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Hardball with Chris Matthews, Transcript 07/13/15

Guests: Lanhee Chen, Michelle Bernard, Laura Coates, Liz Mair, JamelleBouie

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Trump doubles down on message, doubles up in the polls. Let`s play HARDBALL. Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews out in Los Angeles. And like it or not, deny it or not, Donald Trump is punching the political establishment in the belly by grabbing many American voters in the gut. Meanwhile, the other money people in the Republican Party are gunning up the focus groups to find out where to nail Hillary Clinton. They`re sharpening their attack to bring down the Democrat they expect to face next November, and it`s going to be brutal. But right now, as we approach the first GOP debate, it`s Donald Trump leading the attack and jacking up, doubling his country-wide favorability. Ron Reagan`s an MSNBC contributor and Lanhee Chen was the policy director for Mitt Romney`s presidential campaign. Last week, Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus told Donald Trump that he has struck a chord, and now Trump is strumming it harder than ever. He hit the political biggies in the gut in front of a packed house of thousands in Phoenix this weekend. He attacked Jeb, slammed Hillary, dumped on the press, of course, and he bashed illegal immigrants. Let`s watch him in action. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   DONALD TRUMP (R-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And the polls just came out, and I`m tied with Jeb Bush. And I said, Oh, that`s too bad. How could I be tied with this guy? He`s terrible. He`s terrible. (APPLAUSE) TRUMP: Hillary Clinton is going to be a horrible president. (LAUGHTER, BOOS) TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) horrible! They don`t want to give it straight because the press are liars. They`re terrible people. They`re terrible people! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: I have an idea, I think it`s good. Every time Mexico, really intelligently, sends people over, we charge Mexico $100,000 for every person they send over. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: The silent majority is back, and we`re going to take the country back! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Oh, by the way, just as a point of fact here, in that clip, Mr. Trump was referring to an on-line poll that doesn`t meet NBC standards. But make no mistake, Trump is onto something here. In a new Monmouth University poll out today, he`s doubled his support since April. He`s in the number two spot right now, with 13 percent, just 2 points behind Jeb Bush, right up there. Those two are duking it out for the top position. Let me go to Ron Reagan. This is an interesting development. I`m inclined to the view that he`ll go middle distance. I`m not sure he`ll go all the distance. I don`t think he`s quicksilver, however, like Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain, like one of those guys. Where do you put him as a factor? RON REAGAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, watching Donald Trump is a little like watching a room full of monkeys, Chris. There`s a lot of commotion going on there, but not a lot of substance. And after a few minutes, you move on, and I think the electorate is going to do the same thing. It`s summer now. It`s summer in the year before the actual election, and Donald Trump can serve as a sort of amuses bouches for the campaign here, but I don`t think he`s going to maybe not even to last into the middle term. By fall, I think, when we come back from vacation, things start getting a little serious, everybody`s going to settle down and realize that Donald Trump is really just running for the attention, he`s not really a serious candidate at all, and people will move on. MATTHEWS: Well, since when does motive matter? (LAUGHTER) MATTHEWS: I mean, if it`s working, he`s going to stay in. He`s not going to quit if he`s doing well, and -- motive doesn`t matter. If he`s a charlatan, a showman, a businessman, which he`s all those things, in many ways, he still seems to have grabbed something in the gut of American conservative, the working-class Republican.   (INAUDIBLE) the polls will show you. He has found something, Ron. What is it that he has found that seems to be jacking him -- his favorability has doubled in the last couple weeks. REAGAN: He`s found about 15 percent of the Republican electorate who likes bashing immigrants. MATTHEWS: Yes. REAGAN: But I don`t know that there`s that much more of the Republican electorate who`s willing to cross over and actually consider voting for somebody like Donald Trump. MATTHEWS: OK, you act like... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Let me just tell you, another 15 percent are backing Jeb Bush. Who is this grand Republican army that`s going to beat him? I think he`s up against mush. I don`t see any talent out there... REAGAN: That`s true. MATTHEWS: ... that`s as talented as he is to grab a crowd. I don`t know who -- who would you want to see give a speech right now, Scott Walker? (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK)   LANHEE CHEN, FMR. ROMNEY ADVISER: I disagree with you, Chris. MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to Lanhee. Lanhee -- well, perfectly well, if you do. Go ahead. CHEN: No, I was going to say I disagree with you. I think this field`s a lot stronger than the field in 2012. I think you`ve got some people there that could catch fire, whether it`s Rubio or Walker. And Jeb Bush has obviously a lot of money. But look, I agree with Ron. I think Donald Trump is a flash in the pan. I think he is speaking to something right now, but we`re way out from the election. And look, if polls mattered at this point, we`d have a President Herman Cain or President Michele Bachmann, and we don`t. MATTHEWS: I know that argument. CHEN: I think these polls are just -- yes, well, but I think it`s a fair argument. I think it`s the right argument... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Nobody was afraid of Herman Cain. But Lanhee, was anybody afraid of Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann? It seems like the Republican Party, led by the great Reince Priebus, is scared to heck of this guy. They`re trying to cool him down. They never tried to tell Herman Cain to stop saying 999 or Michele Bachmann to stop saying her idiocy. They thought they were clowns, and they weren`t going to -- I think they`re afraid of Trump. That`s my argument. Go ahead. REAGAN: Well, there are two things, Chris... (CROSSTALK) REAGAN: I`m sorry, Lanhee.   MATTHEWS: Ron first. Ron first. REAGAN: There are two things that Trump`s doing. One is he`s further damaging the Republican brand because he is a clown act here, and people will see that and yet, he`s attached to the Republican Party. And the other thing is there are a lot of candidates out there who are desperate for a little media attention, and this guy is sucking all the oxygen out of the room, not being a serious candidate, and that infuriates a lot of them. MATTHEWS: Lanhee, your thoughts on that? CHEN: Yes, I mean... MATTHEWS: Why are they afraid of him? CHEN: No, I -- I do think part of the problem here is that he is taking energy away from candidates who could be legitimate, who could be making a policy point. You know, you look at folks like Rick Perry or Bobby Jindal and others, they`re going to be hurt, I think, by the fact that this guy`s out there spouting off. Look, I don`t think he represents mainstream Republican values, but obviously, he does speak to something. And so at this point in the campaign, you just kind of have to grin and bear it. But I don`t think he`s going to be a factor come October, November. I certainly don`t think he`s going to be a factor in New Hampshire or Iowa. MATTHEWS: OK. Well, the numbers we`re looking at, we`ll get to them later in the show, Lanhee, but they do show him doubling his favorability number generally and going up from 20 percent to 56 percent among Tea Party people, but not only Tea Party people. Anyway, Trump`s driving the party mad right now, we can agree. Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham says Trump is a wrecking ball for the Republican Party. Let`s watch Lindsey. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are some candidates who agree with Donald Trump that want to make him their vice president. There are some people who love Donald Trump and say that he`s speaking the truth. What I think he`s doing is being a demagogue. I think he`s a wrecking ball for the future of the Republican Party with the Hispanic community, and we need to push back.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: OK. And Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, isn`t happy with all the attention Trump`s getting. Here`s Christie on Fox today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald is a friend. I`ve known him for 13 years, and I like him personally. But his comments were inappropriate. That`s now the 50th time I`ve said it, and it`s going to be the last time I say it because you know... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well... CHRISTIE: But no, seriously, when I`m out there talking to folks, nobody in the real world asks me about this. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. CHRISTIE: You know? But every time I get on a media show, all anybody wants to talk about is Donald Trump. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: You know, what is it that he`s appealing to? You just think it`s -- Ron, you just think it`s prejudice against Hispanics, it`s as simple as that. You think that`s it. REAGAN: Well, yes. There`s this nativist element in the Republican Party, as we well know, and it`s a fairly big chunk of the Republican Party now. I mean, the Republicans are, what, 30 percent of the electorate now, and 15 percent of that 30 percent really apparently warms to the idea of calling Mexican immigrants rapists.   MATTHEWS: Yes. REAGAN: But I don`t know that there`s much more than that 15 percent out of that 30 percent that really thinks that that`s the way to discuss the issue of illegal immigration, by calling Mexican immigrants rapists. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Thank you. I want Lanhee to jump in on the very same question. You believe the Donald Trump impact right now we`re seeing in the polls -- he`s up there right behind Bush -- is all about prejudice against people of Hispanic background, of Latin American background, Mexican especially? You think that`s what it`s about? CHEN: Well, I think it may be part of it. I think the bigger issue, though, is that there is a thirst in the Republican Party, probably in our politics generally now, for somebody who`s not going to have nuance. He`s just going to come out and say, Look, this is what I feel, this is what I believe. I think people look at Barack Obama and they feel like, you know, he`s a guy that`s pretty nuanced. I think even people who work for Obama would admit the same. And so in some ways, this is a backlash. It`s a reaction to that. They want someone who`s just going to tell it to them straight. And you know, like it or hate it, Donald Trump does that. I think his comments are offensive and I think they`re awful, but look, he does have a certain style that`s appealing to some people. MATTHEWS: Well, Lanhee, what is the Republican policy on illegal immigration? Because they don`t have a bill coming out of the House, which they control. Does the Republican Party have a policy on stopping illegal immigration? How would they stop it -- the people coming in tomorrow night, not the people who`ve lived here 20 years? How do you stop people coming to this country illegally? How do you do it? What`s the Republican policy? CHEN: You know, Chris, I think -- I think this is part of the problem is that, unfortunately, the policy discussion hasn`t advanced very much past the one we had a few years ago. You know, I think most people would say we`ve got to do more on border security, but we have to address this question of what you do with the 11.5 million people who are here illegally. I think that is an important question, and unfortunately... MATTHEWS: So you`re answering this the long way. In all respect, we don`t have a policy from the Republican side that you can enunciate. (CROSSTALK)   CHEN: ... I just think we haven`t been able to put it together yet. REAGAN: Donald Trump has a policy. MATTHEWS: Oh, they do have it? Where is this policy? Where is the policy of the Republican -- just a minute, Ron. Where`s the policy of the Republican Party? See, I believe Trump`s doing well because nobody else is talking about the issue in terms of solutions. His is a ridiculous solution, send everybody away that -- this country would be in revolt if you took everybody who`s been here for 20, 30 years. But you could have a policy about stopping illegal hiring, which of course, business doesn`t really want to have a policy on because they get the cheap labor. Let`s face it, there`s a lot of hypocrisy here, Lanhee, in the Republican Party and across the board. So what is the Republican policy on immigration to do what Trump says he`ll do, deal with the problem? What`s the Republican solution he`s up against? I haven`t heard it. CHEN: I think it`s a step -- I think it`s a step-by-step approach. I think E-verify and true employer verification is part of it... MATTHEWS: Well, why don`t they pass the bill? CHEN: I think border security is part of it. MATTHEWS: No, there`s an E-verify bill... CHEN: I think -- I think... MATTHEWS: ... on the floor, and they will not bring it up to a vote.   CHEN: You know what? Chris, that`s a tactical question. I think it`s important for Republicans to address immigration... MATTHEWS: Tactical? Your party doesn`t have an immigration bill to brag about because they won`t deal with the issue. Trump is dealing with it in a gross, intolerant way. We all know that. But at least he`s addressing it, and your party is empty-handed. And that`s why Trump`s walking into this mush. Your thoughts, Ron. CHEN: Well, I disagree with that. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: Well, of course you do! REAGAN: Well, Trump does have a -- Trump does have a policy on immigration. It`s a sort of un-nuanced policy that we were -- we were hearing about. It`s build a giant wall, and then, apparently, we invade Mexico or something. MATTHEWS: OK, what`s the Republican... (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: But Ron, what`s the alternative by the Republican lights? REAGAN: There is no alternative from the party... MATTHEWS: Right!   REAGAN: ... because it requires nuance, the sort of thing that Lanhee was saying Republican voters don`t want to hear about. Now, you can`t deal with something like immigration or illegal immunity by just building a wall on the border. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: But you and I -- all three of us... REAGAN: ... but you need a path to citizenship/ MATTHEWS: OK. REAGAN: You need all sorts of reasonable things... MATTHEWS: OK. REAGAN: ... on the other side, and the Republicans won`t have that right now. MATTHEWS: By the way, all three of us would make it here, no matter how high the wall was -- if there was a job waiting for us somewhere in Chicago, we`d get there. Let`s be... REAGAN: We`d build a higher ladder. MATTHEWS: That`s the issue. We need legitimate rules and progressive rules for immigration and working in this country, and nobody wants to address the thing honestly and progressively.   REAGAN: Exactly. MATTHEWS: Anyway, at the height of Trump`s circus today, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, the front-runner in Iowa, actually, officially declared his candidacy just moments ago. Let`s watch him in action. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R-WI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Since I`ve been governor, we took on the unions and we won! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) WALKER: We defunded Planned Parenthood and passed pro-life legislation! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) WALKER: And we now require a photo ID to vote in this state! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) WALKER: After a great deal of thought and a whole lot of prayer, we are -- we are so honored to have you join with us here today as we officially announce that we are running to serve as your president of the United States of America! (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: "We are running for president" -- I love that royal "we." Anyway, Scott Walker`s an unknown personality for many Americans. The top question on Google today after he announced is, "Who is Scott Walker?" Lanhee, you first this time. Tell me -- I went through his speech today, I listened to every word of it. Everything leans right. I was surprised that a governor who I thought was somewhat moderate on the issues -- certainly, as a governor of a state, you have to be somewhat moderate, you have to deal with the Democrats in your legislature -- that across the board, he`s taken every rightward position. Is that for Iowa? Is that tactics? CHEN: Well, I think he recognizes that he`s going to be in a Republican primary election, so he wants to highlight his conservative credentials. I think that`s perfectly reasonable to do. I think Iowa is a very important state for Governor Walker. MATTHEWS: Yes, it is. CHEN: I think he probably has to do quite well there if he hopes to be the nominee. MATTHEWS: Ron, he went against climate change. He went after -- against same -- the guy hit every one of the buttons today -- I mean, every single... REAGAN: He actually... MATTHEWS: I`m surprised he didn`t show, the word we`ve been using now, a little restraint, a little bit -- you know, wear a bikini. Don`t come naked to the party -- a little frickin` restraint! Don`t give everything to the right. And he seemed like he did it, you know?   REAGAN: He actually cited the Laffer curve when he was talking about his economic policy... MATTHEWS: Oh, yes. REAGAN: ... which is, as you know, the long-discredited idea of trickle-down economics. But you know, I think he`s got to -- he`s got to win as long -- he was saying he`s got to do well in Iowa because he`s got to break out early. He can`t just sort of hang around through a few primaries and then hope to suddenly erupt there. He`s got to find some way to distinguish himself now and break out of the pack. It`s the problem that all these candidates have now. What are there, like, 500 Republican candidates now? How do you distinguish yourself? MATTHEWS: How do you get a big applause out of, I`m going to have -- we have a photo ID law in Wisconsin. I mean, how do you get applause out of that? Anyway, thank you Ron Reagan. REAGAN: Well, that -- that... MATTHEWS: Thank you, Ron Reagan. Thank you, Lanhee Chen, for joining us. REAGAN: You bet. MATTHEWS: Please come back, sir.   Coming up -- Hillary Clinton`s under attack, of course, and the Republican people out there are spending lots of big money to find out what`s going to stick to her. They`re doing all kinds of focus groups. They`re painting her as dishonest, trying to turn her "dead broke" comment into the 47 percent remark that sank Mitt Romney. What`s her plan to fight back? I want to know first what their plan is to bring her down. Plus, Donald Trump talks about how he`s leading a new silent majority, but who are his followers? We`ve got new numbers on the unlikely coalition -- they`re not all hard right -- - who are pushing him and fueling the Trump surge right now, a lot of sort of middle right. And one of the best-loved fictional characters in American literature, of course, Atticus Finch, who defended a black man falsely accused of rap in "To Kill a Mockingbird," was actually tougher on race in that first draft of Harper Lee`s book. Finally, "Let Me Finish" with some words about Mr. Trump. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Well, there`s late word that a nuclear deal is coming together between the United States and Iran and that an announcement could come as soon as tonight. NBC`s chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, has the latest from Vienna -- Andrea. ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: The deal is coming together. The ministers have been meeting for the last hour or so. And Chris, this has been so fraught with difficulty. Even as the leaders of the countries back home -- the White House, of course, and also in Iran and the other world powers -- go over every word, and it has to be translated, of course, from English from Farsi and all the other languages. That said, we expect that this imminently may be announced as early as tonight, very late -- or early in the morning, I should say, here, late at night back in the States.   The problem all along has been closing the deal on a number of issues, but significantly today, still a lot of hiccups over that U.N. arms embargo, which is not even a nuclear issue. It is the conventional weapons and ballistic Missiles that have been banned since 2006 under two administrations. Susan Rice did the final version of this, another third resolution in 2009, when she was U.N. ambassador. That said, Iran says that it is not fair to keep these sanctions on the embargo, which is a sanction on them, and they want it lifted. They claim that that was agreed to in April in Switzerland. The U.S. and some of the other allies, except Russia and China, say that`s not the case. Russia will benefit greatly, can profit from the arms sales if this ban is lifted. My understanding from talking to people along the way is that they may modify it, but they will not completely lift it. I think that would be totally unacceptable to Congress, Democrats as well as Republicans -- Chris. MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Andrea Mitchell. Boy, this is big news if that pulls together tonight. Thank you so much, Andrea Mitchell in Vienna. When we return, inside the Republican attack machine against Hillary Clinton. It`s already moving. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We got a peek into the massive Republican attack machine against Hillary Clinton with a revealing "New York Times" article this weekend. a "Times" reporter was allowed to watch two focus groups down in Orlando, Florida, organized by American Crossroads, a super PAC founded by Karl Rove. As "The Times" reports on Sunday, Crossroads gathered about 50 voters representing groups that he believes or it believes can be persuaded to vote against Mrs. Clinton, an all-white mix of young men, low-income adults, married mothers, and politically moderate women. They were shown attacking Clinton as untrustworthy, secretive, scandal-laden, as well as rich and out of touch. As the Republican pollster who conducted the focus group put it, "She`s got an open wound and part of our job is to pour salt in it."   I`m joined by right now NBC News senior political reporter Perry Bacon and Michelle Bernard, president of the Bernard Center for Women. Let me go to Perry Bacon before we get into this. We have all read this article now. It talks about her being somewhat odd in saying that she was dead broke, when everyone knew the Clintons were worth tons of money, potentially. It`s just a matter of going out there and giving the speech and they would be rich. So is that where they think they have got the gold here to get her, that she doesn`t know that she`s rich? PERRY BACON, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the broader point is that they think that -- and I think it`s true -- that American elections are increasingly about turning out your base and making people really hate your opponent. And if you`re an outside group particularly , your job is to drive up the negatives of a Hillary Clinton. And there`s already polling showing people doubt her honesty and her trustworthiness. I think it`s the right place to go, is the super PACs attack her there, so then the Jeb Bush or the Rubio, whoever the candidate is, they can stay more positive, while the super PAC is doing all the dirty work and really dragging up Hillary`s negatives. And starting out this early is a way to build that narrative from the beginning, the way that Obama`s campaign built the idea that Romney was too rich and a plutocrat. MATTHEWS: You know, the Republicans have a gut instinct to whack Hillary Clinton, Michelle. You know that. They just like it. It makes them feel good. We watched Trump saying she`s terrible, she`s going to be horrible, and they all cheer like that. Is that gut smart? MICHELLE BERNARD, FOUNDER, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN, POLITICS AND POLICY: That`s not smart. And quite frankly, I`m also skeptical about what we see coming out of these focus groups. It`s fine to attack Hillary Clinton, because right now she`s the Democratic front-runner. But the question is, what can you legitimately attack her on? She`s made some really, really I should say foolhardy statements, for example, we were dead broke coming out of the White House. But the thing is, Hillary Clinton is not a Mitt Romney in a pantsuit, very much unlike what we have heard people on the right say about her.   She has always been a champion for women. She`s always been a champion for children. She has always been a champion for the underclass and for people for whom poverty is very, very real. And so I think voters will listen to all of that, but the bottom line is they are going to look through it through the prism of whose policies are going to be better for me, the Republican policy or Democratic policies? And all this other business I don`t think is really going to hurt Hillary Clinton too much. (CROSSTALK) MATTHEWS: I think she has targets. I want to get to some targets I think she has that they don`t know about. If I were targeting her, I would say go after her when she said who says businesses and corporations create jobs, when in fact they do. People apply for jobs. It doesn`t make sense to say -- whatever your labor theory of economic, whatever it is, you apply for a job, somebody has to say you`re hired. That`s the way it works. I don`t think people think that`s normal thinking. What do you think of that? Aren`t there targets besides going after character? Just go after her politics. Go ahead, Michelle. BERNARD: Hillary Clinton that we have seen this week who, for example, today talked about how she`s going to do something with the tax code to incentivize corporations to share their profits with their employees, that is something that people will legitimately attack her on and corporations, who she also needs, for example, to win this election, or at least needs their money, are going to come after her on that. And that to me is a lot more important than attacking her on the basis of her character. What are her policies going to do to the nation? MATTHEWS: Fair enough. Anyway, "The Times," "New York Times," reports that Crossroads` messaging wasn`t flawless. According to "The Times" -- quote -- "Another ad that resonated called `Throwaway` opens with Mrs. Clinton saying she never throws anything away and is two steps short of a hoarder" -- that`s her words apparently -- "before a narrator points out that she deleted about 30,000 e-mails from her time at the State Department." "But Crossroads still has some fine-tuning to do, because a few women watching this in the focus group expressed sympathy for Mrs. Clinton, saying they sometimes felt like hoarders, too. But they often deleted spam and other personal e-mails. Maybe that was what Mrs. Clinton had done. They could have been from Bed Bath and Beyond, one woman said of the e- mails." Who knows. (LAUGHTER)   MATTHEWS: Perry, this is the way people -- how many people clean out their e-mails ever day and say I got to get rid of that so I can save the messages from friends of mine I want to get back to, oh, a message back to, but I`m not going to respond to all these ads from Canadian aspirin companies or whatever the hell you`re hearing some -- you know what I mean. Your thoughts? Everybody deletes. Your thoughts? BACON: I think this e-mail issue itself is maybe -- is probably not going to win the Republicans the election. The idea that -- I believe in FOIA laws and so on, because I`m a journalist. But I don`t think a lot of voters are analyzing Hillary`s e- mails. The polling shows that issue is not very strong. I do think the numbers showing -- President Obama, even Republicans would say, is very much liked and he has a fairly high likability level. And I think if you look at the numbers right now, Senator Clinton is not there. And Republican have to peel some Obama voters off to win the election. I think there is a place to say one way they could do that is by critiquing Clinton on these sort of personality grounds. Most people don`t vote totally based on policy. Part of it is a feeling. Do I like this person? Am I comfortable with them? And a person who makes $200,000 per speech saying they are broke is not something Americans are going to trust. I think this is a smart angle for the Republicans to take. It may not work, but I think it`s 16 months until the election. They should toss everything they can try, see what works. These groups have hundreds of millions of dollars. They should try every strategy first and see what works. MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about the danger here, Michelle. And you`re a woman, so I want you to especially respond to this. We saw in the 2008 election when she was getting a lot of heat from the media and lots of people coming out of losing in the Iowa caucus and trying to win in New Hampshire, she became very emotional. And a lot of people said she found her voice, though, however you phrase it, positively or negative, she did come across better playing defense. BERNARD: Yes.   MATTHEWS: For some reason, when they went after her, it seemed to be personal, it was ad hominem, and she came off as a human being, really, truly. Do they make a big risk by bringing out the battering ram this early and making clear they are just going to beat her up, that`s all they are going to do from now to Election Day? BERNARD: I think it`s a big risk and here is the reason why. You are going to see constantly people focusing on the women`s vote because of the gender gap we have here, and typically it is women and the gender gap that decides who our next president is going to be. White women by and large vote Republican, so the question is how are the Republicans going to be able to pull away the votes of African-American women, Hispanic women, other women of color, including Asian women and others, who probably are going to sympathize with Hillary Clinton who -- there are some people who will complain she makes $300,000 a speech, and that`s more than most families make in a year. But there is a part of the electorate, particularly female, who are going to say, good for her. She is doing -- she has broken through the glass ceiling. She is doing something that we see male politicians do all the time. And if Hillary Clinton can do it, maybe it means one day I can do it or my daughter can do it. So, I think this is a very, very dangerous platform that they`re taking and they have got to be careful about it. MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much, Perry Bacon and Michelle Bernard. A nice balance there. Up next, the Republican effort to keep blacks from voting. Restrictions are under trial right now in North Carolina today. It`s a case that could have national implications. I don`t like them doing this stuff, making it harder for African-Americans to vote, seemingly -- well, apparently on purpose. And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   LYNDON JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This act flows from a clear and simple wrong. Its only purpose is to right that wrong. Millions of Americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Welcome back. That was of course President Lyndon Johnson at the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Nearly 50 years later, the fight for fair access to the voting booth obviously continues. A federal trial down in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, began today in order to figure out whether the sweeping changes to the voting laws down there passed by the state`s Republican-controlled legislature in 2013 discriminates against African- American voters. The laws reduced the numbers of early voting days from 17 down to 10. It eliminates same-day registration during early voting. They would prohibit counting ballots cast by voters in the incorrect precinct and they eliminate the pre-registration process of 16- and 17-year-olds that would automatically register them by the time they turn 18, which is legal to vote. The plaintiffs who filed suit against the state of North Carolina say that these laws unfairly target minority communities, making it harder for them to vote. The state`s governor, Pat McCrory, says it`s not about politics. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I think it`s commonsense laws and I think it`s much ado about nothing and try to protect the integrity of the voter booth. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, Laura Coates is a former assistant U.S. attorney. She also served in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.   Laura, thank you for coming on. Why would it -- well, let me try to see if you even imagine what the argument is of the governor there. Why does cutting down on early voting days, especially getting rid one of the Sundays, why does that make it safer and cleaner politics? I don`t get the ethics factor here that he seems to be talking about. LAURA COATES, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, you can`t understand it because there is no basis or justification for it. It`s not much ado about nothing. When you cut the early voting dates down from 17 to 10 days or less, when you know that the black population that`s voting in North Carolina predominantly votes early and in that first week of early voting, there is no justification to explain how it could not impact negatively and very negatively the black voting population of North Carolina and others. It`s not just a black issue or a white issue. The early voting is put into place to make it all the more convenient for people to have access to the polls, especially people who are lower-income, who have a hard time getting transportation to get to the voting booth early. They have a very big need for why this sort of early voting needs to be in place and be intact. MATTHEWS: It seems to me, looking at that historically, you had the poll tax, you had literacy tests, all aimed at the same goal, reducing the voting potential or ease with which minorities vote. In the old days, it was just rotten. Spell something in Greek or whatever the heck the old tricks were. And the tax was clearly a way to limit voting. It just seems that it`s what the Dixiecrats used to do in the old bad days, the Republicans have picked up on. COATES: Exactly right. The arguments that have been used to show support for why these post- 2013 laws should be OK and why they`re not harmful to the black community and minority voters in general is that they are saying they are facially neutral. But all the types of laws you just stated, poll taxes, literacy tests, those were all facially neutral. The issue is that they are designed to have a negative impact on the ability of voters to be able to not only access the voting, the ballots, but also to undermine their ability to have a meaningful vote, because what you`re doing is not only allowing them to have another barrier in place to why they can`t get to the voting place. They are also having a barrier for how it`s actually counted. This is very, very similar to the legacy of cases that were in place that the Voting Rights Act were designed to strike down and do away with.   MATTHEWS: You know that phrase -- you`re an attorney -- you know the phrase undue burden. COATES: Yes. MATTHEWS: I think they should get rid of the undue burden when it comes to voting. Laura Coates, it`s great having you on. Thank you. Please come back. COATES: Thank you so much. MATTHEWS: Up next, Donald Trump steals a page from the Nixon playbook, calling for support of what he calls the silent majority. So, just who are these voters out there who make up Trump`s constituency? You will find it interesting when you get back, because it isn`t what you think. It`s not just the hard right. He`s been grabbing some people in the gut, in the middle right, the middle right. You`re watching HARDBALL the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RICHARD LUI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I`m Richard Lui in the MSNBC newsroom. Nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers have ended in Vienna. A deal could be announced some time this evening.   A manhunt under way in Mexico for the drug lord known as El Chapo. The cartel boss escaped from a maximum security Mexican prison over the weekend. And defense officials say the military has six months to determine how to integrate transgender troops. Transgender individuals are currently banned from service -- now back to HARDBALL. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s a term that I haven`t heard for years, but I really think it applies now more than maybe ever before, and that`s the term the silent majority. Have you all heard that? (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) TRUMP: You don`t hear it anymore, but the silent majority is back. And we`re going to take the country back. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, the silent majority certainly doesn`t come from New York, does it, because he and Bernie Sanders are making all the noise. Anyway, Donald Trump describes his supporters as the silent majority - - invoking a political phrase that dates back to the Nixon presidency. In Nixon`s day, amid unrest over Vietnam, he used the term as a nationalistic battle cry rallying his base against long-haired protesters and outspoken elites who are out of sync with the American opinion at large.   Here he is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: It is time for the great silent majority of America to stand up and be counted. (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Well, they stoop up, didn`t they? Much like Nixon, Trump is now betting on a new silent majority to back him for president, and there`s now evidence that he`s assembling an unlikely coalition of voters. According to today`s Monmouth University poll, Trump leads the field among Republican whose describe themselves as somewhat conservative. He`s at 18 percent. Six points ahead of the newest rival in the crowd, Jeb Bush. He also performs well with those who identify as Tea Party supporters, running second behind Ted Cruz on that group. So, it appears that this early stage of Trump`s message is resonating with Republicans, somewhat across the ideological spectrum. I`m joined right now by great roundtable: MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman, global editorial director of the "Huffington Post", Republican strategist Liz Mair, and "Slate`s" Jamelle Bouie. I want to go with Liz on this. You start this discussion, analyze the silent majority in the term used by Donald Trump today. LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think that it`s very smart messaging by him. I`m not sure that I wholly agree that it`s accurate but there are a lot of people out there, probably about 10 percent of the Republican Party, I would estimate, who do feel that their voices are not being heard. Now, whether that is them objecting to establishmentarianism, Washington D.C. beltway Republicans, or whether that is specifically on issues like immigration or trade, there are people out there that feel they are not being heard. And the fact that Donald Trump is basically using this language is going to enable him to establish a bond with those people that other candidates probably haven`t quite forged. Now, the critique that I would offer is first of all, I don`t think these people are all silent. If you actually look where discussions are ongoing about immigration, or trade, they`re actually very loud, vocal, rowdy, brash, bold, right? And in addition to that, I would argue that they are not anything close to being a majority.   But they are sizable noisy chunk and he`s definitely going to capitalize on that and try to make himself the only candidate that they consider to be speaking for them. HOWARD FINEMAN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: But, Chris, I don`t think -- I don`t think they feel that they have been heard. It`s not whether -- it`s a little different calculations, it`s not whether they are silent or not silent, it`s whether they are being heard. And especially in early states -- and I`ve been traveling early states where the primaries and caucuses take place -- I`d say it`s a lot more than 10 percent who feel they are not being heard and Donald Trump by his very sort of in your face obnoxiousness, his blunt use of language, his willingness to dive directly into the emotional depths of the American public mind, he`s their tribune, because the way he speaks and what he`s talking about, I think that makes him whatever the exact number is, it makes his power potentially greater than the actual number. JAMELLE BOUIE, SLATE: You can tell that he has considerable power or at least a good amount, the fact other Republican candidates are being a little ginger about him. Chris Christie has said, you know, has responded to Lindsey Graham has, but Scott Walker hasn`t. Jeb Bush has been careful about his criticism and I think that`s a testament to the fact that this group of voters, however large it is, is at least significant and might end up playing a deciding factor in what happens in the primary. MAIR: Yes, there is definitely a large chunk of Republican voters that constitute who would describe himself as unheard constituency. I think that 10 percent really refers to people who get very hot up about immigration and trade. But, yes, if you look at the broader group of people who are generally just angry and pissed of at Washington, D.C. and establishment, that`s obviously a much -- FINEMAN: That`s just about everybody. MAIR: That`s a lot of people, right? Obviously, look at congressional approval ratings and that speaks for itself, right. (CROSSTALK) MAIR: But I think (INAUDIBLE) attractive to those people too. FINEMAN: Yes. MATTHEWS: Well, I`m looking at his favorability numbers from 20 percent to 40 percent approval of the guy. I mean, these are different -- he`s not becoming a clown, he`s becoming in the heads and hearts of some people less of a clown among Tea Party, people have gone from 20 percent favorable to 56 percent favorable. So, here is one question for all of you, is the Republican gingerness, which you mentioned, Jamelle, is that about the fact the one great fear of the Bushes who think they will win this and maybe they have a right to think that, are scared to death they are looking at Ross Perot 2 here? That if they don`t treat him with respect between now and the primaries, they`re going to meet him next November and before that in the big debates because he will get 5 percent, he will get into those three-party debates in there that far. Your thoughts?.   FINEMAN: By the way, if they think, though, Chris, if the Bush crowd and I talked to them a lot, if they think that treating Donald Trump gingerly will have anything to do with what he ultimately decides, I think they are fooling themselves. MAIR: Right. FINEMAN: No matter how hard they come at him or no matter who diplomatically they treat him, it`s not going to matter one whit. If Donald Trump has the money and he has personal money, if he has some momentum and he probably may -- we don`t know, but he could have some, he is going to go off on his own. He`s into this for the attention, to disrupt the system, to continue to get his name in front of the American public. He`s given up his TV show and all these other stuff for the much bigger reality show that the presidential campaign turned into. MATTHEWS: We`ve got to stay with that. Is that what you think, Liz? I think if he gets 25 percent in the general election, he will consider himself a winner. No matter what else happens? FINEMAN: Oh, yes. MAIR: I think, frankly, if he continues to dominate media narratives and headlines, he considers himself a winner. I don`t think he needs to get to that percentage. But I do think, I will also just add that in some respects -- I mean, you`re right, people appear to like the clown, right? It`s not a choice between somebody who`s likable and a clown. Sometimes we like both. We live in an age of reality television and Donald Trump suits that very well. But I also think it`s important to note that in some respects, the more support that he gets and the more that candidates like Ted Cruz or whoever go out and defend him, in some respects, the more they are setting up Trumpism and the alternatives, which, you know, Jeb Bush seems pretty happy to champion and they may actually be an effective strategy for Jeb Bush. BOUIE: I think -- MATTHEWS: We`ll be back with Jamelle and everybody. I got to get back and take a break now. By the way, Trumpism, first I`ve heard, you`ve created something. Liz, you`re responsible for this now.   Anyway, the roundtable is staying with us. And up next, a half century after the debut of "To Kill a Mockingbird," a look at the first draft of Harper Lee`s novel, and it has a far less liberal hero in Atticus Finch in that version, the first one. This is HARDBALL, the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 non-violent drug convicted drug offenders. In a video announcing the move, the president signed personalized letters saying their punishments did not fit their crime. He`s now commuted 89 sentences during the course of his administration. More than Presidents Reagan, both Bushes and Clinton combined. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCAIL BREAK) MATTHEWS: For a generation of readers of the classic coming of age novel "To Kill a Mockingbird," Atticus Finch, portrayed by Gregory Peck in a movie, embodied the brave southern lawyer making a stance for racial justice, not just for African-Americans in society, but as a particular example for his children. Here`s a bit of the movie. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GREGORY PECK AS ATTICUS FINCH: You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.   (END VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEWS: Tomorrow, we all get to see the Atticus Finch character from another point of view, as the first draft. The first draft of "To Kill a Mockingbird" is released as a new Harper Lee novel. "Go Set a Watchman" shows Atticus with fewer liberal ideas and less racially enlightened. And unlike in "Mockingbird", defense attorney Finch gets his client Tom Robinson off in this version, the original version. We`re back right now with the roundtable, Howard, Liz and Jamelle. Jamelle, it`s confusing to a lot of people reading the paper even about this. This isn`t a sequel. This is the first draft of "To Kill a Mockingbird" brought out now as a novel. And to me, it`s more interesting in a way that I thought we were trying to get in the movie version, the final version of the novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird", was that Gregory Peck was not a liberal or even a southern liberal. He was just a just man, who`s trying to save a guy from being hanged for something he didn`t do. Your thoughts? BOUIE: Right. What`s interesting about "Watchman" is it gives us sense of what Atticus Finch might look like if "To Kill a Mockingbird" weren`t a children`s book, a more nuanced character, a character who is not free from the prejudices of his era, but is trying to do the best he can in the position he has. I would have loved to have read that book. I do think, I will say that this sort of I think urge to want to re- evaluate "To Kill a Mockingbird" in light of this new material is a bit mistaken. I think the book we have is the book we have and it stands alone as a piece of art and it doesn`t require any recontextualization of this new material. This new material we should treat and examine on some terms and in an academic sense try to trace how it influenced what we eventually got. But that`s the extent of it. MATTHEWS: Howard, Hemingway said never show anything that a person isn`t finished with. I don`t think we should be looking at unfinished manuscripts, seriously. I don`t think we should be bringing out unfinished manuscripts and calling them books just to make a buck. FINEMAN: Right. MATTHEWS: Anyway, I think "To Kill a Mockingbird" was the final product. It should remain the final product. Your thoughts?   FINEMAN: Yes, I think so. And I think she may have decided that the way she positioned it as the just man who doesn`t succeed in a way versus the less just man who ironically does. It`s interesting in terms of her, but I think Atticus Finch stands on his own as a fictional character who inspired a lot of people over the generations and good for her writing him the way she decided in the end to write him. MATTHEWS: It`s why we have editors, Howard, like you. We have fine editors and we get better work. Thank you so much, Howard Fineman, Liz Mair and Jamelle Bouie. When we return, or I return, let me finish with some words about Donald Trump you might find interesting. You`re watching HARDBALL; the place for politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight out here in the Hollywood sunshine with some words about Donald Trump. It comes down to the issue he`s been raising all these days -- illegal immigration. There`s a reason why he`s hitting this particular issue. It`s an old political rule for winning. Go after the issue you know people support, but know as well other politicians aren`t able to touch. Go where they can`t go. Why don`t other Republicans attack illegal immigration? For the simple reason that the Republican Party has refused to take action to deal with it. Look at the bill that`s passed the Senate that`s sitting over in the Republican-led House. Look at it sit thing with leaders like John Boehner, the speaker, refusing to bring it to a vote. So, here comes Donald Trump talking about illegal immigration and he`s all alone, for the simple reason Republican candidates may say they share his gut anger about, but they are not willing to pass the Senate bill. They`re not willing to agree to a measure, even a tough one on illegal hiring, that allows some people to work to citizenship. That leaves Donald trump out there talking to the angry voter. From Nikki Haley, we know what it looks like for a politician to take action. She took down that flag. For the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, we know what it looks like for politicians to do nothing. And Donald Trump has reached down and grabbed the ball.   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.>