented a third caricature for me, which is crazy. HANNITY: OK, because you`re smart. You went to Harvard and Princeton -- or Harvard and -- yes, Princeton. CRUZ: Well, and so they do everything they can to paint me as a wild-eyed lunatic with dynamite strapped around my chest. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Do we call that an interview? What would you call that we just heard there? BACON: He did ask him if he was born in the U.S. or Canada. So, there was -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And what did they come up with as the significance for that? BACON: They came up with no significance of it, but he moved on quickly. Hannity kind of asked him in a joking way about the birtherism in terms of Ted Cruz. It was very polite, and not the way they treat President Obama, obviously. But Cruz, I can`t -- what he`s saying these last couple days, he`s for compromise? He led a government shutdown. I don`t -- does he think we have amnesia? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: And did you see his voting record on nominations against people that really aren`t that controversial, like John Kerry and people like that? He voted against every one of them. BACON: Every one. DEAN: This guy is a bomb thrower. He is going to be amusing. Nobody is going to take him seriously. People are vote for him because they`re emotional and they`re angry at Obama. MATTHEWS: Well, here he is last night going after Obama. Let`s watch Ted Cruz launching a missile here. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: I think Obamacare has been the biggest disaster, the biggest train wreck. I think President Obama has been the most lawless president we have ever had. It`s a bizarre Orwellian doublespeak, that this is a president who will not utter the words radical Islamic terrorism. The consistent pattern of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy has been abandoning our friends and allies, whether it`s Israel, whether it`s the U.K., whether it`s Canada, and coddling and appeasing our enemies. HANNITY: What do you think about the president and his treatment of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel? CRUZ: It is shameful. It is disgraceful. This administration has been the most antagonistic administration to Israel in the history of this country. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, you saw it. It was the complete -- he put -- just politically speaking here, with any value attached to this or un-value or demerits, every button for the evangelical right, every button, Israel ,the whole thing. Netanyahu. Netanyahu is a victim? Nobody thinks he`s a victim. (CROSSTALK) DEAN: Here`s what the problem is. The problem is, it`s contrary to what some people think. The Republican Party is not full of crazy people, and he is crazy. He`s not really crazy, but he`s appealing to people who are not quite all there. And that`s not the majority of the Republican Party. There`s no way he`s getting the nomination, but he is going to stir the pot. He`s going to change the dynamic in the campaign. BACON: But let me add, all the things he just said, Governor Walker agrees with all those things. I was with him in South Carolina. He said all those things. Repeal. Our foreign policy is terrible. We defended Netanyahu. The difference in policy between Scott Walker, the normal, moderate one, and Ted Cruz is very small on most issues. MATTHEWS: As the guy said in "Charlie Wilson`s War," we will see. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Because I have no idea how far he`s going to go in that party. Anyway, thank you, Howard Dean. Thank you, Perry Bacon. Up next: the Supreme Court`s decision to let Wisconsin`s voter I.D. law stand. It could have a wide impact on Hillary Clinton come 2016. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. The United States Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear a challenge to Wisconsin`s 2011 voter I.D. law, a move that allows now that controversial regulation to go into effect just in time for the 2016 presidential elections. And it could pave the way for voter I.D. laws in other states across the country. The Wisconsin case is a victory to the law`s Republican defenders, including Governor Scott Walker, who said: "This is great news for Wisconsin voters. This is a commonsense reform that protects the integrity of our voting process, making it easy to vote and hard to cheat." Well, but critics say that requiring a state-issued photo I.D. to vote is an unjustified burden that disproportionately affects African-Americans, the poor, and college students, most of whom vote Democratic, of course. When district Judge Lynn Adelman blocked the law last year, he estimated that approximately 300,000 registered voters in Wisconsin, roughly 9 percent of all registered voters in Wisconsin, lack a qualifying I.D. By comparison, President Obama, who won Wisconsin`s 10 electoral votes in 2012, beat Mitt Romney by a margin of about 200,000 votes. Well, based on that simple mast, the voter I.D. requirements could make Wisconsin, a state that hasn`t voted Republican since `84, a lot more competitive in 2016, easily so, in fact. Now Wisconsin will join seven other states with strict voter I.D. requirements. Among them, North Carolina and Virginia have been swing states in recent presidential elections. They matter. I`m joined right now by John Nichols of "The Nation" from Green Bay, as well as the ACLU`S Dale Ho. Gentlemen, starting with John and then Dale, tell me what the significance is. I`m looking at the map next year. I`m thinking that this is going to be a close presidential election. Hillary is popular now. She has the edge in the fight for the nomination. The Republican Party is all over the place, but I still think when it comes down to it next October and November, it is going to be a close national fight in the Electoral College. What does this do if we see this springing up of more of these voter I.D. laws, starting with the home of the Republican Party, Wisconsin, John? JOHN NICHOLS, "THE NATION": It`s a big deal, Chris. Chris, it`s a very big deal. And you mentioned the 2012 election. If you go back just a little way, to 2004 and 2000, Wisconsin had presidential race that were so close that 10,000, 12,000 votes were deciding that John Kerry won the state in `04 and that Al Gore won in 2000. This is a very, very closely divided state. And if you begin to mangle the voting processes, if you make it harder to mobilize voters before an election, you definitely have an impact. This voter I.D. law has been a top priority of Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans since they got control of the legislature. They have fought for it for four years. Now the court seems to have given it to them. And there was a reason they fought so hard. It wasn`t because Wisconsinites were crying out for it. There was no great mobilization on behalf of this law. It was because they knew that this was important to presidential politics. MATTHEWS: Dale, let me go to you, because in Pennsylvania, where I grew up, the big Republicans up there, Gleason and Turzai, these guys openly said, oh, boy, we have got a law. Fortunately, in that case, it was shot down by the courts, but the Republicans are pretty blatant about it. This is sort of a way to get -- to overcome the demographic changes in this country. This protects older white people against the new people of color. Your thoughts? It just does. DALE HO, DIRECTOR, ACLU VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT: Well, I think it`s really unfortunate that we`re in this place right now where politicians think that the way that they should try to win elections is instead of turning out their supporters or trying to convince people in the middle, instead of doing those things, which I think is really what democracy is all about, instead, they`re trying to prevent people on the other side who they think will support other candidates from voting. And it`s really a shame. As you noted, there were politicians in Pennsylvania who openly boasted that the purpose of their voter identification law was to try to deliver that state to Mitt Romney in 2012. MATTHEWS: OK. Well, gentlemen, I promise to keep talking about this, because I think defending the right to vote is American, and oppressing the right to vote is not. Anyway, thank you, John Nichols. Thank you, Dale Ho from the ACLU. Up next, a new report today that the Israelis have been spying on the Iranian nuclear talks, and then giving the information they got to Republicans in Congress in an effort to derail the whole thing. That`s next with the roundtable. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. U.S.-Israeli relations seem to be going from bad to worse. Yesterday, the White House chief of staff told a group of liberal supporters of Israel that the country`s occupation of West Bank lands must end. Well, today, a report in "The Wall Street Journal" said Israelis spied on negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program. And this afternoon, President Obama said the U.S. can`t pretend there`s a possibility of reaching even a two-state solution in the next several years. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Prime Minister Netanyahu in the election run-up stated that a Palestinian state would not occur while he was prime minister. And I took him at his word that that`s what he meant. Afterwards, he pointed out that he didn`t say never, but that there would be a series of conditions in which a Palestinian state could potentially be created. But, of course, the conditions were such that they would be impossible to meet anytime soon. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow. For their part, many Republicans -- many Republicans have celebrated Netanyahu`s political victory last week and have largely backed his position on the Iran talks altogether. One notable exception is former Secretary of State James A. Baker III. Last night, he spoke to the liberal pro-Israeli group J Street and said Netanyahu`s actions have harmed the prospect for reaching a peace deal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES BAKER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: In the aftermath of Netanyahu`s recent election victory, the chance of a two-state solution appears even slimmer, of course, given his reversal on the issue on the eve of Israel`s elections last week. Remember, three months after he first took office as his country`s prime minister in 2009, Netanyahu shared his vision for a two-state solution. Since then, his actions have not matched his rhetoric, as settlement construction has continued. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by tonight`s roundtable. Bob Woodward is assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post." Nedra Pickler is a White House correspondent for the Associated Press. And Ron Fournier is editorial director of "The National Journal." Bob, all our lives, we have been talking Middle East. It`s always been right at the top of our list to argue about, but I have never seen such an open argument about our policy. It`s almost like being in Israel, where they really do have open arguments. It`s OK now to take a position in the Democratic Party challenging the prime minister of Israel, it seems like. It`s all right to do it. BOB WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, it`s a serious breach, no question about it, but I don`t think it`s going to change the fundamentals. Israel needs the United States. The United States needs a democracy in the Middle East, and that`s the only one. So I don`t think it`s going to change -- to put it simply, it`s not going to go down in the history books. At this point -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, what about the chance of any kind of land for peace or land for justice arrangement, whereby we go back to something like it was before the `67 war? That seems to be off the table. The president made it clear. It`s gone. WOODWARD: Well, it`s been off the table since `67. (CROSSTALK) WOODWARD: I know. That`s the problem. I mean, all these people talk about, oh, let`s get this. And there`s Baker saying, very wisely, gee, it looks like we`re not going to get this. Well, Netanyahu has made that clear. MATTHEWS: Not always. WOODWARD: Yes, he`s kind of walking -- look, he made a political -- bold, raw political calculation to get reelected. And I can name another -- many, many other politicians -- MATTHEWS: Yes. WOODWARD: -- in this country who have done that. MATTHEWS: Yes, let`s talk about the problem of the world. We are pro- Israeli in this country. Bob`s right. It`s not going to change. We have to take the heat for anything they do, basically. That`s a world fact. They are our ally. They`re not our satellite, they`re our ally. And therefore, when they say no settlements, no stopping of the settlements on the West Bank, no Palestinian state, no two-state solution, that redounds back to us in the Arab world. They don`t like us. NEDRA PICKLER, A.P. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that`s right. And the White House is going to will not let them off the hook for changing the position here. The funny thing about this is everyone is going out saying things that are true, and that everyone has pretty much known all along, but they won`t say them to save the relationship. MATTHEWS: Why is candor now acceptable? PICKLER: Well, relations are just at a whole new low. And now -- you have President Obama today gives a very short mention to the friendship between Israel. But he said very frankly, this is not going to be singing kumbaya, there are very real differences, and the said Netanyahu and his relationship is business-like. That`s the same term he`s used for Putin. So, that`s what it`s come down to. MATTHEWS: Well, Bill Clinton is on the side with the president on this. The Democrats have all tried to deal with Netanyahu. Bill Clinton, the former president, got quoted just recently saying he had a problem with Netanyahu. He said Netanyahu will never be part of a peace deal. So, it`s not out in the open. RON FOURNIER, NATIONAL JOURNAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR.: Yes, I was struck by this. First, you know, this obviously starts with Netanyahu for taking -- stealing U.S. intelligence, using his handmaidens in Congress to try to divide Republicans from Democrats, from one branch of government -- MATTHEWS: Who are his handmaidens? FOURNIER: The Republican Party. MATTHEWS: Give me the names. FOURNIER: McConnell and Boehner. MATTHEWS: How about Menendez? Would you call him a handmaiden? FOURNIER: Sure, I will call him a handmaiden on this issue. Now, so where are we now? So, obviously, there`s this breach. Obviously, the -- because it started with Netanyahu, the relationship is going down the drain. We need an adult here. I was hoping that the adult in the room would be the president of the United States. It still has to be the president of the United States. MATTHEWS: He`s not going to quit this fight. FOURNIER: But maybe he should. Maybe frame it differently. Look -- MATTHEWS: You give me a normative answer. I want to politically, why has he decided to keep this fight going, Obama? What`s changed? There used to be guys who say, enough for that. FOURNIER: Maybe for the same reason why he decided to give up fighting with Republicans to try to compromise. As soon as things got tough when he got in Washington, nope, can`t deal with them, even though he came into office knowing they were going to be tough to deal with, and it was an obstinate party. The Israelis, they don`t want to deal with us? He knew all along, it`s not like things changed today before the election, so why does he decide to accept this answer that he got the day before the election? They`re not stopping answer that he`s getting afterwards. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I don`t agree with you. I don`t think there`s a way around it. I think Netanyahu is my way or the highway. Netanyahu says there`s no Iranian talks, no negotiations, nothing. We`ve got to completely roll them back in terms of enrichment of uranium. We`ve got to kill the program. That`s not doable, is it? That was his position. FOURNIER: Right. So, what`s -- the president has decided to -- I can`t do anything with this, let`s just push it off to the side. WOODWARD: I think the president`s reaction is sincere. Netanyahu is a hard case, and there`s been -- Ron says it`s going down the drain. Actually it was 7/8 of the way down the drain kind of in the first year or two of the Obama administration. PICKLER: What incentive does he have to make nice? The president is not up for reelection again. He`s fed up with this -- this relationship has been bad for a really long time. FOURNIER: To be clear, I`m not saying make nice, but we have to figure a way out of this. (CROSSTALK) FOURNIER: Bibi is going to do it. Who else is going to try to put this relationship -- MATTHEWS: This is what`s so interesting in Democratic Party because we always think the Israel as the Jewish community`s biggest interest, and it is, personal interest, of course, religion interest, a background issue, a holocaust concern. But it`s evangelicals in the Republican Party I think are driving this train to the right, like you heard Ted Cruz, this is a whole new reality. Israel has a certain iconic meaning to them from the bible, right? They don`t want to mess with it at all. FOURNIER: Right, but as you know, it`s not a new issue on the right. MATTHEWS: To me, its think it`s dramatic. WOODWARD: But Ron is asking a good question -- who is the adult in the room? PICKLER: It`s going to have to be the next president. WOODWARD: And do something positive, and, you know, I`ve looked around the room and it`s vacant. MATTHEWS: I`m waiting to see how Hillary Clinton takes this because she`s going to inherit this whole mess? PICKLER: This is not going to be resolved in the next two years. This is going to be an issue in the campaign. It`s going to be something you`re going to hear both sides talking about, and it will be up to the next president. FOURNIER: If Hillary Clinton wants to inherent this, if she wants to be president, she`s going to come up with an answer better than, oh, I can`t deal with Bibi. MATTHEWS: Yes, I think. But the Republicans, I hope they do pay for the prom date a couple of weeks. FOURNIER: They should. MATTHEWS: They`re not bringing him into the chamber. FOURNIER: Terrible precedent. MATTHEWS: Terrible partisan precedent. FOURNIER: Do they think they`ll never have a president themselves? Is this the precedent the Republicans want if they have a precedent in the White House? MATTHEWS: I don`t think it should be a theater in the round for politics. Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. And up next, Hillary Clinton wants to start over with the press. I can`t way to hear about the reset button from these experts here. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. They maybe better locked in with Putin. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy testified again on Capitol Hill about those two agents who bumped their car into a barricade at the White House after a night of drinking. And for the first time, he got to see police surveillance video of that incident. The House Oversight Committee showed the video from the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. Clancy has been criticized for the way the agency has handled the incident, and he`s complained he wasn`t told about it until five days after it happened. He also announced a new policy where surveillance video will be retained for seven days rather than just 72 hours. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: No more secrecy. No more zone of privacy. After all, what good did that do me? (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: And we`re back with our panel, Bob, Nedra and Ron. And, of course, Hillary Clinton has been dogged by controversy over a personal email server. But now, she`s trying to put that behind her. At a dinner with journalists Monday night, she tried to make it seem like it was all kind of funny and kind of a misunderstanding. Here she is, the former secretary of state. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: I am well aware that some of you may be a little surprised to see me here tonight. You know, my relationship with the press has been at times, shall we say, complicated. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, you know, Bob, she`s spoken a lot before, you know, very loving audiences, people that really like her, women`s groups and all. That was an audience that liked her that you wouldn`t normally think. But she got a good treatment last night and people sort of chuckled at her jokes. Do you think that`s funny, the e-mail dispute? Was it a funny story in itself? WOODWARD: No, we were joking -- she thinks they`re gone, they`ve been erased. The Chinese or the Iranians probably have them. Anyone who thinks they have cybersecurity is deluding themselves. MATTHEWS: But you also told me in the green room tonight, that it`s very hard, unless there`s some kind of a criminal investigation, for anyone to subpoena them. WOODWARD: Yes, I think there`s kind of a presumption, somebody filed the Freedom of Information Act request, and so we`re going to see these things. She has a privacy claim here. And if you liken them, as some have, to the Nixon tapes, in the Nixon tapes case, my god, the Supreme Court ruled that he had to turn them over to a grand jury, not to congressional committees, not to people who filed Freedom of Information Act requests. So, I think the likelihood of ever seeing those, unless she voluntarily gives them up, is close to zero. And she -- if you think about it, it`s -- somebody did some very good lawyering in saying, before there is a subpoena, before there`s a request for these, I just eliminated them, because there`s a privacy concern. Well -- MATTHEWS: Nixon could have done that. WOODWARD: Yes. Well, Nixon, actually, if you go up to the Nixon library and say, give me the tape of whatever, and if it`s not related to abuse of power or Watergate, they say, well, there`s a national security or a privacy claim. Now, this is 40 years later. So, I`ll be happy to take you and the family to dinner if we ever see a substantial number of -- MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the reset aspect of this. Can she charm her way back into -- I think there`s a thing there -- it`s a chicken and egg thing. You can go back, it seems to me, and say she felt there was too much folklore press against her, when she`s first lady of Arkansas, back in the `80s, you know, about her hairdo or wearing glasses or whatever, and she said, I`ve had enough of that crap, and Whitewater. You could argue that she`s the one playing defense, or you could say, she`s a privacy person and shouldn`t be in public life. PICKLER: Well, let me tell you, a lot of the journalists in that room last night are not people who are around for all those old stories you`re talking about. She has an opportunity to have a relationship with the press. MATTHEWS: Will the new press be as aggressive as they should be? PICKLER: Well, absolutely, even more so. Are you kidding? Now in the days of Twitter and rumors getting out everywhere, this is going to be aggressive. And she was trying to make light, a new first step last night in terms of building the relationship. But there`s going to be a lot of other changes beyond just acknowledging the problem, cracking a few jokes. She did stay after her speech, by the way, and work the room for about 30 minutes. MATTHEWS: Off the record? PICKLER: I mean, it was just people going up to chat with her. I don`t know if anyone is filing a story about it. MATTHEWS: Ron, I`ve been thinking that she -- I don`t know her that well, but she`s very likable. Not that she`s likeable enough -- likable. And my question is -- most people like her when they get to know her a little bit. My question is, can she go to a `68 Nixon strategy of I`m not going to do tape performances, I`m going to control the media, I`m not going to make myself available like some New York politician? Can she get away with that, this time, of our times? FOURNIER: I guess she could get away with it, depending on who the Republicans put up, but it`s not the modern, smart way to do it. Look, I`ve known her since the mid-80s. I covered her in Arkansas. She is very likable, incredibly charming, very smart, very endearing, very funny. She is someone who you tend to want to give the benefit of the doubt and understand more as a reporter. So, the more access she gives us, I think the better opportunity she has to get her message out through us. The problem is -- MATTHEWS: You`re lawyering her into these interviews now, right? FOURNIER: Well, yes, she should start with me. But the problem is, the only way she`s going to get this behind her in an age where -- especially young Americans are demanding accountability and good governance is to turn over the server to an independent review. Obviously, all her private e-mails, nobody should see. Turn it over, and she`s got to hand over those foreign donations that went to the foundation. I think these two stories are -- MATTHEWS: Well, those are pretty demands -- pretty strong demands. Thank you, Bob Woodward. The Judge Stennis solution is still there. Find a thirty party that will do it, because Nixon tried that. WOODWARD: You deal with me. MATTHEWS: Thank you. You can be Judge Stennis. Thank you, Bob Woodward. Thank you, Nedra. And thank you, Ron. When we return, let me finish with what appears to be the Republican strategy to offset demographic change in this country. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with what appears to be the Republican strategy to offset demographic change. When you think about it, the thing is quite basic. OK, we in the U.S. have a growing minority population, a younger minority population, that will, over time, convert the number of white Americans into a minority of the population. If you`re a Republican, how do you deal with that quandary? I mean, given the fact that your party built its numbers on older white people. You make it harder for minorities to vote. Let`s start in Wisconsin, whose voter ID law just got a kiss from the Republican-led Supreme Court. Wisconsin is the home state of Republican national chairman, Reince Priebus, the man who has been the generalissimo of the voter suppression movement across the country. It may also be the home of the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, Governor Scott Walker. So, the way we might course this thing for Republican candidate, or Reince`s candidate, to beat the Democratic candidate, say Hillary Clinton, is to cut back on the regular Democratic older African-American vote. How about that for a deal? For a Reince Priebus strategy. Well, it`s on the move starting with Wisconsin, the state where the Republican Party of Abraham was founded will now be the starting point of the Reince Priebus party effort to curtail minority voters. Richard Nixon`s Southern strategy is nothing compared to the Reince Priebus strategy, getting segregationist-minded white people to vote for it in 1968 is nothing compared to killing the right of minorities to vote for their opponent come 2016. Just think about it: Is there some prize out there that this makes Mr. Priebus eligible for?\ And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. END 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.>
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