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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 06/08/15

Guests: Anne Gearan, Lynn Sweet, Stan Brand, Fred Boenig, Stan Brand,Robert Costa, Sabrina Siddiqui, Jamelle Bouie

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Hillary heads left. Let`s play HARDBALL Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. The big news this Monday is that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, will offer herself this week as the candidate of the Democratic left. There`ll be no center course for her, as there was for Bill Clinton in the 1990s, no Democratic Leadership Council, no third way. Already, she has steered left on immigration and gay marriage and attacked Republicans on voting rights and promises to be equally tough on other ideological matters. Is this the smart move? Is this, perhaps more important, the necessary strategy to win? Is it a position she`s taking to ward off challengers, or is it truly her philosophy? Is her lean to the left to get her through the primaries or a set of principles she will defend all the way to November? Well, according to "The New York Times," Mrs. Clinton`s aides say it is the only way to win in an era heightened polarization. When a declining poll of voters is truly up for grabs, her liberal policy positions, they say, will fire up Democrats, a less difficult test than trying to win over independents in more hostile territory, even though a broader strategy could help lift the party with her. Well, Secretary Clinton has backed a constitutional right for same-sex marriage. She`s tweeted back in April, quote, "Every loving couple and family deserves to be recognized and treated equally under the law across our nation." She`s also spoken about issues of race and criminal justice. Here she is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: From Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable. There is something profoundly wrong when African-American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes and sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Last week, she took up voting rights and efforts by Republicans in various states to make it harder to vote. Here she is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: Today, Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting. What part of democracy are they afraid of? (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, here she is talking about immigration and going further even than President Obama on extending relief from deportations. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship. Congress continues to refuse to act, as president, I would do everything possible under the law to go even further. There are more people, like many parents of dreamers and others with deep ties and contributions to our communities, who deserve a chance to stay. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: She`s also spoken about paid leave and issues of pay equity for women. Here she is on that.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: It is outrageous that America is the only country in the developed world that doesn`t guarantee paid leave to mothers of newborns. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) CLINTON: It is also hard to believe that so many women are still paid less than men for the same work, with even wider gaps for women of color. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I`m joined right now by HuffingtonPost global editorial direction and MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, NBC News senior political reporter Perry Bacon, and "The Washington Post`s" Anne Gearan. All of you, this to me, I think, is a profound statement in the campaign. If you look at her issues -- on issues like blacks and how they`re treated by police, she could be Al Sharpton, and she`s just as tough, laying it out like that. On immigration, as tough as any immigration lawyer fighting for the rights of Hispanics. On voting rights, she sounds like me, OK? She is really hitting the hard -- I don`t think there`s much room to her left, if you`re Bernie Sanders. Where are you going to go, Howard? HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I don`t think there is, either. And I think what she`s doing is both a primary season strategy and a general election season strategy. You can learn what she`s doing by comparing her with her husband. A generation ago, when the electorate was different and the Democratic Party was different, Bill Clinton got on a bus right after the Democratic convention in New York and worked the seam of white middle class voters along Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia. He was going for ancestral Democrats... MATTHEWS: Yes.   FINEMAN: ... white swing voters. Well, in 25 years, the demographics have changed. The electorate and the Democratic Party were not talking about Hispanics... MATTHEWS: I was in Waco, Texas, with him! FINEMAN: We`re talking about Hispanics, we`re talking about women, we`re talking about African-Americans, we`re talking about a new demographic America. Hillary is addressing them on social issues, but she`s going to also have to address them on the tough economic issues, which are a little less low-hanging fruit than... MATTHEWS: Yes, she`ll have to make a decision about carried interest and all those big... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... hot issues. And it seems to me that Howard has laid it out because that diagonal that goes down through Appalachia, white people have been here in the mountains for years, Americans to the roots all the way back. They are the hardest folk for the Democrats to catch. Obama never caught them. And it sounds like Joe Manchin should be mad that Hillary`s gone to the left because that`s the crowd -- his crowd that... (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: They`re not coming back to the Democratic Party. MATTHEWS: But he wants them back. Anyway... ANNE GEARAN, "WASHINGTON POST": Well... MATTHEWS: ... she`s made a decision to go to the big cities, the Great Lake states, the Rust Belt.   GEARAN: I mean, the campaign would say they`re going to fight for every vote in every state, and so forth, and clearly, they would love to win Ohio among the states along that seam at the very least. They`d love to win as many of the rest of them as they can. But Howard`s right, they`re going to slice and dice the rest of the electorate and try to target, both with positioning on some of these issues, and on turnout, on motivation and get... MATTHEWS: Yes. It`s the old George W. Bush strategy of work the base, right? GEARAN: Well... (CROSSTALK) GEARAN: George Bush meets Barack Obama. I mean... MATTHEWS: This is a second term strategy. GEARAN: There`s technology at work here that wasn`t available to George Bush, and there`s a whole kind of motivation of getting people to come out and vote again. MATTHEWS: Here`s Joe Manchin of West Virginia saying the plan was a recipe -- catch this -- for the status quo in Washington to continue. He told "The New York Times," quote, "That`s not good for the country. If they go too far over there, it`s going to be more difficult to govern. It truly is." Meanwhile, "The National Journal`s" Ron Fournier agrees with Manchin - - he`s going to join us tomorrow night -- he wrote, quote, "The 2016 campaign can`t be merely about winning, it needs to be about winning in a way that makes the successful candidate a successful president. Until a bold new leader breaks the cycle of negative partisanship, support for the two major parties will continue to bleed away. Lesser of two evils voters will dominate a sad electorate ,and more Americans will check out of the system altogether." As I said, Ron Fournier`s going to be on here, on HARDBALL, tomorrow. Perry, it seems to me she`s made a decision. According to this, it`s going to be announced this Saturday. We`re going to get the Democratic base out. We`re going to get the Northeast. We`re going to get the industrial Midwest, the hurting -- what do you call it -- the Rust Belt. We`re going to work for them. We`re going to give up on the South, give up on the border states, basically, and give up on the prairie states, give up on the Rocky Mountains, and work our base.   PERRY BACON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Of course she`s doing this. Two things to note here. Her president was so -- her president -- her father - - her husband was so unifying, he was impeached by the Republicans. That`s where his strategy got him (ph). He was impeached. (LAUGHTER) BACON: And think about 2014, where you saw Clintons went over and over and over again to Arkansas and Kentucky. And what happened? Those candidates were blown out. Democrats are not voting in Kentucky and Arkansas in high numbers. Those are Republican states. Hillary is doing the only... MATTHEWS: OK... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: The time -- OK, now that you`re really going here, I like this. Train`s moving here. If Hillary is right to go to the left and work her base, get her 270 electoral votes that way, what does that do to Democrats` chances of ever carrying the Congress again? Because according to "The Times" in their lead, about the two paragraphs down, they said this is not a broad strategy for the -- you take this -- a broad strategy to grab the House. They might squeak the Senate back, but no 60 votes and no 218 in the House. Therefore, no legislation, no budget, no tax changes, no fiscal changes, no policy changes. What kind of presidency is that? My question. GEARAN: I mean, part of it... MATTHEWS: If that`s the way she wins. GEARAN: I mean, part of it depends on whether she`s got some coattails and is able to bring Democrats along with her. MATTHEWS: Will this strategy bring coattails?   GEARAN: It doesn`t appear to... MATTHEWS: It might knock off Kirk in Illinois. GEARAN: Right. I mean, it doesn`t -- on the face of it, it doesn`t appear to have a lot of coattails, and you saw what happened in the midterms, right, I mean, despite her best effort and the best efforts of other... MATTHEWS: I wouldn`t blame her for that. GEARAN: No, but I mean, she -- Perry`s right, she did campaign in a lot of places where it looked like a lost cause, and guess what? It was. But I mean, she`s likely by pursuing a fair amount of the Obama strategy to have a version of the Obama problem, which is... (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: Can I say -- can I say a couple things? First of all, the Republicans right now don`t sound to me like they`re speaking to the whole country. They have tremendous demographic problems. Why isn`t somebody saying, Well, if they want to govern the whole country, why aren`t they reaching out more to minorities? Why aren`t they reaching out more on women`s issues? Why aren`t they expanding their demographic base? MATTHEWS: Yes. FINEMAN: Part of the problem that Ron points out here is that the Republican... MATTHEWS: Ron Fournier. FINEMAN: ... the Republican -- Ron Fournier -- the Republican Party is in danger of becoming a monochromatic white people`s party. Let`s be blunt about it. And key Republican strategists understand, and they`re -- almost in the middle of the night, they`re trying to figure out how to get out of that.   (CROSSTALK) FINEMAN: That`s the Republicans` problem. The other thing is that... MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute. Somebody must be right. Are both parties giving up the center? FINEMAN: Yes, they are. Yes, they are. That`s exactly right. And that`s why turnout is down. Also, the House is so hopelessly gerrymandered... MATTHEWS: I know. FINEMAN: ... the districts are so hopelessly drawn using that new technology that Anne`s talking about, you can`t move the House one way or another. You just can`t. I don`t think it`s Hillary`s responsibility. Her responsibility as a Democrat is to get elected. MATTHEWS: Yes. GEARAN: To an extent, a lot of -- I think a lot this is based on they don`t think -- neither party seems to think that there`s a lot of center left. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... Perry -- I`ll let you finish, but I`ve been telling people -- I`ll make one prediction for next year. I think Hillary`s still the favorite, but I predict that it`s going to be another midnight. It`s going to be close. We won`t get results until maybe after midnight. The country is like this. It`s just like that, 50/50. And so maybe that was Hillary`s calculation, or people around her, the Clinton people said, You know what? Let`s live with the world we live in. Let`s fight with the army we got, as Rumsfeld used to say years ago.   BACON: (INAUDIBLE) two kinds of swing voters. There`s one, the people who are Democrats or Republicans in Kentucky. The other kind is the people who don`t vote at all and maybe (INAUDIBLE) to vote if Hillary campaigns to them better (ph). There`s a way in which you turn out minority (INAUDIBLE) minority (INAUDIBLE) MATTHEWS: OK... BACON: ... women in a way where you might win (INAUDIBLE) MATTHEWS: Last question, everybody. You may want to take a bite at it as a completely straight reporter. But maybe you`re right. No, you can do (INAUDIBLE) Is it an astute assessment of Hillary to do it this way -- bring out the base, go left, don`t try running to the center. Is that smart, based on all the numbers you look at? GEARAN: By the numbers, it looks like it`s (INAUDIBLE) MATTHEWS: Perry? BACON: Of course. MATTHEWS: Is it smart, or is it smart to go to the center? FINEMAN: If she takes on the more difficult issues from the left -- namely, going after the big banks, showing that she`s got the guts to go after that part of her coalition and her past... MATTHEWS: The money. FINEMAN: Her husband did it a generation ago from going to the right. She`s got to have the guts to do that going to the left.   MATTHEWS: It`s tougher. FINEMAN: Real guts to do it from the left. MATTHEWS: OK, it takes more guts to go after Wall Street than... FINEMAN: Yes. MATTHEWS: ... Sister Souljah. FINEMAN: Exactly. MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, guys. You are smart. I think I might agree with you. We`ll see. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: But you know what? It matters. I think we`re talking about (INAUDIBLE) really matters because we`ll be talking about this a year from now. Anne Gearan, thank you. Perry Bacon, thank you, and Howard Fineman. Coming up, former House speaker Dennis Hastert will be in court tomorrow for his arraignment. This is coming at him. He`s got a new lawyer, and tonight there are new questions about whether Hastert set up his retirement to yield big money payouts immediately so he could use them to make those payments to conceal his past misconduct. It`s all coming together here. Plus, standing up to the war hawks. We`re going to meet a father tonight right here who lost his son in Afghanistan. He`s now taking on Arkansas senator Tom Cotton, one of the Senate`s biggest hawks, about the neverending push for war in the Middle East. By the way, I call Tom Cotton "Bates Motel." You figure it out.   And the fight for Iowa. We`re just two months away from the first debate. The Republicans are revving their engines, and an early front- runner may be emerging in the Hawkeye State, the guy who I predicted two years ago was going to be the front-runner. It`s going to be Scott Walker. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with that close relationship we saw in that little Italian church on Saturday. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`ve got the latest now on that manhunt for two convicted killers who broke out of a jail in upstate New York. State police, the Department of Corrections, federal marshals and FBI are hunting for Richard Matt and David Sweat. And today, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, quote, "They definitely had help" in their escape from New York`s largest maximum security prison. NBC`s John Yang is outside the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. John, what`s the latest? JOHN YANG, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, they are looking at the possibility that there was inside help, that someone who worked in the prison helped them in this escape. There also, we`ve learned -- NBC News has learned that these two prisoners were kept in the "honor block," where they had more privileges, that their freedoms -- they had a little more freedom to move around within the prison than other prisoners. Meanwhile, they say they`ve got about 300 tips as to where they are, but they also admit they could be anymore. They really don`t know where these guys are. They could -- don`t know if they`ve left the state, if they`re still in New York state, if they`ve gone across the boarder to Canada, about 25 miles to the north. Along that border, by the way, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has introduced lanes to search cars as they leave the state, something they didn`t do before. And there`s a heightened state of awareness, according to officials up there. They`re also -- alerted officials in Mexico because one of the escapees had spend time in Mexico after committing his crime and being extradited from there to face trial. So that they`re trying to figure out just how this happened, how they got those power tools, how they managed to navigate the maze of steam tunnels and pipes and tunnels in that -- this almost more than century-old building and try to figure out where they are now -- Chris.   MATTHEWS: Well, it sounds like the movie rights are already being prepared. Anyway, thank you very much, NBC`s John Yang outside the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. We`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Former Republican House speaker Dennis Hastert is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow in Chicago in a courtroom there tomorrow on federal charges of lying to the FBI and evading bank regulations. We know all that now. The charges are in connection with Hastert`s $1.7 million payout, which, according to federal officials, was being made to conceal a relationship of a sexual nature with a male student from Hastert`s time as a high school teacher and wrestling coach. Well, "The New York Times" reported over the weekend that the former speaker tried to boost his income just before he made his first payments to the person known as "Individual A." According to e-mails obtained by "The New York Times," Hastert made an unusual request to one of his business associates to find a financial adviser who could come up with a plan for an annuity that would generated a substantial cash payout each year. Well, the former speaker also asked that the adviser not be told of Mr. Hastert`s involvement. So he wanted to do it anonymously. The purpose of his inquiry was to find a way to pay someone discretely over perhaps as long as a decade. Well, I`m joined right now by Lynn Sweet of "The Chicago Sun-Times" and Stan Brand, former general counsel to the House of Representatives. Thank you, Stan, because he`s one of my favorite lawyers in town here. He knows how to deal with public officials who get into trouble or... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, I think some people get -- let me ask you about this. One thing that`s bothered me about the case. First of all, the evil that`s involved with child molestation is -- everybody knows that. That`s what we agree on. But what about the FBI`s handling of this case, when they suggested to him, The reason you were making these withdrawals below the $10,000 number was because you didn`t trust the banking system. He said, yes. Well, why would you script a guy to commit perjury? Why would the FBI write the lines so the guy could dodge the truth?   LYNN SWEET, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": One of the disadvantages you have if you`re being investigated by the FBI is that when they decide -- they never put the whole transcript in, or even a portion. We get a sentence fragment. The indictment says, Chris, that the agent wanted to confirm what he understood Denny to say, So you don`t trust the bank. Well, what exactly did he say? That... MATTHEWS: We don`t know whether he... SWEET: We don`t know. MATTHEWS: We don`t know whether Denny Hastert ever said, I don`t trust the banks. SWEET: We know that -- we know, in the indictment, that the agent rephrased something he said. So, I see your point. Who wouldn`t want to see the questions before and the other follow-up... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, according to the indictment now, the agent specifically asked if distrust of the banking system was a possible explanation for his explanation for taking out the money the way he did. Well, specifically, in response to the agent`s question confirming whether the purpose of the withdraws was to store cash because he did not feel safe with the banking system, as he previously indicated, John Dennis Hastert stated: "Yes, I kept the cash. That`s what I`m doing." Let me ask you about the handling of this case. You have got to defend people like this. Not this guy. And he has apparently a good lawyer, Tom Green, right? STAN BRAND, FORMER COUNSEL TO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: That`s why my rule at my house is, if the FBI ever shows up, don`t talk, because this is what happened to Martha Stewart. This is what happened to Roger Clemens. This is the Stradivarius.   MATTHEWS: Do people know that? They don`t have to talk? BRAND: They don`t know that. They think that somebody shows up with a badge, you`re retired to talk to them. On the technical issues of his false statements, there is 100 defenses, including the fact that it`s not criminal for him to suspect that the banks are unreliable. That`s not a crime. This statute was written for drug smugglers, organized crime, and not people unwillingly be approached by the FBI about why they withdrew money from the bank. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Who makes the decision -- you guys both know this -- who makes the decision this guy is a bad guy, we will get him whatever way we can get him? In other words, they went after Al Capone on tax evasion. Tax evasion wasn`t Al Capone`s problem. He was a thug and a killer and a gangster. Why did they -- did somebody at the FBI decide, oh, we`re going to get this guy because of what he did to these boys back when he was a coach, and the way we`re going to get him is through the banking laws? Does somebody make those decisions? SWEET: I think it`s kind of the other way, that even if the payments to the bank tipped off the investigators, maybe they knew about Individual A -- that`s the unnamed person who was molested. MATTHEWS: Yes. SWEET: I think the issue for Denny Hastert is that he`s one of the most prominent political figures in America, and I think you don`t get a benefit of a doubt. You guys know this. Lots of people withdraw cash and attempt to skirt the laws that -- the federal authorities have a lot of that. They don`t go after everybody. In this case, I think his prominence worked against him. MATTHEWS: They never notice it.   Let me ask you about -- what does he face right now, from what you can tell? Is he going to prison? BRAND: Well, the money... MATTHEWS: Because the statute of limitations on the initial crimes -- and that`s what they are -- they`re felonies, to abuse a kid. He had local loco parentis relationship with those kids, an adult in a situation of authority. So, that`s all guilty. But that`s all apparently passed because of the law. BRAND: Yes, right. The statute has run on that. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Why didn`t this guy sue him? BRAND: I don`t know. MATTHEWS: I mean, I don`t know what he could have done. BRAND: I thought part of this was actually a settlement of some kind when I saw it. I thought, well, they reached an agreement and the agreement was to pay this guy off. These are federal felonies. These are crimes that generally would under the sentencing guidelines entail some incarceration. So this is very serious. What most people also don`t understand is that probably three- quarters of the convictions that the government gets are over false statements. MATTHEWS: Yes. Most people think about this. Nobody wants to go to heavy security, maximum security, or even security, because a guy like him in a child molestation case wouldn`t survive. So does he go to some place like Allenwood, where they play tennis and lift weights and watch TV together, or is he going to go to a real prison?   BRAND: Don`t know. That`s up to the sentencer. MATTHEWS: Would you cop the plea if you were him? (CROSSTALK) BRAND: No. Look, bringing up all this stuff in the past is not going to be fun, but the strength of this case is a false statement bank -- money laundering case? This is a very triable case from his standpoint, I think. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He can win? BRAND: Yes, absolutely. The government loses these all the time. They just lost one in Louisiana. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: How can you lose when it`s all on the record and it`s all them documents? SWEET: But the sex might not -- the sexual misconduct might not -- won`t be part of it, right? BRAND: Right.   SWEET: It won`t be. MATTHEWS: They keep it out of the jury? BRAND: Well, I don`t know. Certainly, the government would want to use that. But just on the contours of what has been charged, he`s got defenses. MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, if he had you, he`d have a defense anyway. BRAND: He`s got a good lawyer. MATTHEWS: Anyway, Lynn Sweet, thanks. Why does Chicago have got so many problems, you know? SWEET: It`s the water. MATTHEWS: Blagojevich. You had five of the last seven governors. You have got this. SWEET: Yes.   Well, Jesse Jr. is in a halfway house in Baltimore. (CROSSTALK) SWEET: You got it. MATTHEWS: Unbelievable. SWEET: Yes. (CROSSTALK) SWEET: This is different. Even for us, this is a different... MATTHEWS: It`s great to be a reporter. Anyway, thank you, Lynn Sweet. That`s sarcastic. Anyway, it`s a terrible story. It`s in the past, but it`s still terrible. Stan Brand, thank you, because you`re the guy people would go to.   Up next, taking on the war hawks. We`re going to meet a father. This is serious business coming up, real serious. He lost his son in Afghanistan. He confronted the Senate`s leading hawk, Tom Cotton, on the constant need to bang the drums for war. And he did it personally because he has a personal reason. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FRED BOENIG, ANTI-WAR ACTIVIST: I would consider you probably the biggest hawk in Washington. Maybe Lindsey Graham, right? You would admit that, right? (LAUGHTER) SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: I believe in strength and confidence. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was of course Fred Boenig, a Pennsylvania Gold Star father, confronting Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. Boenig`s son Austin died while serving in Afghanistan. And he has other children, Mr. Boenig does, who have served in the Marines and the Air Force. And he wants the war hawks in Congress to stop the rhetoric and to think before sending more U.S. troops back to fight again in the Middle East. Let`s watch.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOENIG: When you hear you speak, all I hear is somebody knocking on my door again. When do we get to hang up the mission accomplished banner and when do I get my kids to come home safe again? (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Freshman Senator Tom Cotton served for five years as an active-duty Army infantry officer in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cotton has opposed efforts to avoid war with Iran and generally taken hawkish positions on the Middle East, and we all know that. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COTTON: With the rise of a terrorist group like the Islamic State or the risk of Iran getting weapons and weapons proliferating throughout the world, of not only having our soldiers, sailors, airmens and Marines face death on the front lines around the world, but to have another mass casualty terrorist attack here in the United States. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, joining me now is Gold Star father and anti-war activist Fred Boenig. Thank you, Mr. Boenig. Thank you. And sorry for your loss. You lost your son over there. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Tell me what it was like to confront probably one of the biggest hawks in the Senate?   BOENIG: Well, I had planned on it. I have done it before. I caught Adam Kinzinger off guard at a New York University thing. And I asked the question, simple question, how many days has it been since the last military casualty? The actual number at this point is 61, if you don`t count the noncombatant death that was recently, two weeks ago, but someone shot and killed in action. That was 61 days ago. And prior to that, it was 116 days, which was the longest period of time since 9/11. And I just think that nobody is paying attention to the peace, that we don`t have our children dying every day. In 2012, I`m the morning guy on the radio. I`m on WLVR with James Braxton Peterson. And I have read every name since the beginning of the Iraq or Afghan war to now. I have read every single name and I cried on air every day. And I would do it at 7:00 in the morning in the drive time for my listeners. And it`s been awhile since we have had any, so I haven`t had to read any, and it`s nice, because I don`t -- don`t take a half-an-hour each day. So... MATTHEWS: Why do you think we`re still in Afghanistan? BOENIG: I don`t know, but I got a funny feeling either one of my sons is going to be there soon. Or -- he`s training right now in Fort Carson. They are on. They`re training right now, but they are training desert. So, we don`t know. He`s a crew chief on a Black Hawk. MATTHEWS: What do you think about Rumsfeld, the former secretary of defense, who basically ramrodded the whole war on Iraq? Although but once told me that George W. Bush, the president, never asked him if we should go to war with Iraq -- I could never figure out that crowd of neocons. And he comes out now and says that we should have not pushed for democracy in Iraq. Wait a minute. The whole ideological campaign, the whole war was ideology. How do you separate it out? These guys were totally into this. And now they`re starting to pull away. Oh, I wasn`t for democratization. I wasn`t for this. They were totally into it. BOENIG: Yes, they were. But the thing that`s going on now is that with them admitting that it was a bad idea, why would they want to do it again? That`s my question, is, you know, here we are.   MATTHEWS: Well, they still want to do it in Syria and they want to go to war with Iran. Tom Cotton is your number one guy going to war with Iran, he and his partner, Bill Kristol. (CROSSTALK) BOENIG: Well, they have a lot of nations around there that have full militaries. The Saudi have full militaries. The Jordanians have -- they have tanks, thousands of tanks. They have -- even Turkey has 3,000 tanks and... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, why fight if we will do it? BOENIG: Right. MATTHEWS: Anyway, you say Senator Tom Cotton, Mr. Boenig, was ginning up the threat of ISIS to the United States here at home for political reasons. Let`s listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOENIG: Seven thousand miles away riding around in white pickup trucks is not going -- coming here and cutting our heads off. COTTON: The threat environment that we face here at home and throughout the West is graver, more grave today than at any time in any of our lifetimes. (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: This guy, the Bates Motel, it`s always like that. He always reminds of that Tony Perkins in "Psycho." This guy is so hawkish. It`s always, we got to fight right now. We have to fight for the world because they are coming to get us. BOENIG: Well, if you go along further into that interview, my business partner from The Daily Ripple -- she`s the editor of The Daily Ripple. MATTHEWS: Yes. BOENIG: She, at one hour and eight minutes, asked another question, and the question that she asked was, what about Africa and Latin America? You seem to have all your interest on this, when, in those places, we`re having the same kind of thing. And he didn`t really have an answer for that. MATTHEWS: Yes, he`s focused. Anyway, thank you so much, Fred Boenig. BOENIG: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Anyway, thanks for those. Up next: The fight for Iowa is on. We`re getting back to politics. And after this weekend`s Roast and Ride event out there, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker looks more and more like the candidate to beat. By the way, he wants to go back in Iraq too for another war over there. Did you believe that this weekend? You`re watching HARDBALL the place for politics.   (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Richard Lui in the MSNBC newsroom. More than 250 law enforcement officers are involved in the search for the two convicted murderers who escaped from a New York prison, an investigation under way to figure out how those inmates got the tools they used to escape. Defense officials confirmed the Army`s official public Web site has been hacked. No classified information or personal data was compromised. And President Obama spoke at the end of the G7 Summit in Germany, touching on a range of issues there, including a legal challenge to legal reform. He says the Supreme Court should not have taken up that matter -- now back to HARDBALL. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: Thank you, Iowa. Thank you. God bless all of you. Make sure that, as these candidates come back through, you`re giving them a very warm Iowa welcome. Thanks for the successful first inaugural event. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, there she is. And welcome back to HARDBALL. That was of course the hog castrator, as she called herself, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, who just got elected recently, who hosted her motorcycle and barbecue themed cattle call of Republican presidential candidates over this weekend, a Roast and Ride, as she called it.   The fight for Iowa has begun. I made it official. It happened this week. Here is more from the event on Saturday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That is what America is about, ladies and gentlemen, living freedom, riding free, being with a bunch of American heroes. CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And so I was thinking this morning, I really would be tempted on that general election debate stage to ask Hillary if she has ever ridden on a John Deere tractor. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me tell you, to Hillary Clinton, your definition of flat broke of mine are a little bit different. Anybody who thinks they are flat broke after serving two terms in the White House has lost their way. MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want to nominate somebody in the Republican Party who has faced, fought and won against the Clinton political machine, you`re looking at the one guy who has ever done that and lived to tell about it. GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: I love a senator who knows how to castrate a pig, ride a hog, and cut the pork from Washington, D.C. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) WALKER: Now, wouldn`t it be nice to give her an ally in the White House to help get the job done? (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP)   MATTHEWS: Well, Politico calls Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the man you just saw, the man to beat in Iowa. And he stole the show this weekend at breaking away from the pack of Republican hopefuls in the Hawkeye State. Walker, a proud Harley-Davidson owner, rode the 39-mile stretch through Central Iowa, along with Senator Joni Ernst and several hundred other bikers. There they are. As "The New York Times" wrote on Saturday, Walker enjoys a decisive lead in Iowa right now. He`s up about 17 to other people down around 10, thanks to an unflashy style that resonates with Iowans` Midwestern sensibilities and to an unusual appeal across a wide ideological swathe -- or swathe -- of Republicans. The latest "Des Moines Register" poll, as I said, has Walker up by seven over his nearest rival, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Joining me in the roundtable right now are some real pros, Robert Costa, political reporter with "The Washington Post," Sabrina Siddiqui, a reporter with "The Guardian," and Jamelle Bouie is a writer with Slate. Thank you all. And I want you all to -- I believe that the battle for Iowa has begun. It`s going to be won by a Midwesterner, as it often has. And that Midwesterner`s name is Scott Walker, because he`s culturally evangelical. He`s a real executive. He has a manner which is quiet, but he was the guy that beat Ed Schultz and the labor guys. He knows how to fight. But he wins in kind of a Midwestern way. He`s not a big talker like Chris Christie. He`s not an East Coast guy. He`s very much Midwestern. and I look at him with the hat and the chopper, and she -- the hog he`s driving -- by the way, the hog castrator and the hog rider. ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: I believe that is the case right now. Scott Walker, look at his biography. He spends part of his childhood in Iowa. His father Lou Walker, Baptist preacher, goes around the country talking about his faith. Walker has a cadence of a preacher, just like his father. He connects with Iowans. MATTHEWS: Siddiqui? SABRINA SIDDIQUI, THE GUARDIAN: You know, he benefits on name recognition, too, as the governor of the neighboring state and talked about early years, he spent in Iowa. He`s really good also at retail politics and he does that with that Midwestern you talk. He has this running rift about discount shopping at Kohl`s and the crowd loves it. That`s the kind of stuff they can connect with. MATTHEWS: Those states are both bordering with Illinois, right?   JAMELLE BOUIE, SLATE WRITER: Right. MATTHEWS: Is there a common border? Let`s get a geography lesson here. You said, are they bordering actually? SIDDIQUI: Nearby. Bordering -- MATTHEWS: Very nearby, very nearby. Who`s picking a point here? BOUIE: Walker`s big advantage here is that he has ideological affinity with so much with the Republican Party. And he can point to -- MATTHEWS: Explain that, Jamelle. BOUIE: He`s a small government, tax cutting, anti-union guy. He`s not just anti-union, just talk about it, like Christie -- MATTHEWS: Now, he`s taking on professors, too. BOUIE: Right. Now, he`s against -- MATTHEWS: That`s always a smart move. BOUIE: Professors and students, and he can show Iowa voters he has beaten them. He hasn`t just talked about and it danced around it, he`s beaten these people on the other side.   MATTHEWS: Well, I think Ed Schultz, my colleague, and the labor unions probably didn`t intend it but probably in a weird way gave him a boomerang opportunity, right? He tried to recall him and didn`t work and comes back and he`s there. He`s Lazarus. BOUIE: He can say he`s won three statewide elections, not just two. COSTA: He`s always talking about the Gipper. He knows that`s the base`s sweet spot, and they like his political courage. They see as someone who really battled the union. MATTHEWS: Here`s the other contender out there, because these are -- I think there are four guys in the race, all guys, Bush somewhere maybe might win this as he`s supposed to but he`s a sleeper at this point, you`ve got Walker right now, you`ve got Marco Rubio and I think somewhere out there, you`ve got Rick Perry, believe it or not, because I still think Rick Perry is very likable. Here is MSNBC`s Kasie Hunt asking Florida Senator Marco Rubio who participated in the ride and roast event about his own experiences with motorcycles. Let`s watch this. (BEGIN VDIEO CLIP) KASIE HUNT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: So, have you ever driven a motorcycle? Can you drive one? SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I haven`t. No, I`ve never been on a motorcycle. I mean, I`m on jet skis. I`m more of a water sport person, you know? So, my mom was also terrified of motorcycles as a little kid, she used to traumatize us about them. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You know, that was a -- that was sort of dingleberry. SIDDIQUI: Not in Iowa.   MATTHEWS: A Midwestern express from Iowa. (CROSSTALK) SIDDIQUI: There is no excuse when you`re in Iowa, but I will say about Marco Rubio, there is a lot of room for him and I think one of the things that`s happened with primary voters -- MATTHEWS: Did you like that performance, about my mom said they were -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: That`s too traumatizing. SIDDIQUI: Well, my mom thinks driving for me now is traumatizing. But, look, I think that Marco Rubio, the more primary voters hear about him, the more they like him. He made a big appeal that he`s the JFK of the Republican Party in Iowa, that`s the approach that his campaign -- MATTHEWS: What`s the connection with him and JFK? SIDDIQUI: Well, he`s made -- MATTHEWS: I knew JFK. Just kidding. SIDDIQUI: He made the point and adopted the new frontier with new American century and early 40s.   MATTHEWS: Did he fight in World War II? Did he save his crew? SIDDIQUI: This is his campaign. MATTHEWS: What is his connection to the courage of John F. Kennedy? SIDDIQUI: Well, that`s what he`s probably going to have to lay out. But I don`t think the Republican primary voters are too concerned with the actual nuances of that. I think it`s more about contrasting to Bush and Clinton who are part of political dynasties and he`s trying to make a generational argument. That`s the big part of Marco Rubio`s pitch. And primary voters are buying it. There are a lot of young voters, he polls particularly well with them in the Republican side. MATTHEWS: Because he`s young that makes him John F. Kennedy? BOUIE: I think it`s so problem with the generational argument is that if I am Jeb Bush or Scott Walker or Rick Perry, I just say, listen, we just elected a guy who is a first term senator and he was young and -- MATTHEWS: Wouldn`t you? How come Republicans can`t sight see that irony? SIDDIQUI: That`s why he`s bringing the JFK contrast because he`s not trying to be compared to Barack Obama. And that`s where his campaign has decided -- COSTA: Rubio -- MATTHEWS: Dan Quayle try that once.   COSTA: I think Rubio, beyond his generational talk and his talk of vigor, he`s a threat to Walker because he does appeal to the conservatives. He`s walked away from his stuff on immigration. He`s centered himself with the conservatives and so, if you`re Scott Walker, you see Rubio not Bush as your main threat. SIDDIQUI: Yes. And Rubio has establishment plus conservative support. That combination is really key. Only Bush and Rubio and Walker have that going for them. MATTHEWS: So, eight years from now, it would be a worse presidential candidate than he is today. This argument about age is a little bit weird to me. Anyway, the round table is staying with us. And up next, the deep bond between President Obama and Vice President Biden we saw this week on display this weekend as I said at the funeral for the vice president`s son Beau. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: "The Washington Post" reporter on trial in Iran right now is back in his second closer door hearing. Jason Rezaian, "The Post" Tehran bureau chief, is facing charges of espionage and propaganda against the Islamic Republic. Rezaian has been held since last July. And both his family and "The Post" have strongly criticized Iran`s decision to hold him so long. Rezaian`s mother who was at the courthouse today with his wife, his wife says today`s hearing was in secret and she has no idea how the trial is going or how many more hearings there is going to be. And we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable, Robert, Sabrina and Jamelle. Anyway, President Obama delivered the eulogy, as we all know, for Beau in his funeral on Saturday, up in Wilmington, Delaware. It was a fitting and at times emotional tribute to a devoted public servant and family man whose father has been at the president`s side -- at his side over the last seven years. Let`s watch.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What greater inheritance is there? What greater inheritance than to be part of a family that passes on the values of what it means to be a great parent? That passes on the values of what it means to be a true citizen? That passes on the values of what it means to give back fully and freely without expecting anything in return? That`s what your country was built on. Men like Beau. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: As Juliet Eilperin of "The Washington Post" pointed out, Vice President Biden selects President Obama to deliver the eulogy for his son reflects the intimate bond ever since 2008. It was in that spirit that the president described the personal kinship that he and his feels toward the Biden. Here that is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I will tell you what? Michelle and I and Sasha and Malia, we`ve become part of the Biden clan. We`re honorary members now. And the Biden family rules apply -- we`re always here for you. We always will be. My word as a Biden. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You know it amazed me being up there in the church and I couldn`t see a lot of it, you can see it in television -- the neighborhood feel of the whole thing. COSTA: It comes back to Joe Biden`s roots. I mean, he`s someone who comes from a blue collar background, and it really was a powerful moment to see President Obama up there. It was the untold story, the Obama presidency, the close relationship between those two. But the Biden`s been out there as a fighter for the president, working Congress for him, and he really saw the personal bond and it`s unique. MATTHEWS: I think the press loves the gaffes and they miss the big story. You got your reason to cover and I understand why we all do. I do it, too. But it doesn`t capture this bond. I once interviewed -- I was meeting with the vice president back in the very beginning. He said I`m in the office five hours a day. So, there`s a lot of working together.   SIDDIQUI: I think that the way that the nation has been moved by Beau Biden passing speaks to the effectiveness of Joe Biden and this authentic person. He is someone who`s extremely heartfelt and his, you know, wisdom, he has spoken when he dealt with grief with the loss of his wife and infant daughter, too. That often gets overshadowed. But the way that you just saw the outpouring support from both sides of the aisle for Joe and his family this time of loss speaks to what separates him from the run of the mill politicians that we`re so used to hear in Washington. MATTHEWS: Jamelle? BOUIE: Joe Biden is just a remarkably authentic guy. It does not seem like he is putting on the air. And that fact I think really -- in a time like this, people connect to that and see that they can see he is a man that`s hurting right now and not just someone trying to get their vote. MATTHEWS: I don`t think that anybody knows what it`s like to lose a child unless you`re in it, and you never get out of it, ever get out of it. Anyway, the president talked about what made Beau Biden different than most politicians. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Anyone can make a name for themselves in this reality TV age, especially in today`s politics, if you`re loud enough, or controversial enough, you can get some attention. But to make that name mean something, to have it associated with dignity and integrity, that is rare. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Robert, he wrote it himself. COSTA: He did. When you speak to Democrats about the Biden and Obama relationship, you hear about Biden, he is part father/part brother to the president. He plays both roles depending on the circumstance. You see from the president, he really is a writer at heart. MATTHEWS: He is a loner, too.   COSTA: But he respects people who connect with him on a deep level and endure with him. And that just came through with almost every line. MATTHEWS: Jamelle, your thoughts about this. BOUIE: Again, that`s basically -- I have nothing to add to that. I mean, this was a very lovely and wonderful eulogy. It think that it speaks to sort of, again, the deep connection between Biden and Obama, and also Obama`s literary talent, Obama`s ability to sort of communicate. That exact feeling to a national audience and without losing the personal and intimacy that is necessary for an occasion like that. MATTHEWS: We don`t see that kind of personal affection in public life too often and love. That`s the word the president used. Anyway, I have more thoughts about this in a minute. Robert Costa, thank you. It`s great to have you on. Sabrina, thank you so much. And, Jamelle, what a great trio. We`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with something about the revelation up in St. Anthony`s this Saturday. Kathleen and I were back in the church, way back in the church, when President Obama made that remarkable profession of love for his vice president and the vice president`s family. If you think this is normal in American politics these days, let me break it to you -- love is not the word you hear, isn`t the bond you notice. No, it`s not familiar to those of us who cover the political word of this early century, isn`t the world around you when you get into politics as so many of you who watch each night do.   Look, if this is a little gooey for you, OK, I`m not going to give this commentary very often. But attention needs to be paid to the close relationship we saw in that little Italian church on Saturday. People need to realize what was revealed up there on that altar, when a president of the United States not only admitted an affection for his vice president, but celebrated it for all to witness. He did it in his eulogy of the vice president`s son, he did it not just because of the tragedy, but because as he said of the love that binds them, and beyond that, their two families. I am a romantic about politics, as most of you known now. I love stories of the Kennedys and Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, and yes I got a thrill from those earlier speeches of Barack Obama. But nothing in that was as human as this weekend, and I say, good for them. Good for them that they don`t mind us knowing that two people who work together day after day through successful missions and mistakes and, yes, gaffes, have found in their work and struggle at the top, the most sublime of human emotions and the most basics. And that was a nice little neighborhood up there in Wilmington where that funeral took place, and Barack Obama and Joe Biden could have been just two guys from the same block who shared the joys and pangs and punishments of life together, like good human beings. Don`t you think? 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.>