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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 07/01/15

Guests: Susan Page, Gary Hart, Jamelle Bouie, Erin McPike, Michael Schmidt

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: He`s no apprentice. Donald Trump shoots to number two. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington. Welcome to the wacky world of American politics. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win. So where`s Donald Trump in all that? Well, first the Republicans running for president, led by front-runner Jeb Bush, tried to pretend the man in the golden tower and with the beautiful wife wasn`t there. And now they try laughing him off, laughing at him. When will that no longer be able to work? When will the attacks come? If there`s an outside chance -- is there? -- that this guy could -- who talks to the Republican gut on ISIS, on illegal immigrants, on Obama, and politicians, period -- could he leave the rest of them lying on the street? Is there a chance this comic book hero could actually take off? Howard Fineman is the global editorial director with the HuffingtonPost and Susan Page is Washington bureau chief with "USA Today." Well, according to the newest polls, Donald Trump is now top tier. A new CNN poll out today has Trump alone in second place nationally with 12 percent. Jeb Bush is the front-runner in this new poll at 19. In Iowa, a new poll out today from Quinnipiac has Trump jumping into - - also into second, into a tie for second place. And a recent Suffolk University poll has Trump alone in second place in New Hampshire with 11 percent. He trails Jeb by just 3 up there.

Howard, this is for real. The question is, is it for long? And I mean it, and I wonder whether all the other candidates are tiptoeing around the issue, and he goes right -- like Archie Bunker, right to the gut. You don`t like illegal immigrants... HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST GLOBAL EDITORIAL DIR., MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Right. Right. MATTHEWS: ... I don`t like illegal immigrants. You don`t like Obama, I don`t like Obama. You don`t like ISIS and wish we were kicking them in the butt, I wish we were kicking them in the butt. He talks like the average guy in a saloon in a way that gets to people and speaks that kind of American English in a ways these other doormats, in many ways, don`t know how to talk -- "tawk." FINEMAN: Well, Chris -- well, Chris, what I saw up here in Manchester, New Hampshire, when I got here today was the "Union Leader" newspaper, which is the bible of politics in New Hampshire -- they put Chris Christie -- they buried him on the inside with a small story about his announcement. One of the things that`s happened is Chris Christie flamed out, and he was the original New York metropolitan tough guy. He left an opening. Ted Cruz, who speaks to the id of the Republican base the way you`re talking about with Donald Trump, is probably a little too scary even for a lot of Republican grass roots people. So Donald Trump -- Donald Trump has an opening there with the fact that both Cruz and Christie are nowhere. That`s number one. Number two, there`s no real front-runner. There`s 14 people running. Most of them don`t have any name recognition. He`s Donald Trump. He`s got name recognition like a Clinton or even a Bush. And also, as you say, he speaks clearly and he speaks to the gut. And he knows how to get attention. He`s sort of the rich man`s Chris Christie. MATTHEWS: Yes! I think he`s a comic book hero to a lot of guys. I`d like to go around with a camera and interview cab drivers, doormen, people who have just gotten to this country. (INAUDIBLE) say he`s sort of like a Sinatra kind of guy. He has a lot of money, and he seems to be enjoying it, and he talks like us. FINEMAN: Right. SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Well, and plus, these attacks that he`s undergoing, like Macy`s cutting him off and the...

MATTHEWS: Oh, that`ll hurt him. PAGE: ... well, and NBC... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... with regular people? PAGE: Helps him, makes him look like he`s the victim. He`s standing up. He`s so tough, no one else can (INAUDIBLE) But let`s remember he`s in number two place with 10 percent, 11 percent and 12 percent. And this is a guy with a big... FINEMAN: Right. PAGE: ... ceiling on his head because 3 out of 4 Republicans in the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll said they would not consider voting for him. So he`s got -- he`s a guy who, when the field gets smaller, he`s going to have trouble. MATTHEWS: OK. Meanwhile, some of Trump`s opponents are out there praising his good work. Let`s listen to them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARLY FIORINA (R-CA), FMR. H-P CEO, PRES. CANDIDATE: I think Donald Trump, who shouldn`t be underestimated, by the way, but I think he`s hitting on issues that Americans care about. SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump. I think he`s terrific. I think he`s brash. I think he speaks the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should he apologize for what he said? CRUZ: I don`t think you should apologize for speaking out against the problem that is illegal immigration. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they mostly drug dealers and rapists that are coming across the border? CRUZ: Oh, look, they`re not mostly that, but Donald Trump -- he has a way of speaking that gets attention, and I credit him for focusing on an issue that needs to be focused on. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Aren`t they fond of him! (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: Anyway, the guy with the most forceful response to Trump (INAUDIBLE) had to speak in a foreign language, in Spanish, to say so. As Bloomberg reports, Jeb Bush addressed some reporters out in Vegas, and they write, quote, "`Trump spends his life fighting with people,` Bush answered in Spanish, and he doesn`t, Bush said, represent the values of the Republican Party." And former New York governor George Pataki called Trump`s attacks on Hispanics disrespectful. But Trump still holds sway over the party. In 2012, just four years ago, or five -- three years ago, as you recall, Mitt Romney traveled to Las Vegas to pose with the Donald and get his endorsement. Howard, this isn`t a dance learned for the occasion. They have been trooping up to Donald Trump for a long time, kissing his butt, saluting him as a grand figure in the country. And I go back to this. Yes, he`s well known, so why do people want him to be president? That`s my question. Why do they want this guy to be president now? FINEMAN: Well, I don`t think they do want him to be president. I agree with Susan...

MATTHEWS: Why are they saying... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, why are they saying, Yes, Trump? FINEMAN: Well... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He`s beating Scott Walker 2 to 1. He`s beating all these governors 2 or 3 to 1. FINEMAN: Well, I think part of it is also that people, especially Republican likely primary voters, are disgusted with the political system. They`re disgusted and cynical about traditional politicians. They hate Congress. They hate the Republican Party. Donald Trump is like a big Macy`s day (sic) parade balloon, who seems to hover above all of traditional politics. His support is a comment on the cynicism and disaffection of the Republican grass roots and the conservative grass roots with the whole structure of politics. And because he`s outside of it, and because to some extent, he`s a comic figure almost, he gets to comment on it and trash it in a way that`s pleasing to some Republican people who answer polls right now. MATTHEWS: Yes, and I think -- you know, I do think sometimes I`m running along by the (INAUDIBLE) the guys holding the ropes on those big balloons as they go up in the air, these big figures, and every once in a while, you get taken up by the wind and you rise above the streets. (LAUGHTER)

FINEMAN: That`s Donald Trump. That`s Donald Trump. MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) sometimes. Anyway, Trump`s selling an unapologetic attack -- this is the bad part -- on immigrants from the southern border. Let`s watch the bad stuff. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Mexico sends its people, they`re not sending their best. They`re bringing drugs. They`re bringing crime. They`re rapists. BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: Would you take any of that back or rephrase any of it, if you could? TRUMP: No because it`s totally accurate. HuffingtonPost and Fusion - - 80 percent of Central American women and girls are raped coming into the United States, crossing the borders. They`re taking our jobs. They`re taking our manufacturing. And they`re taking our money. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: OK, today Macy`s announced it will no longer sell Trump`s menswear collection in its stores because of remarks like those. Trump responded by stating, "For all those who want to make America great again, boycott Macy`s. They are weak on border security" -- I didn`t know Macy`s had a border security issue -- "and on stopping illegal immigration." Susan, did you know that Macy`s had a policy on border patrolling? PAGE: Yes, they do. (LAUGHTER)

PAGE: They`re building a big wall. But you know, it`s comic, and yet think about when Republicans want to turn around and start to appeal to Hispanic voters in a general election... MATTHEWS: Yes. PAGE: How do you think it`s going to be when the nominee has to live with the legacy of language like that? MATTHEWS: Well, why aren`t they thinking like you are right now? You`re a journalist. Why aren`t they thinking just like that? Why aren`t they lining up -- in English, Jeb Bush! -- speaking in English against this guy? PAGE: Yes. Because... MATTHEWS: Why does he have to go to Spanish? PAGE: Because, of course, he does appeal to part of the Republican Party, and you`re at the point where that`s who you`re trying to appeal to. But there are -- I don`t think... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, the English-speaking portion of the Republican Party is probably 90 percent. PAGE: Well, maybe 99 percent. FINEMAN: Can I get in?

MATTHEWS: Sure. You`re in. FINEMAN: Can I say, Chris, Donald Trump is now so much of a force, at least for now, that one of the other Republican candidates could get some attention and maybe some polling points by taking him on. You know, Donald Trump is a fighter. He knows how to pick a fight. He knows how to set his coat on fire and everybody else`s coat on fire. MATTHEWS: Would you go in the ring with him... FINEMAN: Somebody should step... MATTHEWS: ... if you were Republican? Would you go in the ring and say, OK, buddy, let`s go at it? FINEMAN: Yes. MATTHEWS: Would you, politically? FINEMAN: Well, let me say, you got to be prepared. You got to try to skewer him. It`s hard to do. But if you can succeed at it, you win big points. And I think it`s -- I got to say, I think it`s shameful that he says this stuff and that these other candidates who claim to be serious people, who want to lead the country, don`t take him on. They don`t have the guts to say a single word critical of the guy. And Jeb Bush doing it in Spanish is kind of sad, actually. Come on! You know that the Bush family doesn`t want to have anything to do with Donald Trump. You know, it`s beneath them. Come on! MATTHEWS: Well, I look at the facts that the Republican Party in the House of Representatives refuses to pass a middle-of-the-road immigration bill, a pretty good immigration bill with some teeth in it in terms of illegal hiring. And it tells me that maybe Trump knows his mark.

And anyway, here`s how Trump is selling the brand through personal nastiness and anything standing in his way. Here he goes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: You know, when I watch a George Will or a Charles Krauthammer -- you know, I watched them for years. They`re losers. They`re just losers. I`ll be suing Univision. Maybe I`ll be suing NBC, too. We`ll have to see. I have to see. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The Daily News" today put this picture, "Clown runs for president." TRUMP: "The Daily News" is going to be out of business very soon. How can Bush be in first place? This guy can`t negotiate his way out of a paper bag! (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: I think Bush is an unhappy person. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about Marco Rubio? TRUMP: I think he`s highly overrated.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: OK, back to you, Susan and Howard, both in order now. Let`s look about this guy. We got an Iowa -- we got a debate coming up next month. I think he`s going to be in the center ring, making most of the noise, and the only guy going at him will probably be Christie. And they`ll both be punching each other, and everybody else is going to look pretty boring. That`s my thought. PAGE: And that`s not good for the other candidates or for the Republican Party. You know, and the trick in a debate like that, 10 candidates on a stage at the first debate, is to get the attention, to have the sound bite... MATTHEWS: It`s a Fox audience, too. PAGE: ... and -- and you can... MATTHEWS: Fox audience. PAGE: ... figure that Trump is -- this is catnip for him. MATTHEWS: Howard, again, I`m not a media critic, but I think it`s important that he goes before a Fox audience... FINEMAN: Right. MATTHEWS: ... which conservative to right-wing, too right-wing. FINEMAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: And there`s a big chunk out there, Pat Buchanan type Republicans on the hard right, who are going to eat this guy up completely that night. FINEMAN: No, I think on the serious side of this, Chris, you remember Pat Buchanan`s appeal. You remember the fact that the Tea Party, to a big extent, is based on fear of immigration and concern about immigration. MATTHEWS: Yes, I agree with you. FINEMAN: And you remember that Donald Trump is the birther guy. He`s the guy who`s raising the fears about the other, about the outsider, the idea that Barack Obama is not really from here, he`s not really an American. This is consistent, and this is the dark side of Donald Trump. We dismiss him as a clownish figure. I think that`s probably a dangerous thing to do because while he`s smiling and while he`s laughing and while he`s getting off those one-liners, he`s speaking to the darker id of American political life, which is fear of the other and fear of the outsider. And he will stoke it. He knows what sells. And we`re in a time of cynicism and fear at the Republican grass roots. Not with the Democrats. They love Barack Obama right now. They`re cheering Barack Obama`s greatest week. But at the grass roots of the Republican Party, there`s fear and anger and cynicism. And despite his smile and his funny hair, he knows how to appeal to that sentiment. MATTHEWS: He also believes -- you can say rightly or wrongly, I think rightly -- that the political establishment has not dealt effectively with the issue of illegal immigration, so he`ll do it his way. FINEMAN: Right. I think that`s true. MATTHEWS: Anyway, Trump`s "bash brother"... FINEMAN: I think that`s true. MATTHEWS: ... Chris Christie, was on the trail today in Maine, where he received the first big public endorsement of his candidacy from Maine governor Paul Lepage. Anyway, Politico has called Lepage America`s craziest governor. Roll the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. PAUL LEPAGE (R), MAINE: Many of you know that I say it the way I see it. Sometimes I`m overly blunt. You`re going to be seeing a lot of me on the front page, saying, Governor Lepage tells Obama to go to hell. I`m about ready to punch A.J. Higgins. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t punch him. LEPAGE: Oh, come on! UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s your response to some saying that it`s more than just one incident, but rather a pattern? LEPAGE: Tell them to kiss my butt. Frankly, I think the speaker of House should go back home where he was born and I think that Mr. (INAUDIBLE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Oh, my Good. So we`re going to have that first debate. Last call for both of you, Susan, who writes for the cover of the "U.S. News," and I -- "USA Today" -- how`d I make that mistake? This battle coming up a month from now is going to be something to watch. I`m not sure it`s about picking a president, but it is about picking a fight.

PAGE: Yes. That`s a great way to put it. And that`s what we`re going to -- that`s what we`re going to see. And someone like a Jeb Bush... MATTHEWS: It`s good for Democrats. PAGE: ... and a Marco Rubio kind of step up to try to make their points, to try to get into that fight. MATTHEWS: I would think that -- we have a couple Cuban-Americans, Howard, who are running for president who will be in the ring with this guy, perhaps, as he bashes Latinos. We have one guy with a Mexican wife. It just -- it gets very tribal when you`re talking to Donald Trump. And I`ve always said that some of these guys would have no problem with illegal immigration if those immigrants from the south were Heidi Klums, I mean, they were from northern Europe. I mean, it`s the bottom line here. This is an ethnic war we`re watching here. It`s for real. Your thoughts? FINEMAN: Well, Chris, both in terms of tone and the tenor, and indeed, the substance about that fear on immigration I was talking about, we now are in a situation where Donald Trump is setting the tone and the tenor for at least the next month of the campaign heading into that debate in August. Nobody could have predicted that a couple weeks ago, but I think it`s true. MATTHEWS: Yes. I think he`s out there, and we`re looking at the numbers, and numbers matter in our business. Anyway, thank you, Howard Fineman... FINEMAN: Right. MATTHEWS: ... and thank you, Susan Page. Coming up -- another historic day for the president. He announced today that the United States and Cuba are restoring full diplomatic relations, opening embassies in both Washington and Havana for the first time in more than 50 years, another (ph) big news. Obama`s got the hot hand, and he`s taking the shots -- 3-pointers, actually. Plus, as more and more businesses cut ties with Donald Trump, the one organization that`s clearly stuck with the Donald, at least for now, is the Republican Party led by Reince Priebus.

And the release of those e-mails from Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state don`t contain that smoking gun Republicans have been endlessly looking for. But they do show how desperate Reince Priebus is to bring her down. He keeps talking about this stuff. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with why we have Ted Kennedy and others, like Birch Bayh and Patsy Mink, to thank for the fact we can watch U.S. women`s soccer team out there, that great team out there, go for the cup. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton`s rolling up the score against the Republicans in the latest polling. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard." According to a new CNN/ Opinion Research poll, Clinton looks dominant. She leads Jeb Bush, the Republican who comes closest, by 13 points. It`s Clinton 54, Bush 41. Against Marco Rubio, Clinton`s lead is 16 points -- look at this, 56 to 40 against Rubio. She leads Chris Christie by that same 16-point margin, 55 to 39. Against Scott Walker, Clinton`s lead grows to 17, 57 to 40. And against the Donald, Donald Trump, it`s no contest. Hillary`s up 24 points, 59 to 35. These margins are abnormally large, and this poll looks like an outlier. Anyway, we`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (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`ve been doing since I came into office. How am I going to spend whatever political capital that I`ve 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: Well, there`s one cool president. President Obama says he`s not finished yet. And after a string of historic victories last week, his winning streak continues. Today, the president made clear that he plans to spend his political capital, and he played his hot hand again today with a historic announcement, this time on foreign policy. President Obama announced today that the United States and Cuba will formally reestablish diplomatic relations for the first time since the Eisenhower era was ending in `61 and will open embassies in each other`s capitals. Let`s watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I can announce that the United States has agreed to formally reestablish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba, and reopen embassies in our respective countries. This is a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with the Cuban government and people. The progress that we mark today is yet another demonstration that we don`t have to be imprisoned by the past. When something isn`t working, we can and will change. And later this summer, Secretary Kerry will travel to Havana formally to proudly raise the American flag over our embassy once more. That`s what this is about, a choice between the future and the past. This is what change looks like. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: This is what change looks like. Well said. Fifty-nine percent of Americans approve of the decision to normalize relations with Cuba, according to the first ever MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll released in April.

David Axelrod was a senior adviser to President Obama, and David Corn is Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" magazine. Both are MSNBC political analysts. David, this is a legacy issue and I think -- well, you`re the expert on the legacy question, but in terms of the environment, which is a big issue with the president, clearly marriage equality, clearly health care issues, all kinds of issues, climate change, he`s concerned about trade -- this is a big one in terms of reaching out and trying to bring the world closer together ideologically, I guess. How do you see it? DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, I see it as the president moving America into the 21st century. You know, he was born the year that we broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba. That was 53 years ago. The idea was to isolate Cuba and change its policies that way. It also was a time when Cuba was a client state of the Soviet Union, an outpost 90 miles from America`s shore, so there was some justification for the policies we had. But we have tried for 53 years to change their policies by shunning them. And now he`s chosen engagement. And, as you pointed out, most Americans agree that that`s the way to go. MATTHEWS: David, it`s a couple ways to look at this, from the left, where you generally come from, the progressive side of things. It seems to me that this would be seen as sort of rapprochement with a communist government. Or how do you see it? Do you see it as a way to bring them down? Because some of the writers say -- and we will get to it -- say -- those on the right say, oh, this is encouraging, this is embracing Castro. DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: The one thing that`s undeniable is that half-a-century of this policy has not worked. Now, Cuba, I have written about this. I think it`s an incredibly oppressive regime. I have friends down there who are journalists and authors down who can`t do what they want to do. They don`t have access to the Internet. And so they haven`t been moving in the right direction in a lot of these ways, the government. But isolating them and preventing U.S. citizens, which might even be against the Constitution, from traveling to Cuba hasn`t worked. And so I`m all for trying something else, as are a lot of younger Cuban Americans and most Americans.

It can`t be any worse. It can`t have less results than what we have done for the last five decades. So, I have been down there a couple of times. It`s a wonderful place. They tend -- Cubans tend to like Americans. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Did you go down there? What kind of deal did you have to strike to get through that government, though? (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Did you have to answer a questionnaire? CORN: No, no. I went down in 1994, when the Baltimore Orioles were playing the Cuban national team to cover it as a journalist, yes. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: As a sports reporter? CORN: Exactly. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I`m not going to play any games with them about filling out, do you like the Castro government?

CORN: No, you don`t have to do that. You don`t have to do that. People go down there all the time now on cultural trips. Journalists can go. Educational groups can go. And now more Americans will be able to go and hopefully everyone if they want to. I think at that point in time, it`s going to be very hard for the government to keep these walls up. MATTHEWS: OK. David, Peggy Noonan wrote a great column a couple months ago saying that basically she sort of likes this approach from a conservative point of view, because her notion, her dream is Castro in his last moments of life, looking out his bedroom window and seeing some kid with an iPhone, that the future has arrived and it`s about freedom of communication and a new kind of life that they don`t have down there. Is that your sense, that he`s going to get shocked by opening the door to us? AXELROD: Absolutely. I think that not only have -- we may have tried to isolate Cuba, but the Castros have tried to keep the world out in many ways. And now those barriers are going to be broken down. And it`s going to be very hard to maintain the kind of repressive regime they have had there for the last 50 years. I think, Chris, one of the interesting developments here -- Peggy is an enlightened conservative. Many of these Republicans candidates for president took the other road on this and strongly opposed this action today. MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. AXELROD: The Congress is now -- the Republican Congress is talking about not funding our embassy there. So, in all these instances that you mentioned over the last week, all this progress, you see the president pushing America forward and the Republican Party trying to draw American -- America back. And elections are always about the future. Americans look to the future.

I think that`s a losing strategy for the Republican Party. It may be a winning strategy in Republican primaries. It`s a losing strategy in a general election. MATTHEWS: Unless Castro or Raul Castro does something outrageous in the next several months, I think you`re right. Anyway, Republicans, as you said, David, wasted no time voicing opposition to President Obama`s historic announcement. Here they go. GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who is Cuban American, said: "Throughout this entire negotiation, as the Castro regime has stepped up its repression of the Cuban people, the Obama administration has continued to look the other way and offer concession after concession. The administration`s reported plan to restore diplomatic relations is one such prized concession to the Cuban regime." Texas Senator Ted Cruz, also of Cuban descent, said: "President Obama announced today he is continuing his policy of unconditional surrender to Fidel and Raul Castro by rewarding one of the most violently anti-American regimes on the planet with an embassy and an official representative of our government." Jeb Bush said: "I oppose the decision to further embrace the Castro regime by opening an embassy in Havana." And Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said: "President Obama`s decision to establish full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy there is yet another example of his appeasement of dictators." I`m beginning to think I`m losing faith in Mr. Scott Walker as a reasonable person, because he seems to be aping the right wing, when he isn`t one. But he certainly likes to ape one. CORN: Well, I think he... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: He`s an actual governor in the real world.

CORN: Yes, he`s there with the Koch brothers and a lot of things. He`s taken a very absolutist stand on abortion. He is pretty conservative, but he comes across as a little bit more practical because he`s had to govern. But he went hard against the unions. But it seems to me that the Tea Party base of the Republican part is still ascendant. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, why do they care about Castro? CORN: I think because there are some older white Republican voters... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, me too. I don`t think... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: ... either, but I will live with this thing. This seems like a reasonable thing to do. CORN: But it`s also another way of bashing Obama. MATTHEWS: Yes.

CORN: It`s just this reflexive approach that whatever he does -- are the Castros brothers worse than the Chinese? I mean, come on. MATTHEWS: I know there`s a lot worse governments. Let`s take a look at this. I got to get to Axelrod on this one. Republicans are sounding an alarm led by the great man himself, Ryan Priebus` operation at the RNC, over a 2009 e-mail exchange that was released yesterday between Secretary Hillary Clinton and David Axelrod, who wrote to her personal e-mail address about an injury she suffered. Fair enough. Reince Priebus`s operation at the RNC today issued this press release, saying that Axelrod is busted, because he said in June that he didn`t know about Clinton`s private server. And here`s the RNC points to as its smoking gun. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) QUESTION: What do you think about Bill Daly not knowing about the server? Is that unusual? Is that an issue? AXELROD: Well, I think it is unusual. He was the chief of staff. I confess I didn`t -- I was there. I was a senior adviser. I didn`t know that as well. (CROSSTALK) QUESTION: So, if you did find out when you were there, if you did find out when you were there, would you say, hey, whoa, wait a minute, guys, should we all talk about this? Would you flag it? AXELROD: I might have asked -- I might have asked a few questions about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: In a tweet today, Axelrod responded to the charges that he knew more than he led on: "As I said before, I knew HRC had private e-mail. I did not know she used it exclusively or had her own server." It seems to me that the Republicans, as they have been in the game of, since they started the Iraq War, of conflating. Here they conflate the fact that there`s an e-mail message back and forth from you to her on a private e-mail, whatever you call it, a private e-mail and that you knew about the server. Your response? It seems to me you`re already clear on this, but go ahead. (LAUGHTER) AXELROD: Yes. Well, yes, I knew she had an e-mail. I never denied that I knew she had private e-mail. I didn`t know she didn`t have a State Department address or a server. And I suspect, even as bright a guy as Reince Priebus... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Oh, you`re being sarcastic. AXELROD: No, actually, I think he`s bright in certain ways, but... CORN: In certain ways. (LAUGHTER)

AXELROD: Maybe he can determine from an -- maybe he can determine from an e-mail whether someone has a private server or not. I`m not that smart. I didn`t detect that. So, I think it`s a much -- as you say, much ado about nothing, but it`s reflective of what we`re going to see for the next many months, which is everything involving Hillary is going to be inflated beyond its importance. MATTHEWS: Yes, I know, or conflated. By the way, I feel like saying, is that all you got? Anyway, thank you, David Axelrod. I thought you made it clear before today on MSNBC, but thanks for coming on again. David Corn, thank you, gentlemen. CORN: Thank you. MATTHEWS: Up next, we`re talking politics with former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Well, former U.S. Senator Gary Hart represented Colorado from 1975 to 1987. He ran for president, of course, twice, winning the New Hampshire Democratic primary in 1984. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was understandably happy when he met with reporters to talk about the future of the campaign. GARY HART, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I look forward to a vigorous debate about this party`s future. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Wow. Gary Hart is still concerned about his party`s future, the future of American politics, especially with the twin phalanxes of politicians up on Capitol Hill right now voting strictly along party lines in a constant quest, many believe, for reelection. In "The Republic of Conscience," his book, Hart cites "New York Times" columnist Tom Friedman`s portrayal of Washington`s revolving door of legislators-turned-lobbyists as the most troubling aspect of politics right now. Joining me right now is former Senator and the current U.S. peace envoy to Northern Ireland Gary Hart. Senator Hart, thank you for joining us. HART: My pleasure.

MATTHEWS: You know, I thought you got screwed politically in 1984, when you had won all those primaries on Super Tuesday, and the only one you lost was Georgia, as I believe, and out come the media and said that Mondale won those primaries that day, the next day. Bryant Gumbel has Bob Beckel on, congratulating Beckel, saying, good night. And you won all of them. You won seven of nine, I think it was. Why was the media not on your side back in `84, when you could have been a real contender against Reagan? You could have beaten him, maybe. Who knows. HART: Well, I don`t -- the media will have to account for itself. I can`t do that. But the headline in "The Washington Post" that next morning was "Hart/Mondale Split." Well, the split was seven to you, as you indicated. (LAUGHTER) HART: And I went on to divide the country with Fritz. I think we each won 25 states. And the difference at that convention were the super delegates, all of whom supported Vice President Mondale. MATTHEWS: Why do you think you didn`t make it, when you really looked like you had the hot hand? You had Caddell working for you, which is interesting. You had a really hot campaign. And you were kind of the alternative to Reagan, the old man. You were the new outdoor candidate. I always look at candidates as who is the outdoor, who is the indoor? The outdoor guy almost always wins. Mondale was clearly an indoor-type person. You were an outdoor kind of guy. You were the Western guy, the young guy that could have taken on Reagan. What went wrong, when you look back? You must have looked back over it. Why didn`t it work the first time? (LAUGHTER) HART: Well, Chris, if you start at 1 percent or 2 percent and you win 25 states and have over 1,200 delegates, you don`t think about what went wrong.

The press was shocked. Insiders were shocked at the -- not only the victory in New Hampshire, but the margin thereafter and Super Tuesday. And then, as you well know, we went into the industrial states, where the party establishment prevailed. MATTHEWS: Yes. HART: And, in those states, they clearly had a lot for Vice President Mondale. And even though the polls at the convention in San Francisco showed that I had a much better chance at defeating the president, they nominated the man they knew the best. MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about today and the party. And we can talk about politics. You can talk about the criticisms in your book. It`s rich with criticism. And we know a lot of these things, the role of money, the role of party regularity, discipline. People are not thinking for themselves. Let me ask you about the ideological direction of the party right now. Bernie Sanders is making a lot of noise. He reminds me -- and maybe you as well - - of the `60s. He`s got a `60s message, anti-war, questioning the power elites in this country, very much a `60s message. Hillary Clinton, more of a conservative in the sense of more of a traditional politician from the center-center. How do you think it is going to go? And where would you want it to go in terms of just that battle, those two profiles? HART: Well, first of all, let me correct the impression. I was not a `60s person. I experienced the `60s, as many others of my generation did, but I was a 21st century person. I was advocating embracing globalization, the information revolution, and new technologies and a wide variety of things of that sort. So what I was trying to do was look over the horizon. Today, I think Senator Sanders is rallying a base, a part of the Democratic base that has not been appealed to because of the so-called centrism that`s been going on and off in the Democratic Party. I have never quite understood what that was, but avoidance, I think, of controversial positions. I think there is a chance for a generational change here. I think an awful lot of Democrats and Americans want new leadership. And part of what I comment on in the book is that the lobbying industry, the catastrophic increase in campaign financing and the insider network, the coalescence of an insider network in Washington is making it that much more difficult.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, who would you vote for if you had to, if the caucuses in Colorado were coming up right now, instead of March 1 next year, between Sanders and Clinton? Who would you go for? HART: Well, those are -- that`s not the only choice. I have known Governor O`Malley for 20 or 25 years, more, actually. And I have said I would support him, out of loyalty, if nothing else. But I also think he does represent that new generation. Whether he will be able to catch fire, we don`t know yet. But let me comment on the polls, because I have been through this. MATTHEWS: Sure. HART: They are largely name recognition. The fact that Mr. Trump has gotten so much media coverage -- I`m in New York right now. That`s all you hear about, is the media covering Trump. Well, the polls, as you well know, often reflect name recognition. You stop somebody on the street. You give them 10 or 15 names, half of those people will pick a name they have heard of. And who have they heard of recently, but Donald Trump? MATTHEWS: Gary Hart, "The Republic of Conscience." Good luck with the book, Senator. HART: Thanks. MATTHEWS: And thank you for coming on HARDBALL tonight. Thank you, Gary Hart.

HART: Thank you very much. It`s a pleasure. MATTHEWS: Up next: Everyone`s firing Donald Trump out there, except the Republican primary voters. And that`s ahead with the roundtable. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (NEWSBREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD Trump (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Mexico sends its people, they`re not sending their best. They`re sending people that have lots of problems. And they`re bringing those problems with us. They`re bringing drugs, they`re bringing crime, they`re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people. (END VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I like that assume part. That was Donald Trump making his now controversial remarks about Mexicans and Mexican immigrants in his June 17th presidential announcement. Anyway, since then Spanish language network Univision announced that it would cut all business ties with Mr. Trump and it would drop its broadcasts of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, which are partly owned by Trump. NBC also announced that it was severing its ties with Trumps because of the derogatory comments he made. The network said it will no longer air the pageants as well. Trump will no longer be participating in "The Celebrity Apprentice" program, which also airs on NBC. NBC is, of course, the parent company us at MSNBC.

And today, Macy`s department store that it, too, was ending ties with Trump, and pulling their Donald Trump brand merchandise from its stores. Joining me at the roundtable tonight, Michael Schmidt, reporter with "The New York Times", Erin McPike is political journalist, and Jamelle Bouie is a writer with "Slate". To the point of view, Jamelle, what`s your point of view on this? Because I`m openly skeptical of any of this hurting Trump at the polls with Republicans? JAMELLE BOUIE, SLATE WRITER: I don`t think it does. I think the interesting thing about Donald Trump is he seems to be the living avatar of a good chunk of the Republican base that is xenophobic, that is bigoted, that wants to see someone say those things out there and not even apologize for it. And I think as long as he keeps talking like this, he`ll be fine. He`s not going to win obviously, but -- MATTHEWS: To our older audiences, including me, what`s an avatar? BOUIE: An embodiment -- he`s an embodiment. MATTHEWS: Does he represent the future of the Republican Party? BOUIE: I don`t think so. There are angry and ugly forces in the far right of American politics, and they exist in the Republican, they`re not influential, but they can be influential, if someone can harness them. And I think Trump -- and this is not a good thing. I think Trump`s popularity is indicative of the extent to which those people have influence in the Republican Party and -- MATTHEWS: What percentage would you say of the Republican primary and caucus-going electorate is of that attitude? BOUIE: He`s polling, I think 12 percent. I think -- MATTHEWS: No, when they get there what`s it, a third, hard right?

BOUIE: I think it`s 15, 20 percent. MATTHEWS: Really? BOUIE: But that`s a 15 and 20 percent that a smarter, savvier politician can appeal to and peel away and make part of his coalition. MATTHEWS: I think, Erin, he`s like Pat Buchanan was one generation ago, but with kind of that New York appeal. The New York City, Manhattan/Gotham appeal that anybody in New York, who`s a media figure like he is, comes with, which is a hell of a lot of wind at your back. ERIN MCPIKE, POLITICAL JOURNALIST: Well, that and these people see that he has convictions. I mean, he`s going to stick to them and he`s not going to waver from them. I would also point out that if you look at the population -- MATTHEWS: How would you define his convictions? What is it about illegal immigration? MCPIKE: Well, he keeps saying, I`m going to do something, I`m going to build a wall. MATTHEWS: Yes. MCPIKE: I`m going to stop everybody from coming in. MATTHEWS: Is he going to stop illegal hiring? MCPIKE: There are --

(CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Is he going to stop illegal hiring on golf courses around the United States? Are they going to stop hiring illegal immigrants to cut the lawn? Are they going to stop them from making the beds? MCPIKE: He said he`s going to try. MATTHEWS: When it comes to money, they never stop it. MCPIKE: Listen, if you look at the populations of Iowa and New Hampshire, you see Latino populations, 6 percent and 3 percent. Those are kind of homogenous states. If you go into those states, you will hear Republican voters who are really angry about illegal immigration and they like what he`s saying. They think he`s going to do something for them. MATTHEWS: That`s interesting. Let me ask the same question: is this guy a factor? MICHAEL SCHMIDT, THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: Well, if he`s just kind of occupying the part of the Republican Party that kind of gets passed around and candidate to candidate. When Herman Cain was in the lead and whatever, just taking the portion of the party that is interested in these kind of, as you described them, xenophobic -- MATTHEWS: I`ll tell you one big difference, $8 billion, the difference between him and Herman Cain. SCHMIDT: That`s how much he`s worth. That`s how much he says he`s worth. MATTHEWS: Well, if it`s close. I`m not quibbling $8 billion, OK? A billion is a lot. It`s a thousand million. That`s a lot of money, OK? That`s 8,000 millions, OK? That`s a lot of money.

You can quibble about the margin of error all you want. SCHMIDT: Well, he sued -- (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: If he wants to win the election, if he wants to win this election, he is willing to spend, say, a couple of hundred thousand, which would be nothing for him, a couple of hundred of million be nothing to him, he could stay in this thing in the way Herman Cain 999 could not stay in this race. SCHMIDT: Well, Newt stayed in of a long time. MATTHEWS: But he ran out of money. SCHMIDT: Yes, but he has someone helping him -- MATTHEWS: Here`s my theory, I want to cuter than you because I don`t want to be nicer to him. But I think there`s a lot of Americans who watch television and they like a person who has the cojones to break with political correctitude. I don`t even like the term political correctitude. But they know what you`re supposed to say on television, they know you`re supposed to apologize for. And if a guy comes long and says, I`m not going to apologize for it, I`m going to say it, because I know a lot of you guys out there in your gut got that attitude, I think that`s an appeal. MCPIKE: He has taken on Macy`s. In the last hour, he said they`re racial profiling. He is going after everybody. MATTHEWS: He said they have a border policy. I didn`t know -- MCPIKE: He said that too.

MATTHEWS: Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. Up next, no smoking gun in the new batch of Hillary Clinton e-mails, but that`s not stopping Republicans. This is all they got, is e-mail, and here we are, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, the Republican presidential candidates are coming to HARDBALL. Next week, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is going to be here on Monday. He won the Iowa caucuses remember last time around. Then, on Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz joins us here. It`s going to be a great week on HARDBALL. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: We`re back with the roundtable for a few minutes now, Michael, Erin, and Jamelle. The State Department released 3,000 of Hillary Clinton`s e-mails from 2009. It`s the first batch to be made public after a federal judge ordered them to be released on a monthly basis. While they don`t provide much fodder for Clinton`s opponents, they do show that Mrs. Clinton wanted to spend more time with President Obama. One reads, quote, "I see the president at least once a week while Kissinger saw Nixon every day."

And another e-mail shows confusion over a cabinet meeting that she heard about over the radio, quote, "I heard in the radio that there`s a cabinet meeting this morning. Is there? Can I go? If not, who are we sending?" But the radio got it wrong and mistakenly referred to a meeting of lower level officials. This is kind of funny. What comes across, Erin, is Hillary Rodham Clinton, with her all credentials and history and self, she`s a regular person. She`s worried about who missed the party, I didn`t get invited, what`s going on here, I wish I had more time with the man, with the president. It seems pretty human to me. I`m not knocking about this. This is no expose. MCPIKE: No, there`s nothing nefarious so far in the emails we`ve seen, and she just looks a little insecure. She cares a lot about the media coverage of her. Now, what it told me is that any of us who believed back in 2009, 2010 that she wasn`t going to run for president again, we were naive because she`s been looking at this the whole time. MATTHEWS: Jamelle? BOUIE: I mean, it`s interesting that you bring up her concern with media coverage. It`s not surprising, right? She went through the 1990s with this intense scrutiny on her. I think it`s just part of her political DNA now that she`s obsessed with how the media views her. MATTHEWS: Is she more secretive than most pols? BOUIE: I don`t know. My hunch is she is probably a little more secretive because of that past history, but I generally think that most politicians are secretive. Not even trying to hide anything. They just don`t want to tell people things. MATTHEWS: That`s my experience. Having worked on the inside, they don`t want you on the inside, journalists. Your thoughts, Michael?

SCHMIDT: Well, did it take a mistake of e-mails to learn more about her and to have an insight into who she is? Because if you read them, I find her fairly compelling. Who is not worried about their access to their boss? Most people are. BOUIE: Who knows how to use a fax machine? I don`t. MATTHEWS: Well, the unintended consequences, maybe the e-mails will end up helping her but I can`t believe anybody will vote against her because of the e-mail issues. There are larger issues in the world. BOUIE: I can`t imagine someone walking into a voting booth and saying I agree with Hillary Clinton on education but those e-mails. MATTHEWS: Exactly, that was my conundrum. Anyway, thank you, Michael Schmidt. Thank you, Erin McPike. And thank you, Jamelle Bouie. When we return, let me finish with why we have Ted Kennedy to thank as we watched the U.S. women`s soccer team go for the cup, the World Cup. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish with a message to women -- young women, girls, fathers and mothers of girls, OK, to everybody. Isn`t it great to see pictures of those bright young American women out there going for the World Cup? Is there another world but sheer delight in seeing their love of sport, love of the physical joy up there in Montreal? Beating the Germans? That excellent team exempt when they came up against the U.S. women. If you think this doesn`t matter in this country to what we think about ourselves, well, I don`t know what to say to you. But if you do get a kick out of this sensational run this U.S. women`s soccer team is making for the cup, let`s not forget why we`re in this thing and at the very highest levels.

Back in 1972, the United States Senate led by Ted Kennedy and Indiana`s Birch Bayh, and Hawaii`s Patsy Mink got something called Title IX. And here`s what it said in the law, "No person in the United States shall on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, be deny the benefits of, or be subjected to the discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." That`s Title IX. And it has made all the difference. If you`re in a family of women athletes like ours, you know the joy that girls get from soccer. Our Caroline is a midfield stalwart. Kathleen played tennis for Stanford and while they were national champs, the women on the team still had to pay for their transportation to road games. So, times have changed. Our women are world contenders because we gave them an equal chance here at home. 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.>