Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 05/12/15

Guests: Randal Hill, Sean Gregory, David McCullough, April Ryan, MathewLittman

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Warren in a knockout. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Elizabeth Warren has sent a Sidewinder missile into the Obama White House. Attacking for weeks in broad daylight, the Massachusetts senator actually hit President Obama where he`s been weakest, championing the cause of international trade. Warren scored a huge victory today, leaving the crushed president with just a single U.S. senator on his side. Needing 60 votes to break a filibuster, she kept it to just 52, a huge legislative shortfall for his trade bill. Does this mean the victory of the protectionist argument? It`s not clear. Fourteen Democrats could still be persuaded to vote the pro-trade side, but today`s vote was a clear-cut defeat by the insurgent Senator Warren, a smashing defeat for her fellow Democrat in the White House, who was unable, knowing the pressure was on, to rally partisans to his side. So what`s this say for 2016? Will Warren`s victory perk up the "Draft Warren" forces out there? Will it drive Hillary Clinton, who`s yet to declare sides on trade issue, to join today`s winning side? Will it shoo Warren, or more likely, Warren`s ally Sherrod Brown onto the 2016 Hillary ticket? Chris Jansing is senior White House correspondent for NBC News. She`s at the White House. Chris, what`s the president going to do after this resounding defeat today? CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT: He`s already moving, regrouping from (ph) both the White House and the president. Shortly after this vote, Chris, he called Democrats, pro-trade Democrats, into the White House for a meeting and tried to look at where are we going to go, going forward. How do we do what we need to do to this bill to make it work?   He also send out a letter to his supporters making it clear that he`s not giving up. He wrote that, This is personal to me, in an e-mail that went out through his Organizing for Action mailing list. He also said, This is our chance to do better and to get it right. Now, obviously, this has been a priority of his second term agenda. It is also something he put a major push into. The president and the vice president spent countless hours in meetings, on phone calls. The entire cabinet was called to work on this vote. You had the treasury secretary, who went out and made arguments about manipulation of currency, trying to convince Democrats about that. You also, very shortly after he was sworn into office, had the new defense secretary, Ash Carter, making a speech and saying this is about national security. So this has been a major push by this White House, but the major pushback, of course, led by Elizabeth Warren, who the president said very publicly was absolutely wrong on this. And after the vote today, Sherrod Brown, her close ally, said that the president`s comments were disrespectful. He thought he made it too personal. Now we`re going to see out of that meeting what the White House does going forward -- Chris. MATTHEWS: Well, thank you so much, NBC`s Chris Jansing at the White House. Well, Senator Elizabeth Warren continued her assault on the president`s trade agenda jury hours before her party derailed that big vote in the Senate. And here she is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Over and over, American workers have taken the brunt of bad trade deals! This country is in real trouble. The game is rigged, and we are running out of time. We cannot continue to run this country for the top 10 percent. We can`t keep pushing through trade deals that benefit multi-national companies at the expense of workers. Government cannot continue to be the captive of the rich and powerful! (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: Michael Steele was RNC chair and Ed Rendell was the governor of Pennsylvania and DNC chair. Both are MSNBC analysts. Governor Rendell, do you think the president was too personal in attacking Elizabeth Warren in this big fight today that she won? ED RENDELL (D), FMR. PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I wouldn`t have done it, but I don`t think he was too personal. He said she was wrong, and I think Elizabeth is wrong Trade is -- in most case, expanded trade helps the mid-size and smaller companies who don`t do trade and who are exposed to trade for the first time, and who see those barriers, those quotas and tariffs knocked down. But what shocks me about this vote, Chris, is there was a recent poll that showed Democrats, not Republicans or independents, although them, too -- but Democrats overwhelmingly support expanded trade and think it`s good for the economy. MATTHEWS: Well, so does Bill Clinton. RENDELL: Right. MATTHEWS: And let me -- the president certainly does. And here`s Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, who`s an openly admitted protectionist, going after President Barack Obama for singling out Elizabeth Warren in this debate. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: I think the president was disrespectful to her by the way he did that. I think the president has made this more personal than he needed to, and I know he disagrees He -- when he said that we don`t know -- a number of us, not just Senator Warren, but don`t know what we`re talking about, we`re fighting the last war, a number of those phrases he used. I assume he wished he hadn`t said them. (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: I don`t know, Michael. I think he did wish he`d said them. I got the feeling he`s really mad at some of these guys who seem to be sporting along with the labor unions and not really focusing so much on the facts here. MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think you`re right about that. And I find this conundrum that the Democrats find themselves in to be a little bit humorous because the reality of it, this is not NAFTA. So it`s kind of this retreat to the old conversation about NAFTA. I think it`s misplaced. I think the idea of expanding the Pacific Rim -- with Pacific Rim partners in the trade area is important for the country. This is about how you graduate businesses into this new marketplace. The president has articulated that. Now, I will fault the administration on this point, and that is they didn`t bring along those Elizabeth Warrens in the Senate. They didn`t bring that voice into the conversation until much later. So they were able to take, I think, a greater hold on the conversation. The president found himself more on the defensive than I thought he needed to be because he had support. He had... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I want to get back to what Governor Rendell -- from the time this issue got sharp a couple weeks ago, Governor, I`ve been trying to make a case this is a legitimate debate among the Democratic Party and the progressive movement, that there are both sides to the argument. What`s been pushed on television over and over again, including on this network, is somehow, if you`re a progressive, you`ve got to be against trade, which is nonsense. Kennedy was for it. Bill Clinton is openly for it. It`s a positive proposal to try to enlarge our potential for exporting -- promotion and everything else, and yet it`s been sold as somehow one- sided. I don`t think it`s one-sided. The fact you pointed out that poll that shows most Democrats support it makes the case. RENDELL: No question. It`s just -- to me, it`s very clear. In Pennsylvania, during my eight years as governor, because of a program we started, we tripled our exports, went from $13 billion a year to $40 billion a year, and that created thousands of well-paying jobs in the U.S. And by the way, Chris, export-related jobs pay 18 percent higher than non- export-related jobs. If we`re talking about good middle class jobs, trade is one of the ways that we can achieve that. MATTHEWS: Do you have a sense of where Hillary Clinton is going to come out on this? Because she`s been cooling it, basically. She`s made a point on the issue of sovereignty, the sovereignty issue, one of the side issues here. She made it in her book, so she`s covered on that. Is she going to come out, or can she wait this out, this fight?   RENDELL: Well, she can wait it out a little bit, but she has to say that environmental and labor concerns are our most important issues, and I think those concerns -- as Michael said, this isn`t NAFTA. Some of the weaknesses of NAFTA have been buttressed in this bill, so I think it`s going to be hard for her to be against it. MATTHEWS: Anyway, the senator who is at the middle of this, Ron Wyden of Oregon -- he`s the top Democrat in the Finance Committee, who`s been pushing for this -- said in reaction to the failed vote the following, late today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: This morning 14 pro-trade Democrats met, and I can assure all the senators here that these are senators who are committed, strongly committed, to ensuring that this bill passes. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: So there you`ve got -- the Republican Party, well over 50 votes out of the 54 (sic), and 14 Democrats who want this, and yet this whole kerfuffle blew up today. It seems to me it`s still possible on the merits that we get a trade bill. STEELE: I think you`re absolutely right. I see this more as a process vote more than anything else. It gives people the ability to say, I voted against this at this stage of the game. I think they`re going to double back. Those 14 senators that Wyden refers to I think will be there at the end, coupled with the Republicans. And then the challenge goes to the House. And I think it`s -- you know, in the Senate, it`s going to be Republicans that pass it, in the House, it`s going to take the Democrats. MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Governor -- it seems to me that one of the problems was the president couldn`t call up Democrats today who were wavering, these 14 who were wavering, who are pro-trade, and say, Come on, I need this one for the team. That goes back, I think, to -- does that go back to his problem -- I`m going to ask you an open-ended question. Is that his problem with congressional relations and not having personal relations with the members? RENDELL: Well, I think that there`s something to that, Chris, but I also think that that`s a little bit of an excuse that Democrats in the House, and for that matter, Republicans in the House and Senate use. Your job is to vote on the merits of the bill. Is it good for the American people? And I was on with Sherrod Brown, and I pointed out that five of Ohio`s most important industries face tariffs from 30 to 70 percent in most of those Asian countries, tariffs that will be totally removed, and those Ohio businesses who want to do trade will see the numbers and the dollars skyrocket. And so it`s time for the senators to do what`s right for their people and their constituency, not for a slice of the party, but for the people of the states they represent.   MATTHEWS: OK, Let`s talk presidential politics. Senator Warren, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, sounded like a candidate today on the stump when she spoke in Washington this morning on the party`s progressive agenda. Here she is. I think this is a big victory for her. She`ll be in all the headlines tomorrow. Let`s watch her in action. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WARREN: The middle class is on the ropes, and now is the time to fight back. I believe in the working people of America, and I believe that if we show a little backbone, if we show a little gumption, that we can rebuild America`s once invincible middle class. And I believe that this is a fight worth having! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Michael Steele, the Republican side, it looks to me like she sounds like a candidate. And if she`s not going to run, she`s going to make people want her to run, and whether she`s fighting for a piece on the ticket or a piece of Hillary, or for Sherrod Brown to be on the ticket -- it looked to me like she wanted to be the nominee. STEELE: She`s feeding that beast, and I think that this narrative is what you`re going to see play out not just on trade but on other issues that are going to box Hillary Clinton down the line. You know, the question... MATTHEWS: Is she running for herself or to box Hillary? STEELE: I think it`s a combination at this point. I think works... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Governor, what do you see going on there in that rhetoric of hers? I mean, there`s nothing wrong with it. It`s good, old...   STEELE: It`s politics. MATTHEWS: ... you know, stump rhetoric, but it doesn`t sound like a person who`s just a legislator. RENDELL: Well, if she`s so interested in creating jobs for the middle class, is she willing to put up a tax vote for expanded infrastructure, for raising the gas tax, which would do more to produce well-paying middle class jobs than anything we`re talking about? I think someone should ask Senator Warren that. MATTHEWS: You mean -- you do something substantive, instead of politically. Anyway, thank you, Governor. You amaze me at times how smart you really are. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Thank you, Governor Ed Rendell, a free trader and an open mind and a brilliant man. Thank you so much for coming on. And of course, Michael Steele, enjoying this whole screwup by the Democrats. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Coming up -- the NFL suspended Tom Brady the other day. He`s fighting that punishment. Now the debate is over whether the league made the right call. I think they did. Is four games too hard? Does it prove no one, not even the league`s golden boy, is above the rules? That`s what I think it proves. Plus, the right-wing clown car rambles on. Dr. Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon, is doubling down on his argument that President Obama is a psychopath -- a psycho! Is that clinical, Doctor? Is that in your charts? And now conservatives are voicing concern that the Republican crazies could actually hurt the party in 2016. And the conservative backlash against first lady Michelle Obama for her unvarnished remarks about race in this country.   Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the president`s big defeat today, and it was a defeat. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, Christianity is on the decline in America, at least numerically. The number of people who say they`re not affiliated with any religion is on the rise. According to a new Pew poll, 71 percent of American adults describe themselves as Christian, and that`s down from 78 percent in 2007. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of Americans say they`re not affiliated at all with any religion, and that number`s up 7 points from 16 percent in 2007. In fact, more Americans say they`re not affiliated with a religion than are either Roman Catholic or mainline Protestant. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It didn`t look good. And you know, figured something like this may happen, but yes, I mean, I guess -- you know, Tom`s -- Tom`s been a friend of mine. And I don`t like to see anybody get suspended. Any time you lose, you know, your starting quarterback for four games, and draft picks, it`s -- you know, it`s pretty big statement. And obviously, the NFL is serious about not -- not -- not messing with the integrity of the game, no matter how, you know, big or little the issue is. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Everyone seems to have an opinion about Tom Brady`s four-game suspension. Even White House press secretary Josh Earnest was asked about the news today.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I will say, just as a general matter, that I do think that people around the world, particularly children, particularly boys, do look up to Tom Brady. And I think that as he confronts this particular situation and he determines what the next steps will be for him, that he`ll be mindful of the way that he serves to be -- the way he serves as a role model to so many -- not just to American kids, as you point out, but to kids around the world. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: When delivering that discipline yesterday, NFL executive vice president for operations Troy Vincent wrote in a letter to Brady, "Your actions as set forth in the report clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football." Anyway, the decision came after the league`s investigation found, quote, "It is more probable than not that Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities." Anyway, Brady`s agent, Donald Yee, blasted the initial report and the league`s disciplinary measures. He said, quote, "The discipline is ridiculous. It has no legitimate basis. There`s no evidence that Tom directed footballs be set at pressures below the allowable limits." Was the NFL`s decision too harsh, or did they send the right message? I`m joined right now by Randal Hill, a former wide receiver for the Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints, and Sean Gregory, who`s senior writer for "Time." Let me go with Randal. You had the right call on this, I think, a couple nights ago here. Are you happy with the way they assigned the guilt and the blame and the sanctions? RANDAL HILL, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I am extremely happy. You know, it is what it is. You know, it`s not -- actually, it`s not necessarily happy or sad, but I knew Troy was going to come down the way he did because I played with him. And you know, he has the utmost respect for the game and he wants to see the game played properly. MATTHEWS: Mr. Gregory? What do you think of the call? SEAN GREGORY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Yes, I think it was too harsh. I think, you know, the Wells report is very well done and it`s persuasive. However, it goes out of its way to specify that there`s less direct evidence linking Tom Brady to this than the locker room attendants, so that gives Brady wiggle room, I believe, to get this penalty shortened.   MATTHEWS: Well, if they couldn`t prove it, the Wells report, as you suggest, should they have not said anything? And if they said it probably happened, should they have not done anything here? I mean, which is it? Do you say they shouldn`t have reported there was a problem with this behavior or a question about it or not, because once they said it was probable that he knew about it, what should they have done then? GREGORY: You`re talking about the NFL? MATTHEWS: Yes. Once they knew -- once they said it probably -- that Brady probably knew about it, then what were they supposed to do, or they should have -- or should they have covered up the fact they thought he probably was involved? GREGORY: No, I think a -- you know, a one-game suspension, maybe a two- game suspension. MATTHEWS: No, no, no! You`re not answering my question! What should they have done, the NFL? Because you don`t like the way they did this. Should they have covered up for the fact they thought he probably did it or said he probably did it, but not punish him? Because either one -- there`s only two possibilities in the way you`re thinking here. Which is it? GREGORY: I`m sorry, Chris. I really don`t understand -- I don`t understand the question. MATTHEWS: OK. Well, it`s not complicated. Should they have covered up the fact that they thought he probably was aware of it? Should they have covered that up? (CROSSTALK) GREGORY: Should the NFL have covered that up? No. MATTHEWS: Yes. OK. Once they once they declared it in the Wells report that he believed he was probably aware of the whole thing, what should they have done then, just said, well, we think he probably did it, but we`re going to let it go? That`s what you`re saying. That`s what you`re saying. We know he probably did it, but we`re going to let him go.   GREGORY: I didn`t say let him go, Chris. I never said let him go. MATTHEWS: Well, what would you want -- well, what do you think they should have done? GREGORY: I`m saying that the evidence in the Wells report does not directly link Tom Brady to this. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: So you`re saying -- they said he probably was generally aware of it, is what they said. What should they have done once they said that? GREGORY: Once the Wells report said that? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Once that is out there, that everybody thinks he did know about it, what do you do then? Once the cat is out of the bag and everybody thinks that the Wells report said, look, he probably knew about it, then what do you do? GREGORY: Well, then you can you punish the Patriots and Tom Brady like they did. All I`m saying is, four games, a quarter of a season, when there`s wiggle room for Tom Brady to get out of this, I think is too harsh. MATTHEWS: Too harsh if he probably did it, but not too harsh if he definitely did it. So, if you had more evidence, you would be for the four games? GREGORY: I think so, yes. If it was direct -- there`s no evidence really in here that Tom Brady...   (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: No, if there is more evidence -- I`m trying to figure out where you`re at here, because I can`t clear it up. Do you believe that what he did -- if he did what he is accused of doing, was that -- was the punishment right, if he did what he is accused of doing? (CROSSTALK) GREGORY: I game away from the Wells report, Chris, believing that probably if I were to bet that Tom Brady knew what was going on. However, you know, I was a little -- kind of when I read though it, I thought that the fact that the Wells report leaned pretty heavily on communication between Brady and the locker room attendants. MATTHEWS: Sure. OK. I`m just trying to find out. If we find out more evidence that locks this case up, would you then be for this degree of punishment, the four games and the two draft picks and the million bucks? GREGORY: If something else comes out that it`s definitely Tom Brady was behind this and definitely running this operation, of course, sure. MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to Randal. This is a question people have. And I have always wonder how the communication work. They gave the guy a few chachkas in the locker room, the equipment guys. They got little gifts from the quarterback. How else do we know about the communication that got the word, I like this at 10.5 PSI? HILL: Listen, it is very, very obvious that Mr. Brady has a good relationship with these equipment managers. Usually, quarterbacks do have very good relationships with these equipment managers.   And I`m willing to bet that he directed them to go ahead and let`s take a little bit out here, take a little bit out there, because equipment manager or an assistant equipment manager is not going to do that on their own. Are you kidding me? And then for him to come back and say, I don`t even know these guys` name? Please, and that`s being smug, arrogant and it was actually a slap in the face to the game. MATTHEWS: Well, Mr. McNally knows his own name and he`s out of football. What do you think of that, Mr. Gregory, that the little guy now is canned, and now -- for the rest of his life, he will know why he did it, but it won`t do him much good, because he`s finished in football, whereas the other guy is off for four weeks? GREGORY: I think it`s a sad result. There`s no winners here. It`s not happy. All I`m saying is that McNally, there was direct evidence. He called himself the deflator. MATTHEWS: Yes. GREGORY: Listen, I think -- I think -- I do think that Tom Brady probably had something to do with this, OK? I`m just saying that in the report, given what`s in there, I don`t think it`s direct evidence, and I think it leaves room for Tom Brady to wiggle out of it. And that`s why I thought that there`s a little bit of cushion - - there`s a cushion on this penalty so that it will probably get shortened. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: OK. Sean, I get your point. I want to rub it in, my argument. My argument is this. I have watched Tom Brady in that thing when he had the watch cap on. I watched him the other day at that homer love fest up there at Salem State, and not once did he make a clear-cut statement, I don`t know anything about deflating balls. I have never had a conversation on the subject with anybody. This is completely beyond my knowledge. He never did that. He was cute. He smirked. And you could have watched him the whole time and got the idea this guy is wise to it all and he`s having a good time laughing at people.   Did you get the sense he could have come clean, that he could have made it very clear, if he was totally innocent, he would have made that clear, because he didn`t? GREGORY: Yes. No, no, totally. And he`s been cute the whole time. You don`t have to like how he`s handled this. I don`t think the Patriots have handled this that well. Again... MATTHEWS: But, if you were innocent, wouldn`t you make it clear you`re innocent.? Wouldn`t you be screaming to high heaven? I don`t know what these jokers are up to. I don`t know these guys, what they`re up to. I would never do something like that. He never said that. GREGORY: That definitely looked suspicious, Chris, no doubt. MATTHEWS: OK. Thanks so much. Sorry to be hard on you, but welcome to HARDBALL, my friend. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Sean Gregory. And, thank you, Randal Hill. By the way, Randal, you had this right from the beginning. HILL: Thank you. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Up next, historian David McCullough on his great new book about the Wright brothers. It`s a story of persistence and what makes America great. Wait until you hear this story. It`s thrilling.   This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Pulitzer-Prize winning author David McCullough has written a powerful American story of the two brothers who took mankind into the air, how one brother began at age 10 making and selling kites, how they started a bicycle shop, then began making bicycles, how all this time one of the brothers is reading everything on the subject of aerial locomotion. Ultimately, they left the word impossible on the sandy beaches of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, as they flew above the shore. McCullough tells the story of a quintessentially American story in the era of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford at the dawn of the American century. We have the author of "The Wright Brothers" with us right here, David McCullough. You have done it again, sir. DAVID MCCULLOUGH, AUTHOR, "THE WRIGHT BROTHERS": Thank you, Chris. MATTHEWS: John Adams, Harry Truman, and now you have discovered -- it`s like discovering the Statue of Liberty, like Lee Iacocca. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: And there it was all the time, what we grew up reading in Landmark, the Landmark series, the Wright brothers.   MCCULLOUGH: Yes. MATTHEWS: How do you do this? How do you find the iconic American story that others have walked past and not stopped to examine? MCCULLOUGH: I don`t know. I have reached a stage in my working life and in my life when I`m looking back at what I have been doing. I never thought too much about, is there a theme or is there a repeating approach or whatever? But I realize that almost everybody that I have written about was out to accomplish something difficult against the odds, against public opinion or even against -- in the face of public ridicule, but would not give up. Washington -- George Washington would not give up in 1776 when everything was going against him. Harry Truman would not give up all through his life, and particularly 1948. And these two do not give up. It isn`t just that they have ambition and incredible intelligence and insight, but they get knocked down, as it were, again and again and again, and they get back up and they keep going. And I think there`s a tremendous lesson to be learned. I think it`s also - - and I liked very much when you said these were profoundly American stories. These are -- this is a very American story. And -- and their attitude about having purpose in life, high purpose, I know it seems like a bad pun for somebody that went up in airplanes, but every time they went up -- and courage. Every time they went up in one of their planes, they were -- each was risking his life. They knew they could be killed. And they -- consequently, they never went up together, because if one were killed, then the other would be still alive to carry on. MATTHEWS: I love this quote that you found, David. According to "The Washington Post," it is a fact that man can`t fly. (LAUGHTER) MCCULLOUGH: Exactly.   MATTHEWS: So much for "The Washington Post." MCCULLOUGH: Yes. MATTHEWS: But these -- and somewhere in here, one of them says, man -- it says it will take 1,000 years for us to win until after one of the setbacks. MCCULLOUGH: Yes. Yes. They wouldn`t give up. And they had no support. They had no foundation. They had no university behind them. They knew nobody in political office who could help them. They had no backer. They had no -- they had no money of their own, except what they earned with their bicycle shop. And yet they did it. They paid for it all themselves. They did it all alone. And it`s phenomenal that they just wouldn`t give up. MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, history describes the Wright brothers as bicycle makers, but really the Wright brothers were struggling for cash to support their mission. Flying was still deemed an impossible dream, and the Wrights worried about being taken seriously. In 1899, Wilbur wrote to the Smithsonian here in Washington: "I`m an enthusiast, but not a crank, in the sense that I have some pet theories as to the proper construction of a flying machine." (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: That idea -- because somebody said the other day in one of the reviews of your book, people complain about the trouble and the hassle of flying. Imagine. You`re sitting in a chair in the sky because of these guys.   MCCULLOUGH: And no seat belt when they went up. We fly at 35,000, 40,000 feet. We don`t think of anything at it. Seventy million people flew in and out of one airport here, O`Hare Airport, just last year, 70 million, and nobody thinks about it. MATTHEWS: Yes. MCCULLOUGH: And how did they do it? Who did it? And most people don`t know anything about them. And I have to say, when I started out, I knew nothing about them. MATTHEWS: If they hadn`t come along -- this is one of those great questions. Who would have invented fire if somebody didn`t? Who would have invented the wheel if somebody didn`t? Who would have invented this if they hadn`t? MCCULLOUGH: Well, most likely someone in France, somebody like Bleriot or Deliranche (ph), who were very avid aviation pioneers. But they were way behind the Wright brothers, as they themselves said once they saw Wilbur fly in France. But they were they were all wealthy people dabbling in this kind of sport. And here these people were with no money and no connections, but they were convinced they could do it, and they were also living in a time when all kinds of inventions were happening almost every day, as you said, the light bulb, the telephone. MATTHEWS: Kodak. MCCULLOUGH: The cash register, the mousetrap are all being invented at that time. MATTHEWS: Cash register.   MCCULLOUGH: And it was a kind of protean renaissance. Dayton, Ohio, where they grew up, there were more patents issued to people in Dayton, Ohio, than any other city in the country on a per capita basis at that time. MATTHEWS: When you put your bookshelf together, you are always going to have the classics up there like Adams, John Adams, and Harry Truman, Truman, all by this guy, David McCullough. And this one is going to join your list. This is the reason you`re going to have this book, because everybody is going to want to have this book on their library for their kids, their grandkids and their own reading after supper, "The Wright Brothers." You got to read this story. How did you miss it and be an American? What a book. Up next: The right-wing clown car keeps chugging along. Ben Carson, he`s a doctor, a neurosurgeon, has doubled down on his charge that the president of the United States is a psychopath, a psycho in the White House. You never know. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. Searches are under way in Nepal for a missing U.S. Marine helicopter with six people on board. The aircraft was helping with relief operations. A 7.3-magnitude quake hit the country earlier, leaving dozens dead. The Madison, Wisconsin, police officer who shot an unarmed teen in March will not face charges in the death of Tony Robinson Jr. And Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin met today in Sochi to discuss the unrest in Ukraine and the civil war in Syria -- back to HARDBALL.   MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Yesterday, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush dropped a political bombshell on FOX News, saying that, even knowing what we now know, he still would have invaded Iraq. Here he goes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) QUESTION: Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion? JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, early this evening, Jeb took to Sean Hannity`s radio show to clarify his comments. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) BUSH: I interpreted the question wrong, I guess. I was talking about, given what people knew then, would you have done it, rather than knowing what we know now? And knowing what we know now, you know, clearly, there were mistakes as it related to faulty intelligence in the lead-up to the war and the lack of focus on security. My brother has admitted this, and we have to learn from that. Under -- in the last few years of my brother`s presidency, the surge was quite effective to bring stability and security to Iraq. SEAN HANNITY, HOST, "HANNITY": So, in other words, if -- in 20/20 hindsight, you would make a different decision?   BUSH: Yes, I don`t know what that decision would have been. That`s a hypothetical, but the simple fact is, mistakes were made. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Mistakes were made. You always know when a politician is in deep trouble, when they change to the passive voice. Let`s bring in the roundtable, Jonathan Capehart, who never speaks in that voice, an opinion writer for "The Washington Post." April Ryan definitely speaks correctly... (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: -- the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, and Mathew Littman speech writer for the man who never needed a speech for him, Joe Biden. Let me -- first of all, I think he`s in the briar patch or the trouble area, whatever you want to call it. OK, not the briar patch. APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Yes, I was going to say. MATTHEWS: OK, any way you want to call it. He`s got -- he`s walked into a situation where either way he goes, his brother has said no matter what the information was, I still would have gone into that war, I`m still glad I did it. He said I don`t know what we would have done if we haven`t didn`t have the WMD. I mean, what is he saying? JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think in the initial clip that you showed with Megyn Kelly, he misinterpreted the question, because how could you say that you still would have done --   MATTHEWS: What did he think they said? CAPEHART: Maybe they thought he would be so on message he wasn`t really listening to the question that he just -- MATTHEWS: Knowing what you know now. CAPEHART: Absolutely I would do it again. MATTHEWS: Let me try it on you, knowing what -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Knowing -- knowing what you know now would you still have written letters to Santa Claus? (LAUGHTER) RYAN: For all the kids watching, you better set it clear for all the kids watching. MATTHEWS: I think the interview was very clear. RYAN: I think he went to the first reaction, his true self.   MATTHEWS: I`m with my brother. RYAN: Yes. But you know that he has to distance himself from his brother and that`s one of the mean reasons that the GOP is so angry with him, why they didn`t talk about George W. Bush at the Republican convention because of that. Can you say WMD, where is it? MATTHEWS: Well, how about nuclear? Actually his brother couldn`t say nuclear? (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) MATHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He keeps talking about how there`s no daylight between he and his brother. He said that on Iraq. He said that his brother is the closest adviser on the Middle East. MATTHEWS: On Israel. LITTMAN: On Israel. He`s running closer to his brother who had one of the worst presidencies of all time. On the other hand, on the Democratic side, you see Hillary running a little bit away from Bill Clinton which she should -- (CROSSTALK) LITTMAN: He`s also one of the most successful presidents of all time. (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: Part of what he`s doing, he`s fundraising, and a lot of money in this country is very hawkish in the Middle East, very hawkish and, you know, he`s quite willing to play that game. I`ve got to go to the clown car. Last week doctor, catch that open (INAUDIBLE), Dr. Ben Carson reiterated his belief that the executive branch can simply ignore decisions made by the Supreme Court -- just ignore it. Now, he`s doubling down on calling President Obama a psychopath. Carson`s comments originally appeared in an April profile piece in "GQ" magazine when he was commenting on the president`s appearance. Quote, "Like most psychopaths," Carson grumbled, "That`s why they`re successful. That`s the way they look. They all look great." I didn`t know all psychopaths looked great. And yesterday, Carson repeated the remark on Concord News Radio saying people would agree with him calling President Obama a psychopath if they just knew what one was. Here he is. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) HOST: Do you think that rhetoric, particularly in an era where here in New Hampshire, a lot of voters are looking for that post-partisan president? Do you think that`s hopeful? DR. BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Probably not and that was an off-the-record comment that was put on the record and I say looks like, he reminds you of one and if anybody knows what a psychopath is, they would agree. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: So, in other words, he wasn`t doing it to knock the president because it was off the record. He just honestly thought that. CAPEHART: Right. Look -- MATTHEWS: By the way, he`s looking about looks and apparel and how a man is turned out. It`s "GQ" magazine. And somehow, he jumps on the idea that the guy is well-turned down and looks good, he must be a psychopath. He`s talking to the "GQ" reader.   CAPEHART: I don`t know what reader he`s talking to. I get "GQ" and he`s not talking with me. Look, Ben Carson, with every utterance, puts more distance between himself -- MATTHEWS: And who he is. What about who he is? CAPEHART: -- and the actual White House. Everything he says makes it more and more clear to any sane thinking person that he should be nowhere near the Oval Office. LITTMAN: He`s never get to White House. CAPEHART: True, true. RYAN: Let me say this. MATTHEWS: Where`s he going? LITTMAN: To raise more money, earn more money for speeches. CAPEHART: Or FOX.   MATTHEWS: He`s a very successful doctor. RYAN: Retired doctor. Let`s say retired. Let me say this to you -- MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s start with Jennifer Rubin. He writes a very conservative item on the bottom of "The Washington Post" op-ed page. She writes that Rich Lowry hit the nail on the head on ABC calling this, quote, "pandering to a vocal minority." "Responsible conservative should follow Lowry`s lead," that`s what she`s saying. "Name and shame, lest the GOP be seen as the haven for the unhinged, it`s only when they are repeatedly and consistently called out that pols will stop fanning the flames of paranoia and ignorance." And this is from a conservative. RYAN: Let me tell you something, Dr. Ben Carson, retired Dr. Ben Carson, is into shock and awe stuff. He`s into this statement and stuff. But, you know -- MATTHEWS: Why would you a neurosurgeon pick out the world psycho? RYAN: Because he deals with the brain. Let me tell you what a psychopath is, a person suffering from chronic mental disorder and abhorrent or violent social behavior. So, I mean, I haven`t notice that in the years that I`ve covered President Obama. I don`t know. But he just wants to get out there -- MATTHEWS: Is Obama knifing people in showers like the "Psycho" movie? What are we talking about? (CROSSTALK)   MATTHEWS: Anyway, roundtable -- he said, it I didn`t -- staying up with us. Up next, the right wing media is going after Michelle Obama`s comments at Tuskegee, the daily difficulty she says the people of color face in this country. I want to hear the reaction of this audience, this crowd here. The place for politics coming back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: So, how should Hillary Clinton use Bill Clinton on the campaign trail for president? "The Washington Post" is the latest to tackle that question. But one nugget of their story this week grabbed me. "The Post" reports the former president was watching news coverage last month when he saw that grainy security camera footage of Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin ordering food at Chipotle. According to "The Post", Bill turned to his aides and wondered, "Why are she and Huma doing? Are they robbing that place?" We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Jonathan, April and Mathew. Anyway, on Saturday, First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the commencement address at Tuskegee University, historically back college down in Alabama. Her speech is getting a lot of attention this week because she spoke candidly about the challenges African-Americans often face in this country. Here`s what she said, a bit of it.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: The world won`t always see you on those caps and gowns. They won`t know how hard you work and how much you sacrifice to make it to today. My husband and I know how frustrating that experience can be. We both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives. The folks who cross the street in fear of their safety, the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores, the people at formal events who assumed we were the help, and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow. April just put on a show here. The right wing, well, anyway, they`re alleging her speech was too racially charged. They`ve taken on the radio waves to express their outrage. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: This is the first lady of the United States who has reached the pinnacle of success in our country, her husband has, and this was a litany of victimization which is exactly what we want young African graduates of a terrific university to take away with. RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: She is playing the race card, she`s doubling down on it. It is continuing to roil the culture, rile up people who ought to have different approach being made to them. It`s just sad, folks, is what it is. MARK LEVIN, RADIO HOST: They`ve done more damage to race relations in this country since George Wallace. There, I said it, and I mean it. (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: There`s a happy guy. This comes amid news that the Obama presidential library will be built in Chicago`s South Side, many hope will provide an economic boost to the old neighborhood. Let me ask you about this. You have to start, April, here. The angry black woman, first of all -- RYAN: I`m not an angry black woman. MATTHEWS: I know, and that`s the topic of this -- LITTMAN: I`m not either. RYAN: I`m glad to know that. MATTHEWS: OK, neither am I. I`m Spartacus. I`m Spartacus. What did you think of the critique and what do you think of her candor? Because she`s obviously changing a more demure approach to her office, a more careful approach, to now speaking her mind more. RYAN: OK, fourth quarter. It`s almost over but she`s very candid, and she spoke the truth. When you see African-Americans, and I hate to say this but this is proven, when you see us walk in the door, Jonathan, the first thing you will see is our color, not the gender, not anything else and then subconsciously oh, that`s a black person, you go, oh, yes, and then it`s a woman. There are issues in this country -- MATTHEWS: I`m not sure that`s true. RYAN: A large portion of this country when you see me walk in the door, you`ll see a black person before you see black woman and that`s the unfortunate thing.   MATTHEWS: Maybe I`m more discerning. RYAN: Maybe you are. Many -- here you go -- many of the things Mrs. Obama said when he she talked about the questioned patriotism, I`ll never forget going to Selma and seeing African-Americans in that blighted community as we went to Selma on the 50th anniversary, in the motorcade with the first black president of the United States, seeing the African-Americans on the side just want to go get a glimpse of the presidency. Something they`ve never seen before. But I also saw -- one thing I did, I was shocked and happy to see it, an African-American woman hold up an umbrella with the stars and stripes. And I said that`s patriotism. So many people question the patriotism of African-Americans because we say that there are problems in this country. MATTHEWS: April, you`re at the White House, so I wanted reporting on this thing. Do you have a sense -- I looked at the numbers again. Her numbers says for personal approval are up near 70 percent. So, there`s no macro number that suggests she is being dissed, if you will, as first lady because of her color. Do you think she has been? I think she`s been respected. RYAN: Most definitely, they talk about the size of her hips. They talk about -- CAPEHART: Yes. MATTHEWS: Who does that? CAPEHART: Members of Congress. RYAN: Yes.   MATTHEWS: Tell me more. CAPEHART: There`s a member of Congress who talked about the size -- the physicality of the first lady. RYAN: And she`s well-fit, she`s very fit. CAPEHART: There have been people, Republican Party officials around the country who have been passing around racist e-mails and racist cartoons depicting the president and the first lady in very racist ways. I mean, these are two people -- MATTHEWS: What percentage of the country has given no breaks, and just shut the door because of their race? Twenty percent? Ten percent? CAPEHART: I`m not going to put a percentage on it. MATTHEWS: I`d love to know. RYAN: But people are listening to that small minority. There are a lot of well-meaning people in this country. There is that group that likes to cause problems. MATTHEWS: I`ll tell you one thing, I think -- I`ll defend the center right. I think the center right, besides the Democratic Party, that`s been loyal to her and African-Americans and liberals, if you will. But I think there`s been a sizable center right that has been respectful and regarded her well, the way she`s raised their kids. I mean, I think there is. Now, you always hear from the horses asses but -- RYAN: But in that Tuskegee speech, you also heard her talk about that first picture of the character of her and her husband. CAPEHART: On the cover of "The New Yorker".   RYAN: She is wearing a bush and an AK-47. CAPEHART: The afro and the AK-47. LITTMAN: She talks about in the speech how African-Americans have to work twice as hard to get to the same place. RYAN: It`s true. LITTMAN: The problem is that what happens when they do and they can`t get to that place? MATTHEWS: Hey, this conversation should be here and it is here. Thank you, Jonathan. CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris. MATTHEWS: You always teach me. And, April, you always excite me. (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: Matt, thank you. When we return, let me finish. I shouldn`t have said briar patch. OK. RYAN: You should not have. MATTHEWS: I grew up in a different era. We`ll be right back to talk about the president`s big defeat today and it was a knockout. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the president`s big defeat today. I suppose we should have seen it coming. For weeks, the labor unions have been making it hard to argue with case that America has been watching its traditional manufacturing base head for the nearest cheap labor horizon. And except for the president`s calm and general assurances, very few voices raised with anywhere near the passion from the pro-trade side. It seems that the Democratic senators who see the value of the export trade see more value in avoiding the hostility of the labor unions, as well as partisan pressure from Democratic colleagues who truly oppose free trade measures on their merits. I`m referring mainly to those who represent the hard-hit Northern and Midwestern states often referred to as the Rust Belt, from Buffalo to Oshkosh. They`ve seen too many factories closed with a sign saying "going to Mexico" or God knows where else leaving a lot of unemployed men and women in the dust. So, tomorrow, I figure the battle resumes especially in the Democratic Party where leaders and troops and allies need to decide where the party wishes to stand and be seen standing in the 21st century, a party of trade or a party opposed to it. In the aftermath after mighty defeat for trade and a mighty victory for its enemies, I don`t expect many minds have changed. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.   "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. END THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. 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