Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 05/05/15

Guests: John Brabender, Wes Moore, Cokie Roberts, Nedra Pickler

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The enemy within. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Philadelphia. It`s one thing to watch the map and see ISIS in Iraq and Syria. It`s another to see two men in Texas open fire and have ISIS take the credit. To what extent is it ISIS as an organization and to what extent is it people living in our country who decide to do its terrorist work? And what will the presidential candidates offer between now and 2016 to defend us? I`m joined now by MSNBC political analyst David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama, and Republican strategist John Brabender. The history of terrorist attacks on American soil certainly includes the 1968 assassination of then presidential candidate Robert Kennedy. The killer, Sirhan Sirhan, was a Palestinian who targeted Kennedy for his support of Israel, and he carried out the attack as retribution on the first anniversary of the Six Day War. Twenty-five years later, in 1993, terrorists detonated a truck bomb at the World Trade Center, intending to take down both towers. The explosives killed just six people, but the towers remained. Then, of course, there was the tragic event of September 11, 2001, perpetrated by al Qaeda. More recently, there was the case of a U.S. major, an Army major, Nidal Hasan, who carried out an al Qaeda-inspired shooting at Ft. Hood in 2009. In 2013, the Tsarnaev brothers self-radicalized then (ph) before carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing. Last year, a Muslim convert attacked four police officers in New York with a hatchet. And now ISIS has claimed responsibility for the shooting Sunday in Garland, Texas. David Axelrod, this question, it`s a conundrum for most people who want to be safe, want their families to be safe, their countries safe. Is this an organized set of events, or is it a splinter operation where some people get inspired by these calls to Islamism and act as terrorists without any call from overseas?   DAVID AXELROD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that`s an open question. But I think we should separate out September 11 from some of these other actions because September 11 was obviously planned overseas. It was a major operation. We haven`t seen one of those since that time because through two administrations, there`s been a big effort to -- and we`ve gotten much better at interdicting those kinds of episodes. And of course, al Qaeda central has been pulverized in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But there is this problem, Chris. The great threat, the great worry, are lone wolves and people who slip out of the country and get back in with now having been trained to do -- to perform terrorist acts. And this is -- this is the era in which we live, and it calls for vigilance. I don`t think it calls for panic, and it -- and we shouldn`t do that, but we have to be vigilant and keep an eye on people who show a propensity for this kind of action. MATTHEWS: You know, John, what I do one, every time there`s one of these incidents -- and I did it the other day -- is when I hear the names of the people, I wait to see if there`s some evidence that they come from another country, they have loyalties through their families to somewhere in Mideast, and that would explain it to me, and it gives me a little sense of confidence that this thing`s rational. And then when I hear, like, one of the other guys yesterday was a convert, an American -- African-American guy who became a convert, I go, Oh, my God, this thing could get out of hand because it becomes an ideology, a theology that could go pretty much anywhere. JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, here`s where I think the real important thing with the whole distinction with, say, Sirhan Sirhan. They were lone wolves in the sense that they weren`t tracked, like eventually, the 9/11 and others, but they were doing it not just for their own self-service but to also -- for motivations and for the pleasure of others and to impress others. And what this signifies to me is that we have now taken this to a new level, but I don`t think anybody in this country realizes how serious this is, and I think there`s two reasons. I think the failure in Iraq is now when we say something is very serious, we don`t always believe it, and frankly, I think that it was a mistake when President Obama called ISIS the JV team because that was to give comfort that we don`t have to take them as serious as I think we should. MATTHEWS: Well, you`ve just done what I thought you would do, and David has done the same thing. You are giving me a sense of terror as working, that we should be afraid, and David is saying Keep this thing in proportion. So tell me why you think it`s a -- it`s a danger to our country in the near future, ISIS. Just take that example you mentioned. BRABENDER: Well, the first thing we have to do is look overseas and see that they have had success. They have grown significantly. They`ve executed very sophisticated operations. So we see this isn`t just a bunch of hoodlums gathering together. This is an organization. Second of all, this is in our back yard, and fortunately, it was derailed yesterday, but it...   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: What is in our back yard? BRABENDER: Well, this was down in Texas. I`m saying it -- we believe this was part of this. They`re claiming -- ISIS, if nothing else, is claiming that this was part of their operation. We don`t know for sure. But the point is, nothing bad happened, fortunately, because we -- we spoiled it, but it could have. And I guarantee you if there was one injury that was serious, one death, this would be over the news like it should be. And I just think that all the candidates running for president and this administration has to understand this is not the JV team. MATTHEWS: How do you know that ISIS was behind the shootings yesterday, the other day? BRABENDER: I don`t know, but... MATTHEWS: You just said that they were. BRABENDER: But what we do know is that... MATTHEWS: No, you said they were. Why do you say they were? BRABENDER: What we do know is that it was ISIS-motivated. At least, that`s what ISIS is claiming. And this will lead others that want to join and make -- are motivated to make ISIS happy because they want to belong to this organization. This makes it very serious on our soil. And it would a huge mistake for us not to contemplate that that`s a possibility. MATTHEWS: David, is this going to be the debate in 2016 between the conservatives, the Republicans who say that every act of terrorism, whether it`s lone wolf or wherever, is somehow part of an orchestrated attack on this country that`s the responsibility of this president for not having hit ISIS harder over there in the Mideast.   AXELROD: Well, I mean, it may be a debate within the Republican primary. I would hope -- you know, we used to say that politics should end at the water`s edge. This is another issue on which we should just concentrate on the fact that we have a challenge, and that is that in the age of social media, a lot of people who for whatever reason are susceptible to these kinds of messages are motivated to go out and do things. Just as we see people going -- we`ve seen mass murders in this country in the last 10 years by people who were motivated by other things. But we`ve got to be vigilant about, obviously, seeing if there are any ties and stopping anything that`s a plan. And the government`s been pretty successful at that, but also tracking these people. But listen, I don`t think -- the night before President Obama took office, we were dealing with the potential of four teenagers, Somali- American teenagers, who had gone overseas. There was a worry that they had come back and that they were going to perform some sort of terrorist act on inauguration day. I didn`t blame that on the Bush administration. That`s the nature of the times in which we live. So instead of trying to, as we often do, turn these things to political advantage, we should have rational discussions about the nature of the threat and the things that we can do as a country to deal with it. MATTHEWS: John, is it true that whenever there`s a terrorist threat, even a lone wolf in this country, that it`s somehow the responsibility and actually caused by the president`s failure? BRABENDER: No, I don`t think all the blame can certainly be put at the president. I think that there has been some successes that have been out there. As I said, I`m deeply troubled that we decided to call this organization the JV team when that turned out not to be true. But I think it would also be unfair to say that everything goes bad is this president`s fault. What I do think, though, is that there should be an elevated concern, and I think there should be a national civil dialogue on taking this seriously and what we`re going to do about it. MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s take a look at these interesting polls because the difference in the two arguments, or two sides of the arguments, is very much reflective, for better or worse, of the way the partisan line is drawn in this country. We got a brand-new "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll just came out yesterday that found that Republican primary voters, the rank-and-file voters, put national security and terrorism as their number one priority for the federal government. Deficit spending is second, jobs and the economy is third, energy production is fourth. By comparison, David, the Democratic primary voters consider jobs and the economy to be their top issue -- jobs and the economy. They ranked health care second, climate change third, and then national security and terrorism is ranked fourth. Why do you think, David, that Democrats put national security and terrorism at the bottom, at least way down further on the list than the Republicans do?   AXELROD: Well, first of all, I`m always suspicious of polls that give people lists to respond to because it kind of limits the way -- the way they -- they respond to these things. But you know, I think most Americans, not just Democrats, fundamentally live with economic challenges every day that are going to define this next election. I think that the national security issue had been subdued over the last -- before the last... MATTHEWS: Not with Republicans. AXELROD: ... election because -- because of the way President Obama hit al Qaeda very hard and took bin Laden out, and so it really wasn`t a big issue in the last campaign. It`s now reemerged. And may be a big issue within the Republican primary. I don`t think it`s the issue that`s going to determine the next election. MATTHEWS: John, do you agree? I don`t agree. I think Republicans are going to make this a national security election. BRABENDER: Well, I think it will. And I will tell you, I`ve seen polls for the last four years, and it wasn`t always at the top. It was about fourth and fifth. Now it is at the top. By way of example, in the last presidential race, in the primaries, there were 22 debates and only one on national policy. (sic) That`ll be completely different this time. Republican primary voters are concerned, as you said. Plus, this is a huge differentiation for the candidates running against Hillary Clinton, quite frankly. MATTHEWS: I think it`s going to be a big election with the Democrats pushing domestic issues and the improvement in the health care in the country and better jobs and a better track record, this president on jobs, and the Republicans are going to be talking about the very things I think Brabender just did, which is fear of what we`re facing from the terrorism from the Arab world. Anyway, thank you, David Axelrod and John Brabender, a great illustration of the debate that`s coming up. By the way, coming up here tonight, get ready for the debates, the real debates. The Democrats announced today they`ll hold six presidential debates for their party candidates this fall. And one of the challengers to Hillary Clinton will be our next guest, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. He`s coming here right now. So what does Senator Sanders have to debate with Hillary Clinton? We`ll try to find out where this fight`s going between the challenger and the front-runner. We`ll find out that coming up next, as I said. And speaking of Hillary Clinton, she`s not ducking those House Republicans who want answers about Benghazi and her personal e-mail server. She says she`ll testify in public for as long as it takes. And here comes Huckabee. He won Iowa back in 2008. Does he have the muscle to do it again against people like Scott Walker, Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz?   Finally, "Let Me Finish" with a question of weapons. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton`s campaigning out in Las Vegas. She took part in a roundtable event at a heavily Latino high school, where she called for a full and equal path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Here she is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for you and for your families across our country. I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put dreamers, including those with us today, at risk of deportation. And if Congress continues to refuse to act, as president, I would do everything possible under the law to go even further. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: We`ll be back right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), VERMONT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton has been part of the political establishment for many, many years. I have known Hillary for some 25 years. I respect her and I like her.   People weren`t so sure I could beat the richest person in Vermont to become United States senator. So I would say don`t underestimate me. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome to HARDBALL. That was Vermont senator Bernie Sanders who is challenging Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primaries. Sanders is the longest-serving independent in the history of the United States Congress. He spent 16 years in the House of Representatives (INAUDIBLE) now in his second term in the U.S. Senate. Now Senator Sanders says he wants to be president, and he`s taking on the Clinton machine, if you will. Senator Bernie Sanders joins us now. Senator Sanders, thanks you so much. I salute your guts. And my question to you is, do you have a romantic sense of memory and nostalgia for when another senator, Eugene McCarthy, went up to New Hampshire and challenged another senator, former senator, for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party in `68? Do you feel like this could be the big challenge to the front-runner? SANDERS: Well, I do. I do, Chris. What I was wondering about, when I was thinking about running for president, is whether, in fact, we could put together the kind of strong grass roots movement we needed to rally the American people against the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality and the absurd campaign finance system we have today. And guess what? Five days after I announced, we have now close to 200,000 people, including many in New Hampshire and Iowa, who are prepared to stand up and fight back, so I feel pretty good. MATTHEWS: How do you beat big money? Because you know it`s there. You know, I ran in a Democratic primary when I was in my 20s on the issue of big money. I didn`t have any money. You know, it`s very tough because you turn on the TV -- we`re on TV right now -- and you watch the TV ads, which are paid for with money. And how do you say, I`m going to get my message across some other way? How do you do it? SANDERS: Well, Chris, you`ve asked maybe the major political question of our time. Look, as a result of this disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, the Koch brothers and other billionaire families are buying elections. We are seeing the undermining of American democracy. All I can say is I`m not going to have a super-PAC. Billionaires are not going to support me. But what we have raised are tens of thousands of people -- I think we`re over 50,000 who have contributed an average, Chris, of $43 to BernieSanders.com, our Web site. So can -- we`re not going to outspend our opponents. But can we raise the kinds of money we need to run a strong campaign based on strong small donations? I think we can. MATTHEWS: Let me talk to -- ask you about -- I don`t know about your ideology, and it may be developing. Mine does. Is there a connection between this wealth and the hawkishness of the foreign policy, certainly in the Republican Party -- and I wonder if it`s going to creep into the Democratic Party -- whereby historically, people with big money, lots to protect, if you will, including Nelson Rockefeller even, who was a moderate on other issues, are very hawkish, very hawkish?   I`m not just talking about the Koch brothers. I`m talking about all the people, Adelson, all the rest of them, and Donald Trump. They`re such hawks, and they love talking it. You know, war, war, war, war, war. SANDERS: That`s right. MATTHEWS: Do you think there`s a connection? SANDERS: I do. Look, I mean, when we talk about big money in politics, let`s not forget what Dwight David Eisenhower reminded us. You remember that? MATTHEWS: Sure. SANDERS: About the power of the military-industrial complex. That was back in 1960. That power has been magnified many, many times. These guys want more and more for defense. And I fear very much, Chris, that your point is right. You`ve got a lot of Republicans -- and it scares me to death -- who apparently feel good about perpetual warfare in the Middle East, who are trying to sabotage what the president is trying to do in terms of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. That scares me very much, and I think it speaks to the power of the military-industrial complex. MATTHEWS: Now, you have a very strong avenue, it looks like -- you never know what the Democratic National Committee is going to do, but apparently, they`re going to set up at least a half dozen debates. The party`s going to recognize those debate. Do you expect to participate in those against the probable front-runner, Senator Clinton? SANDERS: Absolutely. Of course. MATTHEWS: Well, that`s a good answer!   (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Do you... (CROSSTALK) SANDERS: Well, I mean, you know, I... MATTHEWS: she... SANDERS: Yes. I mean, of course I will participate. And I hope that we will have as many debates as possible. Look, Chris, this country faces enormous problems. And anyone who knows my politics knows that I`m issue-oriented. I don`t like personal attacks. I focus on issues like why it is that the middle class for 40 years has been disappearing, why 99 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent, why we`re not addressing the planetary crisis of climate change, why we are no doing something about this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision. So, to my mind, there`s a lot to be debated and I look forward to having respectful, intelligent debates with Hillary Clinton and any other candidate who is out there. MATTHEWS: What can be done in America about exponential wealth? I don`t mean people, the CEO who makes too much money. That`s a problem in itself. But when you see people making in the billions -- I have never seen these numbers. You have never saw them, billions. There are some people -- $20 billion, $30 billion as -- you hear about numbers like Buffett`s money or other people`s money. I have never heard of money like this in the world. SANDERS: Chris, you have never heard... MATTHEWS: How do you deal with that? It`s not just 100 times. It`s 1,000, 10,000 times what other people have.   (CROSSTALK) SANDERS: Chris, You have never heard of this because it`s never happened before. Listen to this. According to "Forbes" magazine, in the last two years, the wealthiest 14 people in this country have seen their wealth increase by $157 billion. That`s more wealth than the bottom 130 million people have in their entirety. It is obscene. It is immoral. It`s grotesque. How do you deal with it? You know what? You have real tax reforms that says to the billionaires, that says to the largest corporations in America, guess what? You are part of the United States of America. You can`t avoid your taxes anymore. You are going to have to start paying your fair share. You do that by raising the minimum wage and rebuilding the middle class, by a massive jobs program rebuilding our infrastructure. MATTHEWS: Senator Bernie Sanders, we will have you on again and again. Good luck in the race. We`re looking forward to those debates, especially the ones headed toward New Hampshire. It`s got a lot of nostalgia for me. Up next: President Obama says he`s found his mission, not just for the rest of his presidency, but for the rest of his life. It is about race and poverty and bringing opportunity to those who don`t have it. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By almost every measure, the life chances of the average young man of color is worse than his peers. Those opportunity gaps begin early, often at birth. And they compound over time, becoming harder and harder to bridge, making too many young men and women feel like, no matter how hard they try, they may never achieve their dreams.   And this will remain a mission for me and for Michelle, not just for the rest of my presidency, but for the rest of my life. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: That`s a powerful statement. Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was President Obama in New York speaking to the frustrations, the racial tensions, the protests and at times the riots that are now a focal point of his second presidential term. President Obama has addressed the subject multiple times and in stark personal terms since the Baltimore tragedy. For a president that has at times avoided racial politics, he seems to have found his voice. In those remarks in New York, the president announced a new venture called My Brother`s Keeper Alliance. And this is news, actually big news. The front page of "The New York Times" reports that, staked by more than $80 million in commitments from corporations and other donors, the new group will in effect provide the nuclear for Mr. Obama`s post-presidency. Today, President Obama`s new attorney general, Loretta Lynch, visited Baltimore in the wake of last week`s rioting, where she met with local officials, police and members of Freddie Gray`s family, including his mother. Here`s what Attorney General Lynch told the Baltimore police force. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: You have picked a noble profession. You have picked a hard profession, but you have picked one of the best professions out there today, because you have picked the one that lets you go out every day and say I`m going to help somebody.   And despite how some of people may want to choose to characterize you, hold on to that as you go out on patrol every day. We don`t always choose moments. Sometimes, they choose us, and how we live with that and how we go through with that determines what kind of officers we all are. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wes Moore is a retired Army captain, community leader, author and Baltimore native. His newest book is called "The Work." Thank you very much for joining us, Wes Moore. Thank you, sir. CAPT. WES MOORE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: My pleasure. MATTHEWS: Sir, what do you think the president is up to here? What`s his plan for the rest of his life, apparently? MOORE: Well, I mean, this is an incredibly exciting news and development to share, because I think the president, you know, knows. The president has seen this from so many different dynamics, first as an African-American growing up in various communities around the country, going through the experience that he detailed in his own books, then becoming a community organizer in Chicago, eventually state senator, now president of the United States. He`s seen this evolution from so many different dynamics and so many different standpoints. And his takeaway is that in order to form a more perfect union, we have to make sure that this conversation is more inclusive. And, unfortunately, not just statistically, but also anecdotally, we`re seeing certain percentages of the population and specifically in this case young men of color, young African-American men, who are not part of that conversation. So to see him devoting so much time and energy not just in his time in office, but even, as he`s saying, his time out of office, is incredibly exciting. MATTHEWS: What do you think has stopped him from having a kind of a Marshall Plan, a major effort for young African-American men, to be particular, as president? He`s got a year-and-a-half left, but why for all these years hasn`t he said, you know what? I look at our cities. We all drive through them. We know the situation they`re in.   You can take a neighborhood or two in every city and say, this area is in big trouble and it`s getting worse. Why hasn`t he done that before? MOORE: Well, I don`t want to -- don`t want to separate some of the other policies that he`s made and say how the impact that this actually has had. MATTHEWS: But why hasn`t he focused on this problem before? MOORE: Well, no, but that`s what I`m saying. I think if you look at many of the policies, even things from Obamacare to also other tax policies put into place, there actually are things that actually have had direct impacts particularly on communities of color. You know, I think the president walks an incredibly fine line, Chris. The president is our first African-American president, where he wants to be very clear that he is not the black president, but he`s the president who happens to be black. I think we understand that, and, you know, we appreciate that -- the challenge that he has. But, at the same time, to see this level of focus and specific level of focus on this demographic right now is more than we have received from presidents of the past. So, for that, I think we`re thankful. MATTHEWS: Well, let me try this from another way, from a partisan end. The Democratic Party has owned the big cities of this country, especially the African-American areas, for as long as I remember. As soon as there`s an African-American majority electorally, you get a black congressman or woman in every city, from New York all the way down to Philadelphia, through Baltimore, all the way down to Atlanta, to Florida and then all the way out to the West of the West Coast cities and the Midwest cities. So they have all been represented, these African-American areas. What good has it done them in terms of jobs, in terms of economic development, in terms of training and the new industry jobs that will be available if you are trained? Who has been leading that effort in that -- in those communities on behalf of the Democratic Party? Give me a name of somebody who has done that. MOORE: Well, I think that`s been part of the frustration, Chris. MATTHEWS: Give me a name.   MOORE: I think -- no, no, that`s been part of the frustration. MATTHEWS: Give me a name. MOORE: A name of who has been leading the effort? MATTHEWS: Who has been leading -- is there such an effort as I have just described it... MOORE: No, but... MATTHEWS: ... to bring economic hope to those communities represented by Democratic members of Congress? MOORE: No, that`s -- the point is that I`m agreeing with you. There hasn`t been a single name that you can point towards that is going to address these single issues, in the same way I don`t think there`s a single issue that were going to be addressed. All these issues are intertwined. All these issues are connected, where you cannot talk about... MATTHEWS: Yes. MOORE: You know, you cannot talk about economic advancement without also talking education. You cannot talk about education without also talking about health. You cannot talk about health without talking about jobs. All these things are interconnected, and I think part of the frustration that we have in so many communities, communities like mine in Baltimore, is we have a situation where we`re continually asking the same people to be patient, where we can say we can build up -- you know, we can build up a waterfront and we can do that in five to 10 years, but we have certainly communities in Baltimore that have looked the same since 1968.   And then, at some point, the same people you`re asking to be patient are no longer going to be patient anymore. So, to answer the question, there is no single name that I can give. There`s no single position or policy that we have in place that`s doing this. But the thing that I know is this, is that we have a great collection of people who are actually on the ground who understand that -- that certain power, certain empowerment does not come with a certain political title or does not come with a certain business card, that everybody has to be involved. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: It should. The people elected to represent us in our government should be the ones who get things done. Anyway, I have a simple question to narrow it all down. You`re 18 years old, you just graduated from high school, you got a clean record, you got a C average, you`re a regular boy, a regular kid. What`s the world going to offer you as opportunity? Let`s answer that question. Anyway, thank you, Wes Moore, for coming on. The book is "The Other Wes Moore." MOORE: Good question. MATTHEWS: Thanks for coming on. Up next, Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, says she`s ready to go back to Capitol Hill to testify about Benghazi and her e-mail in open testimony, no hiding from the cameras. She`s going right in their face. She`s facing the lions. Plus, Mike Huckabee gets into the Republican race. Can he duplicate the early success when he won all those primaries, including Iowa, back in `08? You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)   MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. The Obama administration has approved ferry service between the U.S. and Cuba. If approved by Cuba, it would create a new avenue for trade and travel between the two countries. Boxer Manny Pacquiao may face sanctions for failing to disclose a shoulder injury before Saturday`s match against Floyd Mayweather. Pacquiao will have surgery this week to repair a torn rotator cuff. And a falling tree injured two children at a Chelsea, Massachusetts, playground. One of them is being treated for a fractured skull -- back to HARDBALL. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is, we have four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they would go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was of course former Secretary of State and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton testifying before a Senate committee about the 2012 attack on the U.S. compound in Libya where four Americans were killed. Secretary Clinton says she will testify now before the House Select Committee some time in May. She will also answer questions about her use of personal e-mail while she was at the State Department. Now newly minted Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, has pounced on Hillary Clinton and Benghazi. Here she goes.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She wasn`t transparent about Benghazi, in fact, just the opposite. She peddled a fiction about it for months. She hasn`t been transparent about her server and her e-mails. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, that salvo from Fiorina launches a presidential race with two strong women opponents. Joining me right now is our roundtable, Cokie Roberts, NPR contributor, of course, author of "Capital Dames," the story of the women of Washington during the Civil War, and also tonight AP White House reporter Nedra Pickler, and NBC political reporter Perry Bacon. Cokie, it`s so great to have you on. COKIE ROBERTS, NPR CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Can you tell me, do you think Fiorina, Carly Fiorina, has this notion in her head that she can get away with even scurrilous attacks on Secretary Clinton because she is a female? Do you think there`s something going on there or not? Open question. ROBERTS: I think she can -- she thinks that she can say just because she`s a woman is not a reason to vote for her; I say that as a woman. And she`s got this whole riff she does about hormones and hormones in the Oval Office and all of that. So... MATTHEWS: What?   (LAUGHTER) ROBERTS: ... I think that -- yes, she says -- she says, you know, that if -- that women -- people women shouldn`t be president because of their hormones. She says, as if men`s hormones never got in the way in the Oval Office, wink, wink, nod, nod. MATTHEWS: Oh, my God, wink, wink. (CROSSTALK) ROBERTS: And so she is -- she is clearly going to a place that I think men would not go to. MATTHEWS: Let me ask. Let me go -- Nedra, what do you think of that success rate there? I mean, I do think she has kind of a strong attack theme here. And it seems personal, perhaps more than some of the others, although the others are pretty darn personal. NEDRA PICKLER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: You know, they are all trying to land blows on her. But she`s doing it in a way where she says, hey, she`s not going to be the only woman in this race who would make the first woman president. That`s kind of the underlying argument. And also she is, interestingly, not attacking her fellow GOP candidates. She`s trying to show the field that she can do a service here, right, by taking on Clinton and maybe even angling for a different spot on the ticket. MATTHEWS: Right. (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: Perry, is this -- is this an attempt to show that I can win the general, so I should win the primaries? PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. I think it`s an attempt to be vice president, as Nedra said. I don`t think Carly Fiorina imagines she is going to be in the Oval Office as the president. But I think she`s the only female candidate that is going to be -- and I think there is potential for her to be the vice president if she runs a really strong campaign during the primary. I think that`s where to opening is. She will be the only woman on stage in all these Republican debates talking about Hillary Clinton. So, she has a great opportunity to raise her profile, make different points, and just be a bigger figure in the Republican Party than she is right now. COKIE ROBERTS, AUTHOR, "CAPITAL DAMES": I think everybody who gets into these races thinks that they are going to be in the oval office. They all suspend disbelief, for at least a period of time see they will seems right behind the desk with the rug of the seal of the presidency on the floor in front of them. NEDRA PICKLER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Anything can happen. She is barely registering in the polls -- (CROSSTALK) CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I`m sorry, go ahead. PICKLER: She`s barely registering in the polls. But anything could happen. MATTHEWS: Well, no, not anything. Not anything. (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: Not anything. Let me -- (CROSSTALK) BACON: No -- (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I`ll bet. Never mind. I don`t want to say she can`t win because I might be wrong, of course. Let me ask you, the only guy in the group here tonight, Perry. According to this new poll by the Shriver Report -- I never heard of Shriver Report -- 64 percent of men are comfortable with having a female president of the United States. I just wonder what kind of question that is. I mean, are they supposed to say I`m not comfortable with that? I mean -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly. MATTHEWS: This is a setup question, Perry. What are you supposed to say, no, I`m a man of yesterday, I don`t like women and I don`t want them in the White House? Who is going to say that? Go ahead. Your thoughts? BACON: I agree with Cokie. It`s like one of the questions, like, do you want a black president, or a Hispanic president, female president? You`re not going to get -- there are may be some people in the electorate aren`t for that but they won`t say that in a poll. But I think we will get a good sense of how the electorate and for that matter the media views female candidates. We`ll have Carly Fiorina on the Republican side and Hillary Clinton.   Hopefully, we`ll have less articles about their clothing and appearance than in 2008. That`s what I`m hoping for myself. ROBERTS: You know, in 2008, the "Los Angeles Times" tried to do a poll to get at that question without saying would you vote for a woman president or is the country ready for a woman president because everybody is going to say yes. And they basically asked something like, you know, do you think your neighbor would vote for a woman or an African-American? MATTHEWS: I know that one. ROBERTS: And given that way, 75 percent said yes to an African- American and only two-thirds said yes to a woman. So there was a gap in -- even in the poll. PICKLER: Well, apparently from this poll, a third of the respondents didn`t say they were comfortable with a woman president. I find that pretty horrifying in the headline from that. MATTHEWS: Isn`t it amazing that 36 percent said point blank said no way? All right. Last question, everybody. You know, my mom -- I didn`t find this out until -- I grew up in a Republican family I`ve said before and I have to tell you -- my mom didn`t tell anybody she voted for Jack Kennedy until a couple years before she died. She told my brother Jim and he just told me. He kept it secret all this year. ROBERTS: Didn`t want you to have the satisfaction. MATTHEWS: You don`t know. Anyway. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Cokie, let me ask you, my friend. Is it possible that there will be a lot of women saying their husband is making a ton of money, they live in the suburbs, they have always voted Republican, come Election Day, Hillary Clinton is a credible candidate for president, she may be a bit to the left of some of these Republican women, they`re going to sneak out and vote for her?   ROBERTS: Sure. In fact, right now in the polls -- MATTHEWS: Without telling hubby. ROBERTS: Absolutely. But the reason she`s doing well now is because she is getting white women, and that`s unusual for a Democratic candidate, so you have to figure that that`s already going on. MATTHEWS: Nedra? PICKLER: Yes, I mean, that`s what the Clinton campaign is banking on, right, that this is going to be the year of the woman, and they`ll be able to pull over some of these voters who otherwise may not vote for a Democratic candidate. MATTHEWS: There`s going to be a lot -- ROBERTS: But, you know, a lot of Republican women vote Democratic anyway. MATTHEWS: Yes. ROBERTS: I mean, there`s a lot of cancelling out each other`s votes. (CROSSTALK) BACON: Yes, go ahead.   MATTHEWS: My question is how much wasted gas is there going to be on Election Day when the husband and wife go to vote? A lot of wasted gas there, right? (LAUGHTER) ROBERTS: Exactly. MATTHEWS: When they vote opposite directions. Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. And up next, Mike Huckabee gets in the race. Will his brand of evangelism, economic pluralism and hatred of the Clintons sell? Why would an evangelist go with hating the Clintons? Anyway, HARDBALL coming back in a minute. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton is still looking strong against the top tier Republican candidates for 2016. Let`s check the requested HARDBALL scoreboard. According to our new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, Clinton leads Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky by three points nationally, Clinton 47, Paul 44. Secretary Clinton leads Jeb Bush by six points, 49-43. Isn`t that interesting? Leads him by more.   Against Senator Marco Rubio, Clinton`s lead is also six, 49-43. Finally, Clinton leads Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by 10, 50-40. He`s got some name ID to pick up though. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m running for president because I know there`s a difference between making a speech and making government accountable to the people who have to pay for it. I`ve walked away from my own income to do this, so I`m not asking you for some sacrifice I`m not willing to make. I don`t have a global foundation or a taxpayer payer funded paycheck to live off of it. I don`t come from a family dynasty but a working family. I grew up blue collar, not blue blood. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: That`s Mike Huckabee today in Hope, Arkansas, announcing his bid to run for president. When he ran back in 2008, he finished first in Iowa, thanks to a strong support among evangelicals. But this year, the evangelical vote to be split among Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry. The new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows Huckabee in the back of the pack with only 5 percent of the vote. His message, by the way, makes his hawkishness on national security and strong socially conservative views with economic populism. He also has delivered some particularly harsh attacks on President Obama and, of course, the Clintons, the fellow Arkansans. How his message sell in 2016?   We`re back with Cokie, Perry and Nedra. Let me go back to Cokie on this one. Evangelicals, I just don`t think this is going to work for him this time. Your thoughts? I think it`s over. ROBERTS: You`re quite right. He`s got a huge amount of competition, including Ted Cruz who is appealing to the evangelical vote, and, you know, in Iowa it is huge, but if they all split it up, then we`re on to New Hampshire and Jeb Bush. MATTHEWS: The only person missing in this crowd is Marjo right now, Nedra? Remember him? PICKLER: I don`t remember him. MATTHEWS: I mean, there seems to be a lot of evangelical talking going on in that Republican Party. It`s almost like you`ve got to very right wing on marriage equality, you`ve got to be right wing on abortion rights. You`ve got to be right wing on hawkishness. I mean, there`s a lot of rules now to put all these people in that same sort of rightward column that gets pretty crowded over there. PICKER: Well, I will say that Mike Huckabee seems very comfortable in that column over there. And I will predict his attention will be probably disproportionate to his poll numbers because he is such a good sound bite. He has a way with words. He`s also a serious policy person, but he`s a person who knows how to get attention and say something that can grab the headlines. MATTHEWS: Well, here he is doing that, backing hawkish positions on national security, he opposes nuclear talks with Iran, opposes the talks, supports military action against ISIS. He also has been critical of President Obama`s policy on Israel. Here he was today in Arkansas. Let`s watch him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   HUCKABEE: When I hear our current president say he wants Christians to get off their high horse so we can make nice with radical jihadists, I wonder -- I wonder if he can watch a western from the `50s and be able to figure out who the good guys and the bad guys really are. (CHEERS) As president, I promise you we will no longer merely try to contain jihadism. We will conquer it. (CHEERS) And let there be no doubt -- Israel will know, as will the whole world, that we are their trusted friends, and the ayatollahs of Iran will know that hell will freeze over before they get a nuclear weapon. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Perry Bacon, I think he touched all the erogenous zones with that baby. BACON: He did. I mean, I think Huckabee is significant in this race, not because he`s likely to win, but because he really did well in Iowa and throughout the South in 2008. And that means he`s a danger to someone like Scott Walker, who really wants to win the Iowa caucus. Huckabee has a base support there. So, if you`re looking at the race in terms of Walker, Rubio and Bush are probably the leading candidates. If you`re Walker and you`re Rubio and you think maybe you could win Iowa, Huckabee could cut into your vote. He`d get a strong base there and that`s where he plays a big role in this race. He has the same problem for him winning, as you intimated, that he has a very strong base of evangelicals and very little base outside of that, and there`s no evidence that`s going to change in 2016. In fact, I would argue he`s in an even worse position in 2008 to win a broader base of a vote. But he will be a player in this race. MATTHEWS: Cokie, what happens if they hop up -- (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: What happens, Cokie, if they hop up the hard right, and everybody gets excited about, we`re all going to go to war on Israel side, we`re going to take out all the Arabs, we`re going to exterminate the Islamists, we`re going blah, blah, blah, and then they have to run a general election and they have to take it all back? ROBERTS: It doesn`t -- I mean, that`s what happened to them in 2012. Mitt Romney`s problem wasn`t what everybody in the debates said about him. It`s what he said. And, you know, when talking about the self-deportation and all the rest of it. It`s -- you know, it`s what they themselves say in the lead up to the elections. You know, that`s also the same problems that Hillary Clinton could have, the debates are now going to exist and if she`s talking to Bernie Sanders and others, she could find herself saying things that don`t work so well for her in the general, too. MATTHEWS: Yes. Nedra, does it balance that way? Do you think the Democrats will go as far left as Republicans are going right? Or have to go right with this new crowd of people crowding on the right on the Republican side? PICKLER: I just think these are two completely different dynamics on these two sides. I mean, Secretary Clinton does not have to fight off strong challengers the way that every Republican is going to have to be in those debates. MATTHEWS: Does she know that? Does she know that and believe that in her soul, that she doesn`t have to tack left, she doesn`t have to worry about that. She got 81 support --She got 81 percent support yesterday in the party. Does she know it, though? ROBERTS: It will depend on how it goes, you know? If she takes a hit in Iowa, you can see that things would -- that would make a big difference. In the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, her negatives are up, exactly tied with her positives. I mean, she`s got some things to worry about here and how she responds to it is going to depend on what comes at her next. MATTHEWS: Well, let`s finish up with Huckabee here and I want to ask you all -- is Huckabee a factor? Could he possibly be the Republican nominee? Cookie? ROBERTS: No. No.   MATTHEWS: Perry? ROBERTS: No. In fact, when he goes South, even though he did well there the last time around, that`s where Lindsey Graham is coming into the picture and why he`s getting into the race. BACON: I would say no, he`s not -- Carly Fiorina definitely can`t win, Ben Carson cannot win, Huckabee has a very narrow window, but he`s not likely -- I don`t want to say never with him. He`s at least won elective office before, but he`s a much more serious candidate than Ben Carson is. MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, Cokie Roberts. The name of your book is "Capital Dames". I was going to say dames, but it`s dames. Thank you, Nedra Pickler. Great panelist. And thank you, Perry Bacon. When we return, let me finish with the question of weapons. You know, choosing your weapons -- fascinating stuff in politics. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a question of weapons, choosing weapons. Polls show the Republicans believe that national security and terrorism constitute the top issues facing our country. This what Republican primary voters cite as their top priority for 2016. Who is going to protect this country? The candidates -- the Republican candidates seem to be on the same page. It`s hard to see them nominated a candidate who is not a hawk through and through, someone ready to lead the fight against our terrorist enemies. The only dove is Rand Paul, which makes him an interesting long shot.   On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton opened her national campaign focusing on domestic policy. Again, that conforms to what Democratic voters have on their agenda. For them, national security and terrorism are way down on the list, down past climate change -- a concern, by the way, that fails to even score on the Republican to-do list. So, what kind of debate are we going to have in 2016? Is it going to be like the conversations on so many opinion shows right now, where people talk about their priorities but ignore those of the other side? Are we going to see more of this ships passing in the night in `16, with each side scoring its points and pretend the other nominee isn`t there, that the party`s concerns aren`t even there? Well, here`s what we`re going to do here on HARDBALL -- choose stuff from both sides of the political menu. You know, column A and column B, security and economics, foreign and domestic issues. Why? Because every president of the United States has to deal with both. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>