IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 06/23/15

Guests: Richard Cohen, Michael Baird, Susan Page

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Flag day. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Well, the party that fought for the union in the 1860s and backed Civil Rights in the 1960s has been caught off-sides in the racial politics of the 21st century. In the past 24 hours, Republican presidential candidates have been like circus elephants attempting back flips. It has not been a pretty sight. The question for us tonight, why is the political cotillion that fashions itself as the party of Lincoln having a problem letting go of the battle flag of Jefferson Davis? Eugene Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post" and Michael Steele was chairman of the Republican Party. Both are MSNBC political analysts. I want to start with you, Michael. MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. MATTHEWS: And I wonder why your party`s having this problem. It was very uneven. Some came out early and said we`ve got to get rid of that flag in the wake of the tragedy in Charleston. Others have been hemming and hawing and only moving, most of them, after Nikki Haley had the courage to make give that beautiful speech yesterday.

STEELE: What a wonderful way to set the right tone on this discussion. MATTHEWS: She did, finally. STEELE: Governor Haley. So hats off to her. If you want to know how to lead on this issue, follow her because she really, I think, set the mantle for us. Now, let`s back it up. You have -- you have candidates running for the presidency who are playing to a particular constituency. They`re looking at the state of South Carolina for the upcoming Republican primary... MATTHEWS: The white people in South Carolina. STEELE: The white folks in the primary in South Carolina. And in the beginning, I think a lot were hedging their bets, so they took the hands- off approach. They didn`t want to engage on the subject. But for me, that is the perfect opportunity because you laid it out, our history both in the 1800s and the 1900s and now this opportunity to lead on Civil Rights again I thought was a very important but unfortunately missed opportunity. MATTHEWS: And I thought -- your thoughts, first. HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think Michael is right. I think that they were hedging their bets, particularly the candidates who are still try to have a presence in the polls, right? MATTHEWS: The ones working for number 10. ROBINSON: Exactly, the ones who aren`t quite rising to the point where they`re even getting in the first debate. They`re not going to go out...

MATTHEWS: What about Kasich, who`s trying to make the 10? And he said -- I thought he handled the issue of local thinking, or decision- making, and national values pretty well. He said, If I lived in South Carolina, I`d be for taking it down. ROBINSON: Yes, no, exactly. But you know who put them all on the spot was Mitt Romney, right... (LAUGHTER) ROBINSON: ... who came out over the weekend with his tweet saying, you know, get rid of the flag. MATTHEWS: And what makes him more free to say that now? ROBINSON: Well, you know... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... not running. STEELE: Yes, but not just free, consistent. In 2007, Mitt had that position and made it very clear going into the 2008 election that that flag should be taken down. MATTHEWS: It was sad because you remember John McCain back in 2008... ROBINSON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: He wouldn`t do it. ROBINSON: Who now says that that was a mistake. MATTHEWS: Yes, right afterwards, he said it was a mistake. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Anyway, here`s an issue I do care about a lot, as well as we all care about the flag. I care about voting. Reince Priebus, Republican national chairman, popped up behind South Carolina governor Nikki Haley yesterday, and yet the chair of the Republican National Committee presides over a party engaged in efforts to block black voter efforts in nearly 20 states right now. Donald Trump, by the way, today backed the move by Governor Haley. Let`s watch him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think they should put it in the museum, let it go, respect whatever it is that you have to respect because it was a point in time, and put it in a museum. But I would take it down, yes. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: It`s hard not to look directly at that hat. (LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: I don`t know what his red hat was for. Anyway, yes, he`s a redcap now. Anyway, Trump spent years playing to the country`s racists by insulting the president and questioning his legitimacy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Why doesn`t he show his birth certificate? And you know what? I wish he would because I think it`s a terrible pall that`s hanging over him. He should show his birth certificate. The other thing -- if you go back to my 1st grade, my kindergarten, people remember me. Nobody from those early years... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s not true. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: In other words -- I love the way Whoopi Goldberg -- her body language. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Anyway, he`s saying not only is he illegitimate, a guy snuck in the country illegally, but he never really went to any of these schools because nobody remembers him. ROBINSON: Nobody remembers him. MATTHEWS: Because he was a phantom. He didn`t exist. He`s not -- he`s not even -- Mike, he`s not even Barack Obama, whatever country he came from. STEELE: Well, I...

ROBINSON: He`s the Manchurian... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Why does that still play in your party? STEELE: But it doesn`t -- I don`t know -- I don`t know that it does. And I haven`t heard anyone -- I have not heard anyone make the arguments that you`re making right now. No one`s talking about... MATTHEWS: Well, that`s why I`m here. STEELE: Nobody`s talking about the president`s birth certificate. That is past and... MATTHEWS: Well, that`s -- forget that now. Is Donald Trump taking that back? STEELE: I don`t know if he`s taking it back... MATTHEWS: Well, he hasn`t. STEELE: ... but he`s not talking about it. He`s not -- this is not part of the conversation. MATTHEWS: Oh, this is like one of those little blackboards that disappears when you pull the thing...

STEELE: Well, it disappears, I mean, just as Hillary doesn`t want to talk about certain issues of the past. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: How about Reince Priebus showing up yesterday, pretending he cared about black rights when he`s been fighting voting -- voting -- voter suppression... STEELE: Well, look, I`m not going to... MATTHEWS: ... in 20 states? STEELE: Having served... MATTHEWS: He keeps doing it! STEELE: Having served in the job, I know as chairman, you`re not responsible for the state legislatures of 50 different -- different -- 50 different states... MATTHEWS: Well, what is the leader of the Republican Part supposed to be for... STEELE: He`s -- he`s -- but he`s not writing the legislation! He`s not the one... MATTHEWS: He shouldn`t say what`s right and what`s wrong.

STEELE: Well, he can speak to it. And that`s... MATTHEWS: Has he? STEELE: ... a different conversation. MATTHEWS: Has he? STEELE: He has not spoken to it, that I know of. MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you. Here`s Rick Santorum, who even now refuses to take a position on whether the Stars and Bars should get off that lawn. Today, he said that to answer a question while running for president would cheapen the issue. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FMR. SEN., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: I`m just suggesting that it`s a decision that should be made by South Carolina, and politicizing this and putting it in the context of a presidential campaign I think just -- I think cheapens it. I think this is a -- this is an issue that`s bigger and more important than that. And I`m trying to focus in on what I think is really amazing, the reconciliation both with the flag... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely agree. SANTORUM: ... and what`s going on here at the church. And I don`t -- I don`t think necessarily my entering into that and -- and -- and telling what I should do or what I would do is any more telling or more important than what the people actually are doing here.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Explain it, Gene. ROBINSON: I -- I... MATTHEWS: I was going to say explain Lucy, but... (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: The only explanation I have is that he`s worried about losing whatever percentage it is of South Carolina Republicans who are, you know, flag romantists (ph), who are really going to -- you know, are going to hold onto that flag until you have to pry their cold, dead fingers off of it. MATTHEWS: Yes, well, that`s what Charlton Heston... (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: So -- but you know, look, I don`t think he`s getting much out of this, frankly. I don`t think he`s going to get those votes necessarily with this stance. The whole Republican Party in South Carolina, basically, all the power brokers were there yesterday... MATTHEWS: He`s fighting for the jumper seat in a clown car. STEELE: But this is the point for me...

MATTHEWS: I`m going to ask you -- this reminds me of our history in this country. Remember Nixon, when Martin Luther King was arrested down in Georgia right in the middle of the election in 1960. Thanks to Harris Wofford (INAUDIBLE) Bobby Kennedy got on the phone to Mrs. King and changed everything. The blue (ph) bomb (ph) came out of that, the big vote. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Nixon wouldn`t touch it. Jackie Robinson got on the train and said, You got to do something, Mr. Vice President. You got to do something. And Nixon said that would be grandstanding. And it just sounds like Rick Santorum -- it would cheapen the issue. Why do people come up with these phrases? STEELE: Well, because it`s fear and it`s political calculation. And it is the lack of moral certitude on something as important and significant as Dr. King being illegally jailed or a flag that, you know, a significant portion of the population view as racist and antithetical to their interests. And so, you know, getting beyond that fear has been a real struggle for a lot of politicians because... MATTHEWS: I wonder, could any other guy, besides Nikki Haley, have done the dramatic thing -- I know how affected you were by it because we played a clip of it -- and I didn`t grow up like you did down there, and I thought this was one of the rare moments in television where somebody actually looked like a leader. ROBINSON: No, absolutely. Look, I thought she was terrific, yesterday. I really did. I thought her tone was just right, not just the content of what she said, which, very carefully, you know, kind of explained -- we were talking earlier, it like she was mama saying, you know, This is the way it`s going to be from now on. She said it very sweetly, but she said it. But I thought her tone was perfect. Her voice was confident. It was just -- it was -- she did a really good job. MATTHEWS: And could anybody else have done that? ROBINSON: I -- nobody... (CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON: You know, I don`t know. STEELE: I say no because they didn`t. MATTHEWS: Well, Lindsey Graham could have done it. Did he? (CROSSTALK) STEELE: No, but they didn`t. ROBINSON: But here`s the question, though. So here you had Nikki Haley, Indian-American governor, off this terrific performance, I`m confident she`s going to get the flag down, flanked by Tim Scott, elected black Republican senator from South Carolina. Will they go beyond the flag? Will they go beyond the symbol of the flag... MATTHEWS: The Republican Party or South Carolina? ROBINSON: ... to begin to show the Republican Party how it... MATTHEWS: Oh! ROBINSON: ... can get on the right side of...

MATTHEWS: What you tried to do. ROBINSON: ... some of this... MATTHEWS: What Jack Kemp tried to do. (CROSSTALK) ROBINSON: ... concrete issue. Will they be the new Jack Kemp... MATTHEWS: Who -- who`s the new Jack Kemp? Is it she? Who`s the new Kemp... STEELE: Well, I mean, I think... MATTHEWS: ... I mean the face of the party that`s credible? STEELE: She showed some elements of it. You know, I think, you know, you`ve got someone potentially like a Rand Paul, who has spent a lot of time in the community. He was late in his response here, but you know, he at least has a record that he can fall on. But can I -- just on Nikki Haley -- the one thing that I think is important to take away from that was how she wove together two disparate interests. She had that Southern white conservative, and everyone else, and she in her statement wove them together in a very important way I think that`s going to -- to your point -- help her have that flag taken down. MATTHEWS: Well, today, Senator Rand Paul was asked about the flag issue. Let`s listen to what he said.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the flag is inescapably a symbol of human bondage and slavery, and particularly when people use it, you know, obviously, for, you know, murder and to justify hatred so vicious that you would kill somebody -- I think that that symbolism needs to end, and I think South Carolina is doing the right thing. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, according to Rush Limbaugh, removing the flag has nothing to do with taking down a symbol of hatred. For the Republican Party`s grand vizier, it`s a liberal effort to target the South. Let`s listen to the underwater walrus and what he has to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I have a prediction. The senate`s not going to stop with the Confederate flag because it`s not about the Confederate flag. It is about destroying the South as a political force. It`s about isolating, targeting and identifying the South as Dylann Roof. Do not doubt me, folks! And I`ll make another prediction to you. The next flag that will come under assault, and it will not be long, is the American flag! (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Why do people listen to that crap? STEELE: I don`t know what... MATTHEWS: I mean, nobody thinks the American flag`s under assault. Nobody.

(CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Who is sitting in their car buying that garbage? STEELE: Well, look, the thing about the South -- and I`m sure Rush knows this and appreciates this -- it`s changing. (CROSSTALK) STEELE: The South Carolina today is not the South Carolina of 10 years ago, let alone 50 years ago. MATTHEWS: Or of two weeks ago. STEELE: Or two weeks ago. ROBINSON: Or two weeks ago, yes. STEELE: We look at the South, you know, a state like North Carolina and Virginia, states like that voting for Barack Obama. There is changes that are happening there. MATTHEWS: Events matter. Pearl Harbor mattered. (CROSSTALK)

STEELE: The party`s got to be in with those changes and know what`s going on. MATTHEWS: You know, Arthur Schlesinger once said that being a politician is to be in essentially a learning profession. You must learn all the time. ROBINSON: Right. So which Republicans learned that Charleston matters, that what happened last week in Charleston is going to matter? MATTHEWS: Because it showed our bloodstream has this in it. ROBINSON: Yes. MATTHEWS: It wasn`t an organization, it wasn`t a police force, it was this kid who was somehow channeling the hatred that he had somehow inherited somewhere, from this society. Thank you, Eugene Robinson. And thank you, Michael Steele. You were great yesterday. Coming up -- the white supremacist leader who influenced the Charleston shooter also contributed campaign money, dollars, to Republicans, including four of the guys who are now running for president. My big question -- what is it about the Republican Party that this guy likes so much? Plus, the big vote today by the Senate to back President Obama and deliver a signature achievement of his presidency, the Pacific trade deal. And it`s clown car Tuesday. And in the driver`s seat this week, Donald Trump. He`s got all the seats. `And `Let Me Finish" with why Eleanor Roosevelt deserves to be on U.S. currency.

This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (NEWS BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Well, the Charleston massacre has re-exposed an ugly vein of racism, of course, and some troubling political ties out there on the right. In his reported manifesto, gunman Dylann Roof says he was inspired by the writings and research of the white supremacist group called the Council of Conservative Citizens. He writes, quote, "At this moment, I realized that something was very wrong." He`s talking about the country. That group is run by Earl Holt III, a man who had spewed -- as spewed some of the foulest hatred you`re ever going to read. A few years ago, in an on-line comment thread, he used the user with his name -- with the same name wrote, quote, "The real enemy is Africanus criminalis, the laziest, stupidest and most criminally inclined race in the history of the world." That`s Earl Holt talking there. When President Obama was elected in 2008, the same man wrote this on his group`s Web site. "I never dreamed that even a nation of dolts, gamblers, borrowers and personal injury plaintiffs would elect a phony Negro with three Muslim names and a Marxist agenda." That`s Earl Holt talking. As he was promoting white supremacy, Holt and his group were also promoting Republican candidates. In the last few years, he -- that man you`re looking at -- contributed at least $70,000 to dozens of Republicans, including presidential hopefuls like Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz. The party now finds itself scrambling to distance itself from Holt and his group, of course, and every one of those politicians has rejected Holt`s money now by donating it to charity -- now. Richard Cohen is the president of Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy organization that tracks hate groups like this. Howard Fineman here is, of course, global editorial director at the HuffingtonPost. I want to go to Richard first on this. Give us a sense of this group, this Council -- is this the successor to the notorious White Citizens Councils that grew up after -- after Reconstruction, or during Reconstruction?

RICHARD COHEN, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: That`s exactly right, Chris. They were built, in fact, on the mailing lists of the old White Citizens Councils. At one point in the late `90s, early 2000s, they boasted about 15,000 members, including many, many prominent Republican office holders. MATTHEWS: Why do they like the Republican Party? I know it`s a basic question, but I need to hear it. COHEN: Well, I mean, I think the real question is why does the Republican Party like them so much during that time? It was part of the Southern strategy. People like Trent Lott routinely spoke at their conferences. And for the people involved in the Council, well, the Republican Party, they were the most conservative game in town. MATTHEWS: What about this guy Scalise of Louisiana, the guy who`s in leadership now? Didn`t he speak to one of those groups? COHEN: I believe so. That`s correct. He claims, of course, like all of them, that he didn`t know what he was talking to. It`s just such a common refrain that you hear. But can you imagine Trent Lott or Haley Barbour going to a group and not knowing anything about them? They have got better advance people than that. MATTHEWS: Well said. Southern Republicans are no stranger to the group, as you point out, Richard. In fact, in 1993, Arkansas` Lieutenant Governor Mike Huckabee spoke to a group, the group`s convention by videotape. In 1998, then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, you mentioned, and Bob Barr addressed the group`s convention. In 2004, Haley Barbour, then a candidate for governor in Mississippi, posed with CCC staff at a barbecue. There he is. Howard, let`s talk about the Republican Party`s problem here. They have got this on their fingers here. They have got a connection with a guy who inspired a guy who shot nine people. HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, this is the nightmarish other side of the Southern strategy. Just a little history for a second. The South was Democrat for decades.

MATTHEWS: The solid South. FINEMAN: The solid South. And then the civil rights movement happened. It caused a depth charge in the South. Eventually, the Republicans led by Richard Nixon saw the chance to take the South from the Democrats and make the South the base of a new Republican Party. And that, in fact, has been the case consistently from the late `60s and early `70s through to today, pretty much, except for places like Virginia and North Carolina occasionally around the perimeter, the solid South for the Republicans. And in the old days, it used to be considered almost shrewd that they would play to the edges of this. Ronald Reagan in 1980, one of the first campaign stops of the fall of 1980 for Ronald Reagan was at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi, right down the road from where some civil rights workers had been killed. That symbolism was... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Chaney and the other two guys. FINEMAN: That symbolism was not lost on anybody in the South. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: So, you think that that was seen as... FINEMAN: That was dog whistle politics. MATTHEWS: Yes.

FINEMAN: That was foghorn politics. People called him on it at the time. But that`s 30 years ago in American politics. We are a different country. We`re a multicultural country. We`re a country of many races, not just the black/white story. And the Southern strategy is now coming to haunt the Republicans. And if they don`t find a way to disengage themselves from it, they have got no chance of winning a presidential election, none. MATTHEWS: As I mentioned, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, and Scott Walker are donating the money they got from Holt, this racist, to charity. They`re doing it now. In a statement, Rick Santorum said: "I abhor the sentiments Mr. Holt has expressed. These statements and sentiments are unacceptable, period, end of sentence." A spokesman for Ted Cruz said -- quote -- "Senator Cruz believes that there`s no place for racism in society. Upon learning about Mr. Holt`s background and his contributions to the campaign, he immediately instructed that all those donations be returned." Richard, what do you think about that? Should politicians be aware? Should a bell go off when they get money from this Council of Conservative Citizens? COHEN: Well, sure. But we don`t know if any of them really knew where the money was from. It says something about this Holt character, where he wants to put his cash, but I`m not sure what it tells us about the Republican Party candidates, other than that they`re his favorites. Let me make one other point very quickly, Chris. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I want to stop you there, because they want to know -- why does he give money to people if he doesn`t agree with them? (CROSSTALK)

COHEN: Oh, no, I`m sure he does agree with them. But I`m not sure that one can blame them for that. MATTHEWS: What does he like about Republicans on race? What does he like about Republicans on race? (CROSSTALK) COHEN: Well, they`re the most acceptable candidates to a racist like him. I mean, that`s what it tells you. And the Supreme Court has said that money is speech, and he spoke very loudly, $70,000 worth. The one point I wanted to add is that Nikki Haley in 2013 was tainted a bit by the Council. One of the persons who is on her reelection steering committee, a fellow named Roan Garcia-Quintana, himself was a Council board member. So, the Council is absolutely interested in having a foot not just in an extremist world, but also in the foot of mainstream politics. And that`s a dangerous thing, obviously. MATTHEWS: Howard. FINEMAN: Chris, I think that the Republican Party now would like to get away from their own history, the sordid part of the Southern strategy. But, like Banquo`s ghost, this guy is haunting them. I think he`s contributing partly because he wants to say, uh-uh, don`t forget about us. We`re a part of your coalition. He`s doing it for his own credibility to try to latch on to a Republican Party that`s desperately, I think increasingly going to be trying to get away from them. But whether they can get away from the last 30 or 40 years of their own history is a question that is going to be looked at in this campaign. MATTHEWS: You know, it`s a sad -- it`s not your bailiwick, Richard, but it`s ours, Howard and mine, that the weird politics of the Republican Party, which has been to scramble after the droppings of the other party. Like, they go after whites who are angry about black advance. They go after anti-gay people because of same-sex marriage, because they find -- they go for what`s left over, politically. And that`s not how you build a party.

COHEN: Yes. MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you so much, Richard Cohen. COHEN: Yes. MATTHEWS: You`re the expert on this subject. COHEN: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Howard Fineman, great to hear from you. FINEMAN: Thank you. Thank you. MATTHEWS: Up next, police may be closing in on those escaped killers, maybe. The chase is getting hot, of course. We have got a DNA expert here who is going to tell us exactly what clues the investigators are tracking as they hunt these guys down perhaps to the finish now. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Searchers in Upstate New York are intensifying the manhunt for two convicted killers who broke out of prison 18 days ago. Hundreds of searchers with dogs and helicopters are now focusing their attention on a densely wooded area filled with wild animals, mosquitoes, ticks and daily downpours, drenching both law enforcement and the desperate murderers themselves that they`re going after. Anyway, over the weekend, a hunter spotted a man running away from that cabin we`re looking at in the village of Owls Head 20 miles from the prison. Sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC News the DNA recovered in that isolated cabin match both convicted murderers and that David Sweat and Richard Matt are likely to still be together. And in an exclusive interview with NBC News, Lyle Mitchell, the husband of the prison worker accused of helping the inmates escape, says his wife, Joyce Mitchell, is lucky to be alive today. Joyce Mitchell was supposed to drive the getaway car, but reportedly got cold feet. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "THE TODAY SHOW": And if she had gone in that car... (CROSSTALK) LYLE MITCHELL, HUSBAND OF JOYCE MITCHELL: She would have been dead within half-an-hour, I figure. She would just -- get away, they were going to kill her, they were, and all they wanted was that vehicle. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Lyle Mitchell has not been charged with anything, and his lawyer says he`s cooperated with authorities. Joyce Mitchell was -- has pleaded not guilty to supplying tools to help with the escape. Prosecutors tell NBC News that Mitchell told police she smuggled hacksaw blades, drill bits and a hole punch into the prison by embedding the items in ground beef. Officials say it`s not uncommon for prisoners to have hot plates in their cells to grill their own hamburgers. Well, joining me right now with the latest is MSNBC`s Adam Reiss in Owls Head, New York, and Michael Baird, the expert -- an expert on DNA evidence from Cincinnati.

First to Adam for the news. What`s going on right now? We`re hearing about a lot of activity up there. ADAM REISS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, officials believe that DNA evidence they found on Saturday, and now we have learned underwear found in that same cabin, are their best leads so far. They want to take advantage of those leads, secure this perimeter and make sure they don`t leave this area. Now, about two hours ago, they got a tip. We saw cars racing by here to about an area two miles from here. It`s called Mountain View. It`s a little lake area, some small cabins. They swarmed the area. There were choppers overhead, but they came up empty. But they still believe these guys are together, they`re on foot somewhere in this area in the Adirondack Mountains, very difficult terrain. The sheriff here told us that it`s very difficult. There`s streams. There`s -- the underbrush is very difficult to walk through. They`re probably cold and wet and tired and hungry, which makes them even more desperate and dangerous -- Chris. MATTHEWS: How cold does it get up there this time of year in that area? REISS: Well, it drops pretty bad. It`s maybe 70 or 80 during the day, dropping to 50. It`s been raining continuously for the past several days. A week ago, it was raining. Two weeks ago, it was raining. So this area has been drenched on an almost daily basis. So the conditions out there, you can bet, not only are uncomfortable for the escapees, but for the searchers, very uncomfortable conditions out in the forest, in the area here, in the mountains of the Adirondacks. MATTHEWS: Is the assumption that they have burrowed down deep into the terrain, avoiding large being exposed on swathes of open land, or that they`re on the run? Are we assuming they`re moving or that they`re hiding somewhere? REISS: Well, there`s certainly a lot of places that they could hide here. There`s small cabins. The sheriff the a little hunting cabin where the DNA was found. It`s just a small little hut. There might be a table, there might be a little kitchenette, there might be a bed. There are plenty of places like that here in this area, places where people don`t really come. There are plenty of people who live here year-round, but there are many of these places that the people only come during the summer, maybe on weekends, plenty of places they could hole up for days, maybe weeks on end before being identified.

MATTHEWS: Adam Reiss, thank you very much for MSNBC. Let`s go to Michael Baird, a DNA expert. What do you think, Michael, they have their hands on right now, the authorities, that they`re looking at, trying to figure out these guys and where they`re going? MICHAEL BAIRD, DNA EXPERT: It sounds like they have a lot of evidence that they can utilize, including a jug of water, some underwear, socks, boots, even items that may have been touched in the cabin. All those items could be used for DNA testing, and once they establish that the profile matches one or both of the individuals, they basically identify that they have been there. MATTHEWS: Is this certitude? Is this pretty close to human certitude that it`s them? BAIRD: Yes, it really is. I mean, DNA is a unique identifier. It will determine the profile that only that person will have, no one else in the world. So DNA technology has gotten to the point where it can uniquely identify an individual, to the exclusion of everyone else. MATTHEWS: And how do they get their records? How did we match it up? Do they have -- do all prisoners get -- have DNA samples now, they have to provide them under -- because they`re incarcerated; they have to give up a DNA sample? BAIRD: Yes. That`s correct, Chris. When someone`s convicted of certain crimes, including felonies, a sample will be taken from that individual, a DNA profile generated, and that profile will be kept on file, on record. There`s a database called CODIS that`s maintained by the FBI. And any time a crime is committed, they don`t know who it is, they can determine the profile of the evidence at the crime scene and then compare it back to that CODIS database. So, they would know the profile of those two individuals.

MATTHEWS: Boy, that is powerful information here, powerful technology. Thank you so much, Michael Baird, on DNA evidence. Up next: The Senate votes to bail out President Obama on trade. They`re going to work for him. That`s coming up in the roundtable, big win for the president. Plus, Donald Trump at the wheel of the right-wing clown car. It is clown car Tuesday. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAGE HOPKINS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Page Hopkins. The storm system that spawned tornadoes across the Midwest is moving here, threatening millions of residents from the Ohio Valley to Maine. There have been ground stops at multiple airports, including Baltimore, Dulles, Philadelphia and Reagan National -- now back to HARDBALL. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: This is a very important day for our country. We have demonstrated we can work together on a bipartisan basis to achieve something that is extremely important for America. This has been a long and rather twisted path to where we are today, but it`s a very, very important accomplishment for the country. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Who would have known? Welcome back to HARDBALL. That was Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier today handing President Obama a major victory for his second-term agenda. The U.S. Senate brought the president`s trade package back from the dead today, voting 60-37 to break a filibuster and clear the way for passage of the Trade Promotional Authority, otherwise known as fast track, and to be signed by the president -- he is going to sign this thing this week. President Obama needs fast track to push through his massive 12-nation trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If completed, the trade deal would become a cornerstone in Mr. Obama`s domestic and global legacy, of course. But anti-trade Democrats who oppose the president made their displeasure with the results of the vote known today. Here`s one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: This is a day of celebration in the corporate suites in this country, to be sure, because they have got another corporate-sponsored trade agreement. We make decisions here today that throw people out of work. We know that. Across the political spectrum, that`s acknowledged. But we today don`t do anything to help those workers that lose their jobs. So we make a decision, throw people in Mansfield, Ohio, and Cleveland, Ohio, out of work, but then we don`t take care of the workers that lost their jobs because of our decisions. It`s shameful, Mr. President. BERNIE SANDERS (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This trade agreement was supported by virtually every major corporation in this country, the vast majority of whom have outsourced millions of jobs to low-wage countries all over the world. This trade agreement is supported by Wall Street. This trade agreement is supported by the pharmaceutical industry. This agreement was opposed by every union in this country working for the best interests of working families. In my view, this trade agreement will continue the policies of NAFTA, CAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China, agreements that have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, joining the roundtable right now is Michelle Bernard, the president of the Bernard Center. Sam Stein is political editor of The Huffington Post. And Susan Page is Washington bureau chief for "USA Today." Susan, I just want to know how he carves this thing up. The president wins. Winning is also always better, I`ve experienced -- that`s my experience in life. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: He wanted the trade deal as part of his legacy, like his legacy of going to Cuba, of opposing Keystone. You can see his legacy building what he`s doing right now. In this case, his partner was Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. He didn`t get any help from the Democrats. SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: Well, he got some Democratic support. MATTHEWS: Thirteen Democratic senators, about 28 in the House, it looks like. And I`m just wondering, I want to ask the first question -- what`s your reaction generally? PAGE: I think it`s a big victory for President Obama. This is one of the few big things he was hoping to do in the final two years of his term. This, the Iran deal, which we see coming ou, and Obamacare surviving the Supreme Court. All these things we`re going to know in the next week. So, I think there`s no way you can say that`s not a victory. It was at the expense of his friends. MATTHEWS: Were they his friends on this? PAGE: Well, they weren`t in his friends on this. But if --

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of this -- I want to move it around here. Michelle, you have feelings. (LAUGHTER) PAGE: Unlike Sam. Unlike you. MATTHEWS: The president says he was hurt. He`s not exactly a sharing kind of guy -- MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: Yes. MATTHEWS: -- like the vice president is. He says, I`m hurt by the fact you think I don`t care about the working person in this country. And he doesn`t understand why the labor unions were able to gin up all this hatred and anger against this bill, when he though, he thinks it is good for labor. It`s good for America. BERNARD: Yes. Well, I agree with Susan. I think this is a huge victory for the president for all of the reasons that we discussed. I think if you go back and look at what Bill Clinton went through when they were trying to push through NAFTA, none of this could have been a surprise to the president. He had to have known what was coming his way and what can you do other than expect him to say. How could you think this about me? I am a man of the people. MATTHEWS: Yes. BERNARD: That`s just natural. It`s normal rhetoric. But it`s a huge -- look, if Bill Clinton could get through NAFTA and President Obama was not able to get this deal done, I think it would have really harmed his legacy. He needs so much more than Obamacare to --

(CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Bill Clinton was for this. I heard him say it. Hillary Clinton was for it 125 times, whatever. So I know she has to steer around this a bit because of labor`s influence in the party and she`ll need them come next November. I understand the politics of her position. But Bill Clinton`s for this thing. What do you say about this thing, Sam? SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, I mean, there`s been a longstanding rift within the Democratic Party over this type of economic policy, the new Democrats are the traditional labor line Democrats. MATTHEWS: Who wins and loses when you have free trade? STEIN: Well, it really honestly depends on who is the president, right? MATTHEWS: No, no, no. I mean, in the region -- (CROSSTALK) STEIN: Oh. MATTHEWS: You just look at -- Virginia is sure for this -- STEIN: The coasts and the cities will win on this one. And to be honest, the industrial Midwest will probably lose, and that`s just the way it`s been. And the problem it`s the way it`s been for generations now. And this president has, you know, it`s not just with trade. I mean, the buildup of the disappointment within the union circles with Obama extends well into his early years when he couldn`t get the Employee Free Choice Act over the finish line where in the Obamacare --

MATTHEWS: What`s that? STEIN: It was -- BERNARD: The card check, yes. STEIN: The card check, allowing more vehicles for easier unionization, stuff like that where he promised -- he made these lofty promises. Even in the Affordable Care Act, unions had disappointments with some of the policies there. So, there has been a buildup of discontent with Obama within the union community. It bubbled over here. But, you know, the truth is they were always going to be discontented -- MATTHEWS: Well, let`s go to the facts of the union. I mean, everybody`s self-interest. I`m not knocking anybody for self-interest. The unions -- they have about a million and a half manufacturing jobs organized right now, in the whole country of 300-some million. So, it`s really on their last legs. They`re fighting for their lives. PAGE: Well, they make the argument this will cost wages for manufacturing workers and that will affect every member they have, including all these service employees MATTHEWS: It will bring down wages. PAGE: It will bring down wages and that will hurt workers everywhere, even workers that are not -- those whose jobs are not directly tied. BERNARD: But the counter argument more that is every job that`s a trade job, the income usually that someone has paid is normally higher. You might lose jobs in certain part of the country, but there`s the argument that all the jobs that are created -- MATTHEWS: The jobs you lose than the jobs you develop. The jobs you develop are not union jobs, the most.

STEIN: And I always thought that best point that Obama had to make was that you are essentially living with the status quo. You can let China come in and dictate -- BERNARD: Exactly. STEIN: -- but you can let me do it. I was always curious why Democrats weren`t more attentive to that argument, because theoretically, the next president could come in with a Republican congress and it could be a Republican president. MATTHEWS: Last question, real quick, if he had gotten out there and sold this baby, really sold it on national television, primetime, this is about our leadership of the world, this is about China. We don`t like China, we could beat them with that, would this work better or is this better the cagey way he did it? BERNARD: I think he`s smart to do it the way he did it. STEIN: Cagey. I think he did sell it. That`s the thing. He pushed very hard -- MATTHEWS: Well, he came here on our show to do it. I know he tried. STEIN: Yes. BERNARD: Yes. MATTHEWS: The roundtable is staying with us. And up next, the clown car. Donald Trump grabs the wheel of it. This is clown car Tuesday. He`s the man at the helm, if you will.

And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, new lows for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. A new poll from Fairleigh Dickinson has Christi`s job approval at just 30 percent, the lowest it`s ever been. What`s worse? When the poll asked New Jersey voters whether they dislike the governor personally, dislike his policies or dislike everything about him, a plurality in the poll said they dislike everything about him. Christi is expected to announce that he`s running for president in a few weeks. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable. Michelle, of course, Sam and Susan. When Donald Trump filed his official paperwork with the Federal Election Commission signaling that he`s serious about his White House run. Well, there`s already some evidence that Trump is being taken seriously by voters in the key primary state of New Hampshire. According to a new Suffolk University poll I mentioned, he`s in second place at 11 percent just a bit behind Jeb Bush. But as he ramps up his campaign, it`s worth listening to some of the more outrageous things he`s saying. Most recently, he blamed President Obama for the state of race relations in this country. Here he was on FOX just last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You would have thought with an African-American president if -- at a minimum you would have thought he would have been a cheerleader for the country and, frankly, it would have been better. But it hasn`t worked out very well. It`s probably as bad as it`s ever been. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I don`t know to make of that. Anyway, Trump has been anything but a cheerleader for this country. Instead, he`s disparaging America`s standing in the world and, ironically, bashing those who seek opportunity here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: The American dream is dead. Our country hasn`t been thinking like a winner. We`re totally on the defense. We`re being laughed at all over the world for our stupidity. We have to be a rich country again in order to be great. Right now, we`re a poor country. We`re a third world country. We`re getting people they don`t want. We`re becoming like a dumping ground for the world. We`re a dumping ground. I say it. It`s horrible thing to say. We`re getting drug dealers. We`re getting sex offenders. We`re bringing tremendous problem.

They`re bringing drugs. They`re bringing crime. They`re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, his wife is an immigrant. I mean, there are -- Arnold Schwarzenegger is an immigrant. What is this story about immigrants? BERNARD: He -- anyone who takes him seriously should really, really, really be ashamed. From calling Mexicans rapists to talking about the Chinese and he says "I beat them all the time. But our politicians don`t know what they`re doing. Some of them are good people, too, they buy my apartments at the Trump Tower." (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Well, this tough talk, this New York street talk, will it work with the peeps? The people out there, when they actually go vote, when they vote for him for president of the United States, except to gig the system perhaps when they vote for him? PAGE: You don`t take him seriously as a nominee. You do take him seriously as someone who could have a voice in the debate. He came in second in that New Hampshire poll. That`s not -- MATTHEWS: What does it tell you? PAGE: It tells you there are some voters who find it appealing and he`s also employment security for fact checkers. MATTHEWS: Here we go. When it comes to defeating ISIS in the Middle East, Trump`s tragedy is to simply take their oil. Let`s watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You take away the oil. You take away the wealth. You take away the money. They`re building a hotel in Syria. ISIS is building a hotel. Do you believe they here in the hotel business? They`re competing with me. (LAUGHTER) You go in and take the oil. We should have never given it up. They should have listened to me. Never given it up. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: OK, would you explain that take the oil? It`s underground, first. It`s way underground. How do you take it? STEIN: You build the world`s biggest straw, you suck it out. You take it and you move it to Mexico then you put a tariff on it, Chris. MATTHEWS: He later clarified on ABC that he would actually bomb those oil fields. That`s how he wants to take them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: You have to go in and take the oil. You kill them at the head. It`s over. They took the oil from Iraq. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: So, you bomb the oil fields?

TRUMP: I would bomb the hell out of them. I`d bomb the fields. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Trump has also made it perfectly clear he doesn`t think very highly of his Republican opponents. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) TRUMP: I don`t like a lot of these people. It`s not even like. I don`t respect some of these people. They shouldn`t even be running for office. They have no right to run for office. And then I read I shouldn`t be on the same stage with some governor who is a nothing or a senator who`s a nothing. I`m not saying that a senator`s nothing or a governor`s -- I`m just saying some of these people shouldn`t be on the stage. You go to the best college and you do great and then all of a sudden you`re not supposed to be on the stage and you have other people that frankly can`t shine your shoes and it`s OK for them to be on it. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Anyway, he`s the only Republican so far to use a four- letter word on the stump. Here he was in South Carolina Freedom Summit last month. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Here`s what`s going happen. The lobbyists will come and see me but I don`t gave (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about lobbyist, OK? (APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: All told, Trump has made it perfectly clear he`s at the wheel of the right wing clown car for 2016. Run through his impact on this campaign, starting with the debates in August? What was his impact? It will probably be in the top ten. BERNARD: Well, the impact will be that people will find him interesting and it will give Democrats -- I think I saw "National Review Online" might have said Donald Trump is winning the election for the Democrats. That will give Democrats a very big good idea -- MATTHEWS: Not to compare the too, but my colleague, Al Sharpton, several cycles ago didn`t win but he did dominate a lot of those debates. Is that what`s going to be like, a different kind of guy? STEIN: I think, listen, I think he is, obviously, bombastic. MATTHEWS: He dominates the debates? STEIN: And he will have an effect, a very aggressive effect. But I foresee another candidate in the field getting his moment or potentially her moment by calling him out. MATTHEWS: Who`s going to call him, who`s going to knock his lights out? STEIN: It remains to be -- MATTHEWS: That will be the Sister Soulja moment of the millennium. STEIN: And people will applaud.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, Michelle Bernard, we are with you. Sam Stein, we`re with you. And thank you, Susan Page. When we return, let me finish with why Eleanor Roosevelt deserves to be on U.S. currency. Eleanor Roosevelt. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a recommendation for the first woman to appear on U.S. currency, Eleanor Roosevelt. To the generations of Americans who lived through the Great Depression, to the millions of the people her husband called the forgotten men, the name personifies the faith Americans would have restored in their government, in their country. For all the horrors of the 1930s, there was one person out there demanding relief. For the husband who could not walk, there was a wife who could and did, visiting coal mine, migrant cramps, the homes of sharecroppers and all those New Deal projects. Eleanor was his eyes and ears, Franklin said, and conscience, too. It was Mrs. Roosevelt who made sure Mr. Roosevelt`s project went to where the need was worst. It was Mrs. Roosevelt who took a stand for African- Americans, most dramatically when the Daughters of the American Revolution barred singer Marion Anderson from performing at Constitution Hall, resigning her membership from the DAR right then and there. She championed civil rights, lobbied against the poll tax, pushed for a living wage. And she didn`t quit there. As FDR`s widow, she carried on his commitment to the United Nations, helping to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As the U.S. Treasury moves to recognize an American woman, Eleanor Roosevelt, a recognized partner in the most successful presidency of modern times, would be the perfect citizen to honor. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END

Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>