CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: The main event, Trump versus Christie. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. P.T. Barnum, creator of the greatest show on earth, said if you want a crowd, start a fight. Well, today Jersey Chris Christie entered the ring to an awaiting Don, the Donald Trump of New York. What do you think these two pugs are going to do when they get out there? They`re going to go toe to toe, with Trump shouting insults in every direction, Christie throwing them back with "atty-tude." Can you see either of them ducking a punch from the other, pretending it didn`t happen? Give me a break. These two guys are going to go at it big time, both guaranteeing each other -- this is the cute part -- a piece of the front page. Jeb and Scott and Marco and the rest of them won`t stand a chance making hay when these two guys are out there throwing their Sunday punches. Tonight on HARDBALL, we look at the matchup of the biggest fight card in August, the Republican debate, with the main event matching the big little guy from Jersey and the mouth from Manhattan, Donald Trump versus Chris Christie, with everyone else standing there watching. Michael Steele was RNC chair back when it was a normal organization and is an MSNBC political analyst, and Stephanie Cutter was deputy campaign manager for President Obama`s quite successful 2012 reelection campaign. And Heather Haddon (ph) covers Christie with "The Wall Street Journal." Heather, let me ask you this about Christie. The only reason he can get in this thing is to be Christie. I don`t think he gets in there as a wilting, frail flower, a wallflower, and acts all well-mannered and doesn`t cut up anybody.
Do you agree with that, that he has to be Christie in this fight, and therefore get out there and slug it out? HEATHER HADDON, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Yes, and we definitely saw that today here at Livingston High School where he formally announced and entered the race. The speech he gave -- there were some policy details, but mostly, it was all about his personality. So the straight talker, "I`m going to tell it like it is" governor was definitely on display here, and I think his backers really see that`s his shot. I mean, he`s down in the polls. MATTHEWS: You think so? HADDON: He`s not -- he`s not where he was in 2012. So really, it`s the sheer force of his personality that I think they`re banking on at this point. MATTHEWS: And it`s an aggressive personality. In front of a roaring crowd, as you said, in his home town of Livingston, New Jersey, today, Chris Christie jumped into the race with, yes, a promise to make us cringe. That was his word. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People say, Why aren`t you shy in a crowd? I said, You should see the family I married into. (LAUGHTER) CHRISTIE: You`re going to get what I think, whether you like it or not or whether it makes you cringe every once in a while or not. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) CHRISTIE: When I stand up on a stage like this in front of all of you, there is one thing you will know for sure. I mean what I say and I say what I mean, and that`s what America needs right now!
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) CHRISTIE: I am now ready to fight for the people of the United States of America! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) CHRISTIE: We need to have strength and decision-making and authority back in the Oval Office, and that is why today I am proud to announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination for president of the United States of America! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: I am not making this up, Michael and Stephanie. This guy wants to fight. He`s going to make his name by fighting. And who`s out there waiting for him in the center ring? Donald Trump, who`s in his latest peeing matches with NBC. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... NBC. He wants -- they both seem to want to fight! That`s what they want to do. So they`re going to see (ph) each other. MICHAEL STEELE, FMR. RNC CHAIR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they`ll bring that energy to the table. And I think to the point that was made earlier, Christie`s not where he was in 2012. I think that`s where they`re starting. I think they`re exactly going back to that moment in time and picking up from that. Everything that`s happened... MATTHEWS: The old personality.
STEELE: The old personality, that energy that got him the look from Republicans and the national media -- that`s what you saw on that stage today. MATTHEWS: OK, there`s -- Gail -- I was going to call you Gail. Remember he said, None of your business! (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I mean, it`s -- you can`t do that against a wall. You have to do it against another person. STEPHANIE CUTTER, FMR. OBAMA DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Right. MATTHEWS: That show of macho that we just saw there is about taking on somebody. And Trump does that every second of his life. I just think these two guys are going to take the air out of the room. CUTTER: Yes, I mean... MATTHEWS: Jeb Bush is muttering, and, Gee whiz, I think I believe in this, and let me think about it next week. And these guys will overpower him! CUTTER: Yes. It`s certainly going to, you know, separate the boys from the men and the women in... MATTHEWS: Well, she might do OK. CUTTER: You know, both of them have -- the only thing they really have going for them in this race is their personalities and their bluntness. They both have significant problems otherwise. It`ll be entertaining to watch, but those problems are going to start to come out, and Republicans will start attacking...
MATTHEWS: Let me go back to Heather on that. CUTTER: ... each other. MATTHEWS: Heather, it seems to me one of the problems is not just "bridge-gate," as it`s been called, but "Bridget-gate." Once Bridget Kelly starts talking on the stand, isn`t this guy going to have to be part of the audience watching it? She`s going to dominate the coverage once she starts -- because she has to beat him back for her to clean her record up. She has to blame it on him. HADDON: Yes, I mean, the governor has said he`s over "bridge-gate," it`s behind him, but clearly, that`s not true. I mean, we still have federal prosecutors that have indicted two of Christie`s former aides. There`s a trial that could happen this year. It could happen next year, when the campaign`s really in the home stretch. So this is very much a question that still remains for Christie, and I don`t think it`s as done as he said it is. I think it`s also worth noting that right after this announcement in New Jersey, he hightailed it right to New Hampshire. He`s spending five days in New Hampshire, through July 4th. But New Hampshire, you know, a place where they like mavericks, they like people who tell it like it is, just like Christie`s slogan. But that lane has become very crowded now. There`s a lot of other candidates who are really banking on New Hampshire. MATTHEWS: Yes, including Trump. HADDON: And I think they`re going to really duke it out there, and the oxygen will be quickly taken up there, as well. MATTHEWS: Well, let`s take a look at this, Christie and Trump playing the big new media market of New York, which I think New York still is dominant in American media coverage. After his announcement, Christie told NBC`s Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview that he isn`t afraid of combat and he will soak up the media spotlight in this crowded field. Here he is, bragging already. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I think what sets me apart is the state where I come from. I mean, this is hand-to-hand combat every day. And it`s a Democratic legislature who`s fighting me all the time. We have to learn how to bring in and to craft compromise. And in red states, they don`t have a lot of experience doing that, Matt. MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, "TODAY" SHOW: It`s very crowded. Is that an advantage or a disadvantage for you? CHRISTIE: Hard to tell. I`ll say this much. I think the biggest problem with so many people is getting attention, and I`ve never had any problem getting attention. So I think I`ll do OK. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: So they go to a noisy restaurant. (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... anyway, a full interview (ph), by the way, of Matt`s interview with the governor will be on the "TODAY" show tomorrow morning. Stephanie, let`s talk about media coverage of this campaign. What do you want to cover? Do you want to cover Christie and Trump or you want to cover Jeb? Where`s the action? Where`s the fun? CUTTER: Well, I think the more interesting story is obviously the Trump versus Christie. It doesn`t mean that`s going to be all positive coverage. It will be very entertaining. MATTHEWS: It`s a month from now, basically.
CUTTER: Yes, it`s a month from now. They both know how to make headlines. Unfortunately, it`s usually by telling somebody to sit down and shut up. (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: You know the party, your party. STEELE: Yes. MATTHEWS: These two guys could sell well in New Hampshire because it`s "Live free or die" state. STEELE: Oh, absolutely. MATTHEWS: It`s gritty. It`s Granite State. And they like that sort of, you know, knock this off my shoulder guy. STEELE: Oh, they do. MATTHEWS: Where out in Iowa, they`re anti-war, they`re anti-noisy, they`re probably anti-war, certainly, and they`re anti-bad manners, my guess. STEELE: They`re very anti-bad manners. And that`s where for Christie, for someone like Christie and Trump, which is probably why they`re not going to play there as the other candidates will -- meaning Iowa -- they have that problem because they cannot necessarily translate that for that audience in a way that`s credible.
So they start in New Hampshire. They lay the ground. But then it gets interesting because then it`s the South after that. And Christie`s got to figure out a way how to navigate going in on March 1st to those Southern primaries. MATTHEWS: Ultimate Yankees, too, by the way. STEELE: Yes. MATTHEWS: Anyway, the Republican debates would be spectacles of nasty attacks, with Donald Trump and Chris Christie both doing their worst. Let`s watch a preview. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTIE: After you graduate from law school, you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end`s going to get thrown in jail, idiot! Damn, man, I`m governor! Could you just shut up for a second? BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: You don`t really take criticism all that well. You lash back and... DONALD TRUMP (R-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I lash back. Who -- why wouldn`t I lash back? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should shut up. CHRISTIE: Sit down and shut up!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have to hide that side of your personality outside of New Jersey? CHRISTIE: There`s no hope of that. TRUMP: When Mexico sends us people, they`re not sending their best. They`re bringing drugs. They`re bringing crime. They`re rapists. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They basically think this is Jeb Bush`s race to lose. CHRISTIE: Well, listen, if what happens is, if the elites in Washington who make backroom deals decide who the president`s going to be, then he`s definitely the front-runner. TRUMP: I can`t believe Bush is in first place. You know, I`m -- some people are thrilled. I`m not thrilled because how can Bush be in first place? This guy can`t negotiate his way out of a paper bag! (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: This is a clown show! I don`t make this up! I mean, that`s the way they talk and -- "tawk." And how does he talk about Mexicans -- the -- the guy he`s running against, Jeb Bush`s wife, is Mexican and he`s treating them all like trash! CUTTER: Yes. MATTHEWS: He`s just saying this stuff!
CUTTER: Yes. It`s insulting, honestly. MATTHEWS: I know. I think NBC decided that, too... (CROSSTALK) CUTTER: They`re going to get significant coverage. There`s no doubt about that. But I don`t think the coverage is going to be the type of coverage that gets you votes. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... explanation, he said, I can`t change. There isn`t some other flip side, nice, softspoken Chris Christie. There`s only this. STEELE: But Stephanie makes a good point and I think it`s one that`s important to watch. You know, coverage is one thing. How it is translated and resonates with the voters who are going to be voting in these primaries is going to be something very different. So while you focus on Christie and Trump in one frame... MATTHEWS: Well, they`re going into this debate. STEELE: They`re going -- but how those other candidates -- I mean, Rand Paul is not going to take any -- we`ve seen the scuff-up between Rand Paul and Chris Christie already... MATTHEWS: OK, how do you... (CROSSTALK)
MATTHEWS: ... to use the old expression, with guys willing to go right back at you? Do you want to be a guy in there taking on Donald Trump or taking on Christie? They`ll go right back at you! They`re not going to let you land a punch. STEELE: Yes, but it`s how you engage initially, I think, that... CUTTER: At the end of the day... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Is there a subtle way to break these guys... (CROSSTALK) STEELE: Oh, sure. CUTTER: Absolutely! STEELE: Absolutely. CUTTER: At the end of the day, voters are looking for somebody that is presidential, that can be your president. MATTHEWS: Really?
CUTTER: And if these guys are having a -- you know, a boxing match on stage... MATTHEWS: Is that true of early primaries? CUTTER: Well... MATTHEWS: Early primaries (INAUDIBLE) can make some noise, I`ve always thought. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let me -- let me go to Heather with another question because you`ve covered him. Heather, is there another Chris Christie sort of, like, for the business press? Is there another guy that can actually settle down and just talks budgets, taxes, policy that would influence an actual voter? HADDON: Yes, I think it`s worth noting, I mean, his people have been really working hard to sort of tone down his gruff manner. He gave a series of policy speeches, many of them in New Hampshire, where he was presenting the sober Chris Christie, the big ideas guy, and really were trying to distinguish themselves as the one who, in the field, had put forward detailed policies way ahead of anyone else. He talked about tax policy. He talked about entitlements. He talked about foreign policy, you know, one after another speeches where they`re really trying to distinguish themselves and present him as the sober, rational candidate. I think the speech today, you know, you didn`t really hear that much about policy. It was much more personality-focused. MATTHEWS: Yes. HADDON: So we`re really going to have to see which one is he going to emphasize and which one gets the most attention.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think I know which one gets the most attention. I can help you with that one, Heather! I`m just kidding, but the fact is, he`s going to get attention when he says, I`m going to make you cringe. That`s -- I never heard that from another politician. HADDON: Right. MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you, Heather Haddon, for joining us from "The Wall Street Journal." Michael Steele, as always. Stephanie Cutter, it`s good to have you on here. Coming up -- one thing we`re learning from these big decisions from the Supreme Court, for better or worse, we`re getting more and more American all the time. This is a cowboy country. The court errs on the side of, Do what you want to do, marry who you want, buy yourself a gun, if you want. It`s Libertarianism, and I think it`s just what the American public actually, when you look at the numbers, seems to want, as scary as that is. Plus, President Obama is on a roll, and now his poll numbers show it. Big question. How can this not help Hillary? And what can Republicans do to stop or slow down the momentum which will help Hillary? And today, it`s clown car Tuesday. This time, it`s Bobby Jindal in the driver`s seat with the most absurd reaction so far to the gay marriage court ruling. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with the twin Republican battles I talked about being waged between now and next winter. That`s the big fight. Who`s going to win Iowa and who`s going to win New Hampshire? Those two states are fighting against each other as to what the Republican Party stands for. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: New information tonight on the prison break in upstate New York. The district attorney prosecuting the case says Richard Matt and David Sweat made a dry run the night before their escape, and they actually popped open a manhole and got a look outside. Well, that news comes as prison officials have suspended three prison executives and nine guards as part of their investigation.
MSNBC`s Adam Reiss joins us now from outside the prison in Dannemora. Adam, what`s the newest information here? ADAM REISS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, now that the manhunt is over, Chris, heads are starting to roll here at Clinton Correctional Facility. Three members of the executive team, including the superintendent, have been put on administrative leave, as well as nine members of the security team. They`ll bring in a new team to run the jail for the time being, this as officials in Albany are outraged at the breaches of protocol that took place here. And David Sweat -- he continues to talk to investigators, telling them, on a couple occasions, they narrowly were caught. They eluded police once when the border patrol surrounded them, they were able to escape. Another time, they came upon a sheriff`s deputy, Richard Matt fell over, made a noise, but again they were able to escape. And finally, he has told officials the night before the escape, they went through the pipes. They went through the catwalk. They actually stuck their heads out of the manhole cover, but that was just a dry run, Chris. MATTHEWS: They should have made a run for it that night. Anyway, thank you, Adam Reiss. What stories you come up with. We`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. To listen to Ted Cruz and other conservatives tell it, last week`s Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage was the outlaw act by unelected judges. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, it`s some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation`s history. Yesterday and today were both naked and shameless judicial activism. This radical decision purporting to strike down the marriage laws of every state -- it has no connection to the United States Constitution. They are simply making it up. It is lawless. And in doing so, they have undermined the fundamental legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court. (END AUDIO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Mike Huckabee said, "I will not acquiesce to an imperial court anymore than our founders acquiesced to a imperial British monarch." But polls show the court is following the country`s lead here. According to the Gallup poll, 57 percent of Americans back same-sex unions. That`s up from 27 percent back in 1996, not a million years ago. And the expansion of gay rights fits a pattern in this country when it comes to civil rights generally. As "The New York Times" points out today, a dominant theme in American history is, over time, civil rights do expand and discrimination ebbs. Back in 1958, for example, another not million years ago, only 4 percent of the country then, in the late `50s, approved of interracial marriage. That number in 2013, as recently as that, 87 percent. Things change. In the past eight decades, Americans have grown more and more comfortable with someone becoming president who is not a white male. In 1937, only a third said they would vote for a woman. That number is near universal now. There are similar trends when it comes to Jewish candidates, Catholic candidates. On civil rights issues, the country marches forward, not backward. That`s my argument. And the Supreme Court reflects that trend. I`m joined by "Washington Post" opinion writer Jonathan Capehart, who`s somewhere outside there in Arizona -- no, in Colorado. And editor- at-large for Salon, Joan Walsh. Boy, they`re all in open spaces there. She`s with the nice backboard, at least, somewhere at 30 Rock. (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Joan, let me ask you this about -- I -- I sense, as Mr. Dooley (ph) said, of great age and vintage, that the Supreme Court follows election returns, that this country has in our lifetime moved very dramatically toward acceptance of equality, marriage equality, the whole works when it comes to gay people. The Supreme Court is either -- almost in tandem with this, I`d say, in that decision.
Your thoughts. It reflects, I think, our culture. Your thoughts. JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they`re -- I think they`re very close. I mean, it was a 5-4 vote. So there was still significant opposition, Chris. But it was a resounding vote nonetheless. And I think you also have to listen to the language of Justice Kennedy and realize that conservative supporters of gay rights over the last 10, 15 years have really succeeded in using the language not just of rights, but also of love and even of responsibility, in saying that gay people are entitled to a marital relationship, which is the foundation of our society. There`s been a real success in developing arguments that would appeal -- that use conservative language and conservative beliefs. I don`t think by any means Ted Olson was faking it... But that -- that way of arguing to the court also widened the acceptance of gay marriage. So, I think that`s important to us who are liberals who want to think about how we expand the sphere of justice even wider. Those arguments had an effect. MATTHEWS: You know, I think, Jonathan -- and you`re a gay man, and I have always wanted to know what -- about this. It seems to me the iconography of the gay world has changed dramatically in my life; 20, 30 years ago, we would always -- the gay pride parades putting on rather aggressive behavior. There was the talk of the bath houses and all of that. Now, when you think of gay couples, what you think of is two people on the steps of a courthouse embracing in loving ways that corresponds to good marriages, you know, heterosexual marriages. And it is just a different iconic way we look at it. I don`t know what that means exactly. But I think, when people think of gays getting married, they think, yes, that`s sort of like us, too, you know? Your thoughts. It doesn`t seem alien. JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. No, no, it`s not alien. And what you`re seeing is gay couples really trying to emulate for, I would think a majority of them, either the family lives they came from, a family with either one or two loving parents who were together and the security and stability that that provided, or, if they did not have it and longed for it for themselves, now they have the opportunity to do it.
You know, all gay people got with that Supreme Court ruling was the right to marry, but also the right not to marry. And there are a lot of people who now would love -- now are going to celebrate the fact that they now have the option, one, and, two, to sort of revel in the fact that probably for the first time in their lives or in our lives we feel completely whole with this country. You know, Chris, I was one of the many hundreds -- by the time the night was out, thousands of people who went down to the White House to see the White House bathed in the rainbow colors, because we needed to see it with our own eyes. Not only was that Supreme Court decision so spectacular and made us feel more American than we probably ever felt in our lives, but to see the White House and the president of the United States celebrate that decision, not just in words earlier in the day, but on the very house he lives in, was a truly spectacular moment. MATTHEWS: Do you know how spectacular the view is behind you right now, Jonathan? We`re looking at the white-capped Rocky Mountains, by the way. CAPEHART: Right. MATTHEWS: A very American look. Anyway, while polls show a steady increase in support for gay marriage over the years, the story is different on other controversial social issues, including gun rights, abortion and the death penalty. "The New York Times" analyzed opinion polls on these topics and found today, in the paper today that over the years the needle hasn`t budged much. On gun laws, a wide majority of Americans say they either support stricter gun laws or support keeping the laws as they are now, but a small -- a growing minority want the laws to be looser. On abortion rights, about four in five say it should be legal in all or certain cases. That`s only five points up since 1975. Meanwhile, support for the death penalty has essentially remained consistent for 80 years, up there around 60 percent. Joan, your views? Sometimes, libertarianism is a progressive thing and sometimes it strikes me as a right-wing thing. But in all cases, this court seems to me -- the individual makes the call. You want to own a gun, you want to spend money on a campaign, you want to marry somebody, it`s almost like, yes. WALSH: Right. MATTHEWS: That seems to be -- and if you want to kill somebody, fine, we will kill you. There`s another case in the -- of self-reliance. You made the call, buddy.
WALSH: Right. MATTHEWS: I think it`s a toughness and a cowboy toughness, even when I don`t like it and you don`t like it, like with guns, to the way the court rules. Your thoughts about this American character they keep trying to root for or succeed in catching. Your thoughts? WALSH: Well, to just look at that abortion number, though, that`s 80 percent. That`s higher. The number of Americans who support legal abortion is higher than the number of Americans, much higher actually ,than the number of Americans who support gay marriage. So, you know, the court`s been kind of silent on it. What`s been happening in the realm of abortion rights, though, is that the states -- conservative states have begun really restricting access and passing a lot of bogus laws. The Supreme Court is probably going to have to get involved and rule whether those restrictions are unconstitutional. MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes. WALSH: We will see. But that is an area where people, even in the face of such incredible opposition in the last few years, Chris, we have actually seen the number tick up from 75 percent to 80 percent. That`s a victory on the pro-choice side. MATTHEWS: Yes. And I think, in all fairness -- and I don`t want to be cynical about it -- when people say in certain circumstances, they mean in their circumstances. They always say it that way. Everybody says, oh, be very restrictive, except if I want to make that decision, I want to make it. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Anyway, thank you very much, Jonathan Capehart, as always. Thank you. Good luck out there in that beautiful country. CAPEHART: Thanks, Chris. Coming home tomorrow. MATTHEWS: And, Joan, you`re not quite as lucky, but it looks nice.
WALSH: Thank you. MATTHEWS: It`s beautiful country. WALSH: It`s beautiful. MATTHEWS: Coming up next -- a very nice backdrop for talking about Americanism. Anyway, one place where the Supreme Court`s decision on gay marriage isn`t sitting well is Texas. Top officials down there are encouraging county clerks to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it violates their own personal religious beliefs. We will get to the latest on that fight next. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Despite last week`s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing the right to gay marriage, Republican leaders in the Lone Star State are balking. On Sunday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told his state`s county clerks they could refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. In a statement, he said -- quote -- "County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodations of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses." Paxton anticipated there would be lawsuits filed against the clerks, but he added -- quote -- "Numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs."
And fellow Texan GOP presidential hopeful Senator Ted Cruz said the Supreme Court had -- quote -- "undermined its fundamental legitimacy" and agrees with his fellow Republicans back home. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had five unelected lawyers determine that the policy views of 320 million Americans didn`t matter. I would urge everyone to recognize this decision for what it was, which was political judicial activism and lawlessness. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Ted Cruz will be here on Monday -- or, actually, Wednesday, a week from now -- a week from tomorrow. And joining me right now from Austin is Texas political analyst Jim Moore. He`s also the author of "Bush`s Brain." Jim, let me explain how -- oh, you explain it. People walk -- a gay couple, say, walks into some justice of the peace offices down in Texas somewhere and what happens now, given the way this sort of nullification thing is going on down there? JAMES MOORE, CO-AUTHOR, "BUSH`S BRAIN": Well, they`re not going to get a permit in every county in this state. "The Dallas Morning News," Chris, has been doing some research today. And about a third of the counties that they have called are still not issuing permits. Over in East Texas, where the Piney Woods are over behind what some folks over there call the Pine Curtain, there was a couple that went in to get a permit and they were denied, and they immediately filed suit, and the county relented and gave it to them. So, some counties are doing it. The major counties here have been issuing permits, but there`s still resistance. There is what Ted Cruz is doing, is basically blunt-force stupidity, talking about lawyers who are unelected, when, in fact, if they have recently upheld in the past many things that Senator Cruz and other conservatives in Texas are in favor of, then they like the court. Now they don`t like the court so much in Texas. MATTHEWS: But Cruz, for a guy who went to law school and did well there, acts like he has just discovered the existence of the Supreme Court. It has always been controversial. It`s always done things against some political point of view, whether it was FDR when he founded -- when they found for FDR that people didn`t like it, when they were against it. He tried to pack the court.
People like Eisenhower picked the court, the Warren court that ended up giving us the Brown case. He didn`t like it. He said it was the worst decision he ever made. This is -- but he acts like he`s the first guy. This is what drives me crazy about Cruz. He acts like he`s the lone pioneer of resistance out there, that he never knew there was a McCarthy period, never knew anything about that came before him. You talk about ego. MOORE: Well, exactly. And he`s spreading this kind of disinformation and fear among county officials. And like Ken Paxton, our state attorney general, Chris, when he says we`re going to provide the lawyers that you need if you resist, they`re trying to use this fig leaf of religious liberty. But what is going to happen, inadvertently, unintended consequences, obviously, is if the counties resist and they do not grant these permits to these gay couples, then they`re going to end up getting sued, and there`s going to end up being large settlements that taxpayers in this state are going to have to pay. And it is going to be the result of behavior and comments by Senator Cruz and others like him. MATTHEWS: Yes. It reminds me of the courthouse door or the schoolhouse door with George Corley Wallace... MOORE: Same thing. MATTHEWS: ... where he stood in the doorway. MOORE: Same thing. MATTHEWS: And Nick Katzenbach, who was taller than him, moved him aside. Anyway, thank you, Jim Moore, for joining us, the author of "Bush`s Brain," which is still in question. Anyway, up next: President Obama has got momentum. The question is, can Republicans do anything to slow him down? Bigger question, is how well he`s doing right now going to help Hillary Clinton win the election next year? We will get to that with the roundtable.
You`re watching it, HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s what`s happening. NBC News has learned that tomorrow the U.S. government will announce it has reached a deal with Cuba to reopen embassies in Havana and Washington. The White House is hosting its first ever Girl Scout campout on the South lawn. The first lady visited with the Scouts as they tied knots and pitched tents. Details of Pope Francis` trip to the U.S. have been released. While in Washington, he will meet with the president. In New York, he will visit the 9/11 Memorial and hold mass at Madison Square Garden before heading to Philadelphia. And in Indonesia, 113 people are dead after a military plane crashed into a densely populated area, hitting homes and a hotel -- back to HARDBALL. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Republicans have already forced more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or dismantle this law, all without offering a viable alternative. I think we can sum up the message from the court and the American people in just two words: Move on. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: MoveOn.org. That was Hillary Clinton telling Republicans to quit attacking President Obama`s health care law and -- quote -- "Move on." Well, after last week`s powerful sequence of triumphs for President Obama on trade, health care and same-sex marriage, his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is looking to capitalize on his momentum and that`s making some on the right nervous. President Obama reflected on his successful run last week earlier today. Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, in many ways, last week was simply a culmination of a lot of work that we have been doing since I came into office. How am I going to spend whatever political capital that I have built up? You know, the list is long. And my instructions to my team and my instructions to myself have always been that we are going to squeeze every last ounce of progress that we can make when I have the privilege -- as long as I have the privilege of holding this office. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Isn`t that great, that the president of the United States, even he has to make lists of things he tells himself to do every day, like everybody else is trying to do. Anyway, conservative columnist Byron York wrote -- quote -- "Obama`s victories are a gift to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. The president is on a roll at the moment, and the Democrat who hopes to follow him to the White House is looking to roll along. Republicans need a focused strategy to stop that momentum. And so far, the GOP is still looking." That`s Byron York, as always, a smart guy. For more on what the president -- President Obama`s winning streak means for Hillary Clinton and the Republicans in 2016, let`s bring in the roundtable.
Anne Gearan is political correspondent for "The Washington Post." Clarence Page is an opinion writer with "The Chicago Tribune" and Sabrina Siddiqui is a political reporter with "The Guardian." I want to go across -- start with you, Anne. Hillary Clinton, as you`re sitting in her compound wherever it is and people are all around the circle in Hillary-land, they must have feared a very declining Obama administration, looking at it the other way. It was going to fizzle out and by time he left office or the campaign got started next year, it wouldn`t be anything to defend, but now? ANNE GEARAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, absolutely. To be -- when Obama is seen as a lame-duck and ineffectual, there`s a residual spillover effect to her. She`s essentially arguing to be the third term. They hate that comparison, but it is. It`s the third Democratic presidency in a row, is what she`s trying to do. It`s historically difficult to do. And one of the rationales for her being able to do it and her argument would be, things are working. This is great. Keep it going. So, when things are going well, it does definitely help her. MATTHEWS: Sabrina, you think she`s comfortable with that third term notion, third Obama term? SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": Well, I think that so long as some of the priorities of the current administration are vindicated, as they were last week, that only helps her. MATTHEWS: Health care. SIDDIQUI: Health care... (CROSSTALK)
MATTHEWS: This gets health care off the hook. SIDDIQUI: Health care has obviously been the biggest attack dog for - - Republicans have certainly viewed that as their biggest point of attack for the last now, what, three elections? So, this actually takes it off the table from 2016. And I think also the third term is something that Republicans are certainly using to try and cast this as Obama`s third term for people who are disappointed. But the key with some of the polling, for example, the president at 50 percent for the first time in more than two years, they have to actually be able to convince the American public that a third Obama term is a bad thing. And, you know, if he`s doing well, then obviously a harder case to make. They have to differentiate their agenda. MATTHEWS: Let`s get to the self-interest. This health care going down, shoot by the Supreme Court, lost 6-3, the ACA fallen apart because they couldn`t give subsidies to the non-state exchanges, blah, blah, blah, that would have been two disastrous health care plans in a row. PAGE: Right. MATTHEWS: Hers in `94 and this one Republicans could have mounted their guns and said, these guys don`t know how to do it. PAGE: Right. MATTHEWS: Right? This way -- PAGE: It could have left Republicans off the hook, because they haven`t been able to come together around an alternative. MATTHEWS: Because they don`t believe in an alternative. PAGE: Exactly, you have different ideas. You have minorities of Republicans who want to do this or that but they can`t come together around an alternative right now. So, now, they`re off the hook, too.
But Hillary Clinton, of course, doesn`t want to be the third Obama term but she certainly doesn`t want to be cast as a continuation of an unsuccessful term. So long as Obama succeeds, it makes her look good. MATTHEWS: People like winners, don`t they? Anyway, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz says the 2016 election will depend on the economy and President Obama`s approval rating. He tells the "New York Magazine`s" Jason Zengerle that, quote, "If Obama`s approval rating is close to 50 percent and the economy`s growing at a decent rate in the fall of 2016, both of which seem quite possible maybe even likely, then I think Hillary Clinton will have a decent chance of winning." And while we`re 16 months out from the election day, the new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows President Obama`s approval rating at 50 percent now, the highest it`s been since 2013. The poll shows the rating for the president`s handling of the economy has climbed up to 52 percent, the first time that number has topped 50 in the poll in nearly six years, since September 2009. Sabrina, I mean, we had trouble with Greece. I don`t think anybody is going to blame Obama for Greece. But it seems like the economy`s getting stronger, slowly getting stronger. And this president is on a winning streak. And I wouldn`t have suspected this just a couple of weeks ago. SIDDIQUI: No. And of course, the approval ratings will continue to fluctuate over the next year and a half. There`s a long way to go still for the economic recovery. But these numbers are positive for this administration and Hillary Clinton leading up to November. A big part of this will be the Americans who feel left out of the economic recovery. That`s why you do hear Hillary Clinton talking about income inequality and the growing wage gap. And you heard Republicans talking about that, too. And there`s still going to be the case to be made for who is going to represent themselves in the party that can lift people that`s left out. MATTHEWS: How do they explain that they left this country in the toilet? SIDDIQUI: Sorry. MATTHEWS: How do they explain that they left this country in the toilet in 2008 when they left office? SIDDIQUI: Well, that`s why Republicans I think --
MATTHEWS: Anybody who has money now has tripled it in the stock market, thanks to this administration. And that means mostly Republicans have tripled their money. If the economy -- if the market starts to fluctuate, they`ll blame the market on Obama. But when it`s been tripling, they haven`t mentioned his name in that connection. They give this guy nothing. PAGE: Yes, you notice how Bill Clinton became a nonperson when it comes down to Jim Carville`s line, which didn`t you like, the peace or the prosperity of the Clinton years? So Republicans don`t talk about it. They won`t talk about Obama`s successes either. They`ll talk about his failures. MATTHEWS: You know, I like when people are a little bit honest in their score keeping. PAGE: And you like politics? My goodness. MATTHEWS: I know. I want some honest score keeping. You hear it occasionally. The roundtable is staying with us. And up next, if it`s Tuesday, it`s the clown car, because it`s clown car Tuesday. Bobby Jindal is at the wheel. Wait until you catch some of his stuff. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Wow, Jeb Bush released 33 years of his personal income tax returns, 33 years. An unprecedented move in presidential politics. The returns, which were posted online, include the eight years since he left office as governor. They show a sharp increase of income as he served on numerous corporate boards. And yet as our own Chuck Todd reports Jeb`s income doesn`t even put him in the top five wealthiest candidates running for president this time around.
We`ll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: We`ve got to stop being the stupid party. I`m serious. It`s time for a new Republican party that talks like adults. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: If it`s Tuesday, it must be the clown car. Clown car Tuesday is upon us. And the candidate who warned Republicans to not be the stupid party there back in 2013, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, undoubtedly had the most juvenile reaction to this Supreme Court`s ruling on same-sex marriage of the 2016 candidates so far. Speaking to a group in Iowa this past Friday, Jindal said there`s now, quote, "no point of having a Supreme Court at all." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JINDAL: So, now, we`ve got a court that says we don`t care about the meaning of words. We don`t care about the Constitution. A reporter asked me about it. I said flippantly, "Might as well get rid of the Supreme Court and save some money." I mean, what`s the point? They`re not a judicial body any more. They`ve become a political body. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Jindal`s presidential bid also comes as he hits new lows in his home state. He`s viewed favorably by Louisianans by just 32 percent of the voters down there like this guy, according to a poll last month. And that`s a very red state, of course. He doesn`t register on our NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" national poll from last week for president. We`re back with our roundtable, Sabrina, Clarence and Anne. There`s lots of reasons to run for president. One is you think you might win. I don`t think that`s one of his reasons. What are the other reasons why Bobby Jindal will go out there and run? SIDDIQUI: Cabinet position is certainly one of them. MATTHEWS: Which one do you have your eye on here? SIDDIQUI: HHS. MATTHEWS: Because he was assistant secretary of HHS. SIDDIQUI: Maybe as potential VP nod, if not now, in the future. I`m just saying, you know, you look for prominence, you look for a sweet contract. MATTHEWS: What does he bring in as a VP candidate? Anything?
SIDDIQUI: To gain national prominence. Diversity. MATTHEWS: Oh, not Louisiana. He only got Louisiana. SIDDIQUI: First Indian-American governor of the United States. But, obviously, he`s doing very poorly in Louisiana. MATTHEWS: So, do you think he wins in a contest between he and Nikki Haley for that contest of -- SIDDIQUI: No. MATTHEWS: I think Nikki might have the nod on him. ANNE GEARAN, THE WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, probably. Yes, I mean, another reason he is probably in this now is because he is doing so poorly at home. I mean, there`s only one -- actually, zero of the state-wide Republican officials even showed up for his announcement speech. He`s unpopular at home. He used to have kind of a national following. He used to be thought of as something as a golden boy, and he`s probably looking for a measure of that again. MATTHEWS: You know, here`s some of his statements now. This sort of puts him where he is. "The National Rifle Association is the most effective civil rights organization in our country." What do you make of that? PAGE: Well, that`s something the NRA people say. MATTHEWS: How is it a civil rights --
PAGE: Well, first of all, they are older than the NAACP. However, they were not a civil rights organization until after the Kennedy assassination, JFK, 1963, and suddenly there was a big push on go after mail order rifle, et cetera. Before that, the NRA was a gun safety organization, and wanting gun training, et cetera. They became a civil rights when it came down to defending the Second Amendment. MATTHEWS: That`s the civil rights -- (CROSSTALK) PAGE: He`s going for that vote. SIDDIQUI: If you`re Bobby Jindal and barely registering in the polls, you need attention, so you say things that grabs headlines, like saying this about the NRA, and saying we should get rid of the Supreme Court, because he has nothing else going for him. MATTHEWS: Want a better one? SIDDIQUI: Well, he`s competing people like -- MATTHEWS: "In case you`re worried, the president will defend us against trans fat. Radical Islam, not so much." (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anne? What is that supposed to teach us? GEARAN: Or what`s his alternative? The list of cliches from the announcement speech was interesting. I mean, he didn`t really have much to offer. Far less, in fact, than Christie did today.
MATTHEWS: Speaking of Christie. Google`s put out their list of what`s trending right now. And people are still obsessed -- excuse me, Governor -- with his weight. They want to know how much weight he`s lost. This is interesting, how much weight he`s lost, how much weight he still has. PAGE: Not bridgegate? MATTHEWS: Well, that`s coming. But people are really -- if they`re all interested in your weight, you`re not going to be elected president. If that`s the only thing they can ask about you. GEARAN: Probably isn`t the only thing you can ask about it, but it is -- it is something people are genuinely interested in. Here`s this guy who just out there, with you know, and he`s not a thin guy. He does not look like your classic American politician. And he throws himself out there saying, look, this is me. You know, here I am. PAGE: He went on a weight loss thing and slipped back. MATTHEWS: What about weight -- PAGE: I don`t like to talk about that. MATTHEWS: How about the royal way, when he says, we`re working on it. Who are the other people involved? I love that when he says, "we." PAGE: There, I said it. You want me to do that. But I sympathize with him. I, too, lost 20 pounds and gained it all back. So, now, I`m flaunting again, yes. But I think what happened to him, he did lose weight. MATTHEWS: But you`re humble.
PAGE: He`s getting back up again. MATTHEWS: You`re humble. PAGE: I`m not running for president. SIDDIQUI: Jeb Bush went on a diet, too. MATTHEWS: I`ll be back in the show tonight with what I think is a combination of questions. How do you take sober-minded people who are actually trying to become president? And I include in that group, probably Scott Walker, I certainly include Jeb Bush, I include a couple of other ones who are really seriously running for president and know it`s a two step process. You`ve got to keep the right, grab the center right with your whole heart, and move over and get the center. You`ve got to get all three to win the presidency, to get 51 percent. You`ve got to get right, center right, and center. You have to do it. Otherwise you`re wasting everybody`s time. And then there are people out there for the show. How does it work together when they`re in the same ring, Donald Trump in the same ring with Jeb Bush? GEARAN: I think we`re going to see that at the debate. You`re going to see four, five candidates who really have all the goods, right? And are going to -- MATTHEWS: How do they get the attention away from the comics, the clowns? GEARAN: Well, I mean, if they`re doing it right, they do it by looking presidential. They do it by having answers. MATTHEWS: What happens when the clown car starts attacking you? Do you ignore it?
GEARAN: No, they can`t always ignore it. Certainly, a lot of the stuff that is read as an attack on Hillary Clinton now by some of the candidates is really also an attack on Jeb Bush. At some point, he`s actually going to have to -- MATTHEWS: Yes. He`s attacking Mexicans and Jeb Bush`s wife is a Mexican. Can he stand there and put up with that? I`m not making this up. This is coming our way. Anyway, Sabrina Siddiqui, thank you, and Clarence Page, so much. And Ann Gearan, you so much. When we return, let me finish with the twin Republican battles being waged between now and next winter. They`re interesting, Iowa, New Hampshire, with different purposes. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMRECIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with the twin Republican battles being waged between now and next winter. They are, it`s important to know, the first two battles for 2016. One is the battle for Iowa. Well, this is about connecting with the middle part of the country, with the Bible Belt, with people holding hard traditional values on abortion, marriage, that sort of thing. And it`s also about Midwestern manners, politically, balanced budgets, skepticism towards foreign adventurism, dislike for big mouths. Put down names here like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum and maybe Scott Walker who has a fundamentalist orientation to his social values. You can also throw Rand Paul in this Iowa group based on his anti-war philosophy. Now comes the battle for New Hampshire. Here the contestants are a different type altogether. New Hampshire values independents and a kind of flinty toughness and practicality. For them, picking a president isn`t about bible studies, it`s about keeping government down in their place, the whole live free or die thing. There are five candidates running for New Hampshire, for the basic reason they need to do very well there or they won`t get much further. One is, of course, Jeb Bush, whose willingness to stand up for immigrants, to accept the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage as a new reality and to think about issues like education, all of that sets him apart from the hard right of his party.
The other New Hampshire-prone candidates are Scott Walker, the one candidate with a chance to actually win both Iowa and New Hampshire, Chris Christie who got in the race today, John Kasich, the Ohio governor set to get in soon, and former New York Governor George Pataki. So, as you watch the early debates, think about which contest the candidate has eye on, the right wing contest out in Iowa, or the battle for tough, independent, think for your self fella up in New Hampshire. And if it makes you dizzy, it`s because these two states and their political cultures are actually in a battle with each other. 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.>