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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 03/31/15

Guests: Christopher Hill, Gov. Dan Malloy, Arlene Alda, Alan Alda, SusanPage, Jonathan Allen

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Is it overtime, or sudden death? Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Tonight, with the deadline passing, can the United States and the world keep Iran from the bomb? Can Indiana escape the "we hate gays" charge? Can President Obama head to Kenya without Donald Trump and the rest of the wacko birthers saying he`s just heading home? We have to start, of course, tonight with the 11th-hour struggle for a deal with Iran. Can a deal keep them from the bomb? Better question still, is there any other way to do it? And what does Boehner have to offer, or McConnell, or is it just the hawks who have a plan, which is to send over the bombers? Andrea Mitchell`s NBC`s chief foreign affairs correspondent. She joins us from Switzerland where the talks are ongoing. How is it going, Andrea? ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I think there`s a little progress. But about an hour ago, we -- they missed the deadline. And this really is like a college dorm, you could say, in a palace, of course, a 19th century palace, but they`re basically missing deadlines, eating cold pizza and trying to get this done. And so far, they don`t have a deal. They`ve got a couple of specific problems. One is sanctions. Do they come off, the U.N. sanctions? Do they come off? Are they lifted entirely in June when a formal final agreement is envisioned, if this all works? Or are they phased out? Are they suspended so that they could then be slapped back on? There are all sorts of ways to get at that. Perhaps more importantly is the whole question of how much nuclear fuel Iran can keep? It`s not going export it to Russia, they`ve now said this week. So do they get fewer centrifuges, fewer of these advanced machines that can create new fuel to enable both sides to agree that there is at least one year of a breakout time, one year warning from the U.N. nuclear inspectors --   MATTHEWS: Yes. MITCHELL: -- before Iran could do anything, could cheat. and of course, you know what the critics are saying, that first of all, it isn`t even one year and that they would be cheating anyway, that the U.N. inspectors wouldn`t be able to get in. So this last-minute run to try to do it in overtime is only going to give the critics more ammo because they`re going to say, You made too many concessions just to bring something home. MATTHEWS: Can you tell -- I know it`s a tough question. Can you tell -- as you`re watching this, can you tell whether they`re looking for a deal at any cost on the American side? Or is that too rough a question? I don`t know. That`s the charge that`s been made. MITCHELL: No -- MATTHEWS: Joe Scarborough made it the other day on his program -- MITCHELL: And that is a question -- MATTHEWS: -- and he said, any deal, they`ll take anything they can get. They just want a deal. MITCHELL: I don`t think so, frankly, just talking to them here, saying that they`re willing to walk away from it. But of course, the fact that they`re staying in overtime, that they`re staying overnight, they`re going to start again in the morning -- that clearly will fuel that argument. We`ll have to see what`s on the paper. I think one serious criticism, and Joe Scarborough certainly, you know, zoned in on that, as well, is that what is going to come out of here is going to be far less specific on really important technical points than they had hoped for. So they`re going to say, We`ve got the principles, we have a classified document, we`ll brief Congress on that. And now we have until June to work this out. Well, if it didn`t get worked out in 18 months, what is going to make it any easier in the coming months until June? MATTHEWS: Thanks so much. You`re the best -- Andrea Mitchell over there in Switzerland. It`s late at night there.   NBC News chief foreign correspondent over there, Richard Engel, is in Tel Aviv right now for more of the mood in Israel. And they`ve got a lot riding on this. Here`s Richard. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, I can`t remember a stranger time in Tel Aviv, when the government of Israel seems to be aligned with many Arab governments in denouncing what is going on in Switzerland. Normally, this country is at great odds with the rest of the Middle East, but now you have Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, even Pakistan saying that they are against the possible deal in Switzerland. They don`t want to empower Iran. And I spoke today to a senior member of the new Israeli government, and he said that the deal in Switzerland, if it goes forward, encourages Iran to not dismantle its nuclear program, but to freeze it with some safeguards, and that is not what Israel wants. Israel believed that this process to enter into negotiations with Iran would dismantle the nuclear program, similar to what happened in Libya, where Gadhafi said that he didn`t want the nuclear program anymore and took it apart. Instead, they believe that the program will be frozen in place, more or less, with some unverifiable controls put in place. And this is part of a larger dynamic in the Middle East, where you have Israel, Saudi Arabia, several other countries banding together, saying that not only is it about Iran`s nuclear program, which should be contained and basically dismantled, but it`s about preventing Iran from spreading its influence across the region. You have Iran spreading its influence through rebels in Yemen. You have it spreading its influence through militia groups that are now backed by U.S. air strikes in Iraq. And frankly, this country -- this Israeli government doesn`t want to see Iran, in its words, be rewarded for its aggressive behavior -- Chris. (END VIDEOTAPE) MATTHEWS: OK, Richard Engel. We got a great report there. Joining us right now is Christopher Hill, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and Eugene Robinson, a columnist for "The Washington Post" and an analyst. I want to go to the ambassador. Ambassador Hill, you`ve been through a lot of diplomacy in your life. Are we getting somewhere? Can you tell? Or is this just a desperate last-minute effort to get -- to try for something we don`t think we`re going to get, actually?   CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Oh, I think we`re probably getting somewhere. I think they would have quit some time ago if they didn`t think they were. I mean, the problem is, as your piece suggests, I mean, it hinges on a lot of technical things, which people don`t really understand, so you`ve got a lot of analysts kind of explaining it`s a good deal or a bad deal. And so the overall problem is they`re not going to be able to set this thing very easily, and so they`re clearly trying to kind of backload some of the sanctions relief because they know they can`t sell sanctions relief. And meanwhile, you`ve got a kind of similar situation going on in Tehran, where they`re going to -- they want immediate sanctions relief. So that is going to be a problem. And I think they want to keep the momentum going and maybe try to handle these issues in the next few months. But right now, I mean, when you`ve got Israel and the Arabs together, you know you have a problem. MATTHEWS: Yes, we`ve got a new poll, Gene, from "The Washington Post," your paper, and ABC News that shows a strong majority of Americans support a deal with Iran that would lift sanctions in exchange for Iran restricting its nuclear program. Nearly 6 in 10 Americans say they would like to make such a deal. And yet here`s the rub. The same percent, 60 percent of Americans, say they are not confident such an agreement will work to prevent Iran from ultimately developing a bomb, 37 percent say they are either (ph) for (ph) something there, but not the majority -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: -- not hopeful. EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: So that seems to me that people are saying, Well, might not work, let`s give it a shot, right? I mean, and people, I think, instinctively, and just in terms of looking at the panorama of the Middle East these days, would rather talk than the alternative -- MATTHEWS: Do they -- did they realize -- ROBINSON: -- because the alternative looks bad.   MATTHEWS: -- that there`s no alternative, really, ultimately, except -- if they say tougher sanctions, we`ll never get them from the Europeans, so it means eventually bombing them, which only puts -- sets them back maybe three years and they`re back at us again. ROBINSON: Yes, I mean, I`m not sure people even go through that entire process. I think they see talking or bombing. And I think they -- they would rather try talking before -- because that`s -- that`s the way the alternative is really presented by the hawks, right? I mean, essentially, you know, we have to have tough sanctions, and so tough that we`ll never get them. Therefore, what`s the alternative? The alternative -- MATTHEWS: Yes, they -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Anyway, along those lines, Ambassador, this weekend, Speaker of the House John Boehner essentially dismissed any deal whatsoever with the Iranian government, saying, You just can`t trust them. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, we`ve got a regime that`s never quite kept their word about anything. I just don`t understand why we would sign an agreement with a group of people who, in my opinion, have no intention of keeping their word. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Also this weekend, the Senate Republican leader over there, Mitch McConnell, met with Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and in a video release, the two agreed on their skepticism over the deal. Here`s the prime minister and the majority leader. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Will this increase or decrease Iran`s aggression? Will this make their move (ph) forward more moderate or make it more extreme? I think it`s a no-brainer. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: The group who are here share your concerns about this potential agreement. And there are options that the United States has in the wake of an agreement and if there is no agreement. The option, if there`s an agreement, is a bill that we intend to vote on that enjoys bipartisan support to require that agreement to come to Congress for approval. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I don`t know. What do you make of that scene, Ambassador? There`s an American top political leader in the United States Senate acting like -- for a while there, like a cigar store Indian, just standing there while Netanyahu gives his speech, like it`s some infomercial. Are you allowed to talk about politics and how bad this looks politically, that one political party`s playing no-nothing -- Oh, we don`t nothing, we don`t trust anybody. That`s street corner talk and trash talk, no sense of, you know, there`s a tricky situation, we got a lot of parties in the Middle East we`re trying to work through so we avoid a war. Anyway, partisanship has played its head (sic) here. HILL: This is a very -- you know, it`s obviously a very tough issue. I mean, no agreement is going to be perfect. I mean, you go into the agreement, you hope the other side will give up everything and strip down to their underwear, but that`s usually not what happens. So you end up with something that you think is advantageous to your needs, even though the other side is trying to come up with the same calculation. What is really interesting about this, of course, is all the Arab states see this not just as a nuclear deal, which is kind of how we look at this in the U.S., but they see this as somehow, the U.S. recreating the strategic ally of Iran that we had in the 1970s -- MATTHEWS: Yes. HILL: -- and that we`re now switching partners. And so there`s a lot more than just nuclear stuff. And when you look at all these sort of -- the Shia activity within the Arab Middle East, the Arabs are all pointing the finger at Tehran and saying this is because of those guys, and the Americans are being too soft with them. So it`s a tough situation right now. MATTHEWS: I know. We`re not dancing with the one that brung us. Let me ask you a purely political question.   ROBINSON: Yes? MATTHEWS: What`s better or worse for the president? He gets a deal that doesn`t work out, they start finding a way to build a bomb down the road, two or three years from now, or he doesn`t get a deal? What`s worse for him? ROBINSON: Well, it`s worse for him that they eventually build a bomb. MATTHEWS: See, that`s what I think. That`s why I think he`s going to cut a real deal. ROBINSON: Yes. Yes. No. MATTHEWS: Because I think he knows a bad deal is terrible for him. ROBINSON: Yes, no, it can`t be a bad deal. It`s -- it`s -- that`s terrible for his legacy. MATTHEWS: That`s why I think the skeptics are wrong. Anyway, thank, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill and Eugene Robinson. Still ahead, political reaction to the nuclear talks with Iran. Most of it`s coming from Republicans, especially the ones running for president. But key Democrats are also making some noise. We`ll get to that later in the show. But up next, Indiana`s governor is feeling the heat out there. Mike Pence went too far. He`s still defending that so-called religious protection law, the one that could be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians, but he wants lawmakers in Indiana to, quote, "clarify the law" so it won`t be used that way. Well, that`s not enough, Governor. Plus, President Obama announces he`s going to Kenya, and one Republican says this will just titillate the birther crowd. Trump will probably say he`s going home.   And actor Alan Alda and his wife, Arlene, on what it means to be from the Bronx. They`re coming on here soon. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: I`ve got new polling from some key swing states already. There`s some warning signs in there for Hillary Clinton. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard." First to Florida, where the new Quinnipiac poll finds the only Republican leading Hillary Clinton is former governor Jeb Bush. He`s up by 3 over here, 45-42. No surprise there. But here`s a shocker. In Pennsylvania, Rand Paul has a 1-point lead over Hillary Clinton, 45-44. He`s the only Republican to head her in the Keystone State, which tells me the people of Pennsylvania have had it with wars. Finally, to Ohio, where Clinton leads all the Republicans. Rand Paul comes closest, but still trails by 5, 46 to 41. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: It`s been a tough week here in the Hoosier state, but we`re going to move forward.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. In response to a fierce public backlash, Indiana`s governor, Republican governor there, Mike Pence, announced today that he wants to fix that controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that he signed into law just last week, by clarifying that it does not, as he says, give businesses the right to deny services or discriminate against anyone. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PENCE: I`ve come to the conclusion that it would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone. I believe this is a clarification, but it`s also a fix. It`s a fix of a bill that, through mischaracterization and confusion, has come to be greatly misunderstood. And I`m determined to address this this week. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Governor Pence pushed back somewhat, I said, after a disastrous Sunday show performance this Sunday and mounting pressure at home, like from Indiana`s own "Indianapolis Star" newspaper, which ran this bold headline in (ph) today, telling Pence to, quote, "Fix This Now." That`s a front page story in three words. But Pence is still being hammered by the private sector, who threatens to pull their businesses if gays and lesbians are not protected going forward. Nine CEOs from Indiana`s largest employers hand-delivered a letter to Pence just yesterday calling for changes to the law. And the pressure hasn`t been limited to Indiana-based companies, either. CEOs from companies like from Apple, Angie`s List, and even the NAA -- well, NCAA, actually, oppose the law. Last -- I`m sure the NAACP also does. But last night, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson also voiced his strong opposition. Full disclosure here. My wife, Kathleen, is executive V.P. of Marriott. Here he is, Arne Sorenson. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   ARNE SORENSON, MARRIOTT CEO: The legislation in Indiana -- and there are some bills being considered in other states -- is not just pure idiocy from a business perspective -- and it is that. The notion that you can tell businesses somehow that they are free to discriminate against people based on who they are is madness. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Anyway, and other states are ratcheting up the pressure. Connecticut governor Dan Malloy signed an executive order banning state- backed travel to the state of Indiana. And here`s Governor Malloy laying into Pence this morning on "MORNING JOE." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. DAN MALLOY (D), CONNECTICUT: The reality is, the governor is not a stupid man, but he`s done stupid things. And when you see a bigot, you have to call them on it. They knew what they were doing. And what they were doing was deciding that they were going to make it legal for people to refuse to serve gay men and women. And if Indiana wants to make this right with the rest of the world, they need to pass laws that say you cannot discriminate based on someone`s sexual orientation. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Joining me right now is Connecticut governor Dan Malloy, and former RNC chair Michael Steele is also with me. And late today, by the way, the legislature down in Arkansas passed a similar religious protection bill, and the CEO of Walmart is urging Republican governor Asa Hutchison to veto it. But Hutchison says he`s going to sign it. Governor, do you believe that Mike Pence is a bigot? MALLOY: I think --   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: -- in that statement. MALLOY: Yes, I think he`s done bigoted things. Listen, you know, at the top of the show here, or this section, he talked about how tough the last few days have been. Imagine if you were gay in Indiana over the last month. On February 23rd, in a debate at the state senate, an offer was made to amend this statute that said simply that we would respect our civil rights laws as they exist in Indiana and we would respect local laws as they exist in Indiana. That amendment, offered by a Democrat, lost 40 to 10. Imagine if you were a gay man, or a gay woman, or if you were the mother or father of a gay man or a gay woman. Imagine how tough your month has been, not just the last couple of days, since that disastrous show that he did on Sunday, since the disastrous legislation that he signed. You know, when you do a bigoted thing, you`re going to get called on it. And, quite frankly, Republicans have not covered themselves in any glory. We have a whole bunch of candidates for president who have gone to defend this guy, but now he said, well, maybe we do need to clarify it. Well, hey, Jeb Bush, what were you thinking about? Cruz, what were you thinking about? Rubio, what were you thinking about? Do you really want to condemn gay people to second-class citizenship in America today, this year? MATTHEWS: Michael? MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I cannot disagree with Governor Malloy. He just needs to bring the crazy down a little on this. I think the hyperbole, calling people bigoted, when you know that that is not the case, I think the governor stated very clearly -- (CROSSTALK) MALLOY: wait a minute. I`m going to stop you right there. (CROSSTALK)   STEELE: No, you`re going to let me finish. You`re going to let me finish my point. (CROSSTALK) MALLOY: When you walk like a duck and you quack like a duck, you`re a duck. (CROSSTALK) STEELE: Sir, I let you do your rant. I let you do your rant uninterrupted. And you`re going to let me bring some clarity and some common sense to the conversation. MALLOY: Common sense. STEELE: The reality of it is -- the reality of it is that there`s nothing bigoted in this law, there`s nothing bigoted about the governor who signed this law, and there`s nothing discriminatory about this law. This law is based on past, present federal law; 31 states have it. The difference between what Bill Clinton signed and what the governors -- what the legislature signed today is now, because of Hobby Lobby, you have this corporate aspect of this being corporations essentially being treated as people under the protections. The governor -- the governor has promised a fix. Let`s see what that fix is. I suspect that fix will either address either a nondiscriminatory law -- nondiscrimination law, in which makes very clear, as the governor stated today, that gay and lesbian individuals will not be discriminated under law in the state of Indiana, or something close to that. MATTHEWS: Let me go back to some things that clarify. (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: Governor, just a second. Governor, I have to moderate this. Number one, I watched the Sunday show with George Stephanopoulos. And I thought he did a good job of getting it clear. The governor was asked by George at least once, would you support legislation to prevent people from being bigoted, to say, if you`re gay, you`re not getting in my hotel, you`re not getting in my bakery, you`re not -- I`m not going to help you with the wedding? STEELE: Right. MATTHEWS: And he said no. STEELE: All right. MATTHEWS: So he clarified his view. Even though the legislation is murky, he`s clear on this. And I believe he said it again today. It`s not on my agenda. Why isn`t it? STEELE: Well, I don`t know why. It should be on his agenda, because this contributes to the noise around this bill and around this legislation. MATTHEWS: But he may disagree with you on the issue. How do you know he does -- how do you know he supports equal public accommodations access? (CROSSTALK) STEELE: Pardon me?   MATTHEWS: Do you know he if supports equal access to public accommodations, regardless of sexual orientation? STEELE: I`m sure he does. I`m sure he does. I`m sure he does. MATTHEWS: But he won`t say so. STEELE: Absolutely. I`m sure he does. I`m sure he does. MATTHEWS: Well, Governor, I think you have a point. I don`t know about calling him bigoted or whatever. He`s clearly politically wanting to identify with that particular point of view. I mean, he`s had an opportunity for a week to clarify himself. (CROSSTALK) STEELE: You don`t get to pick and choose. MATTHEWS: OK. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Governor, isn`t it true that a lot of states that have passed this have also got legislation protecting the rights of people regardless of their sexual identity or orientation? That`s already on the books to protect them. That`s not the case in Indiana. Your thoughts.   MALLOY: I think Mr. Steele is too good a person to be an apologist for this legislation. And, clearly, if you read the history of this legislation, and how it was attempted to be amended, so that laws that were already in place would be applied, Indianapolis had already said we`re not going to discriminate. Why would you pass a state law that trumps the local law? Why would you vote that amendment down 40-10? What senators on the Republican side did the governor actually call to say, hey, we have got to be fair and honest, and treat our citizens equally? Give us a list of who you called, Governor, and tell us -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s get the answer to that question. That`s a good question. That`s a good question. Why -- I don`t want to spend time. You guys are here live. I`m not going to play tape. But Rubio, and Jeb Bush, and Cruz and Walker, Governor Walker, have all said they`re with this legislation that he signed this week that has been criticized as being anti-gay. Why are they all taking that position? STEELE: Because the law on its face is not. It`s how you`re deciding to interpret the law. You`re -- show me the language in this law where it sets out that says that we are going to discriminate against gay and lesbian individuals? That language isn`t in the law. This is verbatim, except for, again, the Hobby Lobby -- MATTHEWS: But doesn`t it give a business the opportunity to go to court and say, for our religious, the religion of our corporation, that we can go then -- we can go to court and say we`re not going to serve people of this background? (CROSSTALK) STEELE: Unlike the RFRA law in Connecticut, the federal law and the Indiana law requires a substantial burden be placed on the government to show that the --   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Isn`t access to public accommodations, isn`t that a compelling public interest? You have got to believe in a compelling public interest for public accommodations. STEELE: Of course it`s a compelling public interest, Chris, but I`m just saying you`re jumping to a conclusion that the law is discriminatory, where in fact there`s nothing in the law that says that. There`s no -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Last word to the governor. Last word to the governor. STEELE: Where is the governor? MALLOY: I have a copy of the amendment that was offered. And it simply said, "This chapter does not apply to Indiana civil rights law or any state law or local ordinance that prohibits discrimination on the base of sexual orientation." And it was defeated in the Senate on February 23, with the support of the governor, 40-10. That`s evidence number one. I used to be a prosecutor. I tried 23 felony cases. I had convictions in 22. Let me assure you I could get a conviction in this one. (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: So, how do you respond to that, that the governor had an opportunity to take a stand against discrimination and chose the other side? STEELE: Because the governor did -- the governor`s reading of this law and the legislative intent of the law was not to discriminate. So, they didn`t need to carve out that exception. Clearly, they now think that they do. And the governor is going to go back with the legislators. Majority leaders both in the House and Senate have said they are going to redo the bill. So, let`s see what they do. (CROSSTALK) MALLOY: He didn`t -- (CROSSTALK) MALLOY: -- that on Sunday. MATTHEWS: I think he was trying -- the governor, I think he was -- the governor of Indiana was trying to score points, as so many Republicans are trying to do, with the hard right. He thought -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Did you see who was standing there with him? STEELE: Nuns.   MATTHEWS: Yes, and -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: No, because they`re opposed to gay rights. MALLOY: There you go. MATTHEWS: Because that`s why they`re there. Thank you. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, let me know. All those people, you`re in that picture. Let me know if you`re up for public access to public accommodations on the part of gay people. Let me know, if you`re a Hoosier. Anyway, thank you, Governor Dan. Not everybody, just Hoosiers. MALLOY: Thank you.   MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Governor Dan Malloy. STEELE: See you, Governor. MATTHEWS: You`re a tough guy. I don`t want to get on the wrong side of you, brother, anyway. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: And I never am. Anyway, thanks, Michael Steele. STEELE: You got it. MATTHEWS: Who threw it back. Up next, what do Colin Powell, Al Pacino and Regis Philbin -- I can`t do his accent -- all have in common? They`re all from the Bronx, the Bronx. And coming up, Alan Alda, Alda, of course, and his wife, Arlene, she`s the author, will join us. She`s got a new book about growing up in the Bronx. They`re coming here next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.   Frank Sinatra famously sang of New York, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. And that`s true if you`re from the Bronx. In her new book called "Just Kids From the Bronx," author Arlene Alda tells the stories of 60 Americans who grew up in the Bronx, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, actor Al Pacino and Regis Philbin. The stories, which span over six decades, show how growing up in New York`s poorest bureau was a quintessential part of the American experience, showing a community, as Alda says, that is sometimes short on resources, but is full of talent and pride. In his praise for the book, President Bill Clinton said, "No matter where you grew up, you will find this a down-to-earth, inspiring book about the American promise fulfilled." I`m joined right now by the author, Arlene Alda, and her husband, of course, actor Alan Alda, known for his role in, of course, what was it, "MASH," of course. But I loved him as the presidential candidate, the losing presidential candidate in "The West Wing." Anyway, Arlene, you first. This book has got great stuff that I think is not just about -- it`s about an era too, before the crime got completely out of hand in the Bronx, but like North Philly, where I grew up with my grandparents, and going out on hot days, and we didn`t do it, but Al Pacino sleeping in the fire -- fire escape, up there in the fire escape with his pillows, because it was so damn hot in the Bronx. And talk about that, and sitting on the roof with his grandpop, which I used to do with my grandpop. ARLENE ALDA, AUTHOR, "JUST KIDS FROM THE BRONX": Yes. MATTHEWS: And it`s so big city. It`s so American. Your thought. Tell us about it. ARLENE ALDA: Yes. Yes. Yes. Well, Pacino especially, he`s very lyrical in his language. He describes going up on the rooftop with his grandfather. And what he describes is, you know, the details of the soft tar in the bottom of the chair, you know, spreading newspapers out. And then what he describes is the sound of all the voices with the different accents that you could hear up on the roof, whether it was Italian, or Jewish, or Polish, or Irish, or German.   It was all there. And then he ends by saying, you know, it was like a Eugene O`Neill play. How beautiful is that? A tremendous appreciation for what nurtured him. And the grandfather was a very importance influence in his life. MATTHEWS: Yes, I love that. He`s Sicilian. And you get a sense of that, and the kids getting into drugs. I think of "Panic in Needle Park," his first movie about drugs. And so much of that was his rich background. ARLENE ALDA: Yes. MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about General Colin Powell, the former secretary of state. Alan, I want you in here. Did you ever fly a kite that was menacing, that was in fact predatory, that had razor blades in it to cut the other kites? (CROSSTALK) ALAN ALDA, ACTOR: No, but you know what is funny? When I was a kid, when I was about 8 or 9 years old, I read about Korean kids flying kites that they attached glass to, to the string, and would pull them and try to cut the other kids` kites. And I thought it was a thing that was only done in Korea, and then Arlene interviewed Colin Powell, and he said -- ARLENE ALDA: He said, oh, yes, they put the soda bottles and the tin cans, put the tin cans on the trolley tracks. They would get flattened by the trolleys, the glass would get pulverized, glue the glass onto the string, put razors on the tail, and then fly the kites a block away. You know, the kids a block away would. And the idea was to cut the other kite string. And that was their version of World War II. (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: And how about Colin Powell being a Shabbos goy for the Teitelbaums? (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I just love that story. ALAN ALDA: Isn`t that great? MATTHEWS: Here`s this kid that lit the -- what do you call it, the stove on Sundays. Tell us about -- I love -- tell this story, because we`re getting all the ethnics groups in here, by the way. Regis Philbin, the quintessential Notre Dame Irishman, and there he is wanting to be Der Bingle. All he wanted to be as a kid was Bing Crosby. ARLENE ALDA: Yes. That was so beautiful. Here`s this little kid, 6, 7 years old during the Depression. And what he loves is the sound of Bing Crosby singing on the radio. And he`s glued to the radio. He knows all the lyrics, all the songs. And as he grows up, that`s his image. He wants to be Bing Crosby. So his parents are now saying -- it`s through high school -- so what are you going to do in college? And he said, I will let you know after college what I want to be. So he goes through college, and he still has this dream. So, ultimately, they come to the graduation. He`s -- he -- before graduation, he takes them to a stage. He sings "Pennies From Heaven" and he sees his mother crying, and he sees his father -- ALAN ALDA: His father --   (CROSSTALK) ARLENE ALDA: Yes, a Marine, an ex-Marine. And then they -- Regis joins the Navy. MATTHEWS: Yes. ARLENE ALDA: I will let you know after the Navy, ultimately. ALAN ALDA: And then later in the story -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You know -- ALAN ALDA: Well, go ahead. MATTHEWS: Somebody once said -- somebody once said the first rich kids I ever met were my own. And I think that, sometimes, guys like us, we would be better off with our kids to say, send them two years to the Bronx, get them ready for life. That`s how you got to -- that`s the only way you`re going to make it. And your book, Arlene, is called "Just Kids From the Bronx." It`s beautifully put together. It`s a great book to read. By the way, one story a night, you will be in heaven. Just read them one at a time.   (CROSSTALK) ALAN ALDA: What a nice thing. Thank you. ARLENE ALDA: Thank you, Chris. MATTHEWS: Thank you so much. Arlene Alda, thank you very much. ARLENE ALDA: Thank you so much. MATTHEWS: And I`m a reader. Alan, it`s great to see you. ALAN ALDA: Thank you. (CROSSTALK) ALAN ALDA: And, listen, on the audio book, I do most of the voices of the men.   ARLENE ALDA: Male voices. MATTHEWS: Why did you do that? I`m just kidding. ALAN ALDA: So I have a professional reason to be here. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I accept your need -- the need for you to be here. Anyway, thank you for joining us. ARLENE ALDA: Thank you. ALAN ALDA: Thank you so much. Thanks, Chris. ARLENE ALDA: Thank you so much. MATTHEWS: Up next, by the way, the political fallout over dealing with Iran. The 2016 Republican candidates gives Bronx cheers, remember those, for the deal. More importantly, Chuck Schumer has broken with the White House, and he`s important. What does this mean for the president and the chance for peace here? You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.   (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. More now on today`s big news, as we hit the zero hour in the Iranian nuclear talks. The political fallout on the story is escalating, of course, right now, as I speak. Republicans are slamming the talks as a failure already. They say Iran is calling the shots. The Republican field for president is sounding the bugle for war with Iran right now, regardless of how the talks play out. And the next Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer -- he`s the most important -- he`s not in line with the president on this. Late last week, Schumer became a co- sponsor of legislation that would give Congress the authority to review any final deal. It`s legislation that could undermine or even derail an agreement. The White House has slammed the legislation as an unacceptable attack on the president`s authority as commander in chief. In a statement, Schumer had said: "This issue is far too important for the United States, for Israel, for the entire Middle East for Congress not to have any ability to review a nuclear deal with Iran." Well, late today, Republican Senator Tom Cotton, the ringleader of those 47 senators who sent a letter to Iran in an attempt to kill the deal, put out this statement slamming the talks again: "The decision to extend the nuclear negotiations in the face of Iranian intransigence and duplicity proves once again that Iran is calling the shots. Given the dangerous concessions by the Obama administration over the past week, one can only imagine what further concessions it will make in the next 24 hours to resolve these issues. The best solution is to walk away from the nuclear negotiations now and return to a position of strength." So that he can return to Bill Kristol`s side. Anyway, the roundtable tonight, former Vermont governor, presidential candidate and NDC chairman, I was saying NDC because I have on mind, November doesn`t count. HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: DNC. MATTHEWS: I know, DNC Chair Howard Dean. That`s my `60s coming back. "USA Today" bureau chief Susan Page, and "Bloomberg News" Washington bureau chief, we got the big shots here, Jonathan Allen. Governor, it looks to me like I think all this stuff is background music, but Schumer really has what I think is the president`s interest. He wants to look good three, five, 10 years from now. If the president cuts a bad deal that doesn`t hold up, and they start cheating and getting away, he`ll be Neville Chamberlain. Chuck Schumer represents New York, a large Jewish community, and also, he`s a very smart guy who wants to look smart. I think he`s playing tough and he ought to be playing tough.   But I think Obama is playing tough. So, I don`t think anybody thinks there`s going to be slipped by in a cheesy deal that folds after a couple of weeks. I don`t think anybody is up to that. I defend the president on this, but I especially defend Schumer`s right to say we`re going to look at it in the Senate. DEAN: Here`s what you have to understand, this is why the Tom Cottons of the world are out to lunch. First of all, we are the stronger party here. The Iranians want to desperately get out from under the sanctions. They have to have that. They can`t run the country under the sanctions as they are. So, Obama has the cards on this one. Now, we don`t know what this deal is, which is why all this bupkis in the Senate doesn`t mean anything. Schumer is one of the smartest people in the Senate. MATTHEWS: Are you speaking Yiddish tonight? DEAN: I`m speaking Yiddish tonight. MATTHEWS: OK. DEAN: Schumer does know a lot about this, and we just have to wait to see what`s in the agreement. So, Schumer has positioned himself well. MATTHEWS: Yes. DEAN: A lot of things are going to happen. But one thing is, if they pass this bill, Obama will veto it, and then they`ll have to have 67 votes in the Senate. I`m not sure they can do that.   MATTHEWS: Yes, but that makes it very hard, Susan, for him to pass, to sign something as a deal in behalf of the American people and the Senate rejects it. SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: Definitely a complication. I think if Schumer gets behind it, I mean, he`s not just endorsing it, but if he gets out there and lobbies for it, they could get 67 votes, because they`ll have the Republican support. That`s a free pass card for any Democrat that wants to break with the White House. MATTHEWS: Well, there`s Kirsten Gillibrand. There`s a lot of people out there, you know, the people, you know, Durbin, a lot of these people represent large communities that care about -- not just the evangelical right, but the Jewish community wants to see a deal that will protect the country. DEAN: Right. And for all we know, that will come out. MATTHEWS: That`s what I think. I think the test of time is most important here. Nobody is going to put their name on something that`s not going to work because you will be humiliated in history. Again, Neville Chamberlain is the role model. JONATHAN ALLEN, BLOOMBERG NEW: You can`t possibly do this without seeing what the details are. And, of course, the administration is not going to let the details out until they got -- think they`ve got a deal with Iran. So, we all have to wait just a minute on this. The other thing that I think -- MATTHEWS: You think there`s a chance that a deal could be agreed to by the president and somehow derailed by a rambunctious legislature? ALLEN: I think it`s unlikely. I think it`s unlikely the House of Representatives actually would override a veto of this legislation that`s moving forward to try to kill a deal. It doesn`t mean it couldn`t happen, but I think it`s hard to get those 290 votes. I actually think the pro- Israel forces are more effective in Senate races than they are in the House Democratic districts. PAGE: I`ll tell you something else. I think the White House has been helped by Tom Cotton and his letter, and by Netanyahu and his speech, because it has -- it`s made Republicans look like they were going too far and Israel was going too far in confronting the president, and it helped keep some Democrats in the -- DEAN: I think that`s true. It makes the Democrats want to support the president.   MATTHEWS: Yes, the wagons are circled. But here`s some of the wilder people, John Bolton. He`s just coming out and saying his opportunity is to bomb them right now. ALLEN: Well, he should run for president because he`s been talking about it for a long time. All he does is get on TV and say things that are like just out of the realm of reality. Like if the guy wants to president and puts it out there, he should do it. MATTHEWS: One question to three people. I did with Gene Robinson earlier. Is the president better off losing a deal, not getting a deal in the next couple days or even two months? Or passing a deal that doesn`t work out? DEAN: It`s much better off not having a deal if it doesn`t work. PAGE: Well, if it doesn`t work out, right. But he`s best off all if he gets a deal that holds. MATTHEWS: But is it better come on -- (CROSSTALK) PAGE: It`s not good with a deal that then falls apart, no. ALLEN: I think he wants a deal for his legacy. MATTHEWS: No, does he want a deal that works for his legacy or any deal?   ALLEN: Well, that`s -- (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: No, I`m saying that will be a test of time. This will be tested. ALLEN: No, I think he won`t cut a deal that he thinks is going to be bad for Israel. MATTHEWS: I don`t agree with that. (INAUDIBLE) said that yesterday, and I think that`s an argument. I don`t think he`s willing to buy anything, but if he buys anything, he`s wrong -- he`s just wrong for our country, wrong for history, for himself if he gets sucked into any deal. I think he`s smarter than anybody here right now, and I think he know -- I hope he knows that. Anyway, willful thinking, hopeful thinking. Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. And up next, President Obama is going to Kenya. Will this jazz up the birthers? Will people like Trump say he`s just going home? This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`ve got some new polling from the first in the country primary state of New Hampshire. And according to a new Franklin Pierce/"Boston Herald" poll, it`s a tight race right now between Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. No surprise here. The former Florida governor and current Wisconsin governor each get 15 percent of the votes. Rand Paul is just behind at 13 and Chris Christie makes a surprisingly good showing with 10 percent still. We`ll be right back.   (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: Do you ever drive? BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cannot drive. I mean, I - - (LAUGHTER) OBAMA: I`m able to drive. KIMMEL: Is that because you don`t have a birth certificate? (LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE) OBAMA: In Kenya, we drive on the other side of the road. (LAUGHTER)   (END VIDEO CLP) MATTHEWS: A quick mind -- on Kenya, we drive on the other side of the street. We`re back with a roundtable, Howard, Susan, and Jonathan. President Obama has been making the birthers the butt of his jokes. But now, the White House has announced that the president is going to Kenya this coming July. This summer will be his first visit as president to the homeland of his father, right, Donald Trump, father? Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu has said this will just get a rise out of the birther crowd. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FMR. GOV. JOHN SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: His trip back to Kenya is going to create a lot of chatter and commentary amongst some of the hard right who still don`t see him as having been born in the U.S. I personally think he`s just inciting some chatter on an issue that should have been a dead issue a long time ago. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: It`s his fault, Governor? I don`t think so. President Obama has taunted for years -- has been taunted for years by those accusing him of being born in Kenya, we know that troupe. And today, the president is capable of having a little fun as you just saw with the topic. Here he is again. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   OBAMA: And just to be clear I know where my birth certificate is but a lot of people don`t. A lot of people don`t. I think it`s still up on a Web site somewhere. Do you remember that? That was crazy. That was some crazy stuff. This will have a special place of honor, alongside my birth certificate. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Of course, many presidents travel to the countries of their family ancestry. Ronald Reagan and Jack Kennedy both celebrated. They went to Ireland. Obviously, we all know those pictures. In fact, Reagan would go to what Tip O`Neill used to call the valley of the small potatoes, as he called it, because it wasn`t so impressive. Susan, we can chuckle about this but what gives here with that insistent one-fifth, one-fourth of the country that says -- at least the pollsters, I always remind our producers, what you say the pollsters, it isn`t necessarily the truth. You just do it to stick it sometimes. Why do they keep saying he`s born in Kenya, he`s here illegally? PAGE: I think it`s just I`m against Barack Obama and everything he stands for. I cannot believe that one out of five Americans thinks he actually wasn`t born here because it`s so ridiculous. I think a trip to Kenya is a second term trip, not a trip you would take in your first term. There`s a mischievous part saying I`m going back to Kenya. Make your jokes. MATTHEWS: Governor? DEAN: It`s smart politically. MATTHEWS: He`s a smart guy. He`s saying this is his fault because he`s going to start the crazy. Now, it`s the crazies` fault.   DEAN: No, here`s what happened. This is like the Benghazi stuff. When people talk about the birth certificate or Benghazi, it reminds people there`s a segment of the Republican Party that`s insane. I`m not joking. And the problem is those are the people that give the brand of the Republican Party because the media always features the most far out people in every group. MATTHEWS: That`s what I do. (CROSSTALK) DEAN: I don`t think the president is doing this because he wants to incite, but it`s going to have the effect. And it`s going to remind the average voter that there`s a portion of the Republican Party that`s crazy. MATTHEWS: That`s good politics. Hillary Clinton gets hit by a sexist charge next summer and the Republican cites someone on the far right, she`ll say the Republicans are -- should go back at them for it. That`s what politics do. You take the weakest part of your opponent`s argument and you kill it. ALLEN: Yes, elevate it. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You don`t let him make a shot and enjoy (ph) that. You`re going to pay for that. ALLEN: I mean, look, Barack Obama has gotten more laughs out of this than anybody than two -- MATTHEWS: Why did Donald Trump, who has the biggest microphone in New York sometimes I think, he can get on any show he wants to, keep doing this?   ALLEN: Well, he pays for the microphone as President Reagan once said. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Catch this one -- according to a new CBS poll that was taken in 2011, one in four Americans at that time thought President Obama was not born in the U.S. of A, and a Fairleigh Dickinson Poll taken this January, 2015, this year, found 19 percent of respondents say the president isn`t a legal citizen of the United States. He`s an illegal immigrant. The president of the United States is an illegal immigrant snuck into this country, snuck somewhere, and got himself presumed to be in the newspapers in Honolulu, somehow to announce he was born so that his mother, this white woman from Kansas would somehow figure out this is the way to get her little bitty unborn yet baby to be made president. (CROSSTALK) DEAN: This is an argument in favor of the Common Core. MATTHEWS: Why we need a Common Core -- the craziness of this argument. ALLEN: Somebody should call the authorities or file a lawsuit or something. Shouldn`t the Supreme Court be above this? It`s insane. Nineteen percent of people -- MATTHEWS: Maybe we should bring back literacy tests just for this. ALLEN: No. MATTHEWS: OK. That`s right. You have to be politically correct.   Anyway, thank you, Howard Dean, Governor. And thank you, Susan Page. And thank you, Jonathan Allen. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the wild and crazy people. I`m talking about those Americans, about a fifth of us, know that tell pollsters the president of the United States is an illegal immigrant. That`s right. You heard me, an illegal immigrant. It starts with the accusation that he was born in Kenya. A fourth of the country believed that the future president`s American mother wanting her newborn to be president of the United States went over to East Africa to deliver. Why? So she could deny it once he reached the required 35 years of age to be eligible for president. Get it? She went to Kenya to have her baby so she could say she didn`t, all the while having the daily newspapers in Honolulu announced that he`d been born there, and just to guarantee he`d have the very best possible chance to win a majority of the country`s votes, she gave her boy a real kid next door name, Barack Hussein Obama. This is where the crazies in this country live, a fourth of this country, one in four of us, who believe this nonsensical story of the president`s roots. Think it`s gone? Think again. This January, a poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University found one in five of us who say Obama isn`t an illegal citizen of this country, that he`s an illegal alien who not only managed to get into the country, but is sent to our highest office. No wonder 31 percent of the country says he doesn`t believe in what the president is doing in trying to get a deal with Iran. Two-thirds of them don`t even think he`s here legally. They think he`s stuck in here to begin with and his oath of office is bogus, his very identity cooked up by strange forces starting with his mommy. As Bill Clinton would say, give me a break. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Sure is. Thanks for be with us.   "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. It really is that nutty. 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.>